Well with New Year’s Day breakfast and cleanup out of the way checked bandconditions.com and it said 20m was on the questionable side if not bad. With a bit of time to kill I thought what the heck let’s give it a try and see what happens. The JT65 waterfall had a few on it, sent out a few CQ’s but no luck. Switched to PSK and got a chap in California. We had a short QSO and signed clear.
Over the years RTTY has always interested me but for whatever reasons never gave it a try. Moved up the band a bit and found a frequency where a couple were having a RTTY QSO. When they signed clear I thought why not I’ll try calling the stronger of the two and I guess I must have done something right, he replied to me. He was in California also and we had a real nice QSO and it turns out the weather down there and here at home is almost identical. Bright sunshine, but cold with snow maybe in the forecast for early next week. Actually his snow was coming sooner.
When I signed clear of him I went back to JT65 and made one contact there and again to California. Normally with JT65 I have no issues in making contacts but since I have hooked by signalink and surface computer back up to my ICOM 746pro which happens to be hooked up to my beam it’s not been that good.
This got me to thinking about something HB9HQX (Beat) had posted to me way back when. The old adage of a good antenna can make a bad radio look good isn’t necessarily so when it comes to JT65. It’s actually the reverse. He told me not to use a beam and stick with a vertical or dipole. If you do use a beam cut your power way back to under 10 watts. If today is any indication he probably has a point. Next time I will give my vertical a whirl and see if that improves the situation.
But I did come away happy with 1 PSK, 1 RTTY & 1 JT65 in about an hours time. This all means even when the charts say the band is bad don’t be afraid to spin the dial and see what happens. Looking forward to meeting you on the bands in 2016.