Folks … the bands have been really noisy at my QTH lately. Lots of spring storms with their associated lightning crashes have really made listening a lot more difficult. The QSB hasn’t been much better either.
As you know if you follow this blog, I’ve been bitten by the Parks on the Air (POTA) bug, and have really been pursuing activations of parks. I have nearly 60 confirmed now. A lot of these are, by their very nature, QRP operations with inefficient, compromise antenna systems. That, coupled with noise and generally poor propagation, has made things rough. It’s frustrating hearing other hunters working these activators, and I can’t even tell they’re there.
The temperatures have been up and down … typical spring weather here, but the trend is upwards. It does seem to rain and storm most weekends, so it’s hard to get outside and do portable ops. I’m afraid this more pleasant weather will soon end, with summer raising its ugly head with temperatures in the 90s and 100s with high humidity … unfortunately also typical for this area.
Whatever … not much I can do about it! I’ll just work through it until later in the year when I can complain about it being too cold. That’s the nature of the human beast … never satisfied 🙂 .
This past weekend was terrible for signals, but things seem to have picked up somewhat. Here’s a snapshot of last night:
I even had some action on 15 meters and 60 meters. Almost all of my contacts were with North American stations.
The weather has become more springlike lately. The birds are singing, the pollen is falling, and the weeds are sprouting. I think it’s time for some antenna attention. It’s raining today, but later this week I need to get out into the back yard and check antenna connections, coax, and matching networks to make sure everything survived the winter OK. I’m thinking of putting up another 40M inverted vee, since 40 is looking to be a workhorse during this part of the sunspot cycle. The inverted vees have always performed well for me.
I also want to get out and do some portable parks work, too. I’m at the age when sitting in the cold, sleety outdoors with a thirty mile per hour wind whistling around my ears is not fun, so the warmer, more hospitable climate is very welcome.
Well, I did a bit of fiddlin’ with WSPR-X this evening. Here’s the results …
I was transmitting 5 watts, using a 31-ft vertical. If you’re more interested in how WSPR-X works, it’s one of the modes included in W1JT’s WSJT-X ver. 1.8.0 software. WSPR is explained at http://wsprnet.org.
The latest release candidate of the WSJT-X software incorporating FT-8 mode has been released (rc2), and it seems to have cured my power output problem. I worked several stations on 20, 17, and 15 meters this afternoon and everything looks ok — JT65, JT9, and FT8 all worked great.
The bands seem OK today … much better than the recent past. Hopefully I’ll be able to get on later this evening to see who’s about. It’s a dreary day outside with thunderstorms in the forecast so that might put a damper on later operations but hey … that’s ham radio, isn’t it?
This was the weekend of the big storm … Hurricane Matthew … so I planned on hunkering down at home and doing some operating (if the power cooperated). Well, we didn’t lose power (except for a few momentary blips), but we did get a LOT of rain (10.5 inches at my QTH) and some pretty stiff winds (gusts up to 35 mph). There was a lot of flooding in the area and lots of downed trees. I’m just lucky that I never really lost my AC. Of course, I could have gone to qrp and battery power. I’m also lucky I didn’t get called in for work … that could have been nasty during the heavier part of the storm.
This weekend was the Pennsylvania QSO Party, and I spent a bit of time chasing PA stations. Lots of fun. I was mostly on 40 meters, but did operate a bit on 80 and 20 meters as well. I didn’t make a lot of contacts, but that was by choice. There were certainly a lot of stations to contact. Participation was high.
I also worked a lot of DX, mostly on JT65 and JT9. There was a lot of activity in the digital segments of the band as well. I still find it strangely satisfying to sit there for a minute with nothing happening and then the exchange is displayed. Magic!
I worked my one and only Delaware station EVER on 80 meter SSB, too. For some reason (other than the fact that there aren’t a lot of Delaware hams), I have never worked that state before. I was happy to finally fill out my WAS. To top that, he’s already confirmed the QSO by LOTW.
All in all, it was a fun, productive weekend, in spite of all the drama with the storm. It was a great weekend to be indoors!