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Sun Aug 19 2018 8:56PM - A fun day, but a bit frustrating as well. Fun because it's always fun operating portable especially with Mike. Frustrating because the bands were not all that good, especially my band which was 20 meters. I really struggled to make 21 QSOs in just under 4 hours. I chose to use 20 in hopes that 40 would give Mike better results. It did and I was happy to see him come up with 32 QSOs there. We did a little better overall than last year, but not as good as the few years before that.

At least the weather was beautiful and our setup went smoothly for a change. We were easily up and running at the start of the contest. I don't feel like doing it right now, but I have a few pictures to post. I'll try to do that in tomorrow's diary entry.

I still have the noise problem here at home. It was nice to have a S0-S1 noise level out in the park, and it kind of spoiled me for the time being. I did manage to keep the streak going this evening when I worked Wayne WA9VEE on 40 meters at 0034Z. -30-

Sat Aug 18 2018 8:25PM - The bands are really dead this evening. Except for one workable station, I only heard 4 or 5 very very weak unID stations on 40. Nothing at all on 30, 20, or 17. The workable station? A big contest station in the CVA contest - N8OO in Louisiana. A fairly easy QSO involving just a couple repeats. The big main streak is getting to the point of being as hard as the DX streak was the last month or so.

I made still more progress on the computer update/repair today. I started up the Microsoft Windows 10 File History. It's really a slick idea and easy to set up and use. I now have all my important stuff being backed up on my 2TB external hard drive. Now not only can I restore any lost files, but if necessary I can go back to an earlier version of a file. I have it set to keep older versions of files for 3 months. It runs a backup once an hour of files that have been updated. Like this diary file should be backed up with these changes the next time it does a back up. I think I understand pretty much how it works, but I am going to study it a bit more. It's a great feeling of security already though. -30-

Fri Aug 17 2018 8:35PM - Well, there still wasn't too much on the bands tonight. There does seem to be a bit of a pickup in activity the past couple nights though compared to the previous couple weeks. Or maybe I'm just getting better at dealing with my local noise by juggling antennas between receive and transmit. Anyway I worked David XE1XR easily on 20. He was booming in - by far the strongest signal on any of the bands from 40-17. So that keeps my percentage of "DX days" the same as it was last night.

Still working on getting the new computer to the point I want it. I really like it the more I use it. I think it is the fastest computer I've ever had with the 12GB of RAM and the Intel quad processor. I've pledged something to myself. That is to have a better backup system than I've ever had before. I've learned some of the flaws in what I had been doing and I'm going to address them this time.

I'm looking forward to the Skeeter Hunt on Sunday with Mike. We'll be doing it from Kittanning Community Park using the NAQCC club call N3AQC. We'll do the full four hours from 1700 to 2100Z if activity warrants us staying that long. I guess we'll be using only 40 and 20 meters which are probably going to be the only open bands. I hope ypu'll look for us, find us, and work us. -30-

Thu Aug 16 2018 8:35PM - The bands seemed a bit better tonight. At least there were several signals on 40 that broke through my noise level including AD9Y whom I worked easily.

Today's computer chore was reinstalling my financial program. I use Microsoft Money Sunset Edition, and have used it for years along with the regular Microsoft Money before that. I was worried that it might not run on Windows 10 after reading several forums stating they had trouble with that combination. However it installed flawlessly here and runs flawlessly. I still have to find and import the data file. I think it may only be on my old computer's hard drive though as it is stored in the Program Files folder and Best Buy can't copy files in that location because of legal stuff. So I started a new file as of August 1, and will continue that way until (if) I can get the data off the old computer.

I recall several years ago, one of the Windows operating files became corrupted on one of my computers. At that time, I brought our computer club computer home and hooked my computer into it's hard drive and copied the necessary file to my computer. That fixed things perfectly. If I still had a desktop I could probably do what I did then by hooking my old hard drive as a second drive in the new desktop. However, I'm not sure how to connect the old drive to my new laptop.

One thing about all of this is that it is challenging, and I love challenges and I learn a lot trying and eventually mastering them. I'm coming along nicely with the new computer now. I'd say it's about 90+% up to the place the old one was when it crashed. There are still a couple things that need working on, but I'll get them. -30-

Wed Aug 15 2018 1:20PM - I promised a soapbox here from last night's sprint, so here goes. Then some computer (good) news.

With my high local noise and poor propagation, I was shut out last night as I expected to be. The only signal I heard and identified for sure was Chas W2SH and after popping out of my noise, he dropped right back in again before I had a chance to work him. I think I heard NN9K also, but that was only tentative. I think if it was only the noise or only the propagation, I could do OK, but the combination of the two is killing me. As I said in yesterday's entry, I fear for my main streak also if things continue this way. Like the DX streak ending not far from 2,000 days, I'd hate to see the main one end before 25 years, and that's almost a year away, so it may not be good.

As for the computer, I took another step forward today when I imported my Access 2010 .accdb K3WWP log file into Excel 2016. So I can work with it without buying Access 2016. It will be a little harder without all the many SQL Queries I've written over the years, but at least I have access (no pun intended) to all my nearly 91,000 QSOs again. I can probably write Excel Macros to do what the Queries did in Access 2010. I think I'll maybe work on closing out the DX streak story now that I can update the statistics associated with it.

Tue Aug 14 2018 8:22PM - Don't be surprised to be hearing me talk about the demise of my regular streak before long. It's going to happen if this local noise keeps going as strong as it is. Besides W1AW and a couple weak unid stations, the only station I heard on 30, 40, 20, and 15 this evening was HA60NU. Fortunately the op, Lacy is a great one and I managed to work him, and he gave me a 579 report and copied my name solidly. It was rough copy for me, but we made it.

Just a few minutes until our NAQCC sprint. I'm going to see if I can hear and work anyone. I would like to get at least one QSO, but even if I don't I get a participation point for just trying, to keep my record of never having missed one of our sprints.

Mon Aug 13 2018 8:14PM - Haven't heard or worked him in a while now, but Alex was there on 20 meters tonight. I worked him easily, breaking a minor pileup with a perfectly timed call. Only got a 349 QSB to 219 from him, but that weak a signal doesn't bother a great op like Alex. So I'm still working DX pretty regularly even though not every day any longer. Oh, in case you didn't infer from what I said, it was HC2AO who has provided me with a good many DX QSOs. He even took time to wish me GL with the QRP.

Still working on getting the new computer up and running to 100% normal usage. I'm getting closer. I guess the big thing today was restoring my Mail Store email back up data. I still am hung up on restoring my email address book though. I'm sure it is somewhere in the 40 GB of data from the old computer, but I can't as yet figure out just where. I will though. You know how I am with challenges. I stick with them until I master them.

I'm looking forward to the Skeeter Hunt on Sunday. I'm going to email Mike and Tom now to see what plans they have in mind. Moraine or Kittanning, and the like. -30-

Sun Aug 12 2018 8:43PM - I really like this new computer. I'm kind of glad the other one died, although it would have been much simpler setting up the new one if the old one still worked. I spent a lot of time today getting Office Outlook email up and running along with installing some other utility programs I use a lot. So now the remaining big step is getting back into my K3WWP log database. Neither Open Office nor Libre Office seem to work with the Access 2010 .accdb files. I think I'll just go ahead and get Access 2016. That will be by far the best route although I'll have to wait a couple weeks or so to get it.

The CW bands are sure dead of late in the evenings. I can't tell if it is my noise covering up signals or folks just aren't getting on because of the poor propagation. I did get a couple QSOs this evening though. First I worked John W3NA, then was tailended by Rich K4KRW, both on 20 which has a lower noise level here. -30-

Sat Aug 11 2018 8:12PM - A quick DX QSO from Kam TI5/N3KS on 30. Remember how I said most TI stations copy me easily. Kam is one who always does.

I spent most of the day working on transferring data from the external hard drive I got at Best Buy to my new computer. Some stupid mistakes slowed me down, but I did get a lot accomplished. I installed Office Home and Business 2016, and took care of quite a few Excel files. I also installed a lot of other little programs that I use regularly like Ccleaner, Glary Utilities, Irfan View and several others. So I'm getting back to normal slowly but surely. -30-

Fri Aug 10 2018 6:28PM - After the aborted trip to best buy, things went better today. I'm now writing this on my brand new laptop computer which is now my main computer. I still have a long way to go to get everything restored. I'm taking it slow and easy, being careful to get things right before moving on to another step. So far I like it very much and it is fast, much faster that my other laptop. I'm not sure if it is much faster than my desktop was though. I'll have to get more used to it to be able to know that for sure. It's got an Intel Core i7 8th Gen processor. I believe it has separate graphics which should be better than the integrated graphics I had before. It's still a brand new toy with a lot of getting used to yet. It's got Windows 10 Home for an operating system. I just downloaded and installed Microsoft Office 2016 Home and Business, but haven't worked with it yet. It has Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, and Outlook. All I need except Access.

Oh, It's a Hewlett Packard laptop. More about it in future entries. Almost time now to go get my streak QSO. Hope it is a quick one.

Thu Aug 09 2018 8:39PM - No new computer yet. My neighbor's van in which we were going to Best Buy started to overheat on the way and we had to come back home before we got too far along. So my appointment is rescheduled for tomorrow. Wonder what will go wrong then? It's getting discouraging with all the bad happenings of late.

It's even getting hard now keeping my regular streak going with my high local noise plus very poor propagation. I did get W7FW this evening who broke through my noise with his KW signal. TI8II was very strong on 20 but he seems to have a filter that cuts out signals from K3WWP. He never hears me no matter how strong he is. Other TI stations seemingly always hear me even if they are weak here. Hard to understand. -30-

Wed Aug 08 2018 8:23PM - Well, hopefully tomorrow I'll start on the road to getting my computer situation back to normal. I'll pick up the 2TB external hard drive on which my data was backed up at Best Buy. Then I think while I'm there I might buy Microsoft Office Home and Business 2016. I think the Geek Squad said they sell it there. It doesn't have Access though. You have to pretty much order direct from Microsoft to get Access. At least that's what the Geek told me. At least I'll have Excel to get my spreadsheets going again. I might use Libre Office for my databases. At least I'll try, and if I don't like it, I can buy Access separate from the rest of the Office 2016 Suite. It's going to take some tweaking to get it all going again, but I'm kind of looking forward to the challenge. -30-

Tue Aug 07 2018 8:17PM - Seemed like old times tonight. A quick DX QSO at 0003Z from old faithful friend Ger HK7AAG on 30. He was well above my local noise and an easy contact. A new DX streak starting? Nope, but an easy quick way to keep the big main streak going.

So far so good on watering Ange's garden while he's vacationing at the beach this week. A good one inch rain Sunday evening really soaked the ground and it was still wet this morning when the helper he found and I checked it. Looks like more rain coming tonight and tomorrow also.

Doing some thinking about what I'm going to do about a new computer. I'm relieved that all my data was recovered. Now I need to think about getting some programs to work with it. Most of the programs I used were fairly old. I hope to be able to go with Microsoft Office as the main suite of programs to work with my data. Then I'll need a financial program perhaps if I can't get Microsoft Money to work on the new computer. I know there are free alternatives, but I've used Microsoft programs since the dinosaur age of computers and have always been completely happy with them and I'd like to continue if possible. I hope to have everything back to 100% normal at least by the end of August, hopefully sooner. -30-

Mon Aug 06 2018 9:07PM - DX!! Finally worked some DX again this evening. The bands were pretty much either dead or the signals were covered by my local noise. I think more dead because there were a few pretty strong signals here and there, especially W1AW. Anyway, not finding anything to work, DX or otherwise on 40, 30, or 20, I decided to try 17 and there was KP4TF calling CQ. I had to send my call a few times to get his attention, but when I did get it, we made a good contact.

Well, I took the computer to the Geek Squad today and it was bad news, but not all bad. Since it is more than 5 years old, they don't have parts to fix it locally and it would have to be sent to HP for any repairs at all. Even then, since it is actually 7 years old, perhaps they would just send it back as is. So I went for the option of having the Geek Squad strip all the data off the hard drive onto a 2TB external hard drive for me and I'll get a new computer and transfer the data onto it. They made quick work of it and I got an email not long after we got home saying the transfer was successful. We probably should have just waited there had we known it would be so quick. We go back Thursday for the pickup. That will give me a couple days to decide on what computer I want to get and get some money together to get it. -30-

Sun Aug 05 2018 7:02PM - I'm still struggling doing things on the laptop. I sure hope the Geek Squad at Best Buy can get my main computer up and running again. Some things are not too bad on the laptop. I can still update the web site OK, but I don't have access to my databases and spreadsheets on the other computer. I do have them backed up for the most part, and may have to switch them over here. Or I may just get a newer more powerful laptop to use as a main computer if that becomes necessary.

Anyway, I do have access to the emails that have been coming in about the demise of the DX streak. I'm going to share what I have so far. The very first couple may be missing, and I'll try to add those when the computer situation gets settled. Here we go.

K4WLW - "Hi John, I was sorry to read that the DX streak is over. It has been fun watching it and quite an inspiration. I think you should keep it going, and just keep the percentage high. At least the pressure is off now, and it can be a little more fun than stressful. Just my opinion. Great Job! 73, Bill - K4WLW"

WB3FAE - Excerpt from longer email: "Well I see that the "streak" has come to an end. I am amazed that you were able to keep it going through the low end of the cycle."

W3TLN - "RIP the DX streak, but quite an accomplishment and you should be proud. -Tom, W3TLN"

AC2MX - "Hello John Very sorry to hear the streak has ended. I read your diary every day and was very sad. I live on Staten Island NY and have a very high noise level over here. I will continue to read the diary daily. Hope to see some comments in the diary about your experience with high noise levels. Hope this does not mean that you will not try to work a dx station daily. You are inspiration to those of us who work the ham band with simple equipment and wire antennas. All the very best in what ever way you proceed from here. 73 Ishan - AC2MX"

ON7QRP - "Hi John, sorry to read that the DX streak has come to an end, only 20 days shy of 2000. It however was bound to happen, you also saw it coming from afar. I think in a way that it's good for you personally, you were spending more and more time and effort to keep the streak going, I felt by reading between the lines of the diary that it was becoming more a burden for you to keep going than it was a pleasure. At least now you're free to look for new ones when you feel like looking for some DX. If there's nothing exciting happening so what, there's always another day. Take care. 72, good DX -- Gust Kegelaers ON6KE ON7QRP"

W2JEK - "Hi John, Sorry to hear the DX streak ended at 1980 QSO. My guess is that you worked more than 1980 DX stations during that time. Maybe when your computer is fixed you can find out. Congratulations for a well done attempt. 72 DON W2JEK"

I think the QSO total was 7,411 if I remember right. My computer died just when I was working on the streak stats.

KC2EGL - "Please accept my heartfelt condolences on the ending of this latest DX streak. Time to ‘jump back on that horse’ and start a new one."

Maybe after I get the computer situation straightened out along with some other things I have to take care of. Meanwhile the horse can rest.

I know I have a couple more comments from N5XE and K6ACF if I recall correctly. -30-

Sat Aug 04 2018 8:57AM - Still on the laptop. The main computer goes to the hospital on Monday hopefully for a quick successful cure. Meanwhile I'm trying to keep the web site updated as best as I can.

Thanks to those who sent "condolences" on the DX streak ending. I heard from N5XE, K4WLW, K6ACF, ON7QRP, and WB3FAE so far. I hope to post all the comments when things get back to normal here. I did like one line from Carl N5XE who said something like, "looks like the fat lady finally sang." HI.

Meanwhile the main streak continues and as of my QSO with N1QY on 30 last evening, has reached the 24 year mark.

I'll have updates on the streak reports for both streaks in the QRP section, again when things return to normal. In fact, it was when I was working on the stats for the DX streak that the computer died. -30-

Fri Aug 03 2018 1:40PM - My main computer stopped working today. I'm doing this on my laptop to let you know that diary updates may be sporadic until I get the main computer situation resolved. What next? -30-

Thu Aug 02 2018 8:23PM - The inevitable finally became reality today and the DX streak came to an end.

To work DX, you first have to hear it. I only heard one DX station today. That was PV8ADI who is virtually always at least an S8 no matter what band or time of day I hear him. However today he only peeked out of my S5 noise level on 20 long enough to ID him, then he was gone again. I spent a lot of time listening, and I didn't even hear but a couple stations working any DX, and those were the big gun stations like AA3B and N2MM for example. I couldn't hear whom they were working at all. Also they were giving mostly only 559 reports to the DX and complaining about QSB.

The sun has been spotless for the past 3 weeks and more now, and some propagation experts say we have already reached the sunspot minimum ahead of schedule. If so, then at least I can say I managed to keep the DX streak going right down to the bottom of a sunspot cycle if not through it. The solar flux has dipped down into the 60s a lot recently, and that is almost as low as it ever gets. I think in my records here going back many years, I saw a couple 63s, and some 64s and 65s, but nothing lower than those readings. The last 65 was back in 2008, I don't see any 63s or 64s in my spreadsheet which starts in 1969, but I do remember seeing at least one 63 and 64 before that. In fact in my Propagation section on the Description page I see I mention there was a 63 on November 3, 1954 and two earlier dates going back to 1947. As an aside, the highest was 457 on April 7, 1947.

Perhaps if I had just stuck to the rig for the full 24 hours or even a solid 12-15 hours or so, I might have caught a brief opening to somewhere other than to W/VE. However I do have a life in which I have other things to do and I couldn't do that.

Also had I used spotting and checked out some of the spots, perhaps I could have worked someone. However I do not believe in using any kind of spotting to find and work stations, and I wasn't going to go against my principles just to keep the streak going.

Another factor was my local noise level increasing somewhat of late masking the weaker DX stations. Had I been able to find any that may have been there, I might have worked them. With the state of the ionosphere though, perhaps even with only a S0 to S2 or so noise level, there might not have been any audible DX signals. I don't know. I just know I wasn't hearing any for whatever reason.

Perhaps DX (and W/VE) stations are just not getting on the bands as much in these sunspot minimum days.

At least I'm glad the streak didn't come to an end on a close call in working or not working someone. That is not knowing if it was a complete QSO or not. Or if I was logged correctly by the DX station.

Anyway it's over. Now I've got to decide where to go from here. My plan B was to continue trying to work DX every day and keep the percent of days on which I do work DX above 99 percent counting back to March 1, 2013 when the DX streak started. Or do I go to plan C and just try to keep my big main streak going and not worry about DX. I haven't decided yet.

I really wanted to make it to 2,000 days, and I did come close at 1,980. I also wanted to prove that you can work DX using CW, QRP, and simple largely indoor antennas virtually day in and day out. I think whether it be 2,000 or 1,980 days, I have definitely proved that.

I actually wrote that a couple weeks ago and updated it a bit today. Since today's updates I did hear some more DX, but none of it was very strong at all. Perhaps the strongest was TI8II, but he was jumping around between S&P and CQ. I never did catch up to him, but he never hears me in the best of conditions anyway. Also KL7SB/VP9 wasn't too bad on 30, but he QRT after making a few QSOs after I found him.

So it's over now. Maybe a bit ironic it ended just two days short of when my main streak will reach 24 years on the 4th. I did get my QSO for the 3rd this evening when I worked VE3BXG on 20 meters. With the NA QSO Party on the 4th, it should be a cinch to get a QSO then if not earlier in the day.

I'll have more post-mortem thoughts on the DX streak in upcoming diary entries as well as updating my DX streak page in the QRP section of the web site. -30-

Wed Aug 01 2018 4:12PM - Once again it's Bert to the rescue. The morning hour of the CWT sprint showed no DX at all. The afternoon hour was almost the same way. I did hear someone working an OK station, but couldn't hear the OK at all. I persisted and listened, listened, list..... Finally I heard Bert F6HKA very weak just popping in and out of my noise. Bert has to be one of the finest CW ops in the world, and I knew I had a shot at working him if I could just copy him well enough. I lost him on the first try, I believe, but then I heard a WW? and sent my call again. This time I could barely hear Bert, but copied K3WWP TU JOHN BERT 1088, and returned TU BERT 599 JOHN PA. That was it for yet another DX day. I didn't need the 599 in my exchange, but I was excited to get the QSO and wasn't thinking.

I find myself getting more and more determined to keep the DX streak going as conditons continue to worsen. I at least want to make it to 2000 days. There are 20 days to go for that and it will be rough so I don't know if it will happen or not. The evening hours starting at 0000Z are becoming more and more useless here, especially with the increase in my local noise that started a couple weeks ago. It's the late afternoon, early evening hours that are going to be the saviour of the streak, I believe. Looking at my streak table on my home page shows the following Z hours of my DX streak QSOs for the past 10 days, most recent day first. 19, 21, 00, 00, 00, 21, 00, 23, 00, 00. Well, perhaps I tend to forget the easy 00 hour QSOs and remember more clearly the struggling days. HI It seems like I've struggled most days of late, but maybe not.

My main streak tends to take a back seat to the DX streak lately, but it is still going strong. When I get a QSO on August 4th in a couple days, the main streak will have been going for a solid 24 years. Hard to believe it's been that long, but as Mike and I say about various things, using a somewhat corrupted version of an old saying, "Time's fun when you're having flies." And it really has been fun getting on the air and using CW each and every day for nearly a quarter century now. I also wonder how long that streak will continue. It may wind up depending on my local noise which may make 80 and 40 virtually unusable when winter comes and 30 and higher are not as good as now. I guess we'll see. -30-

Tue Jul 31 2018 6:18PM - Another nail-biter. I don't know how much longer I'm going to continue to be able to pull DX QSOs out of the fire. I did it again today though. There was absolutely no DX last evening and none for most of today. However in the 2000Z hour LZ380PM showed up on 20 just barely peeking out of my noise level. I tried several times with no success and gave up and did something else. I came back later, and he was still there and a bit stronger now. So I started in to try again since there was no one else being heard anywhere except an extremely weak XE2V on 17 meters. I could barely copy him and didn't even try calling. However after a while I started getting some indications that LZ380PM was hearing me. He was sending one or two letters that could have been me. So I persisted and finally got a K3WWG or something like that. I sent my call twice again and connected. I got a K3WWP 599, sent TU 599 73 and had another day added to the DX streak.

In between hunting DX, I got a lot of my end of month work done. I only have to make my banking trip in the morning and put my July weather in the computer. I believe we only had one day all month that we didn't hit 80 degrees, and that was yesterday at 77. It will be interesting to see the other stats for the month. Although we didn't have any really hot days, it was consistently warm all month and could be one of the warmer Julys we've had here. We'll see. -30-

Mon Jul 30 2018 10:27AM - Kind of finishing up last evening's diary entry here.

After the ballgame, we stopped off at Michael's Craft Store to get some little rubber feet for the KX3/PX3 stands I made for Mike and me. After that since Applebee's was almost next door in the mall (good excuse), we stopped in there for a meal before heading home.

Here at home we exchanged pictures we took at the ball game and chatted about the game and other things. Then it was up to the shack to look for some DX. We didn't really expect to find any, but there was a German on 20 meters, but he wasn't hearing Mike calling. I didn't try since it was still before 0000Z and I wanted to wait till then to work any DX since I already had my DX for the 29th. After 0000Z I got a couple regular streak QSOs from WB4MNG and W3NA, then went looking for DX, but it was a real rarity and we didn't find anything until I heard old faithful Ger HK7AAG on 30 and as usual, worked him easily although it did take a couple repeats. Mike followed suit and worked him. After that it was time for Mike to head north since tomorrow (today) is a work day for him. I remember work days myself although it's been a long time now. HI.

I said I was going to comment on baseball today vs. baseball many years ago. I think the old time baseball was by far the best. Money has ruined the modern game. Along with some questionable silly rule changes. I don't like the DH at all. I think the pitcher should get his turn at bat just like the other 8 players on the field. Ironically in yesterday's game, the Mets pitcher drove in the only run of the game which ended up 1-0 in favor of the Mets. He's batting over .200 for the season which is a good average for a pitcher. I hope the National League remains traditional and doesn't ever adopt the DH. Another rule I don't like is the no pitch intentional walk. Too many things can happen while the pitcher is throwing those 4 balls. I'm not going to make a list here, but I'm sure baseball fans know just what I mean. I think the biggest thing I dislike is the overall experience at a park. It seems almost like the game itself takes a back seat to the other "entertainment" taking place. Almost like watching the game on TV with the commercials between half innings. There was some commercially related event going on at the park the same way. A huge difference from watching a game at old Forbes Field and perhaps even the first few years at Three Rivers. The game itself took center stage then, and the breaks between innings were peaceful and quiet. About the only in between innings thing going on then was the traditional seventh inning stretch. Oh well, that's "progress", I guess. Unfortunately with the extremely exorbitant salaries the players make, the owners must engage in these extracurricular activities to make the money to pay the players. End of my comments.

Here are a couple more picture from the game.
Mike and me
Panorama of PNC
Of course that's us standing in front of the gate. The second picture is a panorama view Mike took of the park. I've got to find time to play with my camera and find out how to do all these neat things with it. Time is hard to come by though. Too many other things to do in life. -30-

Sun Jul 29 2018 9:04PM - Naturally a great day today, made even better by some wonderful weather. I'm speaking of Mike and I going to the Pirates game in Pittsburgh. We had what in my opinion were the best seats in the house. As high as you can get in the upper deck behind home plate with no rows behind us and an unobstructed view of the field. Here's a picture of the view we had. Then I'll have more to say about baseball now vs. baseball back in the 50s and 60s and earlier along with more comments about today's game in general. That will have to wait till tomorrow though as I'm tired now and I still have to take Roscoe out for his last walk of the day in a little while.

PNC Park
The picture was taken when they were honoring some area physically challenged youngsters who play ball in some kind of "American League" teams around Western Pennsylvania. I'll have to see if I can find out more about the program. -30-

Sat Jul 28 2018 11:02AM - I just wanted to say that I received the corrected copies of the 2017 Skeeter Hunt certificates in the mail from Larry W2LJ. Thanks Larry. I replaced the image of the certificate in the July 23 diary entry with the corrected copy. I'll get the copies to Mike and Tom when I next see them. I'll see Mike tomorrow when we go to the Pirate baseball game. I'm not sure about Tom. I haven't heard from him in a while.

I got one of those 0000Z DX QSOs last night from CT8/R7KW. So I don't have to worry about that again until 0000Z tonight. I'm hoping with the IOTA contest on, it will be easy. It will be nice to not have to worry about that while we're at the Pirate game. -30-

Fri Jul 27 2018 5:54PM - Yet another day that looked dismal for the DX streak. Fully expecting the streak to end soon, I've written a generic obituary for it that will be aired here in the diary when the day does come.

Today however is not the day. I'm finding that the 2-3 hours before sunset here seem to still be decent for working DX, but that's about the only time of day here. I hate having to wait till near the end of the day to get the DX, but if that's what it takes to keep the streak going, I'll do it. At least until the streak reaches 2,000 days in 25 days from now, if it does get that far.

What about today? It was Joska HA9RT whom I've worked many times. It was at 2149Z on 14012. I had to wait through a few other QSOs, but when things cleared a bit, it was a good QSO. Joska gave me a 549 and he was about an honest 569 here with some QSB and QRN. It's great that we have these really good operators still getting on the bands fairly regularly with their super stations. I'm glad I've gotten to work and know so many of them over the years. Familiarity is a great asset in working someone. So thanks to all of you out there. There are too many to list here, but you know who you are. HI. -30-

Thu Jul 26 2018 8:49AM - OK, where was I in yesterday's story? Oh yes, not hearing any DX even in the CWT sprints. In fact, I only heard one station working a DX station, LY8O, and I couldn't hear the LY at all. So I was still shut out through 2000Z. The 2000-2200Z hours were the same with not a trace of a DX station heard. So now I'm down to just one hour to find AND work a DX station. When I turned on the KX3/PX3 at 2300Z, things looked better with several fairly strong peaks on the PX3. I started checking them, and found one at about S6 with QSB that turned out to be ZP6CW whom I've worked several times. Doug is a very good op, and I figured even though he was only S6 or so at best, I'd have a chance at working him. I tried and failed a couple times. It was getting hard to copy him, but I did hear him send WWG? 559 or something like that. I sent my call three times and ended with a 569 report. He was now down in the noise, but did end the QSO like he copied me. I debated on whether or not to count the QSO.

Then there was FM5WD who was S8. I tried him several times, always losing out to someone else. It wasn't long before he QRT though. I sent my call about 6 times with a pause to listen in between, and never heard him at all so I was sure he did QRT and continued my search.

On 30, I heard Bolmar HK1MW, but he seemed to be in a S&P mode, sending his call only once as if he was trying to work some station I wasn't hearing. I tuned around a bit, then came back and found him on the same frequency, so perhaps he was now calling CQ himself. Sure enough he was and after he worked a couple other stations, he came back with K3? or K3W? I forget which now. I sent my call a couple more times and now it was K3WWP 559. I sent his report and he came back with something like TU JOHN. Another big WHEW!! And the streak went on.

The next day which is today was much easier and less stressful as I worked David XE1XR at 0011Z on 20 meters. It did take several unanswered calls before he heard me. We exchanged reports and thanked each other by name.

A few minutes after that, Mike arrived. We had our pizza and then went to the shack to see as I put it, how much DX we couldn't hear. That was prophetic as we didn't hear any at all. Nor much in the way of W/VE activity either. So some hidden object computer games, talk about sports and going to the Pirate game on Sunday, and then it was almost 11:30 and Mike headed home.

I see the solar flux was only 66 yesterday. That's about as low as it goes. I caught a bit of the W1AW bulletin saying something about the sunspot minimum being reached. I think I'll check the ARRL web site and see just what that little snippet I heard was all about.

Here's the paragraph from the bulletin in which I caught the snippet:

"With all the solar activity recently, it's hard to believe we have gone three weeks with a spotless Sun. Some scientists within the community are even saying we have arrived at solar minimum. Yet despite this sad news, Space Weather remains far from quiet. It seems our Sun is finding ways of staying busy."

There's much more to the bulletin here

You can always get a brief summary of propagation in the Propagation section of my site. It's updated the same time I update the diary page after 0000Z. Not after 'out of schedule' diary updates like today though. Then I'll wait till after 0000Z. -30-

Wed Jul 25 2018 8:13PM - I'm just waiting for Mike to arrive so this may be brief and have to be finished later or tomorrow.

This was another of those days when I wrote a tentative obituary for the DX streak. However as with the other 4 or 5 such days, I pulled something out of the fire virtually at the last minute or at least in the last hour. Up until the 2300Z hour, I hadn't heard a single DX station all day. Heck, I didn't even hear any DX in the CWT sprints. Here's Mike, so I'll finish this later. Come on back later or check this entry tomorrow.

OK, it will be finished in tomorrow's entry. Mike and I had a long enjoyable session tonight and it's almost midnight now. -30-

Tue Jul 24 2018 8:42PM - Still battling my local noise here, and with conditions down quite a bit due to the current stage of the sunspot cycle, it was rough again getting even my regular streak QSO. I didn't get the DX QSO and will have to try for that later tonight or tomorrow morning or afternoon. I'd hate to see the DX streak end with just 27 days to go now for 2,000 days. Anyway, I found Bert W5ZR with his big 200W, 2EL Beam signal on 30 at 0007Z for the regular streak QSO. He was one of only a few signals above my noise level.

Apparently... well for certain Larry W2LJ read my diary entry last night and noticed my comment about the typo on the Skeeter certificate as he emailed and said he was going to send corrected copies. I didn't really need them, but I appreciate his consideration. Thanks Larry.

We have really missed out on all the rain that central and eastern PA is getting. Except for that brief heavy shower Sunday evening that produced .43 inches, we've gotten virtually nothing since then except for some drops that were so few you could just about count them as they fell. That's both good and bad. Good because we're not getting the flooding. Bad because the gardens could use the rain so we don't have to water manually. -30-

Mon Jul 23 2018 9:17PM - There is one thing I never thought of concerning the end of my streak(s). That is a high persistent local noise level. I have that now, but I've struggled to keep the streak going through it so far. Tonight I managed to work KB6NU on 30 for a short QSO until the band changed, then I got KP4TF on 20 meters for the DX streak. I had to juggle my antennas to make the contacts. I'd trasmit on the main antenna for a band, then see which of my other antennas gave me the best S/N ration on receive. Generally the best receive antenna on all bands was my 15M vertical dipole.

I received our Skeeter Hunt certificates today for the 2017 Skeeter Hunt. Thanks Larry. One for me, and one each for Mike KC2EGL and Tom WB3FAE for our multi-op entry of N3AQC. Here is what they look like:
Skeeter Hunt certificate
There's one typo on the certificate, but that's OK. All the main info is just fine.

I hope we can earn another one for this year's event.

Almost time for Roscoe's walk, so I better hurry and finish my updates. -30-

Sun Jul 22 2018 8:34PM - Same station, same quick QSO, and same time stamp on the diary entry as last night. Different band though. OK, explain. I worked HH2AA again this evening, but on 30 instead of 20. The QSO took a repeat of my call just like last night.

Not much happened today worth writing about. It was a cool but humid day today with a very brief, but very heavy 10 or so minute shower that dumped somewhere around 4 tenths of an inch by the looks of my rain gauge looking out my kitchen window. I'll find out exactly how much in about 20 minutes. It sure came down hard. I'm glad it didn't last any longer than it did.

I continued working on my Family Tree Genealogy today as I've done most days of late. I found I had a distant cousin who travelled west on a wagon train as part of the Mormon migration to Utah around 1860. Also her husband may have been related to the founder of the Hershey Chocolate Company. It wouldn't be a blood relative like she is, but it would be interesting nonetheless. I've got 3,302 blood relatives in the tree now, and finding more just about every day. There's a total of 5,389 individuals including non-blood related spouses, and other folks who seemed to be related, but haven't been confirmed as such (yet). It's really fascinating work. -30-

Sat Jul 21 2018 8:34PM - Another quick DX QSO for day 1,970 of the DX streak thanks to HH2AA on 20 meters at 0002Z.

I did some work on my diary archives today. I reformatted and reordered the 2018 archive. I think it is now easier to read, and also I was able to go back to having the newest entry at the top of the archive page again. I also found an easier way to take care of copying the entries that are archived by my guestbook provider on their server after 120 days, and are only available for me to read that way.

While doing that, I also took time to read some of the entries again. There is some very interesting reading there. If you find yourself trying to find something to do, perhaps you might read some of the entries, then add an entry of your own to the guestbook if you haven't already done so. -30-

Fri Jul 20 2018 8:45PM. It looks like I have an old annoyance back. I've had a very high noise level on the bands the past couple evenings as I did a couple of years ago. It's about S8 on 40, over S9 on 80, about S6 on 30 and S4-5 on 20. So far it hasn't affected my streaks, and I hope it won't.

Tonight I worked Nunavut for the first time in a while when I got KD6WW/VY0 IOTA NA-207 easily on 30 meters, followed by HI3T for the DX streak. Then I had a very nice rag chew on 20 with WA5PRI in Louisiana. We both were in broadcasting, and both loved and used tube gear for quite a while, but admitted the current gear performs much better and has more bells and whistles.

It's getting humid again after a decent stretch of pretty comfortable weather. We had a little shower a while ago. About all it did was settle the dust. However it looks like more rain will be here over the weekend and into next week. Maybe I'll get some time off from garden watering. So far I've had quite a few Siberian tomatoes, and have some peppers about ready to pick. Also I got a cucumber and zucchini from Ange from his garden. -30-

Thu Jul 19 2018 4:31PM - Here are my soapbox comments from last night's NAQCC sprint. As mentioned here in last night's diary entry, I planned on just getting 10 QSOs, then shutting down. I never bothered checking 20 meters at first, and that was a mistake. Instead I struggled on 40 to make it to 9 QSOs just before 0100Z. Signals were either very strong or very weak, no middle ground. So it was either an easy QSO or one that required a struggle to complete. Enough of that, but I thought I'd check 20 just for fun to see if I might get #10 quickly there. I should have gone there earlier. There was some QSB, but there were several good workable signals. I got #10 quickly, then decided to hang around a bit longer to see who all I could work. I decided I'd go to 15 QSOs, then quit. Getting there was easy and I wound up with 15 contacts in 11 SPCs. As always of late, I used my Vibroplex Lightning bug and the KX3/PX3 combo. I logged with GenLog as I do in every contest. I love it. Once you learn to use it, and that is easy, you can use it in any contest that exists on the planet. There are fancier contest logging programs with more bells and whistles, but for a simple single op setup like mine, it is ideal. Thanks to all I worked in the sprint. It was a mix of new members and those I've worked many times in our 160+ sprints since 2004. End of soapbox.

I also got a fairly quick DX QSO last evening from KP4TF on 17 meters, so I had the day off today as far as scouring the bands for a DX QSO. Hope it's the same later this evening. -30-

Wed Jul 18 2018 6:37PM - I received my 13 Colonies certificate in the mail today. I'm proud to have done a sweep of the 13 colonies plus WM3PEN all of course with CW QRP and my simple wire antennas. I did miss GB13COL again though. I only heard them once during the week right near the end and quite weak with a lot of competition. Maybe next year. Anyway here's what this year's certificate looks like:
13 Colonies certificate

This was one of the hardest days in my DX streak to come up with a QSO. As I said yesterday, I would miss the 1300Z hour of the CWT as that's when we took Roscoe to the groomer. I never did get to check the bands till around 1600Z and found nothing in the way of DX. That continued up until the 1900Z hour and the next hour of the CWT. However repeatedly tuning the CWT on both 20 and 15 showed nothing but W/VE stations. I did hear LZ380PM outside the CWT, but never got more than a tentative ? from him. Then I found DK1NO and got a response of K3WHV or something like that, then he just faded out completely. Now LZ380PM was much stronger so I tried again, but many repeated calls never got me closer than K3RRP. Even though he did close with R QSL, he never did send my call correctly so I didn't count him. While I was calling him though I noticed a strong signal a couple kHz up the band on the PX3. Tuning it in, I found it to be DL1REM peaking near an S9. Since he apparently was just starting up, I figured I had a good chance at him so I called. No response so I started sending my call again, then heard him coming back with WWP. I stopped and sent K3 K3WWP and the QSO was made and the DX streak continued. Add a big WHEW!! to the collection.

I've always found that diary visitors don't only come for ham radio info, but they also enjoy the other topics I cover in the diary. Here's an excerpt from an email I got today from W4MMR to prove that. "Thanks to you and Mike for doing the Oil Creek and Titusville Railroad excursion. Also, the light rail article was very interesting, too. That was a very interesting pair of diary entries. I work with a young engineer that is a big rail fan down here in SC and I shared your diary entries and the website with him. Nice work!".

Thanks for those kind words and comments, Mark. That encourages me to keep covering other topics here in the diary along with ham radio.

Tonight is our monthly NAQCC sprint. I just set up GenLog for it. Right now I plan to just go for 10 QSOs and then quit. I've done that a lot lately. It gets me a participation point plus keeps my streak of never missing a regular NAQCC sprint since we started them back in 2004. Tomorrow in the diary I'll have my soapbox comments here in the diary to let you know how things went. And hopefully in the half hour before the sprint I can get my DX QSO for tomorrow so I don't have to spend another day like today trying for one. -30-

Tue Jul 17 2018 9:10PM - About DX this evening: Ditto last night's first paragraph of the diary entry.

It was rough today, and I only heard one weak DX station in all my every 30-60 minute brief checks of the bands. That held true until almost 2000Z. Finally old faithful PV8ADI showed up on 20. I had trouble working him though, and I thought I was never going to get past his K3? So I gave up for a while but came back again a little later. Finally I got a K3WWP 599 from him, and another WHEW! was added to my growing collection of late.

Tomorrow is Wednesday and that means the CWT sprint, so that may help. However I won't be here for the first hour. We're taking Roscoe to the groomer then. So unless I luck out and get someone later tonight, it may be rough during the day tomorrow again. Tune in tomorrow for the continuing story of "Wll he, or won't he (continue his DX streak)?" -30-

Mon Jul 16 2018 8:18PM - Not a sign of any DX at all this evening, so my little pink slip with the reminder that I haven't yet gotten my DX streak is now out in front of my computer. Hope I can put it away later tonight, but I'll probably have to wait till morning or afternoon, if then.

It was a very hot and humid day today. The high was 94 and the humidity around 45%. According to a table I found at http://andrew.rsmas.miami.edu/bmcnoldy/Humidity.html that computes to a dewpoint of 69.43 degrees which is pretty uncomfortable. Right now it's 86 and 50% or a dewpoint of 65.2 degrees.

Last night I was fooling around with my camera around sunset. I noticed a very thin crescent moon and thought I'd try to get a picture of it. Here's what I came up with and it included a bonus.
Moon and Venus
Yep, that's Venus to the upper left. I didn't notice it with the naked eye when I took the picture. This little Nikon CoolPic camera is really "cool".

Well, it's "cooled" down a bit weatherwise and I need to go mail some bills before it gets dark. -30-