It’s Baack …

As of yesterday afternoon, the W4MT UHF & VHF FM repeaters were back on the air. We got the repeater cabinet moved to the new site and connected everything up and threw the power switch to ON!

As usual, it was not without its hiccups. Although everything had checked out before installing, the reflected power was high. That was resolved to a bad connector and remedied. Then we found that the control receiver was not working … that was a bad 1-amp fuse.

Finally, everything was up and working properly. We left well enough alone and wrapped up our endeavor for the day. We’ll go back and take care of grounding and cable dressing shortly.

It’s really nice to hear the repeater back on the air. Actually, it has been operational, but with limited range due to compromises with the antenna height. Now, with the antenna at a decent height, it sounds great.


73 de Dick N4BC

Strange Times

It’s eerie at work this week. Normally, we have a steady flow of customers in and out of the shop, all having some sort of communications difficulty. This week, I think I can count the number of visitors on the fingers of one hand … the Coronavirus is definitely affecting business. Traffic is noticeably lighter when I head home after work, and it’s odd seeing all the empty restaurant parking lots.

I’d much rather be at home, isolating myself. My wife and daughter are both at home this week, due to their workplaces being closed. I’m in the at-risk group … chronic illnesses, over 66, etc. But since I’m working in the public-safety field, I’m considered “essential personnel.”

FT-modes have been pretty busy this week. I’ve worked a lot of Europeans. I’ve seen quite a few Asian stations, but haven’t managed to work any. I check the spotting page for POTA frequently, and see lots of posts, but when I go to the indicated frequency … nada! Forty and twenty meters are not being cooperative for CW and SSB.

Today is the first day of Spring, and the temperatures are supposed to climb into the mid-seventies, but it’s still gray and dreary-looking outside. Tomorrow is supposed to be in the eighties … maybe Spring is actually here?

73 de Dick N4BC


Not me, folks! All I did was help with communications. The race was a Marathon/Relay/50K.

It was held on the Noland Trail, which is part of the Mariner’s Museum here in Newport News, VA. The trail is a loop around Lake Maury, and is a total distance of 4.8 miles. The race was obviously several loops. There were 300 runners, and they were started in waves of the different skill levels. The event was part of the museum’s ARRRtober Festival ( with family-oriented pirate-themed events).

I managed to do some reading, because I was nowhere near the action or runners. As a matter if fact, I never saw the participants. I was guarding an entrance to the trail to keep non-participants off the track during the event … basically letting them know why the gate was locked. It was a beautiful day … mildly chilly, even, in the early morning with a slight breeze. The high during the day was in the low 70s. I was onsite at 5:30 am for the 7 am start, and worked until noon, when my shift ended. I believe that the finish line was no longer manned after 3:15 pm. I don’t know how many of the 300 finished the race.

All in all, it was a great day, and I really enjoyed the chance to get out of the house and into the fresh air. The Mariner’s Museum also is K-4567 in the Panks on the Air database. It’s part of the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail. Just down the street is the Virginia Living Museum, which is also part of the trail. Of course, as long as I’m within 100 feet of the water around here, it’s on the trail. Gonna have to activate this one soon!

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


It’s been a week or two since I last posted. Life got a bit chaotic. A very dear friend was killed in a tragic industrial accident, and ham radio and blogging had to take a back seat.

There’s not actually much to report about. I’ve only been on the air a couple of times during this period, and those were mostly FT4/8 contacts. I don’t think the bands have been too stellar this past week.

I did spend a bit of money on radio things. I bought a yellow reflective vest for when I assist with public service events. I know … I know. Stereotypical self-important ham prepper, right? Actually, it does help with visibility if someone needs to locate you quickly during the event.

I also ordered a new toy. It’s supposed to be here around the 9th of September. I’ve read several blog posts and seen several YouTube videos about this low-cost vector network analyzer that piqued my interest. Less than fifty bucks on eBay.


It covers 50 KHz to 900 MHz … does Smith Chart and antenna analyzer functions … and more. It’s about the size of a credit card, but maybe 5/8-inch thick. I’m going to enjoy playing with it, I think.

I just signed up for my next public service event. It’s a marathon, a 50K, and a marathon/50K relay run simultaneously. Sounds interesting, doesn’t it? It’ll be a bit cooler then … October 13th. The race is so long, we’ll be covering it in two shifts.

Well, that’s about all I have to report. Catch ya’ later!

73 de Dick N4BC