Silent Key

I just learned this morning that a dear friend, Al Rhodes (KJ4TDG, ex-WN2SOU, ex-WB2ZCP) passed away on Saturday. Al was a past Vice President of Chapter 119, QCWA, in Tidewater Virginia, and I had also worked with him on several job-related projects. Al worked for Federal Engineering as a Project Manager and Senior Consultant, and had worked with me on our Motorola trunked radio system upgrade from analog to digital for the City of Newport News, Virginia. Originally from Annapolis, Maryland, he currently made his home in Virginia Beach, VA.

It’s always hard to say goodbye to good friends, but unfortunately, we have to and then carry on … but not forgetting …

73 de Dick N4BC

The Blizzard of 2018

Definitely not a day for portable operations, and even now, days after the storm, the secondary roads and streets are hazardous. I did get a four-day weekend, though, due to work being closed. I was on call, but didn’t get called out. We ended up with about eight inches and drifts a bit higher. Really nice snow, though … powdery. It would’ve been good for skiing or snowboarding if we had any hills or mountains here in coastal Virginia. I have a friend that was at Massanutten Ski Resort in the western part of the state, and he said they had no snow, other than man-made. This was strictly a coastal storm … a Nor’easter with snow!

My street during the snowstorm

Eighty and forty meters have been active here in the evenings, but the higher bands have been non-productive. I’m really enjoying the Icom IC-7300. As I get more and more familiar with its usage, it makes operating so much easier.

It’s a new year now … 2018 … and I’ve just mailed off my dues for another year to QCWA Chapter 119. I really wish I could make the meetings, but as a worker bee, I can’t get away for lunch meetings … too far away.

Frostfest 2018 in Richmond, VA is coming up the first Saturday in February. It’s always a good show with lots of goodies for sale. I really can’t think of anything I need, but I’m sure I will come home with something.

I’m trying a new WordPress Theme on the website. Looks odd to me, but maybe that’s just because it’s different … hopefully I’ll learn to love it!

73 de Dick N4BC

Old Guys Together …

Went to our monthly QCWA Chapter meeting (Chapter 119). I really enjoy it when I can be there, because it seems like at age 74, I’m one of the youngest ones there!

Seriously, though, it’s a great group of guys with a lot of ham experience under their belts. Today’s presentation was on downsizing from a large house to a condo, and some practical solutions to antennas in a HOA. The presenter (whose name and call escape me at the moment), has a great sense of humor, and really entertained while passing on some great tips. I just wish I could attend more often, but usually the meetings are on Fridays, not Saturdays, and I’m still a working man.

I worked a bunch of stations on all bands (80 through 10) today. FT8 was the mode, and I guess the furthermost  was VK3XQ. I was only running fifteen watts to my trusty vertical, and was quite pleased.

That’ll do it for today. See you later.

73 de Dick N4BC

There it is again …

I had that problem pop up again where my output power in WSJT-X dropped to 5 watts and I couldn’t increase it. I fiddled and fiddled with settings and turned knobs and fiddled some more to no avail. Still good power out with FLDIGI and on CW, etc. So, that seemed to be a good time to have dinner. I returned from dinner and lo and behold, everything was back to normal. Windows 10 had just finished its big Fall update earlier in the day, so maybe that had something to do with it? Still an unknown …

I made a few FT-8 contacts on 80 meters, and a few more on 40 and 30, but 20, which is usually pretty good, just wasn’t cooperating with me last night. I tried calling CQ on JT-9 on several bands without any luck. Although I like the speed of FT-8, I like the sensitivity of JT-9 better. It can really pull the signals out of the mud.

Saturday I’m going to the QCWA Chapter 119 luncheon. Twice a year, it’s on my side of Hampton Roads (Newport News vs Virginia Beach). It’s the only time I get to see some of these guys. I’m not sure what the program is about, but it’s usually pretty interesting.

There’s a real chill in the air, now. Fall is officially and truly here. The past couple of mornings, it’s been in the 40’s when I leave for work at 5:30 AM. Used the heat in the house for the first time this season just the other night. Yep … Winter is coming!

73 de Dick N4BC

DIgital and Low Power Stuff

I finally got around to setting up WSJT-X and JT Alert on the new laptop, and found quite a bit of action. I worked 18 stations (mostly Europe and the US) in a couple of hours on 20 Meters. I seemed to have a lot more luck on JT-9 than on JT-65. Sort of like watching paint dry, but I did fill in a few missing digital Grid squares, prefixes, etc in the meantime.

QCWA Chapter 119 activated Fort Monroe National Monument recently, and although I couldn’t lend a hand with the operation due to a prior commitment, I did manage to work them on CW. I haven’t heard how they did number wise, but it was a beautiful day to be operating portable.

We’ve found a site for W4MT, our 146.73 repeater. We lost our previous site and had been searching for a new location for quite a few months. In the interim, we’ve been having our Tuesday evening club net on the WN4HRT repeater.

Overall, the bands have not been the greatest, but the digital modes offer an opportunity to make contacts with lower power. I made those 18 contacts this evening using 10 watts to a vertical tied to the clothesline pole. Nothing sophisticated about that, folks! Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Don’t forget, CW was the original digital mode.

73 de Dick K4FTW