It was a pretty good Friday at work, actually. We had out Shop Holiday Party and the boss paid for everybody’s lunch. It was a a buffet restaurant, and I subsequently fell into a food coma! Honestly, I always eat too much when it’s laid out like that. Anyway, we were given the afternoon off afterwards, so I went home and immediately took a nap to sleep off the food overdose!
Later on, I woke up and flipped on the rig and checked out the bands. Not very exciting … quite noisy and weak signals. I tuned around 30 meters and found FY5FY in French Guiana, Didier, calling CQ. One call to him and he was in the log. He was literally the only CW signal I was hearing on that band.
I dropped down to 60 meters and saw some FT8 activity, so I called CQ, and had QSOs with California, Florida, and Poland … the Polish station was really marginal, but finally in the log.
There was good activity on 80 meters CW and FT8, but I didn’t have good luck there. My vertical loads perfectly through my tuner on 80, but it’s really short (31 feet), and not an efficient radiator. With good conditions, it works well enough, but in these current conditions, it’s hit or miss sometimes.
So that’s my Friday. I’ve got a busy weekend with several holiday concerts to attend, and Sunday afternoon, a friend and I are replacing the driver’s side window on my truck. It was frozen shut one morning and I cranked it a bit too forcefully. Lesson learned! It’s forecast to be cold and rainy all weekend, so maybe I’ll get on sometime.
I got on for a while late yesterday afternoon, using WSJT-X 2.0 rc5, and had some luck. It wasn’t a lot of luck … just some luck.
You can see, there is more 77-bit messaging showing up on the bands, but it’s still pretty slim pickings. I’m hoping the BIG flip-over will come when version 2 is finally released in its finished form on the 10th of December.
Eighty meters propagation was really good last night. the low bands are the place to be to work stations, but there are still some real gems to be found on the higher frequency bands. I even heard some strong CW signals up on ten meters yesterday evening.
Oh, I got a confirmation from 5T2AI, Ahmed in Mauritania, yesterday. Worked him last week. This LOTW stuff works fine (and fast)! Shame on you if you’re still a denier :-)!!
This afternoon on twenty, after I got home from work, I had a bit better luck running the new wsjt-x, which is not compatible with the older versions. I actually found some takers for my CQs. I suspect more people are downloading and trying the new flavor! For more details, see the WSJT-X website.
On another note, I worked a new country using version 1.9.1, the “stable” version. I worked 5T2AI in Mauritania. I’ll admit … I bumped the power up to around 75 watts! I had to take a quick look at the African map to orient myself. The country is out on the big western bulge of the continent. Snagged him on the first try! Not so much luck with Aruba, P4, though. Just couldn’t connect with him.
UPDATE: Also worked S01WS, western Sahara on 60 Meters FT8. That’s two new countries this evening! They’re out there. You just have to go get ’em!
Ya’ know … if you haven’t tried this newer band yet, you’re missing out. It’s not a heavily used band, but there are people there. I’ve only done FT8 on 5.357 MHz (Channel 3, I think), but I’ve bagged a few new ones there. My LDG tuner tunes my vertical just fine. I have no idea what kind of efficiency, but I’ve worked all over the world with around 50 watts.
It’s an odd band. It’s shared with government and military, and they’ve got priority use … it’s channelized … the max power is 100 watts. Really an odd duck, but it is what it is. We just have to work with what the FCC allows us. Oh, and not all countries have given the amateurs the same channels, so that complicates things even more. Hey … just work ’em when you hear ’em. Try it … you’ll like it!
I confess … I had a very lazy weekend. I just piddled around the house and got nothing accomplished. Monday morning, I did fire up the station and do some FT8, though. Conditions were pretty good. Eighty meters was great, and 40/30/20 were good, too.
I logged forty-four contacts on those bands in an hour or so … mostly from the Americas. I was calling CQ and responding to those calling me back, running 40 Watts to my vertical. I guess if I had searched and pounced, I could have had more DX, but I enjoy working them all.
I’ve been pretty slack about operating from my truck in the parking lot at lunchtime, and want to get back into that. This evening, I plan to check out the portable equipment and put it back into action. I really need to get away from my desk at lunchtime. If I don’t, I find myself doing work when I should be taking a break. Ya’ know, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” Work breaks make you more efficient!