K3WWP's DiaryTuesday, May 21, 2013 8:57 PM - This was the hottest, most humid day of the year so far. Each year as I age, I notice the heat more, at least it takes me seemingly an extra day or so to get used to it each year.
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MY FIFTY YEARS OF HAM RADIO
So as I try to keep cool, just another brief diary entry this evening. The bands were pretty much the same as last night. Again I thought I'd have a rough time getting my DX QSO, so first of all I solidified my main streak by answering WB6THE's CQ on 40M. After a short chat with him, I went back to the DX chase and 'worked' a rather sloppy LZ station. Most everyone he 'worked', he only sent a partial call, and never did send their full call. I got a K3W from him, sent my call twice again, he gave me a 599, and went on to the next QSO. I did put him in my log, but then I looked for a better DX QSO and worked VP5/W5CW who is probably getting set up for the CQWPX contest this weekend. -30-
Monday, May 20, 2013 9:18 PM - I thought I wasn't going to get my DX streak QSO this evening. There weren't that many DX stations heard here, so I thought I'd get my regular streak QSO out of the way. I wen't to 40 and answered W3MT's CQ, but we were wiped out by QRM before we even completed one round, so I didn't count that one, but I did happen to notice that my KX3 was still set at 500 mW. W3MT heard me easily, but the DX weren't hearing me at that level tonight under less than good conditions. So since I was on 40, I called CQ and worked K2GTC for my main streak QSO. Then I went back to 20 meters and easily worked LZ1MBU. So both streaks are secure for another day. That's 82 for the DX streak, my second longest. Now it's on to 154 (and beyond?) - whew! -30-
Sunday, May 19, 2013 9:12 PM - Another quiet beautiful May day today. A good day for walking and gardening once again. Not a great deal of excitement, but a wonderful just nice to be alive day.
Still feeling kind of lazy tonight, so not a lot more to say. Oh, I did tie my second longest DX streak when I worked HA9RT this evening. That's 81 days now. Then just to celebrate I worked E77DX with 500 mW. Tried him at 100 mW and 200 mW, but he wasn't hearing me. Needed those couple hundred extra mW to get above his noise level, I guess. HI. -30-
Saturday, May 18, 2013 9:27 PM - Again not much out of the ordinary today. Some walking, some gardening, a little shopping, one walk with Roscoe, and a little ham radio. My streak(s) QSO again came quickly this evening when I worked F6KUF/P on EU64 on 20M at 0002Z. That pretty much covers the day except I did cut my hair this afternoon.
Tomorrow I may be helping Ange work on his garden. Also Tom WY3H will be visiting for a while. -30-
Friday, May 17, 2013 9:32 PM - Yet another beautiful May day today. I wish we could bottle normal May weather and use it the whole year round. I had several walking errands to do today, and it was ideal for that. Also nice to be out working in the yard again. The grass and weeds are loving this weather also and growing so fast you can almost sit and watch the growth.
It's good that the weather is so good because the band conditions are not that good. Oh, it's still easy to work DX, but it's not as strong or as plentiful as it had been in April and early May. It took only 3 minutes to get my streak(s) QSO this evening as I worked EA4AOC/1 on 20M at 0003Z. That's 79 days now for the DX streak. I must say it hasn't been all that much of a challenge to keep it going, and most anyone, if they so desire, can probably do the same as I have been doing. Hope I didn't jinx myself by saying that now. HI.
Do you like to play computer games, but don't like paying for them. I found a great site that has FREE totally functional games with no limits unlike a lot of the game sites. Once again these are completely functional no limitations games. I've tried four or five of them so far, and there are no strings attached. Just go to GameTop.com and check them out. -30-
Thursday, May 16, 2013 9:14 PM - Another nice warm May day again today. Good for walking. I've got just under 9 miles on the pedometer. Also good for yard work. I cut the grass in the back yard today. Other than that, not really much going on today. Again this evening conditions on the bands were not all that good, but I managed to keep the streaks going with a 12M QSO from CO8LY. -30-
Wednesday, May 15, 2013 9:42 PM - From 30 yesterday morning to 84 this afternoon. 54 degrees in less than 36 hours. Quite a swing. The record for a single day is 53 degrees. There are some other big swings also. I believe I recall it going from below zero to the 70s in a couple days in a March several years ago. I'll have to refresh my memory and see just how unusual this current 54 day string is.
I helped Denny lay some carpet this afternoon and early evening. It was nice to do some work like that. I also got sort of a dose of the "Fountain of Youth" along the way when Denny's 6 year old grandson asked me how old I was. I asked him to guess and he said in the 30s? I just thanked him. HI I guess I'm holding up pretty well at almost 68.
There was a dose of really poor conditions on the bands today, but even with that, the DX was still there, althoug not very plentiful. I managed to get a couple Mexicans for my streak QSOs this evening to get closer to my first goal of 82 DX days. I'm now at 77. -30-
Tuesday, May 14, 2013 9:27 PM - We had a low of 30 this morning. Perhaps a record for the date, but not for the month as we have hit 26 degrees on several days in May in the past. All the garden plants made it through nicely. Now tomorrow it's supposed to be near 80 degrees as summer type weather returns, hopefully to stay this time.
Not a lot happening on the bands today. I did try to work SV2CQB with mW power on 15M this afternoon with no luck. So I went to 5 watts and got him easily. This evening the DX streak extended to 76 days as I worked Pance Z33Z very easily on 20M despite him not being all that strong. -30-
Monday, May 13, 2013 8:50 PM - Not a lot going on today. Well, thinking back, maybe that isn't all that true. First thing this morning, I did my clothes washing, had some brunch, and then Bruce and I looked up some things on my computer. This afternoon, I checked the bands a couple times. I worked a nice new prefix in SZ7SER on 15 meters. Not much else around. I also reorganized some things on the hard drives of my computer as I was running out of space for my Windows regular weekly backups. Later this afternoon, I had supper with Nancy, Bruce, and Jeff and then we all went out to one of Nancy's friends to pick a big batch of rhubarb. Then home again to see if I had now enough free space for my backup. I started it up and it just finished successfully a little while ago.
I had to look a while to find my streak(s) QSO this evening. There was a very strong OE station on 17, but he was engaged in a couple long rag chews. So I looked around some more, and found a somewhat weak ES3AX and thought I'd call him just to see if he could hear me at all. To my surprise my first call ended up with a nice QSO with August. If there is anything that amazes me at all about QRP, it's how easily I can often work someone whom I have trouble hearing on this end. Quite often it turns into a solid 2 way QSO with more difficulty copying on my end. I guess some folks are blessed to have a combination of good location, good antenna, good receiving equipment, and good 'ears'.
And a final note. We had a very tiny bit of s*(w today. Probably one of the latest times in a season we've had any of that stuff. Of course it was only a few flakes in the air that melted as soon as (or even before) they hit the ground. We've got a freeze warning again tonight so I left my plants covered all day today. Tomorrow the covers come off in readiness for near 80 degree temperatures on Wednesday. A 50 or so degree swing in just some 30-35 hours. -30-
Sunday, May 12, 2013 6:57 PM - Guess I'll write this a bit early today so I can try to finish the sprint log cross checking as soon after the submission deadline of 2400Z this evening as possible.
The bands were a bit on the boring side today. Not a single contest I had any interest at all in, and not much in the way of DX. BUT 9A5M was booming in on 15M, so I thought hey, I think I'll see how low in power I can go and work him. I cranked the KX3 down to 100mW which I guess is as low as it goes. There is a 0.0 watt setting on the power dial, but that probably does mean zero. Anyway I called and after he worked 3 or 4 other stations, it was my turn and he came right back to me with no repeats needed. That's 4,620.7 miles or 46,207 miles per watt. Maybe my best ever MPW figure. Maybe now I'll have to build another RF attenuator or dig out my old attenuator I used to cut my TS-570 output down to the mW range and see if I can get a better figure.
Oh, my Z81X QSO was a legitimate one. I am in their on-line log, so that makes me feel good. I always have a little doubt when I work such rare DX so easily.
My WAC yesterday came in 1 hour and 10 minutes. I'm not sure if that is my fastest ever WAC or not. When I get some time, I'll look into it. Here's a list of the stations:
AF - Z81X 2306Z 5/11
NA - CO6RD 2312Z 5/11
EU - I3VJW 2316Z 5/11
AS - RT9J 2347Z 5/11
OC - WH6R 0043Z 5/12
SA - PZ5RA 0116Z 5/12
Lot's of fun to do little things like that. It maintains my interest in ham radio.
Winter is making its final(?) two curtain calls tonight and tomorrow night with low temperatures predicted around 30 or so. That means I tuck my garden plants under the covers both nights, hopefully for the last time. -30-
Saturday, May 11, 2013 9:46 PM - Today was a good day in a couple ways. Early this morning I got this nice surprise in the mail:
I had no idea what was in the mailing tube lying on my porch under the mailbox, and still no idea when I saw it was from the ARRL. I thought maybe I'd won something in one of the recent ARRL contests, but I doubted that since I hadn't put in all that serious an effort in any of them lately. Probably 200-300 QSOs at best. So I had to take it inside and pop off the ends of the tube. When I did, the pin shown above dropped out. I didn't examine it closely then so I was still in the dark. The papers inside were a bit stubborn, but when I finally got them out, I found out it was 'honoring' my 40 years as an ARRL member. Not continuous years, but 40 nonetheless. I was not a member during the few years in the 70s and 80s when I was pretty much inactive in ham radio. It's always nice to get something unexpected (if it's a GOOD something, that is.)
That segues nicely into my second bit of 'goodness' for the day. It's said in sports as well as other activities in life that, "I'd rather be lucky than good." Well, I was lucky this evening. I was fooling around in the CQM contest because it's one of the bigger DX contests with the kind of high speed fast action CW that I love. There's nothing better, in my opinion, than that kind of activity in ham radio. Anyway, as I was checking 15M for stations to work in the contest, I came across what I thought I heard as Z81X. I figured I must have missed the first letter - maybe an L. But no, it was Z81X. I had no idea what that could be, but I knew it was a prefix I'd never worked before, so I hurried up and worked it easily simplex. OK, probably the majority of you reading this are thinking something like this, "Is he serious, he didn't know what Z81X was?" Well, I don't follow ham radio news much because I believe ham radio should be like it was in the old days without all the instantenous Internet news, spotting, clusters, etc. I have my fun just exploring the bands and working what I find interesting, and THEN, and only then, try to find out what I heard or worked via the Internet. It's much more fun to me that way.
So anyway, after I easily worked Z81X, I fired up my browser which I can now do on my shack computer since I set up the wireless network a few days ago. I punched Z81X into my Bing search bar, and was immediately shocked when virtually the first words I saw in the search results were "South Sudan". After the shock, I wondered about my working it so easily if it was really the South Sudan DXpedition station I worked, or some pirate. Well, as I was still listening to him, suddenly he went to split operation, and just as suddenly a 3 kHz or so wide pileup developed, and continued for at least a couple of hours after that. It had to be the real thing. I had just been very lucky and arrived just as he was starting his 15M stint apparently. Better lucky than good, for sure. So that is now overall entity #217 worked. Hope the QSL is as easy to get as was entity #216 A71CM.
So then I went back to the CQM contest. I don't have my log here, but either before or after Z81X I had worked a couple of JA stations pretty easily. I started thinking with AF and AS worked - 2 of the 3 hardest to work here along with OC - I might have a shot at a single day WAC since I had also worked NA and EU of course. I thought maybe I could find a KH6 station for OC, and surely some PY station for SA. Well, it didn't take long to find WH6R in the contest and work him for continent #5. SA proved harder. There was a PY4 station in the contest earlier who was having some keying problems and I didn't work him. Oddly enough with Brazilians seemingly very active in all contests lately, I just never did hear any other PY stations. That would be odd to have SA prevent me from my WAC. Finally I found a SA station on 17M as I was checking that band in between contesting. PZ5RA was working a pileup split frequency. I set up the KX3 for split, and with the dual receive capability quickly found exactly where PZ5RA was listening, and after waiting through a couple other calls, he came back with K3? and after I repeated my call, I had my late afternoon/early evening WAC in the books. A good day, indeed! -30-
Friday, May 10, 2013 9:31 PM - This was a quiet day for a change. I wish it had been busier with a lot more sprint logs to process, but they really slowed down today and we may be in danger of not even making our minimum of 100 logs this month. That would be a real disappointment and only the third time in 3 years we would have failed to make the 100 mark. Well, there are still some 48 hours left before the submission deadline so maybe we will still make it although we still need about a dozen to get there.
About all I did do today was to watch a couple videos - Young Indiana Jones and the Phantom Train of Doom and also an interesting show from 1989 featuring baseball records and the folks who set them. Then I watched a This Old House episode on the Internet.
I also got on the air a few times looking for a W to complete the NAQCC EU challenge. Of course getting a W from USA stations is easy, but the EU challenges require all letters and numbers to come only from EU stations operating in EU. This afternoon I had no luck, but did get GB75FOC for a new prefix. Other than that I haven't been working any FOC stations unless they do give me a new prefix like GB75 and a GN75 the other day. This evening my top priority was getting my streak(s) station which I did quickly when I worked HA1RJ at 0003Z. That's 73 days of DX now. Then I went back to searching for that elusive W. About ten minutes later I heard Slaw SP2LNW calling CQ. I'd worked him before and figured he'd be an easy QSO and he was. So finally I finished the EU May challenge and submitted my results. With that done, I thought I'd get only my second or third non-DX, non-contest QSO in May, and called CQ on 30, then 40 and got an answer and a 17 minute QSO from Marty N3BEV who coincidentally is also celebrating his 50th year as a ham. -30-
Thursday, May 09, 2013 9:00 PM - OK, let's pick up with my 50 years of ham radio now. On June 17, 1981 I returned to the air and made my first QSO since December 4, 1973. I worked W8VUV on 3528, ironically just 4 kHz from my last QSO in 1973. I continued using only 80 and 40 meters until November 9, 1982 when I made my first ever QSO on 30M working KW8J on 10140 kHz. That was not long after 30M became available as a ham radio band. Let me see if I can find the exact date. Well, I can't find it, and I'm not going to continue looking. If anyone has it, let me know. I find references to August and September 1982, but nothing any more specific. Whatever the case, when I first activated 30 meters here, there was still a ton of activity from everyone striving to get an early WAS on that band. Originally there was a 'no-no' zone in the middle of the band where no amateur activity was permitted. I believe it was from 10.109 to 10.113 if memory serves. I'm pretty sure of the low end, but not so sure of the high end.
I'm not sure of the exact facts about the early days of the band, but it certainly quickly became my favorite band and stayed that way for a long time. I still really like the band and use it quite a bit. My first DX on the band came on November 21, 1982 when I worked J88CI. All my QSOs, some 127 of them, came on 30M until I went back to 40 briefly on January 25, 1983.
Backing up a bit, I had a lot of fun working DX on 40M in 1981. Sometime between 1973 and 1981 (I believe), I installed my attic random wire which I used mainly for SWL and Maritime DXing in that period. When I got back to ham radio again, I found it loaded up well on 40M and later on 30M. I still used my old homebrew transmitter which I cut back in power to about 30W input. It could have been even lower than that as I have various powers listed in my log in that era. I see everything from 5 to 75 watts (all measured as final plate input power which means my real RF output power was probably some 50 to 60 percent of those figures). That sets up the next paragraph where I want to talk about my DX exploits in 1981.
On September 16 on 40M, I worked DL9ID DL1GBZ YU3DKS (in now defunct Yugoslavia) G4GLL. DL1GBZ told me I was his first ever DX contact. The next night on the 17th, I felt like some rare DX station when I worked ON6KD EA7AIN F3NB-G3US SM4BNZ-G6TC-GM8MJ-F6GOY. The hyphen indicating when I was tail-ended by the following station. Up until that time, that was by far my most exciting experience with DX. Actually even today, I don't get tail-ended by as much DX as I did then. I continued to work DX sporadically, nothing like those two nights. I worked stations like Y22JD (Now defunct East Germany - wish I could have gotten a QSL from him) F0AHY/FC (Corsica when their prefix was FC, not TK) and a few other stations. I still enjoyed rag chewing and some contesting over chasing DX at that time.
I continued with that portion of my ham career until September 23, 1983 when I made my last QSO with WA8FTT, and then went silent again until February 15, 1993. We'll pick up there in a future installment.
My streak(s) QSO this evening was a special Slovenian prefix station - S503EO. Earlier in the day I added another nice prefix in LZ1876SMB. Both those stations required but a single call to get them in my log. Later this evening I added N0SA (I think my first non-contest USA station this month perhaps) and YO7LCB. The S503EO call gave me the final zeroes for the NAQCC EU challenge, but I still need one W to complete that challenge. I did work EW8EW, but that was in a contest and doesn't count. Maybe tomorrow I'll find someone. -30-
Wednesday, May 08, 2013 10:53 PM - This was a busy evening with computer club followed by our NAQCC sprint, and my brain is tired right now. HI.
I managed to get in a DX QSO before the sprint to hit the 70 day mark in my current DX streak. Only 12 days now and I'll have my second longest DX streak at 82 days. I got an IK0 station earlier in the day to get two more zeroes for the NAQCC EU challenge. Now I need two zeroes and one W to finish up. Hopefully I can get them tomorrow. -30-
Tuesday, May 07, 2013 11:02 PM - A busy varied day today. Let's see if I can remember it all. I learned some more about wireless networking, and improved my setup today. Still a little short on file-sharing, but otherwise all doing well.
I took an hour out to go fishing, but the fish didn't show up except for some minnows who were too small to even get hooked. Still the weather was nice, so it was pleasant to sit there anyway.
I helped Nancy do some yard work trimming her front yard bushes, then did some more grass removal from my sidewalk (and hers also). I also walked Roscoe for a little while.
I managed to get on the air for a while in between everything else. I finished up our NAQCC challenge when I got the last 5 Es from a couple of Mexican stations. I also got a 9 for the NAQCC EU challenge, leaving 4 zeroes and 1 W to finish the other side of the pond challenge.
Then this evening I extended my streaks another day when I worked CP2/UA4WHX and CU/I4EML. Neither station was very strong, but still they copied me for the QSOs to be complete. I think if there is anything amazing about QRP at all (and there really isn't much), it's how easy it is to work stations who aren't very strong. So that's a good point - if you hear someone weak you want to work, don't figure he'll never copy your QRP. Give a try, and he just might hear you. -30-
Monday, May 06, 2013 9:57 PM - Another busy day today with not much time to check out the bands. Three major things occupied my time. First continuing to work on getting my wireless network up to snuff. I'm still there except my shack computer will not give me permission to access its files from my main computer. Windows XP home is supposed to have something called simple file sharing, but it doesn't seem to be working. I've got a few more tricks to try tomorrow. Second I did quite a bit of cleaning up around the yard and house outside today. Weeding, removing grass from the cracks between bricks - things like that. Third I helped Denny do some electrical work in his house. When all that finished, It was well past 0000Z, and I didn't think for a while I was going to get my streak QSO(s) this evening and would have to wait till tomorrow. However after about a half hour of trying, I did work XE1RZL on 20M to extend both streaks, and also get two of the 5 Es I needed to complete the NAQCC May challenge. Now I'm down to needing just three Es to finish up.
No, I haven't forgotten about my 50 years of ham radio story. It just seems that something comes up every day to occupy my time and keep me from working on it. I will pick it up again soon though, hopefully before it becomes 100 years of ham radio. HI. -30-
Sunday, May 05, 2013 9:24 PM - OK, now I'm rested up from the long day yesterday and ready to tell you about it. Mike arrived here around 10AM just as I was finishing my breakfast or brunch. We talked for a while, and then headed off for Columbus. I knew it was going to be a long trip, and because of that, I had to 'debate' with myself whether or not I wanted to go. I told Mike if it were in Pittsburgh, I wouldn't have hesitated at all and said yes right away. However the desire to see the match won out in the debate, and Mike ordered our tickets Friday night when he was here after our trip to the Pittsburgh Mills mall on Friday.
Mike's smart phone GPS was our guide to Columbus. To keep our minds occupied on the long drive, we decided to play some alphabet games. Finding all the letters of the alphabet on road signs. Then finding all the letters on license plates. Some of the letters were hard to find - Q both on signs and on plates, I and O on plates in particular although others took some time to find as well. Because some came slow, it took quite a while to complete the alphabets, and time passed quickly and we arrived in Columbus without really being tired out by the trip. Mike parked the car and this was our first view of the stadium as we walked across the parking lot:
We walked around the stadium for a while, visited the restroom, and bought some food. Mike had some White Castle sliders, and I had a grilled chicken sandwich. The rock music was so loud near the tables, we decided to just go up to our seats and eat there. This is the view of the pitch that we had from above and to the right of where our seats were:
And looking back across the pitch from the other end, the small red arrow shows where our seats were:
Here are the two Red Bulls fans posing for their pictures:
Nothing more need be said about that. Here's a view of the pitch from the other end of the stadium:
That's the skyline of Columbus to the right of the scoreboard. I'm sure you can tell from the pictures that Columbus has a first class soccer stadium. And it is a soccer stadium, having been built from scratch as a venue for soccer, not a stadium 'borrowed' from some other sport as a lot of teams have. It was the first such stadium in the MLS.
It was not the greatest soccer match ever played by any means. At least for the first 75 minutes or so. Columbus were outplaying New York, but couldn't get the ball in the net thanks to some good plays by the Red Bulls keeper, Robles. Other than Robles, the other 10 players looked like they were playing in a fog or playing as 10 individuals rather than as a team. Around the 78th minute something happened that sort of kick-started the New York team. One of the Red Bulls committed a foul in the penalty area and gave the Crew a penalty kick. As anyone who follows soccer knows, penalty kicks are pretty much 'gimmee' goals most of the time, but not always. This was one of those not always times, as Robles made a brilliant save diving to his right and punching the ball out of the way to keep the score knotted at 0-0. Shortly after that on a free kick from some ways outside of the box, he made another great save. That seemed to ignite the Red Bulls and they went on the attack finally, and not long after that, a nice header into the net over the Crew keeper gave New York a 1-0 lead to which they held on for the final 10+ minutes of the match including four added minutes due mainly to the antics of one of the New York defenders. It was great to look at one of the side scoreboards at the end of the game and see this:
So Mike and I were happy on the way home as we discussed the game and played the alphabet games again. We got home around 10:30PM or so. A long day, but a very good, enjoyable one.
I managed to get my streak(s) QSO before bed last night as I worked EW8EW on 20M in the RAI contest. It's a good thing because the bands weren't all that good during the day today. Nor this evening actually although I did manage to work Serg DL1DGS on 20 meters to extend the DX streak to 67 days now. Actually the DX streak really hasn't been all that challenging as it's been very easy to work DX most of this year so far. I wish I'd had the time to start the streak earlier in the year then I'd be well over 110-120 days or so now, but....
I spent quite a bit of time today setting up a wireless network to connect my shack and main computers together. Installing the router was a piece of cake, but the wireless adapter in the shack computer was a different story. It has given me fits all along the the way. I did finally get the connection when I found the Windows WZC service was turned off because a long time ago I shut down unneeded services in that computer to speed it up. Once I re-activated the WZC service, things worked smoothly, well except for file sharing. I can access the Internet just fine from the shack computer. I can access the main computer files just fine from the shack computer, but I'm still trying to figure out why I can't access the shack files from the main computer. I have one thing I haven't tried yet that hopefully will work. That is to give a password to my user account in the shack computer. I got rid of it years ago since it wasn't really needed. I'll see if that works sometime tomorrow, but tonight it's watching some Internet TV (Ask This Old House), and some TL, then off to bed. -30-
Saturday, May 04, 2013 11:35 PM - Just got home from the match a few minutes ago. All I'm going to say for now is that it was a very enjoyable day and our Red Bulls won over the Columbus Crew 1-0 in what turned out to be an interesting, if not very well-played game. More about it in tomorrow's entry.
Now I'm thinking about seeing if I can grab a quick DX QSO for my streaks before going to bed. -30-
Friday, May 03, 2013 10:01 PM - The weekend as such has just barely started and it's already been a busy one for me. After getting the NAQCC newsletter posted early this morning, then watering my newly planted garden, Mike KC2EGL came down and we headed to the Pittsburgh Mills where Mike had to get some new shoes for his return to work in a couple weeks or so and I got a wireless router and a wireless adapter with the intention of hooking my main computer and my shack computer together. That will have to wait a couple days though because tomorrow Mike and I are going to Columbus, Ohio to see our favorite MLS team, the New York Red Bulls take on the Columbus Crew. My first ever live soccer game, and I think Mike said it would be his first MLS game although he has seen other live pro soccer games. Either Mike or I will write about that tomorrow evening and maybe even have some pictures as well.
With most of tomorrow occupied, I knew I had to get my streak QSOs for sure just after 0000Z this evening, and I did. I easily worked the following starting at 0003Z: HA8QZ, RP68TT, RA1AOB, UA9MA, and OM3SX. Those QSOs plus some that Mike and I both worked late this afternoon and earlier evening put me much closer to finishing both NAQCC May challenges. I need 5 Es to finish the 'USA' challenge, and I think 6 letters/numbers to finish the EU challenge. Hopefully I can wrap both up on Sunday or Monday at the latest.
Oh, almost neglected to mention eating. HI. Mike and I ate at Applebee's in the Pittsburgh Mills. I had a 'fish and rings' dinner, and Mike had a shrimp and steak dinner. Of course 'rings' referring to onion rings instead of the standard fries. Mmmmm. -30-
Thursday, May 02, 2013 9:12 PM - The second beautiful May day in a row. Instead of fishing though, I planted all my garden. I've got the following planted. From bought plants: three Early Girl and one Big Boy tomatoes. From home started plants: three Siberian tomatoes, four pepper plants. From seeds planted today: one dozen pole beans, one dozen bush beans, about two dozen peas. That pretty much fills up my meager garden space although I do have about six square feet left in which I may add some more pepper plants. I'm sure Ange will offer me a lot of plants, but I'll have to tell him I only have space for a few pepper plants, that's all.
The bands were pretty good late this afternoon when I worked YN/IK2PFL, IA5A, II2CJ, S51Z. There were others also available, but those gave me a nice selection of letters for our NAQCC challenges. Out of some 90 letters altogether, I need about two dozen to complete both challenges. I hoped to pick up more letters this evening, but conditions slipped backwards again. I even resorted to a USA station to keep the main streak going when I couldn't find any workable DX. However after I worked W2BPI, things picked up a bit again and I worked CE2AWW with a single call, then R8MC with a single call and one repeat. None of those three calls this evening provided me with any new letters for the challenges though. -30-
Wednesday, May 01, 2013 9:40 PM - Of course there is the saying about March coming in like a Lion or a Lamb. Well, there should be a saying covering May as well. However I don't know what creature you could compare it to. It would have to be the most perfect creature to ever inhabit the earth, since the weather was absolutely perfect today. Virtually not a single cloud in the sky. Temperatures in the upper 70s. A nice breeze blowing. Ahhhh. Of course I took advantage and went fishing, something I hope to do a lot more of this year.
I thought I'd use the little red worms I bought when Denny and I went fishing a few days ago and see if there were any hungry bluegills in the river. When I got there, I saw a zillion tiny minnows swimming around in the water, but no bluegills. Anyway I put on a bobber and a small long shank hook, baited it and threw it in to a spot where I usually catch a lot of bluegills. I use the long shank hook because bluegills often are so aggressive, they swallow the hook, and the long shank ones are easier to remove without hurting the bluegill as much. Anyway as I was watching the little minnows swimming around the worm below the bobber, noticing the worm must have been too big for the tiny minnows, a large carp swam in from somewhere. He circled the worm a few times, took a bite at the bobber like the one last year who took my bobber in his mouth and swam around with it for a while, then seemed like he was not interested in the worm, and I thought he left. But then I saw him swim back and this time he grabbed the worm, hooked himself and took off to begin the games. I became very patient and was determined to not get too anxious and force him and lose him. I let him pretty much do what he wanted which is so very easy with the rod and bait casting reel Bruce, Nancy, and Joe got me for Christmas 2011. I really learned just exactly how to use it last year - all its little ins and outs. So after about 10 minutes I slithered down the bank next to the amphitheater, and landed him after he splashed me a couple time. Turned out he was just under the peak fighting size which I believe is 26 inches after catching hundreds of carp over the years. This one measured 25 inches, and put up a good fight. So that was the highlight of my day, and it's a good thing because the bands didn't provide much.
A minor geomagnetic storm turned the bands topsy turvy from what they were the past few days now. I heard virtually nothing around noon before fishing, and not much more in late afternoon. Some Caribbean stations were about it. Then for my streak QSO just after 0000Z, there was one strong EU station in EA4DRV whom I worked with a little difficulty. He was just about all I heard at all from other than NA and SA today. But it continued my streaks - the DX streak is now at 63 days and counting.
Well, that was a pretty long entry, so I think I'll end here and wait till tomorrow to get back to the 50 year history. It took 50 years to make the history, so I guess there's no real hurry to get it all said quickly. HI. -30-
Tuesday, April 30, 2013 9:25 PM - The sun is alive with a ton of sunspots - sung to the tune of "The Hills Are Alive With the Sound of Music." Yes, boys and girls, the sun is giving ham radio operators a great present to transition from April to May. Super DX conditions today and hopefully the next few days as well. Picking and choosing, I made 10 DX QSOs this afternoon and tonight. I could have made a lot more had I chosen to. Some highlights - YT9M and UR7GW worked with just 500mW; UR7GW with a single call; wish I'd called with still lower power - Nice Italian prefix in IA5A and possibly another new one in IZ6TGS - GN4FOC who took time out from running stations in the FOC activity to call me 'famous QRPer' and complimented me on the web site and my QRP activity - CE2AWW finally logged; nothing really special, but I had been trying unsuccessfully to work him recently - enough letters from calls this evening to get a good jump start on our NAQCC challenges, both main and EU Chapter. Ham radio is really an exciting hobby when "DX is alive with a ton of sunspots."
I got most of my end of the month work done today, except entering my April weather data into my Excel database which I'll do a little closer to midnight when all the data is complete. Then tomorrow after a trip to the bank, I should have an easy day to chase DX and/or go fishing. Oh, the weather is great also, along with band conditions.
Also I've got most of the NAQCC newsletter ready for posting after the addition of a couple more items. I'm rolling along pretty good now. Should even have time after tonight and tomorrow morning to get back to my 50 years of ham radio stories here in the diary. -30-
Monday, April 29, 2013 7:41 PM - I had an interesting QSO this afternoon. I think it was my longest ever rag chew with a Japanese ham. Taka in Chiba, Japan and I conversed for 13 minutes solid copy both ways even with some pretty deep QSB at times. That was on 15 meters which was in great shape late this afternoon with many strong DX stations. I kind of picked and chose what I wanted to work. Besides Taka, I also worked YO4ATW and 4X1UN. I think that's a new Israeli prefix for me.
Then this evening I heard mostly stations I've worked previously on the same bands, so I looked around for someone on a band I hadn't worked them before. I found TO5PX on 17 and worked him. I had worked him on 30 and 15 previously. Oh, I forgot - Taka's call is JA1KIH.
Earlier in the day it was washday, so I've got my clothes set for another week now. Then I had to go downtown to deposit a NAQCC donation in the NAQCC bank account. Then when I got home, I helped Denny do some work in his house. After that I got in a cleaning mood and ran the sweeper and mopped the kitchen floor. It was a good day for all the inside work, since it was showering/drizzling off and on all day. Only .22 inches of rain, but just persistent enough to be annoying.
The next couple days will be my end-of-month and first-of-month chores, so I'll be busy. I also need to get to work on this weekend's NAQCC newsletter. Seems like it never ends. -30-
Sunday, April 28, 2013 9:43 PM - As stated in yesterday's entry by Mike, this morning it was off to the Two Rivers hamfest along with Tom WY3H, and attending her first hamfest, Tom's wife JoAnne who isn't a ham, but she enjoyed the hamfest nevertheless, and we appreciated her company. Before we left though, Mike and I cooked ourselves some breakfast of Bacon Spam, scrambled eggs, toast, and toaster pastries.
It is one of the smaller hamfests in this area, but still there are a lot of nice items to look through, and it's always nice to fellowship in person with local area hams. I bought a nice lighted magnifying glass and some short cables with various connectors on them. When I was young(er), I couldn't understand why my mother and aunts used magnifying glasses so much. Well, now I know - it's because companies are constantly making their printed material, be it labels on items, instruction manuals, or most anything else, with smaller and smaller print each year for whatever reason - to save ink, paper - I don't really know, but one needs a magnifier as the years go by and print gets smaller and smaller.
When we came back from the hamfest, Mike had an hour or so before he had to head north, so we put another coat of polyurethane on our miniature wooden key bases, then went and checked the bands for DX. We worked a few stations, but nothing really out of the ordinary. Conditions were definitely better than they have been for the past several days.
However when this evening came, conditions seemed to have deteriorated a bit, and it took a bit of searching to find my DX streak QSO, but after about 15 minutes I found Zoli HA4FF strong on 20M and worked him easily to make it 60 days in a row now of working DX.
Hopefully in a couple entries this coming week, I'll continue with my 50 years report, but now I'm closing and going to take it easy for a couple hours before bedtime after getting up a little earlier than usual this morning. -30-
Saturday, April 27, 2013 11:32 PM - Greetings from Kittanning Pa. Yes this is your Saturday guest writer. The day started out when I arrived at John's place around 15:00Z with some idle chit-chat for a few minutes. Shortly after we set up for the Florida QSO Party which we worked in our 'tag team' mode. We worked the QSO party for six hours and fifteen minutes. We logged 128 entries wiht 46 counties worked. John worked his last county for Florida by logging Union County. We also worked a few entries in for the HB9 contest as well as a few DX opportunities. We took a dinner break around 21:00Z at Long John Silvers. It was a nice change of pace for dinner. After dinner we went back to work in the Flordia QSO Party for about a hour or so followed by a walk of 1.96 mile walk. The walk did us both some good. Fresh air has a habit of doing that to you. When we got back from our walk we went back to the airwaves and finished off tonights operating window for the Florida QSO Party and worked one more frm HB9 and a few other DX stations.
After we shut down operating for the night we started yet another project. We have QRP striaght keys from QRPME. The same company that provides the Tuna Tin kits. The kit even came with a nice little wood base. We sealed the bases with a varnish which will dry over night. We are about to start some major soldering on the board for the key. One resistor and one LED. Yep, kit building is a rough life. Hi-Hi!!!!
Once we finish our soldering we are going to take it easy before hitting the sack for the night. We have a early start tomorrow. We are going to the Two Rivers Hamfest tomorrow. I will be looking for some crystal's and clip leads to use with my Tuna Tin.
So until next time, CU on the radio. 73 Mike KC2EGL -30-
Friday, April 26, 2013 6:20 PM - I'm going to kind of write this as I go along this evening. I want to get caught up on some things I've overlooked, take care of some email feedback, and just in general get a lot of things taken care of.
Mike and I were talking the other night about who might be the station that I worked on the most different bands. I remembered one incident where W4HG and I worked each other on 8 bands in descending order in one evening in about 30-45 minutes or maybe less. We started on 10, and I believe I needed his state on 12 and asked him if he could QSY to there. He did and we worked on 12, then one of us suggested trying 15, and we just kept going lower and lower - 17, 20, 30, 40, 80 for a total of QSOs on 8 different bands. We didn't try 160 because we barely made it on 80 and figured 160 would be impossible as it was a very noisy evening.
Well, along with him, I also worked HC8N, K4LTA, and WY3H on 8 bands, albeit not in one day like W4HG. I also worked the following on 7 bands - G3TXF, HA0HW, K4BAI, KB4GID, WA2VYA, WI9WI, WJ9B, and WX9E. On 6 bands, over 100 different stations.
Oh, it was very easy to check with a SQL query to my Microsoft Access log with a bit of help then from Microsoft Excel to fine tune things. I love how I can do almost anything with my log using those two programs. It's the only way to fly as far as I am concerned.
And I found this hiding in my email box for the past couple weeks from Brion VE3FUJ, "Hi John Congratulation on on your 50 yrs in ham Radio. ---- Are you joining the Half Century Club now??? Hi Hi Brion 3011." Well, I am already a member of the FISTS Century Club, so I guess I can't go backwards. HI.
I guess most of the stuff I am taking care of is actually NAQCC business, but anyway to continue with the diary. I checked the bands a couple times today and they were pretty poor. My late afternoon check seemed to show them picking up a bit though, and perhaps I will be able to get a DX QSO after 0000Z to extend my DX streak to 58 days. I'd at least like to make it to 82 days so I'll have my 2nd longest streak. It would be nice to reach 100 again also. We'll see.
It was a somewhat busy day today. Taking Roscoe for his trim, bath, and manicure went well, and he again looks like a different dog as he did after his first trim back in February. After we brought him home, Nancy asked if I needed to go shopping. I thought of a couple things I could use from Wal-Mart up in one of our malls, and when I got there, I also thought of tomatoes, and bought 3 Early Girl plants and 1 Big (or was it Better) Boy plant. It won't be long now till they along with the Siberians and pepper plants go outside in the garden. Then I did some work around the house here. Which takes us to now and closing out the diary entry for this evening. -30-
Thursday, April 25, 2013 9:31 PM - In what has to be one of the fastest turnarounds in getting a QSL from an overall new country, I received this in the mail today.
As you see from the card, the QSO date was 4/13/13, and actually I didn't mail my card until a couple days after that on the 17th. So in just one week and 1 day I have my 206th DXCC entity confirmed. And it was the last new one worked. I'm still waiting on cards from 10 other unverified entities.
I thought maybe my DX streak might end today, although I would still have had 22+ hours to get a QSO. But it was rough this evening. About the only strong DX I heard was TZ6BB (and his huge unbreakable pileup) and LZ1QI whom I just worked on the same band a couple days ago. I don't like to work DX so close together for fear of depriving someone else of a QSO who needs the station more than I do.
Tomorrow morning early, I'm going to help take Roscoe for a trim. Saturday Mike is coming down for a tag team effort in the FL QSO Party, then stay here overnight and go to the hamfest I mentioned in yesterday's entry on Sunday morning. So a couple of busy days coming up which will be a lot of fun.
Oh, who did I work for the DX streak tonight. I forgot to say it was CO8LY. It had been quite a while since I heard him at all on the bands, and at one time, I could count on hearing him every day on this or that band. Then he surfaced again a few days ago, and I'm hearing him pretty regularly once again and worked him with a single call on 17M this evening.
This is a pretty long entry, so I'm just going to make a short paragraph addition to my 50 years story. As I said previously, I left the air in 1973 because I was busy working at WPIT and taking care of other matters besides. I never did get back on again until June 17, 1981. I stayed active until September 23, 1983 when I took another hiatus from ham radio. The biggest change in the early 80s was 30M being created as a ham radio band. When I did get on the band finally on November 9, 1982, it quickly became a favorite band of mine and remains as one of my favorites to this day. Although then, I used it as a domestic band whereas nowadays I use it mostly for DX. More about the early 80s in a future installment. -30-
Wednesday, April 24, 2013 11:38 PM - Mike dropped in for an impromptu visit this evening after a meeting here in town. We did some DXing, or tried to do some DXing, but conditions weren't all that good. Well, all that widespread, I guess would be more accurate. There were a few stations here and there, and one was very good, but faded by the time Mike arrived. However I worked AX7GN for my first AX prefix station, and I believe my first from the Tasmania area of Australia. That was on 20M and it was an easy QSO even though he wasn't very strong here. Took a single call, a question mark from him, two repeats of my call to make the QSO. That was before 0000Z, so I still needed another DX QSO for the 25th to continue my DX streak. So while waiting for Mike to come, I worked TO5PX on 30 and XF2E on 15.
I was hoping Mike would make it here in time to get AX7GN, but by the time he did get here, as I said, AX7GN had pretty much faded into the noise. So after we tried to work some more DX without any luck, we watched the next to the last Prisoner episode - #16 - Once Upon a Time. A fitting prelude to when we watch the last episode because #16 was pretty bizarre just like #17 is, only #16 is a little less so. Before we do watch the finale, we are going to try to find the 'missing episodes', i.e. the ones that were removed from YouTube for copyright reasons. I think I have them on videocassettes somewhere in my collection, but I'm not sure.
So anyway the bottom line is that it is now late, and I'm going to cut this short with one closing item. Mike, Tom WY3H, and I are going to the Two Rivers Hamfest on Sunday the 28th in McKeesport, PA. We'll be there from about 9AM until 2PM. We'd like to meet you if you will be in the area. We are not setting up anything, just attending, but we'll be wearing our NAQCC shirts and/or hats. -30-
Tuesday, April 23, 2013 9:16 PM - Looks like the sunspot activity is on the rise again. I see the SF is up to 118 today. DX did sound a little better on the bands today although 15, 12, and 10 still not up to what they were a couple weeks ago. I extended my DX streak another day this evening when I worked DJ4DY on 20M. I also worked an XF station on 30, and I'm still trying to get his exact call. His sending was a bit sloppy, he wasn't too strong and my local QRN was bad. I'm actually surprised I could work him, but I got him easily just after he went to split operation. I'll take a look at the Internet DX spots, etc. after I finish this entry and see if I can figure out who it was from that. OK now - I was right on what I thought the call was - XF2E.
Meanwhile, I'd like to update my 50 years and take it up to my first major gap in activity. I've pretty much covered the early years up to the founding of the CW County Hunters Net in May 1966, and the CHN part of the history is covered in my county hunting section so I'm not going to duplicate that here.
I started work at WPIT in April of 1969 and that started a decline in ham radio activity which eventually brought it to a temporary halt altogether in 1972/73. From April 1969 through 1973, I didn't really do much special in ham radio, only getting on when I could on my days off from work. I did establish a lasting friendship that continues to this day with Dave VE3BMR, now VA3RJ. We had many very long ragchews during those years, and then got reacquainted again in the 1990s.
Other things of interest during that time happened as well. Let me try to recall as much as I can. When I was going to Gateway Tech studying electronics, I introduced a fellow student to ham radio. I helped him get his license. In fact I believe I gave him his Novice test, although memory can play tricks after so many years. Nevertheless he did get his call of WN3JAI. We kept in touch for a while after the Gateway Tech years, but then did drift apart. I think he got his General as WA3JAI, but such a call is no longer listed anywhere.
Also at that time, if you lived in two locations as I did with my house here in Kittanning, and my apartment in Pittsburgh, you could get a second call for the second location. I applied for and got WA3IXO which I operated from my apartment in a truly QRP/QRPp operation. I think I used my old SW-500 receiver and I had a couple little xmtrs - one of which used a 2N3053 transistor as the final amp and put out a miniscule amount of RF into a wire strung around my rooming house room. I did manage to make QSOs though, and according to my current computer log containing all my QSOs from K3WWP, WA3IXO, K3WWP/3, N3AQC, etc., I made 121 QSOs from the room in Pittsburgh plus quite a few more when I operated WA3IXO/3 from here in Kittanning.
I didn't renew WA3IXO after it expired.
That pretty much takes us to December 4, 1973 when I made my last QSO until June 17, 1981 unless I think of something else from that early period to talk about. -30-
Monday, April 22, 2013 9:30 PM - Tonight I worked RO85MC and EI3KG for my streak QSO(s). That brought my current DX streak to 54 days which means I have to go back and check my previous DX streaks as I believe I had a 54 day streak once before, but I'm not sure.
OK, I've found a 81 day streak from 11/23/1999 through 2/11/2000. I was shut out on the 12th of February. I could have worked J3/K4LTA probably, and should have tried, but I had just worked him on that band a few days earlier and I didn't like repeating QSOs (and still don't) like that.
I started another DX streak the very next day which ran from 2/13/2000 through 7/15/2000 for 154 days. That explains the 54 days I was thinking of. I shot for and made 100 days, then extended it another 54 days.
All that means that my current streak of 54 days is my third longest DX streak, and I need 28 more days for it to become 2nd longest, and 101 days to be my best streak. Whew! I don't know if I can make it that far or not. However with the KX3 and the panadapter making DXing much easier than any previous setup I have had, who knows? Stay tuned to the diary to find out.
And I'll leave that little bit of DX 'trivia' be my 50 years of ham radio entry for tonight, and get back on a chronological track in a day or so. -30-
Sunday, April 21, 2013 9:28 PM - My ghost writer had to spirit himself off north a little early this evening leaving me to write this entry on my own. We finished up the weekend with a Papa John's Pizza - actually two of them. Then we finished up the MM contest with a couple additional QSOs followed by a Prisoner episode - one of the more bizarre ones with #6 having his brain contents switched with an operative in a further attempt to mine the information from his mind. That's all I'll say about it in case you haven't ever seen the show and want to watch the 17 episodes sometime.
Earlier in the day we fought the somewhat poor conditions to add to our totals in the remaining contests. That was after we had a Ponderosa breakfast. When things got even more slow in the contests, we took about a 2 1/2 or 3 mile walk and did a little further experimenting with my Tuna Tin rig we built several days ago. Oh and one further thing - we watched a good Internet video about the history of one of our all-time favorite soccer teams, the New York Cosmos.
As far as the contests go, Mike said he made 119 QSOs overall for the weekend. I'll have to total mine up in a minute. Mike also got his 98th QRP/CW country in Venezuela. So after finishing WAS with ND yesterday, now he needs only two more DX entities for QRP/CW DXCC.
OK, let's see the contest totals now. First of all I got 8 non-contest QSOs. Other totals were:
YUDX - 10
SD - 6
ON - 23
NE - 3
ND - 4
MM - 46
MI - 31
For a total of 131 QSOs + Mike's 119 made 250 overall QSOs between us. A pretty good weekend workout for my KX3. I'll have to give it a break now - at least till tomorrow afternoon or definitely no longer than time for my next streak QSO(s) tomorrow evening.
After working Petko LZ1QI just after 0000Z this evening, that stretched my DX streak to 53 days. Two more days and I'll top my 54 day streak I had around 2000-2001. When I get time, I'll check to see exactly how many DX streaks over 50 days I've had now and list them here. -30-
Saturday, April 20, 2013 10:53 PM - Good evening. John may get used to having the weekends off if I keep up with these weekend visits. Hi-Hi!!! Todays agenda started out around 14:00Z by diving straight into this weekends radio activities. There are eight events on the schedule. We scored a big goose egg with the Holyland DX. Not a peep heard from that direction. We were rather successful with the other seven events. We logged a total of 193 QSOs between us operating in the MM and YU DX contests and the MI, ND, SD, NE, and ON QSO parties. With logging North Dakota I have finally achieved QRP WAS. We logged a total five QSOs so far in the South Dakota QSO party. Four of which were the same operator K7RE who was mobile.
Of course we stopped for dinner at one of the local eateries. At this moment John is walking laps on the first floor of his QTH to get a bit of exercise. I will be joining him shortly. I need to get the blood flowing. Next on the agenda is a episode of 'The Prisoner'. It has become a regular event during our visits.
Hope to cu on the radio soon if not tomorrow when we hit the airwaves for more of the MM contest. 73 Mike, KC2EGL -30-
Friday, April 19, 2013 8:47 PM - Let's look back at my receivers through the ages as best as I can remember them. I started out with a Hallicrafters SW-500. It was basically a starter SWL receiver designed for listening to SW BC stations. It had different stations (i.e. China, USSR, Paris, etc.) actually marked on the dial along with other segments such as Police, Government, Aviation, etc. Although it did have the ham bands marked on it, I think they were added as an afterthought. The BFO for CW operation was simply a regenerative circuit that you could peak for either increased selectivity as a filter or to the point where it oscillated as a BFO. The selectivity was as broad as the proverbial 'barn door'. Not much fun operating CW with it although I did make some QSOs with it before I moved on up a bit. Another thing I remember about it was that my mom used to like to tune in the SW BC stations with it when I wasn't using it for ham radio.
The next receiver was a Knight Kit R100 which I purchased (or my parents purchased for me) used from Amateur Electronic Supply in Cleveland. Although I do still have the SW-500, I don't have the R100. I can't remember too much about it, even how I got rid of it. I believe it had two dials on it - one to set the band edge, then the second dial spread out the band. It was definitely better than the SW-500 with a true BFO and better selectivity.
I can't remember if the third receiver was a Hammarlund HQ-100 or a HQ-110 but it was one of those. I wanted a 170, but it wasn't in the budget, so I settled for what I got from AES second-hand again. It was somewhat similar to the R100, but with much better performance.
Next on the list was a Drake SPR-4, a second choice to the classic Drake 2B, again because of price. It came along during the period from 1974 through 1992 when I wasn't all that active in ham radio. I did a lot of SWL with it chasing BC, Maritime, and other SW stations.
Sometime probably in the 80s, I bought an Icom R-71A which was what I used when I became active again in the early 90s. It was by far better than any of the previous receivers, and I used it work a ton of stations in the 90s including a lot of DX. I still have it and the SPR-4 here up in my attic.
After using separate xmtrs and rcvrs all my ham career, I moved up to a xcvr on September 1, 1999 when my Kenwood TS-570D arrived in the mail. That changed everything and made ham radio much more convenient for me. No more changing a lot of switches and tuning a lot of knobs just to change bands or to go from xmit to rcv, although I did have a very good hmbw QSK system with the R-71A.
From the 570, I went to my K2 purchased from Mike KC2EGL 2 or 3 years ago, then to the current KX3 built back in October 2012.
I pretty much ran the gamut of most ham equipment manufacturers over the years, skipping only Yaesu and a couple other big names along the way. Each one was a big improvement over the previous one with the KX3 at a point where it will be hard to improve on its greatness. -30-
Thursday, April 18, 2013 9:34 PM - From 50 years of ham radio to 50 days of DX. Yes, for the past 50 days - 31 in March and 19 so far in April - I've worked at least one DX station. In fact, in that time, I see in a rough count 354 DX QSOs, an average of about 7 per day. This is what makes ham radio exciting and fun. I love working DX, and it is so easy right now. And this is a good follow-up to what I said about DX in last night's entry.
It was a nice weather day today. In fact the warmest day so far this year with a high of 86. Denny and I went fishing for a couple hours, but only one fish knew we were coming, I guess. Denny caught an 8 or 9 inch sucker and I suffered my 3rd straight shutout of the year, getting only a couple minor bites today. Things will pick up though.
More about the 50 years tomorrow. Perhaps a history of the different rigs and receivers I've used through the years with a little review of each as best as I can remember them. -30-
Wednesday, April 17, 2013 9:32 PM - Tonight's edition of "50 Years of Ham Radio" will deal with my DXploits in the 1960s and early 1970s. I actually was not all that much into DX at that time, as it wasn't all that easy to work DX with my setup I had then. I think the real reason was my lack of confidence plus perhaps the state of the art in receivers and antennas in those days. Let's face it, receivers and antennas have both become much better and more efficient in the past 50 years. Not to mention the better receivers and antennas nowadays being much more widely available and affordable. That makes the bottom line it is much easier to work DX now with 5 watts then it was then with 50 or 60 watts and similar antennas in both time frames.
One more factor needs mentioning. The state of the sunspot cycle. Of course allegedly the best sunspot cycle of all was the one centered around 1958. It was 5 years after that when I got my novice license which means it was in the depths of a sunspot cycle then. Basically I missed most all of the peak sunspot years until 2000 and 2001. Either I was off the air for work or my time at the peaks was limited for one reason or other. We'll develop that further later on.
Let me quickly query my Microsoft Access log and call up my DX QSOs from say 1963 through 1973. First of all, let's look at the number of days on which I had at least one DX QSO in each of those years. The figure following the DX Days is the total number of QSOs I had that year.
1963 - 6 - 1001
1964 - 18 - 3174
1965 - 10 - 2931
1966 - 11 - 5542
1967 - 13 - 3279
1968 - 23 - 2090
1969 - 1 - 540
1970 - 0 - 4
1971 - 0 - 0
1972 - 1 - 20
1973 - 0 - 32
The dropoff in 1969 was due to my starting work at WPIT which severely limited my operating time and eventually kept me off the air entirely from 1974 through 1980. The peak in 1968 was due to the increase in sunspot activity.
Now for an idea of what I was working, here is a list of the new countries worked per year.
1963 - K VE VP7 KZ5 KP4 CM YV KH6
1964 - HK VP9 DL KL7 ZL PY F FP VP2V HI 6Y
1965 - KG4 HP YN KV4 OA VP5
1966 - XE PJ5 ZD8 VK GM HA VP6 G
1967 - YU EL CR PJ3 ZS CT OH ON LA
1968 - HC 9Y YS I OE SM GW EI HB OK PA OZ GC TI
Just to identify some of the prefixes back then that have now changed. VP7 now C6, KZ5 was the Canal Zone, KV4 now KP2, VP6 now 8P, CR now D2, PJ3 now PJ4, GC now GU. All the rest are still the same.
Just a couple notes. PY2SO in 1964 was my first DX YL. ZL1HY in 1964 was a great half-hour rag chew on 40 meters. There was a total of 56 countries in all continents with the exception of Asia. Nowadays I do better in a single weekend in the big DX contests.
Now a bit of feedback about the history from Goran SM0PMJ who has been a diary reader for a long time now. He offers the following in response to wondering about how many dits and dahs I've dispersed into the ether over the years. The figures of course are just a rough estimate, but well thought out in their computation by Goran. Here goes - "Dear John, Just happened across a nice comment in your diary from N5XE Carl ("...congratulations on 50 years as a ham!! That's lots of dits and dahs travelling through space...").
Just for fun I made the following math exercise (hopefully error-free):
Suppose, John, you devoted your 50 years sending CW with an approx speed of 25 words/minute (i.e. sending the word PARIS 5 times/minute).
Suppose you have sent the word PARIS during 4 hours/day during 300 days/year during 50 years (some 2 months vacancies you probably have had each year, but I gather you have devoted some 4 hours per day to your beloved hobby.
Now, 25 words /minute = 1,500 words/hour = 6,000 words/4 hours = 1,800,000 words/300 days = 90,000,000 words during 50 years. Counted in dits and dahs (PARIS = 10 dits and 3 dahs, i.e in total 14) you have sent 1,260,000,000 dits/dahs. WOW John, just an impressing effort from your side...
Gee, my hand and wrist feel tired all of a sudden. -30-
Tuesday, April 16, 2013 9:26 PM - This turned out to be a "Help Thy Neighbor" day which are always good days. I took Roscoe for a walk, and while I was walking him, Denny asked me if I could help him fix one of his grandkids' bicycle. So after I took Roscoe home, we got the bicycle fixed. Then Ange had a broken rake that needed fixing, so we took care of that. Then I helped Nancy carry in some groceries from her car.
I never did get a chance to check the bands till I got on for my 0000Z streak QSO hunt. There wasn't much DX to be heard until I hit 40M where PV8ADI was booming in, so I worked him at 0008Z for my streak(s) QSO. That went quickly so I tried some CQs to see who I could work and caught N1QLL on 40 and then K1DCT on 30.
As far as history goes, just a brief note comparing then and now. Those new to ham radio reading this may be surprised to know that back 50 years ago, you had to log everthing! Yes, everything, QSOs, unanswered CQs, brief tests - basically anytime your transmitter transmitted anything, it had to go in your log. I think that was a good thing, or at least better than nowadays when basically you're not required to log anything.
Also back then, anytime you operated away from the QTH on your license, that had to be duly noted, and you had to sign /# after your call, the # being dependent on what call area you operated from, be it your own or another one. And if you moved permanently outside your call area, you had to get a new callsign reflecting that new call area. At least then, you knew approximately where someone was from according to the number in his call. Nowadays there is no indication at all, and you can get a vanity call that has no indication whatsoever what call area you are operating in. I guess that's called progress. -30-