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

Making Progress

I am continuing to make progress with Win4Icom control of the IC-7300. Everything works as it should, and now I’m working on integrating my third-party software … WSJT-X, Fldigi, and DXLab. I’ve just got WSJT-X working. VA2FSQ, Tom, the author of this software, has done a GREAT job with it! I’m still in the thirty day evaluation period, but will most likely spring for the paid version. It’s well worth the $50 he asks.

The WSJT-X was just about driving me bonkers! I set the RX BW of the IC-7300 to 3.6KHz for my digital modes (FIL1), but every time I transmitted, it would revert to 500Hz (FIL2). I finally figured out I needed to set FIL2 to 3.6KHz. Everything works well then. USB-D seems to default to FIL2, and I haven’t figured out how to change it (if even possible).

SKYWARN Logo

After talking to Howard, WZ4K, who is the SKYWARN Amateur Radio coordinator for our region, I decided to sign up for the Basic course in Gloucester, VA next Tuesday evening. I’m not really involved in anything like ARES or RACES, so I figure I can help my neighbors a bit this way. As long as I don’t have to wear a fluorescent vest and three HTs it’ll be OK!!

I haven’t been on the air much. Conditions have kinda sucked and I’ve been busy playing with new software. Just a few more days and then I’ll hit it hard and heavy again!

It looks like we’ve got some brisk winds and heavy rains coming up later this week … the remnants of Hurricane Michael. It’s approaching the Gulf coast as I’m writing this, and it looks like it’s going to be a CAT 3 when it hits in the Panama City vicinity. Bad news! Be Safe!

73 de Dick N4BC