Updates and FT8

A few good things happened over the Thanksgiving holiday. One of them was that my dad came to visit. Not really a surprise as that’s how it goes every year. But this year, he brought his antenna analyzer and we got down to business with my 20m/40m dipole. It’s the same antenna I had some issues with earlier. But this time, we beat it!

With the analyzer in hand, we did some tuning and got it to perfection for 20m and to really good on 40m. The Q on 40m is T-I-G-H-T but totally useable. It took a lot of going up to the attic and shortening things, but with it done, I’m really able to get out and that was the whole point.

We also got the coax run down all the way to the basement where my office is so my “Ham Shack” is no longer doubling as my nightstand. Or is that the other way around? In any case, I now have my rig on a desk with a computer that lets me do things that I really couldn’t do when everything was up in the bedroom.

The damage to the various walls (and ceiling…don’t ask…) is repairable. I just won’t talk about it in front of my wife for a while. Or ever again.

Back to the point! With the rig attached to a computer full-time, I have tried my hand at WSJT-X and FT8. Wow. This is fun! I’ve been able to get quite a few contacts with only a few hours of operating. It’s not as fun as a phone contact, but it’s still cool to see countries pop up from all over. I haven’t had a lot of exposure just yet, but I think I’ve made a dozen or so contacts and some were pretty far west and across the pond to the east. I’ve been surprised by how much I’ve been able to do on 40m. It’s just cool!

I don’t know that digital will be my preferred mode, but it’s a lot of fun to power up the rig and grab a few contacts while I’m on my lunch break or whatever. Because any radio is better than no radio.