Sat Apr 29 2017 8:17PM - Another full month is in the books for the DX streak. I figured I could work someone in the Helvetia Contest this evening on 40 meters. For a while it didn't look like that was going to happen. I didn't even hear any stations in the contest. Since it's a world works the world contest, I figured there would be some easy to work country other than HB9 that I could easily work. I didn't think the activity would be that low. Maybe everyone was in the Florida QSO Party? HI. Anyway to shorten the story, at 0012Z I heard and worked HB9CA after a few repeats. So that' 1,522 DX days now, 50 full months, or 4 1/6 years.
I was wondering while listening how many streak QSOs in April came in the 0000-0200Z hour. I don't recall too many days I had to wait till morning or afternoon to get some DX. Let's see.... There were only 4 days I didn't get the streak QSO in the evening, the last being the 17th. So despite the declining sunspots, DX is still available most days in the evening. I hope that continues as with the nice weather here now, there are a lot of outdoor things to do during the daylight hours.
I was out quite a bit today when it wasn't raining. Roscoe and I spent a lot of time walking, and sitting on the porch swing. Other than that, indoors I worked some more on my digital music collection. I've now shaved off almost 10 GB simply by converting the music from wma or wav to mp3. That slimming down was needed because my weekly backups of all my computer data have failed to go to completion a couple times lately.
I also did some nearly final tweaking to my Jackite pole mount. It's pretty much ready for testing now. Tom WB3FAE and I will be doing that sometime in early May. I plan to write a construction article with pictures either for here in the diary or for the May NAQCC newsletter. Whichever it is, I'll link to it from the other in case anyone is interested. -30-
Fri Apr 28 2017 8:41PM - Sometimes you can just throw skill out the window and let luck take over. That happened this evening. I found HP3SS on 40 working a small pileup. He was strong so I figured I could break the pileup. I tried all the standard tricks. He was listening up, so I watched the PX3 panadapter to figure out just where to call. When the pileup got a little bigger, I switched to split headphoes to better figure out who he was working and zero in on that station to call. I tried delaying sending my call a bit so maybe my WP would end up in the somewhat clear after all the other calls were sent. Well, none of those things worked not did other little tricks. So much for skill. I looked for someone else to work. RW1AI/MM was strong but didn't want to work him again. Same with V4/W1CDC. Then I heard CO7FR whom I hadn't worked before or if I have, it was long ago. Well, he didn't hear me at all. Just about the time I was going to give up and wait till morning or afternoon, I ran across HP3SS again, punched SPLIT, gave a call at wherever VFO B was set earlier. Enter lady luck. HP3SS got my first call out of the pileup and I had my DX QSO. Ham radio can be strange at times.
Otherwise it was a nice day. Pretty much typical for late April. I did some outside cleaning up, went for a walk/shopping trip, spent some time with Roscoe, and just enjoyed the nice weather. Only a few peeks of sun, but a high of 73 with no wind made it feel very nice.
I also spent some time compacting my digital music collection. I had a lot of wma files which I batch converted to mp3 files with a program called Pazera Free WMA to MP3 Converter. It has a very neat interface and is very fast. I figure in a couple more days I'll have most of the 3,500 or so files converted. Well actually probably only 1,000 or 1,500 need converting. The rest are already MP3 files. Anyway so far I've trimmed off some 3-4 gigabytes.
This evening I called Art WA3BKD of the USS Requin. He said work on the sub was to be completed today. He'll check on Monday and if all is clear, we are going to do a subpedition on May 7th. I'll have more info when he calls back on Monday or Tuesday. I'm looking forward to some portable work. It's been a few months now since the day before Thanksgiving when we operated from the Requin. -30-
Thu Apr 27 2017 8:35PM - A somewhat busy day today. This morning, I went to get my driver's license renewed for another four years. Then Bruce and I stopped at the Ol' Station Marketplace where he got some good bargains on some lawn care equipment. I went back later and picked up a few things myself. The rest of the day was taken up with the usual things like walking Roscoe and the like.
The bands weren't so hot again tonight. Actually they were pretty good last night, and then slipped back again tonight. I did manage to work RW1AI/MM again on 30 meters. Mike and I decided as long as he is in international waters, it would be DX. The problem is, I don't know just where he is other than as I mentioned, someone said he is headed home.
It did become a moot point again as it did 5 nights ago as after trying unsuccessfully to work V4/W1CDC on 30, I did get him on 40 several minutes later for DX day 1,520.
While sitting there listening, I got to wondering on how many of those 1,520 days I have a verified DX QSO, be it via card, LoTW, or eQSL. Since I track those things, I would just have to filter my Access log to show only DX QSOs since March 1, 2013, only the ones I have verified, and then list unique days to filter out 2nd, 3rd, 4th....... veries on the same day. Maybe I'll do that tomorrow or sometime. -30-
Wed Apr 26 2017 11:25PM - As the time stamp says, it's late. Mike and I had a great time with some pizza and a birthday cake. It's his birthday. We worked some DX, checked out my Jackite pole mount for which he gave me a couple good ideas, played some hidden object games, and all of a sudden here it is after 11PM. I worked J6/K1ZZI, this time on 30 meters for the streak. Mike worked him also plus a couple other stations. Time now to get ready for bed. -30-
Tue Apr 25 2017 9:25AM - Yes, AM not PM. Nothing much planned for today so I thought I'd write the diary entry now.
I received an email from KH2SR this morning telling me about his QRP rigs that he manufactures and sells. Remember the limbo line, "How low can you go?" Well, in this case it's, "How small can you go?" Jim's rigs are billed as the World's smallest QRP transmitters. See the What's New section on my main page for more info.
Let's see where we are in my ham radio history. Looks like a listing of my rigs I used over the past 54 years is where I left off. How about a listing of my antennas over the years. I don't really have them documented as well as I did the rigs. Honestly even the rig documentation wasn't all that good or accurate, but was the best I could do and was pretty complete with a couple exceptions that just occured to me as I'm typing here. Let me mention that, then get on to the antennas.
When I operated as K3WWP/3 and then WA3IXO at my apartment in Pittsburgh, I used a small (tiny?) transistor rig using (I believe) a 3053 transmitter with my SW-500 receiver. It put out (actually had an input of) 1.5 watts. In looking at my WA3IXO Microsoft Access log, I see other power listings from 8 up to 75 watts in the 181 QSOs listed from 2/20/1967 through 3/7/1968. I can't remember what rig(s) those might have been. The 75 watts was probably my Kittanning rig I took to Pittsburgh. There are only a few QSOs listed with that power. I've got my old WA3IXO paper logs somewhere. Maybe there is some more info in them.
I got kind of sidetracked there, and think I'll postpone the antenna history till tomorrow or later. Time now to walk Roscoe. -30-
Mon Apr 24 2017 8:34PM - Another pretty quick DX QSO this evening, also on 30 like last evening. This time it was XR4S at 0006Z or 3 minutes after I got to the shack which not only helps the DX streak, but is a new prefix worked as well. After the QSO I listened around a bit and there were a few DX stations from V4 YV XE and a couple others I forget now.
It was a very nice day again today although the temperature peaked around noon in the low 70s, then dropped to the low 60s by the time evening came. I did get a chance to work outdoors. I deadheaded my tulips, or the ones that have lost their petals, about 3/4 of them. They don't last long unfortunately, but they sure look nice for the 10-12 days they do last. I also pulled some weeds and cleared some leaves from around the base of my backyard fence.
Inside I worked on my Jackite mount. I found a "U" fence or sign pole in my back yard that wasn't really holding up a section of my fence and pulled it out. I cleaned off quite a bit of rust and found it to still be good and strong. Now about all that's left is to drill a couple holes to mount it the rest of the mount. Amazingly in my junk box, I actually found matching bolts, nuts, and wing nuts. I talked about how unusual that is in a diary entry a few weeks ago. So tomorrow it should be complete and ready for some "beta" testing. Tom WB3FAE said he would help with that since he's developed several pole mounts before. Also he has an antenna analyzer with which we can perhaps trim my antennas while he's here. That will be in May sometime.
Another visitor will be Mike who is stopping by for our regular fourth Wednesday evening visit this week. Always nice to get together with good folks like Mike and Tom. -30-
Sun Apr 23 2017 9:03PM - Things worked out very well this evening. I hoped to get a quick DX QSO so I could close out everything for our NAQCC April sprint - as I put it, etch all results in stone with no further questioning of scoring changes from the cross-checking process. Close out took only about 90 minutes even with the all-time record number of logs and QSOs this month.
Anyway as soon as I turned on the rig which was set to 30 meters from last evening, I saw a good sized blip on the PX3, tuned to it and found it was PR7AR. Although Brazil is not among my easiest to work countries, I had worked PR7AR before, so I called. It took a few repeats for him to hear me well enough to get my call right, but at 0001Z I had my DX streak QSO. I QRT and finished the sprint close-out right after that.
It was a nice day today after a chilly start at 34 degrees. The temperature climbed throughout the morning and afternoon to reach 72 under sunny skies. A nice day for walking. Even Roscoe thought so. We took a couple long walks this afternoon and evening. Longer than usual for him.
I also did some work on my portable antenna. I made a new smaller lighter center connector for the inverted vee. I also got a metal post for the mount from my neighbor. It's slightly bent, but if I can straighten it out, it may be ideal. Stay tuned for more. -30-
Sat Apr 22 2017 9:07PM - A strange evening on the bands. For a while it looked like I wasn't even going to get my regular streak QSO, let alone a DX one. There just weren't any strong signals, at least none who were available for a QSO. They were chasing DX, in a rag chew or otherwise unavailable. Finally I found a CQ on 20 meters. It was KF6GC who was a good S7 but with QSB down to my noise level of S4 or so. I doubted I'd get an answer, but I called anyway and was surprised when he came right back, and he was a true 6 in California. I can't remember the last time I had a non-contest QSO with CA. Let me see if I can find out. OK, I have 2,488 QSOs with CA. Let me sort my Access log by date for those. My last overall QSO with CA was W1AW/6 in October 2016. That was some sort of special event so I'll look back further. Some more W1AW/6 QSOs in 2014 for the Centennial. OK, the last rag chew type QSO was February 5, 2014 with N1HEL in Half Moon Bay, CA. I thought it was longer ago. That was on 17 meters and going back further I see two more on 17 meters in 2013. The last one on 20 was NK6A on November 1, 2012. So of late, CA rag chews are rare here.
OK, next strange thing brought up an interesting issue. I worked RW1AI/MM on 30. Now what are the criteria for MM QSOs in my DX streak. Is it distance, nearest country, or something else that determines if a MM is DX or not. I don't know as it has never come up before. I just log them as /MM and don't really worry if it is DX or not. However for the streak, that's different.
Fortunately I don't really have to care about that now, as 8 minutes later I worked HK0/OZ1AA on 30 for a sure DX QSO. Now I just have to see what the country is. Probably San Andres Island, but could be Malpelo or I think there is a third possiblilty also. Or could just be Colombia, I guess. Let me look and see. Well, it's Providencia Is., which is San Andres as far as country goes.
So an interesting evening indeed. BTW, I also heard N4BP and ON4UN and both those powerhouse stations were not very strong this evening which speaks volumes about conditions. -30-
Fri Apr 21 2017 7:19PM - Let's look at the history of the various receivers I've used in my 54 years of ham radio. This is taken pretty much verbatim from my diary entry of April 19, 2013 with a couple corrections and additions.
Let's look back at my receivers through the 54 years as best as I can remember them. I started out with a Hallicrafters SW-500 which I believe was a Christmas present from my parents when I was an SWL before getting my ham license. It was basically a starter SWL receiver designed for listening to SW BC stations. It had different stations (i.e. China, USSR, Paris, etc.) actually marked on the dial along with other segments such as Police, Government, Aviation, etc. Although it did have the ham bands marked on it, I think they were added as an afterthought. The BFO for CW operation was simply a regenerative circuit that you could peak for either increased selectivity as a filter or to the point where it oscillated as a BFO. The selectivity was as broad as the proverbial 'barn door'. Not much fun operating CW with it although I did make some QSOs with it before I moved on up a bit. Another thing I remember about it was that my mom used to like to tune in the SW BC stations with it when I wasn't using it for ham radio.
The next receiver was a used Knight Kit R100 which my parents purchased for me from Amateur Electronic Supply in Cleveland. Although I do still have the SW-500, I don't have the R100. I can't remember too much about it, even how I got rid of it. I believe it had two dials on it - one to set the band edge, then the second dial spread out the band. It was definitely better than the SW-500 with a true BFO and better selectivity.
I can't remember if the third receiver was a Hammarlund HQ-100 or a HQ-110 but it was one of those. I wanted a 170, but it wasn't in the budget, so I settled for what I got from AES second-hand again. It was somewhat similar to the R100, but with much better performance.
Next on the list was a Drake SPR-4, a second choice to the classic Drake 2B, again because of price. It came along during the period from 1974 through 1992 when I wasn't all that active in ham radio. I did a lot of SWL with it chasing BC, Maritime, and other SW stations.
Sometime probably in the 80s, I bought an Icom R-71A which was what I used when I became active again in the early 90s. It was by far better than any of the previous receivers, and I used it to work a ton of stations in the 90s including a lot of DX. I still have it and the SPR-4 here up in my attic.
After using separate xmtrs and rcvrs all my ham career, I moved up to a xcvr on September 1, 1999 when my Kenwood TS-570D arrived in the mail. That changed everything and made ham radio much more convenient for me. No more changing a lot of switches and tuning a lot of knobs just to change bands or to go from xmit to rcv, although I did have a very good hmbw QSK system with the R-71A.
From the 570, I went to a Kenwood TS-480SAT on loan from Mike KC2EGL. After using that for a couple years I purchased my K2 and a KX1 from Mike KC2EGL on Janaury 17, 2012. I believe that is when he got his KX3. I was so taken by the KX3 I then followed suit and bought and built my own KX3 in October 2012. I added the companion PX3 panadapter a year or so later.
I pretty much ran the gamut of most ham equipment manufacturers over the years, skipping only Yaesu and a couple other big names along the way. Each one was a big improvement over the previous one with the KX3 at a point where it will be hard to improve on its greatness. -30-
Thu Apr 20 2017 9:03PM - A summer-like day today with a high of 80, high humidity, and some thunderstorms that dumped .93 inches of rain in a couple heavy downpours.
It did turn out to be a nice day for walking in between the storms though. I see just under 9 miles on my pedometer so far today.
This was Thursday so that means The Ol' Station Marketplace less than a block from here was open. I always love to browse through the "junk" and always manage to find something to purchase. Today I got a little triangular file that I can use to sharpen my saws. Also a box of 8-32 nuts so that now whenever I look for a matching pair, I'll be able to find one. It seems I must have a hundred such nuts, but seemingly no two were ever alike. Now that will no longer be a problem. I also bought a couple nice pillowcases as the ones I have are starting to show their age. How much did all that cost? Just $2.50 + $0.15 state sales tax for a total of $2.65. Not bad, huh?
It wasn't easy finding any workable DX for a while tonight. I called a few stations but the best I did was a question mark or a K? whether for me or someone else, I don't know. However when I did find someone workable, it took just a single call to NP2J to extend the DX streak to 1,513 days now. -30-
Wed Apr 19 2017 12:48PM - Let's get back to my ham history. I did touch on this in response to an email from Gus ON6KE a few entries ago, but let's revisit it in more detail. I'm speaking of my DX exploits in the 1960s and 1970s.
I actually was not all that much into DX at that time, as it wasn't all that easy to work DX with my setup I had then. I think the real reason was my lack of confidence plus perhaps the state of the art in receivers and antennas in those days. Let's face it, receivers and antennas have both become much better and more efficient in the past 50 years. Not to mention the better receivers and antennas nowadays being much more widely available and affordable. That makes the bottom line it is much easier to work DX now with 5 watts then it was then with 50 or 60 watts and similar antennas in both time frames.
One more factor needs mentioning. The state of the sunspot cycle. Of course allegedly the best sunspot cycle of all was the one centered around 1958. It was 5 years after that when I got my novice license which means it was in the depths of a sunspot cycle then. Basically I missed most all of the peak sunspot years until 2000 and 2001. Either I was off the air for work or my time at the peaks was limited for one reason or other. We'll develop that further later on.
Let me quickly query my Microsoft Access log and call up my DX QSOs from say 1963 through 1973. First of all, let's look at the number of days on which I had at least one DX QSO in each of those years. The figure following the DX Days is the total number of QSOs (DX and non-DX) I had that year.
The dropoff in 1969 was due to my starting work at WPIT which severely limited my operating time and eventually kept me off the air entirely from 1974 through 1980. The peak in DX days in 1968 was due to the increase in sunspot activity.
Now for an idea of what I was working, here is a list of the new countries worked per year. I did list these a few entries ago, but they are here now by year.
1963 - K VE VP7 KZ5 KP4 CM YV KH6
1964 - HK VP9 DL KL7 ZL PY F FP VP2V HI 6Y
1965 - KG4 HP YN KV4 OA VP5
1966 - XE PJ5 ZD8 VK GM HA VP6 G
1967 - YU EL CR PJ3 ZS CT OH ON LA
1968 - HC 9Y YS I OE SM GW EI HB OK PA OZ GC TI
Just to identify some of the prefixes back then that have now changed. VP7 now C6, KZ5 was the Canal Zone, KV4 now KP2, VP6 now 8P, CR now D2, PJ3 now PJ4, GC now GU. All the rest are still the same.
Just a couple notes. PY2SO in 1964 was my first DX YL. ZL1HY in 1964 was a great half-hour rag chew on 40 meters. There was a total of 56 countries in all continents with the exception of Asia. Nowadays I do better in a single weekend in the big DX contests.
More history upcoming. -30-
Tue Apr 18 2017 8:58PM - CO8LY to the rescue. It was rough tonight. Must be stormy in the Caribbean. Both WP4L and CO6RD whom I usually work easily both had trouble with my call and we didn't complete the QSO. Both complained of bad QRN as the reason. It wasn't hard working CO8LY on 30 though. I did have to repeat my call, but the QSO was good and the DX streak goes on yet another day.
I did about a bajillion (heard that number on some woodworking video) other things today from mailing a sprint prize (not the biggie, just the regular monthly one) to answering some questions about sprint scores to taking some nice walks in the beautiful sunny mild weather to doing some more work on my Jackite mount which I'll talk a bit more about to weedeating my backyard lawn, and so on and so on.
I put the Jackite mount on a diet today and reduced the weight around 15-20 percent by dumping the 2x4 support and going with 3/4 inch plywood instead. It will be mounted to the angle iron so that will be plenty strong. I've got some other ideas to reduce the weight some more that I'll work on over the next few days.
And that wraps up a pretty busy day up to this point anyway. Still three hours till bedtime. Plenty of time to get into more mischief. -30-
Mon Apr 17 2017 7:39PM - A very busy day today with the business interspersed with hunting for a DX QSO. It looked very unlikely the DX streak was going to continue. The day started with my usual Monday morning laundry. While that was going on, a check of the band showed nothing in the way of DX. After the laundry and walking Roscoe, another check was equally unpromising. Then I continued with the log cross-checking of our NAQCC Tuesday evening sprint. A record number of entries - 217 with a total number of QSOs - 3154 slowed things down somewhat. What really dragged it out though was the high number of not-in-log QSOs - 50 of them plus other errors that led to 61 of the 217 scores needing adjustment which all takes time. Less time though since I modified my Excel cross-check program.
Somewhere along in here, I had my brunch and also had to mail off some checks to pay the bills. Another check of the bands showed them to be still pretty dismal. There were some S4 to S5 DX stations but none were hearing me at all. I think the best indication of just how poor conditions were was just how weak John ON4UN was on 20. He was at least 3 S units below his normal strength plus he had a bit of flutter on his signals. Like the others, he wasn't hearing me at all which is very unusual. I was pretty sure it was hopeless, but after I did a few other things, I went back for another check. There was a V31 fairly strong on 17 but with a lot of QSB. I called several times hoping to catch him on an upswing in strength, but no luck. Again I gave up for a while.
The 4th (5th?, 6th?) time was the charm. There's VP5/K3NK on 17 meters pretty much all alone. He's a great op and VP5 is pretty easy to work for me. However he was in and out of my S4-5 noise level. I didn't know if I could tell if he answered me or not, but I gave it a try. He faded just when he was answering me or someone else. Fortunately 54 years of copying code came to my rescue and I peaked my brain filter and could barely hear him, but I did hear K3WWP being sent clearly. I returned his RST, breathed a sigh of relief and logged another day in the streak. Now it starts all over again in exactly 6 minutes as I look at the clock. -30-
Sun Apr 16 2017 7:18PM - Hope you all had a very nice Easter. Mine was quiet but nice. I had dinner with the Bowser clan next door around 1PM.
Other than that I worked on modifying my Excel cross-checking program to make it even more efficient and time-saving. Then I did some work on my Jackite pole mount as you'll see in a moment as I present some pictures.
From L-R here are my tulips which opened up fully yesterday just in time for Easter. Every year they seem to get more beautiful. They are very old, and have been transplanted and divided around 4 times as best as I can remember. Way back when there was only one of them, or perhaps a couple in my front yard. Then I think they were moved to my back yard where they were moved twice again. The last move I more than doubled the number of them. I notice a number of them look double again so I may divide them yet again. Next is the Jackite pole mount with the collapsed black pole inserted, in its open position, then folded upright for use. Of course the chair is just there for the picture. Actually there will be an angle iron connected to it to mount in the ground. I haven't gotten that yet.
The concept for the mount is good, but it's pretty heavy. I have some ideas about cutting down the weight that I may implement. I can probably replace the 2X4 with a 1X4 since it will be attached to the angle iron which will give plenty of support. Also the enclosure for the pole can probably have material cut out of the sides to open it up and make it lighter. It should still be plenty strong. Time will tell what happens to it.
Hopefully in about 25 minutes now I can get a quick DX QSO and then proceed to close out the sprint log cross-checking. -30-
Sat Apr 15 2017 9:23AM - Mike and I had a good time in our short visit last evening. After we chatted a few minutes getting caught up on our activities since the last visit, we headed to the fire hall for the fish dinner. As always it was very good. Not quite as crowded as the previous one, but we got there a little later plus there seemed to be no Internet promoing of the dinner this time. A lot of organizations stop their Friday fish dinners the Friday before Good Friday, and perhaps a lot of folks thought the same about this one and didn't show up. They did have a marquee outside the fire hall, and a couple days before, my neighbor Bruce drove out to check it for us. Since he has a bad knee and can't stand in line for buffet style dinners, I took a take-out dinner home for him.
Back here again, I showed Mike my partially build Jackite pole mount. He liked the concept and thought it would work well. If it does, we might build one for his Jackite pole as well. Then I showed him a new hidden object computer game I am playing. That passed the time until 0000Z when we headed to the shack. I almost immediately worked KP2BH on 30M. Mike checked on QRZ to be sure he was actually in the Virgin Islands, then he worked him also. Mike then worked VP5/K3NK whom I had worked the previous evening. We both worked W0N, the special event station for the 150th anniversary of Nebraska statehood March 1, 1867.
Next back to the computer where Mike played the hidden object game till the time he had to depart for home. -30-
Fri Apr 14 2017 Good Friday 3:10PM - I just posted a new poll. Thought I'd get that and some other things done early because Mike is visiting this evening. We're going to another fish dinner at the Kittanning Twp Fire Hall. This will be the last one until next year.
I left the diary abruptly last night to head to the shack. I got my DX easily after some time searching for someone to work. VP5/K3NK was the one on 40 meters.
I want to add a bit to what I said about contesting in yesterday's entry. Another thing that definitely speeds things up is logging by computer. Especially for us older folks, it definitely beats logging by pen and paper. It's much faster, and perhaps more importantly, easier to deal with after the contest is over. My writing and printing is getting constantly more and more sloppy. Since I do the log checking, I know that's a problem for other folks also. I see a lot of errors caused by similar looking letters if they are not printed/written clearly. For example a 1 and an l or capital I (that even is rough with certain fonts on the computer - that's a number one, a small L, and capital I). An N and H if that cross bar is in between a full slant and horizontal. You get the picture so I won't dwell on the several other obvious examples.
Still need to get back on track with my ham history. Maybe I'll do that next week after this busy Easter weekend. -30-
Thu Apr 13 2017 7:17PM - A little more relaxing day today. I wound up getting my DX QSO a little later last night, so I didn't have to worry about that today. At least until about 45 minutes from now when in UTC time, it's another day. I worked OE3DIA on 40 amazingly through a small pileup with only one repeat needed.
Also the stream of incoming logs from the sprint slowed down quite a bit after we got 190 logs even before 24 hours after the sprint ended. Now we are around 205 with about 200 past pre-cross-checking processing. I'm happy and a little amazed how much I have made the process very much more efficient as time and sprints went by. Using Microsoft Excel really is a wonderful way to do it with it's many helpful macros, expressions, formulas, etc. With just over 3,000 QSOs to process this month, I did have to expand things a bit, but overall doing 3,000 won't be much harder than a lesser amount. The main time-consuming thing is having to correct all the scores on the results page when cross-checking is done. I've even streamlined that part a bit so it takes less time than it used to.
Enough of that. When I was doing the sprint the other night, I was very pleased with the speed of racking up contacts. I don't really go for scores to compete against others, because I'm never going to beat Johnny Smith X3ABC with his hilltop location and huge antenna farm. So I only compete against myself to better my previous scores from a particular contest. In this case, my top QSO total was 57 in one of our NAQCC sprints a few years ago. Also I set goals for myself. I've always wanted to better 60 QSOs in one of our sprints. Well, I did that Tuesday evening with 64. That's a QSO on average every 1 minute and 52.5 seconds. Me and my stats. HI. How is it possible to maintain that speed operating only around 17-18 WPM? Let me get to the bottom line that I was shooting at now.
A couple things are obvious. Conditions must be good, local noise must be low, and there must be a lot of activity. All three things coincided Tuesday evening. The activity mainly because of it being our 150th NAQCC sprint, and maybe because of a special prize being awarded to one participant. Both 40 and 80 were about equally good here. I stuck with 40 for about 1 hour and 10 minutes, then finished on 80 for 50 minutes. 40 provided 38 QSOs and 80 gave me 26. Roughly proportional to the time spent on each band.
Another thing is being able to hold a frequency for a long time calling CQ. It is much quicker doing that than engaging in search and pounce. I was able to do that on 40 for the full 70 minutes there. On 80 I had to skip around a couple times because of stations jumping on top of me. Although that happens, there are ways to avoid it. That's one of the main things I was leading up to.
To hold a frequency, you must be constantly transmitting except for very brief pauses in between CQs or when you are working someone and copying them. As the saying goes, if you snooze, you lose (your frequency). I've said this before in several places, but I'll also repeat it here using stations AA and BB. I'll be AA and BB can be let's make up a call - X9ZYX.
AA - CQ NA K3WWP [7 seconds]
(listen 3 or 4 seconds at most - if no answer repeat)
AA - CQ NA K3WWP [7 seconds]
(keep the pattern going until BB answers)
BB - X9ZYX [5 seconds]
AA - X9ZYX 569 PA NR 2 K [12 seconds]
BB - TU 579 HI NR 637 K [9 seconds]
AA - TU WALT DE K3WWP [8 seconds]
(listen for any tailenders for 2-3 seconds at most - if no answer back to the first step again)
The whole process totals about 55 seconds for a couple CQs and a QSO. IF everything is kept brief and to the point. Never repeat any info. If the other station doesn't get it the first time, ask for a repeat. When answering a CQ, send your call, nothing more. Send N for 9s in the RST. Don't send HW CPY, QSL, K after a CQ, AR, or anything not absolutely necessary. I do make one exception and thank folks by name as in TU WALT above, but it's not necessary by any means.
Oh my gosh, just looked at the clock. It's time to head to the shack. I'll close this for now, post it now, and spell check it later when I do my other site updates. -30-
Wed Apr 12 2017 9:10PM - Tough getting a regular QSO this evening let alone a DX one. I did finally get an answer to my CQ from KD2FLX. No DX though. That will have to wait till later tonight or more likely tomorrow morning, if then. J5B very strong on 30 this evening, but a MASSIVE pileup. I'm sure without the pile I could have worked him.
I'm kind of mentally tired this evening starting last evening putting in a very solid two hours in our NAQCC sprint and running up my best total ever with 64 QSOs. I'll have some more to say about that, maybe tomorrow. Then today I've been doing prep work on our sprint logs for cross-checking when they are all in. Right now we are around 190 logs so far, and I've got 176 of them prepped.
So now I'm just going to say 73 for tonight and pick up with my history, a sprint story, etc. in a later entry. -30-
Tue Apr 11 2017 10:05AM - Tough going - well, not really. Once a good to strong DX station is found, it's still not that hard to make contact at this point in the sunspot cycle. Finding the station sometimes can be the hard part due to lack of activity, poor conditions, lack of time, and so forth. As for the lack of time, the PX3 panadapter is a big help in that regard with its ability to show the whole band or at least a big part of it at a glance. If no peaks are seen within a minute or so, you can forget about that band for the time being. If there are peaks, all that need be done is to tune to them to see who it is. If it's not DX and I'm going for my DX streak QSO, simply move on to another peak. Now that the PX3 has done its work and found me some DX, I need to do a bit of analysis. How strong is the DX? Strong enough to work? Too weak to work? Not sure? Does he have a pileup? Is he operating split? Is he a known great operator? Is he known to have a top notch receiving setup? Is he a regular contest operator? Is his sending sloppy and hard to copy? Is he in a part of the world I can work easily on that band? Or in a very tough part for me to work? Is he engaging in long rag chew type QSOs? Plus many other things to think about to see if I'm likely to get him easily or not. How long should I try to work him before figuring it's useless to wait and move on? And some anti-QRP folks say all the work and effort is done at the receiving end. That sometime ticks me off, but they are prejudiced and there's no way to change that. Just like prejudice against anything or anybody can't be changed in spite of facts.
On the other hand, I'm delighted with the many folks who have open minds, and learn from my experience as told here on the web site that it is very possible to succeed in ham radio with QRP and simple antennas, especially using CW.
Let's analyze my DX QSO today. First of all, I heard one fairly strong station in a part of the world I have about an average chance of working, but didn't recognize him nor know anything about him. Probably just a casual operator, and even though he was fairly strong, I didn't have high hopes of getting him. I did try though, but with no sign he was hearing me at all, I moved on after 3 or 4 tries. Sometimes there are short term changes in conditions and it's good not to give up after only a single try, especially if there is a hint he might be hearing me. Things like sending a question mark, QRZ, K3?, or some other hint. Then I'll stay after him for a bit. I also heard a known good operator with a contest station, but right at or a little below my noise level and hard to copy. I didn't even try. I heard some other stations that were very weak, but a little (very little) above my noise. I tried them a couple times each before moving on.
Then the PX3 showed me a very big peak. As with most all big peaks during less than good conditions, I figured it was a W/VE station, but checked anyway. Turned out to be John ON4UN. Now John fits into several of the positive categories I mentioned above. Strong signal, known great op, top notch receiving setup (he's written books about antennas, etc.), regular contest op, I work ON easily a lot of the time, chatting a bit, but no real long QSOs. With all that in my favor, I figure he should be easy to work. I called and got a K3? Called again and bingo, I get a K3WWP, get called by name since we've worked several times before, exchange reports and a bit of a chat. So day # 1,503 is booked. Took some time, but having to work a bit for the QSO makes it all the more worthwhile. It also encourages me that perhaps the streak may continue well into the developing sunspot minimum if I have the time and patience to stick with it.
Just one more thing to get off my chest before moving on. I was really upset last evening. I worked(?) a DX station who repeatedly sent my call as K3RRP despite my correcting him at least a dozen times. He never did get it close to right. So I did not log him. He was copying me good according to the timing of the exchanges and he did ask me to repeat his RST which I did and he verified. He just could not get my call right. I hoped very strongly that the streak wouldn't end on a note like that, and I'm glad it didn't.
OK, I kind of got on the soapbox as I'm wont to do now and then. I'll get off now and turn to a bit more ham history
Gus ON6KE stimulated my curiosity when he asked why KZ5 wasn't included in my list of countries on the DXCC page. I explained that page only lists QRP countries since 1993. That got me thinking that it might be an interesting part of my ham history to analyze my DX before 1993 which was done with more than 5 watts. DX was not one of my top favorite activities as it is now.
I filtered the date and DX indicator in my Microsoft Access log to only show DX before 1/1/1993 and it popped 171 such QSOs in a split second. Now I'll sort by country and see how many countries there are.
Not to take up too much space, I'll just list them by prefix. First I'll list the countries that were deleted before 1993 or so.
KZ5 - Canal Zone - Now part of Panama
DL - West Germany - Now Germany after unification
OK - Czechoslovakia - Now Czech Republic and Slovakia
Y2 - East Germany - Now Germany after unification
All the following were worked prior to 1993 and also afterwards with QRP.
6Y 8P 9Y C6 CM CT D2 EA EI EL F FP G GM GU GW HA HB HC HI HK HP I J8 KG4 KH6 KL7 KP2 KP4 LA OA OE ON OZ PA PJ5 PJ9 PY SM TI TK VP2V VP5 VP9 XE YN YS YU YV ZD8 ZL ZS
That's 1,2,3......56 countries including the deleted ones. Of the ones worked in both time frames, D2 (2012) EL (1999) ZS (1999) took the longest to work after 1993.
Just a an extremely non-relevant though popped into my mind. When I but a young pup as the saying goes, I loved to show how well I could spell Czechoslovakia. HI. -30-
Mon Apr 10 2017 9:23AM - Since it's going to be a great day for being outdoors, I thought I'd get the diary entry written while my laundry is in the dryer. My DX QSO for day 1,502 came easily last night with another QSO with Josh 6Y5WJ on a different band, this time 40 meters.
I'd be remiss if I didn't mention another great friend I made back in the 60s, and who remains so to this day. That's Dave VE3BMR then, VA3RJ now. Not many friendships span 50 years or more. Our first QSO was back on June 4, 1968. As we continued to work each other, we found many similar interests beyond ham radio, and soon made up regular skeds. We worked 92 times through May 15, 1969, and then as I started work at WPIT around that time, my ham radio activity diminished and we kind of lost touch although we did communicate through regular mail from time to time. We also communicated via the Internet via voice. In fact I remember helping him look for a second (third) call sign. VEs can have two callsigns with no strings attached, I believe. He gave up VE3BMR, got VA3RJ, then was looking for a new second callsign related to his initials. We would think up callsigns, then check them to see if they were available. After not too long we found and he settled on VE3JDR.
We first worked when he was VA3RJ on May 3, 1997 and picked up our regular skeds again. With that call, we made 89 QSOs. Among those was a very special one. Our very first QSO for both of us on January 1, 2000 at 0001Z to celebrate the arrival of the new millenium. We also worked using some of the special Canadian prefixes they use for special events. Not counting those, we've had 181 QSOs and countless emails. Dave has a wonderful web site with information on too many different ham radio subjects to list here. Just do a Bing search for VA3RJ and check out his site. I'm sure you'll find some info that applies to your interests and will be useful to you. Dave also does a lot of work for our NAQCC including the task of keeping our membership database up to date among other things.
I think that will be it for my ham radio history today. It's about time to walk Roscoe and then take the laundry out of the dryer. -30-
Sun Apr 09 2017 7:45P - Just waiting for 0000Z so I can go for day 1,502. 1,501 was easy last evening from S52AW on 40 meters. I can remember a long time ago I had a very hard time getting that first Slovenian. I could hear them but couldn't work them. Now they are one of the easier European countries to work. Ham radio can be strange.
A beautiful day today - sunny with mid-70 temperatures. Nice day to walk, and I did. I also worked a bit more on my mount for my Jackite antenna pole. I've changed the design several times and now I have the final plans pretty well developed in my mind. When it's finished, I'll have pictures and info here in the diary.
I'm going to pause for a day in my ham history. I want to thank the following who had kind words about my 1,500 days of DX. Paul N0NBD, Jeff WN1NB, Gus ON6KE, John N8TA.
OK, time now to head to the shack. -30-
Sat Apr 08 2017 10:14AM - Touch and go for a while but:
Is now a reality thanks to Josh 6Y5WJ (and all the others I worked on the previous 1,499 days) for the DX QSO on 17 meters this morning at 1406Z. I've worked Josh nine times during the streak, but not for almost one year now - 4/22/2016. It took just a single call for him to hear and work me. I found that interesting because as I was logging him, a German called him and he had all kind of trouble getting the German's call. I couldn't even hear the German here. That says a lot about the current conditions at this stage in the sunspot cycle. I only heard one other DX station. That was a GI0R.. on 20 meters, and he was just barely peeking out of my S4 noise level on peaks. I'm getting more and more convinced that it won't be long till my DX streak ends, but at least I made it to a nice sounding round number of 1,500 days.
I'll probably update my DX streak story in the QRP section within a few days, but now I want to continue with my ham history. Let's see, where was I?
First though, thanks to Gus ON6KE for the guestbook entry this morning congratulating me on 1,500 days. Actually prematurely because the entry came before the QSO. He said he was sure I'd make it. I wasn't quite that sure earlier this morning when 20 and up were just about totally dead. He also commented on my Canal Zone QSO on 15 meters as my first QSO on that band. He said he'd only worked one KZ5 when it was still an active DX entity. Out of curiosity, I just checked my Access log and I see I've had 9 Canal Zone QSOs with 5 different stations, the last being KZ5FX on 7/14/1968 on 20 meters. Well, I guess that counts as a bit of my history, but here goes for real now.
We left off my 54 years of ham radio story with my first venture into contesting in the 1963 Sweepstakes. Contesting would become a big part of my 54 years, and I have been in at least 1,332 contests now. To be honest, quite a few of those were just a brief entry for my streak QSO, especially during the past few years or so. Actually I never really went for the big scores to win things although I did collect quite a few certificates over the years. I mostly just competed against myself to see if I could do better each time I entered a specific contest. We'll talk more about contests as the years roll by in this history.
Back in the 60s a lot of ham radio activity seemed to take place late at night compared to today when the general ham population is older and many hams nowadays don't or can't stay up late as they did when they were younger. It was fun working the west coast on 80M after midnight when it was still just after 9PM out there. It was also fun just having regular rag chews with hams who became good friends because of the rag chews. There were many, but I'll just mention a couple right now.
One was Don WN5FQV, later WA5FQV from Dallas, TX. As were many hams in those days, Don and I were in our teens, and shared a lot of common interests with ham radio naturally being at the top of the list. Where Don lived in Dallas, there were several other teenage hams who would join in our QSOs or whom I would work separately at times. Most of our QSOs were after midnight in the first couple wee hours of the morning during summer vacation and sometimes on weekends during the school year. Sadly, Don is now a SK. I last heard from him via the Internet and email a few years ago. On the air we worked 4 times as WN5FQV and 8 times as WA5FQV. After looking that up in Access, I am surprised there weren't more QSOs, but I do know all of them were good solid rag chews. All at least 30 minutes and about half around an hour or more. The last QSO was 7/18/1964 for exactly one hour.
Another good friend turned out to be Sue W9KSE. Sue and I had many late night long rag chews. I see 28 QSOs in my log, all but a couple contest QSOs were long rag chews. I see one that lasted 90 minutes. Bob W1AFM would often join in as well. Bob later became W1HV. Anyway, it was Sue who introduced me to county hunting, and many of our QSOs dealt with that. She and Bob were also into American Morse, and I would dabble in that as well. I never really pursued it all that much though. Once I got into county hunting, that became pretty much of an obsession with me. Sue told me about the USA-CA Award and the book they had for tracking the counties you worked. Also about POD 26, the Post Office publication that listed all the post offices in the USA and the county they were in. Armed with that info plus the big callbook of those days, I became very good at determining what county a ham was in while he was calling CQ and then checking if I needed that county. If so I would call him, if not, I'd move on elsewhere. Sometimes when I would find out a ham's county during a QSO he was having, I'd wait for him to finish, and then tail-end him to try to get that county. Eventually my interest led to joining with Dave WA8EOH to form the CW County Hunters net in 1966. That story is told in the County Hunting section of my web site, and I'm not going to dwell on it here.
Getting back to Sue though, I wanted to mention this. A few years later when I was NCS on the CHN, Bob W1AFM (or maybe W1HV at the time) checked in. I knew he wasn't interested in county hunting and I wondered about that when I asked for his county. He said he just had some news for me, and told me that Sue had passed away. That really shocked me, and I could hardly go on with the net. She was only 31 years old.
Sadly, many of the great friends I made through the CHN are also gone now. Many of them were old at the time of the net's founding.
This history is certainly bringing back a lot of memories to me. I hope you are enjoying reading it. More still to come. -30-
Fri Apr 07 2017 5:48PM - Just over a couple hours now till I hit the bands and look to make the DX streak 1,500 days. So I'll take some time here to continue with my ham history.
Of course back then in the 60s a Novice was allowed some space on 80, 40, and 15 meters. My first time on 15 was memorable, but mainly for the wrong reason. On August 3, I ventured onto 15 meters for a brief disastrous excursion. Of course the 40M dipole worked well on 15 also because of the harmonic relationship between the bands. My first QSO was with Eddy KZ5EHN in the Canal Zone, followed by WP4BOJ, followed by complaints from the neighbors of TVI. After one more QSO with local K3DFZ some 8 miles from here, my dad put an end to my 15 meters operation. TVs in those days had IF frequencies near 21 MHz and were not shielded very well. Need I say more. Anyway Red W3CYG after being contacted by my dad, suggested I put off my DXing until I got my General and could use 20M which was a little less prone to TVI. I also bought a good low pass filter which eventually helped out somewhat.
So it was back to 40 meters again until I went to Pittsburgh in late summer and passed my General exam. Even after that though, I did stick to 40 meters exclusively for a while. Then on October 6, 1963, my first venture onto 20 meters yielded a QSO with VE7BMW. On October 20, I hit 80 meters for the first time and worked W2KAK in NJ. My first venture into contesting other than making a QSO or two in two minor contests was the Sweepstakes on November 9/10 and 16/17, 1963. The Sweepstakes was divided into two weekends back then. I made 120 QSOs in 38 sections.
I thought it would be interesting to see my first time on the other bands from 160 through 6 meters, so a quick check of my Microsoft Access log yielded the following. The first date and call after each band was my very first QSO with any power including those from way back in time when I did use more than five watts as I explained earlier in this history. The second date and call after each band is my first QSO with five watts or less. On some bands it's the same QSO for both in which case I don't list the date again, just the call. Here goes.
Just a note about 6 meters. I've told this story before. When Mike loaned me his TS480SAT, it was the first rig I owned that had 6 meters capability. He and I set the power at 5 watts on all bands, we thought. However the rig had two or three segments for 6 meters and we missed one of them. So my QSO with VE2008VQ came at 100 or so watts. I quickly noticed some flickering of my lights and a big deflection on the power output meter on the 480. I immediately set that segment to 5 watts, and that was the very last time I ever made a QSO with more than 5 watts from my own station. I did use more than that for a couple QSOs from the Requin and I think one from Skyview.
I'm jumping ahead though. I'll try to get back on the chronological wagon as I continue with my history here in the diary in coming days. -30-
Thu Apr 06 2017 8:42PM - 1,499 days of DX now, so tomorrow will hopefully make it 1,500 for a nice round number. It's a Saturday via UTC time so perhaps there is some DX contest on that will help if necessary. Tonight it took but a minute to get the DX at 0001Z. So I hung around a while and got some letters for the NAQCC challenge from N9PR and K1OPQ on 40 and 30 respectively.
So let's get back to a bit of my ham history now. Let me elaborate a bit on studying the code and passing the code test. Actually I don't remember exactly how I did learn the code, except that it came to me very easily and naturally after some practice with Larry, and some listening on the air to W1AW and other stations. At W3CYG's QTH for the test, Red was fooling around just sending us some random code to get used to his fist, when I caught something like "R U READY?" in the code. I don't think Larry caught it, but I said yes. So he proceeded to send us 5 minutes of code at around 5 WPM. At that time you needed to have 1 minute of solid copy out of the five, and we both made it. Then it was on to the written part of the exam. I don't recall much about that, except that we both passed it also. Back then, there was no VEC system, but the Novice exam could be given by any ham holding a General license or higher. After that, it was sit back and wait for the licenses to arrive.
Another thing I don't remember very well was our first transmitter. I'm not sure what I used initially, but in my log my first few QSOs are listed as being made with 30 watts. I think that was something Larry and I cobbled together. My first 75 watts listing was on April 21, 1963. That would be when I started using my first real transmitter built from plans in the ARRL 1963 Handbook. It used a 6AG7 crystal oscillator and a 1625 amplifier with some 75 watts of input power. In those days power was measured as the input power to the final tube, not the RF power output as it is today. So I was probably running some 50-60 watts of power output if that much. I believe my first antenna was a 40 meters inverted V on the side of my house. I do know I only operated 40 meters for quite a while. In fact with crystal control, pretty much only on 7170 and occasionally 7190 until I added a 7160 crystal in late July 1963.
I'll pick up here tomorrow or perhaps skip around not in chronological order. -30-
Wed Apr 05 2017 7:50PM - Some more of my ham radio history now. This is copied from my 50th anniversary info in the diary archives with some added updates.
We'll start with my pre-ham days to see how that led up to ham radio. I had an old AM BC radio on which I used to listen to KDKA quite often, especially to a show called Party Line which was pretty much the first ever radio talk show. It was hosted by Ed and Wendy King. Anyone remember it? They had listeners all over the country and down into the Caribbean with KDKA's powerhouse clear channel signal on 1020 kHz. The one thing that set it apart and made it better than any talk show since was the fact they didn't let the callers get their voice on the air. So that kept a lot of the trash talk you hear on talk shows nowadays off the air, and they were able to deal strictly with positive information. Ed was a walking encyclopedia and could answer just about any question on any subject right on the spot. He would relay what the caller said, then respond to it, be it a question, comment, or whatever. They also had quizzes and puzzles for the listeners to call in and solve. One was called the "Party Pretzel" - the meaning being you had to untwist the question to get the answer.
One night, I happened to tune away from KDKA and heard WHO in Des Moines, Iowa on 1040 kHz. WOW, this is something! I wonder what else I can hear on this radio? After logging many other stations from around the country, I wondered if I could make it any better. I tried hooking up a piece of wire to the radio. I knew very little about electronics at that time. I just clipped the wire to the tuning capacitor. I'm still not sure exactly how, but the wire changed the tuning of the AM BC band to something in the short wave portion of the spectrum. I started getting short wave stations as I tuned the dial. One of the first stations was Radio Switzerland International. That was followed by many others with my AM BC receiver that now acted like a SW receiver.
Then one day I heard these people talking to each other on the radio like a telephone conversation. What the heck is this now? Well of course they were radio amateurs. I thought that was neat and wondered if I could do something like that.
Coincidentally around the same time, a high school friend of mine was into CB and wanted to get his amateur radio license. I don't really remember the details of how it came about, but he and I studied the code and theory for the Novice exam, and eventually took the Novice test from Red, W3CYG who was the ham I first heard on my AM BC receiver. We both passed. He got KN3WWW and I got KN3WWP. He moved away after graduation and we lost touch with each other. I don't think he ever went beyond Novice, and nowadays someone else has the K3WWW call. The new K3WWW has visited my web site, by the way.
I learned things pretty much on my own. You couldn't really say Larry (KN3WWW) was an 'Elmer' since we were both in the same boat just plodding along without anyone to guide us.
We built up a so-called transmitter using, I believe, a 6L6 tube. It was actually his transmitter. I can't recall now if it ever worked or not. I built my own transmitter from a circuit in the 1963 ARRL Handbook with a 6AG7 oscillator and a 1625 final amp. My receiver was an old Hallicrafters SW-500, which was designed primarily for SW BC listening. The BFO for copying CW was some kind of a regenerative circuit. The selectivity was very broad.
I struggled mightily to get my first QSO other than working Larry (Apr 8 & 9) or Art, K3HGD (Apr 21) who was also in Kittanning. Finally I did work John WN9GAR (Apr 22) in WI, YL-Dot WN8DOC (Apr 28) in MI, and then Frank W9RQF (May 9) in IL. Frank was a wonderful helpful amateur who did a lot of operating in the Novice bands and really encouraged me in my efforts as he did for many other Novices.
From then on, things got better and better and easier and easier. Still in that first month or so as a Novice (Apr 3-May 9, 1963) I only made 6 QSO's. I added 40 more QSOs in May. In June it was exactly 100 QSO's.
More to come. -30-
Tue Apr 04 2017 5:30PM - I was going to write about this yesterday, but I forgot. I do a lot of that lately as I get older and older. I'll just alter the starting sentence I had in mind and go on from there.
Yesterday was the 54th anniversary of getting my first ham license as KN3WWP. Here's a glimpse of that first license from way back in 1963.
Atually there were a couple gaps in my activity as a ham. Let's look at those periods I was active.
1. 4/3/1963 (Actually my first QSO came on 4/8/1963) to 4/20/1970. 18,561 QSOs
Then I was inactive due to work at WPIT.
2. 6/6/1972 to 12/4/1973 when time and work permitted. 52 QSOs
Busy with work at WPIT again.
3. 6/17/1981 to 9/23/1983 again when time and work permitted. 752 QSOs
Another work gap till I was near or at retirement from WPIT.
4. 2/15/1993 through the present. 69,484 and counting QSOs
There were significant changes during and in between my periods of activity. During the first period, incentive licensing came into being and after being a Novice during part of the first year, followed by General until mid-1968, I quickly got my Extra to have access to those segments of the bands that were no longer available to anyone but Extras.
During the third period of activity, the addition of the so called WARC bands started with 30 meters. The first three periods of activity and the fourth until September 1, 1999 saw me using homebrew transmitters and a few different commercial receivers. Then I got my first transceiver, a Kenwood TS-570D.
During the fourth period, a company called Elecraft came into being, and some of the best rigs ever, at least for my style of operating with only CW and QRP, became available. It took a while for me to get on the Elecraft bandwagon, but I did with a KX1, K2, and now the fabulous KX3. The rest is history.
With that preamble, I hope to present more of my ham history during the rest of the month of April. I'll draw largely on the info I presented for the 50th anniversary in 2013 with appropriate updates. So as they say, "stay tuned for more". -30-
Mon Apr 03 2017 8:27PM - Three old standby DX stations were on and strong this evening. However XE1XR on 20 QRT just before 0000Z, ON4UN on 40 had a pileup, and I debated a couple minutes before going for HC2AO on 40 whom I had just worked there a few days ago. However he wasn't getting any answers so I figured I wasn't depriving anyone of a QSO with him and I called and after a couple repeats I had my DX streak QSO to move within 4 days of 1,500 days now.
Otherwise it was a very busy day starting off with my usual Monday morning laundry. While that was in the dryer, I walked Roscoe for the first time. Oh, thanks to Paul N0NBD for emailing saying he enjoyed the picture of Roscoe at the window. He also was disappointed the SF at 100+ didn't liven up the bands more. Actually I think it did improve propagation but folks weren't there to take advantage. I guess a lot have given up on this sunspot cycle already. While we're thanking folks, thanks to Tom W3TLN who said he got a kick out of my April Fool's tease about the streak ending. He said he was about to send a sympathy card before he saw the second paragraph.
OK, where was I in my busy day? It was a very nice day with some sun and mid 70s temperatures, so a shopping walk was in order. Then back home to clean up the back yard some more. I sure get a lot of leaves for someone who doesn't have any trees except the small evergreen. After that I was talking with my neighbor who was also working in his yard and we talked about cutting grass. So after he finished his, I used his mower as I always do, and cut mine also. Another Roscoe walk in there somewhere and also some sitting out on the front porch. Sure is nice to have good weather again. I did some more spring cleaning. Then I started work on the mount for my Jackite pole for our portable operations this year. A few other things filled out the rest of the day to this point.
Still one more walk for Roscoe to come, along with watching some TV with my neighbor - Our Gang, Andy Griffith, Honeymooners and other shows from the time when TV was clean, wholesome, and fun to watch.
Of course it's the men's basketball championship final tonight between NC and Gonzaga. Actually my interest in the tournament peaks when it starts and diminishes along with the number of teams, so I'll just check the score a couple times and that's about it.
I guess that pretty much covers things for today. -30-
Sun Apr 02 2017 10:05AM - It looked pretty dismal this morning. Only one peak on the PX3. That was N4BP in the SP contest, and although he is normally very strong with his QRO and huge antenna farm, he was barely above my S3-4 noise level. A little later when I checked again, he was stronger, but still no DX to be heard on 20 and nothing at all on 17,
I checked once more and found the same thing. I decided to take Roscoe out for his first walk then come back and try again. It was now almost 10 o'clock and if the bands haven't opened for DX by then, well.... However as soon as I switched on the rig and hit 17 meters I saw a good sized peak. I tuned it in and found it to be a KP4. A dozen or so tries yielded nothing though. Then another small peak showed up a little higher in the band, so I switched to it and found it was IC8MDC. Well even though he is only S4 to S5 or so, I do work Italy pretty well, so I gave it a try. No luck, not even a question mark. I persisted though and got a K3? after a few more tries. I repeated my call and he came back with K3WWP 599 C02. I'm not sure what the C02 was. I'll look it up in a moment, but at least I eked out another day in the DX streak. Six more now for 1,500 days if I make it. I couldn't find the C02 reference in a quick check, but the call is a special event call for the 20th anniversary of the Mediterraneo DX Club. See here for more info.
How about a picture of Roscoe engaging in his new favorite activity.
He just loves looking out the window since "his" sofa was moved to give him access to look out. I tried to get a better picture, but as soon as he sees me coming over to see him, he jumps off the sofa and runs to the door. So I had to take the picture from a distance and crop and enlarge the cropped portion quite a bit. So it is a bit blurry and distorted, but I really like it.
I think it will be very interesting to see what happens in the women's championship game this evening. I see two possible scenarios. Miss St. after that superb effort against UConn in the semis will suffer a bit of a let down feeling that beating UConn was almost like a championsip game in itself, and now here they have to play a second one in a sense. Or they could be buoyed on by the UConn game and now be determined to finish the job by beating South Carolina. In theory without those scenarios, it should be a very even game going down to the very end (and beyond) like the UConn game. -30-
Sat Apr 01 2017 8:43PM - Sad to say, but the streak is now over. Four years plus is a long time to keep things going. Time now to think about moving on and going for another streak. I don't think it will be as easy this time around though as things are changing. We will see what happens though. After all there have been other long streaks before. None of them have been as long as this one though.
What's that, you say. I can't quite hear you. Oh, you thought I was talking about my DX streak. No, no, I'm talking about the UConn women's basketball streak of winning championships over the past 4 years and running up a winning streak of 111 straight games until Mississippi State put an end to it last night with a 66-64 OT victory. As far as games go, 111 straight wins might be tops in any sport. If you count by years though, the probable undisputed leader would be the United States in the America's Cup sailing competition. I forget now how long that lasted. I think it was well over 100 years. I'm going to do some more research on those topics when I get time. OK, I took a quick look now. The America's Cup streak lasted 132 years. The longest winning streak in matches or games is in Squash at 555 straight wins by a Pakistani. See here for a fascinating page about sports streaks of all kinds. I'll devour that info when I get time.
I hope my little April Fool's teaser doesn't prove to be prophetic for the DX streak. Again the bands were pretty poor this evening. There were a couple strong signals, but they were chasing, not being chased. One especially was YU6DX on 40 who was chasing a J6 station. He was well over S9 here. Odd he was the only EU station I was hearing on 40 though. Maybe an April Fooler?
Anyway the MS QSO Party provided a quick QSO for the big main streak. The DX streak may have to wait till morning though. I've said that the past few evenings, then went on and got a DX QSO later in the evening on all but one of those days. Maybe again tonight? If not I'll have between 8 and 10 AM to try for a Polish station on 20 or 15 in the SP DX Contest.
A final comment on stats. It was close, but March wound up a tad warmer on average than February. Here are the average low, average high, and average mean for the two months:
February - 29.1, 51.3, 40.2
March - 31.5, 50.3, 40.9
So March was 0.7 degrees overall warmer than February. Almost too close to call.
OK, one final final stat. I just saw in updating my propagation page that the SF was 101. The first time over 100 since let's see, well, before December 17 which is the earliest date on my chart. Let me check my Microsoft Excel spreadsheet data. OK, looks like October 10 last year when it was 102 on the last of 5 straight 100+ days. -30-
Fri Mar 31 2017 9:10PM - Maybe the next couple days won't be so rough finding and working DX. Hope I didn't jinx anything by saying that. I see the solar flux is back up in the 90s at 91. The picture of the sun on my propagation page shows a somewhat big sunspot group right in the center of the disk. All that energy has caused some ionospheric storminess though. Still 20 was open a bit this evening and I heard a couple strong sigs on 30 - not DX. HC2AO on 40 was about as strong as I have heard him. I didn't work him though. Instead I worked KP4CPC and had a brief chat vs. the usual TU 599 type of DX QSO.
It rained all day here and is still raining. The temperature traded in a narrow range of 45 to 50 to close out March. A little later after I walk Roscoe and do a couple other things, I'll get the March weather in my Microsoft Excel file and find out if March was colder than February. When I checked roughly and quickly a couple days ago, they were neck and neck.
Well, better get going now. I'm running a bit late because I had a very nice long rag chew with N4PGJ/3 up in St. Mary's, PA. My mother lived there over 100 years ago now, and I've visited there several times, but not for quite some time now. I've also worked his brother NM3B several times who lives there, and Ron N4PGJ is visiting him. -30-
Thu Mar 30 2017 8:43PM - As I started last night's entry, "The bands were pretty dismal DX-wise this evening", so I can use the same opening line tonight. A weak PR7AR on 30 plus a couple weaker stns on 40 were it for hearing DX this evening. So like I did today, tomorrow I'll have to get my DX in the morning. This morning it was old standby CO8LY on 20 meters in the 1200Z hour.
I did get my regular streak QSO this evening from KC4ZPB who when I called said immediately he reads my web site and likes the CW info here. Unfortunately that was on 30 meters and 30 did one of it's rapid fadeouts. Rusty went from a solid S8 down into my s4 noise in just a few seconds and never did come back up.
Also like yesterday, not a lot else to talk about. It was a showery day and only made it into the low 50s. Still better than a s#$wy cold day. -30-
Wed Mar 29 2017 8:44PM - The bands were pretty dismal DX-wise this evening. I actually heard only one DX station - YV5DNR on 40 who wasn't hearing me. He was engaging in slow speed rag chews and I just didn't feel like waiting to keep trying him. The one time I did call, there was no competition and he still didn't hear me so that pretty much told the tale. So I'm getting out my little pink slip with "QSO" on it and putting it in front of the computer to remind me to try to get my DX in the morning or if not then, the afternoon.
I received my Jackite antenna 28 foot mast today for our portable operations this year. Now I'm going to design a mount for it. I have a couple ideas in mind which I'll try out some time. One I really like came to mind when I was thinking. It would permit me to extend the mast, connect the antenna, then with a hinged mount firmly anchored in the ground, I could simply walk the mast up to vertical and fasten it to the mount. Pictures will follow when I get around to putting my idea into action which may be a while now.
Not much else out of the ordinary happening today. I did get in a couple walks and now have 7.36 miles on the pedometer. We had a high of 64 and some sunny skies. -30-
Tue Mar 28 2017 8:43PM - With apologies to Agatha Christie, and then there were ten. Yes, ten days now till the DX streak reaches 1,500 days, if it does. Tonight I thought I was going to have to wait till morning to even get my regular streak QSO as I just couldn't raise anyone. Then after jumping around from 80 through 20, my last stop on 30 yielded W0FK/4 on IOTA NA034 followed a couple minutes later by HH2AA. So tomorrow is free now until the evening.
I had a minor pipe leak in the basement today and spent some time waiting for the plumber. Actually he came just a few minutes past the window he gave me, so really no complaints there. Otherwise I worked on a propagation article for the April NAQCC newsletter. Also the monthly NAQCC WPA Chapter news and my K3WWP news.
It was a rather dreary chilly day today, but still a lot better than those true winter days. Actually its great when you can call a 60 degree day a bit chilly. HI. Still I didn't get in any good walks mainly because of the plumber visit. I did my usual inside walking thought and got up to let's see.... gee, 8 miles. I didn't realize I walked that much.
Another NAQCC thing I did today was to reserve the club call N3AQC and N3A for our parkpeditions, subpeditions, etc. this year. I'm looking forward to some portable operating again now that we made it through winter. The last portable operation was way back in November on the Requin. I envy our Florida Chapter members who can operate portable the whole year although I guess some of them do mind the heat and humidity of summer down there. HI -30-
Mon Mar 27 2017 8:03PM - Gee, when I write an entry early in the morning, then not till the next evening, it seems like an eternity in between. HI
A very quick DX QSO this evening. You know (to go into athlete sentence starting mode), it must be wonderful to live in an area where the local noise level is right at S0 or at the very most S1. Actually that is close to what we get in our parkpeditions to Kittanning Community Park. The noise is so low there you can actually hear distant thunderstorm lightning static. That's something I could never do in this house where about the best the noise ever gets is down to from S6 on 80M to S2-3 on 10M. I diverged from the point I was shooting at. That is that David XE1XR must be one of those blessed with a quiet location. Although I could barely hear him through my S4-5 noise on 30 meters, all it took was a single call to log him at 0001Z. I know he runs high power and not QRP so if he was S4 here, I couldn't have been much above S1-2 there in Mexico. Anyway thanks to David for getting me to the point in the DX streak where I only need 11 more days to reach 1,500.
Another nice spring day today. A bit on the cloudy side but the high approached 70 again. It shows 68 on my AcuRite remote unit and it's still 61 out there. So some more good walks today. Almost 9 miles on the pedometer.
While not out walking, I did some more fooling around with my WPX prefix stats. I found a couple more errors along the way and fixed them up. I also counted the number of prefixes provided by each country worked which was easy to do with my Microsoft Access log and a little help from a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet.
Of course by far the USA provided the most prefixes with 778. No, Canada was not second even though they do use a lot of special prefixes for various reasons. Second is Germany with 105, then Canada with 97.
Here's a list of the next 15 top totals:
The country abbreviations are the ones I use in my log and are obvious with maybe a couple exceptions. EUR is European Russia, ASR Asiatic Russia, YUG (a hangon from Yugoslavia) is Serbia, and BLG is Belgium. Maybe someday I'll explain how I arrived at my set of country abbreviations.
Most of those have different letter groups to choose from. Of course the USA has AA-AL, K-KZ, N-NZ, W-WZ with a few exceptions like AL7,KL7,NL7,WL7 for Alaska (a separate DX entity for DXCC purposes) and those for Hawaii, Virgin Islands, etc. Germany has a large portion of the D block of calls. Canada parts of the C, V, and Z blocks. ITA has the whole I block except for IS for Sardinia. You get the idea. Maybe a note for Bulgaria - they just use a lot of different numbers with their LZ block for their saints stations and so forth. -30-
Sun Mar 26 2017 9:26AM - I'm glad now I didn't get those two DX stations early last evening. I went back later and looked around. I even checked 80 and there was S01WS peeking out of my noise level. After a few calls, he came back with K3WWP 599 and I had my streak extended another day along with a new entity (#59) and prefix on 80. I'm going to have to include 80 on my evening DX searches as with the declining sunspots and in turn declining absorption on the lower bands, I might be able to work more DX there. It would be very nice to make it to 100 countries on 80, but that's not going to be easy with my attic random wire. It will take a lot of patience. That's something I seem to have less of lately. HI
Just about time to go walk Roscoe for the first time today. Then I don't really have any other plans for the rest of the day. I'll probably do something outside. Maybe do some more yard cleanup like removing the mulch of leaves around my roses and daylillies. I'll see what happens as the day goes on. -30-
Sat Mar 25 2017 8:43PM - Looks like I'll be chasing DX in the morning. Just couldn't work any this evening. I came close with OE1WMA on 40 and HI3/N3SY on 80. They both were hearing me, but I never heard them send my call correctly before they gave up. I sure hope I can get someone in the morning. I'd hate to see the streak end with two such close calls.
A beautiful day again today. For the second day in a row, we reached the mid 70s after a low of 16 the day before that. A 59 degree temperature range in less than 36 hours has to be close to a record. I'll have to check that sometime. I know the record range for one day is 53 degrees. It sure felt good to get out with no jacket and a thin shortsleeve shirt for two nice walks.
Early this morning we took Roscoe for his postponed grooming. He looks like a different dog now with all his curls gone till they grow back in a couple months. The timing was pretty good as the long hair kept him warm while it was cold, and now he'll be cool with the warm weather pretty much here to stay.
Well, the first of the final four teams has just been decided a little while ago. Gonzaga remains alive in the run for its first title. They are one of the better teams the past few years who haven't won a championship. This is their 19th tournament appearance in a row and the first time to the final four. Their previous best was the Elite Eight which they reached twice.
Just about time to get my weather info, so I'll close here. -30-
Fri Mar 24 2017 3:17PM - Just sitting here with not a lot to do right now. So I thought I'd write the diary entry and then go out for a walk in the 73!!!! degree weather. I was out before, but it was about 10 degrees cooler then.
Then in about 2-3 hours Mike is coming and we're going to a fish dinner at a local fire hall. When we get home we'll probably head to the shack for some DXing and a couple other little projects.
We just had a change in one of our plans for this year. We were going on a subpedition on April 9, but I just had a call from the sub caretaker Art who said the sub was going to undergo some maintenance from April 8 through the 22 (and maybe beyond). So we'll have to postpone the subpedition probably till sometime in May. -30-
Thu Mar 23 2017 9:15AM - A short visit but a good time last night. Mike arrived with a pizza just as I was finishing my regular streak QSO with NV3N around 0010Z. I saw him pull up in his car. I had the door unlocked so I knew he would come in. While he was taking his bike off the rack and putting it on my porch, I thought I'd try for a quick DX QSO. I found HC2AO on 40 not all that strong, but since he is a great op, I knew if he heard me at all, he would stick with me to get the QSO. After a couple of WW? and K3?, he got my call, thanked me by name and the DX streak was still intact, thanks to Alex.
Now off to more important (?) business - devouring the pizza with Mike. Following that, we discussed a list of projects upcoming this year. Things like the hamfests we'd be attending, where we were going to do Field Day, finishing our little Tuna Tin rigs which have been in abeyance for some time now, our subpeditions, and so on. Sounds like a fun busy year.
Then we went up to my shack to see if Mike could work some DX. I let him sit in the pilot's chair since I already had my DX QSO. There wasn't a lot to be found, but Mike did find and work the almost omnipresent PV8ADI on 40 meters. We also heard Josh 6Y5WJ whom I hadn't heard in some time now, but he was having long QSOs, and we didn't wait long for him. Mike did call a couple times with no luck. With not much on 40, just for fun, we listened on 80. No DX heard there, so while I wasn't paying attention, Mike went to 160. He saw a busy spot on the PX3, and after we listened a bit, to my surprise we were hearing an OZ7 station from Denmark. I forget the suffix now, but he was pretty good copy. I just can't work DX on 160 and seldom even can hear it with my local noise and low antenna. Maybe I should be listening more on that band. Perhaps I will as with the sunspot minimum coming and lower ionospheric absorption, 160 (and 80) should be in good shape. During the last couple minimums, I found it much easier to make QSOs in the 160 meters contests than during recent maximums.
I'm definitely not a news junkie. Watching TV or Internet news is just too disgusting since they go for the sensational BAD news instead of presenting the GOOD things going on in the World. I often have no idea of so called major news things that are going on until some days later if at all unless it affects me directly somehow. Anyway, I do follow the weather supposedly very closely. However I found this morning when I was watching some AccuWeather videos that I missed something big there also that goes back years ago now. For many years the world record windspeed was the well known 231MPH on Mount Washington in NH back in 1934. However that was broken some years ago with a verified 253MPH reading in Australia.
OK, time for Roscoe's first walk of the day. Oh, his grooming was postponed again till Saturday which may be good since it's only 25 degrees now after a low of 17. We missed the latest in season record by a good margin. -30-
Wed Mar 22 2017 7:18PN - Mike should be coming soon, so I'll make this diary entry now. Then if time permits, I (or Mike) will add something to it later.
We slipped back into winter hopefully for the very last time. It just barely got into the 40s today with strong winds that made it feel much colder. I even saw a few ugly white specks floating around in the sky. The low tonight is predicted to be 11. If we make it there, that will be very close to the lowest temperature so late in the season. Right now the record is 11 on 3/25/74 and 11 on 3/28/82. Actually the second is the record, but I thought I'd mention the other one also. Brrr! I always enjoy seeing records broken for their own sake, but not for the weather that is involved if you know what I mean. -30-
Tue Mar 21 2017 8:52PM - Similar pattern to last night. Rag chew on 40 (vs. 80), then pretty quick DX on 20 (vs. 40). Had to try a few DX stns though before I hooked up with CE3KHZ. I heard Asia on 40, but futile trying to work 5B4AJC as he wasn't all that strong and a lot of folks chasing him. My rag chew was with NM1I and the letter I in his call finished the NAQCC challenge for this month. That didn't dawn on me till we began the QSO as I wasn't thinking about letters but just getting my main streak QSO in the log. Conditions weren't all that good.
Other than that not much going on again today. Nice weather = nice walk. Some shopping on the walk at the PO and supermarket. Roscoe was supposed to go to the groomer this evening, but the groomer wasn't feeling well, so that was postponed until tomorrow or Thursday. I'll find out which when I go to take him out in a half hour or so.
Now it's time to get my 9PM weather readings. I see a high of 61 on my AcuRite remoter weather station. That should be close to what will show on my main thermometer.
I also talked to my friend and NAQCC co-founder Tom WY3H a while ago. I miss him since he moved to Georgia, but nice to keep in touch via telephone now and then. -30-
Mon Mar 20 2017 8:38PM - Kind of a quiet day compared to yesterday. The weather was nice with a high at 50 degrees and all the s#$w gone so I went for a walk and did some shopping. Also took some little longer walks with Roscoe. Roscoe has a new hobby now, so to speak. The sofa which he claims is his is now closer to the window where he can look out and see what is going on out there. He seems to really be enjoying that to the fullest. It should have been set up that way a long time ago.
After a rag chew with W2XU up in Maine on 80 meters, my DX came quickly. When we finished at 0031Z, I went to 40, found J3/OE2SNL, called and after one repeat, the DX streak was extended to 1,482 days. Only 18 more days to 1,500 and if I make it, I'll have to come up with another goal.
I'm looking forward to seeing Mike KC2EGL again. It's been about a month now. He's coming down for our usual 4th Wednesday evening get together for some pizza and some ham radio.
Oh and for those who celebrate the coming of astronomical spring instead of meteorological spring, Happy First Day of Spring. Either way, ain't it grand!
One final thing. I got my certificate from the ARRL today for First Place Western Pennsylvania and Atlantic Division QRP SOAB in the 2016 ARRL DX Contest. Picture on my main CONTESTING page. -30-
Sun Mar 19 2017 9:05PM - A busy day and a good day. The two always go together. I love keeping active and busy. I still have things to finish here, so just a condensed diary entry.
A quick DX QSO from ZP6CW on 30 meters at 0008Z. Some spring cleaning. Following March Madness. Working on log cross checking from our NAQCC sprint. Cooking up some sloppy joes with Bruce. Plus all the usual daily things like walking Roscoe, walking myself, and so forth. That's it. Back to work now. -30-
Sat Mar 18 2017 8:37PM - Kind of frustrating but interesting this evening. I heard P33W on 80 meters. I'd have to do some deep thinking to remember when or if I've heard Asia on 80 before. I probably have heard it, maybe a 4X4 or something like that, but I've never worked it before for sure. I didn't work it this evening either. I called several times before I convinced myself he was not hearing me at all. Never got so much as a question mark. So I decided to head to 40 and see if perhaps he might be multi-band on there also. If so, I'd have a better chance to work him there. But I never even heard him. I will try again later though to work some Asian on 40 in the Russian DX test which is bringing a lot of activity to the bands including the aforementioned P33W.
I got my DX quickly at 0002Z in NP2P also in the test. That's why with the DX cinched, I was just listening around to see if I could find something new. I heard DQ2C which might have been a new prefix, but couldn't get him.
After a pretty predictable first round with only 6 upsets, there were a couple of rather big upsets so far today. Last year's champ Villanova went down to #8 seed Wisconsin and #11 Xavier got its second upset so far beating Florida State. Gonzaga lived up to its #1 seeding defeating a tenacious Northwestern who stayed close the whole game.
I checked out the farce they call the Women's tournament a little while ago. Farce? Only because it's pretty much already been decided even before the tournament began that Connecticut will walk away with the championship. But I guess they do have to play the games to make it official. Personally I'd love to see Baylor win again because I've always been a fan of their coach Kim Mulkey whom I think is still the best point guard I've ever seen, man or woman, when she played for Louisiana Tech way back when. She's also the only basketball person who has won a championship as a player, assistant coach, and head coach. Not bad, and she also had a perfect academic score of 4.0 as well. Quite a person, indeed. So go Baylor Bears. -30-
Fri Mar 17 2017 6:56PM - It looks like the year of the #11 seed. So far three #11 seeds have played and three #11 seeds have won - Xavier, Rhode Island, USC. Cincinnati beware this evening - they play #11 Kansas St. I wonder offhand if any of the 9-13 seeds have swept all 4 first round games before. I have the data here to check so let's see. In 1999 all 4 #10 seeds did it - Miami Ohio, Purdue, Gonzaga, Creighton. In 2001 all #9 seeds - St Josephs, Charlotte, Fresno St, Missouri. In 1999 all 4 #9 seeds - Oklahoma St, New Mexico, Tulsa, Mississippi. In 1994 all #9 seeds - Georgetown, Wisconsin, Alabama, Boston Coll. So if Kansas St pulls it off, it will be the first time for a higher than #10 seed to do it.
I just love March Madness. It gives so many opportunities for statistical work which I love doing. Speaking of that, I'm still awaiting more responses to my March Madness trivia questions from a few entries ago. Only one response so far from Bob N2SU.
Back to ham radio. I got an immediate DX streak QSO this morning. As soon as I turned on the rig, I found PJ4/K2NG calling CQ on 20, and even though I worked him two days ago, I got him with my very first call again. I'm getting a little less strict about making repeat QSOs with stations now as sunspots slip away carrying with them any good propagation.
I spent a lot of time today doing the preliminary work of cross-checking our NAQCC sprint logs from the Wednesday evening sprint. Once again we crossed the 100 logs mark standing at 101 now with still 2 days left to submit logs. In the last 84 sprints since April 2010, we've only missed getting 100 or more 6 times. I think that makes us just about the most popular of all mid-week 2 hour CW sprints. Congrats to our NAQCC members. -30-
Thu Mar 16 2017 10:42AM - I got to thinking about my new poll about the number of keys owned. I chose the answer 11-15 without actually counting. Then I got curious to know if that was accurate so I gathered up all the keys I could find. I took two group pictures as shown here with a brief description of each key.
These are my regular keys among which I switch from time to time. Lower left-upper right are:
ARRL Centennial Paddle
Begali Magnetic Classic Paddle
Above three given to me by the NAQCC
Vibroplex Lightning Bug given to me by Larry W2LJ
In front of those four is my homebrew popsicle straight key
These are the rest of my key collection. I'm not really a collector as such. These have just come along as the years went by. As you see, most are homebrew with a couple exceptions.
In the middle of the top row, the Bencher paddle was given to me by Mike KC2EGL. It's what I use for my portable operations.
In the upper right an old straight key my late uncle used on the railroad many many years ago.
Second from left in the lower row is one of two that Mike and I got to go with our little Tuna Tin style rigs.
Second from right in that row is a Morse Express Christmas straight key given to me by Geo N1EAV.
As I sit here looking at the picture, I notice a paddle I made from two straight keys is missing. It's either in a different drawer somewhere or I may have loaned it to someone. Also many years ago back in the 60s or 70s, I had a bug inside a clear case. I know I loaned that to someone and never did get it back. I also had a homebrew bug that never worked very well. I took that apart for parts. There was also a homebrew sideswiper that suffered the same fate as the homebrew bug. I think I also had a couple very cheap straight keys that never worked too well either. Maybe a couple more I can't remember now.
Counting just the ones in the pictures, that makes 15 so my early guess was right on.
A couple other items now before I close. Last night's sprint was a good one again. I came up with 42 QSOs vs. 50 in February when I finished first overall. This month my good February conditions were widespread while they were poorer here. So several folks had 50+ QSOs this month. Some more had in the mid-upper 40s, so I may be lucky to make the top 10 overall. However, I don't really get into our sprints for high scores. Rather just to give out QSOs to other members and help train them in contest operating. Also to have fun. I love to just call CQ and see who is going to answer me. I much prefer that to S&P where I know who I'm going to, or trying to work. If I did more S&P I could probably add a dozen or more QSOs to my totals.
When someone jumped on "my" frequency where I was calling CQ, I dropped out of the sprint for a few minutes to look for my DX streak QSO. I found and worked PJ2ND on 40 meters.
OK, I think I'll process some more sprint logs now to get them ready for cross-checking. -30-