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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.

2016-03-01 01:00:00 GMT-04:00 TILL SPRING ARRIVES

Saturday, February 06, 2016 7:45 PM - The bands are sure busy this evening with at least 3 contests, a couple DXpeditions, and nets. About the only place that was empty was the low end of 40 where I worked CO2IR and parts of 30 where I worked CO3ET. At least my DX streak is secure and the two Cubans gave me several letters towards the NAQCC February challenge.

It was kind of a do nothing day today. No precipitation, and partly cloudy, but chilly in the 30s. Nice to have days like that in February, especially remembering the s#$wy bitter cold February last year. The rest of the month looks pretty good also if the AccuWeather outlook turns out accurate.

I resurfaced my ham shack desk today. That is I replaced the old place mats that covered the many nicks and dents of the desk that also served as somewhat of a workbench over the years. The old place mats had their protective coating peeling off which was annoying. So I peeled them off, and pasted (glued) on two new ones.

Other than that and listening to the AM BC for new stations, I didn't really do much except play some computer games and walked Roscoe a couple times. Well, I guess I did a little more than I thought. HI. -30-

Friday, February 05, 2016 7:44 PM - How can you (GENERALLY) tell it is a DX station you are listening to even before he signs his call?

1. DX stations almost never have long (or even short) on-air tune up periods before they start calling CQ. So if you hear someone with a key down period, it's probably not a DX station.

2. DX stations almost never call a long string of CQs before identifying themselves. If you hear a string of 4 or more CQs, it's probably not a DX station.

3. The vast majority of DX stations (with a few noteable exceptions) have very good easy to copy fists. If you hear sloppy CW, it's probably not a DX station.

4. If you catch something ending in PSE K, it probably is a DX station. That phrase is generally used only by DX stations although as with all these 'rules', there are exceptions.

5. If you hear a series of calls and 599s without the station identifying himself, it's probably a DX station. Or it could be you're listening to a contest in which case it could be DX or not.

6. If you hear something ending in UP, UP 1, etc., chances are very good it is a DX station you're hearing. Probably the most sure of these items, in fact.

7. If you hear an exchange ending in CIAO, DSW, GCS and other such abbreviations, you're almost certainly listening to a DX QSO involving an Italian, Russian, Spanish speaking station respectively. It could be either end of the QSO using them though.

Using the above, I can generally tell if it is DX or not, and if it is not, I'll move on to someone else, and maybe check back if I don't hear anything else to be sure it is not DX.

Of course, unless we are in a sunspot maximum or you have a super great receiving setup, the signal strength can sometimes be a giveaway. If someone is 20 over S9 here on 80, 40, or 30 mostly, I'm virtually certain it's not DX. On the other hand, even with my poor receiving setup here, I have heard DX on the higher bands who were 20 or even higher over S9 when conditions were just right.

Of course in the above, I'm referring mainly to W/VE stations doing the listening and the rest of the world being the DX stations.

DXing is a real chess match, and the more little tricks you can put up your sleeve, the better the chance of finding and working DX.

I've now done so for the past 1,073 days after working PJ2/DL9NBJ on 30 meters several minutes ago. It was hard for me to copy him through my noise, but nonetheless the QSO was made and is in the books. Right after I worked him, he said QSY 40 and was gone, so I lucked out there. Out of curiosity I went to 40, but couldn't hear him there. -30-

Thursday, February 04, 2016 8:52 PM - Mission accomplished for the 1,072nd straight day. Working a DX station of course with QRP/CW/simple wire antennas in a poor location. You too, can do the same. Just give it a try. You don't need a KW/beam/hilltop location. I've proved that. Don't think you can't work DX with your situation, no matter how poor you think it is. YOU CAN.

OK, my Knute Rockne disguise off now. Tonight after working Larry KA2DDX near Buffalo, NY and hearing about the miracle up there - no s#$w on the ground, right, no s@#w on the ground in Buffalo in early February, I went searching for my DX QSO. Took a while to find and work FG/F5HRY, but I made it.

Oh, there's also no s#$w on the ground here, and the 65 degree reading this month is 81 degrees warmer than the coldest reading last February when we hit -16 twice. What a difference a year makes. I love it. Speaking of temperatures, time to get my readings now, so I'll close. -30-

Wednesday, February 03, 2016 1:42 PM - My DX came quickly last night in a nice catch - DP1POL in Atka Bay, Antarctica on 30 meters. It took only a couple calls to land him. That prompted me to think that I do work Antarctica pretty easily even though sometimes SA is difficult. So I probably could work VP8SGI except for a couple things. Whenever I hear them, which isn't often, they are very weak down in my noise and I probably couldn't even tell if they were coming back to me or not even assuming I would know exactly where to call in their mile-wide pileups.

So with the DX in hand, I thought I'd get on today and try for some letters for the NAQCC February challenge. I worked IK3VUT and K8QBS before shutting down to go out for a walk in our 59 degree weather. It just jumped up another degree after I got home, and is now 60. Great weather for February. Maybe Phil knows of what he speaks. Let's hope so anyway, and keep our winter s#$wfall under 10 inches total. -30-

Tuesday, February 02, 2016 11:43 AM - Despite the sunshine, Phil didn't see his shadow. I guess he was still asleep when they dragged him out of his hole. Anyway, for what it is worth, that's good news for us winter-haters. Spring weather will be here early this year. Well, at least there's about a 40% chance of that.

Morning continues to be the time to get DX lately, and I suspect it will be that way for another couple months or so. After that, with the longer periods of daylight in the northern hemisphere, the bands from 20 on up should stay open after the 0000Z hour. Although the openings won't be as good as the past couple years as solar activity declines.

So to keep the DX streak alive, it will be a matter of balancing times when it will be easiest to find and work DX. Of course that doesn't matter to those with great locations, big antennas, high power, etc. However for a minimal QRP station like mine, it is much more of a chess game to find and work DX, especially now with the aforementioned decline in solar activity and consequent decline in good propagation conditions.

Anyway as of today, the streak is still alive after working IK0YVV on 20 meters at 1532Z. That's another thing to note. 20 meters is becoming better in the morning for DX as the ionospheric absorption decreases with the declining solar activity. As we head toward the minimum and gradually lose 15, 12, and 10 meters, and 17 becomes iffy and intermittent, 20 will be the major player in keeping my streak alive. Oh, 30 and 40 will help out also. -30-

Monday, February 01, 2016 8:26 PM - Well, tomorrow several furry creatures become weather prognosticators and tell us how soon we can enjoy the coming of spring. Probably the most famous is one right here in Pennsylvania - Punxsutawney Phil. Famous not for accuracy but because he seems to have the best publicity agents. I read somewhere that his accuracy is only 39 percent. Actually compared to some human and computer predictions, that's really not all that bad if it is true. Even the best computers with some human help find it difficult to make accurate predictions beyond maybe a couple weeks at best. Just look at the long range outlooks (they don't even call them forecasts) made by such weather businesses as AccuWeather, Intellicast, and the granddaddy of them all, the National Weather Service. Pick a specific forecast for say a day two weeks in the future. Let's use February 15 as an example. Just watch how the outlook for that day changes almost daily as the day approaches and may be only really accurate when the target day is only 24-48 hours away. And here is Phil and his kin around the country making a forecast for the next six weeks with no opportunity to change it as the six weeks go by. If it is indeed 39 percent accurate, that's darn good, I'd say.

OK enough of that. I'm sure you know how Phil's forecasts are actually made so I won't go into that. Let's talk about the ham bands. Once again this evening, they are rather poor. There was some DX on 40, but very weak right at my noise level. I did try 8P0P, but he was working mostly European stations, so I only called a couple times and quit. I'm sure a lot of the European stations need 8P much more than I do, so I'll let them work him. Hopefully I can get my DX QSO in the morning or afternoon. I did work Tony N2ATB for the main streak, so that's secure for another day. -30-

Sunday, January 31, 2016 8:02 PM - I want to get to finalizing our NAQCC January sprint stats so this will be a brief entry.

Strange conditions this evening. I was hearing a lot of DX on the lower end of 40 meters including a Russian RN3BL, but none of it was very strong and all with a couple exceptions had fluttery signals. I called several different stations with no response at all from them. Finally I did manage to find and work Peter 8P9NX on 30 meters for the DX streak.

In addition to finalizing the sprint stats, this is also the day for my EOM/FOM work. Fortunately I do have most of it done already except for doing my January weather stats and making a bank run tomorrow morning.

OK, that's it. Now to the sprint stats. -30-

Saturday, January 30, 2016 10:39 AM - My DX came from the REF contest today when I worked F6KHM on 15 meters. I would have liked to work EW1TZ on 17 meters to get that final Z for the NAQCC challenge, but he kept answering other callers so I gave up on him. I'll probably try later in the day for that Z. At least the DX streak is secure.

I did a little more work on my AM BCB loop circuit yesterday, but had some problems getting it to work right and gave up on that. Maybe I'll try some more today. It's interesting how parts for projects keep getting smaller and smaller as we get older. That's not only a facetious statement but is also true in reality. Not only that but old fingers become less and less agile. It takes me several times the time and effort on projects now than in my younger days. Oh well, that's life (from the Frank Sinatra song title).

Time now for some breakfast, then who knows what I'll wind up getting into. I've been working on my music library with the Groove Music app in Windows 10. Maybe I'll add some more songs to that. Or watch some woodworking videos on the Internet. Maybe play some computer games. Looks like a nice mild weather day (40 right now), so maybe some shopping or a long walk also. It's nice to have many varied interests to occupy oneself. -30-

Friday, January 29, 2016 11:00 AM - The bands were very poor, or maybe just unoccupied this morning. I did hear PA1CC fairly strong on 17, but he wasn't hearing me. So I figured I might just try some CQs on 17 for the heck of it. Down in the noise I heard DD5MA, but I wasn't sure he was calling me or just happened to be on the same frequency. I went back to him with a QRZ? and heard his call again. I gave him a report, and he gave a report. I never did hear my call and am not sure we actually worked. I stuck him in the log, but that didn't satisfy me for my streak QSO. I like to be positive about those. So I searched some more and found Bert F6HKA whom I've worked several times. He's a top notch operator and knows me pretty well, so I figured here was my sure QSO. I called and got a K3?, repeated and he got my call. We chatted a couple minutes mostly about the poor conditions. So that was a proper QSO for day # 1,065 in the DX streak.

Now I looked around for someone with a Z in their call to finish the NAQCC challenge, but no luck there nor later when I tried again. I did hear a N4 with a Z at the end of his call but he was weak and was in a very long rag chew, so I didn't wait him out for fear I'd waste all the time and still not have him hear me. So I still need the Z, but have 2 1/2 days to get it, so there is still hope.

So a few minutes ago I gathered up a couple more parts from the junk box for the source follower circuit for my AM BCB loop. Maybe I'll try to put it together later, but now it's brunch time. -30-

Thursday, January 28, 2016 8:17 PM - Same old story tonight. Poor conditions, no DX. Last night was an exception of late. I did get my DX in the 0000Z hour. However I'll have to get on in the morning or afternoon to try to extend the DX streak another day. I did work K8LGY this evening for the regular streak QSO. That QSO also gave me the last two Ls for the NAQCC January challenge. Now all I need is to work a station with a Z in the call to complete it. I didn't think I was that close, but in glancing through my January log while chatting with K8LGY I noticed I had worked N2UU and YV5IUA which gave me 6 Us that I neglected to cross off. Old age, I guess.

I also fooled around with my AM BCB Loop today. I took the coupler from my old big 4 foot loop up in the attic and hooked it between my small loop and the KX3. That seemed to give me better coupling and a gain in signal strength. All it consists of is an FET (MPF102) source follower. Since I have a dozen MPF102s plus the couple other parts needed, I think I'll just build one that's dedicated to my small loop. It can fit in a very small mini-box which I can mount right on the loop support. It'll be nice to build something from scratch. Other than the power pole stuff Mike and I built recently, I haven't done much scratch building in a good long while. -30-

Wednesday, January 27, 2016 11:19 AM - I didn't get my DX last night, but I got a quick one this morning after just a couple minutes in the shack. I worked XE2MVY, then since that went so quick, I thought I'd try to get some letters to try to finish the NAQCC January challenge. I did get a couple letters, but more importantly I had a nice QSO with Peter VE2SO. He is using an indoor magnetic loop antenna and after we talked about how it performs vs. QRN (very well), he emailed me a lot of info about his (and other) loops. I just got it and haven't digested it yet, but that could give me some good leads to help solve my local noise problems here. -30-

Tuesday, January 26, 2016 12:44 PM - To quote (or paraphrase at least) an old-time song, "Oh what a beautiful morning, oh what a beautiful day....." It's 52 degrees on my remote outdoor thermometer right now. I just got back from a walk where I enjoyed watching the s#$w melting and the water running down along the gutters. Is there a more beautiful sight! The analogy came to mind as I was walking that it's like a serious dieter watching the ugly fat melt away. This is the Earth's version of that watching the ugly s#$w melting away. Take a look at this picture I took a little while ago and compare it to the one taken a couple days ago.
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Lovely, isn't it? Think I'll go out for another walk. I need to get a couple things at Family Dollar - might as well take advantage of the great weather and go get them. -30-

Monday, January 25, 2016 7:39 PM - Three things tonight. First, thanks to K8ND (aka PJ2/K8ND) for giving me my DX QSO on three of the past seven days on three different bands - 17, 30, and tonight 40. It took a good many calls to get Jeff tonight, but DX streak day # 1,062 is in the books.

Second what do the following mean KWA, EN, NAG? Dissect them in Morse Code and you'll find they are all too common sloppy ways of sending CQ, R, NAME. Don't you often wonder why in a QSO folks will tell you what the name of their horse is? All too often it is NAG IS BILL (BOB, JOHN, etc.). Of course none of us are perfect and some have physical handicaps, but many folks are just plain sloppy in their sending. I'm sure they wonder why they have trouble making QSOs. Maybe that is the answer. Many DX (and DXpedition) stations will tell you it is much easier working a weak signal with perfect code than a stronger station with sloppy code. It's a little late now (or maybe not), but a good resolution for 2016 would be to strive to always send Morse Code as near to perfect as possible. You'll note more and better QSOs in your log at the end of the year.

Third a progress picture on my tomatoes (left bin) and peppers. The tomatoes are smaller but have more developed true leaves. The peppers taller but with only seed leaves so far (well maybe some very tiny true leaves that are hard to see). Then a picture of the blizzard as it played out in Kittanning. We were blessed with only an inch or two of s#$w as shown in the picture taken yesterday. About half of that is gone today after a day in the mid 40s. More will depart overnight and tomorrow as we get some rain and another day in the 40s. Yes, it's been a great winter so far. If the AccuWeather outlook for February holds true, that will be a great s#$w free (almost) mild month also.

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Sunday, January 24, 2016 8:30 PM - A rather quiet Sunday. Since I got my DX last night, I didn't bother getting on the bands during the day today. I didn't do much else either until this evening.

At 0000Z I got on the bands and it took but 3 minutes to find and work PJ2/K8ND for my streak QSO(s).

So I shut down and got to the log cross-checking for last week's NAQCC sprint. It took about an hour and 15 minutes to finish that up. I still have to correct the scores that need changing, then I'll be all done. That should take about a half hour or perhaps a little longer, so I'll get to that now, and then maybe I can go over and watch the last part of the Carolina/Arizona game. -30-

Saturday, January 23, 2016 9:45 AM - I hope you all got through the blizzard OK. Just got an email from Mike and he didn't get any snow up north of here. We got only about an inch or so. Not bad at all. The NWS did a great job of predicting things for our area. Virtually all week we were right on the NW edge of the predicted snowfall. In fact just about all the time, the NW edge split Armstrong County, and that is pretty much how it turned out in the end.

Just took advantage of a contest (the G/EI test?) and worked SN5DX for my streak QSO. The second day in a row now my DX has been from Europe. Hope that's a sign of things to come.

OK, now I'm off to walk Roscoe and then maybe do some preliminary cross-checking of logs from our NAQCC sprint. We still have a few logs to go to make our quota of 100 which we've done for all but 4 monthly sprints since April of 2010. That's 65 of 69 through the December sprint. So I hope we make it this month. -30-

Friday, January 22, 2016 10:47 AM - QRP lesson #76 - never don't (double negative?) call a DX station because you think he's so weak, he'll never hear your QRP signal. After spending maybe a half hour looking for some DX station to work for the streak in the quiet periods when my furnace was off, and finding only DX stations that were chasing the DXpeditions or otherwise engaged, I finally succeeded in extending the streak. Oh, my furnace cycle with the outdoor temperature around 20 is about 10 minutes on and 5 minutes off with its associated QRNN mainly on 17 and 15 meters. Anyway to get back to my point, finally I found a pretty weak (S4 or S5 just at my noise level) F5IAE on 15 meters, and almost didn't call him, not heeding lesson #76. However I did call, and he answered on my first call and copied me solidly, probably better than I was copying him. We exchanged names and a comment on band conditions and I had my DX in the log for consecutive day # 1,058.

We can't judge how the other station is copying us by how we are copying him. I often call DX stations who are well over S9 and well above my noise level who don't even hear a single dit or dah from me. At other times like today, I can call a very weak station barely peeking out of my noise level and have a solid QSO. Some folks are blessed to live in an extremely noise free environment and can copy the weakest whisper from stations calling them. I know it is like that when we operate portable from Kittanning Community Park. There is just no noise at all there. The only QRN comes from distant lightning strikes skipping in, and they are very weak from storms maybe 1,000 miles or more away. Needless to add, with only that kind of noise to deal with, up there I can copy signals who don't even disturb the S-meter from its nap.

Bottom line - call those weak stations, you probably will get a majority of them in your DX log. -30-

Thursday, January 21, 2016 10:43 AM - The sprint was a struggle again last night. I managed only two QSOs although I could have had more. I planned to get on for just one QSO as I said in the previous entry. I did that on 80M, but then decided I'd just look at 40M. Lo and behold, it wasn't all that bad now. However I only worked one more station, then QRT since I didn't have GenLog set up and didn't feel like continuing to log on paper nor setting up GenLog. I can be quite lazy at times. Next month no matter how bad conditions are right before the sprint, I will set up for a normal effort.

Conditions weren't all that great around the country from the looks of the logs. Only those fortunate enough to have big high antennas in a quiet location had the big scores. They are the same ones every month. My problem here is not being heard by others, but me hearing others. If you can't hear 'em, you can't work 'em - plain, simple, and true. The last time I was able to hear because of great propagation and slightly less noise than usual, I easily racked up 43 QSOs here in town with my simple antennas.

Despite the poor sprint results, my DX streak just continued for another day as I worked HK1ANP on 17M to make it 1,057 consecutive days of DX now. The DX streak (and along with it, the regular streak) is now my top ham radio priority, so I'm happy that at least is working out so far. With conditions on a steady decline though, I don't know how long I'll be able to maintain it. -30-

Wednesday, January 20, 2016 7:59 PM - As propagation conditions decline, my local noise keeps getting worse and that is not conducive to making QSOs. If you can't hear 'em, you can't work 'em. About the only strong stations tonight are those in the DX pileups and those in the various nets, and they are all running high power, I'm sure. I spent 55 minutes tonight unable to even get a W/VE QSO, let alone any DX. That doesn't bode well for our NAQCC sprint this evening. I think I'll probably try to get one QSO, then quit unless things miraculously get better by then, which is very doubtful.

At least during the day today I was able to work PJ2/K8ND to keep the DX streak going. Actually that was very early this morning before I helped Bruce take Roscoe to the groomer. Hopefully conditions will permit some DX tomorrow morning also. It is getting more and more discouraging, but I'll still keep going as long as I can. -30-

Tuesday, January 19, 2016 8:26 PM - After a couple busy days with Mike, I didn't do much of anything today. A little housecleaning, some computer work, and the other everyday things. I did have a nice phone call with Tom WY3H for the good part of an hour. He's doing well down in GA. The bands were really poor this evening, except for those KW stations chasing the DXpeditions. I didn't even think I was going to get my regular streak QSO, but after 40 minutes I did find N9HAL calling CQ and worked him. Still no DX. I guess that will come in the early morning or in the afternoon. Mid and late morning will be taken up by helping take Roscoe to the groomers. -30-

Monday, January 18, 2016 8:48 PM - Mike returned at 10:00 this morning. After the usual kibitzing for a while, we started the upgrading of Mike's computers to Windows 10, then went to King's Restaurant for breakfast. Very good food, but poor slow service. Mike and I had pretty much the same thing - pancakes, sausage/bacon, scrambled eggs, hash browns.

Back home again to continue with the Windows 10 upgrades. While that was going on, we walked, and walked, and wal...... That was our daily walking (inside - too cold outside) to kill time while the upgrading was going on. When the upgrades finished Mike checked his computers and found all went well.

Then after talking about some football records comparing the CFL and NFL, it was up to my shack to do some KX3/PX3 comparisons. I wanted to find out where a spurious spike was coming from on the 15 meters display on my PX3. Since it showed up with both my KX3 and Mike's attached, that narrowed it down to my PX3 since the spike did not show up on Mike's PX3. So I'll have to look into that.

We then went to Radio Shack to get a couple accessories for our Lil' Squall setups. I also got some wire to rewind my AM BCB DX loop while we were there.

At home again, Mike ordered a couple parts for his PX3 from Elecraft. Then we rewound my loop followed by a trip to Vocelli's for a large pizza with pepperoni, mushrooms, and tomatoes. Filled up now (for the time being), it was off to my shack for my DX streak QSO. It took a little while to find and work J79M on 40 meters. Mike tried to work him also, but he vanished, so Mike worked CO2IR instead.

Then to close out our visit, Mike played one of my hidden object games on the computer. Now he's sitting in the chair across the room from me helping me write this entry. -30-

Sunday, January 17, 2016 7:22 PM - Mike dropped by for an impromptu visit today. He wanted to go to a benefit dinner at a local fire hall. So we went there and enjoyed ourselves. There wasn't a lot of food, but it was for a good cause. So of course later in the day we were ready for another meal and went to Wendy's for that.

In between we played for a couple hours with the Lil' Squall transceivers we built some time ago. We never did get beyond a brief check back then with a real Rube Goldberg setup at that time. Today we did it up a little better as you can see in this picture below. With Mike's MFJ tuner and SWR meter we got the SWR down all the way to 1:1 and were putting out about two watts using my gel cell battery for power. One strange thing we need to figure out, maybe tomorrow when Mike returns, is why we have a strong 120 Hz hum on the audio. It doesn't seem to be on our transmitted signal. The frequency of our crystal was quite crowded so we didn't get a chance to make any QSOs, maybe tomorrow.
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Well, it still does look a bit like a Rube Goldberg hookup, doesn't it? HI.

After we got home from Wendy's, it was just about time to head to the shack for my streak QSO. It wasn't long till we found a strong YV5IUA on 30 meters. I asked Mike what my odds of getting him were. He said about one in seven. That was a bit pessimistic though, as I got him on the first call. Then a couple minutes later Mike also worked him.

After that with a break in a couple heavy s@#w squalls, Mike headed home for the night, but will be back in the morning to continue on with our craziness. -30-

Saturday, January 16, 2016 8:11 PM - Among my reasons for a DX streak being easier these days vs. many years ago, I neglected to mention a couple more reasons. The use of a panadapter these days is much easier than the equivalent band scanners of bygone days, if they even existed way back when. Also, although I NEVER USE them, there are many more spotters active these days if you are wont to use them, which I'm not. I think I emphasized that enough. The only use I have for spotters is to maybe once a year check some station with very sloppy sending or who QRT without ID after working him. Then a spotter may help to figure out just who I did work.

The Hungarian Contest provided my DX QSOs for the 16th and 17th. This morning it was HG1S on 15 meters, and this evening it was EA5FR on 40 meters. Both easy QSOs to extend the streak another 2 days.

I'm looking forward to a day together with Mike KC2EGL on Monday. No big ham radio projects planned, but we'll find a lot to do nevertheless. I guarantee we won't be bored. We will have to find a new favorite eating place though as the local Ponderosa closed its doors last month. -30-

Friday, January 15, 2016 9:39 AM - When I got my DX streak QSO a few minutes ago from Mike F5IN, I got to thinking about the streak and why it is possible nowadays whereas it might not have been possible many years ago. I came up with several reasons.

In no particular order they are:

The ham population currently is much higher than it ever has been. That may not always be so with the advent of many alternate means of worldwide communication such as the Internet, the great proliferation of portable phones, and the like. I think it is still true now though.

The making of CW a "forbidden fruit" has increased the percentage of that large population to try, like, and use CW.

The ham population on average is much older than ever with a large percentage being retired and having the opportunity to get on the air more often at more different times of day. Especially considering all the different time zones worldwide, that means more DX is available virtually around the clock. Folks in school or still working don't have that opportunity. Back in the 60s when I was first licensed, a large percentage of hams were still of school age and/or working.

Among the increased activity are many stations who can be found and worked very regularly. The aforementioned F5IN is one who comes to mind. There are also CO8LY, V44KAI to mention a couple more. These hams have "big" stations that make it easy for them to copy weaker signals.

Speaking of big stations and equipment, the receiving equipment these days is much better than ever and it doesn't even take a lot of skill to copy weak signals, although skill does help.

I think to reinforce the previous statement, here is a stat about how many different stations I've worked in the current 1,051 days of my DX streak. Total DX QSOs: 5,249 or an average of 5 (4.99) QSOs per day. Different stations: 2,301 which shows clearly it's not a matter of working the same stations over and over again. That's a percentage of 2,301/5,249 = 43.8% being different stations. Stations worked for the first time ever during the streak: 1,307 for 1,307/5249 = 24.9%.

Contests these days draw more participants than ever. Of the 5,249 QSOs, 3,283 were from contests for a percentage of 62.5%.

Remember all info above deals only with DX QSOs from March 1, 2013 through January 15, 2016. All QSOs referred to were made with CW / QRP / simple wire antennas.

Every time I talk about DX and support it with stats, I always like to end with a point. That is anyone who cares to do so CAN work DX regularly even with QRP and simple antennas especially using the wonderful efficient Morse Code / CW. -30-

Thursday, January 14, 2016 5:18 PM - Another mystery of life. Back in July 2014 I bought one of those garden butterflies that are supposed to flutter around when the sun activates the little solar panel on it. Well, it never did work all that well. However lately with the sun about as low in the sky as it can get, I've looked out several times to see it merrily fluttering around. It seldom did that in spring, summer, or fall. Perhaps it's a temperature thing. The hot weather expands the bearings and binds it up? The cold weather shrinks them and frees it up to rotate?

Today was a busy and enjoyable day. Enjoyable because with the temperature in the low to mid 40s a good part of the day, a lot of our s#$w melted revealing the beautiful grass, bricks, roof, etc. Now if we could hold in the 40s or upper 30s, we could lose a lot more overnight and with rain tomorrow, even more. It would be nice to start with a clean slate for the rest of the miserable winter season.

Busy because I spent time getting set up for next week's NAQCC sprint a little earlier than usual since our membership database manager Dave VA3RJ sent out the updated list a couple days early this month.

Busy also because I just finished posting my new poll for Jan/Feb here on the web site. Take a look and cast your vote. The more votes, the more meaningful the results.

So now with most of the work done today, I can fool around until streak time in about 90 minutes. I hope I can get another quick DX QSO this evening. -30-

Wednesday, January 13, 2016 7:40 PM - After a day when a lot of things went wrong, I figured I didn't have a chance to get my DX QSO this evening. However I was wrong and I got a quick one at 0009Z from KP2/N3XF on 40 meters for DX streak day # 1,050. This morning I got another very quick one for day 1,049 from HK1ANP on 17 meters after just a couple minutes in the shack.

What went wrong? I'm not going to list everything here. The big one was last night. Over the 11 years of the NAQCC, I've gotten used to having our 160M sprint the last week of the month as kind of a prelude to the CQWW 160M contest similar to what the QRP ARCI does for the ARRL 160M contest in December. So I almost completely overlooked last night's 160M sprint until the logs started coming in. Then I went to the shack in the last 15 minutes. Didn't make any QSOs, but I did participate and that means I've never missed a NAQCC sprint. As to why it was scheduled so early this month, I don't know as I'm not involved in such matters since retiring as NAQCC VP in 2014. I'll have to ask our new president Paul about that. And not only did I miss the start of the sprint itself, I of course neglected to email the promo for the sprint yesterday.

I think that's all the wrong things I'll bore you with, and get to updating my propagation page and the streak table here on the web site. -30-

Tuesday, January 12, 2016 8:30 PM - No DX again tonight, so I'll have to find time in a busy day tomorrow to keep the streak going. It wasn't easy this morning. The bands sounded pretty dead except for a couple weak DX stations. Finally though I found a strong Ralph XE1RK on 20 meters. It took a few calls to get him, but once he got my call and recognized me from a previous QSO, he turned his 7 element beam in my direction and we had a nice chat. I envy him as it was 15C in Mexico City and 80F in Cozumel. Boy that sounded nice especially since it was just -1C here at the time of our QSO.

We got our first substantial s#$wfall of the season today. I guess about 3-4 inches all told although there was a lot of blowing with the strong winds most of the day. I don't really keep s#$wfall records here, but I would think that was one of the latest first s@#ws in many years. Usually it happens, if not in Oct-Dec, then right at the changing of the years. So hopefully a late start this year will help make it seem not quite as bad as usual. We'll see. -30-

Monday, January 11, 2016 8:54 PM - Well, here we go again. After 4 nights in a row getting a quick DX station in the 0000Z hour, tonight I couldn't get anything. I only heard two DX stations - XR4SURF who is in an area I generally have a little difficulty working, and 8P0P who had a big pileup through which I didn't feel like waiting. I hope I don't regret that as I probably could have gotten Peter had I waited. So I guess it is tomorrow morning or afternoon for the DX. I haven't listened during the day since the 7th, so I don't know how daytime conditions are now.

The big streak was easy when W4HWT answered my CQ on 80 and we had a short rag chew. -30-

Sunday, January 10, 2016 8:10 PM - A tale of two days today. This morning warm and rainy near 50 degrees. This afternoon cold and s$#wy 30 degrees and very windy as the cold front passed through.

My tomatoes and peppers are coming along good. Here are a couple pictures of the setup I'm using this year.
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Top is the rack on which the pots are mounted. As you see, it is sitting right over one of my furnace hot air registers, and behind the cardboard is a light on a timer right now giving them about 10 hours of light a day. The bottom picture is a close-up of the pots. The peppers are in the right container, the tomatoes in the left. Several have sprouted and are a little over an inch tall showing off their seed leaves.

DX wasn't quite as easy tonight as the last three nights, but I did manage to work Jose KP4JFR again on 30 meters at 0046Z. Before that I worked VE1IDS on 80 whose call gave me several letters for our January NAQCC challenge leaving 19 more to get to master the challenge. -30-

Saturday, January 09, 2016 7:31 PM - I notice from my poll results that quite a few of those voting are also into DXing the AM BC Band. Here are a couple of web sites I've found useful in identifying stations. First is the AM Station Search site at http://www.topazdesigns.com/ambc/. It concentrates strictly on USA and Canadian stations on 530-1700 kHz. Second is the MW List at http://www.mwlist.org/. It concentrates on the LW, MW, and Tropical Band stations worldwide. I have only recently discovered these sites. I think my brief description is correct.

Another quick DX station for the third evening in a row now. HP3/WJ2O on 30 meters despite him being right at my local S3-4 noise level. WJ2O was the tenth DX station I worked after returning to the air in 1993. He was then portable in Anguilla. Since then I've worked him in a few other countries as well. Here's a list of all the countries - VP2E, KP2, VP9, J6, VP5, KH6, FS, YN, HP. Wow, I didn't realize there were that many. HI. He may hold the record in that regard. Someday I'll write a query for my Access log and find out. -30-

Friday, January 08, 2016 7:36 PM - Is this the start of something or just a freak happening? My DX QSO this evening was S58N on 30 meters at 0004Z. Also I heard the German RTTY station on the bottom end of 30 for the first time in I don't know how long. Let's see if there is any clue from the Solar/Ionosphere numbers. I haven't looked at them yet tonight. Nothing unusual - SF 109 A Index 8. No clue there. Well, let's just hope it continues. That's the second evening in a row now for a quick DX QSO. Last night it was C6ANM on 30 at 0000Z. It has been nice not having the (self-inflicted) pressure of struggling to get a DX QSO like the past week or so now.

This was also the first cloudy day here after 3 or 4 sunny days in a row. Oh, what's wrong (right?) with this picture taken yesterday?
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You got it. It's January 7 and except for a tiny bit on one roof at left center of the picture, there is not any s#$w to be seen. Ain't it GREAT! Thank you El Nino or whatever, whoever. Keep it up. -30-

Thursday, January 07, 2016 11:50 AM - Ignore the last two paragraphs of this entry written earlier today (it's now 1:35PM). After checking a couple times each hour, I finally found a workable DX station and logged him. It was Mode XE2HOE in La Paz, Mexico on 17 meters. As soon as I called him and he answered, my furnace kicked on, so I had to run downstairs and turn down the thermostat, then run back upstairs. Fortunately he was a slow sender and I only missed my RST report, but got his QTH and Name OK. So now it's 100% of the last 1043 days instead of 99.9+% as I feared it might be.

Now that I've spent a lot of time getting the DX, it's on to other things I need to get done, before we go through this all again tomorrow. HI.

Today may be the day the DX streak grinds to a halt. About an hour of trying this morning yielded not even a ? from the two DX stations I did hear - XE1XR and EG5CWO. Unless a miracle happens in the next 7 hours, that's it. Still, working DX on 1042 of 1043 days is not bad and I continues to show that on most days (99.9+%) you CAN work DX with CW/QRP/simple wire antennas. Even if I do 'fall off the horse" today, I'll get back on tomorrow and try to continue riding or in this case working DX.

Hopefully I can revise this later in the day to report on who I worked for day # 1,043 in the streak. -30-

Wednesday, January 06, 2016 8:13 PM - SOS (same old story) with DX today. Easy in the morning - HK1ANP on 17 meters at 1502Z. Nothing in the evening. The only thing heard was WP4L chasing other DX so I couldn't even try to work him. Had a nice chat with WA7WKY on 80 this evening for the big streak QSO. I guess if the morning goes away now, so will the DX streak. I'll keep trying though.

I got a little better picture of my tomato sprouts today. They are still hard to see, especially mixed in with the white perlite in the potting soil. If you look carefully at the point of the arrows you can just make them out. The single one in the left pot is the easiest to see since it is the biggest and its two seed leaves are partly open. The ones in the other pot look like they may wind up being seedbound.
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Tuesday, January 05, 2016 7:51 PM - Easy DX in the morning, nothing in the evening again today. The last three days my DX has come at 1456, 1455, 1456Z. Today it was SM1ALH from Gotland Island Sweden. That was a new prefix also. Never worked a SM1 before, and still need SM8 and SM9 to complete the SMs.

I didn't hear any DX this evening, but tonight I did hear stations working DX whom I could not hear here. My regular streak QSO this evening came from Bob NR8M in OH.

I neglected to mention I started my tomato and pepper seeds about a week ago. I think it was December 30. Well today I have 4 little tomato sprouts and one little pepper sprout. They were in a hurry this year compared to last year when I had all kind of problems getting them to sprout. This year it is heat (right over a furnace register) and a lot of moisture. That seems to be the key. So if all goes well, I'll again have ripe tomatoes in May which didn't happen last year. If memory serves, I think it was July before I had ripe ones. So we'll see. I did take a picture today of the sprouts, but they are very hard to see in the picture. Maybe when they get a tad bigger, I can get a better picture and post it here. -30-

Monday, January 04, 2016 8:29 PM - I think I'm going to give up chasing DX for a while......... at least in the evenings. Conditions for DX in the 0000-0200Z period have been abominable lately. In looking at my streak table on the main web site page, you'll notice the last seven days I've had to resort to the 1400-1600Z period to work any DX. Looks like today (5th) will be the eighth straight also unless I get something later tonight. Today (4th) it was an easy 12M QSO with 6Y4K at 1455Z. At least no such problems with the big streak although even it has been a bit rough in the 0000-0200Z period. It took about 25 minutes tonight to find and work someone - Pip WB4FDT. We've worked several times in the past but not for quite a while now so it was good to hook up again.

It's the coldest it's been so far this winter right now at 14 degrees headed down to 4 overnight. At least there is only a very light dusting of the white stuff to contend with. It looks like a pretty much s#$w-free week too and that is great.

Today was (as we called it at WPIT) dedecorating day, and all my Christmas stuff is stowed away for another 11 months or so. It sure looks different here in the room. Over there is a corner table where for the last month my tree stood. -30-

Sunday, January 03, 2016 8:18 PM - I spent a good part of the day today updating some of my NAQCC awards. It's quite easy using Access and Excel, but still somewhat time consuming to do some manual tweaking after A & E do their jobs.

It's interesting to see how winter weather seems to always show up during the first couple days of January no matter how beautiful December was. The past couple days have been in the 30s and today we have had some very light s%$w. Thank goodness just a minor dusting on the colder areas - what there are of them after the warm December. I was going to take a picture early today of the beautiful bare grass, streets, sidewalks and post it here, but I procrastinated and now the lovely view is ruined by the ugly white stuff.

My early DX today was easy when I worked LY1G on 17 meters with a single call at 1456Z. Not so easy this evening though. I not only did not hear any DX, but I didn't definitely hear anyone working any DX. So I'll have to count on the morning or afternoon to keep the streak going. The big streak lives on anyway as I worked Dave N9KKY on 80 meters a little while ago.

Now I'm off to get my weekly laundry done so I'll have tomorrow free to see what I can get into besides getting my DX QSO. -30-

Saturday, January 02, 2016 5:47 PM - A busy day today continuing with the end of year / first of year chores. I did my bank visit the first thing this morning after walking Roscoe. Then some web site updating and closing the weather records for the year occupied a good portion of the rest of the day. I also threw in a shopping trip along the way.

My DX QSO came as quick as possible right after the bank visit. Not much on 20, 17, or 15, but there was XE1XR calling CQ on 12 whom I worked with a single call. My first 12 meters QSO in quite some time now.

Last night I learned why I'm getting a cardioid pattern with my small 80 meters loop. I have it connected through my antenna switch and even with the switch in a vacant position, I can hear RF on 80 meters, so that feedthrough is combining with the loop signal to create the cardioid pattern. Now that I know what's causing it, I can work to solve it when some more free time comes along.

BTW, December was 13.1 degrees warmer than normal this (last) year, and was about 5 or 6 degrees warmer than my previous December record since 1959. Let's be a bit more specific. Previous record was 38.8 in 1965. 2015 was 44.1 which broke the record by 5.3 degrees. Even with the warm December, the year wasn't a record setter because the cold February (10.4 below normal) balanced it out somewhat. Still it was 2.5 degrees above normal, third only to 2012's 4.7 and 2011's 3.6 degrees above normal. -30-

Friday, January 01, 2016 9:56 AM - I think the DX streak is becoming more interesting and I am still learning something about propagation along the way. Whenever you learn from something that makes that something worthwhile. Of course at the sunspot maximum about all you had to do is turn on the rig, tune around a bit (with the aid of the PX3 panadapter), and there was your DX. A call or two at the most and the DX was in the log. It's not that way any longer as the sunspots decrease, and it's going to get even worse over the next couple years or so as the cycle bottoms out. However with a little patience and a little time to snoop around the bands, there will still be some DX available to work. Although with my many interests here, time is at a premium, the PX3 saves me a lot of time in checking the bands. Without it, I may give up or have given up already.

Just as an example, let's look at this morning. I turned on the rig and headed to 20 meters. Other than a couple local birdies, only one station showed up there on the PX3, and after a quick listen, it turned out to be non-DX. So it was on to 17 meters. My furnace noise was on, and only one peak showed up above the noise. It was the omni-present KW7D. I wonder how many QSOs there are in his log. I'm sure at the very least 100-200K, probably a lot more. Anyway even when the furnace cycle ended, he was still the only peak, so it was on to 15 meters. There were more peaks there, although none above about S6 or so. As so often happens, as soon as I tune in on a peak, it's gone. That's when Mike and I tell each other we scared away another station. After a couple of those, I found Alex HC2AO. He wasn't very strong, but he's a great op and the path between us always seems to get my QRP signals to him, no matter the band. That's another thing I've known for a long time, but it's being reinforced all the time. It's not only the strong signals that are workable with QRP, but even the weaker ones can be worked a high percentage of the time. So even though someone is just barely peeking (or peaking) out of the noise, I'll try them a couple times anyway, and often a single call is all it takes. That's a good lesson to keep in mind. Back on track again - that's what happened with Alex. My single call got him. We exchanged reports and New Year's greetings and the streak is alive in another year at 1,037 days now.

I wrote this early because it's going to be a busy day with a lot of EOM (end of month), FOM, EOY, and FOY things that need doing. First I think it will be my weather records - closing them out for the month and year, then who knows what next. At least I don't have to spend time chasing DX till 0000Z this evening. -30-