Some surprises, but mostly dead air

I’m starting to sound like a broken record on these updates: No time for radio, nothing out there, bad bands, etc. Well, some of that is true and some of that is my own lame technique and poor pile-up busting skills.

Anyway, I made some decent contacts on Friday, as I had the day off. On 40 meters I spoke with CO6LE out of Cuba, and failing to hear any action ANYWHERE else (the bands were awfully noisy, as a storm had just swept through the Carolinas), I decided to investigate 15 meters a bit. Now, my dipole isn’t resonant on 15, so I’d avoided it, but the LDG had no problem achieving less than 2:1 SWR on the band after I dialed my power back to about 75 watts or so. Great, because the band was alive.

I had a quick QSO with Luis, XE1GZU out of Mexico, then tuned around a bit and worked Rafael, XE1RK out of Mexico City.  Rafael had a big signal and apparently I did too, because he recorded a portion of my audio and played it back for me over the air. I have to admit, I sounded pretty good: Mellow, but punchy without being tinny.

It’s always nice getting compliments on audio and signal quality considering my minimal setup, especially on a band my antenna wasn’t really made for, with the power dialed back a bit.

Remaining on that band and lower power level, I managed a brief contact with OM2VL, a station from the Slovak Republic, before I turned off the rig for the morning.

Late Friday evening I heard a Siberian station coming in easily 57 and his signal exhibited that cool-sounding polar flutter, presumably from going over the globe. He was a loquacious ragchewer, so I didn’t get many calls out to him.

I only managed to log two stations on Saturday. Around mid-afternoon I received an alert from DX Sherlock concerning a possible TEP opening on 6 meters, so I turned on the rig and tuned up to the national calling frequency and CQed for several minutes. Negative contact.

I dropped over to 20 meters and spoke with 8R1AK, out of Guyana, and also had a brief QSO with PP5JA out of Brazil on 10 meters.

In other news Saturday, I listened out for Jerry, KD0BIK, who was activating Genessee Mountain in Colorado for Summits on the Air (SOTA). No signal heard at my QTH, but I’ll be looking forward to hearing about the adventure in an upcoming episode of his excellent podcast, The Practical Amateur Radio Podcast.

And on the topic of SOTA, I’ve made some baby steps to getting my own mountain-topping kit together. I picked up a great military backpack yesterday from U.S. Patriot, which should hold everything I need to get on the air anywhere.

I’d had my eye on the Yaesu FT-817 for a while, but as more videos and information on the Elecraft KX3 emerges, I see so many more advantages to that rig over the FT-817, and the price point isn’t much higher (Can you even get an 817? They are out of stock everywhere.)

I also looking into getting a small, cheap laptop for my kit. I feel so dirty even considering a Windows machine over my beloved Apples, but the fact remains, most of the major ham software is Windows-based (Ham Radio Deluxe, JT65HF, etc). I could install Windows on my iMac i5, but I’d rather have a portable machine for field day, travel, etc. Might as well just get a cheap one and be done with it.

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