What’s New?

I haven’t posted for a while, but that doesn’t mean that I haven’t been doing anything.

I’ve been chasing Parks on the Air (as usual), and having some success with the improved solar conditions, but my main emphasis since the 1st of the month has been the 13 Colonies Special Event. So far, I have ten of the original 13 in my log, and still trying to break the pileups on the last three. There are three bonus stations, and I have WM3PEN in the books, but not the overseas two. I’ve worked them where I found them … 80M, 40M, and 20M … and on several modes … CW, FT4, and FT8. Surprisingly, none on SSB so far. The phone pileups are chaotic.

Six meters has been having some nice openings, too. All up and down the East coast from here … the farthest contacts have been into Canada, Cuba, and Bermuda. The majority of those contacts have been on FT8.

Our VHF repeater (W4MT) has been up and running for several weeks now, after having some problems passing audio (knock on wood 🙂 ). We never identified the cause, but the problems were coincident with HVAC problems … the drain on the wall unit was plugged and the condensation was running out onto the floor inside instead of outside. Everything was still cool. We unclogged the drain line, and I wonder if the high humidity had something to do with the issues we were having?

It looks like Tropical Storm Elsa will be just a rain event here in coastal Virginia. We’ve still got our eye on its progress, but hopefully it’ll just be wet! We’ll surely see some coastal flooding, but we get that with any big rain event.

73 de Dick N4BC

A Hamfest for the Times

I spent all day Saturday in front of my computer for my first virtual hamfest! DX Engineering sponsored their first DXE Virtual Hamfest and DX Academy.

The first half of the day was a variety of talks on various subjects by hams that were very knowledgeable in their subject matter. The second half was dedicaed to honing your DXing skills. Covered were everything from getting started in amateur satellites to low band antennas for DXing. There were two $1000 gift certificates given away … not to me, unfortunately.

I watched all of the talks, but my primary interest was one by K8ZT on Youth in Amateur Radio. He had lots of great info on getting youngsters interested in ham radio. W0GJ also had a presentation on the VP6R DXpedition to Pitcairn Island … what a beautiful island!

Hats off to TIm Duffy, K3LR, for organizing this and gathering a great group of experts. He noted that the entire day’s events were recorded and will show up on YouTube shortly. It’s worth a view.

73 de Dick N4BC

Virginia QSO Party

This weekend is the Virginia QSO Party. I participate most years, but have missed the past couple of years, due to various unplanned life interruptions. This year though, it looks like a go!

With the admonition to limit personal interactions and to stay at home as much as possible to help contain COVID-19, I seem to have been made a captive audience. Even if I wanted to get out and do something, most businesses are closed, have reduced operating hours, or are out of basic necessities.

So, if you’re in the same boat this weekend, join me in the VQP. I usually do a search and pounce operation, SSB and/or CW.

73 de Dick N4BC

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

Running!

Not me, folks! All I did was help with communications. The race was a Marathon/Relay/50K.

It was held on the Noland Trail, which is part of the Mariner’s Museum here in Newport News, VA. The trail is a loop around Lake Maury, and is a total distance of 4.8 miles. The race was obviously several loops. There were 300 runners, and they were started in waves of the different skill levels. The event was part of the museum’s ARRRtober Festival ( with family-oriented pirate-themed events).

I managed to do some reading, because I was nowhere near the action or runners. As a matter if fact, I never saw the participants. I was guarding an entrance to the trail to keep non-participants off the track during the event … basically letting them know why the gate was locked. It was a beautiful day … mildly chilly, even, in the early morning with a slight breeze. The high during the day was in the low 70s. I was onsite at 5:30 am for the 7 am start, and worked until noon, when my shift ended. I believe that the finish line was no longer manned after 3:15 pm. I don’t know how many of the 300 finished the race.

All in all, it was a great day, and I really enjoyed the chance to get out of the house and into the fresh air. The Mariner’s Museum also is K-4567 in the Panks on the Air database. It’s part of the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail. Just down the street is the Virginia Living Museum, which is also part of the trail. Of course, as long as I’m within 100 feet of the water around here, it’s on the trail. Gonna have to activate this one soon!

73 de Dick N4BC