Don't forget to cast your vote in the monthly poll here after reading the diary. A new poll posted the 15th of each month.
2017-03-01 00:00:00 GMT-05:00TILL SPRING ARRIVES
Sunday, January 22, 2017 12:26PM - So far today the high is 65 as the wonderful spell of weather continues. I think I'll go out for a walk after I finish writing this.
Niko S53A was my DX QSO earlier today. That was on 20 meters where we even chatted a bit. It's not as warm in the mountains of Slovenia. Niko said the lows have been around -20C and the highs only -7C. Brrr!
I'm writing this early because this evening I hope to finish cross-checking our NAQCC sprint logs. I like to get that finished as soon after the submission deadline of Sunday at 2400Z as possible. No need to keep everyone waiting for the final results. With my Microsoft Excel cross-checking program that I wrote, it doesn't really take that long to handle our usual 100 to 150 logs containing around 2,000 QSOs. I'd love to see if it still as quick with 200-300 logs and 4,000-5,000 QSOs, but I don't know if we'll ever hit those figures.
This week is our annual NAQCC 160M sprint as sort of a warm-up for the CQ 160M contest next weekend. 160 should be pretty good now with the sunspot cycle approaching a minimum in a couple years or so. -30-
Saturday, January 21, 2017 7:39PM - Remember I was talking about my old weather records going back to 1959 and how January 21, 1959 held the January high temperature record of 59 for quite a while. Until today, it was also the longest lasting record for any day - 58 years. Well, no longer. We shattered it today with a high of 67 according to my AcuRite remote. Of course the 'official' high will be gotten a little later at 9PM, but it should be within a degree of that. Well, actually I am wrong. There is one record that is a little older. On January 13, 1959, the least daily temperature range was 3 degrees which still stands and will stand another year at least. And delving a bit further into my records, there were also other records set on January 21, 1959 - Highest Minimum 42. Highest Average 51. Departure from normal +22. The highest minimum will still stand. The other two will be broken.
Still another sign of how conditions are deteriorating showed up tonight. S52AW was pretty strong on 40, but couldn't hear me at all. Usually when he is at that level, I can work him pretty easily. I did something today I don't like to do. I worked XE1XR on 20 meters after working him there just three days ago. However there was an extenuating circumstance. He was kind of lost in the HA DX contest and not getting any answers. If someone goes begging for calls, I don't really mind giving them another QSO to at least let them know they are getting out.
My tomatoes continue to do well. I now have 7 of the 8 seeds sprouted with one of them seedbound but looking like it might break out. Still no pepper seeds sprouted though. I just looked back in the diary archives and I see I'm about 10 days late this year with the tomatoes. However they developed slowly last year. Hopefully they will develop faster this year. -30-
Friday, January 20, 2017 (Inauguration Day) 7:29PM - A great day today. Great weather although a little rainy. Still no s#$w on the ground and temperatures in the 40s. There is a hint of a change coming as January winds down though. But at least spring continues to draw nearer as you see from the countdown above.
My DX again came early this morning in the 1300Z hour when I worked XE1IM to eke out another day in the DX streak. I wonder how many more there will be before that day comes when there is no one strong enough to work. I heard 3 European stations on 40 this evening, but all very weak.
A couple more tomato seeds sprouted today for a total of five. Two have their seed leaves nicely opened. Hopefully I won't get any seedbound sprouts this year. I soaked both the tomato and pepper seeds before planting them. Maybe that will help. No pepper seeds have sprouted yet.
I set up a grow lamp to give the new sprouts some light now that they are out of the ground. I have it on a timer to match sunrise and sunset and I'll slowly increase the amount of light as daylight gets longer each day now. We now have 28 more minutes of daylight today compared to December 21. The sun sets a full half hour later than the earliest sunset at 4:50PM on December 7. Some very encouraging stats. -30-
Thursday, January 19, 2017 6:23PM - My first tomato seed sprouted sometime early this morning. Here's a picture with an arrow pointing at the tiny sprout.
Later in the day, it had opened up its two seed leaves and one other seed sprouted. So hopefully things are on their way.
My fourth straight very good NAQCC sprint last night. Actually even better than the previous three. I hit the 50 QSO mark and 24 SPCs is my second highest total. Conditions weren't quite as good as the previous three sprints, but I think greater activity made up for it. I simply called CQ the whole two hours on the same frequency 3559.3 and even had a few minor pileups now and then. Really a lot of fun when things go well like that. My noise was only S6 most of the time, but now and then a several seconds long burst of S9 noise came along usually at the most inopportune times when I was trying to copy some weak signal. Still I think I did manage to work everyone who called, or at least 99 percent. As with the previous three good sprints, it seemed I had a 'white hole' here in Kittanning. Anyway a large portion of stations reporting so far complained or commented on poor conditions. So far only John K4BAI and I are the only ones with 50 QSOs. There are only a handful of others with QSO totals in the 40s.
Another good thing last night was a quick DX QSO so I could devote a lot of time during the day today doing preliminary log cross checking of the 93 logs received so far. It was Alex HC2AO on 30 meters with a single call. He's one of the truly great ops. Also the letter O in his call allowed me to finish the NAQCC January challenge. Now in about 16 minutes as I type I can see what the bands will bring this evening at 0000Z -30-
Wednesday, January 18, 2017 5:25PM - Mike stopped by for another visit this morning. He brought me some kielbasa loaf and pierogies. We talked about ham radio for a while, then went to the shack where we didn't find any DX. I was glad I got XE1XR earlier in the 1300Z hour for my DX streak. We then watched some woodworking videos on the Internet. I took Roscoe out and brought him in here to see Mike. Roscoe seems to be more used to Mike now. He used to bark at him a lot. I gave Mike a couple dog biscuits to give to Roscoe, so maybe bribery helps.
Our NAQCC sprint is this evening which is why I'm writing this diary entry early. I hope I can have my 4th straight 40+ QSOs sprint after a long spell of poor results before that due mostly to strong local noise and poor propagation.
I like to analyze my DX streak every now and then. I did so this morning before Mike arrived. Here are some totals:
Total QSOs - 6,154
Total countries - 160
Most worked countries overall:
Germany - 524
Italy - 308
Slovenia - 252
Spain - 232
France - 221
Poland - 201
Hungary - 184
Croatia - 168
Czech Republic - 167
England - 161
Cuba - (top NA) 137
Brazil - (top SA) 112
Hawaii - (top OC) 75
Canary Islands - (top AF) 75
Japan - (top AS) 52
Number of countries with just one QSO - 28
Most times a country was the first DX QSO of a day overall:
Cuba - 77
Mexico - 71
Puerto Rico - 58
Slovenia - 48
Italy - 47
Spain - 46
France - 44
Nicaragua - 44
Brazil - 42
Germany - 42
Same as above, but by years:
They are listed in order of most times, although I didn't copy just how many times. I thought there would be a noticeable decline in Europeans and an increase in Caribbean, North American, and South American countries. However it doesn't really stand out yet, although it may as this year moves along and if the streak still continues. -30-
Tuesday, January 17, 2017 7:40PM - We had St. Patrick's Day weather two months early today. A low of 38 and a high of 58 on my AcuRite remote unit. Fantastic! I got in a couple good walks, and might have done more without the rain showers that came and went. I remember for quite a while when I started keeping weather records in January 1959, the record high for January was 59 degrees on January 21, 1959. Which also was the date of a major flood here in Kittanning due to the melting of that ugly white stuff. Since then we've had several January days in the 60s and even low 70s, but I still remember that one particular day.
I really wanted to get my DX QSO today, and not have the streak end the way it would have. I mean with Mike working PV8ADI on 40 last night. As I said, that would have meant my station kept the streak going, but not me personally. It's a moot point now, as after many tries to work someone today - unsuccessfully, I did make it. Most of the day, any DX I heard was just barely above my noise level at S2 or S3. The strongest was maybe S5 to S6 from EA8TL on both 20 and 17. He usually hears me easily, but not today. Also TF3JB the same way. Finally I resorted to working the self-same PV8ADI, but on 20 meters just after 2100Z. He was strong again on 40 this evening, but I hate working him over and over again unless it is on a band where I haven't worked him for a while as it was with 20 meters today.
Not much else happening here. Still waiting for my pepper and tomato seeds to sprout. The soil is nice and warm with the heating pad and I'm keeping the ground moist. I hope they are not going to be slow like last year especially since I got started late this year.
Good to hear from Paul N0NBD who says he also hopes to do more 'parkpeditions' this year as well as more fishing. I hope we both realize our hopes in 2017. Of course everyone else also. -30-
Monday, January 16, 2017 8:35PM - Once again, a great get together with Mike KC2EGL day. Mike arrived a little before 10 just as I was finishing taking care of Roscoe. When I did finish, we spent what must have been a couple hours chatting about our favorite things. In this case it was mostly about football. We both have an avid interest in all things football, especially the historical aspects of it. One thing we both get annoyed about is when people think that pro football started with the first Super Bowl (which actually wasn't even called Super Bowl at that time). They claim that the Pittsburgh Steelers have the most NFL championships. WRONG? They have won the most Super Bowls (a couple on questionable calls), but the Green Bay Packers have the most NFL championships with 14 followed by the Chicago Bears with 9, the New York Giants with 8, then the Steelers. That was only one of the football topics we got into. There were many more.
After that it was off to Butler for lunch at Ponderosa. Of course we both had the buffet as usual. Then back home where we put together an agenda of the things we plan to do this year. Here it is as it stands now:
February 26 - South Hills Hamfest
April 16 - Requin subpedition
May 14 - Parkpedition
June 4 - Butler Hamfest
June 24/25 - Field Day
July 30 - FOBB
August - Skeeter Hunt
August 27 - Skyview
September - Unionville hamfest
Oct 9 - N3A Parkpedition
Nov 22 - Requin subpedition
Oil Creek and Titusville Railroad Train Ride(s)
Looks like a fun year ahead. Also we plan to have some more parkpeditions, and maybe another subpedition as situations permit.
Then up to my shack. As Mike said that's probably the latest in any of our visits that we've gotten on the air. The bands were their usual poor selves. We did hear some DX (PV8ADI) on 20. Mike tried for quite a while, but couldn't work him. I didn't work anyone then and I don't think Mike did either.
Back downstairs for some computer games (hidden object). After that it was back to the shack a little past 0000Z. I got my regular streak QSO from N8RZO then a little later we both worked W0N. Mike also worked PV8ADI easily on 40 meters. So the DX streak station-wise continued, but not operator-wise. HI. I still have to work some DX in the morning or afternoon to truly keep the streak alive.
Wow, time flies. I see it's almost 9PM and time for me to get my temperature readings, and then take Roscoe out for his last walk of the day. So I'll close here. -30-
Sunday, January 15, 2017 7:20PM - Of late when I hear PV8ADI, I generally ignore him and look for some other DX I haven't worked so often. However with Mike spending the day tomorrow and knowing how many things we can get into, I worked PV8ADI this evening for my DX streak QSO. That way, I won't have to worry about it tomorrow.
Isn't this weather great. Well, around here anyway. I hope it's great where you are at also. It sure cures the winter depression when you can look out and not see any s#$w anywhere and also have the temperatures in the 40s and 50s. I sure feel a lot better than I did when we had that cold spell and s#$w cover several days ago.
I spent time today going through some ham radio pictures from our parkpeditions, subpeditions, hamfests, and so forth. I took the time to edit them and resize them. A lot of memories in those pictures. Now I'm really looking forward to doing it all again this year. I hope we can do even more this year.
I'm also hoping to get in some more fishing this year. I'm ashamed of myself for last year. I never did go fishing after June 17, and only made 6 fishing trips all together. I thought there were a few more than that. Maybe I didn't put them from notes into the computer Excel spreadsheet. I'll have to check that. My fish total - ONE, yes just one Bluegill in May.
One thing that should be at the top of the list for hams. They should be balanced. For instance, me and my fishing, walking, gardening, computers, astronomy, among other things. As great as ham radio is, I would be bored with it if it was the only hobby I have. Just like I'd be bored with those other hobbies I listed if I only had one of them.
Thinking about that led me to my new poll here on the web site. I would like to know what your interests are, specifically outdoor activities. So I hope you'll cast your vote and make the results more meaningful. -30-
Saturday, January 14, 2017 10:52AM - It's that time of year again:
Yep, time to get those tomato and pepper plants started. Actually I was hoping to get them started back in December to shoot for tomatoes in May, but one thing and another came along. You know how it is, I'm sure. So I'll have to settle for a start of January 13 this year. Hope Friday the Thirteenth doesn't affect things. I'm not superstitious, so it shouldn't.
The above picture shows the four containers, two for peppers (L) and two for tomatoes (R) with the soil getting a good soaking. The seeds are in the cups also getting a good soaking to hopefully give them a kick start toward germinating.
That was yesterday. This morning, I laid the seeds, four per container, on top of the soil, covered them with 1/4 to 1/2 inch of soil, pressed it down so the seeds make good contact with the soil, and watered the top layer of soil. Then I put them on a heating pad, and covered them until they germinate hopefully in a few days.
For the second night in a row, my DX QSO came in the 0000Z hour. It was 6Y4K again on a different band (40) this time. It was a much easier QSO than the one on 30 a couple days ago. Only took a couple minutes to get that solid K3WWP 599 from him. I did have to repeat my call once though after he sent K3?. So another free day today until 0000Z rolls around again. -30-
Friday, January 13, 2017 4:51PM - Oh, oh, Friday the 13th. Actually so far it hasn't been a bad day except for some folks here in town near the river. Yes, evil s#$w strikes again. The s#$w melt upstream raised the river close to, but not quite over the banks. I took a walk to take a look at it. I should have taken my camera to take some pictures, but I didn't think of that till I was halfway to the river. I saw several sump pumps working to keep basements dry in the lower areas of Kittanning. Other than that, I didn't see any damage. The good thing is that the s#$w cover is now pretty much gone which will hopefully prevent any more serious flooding later on.
One good thing was I didn't have to worry about my DX streak during the day today. So no frequent trips to the shack. Last night I easily worked the Mexican special event call of 6E0C on 40 meters. I think that's a new prefix also. Yes it is. I worked 6E2T way back in 1994, but this is the first 6E0.
I'm looking forward to a visit from Mike on the holiday Monday. We're going to explore some of the features of our PX3s that we haven't played with before. Nothing we really need - just to satisfy our curiosity. I think we'll also plan out as much of our 2017 itinerary as we can at this early stage of the year. -30-
Thursday, January 12, 2017 5:01PM - For a good part of this warm January day (64 degrees), it looked like yesterday was going to be the end of a couple things, but it turned out it was only the end of one.
We called it quits for our local computer club. For most of its 25 years, it flourished and a lot of good computer info was exchanged. Although I didn't join the club until about 13 years ago, I see that before that in the mid to late 1990s, the membership roster peaked up to perhaps 40 or more members. From the time I joined until last year, we had 15 to 20 members. However during the past year or maybe two, that number dwindled to the point where we only had 3 or 4 members showing up at our meetings. We'd talked about ending the club for the past few meetings, and last night we did it. We donated our treasury funds to the local library where we'd been holding our meetings the past few years, and donated our computer to a local genealogical organization. So no more club meetings to occupy every second Wednesday evening of a month. It was a lot of fun while it lasted, but all good things must end someday as is said in Summer Song by Chad and Jeremy among others. End of club obituary.
I came close to writing a second obituary today. That one for my DX streak. I seemed to run out of that luck I talked about as every time I made a trip to the shack, there was virtually no DX to be heard. Actually the first several trips, the only station I heard was CE2AWW who was just above my S2 noise level. Not even worth calling him. So either conditions were continually bad or I was unlucky to pick the times they were bad. Finally things had a strange ending. I must have called 6Y4K, who was peaking S9 on 30 meters, 50 times with nary a question mark from him. There wasn't much competition - he just wasn't hearing me. It almost seemed like he was ignoring me, but I'm sure that wasn't the case. At last out of the blue, I called him for what was going to be one of the last couple times I was going to try, and got an immediate K3WWP 599 without a single repeat needed. Add another day to the streak for a nice sounding number - 1414. Many more struggling days like today though, and I may change my mind about voluntarily ending the streak.
I opened this entry saying 'warm January day'. How warm, you may ask. My AcuRite remote unit shows a high of 64 which is the warmest January 12 in my records going back to 1959. The previous record was 60 back in (I think) 2005. I didn't even need a coat to walk Roscoe or go downtown for some groceries. I don't like to keep mentioning this for fear of jinxing things, but according to the AccuWeather outlook, the rest of January doesn't look all that bad with a lot of days in the 40s and no lows near zero. Fingers crossed. -30-
Wednesday, January 11, 2017 10:23AM - I'm writing this early for a couple reasons, one of which is it's our computer club meeting this evening. It may be our last ever meeting so I'd like to attend. Attendance has dropped off drastically over the past year or so, and I think it may be time to lay it to rest. We'll see.
I haven't checked the bands yet this morning. I'll do that in a little while. There is another factor looming large in my DX streak now. It's called LUCK. If the streak is to continue, I'm going to have to be lucky enough to be on the air at the right time on the right band. The band isn't so important as I can quickly check all appropriate bands with the PX3. To get off the main track a second, there was a very nice article in the latest QST about the PX3. Back on course now, if I happen to get on the air at the right time when a workable DX station is also on, the streak will continue. Lately it is taking more opportunities to check the bands, and it is messing with other activities. I don't really like that, and part of me wants the streak to end.
Of course I could always just monitor the Internet spots for activity, but regular diary readers know I abhor spots, and except for maybe a half dozen QSOs in 53 years, all my contacts come from just getting on the air, and tuning the bands. I like doing things the old fashioned way without aid from computers, etc. The half dozen or so QSOs came from spots from friends Mike KC2EGL and Tom WB3FAE. The three of us exchange info if we work something rare. That's the extent of my use of 'spotting'. Oh, also as soon as someone who is a little rare is spotted, all the hungry wolves jump on the prey with their KWs, beams, and great locations. That lessens the chances of a minimal QRP station like mine working the rare DX. Another reason I don't like spots.
Now a la Monty Python, for something completely different. Here are three thousand words about the great little spell of weather we're having near mid-January. You'll notice something missing from the two bottom beautiful pictures, I'm sure. The top picture shows why. Oh I do leave my porch chairs and flowers (artificial) out during the winter. It's encouraging to see them there.
Tuesday, January 10, 2017 7:42PM - Yes, January 10 and it's 37 degrees and raining. That's pretty good weather for the time of year. I even got to see one of my favorite winter things today - melting s#$w. It's so great to see the ugly white stuff transform into liquid water and run away. But hey, the next two days will be even better. 50 tomorrow and 58 on Thursday. Break out the suntan lotion. Well, not really because it will be cloudy with showers.
Band conditions continue to deteriorate. Even 80 didn't have many strong stations on it this evening. I did manage a quick QSB-ended QSO with Bill WB4DBO though to keep the streak going.
The DX streak was in severe peril for quite a while today. Nothing strong at all on 20 in the way of DX in the morning and a good part of the early afternoon. EA8TL was fair on 17 meters, but not hearing me at all. That's unusual because he's usually easy to work from a good target area for me most anytime I hear him. Another example of how poor conditions are. Finally at 1930Z I checked 17 again and there were three nice peaks on the PX3. One turned out to be HI3TEJ whom I worked pretty easily (couple repeats) to secure the DX streak another day.
Say, wasn't that a good college football championship game last night. Actually games like that should be declared a winner for both teams. It was just one of those games where the team that scores just before time runs out wins. Had there been three more minutes in the game, Alabama probably would have won. Six more minutes and Bama scores, but Clemson comes back again. And so forth. My favorite pro game of all time, Oakland vs. Miami that I've talked about in the diary before was that kind of game. They just took turns going up and down the field, till time ran out just after Oakland scored with the "sea of hands" pass from Ken Stabler (an Alabama alum, BTW) to Clarence Davis. Had that game not ended then, Miami very well could have won just as easily. -30-
Monday, January 9, 2017 7:19PM - Winter is such a drag with its cold weather, frozen precipitation, and dark evenings. I'm getting more and more tired of it each day (and each year also for that matter). My cabin fever is in the very advanced stage now. It's even hard to get up the initiative to do much of anything. I can't wait till at least March. Then we may still have some bad weather, but at least there will be much more light in the evenings. That can be counted on for sure, at least.
Even as much as I love ham radio, it's a struggle to get up enough enthusiasm to head to the shack. Possibly if I didn't have the streaks to take care of, I might not even go to the shack some days. That's pretty sad, but it's what winter can do to a person.
I got my quickest regular streak QSO in some time this evening when I answered a CQ from my friend Bob N2UU at 0001Z on 80 meters. We had a nice chat, then after a quick check for DX, I shut down since I didn't hear any DX at all.
I thought the DX streak had it today. All morning and early afternoon, there just was no workable DX to be found. Well actually I did hear Mike F5IN, but he was virtually zero beat with a strong local birdie I have here on 14016. I only heard him clearly one time long enough to get his call. I attempted a call, but wasn't sure if he heard me or not. I copied dah dah di dit which might have been the end of a question mark or an eight. I thought it was an eight so I didn't call again. Then he either faded out or went QRT as I didn't hear him again.
Finally on about the 5th or 6th check of the bands just before 2 PM (1900Z), I haard Ralph XE1RK booming in engaged in a rag chew. I waited him out and when he finished, I tailended him and got a K3?, then K3WWP, and we chatted a few minutes. So that's day 1,411 of DX now. I'm sure it is definitely drawing to a close though. Even if it does, I'm pleased with the long run, just like the cast of a long running Broadway play, some streak by an athlete, and so on. I've definitely proved my point that you can work DX regularly with a very minimal QRP setup in a poor location like mine. I hope that has encouraged other hams (actually I know it has) to realize their particular situation shouldn't keep them from enjoying chasing (and working) DX. It just takes a little more time and patience when it gets close to a sunspot minimum.
Just checked the propagation numbers preparing to update my propagation page. I see the SF was 71 today. I think that's the lowest it has been since the last sunspot minimum. Let me verify or disprove that. Back in a minute. Well, it's tied anyway. It was 71 last month on December 11-13. So we're getting closer and closer to the depths. -30-
Sunday, January 8, 2017 7:46PM - Whoever the operator is at AN5CRM, he's a good one. After calling other stronger European stations without being heard at all, he got 3WWP the first call, and after I sent K3 K3WWP, it was an easy QSO. I also had a similar easy QSO with AN5CRM 4 days ago. However the special event ends on the 9th, so I guess I won't have him for an easy DX QSO any longer. Oh well, at least he added two days to the streak. That was in the 1500Z hour today. This evening as usual, no DX, and even a struggle to get a non-DX QSO. However I finally answered W8AJU's CQ after having no luck with my own CQs for almost a half hour.
Tuesday looks like a challenging weather day. Predictions are running the gamut from s@#w to rain to sleet to freezing rain. I'm definitely hoping against the last. Then later on Thursday a high of 55 is predicted. Now, that's what I like to hear, even if it a rainy day. -30-
Saturday, January 7, 2017 7:25PM - With the cold weather and having to turn my furnace down when I get on the air to reduce the QRNN it produces, I haven't been staying in the shack any longer than necessary to keep my streaks alive. Tonight I got a fairly quick answer after just 4 or 5 CQs from Bruce VA3ZB on 80 meters. This morning, the DX was fairly quick also when I managed a tough QSO with OF0TA on 20 meters at 1335Z. It took a good many repeats to make it, but he hung in there. Hope it's that quick tomorrow as well.
I've noticed a couple quirks on the bands of late, and haven't gotten around to mentioning them here in the diary till now. Every once in a while I'll get someone send a question mark in response to my CQ. Since that is not a proper CW procedure signal, I simply go on calling CQ without acknowledging it. I figure that way, if he wasn't sure if I was calling CQ or not, he should know after I call again. A lot of times, the person never does come back again.
Another thing is after I finish a QSO with someone and we exchange the traditional TU dit dit, some third party will chime in with a dit dit of their own. Again I ignore it.
Oh, and one more thing. I often hear someone sending QRL to see if the frequency is clear. What's wrong with that, you may ask. It should be QRL? as having the question mark there conveys a whole different meaning. With it, you are asking if the frequency is clear. Without it, you're actually saying the frequency is not clear.
Think about those things. We should always strive to use as close to 100% correct CW procedures as possible. CW is a great mode and using proper procedure is the best way to keep it as efficient as possible.
Oh, just thought of another thing. The eternal CQer who sends CQ 10, 15, even 20 times without sending his call and pausing for an answer. In my 53 years of hamming, I've found the absolute best way to call CQ is the following which I have harped on many times.
CQ CQ CQ DE K3WWP K3WWP K (pause for 4-5 seconds to listen for a call). If no answer repeat this sequence till you do get a call or give up trying and QRT. -30-
Friday, January 6, 2017 7:30PM - Same time as last night's entry and the same story as well. No DX and even a struggle to get a regular domestic QSO. I finally did get answer after calling 3x2 (CQ CQ CQ DE K3WWP K3WWP K) QSOs 27 times on 80 meters. WA2TWS answered, but the QSO fizzled out after just a single round because of QSB/QRN both ends. Still it was good enough to extend the main streak.
Earlier today (1546Z to be exact) I worked P49X on 20 meters to keep the DX streak going. I thought maybe there would be a DX contest this weekend to help the streak along. However the only one I see is the DARC 10 meter contest. I don't think that is going to help a bit. So I'll just have to scan 20 and maybe 17 in the morning or early afternoon hours and hope.
The weather continues depressing with very cold air, but at least no s#$w today. I managed a cold walk to the PO to mail one of our NAQCC prizes. It wasn't horribly bad, but I sure had to bundle up. Last night I threw a couple more blankets on my bed, and that helped me make it through the night. Although it might bring some ice before it warms up, it looks like the middle of next week is going to be a little less cold with temperatures in the mid to maybe upper 40s.
To pass some time, I've been working on my NASCAR records Excel spreadsheet. I knew Richard Petty, Bobby Allison, David Pearson, Buddy Baker, Donnie Allison, and a couple others really dominated the Grand National/Winston Cup racing in the early seventies, but I didn't really know how much till I started filling in laps led from that era in my spreadsheet. It is really awesome. One other thing I'm noting is how much bad luck Bobby Isaac seemed to have in that era, or maybe he just pushed his cars too much. In many races he led a lot of laps, but wasn't there at the finish most of the time. -30-
Thursday, January 5, 2017 7:30PM - Same old story. No DX available in the 0000Z hour, but the mornings in the 13, 14, and 15Z hours still provide some workable European DX. This morning after 20 looked completely dead in the 1400Z hour, it perked up and showed a few fairly strong European signals after 1530Z. I worked AN5CRM on 20 although it was somewhat of an effort for him to get my call correct, but he did and thus another day was added to the DX streak. I say this a lot now - I wonder how long it is going to continue. The SF still hasn't gotten down into the 60s yet. It is hanging in the low 70s and DX is still fairly easy to work although it takes more and more time each day, it seems.
It was a depressing day today with a coating of s#$w. Fortunately only a coating. Unfortunately it will overstay its welcome (I use that word loosely - I certainly don't welcome it) because it's going to be very cold through the weekend before a bit of a warm up early next week. It's so depressing, I have to push myself to do things, even to get on the ham bands. Oh, to see that great spring weather in a couple months. -30-
Wednesday, January 4, 2017 7:47PM - I am continuing to eke out those DX QSOs despite the fact it is getting harder and harder each day. Today at 1425Z while waiting to go for brunch with my neighbor I worked DR60SAL on 20 meters. Right after I worked him, he went QRT. Pulling out my signal must have tired him out. HI. That's a special call having to do with the 60th anniversary of the Saarland. I'm not quite sure exactly what, but it doesn't matter since I got the QSO.
This evening I had another of those QSOs with someone whom I first worked over 50 years ago. This time it was Ken W9STG. We first worked on August 27, 1964. I'd like to find out who some others might be. I know Ken WA8REI is one along with WA4FAT. Probably K4BAI.... yes, we first worked on May 10, 1964 in I believe, the GA QSO Party. I can probably write some sort of SQL query in my Microsoft Access log to find out. I may do that some nasty winter day. Just glancing through the early 60s in my log turned up W8TY who was WN8ELT when we worked on May 23, 1963, then again last year with other QSOs in between. W4ONC is not quite one. I worked Rip W4ONC on December 13, 1964 and worked his son Joe W4ONC who took his dad's call when he passed away several years ago. Joe and I worked in 2015 a few times. Well, that's a lot of fun and a lot of memories, but I'm going to quit for now.
Another nice non-winter day today although the temperature did fall from 46 to 25 throughout the day. Still, no dreadful s@#w though. We may get a bit tomorrow, but no big storm (I hope). -30-
Tuesday, January 3, 2017 6:19PM - Is it really January 3? It doesn't look like it or feel like it. That's a good thing! It's such a wonderful feeling to be walking in the rain in 45 degree temperatures in January! I almost broke into "Singing In The Rain" today as I walked downtown to do my beginning of the month financial chores. Keep it up, weather!
I posted the first part of my analysis of the DX streak I mentioned in yesterday's diary entry. The results so far clearly show a connection between solar flux and the DX I've been working. Check it out in my QRP Section - DX Streaks page. I still have a few more stats I want to add when time permits.
Since I got my DX QSO last evening, I didn't check the bands at all during the day today. So I did some more cleaning up and shredding of old papers which I've been doing the past few weeks now. It's amazing how much paperwork can be accumulated if you don't keep up with it regularly, and I surely have not been doing so. If confetti was valuable, I'd be rich now with all I've produced lately. Think I'll work on another stack of old checks now before I head to the shack for the streak QSO(s). -30-
Monday, January 2, 2017 6:34PM - An easy QSO with DL1REM on 20 meters shortly before 1400Z added yet another day to the DX streak. Frank was quite strong and it only took one repeat to get myself in his log. Then I tuned around a bit more and PD1DX whom I worked a couple days ago was quite strong also.
I started an analysis today of how my DX during the streak relates to the sunspot cycle. I think it will prove interesting when I get it finished. At least it may give me some insight on the odds of continuing the streak through the sunspot minimum.
I had a good, if short, time in SKN on New Year's Eve. I made three QSOs using my homebrew popsicle stick straight key shown here:
One of the QSOs was with Ken N3CU. Ken and I have had a few eyeball QSOs either here at home or at hamfests or on our parkpeditions. I'm looking forward to some more in 2017.
As of yesterday, Christmas season is over here at my house. I put away all the decorations for another year. Still listening to a little Christmas music though.
Thankfully it still does not look nor feel like winter yet. Not any s#$w to be seen anywhere and a high in the mid-40s today. We're supposed to get a lot of rain overnight tonight. It's a good thing it won't be s#$w or there would be several inches. The AccuWeather outlook for January still looks pretty good to this s#$w hater. Hope it continues to be correct.
It's getting close to 0000Z now, so almost time to get to the shack in search of the daily (DX) QSO. -30-
Sunday, January 1, 2017 2:50PM - I hope you're all having a good New Year's Day. It's good here now. However it looked for quite a while as if Dec 31, 2016 was going to mark the end of my DX streak.
I got up a little earlier than usual today, and after I got dressed, I hit the bands. The DX was there on 20, but I never got so much as a ? from any of the several stations I called. Either I was losing to the competition or in a few cases, the stations just weren't hearing me. So for most of the morning I'd do other things, mainly work on closing out my weather records for 2016, and check the bands once or twice an hour. About the only change was that the DX was getting weaker by the hour and finally around 1630Z or so, the bands were pretty much devoid of DX. I didn't give up though, and kept checking, all the time working out in my head how I was going to announce the end of the streak here in the diary.
However now I can put that off for another day. Finally at 1942Z, I checked 17 meters and saw 4 or 5 peaks on the PX3. They all seemed to be USA stations though - except for XE3ARV who actually was the strongest peak. I waited till he finished his QSO, gave a call, got a QRZ?, sent my call twice and breathed a big sigh of relief when he came back to me.
I'm learning more and more that it is going to take persistence if the streak is going to continue. It's necessary to continue checking the bands often because sooner or later on just about every day, some workable DX will show up. I don't think that will continue all through the sunspot minimum, but hey, maybe it will. I don't know since I've never gone through a sunspot minimum in which I tried to work some DX every single day.
It's a great day weatherwise here. No sign of the ugly stuff and it's quite mild at 44 with a high of 47 a little earlier under bright sunshine. I sure hope the outlook is correct and it continues this way as long as possible. -30-
Saturday, December 31, 2016 8:56AM - Another full year of DX QSOs has just been completed after working PD1DX on 20 meters a few minutes ago. So now I can get started on a lot of end of month and end of year projects. Since I won't be getting on the air again today, I can upload my December log to LoTW and eQSL, compile some stats for my ham activities in 2016, and my December and 2016 weather stats. The last will have to wait till late tonight or tomorrow though. It's going to be a busy couple days.
So I want to take this opportunity to wish all my site visitors a very Happy New Year. I'm sure 2017 is going to be a great year. I'm looking forward to a lot of great things in ham radio among life in general.
OK, now to get started on those EOM/EOY projects. -30-
Friday, December 30, 2016 7:53 PM - I think it's just about time to write off the 0000Z hour for getting my DX streak QSO. Even 40 meters is almost dead here now in that hour. I think the best bet to continue the streak is what I've been doing the past few days. That is, get on the bands, especially 20 meters, as soon as I get up and get dressed a little before 1400Z. 20, and sometimes 17 are pretty good at that hour for DX. However I figure that will also slip away as we get more and more into the sunspot minimum.
At least my regular streak QSO came quickly this evening when AI2T answered my CQ on 80 meters. It was a 2X QRP QSO. He was running 3W from an old HW-8 which he is setting up to use for SKN tomorrow evening. That completes 22 full years of daily QSOs. Then add the partial year of 1994 when I started the streak and that makes 8,185 consecutive days.
Although I will probably make a few SKN QSOs, I don't really get all that excited about the event since I use CW 365 days a year, quite often with a SK.
Well, 1/3 of winter has passed now with only one annoying bad weather day. Actually (knock on wood) the outlook for the next 60 days doesn't look too bad. But we'll have to wait and see as outlooks that far ahead have a very low percentage of correctness. -30-
Thursday, December 29, 2016 6:50 PM - DX day # 1,400 went in the books (log) quickly this morning. Unlike yesterday when it took several checks of the bands to work someone, today's QSO came on my first check just past 1400Z when I found and easily worked OF9X on 20 meters.
In just a few minutes it will be 0000Z and time to try to stretch the streaks another day.
My gardening friend Ange came over today. His dad worked on the railroad, and he enjoys model trains. I mentioned I had an old Lionel set, and he was interested in seeing it. It had been up in the attic for many years of not being used. We pulled out the transformer and 3 of my engines just to see if they still worked. We didn't set up any track, but just clip leaded the power to the engines. Now maybe some day he'll help me set up some track and try it out at that stage.
We had some s#$w during the night, but a high in the low 40s today got rid of virtually all of it, thank goodness. So we're still just about 99.5 percent s#$w free here.
OK, time to head to the shack. -30-
Wednesday, December 28, 2016 7:40 PM - Conditions continue to get more and more dismal. I thought sure the DX streak would end today. As soon as I got up around 1400Z I checked the bands and found only a few very weak European stations, none of which heard me calling at all. After that I checked for 10-15 minutes each hour and found less and less DX. Some that I was hearing had a pretty severe flutter, especially one from eastern Europe - Hungary if memory serves. That went on for almost 5 hours, but finally at 1825Z I found and easily worked David XE1XR on 20 meters. Just one call and a repeat got me the QSO. Big sigh of relief! That's day # 1,399 now. I would like to end on a round number if the streak is going to end. So I'll try hard tomorrow again to reach 1,400.
It was another nice weather day with no s#$w to be seen anywhere. Just bare sidewalks and roads and green grass. Sure looks nice. But of course that is not going to last, I'm sure. In fact there is a winter mix predicted for later tonight. Rain, s#$w, sleet, freezing rain for a list of ingredients. I don't know which ones will be used. No big storm, at least. Just mostly light precipitation, whatever kind it turns out to be. After that, one cool day, but then back in the upper 30s and low 40s again. -30-
Tuesday, December 27, 2016 8:18 PM - As I was sitting in the shack looking for some DX (without any success), I was thinking that this stage in the last sunspot cycle didn't seem as bad as it is this cycle. Then with a little further thought, I realized that I wasn't in the midst of a long DX streak in the previous cycle. So perhaps I just didn't notice it since it was always easy to get a regular QSO back then just as it is now (or has been so far at least.)
Each day now it seems to get a little harder to find and then work some DX. Oh there are still the quick easy DX QSOs now and then, but fewer and farther between as we head into the sunspot minimum depths.
The past couple months, I've been going through a lot of old paper records of various kinds, and getting rid of a lot of them. The past couple days it's been my old paper contest logs. I don't really need them since all the QSOs are in my Microsoft Access database. For sentimental reasons, I am keeping a few of them though. I still have the paper copy of my first ever regular QSOs from back in 1963. Yes, I did copy everything on paper for a while back then. Maybe I'll scan and post one sheet here in the diary just for the heck of it. -30-
Monday, December 26, 2016 7:33 PM - And another Christmas has come and gone. Mine was a good one, and I hope yours was also. It was encouraging to see an increase in the number of Christmas lights when Mike and I went on our annual drive last night. Perhaps our country is going to turn around now and become great again. We'll see.
I'm already thinking about what 2017 is going to bring. Personally I'm hoping to get in more fishing trips for one thing. 2016 was really a downer with only a dozen or so fishing trips and only one fish caught. Two things worked against me this year. The borough has really let the riverbank deteriorate, and as I get older, it's harder for me to negotiate the mess to get to the river.
I also hope we can do more portable parkpeditions in 2017. Our total in 2016 was down from previous years. It seems that life just seems to get in the way with so many things to do and so little time to do them. I'm positive that time does move faster as we get older. Or maybe more realistically it's just that it takes us longer to do things we used to do so fast when we were younger.
DX was pretty good on 80 this evening with at least 3 or 4 good European signals. However too many other folks were chasing them also, and I never once won. Maybe I just didn't have the patience to wait out my turn. Anyway the DX streak is on hold till tomorrow morning or afternoon now. -30-
Sunday, December 25, 2016 4:48 PM - Hope you all had a great Christmas so far. Actually there has been only one negative here the whole weekend. My favorite team's quarterback was injured and is out for the season. After having a superb season so far, the Oakland Raiders lost the main reason for their success when Derrick Carr was hurt. Under Carr, they seemed headed for a shot at the Super Bowl, but now I don't know.
Almost another negative as well. It looked like I might get a real big piece of coal in my stocking when I couldn't find any workable DX this morning. Then it was off to Christmas dinner at my neighbor's. After that enjoyable time eating and watching their young grandchildren opening presents, it was back home and up to the shack for another try at some DX.
There was still not much in the way of DX, but I did hear someone saying Feliz Navidad and thought it might be some Spanish DX or someone working some Spanish DX. One way or the other it turned out to be Luis WP4EHK in QSO so I waited till they finished and called. It took several tries to get my call across correctly, but finally he got it and remembered me from previous QSO(s). So the streak lives another day.
I still have this evening here. Mike will be coming and we'll go out for our annual Christmas night drive to check out the Christmas decorations. -30-
Saturday, December 24, 2016 6:00 PM -
MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL
For unto us a child is born,
unto us a son is given:
and the government shall be upon his shoulder:
and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counseller,
The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
Friday, December 23, 2016 7:06 PM - Time out for the next couple days to devote my diary to the true reason for the season.
This evening from one of my two most admired political figures of all time:
I received that card as a member of the Reagan Ranch and the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute.
My other most admired political figure? Sir Winston Churchill.
I hope you all have a great Christmas Eve followed by a very Merry Christmas! -30-
Thursday, December 22, 2016 6:28 PM - I find it interesting how a person changes as he ages. I find I have less patience with certain things as I get older. Last night's NAQCC mW Sprint was a good example. It used to be I could stick out the full two hours of a sprint no matter how poor the conditions. Last night however, I simply gave up after less than 15 minutes since I got only one QSO in that time period. I had other things I could do in the next 1 hour 45 minutes that were a lot better than sitting at the rig calling unanswered CQ after unanswered CQ or staring at the PX3 screen looking for stations that weren't there.
To be successful in a mW level sprint under some very very adverse propagation conditions you need these main three things:
1. A very quiet, almost noise-free location since QRPp signals can be covered by noise that doesn't affect stronger signals. Up at Kittanning Community Park would be an ideal place to operate a mW sprint. Most of the time the noise level there is virtually non-existent. Down here in town, the noise is constantly S6 or better by contrast. That's an 0-1 count against me.
2. A good antenna system that can gather the tiny QRPp signal's RF. Preferably something long and high. Not what I have here - a random wire in my attic. The count is now 0-2.
3. Enough patience to wait long periods of time for the weak signals to 'QSB' up out of the noise long enough to work. I used to have that, but it has diminished over the years. Swing and a miss - strike 3, I'm out.
I wonder if my diminishing patience is going to eventually hamper my DX and/or regular streaks. I'm finding it sometimes taking a long time to find a contact, especially a DX one. I have no doubt that barring a complete communications blackout, it is possible to work some DX somewhere, probably even down to the very depths of a sunspot cycle minimum. But without the patience to stick with it, that DX contact might not be found some day. -30-
Wednesday, December 21, 2016 7:33 PM - I've been lucky with the DX streak overall lately. When I do need a quick DX QSO because of a busy day coming up or some other committment later in the evening or during the day, I seem to get it. With our NAQCC mW sprint coming up later this evening, this was a time I wanted a quick QSO, and I got it. I worked a German whom I've worked several times. We even chatted a bit beyond the usual RST 73 type of DX QSOs. He was vacationing down in Aruba this evening when we worked at 0001Z. Can't get much quicker than that.
I'm not really too fired up about the mW sprint. Oh, I will get in it for a while to maintain my participation streak, but I probably won't stay longer than the first hour unless conditions are super great and I have a good QSO rate. Otherwise, I'll quit and go next door to take Roscoe out and visit for a while.
The weather was very nice again with a high in the low 40s and none of that ugly stuff to be seen. Perhaps my dream of a green Christmas will come true. Then Mike and I will have good conditions for our annual Christmas Night drive to check out the Christmas lights. -30-
Tuesday, December 20, 2016 7:27 PM - A couple of thoughts about the DX streak. In 8 days should I make it, the streak will reach 1,400 consecutive days. Over the past year or so when the streak reached a round number of days like that or a number of full months also, I've thought about voluntarily ending it. But then I think that if I do end it, I'll always wonder just how long it could have continued naturally. So when 1,400 days arrives, I'm sure it will continue business as usual. That is, if other circumstances permit. As I always planned with the DX and main streaks, I want to let other factors decide if they end or not. NOT by my choice to end them.
Another thing that I think about more often is how more and more I seem to count on fewer and fewer different DX stations to help continue the streak. I don't really like doing it that way. I'd like to work a new DX station every day. However it seems that as conditions decline toward the sunspot minimum, only the bigger and more active stations seem to roam the bands. The part-time foreign DX-working stations whom I worked a lot near the sunspot maximum don't seem to be getting on as much now. Or perhaps it's just that I'm not hearing those stations with the declining conditions. I don't know.
For a while this morning, I thought maybe I did jinx the streak by what I said last night in the diary. For a long time I only heard a couple weak European stations on 20 who weren't hearing me. Then I checked 17 and saw a lone peak on the PX3. I listened to see who it was. Turned out to be CO6RD who is most all the time a virtual certainty to work. It was no different, and a single call to Rey netted the QSO. That's another example of what I talked about in the preceding paragraph. Rey is one of the ops who is pretty much blind to predicted conditions and gets on the bands anyway.
If you're new to ham radio, you must realize that predicted propagation conditions are not always linked to actual conditions. Just because we are going into a sunspot minimum, that doesn't mean at a certain point some powerful being somewhere throws a switch and turns off the higher HF bands. It's more like there is a lesser chance of working stations on those bands now than back during the sunspot maximum. It's not that it will be impossible to work stations there. The real factor is ham activity. If there are hams who try the upper HF bands whenever possible, there is a chance they will make contacts. I guarantee if no one tries those bands, there will be no contacts made there. Keep that in mind.
I finished my Christmas shopping today (I think). It was a nice day with sunshine and mid-upper 30s temperatures. By December standards that's a very nice day, although I wouldn't say much good about it if it happened in October for example.
For those folks who observe Astronomical Winter, it starts tomorrow and lasts for about 90 days. Isn't it much more on a positive theme to observe Meteorological Winter starting December 1? We folks can say only 70 more days of winter now. That's a much better mental attitude about this horrible season of the year. -30-
Monday, December 19, 2016 8:22 PM - A pretty nice, if chilly, day today. Quite a bit of sunshine with a high of 31.
No DX this evening. I heard a J6, but he was very popular and I didn't feel like waiting out the pile. Earlier today in that good 1400Z hour I worked SP9KR. Hopefully the 1400Z hour will pan out again tomorrow morning. Really we are not far from the SF numbers at a minimum - 73 today vs. the mid-60s or so right around a minimum. So I may be able to keep the DX streak going for some time yet. Now I've probably jinxed it and I won't work any DX at all tomorrow. We'll see. -30-
Sunday, December 18, 2016 7:51 PM - The warm weather settled its way down into the valley here. It started rising around midnight when it went from 34 to 35. I woke up a couple hours later and it was 57 and raining moderately and steady. Quite the interesting weather happening. Of course we know cold air is heavier and sinks, but this was a dramatic demonstration of that fact. As one interested very much in meteorology, I enjoyed witnessing it very much. I didn't go out to get my temperature last night because of the ice. I used my AcuRite remote readings instead. I checked the total precipitation for last night and yesterday this morning and it was around an inch and a half.
Perhaps the best thing of all though was the destructive effect that warm air had on the ice and s#$w. Except for a few small patches here and there, it was pretty much all gone when I got up this morning.
No DX this evening. I did hear HT7AAA on 40M, but I just worked him there a couple days ago. Also VP5/VE7ACN on 80 meters, but he wasn't hearing me. So I just pulled out my little note here to remind me to try for my DX streak QSO in the morning or afternoon. Gary N2ESE provided my regular streak QSO this evening on 80. -30-
Saturday, December 17, 2016 7:47 PM - Well, as you can read, I'm here. We only got a trace of freezing rain overnight. Strange weather today though. The temperature has been virtually steady between 32 and 34 ever since early this morning. It was supposed to warm to the mid-40s, but that never happened (yet). It may still happen though as it's 48 degrees in Butler, PA, about 25 miles west of here. Possibly, the cold has just pooled here in the valley where Kittanning is located. Let me see something. That's definitely it. At three volunteer weather stations in West Kittanning only 1-2 miles from here, the average temperature is 50 degrees. The highest 50.5 is at the station at the greatest elevation, about 500 ft. higher than here. The lowest 49.5 is at a station about 300 ft. higher than here. That's very impressive and interesting. I think we need some wind to stir things up and get some of that warmer air down here in the valley. If we don't, we might just have some freezing rain overnight tonight when the rain does move through. Need I say more about why I hate winter.
My DX came at 0001Z this evening when I worked VP5/VE7ACN, this time on 30 meters. Then a nice rag chew with fellow NAQCC member Bob K9OSC on 80 meters finished out my time in the shack for tonight. -30-
Friday, December 16, 2016 7:27 PM - Just wondering what tonight will bring. Freezing rain in the forecast for overnight and early tomorrow morning. Of course that could bring disastrous power outages. If that happens, you might not see a diary here for the duration.
If I feel up to it, the streak should go on though as I can run the KX3/PX3 off my battery. The streak is secondary though to just keeping warm, eating, and surviving. We'll see what happens, I guess. -30-