Sun Apr 22 2018 4:58PM - Here's the story of today's Requin subpedition. By the way do you know that Requin is French for shark.
Mike arrived around 8:00AM, and we chatted for a while before heading to Pittsburgh around 8:15. All went smoothly and we didn't even get lost till we got within a couple blocks of the Requin. What a madhouse we encountered then. It looked like there was going to be a Pirate game coming up with all the traffic and filled parking lots. After making a couple of U turns looking for a policeman to see what was gone, we did find one who was very friendly, professional, and helpful. He gave clear instructions on how to get to the submarine parking lot. He also said the madhouse situation was being caused by a March of Dimes event which was just about to start.
After following his instructions and getting a parking place, it was on to step 2. We started to walk from the lot to the park, and ran into a dead end because of barricades set up for construction work being done on the Science Center. So we had to loop back again (definitely got out exercise for the day) to find another way to the sub. Although it wasn't supposed to be open yet, there was a narrow opening in the Science Center and we went in that way. The inside of the Science also had construction work going on, and we needed an individual from security to help us through the center and finally get to the sub. Whew!
We met Art at the sub entrance and made our way to the radio room. Next came step 3 in our quest. We hooked up the KX3, PX3, paddle, antenna, etc. We then turned on the rig and --- nothing happened. The three of us were puzzled, but Art of course knew more about the sub setup so we let him check into the problem. After a few minutes he found one plug amid the multitude of wiring from the power supply that had come lose. Once that was fixed, we were in business.
Step 4 was getting on the air. As always, there was a surge of activity at first on 40 meters and we worked 6 stations in 26 minutes before moving on to 30 meters where we added 2 more stations. Then as noted in our email promo we moved to 20 meters at 1500Z only to find some wide band noise that was at least 30 kHz wide and centered on our announced frequency. So that right away put any activity out of the question on that band. After that we jumped around between 40 and 30 with only 4 stations on 40 and none on 30.
It became pretty frustrating calling CQ after CQ with not a single answer. After a while we set up a CQ in the KX3 memory and figured out it was calling 3 sets of CQ per minute or about 180 CQs per hour. So the lack of contacts was definitely not due to a lack of effort on out part. It was also very frustrating to say the least to have one of our NAQCC members jump right on top of our frequency and call repeated CQs. There was also some QRM from other sources as well.
Finally with the lack of response we decided to go and hunt some DX instead. The lower portion of 20 was free of the wide band noise so we settled on operating there in the CQMM contest. We made 4 DX contacts on 3 continents. XE2S, F5IN, CO2JD, KH7M. We also almost worked Bert F6HKA.
All in all, kind of an up and down day. It was good to interact with the visitors to the sub as always, many of whom recognized Morse Code as we were sending it. Also as always it was great great to fellowship with Art WA3BKD the caretaker of the Requin. He has an identical sense of humor to ours (Mike is sitting here as I write, and he adds that could be dangerous).
That was quite a bit of writing and it took some time. We also got some good pictures which I will work on and post in tomorrow's diary entry. -30-
Sat Apr 21 2018 8:08PM - Fortunately I got my DX QSO at 0002Z tonight in the CQMM contest from CO2JD on 20 meters. Fortunately because tomorrow is a USS Requin subpedition day and I wouldhn't have had much time to look for DX during the day.
For the rest of the entry, here's the subpedition announcement that I sent to our NAQCC email list this afternoon.
"On Sunday, April 22, the WPA Chapter of the NAQCC will put the submarine USS Requin on the air from its permanent dock near the Buhl Science Center in Downtown Pittsburgh, PA. The operators will be Mike KC2EGL and John K3WWP.
They will try to begin the operation as soon as the Requin opens for visitors at 10:00 AM EDT which is 1400Z. The Requin has only one operational antenna so only one signal can be on the air at any one time. From 1400-1430Z they will operate on 7039 kHz, from 1430-1500Z it will be 10115 kHz, and from 1500-1530Z on 14059 kHz. Note the departure from the normal frequencies to try to avoid possible QRM from SOTA and other operations.
Also don't forget to check up and down slightly from those frequencies if we have to QSY to avoid QRM.
After 1530Z, operation will take place on the frequencies that were deemed most successful in the first 90 minutes. The operation will continue as long as activity warrants, but probably no longer than 2:00 PM or 1800Z. Please keep the exchange of info as short as possible to give as many folks as possible the chance to work the sub. Also keep in mind we are interacting with the visitors passing through the sub if we don't copy you all that well and ask you for repeats.
If you do make contact, please QSL to the NY3EC address in QRZ.net. That is the call of the submarine which will be used for the operation. The NAQCC number of the sub is 8483.
There will be a write up and pictures of the operation in K3WWP's web site diary at http://k3wwp.com/home_ss_diary.html within a day of the conclusion of the operation." -30-
Fri Apr 20 2018 3:00PM - DEAD!! That's what the bands were every time I checked so far today, and with 5 hours remaining to make my DX streak QSO, it really doesn't look like they are going to get any better in that time. So it looks like the DX streak is going to end after those 5 hours barring some sort of a miracle change. Of course I have written a couple prior obituaries for the streak during the past year or so only to have conditions change enabling me to pull out a last minute DX QSO. I have a feeling that is not going to happen today though. I have not heard a single DX station even a very weak one anywhere. Actually only one USA station of any strength at all. I will keep trying until 0000Z, and will amend this entry should the seemingly impossible happen.
MIRACLE TIME came at 2305Z in the form of FJ/AI5P on 10.127 MHz. The bands looked every bit as dead then as they had all day. I did find P43R on 30M and tried him a few times without any luck at all. He was in and out of my S4-5 noise and I probably wouldn't have been sure he answered me or not. Anyway while I was calling, I noticed a stronger peak up the band on the PX3 and tuned up there to find FJ/AI5P calling CQ with no takers. He must have just signed on because a couple evenings ago a similar FJ portable station had a large pileup. It took just two calls to get him in the log and continue the DX streak to 1,877 straight days of DX. I've now worked AI5P portable from the following countries - VP2E, G, CY9, FP, FG, J3, 9Y4, PJ4, PJ2, PJ6, and now FJ. Man he really gets around, doesn't he? Kind of a modern day Gus Browning W4BPD although Gus operated from enough countries so you could get DXCC from him. I don't know where AI5P stands in countries operated from. If anyone knows, let me know. -30-
Thu Feb 79 2018 (That's the weather date) - Thu Apr 19 2018 9:13PM - The calendar date. Yes winter weather continues on at around 25 degrees below normal and s#@w flurries to boot. I'd love to boot it out of here. I watch the Penn State weather show every weekday evening at 5:30PM and they used that Feb 79 2018 bit on the show. I thought it was clever (and accurate) so I 'borrowed' it for the diary.
No DX this evening. It seems like it is alternating lately - easy one evening, none the next. I guess that's better than not having any every evening. I really don't like having to wait till morning or afternoon to get the DX streak QSO.
That's about all the time I have to write an entry. I had a visit from an old friend for a couple hours this evening and I'm running late. We used to walk together in the park several years ago, but he doesn't walk much these days and I hadn't seen him in a couple years now. -30-
Wed Apr 18 2018 8:22PM - It seems my DX of late has been coming with a little story or anecdote with it. Today was no different. This morning I tuned in the CWT sprint hoping to find some workable European stations. I only found two, and both were on the borderline of workability. They were 9A7R and HA9RT. I tried both off and on with no luck. Finally HA9RT came up in strength so I tried again and he came back with a clear K3WWP and the sprint exchange, but he had already dropped in strength again. I sent my info, and I think he acknowledged it, but I wasn't positive. I did log it, but I wasn't happy and decided to wait and try the afternoon CWT. 9A7R was there again, more solid than in the morning. It took a few tries losing to other stations, but I got a solid sure QSO.
Last year sometime I bought an atomic clock from the Ol' Station Marketplace. That clock regularly sets itself with one of the WWV stations, and in checking the time, I've always found it to be within one second or less of the correct time. I say that as a little preview of what comes next. I went to the shack as usual just before 0000Z and found Alex HC2AO calling CQ on 20 meters. It was still 45 seconds or so too early to call him for the QSO to count for the 19th. I waited him out hoping he wouldn't leave before 0000Z. He wasn't getting any answers at all. As 0000Z approached, his last CQ before that ended exactly at 0000Z. I sent my call which he heard at once, and we exchanged signal reports, greetings and thanks. At about 20 seconds past 0000Z, I had my DX streak QSO in the books. Alex is a very interesting person. If you've never done so, take a look at his QRZ bio when you get a chance. He's an excellent operator and one of several who can be counted on to give me a QSO pretty much no matter how bad the bands are. -30-
Tue Apr 17 2018 6:58PM - A bit of an unusual twist to my DX QSO last evening. It took a while to find someone, but finally I found a big pileup on 40 meters and set to figure out if I could hear the station they were chasing. It didn't take long to be very surprised to find out it was Rey CO6RD. I had no idea why he should be so popular. I had worked him 31 times before on several different bands - 10, 12, 15, 17, 20, and 30. I mean the pileup was BIG being at least 2-3 kHz wide. I never did look on QRZ to see if he was doing anything special to be so popular. Think I'll do that now. Back in a moment.
OK, I guess this quote from Rey's QRZ page partially explains it, but still....
"NEW Special Event Station CO6RD. Waving at CW on World Amateur Radio Day The CW Group of Cuba (GCWC) on the occasion of the 93rd anniversary of the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU), will carry out special broadcasts in Telegraphy on April 17, starting at 8:00 p.m. until 19:59 hours on April 18 (from 00:00 to 23:59 UTC on April 18)"
So that plus being in the first hour of the operation when I worked him (yes, I did break the pile and work him) further explains the big pileup. When I saw and heard the pile at first though I thought it must be 3B7A or some similar rare DX.
As far as working him, that was a piece of cake. At first I didn't even think I'd bother trying, and just looked around for someone else to work. Failing in that, I went back to Rey, studied his pattern and watched who he was working on the PX3. After about 30-45 seconds of that, I set the KX3 to transmit on the frequency of the last peak I saw him work on the PX3. As soon as he said TU UP, I called and got K3?, called again for K3W?, then the next time it was K3WWP 599. I sent my info and broke a big pile with virtually a single call. I love it when that happens. It proves that it can be done with such a simple setup as mine with just a little bit of thinking thrown in for good measure. -30-
Mon Apr 16 2018 1:48PM - It's nice to not have to worry about getting my DX QSO during the day today nor having to take time to do my laundry. Both those things were done last evening. It's just too bad it's a chilly rainy day today so I can't be outside doing something.
Anyway with time on my hands (wonder how that expression got started?), I took a couple pictures of my bug and the weight I added to slow the dots. The first picture here shows the bug without the weight which is in the forground of the picture. On the left is an unmodified barrel type fishing sinker that weighs one ounce. At the right after modification that consisted of simply using a saw that makes exactly the right size kerf in the sinker to let it fit just snugly enough on the bug shaft to hold it on but allow it to be slid along the shaft to adjust dot speed.
The next picture shows the bug with the weight on the shaft lodged just to the right of the weight that came with the bug. The supplied weight is slipped as far as it will go to the left. This particular setting gives me dots about 17 WPM. If my weight is slipped to the right or removed altogether, it will give what I estimate at 22-25 WPM or so. I've never measured it like I did the 17 WPM
It's so simple, there shouldn't be any questions, but if there are any, I'll be glad to answer them.
Of course different bugs have different configurations, so if you want to try the idea, some adaptation may be necessary. For example your bug may have a round shaft in which case you'll have to make a round opening in the weight instead of a slot. Things like that. Also I wouldn't try too heavy a weight unless you are sure that the shaft will support the weight. I've never had any trouble with my bug and a one ounce weight. -30-
Sun Apr 15 2018 8:47PM - The DX scavenger hunt took me to the Yuri Gagarin contest this morning. There was very little activity and even less DX. Finally I did find one weak station who was just at my noise level and dipping down into it now and then. Never fear though. It turned out to be Mike F5IN, and if there is any station that weak I can work, it's Mike. I think I lost out to one or two other stations and also Mike didn't hear me answer his CQ, but the next CQ, he got me, we exchanged contest info, and the scavenger hunt succeeded once again thanks to a great op.
Tonight it was much simpler. HK7AAG was 589 on 30 and responded to my very first answer to his CQ. I first worked Ger back in July 1994 not long before the main streak started up on August 5.
So now I have the day free tomorrow to do whatever as I'm also doing my laundry this evening even as we speak. I had been thinking of something, but I don't know if I'll get to it or not. A few weeks ago I got an email from someone saying how he liked the slower (actually correct speed) dots produced by my lightning bug. It popped into my head that it is so very simple and inexpensive to slow down the dots on just about any bug by simply adding a little weight to the lever. In my case, with the flat lever, I mounted a barrel fishing sinker to it. That reduced the speed from maybe around 22 WPM to 17 WPM which is the slowest I ever send unless I'm asked to QRS, then I use my paddles or my straight key. Anyway if I do decide to work on it, I'll have a little picture story in the diary tomorrow or at least soon. -30-
Sat Apr 14 2018 2:42PM - I've been doing some thinking about my DX streak lately, and I've come to a conclusion. It's no longer really a streak, it's more like a scavenger hunt. By that I mean an inordinate amount of time is taken up in looking for an object that matches a certain description as in a normal scavenger hunt. Only in this case the object description goes like the following instead of finding for example a nickel from the 1940s. It consists of making contact with a person residing outside the USA and Canada via ham radio. It can only be made using a certain means of communication, a certain power level, and a certain type of antenna. A further consideration is that the signal must be of a certain strength to even make it possible for the contact to be made. Fortunately there is no limit on just where this contact may be found.
In order to satisfy the conditions of the scavenger hunt under current propagation conditions it requires looking in every nook and cranny, under every rock, in short just about anyplace that can be imagined at any time of day. Once found, it then sometimes becomes a problem to extract it from its hiding place which means it can hide behind a wall of noise, and only jump out from behind the wall occasionally to tantalize you. The whole process can take up to a few hours on some days.
I'm thinking with nice weather finally coming, I might not want to take enough time to play in the scavenger hunt on some days, and then may have to consider if it is important enough or not to continue playing. Time will tell.
Today I came close to that point, but I finally did complete the hunt successfully by working Josh 6Y5WJ another time on 20 meters in mid-afternoon. -30-
Fri Apr 13 2018 8:25PM - Even better today. It hit 84 on both my remote thermometers. It will be interesting to see if my 'official' thermometer hit the same when I check it at nine. I took advantage and installed the screens in my door and slipped the glass from the storm windows to get some of that great warm air in the house to warm it up a bit. It takes a bit to push out the heavier cool air, but I did get the indoor temperature up to 74 or so. Ain't it great at last!!!
Even the DX was a little better this afternoon. I still had to make 3 or 4 checks before I found any, but at 1556Z I found and easily worked 9A22RBM on 20 meters. The solar flux did go up to 70 earlier today, so maybe that contributed although it doesn't seem like much. Still the same old story this evening though. I got briefly excited when I heard a station acting like a DX station, but it turned out to be VE7ACN/VE2 handing out an IOTA and also Zone 2.
It was nice this evening to have a QSO with Doug W3HDH whom I haven't worked in 6 years or so. He used to be involved with the PA QSO Party before he moved to Illinois. That was quite a while ago now.
I also got a nice encouraging email from Mike N4VBV today. I don't think he'll mind if I quote it to you. "John, Hang in there with the streaks. I know the DX side is getting frustrating, but you’re making it happen. Keep thinking that,” I made it another day/week/month/year.” Take a look back at how much you’ve accomplished, the past frustrating times and how you soldiered on right through those aggravating periods. If bad cndx do stop things, it won’t be any omission/commission on your part. Hang in there, keep the attitude up and best of luck. As well as congratulations on your hard work and past success. 73, and good luck, Mike, N4VBV"
I need things like that to help keep me going. Sometimes it gets a bit lonely when no one comments on the streaks for a while. Of course I don't do it for the comments, but it does help at times. -30-
Thu Apr 12 2018 4:37PM - I'm enjoying basking in 77 degree weather. How about that. Finally after grueling never-ending winter weather, we get a break at last. It's actually 10 degrees warmer outside than in right now. Too bad I still have my storm windows in and not the screens.
It took me the good part of the day to do it, but I did get my DX QSO with a single call. The streak QSO has come from the same station the last three days on three different bands. I'm speaking of PJ5/AI5P. Today it was 20 meters. I could barely hear him, but I got him with just a single call. Must be nice operating someplace where the man-made noise can't be all that bad.
It's just a matter of time now before my luck runs out on DX. Day after day of low solar flux in the 60s is taking its toll. I think even if we could get a couple days in the upper 70s or low 80s, that would energize the bands for a while. It has taken a long run in the 60s to get them to the current point. Even being in the 60s for quite a while didn't seem to affect them all that much. There must be a point beyond which conditions really get bad as they are right now. Might be something to research. -30-
Wed Apr 11 2018 3:23PM - Kind of an unusual time to write a diary entry, but I have three things I want to cover and want to get them down here before I forget them or at least what I wanted to say about them. 1 DX, 2 Sprint, 3 Visit.
I did something unusual in working DX today. Something I can only recall doing once before for a completely different reason. That is not being sure my QSO was complete or not and working the station again a few minutes later to be sure. I don't really like doing that unless I'm "desperate". The first time was way back on September 25, 1995 and the station was R1FJZ in Franz Josef Land on 18.070. With such a rare hard to work country, I wanted to be sure I was in the log. I worked them at 2007Z, and wasn't sure if the QSO was good enough or not, so I debated with myself if I should try to work them again just to be sure. It took until 2021 to decide to try again. I did and this time it was a much more solid 'for sure' QSO. Since then I've only worked one other Franz Josef Land station so it was a good choice to try again. The other one? R1FJL on June 16, 1999 on 14.016 at 0504Z.
Fast forward now to today. The details are all the same except for the reason - to keep my DX streak going when the bands were just about totally devoid of workable DX stations - and the band, time(s) and station. It was 17 meters (almost the same frequency - 18.072) at 1904Z and 1916Z with PJ5/AI5P. And the streak goes on with a real effort.
I said in my soapbox for last night's sprint to check the diary here for my story of the sprint. It wasn't much of an effort. I had pretty much decided after seeing how the bands were all day yesterday that I was going to only make a couple QSOs, then QRT. However it turned out that 40 meters wasn't all that bad for the sprint, and although I didn't stay long and stuck strictly on 40, I did have some runs from my CQs. I did quit after only about a half hour with 14 QSOs in 12 SPCs which was by far my best effort on 40 in a long long time as far as I can recall. I just sat one one frequency and called CQ the whole time. Had I stayed longer I may have made it to 40 QSOs if 80 was any good later in the sprint. I'm satisfied with my results though because I had fun and that's my objective in our sprints, not going for score.
Now about Mike's visit yesterday. As we always do we take breaks in whatever else we are doing to check the bands for DX. Well, yesterday had about the worst conditions for DX we've ever experienced. The only station Mike worked was old regular PV8ADI and it wasn't easy by any means. I didn't bother to try him since I've worked him so many times and I already had my DX QSO from the 0000Z hour the evening before. Of course we also had a meal, this time at Wendy's. We also worked on our main project which was experimenting with antennas in case we need to do FD from my porch again this year. After that was done and there was no more DX to be found, it was off to the computer for hidden object games. Later as Mike was about to leave, I remembered we wanted to call Art from the USS Requin to arrange a subpedition. So we did that and Mike and Art found the 22nd of April compatible with both of them. I'm good for pretty much any day at all here. So we'll be going to the Requin the Sunday after next. More details as the day gets closer or we get closer to the day, however that works. HI -30-
Tue Apr 10 2018 8:09PM - Mike and I had a good time today. I'll write more about it in tomorrow's entry. Right now I'm getting ready for our NAQCC sprint and doing some other things.
No DX yet tonight. I'll probably have to wait till the CWT sprint in the morning. Today whenever Mike and I checked the bands, they were pretty much dead. He did work PV8ADI on 20. Hope they are better tomorrow. -30-
Mon Apr 09 2018 5:50PM - One of the many reasons I like CW so much is that it doesn't change hardly at all over the years, and I abhor change of any kind. I guess the last big change with CW was going from the spark gap signal with it's raspy sound to the continuous wave signal which is what CW stands for, by the way. The mode is really more aptly named Morse Code or technically A1 emissions. Using CW today is pretty much exactly the same way it was used those many years ago.
There have been some minor refinements such as the creation of keyers that make automatic strings of dots and dashes. Also UGH the use of keyboard sent CW via a dedicated keyboard circuit or a personal computer. But CW still involves using hand motions to send it and the brain to receive it in most cases. That is true Morse in my (and many other's) opinion. Doing it any other way just lumps it in with other digital modes. Yes, Morse is the original digital mode.
One disadvantage to its non-changing nature is finding new things about it to talk or write about. If I devoted my diary strictly to Morse, it would really be nothing but the same thing over and over again. Actually it is that now unfortunately to a certain extent. That's the reason I like to write about my other interests in life such as fishing, weather, astronomy, walking, gardening, and on and on since I am not a person who is only interested in one thing in life.
One thing related to Morse that does change daily is the extent of my QSO a day streaks. Both were extended one more day today, but it was rough adding a day to the DX streak. Last evening after I got my regular streak QSO easily at a few minutes past 0000Z, I looked around for some DX and found none. That was also true in a couple extra checks before midnight (0400Z).
Shift now to this morning starting at 1200Z, and it was the same situation. I didn't find any DX then, and it was virtually the same in other checks I was making every hour or so throughout the day. The only strong workable DX stations were those chasing other DX stations themselves so I couldn't even try to work them. There were a few very weak stations about half of which I could hear, but couldn't copy them well enough to get any complete calls. As it turned to late afternoon though, conditions did pick up a little. I heard R6AF surprisingly on 20 meters right at my S5 to S6 noise level. He never heard me call though. The same with old standby PV8ADI. He wasn't his usual well over S9 signal, and didn't hear me call. Finally I heard HA7GN on 20 and called him. The QSB was bad, and I thought he asked K3? so I called again twice. When I ended the second call, I could hear him sending an exchange to someone so I listened to see who he was working. Surprisingly, he sent something like how copy? then K3WWP de HA7GN KN. He must have caught my call the first of those two times I sent my call and I was doubling with him the second time I sent my call. Whatever, I came back to him with RST and name. He thanked me by name, and another DX day is in the log. Now I start over again in less than two hours.
Mike is spending the day here tomorrow. We've got a couple projects in mind. The main one is doing some testing to see if we can reduce the interference between our stations if we have to operate Field Day and/or the NAQCC anniversary event here from my house as we did last year. -30-
Sun Apr 08 2018 8:38PM - I was reminded of something in a QSO this evening by a ham who was studying for his Extra and wished he'd done so 50 years ago when he was younger. I hadn't realized before that it will be 50 years as an Extra for me later this year. I think in August. I'm sure I have that first Extra license somewhere, but a quick search just now didn't turn up anything. I am curious now as to just when in 1968 I got the ticket so I'll continue my search but not right now as I'm doing my laundry, then getting my weather readings, walking Roscoe, etc.
I had another topic in mind to write about, but searching for the ticket put me behind schedule now so that will wait till tomorrow if I don't forget. Hopefully I won't be too busy hunting my DX streak QSO in the morning or afternoon to do that. -30-
Sat Apr 07 2018 8:25PM - That was interesting, rewarding, quick, and to the point. My DX QSO this evening, that is. 40 meters very busy with the SP contest, MOQP, MSQP, and some RTTY contest all going at the same time from 7000 up to at least 7040. I didn't tune any higher than that. I figured there was little space to squeeze in my QRP signal to get any DX, so I worked W0D in the MOQP for the regular streak, but I wasn't sure he had my call right since he sent K3WWW and never did correct it after I sent K3WWP a couple more times. So I then worked NI0C in the MOQP, but when he came back to me another station was sending something exactly zero beat. I did hear NI0C send .....WP and the contest exchange, so I figured it was me and sent my exchange. So the main streak was secure.... maybe.
Then I went DX hunting. Nothing on 30, and a weak XE1 on 20 was it. So back to 40 down to the low end. I heard a weak SP4 - too weak to bother trying. Then I heard SN7Q who is one of a few Poles I can almost surely count on for a QSO. I've worked him easily many times and despite him being S5 to S6 at best, he heard my first call to him and we swapped our exchanges with nary a single repeat needed. It's ops like that who will help to keep my streak going if I can find them one way or other. Once found, working them should be easy like tonight.
I was going to take a picture this morning showing our January in April weather, however I got to doing a couple other things and never got to it, before it all melted. No complaints about that at all though. There was probably between 1 and 2 inches of the stuff overnight. Enough already!!! Bring on some true spring-like weather like we had in February and not since then. -30-
Fri Mar 06 2018 8:17PM - Well it still seems like March, not April. S#$w flurries, cold, wind, and all that nasty stuff we actually expect to be gone by mid-March is still hanging around. It's mainly due to a large high pressue system in Eastern Canada that keeps sitting there and about every other day or so cold weather from Central Canada has to take a detour around the high which directs it right over Pennsylvania. Hopefully the high will get kicked out soon and we can get back to normal.
It was another quick QSO both last night and this evening that kept the DX streak going. Last night XE2I at 0015Z and tonight XE1ZW at 0006Z, both on 20 meters. So from Latvia and Russia for a couple days to neighboring Mexico the next couple days.
Folks ask me about my tomatoes and peppers now and then. The new pepper seeds I planted a few days ago have yet to sprout. Hope I don't have to give up on them like I did the first batch. The Siberian tomatoes are coming along good although a bit slow. They are probably waiting for some true spring weather also like the rest of us. They now have 2 or 3 sets of true leaves as you can see in the picture here.
Thu Apr 05 2018 8:44AM - I was even a bit more encouraged about the DX streak this morning. I worked even deeper into Europe than YL3CW yesterday. Today it was RN4W on 20. Igor is in Izhevsk, Russia. That's a 1000+ MPW QSO - 5,150 miles or 1,030 MPW. Quite a ways east of Moscow. For comparison, YL3CW at roughly the same bearing - 36 vs. 24 degrees for RN4W - is 'only' 4,450 miles.
Strangely, I also heard R108M going about 40 WPM working one after another central Europe station (DL, I, etc.) and I couldn't hear a trace of those he was working. There were also a few other Russian stations, all about S5 to S6 or so. I gave RN4W a little generous 569. He gave me a 539 and I had to repeat my call a few times before he got the P at the end.
Let's see when I last worked European Russia. Oct 20, last year I worked R7KZ on 15 meters. Before that, not since July 23, 2016. A similar pattern to Latvia yesterday.
So with that good news, I'm going to go work on my genealogy some more. -30-
Wed Apr 04 2018 9:00PM - If I don't get blown away by the strong winds when I go out to get my weather readings, I'll be back and write the diary entry.
Well, I made it. The wind has died down quite a bit now. Earlier today it was a struggle to open my storm door to go outside. I didn't see any damage here close to home. Maybe I'll walk around a bit tomorrow to see how things look. I did see a few very small branches down from my back yard pine tree when I went to get the weather readings. I wish I had an anemometer in addition to the rain gauge and max/min thermometer so I could know how fast the wind was blowing today. I'd guess we had gusts close to 45-50 MPH as a rough estimate.
The DX came easy this morning at 1244Z when I worked YL3CW. I think that's my first Latvia QSO in some time now. Let's see. The last 3 Latvians were 11/4/2017 YL2KO, 2/21/2016 YL7A and YL3FT. Not all that long, but very few since 2015. Low sunspot numbers seem to limit how far into Europe I can work. It's very hard to work Russia now along with Ukraine, the Baltic states, Moldova, and other of the former Russian areas.
Well, almost time to walk Roscoe for the last time today. He sure didn't like the wind for the previous 3 walks today and did his business and hurried back inside. Should be better now. -30-
Tue Apr 03 2018 8:29PM
That's what greeted me in the mail 55 years ago after an agonizing wait of a couple weeks after passing my Novice test. Seems like a lot longer ago than that somehow. In other ways it seems like yesterday. Funny how the passage of time seems to change depending on how you look at it.
I haven't been active all of those 55 years as regular diary readers know. Let's go back a year ago and see what I said in the diary on the 54th anniversary.
1. 4/3/1963 (Actually my first QSO came on 4/8/1963) to 4/20/1970. 18,561 QSOs
Then I was inactive due to work at WPIT.
2. 6/6/1972 to 12/4/1973 when time and work permitted. 52 QSOs
Busy with work at WPIT again.
3. 6/17/1981 to 9/23/1983 again when time and work permitted. 752 QSOs
Another work gap till I was near or at retirement from WPIT.
4. 2/15/1993 through the present. 69,484 (70,912 as of tonight) and counting QSOs
There were significant changes during and in between my periods of activity. During the first period, incentive licensing came into being and after being a Novice during part of the first year, followed by General until mid-1968, I quickly got my Extra to have access to those segments of the bands that were no longer available to anyone but Extras.
During the third period of activity, the addition of the so called WARC bands started with 30 meters. The first three periods of activity and the fourth until September 1, 1999 saw me using homebrew transmitters and a few different commercial receivers. Then I got my first transceiver, a Kenwood TS-570D.
During the fourth period, a company called Elecraft came into being, and some of the best rigs ever, at least for my style of operating with only CW and QRP, became available. It took a while for me to get on the Elecraft bandwagon, but I did with a KX1, K2, and now the fabulous KX3. The rest is history.
Of course, I have been active every day now since August 5, 1994 as you know from the streak.
Looks like the DX streak may have to depend on the CWT sprint tomorrow morning. I called a couple of stations this evening without being heard at all. Except for CE2SV, they were quite weak. I don't know why CE2SV wasn't hearing me. I've called him other times too with the same non-results. -30-
Mon Apr 02 2018 8:33PM - Just a couple more hours now and we'll know if it is Villanova or Michigan. How about the UConn women getting beat for the second year in a row. I was glad to see Notre Dame win over Mississippi State in the final there. And almost local Penn State win the NIT. No response on any of my trivia questions about the tournaments, so I'm not going to bother giving any answers.
Just as I started typing this entry, I got a call from Art from the USS Requin. We were planning a subpedition for this Sunday the 8th, but he can't be there, so we're shooting for the following Sunday now, the 15th. I'll confirm that date and mention it here in the diary.
Also just a little while ago after getting my streak(s) QSOs easily by 0024Z, I made another planting of some pepper seeds. Mine never did sprout after 6 weeks. This time Ange gave me some of his seeds to try, so we'll see what happens. The Siberian tomatoes are coming slowly but surely.
Now it's closing on 9PM and my weather readings. Oh, March did finish around 2 degrees colder than February. Mainly not because March was so cold, but because February was so warm. Let me be more specific.
February averaged 38.2 degrees or 8.1 degrees above normal.
March averaged 36.2 degrees or 2.3 degrees below normal.
It was interesting to note that all three February temperature averages were 8.1 degrees above normal - daily minimum, maximum, and mean. That happens very rarely.
OK, now I need to get off an email to Mike to see if the 15th will be OK for him to go to the Requin. I have to depend on him, since I don't drive, and it's a bit far to walk. HI.
Oh, I almost forgot. Tomorrow, the 3rd is the 55th anniversary of me becoming KN3WWP to start an exciting and rewarding journey into ham radio. More about that in tomorrow's entry if I remember. -30-
Sun Apr 01 2018 9:05PM - I hope you all had a Happy Blessed Easter today. It was quiet here. About all I did was have a good meal with Bruce next door and of course Roscoe partook also.
It took a lot of fooling around this evening to get any kind of QSO. I thought someone put a huge Faraday cage over my house. It's very unusual when I go more than 15 minutes without at least getting an answer to my CQs. Tonight it was more like 45 minutes and I never did get an answer. I did find and work FY5FY on 30 meters finally to cover both streaks. Since that took so long, I'm going to cut this short and finish my other web site updates before time comes to walk Roscoe again. -30-
Sat Mar 31 2018 8:41PM - Looks like April is picking up where March left off, both weatherwise and ham radiowise. The bands sound pretty much like they did all during the month of March, and the weather remains below normal temperaturewise
Actually, 20 meters is picking up in the evenings, but that started back in late March so we can't attribute that to changing the calendar from March to April. Also even though it is still below normal as far as temperatures, simply because the normal is increasing now, it's not as cold as March. So I guess things aren't as bad as I made it sound in the first paragraph.
The DX streak is set for a new month now. I wonder if it will survive the whole month. I worked NP4LW on 40 this evening and after checking QRZ to see if he indeed was in Puerto Rico, I made a litte note in my logbook to indicate April 1st was day # 1,858. Actually I should say log sheet - I don't have a real book, I just print a couple new sheets as necessary.
Later tonight I'll make it official that this is only the third time since my weather records started in 1959 that March was colder than February. -30-
Fri Mar 30 2018 8:49PM - Well, one more day to go in March, and it's certain now that March 2018 will wind up colder than February 2018. That's something that doesn't happen all that often. I know of twice that it happened here in Kittanning for sure. That is 1960 and 2018. I'll have to check my records to see if there is another one as well. I did this some time ago and my mind seems to think there was a third one also. Let's see. Yes, I see 1984 had a March 4 degrees colder than February. More? 2001 was close but March was 0.3 degrees warmer. 2017 was close also but March was 0.7 degrees warmer. And in 2012 March was 15.8 degrees warmer than February and March was warmer than April that year also, by 0.8 degrees.
Jon Nese of Penn State's meteorology department had a bit about cold Marches on his Wx Yz Weather Whys? segment on Weather World. You can see it here if you are interested. You may have to check the archives if the March story is not the current one when you visit. He shows only 5 years with a colder March - the three I mentioned plus 1915 and 1932, long before my records here. In fact long before I was born.
As far as ham radio goes, with UTC, it's already the last day of March and that means another month added to the DX streak as I worked 9Y4/KE1B on 30 at 0034Z. Speaking of 30, it has really been the pits this month. I only have 9 QSOs there in March. Just about every time I check it, there is just nothing there unless one DX station shows up now and then. 7 of the 9 QSOs are DX.
OK, 9:00P now and regular diary readers know that's weather readings time, so 73 and CU tomorrow. -30-
Thu Mar 29 2018 8:30PM - Another day added quickly to the DX streak thanks to XE2I on 20M at 0001Z. That after I thought maybe the streak would end earlier today. There just wasn't much in the way of DX anywhere - any strong enough to even try working although I did with no success. After a few sessions like that though, finally I did get SM3EVR on 20M at 1532Z. We even chatted for a few minutes.
It was a rainy day most of the time. A good day to stay inside, although at least it wasn't s#$w. So I did some work on analyzing matchups in the NCAA tournament. It is really interesting to see which matchups appear the most and which are pretty rare. I've got all the numbers in a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet now, and I plan to analyze the data now over the next couple weeks when I'm not involved in something else.
Because of the various quirks in such a 64 team single elimination tournament, except for 1-1 matchups, numbers playing the same number are rare since they can only occur in the final rounds of a tournament with the 64 teams divided into 4 16 team regions. For example, there have been 20 1-1 matchups, 3 2-2 matchups, 1 each of 3-3, 4-4, and 5-5 matchups. None higher than that.
The highest number matchups are 12-13 of which there have been 11. Of course that happens when 12 upsets 5 and 13 upsets 4 in the first round, then they play each other in the second round. Other high number matchups are 5 11-14 and 5 10-15. Fewer than 12-13 because a 15 must beat a 2 and a 14 must beat a 3 to play the 10 an 11 seeds.
Well, enough of that. My head is starting to spin. HI. -30-
Wed Mar 28 2018 10:38PM - This is a fourth Wednesday. That means a pizza night with Mike. We had a pepperoni, mushroom, and tomato variety this time. After that, we tried but couldn't work or even find any DX to work. XE2I was on 20, but Mike just worked him a couple nights ago, and since it was before 0000Z, I decided to wait. However he was gone when 0000Z rolled around, so it will have to be the morning or afternoon if the DX streak is to continue. Next up we talked about some plans for the WPA Chapter in April. Nothing all that definite yet. More info when the time draws closer. Finally we closed out the evening with a hidden object game, an Our Gang video, and some basketball trivia. -30-
Tue Mar 27 2018 8:43PM - It's nice to have 20 meters open late again with the sun setting a little later each evening now. I hope that continues until fall on a regular basis. Tonight a CQ yielded a quick QSO with Wade W5TEN in TX. After we chatted for about 15 minutes, I spotted a strong signal just below our QSO and it was Ralph XE1RK. I called him and we chatted for about 5-6 minutes. It was 80 in Texas and 75 in Mexico. Can't wait till we get those kind of temperatures here.
One of my many interests in life is woodworking. I don't really have the room, time, or money to pursue it seriously. I do build some thimgs now and then like the sundial I mentioned yesterday, but not much. I pursue the hobby more or less vicariously by watching the woodworking shows on the Internet. There are certainly a lot of them. One of my favorites is Matthias Wandel. Why? Because he is a lot like me in that he is interested in many facets of life and many hobbies besides woodworking. Just like me with ham radio. He presents a lot of non-woodworking videos just like I like to mention many different things here in the diary, not just ham radio topics.
Speaking of other interests, it's time now to close here and go get my temperature and precipitation readings for my weather records. We had a lot of rain today, probably between a half and three quarters of an inch. I'm sure glad it was rain and not that other stuff. -30-
Mon Mar 26 2018 8:19PM - As I said as I got up from my shack chair at 0001Z, a la The Katzenjammer Kids, dot vuz kvik. And it was. After finding nothing in a quick check of 20 and 30, I went to 40 and tuned down past a big pileup chasing something I couldn't hear, I caught the letters GCJ from a DX-like operation, and immediately thought that must be PJ5/SP2GCJ. It was and after he made two quick QSOs, I set the KX3 on the frequecny of the second QSO, gava a call and got my DX streak QSO in the log shortly after the 0001Z minute started. Best of all, it was on a new band so I didn't feel bad about working him yet again after a couple QSOs with him on 30 meters.
Every time I add a day to the DX streak, I continue to wonder just how far into the sunspot minimum I'm going to be able to carry the streak. The solar flux has been in the 60s the majority of the days since around the start of 2018, and there have only been a very few days in that time that the DX didn't come easily. Oh, it does take a bit longer to find and work DX now than back when the sunspots were more prominent and hence the propagation was better. As I've said before, I never really chased DX seriously during a sunspot minimum, so this is a new learning experience for me.
For the first time since I don't know when, I took three pretty good walks today. It was in the low 50s with a lot of sunshine. A bit windy which made it feel chillier than that, but still it was great walking weather with none of the white stuff to walk through.
I've been involved in another project the past couple days. I'm refurbishing the sundial that a friend and I built several years ago. It took a beating during the winter with the wild temperature swings. I've sanded it down, redrew the lines and numbers, and have put two coats so far of polyurethane on it. I think I'll shoot for four coats before putting it back outside. I'll post a picture when all is done. -30-
Sun Mar 25 2018 8:33PM - Nobody's shown any interest in my March Madness trivia questions so I'm not going to bother giving the answers unless someone does either submit some guesses or just plain asks for the answers.
Here's one bit of trivia I learned today. This year when Loyola Illinois #11 played Kansas State #9, that was the first ever match between 9 and 11 seeds. Now I wonder what other rare combinations there are. Of course this year also featured the first ever match between a #16 MDBC and a #9 Kansas State. So Kansas State was involved in a couple of firsts.
So for the final four this year we have a 1/1 matchup in Kansas/Villanove and an 11/3 matchup in Loyola Illinois/Michigan. It's been an interesting tournament as always and I hate to see it winding down already. Time sure went fast.
After a nice chat with 80 year old K9VPL, my DX came quickly from old regular PV8ADI on 40 meters.
Nice weather today and almost all of the 6 or so inches of s@#w is gone. Hardly a cloud in the sky today, and this evening. I was watching Venus out my window in the west while I was on the air. -30-
Sat Mar 24 2018 9:09PM - I'm running a little late after a very long enjoyable QSO with Tim WA8VTD. No DX this evening (yet). I promised a before/after the grooming picture of Roscoe. So here it is. That will serve as the bulk of the diary entry tonight. Speaking of bulk, although he is a bit chubby, Roscoe is not as chubby as the pose in the pictures makes him look.
Fri Mar 23 2018 8:19PM - Mike is sitting across the room here after we had our Lenten fish dinner at a local fire hall and then worked some DX. We both worked LZ40MS on 40 before the 0000Z hour. Then Mike worked XE2I on 20 at 2353Z. I thought I'd wait till 0000Z and if he was still there, I'd try to work him then for the DX streak QSO. Although Mike worked him with just a couple calls, when 0000Z came, I had trouble working him, calling many times without him hearing me at all. Finally at 0011Z, I got a WWP? from him, and after sending K3 K3 K3..... several times he came back with K2WWP? He finally did get my call right, and DX day # 1,850 is now firmly entrenched in my logbook. Mike also tried for CP4BT on 20 but didn't have any luck.
I just asked Mike for any additional words, and he said to tell you the fish dinner was phenomenal. I have to agree on that. I also got a take out order for Bruce next door. Roscoe will probably share in that also.
I also got an after picture of Roscoe today with his long curls gone after last week's grooming. I'll crop that and post it with a before picture probably in tomorrow's entry. -30-
Thu Mar 22 2018 8:30PM - A brief weather comment, then I'll talk about last evening's NAQCC sprint. It was yet another day of watching the s#$w melt. As you may have been able to tell from the obscene picture in yesterday's diary entry, we had about 6 inches of the stuff. However despite the high only in the low 40s, in places where the sun hit, all 6 inches vanished, thank goodness. That's why March s#$ws are not as horrible as December-February s#$ws. It will take another day or two to melt the rest where the sun doesn't yet hit, but still that's a lot better than sticking around forever, like earlier season s#$ws do.
I stuck to my pre-determined plan last night for the sprint. I planned to only stay an hour or leave quicker if I hit 20 QSOs before that time. Well, QSO # 20 came at the 52 minute mark. Conditions were pretty good and had I stayed the full 2 hours, I probably would have gotten over 40 QSOs. There was nothing on 20 or 40 so I wasted the first 6 minutes checking those bands. So actually my 20 QSOs came in 46 minutes on 80 which means I might have hit 50 QSOs in two hours. No regrets though as I don't really get in contests to win anything, but just to have fun, and I did have fun last night. It's always nice to work the regulars in our sprint and to add a couple of newcomers also. That's exactly what I did last night. I haven't even really bothered to see where my 20 QSOs stands up against other scores. Probably not very well since conditions did seem quite good for a change. Although I do miss it somewhat, it's nice to not be involved in log cross-checking or any other aspects of the sprints other than being just an ordinary participant. I guess 'free at last' applies to my NAQCC chores of the past almost 14 years now.
One of the things I am spending most of my free time on now is my genealogy. I've traced one tree branch back to 1480 and now have some 1300+ blood relatives in the tree out of some 2100 people in the tree. Just another thing that appeals to my love of statistics and record keeping.
DX streak, you ask? It's alive and well. Tonight it was another case of work them, then find out who you worked after the fact. Tonight it was almost 5 minutes after the fact. I worked someone who was sending only TU UP between QSO. I listened for a while and while waiting for an ID, I figured out via the PX3 exactly where UP he was working and tuned there, sent my call and got an answer the first try. Then came the 5 minute wait to find out it was my 3rd QSO on 30 the past several days with PJ5/SP2GCJ. I kind of figured it might be him from his modus operandi, and I was right. After that I chased 3C0W for a while, but his pileup was too big and strong to break, even though I knew where and when to call. That would have been a new overall country too. Oh well, maybe he'll be there long enough for me to still get him some time. -30-
Wed Mar 21 2018 8:09PM - CAUTION! Obscene picture below.
Well, that was nice. I got my DX QSO at 0001Z this evening from KP2/KE0UI on 30 meters. It was rough early in the day though. Even with the CWT sprint, 20 meters was pretty dead until about 2/3 of the way into the sprint when signals picked up a bit and I worked Mike F5IN and Bert F6HKA fairly easily.
Now it's about 20 minutes to the NAQCC sprint. You know since I completed my retirement from NAQCC work, my interest in the NAQCC activities has dropped off quite a bit. I doubt I'll complete the March challenge. Tonight I think I'll just do the first half of the sprint and call it quits. I'll have my soapbox comments here in the diary tomorrow.
OK, look out. Close your eyes. Don't say you weren't warned.
Tue Mar 20 2018 9:00PM - It's looking more and more like March 2018 will have a strong resemblance to March 1960. In 1960 March was colder than both January and February as follows:
Jan Feb Mar 1960 mean temperatures were 31.8 29.6 28.4
Jan Feb Mar 2018 26.3 38.2 34.3 (so far)
OK, so 1960 was much colder than this year, but it looks like at least Mar this year will be colder than Feb. There's not much warmth coming in the last 11 days this month according to pretty much a consensus of all the major forecasters. We'll see what happens.
The DX streak was barely stretched out another day this morning thanks to 17 meters and PA2EVR. 20 didn't have much to offer the 3 or 4 times I checked, but then a look at 17 showed a pretty big peak on the PX3 that turned out to be PA2EVR. A single call and a repeat and the DX streak reached 1, 846 days. No DX this evening, but the CWT sprint is tomorrow morning. Hopefully that will provide some DX on 20 meters. -30-
Mon Mar 19 2018 8:50PM - There are times in life when things happen to put things in perspective. I was getting discouraged calling one after another unanswered CQs tonight. Finally I got an answer. I won't give his call here, but he was an 88 year old ham suffering from cancer. He said he couldn't stay long, but he just wanted to let me know I was getting out with a good signal. He explained he had had his quota of ham radio for the day and had to be getting to bed now. I thanked him very much and wished him all the best with the cancer. Then I just sat there thinking for a bit, and I felt I shouldn't be so discouraged when it is rough getting a QSO. There are a lot of situations in life that must be much more discouraging.
I had some other things I was going to talk about tonight, but I think I'll just let that stand for my entry. Incidentally the fellow has been a ham for 75 years. That's a long tenure to be in ham radio. -30-
Sun Mar 18 2018 8:48PM - This will be another quick entry. My neighbor and I are getting a pizza in a few minutes. No DX this evening. I tried TI5/N4YDU several times on 20. I usually work into TI easily especially with a good op like YDU at the key, but not tonight. So it looks like a morning or afternoon DX hunt again.
Just checking the BB scores. Big surprise with Texas A&M whupping NC handily. Syracuse continuing on after playing their way in. UMBC playing now, but it's early.
Well, that's it. Got to get my weather readings, then over for the pizza. -30-
Sat Mar 17 2018 8:38PM - Well, the record is now 1-135 if my math is correct. Huh? Oh, that's now the current record of #16 seeds after the big HUGE TREMENDOUS upset of Virginia by UMBC. Who? That's what I said when preparing my Excel spreadsheet for the tournament. It took a while for me to figure out who UMBC (yoU May Be Cinderella) was. Well, they certainly were the greatest Cinderella of them all. Now everyone with the tiniest interest in college basketball knows UMBC is the University of Maryland Baltimore County. Way to go. To top it off they not only won, but considering it was a 16 vs. 1 matchup, I'd say they destroyed Virginia winning by 20 points 74-54. I got to watch the final 4 minutes of it on the Internet, and I'm glad I got to see history in the making.
Keeping on the basketball topic, here are some more trivia questions for you to ponder and comment on if you wish via the email link at the top of the page.
Who are the 4 teams with the most first round losses (12) since 1985?
Which of the four has also won a championship since 1985?
Which of this year's teams had waited longest since their last tournament appearance?
Which was the only team who made their first appearance this year?
A little harder than the first group of questions, but easy to answer via a Bing search on the Internet.
Not forgetting this is a ham radio site, I took the easy road for my DX QSO this evening since I figure tomorrow is going to be a busy day with this and that. I worked PJ5/SP2GCJ on 30 again. I don't like to do it that way, but I will if the day ahead looks to be a busy one. -30-
Fri Mar 16 2018 8:53PM - Another busy day today. Fortunately it started with a quick DX QSO from J6/K1ZZI at 1239Z on 20M. It took but a single call to get him even though he wasn't all that strong. Ralph is another of the many good CW ops on the band which helps explain that.
Then it was finally off to the groomers with Roscoe after a couple postponements. Maybe I'll have a before and after picture in the diary tomorrow.
Of course following March Madness took up some more time today. Things are going pretty much according to the seeding so far with 24 games complete and 8 to go in the first round. Only 5 upsets so far, the biggest being 13 Marshall over 4 Wichita State. Fewest first round upsets record is 3 in the 2000 tournament. So we won't have a record this year, but with an average of 8, we may be at or under that depending on how the last 8 games go.
Speaking of go(ing), I better close here and go get my weather readings. -30-