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.
Tuesday, August 30, 2016 1:02 PM - On Sunday at Skyview one of the DX hams I worked was Clive GM3POI. I worked Clive many times in the 1990s and early 2000s and thought at the time it had been over 10 years since we worked. In checking later, I see we did work one other time in the past 11 years - in 2012. Clive always used to have a very strong signal from his QTH in the Orkney Islands in Northern Scotland. Anyway after only one previous QSO in the past 11 years, I worked him again this morning on 17 meters for 2 QSOs within 48 hours.
Incidentally also on Sunday at Skyview, I finally heard a station from Andorra although I was unable to work him even with the big Skyview antenna farm. That's the only 'mainline' country in Europe that I've never worked nor even heard till Sunday. Of the 69 current DXCC entities in Europe, besides Andorra I also need 1A, OJ0, SV1/A. I've never heard SV1/A Mt. Athos. I have heard, but not worked 1A SMO Malta and OJ0 Market Reef. It would be nice to get those 4 entities to complete Europe so it could become my second completed continent after North America. Maybe someday lightning will strike. -30-
Monday, August 29, 2016 9:09 PM - For the 17th day this month our high temperature reached 90. Strangely though, most of those highs were either 90 or 91. Nothing near 100. I think the highest was 95 a couple days. The average high of my AcuRite remote unit is 89.4 so far. That may be close to a record for August. I'll know more in a couple days. Actually the next couple days are supposed to be a bit cooler so that average may drop a few tenths of a degree if so.
Another rough non-DX evening so far. I came close with DL1NKS on 30 meters, but he never got beyond K3W? Actually he seemed to not really try that hard and after a couple tries, he just seemingly QRT as I didn't hear him any more. Hope that's not the way the DX streak will end. I noticed today DX was good in late afternoon on 20 and 17 so perhaps at that time tomorrow I can get some DX. -30-
Sunday, August 28, 2016 8:23 PM - Instead of 're-inventing the wheel', most of my entry here will be what I am going to submit for publication in the NAQCC September newsletter. Then some added comments and info at the end.
"On Sunday August 28, it was off to the Skyview Swap and Shop. Mike arrived around 7:15 AM and we started for Skyview around 7:30 AM. The trip there was uneventful by which I mean we didn't get lost anywhere. As soon as we arrived we set up our stations only to find that unlike last year, we were interfering with each other. The other members of our group, WB3FAE, N3CU, K3RLL, and AB3RU arrived in turn and the interference got worse and more confusing. We tried one group of filters from Skyview and that didn't help matters any. Then our saviour Jody K3JZD arrived at the radio room and got us straightened out by hooking in another set of filters and all was well from then on. It was only then that we remembered those were the filters we used last year when we didn't have any trouble.
As with most of our similar activities, it started out pretty busy, and then we got fewer and fewer answers to our CQs. So eventually we wound up looking for and working DX. 17 and 15 were both open in good shape to Europe. Among the six of us we made around 30 QSOs. Some of the states worked were MS NY IL NC MD FL CO NM TX OH NJ KS WA. One VE province - ON. DX was 9A DL G GM UA1 I. One of the German stations and I engaged in a 12 minute rag chew - solid copy both ways. There is a difference in signals when using bigger and higher antennas. In use were a 2 element quad at 60', a multi-band beam near 60', and a 40 meter dipole at probably the same height. We all used our own rigs or switched among them - 2 KX3s, a KX2, and an FT817.
It was a lot of fun after we got the inteference problem taken care. It was a bit hectic with all the visitors who showed up in the radio room along the way, but very enjoyable chatting with them about CW, QRP, etc. Our session wound down around 2 PM and after chatting with Bob WC3O, Jody K3JZD, and other Skyview members for a whille, we packed up and headed home."
Here's a picture of our group:
L-R that's me, Mike KC2EGL, Ken N3CU, Jon AB3RU, an unID Skyview member, and Tom WB3FAE. Don K3RLL left before the picture was taken. Thanks to Bob WC3O for being the photographer.
When we got home, Mike and I spent some 5 more hours together. We analyzed our results today for the above report. Mike ordered an insert for the case in which he carries his KX3, PX3, etc. for portable ops. We watched some Three Stooges videos and listened to a Bickersons episode. Then up to the shack for over a couple hours chasing DX. Mike worked perhaps some 5 or 6 DX stations. Since I already had my DX for the day, I passed on working any until 0000Z came along. I did work K9AJ/VY0 since I wasn't sure if I had VY0 on 20 meters or not. Just checking now, I see I did have it. Then Mike yielded the operating chair and I quickly worked TI5/N3KS on 30 at 0003Z to secure day # 1,278 in the DX streak. Mike worked him a couple minutes later, then it was time for him to head north, as we say. Tomorrow starts another work week for him.
A couple more thoughts on the event. I got a chance to see a KX2 rig (Jon's) in person for the first time. The little brother of the KX3 looks very nice and works very nicely. It's no KX3 by any means, not having several of the KX3 features, but nice nonetheless. I was showing off my Popsicle stick key to several members who visited us in the radio room. They all got a kick out of it, especially Bob WC3O who had to take a picture of it before we left. -30-
Saturday, August 27, 2016 8:22 PM - A strange DX QSO this evening. Being I will be at Skyview tomorrow where I could probably work a DX QSO for sure, I wasn't happy with that thought and wanted to be sure to get someone tonight to cover the streak. I thought perhaps someone in the YO DX contest, but 20 had no activity after 0000Z despite a lot earlier in the day. Only a couple of very weak DX contest stations on 40 meters. So it was off to 30 meters after working SE station K5H on 20 meters for the main streak. Oh, I found CY9C strong on both 20 and 30, but just worked them on those bands the last two evenings. Anyway on 30 I found S57V calling CQ. I tried to make a QSO with him, but despite him saying QSL to my call and report I don't think he had my call right then even after several repeats. I wasn't copying him all that well either. So I looked around 40, 30, and 20 some more with no luck. Winding up back on 30, I again heard S57V a little stronger now. It took but a single call this time to get a K3WWP 599. Earlier I got only a 339. What a difference 10 minutes can make. So the DX streak is OK now and I can just have fun at Skyview tomorrow. As a bonus, the 'S' in S57V finished up the NAQCC August challenge as well.
Looks like we are going to have 6 NAQCC WPA Chapter members at Skyview tomorrow - me, KC2EGL, WB3FAE, K3RLL, AB3RU, N3CU. It would be nice to have 6 bands open but not likely. We'll probably have to share 4 bands - 40 through 17. However it turns out it will be fun for sure playing our QRP on their big antenna farm. The first four listed above have done it before, but I think it will be the first time for AB3RU and N3CU. -30-
Friday, August 26, 2016 9:01 PM - Another quick CY9C QSO was my DX this evening. This time on 20 meters at 0006Z, just about 3 minutes after I got to the shack and turned on the rig.
I was looking back in my diary to August 2006 today to get some info about the 40th anniversary QSO with WA8REI. Wow, hard to believe the diary is over 10 years old now with a new entry every day with only at most a couple of days missed. Anyway here's what I found there:
"WA8REI and I had our 40th anniversary QSO just a little while ago. We couldn't get it done on 40M, but 80M worked out just fine despite high noise levels at both ends. We gabbed for about an hour about the old days, between then and now, and the current times.
It was really wonderful and a bit mind boggling to think about that 1966 QSO so long ago. Neither of us had even the slightest inkling then that we would be having another QSO in the next century.
It was interesting talking about the rigs we used back then. I used a homebrew 75 watt (input) xmtr. QRP was considered 100 or less watts input then, so technically I was QRP even then. Ken used a T-150A transmitter at 130 watts.
For receivers, it was a Knight-Kit R100 for me and an HR-10 for Ken. He used a vertical antenna, and I used a dipole.
Our QSO then was on 7.020 at 1631Z. I gave Ken a 589 report and got a 579 from him. By contrast we both were 599 tonight on 80M although the noise level was 10-20 over S9 at both our locations."
I guess both of us are getting old. HI. And now as of yesterday we made it to 50 years from first to latest QSO. Wonder if we'll make it to 60. I don't even want to say how old I'll be then. Seriously I am gradually starting to feel older and older with all the associated things that come with age.
Anyway here are pictures of the QSLs we exchanged back in 1966:
We are going to exchange some special QSLs for this latest QSO as time permits over the next few days. Also Ken is thinking about writing a short article for QST and/or CQ about the QSO. All of that will unfold as time goes by. -30-
Thursday, August 25, 2016 9:07 PM - Several interesting QSOs today. I'll save the best till last. I was calling CQ on 30 late this afternoon and got answered by HK1MW. Not the first time he answered my CQ. He did it a few years ago as well. It's always nice to get a DX station to answer my CQ. Then it was nice to work a personal friend Jon AB3RU. We've gone to hamfests together, operated from the Requin together, but tonight may have been our first on-air rag chew type QSO although we've worked in our NAQCC sprints several times. Let me be sure about that. Yes, our first rag chew QSO as skip was short on 40 tonight. Jon lives near Pittsburgh as did Curt W3QE, my QSO right before Jon's.
Last night when Mike was here, we both worked ZW8I on 40 meters. Then he worked CY9C on 30 while I was out walking Roscoe. I didn't try CY9C since I already had my DX streak QSO and have s few CY9 QSOs on 4 different bands already worked back in the 1990s. However tonight I did need a DX QSO so I worked CY9C after just a couple minutes of trying on 30 meters.
Although those were all interesting QSOs as actually are all my QSOs in one way or another, the best came today at 1631Z. That time is significant. Back on August 25, 1966 WA8REI and I had our first QSO at 1631Z. We wanted to duplicate that as close as possible 50 years later and we came close. The only difference (besides us being 50 years older) was the frequency. Back then 7020 was available to all hams with a General or higher license. That was where we worked in 1966 before incentive licensing came along in 1968 and took 7000-7025 away from General Class hams. Well, Ken never bothered to upgrade and is still a General so we had to settle on 7030 now instead of 7020. However that didn't diminish the excitement and thrill of a 50th anniversary QSO one iota. We talked for over a half hour. A lot about how things have changed in a half century. I'll have more to say about the QSO including some pictures from then and now in an upcoming diary entry. -30-
Wednesday, August 24, 2016 5:32 PM - WINDOW. That's the key word as my DX streak will either continue or come to an end. Just about all the time from March 1, 2013 through the latter part of 2015, the WINDOW was wide open although perhaps the best view through the WINDOW shifted from 40 meters to 15 meters to 30 meters, and so on to the other bands. There was DX available to work just about any time of day. All you had to do was be there, look through the WINDOW and see some DX and work it easily.
However since the latter part of 2015, the WINDOW was not open quite as wide nor was it open as often. The openings gradually got smaller and less frequent from then on also. On many days of late, the WINDOW was open just a crack and only for very little time each day. If you were not at the WINDOW at the right time and place, there was no DX available to work. Of course it was easy to change the view out the window with the band switch. That was not the hard part. It was being there at the right time that was difficult. Some days it took many trips to that WINDOW before arriving at the opportune time. Those trips became more time consuming and started taking away from other activities. It became very discouraging.
Today the WINDOW was just about completely closed for a good part of day starting at 0000Z last evening. CY9C and his associated huge unbreakable (for me) pileup was the only thing being heard here. Well, there was some DX being heard working him, but of course no way for me to get at them. Checks every couple hours or so showed the same closed WINDOW, and I started thinking about ways to write about the end of the DX streak in the diary and in a report on the streak in the QRP section of the web site.
However the WINDOW opened just a crack in the 2000Z hour and some DX, albeit weak, was starting to be heard on 20 meters. The crack was not wide enough for my signals to get out though, and calls to a few stations from F5, TA, and a couple other countries who were S5 or less went totally ignored. Finally the WINDOW opened up just a bit wider around 2030Z and signals got a bit stronger, especially one of the Bulgarian saints stations, LZ1043PMU who was peaking at times to S7. My first call to him went unanswered as did the second one, but then I got a question mark from him. That increased to something like 3WP, and after sending K3WWP 4 or 5 more times, I got that K3WWP 599 599 (yeah, sure I was 599). I sent TU 599 599 and the QSO was in the log and the streak extended one more day.
I keep saying this, and some day I will mean it. It's just taking too much time away from other things now to keep the streak going looking for that little WINDOW opening, and I hope in the back of my mind it will come to an end. I think today was the roughest day yet, but still I made it. There is a lot of fascination in seeing just how deep into the soon to be here sunspot minimum the streak will continue. That may keep my interest strong enough to endure the extra time it takes now and the even more time it will take as the sunspots decline and the solar flux dips into the 60s. -30-
Tuesday, August 23, 2016 8:41 PM - Kind of an interesting day on the bands today. Not really expecting to find any DX, I got on the bands anyway in the 1600Z hour and lo and behold, I got a very easy DX QSO from DL2DX on 17 meters. Just took a single call and we even chatted a bit about the weather after exchanging reports. 17 meters may be the salvation for my DX streak. It seems to open up to Europe around that time of day. Or at least it has the few times I've checked in the past month or so. We'll see. That QSO also finished off all but four letters 'S' in the NAQCC August Challenge. Oh, it gave me the final 'L'.
The next QSO with K3SAV not only gave me two of the four letters 'S' but was quite interesting otherwise. Let me explain about the challenge letters first though. You can use a letter from a call twice, so had I needed them I could have gotten 2 each of K, S, A, and V from K3SAV. K3SAV is a call for the Nuclear Ship Savannah in Baltimore, MD. Since I operate a few times from the USS Requin submarine in Pittsburgh each year, I enjoyed working another ship station. Like NY3EC for the Requin whose maritime call was NYEC, K3SAV represents KSAV, the maritime call for the Savannah. There is a lot more interesting info about the Savannah in their QRZ listing, so you can check there if it interests you.
A little later then I worked AC9DN who told me he had been trying to find and work me for some time after reading the info on my web site a few years ago. Then to close out the day (so far), I worked Dave K2JVB with whom I had an interesting discussion comparing our antenna systems. His a pair of fan dipoles for 40 through 10 and mine of course the mostly indoor 160 through 6 set up described here on the web site.
Once again no DX this evening so maybe tomorrow on 17 in that 1600Z hour if not later on tonight. -30-
Monday, August 22, 2016 9:06 PM - A busy day today with laundry, grass cutting, closing out our August NAQCC Sprint, getting our Skeeter Hunt report ready to submit, and preparing a jumper cable for our trip to Skyview on Sunday. Plus all the other normal everyday things also.
No DX again tonight, so the usual story - try later or in the morning or afternoon. I mentioned to Mike yesterday I kind of wished the DX streak would end, but we both agreed that I probably won't end it voluntarily. It will just have to come to an end naturally. It does consume a lot of time some days, and that's rough on a beautiful day like today when the high is 80 with sunny skies and low humidity. That's when the outdoors beckons. -30-
Sunday, August 21, 2016 9:21 PM - I say this every time Mike and I (and Tom) get together - it was a really great day today. We activated the NAQCC club call of N3AQC in the Skeeter Hunt. It was also a NPOTA activation. Let me explain. The NJ QRP Club offered bonus points to any stations that activated a National Park in the Skeeter Hunt. So we (mostly Tom WB3FAE) did some research and found that the North Country Trail ran through Moraine State Park a little west of Butler PA. The Park is NOT a National Park, but the Trail is considered one. So to activate it Tom found out that we could set up in the park and as long as we were within 100 feet of the trail it would count as NPOTA TR04. He scouted the park and found a spot for us that would qualify.
Today Mike arrived around 9AM and after some chatter about various things, we headed off to Myrt's for breakfast. That was a bad start to the day. Myrt's was so busy there wasn't even a parking place left. Knowing we were on a schedule and don't like waiting anyway, we headed to another place - Kings in West Kittanning and had our breakfast there. Since neither Mike nor I knew exactly where the spot was that Tom picked out, we contacted him and he said to meet him at the Park office. Fine - we knew where that was. We met him and followed him to the spot. Of all our many parkpeditions, Mike thought, and I agreed, that this was just about our smoothest set up ever. There were absolutely no glitches.
When 1700Z arrived we got down to business. I asked Tom what band he wanted and he picked 20 leaving 40 for me. We already planned that Mike would do a non-Skeeter Hunt NPOTA activation on two of the WARC bands - 30 and 17.
Conditions were rough on all bands except for 40 meters. So I lucked out there in choice of (or actually assignment of, since I didn't choose) 40 meters. Although there were some gaps in activity of 10 minutes or more (longest being 17 minutes, I believe), there was pretty much a steady stream of answers to my CQ BZZ N3AQC calls. It was hard to believe I never moved off my chair for the full four hours. Not only that, harder to believe I held one frequency (7041.18) for the full four hours without any challenge at all. I wound up with 52 QSOs in (I believe) 25 SPCs. Unfortunately Tom and Mike did not have as much luck nor good conditions. Tom made 17 QSOs on 20 and Mike only 2 on 30 meters. I think because of that we are going to activate TR04 again in a strictly NPOTA event and publicize the heck out of it, as I put it.
Here's a picture Mike took from our backs showing Tom at left and me at right working our way through some QSOs. The North Country Trail is that gray ribbon in the upper left of the picture just some 50 or so feet in front of us.
I'll have more pictures in the NAQCC WPA Chapter report in the NAQCC September newsletter.
After we shut down at 2100Z, Mike and I stopped at Ponderosa in Butler on our way back here. Mike hung around a bit to see if I could get my DX streak QSO, but I didn't so that will have to come later tonight or in the morning or afternoon. We did both work NPOTA station N0AC/M in National Park TR14. -30-
Saturday, August 20, 2016 9:16 PM - Looking forward to activating a National Park in the Skeeter Hunt tomorrow. If you're chasing NPOTA QSOs, look for us at N3AQC in TR04 between 1700 and 2100Z on 40 and 20 meters around the standard QRP frequencies. Also we'll have a non-contest NPOTA activation same time on 30 and maybe 17 meters if its open. I'm eager to see how my new power supply will hold out. I think 4 hours will be just a little slow stroll for it, so to speak.
I had a little problem (well, that's too strong a word, but...) with the supply this morning. I plugged it in to give it a topping off charge for tomorrow, and nothing happened. Took some thought, but I got it figured out and remedied. When I removed the compressor from the unit when I first got it, there were three wires going to it. I didn't know why then and didn't research it at the time. To make the story short, there was a switch in the compressor to keep it from running while the battery was being charged. If the compressor switch was in the on position, the charger was disconnected from the batter. A bit of rewiring took care of that problem, and the battery is now fully charged, although actually it hadn't discharged much at all from its initial charge when I bought it a few days ago.
Did you hear a sigh of relief around 0020Z? That's when I worked T42R for my DX streak QSO. I figured I wouldn't have much time during the day tomorrow to get any DX so I better get it tonight, and I did for day # 1,270 now.
Not much else going on today to speak of. It was a pretty nice day although the humidity did creep up a bit from what it had been for a couple days. I guess that's from the rain coming tonight. I just hope it will get rained out before our parkpedition tomorrow. Oh, if you don't know, TR04 is the North Country Trail which passes through Moraine State Park just west of Butler PA. -30-
Friday, August 19, 2016 8:57 PM - I was on the air about two more hours today and my battery did drop one tenth of a volt down to 12.2, but along the way it fluctuated between 12.3 and 12.2 so I guess that was about 12.25 volts. HI The KX3 meter only reads tenths of a volt. I also cleaned up the front of the battery case and I think I'll put my call sign and perhaps a NAQCC logo on the now empty space where the battery info was.
My cleaning up of the tin snips went very well today. I wish I'd have taken a before picture so I could show off the improvement. There was another rusty pair at the Ol' Station Marketplace. Maybe I can take a picture of that as the before. HI
Otherwise today it was my second half of the month bill paying session. I also did some updating on our computer club computer. It was my turn this month.
DX conditions were not so hot this evening. I tried 5E3A, XE3/NP4G, and I think one other with no sign of being heard. Finally after several tries, I did get T46FY on 30 meters though. So that's most of the days this month I have gotten the DX in the 0000Z hour.
Temperature getting time now. The remote unit shows another 91 degree day today after a cool start of 62. -30-
Thursday, August 18, 2016 9:18 PM - I had forgotten about the menu setting on the KX3 that shows total up time for a session. That would enable me to keep track of just how long I can expect the battery pack to last. Tonight I was on for 52 minutes which probably makes a total around 4 hours that I've been using the battery. The voltage is still the same. It just sits there at 12.3 volts key up and 11.8-12.0 key down. So as I've said, it looks like I have a winner.
It was a very nice day today. The first day in about a week we haven't had some rain. That should give the gardens a chance to dry out a bit before another watering is needed. All my vegetables are producing nicely, not too slow and not too fast, but just right to satisfy one person. I had a bowl of speckled butter beans today and they were delicious. Long time diary readers may remember those are from seeds that Ron K5DUZ sent me a few years ago. Each year I save seeds from the beans for the next year. I haven't heard from Ron in quite some time now. I hope if you happpen to read this, you'll check in and let me know how you're doing. Or if anyone else has any info on Ron, let me know.
I bought an old pair of tin snips from the Ol' Station Marketplace today. Not so much that I needed them, but they were kind of rusty and I had been reading how vinegar is good for cleaning off rust from things and wanted to give it a try. So I took the snips apart and have them soaking in vinegar now. Tomorrow I'll take them out and see what happens. If they turn out good, I'll have a smaller set now to go along with my big tin snips that are really too big for some work. -30-
Wednesday, August 17, 2016 11:30 PM - I'm late in writing this as you see from the time stamp. So I'll just say it was an easy DX QSO tonight from old faithful Jurek EA6UN on 20 meters.
Earlier in the day I bought a new battery for my power supply I've been talking about. It works great so far. It comes on at 12.5 volts, drops to 12.4 briefly, then settles at 12.3 for as long as I played with it today which must be between 2 and 2 1/2 hours. When I transmit it drops to 11.9, but always comes back to 12.3 as soon as the KX3 goes back to receive. Sometimes it even goes to 12.4. So I'm very happy with it so far. The real test will come Sunday in the Skeeter Hunt. -30-
Tuesday, August 16, 2016 6:53 PM - Another hot and humid day today. However I found I didn't mind it. Just like my younger days. I got a lot done including a couple walks downtown for some shopping and mailing one of our NAQCC prizes to the winner. I also trimmed back my daylilies and weeded my garden.
I spent a lot of time checking my battery supply, and then working on it. As it had done previously, it discharged much too rapidly when I checked it with the KX3/PX3. So I tore into it. First I removed the compressor. I had been planning on doing that anyway. That was easy. It was just a separate unit attached to the back of the supply with six screws. There were three wires connecting it to the main part of the unit. I just cut them and taped them up for now. I'll probably get rid of them altogether eventually. Next it was taking apart the two halves of the main unit. Fortunately that went well also as everything was connected only to the front half. I totally removed the jumper cables (the ones meant to jump a car battery) since I wouldn't be needing them. Then I removed the battery itself. It's a big 'un weighing in at a measured 13 pounds on my bathroom scale. Right now I'm charging it with another charger wondering if it could be something wrong with the charging mechanism in the unit and not the battery itself. Little hope of that though.
I'll give it another check when I go back to the shack at 0000Z to get my streak QSOs and see what happens. If it still doesn't work, then it's shopping for a replacement battery. Again fortunately most all of the ones I have found on the Internet are extremely close to the physical size of the one I have so that won't be a problem at all. I'll just have to find the best price. There is a Battery Warehouse here in town so I may just try them first although I suspect their prices will be much higher. We'll see. -30-
Monday, August 15, 2016 9:20 PM - I did some more testing of the battery power supply today. After charging it overnight, it worked pretty good for about an hour with only a voltage drop of a couple tenths of a volt initially to around 11.8 volts. Then it held around 11.7-11.8 volts for that hour, but then suddenly dropped about a half a volt an fluctuated around 11.2-11.3 volts. So back on the charger again until this evening. All the charge lights lit, but the voltage was only around 10.8 volts and dropped to around 10.4 volts. One final overnight charge tonight and tomorrow I'll decide its fate. I'll probably take it apart and get the physical size and other specs on the gel cell and look for a replacement.
It wasn't easy getting even a regular QSO this evening, but finally I did work NR3P on 40 and a little later my DX was KP4BME on 20. That's when I switched back to the battery and did get KB5RCF on 20 for about a 10 minute QSO. The KX3 power output held steady at 5 watts even with the lowering battery voltage. -30-
Sunday, August 14, 2016 7:23 PM - I hooked up my battery power supply (shown here) to my KX3 and PX3 today. As you can see, it has been used, but doesn't really look all that bad.
It runs them both just fine, but the voltage drops too quickly. I'll try another full charge, and if that doesn't make any difference, I'll be shopping for a 12V 19Ah gel cell. I already did look for some on the Internet and they are in the $40 dollar neighborhood. So if I have to get one, that plus the 10 bucks I paid for the power supply will still be quite reasonable for something that should run the KX3/PX3 combo for several hours of portable operation.
I hope to get a quick DX QSO this evening, then get right to wrapping up the cross-checking of our NAQCC sprint logs after that. Should only take about 90 minutes or so depending on how many "head scratchers" I run into during the checking. I've already ironed out a couple of them. -30-
Saturday, August 13, 2016 7:35 PM - The heat and humidity (mostly humidity) are really unbearable today. Right now outside it is 86/72 temp/hum and inside 82/72. This old man is noticing it more and more each year. Used to be it couldn't get too hot/humid for me, but not any longer. I think if I make it through this summer, next year I'll think seriously about getting air conditioning.
I'm testing out my newly purchased battery power supply today. I've got the 12 volts going through a 250 ohm power resistor for .048 amps and .576 watts if my Ohm's Law memory is correct. After an initial drop from about 12.9V to 12.45V, it has been stable at that voltage for over 4 hours now. So maybe the internal battery which is a gel cell rated at 12V 19Ah might still be good. Although I'll have to raise the current and power to be sure as 48 milliamps is not much current. I did charge it for about 48 hours before testing today. That's the recommended charge period for a first time charge, and it seemed to take that long to get it fully charged now. Maybe after a couple days of testing at a higher drain to see if it can handle that, if it does, I'll hook it up to the KX3 and see how that works out. I'll have a picture of the unit here in a couple days after I trim my diary back to thirty days on the 15th. I had a lot of pictures from early July taking up a lot of bandwidth on my Windstream site. No problem on the k3wwp.com site with bandwidth, but Windstream still has a limit of 10 MB for free sites as part of my phone service with them.
It's getting close to 0000Z now. Hopefully I can get a quick WAE contact as I did last night in my hot shack. I don't want to have to stay in there too long. -30-
Friday, August 12, 2016 8:28 PM - These are really the dog days of summer. At least according to the weather and the astronomical event that gave them their name. So far this month including today, the average high temperature is 91.5 degrees on my remote AcuRite thermometer. And that's probably true for my mercury max/min thermometer in my shelter also. They generally are well within a degree of each other. They should be because the remote sensor for the AcuRite is in the same shelter. Only the last three days though have we had the warm overnight readings (74, 73, 73). The previous days of the month the low has averaged 65.0 degrees.
What's the astronomical event? Well according to some legends, the ancients believed these days were hotter because the sun and Sirius were pretty much in alignment or at least rose about the same time since the ecliptic is quite a ways north of Sirius. Anyway supposedly the heat from Sirius added to that of the sun. Of course that is not true. In fact it's not positive that the legend is even true. Sirius being in the constellation of Canis Major or the large dog, does have the nickname the dog star, hence the dog days "legend".
One thing that is not a legend is that the WAE contest is this weekend which means an easy DX QSO for my streak both Saturday and Sunday. This evening for Saturday it was TM6M in an easy QSO at 0002Z. He's the only one I worked as I don't feel like contesting this weekend. Also the WAE is not one of my favorite contests because of the QTC rule. -30-
Thursday, August 11, 2016 9:15 PM - We had our first meaningful rain of the month today, if you call .14 inches meaningful. I don't even know if that is enough to lift our drought watch for this area. However, other parts of Armstrong and adjacent counties did get over 2 inches of rain from the same storm. It's like we had our wagons circled in the midst of an Indian attack here as the rain at one point had us pretty much encircled, but we only got a brief burst here. It's been that way a lot lately. Let's hope it continues that way for s#$w this winter.
It's one straight week now I've gotten my DX in the 0000Z hour after working NP3CW on 30 at 0043Z.
I bought myself an automobile battery jumper today which I hope to use as a power supply for my portable operations. I bought it used at our Ol' Station Marketplace for $10, and I'm seeing if it will charge up now. If not, I might have to replace the internal gel cell as we did with Mike's supply a few months ago. -30-
Wednesday, August 10, 2016 8:54 PM - Since this was a computer club meeting night and I wouldn't be getting home till after 0000Z, I thought my DX streak QSO might be a little harder to get this evening. Wrong! It only took about 5 minutes to get EA6/DC2CW on 30 meters after failing to get a DL1 station before that.
We just received log # 101 from last night's NAQCC sprint so we hit the magic mark again. Our NAQCC members are the greatest. In the sprint conditions were unusual here, especially on 40 meters. I only made one QSO from an adjacent state - MD. Skip was rather long and hopping right over NY NJ OH MI WV DE PA. I worked 3 stations from IA, also very unusual. I had to struggle to reach 31 QSOs. 30 is kind of my watermark for my simple setup here. If I make that, I consider it a success. Occasionally I'll top out in the 50s when conditions are really great which isn't that often. I'm glad I don't enter for score, but to have fun - otherwise I'd be really upset some times. HI. -30-
Tuesday, August 09, 2016 8:11 PM - Our NAQCC sprint is coming up shortly so this will be quick. I've gone back and forth today about being in a contest mood. One time I think I'm just going to get so many QSOs then quit. Next time I feel gung ho about going the full two hours and seeing what I can come up with. The final decision will come when I see how conditions are.
For the fifth night in a row, my DX QSO came quickly if not all that easily. I found HP1RN sending QRL? prior to starting a session, and I was the first to work him although it did take several repeats for him to pull out my call correctly. So that's one less thing to think about. -30-
Monday, August 08, 2016 9:06 PM - Let's see... 1, 2, 3, 4. Yes, 4 evenings in a row now I've gotten my DX QSO in the 00Z hour. Maybe conditions aren't as bad as they seem. Tonight it was FY5KE on 30 meters. However I also couldn't get CO6RD on 20 nor HP1RN on 30. They are usually cinch QSOs so that's another factor to think about when analyzing conditions of late.
I did the prelim work for our NAQCC sprint coming up tomorrow evening, so I'm already for that now. I've pretty much got it down to a science as they saying goes. It only takes about a half hour now to get the new GenLog data file ready, get Paul's data file for his logging program, set up the cross-checking program, and compose an updated NAQCC member list for the Internet HamCall QSL lookup site. Just about anything can be optimized and made more efficient by putting a little thought into it. -30-
Sunday, August 07, 2016 9:07 PM - A very quiet day today. Not much to talk about. DX came pretty quickly this evening. I turned on the rig which was set to 30 meters from my DX QSO last evening. I saw one strong peak on the panadapter and figured it was some USA station, but checked it anyway and it turned out to be HK1MW. After losing out to maybe 10 or 12 other stronger stations, it was my turn and day # 1,257 of the DX streak is now secure.
I did do something interesting with my computer Access log today. I listed the first station worked from each country on each band. It was fascinating, but not surprising how the new countries followed the sunspot cycles once the easy ones were out of the way in the first couple years of my starting up again in 1993. Just for a short example, let's look at 20 meters. From 1993 to 1995 I worked 63 countries which we'll call startup ones. Then during the next couple years near a sunspot minimum (1996-1997), I added only 16 more new ones. When the sunspot cycle built up and peaked for the next few years (1998-2004), 74 new countries were added. For the next few years the cycle started to decline again plus I wasn't as active so from 2005-2010 it was 8 new ones. Of course another factor enters in now also. After 161 worked, it's down to the rarer harder to work ones, so even though the sunspot cycle was now up again, from 2011 through the present, only 19 more were added. The stats don't count W/VE stations, and therefore only include 180 of the actual 182 countries I have on 20 meters. -30-
Saturday, August 06, 2016 8:20 PM - I love calling CQ on the ham bands. You never know who is going to answer you. That's why I do it a lot. I'll talk about that more after this bit of business.
I checked with Paul N8XMS about reprinting this news item from the August NAQCC Newsletter, and he gave his permission. So here is what Paul wrote.
K3WWP COMPLETES AN AMAZING 22 YEARS! On August 4, 2016 John, K3WWP, #0002, cofounder and retired Vice-president of the NAQCC, marked 22 years for his QRP CW QSO streak. That's 22 years - 8036 days - of making at least one QRP CW contact every single day! When John started his streak in 1994 President Bill Clinton had been in office for about a year and a half, the World Trade Center was still standing, and most of us were not on the internet. (Netscape Navigator, one of the first popular browsers, wasn't released until the fall of that year.) Think about all that has happened in the world, and in your personal world, over the last 22 years. Now think about making at least one QRP CW QSO each and every day over all of that time - solar minimums and geomagnetic storms, personal business appointments, illness, and neighborhood power outages - letting nothing get in the way! I don't know of anyone else, QRP or even QRO, who claims to even come close to that accomplishment and we certainly extend a big CONGRATULATIONS to John for this. You can learn more about the streak and follow the next 22 years on John's website at http://k3wwp.com/.
Let's see, if I live that long, I'll be 93 when 22 more years have passed. I wouldn't count on the streak lasting that long for sure. Thanks again to Paul for the nice comments on the streak. I think he really put the time frame in context. I would guess that was about the time I had a good (for that era) Internet connection from Alltel. That replaced an earlier setup with a local bank which gave one hour free Internet per day at a speed where you might be able to download a few hundred kB picture in that time. That was later expanded to 2 hours, and shortly thereafter Alltel came along with unlimited service for a reasonable price. That's one memory that came to mind from reading Paul's words. There were a lot more that I won't go into here.
OK, now about calling CQ. I think that is one of the things that makes ham radio so fascinating and exciting. The excitement surfaced again this evening. But first things first. If you call CQ, that element of uncertainty as to if you're going to get answered or not, and if you do then you have no idea where your signals went to draw that response. If you answer other folks CQs, well that's good also, but the uncertainty is pretty much gone then. You know if you're calling another USA station, someone from Germany, maybe Australia, and the like.
I guess you know I'm leading up to something. Yes, tonight with the NAQP going on, I figured unless I listened to countless signals in the contest trying to find a DX station, it was unlikely I would get my DX QSO. So I thought instead I would go to a WARC band and try some CQs to at least keep the regular streak going. A quick check of 17 showed it to be dead, so that left 30 meters. There was some activity there, so I picked out a spot and called CQ. Well, within a few CQs, I noticed a signal a bit higher in frequency on the panadapter and tuned the RIT to it. It was a Mexican station about 459. I wasn't sure if he was calling me or just happened to be there, so I sent QRZ? DE K3WWP K. He was calling me. It was XE3ARV. That was still exciting to me after almost 90,000 QSOs. So my DX came easily for a change. With QRN on both ends and some QSB here also, it wasn't all that solid a QSO, but we did exchange enough info for a loggable QSO. Then as I was typing this, I got an email notification and checked it out. Turned out to be XE3ARV signing my guestbook and thanking me for the QSO. That added a bit more excitement.
OK, you know me and stats. That got me to wondering just how many DX stations have answered my CQ during the streak and also during all my QRP QSOs over the years. I'm going to find out now. It's a piece of cake with my Microsoft Access log with a bit of help from Microsoft Excel. Back in a few minutes......
OK, first step shows 165 such QSOs. Now to filter out those from the early days of my hamming when I did run more than 5 watts. OK, down to 152 now. During the streak there were 18 such QSOs. The 152 QSOs came from 50 countries. The 18 streak QSOs were from 10 countries. Very interesting and it shows that you can work DX by calling CQ with a minimal setup like mine. Of course I've talked about this a few times in the diary, but my most distant CQ answer came from VK6HQ in Perth Australia, close to halfway around the Earth. And he did it on two separate occasions. -30-
Friday, August 05, 2016 4:31 PM - I wonder:
1. Will there be enough activity by the really great ops around the world to keep my DX streak going?
2. Will I have enough patience to spend the much greater amount of time necessary to get a DX QSO as we slip toward the rapidly coming sunspot minimum?
3. Will there be enough DX contests to at least make the DX QSOs on Saturdays and Sundays somewhat easier?
4. Will the special event DX stations provide somewhat easier DX QSOs to keep the streak alive?
5. Will the vacation style DXpeditions to areas like the Caribbean provide easy DX QSOs from time to time?
6. Will folks learn to keep it short when working DX to give everyone more of a chance to work the DX station also?
7. Will continuing the streak require something I cannot provide like a better QTH and/or a better antenna system?
8. Does it really matter if the streak continues or have I already made the point I was trying to make, i.e. it is possible on a very vast number of days to work DX with such a minimal station setup as mine?
There are a lot of things to think about concerning the DX streak as conditions continue to decline. I recall in the last sunspot minimum some QRP (and QRO) friends with a better location than mine were working DX that I wasn't even hearing here. They were either closer to the Atlantic Ocean and hence closer to Europe and Africa than me, or they had a hilltop or even just a flat location compared to my valley location. On top of that, they were able to have high outdoor antennas compared to my mostly "in house" antennas.
I think it will be much more interesting to see just how long the streak can be maintained with the sunspot minimum coming. It actually had become pretty much a 'ho-hum' thing working DX when the solar flux was running well over 100. In fact it was still easy with a SF as low as the upper 80s. Now with it in the lower 70s and soon to be in the mid to upper 60s, it's going to take a lot more skill, luck, time, and patience to keep going.
Along the way though, if it does indeed keep going, my knowledge of propation, which bands to use when, and other such things should increase. That will be a good learning experience. That's what life is all about - learning. Once we stop learning, we might as well just jump right into the grave.
Anyway the streak did go on another day a little while ago. Same station as yesterday, different band. HC2AO - this time on 17 meters. Nice to have a really great op like Alex active on the bands.
To close, I'd like to thank NAQCC President Paul N8XMS for the nice write up he gave to the first 22 years of my main streak in the August NAQCC newsletter. I think I'll see if he'll let me post it here in the diary and/or on my QRP Streaks page. -30-
Thursday, August 04, 2016 9:56 PM - Year # 23 of the streak got off to a start tonight when John KC8JR answered my 40 meters QSO. He said he's only been a ham for about a year now. I'm glad that he is using CW.
Today I updated my streak story (QRP section - QRP Streaks page) to 22 years. I still want to add some streak highlights from the past year near the end of the page, but otherwise the rest of the page is pretty much up to date now.
It was again rough continuing my DX streak today. I needed three QSOs to satisfy me. First I worked XE1ZW who had my call as K3WWR and gave me a 449, but then he just disappeared so I still don't know if he logged me correctly or not. I did not log him. Then it was aggravation. I called F6ARL who sent K3 P?? However a K1--/M station jumped in right on top of me. They rag chewed for a while and I came back later and tried again. This time after several repeats, I think, but am not positive F6ARL had my call correct. Some strong tuner came on top of him just when he was sending my call and I'm not sure if he sent K3WWP or K3WP. I did log him, but still wanted something more positive as I always do when getting a DX streak QSO. There wasn't anything else around then, so I did a couple other things and came back to the shack a couple hours later. I found Alex HC2AO on 20. He was fairly strong. After I lost out to a few other stations, finally he came back with K3WWP John 559 559. I sent my report and now I had my sure streak QSO.
Tonight it was the same thing again as the last couple nights now. Just no DX to be found, at least stronger than my S4 noise level. So another stressful day tomorrow barring something later tonight. I'm not sure I want to keep up the effort to keep the streak going, but as I said before, I'll probably go down swinging. -30-
Wednesday, August 03, 2016 5:39 PM - A lot of time today was spent thinking of a good way to write this diary entry concerning the end of the DX streak. Conditions had to be the poorest overall in a few years. Even stations who are usually "easy works" like V44KAI and F5IN not only were only peaking S5 at best, but listening to them, I could tell they were having trouble working anyone. Even when they did work someone, a few repeats were involved. I think Mike F5IN even gave up as I didn't hear him on for very long. I also heard DK1NO who wasn't more than S4.
One of the ways I though of writing this was to list other streaks, mainly in sports. Then trying to imagine how those individuals or teams felt when their streaks ended. However I decided to open it, I would provide a short analysis of the 1,251 days of the streak - total QSOs, number of countries, and so on. Then say I'd have a more detailed analysis in the diary tomorrow.
However, I can't really decide on just what to say as an obituary for the streak. Maybe this will suffice to just desribe the ways I thought about writing it.
But, wouldn't you know it. I wasted all that time thinking about what to write because I went and ruined it by working David XE1XR at 2135Z, and it was easy. So I'll have to again postpone the streak obituary as I did once before a couple months or so ago. I'm sure now it will come soon though. Conditions are getting more and more deplorable day by day.
Enough of that. How about a picture of version four of the Popsicle key:
As I said in a previous entry and you can see here, the base is the big difference. Also the relay contacts were thicker than in the earlier versions, so I had to space the contacts apart further this time - three sticks instead of two. If you look closely at the knob, you can see it was once a tuning knob of some kind cut down to roughly the shape of a regular telegraph key knob. I think of the four, I like this one the best. It seems to have just the right tension and spacing that works well for me. -30-
Tuesday, August 02, 2016 9:10 PM - Well, yet one more night/day when the DX streak looks to be in danger. I only heard three DX stations this evening. Two were very weak, and one of those two (V44KAO) said he was having heavy QRN and was having trouble copying anyone. EA8AF was at best S4 on 40 meters. S01WS was pretty good on both 40 and 30, but a LOT of people still need S0 on those bands as he had some good pileups on both bands. I probably could have worked him, but it might have taken a while had he even heard me, and I don't like to deprive others of a QSO if someone is struggling to copy me. I have him on both those bands anyway. So it will be maybe later tonight, in the morning or afternoon, or the streak will end at 1,251 days.
It was a pretty nice day today. One of those hot, but not too humid ones. Right now in fact, the humidity is only 48 percent and the low was 34% sometime this afternoon. So I did some outside work pulling some grass and weeds from my brick sidewalk. I also helped Ange water his garden and walked Roscoe three times (so far).
I made a version four of my Popsicle stick key over the past couple days. It's pretty much like the others except instead of using a stick platform for a base, I used a piece of MDF (or some kind of processed wood) I had in my wood junk box. That added a little weight and just a little height to the key. I also ran out of regular key type knobs and made one from an old tuning knob of sorts. As I've said many times I love working with wood and if I had the money, room, and time, it would be higher up on my list of hobbies. I was thinking maybe next of carving a key out of a block of wood somehow. Stay tuned to see if that ever materializes.
Back to streaks again. When I work someone tomorrow evening (August 4 UTC), that will complete 22 years of making a QRP/CW/simple wire antenna QSO each and every day. That's 8,036 days - or - 264 months. Whew! Let's see I was only 49 years old when the streak started August 5, 1994. Where does the time go? And why does it go faster when we get older. HI -30-
Monday, August 01, 2016 4:27 PM - Wow, this was a busy day so far. Let's see if I can even remember all I've done so far. I started off doing my first of the month financial work. No, before that I uploaded my July logs to LoTW and eQSL, then took Roscoe for his morning walk. Then the bill paying/banking. After some brunch, or actually around some brunch, I closed out the report on our NAQCC July sprint. Another Roscoe walk started the afternoon. Then I put my July weather records in my computer Excel spreadsheet. July was a warm month, but not record setting overall. It was around 4 degrees above normal, but also about 4 degrees below the record from 2011. There were a few daily records, mostly for high minimum temperature and daily mean temperature. I think that pretty much covers the day except for making up my paper worksheet for our August NAQCC alphabet challenge which deals with words relating to the Pony Express.
Now to honor my promise, info about the FOBB yesterday with Mike. He arrived here a little before 11 AM. He had his breakfast already, so I grabbed a little snack for mine. We set off for the Community Park around 11:30 which gave us well over an hour to get set up for the sprint.
Things started off badly while putting up our antennas. My golf ball launcher got tangled up in the tree I was going to use for the center support of my jumper inverted vee. With Mike's help, I retrieved the golf ball, but did lose some of the string. After repairing the launcher, I managed to toss the golf ball successfully over a branch - not the one I was trying for, but one a little lower. I had enough of that so I just went with the lower branch and got the antenna up successfully. I guess it was up 12-15 feet or so. While I was doing that, I think Mike was having trouble with his antenna mast as well. I'm not sure just what, but it took him longer than usual to get it set up. Anyway here are the antennas. As always ones in trees don't show up that well, but....
The next order of business was setting up our stations. Mike is using his KX3/PX3 and Begali paddle. I'm using my KX3 and Bencher paddle. He had his monster battery pack, and I my 7Ah Gel Cell. We both logged on paper this time. My Gel Cell lost very little of its charge during the 4 hours, going only from about 12.5 to 12.3 volts. I think it helped keeping the back light off of the screen.
It was a beautiful day as shown here. There were scattered thunderstorms predicted, but they never materialized. Except for some weak crashes near the end of the four hours, we didn't even hear any storm static. It was warm in the sun, but nice and cool with some nice breezes in our sheltered pavillion.
Conditions were very up and down throughout the day. I can speak first hand about 20 meters which was my band, and according to what Mike was saying, 40 must have been pretty much the same. We got out of the blocks fast, but I stumbled after 3 QSOs, while Mike had made it up to 10 already. From then on, there would be brief surges of activity for 5 minutes or so providing about a QSO per minute followed by a drought of maybe as much as 20 minutes at times. In tuning the band during those droughts, I would notice only 2 or 3 signals at most, and they were weak. When conditions were up, stations answering my CQ would really rattle my eardrums. Other times, they were weak whispers. Here we are doing our best to add QSOs to our FOBB logs.
We persisted for the whole 4 hours. Mike did have a salad, but continued working as he ate. I later took a bit of time off for my sub since my rate wasn't worthwhile eating and operating at the same time. When the curtain fell at 5 PM, we totalled things up and we both wound up with virtually the same results. Mike made 35 QSOs on 40, and I had 34 on 20. A total between us of 22 states plus ON worked. A great amount of enjoyment despite the far from optimum conditions. Looking back to 2015, I see I had only 15 QSOs then in the FOBB. I don't know about Mike. So I more than doubled my total. It was nice working Don K3RLL whom we both worked, somewhat surprisingly on 20 meters since Don is only about 20 miles from here. Ground wave? The goat man wG0AT answered my CQ. Good to work everybody of course, some familiar and some new to me.
When we got back home here, we put together our FOBB report and emailed it off to the ARS. Of our 69 QSOs, almost exactly half (35) were with other BBs. -30-