Virginia QSO Party

I got a few QSOs in for the Virginia QSO Party. Once again, life interrupted Ham Radio :-). I only had 39 QSOs this year, quite a few less than last year, but what I did was still fun. It’s one of the great QSO parties … pretty laid back, compared to some. Unless a station has a run going, they’re usually willing to have a few words with you.

So, Spring starts this week, and they’re predicting rain, sleet, and snow tonight and tomorrow. It’s a cold rain outside this evening, and it looks like the rest of the night is all downhill. I’m hoping for warmer weather by next weekend. I’m going on a Scout camp out with the Troop and hope to get in a bit of qrp portable operation while in the woods. Although we’ve had some nice days in the past couple of months, they were just that … days. No real spells of “outside” weather.

Well, I’ve got to import my contacts from N1MM into my log and email the Cabrillo log to the QSO party folks. After that, I think I’ll just relax and do some reading, Don’t get to do that as often as I like.

73 de Dick K4FTW

Antennas and One and Zeros

Digital modes are addictive. I’ve worked several days now of JT-9 and JT-65 and managed to pick up a few new states that had been elusive in the past. I tried a couple of different software programs and settled on WSJT-X with JT-Alert and linked everything to my DXLab software.

I was noticing a few tuning issues on my vertical antenna, so I finally went out to the back yard and checked it. It’s a 31-ft wire on a Jackite collapsible fiberglass pole and one of the sections had collapsed. I had a wire tie at each joint to keep that from happening, but I guess this one was not snug enough or had slipped. Anyway, to make a long story short, I re-extended the pole section and twisted it to lock it.SWR readings are back to normal now.  I’ll put another wire-tie on it when I get around to finding one :-).

Tomorrow is a Holiday — President’s Day, so maybe I’ll have a chance to get some operating accomplished. I did work a couple of stations in the ARRL International CW contest this weekend, but those don’t count as a ragchew, for sure!

73 de Dick


New modes (for me)

This weekend I was stuck in the house with a cold and feeling generally miserable, so I decided to look around at some of the digital modes I had never tried. I took a look at JT-65 and downloaded WSJT-X to give it a try. Lo and behold, it was really simple to set up and I worked MM0AMW.

I set up WSJT-X to work with DXView Commander, using my Signalink USB, and nothing could have been simpler. I did do a bit of reading beforehand, so I sort of understood what the heck I was doing, and the QSO was painless. I still have mixed feelings about JT-65 (and JT-9), but I have to admit, there was a bit of excitement when I saw MM0AMW come back to me. I think it’ll be added to my bag of tricks. It’s pretty interesting, even with a 13-character limit.

Other than that, not much happening. I’ll be so glad when this winter is over. The older I get, the more I seem to become a warm-weather creature.

73 and CUL,
Dick K4FTW

Brrr …

Boy it’s COLD. And that’s inside!

Just kidding. Our heat has been out here at the qth since last Friday and it’s Wednesday now … parts had to be ordered and have just arrived and should be installed today … Hopefully! We’ve been coping with space heaters and electric blankets for a while now.

I can’t believe I haven’t posted since last November, but it’s true. I really haven’t been on the air much. The holidays are always so hectic and work has been more demanding lately. I have worked a couple of W1AW/x stations since the first of the year, so I’m not totally off the air!

The WX has been so cold that no qrp portable operation has happened. It’s 18F outside with a wind chill of 3F, and 6 inches of dry snow on the ground. That’s a blizzard for coastal Virginia … Parts of Virginia Beach had ten inches! I think this is the coldest winter we’ve had for a long, long time.

Speaking of qrp/p, I think I’ve finally gotten everything sorted out for my go-kit. The last bit was a solar panel (Goal Zero Nomad 7). Not totally necessary but useful for when I’m camping “off-the-grid” for a week at a time during the summer.

This weekend, I’m off for Frostfest in Richmond, VA. A couple of ham friends and I are heading out at 5:30am for breakfast and the hamfest. It’s a little over an hour drive. I usually pick up a few odds and ends but I’m not planning anything major this year. I always seem to run into someone I haven’t seen for ages when I’m there. Should be a great day!

73 de Dick k4ftw


It’s Thanksgiving morning, and I’m in the shack mostly just tuning around. Not hearing much except US and Caribbean stations. I did work the Polish DXPedition again on J88 this morning on 15 meters CW. I heard a couple of Caribbean stations on 10 meters, but couldn’t get them to answer me. They weren’t real strong, but I could copy them perfectly.

The solar predictions show good propagation today, but I’m not seeing it here so far. The lower bands seem quite noisy, but domestic signals are strong.

We’re heading over to the kids’ house for a family day in about an hour or so. I got up early this morning and made a batch of oyster dressing to take along. The wife is making a corn pudding and pea salad, the kids are doing the turkey and desserts, and the other folks are bringing side dishes. Maybe when I’ve eaten myself into a drowsy stupor by this evening I’ll check back and see what’s going on with the bands. Have a great holiday and I’ll see you on the bands.

73 de Dick K4FTW