Not a lot has changed in the past couple of weeks, radio-wise. I’m still working lots of digital modes (including CW) and enjoying it. FT4 activity seems to be increasing … probably since the FT8 segments are so crowded. PSK and Olivia activity is still sporadic, but I did notice some nice signals on 20 meters around lunchtime today … strong and lots of them!
One of my coworkers just became a ham last week. He attended an outdoor testing session, to comply with the social distancing recommendations. He passed the Technician and General class licenses, and was formally granted KO4DBF after about a week’s time or so.
Our club held its first virtual club meeting last night, using Zoom. Last week I attended our QCWA chapter meeting via Zoom as well. Looks like Zoom is the preferred method of social interaction now. At work, we’re using Microsoft Teams, but I like the Zoom interface better.
As a matter of fact, I’ve got two Zoom meetings later this evening. First, our Scout Troop, and then after that, our church Choir. We’ve been doing virtual meetings for Scouts for several weeks now and it seems to be working well. The choir meeting is more of a social thing rather than musical … just to keep in touch while in-person services are suspended. Our virtual church services are on FaceBook live.
The old Chinese proverb supposedly says, “May you live in interesting times.” True dat! I’ve been self-isolating at home and working from home for about three weeks now, and still hanging in there. The Governor has extended the stay-at-home order for another two weeks, so it looks like I’ll be here a bit longer.
I had lots of projects that I wanted to do, but it seems that I just can’t get started on anything. I don’t know if it’s because of a bit of depression … or just plain old laziness.
I did decide to change my logging program though. There was nothing wrong with the old one, but I finally (after years of use) decided that it was just overly complex for my needs. I decided to go with something simpler … N3FJP’s Amateur Contact Log. I’ve installed it and have been using it for a few days now and am well pleased. I’m trying it during a 45-day trial period, but I’m pretty sure I’ll end up purchasing it.
I worked 30 stations yesterday evening and this morning (FT modes) … mostly on 40, 30, or 20 meters, and mostly US stations. Signal strengths were good, and although crowded, there was room to squeeze into an empty spot.
Our Club, the Peninsula Amateur Radio Club, has decided to have a meeting next month. With the social distancing in force, we’ve decided to do it as a net on one of the local repeaters. The problem is identifying a repeater that everyone can hit reliably. Our club repeater is still down. Our plans to get it on a new tower and on the air have been put on hold due to COVID-19 restrictions.
It’s a beautiful day outside … sunshine, but a little chilly (41 deg F) and breezy. The prior couple of days have been wet and cold. The folks north of us have been “blessed” with a major winter storm. I don’t envy them!
Tonight is our annual Radio club Holiday Banquet. This year it’s a potluck with the clubs (PARC and SPARK) supplying the fried chicken and all us attendees bringing a side dish or dessert. Last year’s party was mass confusion due to a mix up about the restaurant reservations. This year it was decided to have a self-catered meal.
I was off work all last week. As usual I had a list of things to accomplish and never got around to any of the items. There were lots of POTA activations, but most were not even copyable at my QTH. I could hear hunters giving them reports, but for me … NADA! I did work a few, and my unique park count is now up to 216.
I’ve been concentrating on the FT4/8 modes and had reasonable success with contacts there. JS8 has upgraded to version 2.0 with some new features, so I’ve been looking at that mode a bit harder. Then too, I’ve been playing with my new RSP-1A SDR receiver. It’s fascinating tuning through the shortwave bands and listening to what’s there.
I’ve also been working on a few FEMA certifications. They’re not only applicable for my job, but also for ham radio stuff like SKYWARN and ARES. I had completed most of them years ago, but couldn’t confirm it, so I’ve been working my way through the training and tests again.
Tomorrow is one of two QCWA chapter meetings that I normally attend during the year. Chapter 119 meets in Virginia Beach most months on Friday, when I am at work. Twice a year, they hold it on the Peninsula where I live, and it’s on Saturday … April and October. Those I can make!
Stu, WA4JUO and his team will treat us to an interesting presentation on the QCWA Expedition to Tangier Island.
I’m still chugging along with my Parks on the Air (POTA) contacts. I have 198 unique parks confirmed now. the first 100 or so seemed to add up fast … the second 100 have been considerably slower. Some of that is attributable to band conditions. I have heard lots that were just too far down in the mud to copy.
I’ve actually worked more than 200, but the requirement is 200 confirmed! Everything depends on the activator turning in his log and the administrator for that call area getting the data into the database. Some are fast … some are slower. Hey, it’s a hobby … I haven’t seen a paycheck yet. Us hunters just work ’em and wait!
I spent the morning on Saturday at our club Field Day site. I had a good time renewing friendships with folks I only see once a year at this event.
Pretty much everything had been set up on Friday evening, and groups were just putting the finishing touches on things. I sort of felt like a fifth wheel … sitting there schmoozing with the rest of the old timers. And what’s with all the yellow vests?
I knew I wasn’t going to get a chance to operate due to other commitments. I had to leave before actual operations got under way. I had my grandkid’s birthday party to be at that evening and then Sunday morning I had to see my Scout Troop off to summer camp for a week. Also, I don’t do 2am shifts anymore … I need my beauty sleep!
I guess Field Day has sort of lost its attraction for me. Everything is so organized and regimented … it just doesn’t seem as much FUN as it used to. Parks on the Air operations seem more like what Field Day used to be … set things up quickly in the middle of nowhere and get on the air.
Now, don’t get me wrong. If it’s YOUR thing, go right ahead. I realize that for some people, it’s the only chance they have to operate HF with decent rigs and antennas. Others really enjoy the competition. For them, it’s fun!
Anyway, to make a long story short, I had a great time at my granddaughter’s birthday party. Lots of excitement with all the kids running around and a good chance to catch up with less-often seen family members. Lots of action, since it was a pool party. A good time was had by all!