Speaking of the streak, I finally finished the story of the first year (365 days) of the streak and it is now posted in the QRP section on the DX Streaks page.
This evening for the third time in the past few days, I got my DX QSO just at the stroke of a new UTC day at 0000Z. This time it was R7CA on 20 meters as European Russia was still good this evening, but down on 20 meters now. After that it was a fruitless chase of W1AW/8 and W1AW/7. I found them on several different bands as they seem to have a full bore multi-op setup going. However there was seemingly an endless stream of big 100-1000 watt stations also chasing them and pretty much wiping out my minimal QRP signals. Still almost a full week to get them though - so I'm pretty certain I will. They were strong enough for me to easily work them this evening if the competition wasn't so plentiful and strong.
Time now to get my weather readings. This may have been our first 70 degree day of the year. The high shows as 69 on my remote unit, but it may have hit 70 on my official outdoor thermometer. I'll know in a few minutes.
Just a brief weather note before I go. Back in 1986 on March 8 the low was -3. Then just about 55 hours later on March 10 it was 75 degrees - a swing of 78 degrees in just over two days. Now we may come close to the reverse of that. If it was 70 today and the prediction of a low near 5 above Thursday morning comes true, that would be 65 degrees in a couple days. We'll see. -30-
Monday, March 10, 2014 9:05 PM - Conditions were not all that good this evening. I missed getting a DX QSO in the 0000Z hour for the first time in a while now. So I'll have to do that in the morning or afternoon. I did work two NAQCC members though (AA4MC, K4JPN) for our March NAQCC 'Block Party' challenge.
Conditions were on the other hand, good this morning and afternoon. Good enough for me to work R7NW for the last two Ns and YL2SM for the last Y in the NAQCC March European Chapter challenge. After almost failing to complete the challenge last month I was more serious this month finishing it in about 9 1/2 days.
This was the warmest day so far this year with a high of 59 degrees and it did a major job of s#$w melting. Even where the stuff was piled up, melted and froze shrank a good deal today. It was fabulous. I went for two pretty good walks, the second one without even needing a jacket. -30-
Sunday, March 09, 2014 8:19 PM - It's been just over a year now since I started using my panadapter. Each day I come to appreciate it more and more. It just makes tuning the band so much quicker and easier. It's nothing like spotting or even the Skimmer. It merely shows me by a peak on the computer screen just where a signal is. If I'm tuned to say 14007 and I see a peak in the display further up the band, I simply spin the dial to that spot and see who it is making the peak. I don't have to tune up the band listening to each frequency as it passes by on the dial to see if anyone is there. Even then I could tune right over a station while he is in a pause between words. That's the fault of aural tuning versus tuning with a visual aid like the panadapter. It's impossible to do so, but I wish I could compute the time I've saved in the past year because of the panadapter. Even when calling CQ, a simple glance at the computer screen shows if anyone is answering me outside the aural passband of the KX3. No more laboriously tuning up and down with the RIT after each and every CQ. Now I only use the RIT if I do see someone calling off-frequency on the panadapter. That control must feel really neglected since I started using the panadapter. That with the KX3 makes just about the ideal QRP/CW station.
My noise that was missing yesterday came back today, but still at a somewhat reduced level from normal. So I had a lot of fun exploring the bands. I came close to finishing the NAQCC European Chapter challenge needing now just two Ns and one Y to complete it. I heard YN5SU but obviously he's not it Europe, so I'll have to find a Belgian (ONxxxx) and a Lithuanian (LYxxxx) station, among other possibilities to finish it off. Maybe tomorrow although I may be busy helping Bruce buy and set up a computer for himself. Even so, there are still 22 days left this month, and if I can't finish in that time, I don't deserve it.
Along the way, I also picked up some new prefixes in SF2014ECC, LZ136LO, and GP0STH. I was also noting that on the 9th, I made QSOs on 7 different bands - 80, 30, 20, 17, 15, 12, and 10 meters. I thought of trying to make it 9 bands, but didn't get around to it.
This evening once again my streak and DX streak QSO came in the 0000Z minute as I easily snatched VP2MXI on 17 meters. After that I looked around for some European stations but didn't hear any. Oddly 9K2MU was quite strong on 20 meters with a decent sized pileup. I tried to get him a couple times, but didn't pursue it any further since he obviously is not in Europe anyway. I also heard EA8/DL1VOA very strong on 30, and could have worked him easily, but didn't try since he is in Africa.
I did some work on the web site today. Now all 99 of my FISTS Keynote QRP columns are available here on the web site for anyone to read. I hope to be writing #100 as soon as FISTS gets reorganized following the passing of Nancy WZ8C. I wrote a tribute to her for the upcoming NAQCC newsletter, and a few days after that gets posted, I may present it here in the diary or have a link to it rather than writing a separate tribute for here. It was very hard writing one, and I don't think I'm up to writing a second one since I treasured my friendship with Nancy so much and miss our all too infrequent contacts. I wish we could have had more communications over the years. I especially regret not having ever met her in person.
A pretty good day today after a dusting of s#$w last night that is now just a bad memory. It wasn't all that warm but it was sunny and that took care of not only the dusting but some stuff that's been hanging around way too long as well. I see a high of just 41 today. However tomorrow it's supposedly into the mid 50s and the next day near 60. That should help clean things up even more. -30-
Saturday, March 08, 2014 8:00 PM - Miracle of miracles. I turned on the radio today and found an absence of any local noise. It sounded like I was at the Community Park. The S Meter wasn't even moving save for when I tuned in a signal. It sure was nice, but I'm sure it won't continue. I sure would like to know what was turned off today and where.
I got on to search for some letters and numbers for the NAQCC European Chapter challenge. I worked ER1LW on 12 to get two 1s, but that was about it. There was a lot of DX around on all bands through 10, but none with anything that would help with the challenge. I did work IC8TEM on 10 because I thought I might need the IC8 prefix.
Then continued miracle of miracles. When I got on at 0000Z this evening, my noise was still virtually absent. It was kicking the S Meter slightly, but nowhere near the usual S7 to S9 level. My furnace is still a noisemaker though, and is more noticeable now with the other noise (whatever) at a minimum. Still I can live with that if the other noise stays away. Just turn the furnace down when I operate so it doesn't come on. With spring now here, that can more easily be done with little chance of it getting too cold. Anyway my DX QSO came easily when I worked YN5SU on 30 meters.
Tonight comes another affirmation that spring is really here when we go to the misnamed Daylight Savings Time. It really should be called Daylight Shifting Time since there really is no savings involved. It is merely a shifting by one hour of the time frame when it is daylight. I always like the old Indian saying describing DST as being similar to making a blanket longer by cutting a foot off one end and sewing it on the other end. Psychologically though it is wonderful to have more daylight hours in the time frame we label as evening. -30-
Friday, March 07, 2014 7:36 PM - A beautiful spring day today. Sunny with temperatures in the mid 50s. Boy, did the s#$w take a well-deserved beating today. I went for a walk with my coat on and wound up sweating a bit. Sure felt good. Made up for a lot of miserable days the past few months. Then later in the afternoon Bruce and Nancy took me for supper at Ponderosa - a seafood buffet. I was wise that time and didn't wear the coat.
It was kind of hard finding a QSO this evening as my noise was soaring at new heights. Finally I found Zoli HA4FF on 20 meters and worked him easily. No letters for the NAQCC European Chapter challenge, but good for my main streak day 7,156 and DX streak day 373. -30-
Thursday, March 06, 2014 8:23 PM - An 8 minute QSO with Jose EA3JJ served as my streak QSO, my DX QSO, and as a source of a couple letter Es for the NAQCC European Chapter challenge. After that, I worked Ray KC8KBD who was only my 3rd USA QSO this month excluding the W1AW/# stations. I almost forgot how to do a regular domestic QSO. HI.
I haven't talked much about the weather of late, but except for that brief s#$w on the 2nd, it does really seem that spring did arrive on March 1st as it should have. It's still a little below normal temperature wise, but not that much. With at least some sunshine each day, the s#$w is receding quite a bit. Actually the melt is good. It melts during the day, then stops during the colder temps of night. That way, the threat of flooding is reduced considerably. It is nice to see more and more bare ground after that grueling winter we had. -30-
Wednesday, March 05, 2014 3:02 PM - At times I get asked for some secrets to working stations with QRP. I had a QSO today that illustrates one of the several important 'tricks' for lack of a better word. That is to LISTEN LISTEN LISTEN to the station you are trying to work. I got on this afternoon with the specific intent of finding and working W1AW/7 in ID. Since I didn't find them right away, I instead worked a few European stations on 10 meters - SG0U F6ARS DL6KR - to gather letters for the NAQCC European Chapter challenge. But as I often do in my writing, I digress, so let me get back to the point. I eventually did find a rather weak W1AW/7 on 20 meters with a pretty good sized pileup. I listened for a while trying to find out exactly what his pattern was. I mean was he listening up (yes)? How far (I never was sure)? But then in my listening I heard him say QSY 14037. He currently was on 14030. So I quickly tuned the KX3 up to 14037 and waited for him to show up there. When he did he sent CQ DE W1AW/7 UP3. I quickly tuned VFO B up to 14040 and gave a call. He came back with K3J which from the timing I was sure was me so I sent K3WWP twice and got my QSO to make it 20/20 for W1AW states. Why was it so easy when he was not at all strong and I'm sure I wasn't either. Probably because many folks were too busy calling to catch his QSY message and then too slow to catch on to the UP3 after he did QSY. The result - I had him pretty much to myself.
Now from the joy of getting W1AW to the deep sadness of some more info about Nancy WZ8C's passing. Here's an email from her widower Tim about the latest situation and some more info.
"In Memory of Nancy Kott, WZ8C
From Tim Lange, Nancy's OM
My wife Nancy passed away Sunday March 2, 2014. She endured many years of medical challenges and is now resting peacefully. She is leaving a empty spot in my heart as I'm sure it is the same for all of you. Thank you for the outpouring of sympathy that I have already received. She has touched so many people around the world.
I am enclosing a link to her brief obit. There are no services planned at this time. She is being cremated at this time per her wishes.
I realize my contact list is not up to date today. Please forward this message to anyone that might like to know (and copy to me so I can update my list).
(NOTE from K3WWP - The URL in the link above is very long. If it doesn't work for you here is the link directly to the Funeral home - http://www.hillfh.com) followed by a copy of the obituary there.
"In Memory of
Nancy Anne Kott
October 27, 1955 - March 2, 2014
KOTT, NANCY age 58 of Metamora, MI., died Sunday, March 2, 2014 at the University of Michigan Hospital, Ann Arbor. Memorial Services will be announced at a later date. Nancy was born October 27, 1955 in Hamtramck, MI., to parents Kenneth and Irene (Keller) Kott. She was head of the North American Branch of the Preservation of Morse Code (FISTS). Nancy worked for the U.S. Census Bureau and the Center for Disease Control. Surviving are husband Tim Lange; parents Kenneth and Irene Kott; sister-in-law Diane Kott and many other relatives. She was preceded in death by her brother Paul Kott. Arrangements by the Hill Funeral Home, 11723 S. Saginaw St, Grand Blanc, MI.
Condolences may be left on-line at www.hillfh.com"
I am still not ready to write my tribute to you Nancy, but may you rest in peace, and thank you for all you have done for CW through FISTS, the greatest CW club of them all - K3WWP. -30-
Tuesday, March 04, 2014 7:46 PM - I know that many of you who read my diary are FISTS members, and you probably already know that Nancy WZ8C passed away earlier this week. I intend to write an entry about her here in the diary and also for the NAQCC newsletter since she and I and FISTS and NAQCC have always been very close. Right now though it's just too sad for me to write anything yet.
I got perhaps my quickest streak QSO ever this evening. OK1CF was calling CQ just before 0000Z then just exactly at 0000Z his CQ ended and I sent my call and bingo, I had my streak QSO, DX streak QSO, and as a bonus a few more letters/numbers for the NAQCC European challenge.
Then I went on a hunt for W1AW in the new states of KY and ID. I found KY easily on 40M, set the KX3 for split operation with the headphones on split channel listening and found the station W1AW was working. I sent my call, got a K3W?, repeated my call twice and now have 19 of the 20 activated states in my log. I didn't get ID though. I thought I heard them very weak on 30. Anyway there was a pile chasing something and I thought I heard 'ID' weakly from the station they were chasing. Still just one hour less than a full week to get them, so I should make it 20 for 20 before the week is out. -30-
Monday, March 03, 2014 7:56 PM - The DX streak goes on. 369 days and counting. I got on this afternoon to look for some European stations for the NAQCC European Chapter challenge, and as a side issue to work some DX for another day. I took care of the second part first when I worked 4Z5AD which of course is Asia. Then I did get UA3KW to get some letters (A W) from his call. I want to digress a moment here and say that I really envy some of those DX stations and the fabulous receiving setups they must have. Neither 4Z5AD nor UA3KW were all that strong here and actually not solid copy with my noise level. However they copied my QRP signals very easily. I guess their noise levels at their home locations must be like it is here at our Kittanning Community Park. The noise level there as I have mentioned is really an S0 and it's possible to copy signals there that don't even move the KX3 S meter. To have a situation like that all the time must really be great. It is getting to be less and less fun coping with my local noise level of S6 at best to S9+ at worst. I feel bad when I can't copy my fellow QRPers all that well. End of digression.
This evening my streak, DX streak, European Chapter station, and a rag chew all came at once from Svein LA5FHA who took the time to chat for a while. He was running a KW making for easy copy here and his high 5 element beam pulled in my QRP signals well there. It was a bit surprising to hear a S9 signal from Europe so late on 20M, but then with spring here now, that situation will get better and better. Chatting with Svein also made me feel better about our winter weather here. Our winter was nothing compared to that in Norway. There is still around a meter of s#$w on the ground there. Here a great deal of ours is gone. Even with our high in just the mid 20s, the bright sunshine continued the s#$w melt today.
With the bright sunshine making for such a nice day, Nancy and I went on a major grocery shopping trip to the mall stores today. I was afraid I bought so much frozen food, I might have to 'rent' out space in her big freezer. However I got out my shoehorn and packed it all into the freezer compartment of my refrigerator quite easily. I will have to use some up though before I can buy any more.
I also went for a walk late this afternoon as the s#$w is pretty much gone from our town hiking trail. -30-
Sunday, March 02, 2014 8:16 PM - Well, we were blessed, or lucked out - whatever you believe and only got about an inch of the dreaded white stuff today, and it was even warm enough that a little of it melted off soon after falling. Whew! Those dire predictions by various weather services were scary, but the storm moved just far enough south to give us the break here. I feel sorry for those in the main path of the storm.
The DX streak is now at 367 days, and I guess will be continuing. Nothing for the 3rd yet, but I will try to get some in the morning or afternoon. I never did hit the bands today in the morning or afternoon, so I don't know how conditions were. They weren't too bad this evening although I didn't hear much, if any DX - mostly just strong W/VE stations. -30-
Saturday, March 01, 2014 6:37 PM - The first day of spring acted like it. It was almost 50 degrees and that sure looked and felt good. Unfortunately we're going back into the depressing days of winter weather for the next few days now before spring weather settles in for good later this week. Too depressing to even think about, so let's move on.
The DX streak is going to continue - at least long enough to finish up the NAQCC European Chapter March challenge. Day 366 today featured a Polish and German station as the high bands up through 10 were good this early afternoon. I also got a second QSO with W1AW/7 on 15 meters just in case the first one on 20 a couple days ago wasn't any good. My noise acted up then and I wasn't 100 percent sure he had my call correct. No doubt today though. So I'm now a solid 18/18 in W1AW states for sure. The first 16 are even confirmed in the LotW.
Almost time now to head for the shack. Think I'll take a bit of a walk around the house first as I've been sitting most of the day getting caught up on a lot of computer work. One of the things was putting the February weather in the computer. Turns out it was a cold month averaging 4.9 degrees below normal. I'm glad I don't keep s@#wfall records. That could really be depressing. -30-
Friday, February 28, 2014 8:12 PM - I worked on my 'Year of DX' report today, but it's not yet ready for posting. I had a lot of fun examining the statistics, and I hope you will find them interesting. I still haven't decided to continue the DX streak or not. I didn't work any DX (nor even heard any) this evening, so the decision will be postponed till tomorrow whatever it will be. I may try to continue it at a relaxed pace without the urgency I put on it as I approached closer and closer to the 365 day mark.
I did get a 'block party' QSO with K9OSC for the NAQCC March challenge and for my main streak this evening. Tomorrow if conditions are good to EU I hope to get started on the NAQCC European Chapter challenge featuring the top Olympic medal-winning countries from the recent Olympics.
Tomorrow is the first day of long-awaited meteorological spring, although someone forgot to tell those in actual charge of the weather. A big s#$w is predicted for Sunday/Monday followed by a cold 3 or 4 days. Oh well, at least March s#$ws are not that bad as they seldom overstay what little welcome they get (not from me) and are gone in a few days. Even the two feet or so from the blizzard of March '93 was gone in less than a week.
It was decent out today although a bit cold. I was able to walk downtown a couple times on bare sidewalks to stock up on some groceries. Tomorrow I may go down and get my first of the month banking and some more shopping done. -30-
Thursday, February 27, 2014 12:24 PM - (UPDATE at 7:22 PM) As mentioned in the last paragraph in this entry, I had two objectives for today/tomorrow. I achieved both between 0000Z and 0012Z. I worked W1AW/7 for WA at 0001Z on 20M. Then it was D44CF at 0012Z on 20M for consecutive DX day #365. I believe I am now going to write a new page for the web site about the "Year of DX".
I'm cleaning out some emails today, and I have some diary feedback ones to get caught up on, so here goes.
From Arnold VE7IDK, "Just wanted to let you know that I greatly appreciated your site and write-up on QRP. My name is Arnd, but I go by Arnold, and I love QRP. I have the Yeasu FT-897 & FT-817, planning on getting the Super Antenna for some mountain top operating. In the past I have used wire antenna's make from blasting wire, that seem to work very well. I guess the whole thing is about fun, by the way I do know Steve with the goats, just love his Youtube videos. In closing, once again, thanks for the website, and keep on hamming."
From Gene AA8MI, "Hi John, In October last year, I returned to DX chasing with QRP/CW and simple wire antennas. I earned ARRL's DXCC (100 confirmed CW) using QRP CW and SWAs back in 2001, but had done very little DXing as such since then. By gosh and by golly I had gotten 16 more confirmed over the years before getting serious again about chasing DX last October. Now I am up to 132 confirmed. I am writing you about this because I want you to know that YOU are the INSPIRATION for my return to DX chasing with QRP and SWAs. Some months back you wrote (in your FISTS column, I think) that you had worked 215+ DXCC entities during your streak of at least one QSO per day. That remark is what brought me back to my favorite QRP pursuit: DX chasing. I don't think I will ever come close to your 215+ but I want to get that sticker for 150 confirmed CW mode from ARRL for my DXCC certificate. Who knows? Maybe I will get close to 200 someday! If you are interested, check out my QRZ.COM biography where I give you credit for being that inspiration. Thanks for all you do, and have done, to promote QRP among us amateurs!! 73/72 Gene AA8MI naqcc #5703"
That's what my efforts are all about - to convince hams that they don't need a KW, beam, and mountain-top QTH to succeed IF they use CW and QRP. I believe my examples shown here on the web site prove that.
Gene's email prompted me to check my countries in some detail. I told him not to give up on 200 as it is not too hard to get there, but after that, they do tend to slow down because most after that need to be gotten by fighting pile-ups of KW/beam stations. Also spotting makes it very difficult unless you catch them as they are just starting up. Many folks monitor the spots 24/7 and as soon as they see something they need it's off to the shack to join in the frenzy. Well, enough about that.
Just to show how new ones do slow down, here are the dates by 50s of my 218 current QRP/CW countries.
1 - USA W1DC 1/3/1964
2 - Canada VE3DMU 9/6/1964 (First two came in the 'old days' when I fooled around with 5 watts or less)
3 - Cuba CO2EJ 2/27/1993 (Now we're in my 'modern' era)
50 - Czech Republic OK1EV 7/5/1994 (Starting in the 'modern' era that's about 16 months to 50)
100 - Finland OH2LLZ 2/25/1995 (About 8 months for the second 50 as my DX interest grew)
150 - Cape Verde D44BC 11/25/1998 (57 months from 100-150 as they get harder)
200 - Dodecanese Is. J45RW 7/27/2002 (44 months tnx to the sunspot peak years)
218 - Mauritania 5T0JL 8/28/2013 (11 years and a month because of declining sunspots and rarity)
Perhaps my total of new ones by year will tell even more:
I'll lump in USA and Canada into 1993 instead of separating 1964.
1993 - 6
1994 - 81
1995 - 29
1996 - 7
1997 - 10
1998 - 19
1999 - 16
2000 - 23
2001 - 4
2002 - 7
2003 - 1
2004 - 0
2005 - 1
2006 - 0
2007 - 1
2008 - 1
2009 - 1
2010 - 3
2011 - 2
2012 - 2
2013 - 4
2014 - 0 (yet)
Interesting to see how a combination of high sunspot numbers and availability of ones not yet worked affect the totals. With many still available, even the low sunspot years provided a lot of new ones (1993-1995), then a decline in available ones and continuing low sunspots led to lowered totals (1996-1997). Next along came the sunspot peak (1998-2000) and even with declining available ones, the totals were good. But that was followed by a real drought during the prolonged sunspot minimum (2001-2009) with only 16 total new ones. A slight pickup occured in the current sunspot maximum (2010-present) even though by now new ones available had declined considerably with for the most part only rare ones left to work.
I hope you found that interesting. I certainly did as I was compiling the stats. Along the way I thought I lost a country as my first run showed up as 217 worked instead of 218. However I found I had missed Tuvalu for whatever reason.
Now I have two immediate objectives for the next day or so. Getting my DX for the 28th to complete 365 consecutive days and working W1AW/7 in WA to make it 18/18 in W1AW states. -30-
Wednesday, February 26, 2014 7:28 PM - I went chasing W1AW this afternoon, but didn't have any luck. I did hear W1AW/7 in WA on 10M, but pretty weak with a big pileup. I tried for a while, but soon gave up.
This evening Mike dropped by on his way to the local ham radio club meeting. I'm not a member of the club because they have very little interest in CW. Anyway after he left for the meeting shortly before 0000Z I went to my shack with 4 objectives in mind - get my streak QSO, get my DX streak QSO, work W1AW/0 in KS and W1AW/7. At 0001Z I had the first two objectives done by working CO8LY on 12M. Just before that I heard W1AW/0 on 12M also, but he QRT promptly at 0000Z. He didn't say so, but I thought maybe he was going to QSY to another band or perhaps yield to another operator. Whatever, I searched the bands and found W1AW/0 on 20M. He worked a W0 station. When he finished I called with no result, then immediately repeated my call and got that wonderful response K3WWP 599 KS. So that was objective #3 taken care of by 0005Z. Never did find W1AW/7 this evening though, so that will have to wait till later tonight or maybe tomorrow.
Mike should be returning shortly now, so I'll close. We're going to Subway for a meal, then spend a couple hours together doing who knows what. -30-
Tuesday, February 25, 2014 12:31 PM - I thought I'd write this entry early today to express some joy as we come to the end of a rather joyless month. Of course the weather has been the main reason for the lack of joy. However I was becoming concerned as the end of the month neared about possibly not completing our NAQCC challenges for the first time in quite a while. Things changed this morning as I fired up the rig and the panadapter to find conditions good with quite a lot of activity on 15, 12, and 10 meters. I went to work looking for stations with needed letters in their calls. First off I found Mike F5IN whom I've worked a couple dozen times, mostly in contests. I needed an N for the European challenge and worked him with a single call. That took me down to 8 letters needed and in turn I got the following: 1 P from OK1FPG on 12; 4 As from Villy OZ1AAR along with a nice rag chew on 15; 1 A from 9A3IH on 10. Now it came down to needing 1 T to finish off the European challenge and 3 Ts (I thought) to finish the main NAQCC challenge. I soon found ES1TU and waited through a couple other QSOs he made, then it was my turn. That wound up the European challenge and gave me 2 of the 3 (I thought) needed Ts for the main challenge. However when I checked my challenge sheet I found I also had only needed 1 T to finish it. So with the ES1TU QSO, both challenges were finished, and I came here to the computer to send off my reports.
That was a good way to finish off the month with two more opportunities to make the finish even better. If I work a DX station the last three days of the month, that will make my DX streak 365 consecutive days. Then if I can get the next two W1AW states (WA KS) which will be activated beginning at 0000Z this evening, that will make 18 of 18 W1AW states worked so far this year.
Oh and also as February ends, meteorological spring begins which is also a welcome event. -30-
Monday, February 24, 2014 7:43 PM - I don't really know why conditions are so poor these past several days. The SF is as high as it was earlier in the month when conditions were great. The ionosphere is a bit stormier now than then, but not all that bad. I got on a couple times during the day looking for some European stations to finish up my NAQCC European Chapter challenge, but only heard a couple of weak signals from there. I tried calling EA3DD to get the A, but he was quite weak, and didn't hear me at all. I usually can work him even if he is a bit weak, but not today.
At least my streak QSO came quick and easy this evening. Took but two calls at 0002Z to C6ANM to log him and bring the DX streak to 362 days, with 3 to go for my goal.
The weather turned a bit colder today, but the sun is now high enough in the sky to melt the s#$w even if the air temperature is at or a little below freezing. -30-
Sunday, February 23, 2014 8:14 PM - Conditions were better this evening, but it was still difficult working DX. Sometimes I get on the air, and log a DX station with my first call. Tonight I probably made a few dozen calls to a handful of DX stations without even being heard. Finally I did catch EA8ZS to extend the streak to 361 days. That was on 20 meters. Even 15 was open after 0000Z tonight. I worked W1AW/4 for a new band. I also heard only my second or third Philippines station ever, but too weak to even bother trying to work him.
The telecast of the Olympics closing ceremonies is coming up shortly, so I'm going to close this quickly, get a couple other things done and head next door to watch with Nancy (and Roscoe). -30-
Saturday, February 22, 2014 7:38 PM - It seems that ever since the ARRL DX Test ended, the bands have been just horrible. Last night at one point I didn't see a single peak on 80M on the panadapter from 3500 to at least 3580. Tonight was a real struggle to get any kind of QSO. Of course I was selective in calling stations looking for DX or a station with a needed challenge letter in the call. I chased three different VP9/**** stations on two different bands for about a half hour before finally hooking up with VP9/G3ZAY on 20M to bring the needed days for the DX streak down to five for the 365 day mark. Tomorrow I hope to be able to put in some time on the bands to work on finishing the NAQCC challenges. If the high bands are open to Europe, I may be able to do it. Otherwise, it is going to be a struggle to make it this month.
Weatherwise, another beautiful day. Hey, I even saw my first robin late this afternoon. He was sitting atop a telephone pole kind of surveying the situation maybe wondering if he came back to town too soon or not. Despite getting rid of tons more s#$w today in low-50s degree weather, there is still a lot around. I estimate about 85 percent of my back yard is devoid of s@#w after today, and it's still 40 degrees now, so the melt should continue a while longer.
It was nice enough again to walk downtown to Family Dollar to pick up some needed items. It felt good out there despite a breeze that made it feel a bit cooler than the actual temperature. I think after one more Arctic blast the end of this coming week, we may be over the hump with more and more nice days. -30-
Friday, February 21, 2014 6:52 PM - What a great day today. We had four ingredients that contributed to a blitzkrieg on the remaining s#$w, reducing it much further. An early morning rain kicked things off. Then the rest of the day a mixture of warmth in the upper 40s, wind to circulate the warmth down to the s#$w level, and later in the day, some nice sunshine. Some folks don't understand how wind contributes, so I'll explain briefly for them. With no wind, the air stays in layers with the coldest air at the surface. So even if it is above freezing a few feet above ground, that cold layer at ground level protects the evil s#$w. When the wind blows it helps to mix the layers raising the cold air and lowering the warm air so there is more of homogenous mix of temperatures from the ground up. Anyway it was so nice, I finally broke out of my 'cabin' here and walked downtown for some needing banking and mailing. Sure felt good. Problem is, we're going back in the deep freeze later next week. However most of the heavy s#$w cover should be gone before them and it doesn't look now like any major s#$w storms will accompany the cold.
Time now to go get my streak QSO(s), and I'll come back and report on the results.
The streaks continue. I grabbed W1AW/4 on 30 just for insurance. Then I got my DX QSO in the form of CO6RD on 20. While in the shack it was nice to look out the window and see only a thin layer of s#$w left on my porch roof in places. There was probably around 10-12 inches on the whole roof there just a few days ago. -30-
Thursday, February 20, 2014 8:07 PM - We've had two great days in a row here. The s#$w has really taken a beating as temperatures have been in the neighborhood of 50 degrees both days. A well deserved beating after the beating it has given us for just about a solid month now. What a delight it is to just sit and watch the s#$w melt. Not to mention seeing the huge collection of icicles disappear from my gutters. There's still a lot left of the ground, but two more supposedly mild days will knock that back further. Not to mention some rain thrown in as well.
As great as the weather has been the bands have been equally bad. The ionosphere is pretty disturbed right now and the bands show it. I thought I'd get on during the day the past couple days to try to finish off my NAQCC challenges, but there was almost nary a European station to be heard anywhere the times I was on. If things don't pick up soon, I may miss completing the challenges, especially the European one, in quite some time now. At least the DX streak has made it through the period of bad conditions. Last night it was PJ2/W9NJY and tonight VP9/G7VJR on 30 meters. That leaves but 7 more days to make my goal of a year (365 days) with a DX QSO. -30-
Wednesday, February 19, 2014 7:51 PM - Just eight days to go now for my DX streak to reach one full year of 365 days. Thanks to YN2NC earlier today and PJ2/W9NJY this evening for the latest two days. Both came quickly and easily despite the very poor conditions as a result of an A index of 47, the highest I've seen in quite a while now.
And that's it, except to refer you to the story of my ARRL DX contest here which I wrote this morning if you're interested. -30-
Tuesday, February 18, 2014 8:36 PM - That didn't take long. At 0014 I had both of the W1AW states in my log - FL on 17M and MI on 80M. So I've got a week off now of searching for W1AW. No DX this evening though, so again that will have to come in the morning or afternoon as it did today. I worked a couple of Italians in the 14Z hour - IK4VFD and I1YRL. The first on 10M, second on 15M. There wasn't a lot of DX around, but at least I added another day to the DX streak, leaving 10 now to make it to my goal of 365 days.
Fortunately our s#$w storm fizzled out last night. Instead of 4-6 inches, we got perhaps just a bit over 1. Then later today it got up to 41 degrees and it was a delight to see the s#$w melting. That pleasant view should continue the next few days now with 40+ degree temperatures. -30-
Monday, February 17, 2014 9:25 PM - Mike and I had another good day today. He left a little early to beat the s#$w storm coming later this evening. So I'll give a brief summary of what we did today.
When he got here, I first gave him his copy of the certificate we both earned in the Skeeter Sprint last summer. Then we took care of some NAQCC prizes that we will be awarding in our NAQCC 10th Anniversary sprint in October. Next off to the shack to work some DX. The bands were rather empty today, but we did manage some DX and Mike worked the W1AW/6 and W1AW/9 stations in two sessions separated by a visit to Ponderosa for a mid-day meal. I don't remember all that Mike worked. Most were stations I didn't need so I didn't work them except for JW/DL5CW whom we both worked. He also worked Z35LC on 12M for one that I remember. I think he also got J38XX. Then we had a pizza from Vocelli's this evening following a visit with Nancy and Bruce. To close out the day we watched another episode of the British comedy Doctor In The House. All is all a full and enjoyable day once more.
Now I'm going over to watch some more Olympics with Nancy. -30-
Sunday, February 16, 2014 8:27 PM - Fun, fun, fun! Love those big DX contests! I fell a little short of my goal, but still had a ton of fun. I wound up with 480 QSOs from 76 countries. A total of 191 band-countries. I'm not going to say much more about the contest as I plan to write one of my contest stories about it.
I did find out that N1MM is a great contest logging program. Easy to learn and easy to use. I'll probably be using it for most of my contesting from now on, although I may still use GenLog for our NAQCC sprints unless N1MM has a template for them. Having learned it just before the contest, I still have a lot to learn about the extended features it has.
Tomorrow Mike is visiting. I'm looking forward to that as we haven't gotten together for around a month now. Maybe he'll be a ghost-writer of the diary tomorrow evening. HI. -30-
Saturday, February 15, 2014 8:47 PM - Conditions this morning were great again, but they kind of deteriorated by mid-late afternoon. Ten meters was the star early in the day. It just never wanted to quit. Signals would drop off a bit, but then bounce right back solid quickly. I don't have a breakdown by bands right now but I may have gotten somewhere around 90 QSOs on ten meters. 15 was next best, then 20 and 40. 80 showed nothing at all last night around midnight. I had hoped to make it to 300 QSOs on day one, but fell short with 282. Then I only added 11 more after 0000Z this evening. Far short of what I did last evening even considering there naturally were a lot of stations I already worked. I'm hoping for a good morning and afternoon tomorrow. If that happens, I hope to hit 500 QSOs, but it will be a stretch as that Dupe! shows up all to often on N1MM. HI
Not much else to say now. I think I may write a story about the contest to add to my contest stories collection. Just about time to get my weather readings, then I think I'll head next door for a break and watch the Olympics for a while. Maybe I'll try 40 and 80 again around midnight or so. -30-
Friday, February 14, 2014 9:08 PM - The ARRL gave a party and a lot of folks were late arriving. At least that's what the ARRL DX contest seemed like tonight. I started off at 0000Z and for quite a while I could work just about anyone I called. A lot of the first hour usual heavy competition didn't seem to be there. 20 and 15 were both working just great and continued that way until I took a break at 0200Z. However the usual party goers showed up about 45 minutes into the first hour and the competition became its usual fierce self.
I started off immediately working EA6FO easily on 20 at 0001Z. I'm not going to list everyone I worked, but I am going to list 6 stations including EA6FO, and you can figure where I'm going with this. At 0009Z it was CN2AA on 20. Next listed station TI5W at 0011Z. Do you have a clue now? HK1NA came in the next minute. Then I went to 15 for a while and worked KH6MB at 0025Z. The last of the six came a minute later in the form of RT0C. Get the picture? WAC in 26 minutes. However after studying my log, I can narrow that down to an even quicker WAC. I see a WAC in 6 QSOs in a row between 0025 and 0034 - KH6MB RT0C NP2N CS2C CR3L P40W. Nine minutes may be my quickest ever WAC. More research needed, but not now.
That sure was an enjoyable first couple hours of contesting. The first hour being the most fun with around 30 QSOs for one of the best starts I've probably had in a big DX contest. I wonder what conditions will be like during the day tomorrow and Sunday. I wonder if 10 will open up good. I know it will have activity as it always does in big contests, but I wonder just how much. I did have problems working Japan this evening though. Only one of several JAs I called heard me at all, and the QSO took a bit of repeating to complete.
This was my first time using the N1MM contest program. It seems that GenLog somehow conflicts with my panadapter, so today I thought I'd download, install, and learn N1MM. It gets along perfectly with the panadapter, and was not hard to learn at all. I'll probably be using it in most of my contesting from now on, since having the panadapter as a sidekick really makes scanning the bands a lot easier.
Now I'm going to watch some Olympics as Nancy just called and invited me over. Maybe later tonight I'll give 40 and 80 a try. 40 was good already. I ran off about 8 or so QSOs there so far. -30-
Thursday, February 13, 2014 8:38 PM - I spent quite a bit of time today processing NAQCC sprint logs. We're up to 106 so far this month, and the more initial preparation I can get done, the less time it takes for the cross-checking Sunday evening or Monday morning. The weather is too miserable to go outside anyway so that helped pass the time and ease the cabin fever.
Then I took some time out this afternoon to go hunting W1AW/6. The hunt was successful as I found them on 15M and it took but a single call to get them in the log. So that's now 14/14 in W1AW states. Let's see what two states are next starting on the 19th. MI and FL, both of which should be easy. Actually all 14 so far have been easy. Oh and I might add, as most of you already know, I never use any kind of spotting to find out where they (or anyone else) are operating. I just get on the air, tune in the peaks I see on the panadapter to see who is who, and go from there. I think spotting has really ruined some aspects of ham radio, but I'm not going to dwell on that here.
This evening another quick DX QSO as has been par for the past several days now. Tonight it was FG/DJ2BC on 30 meters presumably setting up for the ARRL DX test this weekend. Hey, that means my DX streak is a virtual lock to extend two more days now. HI. That will be 353 days down and 12 to go to reach my goal.
Well, a few more little things to do, then over to Nancy's to watch some more olympics. -30-
Wednesday, February 12, 2014 9:26 PM - I got home from a computer club meeting a little while ago, took my weather readings, and headed to the shack where I just about immediately worked J38XX on 20 meters. Then a few minutes later added V26M while looking for W1AW/6 whom I never did find. I also looked this afternoon and did find him, but couldn't break the pileup which for a while sounded like a little smaller version of the FT5ZM pileups. I did work CE2/CX1EK for an unusual combo call sign and then CN2PM with a single call. Yes, DX conditions are good currently.
Oh, I did get W1AW/9 last night just before our NAQCC sprint, but once again for the sprint my local noise was almost intolerable. I had to struggle to get 34 QSOs despite good propagation conditions.
The computer club meeting went well. I gave a demonstration on Windows 8 and for once I think everyone was interested. Usually whoever is doing the demonstration gets interrupted by folks tallking or butting in to ask questions that should have waited till after the demo. However that didn't happen tonight, and I think everyone learned something about Windows 8. Perhaps even some who didn't like the O/S had their minds changed tonight when I showed all the great 8 features.
A few more things to do, then I think I'll go over and watch some Olympics with Nancy. -30-
Tuesday, February 11, 2014 7:46 PM - I heard both of the new W1AW states (CA WI) already, but so did a lot of other folks and I didn't feel like sitting there trying to get them since shortly I'll be sitting at the key for two hours in our NAQCC sprint. Both were very strong and I'm sure I won't have any trouble getting them before their tour of duty ends next Tuesday.
I did get my DX QSO quickly once again working CO6RD on 30 meters with but a single call. So the 365 day mark creeps another day closer now.
Well, I have some things to get done before the sprint so I better get to them. -30-
Monday, February 10, 2014 7:46 PM - Well, it's down to 17 days now, both till spring and 365 days of DX depending on counting local time days or UTC days. I'm starting to wonder now if I do make it to 365 days with the DX streak, do I want to continue beyond that or not. I'll have to give that some thought between now and then.
At least the next couple weeks should provide some easy DX with the stations setting up for the ARRL DX test, then the test itself, followed by those who linger at their contest locations giving out extra QSOs. Tonight for example I worked KP2/W1UJ on 30 meters whom I'm sure is in the Virgin Islands for the contest. Incidentally I used the U in his call for the NAQCC challenge and now need only three Ts to finish that up. The NAQCC European Chapter challenge is going a bit slower. I still need around ten letters/numbers to finish up that one. I just haven't been getting on in the mornings when EU is coming through good and strong. -30-
Sunday, February 09, 2014 7:58 PM - Can spring be coming soon? Well, maybe not weather-wise, but maybe propagation-wise. I had a solid QSO with RA0AY in Achinsk, Asiatic Russia on 20M this evening. That's something that rarely happens in winter. In fact I got curious and did some research.
I have 174 QSOs with Asiatic Russia. 120 of those are on 20 meters. Of those 120, NONE came in December or January. Then I filtered down a bit further to only non-contest QSOs, of which there were 50 on 20 meters. By months they are distributed as follows:
Jan - 0
Feb - 3
Mar - 5
Apr - 15
May - 6
Jun - 2
Jul - 1
Aug - 6
Sep - 10
Oct - 1
Nov - 2
Dec - 0
A graph of those figures would show that close to the Vernal and Autumnal Equinox are the best times for me to work Asiatic Russia on 20 meters. Of the three February QSOs, tonight's was the earliest in that month.
So with that QSO, my DX streak is extended to 347 days. I also worked a bit of DX this afternoon in the form of YL2BJ and got the final B for the NAQCC European Chapter challenge as a result.
Another thing of interest this evening was trying to work LZ1JL on 30M. He tried and tried to copy me, then finally said there was just too much echo on my signals. I think that's the first time I've ever been told my signals had an echo to them. I thought that was just for QRO signals.
A bit of diary feedback. A few entries ago I mentioned K3LWP, and Glenn K3SWZ emailed this, "Hi John, K3LWP was from Harrisburg and went SK over 10 years ago and he never operated HF... Took his own life!! Sad time... He would be in his late 60's today... 73 de Glenn, K3SWZ"
Indeed, that is sad. -30-
Saturday, February 08, 2014 7:28 PM - Another rather quick DX QSO this evening although I had to call ZZ80PE several times before he got to me. That was on 30 meters which had a lot of good DX (and non-DX) signals on it this evening. I also got two Es from that call for the NAQCC challengs leaving only four needed to finish it off. I had hoped to get some EU DX during the day for the NAQCC European Chapter challenge, but I got involved in some other things like doing my Federal and State taxes and never did get on the air till this evening. -30-
Friday, February 07, 2014 7:23 PM - DX day #345 got taken care of quickly with a QSO from ZF2DS on 20M. Took but a single call at 0007Z. It's nice to see springtime conditions creeping slowly onto the bands as they (especially the higher ones) are staying open later and later now. I even heard a couple (weak) signals on 12 meters in the 0000Z hour this evening.
I haven't gotten on during the daylight hours the past couple days, but I think I will try tomorrow and see if I can get some more letters/numbers toward the NAQCC challenges.
Right now, if I'm right, I think the Olympics opening ceremony is coming on, and I'm going over to watch it with Nancy. -30-
Thursday, February 06, 2014 5:12 PM - I'm waiting for a big download, so I thought I'd put the time to use and write my diary entry for today. Or at least the first part of it. I may add more later if events warrant which probably won't happen.
As the Northern Hemisphere of the Earth tilts more and more towards the sun, the heating power of the sun shows a noticeable increase. I noticed a really good s#$w melt from my roof today even though the air temperature was only around 30. Also some tentative good news for this weekend. It looks like there won't be another major storm, but only some light s#$w. Most of the worst will be out in the Atlantic Ocean. Let's hope that outlook is an accurate one.
There was no doubt today. I got a solid K3WWP 599 HI from W1AW/KH6 around 2100Z on 15 meters. Found him and worked him right after two or three other stations. He got my call right away with no repeats. So that's 12 for 12 now with W1AW states. Up next starting on the 12th CA and WI.
My download just finished. Or at least one of the two I had going, so I'll close for now and upload this diary entry. -30-
Wednesday, February 05, 2014 8:26 PM - There is one (and probably only one) good thing about s#$w. It's better than freezing rain. We lucked out and missed the freezing rain that really crippled parts of central and eastern PA. I heard early this morning that some 400,000 homes were without power and the storm was still venting its fury then. We got only s#$w here - about 7 inches worth. Some of that melted as the temperature went up to the mid 30s in the wake of the storm. There is still entirely too much around though, and I'll have to look at the ugly stuff for a while as it is supposed to be quite cold for the next week or maybe 10 days now. Bah, Humbug!
Did he or didn't he? I'm talking about KH6LC who was operating W1AW/KH6 today. I'm sure I worked him, but I'm not sure if he logged me correctly. The last time he sent 'my' call, he sent K3LWP. There is no K3LWP listed in the FCC records, so it had to be me he worked. Perhaps he just forgot to make that final correction to my call. I do that occasionally in the heat of contests and fail to correct a call. Anyway, I'm going to work him again (if I can) to be sure.
Now the story with GA is different. I 'stole' a QSO with W1AW/4 in GA this afternoon. Found him working simplex on 20 meters and noticed his pileup was growing. I couldn't break it, but I just figured he was going to switch to split any moment now. So I set up the KX3 for split, but called him once more in simplex with no luck. Then right on cue he did go split. I punched the split button, and was the second station he worked split. No doubt this time as he clearly (and strongly) sent K3WWP 599 GA. So that's 11 and maybe 12 of the 12 states activated so far in the W1AW/ARRL centennial celebration.
Of course W1AW/KH6 would have been my streak QSO, both regular and DX, but since I wasn't positive about the QSO, I easily worked HC2AO on 30 meters to extend the streaks.
Oh and also late this afternoon, I heard N1HEL calling CQ on 17 meters. Since I needed the letters N E and L for the NAQCC challenge, I called him, and we wound up having a nice rag chew talking about QRP, Elecraft, a comparison of our weather (he was in California), and some other things. -30-
Tuesday, February 04, 2014 7:58 PM - Several goals accomplished today including getting both streaks updated through Feb 5 (UTC) as we await the big s#$w/rain/sleet/freezing rain storm overnight tonight. Hope we make it through OK. If you don't see a diary entry here tomorrow evening it will have something to do with the storm.
The bands were alive with DX early this morning. I worked DL1DGS HK1MK OM3EY RN22YY SC2014ECC ZF35LC HA8DM. This evening KA2KGP and XE1RZL. In the process I added 30 letters to our NAQCC challenge and 17 letters/numbers to the NAQCC European Chapter challenge. Now I need only 10 and 12 respectively to finish up. Also some nice prefixes in the bunch. About the only goal I didn't accomplish was to work W1AW in their two new states. I heard W1AW/4 GA weakly on 20 with a big pile so didn't even try to work him. -30-
Monday, February 03, 2014 8:10 PM - I heard something unusual on the bands tonight. W1AW/0 going begging for calls on 30 meters. So I worked them for my streak QSO since my previous W1AW/0 - MN QSO was on 17 meters. Only a few DX stations heard this evening. One sloppy sending poor operator, one station I'd already worked too many times, and another with a pile-up I couldn't break. So I've just put out my little note by the computer here to remind me to get my DX QSO in the morning or afternoon.
Looks like another nasty s#$w storm coming Tuesday night. Maybe mixed with sleet and rain. At least quite a bit of the ground is bare now so it's not like we'll be adding more to what is already there. So that's one bright spot.
If you recall, Mike KC2EGL and I did a multi-op setup with the NAQCC club call N3AQC for the NJQRP Skeeter Hunt last summer. Well, today we got rewarded for our effort with this:
Sunday, February 02, 2014 10:54 PM - It's kind of late as I write this, so I'm going to make it brief. I was watching the last part of the Super Bowl with Bruce and Nancy. The magnitude of the victory was a real shock - even more so when you look at the stats of the game which were pretty close except for turnovers.
It was another warmish day today and we lost some more s#$w (good riddance). It's good to be seeing green in my yards again.
The bands seemed in good shape this evening with more than the usual number of good strong signals on 80 through 30. Tomorrow should be good with a SF of 190 and A index of 4. I might do some work on the NAQCC European Chapter challenge if other things don't get in the way. I got my DX QSO for the day already from J79JG on 30 meters making it 340 days in a row now. With stations getting ready for the ARRL DX test, working DX should be fairly easy the next couple weeks now barring disaster of some kind. So it looks fairly good for making it to 365 days. -30-
Saturday, February 01, 2014 6:54 PM - Another pretty nice day today that got rid of some more of the ugly s#$w. Temperature peaked at 44 degrees and is now 37. In looking at the January weather figures, it was a month of extremes. There were 7 days with a low of zero or below. Nine days is the record in my data since 1959. In January 1977, February 1979, and December 1989. The month averaged nearly 5 degrees below normal. Had it not been for the lovely week or so long warm spell in the middle of the month, things could have been a lot worse.
Just a couple minutes now till time to go try to get my streak QSOs. I had fun on 12 meters today working on the NAQCC European Chapter challenge. I got about a third of all the letters and numbers needed when I worked OH4MDY, IK0FUX, and IK3VUT, all on 12 meters. I was thinking it might be fun to try to master the challenge with just 12 meters QSOs. I don't know if I'll do it or not though.
Well, it's 2359Z now, so I'm off to the shack. -30-