More Parks

I worked seven more parks yesterday afternoon, and I can safely say that it was not “a walk in the park” (Get it? Hah!!). The higher noise levels, combined with the weak signals made for difficult copy. The QSB was ferocious as well … signals disappeared into the noise and then reappeared. Very tiring on the ears! I really admire the activators venturing out into the conditions we’ve been experiencing lately.

The weather has been oppressive. Heat indices have been over 100 too many days, and the pattern will probably continue at least into August. That, coupled with high humidity (over 80% some days), makes for miserable days. This morning when I left for work at 5:30 am, the temperature was 81 degrees Fahrenheit and nearly 60% humidity.

I’m certainly ready for the new sunspot cycle. It’s reported that the first numbered sunspot of the new cycle has appeared (and persisted), so change is on the way. The bummer is that it’s going to take a few years until things are significantly better. Oh, well … it is what it is.

73 de Dick N4BC

LOTW

I sat down this evening and calculated my percentage of QSOs confirmed in LOTW. It’s surprisingly high … 70.28 percent! That’s a pretty good return on investment 🙂 .

I think a lot of that can be attributed to digital confirmations. The software used for the digital modes will usually interface with logging programs to automatically upload QSOs to LOTW. I use the combo of WSJTX, JTAlert, and DxLab/DXKeeper. All seamless.

I just got in from Choir Practice, and had to drive home through a thunderstorm. So much for getting in some operating before bedtime 🙁 .

73 de Dick N4BC

The Pits …

I just read somewhere that we have been weeks without a sunspot. Boy, can you tell! Although there are openings … good openings … the overall propagation has been pretty dismal here. The summer storms haven’t helped. Lots of static crashes and noise, especially on the lower bands.

Well, there’s nothing WE can do, other than turn on the radio and see what’s going on. If you just sit back and bitch about “the bands”, you’re definitely NOT going to work anyone. You’ve got to put in the time to reap the rewards.

I got my first physical QSL card in a long time last week in the mail. It’s a notable occasion when I DO get one. It took me quite a while to figure out settings (again) to print a label for my card. I always forget to write them down. I send so few cards that I print my own on a color laser printer as needed.

Last week, I took the SkyWarn Advanced Spotter class online. Very interesting … I learned quite a bit. It was well worth the time I put into it. Lots of good information on thunderstorm formation, tornadoes, radar interpretation, and a good review of basic information. The next course that I want to take is the net control operator class.

Speaking of weather … we’ve had some pretty strong thunderstorms here in the evenings recently. Temperatures in the upper 90’s Fahrenheit during the days … high dew points … frontal activity … yeah, we’ve had thunderstorms 🙂 . Summertime is always active here.

73 de Dick N4BC

Workin’ for It

Afternoons and evenings, the noise on 40 meters has been terrible here at the ole’ homestead. Lots of hash and static crashes from weather-related phenomena. Of course, this is prime park-hunting time. It’s frustrating to hear stations working the activators and not hear those activators. You can tell they’re there … you can occasionally hear them rise above the noise for a moment … and then they dive back down into the noise. I could probably fake my way through a contest-style QSO … signal report, QTH, and 73 … but that’s almost like cheating if I’m not sure what they’re saying … if I have to guess.

CW’s a bit better. In the past couple of days, I’ve worked NK8O and WB8ERJ, and they had great, readable signals … hey, CW is like SSB with an amp! Digital and CW are certainly the way to go when conditions suck!

Even when you can copy with lots of difficulty … the old ears ain’t what they used to be … the noise and crashes are really fatiguing. You can’t keep it up for long. In the afternoons, after work, I like to listen and monitor the spots while working on other stuff at my desk … it gets irritating fast. It’s summertime!

Late evenings and nighttime are better, but unless they’re camping, most of the POTA guys have packed up and gone home. Parks being what they are, they close at sundown unless you’re registered and camping … nature of the beast.

73 de Dick N4BC

Hot!

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