Diary Archives OneDrive Pictures/Slideshows Email me FISTS Web Site NAQCC Web Site
2015-03-01 01:00:00 GMT-04:00 TILL SPRING ARRIVES
Wednesday, December 17, 2014 7:38 PM - Conditions sounded pretty good again this evening, with strong signals although not a lot of them, particularly DX ones. I did hear E90WF on 40, but no response from him. Also W1AW/KH6 on 20 with a huge pileup. I could have easily gotten him in the clear if my Hawaiian pipeline was working but not through (literally as everyone I heard him work was west of here between me and him) that pileup. Also a strong DX stn on 15 but calling CQ JA so I didn't even stay to see who it was. Maybe P40CX again? 6Y5WJ was strong on 30, but I've worked him so many times..... Finally though I did snag LU7YS on 30 meters to keep the DX streak going. Later this evening it's our NAQCC mW sprint. I think I'll get one QSO (if I can) and then quit rather than try to dig mW signals out of my local noise. At least that way I'll have participated and keep my record of never having missed one of our sprints intact. -30-
Tuesday, December 16, 2014 8:41 PM - I thought the bands sounded above average this evening, and after getting my DX quickly in the form of 6Y6N on 30M, then working W1AW/3 in MD on 40M and listening around some more, I checked the propagation numbers for my propagation page and found the SF had jumped all the way to 185 today without any significant ionospheric disturbances.
Speaking of W1AW/3, I was listening on 80M and calling with no sucess. The point being I was listening, and suddenly W1AW started calling for DX only, so I stopped calling immediately. However several other W/VE stations kept right on blindly calling. It almost made me ashamed to be a member of the ham radio fraternity. But I guess that is to be expected with the extreme easing of the requirements to become a ham these days.
I actually heard all three W1AW states quickly this evening, but only managed the one 40M QSO with MD. I couldn't get GA, and KH6 was too weak with too big a pileup to even try. It doesn't really matter though because as you know, I got all 50 states the first time around. This time I'm just working them for fun if I can, to pass some time.
Earlier today in the 1400Z hour I easily worked Jim WI9WI in Curacao for my DX QSO, and as he often does, he took a moment to ask if I was QRP. He gave me a 539, but as I was listening to him a bit after I worked him on 12M and again this evening on 30, he was giving out quite a few 539 reports, so I was not in a tiny minority. HI. -30-
Monday, December 15, 2014 7:59 PM - Another evening with no DX, so it's off to the shack in the morning. There was a strong P40CX on 17, but he seemed only interested in working Japan, so after calling a few times, I gave up on him. I did work W2B on 30M for the regular streak.
Somebody mentioned "sun" today and I couldn't figure out what they were talking about, then it dawned on me they meant that bright object that used to grace the blue skies and make days cheery. It had been so long, I had forgotten. Maybe if I live long enough, I'll get a chance to see it again.
This has been one of the gloomiest months in recent memory (mine at least). I had hoped to follow the sun as it "moved" south until December 21, then "moved" back north again via the method shown on this .pdf file. Anyway to make my point about the gloom, since I created the setup in early November, the sun has only made its appearance at that time of day perhaps 5 or 6 times. Sigh! I hope to get at least several clear days or enough to check the accuracy of my computations before the sun is too high to work with the system. -30-
Sunday, December 14, 2014 2:11 PM - A good day in the 10M contest again. It's so much fun getting into these big high speed, quick exchange contests. It really gets the adrenalin flowing. I wish they happened more often. Or maybe what they say about too much of a good thing would kick in. Who knows.
Anyway I was doing some thinking about a typical contest exchange. Let's pick one from my log and analyze it a bit. Here we go after I hear my friend Franki OQ5M - no, that's a bad example of what I'm getting at as we always add greeting to the exchange. Let's do PA5WT whom I picked at random. When I hear him, I send my call and it goes like this:
K3WWP (sent by me)
K3WWP 599851 (by him)
TU 599PA (by me)
TU (by him)
That's the total QSO - period. 27 characters including 2 spaces. Now assuming the ideal with no pauses between the four exchanges, that's 5.4 words figuring 5 characters per word. At a speed of 25 WPM that means about 4.6 exchanges or QSO's can be fit in one minute, not counting the CQs by PA5WT. If he calls CQ once every 3 QSOs, that (depending on the style of CQ) would probably make it 3.5 to 4 exchanges per minute or a rate of 210-240 per hour.
If the speed is 30 WPM, that makes 5.6 exchanges per minute, or with the CQs around maybe 4 to 4.5 per minute or 240-270 per hour. And if that rate could be kept up for a solid 48 hours which is virtually impossible, that would be 48x240 or 11,520 QSOs. Now I don't know what the record is for QSOs in a 48 hour contest, but I'm sure it's quite a bit lower than that. In contests where numbers are part of the exchange, I've worked stations giving out numbers in the 4,000s as best as I can recall.
Of course then you have the multi-band, multi-op setups which is a whole 'nother story I won't go into here. I just think it is very impressive what the big contesters can do.
I always try to do my very best not to slow them down. I send only the bare minimum of info as in the exchange above. I send it as quickly as possible coming back without any pauses between exchanges. I send using as perfect code as possible. If conditions get to the point where my QRP is not making it all that well and I am asked for too many repeats, I'll simply QRT or perhaps move to another band. I have too much respect for the top notch contesters to hurt their efforts in any way.
It's a shame how some folks will send more info than needed, or send the info so sloppily. Everyone who enters a big contest should train themselves to be as good as they can so as not to slow things down.
It's interesting (funny?) how some folks will seemingly be zipping right along using a computer, but when they have to ask for a repeat of something, they revert to a keyer, bug, or even straight key and be sloppy when doing so.
Just continuing with these random thoughts. Although I understand why they do it, and would do it myself were I at the key of a big contest station, it is frustating to hear stations run off 4,5, maybe up to 10 or more QSOs in a row without identifying themselves. Likewise, although it really doesn't happen much in contesting, calling CQ several times before identifying is frustrating and slows things down. Unfortunately that does happen a lot in general operating. If I feel someone calls an extraordinay number of CQs with no ID, I will simply move on.
Another thing is the use of QRL. First of all it needs a question mark at the end when asking if a frequency is in use. QRL?, not QRL. Secondly either give a person the chance to respond, or don't wait to long before doing something. We often hear (especially in contests) a QRL? followed by a few milliseconds for a response before they start using the frequency. Outside of contests, a QRL? is often followed by an eternity of silence, then even repeated with another eternity. In my opinion, a wait of 3-5 seconds for a response is just about right. If no one responds after that time, go ahead and use the frequency.
Well, that's enough for today. I'll get down off the soapbox and get something to eat now. Then maybe get back in the 10M contest again to see if I can get some Asian or Oceania stations. -30-
Saturday, December 13, 2014 6:50 PM - Conditions weren't as good today as some previous 10M contests near the peak of the last sunspot cycle, BUT they weren't all that bad either. Europe was very easy to work for a couple hours this morning till conditions started to change around 1630Z. I took a break at that time for a few hours since I wasn't going for score, but just having fun. I hadn't planned to work many W/VE stations, but when I came back on just past 2000Z, W/VE stations plus a few Caribbean stations were pretty much all to be had, so I did work quite a few. There were a couple KH6s in the mix also, but my pipeline to HI was a little clogged and I couldn't work them (yet). I have only 83 QSOs now, and I'll check again in a couple minutes when I get on to get my streak QSO(s), but if it is like last night, 10 will be pretty much closed down now, except for the big KW/beam stations in good locations, and I'm far from that. I'll probably have to wait till the morning and take advantage of a few hours of good conditions to Europe and then maybe work some more W/VE stations later in the day. -30-
Friday, December 12, 2014 6:51 PM - In the very unlikely event that 10M proves to be great this evening and I get involved in the contest, I thought I'd just write the entry now because there really isn't a lot to talk about. It was a very quiet day here, and I can't even think of anything out of the ordinary that I did.
I cleaned up some old files on my computer. I never did get on the bands since I got my DX last evening. Hopefully they will be good for the 10M contest this weekend. I also mailed one of our NAQCC prizes to the winner this afternoon since the weather was fairly good. Cloudy with temperature in the mid-30s and none of that ugly stuff around.
Well, off to the shack now. -30-
Thursday, December 11, 2014 7:26 PM - You know, it's no wonder W1AW/7 in MT is so easy to work. My best guess is that two great contest ops who moved to MT from elsewhere plus one MT native (as far as I know) are doing a lot of the operating. I know for sure Matt K7BG (formerly AA7BG from a good many years ago) is one of the ops because we've shared brief Christmas greetings when I worked W1AW/7 on 20 last night and 40 just a little while before typing this. I also worked W1AW/7 easily on 80 last night with but a single call. The other two op suspects, although I'm not sure, would be WJ9B and N9RV whom I work often in contests. I forget just where they resided before moving to MT. I guess that's the hot (not wx-wise) spot for contesting now. I remember when it was NM a few years ago when some big contesters migrated there. I can only recall WB0O and K0EVZ now, both of whom came from ND. Now that's understandable to move from ND elsewhere if you hate cold weather, but to MT? I guess contesting is more important than wx.
For the first time in a few days I got my DX in the evening. It was TG9GJG on 30 a little after working W1AW/7 this evening to extend the DX streak to 652 days now. Unless 10 meters shuts down, the next two days should be a cinch with the 10M contest underway. This morning I easily worked OE3KAB there and heard other signals at pretty good levels although I didn't take time to try to work anyone else. -30-
Wednesday, December 10, 2014 10:51 AM - OK, now here's the more info I promised in my VERY late entry last night. Once again conditions were horrible for the sprint, and I had to struggle to make my goal of 20 QSOs. I actually made 23 because copy was so rough that I wasn't sure of a couple of the QSOs. 20 meters was pretty much dead except for W5ASP who didn't hear me at all. 40 meters wasn't much better although my very first CQ there netted a QSO with Dick K1IEE, and I managed a couple more QSOs before giving up on 40 and heading to 80. It wasn't a whole lot better with a solid S8-S9 noise level. I figure if I had a penny for each noise pulse that assaulted my ears, I'd have enough money to buy some great property in a quiet location and experience some noiseless contesting. I envy those folks who do have such quiet locations and routinely run up twice the number of QSOs I have to struggle to make. Even operating from the Community Park here in Kittanning is a whole lot better with almost S0 or S1 at worst noise levels and copying even the weakest signals is a piece of cake. Speaking of cake, I'm getting hungry so let me finish this and get something to eat.
My DX QSO this morning came easier than any of the sprint QSOs when it took a single call to work IT9/LY5W on 10 meters. I didn't take time to explore the bands after I got the QSO, but a quick glance showed them to be pretty good. Hopefully they will remain so for the 10 meters contest.
Our computer club Christmas party is this evening, so once again I'll have to get my DX streak QSO tomorrow in the morning or early afternoon. -30-
Tuesday, December 09, 2014 11:59 PM - Well, the time stamp lies. It's actually well past midnight. I got involved in the sprint and a couple other things and didn't get to the diary till now. I'll have more to say in tomorrow's entry. -30-
Monday, December 08, 2014 8:44 PM - I didn't really need any,but I got some incentive for entering the ARRL 10M Contest this coming weekend. I received my certificate for last year's performance in that contest. See my contest page here for a picture of the certificate.
As you know, since retiring as NAQCC VP, I've been working on my web site, trying to get caught up with all the updates that should have been made, but haven't been because of my time-consuming NAQCC work. Well, today I delved into my 'Find a QSL Route' page. Whew! Things have really changed there and I must apologize to all who have tried using it, and getting a lot of 'page not found' or other error messages. Things have really changed a lot in the QSL address servers field over the past several years as I explain on the completely revamped page here.
I've got my little pink slip out here in front of me reminding me to get a DX QSO in the morning or afternoon to keep the streak alive. I had a long rag chew with my old friend Ernie VE3OU starting at 0000Z, and by the time I got to looking for DX, there wasn't any to be found other than PV8ADI. Despite being well over S9 here, he didn't copy me at all, and in fact, had trouble copying several stations he did manage to work. He must live in a very noisy location down there in Brazil. Oh well, I have the time tomorrow to search for and hopefully find a DX station to work. Or maybe I'll just go back to the shack this evening and give a try. -30-
Sunday, December 07, 2014 7:46 PM- Yes, December 7, a day that will be remebered for one sad national event, one sad personal event, and one good event.
Of course the big sad event occurred 73 years ago when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and precipitated the entry of the USA into World War II, and along with Great Britain under the leadership of Winston Churchill, they ultimately defeated Japan and Germany. This is not a history lesson and I'm not going to dwell any deeper and list all the countries actually involved, so let's move on.
It was three years ago today that I lost a very good 'friend':
Yes, my neighbor's dog Joe passed away three years ago this morning. I still miss him, although my neighbors now have Roscoe, and although he is no Joe, he is pretty special in his own way. I always think of Joe being a more mature 'adult' type dog, while Roscoe is more like a little 'child' type.
One more thing needs noting, and it's a good thing. This is the day each year when we have the earliest sunset around 40 degrees north latitude. Actually the sunset is pretty much the same a day or two before and after the 7th, but I like to honor it on the 7th each year. From now on the sun will set a little later each day and those long dark evenings will get shorter and shorter. It's hardly noticeable now, but the rate of change accelerates through March 21 at the vernal equinox.
Since I both got my DX streak QSO last evening and completed the NAQCC European December challenge late yesterday afternoon, I didn't have much incentive to get on the bands during the day today, so I didn't. This evening I used a little patience to get my DX QSO. For some reason J6/K9AW was very popular on 30M. I didn't think St. Lucia was all that rare, but he did have a pileup, so I looked around elsewhere. I didn't find anything so I went back to 30 and J6/K9AW was still there, but sans pileup, so I worked him easily to reach day 648 in the DX streak. -30-
Saturday, December 06, 2014 1:39 PM - I kind of like writing these diary entries in the morning or early afternoon, and may do it more often.
Once again conditions were very good this morning and as I've been saying, retiring from the NAQCC VP job has freed up my time to take advantage of the morning air time. I worked about a half dozen DX stations this morning and in the process finished up the NAQCC 'USA' December Marconi Challenge and got down to needing only a half dozen letters to finish the companion European Chapter Christmas Tree Challenge.
Very little amazes me about success with QRP/CW/simple wire antennas, but one thing does make me wonder a bit. I wonder why it is so easy to work DX stations when I can barely hear them here and I know they are running much more power than I am and with much better antennas. The prime suspect is that they have superbly quiet locations and their bigger antennas can copy my 'peanut whistle' signals easily albeit I'm only a legitimate S2 or S3 at best. It would be intersting if everyone would give an honest signal strength report instead of the standard 599 or 559. I think some ops only use those two and nothing lower or in-between. I do (very) occasionally get an S2 to S4 report, but most all the time it's 599 even if it took me a dozen repeats of my call for them to get it right. Or if they did have trouble, then a lot of ops will give the other standard 559 report. I know when we operate at the Kittanning Community park, it is so quiet there, I can honestly give out 509 reports at times. Some stations don't budge the S meter, but are solid copy nonetheless. So a quiet location definitely does help.
Conversely, a noisy location such as I have here at home can give a false impression of just how strong a signal I'm hearing really is. With the noise masking signals and in addition reducing receive gain, a signal that is a 339 or 449 for me at home might be a good 569-589 or so at the park, for example. So I'm not really working someone all that weak. It just seems that way because of my always present, very strong local noise.
Perhaps I could have a lot more DX QSOs than I have because over the years I shied away from even trying those 'weak' signals. I've finally learned that it is worth a try to see if they hear me or not. A lot of times they do (to my surprise).
Just a side note before I talk a bit about my DX totals here. If you have multiple antennas and are able to switch among them seamlessly, often times you'll find that switching antennas on receive can pop a signal right out of the noise compared to listening on the same antenna on which you are transmitting. I often find when working on, say 40M, switching back and forth between my random wire for transmitting and, say my 15M vertical dipole for receiving, will give me perfect copy even though trying to transmit on the 15M dipole would give me a very high SWR. It all has to do with the signal to noise ratio. Some antenna combinations will pull the signal up while driving the noise down. Give it a try if you already don't know this trick, and I'm sure many do know and use it.
I'm getting close to 20,000 DX QRP/CW QSOs now, and I keep checking the exact totals every few days now. In my check today I decided to also include my DX QSOs made back in the 60s, 70s, and 80s with various powers from 5 to 60W in addition to those of 5 watts or less. That total is over 20,000 at 20,225 as of today. But the QSOs with 5W or less are now hmmmmm, 20,051. I thought it was 19,909 after the CQWW DX contest. Oh wait, 19,909 was the streak total. I had quite a few before the streak started. Let me summarize more clearly here and straighten myself out in the process.
Overall DX QSOs all powers up to 60W output - 20,225
Overall DX QSOs powers at 5W or less output - 20,051
Streak DX QSOs powers at 5W or less output - 19,933
So I missed noting when I hit 20,000 with QRP. Let's give credit now as I skip back through the log. It was IR4M in the CQWW DX Contest on November 30, 2014 at 2018Z on 20M.
OK, now that's straight. Now I'll be on the lookout for #20,000 in the streak, probably in the upcoming ARRL 10M Contest. -30-
Friday, December 05, 2014 11:16 AM - I received the following from Jock N1JI and thought I'd share it with you. "Hi John, I've contacted you before, but I wanted to email you again to thank you for all the excellent information on your website. I wasn't really interested in working the CQ WW DX contest this past weekend, but I remembered what you said about the opportunity for a QRP station to work some good DX near the end of a contest. Last night around 5:00 PM I turned on the rig and managed to work three new countries in about 20 minutes. I was especially happy to work JH5RXS -- 6900 miles and my first QSO with Japan.
I disassembled my tiny shack two days ago in preparation for my new KX3, so the only rig available to use was my Ten Tec R4020. It continues to amaze me what can be done with QRP and a minimal setup! I never succeeded in working Japan before, even with 100 watts, but your tip about catching stations near the end of a contest did the trick for me. I'm attaching a photo of the little station I used last night; Note that the paddles are made out of three paper-clips. I have better paddles, but that's the only set I have that's wired to use with the R4020.
By the way, my KX3 kit with optional roofing filters and ATU arrived about ten minutes ago (It will be taking the place of my 30-year-old Ten Tec Corsair). Your site also had a lot to do with the decision to upgrade my station.
Thanks, again, and 73. I enjoy reading your diary and hope to make into your logbook one day.
I love it when the info on my web site encourages others to experience the joy I receive from our wonderful hobby. I can just imagine Jock's thrill in working his first JA station. I still remember mine, and it's almost 20 years ago now. Oh, and here's Jock's picture he sent:
With my new found freedom, I again got on the bands this morning instead of devoting my time to NAQCC work. They didn't seem quite as good as yesterday, but I still managed to gather some letters for the NAQCC challenges with a new band country thrown in the mix also. I never worked San Marino on 15 meters before, although I have worked it on all other bands between and including 20 through 10 meters. So the hole is now filled. Also I got a nice prefix from 9A14YOTA. I'll have to look and see what that special event call is for.
I think I'll check now and see if the print shop is open today, and do some other outside things before it starts raining if it hasn't already. It doesn't look like it as a gaze out the window, but I'll check the radar also to see if it may be close. -30-
Thursday, December 04, 2014 2:57 PM - I slept in a little bit today. I find myself doing that a little more now since I retired and no longer have all my NAQCC duties. I guess it's called relaxing more now.
Anyway as soon as I did get up around 1430Z, I headed for the shack with the intention of working some European stations to start work on the December NAQCC European Chapter challenge. My intentions came to fruition and I'm nearing the halfway completion point of the challenge already now. I also used some of the letters for the 'USA' challenge and now I only need 17 more to complete it. So it was a good morning.
I'm out of QSL cards now, and I hoped to get some printed up at the local print shop. However when I walked there (1/2 block or so), I found a sign in the window that they had a fire at another of their offices in a nearby town and were working to get that taken care of. They would only be manning the Kittanning office irregularly for a while. So no QSLs, and I've got a small bunch of DX QSLs needing answering. Oh well, that will only add a few days to the time it takes to get cards dispersed via the buros anyway.
I then cleaned up the leaves in my back yard, cellar stairway, and cellar window wells. I don't have any trees (except for the evergreen), but I sure get a lot of leaves from the neighbors' trees.
A trip to Subway for their special $2 meatball sub, which I just finished, brings me to the point of writing this diary entry. -30-
Wednesday, December 03, 2014 9:16 PM - I thought I wasn't going to get my DX this evening, but just before I was ready to shut down, I ran across PJ4LS on 30 meters and worked him fairly easily with a couple repeats. He gave an honest 449 report compared to the standard 599 reports given out even when a station has to repeat his call several times. So the DX streak is now at 644 days. I hope I can make 27 more days then I'll have a full calendar year of DX. Then on to February 28 for two years completed.
I also got on this afternoon for a while to hunt some letters for the NAQCC December 'Marconi' challenge. Between the afternoon and evening, I added 13 letters to stand at 54 down and 21 to go. I'm still shut out for the European Chapter challenge though. No European QSOs yet this month. I'll have to forsake some other things and get on the bands in morning and early afternoon if I expect to master that one this month.
Still tying up a few loose ends on my NAQCC retirement. Finished a couple of those today. Sure feels great to have virtually no NAQCC work to tie me down now.
Today was tree-trimming day. Here are a couple pictures of the result:
Tuesday, December 02, 2014 5:05 PM - As I said a few entries ago, the 0000Z hour is probably not going to provide much to write about, so I'll do my diary entry early again today. I just got off the bands a couple minutes ago. Conditions were good and I got quite a few letters for the NAQCC December challenge. First I called CQ on 17 meters and got a quick answer from Frank K5PHB. After we chatted for about a quarter hour, I moved on up to 12 meters and to my surprise I saw a handful of signals on the PX3. In checking them out, the first one was J6/K9AW whom I worked easily. Then I thought, darn I should have tried him with mW. I didn't have my cheat sheet with me to know if I needed J6 at mW power or not. Well, strangely enough the next signal I checked was J6/DL7VOG. Aha, I'm going for him with 900 mW in case. I got him easily, but when I came downstairs and looked at the cheat sheet, I saw I already had J6 in the mW list. Oh well, it's another DX QSO and gave me letters I needed anyway. I'm nearing 20,000 QRP DX QSOs now. I think it was 19,909 after the contest ended - if I remember correctly. One more QSO to talk about. It's sad how clueless some hams are these days. W1AW/3 in DE was on 40 meters and when I listened to him to see if he was simplex or split, he sent CQ DE W1AW/3 DN DN. Well instead of a big pileup DOWN 1, folks were calling on his frequency or UP 1, so I set up DOWN 1 and got him easily with only a couple other stations to compete against.
In addition to finishing my contest log work this morning and getting my Cabrillo log submitted to CQ, I also finished my contest story if you are interested. It's in my CONTESTING section via the Contest Stories page.
Other than the above not much else happening. I was going to trim my window and tree today, but I decided to do that tomorrow instead. It was just too gloomy a day today with light rain and overcast skies. Fortunately the sleet, freezing rain, and s$%w didn't materialize as predicted - just rain. Right now it's 36 so looks like we've escaped this time around. -30-
Monday, December 01, 2014 7:52 PM - The downside to making a lot of QSOs in a contest is the 'paperwork' involveed afterward. Computers have made it a lot easier, but it still takes time to process the info nonetheless.
It doesn't help when the contest coincides with the end of month/first of month normal work. Of course that happened this time around so I have had a very busy day. To summarize, I started of closing out the NAQCC sprint info which took perhaps an hour or so. After that it was the EOM/FOM financial work. That was interrupted by a call from Bruce for some computer help. That made for a good break, and even better was the fact I was able to solve both his problems after some thought. After then finishing the financial work, I went to the post office and bank to mail a check and replenish my coffers for the month of December. Some other odds and ends including getting my gas meter reading for the month brought me to the point of logging some eQSL and LotW info - mostly from the contest QSOs. Getting the garbage out for pickup tomorrow was also on the list. And of course the meals also took time. Finally a little while ago it was up to the shack where I quickly worked W1AW/KP4 on 15, EA3DBM on 30, and W2KEZ on 40 for my streak QSOs and some letters for the NAQCC challenge. Whew! Now after posting this and a couple other pages it's back to working on my logs. -30-
Sunday, November 30, 2014 7:44 PM - Again today the bands were very good (too good?). Fierce competition all the way to the end made it rough sledding. Just a couple notes, and the rest of the story will be in my contest writeup when I finish it either tonight or tomorrow.
I took a break in the middle today for a late Thanksgiving meal at my neighbors, the Bowsers. That was very nice. Overall in the contest I got two overall new countries - 3B8MU last night and AH0K early this evening. I got 17 new mW countries for a total of 90 now. 381 QSOs, 77 countries, 213 multipliers. All my QSOs were DX. Had I worked W/VE stations I could easily have made it to 500 and possibly 600 QSOs as there was certainly an overabundance of W/VE ops in the contest.
OK, now I've got a lot of things to get caught up one including the end/first of month things, so I'm off the keyboard now. -30-
Saturday, November 29, 2014 7:34 PM - The bands have been really good in the contest so far. Maybe too good. I mean there is just so much to choose from, it's hard to decide just how to attack. Kind of like the kid in the candy store with only a dime (dollar these days probably) to spend.
Anyway I'm going to write one of my contest stories so I'm not going to say a lot about it here in the diary, but refer you to the story when it is done.
I will say one of my goals was to add to my mW countries worked list. I'm coming along good with that. I added PJ2 ES OH0 LA GW LX FY OX 4O ZD8 JA CE HC all with 900 mW today to bring my mW total to 86 now. I haven't been going for score - just working DX only, no W/VE stations. I'm not really chasing multipliers either. Just picking and choosing what to work. The first day provided only 200 QSOs that way. I'll probably do the same tomorrow and maybe wind up with 350-400 total QSOs. 40 and 80 haven't been too good to me so far. Well, I'm going into story mode right here and I said I wouldn't, so I'll just close now. -30-
Friday, November 28, 2014 6:54 PM - I'm not sure how big an effort I'm going to put into the CQWW DX test, so I thought I'd write the diary entry now in case I get really involved in it.
Really not much to write about except for one thing. I got a QSL buro mailing today of 24 cards. Most were from folks wanting my QSL for whatever reason. However they did verify 11 previously unverified prefixes so that made it worthwhile. No new band countries though. No matter what though, it's alway a thrill to get a buro mailing. Now I need to get a batch of QSLs printed up to answer them and for whatever else I want to get verified.
Well, off to the shack now to see what develops. -30-
Thursday, November 27, 2014 7:36 PM - I hope all who read this and celebrate Thanksgiving had a good day today. Mine was completely quiet. I just stayed at home and my meal was a Turkey TV dinner.
This evening I did something I haven't done for a while. First off, I got my DX QSO very quickly and easily via a single call to PJ2/WA4PGM on 20M getting ready for the CQWW DX contest. After I worked him I got to thinking I haven't worked any mW DX lately. I just never think of it. If I would think of it and do it, I'd easily have a mW DXCC now. Anyway, I had heard YN2CC booming in after I worked the PJ2 station and thought here's a sure mW DX QSO. So I turned the power down to 900 mW and got him on the first call. That was a new mW band-country but not a new overall mW country. Then with the power still down, I heard HR2/N6AA and thought I'd try him. I kept getting beat out, but finally after around 8 or so QSOs, he came back with K3WWP 599, and this time it was a new overall mW country to make my total 73 countries now.
As I sat there and as I sit here now, I'm thinking it might be interesting to try to get some, if not all of the 27 countries I need for mW DXCC in the CQWW DX contest this weekend. I'm not really interested in getting a big score this year, so that might be the thing to do. Conditions, barring a solar eruption, should be good enough for mW to work well this weekend. I'll just have to wait and see. I think I will make a list of the countries I do have so I'll know who to try hard to work and who I can pass by. Could be a fun weekend. -30-
Wednesday, November 26, 2014 10:54 AM - Well, Mike got called in to work today. As he said in the email, he is not a happy camper. However, he will come down after work this evening to have a pizza and build his PX3. I'm sure there will be no time left for him to be a diary ghost writer, so I'll just get today's entry done now.
Since he wasn't coming and I didn't have anything else pressing to do, I decided to go hunting. No, not that kind of hunting. Hunting for that elusive 6 for the NAQCC European Chapter challenge. So after updating a couple computer programs, I headed to the shack, turned on the KX3/PX3 and searched, and searched, and sear......
There's F6HKA, but he's S&P so can't call him. There's F6EAK, ditto. Well, there's GA8VL. I think I need the GA8 prefix, so I'll call him. OK, got him on the first call so at least I know my sigs are making it to Europe easily if I do find the 6.
What's this? Sounds like a 6, but the call is kind of run together, so I'm not sure. Yes, after listening a few times, it's 9A6R, but he's not all that strong. I've got to try, though. I may not find another 6. OK, didn't get him that time. When he finishes that QSO, I'll try again. He didn't seem to be copying the station he's working very well - that's not good. OK, here we go again. Nope, lost out again. Third time's the charm? OK, got a K3? - repeat - K3W? - repeat - K3WW? - repeat 3 more times - finally K3WWP TU 599. FINALLY!!!
So now I've completed all but one of the European Chapter challenges since they started in June 2012. I missed the combo Dec 2012/Jan 2013 one for whatever reason. And folks still say QRP and simple wire antennas in a somewhat poor location doesn't work? I guess they never tried it. Oh well, I don't care. I know it works and I'm enjoying it to the fullest, especially with our NAQCC QRP activities like these alphabet challenges. What makes them even more challenging and thus enjoyable is that contest/sprint QSOs can't be used for any of the NAQCC challenges. With contests allowed, it would be no challenge at all.
Well, now to find something to do today waiting for Mike. Nothing outside because that ugly s#o$ is falling. Not hard, and shouldn't be much, but still it's not a good sight looking out my window right now. Maybe I'll do some more work on the k3wwp.com server files. -30-
Tuesday, November 25, 2014 8:04 PM - Since I now have more time on my hands after retiring as NAQCC VP, I'm getting back to doing some much needed work on my own web site here. The first big project has been getting all the files transferred to my k3wwp.com server. That is pretty much done as of today. However there are still some glitches to be worked out due to also keeping my Windstream server site as a mirror. Also I need to carefully read all the pages and update things here and there. You know (I sound like an athlete here), there are a lot of pages on my site I have not read nor even looked at for several years now, and a cursory glance at them while uploading to k3wwp.com shows me I need to do a lot of little updates. That will be done. Meantime should you happen to explore things on the k3wwp.com server and see anything at all that doesn't look or sound right, let me know.
I never did get on the bands today. I was waiting for a call from a handyman about coming to clean out my gutters. I figured as soon as I would go to the shack and get in a QSO, that's when he would call. So I just did a lot of computer work where I'm right next to the phone. Thus I still need that 6 to finish the NAQCC European Chapter challenge. Maybe tomorrow when Mike will be here and we do some DXing after working on his PX3, I'll luck across an F6, ON6, SM6, etc. and finally finish the challenge.
Anyway since Mike is coming, I thought I would try to get a quick DX QSO this evening even though we probably will be chasing DX sometime tomorrow. So when I heard 6Y5WJ on 30, I worked him even though we have had many QSOs over the past couple years or so. I wonder if I lived in Jamaica, I'd be on the air as much as he is. HI.
OK, the last couple visits now Mike hasn't had time to write the diary entry. Maybe tomorrow evening. -30-
Monday, November 24, 2014 6:02 PM - There probably won't be anything exciting happen on the bands at 0000Z later, so I'll write the diary entry now.
Last night I wasn't sure of my DX QSO because a member of another club (not the NAQCC or FISTS) started calling LONG CQs right on top of CO0SS. I wasn't sure if he got my call right or not, but I did log him fully intending to get a better DX QSO this morning or afternoon. Well, I did. I worked HB9DAX then a PF7 station. I forget the suffix and my log is upstairs right now. Anyway I worked the PF7 because it sounded like a new prefix. I haven't checked yet. After that I went looking again for that elusive 6 to finish the European Chapter challenge. I heard a couple F6 stations, but they were S&P so I couldn't work them. Then a VERY weak ON6SA whom I just barely copied so I didn't even pursue him. I called once just in case with no indication he heard me at all.
We had a high of 71 today which could be a record for the date. Another thing I haven't checked yet. HI. Anyway I decided to put up my outdoor Christmas lights and wreath so I wouldn't have to do it in freezing weather. I also cleared out the corner for my Christmas tree and brought down the ornaments from the attic. I left the tree itself up there for now. I'll probably put it up the first part of next week.
In addition to being warm, it was also VERY windy today. I just got back from a walk, and there are literally 100s of small branches blown down. I didn't see any real big ones though where I walked. I wouldn't be surprised if there were some huge ones or maybe even a whole tree down somewhere in town. Actually I'm hearing sirens blowing right now as I type, so maybe that's the reason. I didn't even put my garbage can out as I figured it might get blown over since it was pretty light this week. It's still pretty windy and the temperature is starting to fall - down to 60 degrees now. -30-
Sunday, November 23, 2014 4:42 PM - "Good morning Mr. Shannon. You're mission today, if you decide to accept it, is to get on the ham bands and finish the NAQCC European Chapter challenge by contacting stations in European countries with call signs that contain the following letters and numbers - M K 6 8 F O. As always, the secretary will disavow any knowledge of your actions. Good luck John. This message will self-destruct in 5 seconds."
I was greeted with that this morning, and thought I had better get to it while the high bands were open to Europe. When I turned on the KX3/PX3, the bands looked in pretty good shape. Another thing going for me was the warm temperatures (high of 67) which meant my furnace wouldn't be coming on with its associated QRNN as much as expected this time of year.
Before long I ran across Lars SM5CAK and got him with a single call. We chatted a couple minutes, and that gave me the M(s) I needed, leaving me 7 letters and numbers to finish up. A few minutes later I found and had a quick QSO with German special event station DK40BOSCH. From that jumble I got the O(s) and the K bringing my needs down to 4. Now I needed 2 Fs, an 8 and a 6. It took a while looking for some French stations which I never did find, to run across and work Rudy IK4VFD. That left an 8 and a 6. It took a good half hour to find Gerry DK8IT and work him for the 8. We had a nice 6 minute chat with solid copy both ways.
So now I need to find a 6 to complete my mission and the challenge. Along the way I heard and worked GA5CX on 10, and then 2 minutes later on 12. I wasn't sure if GA5 was a new prefix or not so I did work it when I heard it. I heard F6HKA but he was calling CQ another club I don't belong to so I couldn't answer him. I heard F6FTI, but he was S&P, so I couldn't get him. There were a couple others with a 6 in their call, but they were also S&P or QRT when I found them. Then along came ON6MH calling CQ. I answered him, but the band was just going out at the time and he was only about 449 here and although trying valiantly, he just couldn't get my call complete on the dying band. So I failed the mission today unless I get a 6 this evening, but still a week to finish the challenge. If I can't get a 6 in that time, I don't deserve to master the challenge.
Oh and I also worked W1AW/4 and W1AW/5 on different bands just because they were there. That's 6 bands for FL this time around.
I also uploaded more pages to my k3wwp.com site, but still a lot to go yet. -30-
Saturday, November 22, 2014 7:27 PM - It was easy getting my DX QSO this morning. The LZ DX contest provided me with 9A7DX on 15M for a quick QSO. Conditions were good, but I wasn't into contesting so after I got the QSO, I QRT.
This evening was just as easy as I worked VP2ERJ at 0004Z. Then one of those work them now, find out who later. After I worked ?? on 10111 at 0017, I had to wait through 6 more QSOs before I found out I worked J79FC. I wish DX (or any) stations would go no more than maybe 2 or 3 QSOs without giving their ID. This guy must have gone at least 10 or 12 because he also worked a few other stations without an ID before I worked him. I figure it's best to always work them anyway just in case they could be something rare and/or needed.
I started loading part of my web site on the server provided to me by WA4FAT. If you want to, check out k3wwp.com, but don't expect to find more than the pages in my home section there. I think eventually I will make that my main home and keep windstream also as a mirror. I'm impressed by the extremely rapid uploading to k3wwp.com, and the same fast speed in displaying my pages. Not that windstream is slow by any means either, but I think k3wwp.com is a tad faster. You can judge that if you want. -30-
Friday, November 21, 2014 7:37 PM - I got my DX QSO(s) this morning in the 1500Z hour when I worked XE2I and then PA3CNI. PA3CNI gave me a couple more letters for the European Chapter challenge so I need 9 now to finish up. I also worked W1AW/4 in FL on a couple other bands just because they were there. Both on a single call. On 10 it was Bob N4BP as the OP who greeted me by name and then IDed himself. A few other times, W1AW ops call me by name but don't say who they are and I won't slow them up by taking time to ask.
This evening it's the same old story. No DX to be found, or at least nothing strong enough to even copy their calls well. However PA3CNI this morning was only about 459 or so, but he got me easily. Perhaps he was QRP also. Anyway, I'll probably have to wait till morning again to continue the DX streak.
I've been playing quite a bit with the Windows 10 Tech Preview and liking it more and more. I've also started to send some feedback to Microsoft about it. That's what they want - a lot of user input so I'll try to give what I can. I've been installing some programs and trying them out on 10, and they install and run very well so far. There was one that wouldn't run on the 10 architecture, but that was only one.
Time now to have my mid-evening snack, so I'll close here. -30-
Thursday, November 20, 2014 7:49 PM - A little discouraging news today. Mike and I had hoped to operate from the sub USS Requin the day before Thanksgiving as we've done the past couple years now, but the sub schedule has changed this year and it won't be available on that day. So it could be until next year sometime before we can do another subpedition.
I actually got on the air during the day today. After preparing the logs from our sprint last night for cross-checking, I had some time free so I fired up (that's kind of an outdated term as regards today's equipment, but...) the KX3/PX3 and looked around for some European stations that had letters I needed for the NAQCC European Chapter challenge. There wasn't a lot of activity as I think I got there just as the bands were closing for the day, but I did find and work DL1DGS and S59AA. Those calls gave me enough additional letters/numbers to leave me with just 12 needed now to finish the challenge.
Speaking of the sprint, conditions were horrible. I thought it was just my local noise here, but comments from around the country save for a few locations, mainly down south, commented on the horrible conditions there as well. I did manage to eke out my 20 QSOs, but it was rough, and without 80 meters providing 19 of the 20, it would have been impossible. 20 was totally dead, and 40 not far behind. Still our wonderful members stuck it out and we are already over the 100 logs submitted mark not yet 24 hours after the sprint ended.
Conditions were pretty much the same this evening, and all I was able to work was W1AW/4 in FL on both 30 and 40. 30 took a single call while 40 took a single call but needed a repeat. The only DX I heard was XE2I and I wasn't going to work him again tonight as I did last night. So hopefully tomorrow morning will provide the DX QSO to keep the streak going. Or maybe I'll try again later this evening.
Back in August as you may recall, Mike and I operated N3AQC (the NAQCC club call) in the NJQRP Skeeter Hunt and came in second overall in the contest. Today our certificates came in the mail from Larry W2LJ. Thanks Larry. Here's what they look like:
Wednesday, November 19, 2014 10:22 AM - I'm cleaning out some old emails and found a couple of diary comment emails that 'fell through the cracks', so I'm going to take care of them here along with a couple other things I overlooked in yesterday's entry.
First of all as to yesterday - I wanted to include that a very good friend of mine, Andy also helped out with the weather records while I was away at school or work. He took time many nights to come to my house to get the readings. He also was a big help with other things around the house. Although he unfortunately passed away at the early age of 46 over 12 years ago now, I still wanted to be sure he got a mention here.
Yesterday was the last of my garden vegetables. I had a final tomato/cucumber salad to finish them off. I think this is the earliest ever I've exhausted my garden harvest. It just wasn't that great a year for gardening here.
Now let's get to those emails. First from Mark WU7F, "John, Congratulations on the retirement! I am glad that "Lady Luck" stepped in and you didn't have to "retire" your DX streak. Best of luck, and I hope the fish are biting! 72, Mark - WU7F".
Well, like gardening, it wasn't a great fishing year either. Only about two dozen caught in a like number of trips. The Lady Luck reference was to my catching the ZD8 station on a night when all the high latitude DX paths were pretty much shut down.
Now this from a long time diary reader and friend Alan KB7MBI. He's the one who coined the phrase "antenna victory garden" to describe my antenna setup which is definitely far from an "antenna farm". In fact as I recall, Alan has been around my web site pretty much since its inception so long ago. Anyway he emailed, "JOHN I was chatting with a few hams about down-sizing in both amount of equipment and size of the radios too...maybe a used K2 or Ten Tec SCOUT I grew concerned that on bad propagation days contacts would be sparse if at all. When I get off on one of these tangents I always seem to remember K3WWP. YOUR SITE AND YOUR ACCOMPLISHMENTS MANAGE TO GET ME TO REFOCUS ON WHAT CAN TRULY BE ACCOMPLISHED WITH 5 WATTS OR LESS AND BASIC EQUIPMENT REGARDLESS OF BAND CONDITIONS Just wanted to let you know that you and your website are greatly appreciated.
Best to you John
You are invaluable my friend!"
I'm not sure if that slipped through the cracks or if I have just put off posting it because it is somewhat embarrassing. Be that as it may, the comments are really appreciated. Things like that are what fuels this web site and keeps it burning. Thanks. -30-
Tuesday, November 18, 2014 08:05 PM - On this date (Nov 18) 55 years ago in 1959 the temperature here dropped to 9 degrees, the earliest in the season it has been that cold. That event helped solidify my lifelong interest in meteorology. The interest got started earlier that year when as a school project I kept track of the daily temperature from January 12 through May 24. During that period we had some events that stirred the interest a bit. We had one of our top five worst floods around January 21 which was brought on by a rapid thaw from near 60 degree temperatures. That and some other events planted the seed, but the germination was interrupted. When summer came as a 14 year old, the record keeping stopped, giving away to other teen-age activities. With school back in session in September, the interest returned, prompted by some very warm weather near the end of September. From the 23rd through the 30th, the highs were 92 88 90 89 83 89 89 87. My records weren't consistent during the end of 1959 for whatever reason. Probably school work for one thing. However on January 1, 1960 I began keeping daily weather records, mainly minimum/maximum temperatures, then precipitation records as of a couple years later beginning January 1, 1962. With the help of my mother and aunts when I was away at school, the records have continued unbroken.
Incidentally that 9 degrees 55 years ago today is still the 3rd coldest November day in my string of records. We had two other days subsequently when it dropped to 8 degrees. We could come close tomorrow morning. However we would need the skies to clear and the wind to drop to do so and that doesn't look like it will happen. But if it does.... well, it's 19 degrees right now so it wouldn't have too far to go.
OK, back to ham radio now. As usual I went to the shack at 0000Z. I tuned the KX3/PX3 to 20 meters hoping maybe for some strong DX, but all I saw on the PX3 were two strong peaks near where W1AW/# usually operates. The first peak was W1AW/4 in FL. A single call with a couple repeats to correct K3JWP to K3WWP got me that QSO. The other peak was W1AW/5 in AR. Took a clean single call to log him. So with the big streak solidified I went back to hunting DX. I found one DX station but he wasn't DX. Huh? It was NP4IW/W6 in CA. That was pretty much it except for a weak HC2AO on 30 and an even weaker EG8ARC on 20. After listening and looking around for some stronger DX and not finding any, I went back to HC2AO. He was working a couple other stations, but having trouble copying them, so I pretty much decided it would be useless for me to call him. After looking around a bit more, I went back to HC2AO once more and darned if I didn't get him cleanly with a single call. So the streak goes on at 629 days now. -30-
Monday, November 17, 2014 07:41 PM - After the rather dire weather forecasts for today, it actually turned out to be a good day. Practically nothing but rain instead of the forecast s%$w. There were a few flakes thrown in, but nothing to get upset about. We do have to deal with some well below normal cold temps the next couple days, but then it moderates as the week progresses.
Also a good day (evening) on the bands. Of course I got on as usual at 0000Z to look for my DX QSO. The KX3 was set on 30 meters so I explored the peaks on the PX3 there and found LU7YS calling CQ. My track record with Argentina isn't all that good on some bands including 30, but I tried anyway, and after several repeats, I had my DX streak QSO in the log. The call also gave me 1 U and 2 Ss toward the 8 letters I needed to complete the NAQCC November Thanksgiving challenge. So with my DX QSO quickly taken care of, I decided to try to finish the challenge - I needed 3 Ms and 2 more Ss to do so. I quickly found K2MMO and worked him on 30 taking me down to the 2 Ss. I figured that would be my hang-up this month - there always is some sort of hang-up when I get down to needing a couple letters. However a quick tour of 40 meters turned up a CQ from VE3USP and that was it after I worked him. Now I've got to submit my results and then tomorrow maybe get to work on the European Chapter challenge. I still need 16 letters/numbers for that one and Europe QSOs have been hard to come by on the high bands lately. I think I'll have to hit the 14-1600Z hours maybe. When you think about it, with the early sunsets now, the sun sets of course in Europe around 5 PM their local time (depending on latitude naturally) which is 11 AM to Noon or so our time so the high bands close pretty early now. -30-
Sunday, November 16, 2014 11:41 AM - Regular diary readers know I love dealing with statistics. In fact, I think that is one reason for my interest in meteorology and ham radio, among others. They give a constant stream of stats that can be analyzed.
Today I decided to analyze my current DX streak which stands now at 626 days. I came up with the following, all of which exclude W/VE QSOs:
Total QSOs - 3,163 or an average of 5.1 per day.
Countries worked - 137.
Europe - 54
North America - 39
South America - 17
Africa - 11
Asia - 9
Oceania - 6
Antarctica - 1
Most often worked countries (more than 100 QSOs):
Germany - 334
Italy - 152
Poland - 137
France - 121
Spain - 113
Hungary - 112
Slovenia - 110
Best country by continent:
Germany - 334
Cuba - 69
Brazil - 47
Asiatic Russia - 43
Hawaii - 36
Canary Islands - 29
Countries with only one QSO:
Ceuta and Melilla
Juan Fernandez Island
During the streak, I worked 836 new DX stations, and 1,256 of the 3,163 QSOs were first or second time QSOs with the station. That's 39.7% which shows it's not a matter of working the same DX stations over and over again. Now there were some stations I have worked many times over the years. I had my 75th QSO with PJ2T during the streak. Others with whom I made my 50th or higher QSO include in no particular order: 9A7A P40W HG6N HG1S OM7M DK3GI NP4Z. -30-