The fourth time I got on was for my streak QSO(s) in the 0000Z hour. The QSO came easily from 6Y5WJ on 20 meters. That was at 0003Z. Not finding any European stations at all, I then thought I'd have fun trying to work the new (actually second time around) states from W1AW. ND was a piece of cake. I got him I think it was on my second or third call on 20 meters. OH was a bit harder, but I got him on 80 meters after a dozen or so calls. I enjoy the challenge of working those W1AW stations. They are almost like working rare DX with their big pileups and they make good practice breaking those pileups.
Another great summer day today. I got in my usual walking and also helped Ange in his garden for a little while. Then late in the afternoon or early evening, I thoroughly weeded about two thirds of my garden. I'll finish that maybe tomorrow if it doesn't rain.
Looking forward to and making final arrangements for the Skyview hamfest Sunday. That's going to be fun, not only hopefully meeting some of our NAQCC members, but hooking my KX3 up to the Skyview antenna farm. -30-
Monday, August 18, 2014 8:58 PM - Another quick DX QSO this evening from Zlatko 9A2EU at 0003Z on 20 meters. He was about the only European strong enough to work. I did try a UR8 station earlier with no luck. I got a P? from him, but no further. I could have used that R too - for the NAQCC European Chapter challenge. Even with only needing 7, N, and R it might be tough finishing off that challenge this month.
Another nice day today. I got in three good walks along with cutting my back yard grass. I also picked some vegetables - tomatoes (both Siberian and Early Girl), bush beans, climbing beans, a pepper, and some peas. The garden has been slow this year, but is picking up a bit now.
I was watching Penn State weather on the Internet last night (Weather World) and Fred Gadomski pointed out something interesting. The period from mid-July to mid-August this year was the third coldest since they started keeping weather records at Penn State. I forget the year now, but I think it was in the mid-1880s. It certainly has been chilly. I'd have to look to be sure, but I don't think we had any 90 degree days in that period here and quite a few nights with lows in the 50s and even some 40s. I'm sure that has contributed to the slowness of the garden, especially the tomatoes who love those warm nights in the 70s. On the other hand, my peas are really thriving. The vegetation looks like climbing beans as they are up about 3 feet or so. I've never seen peas that tall before. Just about an average amount of peas though. -30-
Sunday, August 17, 2014 8:24 PM - One week from today I get to see what QRP/CW is like when feeding a huge antenna farm. That will be at the Skyview hamfest/swap meet near New Kensington, PA. I'll probably find it is just too easy working stations and will be glad to get back to my simple wire antennas (victory garden) here. But it will have been nice to have had the experience. I'll understand more when other QRP stations beat me to some DX or score better in a contest. I'll find that antennas have a lot to do with QRP success. However I'm not complaining at all as I think I do pretty well here with my situation.
Anyway enough of that. This evening I found a few DX stations, but they weren't all that strong. Well a couple were but they were engaged in rag chewing and I didn't feel like waiting them out for a QSO. That was mainly on 20 and 17. So finally I thought I'd try 30 and see what was there. After a bit of looking, I found S50O and called when he finished with whoever he was working. I thought it may have been my friend and fellow NAQCC member Dick K1IEE but I'm not sure. Nevertheless it took but a couple calls to log S50O and put DX day #536 in the log. Earlier in the day I went looking for those last letters/number for the NAQCC European Chapter challenge. I heard HA9RT which would have given me the R, but I've worked Joska so many times, I just didn't want to work him again. I know a lot of stations love working DX and I hate to possibly deprive them of a station just because I worked him for the umpteenth time. Now had it maybe have been HA7NR and I had worked him many times, then I would have gone for him because his call contained the 7, N, and R I need to finish the challenge.
I have pretty much finished transferring my diary archive files to my new k3wwp.com address. I'm still lacking a couple of pictures from the early days of the diary because they weren't on the other server either. I may have them somewhere in the archives here on my computer. I'll look when I get time. I kind of like the idea now of having my own personalized domain name. I never really thought much about it when I didn't have it, nor cared too much about getting one, but now, well.... I'm kind of looking forward to getting my whole web site on there and yet still keeping my site here on Windstream as a mirror site. I definitely won't just up and change completely because a few years ago when Windstream became the new name for Alltel and they changed all their URLs, I lost a lot of visitors among those who had Alltel firmly lodged in their brains, favorites, links, etc. I'm sure it's the same way with the current Windstream address so I definitely will keep it also even if (when) I put the site on k3wwp.com. -30-
Saturday, August 16, 2014 9:06 PM - A Russian District Contest gave my my DX fix this evening when I worked UA5C whom I often work in contests. There were also several Asiatic Russian stations around, but not too strong and I didn't bother trying to work them after my DX streak was secure. Earlier in the day I looked for some European stations for the NAQCC European Chapter challenge, but didn't hear a single station at that time.
In addition to the new server space I mentioned last entry, I now have a new domain name to play with - k3wwp.com. Right now I'm only using it for my Diary Archives which you can check out via the link above. I may eventually set up my site on the new server using that domain name and keep this Windstream site as a mirror site. Both the server space and domain name are courtesy of Bill WA4FAT. Regular diary readers may remember the write-up here about the 50th anniversary QSO we had on May 30 this year. Or you can check that out via the Diary Archive link above also. -30-
Friday, August 15, 2014 8:31 PM - Two calls, two DX QSOs in 5 minutes. That was easy and I got a nice prefix in OL150FIRE which also gave me two Rs for the NAQCC European Chapter challenge leaving me needing a 7, N, and R to finish it off now. The other DX was T42R on 15 meters. The OL station was on 20 meters. The Solar Flux seems to be heading upward again. It looks like from the animated graphic on my propagation page there is another nice sunspot group rotating onto the face of the sun. So hopefully the next few days will be good for DX like the last couple have been.
I'm moving some of my archived web site info like the diary archives to another server over the next few days. The change should be seamless and the main parts of the web site won't change at all except maybe for my logs page. I'll report any changes here in the diary as they come about.
A beautiful day today, and I took advantage of it piling up almost 9 miles on the pedometer. One time I walked down to Subway and got a foot long tuna sub which they have on sale on Fridays for 5 dollars. I also checked out the river with the hopes of going fishing, but once again it was up and muddy. I think even if it is still that way next week, I'm going fishing anyway if the weather is as nice as it was today. -30-
Thursday, August 14, 2014 9:13 PM - Tonight I'll just give you a sneak preview of the (unfinished as of now) story of our USS Requin subpedition today.
On August 14, the WPA Chapter had one of its USS Requin subpeditions. As you may know, the Requin is moored near the Carnegie Science Center across from the point in downtown Pittsburgh, PA which is about 40 miles from the QTH of John K3WWP in Kittanning, PA.
The other three members of the operating team arrived at John's almost simultaneously around 10 minutes of 8AM. The members being Mike KC2EGL, Don K3RLL, and Tom WB3FAE. After chatting together for about a half hour, Mike who was outside talking with Tom rang John's phone for him and Don to come out. Don and I figured it must be time to leave so we did go out.
The four of us jumped in the car and headed off to Pittsburgh about 8:35AM. Along the way Mike and I played the alphabet game finding all the letters of the alphabet from billboards, license plates, traffic signs, etc. Tom and Don sat in the back seat wondering what the two crazy guys up front were doing.
We arrived at the Science Center parking lot around 9:35AM, got parked, gathered our gear from the trunk and headed off to the sub. After waiting around 10 minutes, Art WA3BKD who is in charge of the radio room as well as other aspects of the sub showed up to greet us. Art is a great guy with a sense of humor like ours. When we asked him for permission to come aboard, he said NO.
After we introduced Don and Tom and chatted a bit, Art took us all to the radio room where we got set up to operate. Since this was Don and Tom's first visit to the Requin, Art gave them a thorough tour of the sub leaving Mike and me to do the operating.
As soon as Mike called his first CQ, he was greeted by a huge pile up like we on some rare DX island somewhere. That was unusual because on our subpeditions it generally takes a while for the activity to build up. This time everyone seemed to be at the ready waiting for us. He and I worked through the pileup and continued working stations for about an hour and a half or so until Tom and Don returned from their tour. We all brought our own lunches. Don was the first to eat his and he did so in the mess hall of the sub. Later Mike and I took our lunches out to the Science Center picnic area. We did some people watching before heading back inside the vessel.
Upon returning to the radio room, Tom took his break accompanied by Don. He also ate in the mess hall. After our lunches, we all returned to operating, but by now activity had slowed down somewhat from the earlier frantic pace. We continued operating switching between 20 and 40 meters with a brief interlude on 30 meters for one QSO there.
One of the pleasures of the event was interacting with the public. There were at least a couple hundred visitors who passed by the radio room, many of whom showed an interest in what we were doing. Some were surprised there were actual human beings in the radio room, and actually operating. All who passed by were very friendly and had some very good questions to ask. Many were surprised that we were using CW. A lot mentioned Morse Code indicating they did know something about it.
To be finished later for the NAQCC September newsletter due out September 8. Here's a picture of the operating team we'll insert in the story somewhere.
L-R: Don K3RLL, Mike KC2EGL, John K3WWP, Tom WB3FAE.
Here at home this evening, the DX streak QSO came easily when I worked SC2014ECC on 20 meters. Mike then worked the station also, followed by both of us easily working OX3YY on 20 meters. Then I worked S58MU to get the U for my NAQCC European Chapter challenge effort. I also used the 1 from the SC station to bring my needed letters/numbers down to just a few now. -30-
Wednesday, August 13, 2014 9:09 PM - Whew, I made it. I wanted to be sure to get my DX QSO this evening since tomorrow it is off to Pittsburgh to operate from the submarine Requin. I didn't know how much of the day that would take up. So I looked and looked this evening after I got home around 0035Z from the computer club meeting. I only heard one weak DX station on 30M - OA1F. Nothing better on 20, 17, or 15. I tried but couldn't get him. So I thought well, maybe there is something on 40 in the way of DX. I had already gotten my regular streak QSO there a little earlier. This time I tuned down to the low end of 40 and found a strong Brazilian who fortunately had the "patience of Job". Thank you PR7AA for sticking with me till you got my call right after what must have been around 15 repeats. That's what makes a great operator. Now I can relax a little more tomorrow on the Requin subpedition.
We hope to leave early and start the operation around the time the Requin opens for "business" which is 10 AM EDT or 1400Z. We'll operate only one band at a time probably alternating between 7041 and 14061 depending on how conditions are. We'll probably use the Requin's call of NY3EC as we did the last time we were there. Who is we? Tom WB3FAE and Don K3RLL who will be making their first trip to the Requin. Also Mike KC2EGL and me who are 'veterans' of Requin operations. I think I've made four or five trips there - two with Tom WY3H and the others with Mike. Looks like a nice weather day too. The last time we had to shut down for a while due to a severe electrical storm that hit the area. That shouldn't happen tomorrow and if all goes well and the activity stays hot, we'll stay as long as we can to try to work all who want a Requin QSO and QSL.
Now I've got to do some work on our sprint results from last night so I'll close here. -30-
Tuesday, August 12, 2014 8:10 PM - Conditions this afternoon around 2000Z were pretty good. Good enough for me to finish up the NAQCC challenge thanks to K7DCG and the C in his call. Then I worked S51WO and got 4 letters/numbers from his call for the NAQCC European Chapter challenge, leaving me 9 to go to master it.
This evening the streak QSO came easily at 0004Z when I worked AM08BLV on 20 meters. Now I'm just killing a bit of time before our NAQCC sprint gets underway. Unless conditions are fabulous and my local noise down (both very unlikely) I'll just try to get 20 QSOs and QRT like I did last month. It's just too hard on me to sit there and fight the noise for a full two hours trying to pull weak signals out of that noise. Maybe some day I'll try to get together with the power company and see if something can be done about this noise. So far I just haven't felt like getting into the hassle I know it probably will be. -30-
Monday, August 11, 2014 8:46 PM - DX seems to be getting rarer than hen's teeth the past couple days. Other than in the WAE contest I probably haven't heard a half dozen DX stations over the weekend and today. Fortunately I worked two of them - G3HGE on 17 this afternoon and TG9ADM on 17 this evening to add two more days to the DX streak. The TG9ADM call also gave me the last D for the NAQCC challenge leaving me with two Cs needed to finish it off. The NAQCC European challenge is another story. I still need a dozen or so letters/numbers to finish it. That may be rough to do if conditions stay as they are or get worse (shudder!).
That sure was fun working the Skeeter Hunt with Mike yesterday. Now some more things coming up this week include our NAQCC sprint tomorrow evening, the computer club meeting on Wednesday evening, and our Requin subpedition on Thursday. Whew. Looks like Friday will be a day of rest then. HI. -30-
Sunday, August 10, 2014 9:10 PM - A fun day today with Mike KC2EGL, and a busy one, but then don't the two always go together? Mike arrived around 9:30A or so when I was in the middle of playing a hidden object game on the computer. I finished the chapter with a bit of help from Mike. Then we went to Ponderosa for Sunday brunch. A quick stop at WalMart on the way home. Then we played some computer games for a while till it was time to head to the Community Park for the Skeeter Hunt.
Our regular pavilion was occupied when we got there, and it looked like they were set up to stay a while, so we went to the secondary pavilion which is kind of weatherbeaten and unused as shown here. It makes a good operation position though and has a bit more elevation than the other one.
After we unpacked and were setting up, one fellow from a softball game wandered over to see what we were up to. We explained that we were ham radio operators and he didn't know what we were talking about. Mike asked him his age and he said 34. I kidded him saying what had he been doing those 34 years. He laughed, then Mike explained ham radio to him briefly.
We got our antennas up fairly easily. We both used the K3RLL jumper dipoles this time. I took some pictures of them, but antenna pictures don't show up well against a background of trees so I won't waste space here showing them. I'll just describe them a bit. As the name implies they are dipoles cut for 40M (mine) or 80M (Mike's) with jumper clips along the way to shorten them to use on the higher bands. I set mine for 20 and Mike took 40. The center of mine was only up about 12 feet or so. Mike's somewhat higher. They both tuned beautifully to 1:1 with the KX3 built-in antenna tuner through the coax feedline.
We started operating just about at 1700Z when the Skeeter Hunt started. Conditions were nothing like last year when we had a stream of QSOs coming at us pretty steadily. This year it was work and wait, work and wait. Most of my 20M QSOs were from W0 land and in looking at Mike's log, I saw he was working mostly up and down the east coast. Could be because our dipoles were at right angles. One surprise was working our fellow NAQCC WPA Chapter member Don K3RLL in New Bethlehem, PA about 20 miles away. That was on 20M and we figure it must have been ground wave from his hill to ours. We were both about S3 to S4 but with very steady signals as expected from ground wave. Mike and I both struggled along making the occasional QSO in between the long waits. It did get better as the afternoon wore on. I tried to work stations in the WAE contest since the Skeeter Hunt rules allowed that and even counted DX QSOs as 3 points vs. 2 for those domestic stations with a Skeeter #, and 1 point for other non-Skeeter domestic stations.
It was rough working the DX though vs. last year when I was easily working Europeans before and after the Skeeter Hunt. This year most of the time I wasn't being heard at all, or if I was heard, I had to do a lot of repeating. Oddly a couple of my most distant QSOs with LY9Y and OK2RZ were bang bang no repeats needed QSOs. Mike's computer battery gave out about a half hour before the end of the Hunt, and he shut down with 20 QSOs. I had 25, and I said I would like to make it a total of 50 if we could, so despite being a bit frustrated with the slow pace of the Hunt, I stuck it out for 5 more QSO so we could have 50. Actually when Mike recounted, he had 21, so we had a total of 51 which was 18 less than last year.
Back home again where we figured the score, got our logs together, and downloaded pictures we took. With 14 DX QSOs, 30 Skeeter QSOs, 7 other QSOs, 31 SPCs, a 4x bonus for homebuilt gear (our KX3s), and spelling the word SKEETER from letters in the calls we worked for a 100 point bonus we wound up with a preliminary score of 14,052 which was roughly 3,500 better than last year because of the DX QSOs and more SPCs (31 vs. 23). So we were pleased with the effort, and it was a nice day to be out in the field. Sunny and warm, but with nature's air conditioning breezes making it very comfortable.
Then a la Monty Python, it was time for something completely different. Mike purchased a toy motorized riding tricycle for lack of a better name as a birthday present for (I believe) his fiance's granddaughter. It was in kit form and we spent a good bit of time getting it to look like this.
Then it was back to Ponderosa for their dinner buffet, back home for my streak QSO (W1AW/2), after which it was time for Mike to head up north again and for me to write this diary entry. No DX tonight, so that will have to come tomorrow morning or afternoon, I guess. -30-
Saturday, August 09, 2014 8:13 PM - As expected, a quick QSO in the WAE contest took care of the streaks at 0001Z when I worked DD2ML easily. I didn't bother working anyone else in the WAE contest as it is by far, not one of my favorite contests. It's a very hard contest for the minimal QRP op like me. Why? I must depend as in all DX contests on S&P operation because CQs just don't do the job. That means that a good deal of the time when I find a station, he is in the middle of a string of QTCs and then I wonder should I wait him out or go looking for someone else who is looking for a QSO, not handling QTCs. It can be quite frustrating, so I usually pretty much always skip the WAE test.
Tomorrow there will be another kind of contest in which I can successfully call CQ. I'm talking about the NJQRP Skeeter Hunt. Mike KC2EGL and I will do that one portable from the virtually QRN-free Kittanning Community Park. We'll probably stick to 40 and 20 around 7041 and 14061 when we call CQ or stay around that area on the bands anyway, and only stray far from it when we do some S&P work. We'll try to do the full 4 hours of the contest. Before and after, we may chase some DX in the WAE contest just for the fun of it. I worked quite a few DX stations last year in the WAE which again coincided with the Skeeter Hunt.
Yet another nice day today, although I got busy with this and that inside and didn't get out much to enjoy it except for a walk/shopping trip this evening. On the walk I did check out the river and it's down now to good fishing level. If it stays there, maybe I can finally get in some fishing next week. It will be a busy week though with our NAQCC sprint, our computer club meeting, and a trip to Pittsburgh to operate from the Requin. Whew! -30-
Friday, August 08, 2014 7:04 PM - What a difference a day makes. Remember Wednesday evening I couldn't work any DX if my life depended on it? Well, last evening I grabbed 4 DX QSOs easily in 17 minutes from three continents, then added a QSO with KB3FTE. Those five QSOs gave me a bunch of letters for the NAQCC challenges. I now need only 2 Cs and 1 D to finish the NA version and 13 letters/numbers to finish the European Chapter challenge. If I had been able to work RN1A today, I'd be down to 7 letters/numbers for the European challenge. However despite being strong here, he just wasn't hearing me at all. Usually the Russians are good at digging out my QRP signals, but not that one. Maybe he lives in a noisy location.
I wonder what this evening will bring. The WAE contest is this weekend starting at 0000Z this evening, so getting a DX QSO should be easy (fingers crossed), if not this evening then during the day tomorrow for sure. Of course the WAE is the full weekend, so Sunday should be easy also. But one can never tell for sure. Anyway I've got about 45 minutes to kill before 0000Z rolls around. Think I'll go out and pick off the dead daylilly flowers, then maybe take a short walk. The daylillies are just about through for the season, but they gave a very colorful display for the past month or so. I'm sure there were well over 1,000-2,000 flowers total, maybe a lot more. I know several nights I picked off over 100 dead flowers. -30-
Thursday, August 07, 2014 7:48 PM - Last night was a strange night on the bands. I heard all of two DX stations in an hour of listening - 9K2MU and 4Z1TL, of course both from the same general area of the world. The 9K2 was quite strong, but he QRT after working two stations before I ever had a chance to work him. The 4Z1 was pretty weak and BUSY. I didn't think Israel was that rare or maybe it was the 4Z1 prefix? Anyway after that, I gave some serious thought to voluntarily ending the DX streak. After all it would end on a nice number to remember - 524 which is my birthday. I did work W1AW in both NJ and VT for the regular streak. Those were easy QSOs.
Anyway, I dug out my little note with QSO on it and put it in front of the computer in case I did decide to go for a DX QSO during the day today. After considerable thought, I decided I would, because if I did end the streak voluntarily, sometime down the line I'd regret it. I got on around 11:30AM or so and found the bands a little better than last night, but still not all that active. fortunately I found Mike F5IN, one of France's better ops and usually an easy QSO for me. I have worked him many times, and had there been other stations around, I probably would have passed him by because I don't like to keep working the same station over and over again unless of course it is in contests. There wasn't anybody else, so I called Mike and after a couple of tries and a couple repeats of my call, day #525 was in the DX streak log.
Now in about 5 minutes I head to the shack to try to stretch both streaks yet another day.
Not much else to talk about except the usual. It was a nice weather day again and I got in a couple good walks - one the longest I've taken in a while now. Temperatures in the mid 70s are conducive to walking as far as I am concerned, and that's what it was when I took the long walk.
Well, time to close, upload this page and go QSO hunting. -30-
Wednesday, August 06, 2014 9:53 AM - Some more diary feedback to take care of, so I'll do another early entry today. First it was rough last night, but I finally worked EW8CY to keep the DX and regular streaks going. He was a very considerate operator and took the time to dig my signal out of the not so great conditions.
Ron AA1TL emails, "John, Congrats on your 20 year accomplishment. I don't think many hams would have the dedication that you have....I don't! Also, keep up your blog, I look forward to reading it every day. You started me on QRP, just bought a KX3. Ron, AA1IL."
Hmmmm, wonder if I can get a commission from Elecraft for all the KX3 business I'm sending their way. HI Seriously, I'm delighted that my site and the streak in particular is leading so many hams to believe in and use CW/QRP.
Tom WY3H emailed me with all the info about his new QTH down in Calhoun, GA. It's good to know he is getting settled in well down there.
Brion VE3FUJ emails, "Congratulations on 20 yr achievement. Brion VE3FUJ."
Geo N1EAV emails about my wx entry, "Hey John... Gee, twice in one week. There is a website called Weather Underground which hosts personal weather stations and records the data etc. I have one set up here at work. It records the basics....temperature, rainfall, wind speed and direction, etc. Saw one listed at Grace Baptist Church in Kittanning. Wind gust yesterday was 25mph. They show what they are using for a weather station but not how high the anemometer is. Think officially it should be at 33 feet. Check it out. there are others listed for Kittanning as well but don't know how close they are to your house. You can check out mine if you like as well. It's Barretts Mill Historic District listed in Concord, Ma. 73, geo n1eav."
And followed up with, "Just an addition to the previous email. Another good site is intellicast weather. They have a listing of local personal weather stations right on the front page. When you click on them they go right to the current weather and from there you can click on the previous records from yesterday or whenever. Hope the info was helpful. geo n1eav."
As I emailed Geo, Grace Baptist is really not in Kittanning, but in West Kittanning, and their records are different from mine here because they are up on a hill about 1.5 miles from my location down here in the river valley. I'm sure the gusts that came through here were much greater than 25mph. Winds at that speed don't even faze my recycle bin. Gusts can be very localized due to terrain such as funnelling effects around and between buildings and the like.
Anyway thanks Geo for the info. I appreciate it and always good to hear from you.
I have my own little .html page for the weather info that I designed a few years ago. It contains 36 weather maps of radars, precipitation, barometric pressure, jet stream, forecast maps, etc. plus the local NWS forecast and graphic data and info from the Weather Channel, AccuWeather, Intellicast, and the WC local radar which goes right down to city block level and is pretty accurate there. I wanted Geo to see it, so I uploaded it to my site. If you'd also be interested, click here to see it.
Just as I was posting this, I got a further reply from Geo N1EAV that goes like this, "The link works just fine. Thanks. I agree that the weather from location to location can be quite different. There are four stations including mine within a 2 mile radius of each other and our readings are always different from each other. Stations aren't always able to set up to the standards that the NWS puts forth, and that can make readings inaccurate. But generally the readings give you a fair indication exact to that location and you can see the differences in weather. It's interesting to see on the radar which station is getting rain and which isn't when the precipitation goes by etc. I'd have to agree with you on the 25mph gust. It's not going to blow a recycling bin into a fence and break it. Weather watching is a fun hobby. I enjoy it and keep records as you do. The weather really affects what I do day to day with all the gardens and lawns here at work. I read the weather models especially in winter to get an idea when the storms are coming. Don't always trust the weather people on tv.....hihi geo n1eav." -30-
Tuesday, August 05, 2014 5:42 PM - I think the reason I like both ham radio and meteorology is because they are similar in many ways. Propagation can be every bit as unpredictable as the weather, yet some things are similar in both. Sometimes you can predict with exact certainty what is going to happen. For example with the panadapter one glance at the screen shows there is definitely going to be a station where that peak is once you tune to it. Of course assuming he doesn't QRT before you spin the dial there. Likewise you can glance at the weather radar and see precisely what is going to happen in the next several minutes or more. Of course if the feature doesn't die out or intensify before it arrives.
Let's have a little quiz now about weather and weather radar. Take a look at this image, especially noting the red arrow which is pointing pretty much right at Kittanning. Notice the thin line running roughly SW-NE approaching Kittanning which shows up better in the second picture which is an animated gif covering several radar frames. What is it?
I'll leave a few blank lines here if you want to think about it before I tell you what was happening.
When I saw that on the radar, I immediately thought to myself, aha a ---- ----- is about to hit us. I glanced out my window and saw my neighbor's telephone wire (upper left in the picture below) shaking crazily, saw a red protective newspaper cover the paperboy uses to protect the paper on wet days fly by in a big hurry like it was very late for something, then heard something heavier moving very rapidly along between the houses. I got up and looked out to get a better view and saw this.
That's my recycling bin (empty but still fairly heavy) lying against my back yard gate which it hit with enough force to break the bottom bar of the gate. That's my neighbor's (Nancy) garbage can lid lying in her back yard. If it wasn't for the fact we anchor our garbage cans to the side of the front porches, the cans would have been back there also. The newspaper cover? It's way over past the next street somewhere where you see the yellow brick house.
Then looking out the front window I saw this.
Those are the Bowsers' containers of yard waste for pickup tomorrow. They were all standing up neatly, then blew out in the street. I didn't get a picture till they gathered them up and replaced them (lying down to prevent further blowing around, I guess).
All of that due to a phenomenon known as (among other things) a gust front, straight line wind, outflow boundary, etc. Of all radar signatures, I think it is one of the clearest and easiest to identify. It generally sets up as a very narrow area of pretty heavy turbulence a few miles ahead of a cold front. In this case, the cold front being the large area of green and yellow to the NW of Kittanning behind the gust front. If the front develops into a curved line with heavy rain, that is when a tornado can develop. This one, as you see was nowhere near that stage although there was a little bowing out of the line to our SW ahead of some strong thunderstorms as shown on the animated image.
It'a always interesting to experience such weather phenomenon as long as they don't do any serious damage. It would be interesting to know what the peak wind gusts were, but I don't have an anemometer. -30-
Monday, August 04, 2014 5:04 PM - I promised some feedback from readers today, so in a moment, here we go.
First though, I have updated and revised my streak story to reflect the new landmark of 20 years. If you're so inclined, check it out here.
Tim K6ACF emails, "Hi John, Congratulations on your first 20 years of QRP contacts! I hope to be around to congratulate you on the next 20 years! 73, Tim - K6ACF."
Geo N1EAV emails, "Hi John Thought it was a good time to drop a note and say hello, as it's been awhile since I last wrote. Been busy as usual here at work. We were part of a local garden tour this year so have spent a lot of time preparing for that to peak everything at just the right time. It turned out to be very successful and we had over 1000 visitors. Want to congratulate you on the continuance of your streak and reaching 20 years with it. I think it's quite a feat not just for the promotion of cw and simple wire antennas, but the time and dedication it takes to get on the air everyday. I find it hard to get on the air once a week sometimes with all the other stuff that fills our lives. Kudos to you John. Just to reaffirm that simple wire antennas at qrp levels do work. My current antenna because of where my shack is located at this time is just a simple 30 foot piece of wire strung around the window frame to an ldg tuner with a fifteen foot counterpoise wire connected to the tuner ground... Not efficient, but I make plenty of qso's with it. Both stateside and dx on forty meters and up. My rig is the yaesu ft-817. John, take care , and enjoy the rest of the summer. 73, Geo n1eav."
Dave KB1WOD emails, "Hi John, Was wondering if you done any parkpeditions this year? Also haven't heard much about fishing. I enjoy your diary very much. Please keep it up! Dave KB1WOD.
Well Dave, it seems like everything is late this year after that much too long hard winter we had. No parkpeditions yet, but we will be doing the Skeeter Hunt on August 10 from the park using N3AQC. Then a Requin subpedition on August 14th. Then we'll be operating from the Skyview Radio Club during their hamfest or swap meet on the 24th. Hopefully some regular parkpeditions thrown in there in the next couple months also depending on the schedules of Mike KC2EGL and Don K3RLL. They serve as my transportation in addition to being co-ops. Fishing late also. I went a few times in April, but it seems since then everytime the river clears up and gets down to good fishing level, the rains come again and ruin it. Maybe I can sneak in some trips this month along with September and October before the cold weather comes. You didn't ask about the garden, but it's been late also - VERY late. I just picked my first tomato a couple days ago versus the usual first tomato time in late May or early June. My bush beans and peas came a few weeks ago, so they weren't too bad. My peppers are coming nicely and I had a tomato/pepper salad the past couple days now. Hopefully next winter won't be so bad and all things will get back to normal in 2015.
Mike N4VBV emails, "John, Interesting story on page 63 of the August QST. An Italian airship crashed on the arctic ice in 1928; survivors rescued due to 5w signal by radioman using simple emergency antenna. Believe it was also CW, since it was 1928, and the article mentioned "coded" transmissions. 73, Mike, N4VBV."
Haven't checked that out yet, but I will. Thanks Mike.
And I believe that gets us caught up on the diary comments. Thanks to all for your emails. -30-
Sunday, August 03, 2014 8:42 PM - This entry is dedicated to all those who say things like 'You need high power, big antennas, and a great location to be able to make ham radio contacts', or 'Life is too short for QRP', or 'CW is dead' and other such remarks denigrating QRP/CW.
Well, if your statements are true, then how is it that I just finished 20 years or 7,305 consective days of making QSOs (62,434 QSOs, of which 19,268 were DX) without missing a single day using CW, QRP, simple wire antennas in my attic or mounted on the side of my house from a river valley location with horizons ranging from about 2 to 10 degrees in height? Huh? Gee, must be something fundamentally wrong with your statements, I would say.
OK, enough of that. I say it because that is the bottom line of my streak. I haven't done it for personal glory. I must admit it has been very satisfying setting the goal of a QSO a day, and carrying it this far. But mainly it serves to prove that QRP/CW/simple antennas DO WORK, and work pretty darn well. I know a lot of you diary readers have taken it to heart, tried it yourself, and found I've been right on target all along. I'm glad that you are now able to enjoy ham radio in a situation similar to mine wheras before you didn't think you could do it. That in itself makes the streak worthwhile.
Lest you think I'm done now, you're wrong. I intend to keep going with the streak until something beyond my control brings it to an end. I think reaching 25 years (a quarter century) would be great, or maybe 10,000 days. Whatever is in the cards, I'll accept.
Who was it who helped me complete the 20 years tonight? Well, the bands again were good, but not much activity especially from 'DX land'. I was determined that it be a DX QSO that helped me make it, so I looked around and found one strong station that acted like he was DX, but never did give his call or even his name, and then QRT after making several QSOs without ever doing so. He signed with 161 so he was a member of FOC, but his way of making contacts sure didn't sound like a first class op to me. Again enough of that. I looked some more and found Mike F5PLC whom I've worked a few times before. I called him, but he answered someone else (K4TP, I think) and they chatted a bit, after which I called again and got WWP? I sent my call agn and we chatted for a few minutes. I didn't realize it, but I must have been excited because my sending got just a bit sloppy and I made about a half dozen errors whereas I can usually go for a full QSO with only one or two at most. So with the 20 years now in the log, I went after some more letters for the NAQCC challenges. I called CQ on 30 and got answered by Gary VE1OMI. I can probably count on my fingers the number of times I've had a CQ answered by someone in NS. In fact, I need the thumbs also because this was the tenth time it happened plus one contest QSO. The thumbs count for two times back in the 60s. Eight came during the streak.
So within the next couple days I hope to update my streak page in the QRP section of the web site. Those of you new to my web site and the diary can find out how the streak started and how it has continued for so long. Included there are some sub-streaks as well such as my current 522 day DX streak plus what I consider some highlights and milestones of the streak. It sure has been a lot of fun, and to be honest it hasn't really been all that hard to get at least one CW/QRP QSO every day. I can only recall a couple days when we had some SERIOUS geomagnetic ionospheric storming that I did get a bit worried, but even those days didn't come anywhere near to a failure or even a last minute or last hour QSO to stay alive.
If you want to do something challenging and satisfying, why not give a streak a try. Our NAQCC has nice certificates for various length streaks starting at 30 days and going up to a full year. Check them out on the NAQCC web site at http://naqcc.info/
Tomorrow here in the diary I'll have some feedback about fishing, parkpeditions, and gardening among possibly some other things as well. -30-
Saturday, August 02, 2014 8:58 PM - Tomorrow (Aug 4 UTC) is the big day. That finishes off 20 full years of making at least one CW/QRP/simple wire antenna QSO each and every one of the 7,305 days involved. After saying that, I sure better get a QSO tomorrow evening. HI. Tonight it was HI3/OE3GEA whot brought the streak to 1 day short of 20 years and also brought the DX streak to 521 days now. Hard to believe it has been that long since I've gone without a DX QSO and even harder to believe it has been twenty years since I've had a 'QSOless' day. Whew!
Unusual weather while I was on the air tonight. There was a pretty nice pink sunset and at the same time some pretty heavy rain and thunder. That's what happens when you are right on the edge of an area of storms and rain at just the right time. A pretty rare combination especially living in a valley as I do. I suppose out on the great plains such a combination is not as rare since the visible horizon is so much further away than here. I would say most of our horizon here is within 2 miles or so. I think the rain is letting up now just as it is time to go out and get my weather records for the day. -30-
Friday, August 01, 2014 8:46 PM - As my KX3 does from time to time, it fantasizes that it's a KW rig, and tonight was one of those times. A very easy QSO with AM03GHZ at 0000Z, and I tried him several times a few nights ago and he didn't hear me at all. Then I went to 30 meters to get some QSOs for our NAQCC challenge. I called CQ and was greeted by a small pileup. I worked one of the stations, and then another one tailended me after that QSO. Next I went to 20 to look around and found W1AW/0 in SD and thought I'd try him. My first call netted a K5WW? and not being absolutely sure that was me I waited for his next CQ and that time he answered my first call correctly. The K5WW? was probably me, but I NEVER reply to anything like that unless I'm absolutely positive it is me being referred to. I hear far too many stations respond to a partial call question when they don't have anything resembling their call in the partial call.
Other than that, I did some more work outside today and went for a few walks including my first one which was my monthly banking run early this morning. Then I just picked off some dead daylillies and some dead roses a few minutes ago. These summer days are great when they aren't too hot nor too wet, and that described today although it did get up to 88. The humidity was low and there was a breeze.
I also helped Nancy with some house cleaning for an hour or so this afternoon. So I was pretty busy all day if you include my regular computer work in there. Now it's time to go out again and get my weather readings. Oh, it turned out last night when I compiled my July weather records that it was 0.5 degrees below normal with about 150% of our normal precipitation. Four days over one inch of rain tied a record for July and each of those four days was a daily precipitation record. So to sum up, it was a slightly cool, very wet month this year. -30-
Thursday, July 31, 2014 9:04 PM - Three days now till my main streak hits 20 years or 7,305 days. The streak and the DX streak were both extended this evening about as quickly as possible. A single call to HB9DAX took care of both at a few seconds past 0000Z. Conditions were good this evening, but still not a lot of activity. I don't really understand it. You'd think folks would want to take advantage of these good propagation days because we don't know how long they are going to last or recur before the sun slips into its next sunspot minimum. It should be like folks taking advantage of the last warm days of summer to enjoy the beach, fishing, and other outdoor activities before the cooler days of fall and the cold days of winter come along.
That QSO plus one with N1WST got me off to a good start on both NAQCC August challenges. It's nice to have two alphabet challenges to work on again, and that will definitely increase my on-air activity.
It was a nice summer day today. A bit warmer than the past few days, but still not all that warm. So I did some more outside work getting the grass and weeds out of my brick sidewalks. Also I did some walking and shopping. Mostly today I worked on getting my last of the month/first of the month things taken care of. Except for a trip to the bank in the morning and putting my weather records in the computer, I think I have everything taken care of. I'll probably get to the weather records after I finish this site update. I can do everything except the midnight reading tonight, then get that later. -30-
Wednesday, July 30, 2014 8:42 PM - I had a call from Tom WY3H a little while ago. He is now settled in down in Georgia after an event filled moving trip. It was a very interesting story and he said it is posted on his Facebook page. Now I don't use Facebook at all here and have no desire to, so I can't tell you how to get there, but if you know and can get there, it makes for an interesting story. Kind of sounded like he was Joe Btfsplk from the Li'l Abner cartoons by Al Capp. He sounded happy about the whole thing though, and I think the move may turn out to be good for him. In addition to telling me about the moving experience, he also wanted to try a sked on 30 and/or 40 meters. Unfortunately other than perhaps hearing a '3H' very weakly in the noise on 30, I didn't hear him calling me at all. We'll have to try again some day. The bands weren't in as good a shape as last night although the SF and A numbers were better. Propagation is not rocket science.
I did finish out another month of DX QSOs though which makes 16 straight months I've worked some DX each day or 518 straight days. Tonight it was EJ0PL in an easy QSO on 17 meters. One call, one repeat, solid exchange of info. I also heard W1AW/0 in SD very strong on 20 and tried briefly to work him, but couldn't break the pile-up. Had I needed SD, I would have tried harder and longer.
Another cool day today with some rain showers. In fact I'm hearing some thunder right now although I don't see much of anything on the radar except a tiny little area from which a storm might be developing. Guess I'll go out and get my weather readings before it hits. -30-
Tuesday, July 29, 2014 8:34 PM - Well, I'm in a new rut now. A quick DX QSO followed by a W1AW QSO. Three evenings in a row for that now. Tonight's suspects were AM08BLV and W1AW/4 in KY. I also 'worked' 3E2000PC on 12 meters, but he had me as K3WWW so I didn't log him.
Yes, I said 12 meters. What I 'predicted' a few days ago about the higher bands opening up in response to the rising solar flux is happening. 17 meters was full of signals. 15 meters had an abundance including some short skip (W1AW in KY). 12 meters had just the one station, but that's more than it's had lately. So once again I say, give the high bands a try in the next few days before the current sunspot group rotates out of view and the SF probably goes back below 100 again. We don't know now if the current sunspot group will survive another rotation. It is weaker than it was last time around.
A beautiful day today and I was outside quite a bit. Early today I was out talking with Bruce waiting for Ange to come to work on the garden. Then I helped him for a while. After some lunch, I cleaned some grass (and mostly clover) out from between the sidewalk bricks. Later in the afternoon I cut my grass and edged the back yard and garden with the weed eater. Finally a walk and shopping trip this evening.
In looking at the river, It has cleared up from the muddy state it was in last evening and strangely hasn't risen in response to the heavy rain we had. So possibly if the weather is again good tomorrow and I'm in the mood, perhaps a trip to the river with fishing pole is in store. That will be the first time since April, I believe. -30-
Monday, July 28, 2014 9:05 PM - Tonight was pretty much like last night. At least on the bands. The only thing is the DX QSO came a little quicker in the form of E72NATO on 20M at 0001Z. Then I went searching to get a backup W1AW/1 RI QSO just in case the first one didn't work out. Strange things do happen. I think it was Paul N8XMS who told me one of the logs from one of the first state operations got lost or wiped out somehow. So it doesn't hurt to get a state on 2 or 3 bands at least as insurance. Anyway so far I do have a couple QSOs that aren't in the LotW, but I did have backups for those states at the time. I think those may have actually been QSOs with K3WW, and the timing seemed right and QRN/QSB made copy of W1AW difficult at the time. Anyway I'm virtually certain that when I upload my July log to LotW, I'll wind up with 49 states verified there. Then it will be all up to Maine to finish things off.
The propagation figures are in with the SF still rising, but not as fast as it did the last rotation so my outlook of another peak of 200 or so may not come to pass, but still the bands are gradually getting a little better each evening. Activity is still down though despite the improved conditions.
A little explanation of "At least on the bands." The bands were the same, but the weather sure wasn't. Not long after I wrote the entry last night, the rain started again and we got about 1.35 inches in not much more than an hour. Thats PI inches of rain total the past 2+ days - 3.14 inches. Now tonight it's still cloudy, but the rain is over and it feels like mid-fall instead of mid-summer with a 9PM temperature of just 62 degrees and strong breezes making it feel even colder.
It's been confirmed and barring any last minute changes, the WPA chapter of the NAQCC will be operating from the submarine USS Requin in Pittsburgh in the form of Mike KC2EGL, Don K3RLL, Tom WB3FAE and me. That will be on August 14 probably starting around 10AM or so. Full details will be in the August NAQCC newsletter with a reminder being sent about the subpedition to our NAQCC email list the day of or day before. -30-
Sunday, July 27, 2014 9:12 PM - If you take a look at my propagation chart, you'll see that this sun rotation is tracking very closely the last rotation in Solar Flux numbers. If it continues to do so, we may see another brief period of 200+ SF around August 3-5 or so. Keep that in mind and try to reserve some air time those days, just in case it does happen. Maybe we'll even see an opening on Six meters again.
Meanwhile the bands are already starting to pick up. There was a lot more strong DX tonight on 20 and 17 and I worked Gena UA9MA fairly easily on 20M not long after 0000Z. Then I mostly just listened for about a half hour or so, trying SF2014ECC without luck and working W1AW/9 on a new band - 30M.
We had some very heavy rain today totalling 1.65 inches from several 'cloudbursts' that included some nice lightning displays. I guess lightning displays are 'nice' as long as they don't strike too close to home nor do any damage to speak of where they do strike. I never did get a chance to go out for a walk nor get out much further than my back yard to pick off the dead daylilly flowers and straighten up a couple pepper plants that the storms knocked over. At least I shouldn't have to water the garden for several days now. The same with helping Ange water his garden. -30-
Saturday, July 26, 2014 9:29 PM - The bands were a little different this evening. DX signals were stronger, BUT suffered from rapid QSB. A station would be 599 when I called, then when they came back (always to someone else, it seemed), they might be as low as an S3. I called several different European stations in the IOTA contest with no answer. So I went to 40 and worked a USA station in the contest for the big streak. Finally I found a DX station that seemed immune to the QSB and stayed at a pretty constant S7-8. After waiting through a few other stations working him, it was finally my turn and I put day 514 of the DX streak in my log. Oh, who was it? LZ5R who got me after just one repeat and copied my number with no repeat necessary.
It may continue to get a little better over the next few day as the SF today was 117, the highest it has been since July 13 - two weeks ago. AND it looks like on the 360 degree view of the Sun on my propagation page that the very active region that raised the SF about 3 weeks ago to over 200 is about to rotate into view again. Let's hope it fires up the bands as it did the last rotation, AND that folks know it, and get on those bands which didn't seem to happen as much as it should have the last round. -30-
Friday, July 25, 2014 9:01 PM - Well, another re-run this evening but with a slightly different ending. No workable DX to be found so I went after W1AW/9 on 40M for my regular streak QSO and got him with a single call. Then as usual back to the search for DX. I was kind of waiting for that one strong signal to show up as it has now for the past 5 evenings or so, but it didn't happen. So I went after one weak station. I wasn't even sure of his call because of QSB and QRN, but I called and got a K3?. I sent my call twice and he came back with K3WWP 559. I gave him a generous 579, and then we traded names successfully. His was Marek. I still wasn't sure of his call beyond OK1MV. There was something after that, but each time he got to that point in his call, either QSB or QRN or both interfered. Finally after I listened a half dozen or so more times, I got it. It was OK1MV/P. Maybe getting ready for the IOTA contest this weekend. I thought the contest might have to be my saviour for the DX streak when it looked like I wasn't going to get my DX for day 513 this evening. It still may have to be for day 514 on Sunday. I might get in the contest anyway as I often find some new band country or new prefix in that one. I've even gotten a couple of new overall countries from it.
Paul N8MXS, our NAQCC manager and I have been following each other's progress toward our W1AW WAS awards. He still needs a couple make up states plus ME. I only need ME to wind up. Anyway he posed an interesting statement in his email today about me probably making WAS in a single contest some time. That turned my mind to working. I couldn't quite remember if I had or if I had just come close and missed by one state. So I researched it and found I did get a WAS in the 1999 ARRL SS contest and missed a clean sweep of all ARRL sections by 5 NNY, VI, BC, QC, and MB. Then I was curious about how close I have come to a DXCC in a contest and had to research that as well. My closest was 93 countries in the 2011 CQWW DX contest.
Well, the river is finally down to good fishing level, and perhaps if the expected rain this weekend doesn't raise it again, I might get a chance to go early next week. That is, if I still remember how to fish. HI. This is by far the latest in the season I've gone without catching a fish since I started to fish again in the early 90s.
I took a couple good walks today as it was sunny and in the upper 70s. Actually the high was 82 but most of the time it was in the 70s. It was pretty chilly for July early this morning at 50 degrees. Most of the daily low records for July are in the middle 40s with a range of 40 to 51. In fact I see that 50 reading breaks the old record of 51 for the 25th of July. That 40 record came in the strange year of 1988 when the month was very dry with mostly clear skies. That led to very wide ranges of temperature each day. Only a couple low reading including the 40 and a lot (11) of all time daily high records ranging up to 104 degrees which stood as our all time high temperature until we high 107 in 2011. The mean daily range of temperature in July 1988 was 30.5 degrees or 6.5 degrees above the normal of 24.0 degrees. -30-
Thursday, July 24, 2014 9:04 PM - A nice day again today. I helped Ange water his garden, then weeded and watered mine later in the day. Only went for one walk. Should have done a couple more.
Conditions pretty much the same again this evening on the bands. No DX to be found at first so I worked KB4MNG to keep the big streak going as I approach the 20 year mark in about 10 days now. Then I searched and found ZF1DX, but I just couldn't seem to work him. Apparently he has a very directional beam as most of the folks he was working were deep into Europe and some Asiatic Russians. Finally though after about a half hour of on/off trying, I got him. Even the W1AW stations weren't all that strong tonight like last night. Well, except for W1AW/1 in RI who was pretty good again on 20 meters. -30-
Wednesday, July 23, 2014 8:11 PM - Let me tell you, it just don't get any easier. At 2359, I heard W1AW/1 booming in and got him easily. At 0003, I heard W1AW/9 and after realizing I turned off split and turned it back on, I got him with a single call and a couple repeats. That's 49 states down and Maine to go the end of August. All except these latest two are verified in the LotW, and both were solid QSOs, so I have no worries about them. OK, then at 0006, I found the one strong DX station (interesting how each of the past four nights, I've heard only one strong DX station) in MJ0IKL and worked him after about 4 other stations. So that's 511 days now for DX.
Other than that it was a changeable day. Hot and humid till early to mid afternoon with a high of 88 and humidity in the 70s. Then Canada sent us some cold air and the temperature has dropped steadily since then down to a current 71 degrees. The humidity is still high at 73%, but that will take longer to drop since there was so much moisture in the air.
I went for a walk a little while ago and it felt really nice so I decided to do a bit of shopping while I was out. Right now I've got the house open to cool it down to prepare for the next hot spell whenever it comes. The inside temp dropped from 79 to 74 now.
I was kind of expecting a visit from Mike this evening as it's a fourth Wednesday which is the local ham club meeting night and he usually drops in after the meeting. However I haven't heard from him in a couple weeks now. Wonder if he's been kidnapped by aliens? HI -30-
Tuesday, July 22, 2014 9:09 PM - One of our warmer days this year with a high of 92 and pretty humid. Fortunately my house hasn't really warmed up all that much yet. I don't think it's been in the 80s inside yet this year or if so, only for a couple days here and there. My big project today was going to the library (air-conditioned) to do some work on our computer club computer. Most of the time was taken up with an upgrade from 8.1 to '8.1 Update' as it is called. Another member was there with me and while the upgrade was going on, we got a couple lessons ready for our August club meeting.
Then just a little while ago, I picked off the dead daylillies from my plants. It's amazing how they work. Each flower only lasts one day, then they are 'magically' replaced by a whole new bunch of flowers for the next day. I must pick off at least 100 dead flowers each day during their peak season which is happening right now.
Before that I took a trip to the store. Seems like there is always something to get every day since I have to walk to the store, so I can't really stock up all that much like I could when I was driving.
Right before that, working backwards, I got on the air to see what the W1AW situation was. As expected, huge unruly pileups right now, so outside of just a couple calls, I didn't hang around to work them. I'll do that later in the week. Like the past couple nights, it took a while to find some workable DX, yet for the third night in a row, I finally found a strong easily workable DX station. Tonight it was EI/SP3CW whom I got after waiting through 3 other stations. That's 510 days of DX now. -30-
Monday, July 21, 2014 8:48 PM - The day is different, the story the same, the times and calls different. Tonight it was a QSO with KE4QZB to keep the main streak going since there was no workable DX to be found. After that QSO, I searched, and searched, and se.... for a DX QSO since tomorrow I would be busy a good part of the day. Finally I found a very strong OE3XMA on 20 meters and worked him with one call and one repeat. So the DX streak is still going at 509 days now, but it's getting rough. The SF is creeping back up now and is at 90 today so that may help things if it keeps going up. Actually I think a lot of folks must just look at the SF and A index and if it doesn't look good, they don't bother getting on the air. There have been some very strong DX signals the past few days with the SF in the 80s, BUT not very many of them - few and far between as the saying goes. -30-
Sunday, July 20, 2014 9:06 PM - I'll make thie brief as I want to try to finish the cross-checking of our NAQCC sprint logs tonight. Once again it was hard to find any DX at all so I solidified my main streak with a 40 meter QSO from Nick KA3SJK early in the 0000Z hour, then searched, and searched, and se.... for some DX so I wouldn't have to look during the day tomorrow. Finally I found IZ4ZZB who was pretty strong on 17 meters. It took a few calls to get his attention, but once started it was a solid QSO for about 5 minutes and the DX streak continues with the SF still in the 80s. -30-
Saturday, July 19, 2014 8:28 PM - Here's my soapbox comments from the NAQCC European Chapter July challenge, "FINALLY!! It took a LONG time to find and work that final letter "U". Did all Ukrainians, Russians, and Serbs go on a two week break. It took almost that long to get the final letter after getting all the others fairly quickly early in the month. Thanks UA1CE for helping me finish up another great NAQCC European Chapter challenge at last. This may be a record for the latest in a month for me to finish one. But hey, I did finish and that is what counts. Now I'm looking forward to the Formula 1 challenge in August although my favorite driver Sebastian Vettel is not having a very good year thus far. Thanks to all for the contacts, not only UA1CE. This is the first challenge in which I've used a station from Albania."
I'm glad that is out of the way now. I always say antennas are not rocket science. Now I don't think propagation is either. The last two evenings with the solar flux down in the 80s and the sun spotless, I've worked DX just as easy as when the solar flux was in the 200s and the sun looked like a teenager with severe acne. I got AM03NO right as the clock turned 0000Z, then went looking for the "U" mentioned above and found UA1CE at 0009Z. I had to wait through a couple other stations to get him and had to repeat my call a couple times until he said ONLY K3? KN which shut up the QRM from the non K3 stations. I always admire and congratulate DXers who do that whether it is me they are trying to work or someone else. So I'm now a week past the 500 day mark for the DX streak. I could have also worked several other DX stations this evening, but I quit after getting UA1CE.
Next immediate goals are to get RI and IN from W1AW for states #48 and #49. They will be activated Wednesday at 0000Z. Also to make it to 20 years for my main streak which will happen in just a couple weeks now. Then the NAQCC August challenges also. There is always something to keep my interest high in this great hobby. Oh, and I can't forget the NAQP in August plus a possible operation from the sub USS Requin, and an operation from the Skyview hamfest near the end of August in which I (plus Mike, Don, and Tom) get to operate QRP from a HUGE antenna farm just to see what it is like. Then into September with the special Honor Nancy WZ8C FISTS/NAQCC sprint. It just goes on and on. -30-
Friday, July 18, 2014 7:00 PM - ADDENDUM at 8:45PM - What? Me? Worry? I found out there was no need to. At 0001Z I worked JH0INP on 15M. It wasn't a solid QSO, but he definitely got my call right. Then it was CR5W and EW8DJ on 20M, both easy ones. So you can work DX despite what I say in the earlier part of this entry here.
Tom W3TLN pointed out some discouraging news today. For the first time since August 14, 2011, the sunspot number was at zero as the sun cleaned up all its 'blemishes'. See here for more info. That does not bode well for continuing my DX streak although as in 2011, the zero count is probably just an isolated incident and the sunspots will pick up again. In fact as I mentioned in an earlier entry, in looking at the 360 degree animated image of the sun on my Propagation page, I see still a lot of spots on what is the side of the sun facing away from earth right now. If they last, they will start to rotate onto the side facing the earth in a couple days now. In looking back at the other numbers for August 14, 2011, I see the SF was 88 and the A index was 8. That's close to today's reading which is 89/4. Looking at my log for that date, it looks like it was a weekend with some sort of DX contest (WAE I would guess), and I did work 10 European stations, so even without spots on the sun, DX is still possible. Since this is a weekend coming up, let me see if there are any DX contests to help me get my DX on Saturday and Sunday. Nope, I don't see any contests that could be of any help. I'll just have to rough it out, I guess.
We made it to 100 logs for our NAQCC sprint once again despite widespread complaints of poor conditions from many parts of the country. We stand at 102 right now with still a couple days of reporting time left. -30-
Thursday, July 17, 2014 8:15 PM - I did what I said and went for 20 QSOs in the sprint, then hung it up. That was a lot better than fighting my local QRN for a full two hours. However it did take an hour and 38 minutes to make it to 20 so I didn't really save all that much time away from the noise. I'm pretty sure I'm going to make that SOP for our sprints for a while. Maybe if the local noise gets fixed or goes away I'll go back to a full effort again.
The bands were poor again this evening so I went for and worked W1AW/4 in SC for my big streak QSO. Then I found Rey CO6RD on 30 meters and got him with a single call for my DX streak QSO. I have a feeling though that the DX streak days are numbered and it won't be long before it just takes too much time to find and work a DX station. If you look at my propagation page, you'll see the current face of the Sun looks fairly devoid of spots. But if you look at the 360 degree view of the Sun at the bottom of the page, it looks like the sunspots that gave us the SF over 200 several days ago will rotate back into view hopefully with the same results.
I also checked the bands in late afternoon and found the same conditions then.
A nice cool summer day today so I took a couple good walks and did some yard work also. Supposed to be the same tomorrow although a few degrees warmer. -30-
Wednesday, July 16, 2014 5:01 PM - I came very close to giving up the DX streak today. I just couldn't find anyone who was workable. Either they were very very weak so that I probably couldn't even copy well enough to hear if it was me they were answering - or - the stronger stations were all chasing something else (W1AW?) and not looking for answers themselves. I was wasting a lot of good time and was just about to pronounce an end to the DX streak at 502 days, when along came one more (not very good) chance. ZY14RR was calling CQ on 15 meters, not very strong plus as I mentioned in a previous entry he seemed to have a lot of trouble hearing me at all several times. Well, this time I called and got him on the first try to extend the streak yet another day. I'm thinking of another goal now if it doesn't prove too time consuming. I'd like to continue at least long enough to get a DX QSO on each day in 2014. We'll see.
Continuing on the DX theme, I received the following from the NAQCC European Chapter today:
As I was with the 2013 version of this challenge, I was the first one to apply for and receive the certificate. I think the map on the certificate is a great idea. There are (as of now) 19 European entities I haven't worked in 2014. Most are too small to show up on the map except for Andorra (never have worked an Andorran station in 51 years of hamming), Liechtenstein, Vatican City, San Marino, and Turkey.
Still looking for a single U to complete the July European Chapter challenge. Conditions to Europe have been very poor in addition to European activity being low the past several days now.
Tonight is our monthly NAQCC sprint. I'm not really in a contesting mood right now, but I will participate. Maybe I'll shoot for a goal like 20 QSOs, then QRT or something like that rather than putting in the full two hours as usual. -30-