Yes, I've been quiet. Life got busy.
I mentioned in a few recent posts that the Connecticut house was on the market, my station was disassembled and antennas taken down, and I wasn't entirely happy but attempting to make the best of being limited to remote control operation.
Well, sadly, my wife and I failed to receive a sufficient offer on the house. We were late to market, for various reasons, and the cycle of keeping the house in "show condition" while trying to keep up with life, work, etc. took its toll. My father also moved into independent living a bit before we planned…and there was no way I could do what needed to be done to get our house sold / my wife and I moved while simultaneously trying to clear out my parents' house and get it sold.
My off-time project for the past couple of in-town weekends has been getting parts of the station up. With winter weather on the horizon, limited time, and the expectation that we'll try again to sell in 18 months or so, I didn't unpack everything and return the shack to its prior configuration. At the moment, only a single K3 is on the desk, and I'm making do with three antennas (a Carolina Windom at about 55 feet, an Inverted L with folded counterpoise for 160m, and a 40m delta loop). Given where we are with the solar cycle and the expectation that I'll be tearing everything down again in a few seasons, I'll probably hold off on going back to the full little pistol SO2R setup I had prior to real estate distractions. But, I should have the opportunity to get back on the air and get in some quality time in a few contests again, subject to travel schedules.
I so wish I still had my hexbeam up. Judging by how loud Brunei was from a nearby remote station, I probably could have worked him without needing an asterisk in the log.
Well, that's two more I need to re-work when I get my own antennas back up in the air.
This weekend is the first one in a couple of months where I have not been working all-out on house-sale stuff or the day job, so I've been able to keep SpotCollector running in the background while catching up on other tasks.
Yesterday afternoon and this morning respectively, I picked up alerts for 4S7AB and 9V1YC, neither of whom are exactly "rare", but trying to get them from my physical QTH involves both a polar path and going around/over/through terrain.
They were quite easy from a remote-controlled west coast station, however. So, they're in the log as the 297th and 298th entities in the log, albeit with asterisks.
Yes, I've been quiet recently. Actually, I haven't been quiet; I've just been busy with work and trying to get the house sold.
Part of selling the house, sadly, required dismantling the antenna farm. So, I am off the air for a while, at least in terms of operating my own station.
However, in this wonderous age, it's possible to connect via the internet and work someone else's station.
This evening, in the 10 o'clock hour (Eastern), after finally reaching a stopping point with today's assignments from the day job, I got an alert that Bhutan was audible on 17m from the West Coast.
So, I quickly connect to a West Coast station, guess a split…and boom, A5A is in the log, and Bhutan becomes number 296, and my first ATNO on someone else's station.
I feel so…dirty. But I'll take it anyway.
So, since I got on the air, I've relied on Connecticut-themed photographs to form the background of my QSL card images. However, now that I've started using remote-controlled stations, and will be moving in the not too distant-future, it's perhaps time to reconsider that.
Jeff, K1NSS has a small business going, doing custom QSL art. I sent him an idea of what I was thinking of; he responded back with some questions, ideas, and increasingly-detailed drawings….and voilà!
In my case, I mentioned that I'm camera shy, and therefore if my likeness appeared, I'd prefer it only be in silhouette. I've worked most of my DX during lunch/coffee breaks away from the day job as an actuary. And, I'm frequently "helped" by my blue Burmese cat who has a surprising number of names for a beast so small…among them "evil kitty".
Here's the end result:
It'll be a bit before I actually get a printed card. I need to update my back design before shipping it off to GlobalQSL. And actually, given questions about how long I'm going to be at my present address, I'll probably wait until after the move before ordering a supply of new cards. And then there's the whole bit about what QTH should be listed on the card, considering my current peculiar circumstances.
But I am rather fond of the new image.
Well, as I mentioned previously, my big project this year is to move to a new QTH, for family reasons.
Progress is being made slowly in that regard – preparations when a family member has disability-driven special needs is challenging. All but one of the HF antennas are down (sob, sob); all but one of the HF radios are boxed up. Our current place still isn't on the market, but we're getting close. And we don't yet have a specific new home lined up yet, as the choice we seem to face is either to buy a house in serious need of updating, to buy a place out beyond where internet connectivity permits telecommuting, or to buy a property in an HOA.
I'd complain about propagation being lousy, but packing / decluttering has been eating up all free time, and I don't have the antenna farm I used to to take advantage of the propagation we aren't having. J
Well, it's been a week of mixed feelings, as we head into Field Day.
With us getting ready to put the house up here in CT on the market, I've been dismantling the antenna farm. This week was particularly hard, with the 40 delta loop and the hexbeam coming down, leaving me with just one HF antenna (the 80m Carolina Windom), and a j-pole for the local repeaters. And, I've started staging the dismantling the shack, to turn that room into a more presentable place.
However, there is something nice in all of the dismantling. I'll be doing Field Day with a group resurrecting the old Murphy's Marauders name, signing this year as N1MM. The hexbeam went up on a real tower at the site yesterday, and we have had absolutely no problem finding enough coax, given all that I had to spare.
Actually, I don't know what number Libya is. I worked him 2½ years ago during a contest, knowing that there was some question over his jumping through the hoops at the DXCC desk, under the spirit of "work first, worry later".
Today, through the various ham radio grapevines, I happily learned that 5A1AL is now being accepted for DXCC credit. I already have a card in my collection….so that puts me at 295 worked, 293 confirmed, 46 to go.
It occurs to me that I was remiss in reporting that FT4JA finally got loud enough for me to work on 20m and 40m before they wrapped up, to make entity 293 in the log (and just confirmed on LOTW before I posted this!)
And today, at my lunch break, after having sweated that having been on the road for a week would cost me a shot at EP2A, they were nice and loud on 20m and apparently enough Europeans' appetites had been sated, that I was able to get through and make Iran the 294th entity in the log.
I suspect that that's going to be it for this QTH. For family reasons, we're probably moving later this year. In fact, as much as it pains me to write it, this weekend's pre-move project involves taking down 2 or 3 antennas. I'll still have some HF capability here until about Field Day, but….
Got a ping in SpotCollector that they were active on 30m, quickly went there (using the home station, not a remote), and got them on second or third call, before the pileup got too bad. It was so easy I was concerned that it was a pirate, rather than the guys on Heard Island. But shortly after I worked them they got their satellite data feed up, and I was able to confirm that was really them: