President’s Day

I got up late today, it being a holiday, and flipped on the rig. I tuned around 40 meters, and heard a couple of Parks on the Air (POTA) stations, and gave K3USI (portable on Howland Island, NY) a call, and he came right back to me with a 59. He was a good 59 as well. I also heard W4BKR, who was working from the Plumtree Island NWR and booming in at 59 plus a bunch (I could almost throw a rock and hit him from my shack). Both were handling pileups well and knocking them off one by one. Good ops! BTW, those were both SSB contacts, and I had to find my mic before I could call them 😀 .

From there, I moved to see what was on the FT8 segments, and didn’t find much of interest, so I called CQ and landed Thomas, AE4TH, who lives in the Fox Hill section of Hampton, my neighboring city … probably not ten miles as the crow flies! Howdy, neighbor!!

Just planning a lazy day off. The XYL is going to cook up some ribs and cabbage and sweet potatoes later for dinner, and I’m looking forward to that. I will probably turn the rig on later and see what’s going on. I’ve also got a new in-line meter for my portable ops to keep track of my battery voltage, and I need to rig up some wires and powerpoles for the input/output.

Coming up next weekend is the North American RTTY QSO Party. I’m hoping to participate for some of that, but once again, I have conflicts that weekend … we’ll see what happens. Life just gets in the way of ham radio 🙂 .

If you’re off today, have fun … if you’re working today, my sympathies. Sometimes working for local government has its advantages.

73 de Dick N4BC

The Aftermath …

It’s always interesting to get on the bands on the Monday after a big contest, and last evening was no different. The FT8 crowd was there … 80, 60, & 40 were full of FT8 signals … 20 and above were dead here. CW was a far second place …

BUT, the interesting thing …

I could not find a single RTTY signal, anywhere. Just the evening before, it was wall-to-wall RTTY with the ARRL RTTY Roundup going on. I don’t know if they were all burned out or if they only fired up that mode during contests. I suspect some of both!

I dove in and worked a bunch of North American FT8 QSOs, with some Caribbean islands thrown in for good measure. I also worked a few CW contacts as well. Had some enjoyable chats there. I try to pick the best-sounding fists. I’m getting too old to try and parse poorly sent, poorly spaced CW. Running words and letters together is NOT GOOD!

Sorry for my mini-rant there … have a good week and get on the air! Enjoy!!

73 de Dick N4BC

Doin’ the Contest Thing

I spent a good part of the day working stations in the ARRL RTTY Roundup. I decided to use “classic” RTTY, rather than one of the new modes (FT8, PSK31, etc). I had to fiddle a while to get all the software working together, but nothing serious. I used Win4Icom, my IC-7300, FLDIGI, and N1MM+ Logger. It all played well together. I was running about 30 watts power out.

My first contacts in the contest …

I had tried to use a different RTTY engine before (MMTTY), but had a few issues with it. It worked … but I was less than impressed with some aspects of it and that’s what led me to try FLDIGI.

I operated AFSK (Audio Frequency Shift Keying), using the sound card in the IC-7300 and the only little nag there, is my ALC was at about 50 percent on transmit. The manual says this is OK, but I’ve always tried to get it as close to zero as possible. I think there’s a way to use both the USB and CI-V cables to use FSK (Frequency Shift Keying). I’ll have to research that.

The IC-7300 will do FSK in the RTTY mode, and there’s lots of memories for preprogramming contest messages, so I guess you could work a contest just sitting there reading the display and pressing buttons, but then you don’t get the integrated logging that N1MM+ gives you. Synergy, I think they call that!

I probably would have continued on a bit more, but !!MAN!! — did that stint at the radio do a job on my lower back. I definitely know I’ve been sitting in a “not too comfortable” chair for a long time. I definitely need to take more frequent breaks and walk around a bit.

So that’s the story! Maybe I’ll get on the air a bit more tomorrow afternoon … we’ll see. I have good intentions …

So far, my stats are 75 QSOs and 2,625 points … only 3 DX QSOs … all the rest USA and Canada. Pretty pathetic, huh? Hey, don’t judge me … I’m playing radio!

UPDATE: I ended up with 161 QSOs, 7 of which were DX stations, and 8,050 points. I had fun!

73 de Dick N4BC

Returns

I was just fiddling with numbers this afternoon and was surprised to find that my LOTW account shows a 68.42% confirmation rate. That’s a pretty good number, isn’t it? Had to recheck my cipherin’. I had no idea it was that good. If only the lottery had that kind of return, I could put up that 75-foot tower with multiple beams on it!!

A lot of those confirmations are due to digital modes. Lots of digital operators are uploading to LOTW in near real-time, as the QSO is ending, or very soon after. Logging programs make it so easy nowadays. The software does it for you.

I see WSJT-X 2.0 rc5 is now available. Joe says that it is pretty much what the final release on December 10th will look like. I haven’t had a LOT of luck working stations using the new 77-bit message format. Lots of people still hanging on to the older 75-bit messaging. Hopefully, they’ll move to the new format, but I expect it’ll take a while. Hams can be slow to change …

One incentive is the contesting mode that’s built-in and the ARRL RTTY Roundup on the radar in January. This’ll be the first time FT-8 has been a contest mode, and I’m looking forward to the challenge.

73 de Dick N4BC

Good Vibrations …

Good vibrations … to quote the Beach Boys … RF vibrations, that is. Last night, I heard stations on just about all HF bands, some quite strong. I worked over a dozen FT8 stations on 40 and 60 meters. The higher frequencies, not so much luck. Although they were solid reception, I just couldn’t connect. Even 80 meters was reasonably devoid of QRN.

I got my RTTY setup working. I was using the wrong mode on the IC-7300. I was set to RTTY and should have been in USB-D since I was using AFSK. At least, it seems to work now. I couldn’t find any RTTY stations on the air yesterday evening to do a final test. But … listening on another receiver, I can hear the diddle and mark/space tones when doing a test transmission.

73 de Dick N4BC