K3WWP's Ham Radio Activities

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Saturday, August 29, 2015 8:31 PM - I just sent out the following to our NAQCC email list about our Skyview operation tomorrow:

Mike KC2EGL, Tom WB3FAE, and I (John K3WWP) will be visiting the Swap and Shop Meet at the Skyview Radio Society near New Kensington, PA Sunday August 30 tentatively from about 9AM (EDT) to 1PM (EDT).

Included in our visit will be an activation of the NAQCC club call N3AQC using the huge antenna farm at the Skyview "clubhouse". We'll be very interested in getting signal reports from you to get some idea of how that antenna "farm" compares with our own simple wire antenna "victory gardens" at our home locations.

Currently the ionosphere is winding down from some major storminess that has really messed up propagation. Probably the only bands available will be 40, 30, and 20 so we'll stick around 7041, 10117, and 14061 for the most part with an occasional check of 17 and 15 just in case they might be open. We'll also be straying around other frequencies on 20 trying to get some DX reports.

Also we will be taking time out to wander around looking for bargains, but at least two of us will be in the radio room at all times per a request from Skyview officers.

If you're in the area, you might want to drop by and say hello. Info on the Swap and Shop can be found at http://skyviewradio.net/2015%20Skyview%20S&S%20flyer.pdf If the link doesn't work, do a Bing search for Skyview Radio Society.

Hope to work you tomorrow.

Indeed we do hope to rack up some QSOs tomorrow despite the propagation of late. It is supposed to improve a bit for tomorrow and it actually was a bit better today and this evening than the past few days. I got a quick DX QSO from Carlos, KP4CPC on 40 meters at 0003Z so I can relax at Skyview tomorrow and not be concerned about the DX streak. I also worked my second Hurricane Katrina memorial station QSO K5Z to go with K5B worked earlier. -30-

Friday, August 28, 2015 8:39 PM - Well, last night was easy with another QSO with Rick on a new band for us - 30 meters. I mean PJ2/AI5P - a new band for us from that country. Anyway it took just 2 minutes on the 28th to continue the streak vs. 1,314 minutes on the 27th. Tonight it was 33 minutes, and before that it sure looked like the streak was in jeopardy another day. However at 0033 I worked HI3TEJ on 30 meters despite him being just barely above my S4 noise level. He's another great op. To show how bad conditions currently are, he is usually at least S8-S9 on 30 meters when I hear him.

I decided not to waste the time writing the streak obituary yesterday, and I just converted it into a 910 day report on the streak to replace the 730 day one that was there (QRP section - DX Streaks).

Also I added a bit to the main QRP page today - a table of power vs. db/S-units. It makes a handy quick reference or may prove of interest to those not familiar with the relationship between power and db/S-units.

Oh, I checked the bands a couple times this afternoon in hopes there might be an opening to Europe so I could look for that last letter J to complete the NAQCC August European Chapter challenge. I didn't hear anything from Europe nor much else from anywhere for that matter.

I also started to get ready for Skyview on Sunday, packing my paddle, battery, log sheets, and PL-259 to BNC antenna connector. The rest will wait till Sunday morning. We plan to leave for Skyview around 8 AM which should give us 3-4 hours operating time plus time to roam around the Swap and Shop area, eat (of course), etc. I'll try to have a bit more info in tomorrow's diary entry. -30-

Thursday, August 27, 2015 5:59 PM - After assessing the bands, propagation info, etc. this morning, I went ahead and wrote the obituary for my DX streak, kind of hoping if I did that, something would happen just to negate all the time I spent doing so.

It sure didn't look like that was going to work. Every time I checked the bands, they were pretty much as dead as the proverbial doornail. What the heck is a doornail? That continued until late afternoon. Even the USA stations were weak, probably S7 at the very best, and that was from stations I know and I'm pretty sure they run QRO and beams. About the best DX station I heard was HC2AO and he was only S4 at best. Still he is a great op so I did try him a few times with no luck. PV8ADI showed up briefly on 20, but he has a hard time hearing me at the best of times. No sign of him hearing even a peep from me today.

Along about that time it popped into my mind that last night I did have an almost QSO with a LU station on 30 meters (LU7YZ if memory isn't failing me, and it could be). He did verify the contact, but never did send my call correctly so I didn't log him. That really galled me, and now somewhere about 2130Z I became determined to take every shot possible so as not to have the streak end on a 'maybe' QSO. I was going to stay on the bands till 2359Z and go down swinging if I couldn't work anyone in that time.

I heard another very good op, Rick AI5P portable in Curacao on 17 meters. Even though he was S2-S4 with an occasional peak at S5, I figured he might be my best chance, although every time I called, there was either no sign of him hearing me, or he worked someone else. I got encouraged by the fact that a couple of the stations he worked were QRP, although probably with a much better setup than mine. Hoping he was going to stay on 17 on that frequency, I jumped back and forth several times to see if anyone stronger was lurking anywhere. No luck. Now Rick's signal got a bit stronger at a fairly steady S5, but still no luck.... until "K3WWP 559 559 BK" came back to me from him. I gave him a generous 569 and the DX streak goes on at 910 days. In a side note, that's the 9th country from where I have worked Rick - VP2E, G, CY9, FP, FG, J3, 9Y, PJ4, and now PJ2.

I honestly don't know how many more of these kind of days I want to put in though. I think if not for the busted? LU QSO, I probably would have just given it up around that 2130Z time today. The next day like this, I may just update the obituary I wrote today, and give it up.

About 100 minutes now till the ordeal (I hope it's not an ordeal tonight) begins again. -30-

Wednesday, August 26, 2015 9:16 PM - Well, let's see..... 8/20, 6/26, 6/16, 4/29, 4/12, 4/11, 4/5, 3/20, 3/13, 3/3, 2/24, 2/16, 2/13, 2/10, 2/3, 2/2, 1/27, 1/24, 1/22, 1/21, 1/17, 1/15, 1/14, 1/13, 1/9, 1/7, 1/6, 1/2, 1/1. And now it looks like 8/27. Those are the only dates this year (29 of them, maybe 30) I failed to get my DX streak QSO in the first few hours of the UTC day (mostly in the 0000Z hour). Those in January and February were mostly because it was so much easier then to get DX in the 1300-1600Z hour or so I didn't bother in the evening if conditions were the least bit poor.

Tonight conditions were very poor. Also something strange happened. I was working W4USR in NC who was running 500 watts to a delta loop with the apex at 70 feet. Suddenly he went from S9+ down into my S5 noise and didn't come back. Then I went back to 20 meters and CE2AWW who was fairly strong earlier (but not hearing me) now had a lot of flutter on his signal. Kind of like something happened in the ionosphere around 0030-0035Z. Later in tuning around I again heard W4USR and he was back up to S9. CE2AWW apparently signed off as I didn't hear him again. Anyway the bottom line is I didn't work any DX this evening for only the second time since June 26 and have dragged out my little note with the word QSO on it to remind me tomorrow I need a DX QSO for the 27th. If I don't get it, the DX streak ends at 909 days. That's kind of a nice number, and it's not like I got so close to 1,000 and then it ended. That would really be heartbreaking. This wouldn't be so bad.

Just a couple more days now (30th) and we (KC2EGL, K3RLL, WB3FAE and I) get to operate our QRP rigs at the Skyview Swap and Shop using their big antenna farm as we did last year. This year all their antennas will be operational unlike last year when we still had fun with those that were available. We'll send out an announcement on our NAQCC email list with further details the day before the event, and I'll have the details here in Saturday's diary entry. I'm looking forward to that not only for the operating but fellowshipping with the Skyview members as well. They are a great bunch of folks. -30-

Tuesday, August 25, 2015 8:51 PM - After a short respite the past few nights, it was back to the struggle for DX again this evening. It took 42 minutes to find and work KP4CPC to get the DX streak to 909 days. Conditions to Europe this afternoon were again pretty good, but I couldn't find that last J to complete the August European Chapter challenge. I heard a DJ4, but he was S&P like the DJ8 yesterday so I couldn't work him. With that big double sunspot moving on now, unless another one develops, it may be rough getting the J or even working Europe at all before the month ends, but I'll try.

Today was a preview of fall, as far as the weather goes. It barely made it into the 70s and with overcast skies and a pretty strong breeze it didn't feel that warm. It was nice for fishing though, and they were biting good today if not easy to catch. I did finally get a 14 inch sucker though. That brought back memories of my fishing days as a kid. 14 inches seemed to be about as big a fish as I was ever going to catch for quite some time, until my dad got me into catching carp. I have a picture of me around somewhere holding a 29 inch carp. I'm going to take a break to get my weather records now, then look for the picture so I can scan it and post it here. My family took LOTS of pictures though, so it may not be easy to find that particular one.

Well, I did find it. I'm not sure just when it was caught. The picture is dated July 1956, but I don't see a 29 inch carp in my fishing log in that time frame. However I didn't keep a complete log back then, so I could have missed it. Actually my log becomes pretty complete around that period so although it wasn't logged, perhaps it spurred me on to keeping a detailed log. That's a long time ago, and hard to remember. Anyway here we go with the picture plus one of me with my dad who is holding the carp. After the pictures, a bit more of the story.

pix_diary_20150825_001 (45K)

You can tell it was a pretty heavy fish from the way I'm struggling to hold it up. I remember we threw the carp in the trunk of the car so we could take it home and get a picture of it. After the picture, we took him back to the river and released him. As far as we knew, he survived the ordeal which really didn't take all that long. Great memories. I'm sorry I didn't have more years to spend with my dad. He died when I was just 18. -30-

Monday, August 24, 2015 6:25 PM - As they were 6 days ago, 20 and 17 were great to Europe again in the 2100Z hour. That allowed me to get two of the last three letters/numbers for the August European challenge leaving me with needing a J to complete the challenge. I heard DJ8BN, but at first he was S&P other stations, then later, much weaker, he was calling CQ, but not hearing me at all. But at least I did get the 4 and 0 from I4EWH and IK0OZD on 17 meters. Hopefully I can get that last letter in the 7 days remaining in the month.

Another nice day today, and I'm just about to go out for a walk. I did walk down to the PO earlier today to mail a NAQCC prize. I also enjoyed the nice weather while watering Ange's garden. Then it was laundry time followed by some house cleaning. So I accomplished quite a bit today as I try to do every day. I'm not much for sitting around doing nothing. -30-

Sunday, August 23, 2015 9:47 AM - What a great night last night! I'm writing this early, but Mike is going to add his thoughts to it later today and I won't post it until then.

Mike arrived around 8:30 after his day at the Dayton (PA) annual fair where the local club displayed ham radio for the fair-goers. Since we would be getting started as soon as he got here, no time for our usual pizza or whatever. He ate at the fair, and I ate here at home.

After we chatted for a few minutes, we gathered up the scope, etc. and headed for the Community Park. It was still somewhat light which aided in getting setup. Just about the time we did get set up the first and second magnitude stars were becoming visible. The first quarter moon was both a hindrance and an aid to us. The park is a very dark site and the moon helped us in getting around and seeing what we were doing. However it did brighten the sky quite a bit and washed out some of the fainter objects.

We hadn't set up the scope in quite some time and had to think a bit about doing the alignment. It's a goto scope so the alignment is semi-automatic. We used the two-star alignment where the scope is first manually pointed at one star, centered in the eyepiece, and entered in the controller. Then the scope is slued with the controller to a second star, centered with the controller, and entered. The first attempt failed for some reason, but the second time worked. We used Antares and Altair for the alignment. When we told the scope to find an object, it was in the field of view, but wasn't centered, usually in the lower left of the field. We didn't take time to do another alignment, but just continued to go with what we had and then use the fine centering on the controller to put the object in the center of the field. Just as I was typing this, Mike emailed and said he now knows why the off-center was happening. There are a couple markings on the scope support that need to be aligned and we didn't do that. Now we know for the next time.

Despite that, the quarter moon, and later on, some severe dewing of the corrector lens of the scope, we still managed just over a half Messier marathon which I'll detail in a bit. Besides the Messier objects, we also observed the moon briefly, double stars Albireo and Mizar, the double cluster in Perseus (NGC 884/869), Saturn (even after many times observing Saturn, we still gave it a WOW!) and a few of its moons, and finally just before closing down, Neptune. Those were the only planets visible during our session which lasted for about 3 hours from 9 PM to just past Midnight. Pluto was up but in very star-crowded Sagittarius and close to the moon, so we didn't even try for it.

The worst problem was the dew as Mike describes below. Many of the brighter objects could be seen through the dew, but some of the fainter ones were washed out till the dew was removed.

I was surprised and pleased how my little 12V 7AH gel cell powered the scope flawlessly for the full time we were there and although it did discharge somewhat, a measurement of the voltage when we got home showed it still at 12.5 volts (under no load). I'm recharging it right now, and actually under load the voltage is a couple volts down, but that didn't affect operation. It worked just the same at Midnight as at 9 PM.

OK, now to the meat of the session. Messier objects. As anyone at all interested in astronomy knows, Charles Messier was an 18th century astronomer who wanted to immortalize himself by discovering comets. It's a practice to name comets after their discoverer, hence Halley's Comet, Comet Shoemaker-Levy and so on. Well, probably unbeknownst to Messier at the time, he later became famous not for the comets (he supposedly did discover 13), but for a list of what he considered annoying objects that looked like comets in his somewhat primitive (compared to today's standards) scope, but weren't. They were star clusters, nebulae, galaxies, and other similar objects. He made a list to help himself and others in their cometary searches. His final list published in 1781 contained 103 objects. Modern research has added 7 objects that were known to have been seen by Messier and/or Pierre Mechain (a friend and assistant) after the "final" version was published to bring today's total to 110.

A modern challenge for astronomers is to observe all 110 objects in a single night called a Messier Marathon. The position of the sun in relation to the objects dictates this can only be done in the month of March. Then the sun only really seriously interferes with one object - M30 in Capricornus which must be observed just when the light of dawn starts to brighten up the sky. It requires a really flat horizon in the direction of that object.

We caught just over half of the objects last night - 58 of 110. There were 8 others that we tried, but because of the moon and/or the dew problem either didn't see or weren't quite sure enough to log.

We observed the following by constellation listed somewhat in order in which they would be setting/rising (number in the constellation/number observed - list of those observed - those missed, if any):

Scorpius (4/4 - 4,6,7,80)
Sagittarius (15/14 - 8,17,18,20,21,22,23,24,25,28,54,69,70,75 - 55)
Serpens (2/2 - 5,16)
Scutum (2/2 - 11,26)
Ophiuchus (7/6 - 9,10,12,14,19,62 - 107)
Hercules (2/2 - 13,92)
Lyra (2/2 - 56,57)
Sagitta (1/1 - 71)
Vulpecula (1/1 - 27)
Capricornus (1/1 - 30)
Aquarius (3/3 - 2,72,73)
Cygnus (2/2 - 29,39)
Pegasus (1/1 - 15)
Andromeda (3/3 - 31,32,110)
Pisces (1/0 - - 74)
Triangulum (1/1 - 33)
Cassiopeia (2/2 - 52,103)
Ursa Major (7/4 - 40,81,82,101 - 97,108,109)
Canes Venatici (5/4 - 3,51,63,94 - 106)
Perseus (2/2 - 34,76)
Draco (1/1 - 102)

Although we did miss some, we still had a great time. It really took me back to my younger days when I did a lot of observing. A couple vivid memories came to mind. My first look through my scope purchased back in 1985 at the Dumbell Nebula and how much clearer it was in the new 8 inch scope compared to my old 4 inch scope. Also finally observing my last of the 110 objects not long after getting the new scope - M74 in Pisces which I consider the most difficult of the 110 to this very day. It was fitting it was one of those we missed last night. It pretty much requires a perfectly clear black sky devoid of any moonlight or light from any other sources like streetlights, etc.

That's my (very long) take on last night. Now here's what Mike has to say following this picture of his scope that we used:

pix_diary_20150823_001 (422K)

Last night was a much anticipated stargazing session. John and I have tried to plan either a full Messier Marathon or a half Messier Marathon over the past few years. Unfortunately either Mother Nature or a surgeons knife (full Marathon in 2013) had foiled our plans. Well last night was almost perfect. Johns gel cell battery was pressed into service due to my power supply buying 'the farm'. A new battery is on its way. We were only able to power up the telescope with John's battery. We were not able to use my dew zapper because we had no way of connecting it to John's battery. After and hour or so we had to wipe the dew off the front of the scope every time we moved to a new object. We viewed 58 Messier objects. Just about every time we moved to a new object I exclaimed "WOW!!" I need to use a new interjection. We also viewed some other objects. All in all it was a great night. We need to make a habit of this. -30-

Saturday, August 22, 2015 8:11 PM - Just sitting here waiting for Mike to arrive for our astronomy session. I got my DX streak taken care of while I was waiting. I worked RG0A on 20 (not the best QSO - I'm not positive he got my call right or not), and then a more solid QSO with S57V on 30 just for insurance. So that's taken care of for day 906, and I don't have to worry about it while we're star gazing.

Another nice day today. There were a few clouds that wandered by, and gave a bit of concern for tonight, but it's very clear right now and also the atmosphere is very clean and virtually haze free.

Unfortunately Tom and Don couldn't make it tonight. We were really hoping that they could get to see some good sights, but that will have to wait till the next time. I think Mike and I will try for a half Messier marathon possibly. If we get a lot of objects, then maybe we can finish off the list in a few months. Then next March we can try for a one night marathon if everything goes right.

OK, I'll close now and get my other couple pages updated before Mike gets here. -30-

Friday, August 21, 2015 9:02 PM - Let me tell you. The routine is getting old very fast. For the past several days now it's been go to the shack at 0000Z, check 17, 20, and 30 for DX. Not finding anything workable, going to 40 (sometimes 30) and calling CQ to rather easily get a regular streak QSO. Then back to the agonizing hunt for DX which takes the good part of the rest of the hour. A few stations are heard, but too weak to hear me at all. Finally finding someone to work after calling several times and repeating my call a few times on top of that. I don't see it getting any better with the sunspots on the downswing. I still would love to make the DX streak last until day # 1,000 is in the books, but the above routine does get very tiring. So maybe I'll just call it quits before 1,000. We'll see.

Today was a beautiful weather day - more like early September than a little past mid-August. So I got around to edging my sidewalks, getting rid of the crabgrass that really has grown in our mini-drought we've had since late July or so.

It was also ideal for fishing except that the fish didn't show up, or if they were there, they weren't hungry at the time. Nary a nibble in an hour, but it was nice sitting under the partly cloudy skies getting alternately warmed by the sun and cooled by the breeze.

Also nice for walking and I have a little under 10 miles on the pedometer right now for today.

I also mapped out an observing plan for our astronomy night tomorrow night. The weather still looks good. The just under first quarter moon may be a bit of an annoyance, but we can work around it. -30-

Thursday, August 20, 2015 6:36 PM - The streak continues. I worked VE7BDI/XE1 this morning to add another day to the DX streak. I thought I'd check other times after that to see if Europe was coming through. It was around 2100-2130Z with a strong IK2CIO and a SV9 station. Conditions were good, but activity wasn't. So I still need 0, 4, and J to finish the European Chapter challenge.

I wonder now what this evening will bring. I'll find out in an hour and half or so, I guess.

It looks like Saturday will be our astronomy night according to Mike. We hope Don and Tom can also accompany us up to Community Park for the viewing session. We still don't have Mike's 12AH battery fixed so we'll see how long my 7AH one will power the scope. The new power pack for the scopes actually seems to be rated at 7AH according to some specs we looked at, so we may be OK for a good long session. Now if only the weather will cooperate. -30-

Wednesday, August 19, 2015 9:05 PM - Will August 20, 2015 and 902 always bring bad memories to K3WWP? Well, barring a miracle or unless conditions tomorrow afternoon are better than today, that date and number may be the day the DX streak ended after 902 straight days of DX. I couldn't even come close to working any DX this evening. I didn't even hear much. One strong LU on 30 engaged in a VERY long rag chew. T46BC who unlike earlier QSOs just never heard me tonight. A CO7 who got murdered by some lids and went QRT before I could get him. That was about it.

I got on this afternoon with high hopes of finding conditions like they were yesterday and maybe finishing the European Chapter challenge, but the bands were totally dead in that same 2100Z hour today.

So right now it's rather discouraging as far as DX goes. By contrast though my big streak added a day VERY easily when K2LNS/VE2 answered my very first CQ as soon as I fired up the rig. We had a solid several minutes QSO. He made me jealous when he said the fishing was great today at his vacation spot in Gouin, Quebec. -30-

Tuesday, August 18, 2015 9:48 AM - Special edition. I often mention our computer club here in the diary. The club (and I) got a nice writeup in our little local free newspaper. If you are interested, take a look here for the on-line version.

I finally caught my remote weather unit with all four readings the same a couple evenings ago:
pix_diary_20150818_001 (59K)

DX conditions to Europe were good in the 2100Z hour today on 20 and 17 meters. I worked 6 European stations in an effort to complete the European Chapter challenge for August. I came close, but still need 0, 4, and J to finish. Maybe tomorrow afternoon?

OK it's now 2356Z and I'm off to the shack to try for my DX streak QSO. If not tonight then maybe that 2100Z hour again tomorrow afternoon. -30-

Monday, August 17, 2015 9:16 PM - You know, when you get old (as I certainly am) there are some days when you feel a LOT older with all the little aches, pains, annoyances, etc., and then there are days when everything is working perfectly and you feel like you are young again. I'm sure you've noticed that if you are old. If you are not, that's what you have to look forward to.

Anyway, today was a young day for me and I took advantage of it. Really nothing out of the ordinary, but the normal tasks went a lot easier and smoother. I started off by doing my laundry. When that finished, I had some brunch - a half a sub from Subway leftover from a couple days ago. Then it was checking on Ange's garden. It looked a bit dry and with a hot day coming up, I decided to water it. Then I knew mine needed watering, so I took care of that followed by some weeding. My daylillies have just about done all their flowering, so I trimmed them back since the leaves were spreading way beyond their allotted space. Then I had to go to the PO to take care of mailing my payments for the second half of the month bills. I also picked up some groceries while I was out. Back home again in time for supper - a couple of chopped steak patties. Then I decided to fool with Mike's power supply to try to figure out why it wasn't charging fully. I had completely discharged it overnight, then put it on the charger when I got up today and found after 6 hours on the charger it maxed out around 9.6 volts when it should be putting out over 12 volts. So I took it apart and found a corroded terminal on the internal gel cell. Fixed that, but it didn't help. Tried two different chargers with both acting the same. Some more testing has just about led me to the conclusion that the gel cell itself is bad. And that pretty much sums up my day so far. Oh, I neglected to say that somewhere in the middle of all the above, I finished the log cross-checking for our NAQCC sprint and posted the adjusted scores for those who want to, to question the changes before we finalize everything next Sunday.

Once again it looked like the DX streak may be coming to an end. If it had, at least 900 days would be an easy to remember number. However once again I squeaked out a DX QSO by working PJ4/AI5P on 40 meters at 0050Z. AI5P is a great op, and it's nice to have ops like that on the bands to be able to dig out my QRP signals when conditions are not the best. It took a few repeats of my call to make the QSO, but day 901 is in the books now, and the struggle to continue is put off for another day once again. -30-

Sunday, August 16, 2015 9:20 PM - A great day today, as are all days when Mike visits. He arrived around 8:45AM and prepared for his bike ride which lasted until around 2:30 if I recall correctly. Shortly after he cleaned up, we headed out to try a new watering hole. I had only been there once myself, so we didn't know much about it except that I enjoyed the first trip very much with their good food and good service. We both ordered their Sabreburger which consists of a hamburger patty, a sausage patty, onions, pickles, lettuce, and some kind of sauce. I got a side order of onion rings, Mike got fries and gravy. For dessert, we both had soft ice cream cones. Fabulous! I think we'll be going back there again on one of his visits.

Back home again to a variety of things including planning for our astronomy outing later in the week, checking the bands for DX (Mike worked a Panama station on 17M), a hidden object game on the computer, and a test of his battery pack after which we came to the conclusion that it is going to have to be replaced. All too soon 9 PM rolled around and he had to head back north again.

While he was playing the computer game, I went up to my shack to get my streak QSO(s). First I solidified the main streak when K2LNS/VE2 answered my CQ. He was also QRP, and the band was not conducive to a long QSO but we did chat a little while. Then it was on to looking for some DX. There was very little to be found, but once again T46BC came to the rescue. Tonight it was 40 meters after working him on 20 and 17 the previous two evenings. So the DX streak has now reached 900 straight days. The next 100 to make it to 1,000 are going to be very hard, I think, with sunspots decreasing rapidly and conditions getting poorer and poorer.

Earlier in the day while Mike was riding, I worked WB5OSD to get the last "O" to complete the August NAQCC challenge. I don't know if I'll complete the European Chapter one or not this month with the poor conditions. -30-

Saturday, August 15, 2015 9:55 AM - Regular diary readers know my penchant for working with stats. In fact, I think that is one reason (among many) for my liking of ham radio. It gives me tons of data to analyze in every way I can think of. The same with my hobby of meteorology.

I got to thinking about my DX QSOs and wondering just how many unique stations I've worked in different countries. I know I work many DX stations over and over again in various contests, but just how many different stations have I worked in Germany, Italy, etc.

Well, with my Microsoft Access log and perhaps with a bit of help from Microsoft Excel, it is very easy to figure out. It was done more quickly than coming up with the idea in the first place. HI

I'll present the data in a few different ways. I'll exclude W/VE from the first tables, then close out with those stats for comparison. I only counted countries with more than 100 total QSOs (of which I have 55) to get a more realistic idea of what I'm presenting.

First the 10 countries with the most unique stations worked:
CTY QSOs Unique Calls
FRG 1798     577
ITA 1021     326
EUR  592     278
ENG  862     267
FRA  778     255
CZE  782     236
SPA  536     209
POL  599     207
HUN  820     179
UKR  323     176
FRG is Germany - a holdover abbreviation from the days of the divided Germany (Federal Republic of Germany). And in both total QSOs and unique stations, it is far out in front as I expected. (EUR-EUropean Russia)

Now let's compare the percentage of QSOs which are from unique calls, i.e. calls/QSOs.
CTY QSOs Unique Calls Percent
ASR 202      120      59.4%
JAP 238      130      54.6%
UKR 323      176      54.5%
ARG 225      108      48.0%
BRZ 251      118      47.0%
EUR 592      278      47.0%
SWE 291      136      46.7%
BLG 345      158      45.8%
BUL 265      121      45.7%
SWI 138       63      45.7%
Asiatic Russia on top is surprising. In fact all the top ten except for BRZ and perhaps JAP are surprising. I work a lot of different stations in those two countries. Bulgaria with all its special Saints and other special event stations is not really a surprise either, come to think of it.

OK, let's turn things upside down and list the countries with the fewest unique calls followed by those with the lowest percentage as described above.
CTY QSOs Unique Calls
MDR 115      25
ALS 106      34
BLZ 116      35
BAR 103      37
COS 127      37
BON 140      38
MRT 108      39
LAT 126      39
IRE 107      40
ROM 104      41
Latvia, Ireland, Romania surprise me. The others are to a large part due to the contest expedition QSOs. Even more telling will be the percentages next. (MDR-MaDeiRa, ALS-ALaSka, BLZ-BeLiZe, MRT-MaRTinique)
CTY QSOs Unique Calls Percent
ARU 292      42       14.4%
VIR 225      45       20.0%
CAY 202      41       20.3%
HAW 198      41       20.7%
SLV 800     172       21.5%
MDR 115      25       21.7%
HUN 820     179       21.8%
SLO 341      82       24.0%
CRO 582     146       25.1%
PUE 316      81       25.6%
I can just about recite from memory the often worked contest stations from each country that contribute to the low percentage of unique calls. But I won't do that here.

As I said, now let's look at the W/VE stats for comparison.
CTY  QSOs Unique Calls Percent
CAN  2805     1267     45.2%
USA 42573    18829     44.2%
They stand # 11 and 12 among the 55 countries with which I've had 100+ QSOs.

And overall totals for the 55 countries
CTY  QSOs Unique Calls Percent
All 63214    26032     41.2%
I found all the above fascinating and I think it does show one thing as a bottom line. A QRP/CW station's QSOs aren't made by simply working the same big powerful stations over and over again. We also work other stations with very simple setups akin to ours.

Finally perhaps an explanation of my country abbreviations is in order. I find most lists of abbreviations have confusing entries and don't use them. For example the IARU official list has Brazil simply as B while there are many countries starting with B. There are many others, but you get the idea. My system also has a few confusing ones, but basically I can tell at a glance without thinking what a country is from my list.

Wherever possible, I use the first 3 letters of the country name in English - FRA-France, POL-Poland and so on. However in cases where countries have the same first three letters, I have to improvise. For example Australia, Austria, Austral Islands. In that case I take the first three letters from the one that comes first alphabetically - AUS for Australia. For others I often take the first three consonants - for Austria I use AST. For Islands I try to use as much as possible the first two letters of the island name followed by I - AUI for Austral Islands. It's not a simple task, but it works for me and my log, and that's all that matters to me. I'm not out to make a list that pleases everyone. Such a thing does not exist anywhere, especially if you limit the abbreviations to just three letters. -30-

Friday, August 14, 2015 8:48 PM - Warmer today than it's been for a while now. The high on my remote unit says 89 degrees. It's now 75. Seems more like August again than September which it has felt like most of the rest of the early part of August.

I made an effort to watch for some Perseid meteors, but it's hard to find them in this light polluted town. Then to top it off some fog developed. All that resulted in only seeing three meteors over two nights. Too bad this isn't the week of Mike's vacation. Maybe we could have gone up to dark community park and seen a lot of meteors. During his vacation next week we are planning on an observing session up there. Hopefully we'll get a clear night for it. Other than the fog a couple nights, we've had quite a few clear nights this month so far. Also Mike will be stopping by on Sunday. He's going on a bike ride that starts in nearby Ford City and stopping here before and after the ride.

There wasn't much DX to be heard tonight, but I did manage to work a rather weak GB2GNL on 20 meters for my streak, then just because he was calling a lot of CQs with no answers, I worked T46BC easily on 17 meters.

I posted my new poll question today. It's a twist on another poll I did earlier about times of the day when folks operate the most. The first time around the answers were in UTC, this time in local time. So I hope you'll cast your vote. I haven't been getting all that many votes in the polls recently for whatever reason. Maybe I'll think about discontinuing them if they don't pick up by the end of the year. -30-

Thursday, August 13, 2015 6:45 PM - Another somewhat early entry this evening for no particular reason. Last night it didn't take long after the computer club meeting to add a day to my DX streak. I found and worked XE1XR easily on 20 meters barely a couple minutes after entering the shack.

I learned (or was it I was reminded) via email yesterday that the ARRL Centennial QSO Party certificates are now available. So I checked my totals on the ARRL site and found I was eligible for the level 2 (of 4) certificate with 5,349 points - more than enough for level 2 (3,000) but not enough for level 3 (7,500). Since I didn't really concentrate on the party at all, I'm pleased with the result and ordered the certificate via regular mail today. That will make a nice complement to the W1AW Centennial WAS plaque I got about a month or so ago. It was expensive at $16, but I don't think I'll be around for the Bicentennial event in 2114 so I went for it.

Also on the ARRL site, I checked to be sure our N3AQC Field Day log and report was received, and it was. I didn't see any entry for the local Fort Armstrong Wireless Assn. though. Maybe we embarrassed them with our QRP/CW results vs. their QRO/mostly SSB results the past couple years?

About an hour now till I head to the shack, so I'll find something to do to kill time. Maybe process a few more sprint logs that just came in to add to the total of 117 already received and prepared for cross-checking. Or maybe something else. Hard to tell with me. HI. -30-

Wednesday, August 12, 2015 3:50 PM - I have a computer club meeting this evening, so I thought I'd write my entry early today. Then when I get home around 0100Z or so, I can concentrate on getting my DX streak QSO. Only five more days till the DX streak hits 900 days if nothing happens before then to end it.

Conditions for the sprint were pretty poor last evening. 20 was just about dead. 40 had a lot of local QRN and QSB. 80 is pretty much unusable with my current local QRN. It took me 93 minutes to get my 20 QSOs, all on 40 meters.

I got to wondering just how that 93 minutes ranks among the past 14 sprints when I've done the "20 and out" routine. Well, the slowest to 20 was 109 minutes in November 2014 - the quickest to 20 was 47 minutes in June 2015. The average for the 14 sprints is 77.7 minutes, so last night was one of the slower ones. In fact it was the fifth slowest. Here are all the times:
 7/17/2014    94
 8/13/2014    81
 9/18/2014    65
10/15/2014    97**
11/20/2014   109
12/10/2014    94***
 1/22/2015    89
 2/11/2015    69
 3/19/2015    58
 4/15/2015    65*
 5/21/2015    61*
 6/10/2015    47
 7/16/2015    66*
 8/12/2015    93
  * - 21 QSOs
 ** - 22 QSOs
*** - 23 QSOs
A couple sprints, I had tailend calls after #20, but the times listed are for getting to #20. -30-

Tuesday, August 11, 2015 8:10 PM - OK, getting close to NAQCC sprint time, so this will be quick.

Thanks again to the PX3 panadapter, a quick DX QSO so I don't have to worry after the sprint or during the day tomorrow. I tuned to 20M, and a quick glance showed only a couple good signals there, and a quick listen showed they weren't DX. So I thought I might as well check 17 meters. The PX3 showed one strong signal there and another quick check showed it to be XE3WMA calling CQ. A couple answers to him netted a DX streak QSO for day # 895.

Now off to get ready for the sprint. I hope I get my 20 QSOs quickly this evening, but 20 didn't seem too good. I don't know about 40 yet. -30-

Monday, August 10, 2015 9:19 PM - To use a common appropriate expression - Go Figure. For almost an hour tonite except for a short QSO with AI4FC for my main streak, I tried and tried to find and work some DX with no luck. Most DX I found was very weak and not hearing me at all. A couple others were fairly strong (S6 or so) but also not hearing me or disappearing before I could work them. Then I heard EA2PA calling CQ about S6 or so on 20, gave a call and got him with that single call, and we had a nice solid chat for several minutes. He was using 100W and just a dipole antenna, so no big beam needed to copy me. Another facet that makes ham radio such a fascinating hobby. So the streaks go on another day.

I got in a lot of little things today. I fixed that bad coax connector I mentioned while I was doing my laundry. I also recharged my gel cell after the Skeeter Hunt yesterday. I did a lot of setting up things for our NAQCC sprint tomorrow evening. Some shopping and other regular tasks filled in other times here and there.

We had 0.9 inches of rain today so that postpones garden watering for a couple days now. Maybe longer as more rain should be here overnight with some left over for tomorrow as well. -30-

Sunday, August 09, 2015 9:15 PM - A great day in the Park with Mike KC2EGL and Tom WB3FAE. Mike came just before 10 AM, and we headed up to Ponderosa expecting them to open at 10:30 AM as they did the last time we were there on a Sunday morning. However now they backed up their opening yet another 30 minutes to 11 AM so we had to kill a half hour which we did by going to Dollar General for a couple items Mike had planned to get after we ate. We also went into Radio Shack looking for a coax barrel connector which they didn't have. Then finally to Shop and Save where we found some of our favorite Spam on sale and stocked up on that. By that time it was just past 11 AM and it was back to Ponderosa where we had our lunch or brunch before heading to the Park.

Up there we met Tom and the three of us got started setting up our antennas. Oh but first a surprise for Tom. Mike and I purchased a personalized bezel for his KX3. We had a devious plot set up to affix it to his rig without him knowing, and it worked. We had planned to have Tom help me set up my antenna and Mike would switch bezels while we were doing that. However an even better situation presented itself. Tom had to walk back to his vehicle (about a 100 yard walk) to get some more parts for his antenna mount. We weren't prepared for that, but when a third opportunity came along and he had to go back again. I quickly said we wanted to get a picture of our three KX3s side by side which Mike could take while we walked to Tom's vehicle. While we were gone, Mike made the switch, and when we got back I kiddingly asked how we were going to tell the three KX3s apart. That's when Tom looked at them all in a row and noticed the bezel. He seemed very pleased with it. Here's a picture of the three before and after the change. It is a bit hard to read the bezels, but they have our calls and NAQCC numbers on them. Mike's and my bezels also had a surprise element to them which has been told in the diary previously.

pix_diary_20150809_001 (51K)

pix_diary_20150809_002 (99K)

I'll try to have some more pictures in tomorrow's entry, but I've got to move along now.

When we did get to setting up my antenna, I found an SWR of over 20:1 with it. After some testing we found a bad connection on the connector going into my KX3. Simply moving the coax fixed it and we put my battery on the coax to keep it from moving further. Tom and Mike got their antennas going and we all three started rolling along. Twenty meters was my band and it was pretty good. Mike had forty meters and it was fair. Unfortunately Tom had fifteen and ten and other than WAE stations, they were pretty devoid of signals.

Still we wound up with a total of 61 QSOs in 30 SPCs, just about in between our 51 and 69 totals from the past couple Skeeter Hunts. The bottom line though is that we all had a great time with some beautiful weather as icing on the cake. Also we got to watch a youth group of sorts playing some football. The youngsters came up with some pretty good plays along the way.

We stayed with the Hunt till its conclusion and then tore down our setups and headed to my house for a couple hours of fellowship chatting about various things.

Tom had to leave first, then Mike a little later around 0000Z. After he left, I set up my station again and got my DX QSO in the form of Jurek EA6UN. A bit of a strange QSO. I called him and he answered and worked another station, and as soon as he was done, called me. So he heard my call and put me on hold for a bit, so to speak. Then I heard and worked VY0M, my first Nunavut station in quite a while and maybe my first on 20 meters. I'll have to check that later.

Tom and Mike didn't want anything to eat (yes, Mike did not want anything - you read correctly), so I took a walk down to Subway and got myself a foot long Tuna sub which I devoured after bringing it home.

Then getting my weather readings brought me to the point of writing this entry. Now on to update my streak table and propagation pages. -30-

Saturday, August 08, 2015 8:38 PM - As I surmised, a quick DX QSO this evening with the WAE contest in effect. I got IR4X at 0000Z on 20 meters with a single call. After that it wasn't so easy though. I had my DX so I thought I'd work on the NAQCC challenges a bit. However a half hour of calling CQ on 30 and then 17 yielded nary a single answer. Oh well, at least the streaks live on another day.

Just about 16 hours now till the Skeeter Hunt up in Community Park. I'm looking forward to that. I've got everything packed up and ready to go - well, except for the rig and a couple other items I always wait till the last minute to pack. Mike and I will be having brunch or lunch at Ponderosa and then we'll meet Tom at the park and get set up to start right at 1700Z. Here's hoping for good band conditions. They seemed pretty good this evening despite not getting any answers to my CQs.

Still another nice day today. I started off watering Ange's garden while he is away, then my own garden after that. Some walks and a little shopping along the way today. Other than that, some house cleaning filled up some more time. That was about it for the day. -30-

Friday, August 07, 2015 8:52 PM - It was just 3 years ago this evening that a 4-6 month old puppy named Roscoe arrived next door. He has brought a lot of joy in those three years. Today he took a trip to the groomer for a hair cut, bath, and toenail trim. It was a pretty uneventful trip as usual. A little uneasy on the way there and relaxed and tired on the way home. Bruce treated us to lunch while Roscoe was getting himself taken care of.

That was pretty much the event of the day with not much else really happening. I did a little work in the backyard and took a couple of walks including some shopping. Seems just about every day there is some grocery shopping that needs doing when you don't drive and can't really store up on a lot of things at once. But I don't mind that at all since I love walking as you diary regulars know well.

Of course with the WAE contest on, my DX QSO was a snap tonight as it will be again tomorrow night. Tonight it was TM5Y who already had 27 QSOs just 7 minutes into the contest. Must be a lot of fun turning QSOs over at that rate. I guess about the best I've ever done in an hour with my QRP/CW simple wire antennas setup would be in the low 60s. A couple times I averaged around 51.5 per hour in the 10 hour NAQPs so I imagine I hit 60 in those once or twice. I think I'll check that after I get my weather readings and if I remember, report here in tomorrow's entry.

Looking forward to the Skeeter Hunt on Sunday. Exchanged several emails today with Mike and Tom about our plans, so we're just about ready to go. Looks like clear and not too hot weather for Sunday which will be great. -30-

Thursday, August 06, 2015 7:56 PM - About 5 minutes to go till streak time. I'm just getting the date/time stamp on here now, and then I'll be back after I see how the streak search goes to flesh out the rest of the entry.

Today was yet another beautiful one and it was cloudy so I went fishing for a little over an hour, but didn't catch anything. I got some bites, but they must have been from some very small fish, as each time after what seemed to be a good bite, they stopped and when I reeled in to check the bait, only a tiny piece was bitten off the nightcrawler. Still it was nice to get down to the river again.

OK, I'm off to the shack now.

Well, it was a quick DX QSO at 0004Z that kept the streaks going. I worked HT7C for a 'new band' QSO after having worked him before on 30 meters. This was on 20 meters.

A few days ago I got an eQSL card from K4WLW for a N3AQC QSO. He was also wanting a K3WWP verie, so tonight I got an answer to my first 30 meters CQ from.... yes, Bill K4WLW so I immediately opened the QSO with "now you have a K3WWP QSO for eQSL/LoTW. It was more than just a brief QSO though, but a nice quarter hour or so visit. Bill is a NAQCC member who also runs a KX3 as I do.

So the streaks go on. I haven't talked much about this, but on Sunday, Mike KC2EGL, Tom WB3FAE, and I will be heading to the Kittanning Community park to participate in the NJQRP Skeeter Hunt as N3AQC, and we'll be giving out Skeeter #1 to all who work us, as Larry W2LJ assigned the NAQCC WPA Chapter that #1 for the hunt. Hopefully conditions will be good and we can have another good showing in the hunt as we've done the past couple years now with 2nd and 6th place overall finishes. No matter how we finish though, it will be a lot of fun just getting together with these two guys again. What a great time we had on Field Day. I still have vivid fond memories of that event. -30-

Wednesday, August 05, 2015 6:15 PM - Let's start this entry by going back to last evening. It was a delight to start off the 22nd year of my streak by working an old friend who has been interested in the streak for a long time now. I'm speaking of Larry W2LJ. We had our first of 63 QSOs back on December 17, 2004 which was about the time he joined the NAQCC as #0035. Actually it would have been a few weeks earlier that he joined with that number. Last night he answered my CQ on 40 meters and although conditions weren't the best, we chatted for quite a while. He was giving a demo of ham radio at an event in his town in NJ.

As we ended our QSO, I was called by Neal W3CUV up in Erie. We've worked a couple times before. He's a friend of Bob W3BBO who has visited here at my house and also comes to the Butler hamfest each year.

Continuing old home week, so to speak, I then went to 20 in search of my DX QSO. There I found another friend (well all hams are really friends) in Chris F6DGY, and we talked for a while. It was solid copy both ways with some QSB, but not enough to deter our conversation.

Moving on to today, it was a busy one. It started with helping Ange pick beans from his garden. Right after that, I did some work on my back steps with help from Denny. Next it was 'deadheading' my daylillies - unfortunately they are just about done producing flowers for this year. I only picked off 13 dead flowers today while just a few weeks ago, it was around 150 or so per day. I would say about another week, and they will all be gone now. Sad to think that is an early portent of fall and winter. Next up, I watered my garden. It has not been a very good year for my vegetables nor my roses. This year produced the fewest roses in a long time, maybe the fewest ever. The vegetables are doing better than that, but still somewhat below par.

A couple good walks and a few other odds and ends bring us to writing this diary entry. It's about 90 minutes now till I go hunting my streak QSO(s) for day 2 of year 22. -30-

Tuesday, August 04, 2015 6:41 PM - Last night when I sat down at 0000Z to get my daily streak QSO(s), I never thought that it was a momentous day until I worked someone and wrote the date 8-4-15 in my log. Then it hit me that the QSO I was making completed 21 years of my main streak or counting days that's 21x365=7,665 plus the 'leap days' in 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012 making a total of 7,670 straight days with at least one QRP CW simple wire antenna QSO. So this morning I updated the streak page in the QRP section of my web site (QRP - QRP Streaks).

So tonight at 0000Z or a little past depending on conditions and activity, I'll be starting out on year # 22. Whew! Who would have thought a little discussion with Eric KB3BFQ about sports streaks in 1994 would have turned into something like this.

Speaking of streaks, our rainless streak ended last night just a few minutes before I went out to get my 9PM weather readings. The rain continued on to give us about 3/10 of an inch until it ended a couple hours later. The day today dawned with a continuation of our dry sunny weather and was another beautiful day throughout. Great for walking. I almost went fishing, but it was pretty hot in the bright sun, so I decided against it. There are no easily accessible shady places to fish. All are out in the direct sun all day. Maybe I'll try tomorrow depending on conditions. -30-

Monday, August 03, 2015 7:54 PM - Day # 13 in a row with no measureable precipitation. I think I will have to log a trace for today though as I did see a few drops on the sidewalk when it got pretty dark this afternoon, but they quickly evaporated as the main rain again split Kittanning to the north and south.

It was as a result another good day for walking and after taking care of some business this morning with a good long walk around town, I took a couple more walks later and now have 10.31 miles on the pedometer.

It's coming up on 0000Z now and time to go and try to get my streak QSO(s). Although they don't really mean all that much the SF and A index look pretty good for today and if conditions follow, hopefully I can get the QSO out of the way quickly and maybe gather some more letters/numbers for the NAQCC challenges. -30-

Sunday, August 02, 2015 9:25 PM - Another nice day today, both weatherwise and on the bands. We did hit 90 degrees again, but as has been the case, the humidity has stayed low. A picturesque sky with the lovely puffy cumulus clouds of a typical summer day. A nice day to be outside, and I was quite a bit. A couple of long walks, weeding my garden, taking grass out of the sidewalk bricks, and taking Roscoe for a walk.

This evening when I got on the bands, it didn't take long to work V44KAI on 30, then a few minutes later it was MI0SRR on 30 followed some time later by S52F on 20. Europe was quite good, but the stations I would have liked to work were either S&P or engaged in long rag chews. Still I did collect a lot of letters/numbers for the NAQCC challenges, especially from MI0SRR who provided 10 each for the "USA" challenge and the European challenge. I'm now just about at the halfway point in both challenges with 42 of 86 in the "USA" one, and 26 of 59 in the European one.

I keep forgetting that some of you reading this might be saying what's he talking about these challenges? Well, the best way to answer that is to just refer you to the NAQCC web site via the link at the top of this page. There you'll find out all you would like to know, and if you're not already a member, perhaps you'll join the club so you too can have fun with the challenges and our other activities.

Finally for this entry, some stats. I've been wondering if my percentage of return from the LoTW is greater from USA/VE stations or DX stations. Before I figured out anything, I had the feeling that DX stations would definitely be the winners. Let's see.

I only used my QSOs from the streak, since I only have 115 LoTW veries from before that time. Here we go.

Not counting tonight, I have the following:

Total streak QSOs - 64,897 (all through 7/31/2015) uploaded to LoTW.
Total LoTW veries - 18,370 or 28.3 percent

Total streak DX QSOs - 21,092
Total LoTW veries - 7,815 or 37.1 percent

Total streak W/VE QSOs - 43,805
Total LoTW veries - 10,555 or 24.1 percent

I was definitely right about DX vs. W/VE, and the margin was a little wider than I expected. So W/VE stations, let's get with the times and use the wonderful LoTW. It's very simple and very clearly explained on the ARRL web site here -30-

Saturday, August 01, 2015 6:35 PM - I was just thinking of this, and thought I'd better record it here before I forget. I was wondering how this fairly dry July stood up against past Julys. I have precipitation records for 54 years here starting in 1962. The July 1963 record is incomplete due to vacations and college previews, so that leaves 53 years. Of the 53, only 16 had less precipitation than this year. The 2015 total was 3.14 inches which is 1.15 inches below the normal of 4.29 inches. The driest July was 1982 with 1.33 inches, the wettest 1992 with 9.90 inches.

Today was another dry one, but I thought I felt a couple lite drops when I was outside working and the skies were full of what looked like rain clouds. I'm not really sure, so if we don't get anything else this evening, I'll put today down as another 0 day, the 11th in a row now.

Today also ended a streak of 6 straight 90 degree days. Fortunately the humidity wasn't very high during the streak, so it wasn't really too unbearable. Right now it's 80 degrees with 40% humidity. I just got back from a pretty long walk. -30-

Friday, July 31, 2015 7:57 PM - I got most of my end of month / first of month chores done quickly and efficiently today. All I really have left is to get the July weather records in my computer, and make a banking run in the morning. Then I can goof off the rest of the day tomorrow.

The weather has really been one extreme or the other this year, especially the last couple months. We had rain on 19 of the 30 days in June, but right now we have a streak going of 10 straight days without a drop of rain and really not much in sight for at least a couple more days. 23 of the 31 July days had only a trace of rain or none at all. It will be interesting to see how it stands up among the dry Julys in the past here.

The bands were pretty good this evening again, and I worked EG2A at 0000Z for the DX streak. Then I started work on the NAQCC August challenges. I was kind of disappointed I didn't master the July European Chapter challenge. I just spent too much of the month enjoying the nice weather. Maybe had it been a rainier month, I would have done better. Now I'm more determined to master both challenges this month, not just one. So far in the "North American" challenge, I have 19 of the 86 letters. In the "European" one, it's 15 of 59.

That pretty much wraps up the last day of July. I think I'll go flip over the calendar pages to August now, and then maybe start on the weather records. -30-

Thursday, July 30, 2015 8:23 PM - This is the weekend of our Fort Armstrong Folk Festival here in Kittanning. I usually don't pay much attention to it, but this evening I went with my neighbor Nancy to listen to the award winning Kittanning Firemen's Band. It was very enjoyable listening to some good music from that collection of great musicians.

I got home just before 0000Z, grabbed a bite to eat and went in search of my DX streak QSO. It didn't take long to get it as I worked OK1CF at 0003Z on 20 meters. A very easy QSO with Karel whom I've worked before a few times.

Tomorrow is yet another busy day following the FOBB on Sunday, the Skyview presentation on Tuesday and the Festival this evening. Tomorrow, being the last day of the month, means it is time for all my end of month / first of month chores which usually take up quite a bit of time. After that, then next week should be a quieter one although Ange will be leaving for Europe on Thursday (I think) for four weeks which means I have to take care of his garden. So do me a favor and do some rain dances so I don't have to water it too often. Just don't overdo it and bring on any flooding. -30-

Wednesday, July 29, 2015 9:13 PM - Good conditions this evening. I heard more strong European stations than I've heard in a while in the 0000Z hour. I worked 9A/S52P right at 0000Z on 20 meters. When I heard the 9A/ I thought it was the same station I worked last night, but it was a different operator tonight - not S55Z. I guess they are leftovers from the IOTA contest on vacation on EU-090.

After that I looked for any Europeans with the letters I need for the NAQCC European Chapter challenge, but didn't find any with the J Q V that I need yet. Looks more and more like I won't complete the challenge this month.

I got an email today wondering if we could do an encore of the QRP/CW presentation at next year's Breezeshooters Hamfest. Well, that's a long ways off, but I imagine it would be possible if everything stays the same till then.

The hottest day of the year so far today, so after I deadheaded my daylillies and watered my garden, I pretty much sat in front of the fan all day to beat the 94 degree high temperature. It could have been worse though, but the humidity wasn't all that high - mostly in the 40s. It's still pretty warm at 80 degrees. I went out for a walk just a few minutes ago, and it still felt that way, too. -30-

Tuesday, July 28, 2015 10:18 PM - I just received some pictures from Bob WC3O of the presentation at Skyview last night, so it's a good time to flesh out this entry as I promised.

Mike (KC2EGL) had to work yesterday, so he had to wait to come here till he was done. We still got to Skyview in plenty of time. In fact we were the 3rd and 4th persons to arrive. We were sorry that Tom WB3FAE couldn't attend because he got a bug and a fever and had to stay home.

The first order of business was to set up for the presentation. I figured I would just use my web site as a source for all the info since I really couldn't add anything else to what is here. They have a projector and a big whiteboard so I could project my laptop images for all to see. I had a bit of trouble with hooking to the projector since I hadn't done so for several years since we used such a setup at our computer club meetings. One of the members knew exactly what to do, so that hurdle was overcome. While members were arriving and chatting, I set up the pages I wanted to use in different folders in IE so they would be ready to use.

After a nice introduction from Bob, and applause from the members, he turned it over to me for the presentation. I planned the presentions in five stages - Showing my location, station, and antennas - Showing what can be done with such a setup - Showing how anyone can do the same with a similar setup - Comments from Mike and Tom (but he couldn't make it as I mentioned) - Finally a 'hands-on' demo of the KX3/PX3 hooked to the club's big antenna farm. Here's a picture of me getting started with the presentation.

pix_diary_20150728_001 (39K)

I started off with Bing maps showing my location here, and then went on to pictures of my station with the KX3/PX3, antenna switch, etc. In fact it was the first picture on my Pictures page in the Home section of the web site. After that, it was on to the antenna pictures from my OneDrive site. I sensed a feeling of surprise from the members that the antenna system was so minimal. I used the line, "It's not really an antenna farm, but more of an antenna victory garden". The victory garden analogy came from my friend Alan KB7MBI. I think they got a kick out of the random wire especially seeing all the bends in it. I said at one time, I counted 21 bends. One member asked if I knew just how long it was. I said about 110 feet but squeezed into about 70 feet of space. Here's how the picture of my 6 meter dipole looked on the whiteboard.

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After the 'show and tell' with the pictures, I went on to show some of the pages that give tips on succeeding with QRP/CW. I didn't take the time to read or show all the info there as I did want to get to the KX3/PX3 demo as I sensed several of the members were interested in seeing that. There was great interest in the presentation as I think is amply shown by this picture.

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Although the actual section of comments from Mike kind of got lost in the shuffle, Mike did contribute a lot of helpful comments along the way, which I appreciated very much. One that comes to mind was the story of how I 'converted' him to QRP/CW not long after we met when he (as a postman) delivered a QSL card to my house. He also added some other anecdotes of interest. Thanks Mike.

Now it was off to the radio room, where I hooked up the KX3/PX3 with help from Bob and others. I mentioned it would be nice if I could add to my DX streak from there, but it would have to be with a 'simple wire antenna', not one of their huge beams on big towers. So we hooked up to their 80/40 dipole antenna, but loaded it with the KX3 internal tuner to 20 meters and got the usual KX3 match of 1:1 with virtually anything it is fed into. The PX3 showed a strong peak to which I tuned to find it was Josh 6Y5JW whom I worked several times. I figured he would be an easy catch, and he was. We exchaged brief greetings and my streak QSO was in the log. As I mentioned, there was great interest in the KX3/PX3 and we got several questions about it. One member asked if we found any shortcomings in the setup. Mike and I both said no, except possibly for the audio quality from the speaker which didn't really matter and wasn't all that bad anyway. Another asked about the price of the rig. Mike looked that up on his phone and gave out the info. There were other questions also about the rig that I can't recall right now. Here's a picture of the setup with the old man (me) looking at the PX3 for someone to work. While Mike behind me is explaining something to a member.

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Some more tuning around revealed very little in the way of DX outside of some SA stations which we couldn't seem to raise, possibly because of the orientation of the dipole. Probably had we hooked to one of the beams, they would have been easy QSOs, but we didn't try that as time was moving on. We almost worked 9A/S55Z, but couldn't quite make it past K3WW?. Ironically when I got home and set my station back up, I worked him easily from there.

All in all it was a very enjoyable event. I usually don't enjoy being the center of attention in such an event as the presentation, but I have nothing but good 'vibes' from this one because of the great behaviour and attention shown by all the Skyview members. Thanks very much. Thanks especially to Bob WC3O for the opportunity to do the presentation. I think it may have peaked some interest among the members who told me they were going to study my web site some more and one said he was definitely going to try to get back to CW again. Another said he was going to join the NAQCC.

If any further comments come to mind that I missed here, I'll add them in tomorrow's entry.


I had a real great time giving my QRP/CW demo at the Skyview Radio Society this evening. I'd like to thank all the members for a very warm reception.

I'll have more to say about it when I amend this entry later tonight or more likely in the morning. Right now I'm tired and I have some other things that need doing before bed time. -30-

Monday, July 27, 2015 8:21 PM - A quick solid DX QSO this evening. EA2CNU was booming in, and I answered his CQ, but lost out to a W4 station. As soon as they finished, I called again and got an answer on that first call with no repeats - somewhat of a rarity the past several days. So that's 880 days down and 120 to go for my goal of 1,000 straight DX days. It's going to be rough, but I'm going to try to make it. Tomorrow will be especially rough as I will be doing a presentation on QRP/CW at an area radio club in the evening and won't be able to be on at my usual 0000Z hour unless I get on from the radio club station as part of the presentation. Otherwise I'll have to get my DX during the day on Wednesday. I did listen this afternoon a bit and DX was pretty good in late afternoon. I didn't try to work any, just listened. -30-

Sunday, July 26, 2015 8:34 PM - A good day in the park today. Story and pictures to follow at 11...... No, I mean shortly.

First, the DX streak goes on. Last night it was HT7C at 0004Z on 30 meters. I was thinking of going for the NAQCC 30/30 award this month - 30 QSOs on 30 meters, but I might come up a bit short. I need 11 more in the final 5 days of the month, and not a lot of time to be on the air with a busy week coming up. Then tonight it was RI1PT at 0022Z on 20 meters. Again a Russian who stuck with me through several repeats. Thanks.

The FOBB had its moments, good and bad, in the Community Park today. Initial set up went well. We arrived about 30 minutes before the start and except for a couple of balky golf balls and a couple stubborn trees that slowed down our antenna launchings a bit, we still made it in plenty of time. However after a couple QSOs, we lost our pavilion. The pavilions are first come, first served, and generally that works well so we don't have to pay to reserve one. Today though just minutes into the FOBB, a couple and their kids arrived with a reservation in hand for a birthday celebration. So we had to move to another pavilion and set up all over again. that also went well although we had a couple strange orientations for our antennas due to the arrangements of trees at that pavilion. However with the center of Mike's dipole only 5 feet or so high, it worked well as did my dipole at maybe 10 feet at most. Mike took 40 meters, and I did 20. There wasn't a lot of activity or if there was, we weren't hearing it. I made 15 QSOs and Mike made 14. We both worked almost all the stations we heard on both bands. We both decided we pretty much ran out of stations and called it quits a little over an hour before the end of the contest.

Some pictures now. In order below - 1. Mike operating, 2. Me operating. 3. Mike's antenna. 4. My antenna.

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Saturday, July 25, 2015 6:48 PM - One of the warmest days of the year so far. The temperature only peaked at 90, but with some very clear, only slightly hazy skies, it felt hotter in the sun. Before it got too hot, I took care of watering Ange's garden as he is away for the weekend. Next I deadheaded my daylillies. I picked off around 130 dead flowers, and that was only from overnight last night. It's amazing how prolific daylillies are. Too bad vegetables don't produce that quickly. I sometimes think beans come close as after I watered Ange's garden, I picked what must have been close to 200 beans and he only picked them a couple days ago. I hope my beans produce like that when they get going. I don't know why they are so late this year. So far I only have flowers on them - well, and a couple tiny yet to develop beans.

Otherwise, I am getting a good supply of Siberian tomatoes and peppers for my daily salad. My bigger tomatoes are coming along nicely also and I should be getting some ripe ones in a week or two.

I dug up some parts from my extensive junk box today for the crystal radio project I mentioned. I also charged up my gel cell for tomorrows FOBB parkpedition. I hung my W1AW WAS plaque on the wall, and was going to take a picture of it, but my camera batteries died just as I was snapping it. So I'm charging them now. Both the ones from the camera and a spare set which was also pretty much depleted. So that should be ready for the FOBB tomorrow. There is a slight chance of rain, but that shouldn't deter us, as the park pavillions are covered.

I'm looking forward to tomorrow. Except for FD, this will be the first time out in the field for me this year. I hope we can get in a few more parkpeditions before the weather changes in November or so.

Right now, I'm just passing time till 0000Z comes along and I go for my streak QSO(s). I imagine with the IOTA contest going on, it should be easy to get my DX fix. Hope saying that doesn't jinx things. The IOTA contest has been good to me over the years for getting new countries, new band-countries, and some generally very nice QSOs. One I remember particularly was working VK6DXI back in 2009 (see QSL on my DX page) on 40 meters before the sun had set here. Another was my first ever Asiatic Russian QSO with RW0A back in the 1995 test followed shortly thereafter by my second one from RU0B. I was thinking my only United Kingdom Base on Cyprus QSO with ZC4BS came in the IOTA contest also, but I see the date is June 15 so it couldn't have been. Another new country came from J45RW in the 2002 contest (Dodecanese Is.). I'm sure there were a couple others also that I can't recall off the top of my head right now. So maybe I'll get something interesting tonight. Wonder if the current Cocos Island station will be in the test. I only have one QSO with that country. I guess it is one of the rarest NA countries along with Desecheo, Navassa, and Aves Is. I only have one QSO with those three also. -30-

Friday, July 24, 2015 9:10 PM - Conditions seemed a little better this evening. I heard several European and Middle East stations on 20 and 30. I worked F6BII, II5YOTA, and XM2I. The latter because I thought I might need the XM2 prefix. Let's see. Nope I've got it both worked and verified. I worked a lot of those special Canadian prefixes several years ago.

Not much else happening today to write about. Just the usual stuff. I did get my little portable kit loaded up for our Bumblebee parkpedition on Sunday. I just have to put a final charge on my battery. I better close here now and get to that, or I will forget it. HI. -30-

Thursday, July 23, 2015 9:45 AM - I've got some things lined up for today like fishing, shopping, garden work, etc. So I thought I'd write the diary entry early this morning.

Mike did visit last night to cap off a good day. He had to get up early today though, so he couldn't stay long. We did have our pizza to top off the priorities of the visit. After that we made plans for our Bumblebee outing on Sunday, a visit to a Skyview meeting Tuesday evening, and the Skeeter Hunt in August.

While cleaning out some things in my attic, I came across an old Britannica article about building a crystal radio set. I thought that would be an interesting project for one of Mike's visits. I asked him if he ever build such a set when he was young, and he said no. I did build one many years ago and had fun with it. So that's on one of our future agendas. We also hope to get in some good sky viewing during a week in August when Mike will be on vacation. Perhaps observe the Perseids, although Mike said last night he had the wrong week figured for his vacation so instead of Perseid week of Aug 9, it will be the following week of the 16th which will be past the peak of the Perseids on 12/13 Aug.

Before Mike came, I managed another quick DX QSO when, with some repeats, I worked RG0A on 20 meters. Those Russian ops are great in sticking with someone till the QSO is made, and I appreciate them for that as well as the many ops from other countries who do the same. -30-

Wednesday, July 22, 2015 4:51 PM - A couple of neat things today so far and another coming up later this evening.

For the first time since June 13, the weather, river level and clarity were good enough to go fishing. I went out and checked the river while doing a couple chores downtown. On the way home I bought a dozen nightcrawlers, and when I got home, set up for a walk to the river with my fishing gear. When I got there, and got my line in the water, it looked like it was going to be a shutout trip, but that didn't really matter - it was nice enough to just be sitting there at the river. I did get two isolated hits - one hit wonders, I guess you could call them. Just when I was thinking about giving up and going home though, I finally got a good solid hit and caught an 11 inch sucker. Nothing award winning by any means, but better than a shutout. Also it reinstilled that desire to do more fishing, especially if the weather stays good as it is predicted to do.

After I got home, and did some computer work including getting my fishing (non-fishing?) log up to date, I got up and saw a rather large box on the front porch. I guess I never did hear the mailman. I thought maybe it was my ARRL W1AW WAS plaque, but the box was so light, and there was a return address from Utah on the box. Hmmmm.... very strange. The plaque was the only thing I ordered in recent memory. Maybe it was a gift from someone? Well, no - it was the plaque. Smaller and lighter than I thought it would be, but nevertheless a really desireable thing to have. It made all that time chasing W1AW/# worthwhile. Actually it was worthwhile and a lot of fun even without the plaque. It a 1/4 inch thick piece of plastic in the shape of the continental USA with the pertinent info printed on it. I took a picture of it to post here. It was rather shiny and hard to get a good picture, but here it is. It looks pretty much like the plaque although the real plaque is somewhat clearer and a little less dark.

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Still yet to come? A visit from Mike after he finishes with a meeting here in town. We'll have a pizza and then do who knows what? -30-

Tuesday, July 21, 2015 9:13 PM - I got curious about something this evening as I was getting my DX QSO - which came quickly - HI3TEJ on 30M at 0002Z. I was wondering how many different stations were logged as the first QSO on each of the 874 days. That led to some other stats which I'll present here.

Number of different stations - 604

By band:
80M - 1
40M - 48
30M - 204
20M - 350
17M - 127
15M - 98
12M - 19
10M - 27

By hour:
00Z - 694
01Z - 32
02Z - 13
03Z - 1
04Z - 10
13Z - 7
14Z - 44
15Z - 41
16Z - 11
17Z - 6
18Z - 3
19Z - 5
20Z - 5
21Z - 1
23Z - 1

Number of different countries - 119

Most often worked:
Cuba - 46
Mexico - 34
Italy - 32
Germany - 28
Bulgaria - 27
Spain - 27
Nicaragua - 24
European Russia - 23
France - 23
Hungary - 23
Slovenia - 23
Brazil - 22
Canary Islands - 20
Croatia - 17
Puerto Rico - 17
Asiatic Russia - 16
Virgin Islands - 16
Czech Republic - 15
Dominican Republic - 15
Curacao - 14
Colombia - 13
Poland - 13
Finland - 12
Serbia - 12
Bosnia - 11
England - 11
Ecuador - 10
Macedonia - 10

There were also some 'rare' countries or at least countries I've only ever worked a few times or less:
Austral Islands
Clipperton Island
Sable Island
Western Sahara

I guess that's about it for tonight. I might divide them by continent and present that data later. -30-

Monday, July 20, 2015 9:04 PM - Kind of a ho-hum day today appropriate for what is generally the hottest time of year. We hit 90 again today, but it wasn't too humid. The hills across the river and out back were pretty much crystal clear without that haze that accommpanies high humidity. My remote unit shows the outdoor humidity ranged from 36 to 90 percent. The 90 being the normal high humidity around sunrise. Right now it's 67 percent and I just got back from a walk with no sweat.

I watered my garden today with some added Miracle Gro. It's been hard to feed the plants with the constant rain. I hate to add any water to the already soaking roots. I am getting enough peppers and tomatoes to keep me going day to day with a lot of extra tomatoes.

Another quick DX QSO this evening. I worked Alex HC2AO at 0004Z on 17 meters. Alex is a transplanted Russian and a really great operator. Then I added what I think is a new prefix when I worked LY100DGA on 20 meters. Let's see. Yes, it is new. Wonder what the call is for. The 100th anniversary of the S.Darius and S.Girenas Airfield. I love those European special event calls. They sure beat ours here in the USA. -30-

Sunday, July 19, 2015 10:28 PM - Just finished a couple hours of sprint log cross-checking and I'm a bit punchy right now so this will be short and I'll update my streak table and propagation page a little later.

A quick DX QSO tonight with ZF2EZ whom I think was also QRP, but I'm not sure. Thought I heard him sign /QRP a couple minutes before I worked him. Anyway the DX streak goes on, and I have tomorrow free now. -30-

Saturday, July 18, 2015 8:57 PM - Another quick DX QSO tonight with a story. I think one of the things that makes ham radio such a fascinating hobby is its unpredictableness. I'm sure I would get bored with a big station with which I could work anything I wanted to at any time I wanted to. I suspect that is why folks with the big stations like that generally use them only for contesting or DXing. Using it otherwise might just be too predictable. I personally find it more interesting never knowing what I am going to work with my QRP and simple wire antennas when I get on the air. I like that uncertainty which is why I never use spotting of any kind nor study DX bulletins, etc. to see what is on the air. Just fire up the rig, use the tuning knob is my modus operandi. Of course now I am aided and abetted by the panadapter, but that is only to speed up tuning the bands and nothing else.

How does that tie in with the story of my DX QSO? Just the unpredictableness part actually. A couple nights ago I called DL65DARC at least a dozen times on 17 meters with no indication he was hearing me at all. There wasn't even any competition for him. Tonight I checked the blip I saw on 17 meters, and it turned out to be DL65DARC at virtually the same strength he was a couple nights ago. At first I thought, why bother. But then I decided I would try once and if no luck, just move on. Well, that once was all it took - not even a repeat - to get my QSO at 0001Z. Not only for the streak, but the call provided 6 letters for the NAQCC European Chapter challenge as icing on the cake. Now I need only 11 letters to complete that challenge.

The moral of the story. Don't doubt your QRP, and always try to work that station you hear no matter if you couldn't work him before or if he may be almost down in your s3-s5 noise. Give him at least a few tries before you give up if you don't get him. That's especially true in contests. Often I will call someone several times with no response, tune away for a while, then come back and work them easily with but a single call and no repeats needed. Yes, propagation is strange. -30-

Friday, July 17, 2015 8:42 PM - Despite the poor propagation numbers (97/5) I got one of my quickest DX QSOs in a while this evening. Turned on the KX3 which was set to 30M, saw a blip on the PX3, tuned it in, found it was AC4... and almost tuned out, but for some reason I stuck there and it turned out to be AC4BT/6Y5 whom I worked after a couple repeats, finishing as the clock turned to 0001Z. That's 870 days now for the DX streak. The big streak is closing in on 21 years and will become an adult on August 4th if it continues till then.

After that, I had a good experience. I called CQ on 30, and Gary N2ESE answered me. That's the first time we've hooked up outside a NAQCC sprint in quite some time now. Let's see how long and also let's see if that was our first ever 30 meters QSO. We both think it might have been. Just take a moment to find out via my MS Access log. OK, that was our 175th QSO. Except for a couple 60 meters AND 160 meters QSOs, all of those were on 40 or 80, so this was indeed our first 30 meters QSO. Our first non-sprint QSO since November 10, 2013. It was really great to touch base again. I had been wondering if Gary's 2 QSO per day (QRO) streak was still alive, and he said it is now around 8 years old and going strong. He did have a struggle when Sandy wiped out power in NJ a couple years ago, but he kept going with QRP power and a car battery for the 11 days they had no power.

Another nice weather day here today. I helped Ange with some weeding in his garden early today. I did some walking/shopping although it was a bit warm and humid. Actually that felt kind of good. I also picked some peppers from my garden along with some more tomatoes. That made a nice salad, and then I had some beans from Ange's garden that we picked when we were doing the weeding. I also took Roscoe for a walk to cover for Nancy as she and Bruce were away for a while today. Roscoe and I then sat on the swing for a while till Nancy/Bruce got home and he had to run out to greet them. Now it's time to get my temperature readings. The remote unit says 57 - 84 for the low and high today. That's usually pretty close to the min/max thermometer in the shelter. -30-

Thursday, July 16, 2015 8:33 PM - DX difficult again. I only heard two stations this evening - a French station on 20, and a KP4 on 40. I managed to work the KP4 although it wasn't easy. At least the streak goes yet another day.

Not much else happenning today. It was a nice day, and I thought about going fishing, but that's as far as it got. I did a couple good walks in-between processing logs from last night's NAQCC sprint. We hit 100 logs around 2:30 this afternoon. That's about as quick as I can recall us reaching the 100 mark except maybe for those special anniversary sprints. A couple more just coming in now, so I'll just close here, finish updating the web site and check the logs. -30-