The Interesting Part About August

August is a big transition month – where it starts with the daylight of summer . . .

The sun at the end of August – reminds me of “Dark Helmet” . . . 

And ends looking like the Autumnal Equinox. This is significant – especially at the bottom of the sunspot cycle – because two things seem to coincide to help DXers – especially on 40M have some HF DX to work, and that is – with mostly Zero sunspot days, there are theories that gamma rays that can get through with a weak ionosphere have an ionizing effect at VLF – but this is an area that seems to be ripe for new study:

A year ago, Kat and I visited the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, MT, and we attended an excellent planetarium there and the show discussed deep space study – and the EU Space Agency plans on launching Athena in 2028:

I’m quite excited that we will most likely learn quite a bit from this project, and I will be freshly retired at that time. I also believe that the USA will still be the leaders of all things space and science:

Icom IC-9700 in 2019?

Ham Radio Deluxe Satellite Tracker

Back in 2001 or 2002 – I tried playing with satellites – and had two M2 “Eggbeater” antennas, a Kenwood TS-2000 and an ICOM IC-910H. It was fun – but my pursuit of DXCC took over my ham life completely.

Having worked just about everything I want DX wise – it might be a good time to get back into satellites and possibly EME. EME sounds like a lot of fun – but I don’t want another amplifier, and it seems like you really need power for that mode. However – just receiving EME could be fun.

I’m not sure it will be worth the cost – and since the rig won’t be released until 2019, there is no rush – but its interesting to think about the possibilities anyway.

The DX Gulch

It’s almost as if a switch was thrown right as 3Y0Z met their demise – that this Solar Cycle totally hit the skids.

Since making DXCC on Top Band in or around February / March, the only notable QSO that I’ve had this year was with KH7Z/KH1 on Top Band. (Geez how did these guys get such a turkey of a call when the previous DXpedition got K1B?)

Anyway, it really feels like the first year of two at the bottom of the last cycle. Two years of shit, but you do have to be vigilant. Back then I was still in the “DXCC 320’s”, so I was motivated to standby for years for an ATNO. And I did snag quite a few ATNOs during the dregs of Cycle 23.

I’m at a point where I listen to the radio for 1/2 hour before I go to bed and don’t hear much of anything.

Hopefully, 40M will open up a bit this Winter, because even that band is in the ditch.

Bottom of Cycle 24 . . . and 3Y0I News

Well, interestingly enough (irony?) the cycle dropped into “sustained Zero” territory pretty much just after 3Y0Z met their demise. On another note – I emailed Dom regarding 3Y0I – and asked him if he had shipped his gear to Cape Town, and he said “Yes, a while ago”.

Fingers crossed – but all this year – and especially after 3Y0Z, I realize working Bouvet or Glorioso won’t be easy (or perhaps any time soon) – my expectations are now as low as they have ever been – but its far from hopeless, that’s for sure.

CK Data Explorer

Today is the day my first “product” at work will launch in Beta. Its an Enterprise Data Dictionary “Explorer” Application at Credit Karma. We think its so good that we might Open Source it.

I’ve only been working on this Front End product for a Quarter, and had to teach myself React, Javascript and Flask for the REST API. I also hired someone who knows React better than I to take the code and run with it – and he even re-wrote my Python Flask API in Node.js Express – which now means my time is freed up to spend more time on 2 other products that I completely neglected for the past 3 months.

Its pretty much the most fun I think I have ever had at work – and while we will get everything lunched today, I expect next week will be interesting as we support the first day of many in the company checking the app out.

My Life in Solar Cycles

Cycle 25 predictions have recently been upgraded to be about what Cycle 24 was. That means I could very well make DXCC #1 from Orinda, but I just realized that I will be retiring and moving from Orinda just about the time that we hit the peak of Cycle 25.

When I realized this, it got me thinking about my life and the solar cycles that have occurred since I was born at the peak of Cycle 19. I started as a ham (WN2QHN) during Cycle 20 (similar to Cycle 23 and 24), and so ironically, I have only ever been active as a DXer during the worst Solar Cycles since I was born.

This isn’t a bad thing – living down here in a bowl with the worst conditions of any cycle since Cycle 19, and I still made DXCC Honor Roll in 11 years is  testament to perseverance, and I hope a modicum of skill.

After reading The Sun Kings last Summer and Chasing Venus this Summer, I realize that solar cycles are indeed a clock of sorts, and that Solar Cycles have indeed influenced my life to some degree.

Fall Project: Adding 160M To My Remote Switch

I have a remote switch for 75 and 80M (R1, R2 and R3), and by adding in a relay before these, I can switch between my 60′ tall 75 / 80M vertical and a Cushcraft MA160V for Top Band.

This would be a couple hour project – and one that I need to try to get done before VP6D – which is the next time someone will be on Top Band that I should try to work – not because I really need anything for an award – but because its the only upcoming challenge on the road map ahead.

I am starting to wonder if 3Y0Z represents a bigger historical marker than anyone has expected – I think in the History of the DXCC Program it will prove to be a watershed moment – that some entities simply will become impractical to activate – a “bridge too far” if you will. I believe that rising oil prices, inflation due to trade wars, and being at the bottom of Cycle 24 will put a serious damper on DXpeditions from happening. at least in the short term – and maybe even in the long term.