September usually isn’t my most active month on the air, contrary to my professional activities. But I wanted to participate in SAC CW. Nothing serious of course. Just to hand out some points with the tower down. Of course it was easy on 40m. It was hard on 20m. It was a bust on 15m with only two contacts there. I did hear weak Far East stations calling the Scandinavians but from here the target area was unworkable.
Worth mentioning is that I had a co-op in the shack. My oldest son (6.5 y/o) wanted to help me out. He wanted to know how big the numbers were I got from the other stations. He was not impressed with hundred-something but guys handing out 1800 or more gained his respect. Not that he has a clue, he’s just starting out in the reading and math business. But his enthusiasm was infectious. I opened the QRZ.com page for most of the logged calls so he could see who it was. Soon he recognized the OH, SM and OZ flags. Reading the country was hard at first because the English country names and spelling are not quite the same as in Dutch. I took a Y-adapter and gave him his own headphones to listen with me. I just had to tell him over and over again to keep his mouth shut when a weak signal serial number was sent to me. I might not let him discover SSB before he masters CW. Should he develop a serious interest in the hobby. I’m not pushing him. But I can’t ignore his enquiries either. Furthermore operating a phone contest is impossible if he can’t keep quiet. The VOX would trip with 100% duty cycle. It already does when the two brothers are playing in the other room!
About six weeks ago we visited my parents’ place and went for a walk through my old neighborhood. I took a specific route because I wanted to see the QTH of a ham who settled there after I left town. This guy has a hex-beam on a pole about ten meter high. One of the SAC stations used a hex-beam too and put a picture of that antenna on his QRZ.com page. My boy yelled out: “Hey that’s the same antenna we saw when walking in grandma and grandpa’s town!”. I was impressed with his antenna-memory.
Last weekend was CQ WW RTTY. Again I wanted to make a bunch of contacts, just to be active and join the legions. Saturday morning things went quite smooth on 40, even with the dipole only about ten meter above the ground. But RTTY soon grows old and the weather was just too nice. We had a great family day doing all sorts of things outside including a BBQ grill party. I keep on grilling as long as the WX supports it!
Sunday morning ON4BHQ picked me up for our annual visit to Belgium’s biggest ham fest. And just like every year I notice almost all of the flea market stands have the same old junk on display. I also see many people haul stuff to their cars and can’t help to wonder: all this stuff yet hardly any Belgians to be heard on the bands, seen in the contest results or in the clublog DXpedition lookups. They’re probably all doing DMR on VHF or PSK/JTxx? I was glad the Mastrant boys came over from OK-land. They had a broad assortment of small pulleys on display. My local DIY store stopped carrying the right type of pulleys and all the rest here is too expensive for what it is, or useless for ham radio antenna purposes without modifying. So I bought a dozen small pulleys straight from the Czech Republic. Pulleys always come in handy for the field day style operator.
Late in the afternoon I decided to do some more RTTY. The sun had shaken up the ionosphere and propagation was hard. Again there wasn’t much to be heard on 15. It went better on 20. And I even had a short modest run after a cluster spot. Huzzah! I really don’t like RTTY. It’s just clicking away. It gets boring after a few minutes already. Human input is almost zero, no challenge, nothing to learn. But I chipped in 160 QSO.
I’m glad to see the CY9C log keeper did a new upload to Clublog with the logging error fixed. My 40m QSO now actually shows up on 40 and no longer on 80. Time to pay my dues because it was fun working them.
ON4BHQ also gave me a small box of incoming QSL cards. This box contains one year of incoming buro QSL, and the box is pretty small. There was a time when this size of box came in every month! Guess what I will be doing the coming weeks?