Long Time, No See …

Has it really been last December since I last posted here? Wow! Time flies!

Last December, my boss passed away, and as you can imagine, that was a major disruption to our work process. All of us in the shop were taking on responsibilities that he had previously taken care of.

Things are finally calming down now. We have a new manager, and things are running somewhat smoothly again. Hopefully, no more glitches.

Next month, though, we’re starting an upgrade to our radio system. Every two years, major hardware and software updates occur to keep our 800 MHz P25 radio system current. What could go wrong? 😀

I had to remove one of my long-time resources from the site … Astrid’s Embroidery. The owners are retiring, and it looks like they are closing down for good. Sorry to see that … they did quality work and were a pleasure to deal with.

73 de Dick N4BC

Public Service Pt. 3

Continuing with the saga of the Boys and Girls Club 12th Annual Smart Smiles 5K race … it was a great success. The race is a fundraiser for the Boys and Girls Club of the Virginia Peninsula. There were 288 runners/walkers, and there were no injuries that required our attention. Our radio participation consisted mostly of status reports to the race officials (first runners at our position on the course, last runner, etc.) Nothing exciting, but the organizers were grateful to have us in place in case something DID happen (like a medical emergency)! The youngest starter was around 5 years old and the oldest was older than me (76+)! The weather was warm and very humid, and the water stop at my position was much appreciated.

We had the use of a portable UHF repeater, which solved the issues we had last year with solid communications to all parts of the course. We had a UHF simplex frequency as a backup, and net control seemed to be able to hear most stations well. I used my Icom ID-51A and had my Kenwood TH-F6A as a backup. The Icom performed perfectly with a speaker mic and earbud.

To summarize, it was a lot of fun to do a public service event again. It had been over 10 years since the last one, and it was good to get out and interact with everybody. I met some great people, and saw quite a few that I knew already. Everybody seemed to have a good time … it was a great way to spend a Saturday morning!

73 de Dick N4BC


I was able to spend a few hours in the North American CW QSO Party on Saturday. The band gods were smiling on us. Eighty, forty, and twenty were smokin’! I did all ‘search and pounce’, and logged 130 QSOs. Lots of fun! I’ve already uploaded the log to the NCJ website, and updated MY log and LOTW as well. Done! Finished! 

N1MM+ performed flawlessly, and having the large bandscope was nice. You could visually pick the BIG signals and work them, and then go back an fill in with the weaker ones. It’s not as high-resolution as the smaller one on the IC-7300, but it’s adequate. This free software is well worth exploring if you want to participate in contests.

I did attend a birthday party for an old friend’s 90th earlier in the afternoon. This afternoon we’ve got an awards banquet for the granddaughter. She had four first-place finishes in the All-City Swimming Competition! So proud!

We had a beautiful day yesterday … really too nice a day to spend inside hunched over the rig, contesting. Sigh … the sacrifices we have to make for the hobby! HA!!

Have a great day TODAY!

73 de Dick N4BC

Amazingly Quick

I just worked Ghana last night, and this morning when I updated my log, it was already confirmed in LOTW. I’ve been a DX station before … VQ9D, VQ9RB, VQ9D/D, S79D … and it was a lot different back in the “good old days.” I remember sending my logs to my manager back in the US by snail mail, which sometimes took weeks, depending on the vagaries of the various postal systems involved. It was even slower in the early days before I had a manager, with direct mail to me and back, not to mention more expensive. Eventually, with the arrival of email, it got much easier and faster to get my logs to my QSL manager. Now, with LOTW, it’s darn near instantaneous in some cases. I just love technology, don’t you?

On the air this morning, there were lots of Asian stations on FT8. I worked a JA, and tried to land some others to no avail … Hong Kong, Australia … there was even a Russian Antarctic station that was pretty strong. Other North American stations were working them, but I had no luck. I did work a couple of stations on JT65 though … first in a long time … one on 40 meters and one on 20 meters. One was in Florida and the other was Canadian, in Ontario. There’s stuff out there guys and gals … just go get it!

Later today I’m going to dive into the NAQP CW contest. I’ll be a late starter due to family commitments, but hopefully fate will smile on me and let me do my thing!

73 de Dick N4BC

Antenna Analysis

There are lots of antenna analyzers on the market now … and at all price points. Here’s an extremely affordable one … the RigExpert AA-30ZERO. Barebones, but looks interesting, even if only from an experimental viewpoint. Eric, who has a great YouTube channel covering all aspects of ham radio (HamRadioConcepts), did a pretty thorough demonstration :

The boards are available from Gigaparts for $75 + S&H as I’m writing this. I’m getting one!

And don’t forget to check out all of Eric’s videos (and he’s got a LOT!) … he talks about antennas, radios, DMR, accessories… you name it!

73 de Dick N4BC