Sunday, June 2, 2019

Final Tally for Museum Ships Weekend

Band conditions were poor, with a Solar Flux Index of 70. This indicates we're right around The Bottom of the current sunspot cycle. It was down to 68 on Friday, which is really low. I can't remember the lowest SFI I've seen, maybe 65, but it should start to increase in the next 12~18 months.

The new vertical antenna works quite well, and has "Textbook Curves" for the VSWR and Reactive Components (aka "Impedance") at and near resonance, and so far, if I can hear them, they can hear me. It also helps that this radio is set to put out about 175 Watts, and my little Elecraft K2 was "only" pumping out around 65~75 Watts. A bit over a 3dB power increase, and combined with the advanced (for the time) speech processing/compression of the transmitted audio, can make "just enough" of a difference to get through sometimes.

So how many Museum Ships did I contact? A dismal FIVE.

W1M at the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum in Vermont

NS7DD aboard the USS Turner Joy in Oregon

W8COD aboard the USS Cod in Ohio

WW2LST aboard the LST 325 in Indiana

and NI6BB aboard the Battleship Iowa in Southern California, where I had a nice 30 minute chat with two of my friends.

I also heard, but couldn't contact, the following:

W5LEX aboard the USS Lexington in Texas

N4WIS aboard the Battleship Wisconsin in Virginia

NJ2BB aboard the Battleship New Jersey in New Jersey

N5E aboard the Tall Ship Elissa in Texas

and WA4USN in South Carolina.

I heard people working KH6BB aboard the Battleship Missouri in Pearl Harbor, but I couldn't hear them at all. All four Iowa-class Battleships were on-the-air this weekend, a very rare occurrence.

I heard a lot of DX (distant) stations from Italy, France, the Azores, and Slovenia, too, so even though the band conditions were not good, there was a lot of activity. Signals were weak, and went from consistently weak (S4~S5) but very stable and readable, to "S9 Plus", fading to zero in 15~20 seconds, and then back to very strong (S9) in about the same time. Since I haven't been this "RadioActive" in quite a while, I'm still getting used to cruising around the bands, what they sound like, and how propagation changes during the day. I really have to get into the FT-1000D and see why it goes bonkers between 6.5MHz and 7.5MHz, as that fault renders 40 Meters at 7MHz unavailable to me. I'm suspecting a bad component on the filter assembly, as when it tries to switch in that bank, the radio starts blinking on and off and resetting like the power's being interrupted. Maybe a bad "flyback diode" across a relay, causing a supply to short when that bank is switched on.

Anyway....I'd really like to get on 40 Meters again now that I have a more suitable antenna. The Elecraft KAT100 tuner I use with my K2 could load the 20 Meter Buddistick just fine on 40, but it's a bit short to be an efficient antenna on that frequency. Oh, well....it's apples-to-oranges anyway, as the 88' wire ain't anywhere near being a 17' vertical, so the "pattern" of the wire antenna is anybody's guess. Mostly straight UP under 14MHz due to it being less than half a wavelength above ground at that frequency, good for what's called NVIS use, but not terribly effective as a long-distance antenna. My 33' vertical (the "Long Beach Antenna") shines at that on 40 Meters, just like this new one does on 20 Meters.

Just gotta dig into that radio and get 'er done!


7 comments:

  1. Those might not have been the results you wanted, but look at how much you learned in the process. Given your new location and new rig, it's an impressive beginning. Hang in there!

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    1. Yep, and a brand-new antenna, too!

      The location is actually a good one. The local noise level here is extremely low, about 20dB less than in SoCal, so stations I couldn't even hear before are now above the noise far enough that I can talk to them.

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  2. It would be very exciting to know all four Iowa class were on at the same time.

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    1. Yes, it's very unusual to have all four on-the-air at the same time.

      My friends on the Iowa and New Jersey are working to put together a "Four Sisters" award, where you can get a nice certificate if you have a confirmed contact with all four ships.

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  3. Well, lessons learned and at least some contacts are better than nothing.

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    1. Oh, yeah, this has been a pretty big "Lessons Learned" experience. I haven't done antenna stuff like this in quite a while, and really had to read up on it. I understand things differently nowadays, and doing the reading cleared up a lot of misconceptions I had.

      Plus, the test equipment available now for measuring these things has made it much easier than in Dayes of Olde.....

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  4. I worked from the USS Silversides, a GATO class submarine, here in Muskegon, MI, way back when, for a contest weekend. It was the high point of my ham radio life, and I have been a ham since 1972. We also have the LST 393, a tank landing craft, one of two left in original configuration. She is now a museum ship in Muskegon, also.

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Keep it civil, please....