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Diary

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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.



Thursday, May 26, 2016 6:47 PM - This may have been our warmest day of the year so far. The high on my remote unit shows 86. If that is the 'official' reading at 9 PM on the regular thermometer and they are usually very close, it will top the previous high of 84 back on April 18. Also the humidity was up a bit although not too high. It really felt good when I was out walking with Roscoe or by myself. I also visited the Ol' Station Marketplace and picked up a nice visor magnifier so now I can magnify things and still keep both hands free for working on small parts. That was only 75 cents. I also got a Raiders of the Lost Ark video cassette for 1 dollar.

It's getting time to get the fans out for the summer. I don't care for air conditioning and am happy with just a fan. Much cheaper also. Bruce got his out today and I helped him fix a broken 'foot' on the fan just a few minutes ago. Now I think I may go for a walk before time comes to pursue the DX streak.

Oh, I also got a package of 19 QSL cards from the buro today and did most of the processing of them except actually filing away the cards. Of the two dozen or so QSOs represented by the cards, only two were QSOs for which I requested a card. The rest all wanted my card for whatever reason. At least they represented some new prefixes and two new band countries. The countries were San Andres Island on 12 and 17 meters. The prefixes were: OF9, W100, 5C5, LZ300, DD5, JA5, LZ259. -30-



Wednesday, May 25, 2016 9:17 PM - Another quick DX QSO when I worked KL7SB/VP9 on 30 meters at 0007Z. Mike arrived shortly after I got on the air, and we headed to Subway after I got my DX QSO. We ate our subs there and came home and had the last of my birthday cake. Then up to the shack where Mike tried to work FM/DL7VOG unsuccessfully. Then it was to the kitchen window where we tried to watch Mars the moment it rose. However there were some high clouds and we didn't notice it until it had already risen for a couple minutes. Right now we're watching an Our Gang episode- Bedtime Worries.

Earlier it was a nice warm day with a high of 85 degrees and I got in a couple of good walks and some shopping. I also took a picture of my sundial early this morning.
pix_diary_20160525_001 (190K)

As you can see by the shadow of the gnomon, the picture was taken shortly after 9AM (EST) which is after 10AM (EDT). Of course sundials aren't exact timekeepers due to the equation of time and a couple other factors. I'm not going to delve into it here. For more info, do a Bing search for "equation of time" or "sundials". -30-



Tuesday, May 24, 2016 8:30 PM - It wasn't too hard getting my DX this evening. In fact I got an extra one to boot. KP3W on 20 and TG9ADM on 30. I don't work Guatemala too often so I gave him a try when I heard him and despite him being only 559, we made a good QSO after just a couple calls. So once again the DX is Central America and the Caribbean.

Not much else to report today. I did finish my sundial and remounted it outside. It restored pretty well. I'll try to have a picture in the diary tomorrow. -30-



Monday, May 23, 2016 9:06 PM - A tough night tonite. Even had trouble getting a regular streak QSO, but finally found and worked WA1KBE on 40 meters. Then continued my search for DX. Before that, I hadn't heard anyone strong enough to break out of my meager S4 noise level. So finally I found and worked old standby HT7AAA on 30 meters. Hated to work him yet again, but I was determined the DX streak wasn't going to come to an end on my birthday, so.....

Not much else going on today out of the ordinary. I did put the first coat of polyurethane on the sundial I'm restoring. Tomorrow I'll add another coat. -30-



Sunday, May 22, 2016 6:09 PM - Thought I'd write this now since at 0000Z I'll be going for my DX QSO, then finalizing our NAQCC May Sprint results, and after that going over to walk Roscoe.

A couple of things taken care of today. I updated Bruce's computer from Windows 8.1 to Windows 10. As usual, just like the half dozen or so such upgrades I've done for myself and other folks, it went just as smooth as silk with not a single glitch. I honestly can't figure out why folks seem to have problems with the upgrade or with other Windows things as well. I've used Microsoft Windows exclusively here on several different computers since around the early 1990s and NEVER have had a single problem with anything due to Windows. I have had a few problems along the way, but each one traced not to Windows, but to some incorrectly designed third party non-Microsoft software.

I also worked a bit more on my sundial today. I decided to restore the original sundial I built with my friend Bill several years ago instead of the replacement one I built a couple years ago. Mainly because Bill is now in a nursing home with probably no chance of ever leaving there. This will help me remember the good times we had together on various projects. We never did get to the last planned one though - a weather vane. Maybe I'll try that myself sometime. -30-



Saturday, May 21, 2016 8:28 PM - Pretty much a washout day in all respects. Chilly and rainy on and off all day today and still at it now. Better things coming early next week though. The sun and 80 degrees are mentioned in the forecast on the same day a couple days in a row.

DX continues rough, but I'm still managing to keep the streak going with DX QSOs in the 0000Z hour. Tonight it was XE3ARV on 30 meters. I heard another Russian on 30, but he wasn't hearing me. There's not all that much difference in propagation from the declining sunspot cycle, but it is there and it is very noticeable to me. I still don't think the DX streak will last all that deeply into the upcoming sunspot minimum. I do think barring some major propagation anomaly, the regular streak will continue as long as I can make it to the key. After all, it went through the previous sunspot minimum without missing a beat. We'll see. -30-



Friday, May 20, 2016 8:37 PM - I took advantage of the nice sunny warm (77) day and went fishing for only the third time this year so far. Got a few decent bites, but no catches. I think they were little fish, maybe sandpike or possibly some small mouth suckers whose mouths weren't big enough to take the hook, yet big enough to take the worm off the hook. Had I stayed longer, I might have tried smaller hooks, but I had to get home to take Roscoe for his walk.

I'm just wondering how many days in a row now my DX QSO has come in the 00Z hour. I'm going to check in a moment. Tonight it was EA8TL on 20 meters at 0005Z. Not as easy as usual with him, but not all that hard. Tried UB7K on 30 with no luck. Would have liked that prefix. Wonder what part of Russia he was in. I'll check that also and report back.

UB7K is in Kerch in Crimea. DX in the 00Z hour goes back until April 26 when I worked EA6NB at 0427Z. So going on a month now. That's still in the evening though. Let's see the last time I didn't get any DX until morning or afternoon. OK, April 11 it took until 1353Z to get my DX from HA3FTA on 17M. So despite the decline in the sunspot cycle, the evening still provides a lot of DX. However a lot of it now is from North, Central, and South America as well as the Caribbean instead of Europe, Africa, Asia as it was when there were more sunspots. Maybe I'll figure how much DX from each continent I worked each month in my DX streak. That may prove interesting, but I'm not going to do it now. -30-



Thursday, May 19, 2016 9:14 PM - Just a short entry tonight. I just got off the phone after a long chat with Tom WY3H. Those of you who read the diary or are NAQCC members (hopefully both) know that Tom moved down to Georgia a couple of years ago, so we don't get to talk that much any longer except in these long phone conversations every now and then.

Then after finishing this and a couple other web site updates, I'll be going over to visit with Bruce and take Roscoe out for his last walk of the day.

So I'll just say that the bands sounded pretty good this evening. ZA/S56X was quite strong on 20 meters, but I couldn't break the pileup during the 5 minutes or so I tried. I didn't try longer since I have Albania on 20 meters and also the ZA0 prefix. Before that at 0001Z I kept the DX streak alive by working HR5/F2JD on 30 meters. -30-



Wednesday, May 18, 2016 8:46 PM - I worked J68GU on a new band (40) quickly (0003Z) for my DX QSO. So with the pressure off, I found CR60P strong on 30 working split with a big pileup and determined I was going to break the pile and work him. I can tell most of the time when I have a chance at a station with a big pileup. If he's at least a certain strength here, I know he should be able to hear me there. Tonight was such a situation. After a few minutes I got a K3W?, but was immediately covered by other callers whether or not their call was close to having a K3W in it. The op at CR60P did not take control as he should, sending K3W? KN KN KN or ONLY K3W?. Thus I lost out on that chance when he worked an interfering W4 instead. That made me even more determined to work him. I kept watching the PX3 to see who he was working and tail ended on that station's frequency. Yes, I said watching, not listening. I didn't use the split cans because I've gotten to the point where I can tell visually who the DX is working most of the time. If I can't see them, I probably wouldn't hear them anyway. I noticed he seemed to be jumping up and down a few hundred Hz picking out stations. I followed as best I could and finally got a WW? from him, repeated my call and got him for that much wanted new prefix. It took about 15 minutes of my time, but the satisfaction and the new prefix made the wait worthwhile.

Of course there were the stations who would call right on his frequency instead of UP. That was by no means the fault of the CR60P op as he sent UP after just about every QSO. Perhaps some folks thought his call was CR60PUP although there was an accurate separation between CR60P and UP. Or perhaps they don't know how to operate split. Or...... who knows? It's very annoying especially if they are strong and override the DX. Anyway the streak lives and I got a new prefix plus some numbers/letters for the May NAQCC European Chapter challenge as well. I'm about 70% done with the challenge, so I may make it this month especially if I put in a little effort to do so. -30-



Tuesday, May 17, 2016 8:37 PM - One of those days that seemed busy, but not really a lot accomplished. HI. I did get in some walking and shopping. Also busy arranging things for our NAQCC WPA Chapter activities in the coming months.

I did have one interesting thing happen. While I was walking Roscoe, a biker on the nearby Rails to Trails turned off and headed up my way. Actually I didn't see him coming because my back was turned the other way and didn't hear him till he got close. He asked me if a certain house was the one that a certain lady who passed away lived in. I showed him the house, then we got to talking and it turned out that he and I played together as kids some 60+ years ago. He lived just up the street from me way back then. We reminisced for about 10 minutes about the old neighbors who are no longer with us, and so on. Wish we could have talked longer, but he seemed in a hurry to be on his way.

After chasing CR60P unsuccessfully (darn, would really have liked that prefix) on 20 meters until he just vanished, I looked around for other DX and found YV5IUA on 30 meters. I waited through perhaps a half dozen other QSOs before it became my turn. So that extended the streak another day. In between I heard another station on 40 with a pileup, but it turned out to be WU1ITU/4 so I passed him by. However after the YV5IUA QSO I thought I'd go back to 40 and try to work him. I did, and it took only a single call as his pileup seemed depleted then. -30-



Monday, May 16, 2016 8:46 PM - Strange conditions on the bands again this evening. Had a very tough time working OK1CF on 30 when I usually work him easily. Took several repeats for him to get my call, but it was finally a good QSO that extended the DX streak another day. Then went to 40 and called CQ - got answered by VA3YG who was S9+ and gave me a 589. Then after our first round, the path just died and he was down in my S4 noise and never came back up. I've had a few QSOs just like that the past few weeks as conditions are very unstable at times.

The usual Monday things here like laundry. I mailed one of our NAQCC prizes while the clothes were in the dryer. I did a little shopping and took a couple walks.

One of my projects lately is re-doing my sundial I built a couple years ago. It was kind of weatherbeaten after being out in all kinds of weather those couple years.

That pretty much covers the day. -30-



Sunday, May 15, 2016 7:50 PM - Mike arrived around noon today and we spent an enjoyable 6 or so hours together. Nothing really ham radio related except a 15 minute or so check of the bands around 1900Z. The reason it was only 15 minutes was the bands were pretty much dead at least as far as DX goes. One weak LZ station was about it, and he was much to weak to work, let alone copy well.

We watched some woodworking videos and also several Our Gang videos. The main project was cutting some ceiling tile so Mike could do some replacement at his home. Then he helped me put some cages around my pepper and tomato plants so I could cover them against frost tonight. I just finished the covering so hopefully they can ride out the frost tonight. A little computer work also filled out some of the time.

What's that? I didn't mention eating. Well, we did with a 12 inch sub apiece from Subway. Oh, and some discussion of our upcoming summer projects also was done. It's going to be a busy summer for us. Hope the weather cooperates.

Well, time now to head to the shack for my streak QSO(s). Hope conditions are better than this afternoon. -30-



Saturday, May 14, 2016 8:34 PM - Australia on 30 meters. Seems to be a good May path between here and there. Let me check my log. Well, actually May and June. Of 4 VK QSOs on 30, three came in may and June. Or to update that actually - of 5 now, 4 came in May and June. This was the first VK3 though. Others were all VK6 from near Perth. Let me see where VK3CWB is located. Mildura in Victoria. So that's what he was sending. I had a burst of QRN here and copied "MIL" but missed the rest. Actually I think he copied me better overall than I copied him. Anyway I'm glad I checked 30 after getting my streak QSO from CT9/DL5AXX in the CQM contest on 20 meters. Always nice to work Australia and New Zealand from that part of the world which is about as far from here as it gets, especially the Perth stations.

Despite those two QSOs though, I was disappointed again in not getting Asia on 40 meters. 5B4AMM in Cyprus just wasn't hearing me at all. Never even got a question mark from him. Maybe later tonight I'll get him or some other Asian (should be some Asiatic Russians in the CQM contest on 40) to get that monkey off my back and finish 40M WAC at last.

Not much else going on worth talking about today. We had showers off and on all day. Never did leave the house except to walk Roscoe in between raindrops.

Mike will be paying a visit tomorrow so that should provide more to write about.

Oh, I did post my new poll question today about portable operation. Hope you'll cast your vote. Also check out the final results from the poll about clubs that just ended. -30-



Friday, May 13, 2016 8:49 PM - Another nice day today with a high in the low 70s and plenty of sunshine so a lot of time was spent outdoors walking and just sitting on the porch trying out the new rocking lawn chair. Also on the swing next door with Roscoe. These are the kind of days we expect in May, not the damp cool rainy ones we've had most of the month so far.

Tonight the DX was the same station, different band. Yes, YU4DX this time on 20 meters which was good to Europe and Africa with many stations taking advantage. Both EA1DR and CT9/DL5AXX were fielding call after call. I couldn't squeeze my call in edgewise to them although YU4DX was very easy. -30-



Thursday, May 12, 2016 8:34 PM - A pretty decent day today. Only one brief shower this afternoon. I got in some nice walks around that shower. We had a high of 84 and the humidity made it seem even warmer. Felt good after all the cool damp weather of late.

I did some shopping at the Ol' Station Marketplace. I picked up a nice rocking lawn chair for my front porch. Also a nice little battery powered vacuum cleaner for cleaning keyboards and the like. Then topped that off with a jigsaw puzzle with a picture of an old railroad. All for $6.36 cents.

30 meters was in great shape to Europe this evening. I pretty easily worked YU4DX and OM3SEM which gave me about 10 or so letters/numbers towards this month's NAQCC European Chapter challenge. And of course extended the DX streak to 1,170 days. -30-



Wednesday, May 11, 2016 5:56 PM - I thought I better get this written early because I'll be going to the computer club shortly. After that it will be right into our NAQCC sprint. Then maybe after it ends, I can get some first stage log cross-checking done before bedtime. Also I'll try to get my DX QSO either right before the sprint or sometime after it. If not, then in the morning or afternoon.

Today was another kind of busy day. I took care of the monthly updating of both of my computers - desktop with Windows 7 and laptop with Windows 10. Also it was my month to update the computer club computer which has Windows 8.1. So I did a variety of updating. When I do the Microsoft updates, I also like to make sure all third-party software gets updated also. I also run virus and malware checks with Windows Defender and Malware Bytes Anti-Malware.

I also took advantage of the time the updates were running to take care of my second half of the month bills a little early since they were all here. -30-



Tuesday, May 10, 2016 8:31 PM - Not much out of the ordinary today after the exciting day yesterday. Band conditions seemed pretty good this evening, but not much heard in the way of DX. I did manage to find and work S57V on 30 meters though. That continued the DX streak at 1,168 days now. As far as the big streak goes, if all goes well, I'll be hitting 8,000 days in that one in 49 days now.

Tomorrow evening will be a busy one with both a computer club meeting and our NAQCC sprint. So maybe I'll have to write my diary entry early tomorrow. -30-



Monday, May 09, 2016 3:09 PM - It got quite a bit of coverage in the regular press, the Internet, magazines, etc., so I'm sure a lot of folks knew about the transit of Mercury today. Just a brief description here should suffice. A transit is a term used when one object passes in front of another object. In this case it was Mercury passing in front of the sun. In Mercury's case, it makes the passage on average just thirteen times each century or about every eight years although the interval varies widely from about 3.5 years to 13 years. Mercury transits occur currently only in the months of May and November. The solar system dynamics of the transits of Mercury are very complex and interesting. An excellent description can be found here for those who want to know more about them.

Although rare, transits of Mercury are nowhere near as rare as those of Venus. The last one visible here was June 6, 2012. Mike KC2EGL and I were fortunate enough to view that one as the clouds parted just long enough to observe it for a few minutes before sunset. Had we missed it, we would never have a chance to see it again since the next one is December 11, 2117, over 100 years in the future. Transits of Venus are separated by this pattern of years - 8 + 105.5 + 8 + 121.5. In other words a pair separated by eight years every 100 plus years.

By contrast, the next two transits of Mercury will be November 11, 2019, then November 13, 2032. Still quite a separation which is why I really wanted to catch today's if possible. It has been very cloudy and rainy during May so far, but each outlook the past several days pointed to a break in that pattern with sunny skies on the 9th. As it drew closer the outlook and finally the forecast continued to point to clear skies at least during the morning of the 9th.

The transit started around 7:15AM EDT with our sunrise above the hills to the east coming around 7:30 or so. I set my alarm for then, but when I awoke and looked out, there was a pretty solid layer of high clouds. I went back to bed and snoozed for about 20 more minutes. A check then showed it was getting a bit brighter so I got up, and set up my scope for viewing at first between houses, then later in my back yard as shown here with the homebrew little projection screen on which the sun image was projected.
pix_diary_20160509_001 (123K)


At first and for quite some time thereafter all I was seeing were clouds passing in front of the sun as shown here.
pix_diary_20160509_002 (143K)


There were some patches of sky with only a few high thin clouds, but they seemed to be avoiding the area of the sun. It was really becoming discouraging. I promised to email Mike with any info on the transit. As mentioned in yesterday's entry, he was notified almost at the last minute that he had to work today and would miss the transit since his work starts at 7:45AM. The first email I sent said something like "So far, NO good and the satellite views all seem to indicate increasing clouds."

Despite the satellites though, things did seem to change not long after I sent that email, and finally I could see the big sunspot that we spotted yesterday, but still no sign of the smaller Mercury or maybe just a faint spot through the clouds as seen here.
pix_diary_20160509_003 (83K)


Number 1 is the sunspot, # 2 Mercury, # 3 just a spot on the telescope eyepiece.

The cloud cover kept varying and I kept running indoors when it got dark, then back out again as it would brighten up. It pretty much continued that way until well after 9AM. Bruce had been very interested in the transit and I was hoping he could see it. However when he got home from his school bus run, it was still quite cloudy, and he only had a short time between runs and another errand. With the outlook still dismal, I decided to take care of walking and feeding Roscoe. While doing that, it got brighter so I would run out and check the scope, find still pretty much nothing, and get back to Roscoe.

Finally the clouds did disperse after Roscoe was taken care of and Bruce left. Previously I had gotten some definite quick views of Mercury, but never could get a good picture since it would disappear so quickly. This time I was able to get a couple fairly good pictures as shown here side by side. The number notation is the same as above.
pix_diary_20160509_004 (76K)pix_diary_20160509_005 (90K)


Notice how round Mercury is compared to the irregular shape of the sunspot.

All in all a very exciting day for me to finally observe a transit of Mercury and complete the double of Venus and Mercury transits. I had tried for Mercury a couple times before only to lose out to cloudiness or fog for one early morning transit either of Mercury or perhaps that was the Venus transit of 2004 that was fogged out.

My well over 50 year old Celestron 4" telescope still performs well after all those years. You may notice the tape on the tube in the first picture. The scope did suffer a couple of accidents in the past, but even despite that, it works well. As you see, it does have an equatorial mount which can be polar aligned enabling following of objects by rotation around one axis. No motor drive nor goto features as with modern scopes, but in my opinion it's a lot more fun to use that way. You really have to know your way around the sky with a scope like that. Of course if you want to just view a lot of objects in a short time, the new goto scopes are much better for that.

Still about four hours till streak time. I have no idea if the bands have improved from the storminess of yesterday, but I will find out at 0000Z or so. -30-



Sunday, May 08, 2016 8:24 PM - One big disappointment today, but otherwise a good day. The postal union took away Mike's day off tomorrow and forced him to work. So he'll miss the transit of Mercury. That really stinks, and he was very unhappy with the union. It had been arranged about six weeks ago that he would have the day off, but the union called him Thursday night with the bad news. There's a lot more I'd like to say about that, but I won't other than to say I'm glad in all the years I worked, I didn't have to deal with any unions.

Nonetheless Mike and I spent today together, and had a good time. We got a chance to eat at our favorite Ponderosa restaurant. Of course the one here in Kittanning closed a few months ago, but the one in Butler is still open so we went there to partake of the buffet. When we got home, we went to the shack to do some rig checking. I won't go into the details of that right now. Then we went for a 2+ mile walk to "walk off all the food we had at Ponderosa." Then Mike played a hidden object game on the computer. After that, he had to head home to prepare for an unexpected work day tomorrow.

Also while he was here, we checked out his astronomy binoculars with the solar filters which he is leaving here so as he put it, "at least one of us can enjoy the transit." We also checked out the projection screen on my 4 inch telescope to be sure it was working OK. It showed one small sunspot which is probably about the size Mercury will be. So that should work tomorrow.

When we looked at the propagation info this afternoon, it showed some major geomagnetic storming which made me wonder if I would be able to get my DX streak QSO this evening. Well, the bands were pretty dead when I tuned in at 0000Z. I did work special event station K4T on 40 meters for my regular streak QSO. Then I heard HT7AAA on 30 meters, and called him. I wasn't positive he got my call right although the timing was good and I did hear K3 and WP in the exchange. Not being completely happy with that, I continued to search and found PV8ADI booming in on 40 and did work him solidly with a single call. So now I can concentrate on the transit tomorrow without having to worry about getting my DX QSO. -30-



Saturday, May 07, 2016 8:41 PM - A quieter day today compared to yesterday's activities. Basically just a couple things going on. I helped Bruce with some computer work, and helped Ange get his beans planted. Then a little more work on my telescope for Monday's transit of Mercury. That was about it.

Of course with the ARI DX Contest going on, it was easy to get my DX streak QSO this evening right at 0000Z. I listened to IK0YUT from 2359 until 0000, then called as soon as the 0000Z came up on the clock. He wasn't getting any answers so I didn't have any competition and he heard me the first call, but it took a few repeats for him to get my full correct call, then several repeats to get my contest exchange. So that's 1,165 days now for the DX streak. -30-



Friday, May 06, 2016 8:49 PM - A busy day today, and unlike some so called busy days, I actually got a lot accomplished. It started off just after I got up this morning. The first thing was helping Bruce take Roscoe for a haircut, nail trimming, and bath at the groomers. While we waited for the groomer to finish we went to Myrt's for breakfast. I've mentioned Myrt's a couple times before. It's a great little roadside restaurant that serves great breakfasts. They also have lunches, but then close at 3 o'clock.

Then we picked up Roscoe, and Bruce got him an ice cream cone for a treat for being good at the groomers which he always is. I fed Roscoe the cone as Bruce drove us home. I guess that's the first time ever I've served an ice cream cone to a dog. He sure enjoyed it and after a bit of a slow start, he ate all the ice cream down to the bottom of the cone, but didn't eat the cone. We thought maybe he didn't realize the cone was for eating too. HI.

When we got home, it was pretty nice outside, so I planted out my peppers and tomatoes, and gave everything including my roses a good watering. Now I think I may plant some lettuce, bush beans, and peas. I haven't decided for sure yet.

Next up I worked on my little 4 inch telescope getting it ready for the Mercury transit on Monday. I made a projection screen from an old coat hanger. I had one before for the Venus transit (not the one Mike and I saw, but the one before that), but couldn't remember where I had put it.

Then I changed some indoor plants around a bit, since planting out my vegetables freed up a nice little stand on which I put two of my bigger plants.

Not done yet, I replaced the throw rug on which my computer sits. The old one was getting pretty ratty looking. Wouldn't you know it, while looking for the rug, I found my telescope projection screen. So now I have two of them.

It was a bit of a rough evening for ham radio. I heard quite a few stations, but they weren't hearing me. I couldn't even get a regular QSO from my CQs. After about a half hour though, I found TM5FI on 14020 and worked him although he wasn't much more than S5 here. It took only a single call. He was on IOTA EU095. I'm not sure what island that is, but perhaps one with a very low noise level that allowed him to copy me so easily when all the other stations couldn't.

That sums up my day except for getting my temperature readings and taking Roscoe out for his last walk of the day. -30-



Thursday, May 05, 2016 8:34 PM - Not a lot going on today. I visited the Ol' Station Marketplace and bought a couple clamps, a small tool kit, and a video cassette. Then I did a little tweaking of my KX3/PX3 mount I described yesterday. I added a couple of thin felt feet so it would sit a little more steady on my 50 year old homebrew shelf on which my station has rested all those years. It has developed a little bit of a warp, which I fixed with another board, some glue, clamps, and screws. So with that and the feet, the mount is rock steady now. It also will make it nice to go portable this year and to the Butler and Skyview hamfests.

Other than that, just a little shopping, walking Roscoe 3 times with a 4th yet to go, eating, a couple quick check of the bands used up most of the day. The band checks didn't show much in the way of activity around 1600 and 2100Z or so.

This evening showed 20 meters open again to Europe with strong signals from OP0PPY like last night and OE5MSM who was busy ragchewing, then went QRT for a sked on another band. There were also a couple KP4s working each other. So 20 didn't yield anything. I did have a QSO with HT7AAA on 30 meters, but then had a good one on 40. I worked R7AA there. I don't work all that many Russians on 40, especially outside contests. Well, I'm curious now. Let me just check and see. Won't take but a minute with my Microsoft Access log. OK, R7AA tonight was just my 6th Russian on 40 (R7AA, RU1A, RT5Z, RT6A, RW7K, R55CPK) - all but R7AA and R55CPK in contests. It took a few repeats to get the QSO, but as with most all Russians, once they hook onto you, they fight until they land you, to put it in fishing terms. HI.

Speaking of fishing, I've only gone twice so far and am still shut out so far. The river has been high, and the weather not all that great. So far, March has had the best weather this year. April had some nice days, but not consistent. May has been pretty much a rainy month so far. -30-



Wednesday, May 04, 2016 3:25 PM - I finished my new KX3/PX3 support stand today and thought I'd present some pictures here. It didn't cost me a cent as it was made entirely from my wood 'junk box'. In fact I was actually 'rewarded' for making it by the enjoyment I got designing and building it.

Here it is holding the KX3 and PX3 and then just the KX3.
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Here are three different views showing the construction. Note the big gap in the bottom support of the KX3 which is for plugging in my straight key/bug connector to the little jack that was designed for the mini-KX3 paddle which I don't use here. Also note the 25 small holes in a square pattern. That is an opening for the sound from the built in KX3 speaker.
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If anyone by any remote chance would like to duplicate it, I will take the time to draw up a set of plans. Mainy it was just done because of a recent surge in my interest in woodworking. There was one improvement over my previous stand. The KX3 is now a bit more upright and the tuning knob doesn't block the lower right corner of the readout like the previous one did. I may paint it or just leave the wood natural. I haven't decided yet. -30-



Tuesday, May 03, 2016 9:26 PM - I spent over an hour trying to get my DX QSO this evening. Conditions were very borderline. The stations were there, but not quite hearing me well enough to complete a QSO. I wasn't sure about working 4A1DX on 30, so I didn't log him. He sent K3WWP?, I sent R R R, then he sent something sloppy I couldn't copy, and went on to call CQ again. Then I did work PV8ADI later on 40 meters. A very rough night. Very slowly, conditions are slipping toward that upcoming sunspot minimum. Once again I have my doubts as to how long I'll be able to keep the DX streak going. I think I'll have to start exploring the bands during the morning and afternoon hours and see if things might be better then. -30-



Monday, May 02, 2016 8:54 PM - The bands continue to act crazy. I was working Dave WV8DH down in WV, and he went from a solid S9 right down to nothing in just a few seconds and never came back up again. Before we had our QSO, my DX came from HT7AAA on 20 meters with a single call.

We had a really heavy thunderstorm during the night around 5AM. Not a damaging one, just one who wanted to get everyone's attention with an almost constant display of LOUD thunder and a few minutes of VERY heavy rain. I seldom hear rain that heavy. Good thing the whole storm didn't last but about 10-15 minutes at most.

Most of the daytime hours were dry for a change, but there is a lite shower right now which I guess will try to get me wet as I go out to get my temperature reading. Incidentally, April was almost normal as far as temperatures go compared to the wild swings of the past several months now. It was just 0.8 degrees above normal. -30-



Sunday, May 01, 2016 8:14 PM - Fifty years ago tomorrow - May 2, 1966, the first ever session of the CW County Hunters Net was held. As NCS, I called the session to order at 1700Z, and the first QNI one minute later was Irene WA9EZP. Then Dave WA8EOH, the co-founder of the net with me, checked in. Emil WA2JIA followed next. Then Van K3ZMI whom I mentioned a few diary entries ago. Finally WB2MXJ dropped by quickly. I never even got his name. That concluded CW CHN session #1. A very humble beginning to what it has grown to become during the past 50 years. Should you be interested in "the rest of the story" of the CW CHN infant years, just click the CTY HUNTING link in the menu at the top of the page.

That episode of my ham radio history was a very exciting and rewarding one. Unlike other hunters though, I have never completed the quest to work all 3077 USA counties. I left ham radio to pursue a career and was even off the air for several years while doing so. I still keep track of counties worked, but don't actively pursue them via the net, state QSO parties, or other county related activities. I just check someone's county when I work them, and add them to my list if it's a new one. Currently I have 2,246 worked overall including when I ran more than 5 watts back in the 60s and early 70s. At 5 watts or less, I have 1,893 worked.

Back to the present now. Surprisingly my DX QSO came on 17 meters this evening as both 17 and 15 were open past sunset here. I didn't check 12 or 10. Two Chile stations were s8 on 17, and CE2AWW didn't hear me, but CE2MVF got me with just a single repeat of my call. -30-



4/30/2016 8:12 PM - Well, here it is another month, at least right now as of UTC. So my usual end of month, first of month chores started today. I took my gas meter reading. Used a bit more gas than normal because we had quite a few chilly days in April. Either after I finish typing this or tomorrow morning, I'll do all my financial chores. No hurry there as the bank won't be open till Monday. I uploaded all my April QSOs to LoTW and eQSL. I made only 121 QSOs during the month. I'll make up for that in May with the CQWW WPX contest the last weekend of the month. Of course all 5 of my calendars need pages flipped over to May. I'll do that in a little bit. I updated my streak totals on the main page of the web site. Those and some other things are what I do when the months change here.

Not an end of month thing, but this morning I helped Ange resurrect the fig trees for another year. They almost really didn't need buried this winter since it was so mild. But there were a few days that could have done some damage. We also cleaned up a lot of branches and mended a fence post. He has to wait to put out his plants since the garden is so large. I can put mine out earlier because my garden is small enough that I can just cover all the plants should a late frost come along. Still I'll wait another week or so to put out the rest of my peppers and the tomatoes. I did plant the bean seeds as I mentioned in a previous entry.

A quick DX QSO this evening to start another month of the DX streak. It was CO8ZZ on 30 meters with a fairly easy QSO.

OK, now I'll close and go change the calendar pages, etc. -30-



Friday, April 29, 2016 8:13 PM - I hope IK2DAD wasn't confused. I worked him on 30 meters and when we finished Chas K3WW called him and worked him. HI Gio is a good op and as I was telling WB3FAE who worked him last night, I often work him when he is just at or below S4 or S5 here and flirting with my noise. Tonight I had a bit of trouble copying him, but he seemed to copy me OK. I did have to repeat my call once.

I wanted to get a quick DX streak QSO. That's why I tried him, even though it hasn't been too long since we worked on 30 meters. But also because that was my 30th QSO on 30 meters this month. So as I mentioned in the previous entry, that earns me the NAQCC 30-30 award.

It was another dreary day today with light rain or drizzle and a high of, let's see, just 54. Tomorrow might be a bit better at least until late afternoon when more rain should arrive.

My around 50 year old shack chair wound up with a cracked rung today, so I just finished repairs on it. Now it should be good for another 50, even though I won't be. HI.

OK, now to get off my 30-30 application. -30-



Thursday, April 28, 2016 9:04 PM - This was just not a very nice day. Rain most of the day and temperatures in the 40s - BRRRR! More like mid-March than late April.

Another 0000Z DX QSO this evening. I tuned around a bit a couple minutes before 00Z, and just a few seconds after it turned to 0000, I found and worked Rey CO6RD on 20 meters.

I've had quite a few QSOs on 30 meters this month and thought I'd go for another of our NAQCC 30-30 awards which you earn by making 30 QSOs on 30 meters in a calendar month. After working W9RDB this evening on 30, I have 27 this month, so I think I'll go for the 30 the next couple days. Shouldn't be hard to make it.

Mike and I had a good time last night. He arrived and just before we had our pizza, he took a shot at working S01WS, but conditions had changed in the half hour since I worked him, and he was weaker and a little busier, and then he kind of abruptly QRT, perhaps upset with the QRM on his frequency. So Mike didn't get him.

I told Mike to surprise me with the pizza toppings, and it was a pleasant surprise. Onions, tomatoes, sausage, and mushrooms. Mmmmm, I'm getting hungry again just thinking about it. After we finished that, we did some preliminary work on a new NAQCC banner that we are getting made up for use at hamfests, etc. It's the same design as our current one which was made for us by KA2KGP and N2COD several years ago. That one is showing signs of wear after all that time. We'll unveil it at the Breezeshooters Hamfest in Butler, PA on June 5.

That finished, Mike played a hidden object game until he had to head home around 11PM or so. He is off again on Thursdays now, so he could stay later. -30-



Wednesday, April 27, 2016 8:15 PM - Waiting for Mike to arrive for a visit, so may have to pause in this entry or cut it short.

Worked a couple DX stations this evening within 3 minutes. FY5KE on 30 meters. Then S01WS on 40 meters for a new band entity. S01WS was surprisingly easy. A case of him copying me easier than vice versa. Didn't copy well enough to know he came back to me, but then he repeated my call for solid copy here. As Tom WB3FAE and I were saying, I seem to have a good pipeline into northwest Africa as it seems to be easy to work that part of the world. Also I have a couple other pipelines, one to Hawaii, and one to Asiatic Russia. I don't really understand why, but I'll accept them no questions asked. HI. Just wish the Asiatic Russia one would work on 40 instead of just the higher bands so I could finally finish 40M WAC.

Well, guess I'll just close now and wait for Mike. -30-



Tuesday, April 26, 2016 8:40 PM - Another somewhat busy day today. I went to vote this morning. Did some more grass pulling from the bricks. A little more work on the fishing pole holder.

After waiting till the 0400Z hour last night to get my DX, tonight I again got back to the 00Z hour. I tried an EI station on 30, but man was he popular, and not turning over the QSOs all that fast. Seemed to be having trouble pulling stations out of the pileup he developed. I didn't know Ireland was so rare on 30. Then I tried a CE on 20 with no success. Then I settled for my regular streak QSO by having W1AAF answer my 30M CQ. While in QSO with him, I heard CN8KD very weak in the background. I didn't think I'd be able to get him, so after I finished with W1AAF, I looked elsewhere, but then a little later, CN8KD's signal was up nicely, so I tried and worked him. So the DX streak goes on.

I'm looking forward to a visit from Mike tomorrow evening. We'll be having a pizza and then see what else we can get into. -30-



Monday, April 25, 2016 8:53 PM - A busy day today and still getting caught up on a few things, so let's see how fast I can type this.

Spent part of the morning waiting for a repairman to tweak my new refrigerator. The doors weren't closing quite right. He came and they're fixed now.

Stopped by Honey Bear after a walk and bought a dozen nightcrawlers. Then went fishing for about an hour. I improved one notch over the last time I went with Denny. Then not a single bite. Today I at least got a bite. So maybe things will continue to improve and the next time I'll actually catch a fish.

Back home again for my mid-afternoon meal, then decided to plant out half my pepper plants since the weather is so nice and looks to continue that way. I also planted my speckled bean seeds. Then I deadheaded my tulips since the flowers were well past their early peak.

Some walking and shopping, then I worked on my hombrew fishing pole stand again.

Tonight is another nail biter as to whether this will be the day the DX streak ends. Only heard a weak LZ who wasn't hearing me, and then a PY who called a brief CQ, then vanished. So back to the bands later tonight or tomorrow morning or afternoon to try to keep the streak alive. That's the first time in a while now I haven't gotten my DX in the 0000Z hour.

OK, typed that in seven minutes. Now to do the propagation and index pages and then get my temperature readings before going next door to watch some TV with Bruce and take Roscoe for his last walk of the day. -30-



Sunday, April 24, 2016 8:52 PM - Once again it doesn't get any quicker. A single call to 9Y/K2HVN at 0000Z and the DX streak continues at 1,152 days.

A busy day today. First I took Bruce's VCR apart and gave it a good cleaning. The tracking had been skipping all over the place. In a brief check after cleaning, it seems OK now. We'll see further.

Next I pulled some more grass from between the sidewalk bricks. I'm getting it early this year. Last year, I let it go way too long before the first pulling.

Then some work on my homebrew fishing pole holder which had suffered a bit from years of use.

I also got in some walks and shopping. Of course my daily walks with Roscoe also.

I got an interesting email from one of our very early CW County Hunter Net participants and NCS today, Van (then) K3ZMI. I'd like to share it here as the 50th anniversary of our founding of the CW CHN approaches (May 2).

"That is right! CW County Hunters Net turns 50 years on May 2, 2016!

K3WWP - John -co-founder has this link that describes in great detail about the first 2 years of the fledgling CW CH Net:
Link also available at countyhunter.com - go to CW Operators tab and then dropdown menu History.
http://home.windstream.net/johnshan/ctyhunting_ss_chn.html
A 2nd link shows how the CW CH contest was the idea of the other co-founder WA8EOH:
http://home.windstream.net/johnshan/ctyhunting_ss_test.html

My recollections of those 1st days:
Paul W8CXS put out a new county in MI Parks every Saturday morning with plenty of callers for a new county and stimulated Saturday CW county hunting, I think.
John K3WWP and Dave WA8EOH had been discussing a County Hunting Net operation.
I learned of this in a QSO on 4-18-66 with K3WWP and encouraged that he continue with the plan.
I got a postcard in the mail from John that he would call the first net session on May 2, 1966.
In the mean time I'd been monitoring & checking into the traffic handling net for Maryland & Delaware (MDD) with one of the NCS Andy K3JYZ later W3XE.
The big day came on Monday May 2, 1966 on 40M CW 7035.
I scurried home from High School and checked into the 1st ever CW County Hunter Net session run by K3WWP at 1854Z and stayed on until 1958Z.
The next 3 days WA8EOH was NCS, along with K3WWP with much later sessions. I think he began about 2300Z. Somewhere in those first 3 days, I volunteered to be NCS for the 1st ever Saturday session for May 7th, 1966 1400Z
So, loosely based on traffic handling, I asked for QNI and just called "CQ County Hunter Net All Welcome". A few check-ins was all.
2nd weekend 1430Z had 16 check-ins and several visitors handed out their counties.
It was a fun summer being NCS on Saturdays, participation grew, until I went off to college.
CW mobile was almost non-existent, so everyone was encouraged to bring stations to the net to give out their county, along with my solicitations with All Welcome.
Amazingly enough, many youngsters and young adults, way back in the 60's and early 70's that were interested in CW county hunting are still around today.
Here is a few that come to mind, sorry if I missed you
K0DEQ, W9MSE ex-K0WNV, W8WVU, W0GXQ, W3DYA, N9QS, WB2ABD, K8IW ex WA8JDW, K1BV ex K1GUD.
John K3WWP moved on from County Hunting to CW QRP and "The Streak" among other "All CW" activities and remains very active daily. Explore his website.
This "County Hunting" thing has been a thread on & off in my life, I've enjoyed it immensely, co-existing along with many of my other interests.
We have a come a long ways since those humble beginnings!!
73 & GH
Van
WC5D ex-KL7HNN & K3ZMI
USA-CA 1092 All CW #71"

I'm guessing from the sound of it, the email is a copy of a posting that Van made somewhere.

Like so many other things in the past, it seems hard to believe it has been that long ago that Dave and I started the CW CHN. Dave WA8EOH lives in CA now according to the callbook. I've tried unsuccessfully to get in touch with him a few times over the past several years. I think I'll try again as the 50th anniversay aproaches. -30-



Saturday, April 23, 2016 8:19 PM - Easy and pretty quick DX this evening. TZ4AM on 10.104 listening up 1. Took just a couple calls to get him in the log. First Mali I've worked since 2/18/2001 and only the third overall. One was on 30 also so no new band entity, but my first TZ4 prefix. Others were TZ6.

Took a while to develop, but it turned out to be a pretty nice day by mid afternoon after being a bit chilly, cloudy, and breezy earlier.

I helped Bruce fix up that wooden armchair he bought for a buck a couple days ago. As you know, I love woodworking so I enjoyed that chance to put my woodworking to a useful purpose. Now he's got a good solid sturdy chair to sit on.

Not a whole lot else happened today other than the usual run of the mill things. Looks like it's very clear right now, so I'll have to go see if I can add another day of seeing Mercury. Maybe for the last time before May 9th when Mike and I hope to observe it transiting the sun on that day. Sure hope it is clear then as I think if I remember right, the next Mercury transit isn't until 2019 and I'm not sure if that one is visible from here or not. Looking at Wikipedia, it looks like only the end portion of that one can be seen in the eastern USA. At the very least I hope we'll luck out on the 9th as we did with the transit of Venus in 2012 when the skies cleared up enough for us to get a clear view of it for several minutes. That's something I won't forget as I know I won't see the next Venus transit since it won't happen until the 22nd century - something like 2117. Yes, 2117 and 2125 are the next pair of Venus transits. -30-



Friday, April 22, 2016 8:48 PM - I think I'll make this mostly a picture entry as I haven't posted many pictures of late. First a couple of other things. I made my 2016 fishing debut today as Denny came to the door and asked if I wanted to go fishing. I hesitated at first because I had a couple other things planned, but quickly changed my mind. So as soon as I walked Roscoe we headed to the creek and sat there for an hour and five minutes watching our poles move not one tiny bit. There was a big carp swimming around taunting us, but he apparently wasn't hungry.

Surprise! My DX tonight was from Europe. Outiside of a couple contest QSOs, that was only the fourth European I've worked in April. Not only worked, but had a nice 8 minute chat with Mike OE5MSM with solid copy both ways.

OK, now let's see what I have in the way of pictures. First a couple of key pictures. The NAQCC is getting a new banner made up for our parkpeditions, hamfests, etc. and Mike (KC2EGL) wanted a couple of key pictures for the banner, so I sent him these and might as well show them here. They are my Begali Blade straight key and Begali Magnetic Classic paddle showing a bit of wear and a little dust after a few years of use. Probably should have dusted them off, but I didn't think of it at the time.

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And here are some pictures of two small peppers on my plants. I pollinated the flowers with Q tips and a couple of them took so far. I didn't do that great a job of photography though with one hidden by a leaf and an out of focus picture of each.

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Now my tomato plants and a dandelion given to me by a little neighborhood girl about 5 years old. She called it a sunflower. Almost looks like one in a way.

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Now my tulips. They didn't quite make it for Easter this year, but look nice nonetheless.

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And that pretty much covers my recent pictures. I haven't been taking as many lately as I used to when the camera was new. I guess I've sort of already taken pictures of all the fixed things around the house and in town. HI. -30-



Thursday, April 21, 2016 8:42 PM - Another not much happening day today. It was a nice walking day. In fact just about perfect in the upper 70s. I went out three times in addition to walking Roscoe three times. I also visited the Ol' Station Marketplace with Bruce. He bought a good solid wood armchair for a buck and I picked up a couple DVD movies for a buck apiece.

As far as ham radio, I only got on briefly for my DX streak this evening. I worked one of the old standby DX stations who seem to be there all the time on one band or another. It was Josh 6Y5WJ, this time on 30 meters.

I am kind of thinking the DX streak may come to an end sometime this year. Today's solar flux was just 77 as we continue to slip toward the next sunspot minimum. As I've often said, if it gets to be too time consuming, then I'll just let the streak come to an end. Not that it will probably become impossible to work DX with a setup like mine. It's just that I won't spend too overly much time searching for and working it. I'm sure than won't happen with the main streak as it is easy to work W/VE stations. I've proved that through the biggest part of two sunspot minimums when I didn't miss a beat despite solar flux bottoming out in the low 60s. And as you know, that never involved making any skeds or checking into nets to keep the streak going. In other words no pre-arranged QSOs of any kind. Oh, I did use contests quite a few times, but those were not pre-arranged QSOs. Oh, and absolutely no use of spotting of any kind. I have just either called CQ or tuned around to find someone else calling CQ. A very few times I may have tailended someone as they were ending a QSO, but that was extremely seldom. I point all that out just to say that you don't have to go to any kind of extremes to regularly make QSOs with your QRP and simple antennas if you use CW.

Oh, we actually saw rain today after over a week of Atacama Desert type dry weather. That was just a little while ago this evening. Just checking my spelling of Atacama and I see this statement in the Wikipedia article - "Evidence suggests that the Atacama may not have had any significant rainfall from 1570 to 1971." I don't know why the cutoff year of 1971. Probably quoted from a book published that year. I've always been fascinated by meteorologically unique places like that. If you share that interest, the Wikipedia Atacama Desert article is very interesting. -30-



Wednesday, April 20, 2016 8:41 PM - The DX streak lives for another day (or two since what I said last night). Later after the diary entry last night I worked Alex HC2AO on 40 meters for day 1,147. Then a few minutes ago it was PV8ADI for day 1,148. Working PV8ADI is usually a strange experience. Either I'm never heard when I call him, or I get him on the first or second try. Tonight it was the latter.

It looks like another streak is coming to an end though. Our rainless streak. It's supposed to rain tomorrow as the omega block that had been providing us with lovely weather for over a week straight is breaking down and is going to allow some of that moisture that has been plaguing Texas and surrounding states to come up this way. We won't get the flooding though, just some showers for maybe an inch or so total the next couple days.

I haven't mentioned my tomatoes or peppers in a few days. The peppers are still growing like crazy with more flowers every couple of days now. My pollinating with Q tips worked with at least one flower as I have a tiny pepper growing now. The tomatoes are coming along also. I think if I look with a magnifier, one plant may finally be getting some tiny buds on it.

About weather checking time now, and I'll also see if I can make it 5 of 6 days to spot Mercury. Clouds are gathering but it was clear to the west when I was looking out the shack window a little while ago. -30-



Tuesday, April 19, 2016 9:04 PM - I got a lot of little things done today, but I'm not going to write about them here. Instead I'll only say that I just saw Mercury for the fourth out of the last five evenings. Probably the most I've ever seen that elusive little planet in any one apparation either morning or evening. Mainly that's due to the stretch of clear dry weather we've had. We haven't seen rain in over a week now. We've only seen a few scattered high clouds the past couple days. Before that just about perfectly clear skies for several days. Just looking at my humidity records from my AcuRite weather station. Each day of the past seven now, the minimum humidity has been 16%. I've never seen it go below 16% in the three years or so since I got the unit, so 16% is as low as it goes, I guess. The highest humidity in that same stretch has been 71% and generally most days get up in the 80s or 90s early each morning. Quite unusual weather, to say the least.

This is another of those "will this be the day my DX streak ends" days. I didn't hear a single DX station this evening, although I did hear others chasing/working DX I couldn't hear at all. So we'll see what happens later tonight, in the morning or afternoon. Hopefully one of those periods will yield a DX QSO. But if not, well all good things must come to an end, or so they say. I still have the regular big streak going thanks to a nice rag chew about gardening with Carl WB0CFF this evening from 0020 to 0049Z.

Just a couple notes about the subpedition and related matters. I received the complete log today from Ken N3CU. We made only 11 QSOs in the horrible conditions in just about 5 hours of steady operating. A note from John N8ZYA of the WVA Chapter said they had similar horrible conditions for their outing today. -30-



Monday, April 18, 2016 8:40 PM - Still another great mid-April day today. A high of let's see...84 again on my remote thermometer and right now it's 69. A few clouds gathered today though and ended the streak of beautiful clear blue skies and maybe my streak of seeing Mercury. I'll check in a few minutes.

It probably will turn cold again though since I put my screens in today to let in some of the warmth. And it might rain next week since my neighbor is on vacation and she says it always rains then.

An easy DX QSO tonight with HT7AAA whom I imagine is the same op as the one who did HT7C last year. Yes, it's YN4SU/TI4SU who is a super great operator. I can virtually be certain he will answer my call even though he may be just at my S4 or S5 noise level here.

I finished the sprint cross-checking of logs today. It's amazing (well not really) that every month someone seems to come up with a new error situation in their log that leaves me scratching my head for a while. I had about a half-dozen really perplexing QSOs this month, but I think I got them figured out correctly. If not, we always give a week after cross-checking for folks to question or appeal changes in their claimed scores. I think we're one of the few contests/sprints that do that. We want everything to be as near to 100% correct as possible.

I hoped to have a bit more news about our results from the sub yesterday, but I'm still awaiting a copy of the log. So instead of that, here are a couple pictures.

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The left picture shows Ken N3CU operating while Tom WB3FAE looks back at the camera. The right picture with downtown Pittsburgh in the background shows (L-R) Tom, me, Mike KC2EGL, and Ken getting ready to head for home hopefully beating the Pirates baseball traffic jam (which we all did).

It was nice to welcome Ken to his first NAQCC WPA Chapter activity. Hopefully he'll be joining us again in the future. -30-



Sunday, April 17, 2016 7:50 PM - The weather was excellent, like June 17 rather than April 17. The company (Mike, Tom, and Ken) was excellent. As always, Art WA3BKD was a gracious host at the Requin. It was great when Mike and had our lunch on one of the picnic tables at the Science Center. After the day was over, a great meal was had at Chili's in the Pittsburgh Mills. Back home Mike worked a couple DX stations which was great.

OK, those were the highlights of our subpedition. Other than those, it wasn't so great though.

When we were setting up to operate, 40 meters just wouldn't tune right with an SWR of 14-15:1. Finally it did get a bit better down to 1.5 to 1 or so, but the KX3 was still balking and wouldn't give us the full 5 watts output. That shouldn't have mattered, but something was wrong as we didn't get any answers on 40 between 1405 and 1430Z. So we then tried 20 which was working a little better, but still QSOs were hard to come by and when we did work someone, QSB took their signals on a roller coaster ride from maybe 569 to uncopyable down in the noise. One time a FL station went from S9+ to nothing in just a couple minutes. Things went like that for a full 5 hours. We wound up with around 10 QSOs or so, none very easy. I don't have the complete log here yet, but I remember QSOs with NM, TX, MO, AZ, FL, OK, and France. Later in the day Art took binoculars and looked up at the Requin's vertical antenna and noticed that one of the clamps did not look right. The Requin had recently been re-painted and he surmised the painters disturbed the antenna which accounted for the poor performance on 40 meters and the sub-optimal performance on the other bands. Hopefully he can work on the antenna and get it fixed for our next trip down there, possibly in June. Also in tuning across the bands, it was apparent that propagation was not very good on top of the antenna problem.

I'll have more to say about the subpedition tomorrow, but now it's time to go get my streak QSO(s) and then close out our NAQCC April sprint results. -30-



Saturday, April 16, 2016 8:43 PM - I just took a look at Mercury for the second evening in a row. If you've never spotted this elusive planet, tonight would be a good night to try if it is as clear where you are as it is here. Just look toward the WNW about 10-15 degrees up in the sky, and there it will be pretty much all alone in that part of the sky. It's around magnitude -0.2 so it's a little brighter than Rigel in Orion which is at 0.13.

I really wanted to get my DX streak QSO this evening, so I could relax on the subpedition to the Requin tomorrow. I did, working PP5KR in the MM contest, then also HC2GRC/P on IOTA SA-034 because I needed the G and R in his call for the NAQCC challenge. Now I need only a single letter 'I' to complete the April challenge. One letter in 15 days shouldn't be that hard to get, especially since it is not that rare in call signs.

Continued beautiful weather today - sunny in the upper 70s. So if you bet I spent a lot of time outside, you can collect your winnings. I took 2 medium walks and one long walk along with doing some shopping. Then in between I continued cleaning up the back yard. It's almost ready now for planting.

I think my pepper plants are aching to get outside. They have two fully opened flowers now and a lot of budding flowers. I've been trying to pollinate them with Q-tips. We'll see how that works out. The tomatoes are also coming along and they are about the same as last year at this stage which means mid to late June probably for the first ripe tomatoes. -30-