K3WWP's Ham Radio Activities

CreditsDiaryFAQsPicturesPollsSearchSite InfoSurveysSign GuestbookView GuestbookHam Radio?Who Am I?


Diary Archives   OneDrive Pictures/Slideshows   FISTS Web Site  NAQCC Web Site

Don't forget to cast your vote in the monthly poll here after reading the diary. A new poll posted the 15th of each month.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016 11:14 PM - This was a very good day overall. Earlier in the day I thought my DX streak was going to come to an end. I also was a bit worried about Roscoe. Roscoe had a couple of spots on his body, one of which was bleeding a little bit. After a trip to the vet though, it turned out to be nothing to worry about. The vet said it looked like a couple of minor cuts perhaps from the groomer a week or so ago became a little infected. She gave (well, sold) us some spray and prescribed some Benadryl which should take care of everything.

As for the DX, I finally found one of the great DX ops in Mike F5IN whom I've worked many times over the years. He was only about S6 here on 20 meters, but after he worked some other folks, I got in my turn and the streak went on. I think when I have some time, I'm going to list ways that such a streak can be maintained. One of them is to get to know the really good DX ops so that when you hear them you know it's a good bet they can hear and work you if you stick with them.

Tonight it was easier. Mike was here and after we had our pizza, we went to the shack and we both snagged NPOTA station N0AC/M which assured my regular streak. Then it was DL1NKS on 30 meters for a fairly easy QSO after a few tries. Mike also worked him. A little after the fact I realized there was an S in the call so that completed my July NAQCC Alphabet Challenge. Oh, and earlier in the day WD4E on 30 meters was my 30th 30 meters QSO in July for the NAQCC 30-30 Award.

And the good things just kept coming. Mike and I took out my telescope and looked at Mars and Saturn. That was the first time I've had the scope out in probably over a year now. Then to close out Mike's short visit, we watched a couple Little Rascals films.

The days don't often get much better than this one. -30-

Tuesday, July 26, 2016 9:57 PM - It wasn't easy, but another day has been added to the DX streak. I really got worried this morning when XE1RK didn't hear me at all on 20 meters and he was 58/99 here. He was about the only DX I heard and that was the second check of the day. The first showed nothing. Then I came across EA5KM a little further up the band. He was about 55/69 with QSB. I tried him maybe three or four times, but always lost out to someone else. That's OK, as long as he was answering someone, I figured I may be able to wait out the competition and work him. Now if he wasn't answering anyone, me included, that would be cause for worry. However the next time I called him, he came right back with K3WWP 599 (sigh of relief) and I had my DX QSO for another day. Still I think it is just a matter of time when that day will come that ends the DX streak.

Same story this evening. No DX although I did get two more 30 meters QSOs to make it 29 for the month, just one away from another NAQCC 30-30 Award. If I can't get one more QSO in 5 days, I don't really deserve it.

I'm also still looking for the final S to complete the NAQCC July challenge. Another case of if I can't get one S in........ Well, you know the rest. -30-

Monday, July 25, 2016 9:26 PM - Once again it doesn't look all that good for the DX streak. Really only heard two DX stations this evening. One didn't hear me at all, and the other one never got past WW? - that was a DL1 station. I have a few things to do tomorrow so I don't know how much time I'll have to look for DX if I don't find and work someone later tonight, which is possible as 30 is sometimes good for DX around midnight.

Not quite as warm today if you can call 94 that, but it was more humid than the past few days so it was more 'sticky' to say the least. Still decent inside this brick house though if I'm careful to let in the cool at night and keep the warm out during the day.

You know how I love stats, lists, etc. Well yesterday I thought I'd see if I have worked a 'wrong number WAS'. That's working someone from PA with other than a 3 call, for example. Or a NY station with other than a 2 call. I wasn't sure what to do with Alaska and Hawaii so I took someone other than a KL7 or KH6, i.e. an AL9 and a KH7. Turns out I do have such a WAS. A couple states I had to look a bit to find someone but it was easy with my Microsoft Access log. Just filter to the desired state, sort by date and glance back through those I worked to find a wrong number call. Probably could have written a SQL query to make it even quicker but may have taken longer to write the query than to actually do it manually. Better for the brain that way also. HI.

OK, time to go walk Roscoe now. -30-

Sunday, July 24, 2016 9:22 PM - It was quick this evening. XE1XR at 0001Z on 20 meters. Then a few CQs on 30 netted a fox, well W7FOX anyway. That was QSO #27 on 30 meters this month, just 3 shy now of qualifying for the NAQCC 30-30 Award for making 30 QSOs on 30M in a month.

I'm in the midst of cross checking logs for our NAQCC sprint and my brain is a bit fuzzy right now. Or maybe it is the heat. This was our warmest (hottest) day of 2016 so far with a high of 97. That was quickly cooled down to 72 by a thunderstorm late this afternoon. However the humidity went from 20% early today to 89% right now so even though it's cooler, it's very sticky.

OK, back to work on cross-checking now. I just have to correct the scores now and I'll be done for another month. -30-

Saturday, July 23, 2016 9:07 PM - And the DX streak goes on. Keeping the streak going is teaching me a lot about propagation. Much more than the regular streak has. You can get a QSO just about any time, any day without much trouble unless there is some severe geomagnetic storminess going on. However, DX is another story, especially for a minimal QRP operator such as me. If you live on a hill with a high big beam and run a KW, I'm sure that DX is there for the taking 24/7. I must really search the bands, try different bands, try different times of day to find DX that is workable. As sunspots decline, that becomes even more the normal MO. At sunspot maximum, I could work DX just about when and where I wanted. Yes, it was very easy maintaining the streak on 95 percent of the days during the peak sunspot years. Now I'm finding even though I can hear fairly strong DX stations quite often, a lot of the times they do not hear me. That was true this evening with S52ZW who normally hears me easily. Although he was peaking S7, I got nothing in return every time I tried calling him. That was on 20 meters. That's just one example of many failed attempts of late. They are becoming more numerous as we dip further toward the upcoming sunspot minimum.

I opened this entry saying the streak goes on, and it is. Both last night and tonight it was rough, but it got done. Last night I decided to try one more time around 0330Z to see what the bands had to offer. I found R1DX on 30 meters and called him, but three or four times I lost out to another caller. However the next call after those, I got a plain solid with no repeats needed comeback of K3WWP 559 OP VICTOR. I gave him a 579 and he copied my name solidly. Just a matter of being there at the right time on the right band and persisting. I seldom work Russia on 30, but I did last night for only the fourth time, twice now this year.

Tonight along with S52ZW, there were a few others I tried with no luck including F2QJ who used to hear me easily, but no longer with the current overall conditions. Finally as I was about to call it quits, I checked 30 one more time at 0057Z and found a quite weak OA1F. South America is not really all that easy to work for me most of the time for whatever reason. However what did I have to lose? I called him and after several repeats so he could get the ending WP of my call, we exchanged fake 599 reports and day # 1242 of the DX streak is in the books. Honest reports would probably be 449 to him, and maybe 339 at best to me.

Otherwise, it was the warmest day of the year today with a high of 96. However when it was that temperature, the humidity was down around 30 percent, so it didn't feel all that bad.

It was nice to hear from Paul N0NBD today. He emailed a question about my KX3/PX3 mount that I pictured. Also today I finished my Popsicle key construction article for the NAQCC August newsletter and sent it off to Paul N8XMS for publication. -30-

Friday, July 22, 2016 8:39 PM - After about an inch of rain this morning, we wound up with another hot humid day. Didn't quite make 90, at least on my remote unit here which shows a high of 89. At least the rain was welcome. Maybe our brown grass will green up again now.

Last evening I painted my KX3/PX3 homebrew stand black to match the rigs. here's a look at it now. You can compare it to the pictures in its pre-painted stage which are posted here a few days ago.
pix_diary_20160722_001 (41K)

I think it looks nicer this way. Of course looks aren't important. It's performance that counts, and the combo of a KX3 and a PX3 are the class of the lot now for QRP/CW operation.

No DX yet this evening. I may have to resort to morning or afternoon to keep the streak going. I listened a bit today and there was some fairly strong DX late afternoon on 20 meters. I did work N2PH for the big streak though. -30-

Thursday, July 21, 2016 8:54 PM - You know, 30 meters always seems to be a band that offers surprises. I can recall a couple times after calling CQ, I was answered by someone whose call started with a V and I figured OK, some Canadian. Not so - turned out to be VK6HQ from Perth, Australia. Then several years ago, actually December 29, 2000 in late afternoon at 2139Z or 4:39PM EST I had a 30M CQ answered by TA3D. I don't work Turkey all that often with only 11 QSOs including that one. I guess you know I'm leading up to something from tonight.

After chewing the rag with KD5ZLB, and once again working Jurek EA6UN for my DX QSO, I decided to try some CQs on, you guessed it, 30 meters. After just a few, this S9+ signal comes on in response. He sends my call, then DAH DI - I quickly start writing a K, but then there are two more DAHs - a Y. Hmmmm. Of course all that happened in a split second. Anyway turned out to be YV5JDP who gave me a 579 and we had a nice chat for several minutes. Probably the strongest signal I've ever heard from a YV station. It helped that he was running a K3 at 500W to a 2 element yagi, but also propagation had to be very good on top of that. Surprising because the band was virtually dead when I called CQ. Once again proving that someone has to get things started, even if it is only a QRP signal like mine.

Time now to get my weather readings, then if I think of more to say here when I return, I will. HI

Just a couple things. I see today was our warmest day of the year so far with a high of 94. It wasn't all that humid though, so not too bad.

Our sprint last night went well, but for me things kind of died out in the second hour. I had 20 QSOs the first hour, but only 11 the second hour. Several of the usual high scorers seemed to be down this month so I guess it wasn't only me suffering from poor conditions. -30-

Wednesday, July 20, 2016 10:14 AM - SPECIAL entry. I hit the jackpot in the mailbox this morning. First this:
pix_diary_20160720_001 (151K)

Isn't that a beautiful certificate. If you didn't get one this year, put the 13 Colonies Event on your calendar for 2017 and go for it. I especially like the "God Bless America" on it. She certainly needs His blessings in this day and age. I think this one goes on the shack wall somewhere rather than into a picture album.

I also got two buro envelopes. Let me count and see how many cards are there, then I'll close this, post it, and get to sorting and cataloging them. Very interesting. There are 42 cards total and about 90 percent are from the W1AW Centennial stations from 2014. I'm guessing that the ARRL sent out cards for each Centennial QSO so there should be more cards awaiting at the buro since I worked all 50 states. I just noticed also in logging the mailing that I only have one more envelope left at the buro so I better get a new batch in the mail today. Lots to do today. Then there is our NAQCC sprint this evening. Looks like I won't run the risk of boredom today. -30-

Tuesday, July 19, 2016 8:45 PM - Early this morning I helped Ange water his garden. After that a little later, it was taking Roscoe to the groomer for a haircut and a bath. He seems to really feel cooler now which is good with more hot weather on the way the next couple weeks at least.

This evening it was a quick DX QSO with Andy HB9CVQ on 20 meters. Two nights in a row now my DX has come from EU. That sunspot group getting the SF up over 100 has livened up the bands somewhat. It's just a shame that more folks aren't aware of and taking advantage of the good conditions. -30-

Monday, July 18, 2016 7:50 PM - I did some work today on my KX3/PX3 mount. I've been wanting to change it so the PX3 slanted backwards a bit to make it more stable, and to eliminate some reflections on the screen. So I sawed off the PX3 portion of the mount and remounted it with the aid of a couple Popsicle sticks at the desired angle. Seems to work fine. Here's what it looks like now.
pix_diary_20160718_001 (54K)  pix_diary_20160718_002 (49K)

Now in a couple minutes I'm off to the shack to look for some DX. I did get FY5KE later last evening on 30 meters to keep the streak going. Then I'll be back here to finish out this entry maybe with a couple version three Popsicle key pictures.

The DX came easily from DJ9IE on 20 meters just 6 minutes past 0000Z. Then I had a couple of 2X QRP QSOs with WB1GYZ and N5WVR. So the streaks are secure for yet another day.

Here now are two pictures of the version three Popsicle key.
pix_diary_20160718_003 (203K)  pix_diary_20160718_004 (238K)

At left the finished key which shows off the new relay contacts. At right the new base with two Popsicle sticks, one at the knob end with a piece of sandpaper at each end and one at the rear with a piece of sandpaper in the center. That gives somewhat of a stable triangle base to the key. -30-

Sunday, July 17, 2016 9:08 PM - Yet another great day today. Mike arrived around 11:30AM or so, and we made sure we had everything we needed for our setup at the BCARA picnic. Then we headed out there to arrive around 12:30PM to get set up. Amazingly we didn't get even slightly lost on our way there. I believe that's a first for any of our trips anywhere. Setting up went pretty smoothly except for Mike's antenna pole being a bit stubborn at first. Here's a look at what we came up with:
pix_diary_20160717_002 (58K)

That's the not so stealth orange pole right in the middle of the picture with the antenna sloping down in an inverted vee shape to both sides. Right behind the pole is the table at which we set up the KX3/PX3, etc.

Here I am doing two things I love - ham radio and eating. That's a bun on the table awaiting a turkey frank that Tom (WB3FAE) is cooking at the grill in the next picture below.
pix_diary_20160717_001 (47K)
pix_diary_20160717_003 (18K)

Just when it was time to start eating, I ran into a streak of QSOs on 40 meters, and had to combine operating and eating. Thanks go to Tom for supplying my food needs at that time.

Considering it was a picnic atmosphere and with one of the club member's dog barking almost constantly, we did quite well through the local QRM. My half hour run on 40 meters garnered 7 QSOs with another added later on 20 meters, then one by Mike (DX - Haiti) on 17 meters.

Since it was basically a picnic with the associated eating involved, our demo didn't draw a lot of attention. However we did get a lot of good feedback and interaction from several of the members which made it all worthwhile. Hopefully we drummed up interest in CW and QRP which was the bottom line of the demo.

Otherwise today, it's another of those evenings when it was not possible to work any DX. I did have a shot at XE1XR early on, but I've worked him often so I went looking for someone else. Finding no one, I went back to look for XR, but he was gone then. Hopefully I don't wind up regretting not working him as soon as I heard him. We'll see. -30-

Saturday, July 16, 2016 7:34 PM - I'll write this entry before going to check the bands for my streak(s) QSO. Hope I'll find them in the same or better shape as last night. They sure didn't have much to offer during the day today. That's disappointing because it means our CW/QRP demo tomorrow at the BCARA picnic might not turn out so well either. We will be at the picnic operating probably from about 1645-1900Z or so. Although we'll be tuning all the bands looking for contacts, we'll try to do quite a bit of calling CQ on 7041 and 10117 or so. Hopefully some of you reading this will try to work us. We'll be using the NAQCC club call of N3AQC.

I finished up version three of the popsicle key today, and so far it seems to be the best of the bunch with the relay contacts and a couple other little modifications. More about that to come.

A nice day today - breezy, not too hot (86) and low humidity so I got some work done in the garden. While there, I picked a tomato and pepper for a salad tomorrow or Monday. I also noticed quite a few beans on both my climbing and bush bean plants. So things are coming along nicely.

Just posted a new poll. Hope you'll take time to vote via the link above.

OK, just about 0000Z now, so off to the shack to see what's up. -30-

Friday, July 15, 2016 9:06 PM - An interesting and unusual day today which made for an overall very enjoyable day. Let me explain. Interesting because of the visit with Don K3RLL. First let's delve into the unusual.

1. Seems like old times. At 0000Z I hit the shack and tuned to 20 meters. About the first peak I checked on the PX3 turned out to be RG0A about 459 or so. Harking back to the days not all that long ago when Asiatic Russia was pretty much a cinch to work on 20 in the evenings, I thought I'd take a shot at RG0A. Somewhat to my surprise he got the WWP, and after I sent K3 a couple times, we completed the QSO. A la Sherlock Holmes I tried to think of why Asiatic Russia would be back on 20 with the sunspots declining. I remembered looking at the sun on my propagation page yesterday or the day before and seeing a large spot rotating into view. And checking just now, I see it is actually a large group of at least 3 spots and has pushed the SF to 102, first time over 100 in a while now. Perhaps its emissions fired up the ionosphere. Looking back, the last AS worked outside of contests was JT1CO on 4/7/2016. Before that the same RG0A way back on 11/1/2015. So it has been somewhat of a drought, and I don't expect it to get any better as sunspots continue to decline. Tonight was just an unusual happening, of which there were others.

2. Since I was on 20, I decided to call CQ there. I noticed a peak on the PX3 almost 1 kHz below my frequency, and in reading the peak which I can do sometimes, it looked like he was sending K3WWP, so I turned the RIT down there and sure enough I was getting a very off frequency answer. Turned out to be a station on Long Island. He was 589 and gave me a 579. We had a solid QSO. Some more deduction caused me to think with skip that short on 20, I bet 17 is open.

3. Deduction correct. Not a lot of activity, but a couple strong signals. I worked one of the stations for a nice new prefix - HD085QRC. Continuing to analyze the short skip on 20, sporadic E came to mind so it was on to 6 meters.

4. There was activity there. Not too strong and I didn't try to work anyone. The stations I heard were from the EM and EN grids. Well, with short skip on 20 and 6 open, that means 10, 12, and 15 should be open too.

5. First I tried 10, and almost to my shock, I got an answer after calling CQ just 3 or 4 times. It was KQ4LA in Norfolk, VA. We had a solid 8 minute 569/569 QSO. So sporadic E was in effect with no doubt. Had more stations followed the path I did, there may be more upper band QSOs in my log. However CQs on 12 and 15 yielded nothing although I'm sure those bands were open.

Quite an interesting evening and I hope it demonstrates how to analyze band conditions when you run into something unusual on one band. Take that and figure what it means to the other bands as I did, and you'll have a lot of fun.

Fun? Yes, that's what Don and I had today. It was great to visit again. I don't get to visit with Don as often as I do with Mike or Tom, mainly because Don winters in Florida usually from October through May, leaving only 3-4 months up here which are taken up by a lot of other things as well as some ham radio.

Anyway Don arrived a little past Noon, and after we discussed the BCARA picnic on Sunday, which unfortunately he won't be able to attend because of church, we headed to Subway and both got tuna subs and a free cookie. Also during our 3 hours or so together we both learned things from each other especially about my smart TV and the PX3 panadapter. I also showed him some of the things I had gotten from the Ol' Station Marketplace like my Dremel clone and my Cold Heat soldering iron. All too soon the visit came to an end as he had to head home to New Bethlehem. Hopefully we can get together a few more times before he heads south again.

Before and after the visit, I also worked on version three of my popsicle key. I'm almost ready to finish it off tomorrow. I'm looking forward to see how the relay contacts compare with the thumbtack contacts. Hopefully I won't get the intermittent results I am getting with the thumbtacks. They work fine for the longest time, then start acting up. When that happens, running an emery board over them seems to 'renew' them for another long period of time. I don't really know what that is all about. -30-

Thursday, July 14, 2016 9:05 PM - Interesting DX this evening. After waiting around to work Jurek EA6UN for the zillionth time and doing so, I went to 30 meters and called CQ. After a few CQs a strong S8 signal answered me. Turned out to be KP3A in Puerto Rico. So I got two DX QSOs this evening. I had a nice 11 minute rag chew with Al KP3A. He was running 30 watts this evening but he said he does a lot of QRP work using a PFR3 rig and also has a lot of magnetic loop antennas. That's the first rag chew with a DX station I've had in a while now. He copied me solidly all the way and gave me a 589 report also.

It was HOT today with a high of 91. Not overly humid though, so it was bearable even though as I get older, it does get harder to bear the heat. Despite the heat, we got Roscoe to the vet this morning for a nail clipping and to pick up some heartworm medicine and some flea/tick preventative. Next Tuesday he goes for a hair cut which should help him to bear the heat better.

After that I did some shopping at the Ol' Station Marketplace and bought some string for my lawn trimmer. Then a bit of grocery shopping. After that it was pretty much sit in front of the fan to keep cool.

I'm not totally satisfied with my popsicle key(s). Especially the thumbtack contacts. They seem to work well for a long time, then act like they are getting dirty, but running a paper between the contacts doesn't show any dirt to speak of. Kind of a mystery. Then they'll work fine again for a long time. So maybe the paper is cleaning off some microscopic dirt although that shouldn't really affect the keying.

At any rate I am going to make a version three using some contacts I salvaged from an old relay and see how that works. I've got the sticks made up and I'll throw together a new frame in the next few days. The contacts are just super glued to the sticks with a wire soldered to them and passed through a hole in the stick. I'll add a knob to one of them.
pix_diary_20160714_001 (23K)

Tomorrow Don K3RLL will be paying a visit for lunch and who knows what else. It will be good to see him again. It's been since last fall that we've gotten together.

Then on Sunday it's the BCARA picnic at which we'll be doing a demo of the KX3/PX3 in addition to enjoying some good food. We are me, Mike, Tom, and Don.

Another thing that needs doing is posting a new poll. I might be a day or so late with that this time around because of all the 'goings on' the past and future few days. -30-

Wednesday, July 13, 2016 12:31 PM - Since our computer club meeting is this evening, to keep from being rushed doing things then, I'll take care of the diary entry now.

I said I'd have a picture of my two popsicle keys today, so...:
pix_diary_20160713_001 (60K)

Version two at left. Note the obvious differences. Two has the spacer between the contact sticks. One has solder lugs at the terminals, two has just a washer between wood and nut. One has the wires glued down. What you can't see is that two has somewhat better contacts from more carefully working on the thumbtack heads.

I just was on the bands and they seem pretty dead for real. Even my CQs on 40, 30, and 20 failed to rouse anyone. There were a couple rag chews going on, but that's about all.

I received an email from Glenn K3SWZ this morning listing the 13 Colonies results. I thought the stats were interesting so here they are:
By States:                                              AWARDS 
1.)K2L/SC-13811 (-1840)                 TOP STATE: K2L/SC-13,811
2.)K2J/NC-13645 (+1643)                 TOP QRP: W4QO/K2G/GA-379
3.)K2M/PA-12418 (+2737)                 TOP CLUB: N1FD/K2K/NH-9719
4.)K2G/GA-11375 (+2215)                 TOP CW: AA3B/K2M/PA-5934
5.)K2D/CT-11028 (+1340)                 TOP HF LOW PWR: N3ZV/K2B/VA-6990
6.)K2E/DE-10,889 (+2616)                TOP HF HIGH POWER: N4PN/K2G/GA-4837
7.)K2A/NY-10,677 (+3221)
8.)K2F/MD-9957 (+7)
9.)K2K/NH-9719 (-573)
10)K2H/MA-9499 (+1619)
11)K2I/NJ-9433 (+840)
12)K2B/VA-9146 (-368)
13)K2C/RI-8173 (+19)
****GRAND TOTAL-139,772. (+13,476)****(2015 was 126,296) 
GB13COL-3109 (-1035)
WM3PEN-6471 (+930)
The number in parentheses is the difference from 2015. Not surprising SC was at the top despite being down from last year's total. I seemed to hear them every time I turned on the rig, no matter what band. Surprising to see NJ so far down the list as I heard them very often also. -30-

Tuesday, July 12, 2016 9:14 PM - I finished version two of my popsicle key today. That's the one I built mainly to take pictures of the construction for the NAQCC August newsletter. I did make a couple changes or minor alterations for better terminology. I made sure that the thumbtack contacts were perfectly clean and smooth as version one gave me a bit of trouble with what sounded like dirty contacts. This time after about 3 hours of testing, I only noticed a couple of 'burps' and that was probably from my hand, not the actual contacts.

Also when I mounted the contact sticks, I noticed the contacts were almost touching, so I added a little spacer between the sticks to widen the spacing to that in version one.

While the actual construction pictures will be saved for the NAQCC newsletter, I'll have a picture of both the completed versions in tomorrow's diary entry for comparison.

Again tonight it was a quick DX contact from XE1XR on 20 meters at 0003Z. Then I made a couple rag chews to give the new key a workout.

It was a hot day today with a high of 93, but not too humid so it wasn't all that uncomfortable. Funny as we get older, the heat seems to be more bothersome, at least to me it's that way. Used to be it couldn't get hot enough to bother me at all, but I was younger then. -30-

Monday, July 11, 2016 7:48 PM - For some reason this afternoon, I got curious about how many QSOs I've made with my KX3 since the first one with Mike KC2EGL back on October 21, 2012. Of course it was easy to figure with my Microsoft Access log. I found it interesting that on May 28 this year in the CQWPX contest I passed the 10,000 QSO mark with my wonderful little rig. As of this evening before getting my streak QSO(s), the total stands at 10,301. Now that only includes my QSOs as K3WWP. It has also added many more as N3AQC and NY3EC in the park, on FD, and our subpeditions. Although on the subpeditions, we mostly used Mike's KX3. Without ferretting out those made with Mike's rig (yet), that adds 1,769 to the total for 12,070 QSOs. Perhaps 53 of those were with Mike's rig on the sub.

Anyway I worked some more on my second popsicle key today, and other than that not much else worth talking about. Just about time to head to the shack now hopefully for a quick DX QSO. -30-

Sunday, July 10, 2016 9:08 PM - I got a lot done today. It started off with me working on building a second popsicle key. I'm doing that so I can take blow by blow pictures for an article in the August NAQCC Newsletter. After I got to the point where I needed to wait for some glue to dry, I walked Roscoe and gave him his breakfast.

Somwhere along the line today I watered my garden, but before that since it was cool, I thought I'd trim the bush in my front yard. I thought I'd just do the one side that was encroaching onto my front steps. However wouldn't you know it, I wound up doing the whole thing. It didn't really take that long and it looks so much better now. I usually try to do it in May, but fell behind schedule this year and it was really looking shaggy. I should have taken before and after pictures to illustrate what I mean, but I didn't think of it.

Along about 1PM it was time to walk Roscoe again, and when I finished, Bruce asked if I wanted to go shopping with him. I really didn't need anything, but it was nice to do something different and I did wind up getting a few things like snacks, a new pair of headphones, a hot glue gun, some super glue, and so forth. We went to both Dollar General and Family Dollar. Bruce mainly stocked up on food for Roscoe. With all we got, Roscoe should be set until at least the beginning of fall. They certainly have a lot of varieties of dog food these days. Sometimes I think Roscoe eats better than I do. The shopping trip took a couple hours and we stopped at Dairy Queen on the way home for a large chocolate cone each.

The rest of the day was just some usual little things, eating, and a couple walks.

The bands as usual were not that good this evening, but I did work W3UEC in PA on 30 meters for my regular streak QSO. Once again it was a case of my calling CQ on an almost dead band and getting an answer. Why folks don't try CQs all that much, especially on that band, I don't know. It seems to be open to somewhere most of the time.

Then I got a repeat QSO from PJ2/K3NK on 40 meters for my DX QSO. Compared to a few nights ago, it was easy this time. I got answered right away, but had to repeat my call a couple times to make the QSO. -30-

Saturday, July 09, 2016 8:36 PM - I did quite a bit of writing for the past few entries, so I'll keep this one short. There wasn't much to write about anyway. It was a bit cooler so I did a little outside work cleaning out some weeds from under the bush in front of my house. I also did some shopping and walking.

I spent some time on the air today playing with the new popsicle key and chasing letters for the July NAQCC Challenge. Conditions weren't all that good and except for the IARU contest, there wasn't much activity. In fact 30 was almost empty. However my CQs on that band did net me some QSOs which reinforces the point that if no one takes the initiative and calls CQ, the bands definitely will be dead.

My DX came quickly in the IARU test this evening, working J77HQ on 20 meters. After that I finished my activity for the day with a short rag chew with WB5YUZ in Texas on 30. -30-

Friday, July 08, 2016 9:07 PM - Acting on my suggestion, the NAQCC club call of N3AQC now has a QSL manager to take care of all QSL requests. It's nice when I can just suggest something to our new president Paul N8XMS and let him take care of all the details instead of having to do it myself as I did for ten years. He has done a great job since taking over after my retirement.

Playing with my new popsicle key plus working on the July NAQCC Challenge has gotten me on the air quite a bit more so far this month. I see 20 QSOs in my log for the past 4 days now, or an average of 5 per day.

Even though I wasn't really worried about a DX QSO this evening because of the IARU contest this weekend, I lucked out and found J79IX on 30 meters very weak, but easily workable with just a single repeat of my call. So the streak goes on, and with the contest, Sunday should be easy also (knock on wood). -30-

Thursday, July 07, 2016 4:32 PM - Well, it took quite an effort last night, but I got my 13th colony from K2A in NY. I worked at getting him for about a half hour. At first he either wasn't hearing me at all or answering other stations. He wasn't all that strong here and I figured I probably was not at all strong at his end. Near the end of the half hour though, his signals came up a couple S units. I'm glad I persevered because not too long after he got stronger, I finally got a K3? Hoping it was me this time, I sent my call a couple more times and finally got that K3WWP 599 (yeah!) NY to finish off the 13. Then I made up my report including WM3PEN and sent it off in the mail today for their handsome certificate. I usually don't care that much for certificates except for a special one now and then. Just earning them is good enough for me without needing to have a piece of paper saying I did so. This one was special though, more so because I worked pretty hard to finally qualify. Or actually get all 13 as I think you can get the certificate for just participating and working a few of the 13 colonies.

On the other hand my DX came easily from TG9ADM. He's another op who seems to hear me even if his signals are pretty weak here. Last night he was maybe S5 to S6 at best, but all it took was a single call to get him in the log.

OK, I promised some info about my popsicle key, so here goes. First this picture:
pix_diary_20160707_001 (51K)

As you can see, it is made just about completely from popsicle sticks plus a bit of wire, a couple thumbtacks for contacts, two screw terminals for connecting to a rig, and a knob from my junk box that probably came from some old cheap straight key (or maybe a drawer pull?).

It started out with building a platform from 22 sticks glued together. All the sticks are simply glued together - no other fasteners. I'm not going to go into a blow by blow description of building it here. I might do that for next month's NAQCC newsletter if Paul is interested.

The thumbtacks were scraped clean of paint and after a tiny pilot hole was drilled in a stick, they were pushed through the stick with some super glue to hold them firmly in place. Wires were then soldered to the points of the tacks and the knob was added to the top stick. Then they were mounted in a stack of sticks as you can see here:
pix_diary_20160707_002 (50K)

The sticks are just springy enough when held at the ends like that to spring back nicely after making contact so no other kind of springs are necessary. Finally I sawed off the heads of two bolts, drilled two holes in the back stack and super glued the bolts in place for the terminals.

With the rather large base, the key is quite stable and if you have a light touch on a key as I do, it doesn't move around at all. I did put one of those non-slip thin rubber mats under it to make it even more stable. I've been having a lot of fun with it the past couple days now. -30-

Wednesday, July 06, 2016 10:14 AM - OK, here we go with the story of our visit to the trolley museum yesterday.

Mike (KC2EGL) arrived here a little past 9AM and we took off for the museum around 9:30AM. It was an uneventful trip during which we played the alphabet game for the first part. Then noticing a lot of out of state license plates as they passed us on the 4-lane highway, we decided to see how many different states we could see - sort of a WAS on wheels. HI We wound up with somewhere around 20 states plus Ontario. Amazingly for us, we only missed one turn at the very end which was quickly corrected. We arrived at the museum greeted by this entrance (below L). After browsing the gift shop and the small displays in the building, we watched a ten minute movie about trolley history. A longer version of the movie was available in the gift shop and I purchased it. After all of that it was just time for the tour to begin. It was pretty much a private tour as Mike and I were the only ones on that particular tour. That gave us a chance to really interact with the conductor and motorman as we rode on the approximately one mile tour. As you can see in the view out of the front window (R), we had a shower in progress for our ride. That didn't dampen any enthusiasm though.

pix_diary_20160706_001 (41K)  pix_diary_20160706_002 (41K)

It was a spacious trolley as you see here. Note the period advertisements above the windows.
pix_diary_20160706_003 (67K)  pix_diary_20160706_004 (51K)

We stopped in the middle of the tour to see all the trolleys in the main exhibit building. Our trolley we rode is shown here (L) waiting to take us back to the main museum building. The right hand picture gives an idea of the size of the trolley exhibits.
pix_diary_20160706_005 (50K)  pix_diary_20160706_006 (45K)

At left below is an old horse-drawn trolley. At right a newer one, but still quite old.
pix_diary_20160706_007 (54K)  pix_diary_20160706_008 (48K)

Here are two pictures of the trolleys I was very familiar with since I saw them in Pittsburgh all the time when I worked there. I must say I can't recall ever riding one though since they were on routes to places I never needed to go. My commuting was done via buses.
pix_diary_20160706_009 (61K)  pix_diary_20160706_010 (50K)

I'm not sure what era this fares table is from, but it is from a trolley in the Philadelphia area as you can tell from the SEPTA label. Finally a picture of what eventually doomed the trolleys to extinction. It also dealt a severe blow to longer distance rail travel. Sad, as I always enjoyed travelling via train as well as watching them travel here through Kittanning only a few dozen yards from my house.
pix_diary_20160706_011 (46K)  pix_diary_20160706_012 (54K)

All in all as I told the conductor and motorman it was an extremely enjoyable tour. As we arrived back at the main building, we found a group of about a dozen folks awaiting the next tour, so we were lucky to have had our own 'private' tour. After another look around the gift shop, and my purchase of a book about the museum, we headed home again, stopping at the Butler Ponderosa to raid their buffet. HI

At home, we finalized and submitted our NAQCC N3AQC Field Day report. Then went to my shack to examine the bands to see if we could find any DX (we didn't) or any 13 Colonies special event stations. Mike found and worked a couple. I didn't find VA or NY which were the only two I needed for a sweep. (I did find and work VA later that evening.) We closed out the very enjoyable day by watching 4 Our Gang films.

In addition to the VA 13C station I also worked J75KG later that evening to keep the DX streak going.

Sometime in the next couple entries I'll talk about and show pictures of my 'popsicle key'. -30-

Tuesday, July 05, 2016 9:22 PM - A really great day today, but with somewhat of a discouraging ending. First the bad news.

Where is K2A NY hiding out? I worked K2B this evening for colony #12, but I've still only heard K2A in NY briefly since the 13C event started. Hopefully sometime before the event ends tomorrow evening, I can find and work K2A.

Where is all the good DX? Nothing but a couple very weak DX stations heard this evening, so the streak is in jeopardy again. It is getting more and more discouraging. Maybe I was spoiled by how easy it was to work DX the past three years.

Mike and I had a great time at the trolley museum today seeing all the old historical trolleys and even riding one for what I guess was around a mile or so.

I picked up some interesting books, pamphlets, and a video there. We also took some great pictures. I'll distill all that info and present it along with the popsicle key info over the next few days here in the diary. -30-

Monday, July 04, 2016 9:14 PM - I hope you all had a great Fourth. I had a quiet one here, but a busy one. It started out with helping Ange water his garden, then some brunch. After that I cut my hair. I don't know if I've mentioned this before, but I haven't been in a barber shop since 1972. Since then I've cut my own hair. Imagine the money I've saved over the years.

I flew my flag today - the one I've talked about before that covered my dad's coffin 52 years ago. I didn't know if I would fly it or not since there was rain predicted, but although it did rain, it wasn't windy and the flag stayed dry under my porch awning.

Other little things helped pass the time like walking Roscoe, playing some computer games, and the like.

I did have one good ham related project today. Some time ago I started to build a straight key out of popsicle sticks. Then it just sat around as an unfinished project for quite a while. However I did plan it out in my head from time to time during that period, and today I continued the project almost to completion. Still a little tweaking to do, but I did make a QSO with it this evening and it worked nicely. Tomorrow will be a busy day, but hopefully I'll have some pictures of the key in the Wednesday diary entry.

It looks like Mike and I will have a good weather day tomorrow for our visit to the trolley museum. Hopefully I'll have some pictures of that in the diary also. I don't have to worry about my DX QSO since I worked OM5XX on 20 meters this evening. I also worked GA and MD in the 13 colonies event. That makes 10, leaving VA, ME, and DE to have all 13. Still two more days to go, so maybe I'll make it, but if not, no big deal.

Well, time now to walk Roscoe and visit with Bruce for a bit. -30-

Sunday, July 03, 2016 9:05 PM - A rather nice quiet day today with a fitting end right now in a beautiful sunset. Nothing out of the ordinary happened today. Looking forward to Tuesday when Mike and I will be visiting a trolley museum in SW PA. So hopefully the DX QSO will come easily tomorrow evening.

Kind of a strange DX QSO this evening. VP5/W5RF was quite strong, but wasn't hearing me, and I wasn't hearing the stations he was working. I thought maybe he was operating split so I listened up and still couldn't hear anyone he was working. So finally I gave up. However a little later I found him again and this time he did say UP so I called him split and got him fairly easily after sending my call a couple times. I really wish DX stations would say UP more often so we would know for sure they are operating split. Of course if you see (panadapter) or hear a pileup calling UP, then you know, but often conditions are such, like tonight, that it is not possible to hear any of the stations the DX is working and you can't tell if he is working split or not. Anyway, day 1,122 is taken care of for the DX streak.

I just took a couple sunset pictures. Let me see how they turned out, and if they are good, I'll share one here. Well, actually one from last night is nicer. Here it is to close the entry.
pix_diary_20160702_002 (19K)


Saturday, July 02, 2016 8:48 PM - I had my first garden salad today - one Siberian tomato and two peppers.
pix_diary_20160702_001 (62K)

The tomatoes are over a month late, but I think that's about the earliest I have had peppers. Sure tasted good anyway.

An interesting hodge podge of QSOs this evening. A rather unusual DX QSO in PP5NY on 40. I usually don't work Brazil all that well on 40. I guess with it being winter down there and the QRN probably low helped. Also with the lower sunspots now, 40 (and lower bands) is better now. It was a very easy QSO with only one repeat needed.

Then I added two more colonies in NH (he was QRP) and SC for a total of 8 now. It would be nice to get all 13 but I'm not really going to try all that hard. Also another Fourth related station in WM3PEN was worked.

Another good walking day with partly cloudy skies, a bit breezy, and a high (on my remote) of just 78 degrees. Now it's time to walk out back and get my 9PM weather readings. -30-

Friday, July 01, 2016 8:50 PM - As propagtion conditions decline with the approaching sunspot minimum, it gets harder and harder for my minimal QRP signals to be heard in DX countries. I really hate to make some ops go through so much to make the QSO, but I thank them sincerely when they do hang in there with me. Also I don't blame those who don't hang in.

Two cases in point. IZ4ZZB on 20 copied me (I believe) as K4?, but gave up after only a couple tries. At least the timing seemed to indicate it was me he was hearing although it could have really been a K4. Anyway he never hung in long enough to work me (or the K4).

Second case in point. YV5IUA on 30 started with K3? and progressed through K3WP, K2WAP, K3WMP before he got K3WWP. He never gave up until he was certain he copied me correctly. I must have sent my call at least 12-15 times or so. I thank him very much for that.

It was a beautiful day today with a lot of sun, breeze, and a high of 82 degrees. Good for about 8.5 miles of walking doing my first of month chores or just plain walking. I never did get on the air today since I got my DX QSO from 6Y7R late last night on 30 meters.

In addition to YV5IUA this evening, I also worked a few (5) of the 13 Colonies special event stations - K2C RI, K2D CT, K2M PA, K2H MA, K2I NJ. Strangely all on 20 meters as it was in short skip for whatever reason. All 5 stations were strong and I got three of them with but a single call - a couple through pileups. -30-

Thursday, June 30, 2016 9:24 PM - Yet another of those all too frequent evenings when the question is asked - Will today be the end of the DX streak. Even with the RAC contest in full swing, nary a workable DX station was found. Those that were strong enough to work were engaging in S&P so I couldn't even try them. About the closest I came to making contact was with HP1RIS who was not in the contest. However he couldn't copy beyond WP. So the morning and afternoon will determine the fate of the streak. I did work VE1DT to at least keep the big streak going.

I've got most of my end of month stuff done with only about an hour needed tomorrow morning to finish it off. So at least I'll have a lot of time to look for that elusive DX station.

I did my June LoTW upload today and found that along with the eQSL I got earlier, I now have a LoTW confirmation from D2BE (new prefix and band country). Band countries are getting few and far between now with over 1,100 already worked.

Well, got to run now to walk Roscoe. -30-

Wednesday, June 29, 2016 8:33 PM - The DX streak was handled quickly this evening. I heard a DX type exchange on 14031, and when they finished I threw in my call and got a WW?, then a WWP?, finally K3WWP 559. I gave out a generous 579 and the QSO was over. Now who did I work? After another QSO he identified himself as MD0CCE. So at 0002Z another month of daily DX QSOs went in the books. That's 1,218 days now.

Other than that not much exciting to talk about. I did get the WPA Chapter News about FD and our other June activities ready for the July NAQCC Newsletter. That and my own personal June news as well. Regular daily activities covered the rest of the day.

Oh, I already got an eQSL today for my D2EB QSO of 2 days ago. -30-

Tuesday, June 28, 2016 12:24 PM - OK, it's picture day in the diary. I distilled about 50 pictures down to 13 which will go in the July NAQCC Newsletter. Here in the diary, I'll stick to just my pictures. You can see Tom and Mike in the Newsletter when it comes out next week.

I'm not going to make any attempt to format the presentation in a fancy way. I'll just present the pictures with brief comments on each if necessary.

Here's Mike's tent in which we spent our 18 or so hours operating time.
fd2016_001 (110K)

This is my setup with the KX3/PX3 on my homebrew stand, laptop with GenLog on it, Bencher paddle, phones, fan, light, and battery.
fd2016_003 (83K)

My antenna (hard to see the inverted vee wires) by itself and then with me standing next to it to give an idea of its height. I'm 5' 9" tall.
fd2016_006 (75K)fd2016_010 (80K)

Finally me churning out QSOs. The picture was taken through the bug netting of the tent.
fd2016_011 (153K)

It sure was a lot of fun. I hated to see it come to an end Sunday afternoon. Let's look at some of my stats. Again as with the pictures, these are my stats. Tom and Mike's will be in the Newsletter.

Everything here is from 40 meters only.

Total QSOs - 382
States worked - 39 (missed AK AZ HI ID MT NV OR SD UT WA WY)
ARRL Sections - 54
Provinces - 3 (NB ON QC)
Top 5 classes: 2A-75 3A-69 1D-45 1E-32 4A-30
Top 5 hours: 1800-50 2300-35 1900-34 2200-25 0100-24 Average per hour-21.2
Amount of enjoyment - too much to calculate. -30-

Monday, June 27, 2016 8:24 PM - I got a ton of FD pictures from Tom. It's going to take a while to pick and edit them, so I'll put that off here in the diary until I do the same for the NAQCC July newsletter. Probably do that tomorrow or Wednesday.

Not only did I rather quickly (0006Z) extend the DX streak this evening, but it was a new band-country to boot. I thank D2EB for sticking with me for a couple minutes to make the QSO on 10105. He wasn't all that strong here and I'm sure I was even weaker there in Angola.

Other than that, not a lot to write about today. Mostly getting caught up on things after being away for a good part of the weekend.

One thing of note. I remade my straight key/bug connector to the KX3. It had been giving me some trouble lately, so I just made a whole new one today from an old computer HD cable. I described the process in the diary and NAQCC newsletter a couple years ago. Let's see if I can find it in case anyone is interested. OK, it's in the Diary Archives for 2012 - the entry near the top for December 19. -30-

Sunday, June (25 &) 26, 2016 7:04 PM - Yes, for the first time in ages there was no diary entry for yesterday because of a day occupied almost fully with FD.

The three of us (me, Mike, and Tom) had a real ball over the weekend. First rough count shows 614 QSOs bettering our 562 of last year despite not having 10 meters (dead) and having very little on 15 meters (almost dead most of the time). 40 and 20 were the workhorse bands with 80 and 15 adding a small share to the final total. Another rough count shows we lacked NV, KL7, KH6 for a Worked All States.

As was the case last year, Tom and his wife were great hosts and caterers making sure we didn't lack comfort or food. In fact I gained a few pounds over the weekend that I'll have to work off now. So a great big thanks to Tom and Debbie again.

We took a lot of pictures and after they are selected and edited, I'll have some here in the diary and also in the July NAQCC newsletter.

Right now I'm going to cut this short as my brain is tired from some 17-18 hours at the key. -30-

Friday, June 24, 2016 8:58 PM - That big sigh of relief you may have heard at 0046Z this evening was from me after CO6DE answered my call on 40 meters. So that takes care of the first of two very rough days for the DX streak with my participation in FD over the weekend. Hopefully I can get my DX between 1900 and 2400Z Sunday after we wrap up FD.

Yet another busy day today with cutting my grass, working in my and Ange's gardens, getting in some good walking since I will be sitting a lot over the weekend at the FD site.

Time now to get my temperature readings. It was a mid-80s day today with a lot of sunshine. Looks to be the same for FD. Much better than the deluge we endured for 2015 FD. Only problem this year may be a bit of heat as it is supposed to be around 90 on Sunday. -30-

Thursday, June 23, 2016 8:45 PM - Another full busy day. I guess you could call it an in-between day. Mike was here for FD setup and a couple other projects. We had to work in-between some heavy rain showers and also in-between my taking care of Roscoe since Bruce was away most of the day also.

We managed to get everything done though without getting wet and without neglecting Roscoe. Shortly after Mike arrived and I walked Roscoe for the first time and gave him his breakfast, we headed west to Chicora to set up at Tom WB3FAE's big yard behind his house. Actually his mother-in-law's house, but that's another story not for here and now. We first set up Mike's big tent. That went smoothly with no glitches and took maybe 20-30 minutes. Next it was Mike's antenna. He recently bought a new mast for his inverted vee and this was the first time to use it. That setup went smoothly as well with some adjusting of the ends of the vee. So it was on to my antenna. Tom loaned me a mast for my inverted vee, and Mike and I set that up pretty smoothly as well. Just as we finished the rains came. Oh, Tom had to work today so he couldn't help us.

We were going to check out Moraine Park near Butler after our setup, but with the rain and the fact that neither Mike nor I knew much about the park whereas Tom does, we decided to wait till Sunday after FD when Tom could accompany us. We are going to try to activate the park, or actually a trail that runs through the park, as a NPOTA for the Skeeter Hunt in August.

Instead we came back home driving through a heavy rain just about all the way from Chicora to Kittanning. It did stop at Kittanning though. So I took Roscoe out for his second walk. Next we took off down to Best Buy in the Pittsburgh Mills so I could return an item. Mike had to get something at Lowe's which is right next to Best Buy. Again we ran into some heavy rain as we got near the Mills, but after a couple minutes wait in the car till it stopped, we got our business done and headed home. We arrived home just as Bruce and his brother were also arriving. We chatted with Bruce for a while, then basically just fooled around for an hour or two till Mike had to head home since he has to work tomorrow. We tried working some DX especially A45XR and EA6/EI6DX. Actually Mike tried since I didn't really need them. However we just weren't being heard at all by them or a couple other stations.

This evening my DX came fairly easily although it took about a half hour during which I had a rag chew with VE3LFN for my regular streak QSO. I found excellent op Gio IK2DAD on 30 meters, and after a handful of repeats for him to get my call correct, my DX QSO was in the books. Gio has either excellent ears or a great receiving location or probably both since even though he is rather weak (559 tonight), he copies me and most important of all, he sticks with me (or other stations) until he gets me in his log correctly.

So after two busy days in a row, I hope to take it easy tomorrow before FD on Saturday and Sunday. Oh, we didn't get any pictures of setup today because of the weather catching up to us. We hope to get some on Saturday when the weather is supposed to be beautiful (also on Sunday). -30-

Wednesday, June 22, 2016 8:07 PM - This was one of those busy days from getting up this morning till now and beyond. Most of the morning I helped Ange with his garden. Then walking Roscoe a few times. Giving my own garden a good watering. Cleaning up some things around the house, and so on. Now I'm waiting for Mike to arrive with a pizza. Then we'll fool around in the NAQCC mW sprint and make some final plans for setting up our FD station tomorrow. The weather looks a little better for that each time they update the forecast. I just hope they don't regress now. If it goes as planned, most of the rain should be over with in the morning leaving us plenty of time to get set up. After that we're going down to Best Buy for Mike to get something and me to get a refund for something.

I got my wish of a quick DX QSO this evening so I wouldn't have to worry about it during the day tomorrow. I worked OM5XX with a single repeat at 0002Z on 14028 which was the same frequency on which I worked MW0BEW last evening. So that's 1,211 days in the books now for DX. Also just 6 days till I hit 8,000 days for the big main streak.

Maybe Mike will have something to add to the entry. He hasn't ghost-written anything lately. -30-

Tuesday, June 21, 2016 8:32 PM - As I just said in an email to Tom WB3FAE, the UK seems good on 20 this evening. Worked MW0BEW for my DX streak QSO, then heard MD0CCE (but didn't work him - save him for tomorrow evening if condx are the same and he is there - HI) very strong. In contrast 9A1TESLA was very weak from east Europe.

Mike, Tom, and I have been exchanging a ton of emails about FD and our setup day on Thursday. Looks like questionable weather for Thursday, but a nice but pretty warm weekend. It will be just Tom and I on Saturday, then Mike will join us on Sunday. So it may be rough to match or top our 562 QSOs from last year. Especially with the sunspot cycle a few notches further toward the upcoming minimum. We probably won't have much on 10 meters nor a whole lot on 15. 20 and 40 will be the workhorses and 80 depending on how we work the evening schedule and how much QRN there is on that band. Whatever, it will be fun.

Oh, we got our Skeeter Hunt number for the NAQCC stations N3AQC today from Larry W2LJ. It's 76 - that's the spirit! -30-

Monday, June 20, 2016 11:34 AM - I'm getting a bit disenchanted with the DX streak. First with declining propagation conditions it is taking up more and more time to find (especially) and work (not too hard when found) a DX station. Second I'm winding up with a lot of repeat QSOs with the same stations as seemingly more and more DX stations are skipping getting on the bands with the poor conditions. Especially the casual stations who used to get on a lot when sunspots were up and conditions good. Related to those two is the lack of available bands for DX. There's virtually nothing on 15, 12, and 10 unless a big contest is going on, and even then not a lot of activity. That leaves 20 and 17 for DX during the daylight hours and 40 (although noisy now), 30, and 20 (sometimes) in nighttime hours.

However I am pretty sure I will keep at it until I just can't work anyone some day. Today I did work Ralph XE1RK on 20 meters at 1526Z. He was running 1KW to a 7 element beam which he swung in my direction. Even with that he was S8 at best with dips down to S4 or S5. I'm not sure how much gain a 7 element beam has, but remember the gain adds to my 5 watt signal strength as received there. Probably with a lesser antenna, Ralph might not have heard me at all.

Patience and stations like Ralph's are what it is going to take to keep the DX streak going through the beginning, depths, and finish of this sunspot minimum. It will be interesting if my patience holds, to see just how far the streak will last. -30-

Sunday, June 19, 2016 2:37 PM - I said something a while ago either here in the diary or elsewhere akin to, "anything worth having is worth working for." I do firmly believe that and I would much sooner put forth a little effort to achieve something than having it come too easily. It means much more that way. I guess that's one of the big attractions to QRP for me. Anyway, my DX streak QSO today was definitely earned. As it was last night, the only stronger DX stations were those working the AA contest and not being in Asia, it was rough having to pass them by. All the Asian stations were weak - S3 to S4 at best. So it took quite an effort and several periods of checking 20, 17, and 15 during the day before I found XE2HOE on 17 meters. He was decently strong on peaks, but QSB was rough taking him down to S3 and up to S5 or S6. I thought I'd give him a try anyway. The first time I called, I got no sign at all that he heard me. After he called CQ again, I called and got a question mark. I called again repeating my call a couple times and he now got K3?. After sending my call three more times, it was K3WW? and he gave his info and turned it back to me. I came back with my call 4 times and sent my info. He copied me solidly thanking me by name, getting my call correct, and saying something about PA. So it wasn't easy, but day 1,207 is in the books. With each of these rough days, I'm convinced more and more that the streak is not going to last all that much longer. Being busy with Field Day this coming weekend will make Saturday and Sunday rough days. I'll be in Chicora much of the time and may have to get my DX from there. I think the antenna setup there will be better than at home here, so that may help me sneak off to a WARC band and work someone from DX-land. Or maybe work a KH6 in FD. We'll see. -30-

Saturday, June 18, 2016 8:45 PM - Time to ask the question again, "Will this be the end of the DX streak?" Most all the good DX this evening was in the AA contest, so I couldn't work them. Then as for the AS stations themselves, none were strong enough to work, especially with the stream of stations calling them. So I'll have to see what tomorrow morning or afternoon brings. To make matters worse, my local noise seems to be back again although not quite as strong. -30-

Friday, June 17, 2016 8:45 PM - A very nice day today after the rain of yesterday departed. So nice, I even went fishing with my neighbor Denny. We didn't catch anything, but it was nice just sitting outside enjoying the weather.

It was looking like another DXless evening tonight. The AA contest was on, but except for P3X in Cyprus everyone was quite weak. P3X had a constant stream of callers. I couldn't get a dot in edgewise. HI. There was nothing on 17. 15 had a strong PY, but he was in the AA contest so I couldn't work him. 12 and 10 were dead. So after working WB2YRL on 40 for my regular streak QSO, I looked around on 30 and found CP4BT who was not all that strong. SA is not really my best continent especially around or below the equator, but I called anyway and after he worked someone else, I got him with a couple repeats, so the DX streak goes on as well. -30-

Thursday, June 16, 2016 5:39 PM - A lot of things seem to get in the way of a lot of things. One thing that had other things get in the way of it was this email from Van WC5D (ex-K3ZMI). I think I did mention it briefly back near the applicable date of May 2, but I'd like to do more about it now. May 2 was the 50th anniversary of the first ever CW County Hunters Net session. If you've never done so, you can read about how the net got started those many years ago in the CTY HUNTING section of my web site.

I guess Van would be the number three person after me and Dave WA8EOH helping the net to get started and keep going. I think his thoughts presented here are very interesting and a worthwhile addition to the history of the net. So without further ado (as they say).

"My recollections of those 1st days:

Paul W8CXS put out a new county in MI Parks every Saturday morning with plenty of callers for a new county and stimulated Saturday CW county hunting, I think. [meanwhile] John K3WWP and Dave WA8EOH had been discussing a [CW] County Hunting Net operation.

I learned of this in a QSO on 4-18-66 with K3WWP and encouraged that he continue with the plan. I got a postcard in the mail from John that he would call the first net session on May 2, 1966.

In the mean time I'd been monitoring & checking into the traffic handling net for Maryland & Delaware (MDD) with one of the NCS Andy K3JYZ later W3XE.

The big day came on Monday May 2, 1966 on 40M CW 7035. I scurried home from High School and checked into the 1st ever CW County Hunter Net session run by K3WWP at 1854Z and stayed on until 1958Z.

The next 3 days WA8EOH was NCS, along with K3WWP with much later sessions. I think he began about 2300Z. Somewhere in those first 3 days, I volunteered to be NCS for the 1st ever Saturday session for May 7th, 1966 1400Z

So, loosely based on traffic handling, I asked for QNI and just called "CQ County Hunter Net All Welcome". A few check-ins was all. 2nd weekend 1430Z had 16 check-ins and several visitors handed out their counties.

It was a fun summer being NCS on Saturdays, participation grew, until I went off to college.

CW mobile was almost non-existent, so everyone was encouraged to bring stations to the net to give out their county, along with my solicitations with All Welcome.

Amazingly enough, many youngsters and young adults, way back in the 60's and early 70's that were interested in CW county hunting are still around today. Here is a few that come to mind, sorry if I missed you K0DEQ, W9MSE ex-K0WNV, W8WVU, W0GXQ, W3DYA, N9QS, WB2ABD, K8IW ex WA8JDW, K1BV ex K1GUD.

John K3WWP moved on from County Hunting to CW QRP and "The Streak" among other "All CW" activities and remains very active daily. Explore his website.

This "County Hunting" thing has been a thread on & off in my life, I've enjoyed it immensely, co-existing along with many of my other interests.

We have a come a long ways since those humble beginnings!!

73 & GH
USA-CA 1092 All CW #71"

Actually to be completely accurate, that was forwarded to me by Van after he had posted it elsewhere with links to the pertinent CH pages on my site.

Those early CH net years seem like they occurred back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, maybe even on another planet somewhere. Still with all that separation, I can still remember them distinctly as another phase in my life. I never did go on to get all the counties as Van (and many others) did over the years. Of the 3,077 current USA counties, I've worked 2,247 overall including those from the 1960s when I ran more than 5 watts, and 1,894 with QRP power levels.

Some may disagree with me when I say I think the overwhelming abundance of mobile operation for working counties took a lot out of the "hunting" aspect of county hunting. Now it's just a matter of sitting in the net waiting for someone to drive through a county they need. I fondly remember using the callbook, PO publication POD26, and the quick lookup in the callbook to get a city then to the POD26 to see what county that was in. If you got quick enough you could do it all while the fellow was calling CQ, then if it was a new county, give him a call. If not, move on to the next CQ. That is what "hunting" counties was all about. But then, I've always thought that working hard to earn something was a great alternative to more or less having that something handed to you. -30-