Just a quick update of my POTA status. As of today, I have 213 total confirmed contacts with parks; 178 of those are unique parks. The difference is duplicates, different modes, and different bands.
Looking at the stats, the majority of my contacts are SSB, but CW contacts are a significant minority. I’d love to do more CW, but the majority of activators operate SSB, and you have to work ’em where you find ’em. Most are on 40 meters, with 20 meters the second most common.
Well, Dorian has come and gone, with not a lot of effect here at my QTH. There was some tidal flooding and a bit of wind and rain, but frankly, we had thunderstorms a couple of weeks ago that were worse. I think the highest gusts we had from the tropical storm were forty-some miles per hour. It could have been a LOT worse … a few miles East or West makes a lot of difference in severity.
The Virginia beach Hamfest was the day after Dorian. It’s been shrinking for years now (as have most hamfests), but lots of people evidently cancelled out due to the storm. Pretty sparse vendor-wise when I got there, but the attendees I saw were spending … our club was doing a good business moving donated items from various hams estates. I only stayed about 45 minutes, and I saw everything there was to see.
I did receive my nanoVNA in the mail, but I haven’t had a chance to fiddle with it yet. More on that later …
Band conditions, especially on forty meters, have been pretty good lately. The band is still pretty noisy, though. Hopefully it’ll quiet down a bit as Fall and Winter approach. It’ll make it easier to hear some of the weaker Parks on the Air operations.
More and more POTA operators seem to be running higher power. Back when the bands were much better, QRP was the norm. Now, many seem to be running 50 to 100 watts … some even more! My observation is that the CW QRP stations are still pretty easy to pull out of the hash. Not a lot of power, but it’s all packed into that narrower bandwidth. I just wish that more ops would opt for CW … lots more efficient!
This past weekend was Labor Day weekend, a three-day weekend. I decided to take an extra day … Tuesday. Hey maybe I could have a great ham radio weekend?
Not to be! We had a BIG geomagnetic storm and conditions were crap! Even today … Tuesday … they’re still not great. There were lots of spots for POTA activations, but I only managed to work one. Dave, K4CAE, was heard, but he obviously couldn’t hear ME! He was about a 3×2 with me.
Dorian continues its march towards the Virginia coast. The forecast is for high winds and lots of rain, but nothing like they experienced in the Bahamas, thank God! I expect the area will experience some tidal flooding (the lower areas always do). The last I saw, they’re talking about 50 knot winds, with all the associated problems … beach erosion, tidal flooding, trees and limbs down, power outages, stuff blown around, etc.
We’ll see. Things can change pretty quickly … for better or for worse. It’s forecast to be off the coast here Thursday night/Friday. Saturday is the Virginia Beach Hamfest … maybe. Tomorrow night is the radio club meeting, so maybe we’ll get some news then.
It’s been a week or two since I last posted. Life got a bit chaotic. A very dear friend was killed in a tragic industrial accident, and ham radio and blogging had to take a back seat.
There’s not actually much to report about. I’ve only been on the air a couple of times during this period, and those were mostly FT4/8 contacts. I don’t think the bands have been too stellar this past week.
I did spend a bit of money on radio things. I bought a yellow reflective vest for when I assist with public service events. I know … I know. Stereotypical self-important ham prepper, right? Actually, it does help with visibility if someone needs to locate you quickly during the event.
I also ordered a new toy. It’s supposed to be here around the 9th of September. I’ve read several blog posts and seen several YouTube videos about this low-cost vector network analyzer that piqued my interest. Less than fifty bucks on eBay.
It covers 50 KHz to 900 MHz … does Smith Chart and antenna analyzer functions … and more. It’s about the size of a credit card, but maybe 5/8-inch thick. I’m going to enjoy playing with it, I think.
I just signed up for my next public service event. It’s a marathon, a 50K, and a marathon/50K relay run simultaneously. Sounds interesting, doesn’t it? It’ll be a bit cooler then … October 13th. The race is so long, we’ll be covering it in two shifts.
Well, that’s about all I have to report. Catch ya’ later!
Continuing with the saga of the Boys and Girls Club 12th Annual Smart Smiles 5K race … it was a great success. The race is a fundraiser for the Boys and Girls Club of the Virginia Peninsula. There were 288 runners/walkers, and there were no injuries that required our attention. Our radio participation consisted mostly of status reports to the race officials (first runners at our position on the course, last runner, etc.) Nothing exciting, but the organizers were grateful to have us in place in case something DID happen (like a medical emergency)! The youngest starter was around 5 years old and the oldest was older than me (76+)! The weather was warm and very humid, and the water stop at my position was much appreciated.
We had the use of a portable UHF repeater, which solved the issues we had last year with solid communications to all parts of the course. We had a UHF simplex frequency as a backup, and net control seemed to be able to hear most stations well. I used my Icom ID-51A and had my Kenwood TH-F6A as a backup. The Icom performed perfectly with a speaker mic and earbud.
To summarize, it was a lot of fun to do a public service event again. It had been over 10 years since the last one, and it was good to get out and interact with everybody. I met some great people, and saw quite a few that I knew already. Everybody seemed to have a good time … it was a great way to spend a Saturday morning!