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!!
Michael has come and gone now, and it was nowhere as bad as it could have been here at my QTH in Tidewater, VA. There were tornadoes and heavy rains all around us … to the South, West, and North … but most of the really nasty stuff was to the North of us. At the house, it was mostly high winds, rain, overturned trash cans, and lots of silver maple branches in the front yard. Many people are without power, but my power never failed. I did lose internet for about a half hour. When I look at the videos of the storm hitting the Florida panhandle, it’s sobering to see what Mother Nature can dish out.
Of course, the internet dropout was in the middle of the weekly Tidewater DMR Net on TG 31515, so my hotspot became a nice paperweight with a pretty blinky red led. Before I lost my link, we had nine check-ins, and several regulars were absent, no doubt because of the storm. So, better luck next week!
After the Net went away for me, I went ahead and got the DXLab Suite working with Win4Icom. Simple, really … just set up the virtual ports to interface with DXCommander and all worked well. I’m using two monitors and if I don’t judiciously manage what applications I’ve got open, I find I’m running out of room on the monitor desktops. You have to be creative in closing or minimizing and resizing windows on the monitors to keep things from piling up on top of each other.
Today, things are getting back to normal. Michael is heading out to sea, and I’m at work, looking forward to the weekend (as I always do!). We still have generators running at our tower sites that are without power. My daughter, who is doing her practice teaching for her teaching certification/licence, has the day off, since schools are closed today (again!) due to trees down, minor flooding, and power outages.
I worked with the Win4Icom software last night a little more … or maybe I should say with the WSJT-X 2.0 software. I couldn’t figure out why the color coding for the callsigns had disappeared since the other evening (different colors for new DXCC, new grid square, new call, and so forth). It turns out that I did it! when I was getting the program set up the other night to integrate with Win4Icom, I did a reset, which set everything back to default, and the default was for minimal colors. Sometimes I’m my own worst enemy!
My next project with Win4Icom is getting N1MM+ integrated. It should be fairly straightforward unless I get hit with the stupid again :-D.
I’m presenting the program at our club meeting next month, and have been thinking about what I’m going to talk about. Maybe DXLab Suite … or, I could do a presentation on portable operation. I just haven’t decided yet. I’ll nail it down in the next few days, and then start working on a PowerPoint. I’m just not sure what would interest such a diverse group of hams. I want to pick something that will keep the attention of most of them.
The remnants of Michael are approaching and should really start to affect us this evening. It’s been cloudy with showers all day, but nothing intense. Choir practice has been cancelled, so I don’t have to go out and can batten down the hatches and stay at home. Right now, we’re under a tornado watch, a flash flood watch , and a wind advisory and severe thunderstorm watch. I’m on call tonight but I don’t expect to be called in; the wind and rain are expected to be a lot less severe than they could have been.
I am continuing to make progress with Win4Icom control of the IC-7300. Everything works as it should, and now I’m working on integrating my third-party software … WSJT-X, Fldigi, and DXLab. I’ve just got WSJT-X working. VA2FSQ, Tom, the author of this software, has done a GREAT job with it! I’m still in the thirty day evaluation period, but will most likely spring for the paid version. It’s well worth the $50 he asks.
The WSJT-X was just about driving me bonkers! I set the RX BW of the IC-7300 to 3.6KHz for my digital modes (FIL1), but every time I transmitted, it would revert to 500Hz (FIL2). I finally figured out I needed to set FIL2 to 3.6KHz. Everything works well then. USB-D seems to default to FIL2, and I haven’t figured out how to change it (if even possible).
After talking to Howard, WZ4K, who is the SKYWARN Amateur Radio coordinator for our region, I decided to sign up for the Basic course in Gloucester, VA next Tuesday evening. I’m not really involved in anything like ARES or RACES, so I figure I can help my neighbors a bit this way. As long as I don’t have to wear a fluorescent vest and three HTs it’ll be OK!!
I haven’t been on the air much. Conditions have kinda sucked and I’ve been busy playing with new software. Just a few more days and then I’ll hit it hard and heavy again!
It looks like we’ve got some brisk winds and heavy rains coming up later this week … the remnants of Hurricane Michael. It’s approaching the Gulf coast as I’m writing this, and it looks like it’s going to be a CAT 3 when it hits in the Panama City vicinity. Bad news! Be Safe!