Well, Dorian has come and gone, with not a lot of effect here at my QTH. There was some tidal flooding and a bit of wind and rain, but frankly, we had thunderstorms a couple of weeks ago that were worse. I think the highest gusts we had from the tropical storm were forty-some miles per hour. It could have been a LOT worse … a few miles East or West makes a lot of difference in severity.

The Virginia beach Hamfest was the day after Dorian. It’s been shrinking for years now (as have most hamfests), but lots of people evidently cancelled out due to the storm. Pretty sparse vendor-wise when I got there, but the attendees I saw were spending … our club was doing a good business moving donated items from various hams estates. I only stayed about 45 minutes, and I saw everything there was to see.

I did receive my nanoVNA in the mail, but I haven’t had a chance to fiddle with it yet. More on that later …

Band conditions, especially on forty meters, have been pretty good lately. The band is still pretty noisy, though. Hopefully it’ll quiet down a bit as Fall and Winter approach. It’ll make it easier to hear some of the weaker Parks on the Air operations.

More and more POTA operators seem to be running higher power. Back when the bands were much better, QRP was the norm. Now, many seem to be running 50 to 100 watts … some even more! My observation is that the CW QRP stations are still pretty easy to pull out of the hash. Not a lot of power, but it’s all packed into that narrower bandwidth. I just wish that more ops would opt for CW … lots more efficient!

73 de Dick N4BC


This past weekend was Labor Day weekend, a three-day weekend. I decided to take an extra day … Tuesday. Hey maybe I could have a great ham radio weekend?

Not to be! We had a BIG geomagnetic storm and conditions were crap! Even today … Tuesday … they’re still not great. There were lots of spots for POTA activations, but I only managed to work one. Dave, K4CAE, was heard, but he obviously couldn’t hear ME! He was about a 3×2 with me.

Dorian continues its march towards the Virginia coast. The forecast is for high winds and lots of rain, but nothing like they experienced in the Bahamas, thank God! I expect the area will experience some tidal flooding (the lower areas always do). The last I saw, they’re talking about 50 knot winds, with all the associated problems … beach erosion, tidal flooding, trees and limbs down, power outages, stuff blown around, etc.

We’ll see. Things can change pretty quickly … for better or for worse. It’s forecast to be off the coast here Thursday night/Friday. Saturday is the Virginia Beach Hamfest … maybe. Tomorrow night is the radio club meeting, so maybe we’ll get some news then.

73 de Dick N4BC

More Parks

I worked seven more parks yesterday afternoon, and I can safely say that it was not “a walk in the park” (Get it? Hah!!). The higher noise levels, combined with the weak signals made for difficult copy. The QSB was ferocious as well … signals disappeared into the noise and then reappeared. Very tiring on the ears! I really admire the activators venturing out into the conditions we’ve been experiencing lately.

The weather has been oppressive. Heat indices have been over 100 too many days, and the pattern will probably continue at least into August. That, coupled with high humidity (over 80% some days), makes for miserable days. This morning when I left for work at 5:30 am, the temperature was 81 degrees Fahrenheit and nearly 60% humidity.

I’m certainly ready for the new sunspot cycle. It’s reported that the first numbered sunspot of the new cycle has appeared (and persisted), so change is on the way. The bummer is that it’s going to take a few years until things are significantly better. Oh, well … it is what it is.

73 de Dick N4BC

13 Colonies

Well, I got a clean sweep of all 13 Colonies during the special event. I didn’t get the bonus stations (K2Z and GB13COL), but the pileups were so chaotic I gave up on them by Friday. I did get WM3PEN on both CW and SSB. I’m not blaming the Op at K2Z … the AHs calling him just ignored normal protocols and rules of basic courtesy. I’ll send my log in with my $5.00 for the great-looking certificate … I’m a sucker for wallpaper (although I keep most of my “wallpaper” in a binder with transparent document holders nowadays).

13 Colonies Certificate

On the other hand, I did work a couple of POTA stations on Sunday (K0BAK and KE8BKP). Forty meters seems to be my “go to” band, but during the day, it’s so noisy it’s almost unusable at my QTH … lots of QRN! Looking forward to the winter months when it’s relatively quiet.

73 de Dick N4BC

The Thrill of the Hunt …

Monday was the start of the 13 Colonies Special Event. This is an annual event held during the 4th of July week. I’ve never participated before, but for some reason, this year I was bitten by the bug. See the above link for details.

The first day of the event I worked ten of the thirteen colony stations and one of the Bonus stations. I did hear the other stations (except GB13COL), but couldn’t bust the pileups with my 100 watts and a wire. BUT … I have all the rest of the week to get them. I used a mix of CW and SSB to work those that I have in the log, but also noted that some were operating FT8 as well. It’s a fun event and will keep you off the streets (unless you’re operating mobile!).

I also worked about ten parks, for the POTA totals. I even found a Massachusetts park activation on ten meters, and he was booming in! Many other stations on ten as well, including Canada Day contesters. And this is all with ZERO sunspots showing on old Sol!

Hopefully it’ll continue, but we couldn’t be so lucky, could we?

73 de Dick N4BC