Discovery Dish Redux

I was fairly certain this crowd funded project would be a slam dunk. Now, many days into the campaign, it seems to be struggling to gain the traction required to make it a success. There are still 25 days remaining in the effort, but with only 33% funding at this point, I have concerns about its viability. And that’s too bad because I’d really like for this to succeed. If you haven’t taken a look, please do and if you have interest you should get onboard before it’s too late.

Signs, Symbols, & Other Wonders

55F with rain in the Heartland this morning. Knowing what was coming we worked outside all day yesterday. Raking leaves and power washing the pergola over the patio. Taking advantage of the warm temps and sunny skies while we could. I’m guessing yesterday might be the last really nice day of the year, though I never bet against warm weather. Most of our weather surprises these days tend to be spells of unusually warm weather when it’s supposed to be otherwise. The point being that we got a lot done yesterday and were exhausted by the end of the day. So much so that taking today “off” will be well deserved. Not that there aren’t always more chores requiring attention, but today’s leisure has been earned and we won’t feel at all bad about a little loafing on this Friday.

I spoke with a tech at ICOM’s service center in Michigan yesterday about the display problem with my IC-7610 and made plans to send it to them for repair, but not until after the CQ WW Contest (CW). Despite the fact that it’s a display issue and the serial number of my transceiver is in the group that ICOM agreed to replace all displays at no cost, mine might end up costing $500. The problem I’m experiencing (a single column of dead pixels) isn’t the same problem experienced by many owners (retention & washed out display) so they will have to inspect it first. If they determine it’s not covered under the free replacement policy then the new screen with labor and shipping will add up to about five-hundred bucks. I don’t have much choice, it needs to be fixed in case I ever want to sell or trade it.

Can I tell you a secret? Sometimes I think about selling the 7610, the 9700, and even the 705 and using those funds to buy a new K4D transceiver. I have a much loved K2 that I built (#524) in 1999, a factory assembled KX3, and a new KH1 ordered on October 20th that could show up on the doorstep any day now. The K4D would be a welcome addition to my shack and put me back on a path that I assumed I’d always traverse many years ago. There would still be that closet full of QRP transceivers of questionable lineage, but ignoring those, I would be an Elecraft guy again. It’s just a notion I kick around in my head during the still of the night and will likely never come to pass…

I’m a contrarian by nature so it should come as no surprise that I’m one of the few who has reservations about the FCC action to remove symbol rate restrictions on our HF bands. Everywhere I look all I see are joyful expressions of how this will fix so much of what has been holding the amateur radio service back from achieving its full potential. Good grief, just typing those words feels like a boatload of malarkey. I understand the issue, and can smell what its proponents are shoveling, but I have doubts. In fact, I predict that no stunning new technology will emerge from this action, but that a large increase in interference complaints from HF enthusiasts will be noted. And of course hams will blame ARRL for all this, even though they begged for it, because that’s how hams roll. Blaming Newington for everything that goes wrong – or right – is our standard operating procedure. Mark these words…

I’m off podcasts again. These once were a staple during my drive time, but they were slowly edged out by audio books. Being retired I no longer commute to and from work, but I still spend almost an hour a day walking with air pods stuck in my head. I’m always listening to choice selections from Audible. The latest few books in my library have been the Bernie Taupin biography, Scattershot, the post-World War II scientist expose, Operation Paperclip, and at the moment I’m halfway though the latest Grey Man novel, Burner. Queued up next is the just released UFO: The Inside Story of the US Government’s Search for Alien Life Here—and Out There. Who’s got time to listen to podcasts?

The Worked All States Triple Play Award plaque arrived yesterday and is already on the wall. Working and confirming all 50 states, each using CW, Phone, and Digital was an accomplishment I wouldn’t have thought possible when I was a Novice. A more seasoned operator wouldn’t see it as a difficult achievement, but I found obtaining 150 confirmations via LoTW was no easy task. I was “stuck” at 149 for nearly two years needing a single Phone confirmation from anyone worked in Utah. I decided if and when that ever showed up I would order the plaque, not just the paper certificate, as I felt that was deserved.

Discovery Dish

I received an email this morning notifying me that the Discovery Dish crowd funded campaign has gone live.

Discovery Dish is a 65-cm aluminum satellite dish with an active filtered feed. It is designed for receiving real-time weather data from GOES HRIT, GK-2A LRIT, FengYun LRIT, NOAA HRPT, Metop HRPT, Meteor M2 HRPT, and other weather satellites that operate around 1.69 GHz. The dish is designed to weigh under one kilogram and splits into three petals, making it easier to ship worldwide.

I have been interested in this new product offering (and the various feeds for it) because of an interest I have in receiving weather images and data directly from satellites. The dish has a clean look that shouldn’t offend any nosy neighbors and I look forward to having it on the roof one day if the campaign is successful.

Turn the Page

Last night wasn’t the first time the kids around here had to do their trick-or-treating while it was snowing, but my memory is fuzzy enough that I can’t remember when that might have been. It was cold enough to snow all day yesterday but none of the white stuff was seen falling until about 4pm when flurries became evident. By 7:30pm it was really becoming an impressive event. Enough to cover the vehicles and make the ground look white while giving us something talk about and a memory for later. There were at least a couple dozen little ghouls at the door, not including our grandchildren, which I thought was a good turnout for 27F degrees and snow, but Brenda was disappointed. She was expecting a hundred or more based on the leftover candy. Oh well, maybe next year?

That chill in the air had me lighting the fireplace for the first time this season. Actually for the first time ever since we moved into this house in July. It’s a natural gas fireplace so nothing burned other than a few cobwebs, but it looked incredibly seasonal and released some heat into the family room. I think I’m going to like it.

You know HF band conditions aren’t good when you can’t hear FT8 signals on 20 meters around the clock. It was dead when I checked this morning so I moved down to 30 meters where I was able to copy exactly four stations and worked all of them. Then the well went dry. There was nothing else to work there. It should be interesting to see if the bands perk up as the sun starts to do its thing later today.

I submitted an updated application to the DXCC Awards desk yesterday that included having passed the 100 confirmation marks on 20 and 15 meters. My plan had been to wait until I had a thousand confirmations for the DXCC Challenge, but sitting at 558 I’m a terribly long way from that. I’m still holding out hope for a strong finish to the year, but time is getting short. It’s suddenly time to turn the page on the calendar again, it’s November.

Hump Day

It’s been cool here for the last week. Not unusual, and welcome relief from the summer heat. The days have been pleasant and the nights cool enough for frost some early mornings. It’s been great weather for walking and we’ve been taking full advantage. Then yesterday it got up to nearly 80F and is expected to remain around that for the next few days before retreating back to normal for this time of year.

After dinner and our evening walkabout last night I was in the shack, tuning around working the occasional POTA or SOTA station when I decided to call CQ. That’s something I rarely do anymore and I’m not sure why. I guess I prefer searching and pouncing on others calling CQ. I was on 20, around the QRP watering holes, when I called and got a speedy reply from a Texan with a nice signal. We exchanged the usual Morse code pleasantries and then he sent me his SKCC number. I switched to the straight key and then we officially exchanged numbers. It was a nice chat — I need to start calling CQ more often.

This morning’s walk was equally pleasant. The Fall colors have become about as vibrant as they are going to be here in Central Indiana. Halloween decorations are out everywhere and it’s obvious our new neighborhood is much younger than the one we left a few months ago. Lot’s of kids and activity. Lot’s of life.

Back in the shack for another hour or so this morning and it’s more POTA hunting. Including one worked whose license is set to expire tomorrow. Yeah, tomorrow. At least that’s what QRZ says about it. I decided not to mention it because there was a short stack of other hunters waiting to work him. And for all I know he’s already taken care of it and might think I was just being nosy?

My to-do list is endless as are most such lists. Today it’s going to be paying the November bills at a minimum. But other items on the list include a lot of yard work. I’ve got one small tree and several bushes to cut down. And the temporary warm spell is perfect for some of the power washing tasks we have identified. And there is new baseboard trim to be installed in one of the bedrooms. And it’s Fall so the leaves that need to be raked are endless at this point.

I remember when “Hump Day” meant the work week was half over.

But for us old retired guys, the chores are never fully done. Sigh.

See you on the bands!

Dogleg Left

Hello October. It’s not only Fall, it’s also harvest time, the payoff for another year of farm work. Temperatures should be much cooler now. They are not. High temps over the next four days are expected to be in the upper 80s. Not very autumn-like if you ask me. The extended forecast suggests this might be the end of the hot weather. We will see. I’d vote for sweatshirt weather if I could. Seasons change as do my radio interests and I see a dogleg left coming up in the road ahead, and I’m not just talking about the weather.