I haven’t posted for a while, but that doesn’t mean that I haven’t been doing anything.
I’ve been chasing Parks on the Air (as usual), and having some success with the improved solar conditions, but my main emphasis since the 1st of the month has been the 13 Colonies Special Event. So far, I have ten of the original 13 in my log, and still trying to break the pileups on the last three. There are three bonus stations, and I have WM3PEN in the books, but not the overseas two. I’ve worked them where I found them … 80M, 40M, and 20M … and on several modes … CW, FT4, and FT8. Surprisingly, none on SSB so far. The phone pileups are chaotic.
Six meters has been having some nice openings, too. All up and down the East coast from here … the farthest contacts have been into Canada, Cuba, and Bermuda. The majority of those contacts have been on FT8.
Our VHF repeater (W4MT) has been up and running for several weeks now, after having some problems passing audio (knock on wood 🙂 ). We never identified the cause, but the problems were coincident with HVAC problems … the drain on the wall unit was plugged and the condensation was running out onto the floor inside instead of outside. Everything was still cool. We unclogged the drain line, and I wonder if the high humidity had something to do with the issues we were having?
It looks like Tropical Storm Elsa will be just a rain event here in coastal Virginia. We’ve still got our eye on its progress, but hopefully it’ll just be wet! We’ll surely see some coastal flooding, but we get that with any big rain event.
The repeater antenna has been repositioned and braced against excessive sway, and all repeater operations are back to normal. If you recall, high winds had blown the antenna into the tower and one of the elements had hung on the tower structure.
Six meters FT4 and FT8 were busy this afternoon. Seems like Cycle 25 is heating up
I picked up a new “Pocket Portable” iambic key from CWMORSE this week. It’s 3D printed and is really nice quality. I’m looking forward to getting out into the field with it soon.
Field day is coming up soon. Our club, in concert with several others, is mounting a combined operation, as we have in past years. Hopefully, it’ll be a great event.
I’m still hanging in there … doing my POTA and digital thing. BUT … in case you haven’t noticed … propagation has been pretty grim lately. Even so, there’s always SOMEONE to work!
My POTA totals are slowly approaching 400. I’m working one or two a day. It’s frustrating hearing the stations calling the activator loud and clear, but not hearing the activator. If it wasn’t for CW, my numbers would be a lot lower. All things come to those who wait, though!
This year, the Virginia QSO Party is the 20th and 21st of this month. I missed it last year, but this year I hope the weekend has some great conditions. I usually enter as a low power CW station. If you hear me on, give a call!
I got up earlier again this Saturday and fired up the rig. I worked six POTA stations in less than an hour … pretty good mix of CW and SSB. I even worked AC8RG on 40 and 60 Meter CW. A quick check shows that that’s my first CW contact on the 60 Meter band … 5.405 MHz marks the spot!
Before that, I worked a bunch of stations on 80, 60, 40, 30, and 20 Meter FT4/8. Mostly USA and Canada, as you would expect on the lower bands, but an occasional European there too. There’s always contacts to be made on digital. Just throw your call out there and somebody will answer … almost guaranteed!
The Solar Flux Index is in the 70s, and the Sunspot Number is up in the teens … quite an improvement over just a year ago. Some predictions say this cycle may be a barn-burner … only time will tell 🙂 .
I do notice that the general noise level seems to be a bit higher. So even though the signals are stronger, so is the background noise. Some of that is the season … summer is just naturally noisier than the rest of the year (mainly atmospheric noise from thunderstorms), but some is (I think) from a more “excited” atmosphere due to the rising solar cycle.
I’ve been adding a few POTA contacts most days. I’ve seen more and more CW activations and, with the noise levels on the lower bands, it’s copyable when you can barely hear the SSB signals. In lots of cases, the CW signals are effectively not even moving the S-meter, but still good copy.
Along with the increased noise levels, there’s some pretty nasty QSB, or fading. I can be hearing a station well enough to copy 100 percent one second … reply to them … and they come back multiple S-units down, sometimes inaudible. Hey, that’s the way it goes!
I’ve been keeping up my FT4/8 count, too. There’s always a few contacts to be had there. Those keep up the QSO count 🙂 .