NOTE ON MY AUGUST 2017 QST ARTICLE ON PAGE 73-74: Because of a slight mixup between the QST editors and me, there are a couple errors in the third paragraph from the end. It should read as follows with the corrections in red:
"I've also worked all continents, all states, and 91 DX entities with QRPp (1 W, down to as little as 50 mW). I could have even more DX, but I often don't think of dropping my power from 5 W until after I've worked someone I could have easily worked with QRPp. I had a QRPp streak of 447 days from May 1, 2010 through July 21, 2011, all of which were initiated with QRPp - not starting at 5 W, then lowering power."
Fri Aug 18 2017 8:43AM - This may be the earliest in the day I have ever written a diary entry, but I did want tell this story while still fresh in my mind and before I forget it with my slipping away 72 year old memory. HI
Sometime last night after the (non-)QSO I mentioned in last night's diary entry, I decided since conditions were so terrible and didn't look to be getting any better today that I'd email Nelson NP4LW who was the ham in question about the QSO just to see what he would say. So this morning I did just that about 15 minutes ago.
After that I went to the shack to check conditions. They did seem just as horrible as last night. There was one station on 20 meters just below my S3 noise level that I could hear, but not copy. I tried 17M and it was totally devoid of CW signals. I thought I'd try 30 meters, but I stopped at 20 on the way there and found a little stronger signal calling CQ. I crossed my fingers and hoped when he sent his call, it started with something other than A,K,N,W. Well it did. It was an X (E3ARV). I called a couple times and got no reply. A couple more times and got K3?. Three more times and Bob got my call, I got my DX QSO for day 1,632. Big sigh of relief.
So that, along with some rain overnight freed up today from chasing DX and watering gardens. Freed up for what, I don't know yet though. Nothing special planned except a shopping trip to pick up some groceries on sale starting today. I'll find something elso to do though.
While I'm typing, I'll mention this. I received an email from my friend Bob W3BBO mentioning that he checked my call on some Reverse Beacon Network. I knew about the RBN, but NEVER used it nor ever have any plans to do so. I consider it akin to spotting which I also NEVER use. Nothing against those who do use things like that, but they are just not a part of my style of doing ham radio. The only concession I make to modern technology is using a panadapter to save time when exploring the bands. When I get older, I don't know how much time I have left and don't want to waste it laboriously tuning the bands when I can just see the activity at a glance and check out the peaks that I do see. I'll never use anything like Skimmer (I think that's the name) which prints out the calls on the peaks on the screen.
To me, ham radio is like it was when I was a Novice, then General back in the 1960's where you fired up the station and tuned around the bands to find someone to work or to find a clear spot to call CQ. With the one exception of the panadapter it has always been that way with me, and always will be.
Oh, here's an excerpt from Bob's email. ".......I typed in your call [in the RBN] and it shows your activity on the bands for the past year. At first glance, I see I could probably find K3WWP on the air sometime between 00:00 and 01:00. No sense looking for John between
04:00 and 12:00 though. Hi. ....... Hope to work you guys in the Skeeter Hunt on Sunday."
Oh yes, the Skeeter Hunt. I'm looking forward to that on Sunday, then viewing the solar eclipse on Monday. Right now, the forecast for both days calls for sunny weather, although a bit hot, especially Monday. I hope you'll try to work Mike and me, and maybe Tom on Sunday. We'll be using the NAQCC club call of N3AQC from 1700-2100 probably only on 40 and 20 meters. I doubt 15 or 10 will be open. -30-
Thu Aug 17 2017 8:49PM - I may have to dig out that premature DX streak obituary I wrote just abou exactly a month ago and change the month from Jul to Aug to update it. Conditions are really the pits this evening.
Actually I did work a DX station, but after over 5 minutes of trying, he never did get my call right so I can't count it as a QSO. I'm just trying to remember some of the wrong calls he had. There were JAW, LWP, something with a G in it, and K3?, K3W?, and a couple others. I've said before I hate to have the streak end that way, knowing I made contact, but not being able to count the QSO. So hopefully conditions will improve by morning or afternoon.
That's about all I feel like writing now. -30-
Wed Aug 16 2017 9:05PM - Not a lot going on today other than a shopping trip to Walmart. Since I rely on someone else to take me up to the mall, I try to get as much as I can in one trip so they take a little longer than my usual walking shopping trips to stores here in downtown Kittanning.
Anyway I'm pretty much stocked up with items I can only get at Walmart for another month or so. I try to only schedule a trip there once a month or so. If I need another single item, Mike will usually stop there with me after we visit one of our eating establishments.
The bands were a bit rough tonight, but the streaks go on. I got an answer to my CQ from K0HNL who was quite strong here, but after I sent my info, he never came back to me, so I had to scratch that QSO. Then I worked KC9AWL down in Florida. It was a tough QSO, but we made a good one out of it. About the only DX station I heard was NP4AW on 40, and it only took a couple calls to get him solidly in the log.
It's going to be a busy next 10 days or so with the Skeeter Hunt on the 20th, the solar eclipse on the 21st, pizza night with Mike on the 23, and a trip to Skyview on the 27th. Whew! A lot of fun packed into a short period of time. -30-
Tue Aug 15 2017 7:00PM - When Mitch was here the other day, we were talking about which and how many entities we needed from each continent. Well, today I decided to find out exactly wnat I needed from each continent. You know me and my love of stats. I've added a table to my DXCC page in the AWARDS section with those stats.
I learned something today that pleased me. I should have known this, but my following of astronomy events has slipped lately. I was thinking the next total solar eclipse similar to the one next Monday wouldn't be until 2045. However on the Penn State Weather World Internet telecast this evening, they said there would be one on April 8, 2024 which included NW Pennsylvania in the path of totality. So if I can 'hang around' till then, I'll have a chance to see a total eclipse with just a short drive. I think I mentioned that Mike and I talked about driving down to Tennessee for Monday's eclipse, but decided against it largely because of the expense involved in about a 450-500 mile drive. I'm going to look up more about upcoming eclipses as soon as I get a chance. I want to be sure the info about 2024 is correct, for one thing.
Less than an hour now till streak time. I wonder what tonight will bring. -30-
Mon Aug 14 2017 8:45PM - Another busy day today with laundry, watering the garden, mailing a couple NAQCC prizes, a couple walks, some shopping, etc.
I've been watching the long range or medium range weather forecasts lately, and right now it looks like it might be clear around here for the solar eclipse a week from today. Of course it won't be total around here, but still will be interesting to observe via projection through my old 4 inch scope. That's similar to what I did for the transit of Mercury a couple years ago. See the diary archives for May 9, 2016 to see the setup I had for the transit. More about that as the day approaches. Oh, it should be about 80% total around here.
It looked like another one of those blown DX chances tonight. I was chasing Mike F5IN on 40, and one time he came back to a call something like KI0P. I had a hunch that might be me since the KI0P or whoever never came back to him. But I waited just in case. However a couple stations jumped right in, and from then on Mike had a stream of stations calling. I would hate to have something like that end my DX streak. Fortunately it didn't, as I found and worked CP4BT on 30 meters a little later. It took a couple repeats of my call, but it was a solid QSO after that. And it finished the letter B in our August NAQCC challenge. Now I need a few Os to finish it off. -30-
Sun Aug 13 2017 6:15PM - I did a lot of little jobs around the house today. Also spent time with Roscoe sitting on the porch enjoying the nice weather.
I got two DX QSOs last evening. One was EF1A in the WAE contest. Then I went to 30 meters to call some CQs, and got an answer from PJ7TM. When I logged Tom, I noticed he had answered my CQ previously as well about 3-4 years ago. Although it doesn't happen often with a QRP/simple wire antenna setup like mine, you can now and then get some DX station answer your CQ. I very seldom call CQ DX, and wasn't doing so last night, just regular CQs.
Another thing I did today was pull the dead flower stems from my daylillies. Along the way I ran into this beautiful creature.
When I got inside I went to Microsoft's Bing search engine and searched for 'yellow and black spider'. Bing turned up a bunch of hits including one on Wikipedia which I read. Turns out it's a spider with many common names as it says in this excerpt from the Wikipedia article, "yellow garden spider, black and yellow garden spider, golden garden spider, writing spider, corn spider, or McKinley spider". How would you like to have to remember all those names? Its scientific name is Argiope aurantia. It's non-poisonous to humans except for the very high risk persons who are sensitive to just about anything. OK, no use repeating the whole Wikipedia article. Here is a link to it. -30-
Sat Aug 12 2017 6:25PM - I had an enjoyable eyeball rag chew QSO today with a former Kittanning resident now living in FL. He came to Kittanning this weekend for a class reunion. I'm speaking of Mitch KI4TSI. Although our ham philosophy is about 180 degrees opposed, we both respect the other's way of operating. That's what makes ham radio so great. Each ham can operate the way he likes while respecting other ways. Of course there are some hams who think their way is the only way and all other ways are wrong. Fortunately they comprise only a small minority.
Of course you all know my style of operating, so let me tell you about Mitch. He operates phone and RTTY, no CW at all. He runs QRO (up to 1500 watts) power to a hex beam at 20 meters (I think that's the height he said). We are alike in that we both love chasing DX. Of course with his setup he has a few more countries than I do - actually a lot more - 316 to 225. He has all the European entities worked and only needs Libya to complete Africa. He also has not worked Navassa Island here in NA. I think that's the only one he needs in NA. I still need at least four entities in Europe - Andorra, Sovreign Military Order of Malta, Monk Apollo, and Market Reef. I think that's all. I haven't checked, just going from memory. Strangely I do have Libya in Africa and Navassa Island in North America.
When someone visits my shack, I usually try to work some DX while they are there. It doesn't always work though. Such was the case today even with the WAE contest in full swing. He arrived around 1800Z and the path to Europe with the decreasing sunspots was just closing down.
We talked about some local hams that he knew while living in Kittanning. There were only a couple that we mutually knew though. I showed him my QSL album with one QSL from each of the 212 entities I have confirmed via QSL card. That reminded me I still need to send a card to a few of the more recent entities I've worked.
We exchanged eyeball QSL cards, and he brought his QST with my article in it and wanted me to sign the article which I did. I don't think I've ever had a request like that before for anything in my life.
Time passed quickly and all too soon after an hour and a half or so, Mitch had to get ready for his class reunion later in the afternoon and evening. I really enjoyed the visit. It's always nice to get company, especially when we have common interests like ham radio. -30-
Fri Aug 11 2017 9:11PM - Another 0000Z DX streak QSO this evening. I love those. Tonight it was HI3T on 30 meters.
I did some more analyzing of my NAQCC Sprint stats today and this evening. Here's a table of my average QSOs per month per band:
Mon 20M 40M 80M
Jan 0.0 3.0 26.1
Feb 0.3 2.9 26.8
Mar 1.8 13.8 18.5
Apr 3.5 24.5 13.0
May 5.2 28.6 6.4
Jun 4.5 25.5 4.3
Jul 3.6 23.6 3.8
Aug 3.1 24.8 4.9
Sep 1.3 21.8 10.8
Oct 1.0 10.5 22.9
Nov 0.2 4.7 24.5
Dec 0.0 2.0 23.9
That really follows the seasons, doesn't it. I hope it points out that 80M also works during the summer months. The low figures for 80 during summer is largely due to very few folks going to 80 during the last part of the sprint. Conditions are often great there with signals above the usual summer QRN level.
Here's another bit of info that may interest some of you. It's a list of the stations I've worked most often during our sprints.
Thu Aug 10 2017 12:20PM - Here's that email from Mark WU7F. Mark and I have been web site / email friends for many years now. We have had only one on-air QSO on June 11, 2014 in one of our NAQCC sprints. I think this email sums up the reasons for the web site and the QST article better than anything I could come up with myself.
"John, I was delighted to read your article in the digital version of QST yesterday during a flight back to SLC, UT.
You inspired me to use QRP, and I did so exclusively for 12 years, and continue to use QRP often although not exclusively (I occasionally use an Elecraft KXPA100 @ 70W if conditions warrant it). Your experience proves that an operator can still make successful QSO's on the air - no "antenna farm" required (btw, I loved the reference to your antenna 'Victory Garden' in the article).
I credit you with providing the inspiration and proof that this concept works. Like so many others, I followed your advice and was able to prove it for myself. I am so glad I stumbled upon your website when I did (circa 2002). That's why I was so happy to see your article in QST. That same message of hope and encouragement that motivated me to get active on HF in spite of having less than an ideal antenna, QTH, or equipment; now has a wider distribution among ARRL readers. I'm sure your story will benefit many more Hams, just as it has done for me.
Thank you for all you do to inspire others to:
1. Get on the air
2. Make use of practical antennas
3. Use CW
4. Keep records and set goals to improve
5. Have fun
Furthermore, thanks for co-founding the NAQCC - a great organization that also continues to promote CW and QRP activity.
No need to respond to this email. I know you must be getting a great deal of email and encouragement. I just wanted to add my note of thanks and congratulations.
Your friend, Mark (WU7F) in Centerville, UT"
That's it, verbatim from what Mark sent except to reformat the list for HTML. I think it says it all without any further comment from me.
I've been busy the past couple days now preparing sprint logs for the cross-checking. So far we've gotten 117 logs. I think I will miss working with the logs after the end of this year. Well, except for the few each month that are poorly formatted and have to be tweaked before the cross-check software will accept them.
Oh, last night was another quick DX QSO from NP4R on 20M right after the clock turned to 0000Z. I like those kind of QSOs. -30-
Wed Aug 09 2017 7:00PM - Just killing time until 0000Z rolls around. After getting 55 QSOs in last night's sprint breaking my personal record for an August NAQCC sprint of 48, I thought I'd make a list of my most QSOs by month, and then set about to better the record as that month rolls around. Of course a lot of it will depend on conditions. A repeat of last night's conditions would be nice to have for each of our monthly NAQCC sprints, but that's not going to happen. Anyway here are my monthly records with the year listed.
Month QSOs Year Participants
Jan 50 2017 155
Feb 52 2017 143
Mar 46 2014 189
Apr 64 2017 263
May 54 2009 106
Jun 49 2013 195
Jul 43 2010 180
Aug 55 2017 not yet figured
Sep 50 2011 161
Oct 53 2013 223
Nov 46 2009 110
Dec 57 2010 178
Since 4 of the records are from this year, I should mention another thing that factors in. The size of our NAQCC membership and the increasing number of sprint participants. In fact after I wrote this, I went back and added the number of participants for each of my record sprints. All but the 2009 sprints were ones with above average participation. Oh well that killed some of the time now.
I got an interesting email from Mark WU7F today that I would like to quote in the diary. I'm waiting for permission from him. I never quote anything here without asking. OK, just as I finished typing that, he gave me his permission. So I'll quote it here in tomorrow's entry.
Well, I guess I'll get a snack and maybe go for a short walk to pass the rest of the time until 0000Z. -30-
Tue Aug 08 2017 11:16PM - I just submitted my log for the sprint and after I mention my DX QSO, I'm just going to let my sprint soapbox stand as my log entry. I tried for DX before the sprint from about 0000 to 0020Z without any luck. Then just before getting into the sprint at 0030Z I again checked for DX and found and worked S57V easily with just a repeat or two.
Now here's my soapbox, I think. OK, got it.
SOAPBOX: Just before the sprint, I checked my past sprint results to see what the most QSOs I made in an August sprint were. It was 48. So I set my goal to top that. I never compete against other folks, only myself so that gave me something to shoot for. The sprint started very slowly for me with only 9 QSOs the first half hour and I figured I had no shot at 48 whatsoever. However things then exploded and the next half hour I got 24 followed the next two half hours by 12 and 10 for a total of 55. From 0059 to 0130 I felt like I was a big contest station continually running stations even with several small pileups. I only wish more folks had come to 80 that last half hour. I did get 16 QSOs on 80, but should have had more had more folks checked that band. The QRN level was only S6 or 7 here and most signals were S8 or 9. I had a couple interesting times in the sprint. I had 3 QSOs in a row from DE - N8NA, NR3P, WB4FUN. I suspect, although I haven\'t checked, that the three are related somehow. WB4FUN is a club station. I know Karl N8NA from many contest QSOs over the years. I\'ll look that up later. Then the very next QSO was the former ARRL President Dave K1ZZ running 2 watts. I also worked Karl N8NA again on 80 meters. Well this is getting to be a book rather than a soapbox so I\'ll close with thanks to all for a very fun 2 hours. -30-
Mon Aug 07 2017 9:09PM - I got a couple emails today I'd like to discuss here in the diary.
First Larry W2LJ sent this email to further explain my SP5ELA QSO last evening: "John, I had to chuckle while reading your diary entry for August 6th, especially when you mentioned the DX station was SP5ELA. Being of Polish descent myself, it's not so much "a tremendous amount of patience" as it is "a tremendous amount of stubbornness". We usually refuse to give up! 73 de Larry W2LJ"
Well, patience or stubbornness, I'll take either one if it gets me a DX streak QSO. HI.
Another email was from Tim AC5SH, FISTS America President. FISTS is going to be honoring one of the greatest ladies who ever pounded brass. Sadly she is no longer with us. I'm sure you know of whom I speak - my late good friend Nancy Kott WZ8C, former FISTS president. I could talk forever about her and the wonderful things she has done for CW. You may recall that a few years ago shortly after her passing, our NAQCC honored her memory with a special event. Now FISTS is holding a special event of their own on Saturday September 30 through Monday October 2. I'm not going to give all the info here now, but I will when the date draws closer. Meanwhile you can go to the FISTS web site for details. I hope every one of my diary readers and all of our NAQCC members will join in this special event to honor Nancy's memory.
Once again I continue to get my DX QSO in the evening. Let's see when the last time I didn't get one in the evening and had to wait till morning or afternoon. I know one day was July 17 when I almost didn't make it for day # 1,600 in the streak. I can't remember without looking if there was another such day since. OK, just one day since then - July 22 when I had to wait till 1330 to work HP3SS. Tonight it was NP4AW on 20M at 0033Z for day # 1,622. -30-
Sun Aug 06 2017 8:50PM - It doesn't get much harder than this. I hate to make a DX station work so hard to get me in their log, but some folks have a tremendous amount of patience and will stick with someone till the QSO is complete. They will put other stations trying to break in 'on hold' so to speak and continue to work with the one station till he is in the log or it becomes hopeless. That pretty much describes what happened between me and SP5ELA on 40M a little while ago. It must have taken about 2-3 minutes for him to get my call, but he didn't give up. I guess I must have sent my call about 30 times before he got past K3W and finally sent K3WWP TU 559. Thanks to him, the DX streak goes yet another day.
I'm still continuing to work on my Main Streak report page. A lot of the things there were not in very uniform shape after some 23 updates of the page. I've tried to remedy that. It still needs some more work, but I'll get to that.
I had an interesting telephone call today from KI4TSI in Florida. He used to live in Kittanning many years ago and is coming back here for his 50th year class reunion later this week. We're going to try to get together for an eyeball QSO either Friday or more likely Saturday. He's neither a QRP or CW operator, but he respects QRP and CW unlike some hams. He's seriously into DX needing not that many entities to have them all. I forget the exact figure he said, but he has well over 300 now.
I've also made a big decision to finally retire completely from my work with the NAQCC. Well except for our WPA Chapter activities. I'll also still continue to participate in all club events as I do now. I won't continue my working with processing our sprint logs, nor continue mailing out club prizes after the end of this year. That will give me more time for other activities and put less strain on my aging body and mind - I hope. -30-
Sat Aug 05 2017 7:24PM - I'm still updating (and in some cases, correcting) my Main DX Streak story in the QRP section. I've added who is the QSO for each 1,000 QSO mark of the streak. I had some in the middle of the highlighted days section, but a lot missing at the beginning and end. Now there is one for each of 1 through 68 thousand QSOs.
I had to rely on PV8ADI on 40 meters last night for my DX streak QSO in the 0200Z hour. I wonder what tonight will bring in about a half hour now. Any DX contests this weekend? Let's see. Well, the NAQP is this weekend. I remember how I couldn't wait for those contests to come around in January and August. Now I wonder where and when I lost all my enthusiasm for them. I guess it's old age catching up (fast) on me. Anyway maybe I can find a KP4, KP2, KH6, or KL7 in it for my DX. We'll see.
It was a nice day after the cold/humidity front came through last evening. It produced some really strong wind gusts in the outflow ahead of the storms. It blew a big limb down on my neighbor's car. Other than the wind there wasn't much in the way of stominess. Only a little rain, almost no thunder and lightning. Anyway, I took a couple of fairly long walks today to enjoy the fine weather. It looks like no real hot weather coming back for a while now. Actually it hasn't been all that hot of a summer here. Quite a few humid days, but I can't recall any temperatures above about 92 so far.
I've got about 6 tomatoes which should be ready to pick in a day or two. Not the Siberian ones, they're still small and green. I'm talking about the Rutgers ones. After quite a few peas, my pea plants are dying off for some reason. I'm not having a very good garden year in 2017. Both my bush and pole beans are coming along pretty good though. In the non-vegetable line, my daylillies have pretty much stopped flowering now after giving nice displays during July. -30-
Fri Aug 04 2017 10:30AM - Well, 23 years is now a reality. I worked K3NLT, P4/DF4XX, and an old friend going back many years - Ernie VE3OU. Only two responses (NLT OU) to my diary request for QSOs last night. The bands were not all that good. Actually the DX stations on 40 were stronger than the W/VE stations in most cases.
So let's try again this evening. I'll try to get my DX streak QSO first at 0000Z. If I get one right away, I'll then start to call CQ on 7039 as I did last night. If no DX, I'll start my CQs at 0030 on 7039. Come on and help me get year #24 in the streak going.
Meanwhile I've updated the Main Streak story in the QRP section of the site with all comments and stats through today August 4. -30-
Thu Aug 03 2017 4:50PM - I'm just sitting here thinking about my streak. I remember several years ago when the streak reached a certain milestone, I announced it here in the diary in advance and invited you, my diary readers to try to work me on that milestone date.
Let's try that again this year. I know it's not much advance notice, but I'll try to get on 40 meters around 7039 in the 0000Z hour this evening and call CQ if you want to try to work me to close out the 23rd year of the streak.
Then tomorrow morning I'll announce another (or the same) plan for tomorrow evening to start the 24th year. -30-
Wed Aug 02 2017 12:43PM - I decided with my main streak about to reach the 23 year mark in a couple days, I'd take time now to analyze the DX streak before I do the same with the main streak in a few days.
August 1, 2017 marked day # 1,615 in the DX streak. I culled out of my Microsoft Access log with the help of Microsoft Excel the first DX QSO of each of the 1,615 days. Then I set out in Excel to analyze those 1,615 QSOs in various ways.
First by band and continent:
BAND DAYS CN DAYS
80 4 AF 61
40 228 AN 4
30 459 AS 39
20 563 EU 625
17 194 NA 640
15 118 OC 9
12 21 SA 237
Next by hour of day:
HOUR DAYS HOUR DAYS
00 1216 15 73
01 59 16 26
02 38 17 8
03 9 18 8
04 15 19 10
05 1 20 9
12 2 21 10
13 34 23 3
CQ Zones Worked: 28
Countries Worked: 131
Different Stations: 922
Top Ten + Ties:
Different Prefixes: 508
Top Ten + Ties:
Finally my 8 longest QSOs:
CALL MINUTES BAND
8J2VE 27 17
KL7QZ 11 17
CO8RRM 11 40
OE5FBL 9 20
SM7NDX 8 15
DL2MDU 8 17
EA3JJ 8 20
OE5MSM 8 30
I found all the info very interesting and informative. Perhaps the most surprising stat of all was the longest (timewise) QSO. Hard to believe it was with a Japanese station, but it was. Remember these stats only deal with the first DX station each day and don't by any means represent my overall DX stats in the streak or all time.
I'll have comments on the results in a future entry. -30-
Tue Aug 01 2017 9:03PM - I did a lot of First of the Month work today which I'm not going to list here. It was a busy day though, so I'm not going to write a long diary entry tonight.
I worked K8HSY in KY for my regular streak QSO on 30 meters. That leaves August 3 and 4 to complete 23 years of the streak and then start on year 24. Hmmm, wonder if I'll make it to 25. It would be nice to be able to say something like, "I made a quarter century of daily QRP/CW QSOs." wouldn't it?
The DX streak was easily extended another day also when I worked XE2I on 20 with but a single call. That's a bit unusual because sometimes I have trouble working him.
I've got 5 30M QSOs so far this month. I'm going to go for another NAQCC 30-30 award this month. I was on track last month but got distracted by a lot of other things the last week or so of the month and didn't make it. I'm also approaching the halfway mark in the NAQCC August challenge after just a little over a day. Last month it took almost to the end of the month to finish the challenge.
So a lot of ham radio things along with other things to keep me busy here this month. -30-
Mon Jul 31 2017 4:08PM - Although it's been a very busy day with sprint closeout work, laundry, end of the month chores, etc., I did promise a wrapup with pictures of our FOBB operation yesterday. First a correction. Our QSO total was 52, not 53. I looked at my log wrong.
Mike arrived a little later than planned around Noon, and we pretty much just headed to the park as soon as he got here. Our set up of antennas and rigs went pretty smoothly with only one real glitch. Mike's Jackite mount that we built a few weeks ago wound up being just a tad too small since his Jackite pole was bigger in diameter by just enough that it wouldn't slip in the mount since we based his mount on my dimensions. The solution? Mike removed the bottom section of his pole and it fit just fine then. We'll address a permanent solution later.
Here is my Jackite pole with the jumper inverted vee antenna and my homebrew mount out behind (to the left of from our perspective) the pavilion. This was our first time using this particular pavilion and it worked out fine except for the bugs. More on that later.
Mike set up his antenna 90 degrees to mine out from another side of the pavilion as shown here.
As far as our rig setups, here is mine with the KX3/PX3 and stand, Bencher paddle, headphones, MFJ clock, paper log and pen with my cheaters on it, my NAQCC WPA Chapter hat, and my 17aH battery pack.
This is Mike at work trying to squeeze out some QSOs from a very poor 40 meter band. That's his KX3/PX3 combo, Begali paddle, paper log, and battery pack.
And then there is this old fellow enjoying himself making QSOs on 20 meters, which was in much better shape than 40 on this Sunday afternoon.
I usually don't like pictures of my old self, but I kind of like this one, and think I'll incorporate it into the logo on the main page of the site as my 2017 picture.
It was funny (not to Mike though) how the bugs were constantly attacking him the whole time we were there, but they weren't bothering me one bit. I guess Mike's younger skin was better for them than my old skin. He got one particularly nasty bite that actually drew blood from his leg through his sock as shown here:
We did have one minor problem. For the first half hour, there was no interference between us despite the close proximity of our stations and antennas. Suddenly Mike's 40 meters signal was very strong all over a good portion of 20 meters. It took us a while to figure out what was going on. Mike had said his SWR was jumping around a lot. Putting two and two together I asked if he had a coax coupler in his feedline somewhere. He did, and I suggested checking it. He found it was very loose and as soon as he tightened it, all was fine again and we went on our way making QSOs.
One strange thing that seems to happen on every portable operation showed up again. When it comes to a choice of bands, I generally always select the one that will have the least activity so whoever is with me can take care of the busier band. So I chose 20 and let Mike have 40 since I was sure with the current conditions, 40 would be much the better band like it was when Jody, Don, and I were out in the park a couple weeks ago. However it seems my plan always backfires and the band I select as the poorer one winds up the busiest one. That was true again for the FOBB when 20 provided 42 QSOs and 40 only 10 QSOs.
We shut down a half hour early since I had pretty much worked 20 dry and wasn't finding any new stations to work and it was the same with Mike. Just before we tore down though, I heard EC1CT right on 14060 and decided to try to work him. It took a while for him to get my call right, but we finally did have a good QSO. I think it might be the first time I worked Spain from the park.
We headed home, then up to Wendy's where we each had a Baconator sandwich combo. Then back here for some DX after we submitted our FOBB report. I forget just what Mike worked, but I passed on working some of the stations since I already had them and wanted to "ration" them out for my streak. There wasn't much in the way of DX to be worked, so it was some computer gaming until 0000Z when we went back to the shack for my DX streak QSO. I tried S57DX for a while on 30 with no luck, then went to 20 where I got KP4TF easily even though he was rather weak. Then Mike also worked him. That concluded our day as Mike had to head home. Next up for us is the Skeeter Hunt on August 20.
Now I think I'll adapt this entry a bit and include it in my NAQCC WPA Chapter news report for the August newsletter. -30-
Sun Jul 30 2017 8:53PM - A good day in the park for the FOBB contest. Mike and I had a great time except for the bugs that were bugging Mike. We took a lot of good pictures that I'll have to take time to process, so they won't be posted until tomorrow's diary entry.
Just a brief note of our results for now. We made a total of 53 QSOs of which 29 were with other bumblebees. We worked 26 SPCs all together.
Oh, Mike did survive the insect attack in one piece. Actually the pictures tomorrow will include a graphic presentation of one of the bites. -30-
Sat Jul 29 2017 8:47PM - After a little bit of sweating with there being the big IOTA contest on and not being heard by the 3 or 4 stations I tried, the worm turned and a single call to P40X netted a QSO with no repeats needed. And he was one of the ones who wasn't hearing me earlier. Goes to show that persistence counts. Remember conditions do change and change quickly especially around sunset. Keep that in mind when chasing some DX station you really want to work. It seemed to be a change in conditions for me tonight, but there is also something else. Often a station working a pileup will briefly run out of stations in the pile allowing we QRP stations to sneak in during the lull. There are all kind of little tricks when it comes to working DX. Those who are fully armed with all the tricks are the ones who can make the QSOs, be it with QRO or QRP power, heck even QRPp for that matter.
I'm still organizing my (mostly) ham radio files on the computer. I'm finding several duplicates and several that I don't need any longer or don't ever remember exactly what they were for at the time.
I ran across one today I thought I'd share here. I made this small file some years ago for some reason or other. It's a list of EVERY one of my 90,000+ QSOs that were made with a mode other than CW.
1/17/69 1806 W3FHT X A3
1/26/69 1914 WA3GPK X A3
3/1/69 1900 VE3BMR X A3a
3/1/69 1905 VE3BMR X A3a
3/5/69 1843 WA8NYB X A3a
3/7/69 2230 VE3BMR X A3a
3/10/69 2023 WA3GPK X A3J
As you see, it lists the Date, UTC Time, Station worked, ?, and Mode. I don't remember what the X was for and since I virtually never use them (except these 7 QSOs), I don't know what the mode designations mean other than they are some kind of voice mode (gee it hurts to even type that).
As best as I can recall, I used a homebrew AM transmitter for the first QSO. I guess I was really bored one day, and just wanted to see how AM worked. I think it ran something like 5 watts output. I may delve back into my old logs to see if there is any more info there. The others may be when WA3GPK from here in town wanted me to check his rig for him and loaned it to me so he could see how it sounded. That was probably SSB.
I guess we all sin when we're young to some extent. This is my confession. I used something other than CW for about 0.0077% of my total QSOs. -30-
Fri Jul 28 2017 8:26PM - It has never been any easier than tonight, except maybe by a few seconds here and there. I worked HI3A at 0000Z on 30M with but a single call. I checked 20 at 2359Z and found GD4FOC, but working a pileup. I tuned to 30, saw a peak on the PX3, tuned it in and it was HI3A. Quite a contrast to last night when I just couldn't work any DX although I did finally get 9A6M at 0406Z.
After that I had a strange QSO - well confusing I guess. I called CQ on 20 meters and after a few CQs someone sent K3WW K3WW. I didn't know if he wanted the last letter of my call or what so I sent QRZ? and as soon as I did that, I realized it was Chas K3WW answering my CQ. HI Unfortunately it wasn't much of a QSO as I was only 339 there and he went quickly from 559 to 339 also then he went into my noise.
Right now, I'm just watching the radar trying to figure out what the rain is going to do. Right now there's some heavy rain in southern Armstrong County moving away slowly to the SE with some other areas of rain to our N and NW heading this way but kind of diminishing as it does so.
Sunday Mike and I and maybe Tom head to the park to put N3AQC into the FOBB contest. It's supposed to be nice by then with a high in the upper 70s and low(er) humidity. Now if the bands cooperate it should be a nice day. Well, even if they don't, it's still always nice to get together with Mike and Tom.
I'm still working on some files here. Today I'm updating an Excel spreadsheet of all my 1000+MPW QSOs by country, state and province. I've got a total of 2074 such QSOs now. -30-
Thu Jul 27 2017 7:10PM - Mike and I had a good time last night as usual. It started with a Vocelli's pizza (of course), then we headed to the shack where conditions were pretty good for a change. We both worked TI5/YN7SU on 20 and HG2DX on 40. That was a new prefix for me. Then Mike worked a couple more DX stations including PV8ADI. I can't remember the other(s). A Sherlock Holmes computer game and then Mike had to head home.
Also yesterday I received my 13 Colonies certificate for working all 13 colonies stations plus WM3PEN as shown here:
I'm continuing to clean up a lot of old spreadsheet files. Deleting the ones I don't need any more and updating the ones I want to keep. All dealing with my K3WWP endeavors. You know how I love statistics and love working with Microsoft Access and Excel to analyze them.
About 45 minutes now till time to head for the shack hopefully for some DX. -30-
Wed Jul 26 2017 4:53PM - My DX came easily late last night so no worries during the day today. It was YW450ARV on 30M in the 0200Z hour. One call did it. It's all in the timing - with current conditions the window for working DX easily with QRP is only open a tiny bit now and then.
I was going through some old files today and found some that I had started but never finished. One was an Excel spreadsheet of DX QSOs by continent, hour, and band. I have all continents finished and hope to post it somewhere in my DX section when I get time. Here's a text example of the Europe page:
I think I started with the 1700Z hour because that made it local time Noon to Noon which would show more clearly how early in the afternoon and late in the morning propagation was good to that particular continent. Of course all QSOs are only QRP/CW/simple wire antennas as are all the stats on the web site. I found it very interesting to see just when the path to Europe is good on each band. Of course it is biased somewhat by my operating habits. The big bulge in the 0000Z hour comes from my streak QSOs. That is somewhat balanced by my contest activities which make it more of an accurate indicator of propagation. I seldom operate past the 0500Z hour and don't really start up again until the 1300Z hour which contributes to the low totals between those hours. It would be even more interesting to see such a chart from the big QRP contest stations who do work around the clock in the big DX contests.
Tonight is a fourth Wednesday so Mike will be visiting later around 0000Z for our regular pizza night and then we'll try for some DX and talk about plans for our FOBB parkpedition on Sunday. Looks like a beautiful day Sunday as of right now. -30-
Tue Jul 25 2017 9:02PM - I'm beginning to really dislike these evenings when I can't get my DX QSO. Tonight was especially rough. I heard and tried maybe a half dozen stations. YN2RP QRT shortly after I found him. I might have been able to get him had he stayed. Other than that, the best shot was EA8AF. I got K3? from him, but he couldn't get any further than that despite maybe 8-10 tries. All the other stations didn't hear me at all, even CO8ZZ who was very strong on 40 meters. Well, at least tomorrow I don't have anything else pressing to do so I can check the bands frequently for DX. More and more, I don't think I would be all that unhappy or disappointed if the DX streak would end.
Unlike tomorrow, today was a busy day. It was the day for Roscoe to go to the groomer. Let's see if I can fix up a quick before and after shot.
After he recovered from the grooming and bath, he seems to feel better and cooler now with his crew cut all over as we put it. In fact he has perked up a lot. That's due not entirely to the grooming and bath, but the much lower humidity today after the cold front passage. -30-
Mon Jul 24 2017 5:17PM - Wow, feels like we went from mid-July to mid-September in the past couple hours as the cold (humidity?) front swept through from Canada. The temperature only dropped a few degrees, but the humidity dropped some 20+ percent. Nice!
I haven't posted any garden pictures lately, and you do mention the garden when you email me, so:
Starting at upper left and going by rows:
1. My slow (this year) Siberian tomatoes
2. Bush beans
4. My slow (this year) peppers
5. Tall peas
6. Four Rutgers tomatoes
7. Speckled butter beans
8. Two more Rutgers tomatoes
And that's it for today's entry. -30-
Sun Jul 23 2017 10:40PM - That worked out good. I closed out the NAQCC sprint page for Corey a minute before 0000Z, went to the shack and quickly worked HI3AA at 0002Z for the streak, then finished off the sprint log cross-checking. Went over to visit Roscoe and Bruce after than, and now finishing my web site nightly updates. It's nice when things go smoothly like that.
Earlier in the day I updated some stats in the latest DX Streak story in the QRP section of my web site. Someone wanted the stats for a club newsletter he writes so I thought it would be a convenient time to update them for him and then also do the web site story. -30-
Sat Jul 22 2017 8:30PM - Both days covered for the DX streak. HP3SS in the 13Z hour and just a bit ago NP2X on 40 at 0006Z.
I'm starting to get more questions in feedback on the QST article. Some very good ones, and I'm happy to try to answer them. However I'm far from an expert in many fields of ham radio, and I don't know everything about QRP or CW or simple wire antennas either. I certainly know more about those topics that others, but still very far from an expert for sure. Anyway don't be afraid to ask, but do keep that in mind.
Thankfully all the weather forecasts so far this weekend were way off. Some were predicting strong winds, heavy rain, severe thunderstorms, etc. However so far we've had less than .10 inches of rain and I don't even recall hearing any thunder nor seeing any strong winds blowing things around. They are going to try again tomorrow with pretty much a similar forecast, so perhaps we will get hit tomorrow.
At least with my indoor antennas, I don't really have to worry about lightning. The house may get hit sometime, but it won't be because of my ham radio antennas. Just another advantage of not having a big outdoor antenna farm like so many folks do.
I prepped some more logs from our NAQCC sprint for cross-checking today. We're up to 115 now which considering the poor conditions is very good. -30-
Fri Jul 21 2017 8:45PM - After 4 evenings of a quick DX QSO in the 0000Z hour we're back to the poor DX conditions of a few days ago. The only DX I heard tonight was a YV5 station on 40, and he is a station that never hears me even when he is very strong. Tonight he wasn't strong so I didn't even try him. Looks like it will be the morning or afternoon for my DX. Wonder if there are any DX contests this weekend. Let me look. I'm thinking the IOTA contest, but that's probably next weekend. Well, there's a Scottish DX contest that's everyone work everyone so that may help. Never heard of that one before. If it is new, perhaps it won't draw all that much activity. We'll see.
I had to read my article again after someone asked about something. There is one place that is somewhat confusing. Where it says "(bands - contacts)" in describing stats about each of my streaks, that means the first contact of each day in the streaks, not overall QSOs in the streaks. That was an addition by the QST editor(s) which I didn't catch in the preview of the article or I would have asked them to make it more clear.
I'm still continuing to get great comments on the article, and if I missed thanking you personally, again let me say thanks to you via this diary entry.
The article certainly has given me a huge surge of visitors to my web site. Since it was first posted on line back on July 7, I've had (not counting today yet) 2,404 visitors (actually visits to be completely accurate - I'm sure many visitors have come more than once) in 14 days for an average of 171.7 per day, about 90 more than my average of late. Thanks also to you who are visiting and welcome. Many of you have told me you like what you see hear. I'm glad to hear that. -30-
Thu Jul 20 2017 8:38PM - Spent quite a bit of time today prepping logs from our NAQCC sprint for the cross-checking. Every sprint I try to make the process more efficient, and I am succeeding in that. Still there are some who mess up the process by sending logs in some non-standard format and that really slows down the process. Fortunately the percentage of malformed logs has been steadily decreasing. There are still some little log glitches that need to be manually corrected by me before the cross-check Excel software will handle them correctly.
We're almost to our standard 100+ logs once again. I think at the moment it's 97 logs with a lot of time to go over the 100 mark. Only 6 times since we first cracked the 100 log barrier in April 2010 have we failed to reach 100, and 5 of those times we just missed by 3, 3, 2, 8, 4 logs with another one missed by 13 logs. It's been 88 sprints now since that April 2010 one. I think that speaks volumes about the quality of our club members.
I had a good sprint last night and I did stick it out for the full two hours despite what I said in the last diary entry. I wound up with 39 QSOs and so far only one person has reported more (40) in the 97 logs I've looked at so far.
Many of you mention the DX streak when you email or oherwise contact me. It's alive and well for another day at 1,604 days after working Nelson NP4LW a short while ago on 20 meters. The bands seem to have recovered nicely from the big geomagnetic storm of a couple days ago. I found it interesting to have heard two Israel stations this evening, one on 20 and one on 30 or maybe the same one on both bands. I didn't catch the suffix of the 30M station. -30-
Wed Jul 19 2017 8:07PM - Just a few minutes now till our NAQCC sprint. I don't know if I'll do the full two hours or not. It's awful hot in my shack and I'm getting less tolerant of heat as I get older and older. I may just get in long enough to get a few QSOs so I can continue my record of never missing one of our sprints.
DX came at 0000Z thanks to David XE1XR on 20 meters, so that is not a worry for another 23+ hours now.
Out ot walk Roscoe now before the sprint. Later. -30-
Tue Jul 18 2017 4:47PM - Our parkpedition went off without a hitch today. The only negative was somewhat poor propagation especially on 30 and 20 meters. 40 was pretty good at the start but it declined as time went by. Signal reports started out being 579-599 and gradually dropped to 449-569 in the third hour. All in all we made 42 QSOs in the following 16 states:
CT GA IL IN KS MA ME MI MS NH NJ NC OH VA VT WI
The day started with me walking Roscoe and grabbing a bite of breakfast. Then my neighbor, Roscoe's owner Bruce drove me to the park where I was setting up my equipment when Don K3RLL arrived. When he and I were set up and operating, Jody K3JZD arrived. Don and Jody hadn't seen each other in person for a while so they chatted for a while about their motorcycles and other things. We stayed active for a couple hours when things really slowed down. Don shut down and headed home, and Jody and I shut down not too long after that. I invited Jody to visit my shack at home since he had never seen it before. So we waited for Bruce to come and pick me up. Jody followed us home. I gave him the nickel tour of my antenna 'victory garden' and my shack sans rig since I hadn't unpacked it. Soon it was time for Jody to depart. Now let's close with some pictures of our outing.
It was a beautiful day with a clear blue sky as shown here. It was pretty comfortable in the pavilion - not too hot or cold, and not much humidity:
Usually antenna pictures don't show up too well against the background of trees, but my jumper inverted vee stands out pretty well in this picture:
Here's a view of my Jackite pole and mount as I saw it from my operating position:
A wide angle view of my antenna, our pavilion, and Don and Jody's motorcycles:
My setup of KX3, PX3, Battery, Phones, Key, and UTC Clock:
The two other partners in crime. That's Jody K3JZD at left and Don K3RLL at right:
And that wraps up another parkpedition, but not before we say thanks to all of you who took time out of your day to work us and make our trip worthwhile. -30-
Mon Jul 17 2017 7:55PM - Disregard the rest of this entry after this paragraph. It is no longer true as of 5 minutes ago. I'm going to leave it here though since I spent quite a bit of time writing it about an hour ago. At 2350Z I heard my friend Alex HC2AO not too strong on 30 meters just signing off with someone. I heard him say he was running 10 watts. Well, Alex has to be one of the best ops in the world who also apparently has a great location down there in Ecuador. I believe he is a Russian who emigrated to there. Anyway to make a long story short, a single call to him after he sent dit dit resulted in K3WWP John 579 579 and the DX streak lives at 1,600 days despite what I wrote below. We even chatted a couple minutes. THANK YOU Alex. Whew!
On February 28, 2013 I didn't work any DX. On July 17, 2017 I didn't work any DX. However on every day in between those 2 dates I did work some DX. That was 1,599 straight days of DX, but now it's over and I have to decide where to go from here. Of course the big streak is still going strong and (knock on wood) should continue pretty much despite conditions. Something the DX streak couldn't handle. The severe geomagnetic storminess that persisted pretty much for at least 24 hours saw to that. I took notes along the way today figuring this had a good chance of being a day without DX. Here is what I found in my periodic checks today on mainly 20, 17, and 15 meters - mostly 20.
0000Z - Bands devoid of DX
0300Z - Same
1300Z - Bands just about totally dead
1430Z - Only KW7D (weak) working K1DXA (about S6) heard plus one unID S7 station around 14056 (CHN?)
1600Z - Few stronger USA stations, but no DX. KW7D normally strong still very weak
1730Z - K1DXA + two other USA stations, still no DX heard.
1930Z - A few strong USA stations, but no DX heard.
2000Z - W1AW booming on 17 and 20. A few other strong USA stations, but only DX was PV8ADI who usually is well over S9 anytime I hear him. This time he was S3 right down at or just slightly above my local noise level. He was working some Europeans, but wasn't hearing a couple USA stations calling him. I never bothered to try him.
2100Z - Things continue the same - PV8ADI the only DX heard and still only S3-4 at best.
2200Z - Still the same except YW450ARV takes the place of PV8ADI at about the same weak signal level.
2230Z - S57V about S5 on 30 meters, but not hearing me and QRT not long after I found him.
Despite the streak ending, I think I have proven that on at least 99% of days, DX can be worked with a simple setup like mine consisting of QRP/CW/simple mostly indoor antennas. Actually 1,599 of 1,600 days is 99.9375%. I'll be updating my DX streaks page over the next week or so as time permits.
I have mixed emotions about it ending. I'm sad of course as it was a lot of fun on most days. In another way I'm glad because of late with the decline in the sunspot cycle some days it took up a good bit of my time to find and work the DX.
Will I try to pick up the streak again. Probably not, but I'll still continue to chase DX as it is my most favorite activity. I might even work more DX now even though it won't be every day. I often would pass up some DX if I had already worked my DX for that day, hoping maybe I'll run into the passed up DX on another day for the streak. Now if I hear someone I want to work, the streak won't enter into consideration of whether I work that someone or not right now.
Don't forget to look for us from the park tomorrow probably between 1330 and 1700Z on 7041, 10117, and/or 14061. I'll be on 40 meters. We'll be using the NAQCC club call N3AQC. It may be rough if conditions are like they were today, but we'll be there plugging away. -30-
Sun Jul 16 2017 9:13PM - Conditions this evening are as bad as I've seen them in several years. Not a sign of any DX and it even took 51 minutes to get my regular streak QSO when I found my friend down in GA, Bob AK4JA and got him right away. Before that many CQs yielded nothing and calls to a few other stations got no response. So the big streak is secured. Now it will be another day like Saturday probably when I spent a lot of time trying to work some DX. Hopefully I will get some because that would be day # 1,600 in the DX streak. I'd hate it to end - period, but especially not at 1,599. Always nice to get that round number.
Otherwise today I worked on a couple projects I put aside some time ago and never finished. First I have wanted for some time now to see how many World capitals I have worked. You know like Paris France, Berlin Germany, and so forth. So I juggled my Microsoft Access log a bit and made a spreadsheet in Microsoft Excel and came up with 102 World capitals worked. There are still some that need tweaking a bit and I may find a couple more, but not right away.
Then I've been curious to know how many prefixes that I have all 10 numbers for. That is for example DL0 DL1 DL2 DL3 DL4 DL5 DL6 DL7 DL8 DL9 would be DL complete. Again with Access and Excel it was easy, and I found 68 of them from 6Y to YT. 40 from the USA and 28 from DX countries. I just love working with stats like that.
OK, I'm going to send out our parkpedition promo on the NAQCC email list now. So if you're a member and have given us your email address, you should either have gotten it or will shortly depending on when you read this. -30-