Sun Jun 25 2017 7:43PM - After operating about 17-18 hours of the 24 hours of Field Day, I'm pretty drained this evening. I'll just have a brief report of our FD here, and more in coming days.
As I emailed to our fellow NAQCC WPA Chapter members a little while ago:
"How did you do in FD everyone? I know some of you couldn't participate, but we'd like to know how those who could, fared.
Mike KC2EGL and I (K3WWP) operated portable from my front porch as a 2B entry. The weather was gorgeous and the bands were as well. 15 and 10 were surprising. They sounded like 40 at times on Sunday with very short skip. It's been some years since I worked states adjacent to PA on those two bands.
Here's a breakdown by band of our QSOs
80 - 3
40 - 246
20 - 107
15 - 96
10 - 39
Total 491 - just missed our goal of 500, but shattered the 288 the last time we operated from my porch in 2014
We totaled 44 states, 5 provinces, 2 DX
We missed KL7, KH6, ID, MT, ND, WY
We had a lot of fun." -30-
Sat Jun 24 2017 10:07AM - Getting close! Just under 4 hours now till the start of our FD operation. So I'll get the diary entry done now to save time for FD later in the day.
Somewhat appropriately we received a certificate in the mail today for another portable operation we did last year - The Skeeter Hunt. Here is a scan of it:
The operation also counted for a NPOTA activation for the trail that passes through Moraine State Park near Butler, PA. Ops were me, KC2EGL, and WB3FAE.
OK, now off to get something to eat and a little more FD preparation. -30-
Fri Jun 23 2017 8:59PM - In the battle of Canada vs. Cindy, so far at my QTH anyway Canada is the clear winner. The Canadian cold front pushed the remnants of Cindy south of Kittanning. Not by much, but enough that we missed the really bad weather that struck south of Armstrong Co. All we got here so far is about a half inch of rain. We might get a little more tonight, but I don't think very much. Then it should be very nice both Saturday and Sunday. To be continued in a couple minutes after I get my 9PM weather info.
Actually it was 0.32 inches of rain today so we made out even better than I estimated.
DX was rough this evening and I feared I may have trouble getting it and have to try to get it before FD tomorrow. I heard several good DX signals, but two were HC2AO and XE2I whom I just worked in the past couple days. Another XE I kept losing out to other stations. There was an HP engaging in very QRS rag chews. So on and on it went. I had heard YV5LAY in something called the BOC contest on 40 meters. I didn't know if I could work him or not. Finally I looked on the WA7BNM contest calendar and found BOC was an everyone work everyone contest so back to the shack. I called and it took a couple of repeats, but we exchanged the contest info and I had my streak QSO. Another Whew!! day. HI
I'm really looking forward to FD tomorrow. Mainly because I'll be doing it with Mike and it's always a lot of fun doing a multi-op contest. Usually when I look forward to a contest I don't do all that well. Hopefully that won't happen this weekend. -30-
Thu Jun 22 2017 10:24AM - OK, let me elaborate a bit more on yesterday's entry. After I took Roscoe out for his morning walk, I set up my FD station on my front porch to check everything out. After putting up the card table and adding the folding chair, I set up the rest of the things I would need for FD. Of course the KX3/PX3 combo with my big gel cell battery to power them through the power pole connectors. My Bencher paddle which is my choice for portable use. Headphones, paper log, pen. Earlier I ran an extension wire down from my attic random wire through a Pomona connector to the KX3. I later added a short ground stake just to see if it would make any difference. It didn't. The KX3 tuned the random wire to 1.1:1 or better on 80 through 10. I didn't try 160 or 60, but it will probably tune them as well. It was nice to have the new second set of ATU settings added in the last firmware update. I used the second set, and now I don't have to retune everything when I take the rig back indoors.
After setting up, I tuned around the bands. There wasn't much activity around that time of day (1600Z or so). I tried some CQs on various bands with no answers. Finally I answered W2SSX on 40 meters and had my first QSO. He gave me a 549 and he was about 579. Next it was KW7D on 20 meters. I was surprised to get a 589 from him and a solid few minutes QSO. I've worked Paul before and I know he gives accurate reports so I was pleased with that. I worked a couple more stations and then I decided I would operate our NAQCC mW sprint with the FD setup.
When evening came, I set up outside around 0000Z and thought I'd try to get my DX streak QSO before the sprint. It didn't take too long to work P43R on 30 meters to take care of that.
I had figured I'd just operate the first hour since I was just curious to get some more info on how the setup was performing. Also it would be time to take Roscoe out and also have some birthday cake with Roscoe's owner Bruce.
Instead of starting with CQs as I usually do, I did some S&P work instead. I tried K4BAI on 20, but lost out to other callers. I went to 40 and worked WB1GYZ who was a good S7. There wasn't much more on 40, so it was back to 20 where this time I did get John K4BAI. He was the only 20M station I was hearing. It always perplexes me how other stations can work 10, 15, 20 or so stations on 20 when I can only hear one or two. Yet I can easily work DX all around the world there.
Next it was back to 40 where things picked up after working 4 S&P stations including Don K3RLL in nearby New Bethlehem, and I decided to switch to CQ. That resulted in a great run of stations from 0101Z to 0130Z when I had planned to quit. I couldn't resist staying around with the stream of answers I was getting and I stayed till my last QSO at 0151Z. I wound up with 29 QSOs, the third highest total for me in one of our mW sprints. I should have stayed till 0230Z. Oh well. My SPC total of 18 matched my best in a mW sprint. Overall very surprising and very satisfying results. I'm sure now I have a good setup for FD. -30-
Wed Jun 21 2017 11:34PM - A fun, busy, crazy day. I played a lot with our front porch setup we'll be using for field day. I even entered our NAQCC mW sprint with that setup. I had no idea I'd do so well. I logged on paper, and now have a mess of QSOs to convert to electronic format for posting my log and getting the QSOs into my computer log. All of that is on the schedule for tomorrow though. It's too late now to do anything but close this diary entry. Tune in tomorrow for more. -30-
Tue Jun 20 2017 8:53PM - A not too busy day today for a change. We took Roscoe to the vet for a toenail trim and to pick up some heartworm and flea/tick medication. Just preventative medication. Then a trip to the post office to send out one of our NAQCC prizes. Not really much more other than the usual time-passing things.
A quick DX QSO this evening from one of the regular standbys, XE1XR. Then a couple rag chews on 30 meters to get me closer to the NAQCC 30-30 award this month. I need 3 more QSOs on 30 to make it to 30.
Not a lot scheduled for tomorrow either. I think I may check out our FD setup on my front porch. I added the extension for my random wire to get it down to the porch and charged up my battery. So I'm pretty much ready for a test. I'll be going solo on Saturday until Mike arrives around 6PM after his workday. -30-
Mon Jun 19 2017 2:05PM - OK, I'm pretty much caught up on things right now. Let me get to the story of the USS Requin subpedition yesterday. It actually was one of our smoothest subpeditions to date. Only one little "bug" to deal with. I'll get to that in a bit. Conditions weren't the best with rapid deep QSB making copy rough. That plus the usual noise from visitors to the sub. We didn't mind that at all though. It was very interesting interacting with the visitors, many of whom were knowledgeable about submarines and other naval things, having served in the Navy. Also folks immediately recognized what we doing as using Morse Code. A couple seemed to be interested in learning more about it. We gladly explained and sent their names in Morse a letter at a time.
Mike arrived around 8:00AM, and after I took Roscoe out and we chatted a bit, we set off for Pittsburgh. Except for one very minor loop around some construction, we didn't get lost at all and arrived at the sub parking lot in only around 50 minutes or so. The Carnegie Science Center which is in control of the sub is being enlarged to about twice its current size and we had to take a little longer walk than usual from the lot to the sub. We waited for about 10 minutes or so till the gates to the sub walkway were opened. The host and hostess there told us Art was in the middle of the sub somewhere. We found him easily, chatted a bit and set up our operating position with Mike's KX3 and PX3 connected to the sub's tuner and antenna. For a change the auto tuner worked flawlessly and we actually got started a few minutes before our scheduled start time. We started on 40 and found signals quite weak there. It was a struggle making QSOs, but we did. I took the first 30 minutes on 40, and then Mike went to 30. The signals were much stronger there although there were very few of them. It finally dawned on me to check to see if perhaps the preamp on the KX3 was turned off on 40. Mike paused in his operation and we quickly checked 40. Yep, the preamp was indeed off. We turned it on and the noise and signals immediately came up. So apologies to anyone who called during that first stint on 40 from 1400-1430Z that we were unable to hear.
From then on we made several QSOs on 40 and 20. 30 was very unoccupied and I think our total there was only 2 QSOs that Mike made. All in all we wound up with 27 QSOs despite very poor overall conditions. Those we were working would fade in and out rapidly and they told us we were doing the same at their end. I don't have a total, but I would say we worked around a dozen states or so. All in all it was another fun experience operating from the Requin. Thanks to Art WA3BKD for letting us do so, helping us out, and just being a great guy in general.
Mike took a couple videos, one of the exterior of the sub, and one of me operating. They are too big for my Windstream server, but here are links to them on my k3wwp.com server.
We left the sub around 1745Z. We stopped at Chili's on the way home. When we got here, we did a bit of thinking and preliminary setting up some things for this weekend's Field Day. Unable to find a good location, we decided to operate from my front porch as we did three years ago. We'll use the N3AQC call and be a 2E entry. More later in the week.
Mike played our favorite hidden object games on the computer while we awaited the end of the rain. Then he headed home.
Much later in the day I worked L20F on 40 meters for my DX streak QSO.
Today I finished sprint log cross-checking and did my laundry. I don't know just what I'll do between now and 0000Z. -30-
Sun Jun 18 2017 9:11PM - A very busy day with the Requin subpedition, closing out the sprint page, and other things. So I'm just going to make this a short entry. Tomorrow I'll talk more about the subpedition and the things that Mike and I did after coming back here. Mike took a couple nice videos of the Requin and of me operating. They are pretty large. I'll figure out a way to display them, probably only on my k3wwp.com server. Also about some preparations we did for field day next weekend. So as they say, be sure to tune in tomorrow. -30-
Sat Jun 17 2017 4:46PM - An interesting day to say the least. The Pest Control man came this morning and took care of my bee problem. I'm now guaranteed to be honey bee free for one year. That's a good thing. Although I do lose some potential help with pollinating my flower and vegetable plants.
I received my first mailing from the QSL buro in a while today. There were 18 cards in it representing maybe 30 or so QSOs. Several new prefixes were there including DK65DARC, DM6V, LZ1043PMU, IO1T, LZ71ZZ, PZ50X, EH0P, UF2F. Also included was my first SWL card in a long time from OK1-3453. Most of the cards were from folks wanting my card for whatever reason. I haven't sent an outgoing QSL mailing to the ARRL buro in some time. I'll have to get caught up with that and then I'll get some incoming QSLs more often.
I think today was the closest call yet for my DX streak. I checked the bands just about every hour on the hour and found virtually nothing in the way of DX. L20F on 17 was actually the only DX station I was hearing for most of the day, and he was only S2-3 and not hearing me at all. Then in the 20Z hour, the most frustrating thing of all. The streak almost ended in a very unhappy way. I found PJ7/KK9N on 18, called him, got a partial call response from him, but he could never get my call completely right as I agonized. After a dozen or so tries, he moved on to someone else. What a way to end, I thought. I know I was being heard, but not well enough for a legit QSO. I didn't give up on him though. I kept trying off and on for maybe a half hour or so. He never heard me again...until finally at 2032 it was U3? I figured my K sounded like a U with the QSB and QRN, and knowing calls starting with U3 are very rare, I sent my call a couple more times and finally got K3WWP? I sent R a few times, he responded with my RST, I sent his RST and breathed a huge sigh of relief as day 1,570 of DX went in the log. Whew! I can't handle too many more of those kind of days.
Well, I hope to work you from the Requin tomorrow. Or if not me, I hope you work Mike on one of his shifts. -30-
Fri Jun 16 2017 8:42PM - Once again it's one of those 'this might be the end of the DX streak' days. As they were for our sprint a couple evenings ago, condx are just horrible - maybe even worse tonight. The only workable DX I heard were a couple stations in the AA test and since I'm not in Asia, I couldn't answer them. Never hear a single dit from any of the Asians. Thanks though to Rick AA4W who at least gave me a brief QSO on 30 to keep the big streak going. Tomorrow might be a busy day with not much time to get on the air, so it may be rough extending the DX streak another day.
Here's the deal for our subpedition to the USS Requin on this Sunday. The only ops will be Mike KC2EGL and me. None of our other WPA Chapter members could make it. We'll try to arrive at the sub around 1345Z and get set up to operate by 1400Z. No definite band/time plans, but we'll use 40, 30, and 20 meters. Perhaps start at 1400Z on 40, go to 30 at 1430Z, and 20 at 1500Z. Then depending on condx, keep repeating that cycle until we have to QRT at 1730Z. We'll use the Requin's call of NY3EC and the frequencies will be (+/- QRM) 7041, 10117, and 14061. We'll use the Requin's vertical antenna (I believe) with Mike's KX3 (and PX3?). CW speed will be around 17-18 WPM. We will QRS if necessary. Just ask. -30-
Thu Jun 15 2017 9:10PM - I'm running a bit late tonight, so I'll type fast. A busy day. I helped neighbor Denny with a plumbing problem early this evening. It took an hour to get my DX QSO, but I finally worked XE2I on 20 meters at 0101Z. Had a nice rag chew with old friend N3HAM. Found out that he operates from the USS Olympia near Philly. Unfortunately he can't operate this Sunday or we might have had a 2X ship to ship QSO since I'll be on the Requin with Mike KC2EGL and probably Jon AB3RU. More on the subpedition in the diary tomorrow or Saturday.
I also picked up a 13' x 9' screen house at the Ol' Station Marketplace today for Mike (or others) and I to use on portable operations if needed. We'll check it out Sunday when we get here after the subpedition.
OK, that mish-mash will serve as the entry. Some rain coming and I want to try to get Roscoe out before it arrives. -30-
Wed Jun 14 2017 4:05PM - I think our local Elks flag day ceremony may be this evening. If so, I'll be attending to honor our great country and its flag as I do every year. Or it may be tomorrow night. I'll have to check after this entry is written.
I don't get outwardly excited very often, but I did today when I got an email from the ARRL about my streak article that they requested from me several months ago. I got a look at the final version to approve it, make corrections and comments, etc. The .pdf version shows the month August 2017 on it and the ARRL confirmed a few minutes ago it will be in the August QST. Get this very cool thing. The page number on the .pdf copy is 73!! How about that?
A funny thing happened on the way to the sprint last night. As I was setting up the frequencies on the KX3 to quickly QSY from band to band I crossed 30 while going from 20 to 40 and landed right on DF3VM on 30. I took a moment to work him for my DX streak.
The sprint itself wasn't as funny. Conditions were poor to say the least. I only made 29 QSOs in 18 SPCs. That's the second lowest total since February 2016 back when I was having all my local noise problems. Still it was actually a lot of fun and good practice digging weak signals out of the noise. All of these contributed to the poor showing - generally poor propagation, local noise, and storm noise. It looks like with the exception of a very few locations, everyone else had pretty much the same lousy conditions according to scores and soapbox comments received so far. -30-
Tue Jun 13 2017 7:32PM - About an hour till our NAQCC monthly sprint. Hope you'll join in the fun, be you a member or not. Details on the NAQCC web site if you need them.
I talked with Art WA3BKD of the submarine USS Requin, and after 3 or so postponements, we're set to go this Sunday for our subpedition. I just sent an email to our NAQCC WPA Chapter members with details, and I'll send one to all the NAQCC members a little later this week. More details here in the diary later in the week also for those who are not NAQCC members. (Why not?)
Last night was one of those 0000Z DX QSOs for the streak from HI3A on 30 meters. Hope I can get another quick one tonight before the sprint.
We had our warmest day of the year so far today with a high of 95 showing on my AcuRite remote unit. Some showers passed us by, but not a drop fell here that I know of. -30-
Mon Jun 12 2017 6:20PM - A little less hectic today. As usual, being a Monday, it was laundry day. Also putting out garbage day for pickup on Tuesday.
I've been having some problems with swarming bees the past couple days. I was mostly awaiting a call back from an exterminator today, but it never came. The bees are swarming near the top of my house on the outside, so it's not all that bad. I think I'll try another message to the exterminator in a little bit, and if still no answer, I'll try another one.
It was quite a struggle getting my DX QSO today (12th). Thanks to great ops like Joe DL2DX though, I did make it finally in the 1600Z hour on 20M. Joe was only about S6 at best, but after three or four times sending my call, a solid couple minute QSO was made.
Tomorrow evening will be our regular NAQCC sprint. I just finished setting up the cross-checking program and uploading an up to the minute GenLog data file for those who use the great GenLog program for sprint logging.
Thanks to VA3BOW who emailed me some info about a portable antenna mast mount. Actually I've gotten a few comments about various mounts since I described my homebrew mount here in the diary. -30-
Sun Jun 11 2017 8:47PM - Withough going into details, I'll just say this was a hectic evening so I'm not going to make a long diary entry. I'll have to get my DX in the morning or afternoon. I did work AB5XP and N5ESE on 30 for the main streak.
Otherwise, I got a nice guestbook entry from AH6WA. Instead of copying it here, I hope you'll check out Mike's comments via the guestbook links. -30-
Sat Jun 10 2017 9:02PM - Every so often, as is happenning right now, the number of visitors to my web site drop off and I think maybe it is time to give up the site. Then something like this happens. I worked AA4MZ, and he told me he is also using an attic wire for an antenna. He said he got the idea from my web site. Once again I realize even though not as many folks are currently visiting, giving someone the idea for an antenna still makes the site worthwhile and I'm encouraged to keep it going.
It looks like summer may be here at last after all the false starts and previews going back to February now. It hit 86 today and the upper 80s are predicted for the next few days now. Sure feels good although I must confess that my tolerance for heat and humidity is decreasing as I get older at 72 years of age now. Still it's much better than the miserable cold, etc. of winter. -30-
Fri Jun 09 2017 9:01PM - I think one of the fascinating things about my DX streak is learning more and more about propagation. It is extremely interesting to note how my QRP compares on days when the solar flux is say around 150 vs. days like today when the solar flux is around 75. One example happened this evening. I heard UN7QX calling CQ on 20M and answered him, but despite having him all to myself, he didn't hear me at all and just went on and on for a while calling CQ and never hearing me at all till I gave up after about a half dozen tries. Let's go back now to the times when the solar flux was higher.
From 1998 through 2002, I worked Kazakhstan 11 times as follows with the solar flux for the date(s) of the QSO in that month included:
Month QSOs SF
March 27 1998 1 108
June 20 1999 1 152
July 8 1999 1 149
October 3 1999 1 135
November 28 1999 1 175
April 15,16 2000 2 164,159
October 21 2000 1 158
February 18 2001 1 132
March 17 2001 1 134
June 15 2002 1 135
No more Kazakhstan QSOs until 2009-2014 as follows here:
Month QSOs SF
June 20 2009 1 67
April 9,17,23 2011 3 105,114,119
May 15 2011 1 95
June 4 2012 1 102
April 6 2013 1 137
February 16 2014 1 154
May 17 2014 1 134
November 30 2014 1 177
So except for the unusual QSO in June 2009 when the solar flux was only 67, it seems I needed the solar flux to be 95 or greater for the path to Kazakhstan to work for my QRP. Possibly being right at the summer solstice and having the path in daylight for the maximum number of hours possible helps to account for that June 20 2009 QSO. I'm sure analyzing other countries that involve a high latitude path would show similar results.
Well, I spent quite a bit of time doing that, so I'll just say that I did get a DX QSO this evening that didn't involve anything near a high latitude path. That was TE8DX on 30M who had a pileup it took several minutes to break. -30-
Thu Jun 08 2017 8:38PM - Roscoe's vet appointment was postponed till next week, but I still had a very busy day. I can't even remember all the things I did. It was a nice day so walks and shopping trips were definitely a part of the day. I also watered, fed, and weeded my garden, what there is of it so far, anyway. Things are still not growing all that well for whatever reason. I'm not doing anything different from previous years.
I also spent some time at the Ol' Station Marketplace looking for bargains. I bought a pair of channel lock pliers, 4 hidden object game CDs, and a neat little gadget that acts like a good miter box, but is very small and works with most saws to make perfect 90 degree, 45 degree, and other in between angle cuts in most any size piece of wood.
I did some work on my neighbor's computer installing some videos for him. Then of course I had my usual daily walks with Roscoe.
This evening the bands weren't as good as last night. XE1RK was his usual strong self, but having just worked him a few days ago, I went looking for someone else. SV2DSJ was strong at times, but at other times went down to my noise level. I tried him a few times but lost out to other stronger stations each time. I called CQ for a while on 30, but only got one station who sent something I couldn't understand, and another one who sent only AGN. Neither came back to my QRZ? Strange. Finally I did manage to find and work Jose KP4JFR very easily on 30 to free up the rest of my day not having to look for the DX streak QSO. -30-
Wed Jun 07 2017 9:05PM - I did something this evening I don't like to do. I worked the same DX station on the same band as last night - LY5W on 20. The only difference was that tonight's QSO was a bit easier than last night. I did it because I have a busy day tomorrow helping take Roscoe to the vet and a couple other things as well. So I didn't take any chance with the DX QSO. I probably could have though as after I worked him, I heard maybe a half dozen other DX stations. I didn't seriously try any of them though. Just a call or two and if they didn't hear me or worked other stations, I moved on. I got a couple more QSOs on 30 from my CQs there which makes 9 on 30 so far this month towards another NAQCC 30-30 award.
Other than that the bands were interesting - almost a throwback to the days of more sunspots. 20 was open both for DX and short skip. W1AW was booming in on 17 where I was also hearing a Panamanian beacon station. With the strong W1AW signal, I suspected some kind of sporadic E so I checked 6 meters and heard a S6-7 signal from K7CW in GS CN80. I didn't have my GS map handy and I'm not overly familiar with GS locations. I think CN80 might be a west coast location. Let me see if I'm right. Well, K7CW is listed as being in WA, but the GS is CN87, not CN80. Maybe he's portable down in CA where CN80 is located. -30-
Tue Jun 06 2017 8:48PM - Another day, another doll......DX QSO. It's interesting that my DX QSO has come from Europe on 3 of the 7 days so far this month. The sun on its journey north (figuratively) has activated the northerly path to Europe past the 0000Z hour now. Even with the declining solar activity. Tonight it was pretty deep into Europe - Sam LY5W from Lithuania. Took a couple repeats to get him, but day 1,560 is in the books now.
Still cool in the early part of June here. If May itself hadn't been on the chilly side, there might be thoughts of June being colder than May in this crazy roller coaster ride the temperature has taken so far in 2017. The high today was only 67.
I'm going to take a stab in the dark here. Have any of you reading this ever seen the FOBB results from last year. I can not find them anywhere on the ARS site nor with a Bing Internet search. I'd love to know how our NAQCC effort with N3AQC made out. Emails to Rich of the ARS go unanswered. So don't bother suggesting that. It seems poor practice to run a contest and then not make the results readily available. A sharp contrast to how we handle our sprint results for the NAQCC. -30-
Mon Jun 05 2017 8:48PM - It was rough but interesting getting my DX this evening. Doing so encouraged me a bit to realize that with patience it is still not all that hard keeping the DX streak going. The key is patience. I tried several weak DX stations this evening without getting so much as a ? from any of them. I kept at it though since meanwhile I worked W4KEP for the big regular streak. I was getting to the point of giving up for the evening and waiting till morning. I hate to do that though, especially with the great summer weather kicking in now with a lot of available time for outdoor activities. So I kept going and found one more weak (S6) station in HK4CZE whom I have worked before. Three calls to him yielded nothing. I thought to myself once more and if no response, that's it for this evening. Well fortune smiled on me and he came right back with my call and we had a short QSO. Patience, patience, patience. Oh and it helps to have a KX3/PX3 combination also. Without the aid of the panadapter, I think the DX streak would have ended long ago because of not enough patience to slowly tune the bands just listening for DX.
Just a closing note. In sharp contrast, last evening right at 0000Z HA3NU was just about burning out my S meter on 20M and I worked Lacy very easily with one call and a repeat. We've worked several times on several bands. Tonight there was nothing even close to being that strong from EU. An S4-5 HB9 on 20 was about the best EU signal.
Now off to get the weather reading to extend an even much longer streak dating back to 1959/60 (with some help from my family in this case). -30-
Sun Jun 04 2017 7:06PM - When you get to be 72, somehow the memory chips in the brain don't work as good as they used to. So before I forget some details, I'm going to write about our hamfest experiences right now.
Although as I mentioned, we weren't able to set up a NAQCC table as we would have liked, but it was still a great time. Mike KC2EGL arrived here around 8AM, and we kibbitzed around for about 25 minutes or so, then headed to Butler. It takes about 35 minutes or so to get there. As soon as we arrived, we ran into Tom WB3FAE who was busy filling out some raffle tickets. The three of us then set off to find the Skyview table where we were to rendezvous with othe NAQCC WPA Chapter members. Of course Bob WC3O was there with Skyview. He graciously let us sort of share the Skyview table as a point of contact with our other chapter members.
Here's a picture of some of our chapter members who were there. A couple others left before the picture was taken.
L-R that's Bob WC3O, John K3WWP, Jon AB3RU, Mike KC2EGL, Drew W3FFZ, and Tom WB3FAE. Also attending, but not in the picture were Kevin KC3RN and Don K3RLL. Other NAQCC members we ran into were Bruce AA3LX, Bob W3BBO, Mike WA8SAN, Tom W3TLN. It was also nice to meet Don's friend Shelley KA4YAK for the first time. Yes, that's a vanity call - she is into kayaking. I hope I didn't leave anyone out. If I did, and you're reading this, give me an email shout.
We also ran into Art WA3BKD from the Requin, and he had some disappointing info for us. Our chapter subpedition to the Requin will have to be postponed one week from June 11 to June 18 since he won't be available at the sub on the 11th.
We also are planning for a parkpedition to Moraine State Park on July 1. More on that later. Also Mike got together with some hamfest officials and got things straightened out about our NAQCC presence at the hamfest. The officials said they never received the emails from us about setting up a table there. They, along with Mike, have taken steps to be sure we will be represented for the 2018 hamfest next June.
In wandering around the hamfest, our little group came across some nice exhibits and bought a couple items here and there. Tom (FAE) got some line for supporting his antennas, and I got a few 2032 batteries for a quarter each for some small items like my pedometer. Sure beats paying 3-4 dollars for them at the stores.
By far the best exhibit was a 1930s fully functional station set up by local ham NO3M. He made a few QSOs with it. Here's what it looked like.
Unfortunately I don't have the info on the rigs here, but a Bing search for "NO3M" will turn up his web site with a lot of pictures and info.
Around 1PM we decided to break up and head for home. Or in the case of Mike and me..... I'm sure you know what's coming...., we headed for Ponderosa and their buffet. I think Mike had 3 or 4 platefuls and I had 4 or 5. I wasn't really stuffed though. Still felt comfortable. After that, it was back home here to check the bands for DX. There wasn't any to speak of, so it was off to the computer for hidden object games. Then all too soon, Mike had to head home since tomorrow is another workday. -30-
Sat Jun 03 2017 8:44PM - I almost got my DX QSO at exactly 0000:00Z. KP4JRS ended his 30M CQ at 2359:59Z and I called him, but my antenna was set to my 20M dipole and he only got the P. I switched to the 30M random wire, sent my call again and another day in the streak is in the books.
30M was very good this evening with a lot of signals, so I thought with the DX taken care of, I'd just try some CQs and go for some letters in the NAQCC June challenge. I did get two QSOs, with K9DP, then KB6NU. So I now have almost half the required letters for the challenge. I've also decided with 5 30M QSOs so far this month already that I'll go for the NAQCC 30-30 award again. If you're not familiar with the NAQCC (it's free membership, so you should join if you like QRP/CW), the 30-30 awards is making 30 QSOs in a month on 30M.
It was a very nice day today - sunny with a high of 80. So I was outside quite a bit. Early this morning, I helped Ange get his garden planting started. We put in a couple Zucchini plants and 6 poles of beans with a dozen seeds per each pole. Later on, I watered my garden. Even with the plants outside now, they are still a bit slow to grow, except for my bush beans. They really took off from seeds and are about 3-4 inches tall after just a couple weeks or so.
So tomorrow's the Breezeshooters hamfest. Mike and I hope to leave here around 8:30A, get there about 9AM, and meet with other NAQCC members around 9:30A. The weather looks pretty good with only a very slight chance of showers before Noon or 1P. We'll miss not having our NAQCC table this year, but we hope to have fun anyway. -30-
Fri Jun 02 2017 8:50PM - It looked for a long while today like June 2 was going to be a DXless day, and I was planning on writing an obituary to the DX streak. However the tide turned when I found Ralph XE1RK calling CQ on 20 and we had a six minute chat to extend the DX streak another day. Ralph runs a KW to a seven element beam so when he points that big thing towards me, my meager QRP effectively acts something like 100 watts to him. I don't know how much gain a seven element beam has, but I know that 13 dB of gain does make 5 watts seem like 100 watts. Even with the KW and beam though, he was only about S7 on average with some S8 peaks and some dips almost down to S5. Overall conditions are definitely slipping away as we head toward the sunspot minimum.
On the other hand, this evening provided a good fairly quick QSO from Europe on 30 meters thanks to Andy HB9CVQ. He was about 579 and gave me a 449 report. So that's 1,556 straight days of DX now. I'm glad I got Saturday so easily as I have a few things going tomorrow morning and afternoon that may take a while.
Hopefully tomorrow evening will provide another quick DX QSO since Sunday morning and afternoon will also be busy with the Breezeshooters Hamfest. -30-
Thu Jun 01 2017 9:05PM - I don't know if you've run into this or not, but I have. There are some stations whom I just can not work, even if they are seemingly strong enough to work. Two such stations are two of the meager number of DX stations I heard this evening. I didn't even bother calling them. Then there were two others who were very popular and I kept losing out to the QRO stations calling them. So the bottom line is I will have to spend time on the bands in the morning or afternoon if I want the DX streak to be extended, and I do.
It is getting a little more frustrating at times though. But then it is more of a challenge also, not to mention more satisfying when I do master the struggle and get the DX.
I'm looking forward to Sunday and the Butler hamfest. Although we won't have a NAQCC table this year, I'm sure we'll run into a lot of NAQCC members there. Who knows, maybe I'll even find something to buy there this year. I usually don't because I'm busy with the NAQCC table and when I do get to roam around, I spend the time visiting with hams I know.
The average May maximum did wind up warmer than the April average when I got my 'official' data into the Excel weather spreadsheet last night. It was just about the same as the AcuRite averages I mentioned in last night's diary entry.
Oh, it was nice to work Rick AA4W on 30 this evening. Rick was one of our early officers in the NAQCC. If memory serves (and it's becoming a poorer servant as I age), Rick took care of our membership certificates. Rick also just signed my guestbook. I haven't seen what he said yet. I'll get to that when I close my page updates here. -30-
Wed May 31 2017 8:30PM - Here we go with a new month (UTC). June came in great for the DX streak. A single call a few seconds past 0000Z to XE1XR was all it took. Earlier today I worked HD2RRC/4 for an insurance QSO after last evening's somewhat questionable QSL. Also I thik HD4 may be a new prefix. I haven't worked too many of them lately. After working 2,863 overall and 8,258 band-prefixes, it tends to become a little hard to find new ones to work except for some special calls.
I put in a good effort today to get all my end of the month chores done. Only a couple things left now like a trip to the bank in the morning for one. I also have to put May's weather data in my Weather Excel spreadsheet. I'm not sure if we made the thing I talked about a few days ago - the average high temperature for May being colder than that of April. We have had highs in the 70s and even hit 80 a couple times during the past few days now. That may push May past April. Let me take a quick check of my AcuRite remote data. According to that, May wins out over April now - 71.2 to 70.4. That's usually very close to my shelter thermometer readings. So it looks like 1967 will remain the only year in my records where the May high was lower than April.
Now I'm going to do one more EOM/FOM thing and get my worksheet ready for the June NAQCC Challenge. Then I'll see where the E and R from XE1XR fit in.
Hope you all have a great month. If you happen to be in Western PA on this Sunday, we'll be at the Breezeshooters Hamfest in Butler. It would be nice to see you there. -30-
Tue May 30 2017 8:48PM - Many years ago when I was seriously DXing the AM BCB, it seemed that the best conditions for DX happened after the ionosphere had been quiet for a few days in a row. In other words there seemed to have to be a cumulative effect, not just one single day. I'm thinking it's the same way as we slip into this upcoming sunspot minimum. Working DX just hasn't stopped or become hard suddenly, but it seems to be a suttle gradual process. I'm finding that it does seem to be a little harder each day as we keep getting more and more days in a row with low sunspot numbers. Just a personal observation. I make no pretense of being an expert on the ionosphere and sunspots by any means.
It was a nice day today except for a couple showers around 1PM, so I went ahead and finally planted out my stunted Siberian tomato plants. Let's see if they do any better outside than they have been doing indoors so far. In other years they would give me green tomatoes indoors by April and ripe ones just about this time - the end of May. This year not even any flowers yet. So now I have all my garden plants started in the backyard garden.
I got my report (card?) from CQ for my last year's CQWW DX contest this morning. I only made 76 QSOs, but I was happy to see there was not a single error or I got a 100%. HI.
I had a somewhat questionable DX QSO this evening with CO5FR. He got my call correct and I copied all his info, but then we has some trouble on the next round. I think I'll try for an insurance QSO in the morning or afternoon just in case.
My DX QSO for the 30th came late last night from a somewhat rare Argentina QSO on 40M. I only have about a dozen Argentinas on 40 and the last one was back in 1999.
Mon May 29 2017 9:02PM - It was a good Memorial Day here despite some difficulty in keeping my DX streak alive. I did my weekly laundry last night instead of today to give me more free time for other things. I walked Roscoe earlier this morning so I wouldn't be rushed in getting to the parade. Like I would be anyway since it goes by a spot just a block from my home. I happened to time it this year and it was just 27 minutes long. Very nice as usual. I'm very glad the town decided to revise the parade several years ago in part due to some urging from my friend Tom WY3H. I've enjoyed it every year since.
I didn't get a chance to go to the ceremony in the park after the parade though, as I had an invitation to go to a cookout which was happening not long after the parade ended. That was very enjoyable also. Just three of us friends got together for some burgers, dogs, potato salad, and beans.
Actually it was in between the parade and cookout that I managed to snag a DX QSO thanks to AD8J/HR9 who was virtually the only DX I heard in the morning. And it looks like I'll have to do the same again tomorrow morning as there was virtually no workable DX heard this evening. I did hear TN5E (If I remember the number was a 5, pehaps not), but he had a huge wide pileup on 40 meters so I never even tried. I think I came close to getting HD2RRC/4 on 30 as I got a K3J?, then a K3? and a P? from him before he gave up on me. He seemed to be asking for repeats from just about everyone he was working. Either he had a big pileup that I wasn't hearing or perhaps some strong QRN down there. -30-
Sun May 28 2017 8:53PM - Well, the big streak lives, but the DX will have to wait till morning or afternoon. I tried a couple DX stations this evening with no luck. There was very little in the way of DX or even domestic activity. There was one big DX pileup around 7025 which probably had more stations in it than were on the rest of 40, 30, and 20. Hopefully I can get a DX QSO before our Memorial Day Parade at 10AM local time as after that I'm going to a cookout. So it may be touch and go. Time will tell.
Almost time now to get my weather info. We had a really heavy shower about an hour ago. It will be interesting to see how much rain it put down. -30-
Sat May 27 2017 9:06PM - I never did get on the bands today to check conditions. Hope I didn't miss anything good in the contest. I worked V31PS this evening for my DX streak QSO. Then instead of continuing in the contest, I went to 30 and had a rag chew with K5FA. I'm just having trouble getting interested in contesting anymore for whatever reason. I guess maybe old age. HI. I still look forward to our NAQCC sprints and the ARRL and CQWW big DX tests in February and November.
I'm stuffed right now. I just finished off a pizza with my neighbor. That makes three pizzas in 4 days now. I think I'll pretty much fast all day tomorrow if I can. I did at least only eat a little bit besides the pizza today and I walked.... let's see....11.31 miles so far. So I'm working on keeping the weight in check despite all the pizzas.
OK, enough rambling for now. -30-
Fri May 26 2017 8:07PM - Of course, the WPX contest provided me a quick DX contact. It was WP3C on 15 meters. The first 15M QSO I've had in a while now. It's "amazing" how big contests can bring "dead" bands to life, isn't it?
I'm not really in a contesting mood right now, but I may check the bands during the day tomorrow to see if I can find any interesting DX to work. I have worked some new overall countries or new band countries in the past in this contest. As far as going for score, I doubt I'll do that.
The solar numbers look good right now. The SF is 80 which is a bit high for this stage in the sunspot cycle so it may be a good weekend for contesting. So I really should check things out at least for a while. -30-
Thu May 25 2017 8:35PM - A quick DX QSO with 8P5A on 20M. He's probably tuning up for the WPX contest this weekend. I work him in many contests. After that a nice chat with one of our NAQCC members down in FL on 30M - Al N4OW, who coincidentally I work in contests also. Actually in our NAQCC sprints to be exact.
We're setting up for something very unusual, maybe unique in a way. We may wind up with our May here being colder than April unless the last few days in May turn out to be somewhat warmer than the first 24 or 25 have been. Actually again to be exact here, the May daily maximum average may be colder than April, not the daily minimum nor the daily mean. Let me just give the figures for April's 30 days vs. May's 25 so far.
Month - Min - Max - Mean
April - 45.2 - 70.4 - 57.8
May - 49.0 - 69.7 - 59.3
Those are my AcuRite remote readings. The "official" thermometer in my shelter will be slightly different one way or the other. It will be interesting to see what happens when May is over.
I've got a few minutes here now. I'm going to check to see if that situation has happened before in my records going back to 1959.
Actually it did happen once before. Never with the Minimum or Mean, but in 1967 May's Maximum was 64.8 and that of April 65.1. A 0.3 degree difference. As Spock would say 'fascinating'. -30-
Wed May 24 2017 9:45PM - Mike dropped by for our regular 4th Wednesday evening get together and pizza party. After we ate, it was off to the shack. Just before he came I got HD2RRC again for another day in the DX streak. This time on 20 meters, whereas last night it was 30 meters.
Mike worked UR5WA on 40, HD2RRC on 30, and XE2B on 20. Other than that, not really much to talk about today.
I did plant out my pepper plants this afternoon, and now only have the stunted Siberian tomato plants left to go outside. I'll still give them about another week to see if they are going to grow, and then put them out one way or other anyway. -30-
Tue May 23 2017 6:37PM - OK, here are the promised pictures from our Sunday parkpedition. I think my Jackite pole and mount are camera shy. I have yet to get a really good picture of them out in the field. About the best are in the .pdf article linked into last night's diary entry. I took a couple on Sunday, but when I got home they weren't in my camera for some reason.
Anyway first here is one of the newest members of our little NAQCC WPA Chapter, Jody K3JZD at his setup.
Next is Mike KC2EGL, followed by me.
To close out, another not too good picture of my Jackite pole, mount and antenna. I inserted some red dots to make it easier to trace out the pole and inverted vee antenna. The Jackite is the black pole, not the lighter park light pole in the background.
Mon May 22 2017 5:23PM - A simple entry today. Just a link to my Jackite pole mount article. It's a plain vanilla .pdf file with no navigation menus on it. Then tomorrow I'll have the promised pictures from our Sunday parkpedition.
Sun May 21 2017 8:40PM - I say this every time it happens because it's true every time. When Mike visits, it's a great day. It was touch and go with our planned parkpedition and we didn't really decide on going until about a half hour before the fact. So we didn't get a chance to get out any advance publicity, just a quick note on our NAQCC email list just before we left for the park.
Also because of the late decision, Jody K3JZD didn't get our email to him about our change of locations in the park, so we and he wound up setting up in different sections of the park. After a while we did get together and he joined in our fun for the last hour or so. The three of us made a total of 19 QSOs in maybe a dozen states or so from a couple hours of operating before the rains finally came.
I was very pleased with my homebrew Jackite mount. The other day Tom helped me set it up. Today I wanted to do it completely by myself and did so with no problems at all. That included taking it down at the end of the session.
I'll have some more comments and pictures in tomorrow's diary entry.
After we tore down and came home, it was off to Wendy's for some burgers and fries. Unfortunately Jody had to leave for his home after we left the park, so he couldn't join us. Back home again and Mike and I put my station back together and chased some DX without any luck. We heard some, but it wasn't very strong and they didn't hear us call at all.
Mike likes my mount and wants to build one as one of our projects. He's off for a week or so around the 4th of July so we will probably do it then. We checked through my wood and parts piles to see what he would have to get. Actually I have most of the parts and he only needs to get a couple minor things.
After that we did a little email testing. His phone was giving him problems with email notifications. We never did really solve that. I suggested he give up on that for now and relax with some hidden object computer games which he did before heading for home. He left just about 0000Z, so I headed for the shack and was surprised to hear Europe pretty strong yet on 20 meters. They were very popular and I couldn't get my call in edgewise, so I went to 30 and worked NP4AW for my DX streak QSO. -30-
Sat May 20 2017 8:10PM - I've been agonizing over the weather forecast for tomorrow just about all day today. I think we'll err on the side of caution and postpone our planned parkpedition. As I said though, Mike will be visiting, and perhaps we will put N3AQC on the air from my shack for a while. It will be a last minute decision in the morning. We will post any activity on the NAQCC email list, so if you're a NAQCC member, watch for that. If you're not a member, why not. It's totally free.
I worked some more on my Jackite pole mount article and am just about ready to publish it via a link here in the diary and/or in the June NAQCC (or later) newsletter. I also sum up the jumper inverted V dipole in the article.
Also today, I did some more garden planting, putting in some bush bean and pea seeds. I now have those plus 6 Early Girl tomato plants and some Speckled Butter Bean seeds planted. I'm still waiting to see if my indoor started Siberian Tomatos and Peppers are going to get bigger before putting them out.
DX came quickly again this evening from Oscar LU1XS on 20 meters. It took only two calls to get him. -30-
Fri May 19 2017 8:18PM - Is there anything better in ham radio than owning and using an Elecraft KX3 with the companion PX3? In my opinion, no. It's the rig that renews itself every so often. By that I mean the periodic firmware updates that either correct a tiny bug (very seldom, because the rig has always been pretty much bug free from day 1) or adds some new features (quite often). I am really excited about one particular feature in the latest update. There are now two independent ATU Data sets. One can be used at home and the other for portable operation. That way when you come home from that portable operation, you no longer have to reset all the ATU Data. You just use the menu to switch from Data Set 2 (portable) back to Data Set 1 (home). That is just so great, I think.
I sometimes forget to check the firmware updates for a while, since I don't have a computer connected in the shack all the time. This latest one was from April 27, so that wasn't too bad - only about 23 days.
I was planning to finish off my Jackite mount story today, but my camera batteries were dead, as were their replacements. So I'm putting that off a couple more days.
The weather is looking worse and worse for Sunday and I think our parkpedition is in danger of having to be postponed. Mike is still coming down, so maybe we can do a bit of a homepedition instead. HI That is putting N3AQC on the air from my home shack here. If not that, I'm sure we'll get into something or other as we always do when he visits.
A quick DX QSO this evening from TI5/N3KS which allowed me time to get the firmware update done this evening.
It was a different story earlier today trying to get the May 19 DX. I checked not long after I got up a little past 1200Z and found absolutely nothing on 30, 20, or 17, really tho only viable bands for DX at that time. After that I checked every half hour or so and still found almost nothing. I did hear DJ3AS on 20 about S5-6, but he wasn't hearing me at all. Finally just past 1500Z as I was heating some Ramen noodles in the microwave, it dawned on me that I hadn't checked for a while, so up to the shack I flew. There were more signals on the PX3 now, and one turned out to be OF5Z at S7 on 20M. I called once with no response, so I repeated my call. I heard him sending something in the background as I was calling. I thought he was working someone else, so I waited, and he came back with K3WWP 599. So we were doubling and I actually got him with a single call. I think these little strange things make the streak more interesting. -30-
Thu May 18 2017 9:13PM - I think maybe the jinx I talked about a couple entries ago may be setting in. I just couldn't work any DX this evening and will probably have to wait till morning or afternoon now, if I work any at all. Even stations I usually work easily weren't hearing me this evening.
At least the main streak worked out. I had QSOs with KC4KNN and N1JI on 40 meters. Both good rag chews.
In glancing back through my log, I see it has been since April 17, just over a month since I haven't gotten my streak QSOs in the 00 or 01 hours. In fact I don't have any QSOs during that period outside those hours except working PV8ADI during our Jackite mount test yesterday afternoon. So I guess I'll get a chance to see what the bands are like in the morning tomorrow.
Not much else to say about today. The weather was good with a high of 88, moderate humidity, and some breezes. -30-
Wed May 17 2017 8:04PM - Yes, a quick DX QSO this evening at 0001Z. But I won't go into that as I want to tell about the day Tom WB3FAE and I had.
As I said the past couple days, we were going to the park to check out my Jackite pole mount. It passed all the checks with flying colors. It was very easy to set up, and it performed well even in some moderate winds. So now that I'm happy with it, I'm going to publish more info about it here in the diary. My camera balked on me today, but Tom took several pictures and will be sending them to me.
The weather was surprisingly nice considering it was 90 degrees and a bit on the humid side. A breeze up on the hill at the park made it comfortable. Tom had his antenna analyzer with him and before we went to the park, we checked out my home antennas. Not surprisingly, except for 20 meters the SWR was not all that good on any of the bands. However we figured that with some 90+ thousand QSOs to their credit, there wasn't much use making any changes to them. You know the saying, if it ain't broke, etc.
After we set up in the park we also checked my portable antenna. It was pretty much right on for 20 and 30 meters, but the SWR on 40 was a bit high in the 2-3 to 1 range. It resonated at 1:1 a little lower in frequency so it needs a couple inches taken off the end of the 40 meters section. I might do that before the Sunday parkpedition.
I just want to reiterate how pleased I am with my mount. Although Tom did help with setting it up, it can be done very easily by just one person. We did only make one QSO - with Brazil - PV8ADI on 20 meters. Although signals were strong, there was a lot of QSB, and the other DX we tried calling all seemed to be very popular with a lot of answers, and we didn't have all that much time to really persist to get them.
So everything went very well. Almost that is. When we were closing up shop and tearing down the installation, we noticed that the gate to the section of the park we had driven into had been closed, and yes you guessed it, locked. Tom went to see if there was any other way out, but there wasn't. A softball coach and a couple players were practicing, and they gave Tom a non-emergency police number to call to see if someone would come and unlock the gate. One policeman did come, but he didn't have the right key, so we had to wait till someone else came with the right key. To make the story shorter, we did get out after 20 minutes or so. -30-
Tue May 16 2017 8:23PM - It's becoming more and more interesting keeping my DX streak going as we slip down towards the upcoming solar minimum. There have been quite a few evenings lately when the bands provided a European QSO, including tonight when I worked IG9/S59A on 20 meters. I called once and he worked someone else. When they finished, I called once more and got him easily. I do work into Italy fairly easily most times. Now even with the solar flux in the upper 60s and low 70s, it's not that hard. He was only about 55 or 569 here, yet my QRP made it through. Of course S59A is a very good op, so that helps too. Each day though, I get a little more confident that I might just make it through the minimum with the DX streak. That is, if saying that now doen't jinx it. HI.
Tomorrow's the day for my Jackite pole mount test in the Community Park. It's going to be a hot day with a high around 90. It was 82 today, and I sort of got myself prepared for tomorrow by taking a couple pretty long walks in the heat and somewhat high humidity this afternoon. As I get older the heat gets to me a bit more. Used to be it couldn't get too hot for me. Then as time went by, I'd find the first hot day of summer would bother me, but after that I was again adapted to it for the rest of the season. Now, it takes a few hot days to adapt, and I suppose that will get worse as I get older.
As I mentioned, it won't be a true parkpedition tomorrow, but time permitting and if we get our testing done, we will try to make some QSOs. No definite times, but if you want to try to work us, check 7041, 10117, and 14061 sometime after 1900Z or so. We might just use our own calls, K3WWP and WB3FAE or perhaps N3AQC. Everything's kind of up in the air right now. We will be more definite about the Sunday true parkpedition if we don't get rained out. I'll list the sked here in the diary and also on our NAQCC email list.
I had a very busy day again today. It's primary election day in PA, so I went and voted. After that Bruce ran me up to Walmart to pick up some needed things. Back home again to get a couple NAQCC prizes ready to mail. Then off to the Post Office. Some pulling of grass from the brick sidewalk was fun. I always have enjoyed doing that since I was a kid. It's nice to see the transformation from a grass filled walk to a nice cleaned off one. About it for the day, but then I thought I'd get my second half of the month bills taken care of also, so I did. Of course the day also included the Roscoe walks, three so far and one yet to come. I really enjoy that also. So the busy day was also an enjoyable one. -30-