The Pits …

I see the sunspot number is still at zero … where it’s been for the last three weeks. Those scientists much  smarter than me say it’ll be there for at least the NEXT three weeks, too. Ah, well … even with secret rites in the dark of night, I don’t think we can make any difference. We just have to wait for old Mother Nature to crank up the next solar cycle.

BUT … as I noted last weekend … even with the numbers as abysmal as they are, there’re always QSOs to be had. Contest weekends, especially, seem to light up the ionosphere.

Our DMR net (TG 31515, Tidewater VA) yesterday evening was a bit sparse … only four of us checked in. It’s pretty much the doldrums of summer now. People are on vacation, outside doing family things … you know the drill. This weekend we’re looking forward to scattered thunderstorms and rain. A typical summer weekend. At least it’s been cooler the past few days.

Not much ham stuff going on this weekend that I’m interested in. The North American QSO Party for RTTY is happening. I haven’t participated in that in forever, so I might dabble a bit there. I’ve got to get me a thicker cushion for my shack chair, though. The IARU CW contest last weekend was murder on my butt!

Well, enough blather! Have a great weekend and do some radio!

73 de Dick N4BC

A New One …

There was a nice opening on 10 meters yesterday evening, and I was lucky enough to work a new one … Saint Pierre et Miquelon – FP. I worked FP/KV1J, Eric, on FT8 at 1920Z. He popped up calling CQ and I pounced! He’ll be on Miquelon Island through the 17th of this month and will be on for the IARU HF Contest this coming weekend. He’s operating SSB/RTTY/FT8 and satellite also. You can check him out on his web page here. Always exciting to catch a new one when you’re not expecting it.

Actually, I worked a dozen stations on 10/12/15 meters, all domestic except for Eric. All up and down the East Coast, with a few odd ones in the midwest. Ten meters has shown some interesting and exciting propagation lately. FT8 certainly seems to be the mode for making contacts, even on dead-appearing bands.

The cool weather continues here in coastal Virginia. The past couple of mornings, I’ve actually used the heat rather than the A/C on the way to work at 5:30 in the morning.

73 de Dick N4BC

Thirteen Colonies

Well, I wasn’t even chasing the special event stations and ended up working seven of the colonies in one evening … NC, MA, PA, NY, SC, NH, and NJ. So … no clean sweep for me, but it was sort of fun watching them accumulate. Most of them were FT8, but some were CW and some were SSB. I see that for five dollars and a bit of paperwork I can get a nice certificate for participating. Maybe I will (and maybe I won’t). I do want all to thank the guys that organized this event, though. Well done! I think I actually did at least hear all of the former colonies.

I did binge watch a bunch of ham radio related YouTube videos over the weekend. It’s amazing … anything you want to find out about has probably had a video made about it. Lots of interesting and informative videos. Whether you’re looking for technical info, reviews, opinions, or operating hints, somebody has taken the time to make a video about it. I found and subscribed to several new channels that interested me. If you’re not into YouTube, it’s a great resource!

I went to a retirement party for my son’s father-in-law Saturday evening, and we were outside in the back yard gathered around the firepit. It was decidedly chilly! This is July! It felt like spring or autumn. Crazy weather!

73 de Dick N4BC

Nice!

Conditions were really nice this evening. Plenty of action on FT8, CW, and SSB on 40, 30, & 20 meters. Lots of Thirteen Colonies stations active. I think I worked about seven unique stations, and several of those on multiple bands and modes. I probably would have worked a few more, but there were some pretty active thunderstorms on and off all evening, so I pulled the plug several times. I think there’s another day of activity left, so maybe I’ll see if I can get all  thirteen in the log … probably not, though. No big deal if I don’t!

The storms played havoc with my barbecuing plans for dinner, too. The chicken went into the oven instead of onto the grill. Not a good idea to be outside waving a set of metal tongs around in a thunderstorm. I can remember being at a transmitter site when lightning hit the tower … it took a while before my heart rate calmed down. The fiberglass antenna cover for the antenna that was struck looked like a burned, peeled banana. That definitely increased my respect for Mother Nature.

Oh … I calculated my ten-digit grid square (don’t know why, other than just for the heck of it). In case you care, it’s FM17SB46MH. I think that puts you in the middle of my living room. Can’t be too accurate … HA!

73 and thanks for stopping by de Dick N4BC

 

Mixed Blessings …

I flipped on the radio when I got home from work yesterday afternoon, and had to check and see if the antenna  was connected (as a matter of fact, it wasn’t … I had disconnected it the night before during some violent thunderstorms). So, I reconnected it … didn’t make a lot of difference … reception still sucked! Switch to OFF!

Later in the evening, I returned to the rig and was pleasantly surprised to hear something besides QRN. Eighty through 12 meters were showing SOME signs of life … especially on FT8. I worked about a half dozen contacts on most of those bands (primarily eighty meters). There was quite a bit of CW activity on 40, and I would have liked to sample that, but alas, I was needed elsewhere.

Charlie, WB4PVT, posted a video on the local email group about how “TUBS” are made. Every week, he posts a video of interest to hams. A couple of weeks before, he had posted one on how vacuum tubes are made, but had made a typo in the title … TUBS instead of TUBES. I kidded him about it the next time I saw him. He got me back by posting one last week about how tubs … BATHTUBS … are made. Got me!

Field day is fast approaching. Hopefully I’ll have time to participate with the club. Actually, we have several clubs combining for the event, as we do every year. The club I’m a member of just cant’t muster enough bodies to put together a team, so we make it a group effort and have a great time!

It was a good evening, after all.

73 de Dick N4BC
(from the bottom of the cycle … which ain’t so bad anyway!)