Virginia QSO Party

This weekend is the 2019 Virginia QSO Party, and I plan to participate. I usually get into it pretty well, but the past couple of years propagation has been so bad I didn’t even bother. Hopefully the propagation gods will smile on 40 and 80 meters this weekend.

I never get into it well enough to win a BIG prize, like a plaque, but EVERYBODY gets a certificate if they send in a log. So, everybody is a winner!

Sample 2019 VQP Certificate

On another note, I just qualified for my first Parks on the Air certificate. This is the lowest level for Hunters. It requires contact with 10 POTA entities.

POTA Bronze Certificate

Hey … I’m turning into a REAL certificate hunter! I’m not doing it for the glory, though. 😀 I’m doing it for the challenge. Pulling some of these guys out of the QRM and QRN IS a real challenge. Band conditions are up and down from minute to minute. FUN, FUN, FUN!!

It’s a beautiful day here today … temperature is around 70 F … sunny … just a great springlike day. Too bad I’m stuck at work. Supposed to get cooler and rain tomorrow. BUT … I guess we’re lucky compared to the Midwest, which is getting nasty weather again.

Oh well … can’t do anything about death, taxes and the weather! Take care guys … have a nice weekend!

73 de Dick N4BC

Stuff, continued …

I just worked a dozen or so FT8 contacts on 40 and 30. Primarily Europe and some USA. I couldn’t hear any signals above 20 meters, and things were pretty spotty below 30. It was a pleasant interlude 🙂 .

We’ve got another Winter Weather Advisory from the National Weather Service this evening. The worst of it is supposed to be to the West of us, but who knows … we will probably get some nasty stuff. I heard maybe an inch or so of snow here before it changes over to rain. It’s going to be cold and nasty, but not enough to miss work 🙁 .

Spring is less than a month away now … officially … but I’ve seen snow in April before, so it will be what it will be. I find I’m less tolerant of the cold and wet weather than when I was younger … warm feels good. Hopefully we’ll have a Spring this year, without the weather quickly ramping up into the 90’s.

73 de Dick N4BC

Downtime …

I had planned to jump into the NAQP this past weekend … I really did! But … for some reason I just couldn’t seem to get up the gumption to press the rig’s ON button. I had a severe case of the blahs this last weekend. I spent most of the day Saturday reading and watching a couple of movies, and took a nap! No apologies … it felt good to veg out a bit. Outside it was rainy and at times a wintry mix … just a nasty day to leave the house.

My wife’s birthday was earlier in the week, and our son took us all out to dinner on Sunday evening at a popular smokehouse in the area. I decided to splurge and order prime rib … that was a mistake! That was one of the toughest slabs of meat I’ve come across in quite a while. It tasted great, but I had a sore jaw from all the chewing. Oh well, it was a nice family get-together. Too few of those nowadays.

Last night was a bit lackluster for FT8. I made a few stateside contacts, but things were pretty sparse. I did try to catch the 9L1 in Sierra Leone on CW, but he had quite a pileup going and I was not a lottery winner! Good operator at the key, though … he was owning that pileup!

73 de Dick N4BC

Crankin’ ’em out again

I had a good evening on sixty meters FT8. It’s been raining all day, so I camped out in the shack and got some operating time in. I worked England, The Netherlands, Spain, Bulgaria, Canada, and, of course, the good ol’ U S of A. Signals were good. FT8 is primarily found on 5357.0. There’s lots of activity, and sometimes you find real gems there.

60 Meters 12/29/2018

That’s not bad for what I’m using as an antenna. I’ve got a 31-foot piece of wire wire-tied to a fiberglass mast with a 4:1 UNUN, fed by 50 watts through a LDG tuner and 100-feet of RG-8X. I’ve got one radial on the ground of indeterminate length. Definitely non-resonant and non-directional. BUT … it works! If you can’t have an elaborate, expensive antenna … just get some wire into the air. ANY antenna is better than NO antenna!

73 de Dick N4BC


It was a pretty good Friday at work, actually. We had out Shop Holiday Party and the boss paid for everybody’s lunch. It was a a buffet restaurant, and I subsequently fell into a food coma! Honestly, I always eat too much when it’s laid out like that. Anyway, we were given the afternoon off afterwards, so I went home and immediately took a nap to sleep off the food overdose!

Later on, I woke up and flipped on the rig and checked out the bands. Not very exciting … quite noisy and weak signals. I tuned around 30 meters and found FY5FY in French Guiana, Didier, calling CQ. One call to him and he was in the log. He was literally the only CW signal I was hearing on that band.

I dropped down to 60 meters and saw some FT8 activity, so I called CQ, and had QSOs with California, Florida, and Poland … the Polish station was really marginal, but finally in the log.

Stations hearing me on Sixty meters

There was good activity on 80 meters CW and FT8, but I didn’t have good luck there. My vertical loads perfectly through my tuner on 80, but it’s really short (31 feet), and not an efficient radiator. With good conditions, it works well enough, but in these current conditions, it’s hit or miss sometimes.

So that’s my Friday. I’ve got a busy weekend with several holiday concerts to attend, and Sunday afternoon, a friend and I are replacing the driver’s side window on my truck. It was frozen shut one morning and I cranked it a bit too forcefully. Lesson learned! It’s forecast to be cold and rainy all weekend, so maybe I’ll get on sometime.

73 & Happy Holidays de N4BC