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

Training & Stuff …

I attended a four-hour class today to learn all about the intricacies and nuances of being a SkyWarn Net Control Operator. Hurricane season is heating up, and it never hurts to be ready. There’s always a shortage of NCOs, especially when it’s an extended event, as a hurricane and its aftereffects may be.

Skywarn NCO Certificate

Otherwise, I’ve been on the air. The bands are not stellar, but they’re adequate. I’ve been hunting and working POTA activators, and most of them are really down in the noise. It takes real effort to pull them out of the hash. I’ve got 198 parks worked and 156 confirmed now.

73 de Dick N4BC

The Pits …

I just read somewhere that we have been weeks without a sunspot. Boy, can you tell! Although there are openings … good openings … the overall propagation has been pretty dismal here. The summer storms haven’t helped. Lots of static crashes and noise, especially on the lower bands.

Well, there’s nothing WE can do, other than turn on the radio and see what’s going on. If you just sit back and bitch about “the bands”, you’re definitely NOT going to work anyone. You’ve got to put in the time to reap the rewards.

I got my first physical QSL card in a long time last week in the mail. It’s a notable occasion when I DO get one. It took me quite a while to figure out settings (again) to print a label for my card. I always forget to write them down. I send so few cards that I print my own on a color laser printer as needed.

Last week, I took the SkyWarn Advanced Spotter class online. Very interesting … I learned quite a bit. It was well worth the time I put into it. Lots of good information on thunderstorm formation, tornadoes, radar interpretation, and a good review of basic information. The next course that I want to take is the net control operator class.

Speaking of weather … we’ve had some pretty strong thunderstorms here in the evenings recently. Temperatures in the upper 90’s Fahrenheit during the days … high dew points … frontal activity … yeah, we’ve had thunderstorms 🙂 . Summertime is always active here.

73 de Dick N4BC

Software stories …

I’m still trying to get Win4Icom interfaced with N1MM. I’m close … I can’t get the WinKeyer USB working properly … I think it may be a port conflict, but a bit more study and experimenting is required.

I’ve got JS8Call working OK. That was pretty simple. All I had to do was install a pair of virtual ports with com0com and it worked the first try. It’s still difficult to make a contact, though, with so few users. Unless you catch them on the air, there are long periods of no activity. The mode is still in development and users haven’t reached a critical mass yet.

I went to the SKYWARN class last night. It was interesting … a lot of it came back to me from years ago when I was a pilot and had to learn it for my license, but I did pick up some new things, too. There was a good crowd … probably about twenty people. There were military, CERT, hams, old folks, young folks, in-between folks … just a good cross-section of the population. Maybe the tornadoes we had when the remnants of Michael passed last week spurred attendance?

My shack is getting to the point where I can’t find anything without tearing everything apart. I’ve got stuff on top of stuff. I think this weekend, there’ll have to be a reckoning with stuff!

73 de Dick N4BC

WSJT-X 2.0 rc2

I was on the air for a while last night, and was trying the new message format for WSJT-X  2.0 rc2 FT-8 (incompatible with the “current” version 1.9.1 message format). I set anything up and called CQ on both 40 and 20 meters, with no takers. Some evenings you luck out and others … FAIL! I guess there were no “experimenters” listening on the bands when I was on.

I did make a couple of sixty meter FT8 QSOs, but for some reason, I was just not having a lot of luck last night. I could hear (see?) plenty of stations on 80 through 17 meters, but couldn’t get an answer for trying. I called CQ and didn’t have any takers. It’s like fishing … sometimes you don’t even get a nibble!

I’m driving up to the Gloucester EOC for SKYWARN training tonight. It’s about a one hour drive and then a couple hours for the class. I should be home by 9, hopefully. I’m looking forward to it.

73 de Dick N4BC