Random Thoughts

It’s a beautiful day outside … sunshine, but a little chilly (41 deg F) and breezy. The prior couple of days have been wet and cold. The folks north of us have been “blessed” with a major winter storm. I don’t envy them!

Tonight is our annual Radio club Holiday Banquet. This year it’s a potluck with the clubs (PARC and SPARK) supplying the fried chicken and all us attendees bringing a side dish or dessert. Last year’s party was mass confusion due to a mix up about the restaurant reservations. This year it was decided to have a self-catered meal.

I was off work all last week. As usual I had a list of things to accomplish and never got around to any of the items. There were lots of POTA activations, but most were not even copyable at my QTH. I could hear hunters giving them reports, but for me … NADA! I did work a few, and my unique park count is now up to 216.

I’ve been concentrating on the FT4/8 modes and had reasonable success with contacts there. JS8 has upgraded to version 2.0 with some new features, so I’ve been looking at that mode a bit harder. Then too, I’ve been playing with my new RSP-1A SDR receiver. It’s fascinating tuning through the shortwave bands and listening to what’s there.

I’ve also been working on a few FEMA certifications. They’re not only applicable for my job, but also for ham radio stuff like SKYWARN and ARES. I had completed most of them years ago, but couldn’t confirm it, so I’ve been working my way through the training and tests again.

73 de Dick N4BC

Parks, Islands, and Old Timers

Tomorrow is one of two QCWA chapter meetings that I normally attend during the year. Chapter 119 meets in Virginia Beach most months on Friday, when I am at work. Twice a year, they hold it on the Peninsula where I live, and it’s on Saturday … April and October. Those I can make!

Stu, WA4JUO and his team will treat us to an interesting presentation on the QCWA Expedition to Tangier Island.

Tangier Island

I’m still chugging along with my Parks on the Air (POTA) contacts. I have 198 unique parks confirmed now. the first 100 or so seemed to add up fast … the second 100 have been considerably slower. Some of that is attributable to band conditions. I have heard lots that were just too far down in the mud to copy.

I’ve actually worked more than 200, but the requirement is 200 confirmed! Everything depends on the activator turning in his log and the administrator for that call area getting the data into the database. Some are fast … some are slower. Hey, it’s a hobby … I haven’t seen a paycheck yet. Us hunters just work ’em and wait!

73 de Dick N4BC

Field Day

I spent the morning on Saturday at our club Field Day site. I had a good time renewing friendships with folks I only see once a year at this event.

PARC/SPARK Field Day 2019

Pretty much everything had been set up on Friday evening, and groups were just putting the finishing touches on things. I sort of felt like a fifth wheel … sitting there schmoozing with the rest of the old timers. And what’s with all the yellow vests?

I knew I wasn’t going to get a chance to operate due to other commitments. I had to leave before actual operations got under way. I had my grandkid’s birthday party to be at that evening and then Sunday morning I had to see my Scout Troop off to summer camp for a week. Also, I don’t do 2am shifts anymore … I need my beauty sleep!

I guess Field Day has sort of lost its attraction for me. Everything is so organized and regimented … it just doesn’t seem as much FUN as it used to. Parks on the Air operations seem more like what Field Day used to be … set things up quickly in the middle of nowhere and get on the air.

Now, don’t get me wrong. If it’s YOUR thing, go right ahead. I realize that for some people, it’s the only chance they have to operate HF with decent rigs and antennas. Others really enjoy the competition. For them, it’s fun!

Anyway, to make a long story short, I had a great time at my granddaughter’s birthday party. Lots of excitement with all the kids running around and a good chance to catch up with less-often seen family members. Lots of action, since it was a pool party. A good time was had by all!

73 de Dick N4BC


Not the weather … that’s cooled down considerably. I mean the BANDS!

I ventured up into the higher frequency bands tonight and it was productive. I had FT8 QSOs on 20, 17, 15, 12, 10, & 6 meters! The six meter contacts were into Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Tennessee. Good strong signals, too! I think that’s about the first time in over a year that I’ve had any luck on six. I saw a strong KH6 (Hawaii) station on 12 meters, but couldn’t break the digital pileup 😀 .

I don’t even have an decent, efficient antenna on six meters. I just load up my home-brew vertical wire antenna with the autotuner and push about 75 watts at it. I have no idea how much is getting radiated. Enough, I guess. FT8 being a weak signal mode helps a lot.

On the POTA front, I’m just two confirmations short of 100 parks. I have worked 121, actually … just waiting for the activators to send in their logs. Whenever!

Tomorrow night is our club meeting, with a Dutch treat dinner beforehand. Always a highlight of the month. I just put the finishing touches on my Financial report … all ready to present

73 de Dick N4BC

Post-Christmas Stupor

So, Christmas is over for another year, and, as usual, I ate too much! We went over to the kids’ house on Christmas Eve and on Christmas Day. In addition to a gut-busting meal, the snacks were present in great abundance. Every year, I say it’s going to be different, but once again – I had no willpower!

Oh well, next year it’ll be different!! HA!!

It’s been quite a while since I worked any JS8Call, so I downloaded the latest version and found quite a few changes … keys moved. new functions … lots of new stuff. Plus, it’d been so long, I really had to figure out what I was doing all over again. Interesting mode, to say the least!

I’ve been working a bit of CW and FT8 over the holidays, but nothing to write home about. I’ve just been doing family things. I’ve got a dozen days off and go back to work the 3rd of January, and only had to take 4 days of leave with all the holidays. Haven’t got cabin fever yet!

I hope everyone is enjoying the Holidays in their own way. No matter what you celebrate, I wish you the all best!

73 de Dick N4BC