The End Approaches …

The end of the year, that is. It’s been a mixed year for me … both high and low points, radio-wise. There seems to have been a steady decline in propagation conditions. But … in spite of that … I’ve made a LOT of contacts. The total count of QSOs would be a LOT smaller if not for digital modes … primarily FT4 and FT8.

I have noticed a real decline in the number of Parks on the Air QSOs as the year has progressed. I see numerous activations spotted, and can’t even tell that there is a station there. Single sideband contacts have decreased. However … I’ve had more CW POTA contacts.

Hopefully, your year has gone well. If not, well … 2020 is just around the corner … a new start. Wishing everyone the best for a great upcoming year!

73 de Dick N4BC

Random Thoughts

It’s a beautiful day outside … sunshine, but a little chilly (41 deg F) and breezy. The prior couple of days have been wet and cold. The folks north of us have been “blessed” with a major winter storm. I don’t envy them!

Tonight is our annual Radio club Holiday Banquet. This year it’s a potluck with the clubs (PARC and SPARK) supplying the fried chicken and all us attendees bringing a side dish or dessert. Last year’s party was mass confusion due to a mix up about the restaurant reservations. This year it was decided to have a self-catered meal.

I was off work all last week. As usual I had a list of things to accomplish and never got around to any of the items. There were lots of POTA activations, but most were not even copyable at my QTH. I could hear hunters giving them reports, but for me … NADA! I did work a few, and my unique park count is now up to 216.

I’ve been concentrating on the FT4/8 modes and had reasonable success with contacts there. JS8 has upgraded to version 2.0 with some new features, so I’ve been looking at that mode a bit harder. Then too, I’ve been playing with my new RSP-1A SDR receiver. It’s fascinating tuning through the shortwave bands and listening to what’s there.

I’ve also been working on a few FEMA certifications. They’re not only applicable for my job, but also for ham radio stuff like SKYWARN and ARES. I had completed most of them years ago, but couldn’t confirm it, so I’ve been working my way through the training and tests again.

73 de Dick N4BC

Parks, Islands, and Old Timers

Tomorrow is one of two QCWA chapter meetings that I normally attend during the year. Chapter 119 meets in Virginia Beach most months on Friday, when I am at work. Twice a year, they hold it on the Peninsula where I live, and it’s on Saturday … April and October. Those I can make!

Stu, WA4JUO and his team will treat us to an interesting presentation on the QCWA Expedition to Tangier Island.

Tangier Island

I’m still chugging along with my Parks on the Air (POTA) contacts. I have 198 unique parks confirmed now. the first 100 or so seemed to add up fast … the second 100 have been considerably slower. Some of that is attributable to band conditions. I have heard lots that were just too far down in the mud to copy.

I’ve actually worked more than 200, but the requirement is 200 confirmed! Everything depends on the activator turning in his log and the administrator for that call area getting the data into the database. Some are fast … some are slower. Hey, it’s a hobby … I haven’t seen a paycheck yet. Us hunters just work ’em and wait!

73 de Dick N4BC

Back at It …

Been slackin’ a bit, lately. Lots of non-ham activities. Teaching classes, honey-dos … lots of mini-things. Ham radio has been shoved to the background for a bit.

I noted that my progress in unique parks worked has been static at 189 for a while, but I did work a couple yesterday afternoon … one in Wisconsin and one in Michigan.

Lots of noise, though. I tried to hear a couple of others, but they were just too weak and under the noise floor on 40 meters. To add to that, there was some sort of periodic pulse interference and the usual Broadcast Interference that pops up in the afternoon.

The station in Wisconsin was down in the noise when I started listening to him, but over the course of time, his signal increased to a 59. If I recall correctly, he was on 20 meters. That pulse noise was there intermittently also.

This coming Sunday, I’m helping the club provide communications for a combined Marathon/50K/Relay at the Mariner’s Museum Noland Trail. I’ve got to be at the race venue at 5:45 am … no sleeping in at all on Sunday!

73 de Dick N4BC


To say that propagation has been poor lately would be an understatement. I tuned around and checked out some POTA spots after work yesterday, and nothing heard at all. I thought about checking to make sure my antenna was still up 😀 .

There was quite a bit of activity down on 40 Meter CW. Two events … the SKCC Sprint and the CW ops Mini-CWT Test were going on and there were some nice signals there. It’s frustrating when you see nine or ten spots listed for parks and you hear crickets … . If it’s as bad on the other end, I know it’s equally frustrating.

So, we all wait and hope. Please Mr. Sun, perk up!

73 de Dick N4BC