I got a bit of SSB operating in during this weekend. The bands were not very good from my location. Noise levels were just high enough to be irritating, and I never did manage to work any stations other than 20 and  40 meters. Forty was the most prolific band, and I did manage to find quite a few stations among the squeals and heterodynes of  the AM broadcast stations.

Sunday, I worked 20 and 40 again … but JT65 this time. There was a good mix of stations on, but primarily up and down the east coast and midwest. I worked them until the band petered out and then switched off the rig.

All in all, it was a good weekend, and I had a lot of fun. I was glad to have an “indoor” hobby, since the weekend was damp and dreary. Hey, it was better than the foot of snow we had a couple of weeks ago! Ah, well … spring is just around the corner.

73 de Dick N4BC

80 Meter Activity and Antennas

Eighty meters was pretty good at the QTH here last evening. Made contacts on JT9 up and down the East Coast. The QRN was minimal, and some stations were pretty strong, too. It’s the best I’ve seen it in quite a while.

It amazes me that my 31-foot wire vertical loads so well on 80 meters, too. The LDG tuner grinds a bit, but it does find a match. I don’t want to think about the efficiency of that antenna. The inverted-L is a disappointment though … nowhere near as good as the vertical and much noisier. I had the thought last night that maybe the coax is not up to snuff. It’s probably around twenty years old, even though it’s only been in use for maybe five years. I think I’ll substitute a new piece and see if that makes any difference.

I’ve got a new MFJ-1835 Cobweb antenna, still in the box. The weather hasn’t been cooperating since it arrived, and I’m hoping for some reasonable temperatures the week before Christmas, because I’m taking vacation then. I’ve read some pretty good reviews, and am really interested in experimenting with this antenna.

Hope everybody has a great Holiday season …

73 de Dick N4BC

ARRL 10M Contest

Interesting propagation on 10 meters this weekend … Saturday morning the western USA was coming in here pretty well, then the midwest opened up. I’ve never heard so many MN and WI stations :-). Ten was definitely open to somewhere most of the day. Lots of CW stations today, but not many SSB heard. About 5pm, the band started dropping out … still a few stations heard, but only the big guns.

Well, we’ll see what tomorrow brings. I’ll give it a few more hours after lunch tomorrow and see what’s going on.

Additional comments – Sunday: early afternoon brought a couple of CW contacts. One was from the local area (Virginia Beach) with a fluttery signal, and the other was a BIG signal from Tennessee. Not anything heard on SSB and later, the CW signals just disappeared. Poof!

Additional Additional comments – I ended up with 41 QSOs for a total score of 2774. I’m satisfied with that. I didn’t really hit it hard … only sporadic operating on Saturday, and then today wasn’t very good.

73 de Dick N4BC

Pretty bad …

I managed to get on last night for a while after I got home from Choir practice … pretty bad. I made a couple of contacts, both in Oklahoma on 40m JT-9. I did start a QSO with a station in Arizona, but he disappeared on me about halfway through the exchange. Eighty meters had some CW action going on, but I didn’t hear much on digital. My noise level on 80 is pretty high … I really need to see where that’s coming from. Twenty meters was dead, except for a few weak CW stations.

This weekend is the ARRL Sweepstakes, but I don’t think I will have the time to invest. I have quite a few other irons in the fire that I can’t put off, so I think I’ll sit this one out. PLUS, I’m on call for work. NEXT weekend, though, I’ll be there for the CQ WW CW test.

73 de Dick N4BC

Some CW Action this evening

I’ve had some luck this evening working CW. There were some pretty strong signals coming out of the Caribbean and Central America … ZF2, HR9, PJ4 … etc. They were working pileups (mostly into Europe with some North Americans – me being one of those). All good operators, and just knocking them off, one after another. Not the most leisurely QSOs … more “Slam, Bam, Thank you Ma’am”. BUT … a contact in the log on an otherwise poor evening is a contact in the log!

Had a little lightning and thunder in the area this evening, too. I would think that as cool as it was today, that’s unusual.

Our repeater trustee wants me to give him some help setting up and interfacing our new Yaesu Fusion repeater with our RLC-2 Controller this weekend, so I guess I will give him a hand with that. We’re finally getting it installed SOON, I hope. Seems like it’s been forever since we lost our old tower site.

73 de Dick N4BC

Looking Up …

Things were good … things were poor. I tuned the bands tonight and didn’t find much action on CW or Digital. Twenty was pretty much dead, but Forty and Eighty showed a little life. I had several contacts into Canada on 80M and a couple of statesiders on 40M. Both bands had quite a bit of QRN – not sure if it’s man-made or natural, but it was prettty high on the S-meter. JT mode is about the only mode where I call CQ. I figure if he can hear me well, we’ve got a better chance of a QSO.

In any case, I did make some contacts and I guess I should be happy about that. The Solar forecast is only FAIR for those bands, and with my antennas … . Any time you can put something into the log is a winner, right?

73 de Dick N4BC


Well … that certainly was a sucky weekend, propagation-wise. I didn’t have a chance to get on Sunday, but I certainly had no luck on Saturday. Not one of the better efforts on my part.

Sunday, the XYL and I went over to the eastern Shore of Virginia (about an hour and a half drive via the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel) to attend a choral concert. The daughter had a solo … WOW! Can that girl sing! Very proud parents. She’s a member of the choral group at Virginia Wesleyan College, where she’s a Junior.

I’ve gotten on the past couple of evenings to work some JT QSOs, and have had some interesting contacts, but even there, activity is a bit light. All I can do is keep on trying … that’s all any of us can do. Even the CW pickings have been slim.

Well, so much for my musings. I’ve got a radio club meeting tonight, and may get a bit of operating in before that, but I’ll have to see how that goes.

73 de Dick N4BC

A New One!

Scored a new country on digital last evening … South Africa. Ten watts to a vertical on JT-9 mode. He copied me at -15 DBm on 20 meters, and he was much stronger. I’ve seen him on several times before, but had no luck connecting with him. Now just waiting for a LOTW confirmation.

First ZS on JT-9/20 meters
First ZS on JT-9/20 meters

The bands were not especially hot last night … as a matter of fact, there was not much happening other than stateside and European stations. But there he was … and relatively strong, too. That’s what’s so exciting about ham radio. “The thrill of the hunt,” if you like.

I’ve tried listening in the early morning to see what might be happening, but no luck so far. For instance, this morning at 4am I tuned the bands and heard ZILCH! Not so much as a stray CW signal that was readable. I’ll keep on trying, though. One of these days …

73 de Dick N4BC


Two little letters …

Sunday evening, after all the contests and QSO parties had been turned off, the bands were dead. Sound familiar? “Oh the bands are terrible … there’s nobody there … I think I’ll sell the rig …”.

Geez, guys … just try calling CQ! Everyone moans and groans and tunes from one end of the band to the other and hears nothing. That’s because everybody is listening! Put some RF into the void! Wake someone up!

I tried a CQ on a dead 20 meter band and worked six stations before I had to pull the plug and go to bed. They’re out there … listening! You’ve got to put a line into the water to get a bite. Don’t be scared … throw in!

73 de Dick N4BC

A Good Evening

Had a good evening on the radio last night using JT65/JT9 modes! For supposedly poor to fair propagation, Europe was booming in during the early afternoon. Later in the evening, there was lots of stateside action, with a few Europeans thrown in for good measure … all at 10 to 20 watts.

Most of the action was on 20 meters, but 40 and 80 were doing well also. I actually made my first JT-65 contacts on 80 meters, loading up my 31-ft vertical. I’m going to try and get up an 80 meter end fed this evening.

It looks as if we may get some action from the approaching hurricane. The latest predictions show a high probability that we will AT LEAST get rain, tidal flooding, rip currents, and erosion at the beaches. I will most likely be at work 24/7 during the storm and aftermath if this happens, since I am part of the team that maintains my city’s communication system. In the meantime, we’re performing pre-storm checks to make sure everything is operating properly.

73 de Dick N4BC


I did get home today at a reasonable hour and in between showers I put up an end-fed multiband antenna with a 9:1 UNUN. It seems to tune well on all the bands, and the S-meter says its a bit better than the vertical. I haven’t had a chance to check it out with the analyzer yet. I’ll give it a whirl tonight!