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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
I confess … I had a very lazy weekend. I just piddled around the house and got nothing accomplished. Monday morning, I did fire up the station and do some FT8, though. Conditions were pretty good. Eighty meters was great, and 40/30/20 were good, too.
I logged forty-four contacts on those bands in an hour or so … mostly from the Americas. I was calling CQ and responding to those calling me back, running 40 Watts to my vertical. I guess if I had searched and pounced, I could have had more DX, but I enjoy working them all.
I’ve been pretty slack about operating from my truck in the parking lot at lunchtime, and want to get back into that. This evening, I plan to check out the portable equipment and put it back into action. I really need to get away from my desk at lunchtime. If I don’t, I find myself doing work when I should be taking a break. Ya’ know, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” Work breaks make you more efficient!
Seriously, guys and gals, this is where the DX is nowadays. Sure, I catch a few on CW (I seldom operate SSB unless there’s a contest), but it seems the action is on FT8, at least for the foreseeable low solar activity period.
Lots of stuff going on … I spent a LOT of time calling VP6D, the Ducie Island DXPedition, to no avail. I was copying them solid on FT8 on 17 meters, but at about a -13db. With all the QRM, I’m afraid it needed a bit more oomph on my end! After that, I put quite a few US stations in the log, as well as JA and VK.
I guess Fall is finally here. The mornings are downright chilly and a light jacket is not unappreciated during the evening. We fired up the heat over the weekend, and it feels GOOD! We haven’t had a frost yet, but it’s just a matter of time. I’ve mixed up a spray bottle of homebrew de-icer to carry around in my cupholder in the truck. I’m ready!!