Yesterday was only partially about radios. I pulled the trigger on a Bioenno BLF-1212W/A, 12V 12AH LiFePo4 battery and charger. My old SLA 12V 7AH battery was not cutting it any more, so I have upgraded to the new chemistry. By all reports, it should be a quantum jump for my portable operations. It’ll even allow me to use my FT-450D when I need more than 5 Watts.
I ordered from my favorite ham store, Ham Radio Outlet in Woodbridge, VA. Always great service from them. I had shipping confirmation from them within hours, and being so close, the order should be on my porch today or tomorrow. The USPS tracking leaves a lot to be desired … I sometimes receive an order before the USPS says it’s been picked up 🙂 .
The wife and daughter and I went out to the Surf Rider restaurant in Poquoson, VA for a belated Anniversary dinner last night. Our wedding anniversary was Monday, but Monday being a holiday (Memorial Day), the restaurant was closed. I had a plateful of juicy, perfectly fried Chesapeake Bay oysters. I seem to be stuck in a rut … I almost always order oysters here. Love ’em!
It’s been HOT here … 94 degrees Fahrenheit yesterday and 57% humidity, with 97 degrees being called for today. Uncomfortable, but certainly nothing compared to those folks in the Midwest, with tornadoes and flooding. Terrible!
What a wonderful weekend! The weather was nice, there was lots of activity on the bands (CQ WW WPX CW Contest), and Monday was my 25th wedding anniversary. I didn’t work the CW contest, though … I DID spend a considerable amount of time chasing POTA activations, though.
Saturday and Sunday I made a total of 30 contacts with parks, using different modes and different bands … SSB, CW, and even one FT8! Fourteen of those contacts were with Sean, KX9X … he was on a marathon run to activate as many Connecticut parks as possible. The man’s a machine, cranking out the QSOs. I have worked 83 unique parks so far, in 20 different states, and really enjoy the hunt!
Monday, I took the day off from radio. I thought about rearranging the shack, but decided to just laze around. The XYL cooked up a feast of BBQ chicken (with her secret vinegar-based BBQ sauce), green beans, fried squash, potato casserole, and pickled beets (all the veggies were fresh, from a local produce stand). I spent that afternoon reading and watching YouTube videos. Just a relaxing, laid back day. It needed to be, after a meal like that!
Unfortunately, today is back to work! Since I was off Friday through Monday, there was a bit waiting for me. It’s about 9 now (I come to work at 6), and I’ve just about got my head above water again 😀 !!
I was working POTA stations in the upper reaches of 40 meters, and you wouldn’t believe how rough the copy was … or actually, maybe you would. Summertime is here … terrible deadly thunderstorms in the Midwest … the general elevated noise levels in our normal environment … all combine to raise the noise floor on the lower bands to the point where many signals are on the cusp of being unreadable. Quite a few of the stations are using low power and compromise antennas. That, coupled with the heterodynes from AM broadcast stations, drive you to distraction. The QSB tantalizes you by raising the signals above the noise and then just when you’re ready to copy something critical, dashing them down into the mud. Life is hard 😀 !
But … help is available! Today’s SDRs really have the capability of pulling some of them out of the hash (I have an IC-7300). Yesterday, I resorted to using all of the bells and whistles I could … auto notch, noise reduction, twin passband tuning, RF gain, tone controls … even the outboard audio filters in my speaker enclosure. All helped to give me just enough of an edge to copy some of those “unreadable” stations. DSP RULES!
So, what’s the moral of this story? Use all the tools that you have available! Yes, many of the older radios have beautiful sounding audio and great sensitivity, but today’s modern radios offer many tools that were not even dreamed of when those radios were designed and built. We truly live in amazing times!!
If you’re an HF aficionado, you have certainly noticed that band conditions are not optimal this week …
The K-index is very high, and the lower bands are very noisy. Solar storms will wreak havoc with HF communications. There are still QSOs to be made … just not as good as usual.
But, when one door closes, another usually opens. Although I wasn’t able to be part of the group, I read in the forums that 6 and 10 meters had some GREAT openings. Remember, we’re getting into the season for sporadic openings on the higher bands. Check up there now and then.
I snagged a new country on 30m FT8 last night … Turkey … TA3AHJ! He answered my CQ. I had called him several times earlier, but he never came back to me. That brings my DXCC total with my newer vanity call up to 99 … one more ’til the magic 100!
I watched a YouTube video by Steve Ellington yesterday afternoon titled IC-7300 Enhanced CW using PBT and Notch —N4LQ. Hey, his suggestions really work! Thanks, Steve! He’s got quite a collection of “how-to” videos that are worth watching. Check him out!