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 neat 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

Public Service – Deuxieme Partie

Well, I’ve had mixed luck programming up my HTs for the upcoming foot race. The score is two successful and one bricked! The Kenwood TH-F6A and the Icom IC-51A Plus 2 portables both programmed ok, but the Baofeng bit the dust. 🙁

I don’t know what the issue was with the UV-5. Maybe a corrupted codeplug or a glitch when writing to the radio? In any case, it is now non-functional and I can’t connect to it via the programming cable or the front panel. I tried resetting it, but all that did was clear all of the programming. I’m pretty sure the firmware got corrupted.

So, the score is two to one. I’m not too worried. I think I only paid twenty-some odd dollars for the Baofeng, and I’ve had it for quite a few years. I can handle the loss!

More later … 😀

Note … For those of you that are challenged by French, “Deuxieme Partie” translates to “Part 2”!

73 de Dick N4BC

Public Service

I volunteered to help with communications for the annual Boys & Girls Club Smart Smiles 5K race this coming Saturday. I got the email for assignments, frequencies, duties, etc. yesterday. This’ll be the first time I’ve done one of these public service events in years … maybe even decades! Looking forward to it!

However (there’s always a however, you know) … that means I’ve got to program a couple of radios to contain the repeater and simplex frequencies we’ll be using. It’s probably been over a year since I programmed any radios. It’s a shame that every radio has its own proprietary software and unique programming cable as well. First, I have to find the cables and then, try to remember how to manipulate the software. None of it is very intuitive!

One radio uses Chirp for programming, so that’s not too bad … I can handle that. The other is a D-Star radio, and I remember how much sweat and tears I shed the first time I tackled programming that 🙁 . Hopefully, it’ll come back to me! Everything I have to enter is analog, so maybe it’ll be easier.

I’ve also got to add some repeaters to my hamshack base radio. I don’t have some of the SkyWarn backup repeaters programmed, and I need to get that done with hurricane season approaching.

Anyhow, wish me luck. I’ll report back and let you know how I did.

73 de Dick N4BC