A little life in the ol’ bands (and me) yet …

It’s been a while, but I didn’t fade away … I’m still here and kicking! Most of my activity has been digital modes (and I include CW in that). Just last night, I worked a station about 150 miles away on 80 meters JT9 that I literally could not detect on the waterfall … zilch, nada, nyet! The waterfall was pretty much flat except for background noise, yet WSJT-X detected and decoded the signal. Spooky magic!

The weather has been a bit dodgy lately … HOT and afternoon and evening thunderstorms. Not conducive to safe operating. I did remember to renew my ARRL equipment insurance, though. The reminder was a particular loud and near BOOM! Didn’t affect me, but it sure made me jump! this weekend’s forecast is for mid 90’s and heat indices in the low 100’s. I think I’ll skip portable operation until we get a break.

I missed field day this year … didn’t get a chance to participate at all. I had family obligations. Oh well … maybe next year. I really missed getting together with the guys. At the club meeting last night there were lots of photos and talk about how much better we did this year than last year.

I had a neighbor’s tree drop in our yard, so now it’s MY tree. I have to get out there with the chainsaw and knock it down to size. It’s not a big trunk, thankfully … about 4 inches in diameter. If it wasn’t for the hot weather, it would be an easy job.

Well, that’s enough for now. Catch you later!

73 de Dick N4BC

Looking up …

Not literally … I meant that conditions improved quite a bit over the past couple of days. Forty meters really seems to be the workhorse, but twenty had its moments. I was working JT-65 and JT-9 with one hand, while doing some catching up on paperwork with the other and the waterfall was full, with stations stacked on top of stations. I would transmit a CQ and at least two stations would decode coming back to me. Midwest, East coast, and Europe were all workable. Lots of fun!

Yesterday afternoon, I adjusted the hamsticks for my truck using my handy-dandy MINI60 Antenna Analyzer. Yes, I parted with my hard-earned cash and I must say, I’m really pleased with the device. It’s well-built and does what it’s supposed to. With the Bluetooth linked to my smartphone, It’s easy to see where the resonance is … the answer is just a scan away. I’m hoping to get some portable operations in from some nearby parks soon, now that the weather is nice.

So, I’ll catch you later.

73 de Dick N4BC

On again!

Well, I’ve been somewhat of a slacker … my last sustained activity was in February. I just had an accumulation of things that couldn’t be put off any longer that took precedence. I’m still not out of the woods, but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel!

I have managed to get some JT activity the past couple of days. Yesterday, in particular, seemed to be pretty good propagation during the early afternoon, but I didn’t have the time to get much operating done. Ah, well … I can only hope!

The weather is decidedly more cooperative lately, so maybe I’ll have a chance to get the cobweb antenna up, and do some portable operations from the truck as well. I checked out my FT-817ND and the associated mobile and portable goodies the other evening, and I think I’m OK there.

I got a couple of QSL cards this week, too! That’s an unusual occurrence for me nowadays. Back in the “good old days,” it was NOT unusual to get a few cards every week. Of course, when I was rare DX, I used to get LOTS of cards every week. Times change.

Well, I’m about finished my lunch break at work, so let me get back to work. See you later …

73 de Dick N4BC

NAQP – SSB

I got a bit of SSB operating in during this weekend. The bands were not very good from my location. Noise levels were just high enough to be irritating, and I never did manage to work any stations other than 20 and  40 meters. Forty was the most prolific band, and I did manage to find quite a few stations among the squeals and heterodynes of  the AM broadcast stations.

Sunday, I worked 20 and 40 again … but JT65 this time. There was a good mix of stations on, but primarily up and down the east coast and midwest. I worked them until the band petered out and then switched off the rig.

All in all, it was a good weekend, and I had a lot of fun. I was glad to have an “indoor” hobby, since the weekend was damp and dreary. Hey, it was better than the foot of snow we had a couple of weeks ago! Ah, well … spring is just around the corner.

73 de Dick N4BC

80 Meter Activity and Antennas

Eighty meters was pretty good at the QTH here last evening. Made contacts on JT9 up and down the East Coast. The QRN was minimal, and some stations were pretty strong, too. It’s the best I’ve seen it in quite a while.

It amazes me that my 31-foot wire vertical loads so well on 80 meters, too. The LDG tuner grinds a bit, but it does find a match. I don’t want to think about the efficiency of that antenna. The inverted-L is a disappointment though … nowhere near as good as the vertical and much noisier. I had the thought last night that maybe the coax is not up to snuff. It’s probably around twenty years old, even though it’s only been in use for maybe five years. I think I’ll substitute a new piece and see if that makes any difference.

I’ve got a new MFJ-1835 Cobweb antenna, still in the box. The weather hasn’t been cooperating since it arrived, and I’m hoping for some reasonable temperatures the week before Christmas, because I’m taking vacation then. I’ve read some pretty good reviews, and am really interested in experimenting with this antenna.

Hope everybody has a great Holiday season …

73 de Dick N4BC

Some CW Action this evening

I’ve had some luck this evening working CW. There were some pretty strong signals coming out of the Caribbean and Central America … ZF2, HR9, PJ4 … etc. They were working pileups (mostly into Europe with some North Americans – me being one of those). All good operators, and just knocking them off, one after another. Not the most leisurely QSOs … more “Slam, Bam, Thank you Ma’am”. BUT … a contact in the log on an otherwise poor evening is a contact in the log!

Had a little lightning and thunder in the area this evening, too. I would think that as cool as it was today, that’s unusual.

Our repeater trustee wants me to give him some help setting up and interfacing our new Yaesu Fusion repeater with our RLC-2 Controller this weekend, so I guess I will give him a hand with that. We’re finally getting it installed SOON, I hope. Seems like it’s been forever since we lost our old tower site.

73 de Dick N4BC

Weekend Doings – Storms, QSO Parties, and a New One!

This was the weekend of the big storm … Hurricane Matthew … so I planned on hunkering down at home and doing some operating (if the power cooperated). Well, we didn’t lose power (except for a few momentary blips), but we did get a LOT of rain (10.5 inches at my QTH) and some pretty stiff winds (gusts up to 35 mph). There was a lot of flooding in the area and lots of downed trees. I’m just lucky that I never really lost my AC. Of course, I could have gone to qrp and battery power. I’m also lucky I didn’t get called in for work … that could have been nasty during the heavier part of the storm.

This weekend was the Pennsylvania QSO Party, and I spent a bit of time chasing PA stations. Lots of fun. I was mostly on 40 meters, but did operate a bit on 80 and 20 meters as well. I didn’t make a lot of contacts, but that was by choice. There were certainly a lot of stations to contact. Participation was high.

I also worked a lot of DX, mostly on JT65 and JT9. There was a lot of activity in the digital segments of the band as well. I still find it strangely satisfying to sit there for a minute with nothing happening and then the exchange is displayed. Magic!

I worked my one and only Delaware station EVER on 80 meter SSB, too. For some reason (other than the fact that there aren’t a lot of Delaware hams), I have never worked that state before. I was happy to finally fill out my WAS. To top that, he’s already confirmed the QSO by LOTW.

All in all, it was a fun, productive weekend, in spite of all the drama with the storm. It was a great weekend to be indoors!

73 de Dick N4BC

A Good Evening

Had a good evening on the radio last night using JT65/JT9 modes! For supposedly poor to fair propagation, Europe was booming in during the early afternoon. Later in the evening, there was lots of stateside action, with a few Europeans thrown in for good measure … all at 10 to 20 watts.

Most of the action was on 20 meters, but 40 and 80 were doing well also. I actually made my first JT-65 contacts on 80 meters, loading up my 31-ft vertical. I’m going to try and get up an 80 meter end fed this evening.

It looks as if we may get some action from the approaching hurricane. The latest predictions show a high probability that we will AT LEAST get rain, tidal flooding, rip currents, and erosion at the beaches. I will most likely be at work 24/7 during the storm and aftermath if this happens, since I am part of the team that maintains my city’s communication system. In the meantime, we’re performing pre-storm checks to make sure everything is operating properly.

73 de Dick N4BC

P.S.

I did get home today at a reasonable hour and in between showers I put up an end-fed multiband antenna with a 9:1 UNUN. It seems to tune well on all the bands, and the S-meter says its a bit better than the vertical. I haven’t had a chance to check it out with the analyzer yet. I’ll give it a whirl tonight!

Dick

Back into the fray …

I sat down to the radio equipment tonight and got a little bit of operating done … JT65. Conditions were doable, but certainly not what you would call good. Twenty and forty were usable, and I did make a few contacts.

I spent most of the evening paying bills and changing emails and usernames on accounts that use my callsign. I never realized just how many there were!

We were under a tornado watch and threats of flash flooding, but luckily nothing materialized. They are predicting rain and thunderstorms on into Saturday, so I don’t think I’ll do much outside work this weekend.

73 de Dick N4BC