K3WWP's Ham Radio Activities

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Sat Feb 24 2018 8:30PM - (Update - Forget the following, I worked J6/KG9N on 30 meters after I wrote it.) This may be a rough day for the DX streak. I couldn't work anyone yet this evening, even with the UBA contest. I'll try a couple more times later tonight. If I don't get anything then, it will have to be during what little time I have tomorrow with the hamfest and dinner after that. Hopefully 20 will be open before I leave at 1315Z or later in the day when I get home again. I'd sure hate to see the streak end just 4 days before the 5 year mark. -30-

Fri Feb 23 2018 8:07PM - Just got back from a waffles and kielbasa evening snack with my neighbor. Before I went over there, my DX QSO was an interesting one to me. Back on August 5, 1994 I worked KG9N/C6A for what later turned out to be my first ever streak QSO when I starting figuring the streak a while after that QSO. Tonight 8,604 days later I again worked KG9N, this time as J6/KG9N on 40 meters. Hard to believe that much time has elapsed since day 1 of the streak. Wow!

That also leaves just 4 days now for the DX streak to hit the 5 year mark. That streak started on March 1, 2013. Hopefully nothing will happen on those four days to end the streak before the 5 year mark. I think I've learned a lot more about working DX in those 5 years than I knew before that. That knowledge plus, and I can't forget this, my PX3 panadapter have kept the streak going to this point. Anyway, I don't want to say too much more about it until I do hit the 5 year mark, if I do.

I've heard from several of our NAQCC WPA Chapter members saying they will also be attending the WASHfest in the South Hills of Pittsburgh on Sunday. Should be a nice little get together within the bigger get together. I'm looking forward to it.

Oh, before I go, I should mention that some of my tomato seeds have sprouted. I think I counted 5 just barely peeking out of the ground this morning. No sign of any pepper seeds sprouting yet. I took a picture but it's too hard to see the sprouts yet. I'll take another picture in a few days and post it here. -30-

Thu Feb 22 2018 8:24PM - Thanks to Mike for ghost writing my diary entry last evening. We sure had a good time all day with the activities Mike talked about. I totally enjoyed working with a printed circuit board again. I was delighted my old eyes and hands could still handle such a project, especially with the board and parts getting smaller and smaller as time goes by. Now I think I'm getting the itching to tackle another board, especially if it's a joint project with Mike as this one was.

We'll be getting together again on Sunday for WASHfest, a hamfest in the South Hills of Pittsburgh. After that a meal at Ponderosa in Butler, then home here again for some DXing and powering up the aircraft receiver we built to see if it works. So that will be a third great day with Mike within a week.

It's down to just 5 days now for 5 years... of DX QSOs. Hard to believe it's been that long. Taking it down to the 5 day point of the countdown was a QSO with PZ5RA on 40 meters. He was working a pileup. I couldn't tell how big it was but he was turning QSOs over quite fast. I managed to squeeze in my call to work him. He got WWP, and another call got him the rest of my call and a QSO. -30-

Wed Feb 21 2018 8:54PM - John has taken a night off from his diary entry. Most of you can guess who this is.

The day started when I arrived at John's QTH delivering some Kielbasy Loaf and home mad peirogis that I purchased from a trip to Shenandoah, Pa. yesterday. The local kielbasy shop there is the best in the known universe (in my opinion). I also bought some for John's neighbor Bruce. Shortly after the delivery part of the visit we headed up to John's shack in search of some DX. I worked three stations and John worked one.

Next it was on to completing John's aviation receiver kit that we started on Monday. Half way through we took our dinner break. Yes I know it's hard to believe that we took time to eat. After dinner it was back to the project. See photo's below.


Next we sat and chatted a bit before heading up to the shack for John's streak. No DX but he did keep the big streak going with a QSO with NR3Z who was inspired to try for a QSO a day after reading about John's streak on his website [and in the August 2017 QST article]. Next was another round of the Sherlock Holmes hidden object game. Followed by me ghost writting for John. In a few minutes I will be heading North to my QTH. 73 Mike, KC2EGL. -30-

Tue Feb 20 2018 9:07AM - I just posted my story of this year's ARRL DX contest. See the What's New section on my home page for a link to it. That will be my diary entry for today.

Now I think I'll update my ARRL Grid Square totals with the 115 QSOs I made in the contest. -30-

Mon Feb 19 2018 7:49PM - Once again for the umteenth time now it was a great day with a visit from Mike. He arrived around 9:45A or so just after I walked Roscoe. We sat around and chatted a bit, then went to the shack to see if we could work any DX including the German special event station honoring World Radio Day - DR18WRD that I worked an hour or so earlier. By that time he was gone, and we didn't have any luck with any other DX at that time.

Next up was a trip next door for Mike to help Bruce with his smart phone setup. Roscoe gave Mike a couple long rounds of barking before he settled down in my lap while they worked on the phone. While we were there Mike snuck in a picture of me and Roscoe on the chair and emailed it over here. I though it was so nice that I wanted to share it here.

John and Roscoe
The Old Man and the Dog

Don't we both look contented? Someone asked me to post a recent picture of Roscoe in the diary, so there you are.

After Bruce and Mike finished, we headed off to Subway for our lunch. That was a bit of a change of pace for us as far as meals go.

After that we went back to the shack to chase some more DX. This time it was more successful. As soon as I turned the rig on, there was EI100MCV whom I worked effortlessly. Then Mike got him also. That was followed by a few other DX stations also. We both worked CT9/OM8CW on 15 and CT9ABN on 20. Mike also worked a few other stations whose calls I can't remember. I know one was another portable CT9 station. Also KP4TF on 17 meters. The bands were in good shape in that 1700Z hour.

About a year ago at a hamfest I won a little Vectronics Aircraft Receiver kit. We were always going to assemble it, but never got to it until today. We spent about 3 hours or so working with a lot of tiny pieces and got it about halfway done. We hope to finish it Wednesday when Mike visits again.

Then it was another hour and a half of doing this and that. One thing was checking out a new power supply for Mike's telescope which he will also be using for our parkpeditions and other portable work.

When Mike left a bit after 7PM I went to the shack for my streak QSO(s). Before he had pulled out in his car, I worked 6Y2T on 20M to cover both streaks. Also it was nice after that to work old friend Jim W1PID whom I hadn't worked in some time. -30-

Sun Feb 18 2018 7:55PM - I'm a little tired right now after a busy day with a shopping trip and a few hours in the ARRL DX test. So instead of a diary entry as such, I'm going to write a contest story to post in my Contesting section either tomorrow or the next day. Mike is visiting tomorrow so it will probably be Tuesday. I wound up with only 116 QSOs as I really only operated on Sunday with just 7 QSOs on Saturday. I'm also doing my laundry right now so I'll have tomorrow free for Mike's visit. -30-

Sat Feb 17 2018 8:26PM - Still don't really have that interest in contesting this weekend. I never even listened during the day. I got on this evening at 0000Z and played for an hour all on 40 meters. I added 18 QSOs to the 7 from last night for a meager total of 25 QSOs and 21 multipliers. Perhaps I'll get on later tonight, or maybe not.

Tomorrow I have some other things planned including a shopping trip "up on the hill" as we say here since our two malls are up on the hills surrounding the town down here where I live. It's actually West Kittanning up there. I would like to check 15 and 10 sometime in between the other things just to see what they are like. We'll see. -30-

Fri Feb 16 2018 8:07PM - Seven QSOs in the first hour. Despite the low figure, it's still 6 better than the first hour a year ago. I'm not sure what that means. I think it probably means that I can do as good in the contest as I want to. I mean it depends on how much time I want to put in fighting less than good conditions for QSOs. I do hate to make the other stations put in a lot of effort and time to complete a QSO with me especially now at the beginning of the contest when there are so many other stations they can work easily. It's all about rates and time wasted now. Later on in the contest when things slow down, I won't feel so bad about wasting their time as I know my QSO will help them out a little, and they won't mind working a little hard to get it.

It's all about having fun also, and it's not as much fun working hard to make the QSOs as it is when they come slam, bang, TU, 73 up and down the band. I remember in the peak sunspot years I could go from one end of 40, 20, 15, and 10 to the other and work virtually everyone I heard with a single try or maybe two at the most. Those were the days.

I'm wondering how 80 will be this year. It should be good, but then all the big stations will probably wind up there also and I'll have to fight them. I'll find that out later tonight if I'm in the mood for some contesting then. I sure would love to make my two goals of Alaska on 80 and Asia on 40 to completer band WAS and band WAC on those two bands. It would be nice to get some new countries on 80 also to creep slowly toward 100 on that band.

Speaking of Asia, I heard a couple JAs on 20, and I think one may have heard me as he sent a partial call that could have been me, but couldn't get any further.

OK, end of my contest ramblings and end of diary entry. -30-

Thu Feb 15 2018 7:31PM - As I've been talking about the last few entries, with the ARRL DX contest coming up, this should be a week or so of easy DX. It was true again tonight. I worked 6Y2T who is certainly a station who will be in the contest. I got him at 0001Z on 30 meters. That leaves 12 days to go to the 5 year mark for the DX streak. The next two should be lead pipe cinches with the contest itself underway all day Saturday and Sunday. Let's make this another in my series of DX tips here in the diary. Then after that another topic and picture.

7. A very good time of the year for working DX is the week or so before and after the big DX contests, especially the CQWW in November and the ARRL DX in February. In the week or so before the contests, many stations will be setting up and testing their stations, especially those going on DXpeditions for the contest. At home, the stations are set up and tuned to perfection with only minor tweaking to prepare for the contest. Often times the portable operations are set up just for the contest and torn down after it is over. In such a portable operation, there needs to be more on the air checking, not only for the purpose of testing the equipment, but for another reason as well.

There is nothing like operating from a rare or at least somewhat unusual location in the contests. That rare multiplier attracts stations in the contest like a bright light attracts bugs at night. A lot of people don't enjoy contesting the way some of us do, and they avoid them. However because the rare stations are on the air testing before the contest, it's an excellent time to add a rare country to your log. Those stations enjoy giving out QSOs from those locations to any and all hams. Some popular locations are most of the smaller Caribbean islands, islands around Africa and Europe like Madeira, the Azores, Malta, Crete, Cyprus, just to list a few. So if you want to add to your country collection but hate contests, this is the opportunity for you. Not only the week or so before the contest, but oftentimes hams stay at those locations a week or so after the contest just to give out that country to still more hams. These are also the times to work them on the WARC bands of 30, 17, and 12 which are not available for contests. It's a bit late now for the ARRL DX contest with only one day left before, but keep an ear out next week for those who linger on.

And now for something completely different, a la Monty Python.

Long time diary readers will know immediately what the following picture signifies, but they may wonder why it is so late this year.


Yes, I finally got around to planting my tomato and pepper seeds. I was a bit discouraged last year by the very slow start for my plants. They just sat there and didn't grow for a few weeks after they sprouted. So because of that and because I seem to be getting lazier each year, I thought I would try starting them later, about 6 weeks or so later, in fact. Three of the cups contain the Siberian tomato seeds and the other three the pepper seeds.

In case you don't know, Siberian tomatoes are small tomatoes that can produce tomatoes very early even here in the cold climate of Pennsylvania. The seeds were given to me by my late cousin and her late husband many years ago, and each year I save the seeds for the next year's crop. A few of the years I had my first ripe tomatoes in late May and early June about a month or more before other kinds of tomatoes will have ripe tomatoes. Well, except for those grown in large greenhouses. Last year though it was almost July before I had the first ripe Siberian. We'll see what happens this year with the late start plus some starter soil that the commercial growers use. -30-

Wed Feb 14 2018 9:17AM - "To err is human, but it takes a computer to really screw things up." So true. My soapbox comments from our NAQCC sprint last night were supposed to contain a link to my diary here. However the software that is now producing the sprint results totally garbled the link which worked fine when I checked it here and submitted it as such. Hopefully Andy N2CN will tweak his software or use some human intervention to fix the link on his next update of the page. Computers are good, but still far short of what the human brain can do.

OK, enough of a "soapbox" about my soapbox comments. Let's get to last night's sprint now.

The best overall description was that it was a combination of very slow and rapid QSB. There were periods when conditions were excellent with many strong signals and lots of answers to my CQs. Signals were very steady during those times. Then there were times when all signals were weaker and underwent rapid fading to the point where half a call could be copied easily, then the other half dipped into the noise.

I started on 40 and heard my friend and WPA Chapter Member Don K3RLL - now in FL for the winter - tuning up. I called him twice and he was the first QSO for both of us. That was it for 40 meters here. I checked 80 and found it as described above so I stuck there the rest of the sprint.

The first half hour the QSOs came quickly and at 0200Z I had 14 in the log including Don on 40. All but one were from states (plus ON) within two states of PA - the usual short 80M skip at that time of evening. The next half hour was virtually the same, but signals were now slipping away and the rapid QSB was coming into play. At 0230 I had 27 QSOs and was hoping to crack 50 for the first time in a few sprints now.

However 80 now switched abruptly to long skip and from 0229 through 0320Z when I quit, QSOs came from IA OK MN TN GA MN VA NC TN MN MN IL TN IL IL. Mixed in were strong signals but from stations I had already worked. The longer skip stations mostly had the rapid QSB.

All in all it was much better than my previous few sprints when conditions were uniformly horrible to describe them kindly. I wound up with 41 QSOs in 21 SPCs.

I hope conditions will be even better next month. Hopefully with the longer and later hours of daylight, 40 will be good again for the first time since fall and 80 will still be good before the spring/summer static starts to pick up.

As far as DX, I think the next several days (knock on wood) will be somewhat easy with the upcoming ARRL DX contest this weekend. Then another 10 days or so and hopefully the streak will hit the five full years mark on February 28. At least it's not a leap year. HI -30-

Tue Feb 13 2018 7:12PM - Another nice mid-February day today with quite a bit of s#$w melt with a high in the mid-40s. I can't wait till Thursday though when it may top 60 and with rain, there shouldn't be much s#$w left after that. Tomorrow will help also with a high around 50. It looks like winter is slowly retreating. Hope saying so doesn't jinx things.

I actually got to go for two outside walks today and did some shopping along the way. Sure felt good.

Another easy DX QSO this evening from NP2/K4XU setting up for the ARRL DX contest. He even took a moment to wish me good luck - I guess in the contest. I hope I'm in a contesting mood this weekend. Could this be when I finally get KL7 on 80 meters to complete my WAS on that band? Sure would be nice and with conditions on the low bands good now, who knows.

Our NAQCC monthly sprint is coming up in just over an hour now. I think unless conditions are really great, I'll not put in much time beyond the first hour. I seem to be losing a bit of drive for our sprints now that I'm no longer working with them - doing the log cross-checking, etc. -30-

Mon Feb 12 2018 9:03PM - I'm running a bit late tonight. I've been busy working on my family tree via the genealogy program Legacy and the Family Search web site. I've traced my ancestry back to the 1500s now. No kings, queens, or other noteworthy persons. Although actually everyone is noteworthy in their own way.

Anyway I got my DX quickly this evening. That leaves 15 days to go for the DX streak to reach 1,826 days or five full years.

OK, off now to finish my site updates then it will be time to walk Roscoe. -30-

Sun Feb 11 2018 7:30PM - No DX so far. I'll try again later tonight. If not then, I guess it's back to the morning. Except for a QSO in the PACC contest and one in the CWT sprint, I haven't had to use the morning hours for quite a few days now.

It was a nice day today unless you don't like rain. Yes, rain. It only got down to 35 last night and up to 48 today. It's still 46 now. If it hadn't been for the ice mixing in the other day, I think most of the ugly s#$w would be gone now. With the ice mixed in, it hangs tough though. Oh well, won't be too long till spring now - just a couple weeks. -30-

Sat Feb 10 2018 7:28PM - The PACC contest made for easy DX QSOs for the 10th and 11th - PA3EZC on 20 this morning and PA3FQA on 40 a few minutes ago. Actually with a couple of sunspot groups on the sun and the SF in the upper 70s, conditions have been a tad better the past few days.

I'm continuing to count up my overall grid squares worked. I'm up around 650 now, actually exactly 650 at the moment as I glance at my Excel spreadsheet records. I've downloaded a couple of grid square maps, one for most of NA and one for most of EU. As I find a new GS in my log, I'll color in the GS on the maps. That way I can easily see which state or country I still need the most and concentrate on that area. Here's a downsized version of my Europe map to more clearly show what I mean.

grid map

For example, although a bit hard to see, I need to find GS in the bottom of the boot of Italy and quite a few in Spain. So I'll work on those countries next. -30-

Fri Feb 09 2018 10:02AM - I was just doing some work on my log and noticed that when I worked W9ZN last evening, that was QSO # 90,000 in my Access log. That's a lot, but it's far short of some of the "professional" contesters who enter just about each and every contest with their big powerful contest stations. I'm sure some of them could be over the 1,000,000 mark. Also those who get involved in the big DXpeditions. 90,000 is just a drop in the bucket for those stations. Still I'm proud of making it to 90,000 and I wonder if I'll be around long enough to hit 100,000 some day. Let's see, over the past 5 years, I've averaged about 2300 QSOs, so at that rate it would take a little over 4 years. However the last two years with the decline in the sunspot cycle, the average is only about 1700 which means it would take almost 6 more years.

Here's another important DX tip to close out the entry.

6. Always follow the lead of the DX station when you are answering his CQ. That is, if he sends only a quick K3WWP 599, I would answer with a TU 599 and we would both be on our way to our next QSOs. If you do that, you earn the respect of not only the DX station, but the stations waiting to work him. It annoys me to no end to have someone respond to a quick 599 exchange with their entire life history. To elaborate a bit more, if the DX station responds with something like 599 OP EDUARDO, then I feel it is OK to come back with TU 599 OP JOHN. If the DX gives name and QTH, you can do the same. Sometimes the DX station wants to rag chew, and then you are free to do the same. I find it very enjoyable chatting with DX stations when conditions permit and the DX station wants to do so. But never initiate a rag chew yourself. I'll repeat for emphasis. Always follow the lead of the DX station as to what type of QSO he wants to engage in. -30-

Thu Feb 08 2018 8:56PM - Remember the Ray Price song that contained this line: "It's never going to be like old times again." Well, it did seem like old times again this evening. I turned the rig on at 0000Z, tuned a bit, found C6AKX on 40 and beat out two other stations to work him. It's been a while since my DX streak was secured before the day was beyond its first minute. 23 hours and 59 minutes worry free! I also had a couple nice chats with VE3IDS and W9ZN at kind of opposite ends of the spectrum. VE3IDS was running 5 watts, and W9ZN 1,000 watts. IDS peaked a little over S9 and ZN about 20 over, so not all that much difference, maybe what, 15 dB or so.

I'm running a bit late, so I'll cut this short to go get my weather records and then go next door to visit Bruce and walk Roscoe. -30-

Wed Feb 07 2018 8:00PM - It is the same old story on the bands this evening with only a couple DX stations heard, either too weak or too busy to work. Maybe the evening will end like the last couple though with a DX QSO on 80 around midnight. Last night it was Mike F5IN on 80 for the streak.

This was another of those very rare days when I was glad to see s#$w. Why? Because there is only one weather event worse than s#$w, and that's freezing rain, and we were very close to getting that today. However we were fortunate and we got a sequence of s#$w, regular rain, and then s#$w again. There were some colder spots where some of the rain did freeze a bit, but all in all it was not bad at all.

I'm finding that the ham population as a whole moves around a lot. In checking my QSOs for grid squares as I mentioned a few days ago, I'm finding that probably over half no longer live where I worked them. Still I've found around 600 different GS so far and I'm far from checking all my QSOs. That is going to take some time yet.

As for GS this year for the ARRL event, I have just over 60 worked so far and about 40 on 80 meters. It sure is a lot of fun and good brain exercise. I don't care if I get any kind of award or not.

Speaking of challenges sort of, I got 11 letters for our February NAQCC challenge from my two QSOs this evening with VE7ACN/7 (on IOTA NA-75) and K1MZM. That makes 51 letters down and 34 to go. -30-

Tue Feb 06 2018 9:00AM - "Sunspots? I don't need no stinking Sunspots. I have 40 meters and 80 meters." That's a quote from the Skyview ARS February Newsletter which is edited by my friend and fellow NAQCC WPA Chapter member Jody K3JZD. It certainly has applied to me recently, especially 80 meters.

Just last night a little past midnight (0511Z) I checked the bands before crawling into bed. There on 80 meters was HA8JV calling CQ. He wasn't too strong, but I thought I'd try him anyway. I sent my call once and bingo, he came back right away with K3WWP 569. So once again the DX streak was extended another day before I went to bed.

I thought I'd analyze my 80 meters results recently concentrating on DX and in particular European DX stations. Here I go to filter my Microsoft Access log for 80 meters, DX, and EU. Overall I have 63 matching QSOs, a few from the 1963-1983 period with more than 5 watts. Let me filter them out. OK, there were only 3 leaving 60 QRP 80M EU QSOs. I'm sure the vast majority came from contests. Let me check that. Yes, 49 came from contests, leaving 11 non-contest QSOs to work with.

Let's analyze those 11. 9 of them came since December 10, last year. One each from 2013 (YO3APJ) and 2016 (S53A). I never really concentrated on 80M DX outside of contests until recently, virtually only since December last year. I did that to preserve my DX streak since at times I couldn't find any DX above 80 meters in the evenings. It seems to be working, and I am going to try to regulary check 80 during the sunspot minimum years. Let's make that another DX tip.

5. Don't neglect 80 meters when chasing DX, especially during low sunspot years. It can be worked even with a very minimal QRP/CW/simple (indoor) wire antenna setup. It's not too easy like on the higher bands during high sunspot years, but it can be done.

Now let's continue my analysis of my 80M EU DX. The earliest QSO was OE3XMA at 2348Z, then HB9CVQ at 2352Z. 3 in the 0000Z hour (YO3APJ, S53A, HB9CVQ again another day). The 0300Z hour - 9A9A, HA8RM. In the 0500Z hour it was OE3XMA for a second time, OK2RZ, HA8JV. The latest at 0738Z was SM4OTI.

Four of those took but a single call to work them: 9A9A, SM4OTI, HA8JV, OE3XMA. I don't remember for sure now, but I don't recall any of them taking a lot of effort to work. Repeats were involved in several of them to get my call right or to be heard at all.

I find it interesting to note just now that almost all are from somewhat deep into Europe with HB9CVQ being the one furthest west. None from the far western part of Europe. In fact come to think of it, I don't even hear western Europe much on 80 except in contests. Maybe later I'll analyze the contest QSOs also. That's it for now though. Time to walk Roscoe and then perhaps some shopping. -30-

Mon Feb 05 2018 9:35AM - I just worked DL2DX on 20 meters for the DX streak. I also noticed when putting it in my Microsoft Access log that it was my QSO number 89,990. Just 10 to go for 90,000 QSOs. That is only counting my QSOs as KN3WWP and K3WWP. I also have other QSOs using other calls. Let's see how many I can remember offhand. WA3IXO (a second call I had in Pittsburgh for a few years while working at WPIT), KB3MQT, N3AQC, N3A (all NAQCC club calls), NY3EC (USS Requin), and K3MJW (Skyview). I think that's it. Total QSOs from those calls is 4,250. I've been a busy ham.

I've operated from several different locations with K3WWP and those calls. I've always lived here in Kittanning as my home base. However, I have operated from the following: My apartment in Pittsburgh, the Kittanning Community Park, Moraine State Park in Butler, Breezeshooters hamfest in Butler (2 locations), Skyview in New Kensington, the USS Requin, Chicora, PA (FD with WB3FAE and KC2EGL), Garretts Run (Tom Mitchell's former home - 2 locations including his house and some hilltop property of his). I think that covers it.

It's been a lot of fun, and continues to be as I approach 55 years as a ham on April 3. I did miss years over that span because of college/tech school and then work at WPIT. There are gaps in my log from 4/20/1970 to 6/6/1972, 12/4/1973 to 6/17/1981, and 9/23/1983 to 2/15/1993.

My interests in ham radio have varied over the years, but with one solid constant. That's my mode used - CW. All of the QSOs above save about 5 testing other ham's rig for them, have come via CW. I've also used QRP for most of my ham career according to the definition of QRP at the time. I'm not sure just when the definition changed. Some of my 1980s QSO may be QRO, but no more than 30 watts (INPUT power). Otherwise my interest started out just being a ham making contacts of any kind. DX caught my interest but I was never successful with it in the 1960s and I switched over to county hunting which closed out my first long period of activity in 1973. In the 1980s when I was active again, it was county hunting again for the most part. In the 1990s once again as I started up, it was a mix as in the early 1960s. Over a couple or so years, the DX bug started to bite and still has a firm hold on me today. I guess there is another solid constant that comes to mind as I write. I have always loved the excitement of contesting and have entered over 1,300 of them over the years. Although now I concentrate only on the big DX contests and our NAQCC sprints.

I enjoyed reminiscing over my ham career, and I hope you found it interesting also. -30-

Sun Feb 04 2018 8:08PM - A fairly nasty day today that could have been worse. We had more rain than s#$w with the temperature hanging around 34-35 most of the day, although as I glance at my CompuTemp it shows 36 now. However when it does go below freezing tonight, there are going to be a lot of slippery spots. I'm glad I don't have to go anywhere.

I went with my neighbor to Walmart this morning. I picked up a new Dust Buster to replace the one that quit on me about a month ago. I also got some potting soil. I plan to start my tomato and pepper seeds sometime this coming week. I was kind of discouraged last year when they germinated, but then put their growth on hold for about 4-6 weeks. So this year I'm starting them about 4-6 weeks later than usual to see what happens.

The usual band conditions this evening - lousy. No answers to my CQs at all, but I did find and work Dick N4HAY before we got clobbered by the TLC net.

Last night just before going to bed, I found and worked Mike F5IN on 80 meters. It took but a single call although I wasn't sure if he came back with K3WWW or K3WWP so I did repeat my call twice to be sure he had it right. He did. I guess I'll try later tonight again, and if no DX then, I'll be checking in the morning. Over the past couple weeks or so, I've only had to resort to the morning for my DX twice, so the evenings have been kind although rough. -30-

Sat Feb 03 2018 8:37AM - This entry is dedicated to great ops like Hannes DJ0SP who go out of their way to help hams, QRPers especially, to complete QSOs under adverse conditions. I, for one, certainly appreciate those efforts. It's ops like those who help me to continue my DX streak. I don't know if any of them might read this or not, but if any of you do, thanks very much.

Hannes took 3 minutes or so to be sure he had my call correct this morning under very adverse conditions. There was another contest besides the FOC going on, perhaps the F9AA cup? I tried to work a few of the stations in that after I figured out the exchange without being heard at all. Then I ran across Hannes not in the contest calling CQ. I called him and that began a progression of getting my call right something like this - K2? K3W? K3WWR K3WWW and finally K3WWP. A lot of ops wouldn't have stuck with me, but Hannes did.

What I say above also applies to many other top notch ops like Hannes. They won't give up until they get a call right.

So with that, the rest of my day is free for a couple other planned projects like a trip to WalMart, helping Bruce with some digital photos, trimming some hair on Roscoe, plus my other regular daily chores. -30-

Fri Feb 02 2018 7:39PM - Looks like another rough day for the DX streak. The only DX heard tonight was in the FOC contests and those folks don't work non-members like me. I could say more about that, but I'm not going to.

I'll check later tonight to see if I can find anything. If not, I guess it will be back to the morning and afternoon routine. I'm thinking more and more seriously about trying my best to make it to the 5 year mark of the DX streak on February 28, then perhaps voluntarily end it. I probably won't do that though as I'm pretty stubborn and will let other factors determine when the streak ends.

It even took about 20 minutes to get my regular streak QSO. Last night 80 was full of strong signals. Tonight only a couple strong ones and some weak ones. Sean KD2NEL did answer one of my CQs finally though. Our signals were both bugged by QSB though as the band seems very unstable. -30-

Thu Feb 01 2018 8:20PM - Well, tomorrow is the annual Groundhog farce. Wonder what the folks who celebrated Candlemas Day centuries ago would think of what their festival has turned into? It's a farce because the prediction the groundhog makes has no relation whatsoever to whether it is cloudy or sunny nor whether or not he sees his shadow. It's just a money-making carnival these days. Enough of that.

Once again a quick DX QSO this evening for day # 1,800. Tonight it was KL7SB/VP9 on 40 meters. I'm thinking there are already some stations setting up for the ARRL DX Contest later this month. If so, that will help in maintaining the DX streak. I hope I can maintain it at least 26 more days now and hit the 5 year mark.

I've got another DX tip now.

4. Don't be overly persistent in trying to work a station. When you find someone, analyze the situation. If it's a rare DX entity with an associated huge pileup, you will probably only waste a lot of time persistently chasing him, especially if he is not very strong. On the other hand if he is booming in well over S9 which does happen at times, you may be lucky to be located in a place that has the best path between you and the station. In that case, you can afford to be somewhat persistent as you may have a good chance to work him with a bit of clever operating. We'll deal with the clever operating in another tip. Otherwise if you hear a DX station who is not rare nor actively being sought by a pileup, you should be able to quickly assess the situation to determine if persistence is worthwhile. Generally the weaker the station, the less likely you will be able to work him. If you call him, and he doesn't acknowledge you with even a question mark, and goes on calling CQ without answering anyone at all, try perhaps a few calls and if you get the same non-results, move on. Maybe come back to him later. Meantime check out those other DX signals and see if you can work any of them. You'll learn with experience when persistence may pay off and when you know it won't. Persist too long with one station and you may be missing out on something else even better somewhere else. Persist too long and the band may change or die and you will have missed something good. -30-

Wed Jan 31 2018 8:38AM - And another month of DX QSOs is added to the DX streak thanks to my friend Bert F6HKA in the CWT sprint. This week I remembered the CWT beforehand and was prepared to check it as soon as I got up. After a failed call to IK0YVV I found and worked Bert.

Now if I make it through February, the DX streak will reach 5 full years since working IK2SND back on March 1, 2013. It is getting rougher and rougher though as the sunspots continue to fade away with a resulting lower solar flux and consequential poorer propagation on the bands. One thing that may help a bit in February is the ARRL DX Contest. There should be stations setting up for the contest before the contest weekend, and some staying on after the contest to give out more QSOs, especially on the WARC bands on which contest activity is not allowed.

Here's another in my series of DX tips that is really responsible for my streak going this far.

3. Use the very best QRP transceiver. A lot of the smaller cheaper QRP rigs are great for casual QRP operation, but for truly serious DX work, you need something like a KX3 with its superb receiver and bells and whistles such as the optional roofing filter and built-in ATU. Anyone who gets a KX3 should get those two options. The filter really helps in crowded band conditions like in a big DX contest. The ATU makes it possible to immediately change bands without having to do any external tuning. Just switch bands and antennas and you're immediately ready to go after that DX. Having a KX3 is great, but the real icing on the cake is the additional PX3 panadapter. I can honestly say my streak would be over some time ago without the PX3. With it, a simple quick glance at its screen shows activity on the band. Then you can tune to a peak and listen to see if it is DX or not. You don't have to waste time tuning across what may be a vast wasteland of no signals to find a signal. Just look, tune to a peak, and listen. Now there are other aids such as spotting and the skimmer, but I avoid them like the plague. I feel the operator should have the challenge of doing most of the work of finding and working DX himself so I personally don't use any aids beyond the PX3 which really is just a time saver in examining the bands quickly and finding signals. Then the operator must listen to find out who is causing that peak on the display. I feel very strongly about that which is why I elaborated so much on it. I have made over 22,000 DX contacts and only a couple have been from a ham friend telling me so and so was on such and such a frequency. All the rest I've found and worked by myself.

OK, that tip was actually a combo tip and soapbox comments. Now I'm off to upload my January QSOs to LoTW and eQSL and do other end of month chores. -30-

Tue Jan 30 2018 5:58PM - Just about an hour to go to find out if I can quickly close out another month of my two streaks. I hope so and then I can get my logs uploaded to eQSL and LoTW for my January QSOs and get on with other end of month activities.

A followup to my DX QSO story from yesterday. A couple hours after writing the story I updated my LoTW and eQSL records. That is put in my Microsoft Access log the latest verifications from both sources. Another surprise awaited me at eQSL. There was a card from Danny ZF1DS thanking me for our 40 meter QSO. I'll have a picture of the card here in the diary after I upload my QSOs to eQSL so I can verify his card. I'm just wondering if that's the first ever ZF QSO I got from my calling CQ. Let's see if I can find out quickly. With my Access log, it should only take a minute at most. Actually it took less than a minute to find that was a new country via my CQ. I have 237 ZF QSOs and that was the first. Somewhere I have a list of countries via my CQ. Let's see if I can find that quickly. OK, just wrote a brief Access query of my log to find I've worked 57 countries plus /MM stations via my CQ. Oh, wait a moment. I didn't filter for 5 watts or less. Some of those could be from the 1960s and 70s when I ran more than five watts. Back in a few seconds. OK, I lost 4 so the QRP CQ total is now 53 + /MM. Just love working with statistics. -30-

Mon Jan 29 2018 7:30PM - For 1,797 days in a row now I've worked at least one DX station. Actually in those 1,797 days, there are 6,847 DX QSOs in my log. Of those 1,797 days and 6,847 QSOs, the one tonight is perhaps the most bizarre. Here's the story.

As usual, I headed to the shack at 0000Z, turned on the rig and took a quick look at the PX3 screen. I see a lot of strong signals on 80 meters so I figure it will be easy to get my main streak QSO. So I went hunting for DX on 80, but didn't find anything. The same with 40 meters. There were even a couple peaks on 30 which is unusual of late, but they were USA stations. A couple times back and forth among the three bands and I figured I'd give up the DX hunt and get my regular QSO on 80 meters. So I set up around 3543 (or so I thought) and called CQ for a few minutes with no results. I noticed on the PX3 that there were a lot fewer signals now and thought perhaps there was a geomagnetic disturbance just starting up. A strong station started up close to where I was sending so I slipped up the band a couple kHz or so, and started calling CQ there. After a few CQs, I heard someone answer me with a simple ZF1DM. He was about S7 and that shouldn't be on 80 meters. I had a flashback in time to many years ago in Pittsburgh when I was AM broadcast band DXing and a geomagnetic storm washed out just about all the USA BC stations and on 730 was a strong station from Trinidad. I forget the call now. I think it was something like a ham call, maybe VP4RD. Maybe we are having conditions like that again tonight. Or maybe this is just someone fooling around pretending to be a ZF station. Anyway I sent RST, QTH, and name and turned it over to him. He came back with his info, and when I was writing it in the log, dumb me looked to see the frequency. To my embarrassment, it was then I noticed I was on 7045, NOT 3545. So working the Cayman Islands was actually normal, and nothing out of the ordinary. I have no idea how I wound up on 40 and not 80 nor why I didn't notice it with the KX3 readout right in front of my nose. Fortunately I'm 72 now so I can always use the convenient excuse of blaming it on old age. HI.

And that's one streak QSO I'll remember for sure among all the almost 7,000. I guess that and the HB9CVQ 80 meters QSO that saved the streak back in December one day just a couple minutes before 2400Z.

I'm not going to do a DX tip tonight, but if I would, I guess it would be that sometimes DX just happens and you don't really need to do anything special to get it. -30-

Sun Jan 28 2018 7:49PM - Yet another quick DX streak QSO. I worked C6AGU on 80 at 0007Z. I think I just made it too because after he worked me, I didn't hear him in the couple minutes I was getting caught up on my logging. Perhaps he quit or switched bands or maybe just was taking a little break.

Let's continue now with my DX tips.

2. Be sure your keying is as close to 100% perfect as possible. DX stations have been heard saying it is easier to copy a weak signal with perfect sending than a strong one with sloppy sending. So if you are running QRP as I do, and send perfect CW, you have a slight edge right there to begin with. It is disgusting (and sad) to hear some of the sloppy sending that comes from stations chasing DX, and it's mostly from big strong signals who apparently may be trying to use brute power to overcome a lack of good CW. Not only do you have a better chance of getting the DX with perfect sending, but it saves time as well. The DX station doesn't have to stop to figure out if it is XX99MA or maybe XX99Q or some other combination of DAH DAH DI DAH depending on the spacing at which they are being sent. Not only is it necessary to send the DAHs and DIs correctly, but the spacing between them as well.

More to come. -30-

Sat Jan 27 2018 8:12PM - For the second evening in a row now, I've gotten my DX QSO within the first 7 minutes of the 0000Z hour. Last night it was TI5/N3KS on 80 at 0007Z and tonight PJ2/PA0VDV on 30 at 0005Z. I love it when it happens that way.

Spurred on by the ARRL Grid Square 2018 event, I'm going back through my almost 90,000 QSOs to see just how many different Grid Squares I've worked. So far I've checked about 15,000 QSOs and found 427 different grids. The most from any first letter group is 134 from those GS starting with E, next is F with 93, and J with 84. Doing this really appeals to my love of statistics and brain exercise.

I thought I'd start a series of tips or ideas about how to maintain a DX streak such as I am doing. I'll present one tip every few diary entries. Let's start now.

# 1 - Get yourself to the point where you can copy CW solidly at least as fast as 25 WPM, preferably 30-35 WPM. In order to work as many stations as possible, a lot of DX stations will operate between 25 and 35 WPM, especially DXpedition stations or stations living in the more rare countries. In contests, you'll often hear even higher speeds. In order to work them, you've got to be able to copy them. So if you want to work DX each and every day, or even to work DX casually now and then, work on increasing your CW copying speed.

More to come in future entries. -30-

Fri Jan 26 2018 10:07AM - I have some projects to take care of today, so I'll write this short entry now.

Another somewhat interesting DX QSO late last night at 0510Z on 80M. After trying HA8RM without any luck, I found OE3XMA on 3.504 and all it took was a single call to get him in the log. That was one of the easiest ever 80M European QSOs I can recall. It helped not having any competition as everyone else was in a big pileup chasing something. I'm guessing the Kosovo station Z60A, but I don't know. -30-

Thu Jan 25 2018 6:38PM - A couple comments about last evening, then I'm going to delve into another subject about which I've just been doing a lot of thinking.

Last night was a fourth Wednesday evening, and that's the time for a monthly visit from Mike KC2EGL. All those visits are always enjoyable and last night was no exception. It started with, as usual, a pizza. This time a mushroom, tomato, sausage, and pepperoni one from our favorite place, Vocelli's. Then it was up to the shack to look for some DX. We found very little, and worked none. I did get my regular daily QSO while we were there. While we were in the shack, we also put some semblance of order to our Tuna Tin rigs and accessories. Then on Presidents Day when Mike visits again, we'll get them all ready for some tests in the park when the weather breaks. Next it was another favorite activity, hidden object games on the computer. Mike had to work today on his normal Thursday off day, so he left a little earlier than usual.

A couple hours later I went up to my room for something and thought I'd check the bands for some DX. It wasn't long after not finding any in the CWT sprint that I came across an DX station whose call I didn't catch, and decided I'd go ahead and work him, and find out who I worked after he would ID again. Turns out my first call was the winner, and then he gave his ID as P4/DL4MM. Doesn't get any easier than that.

OK, now for something completely different. Today I happened to be going through some old things and cleaning out a bit. First it was some photographs, then some old NAQCC computer material. That set me to thinking how our lives, or at least mine, are made up of various stages that come and go. There are also others that last all or at least most of our lives. I found one photo album with pictures from my WPIT stage from 1969-1993. That now seems like a complete other life which had a definite beginning and end to it.

Then I thought of some other things like fishing which actually comprised two stages from about the mid-1950s until my dad died in 1964 and then started up again in the early 1990s and is continuing to this day although the past couple years my activity has dwindled.

Another is astronomy which is one interest that has lasted almost all my life starting when I was perhaps around 8-10 years old and continuing to this day. I no longer take my scope out much at all because it is an increasing effort to set it up as I get older. Also the light pollution is very bad here in Kittanning. I still enjoy just looking at the planets, moon, and stars with the naked eye virtually every clear night. Also I try to keep up on all the astronomy news.

I'll close with three other interests. Meteorology is perhaps my most constant interest starting in 1958 and still going strong. I have complete daily records starting January 1, 1960 through today.

Ham radio has been a pretty steady interest as well since 1963 although I was away from it for a couple periods of a few years each while working at WPIT. Within ham radio though, there have been stages that came and went. One notable one being county hunting. After co-founding the CW County Hunters Net with Dave WA8EOH in 1966, and managing it for a few years, I gave that up when I started work at WPIT, and haven't really returned to it seriously since then. My interest in DX also could be considered a stage. I was never a serious DXer until around the mid-1990s and now it is my prime interest in ham radio.

Finally the NAQCC. Of course you know I co-founded that with Tom WY3H in 2004 and then after 10 years of steadily working in helping to run the club, I semi-retired, but continued to help behind the scenes and also with doing a lot of work with our sprints. Then at the end of 2017, I completed the retirement and now looking back, while I will continue to participate in club activities, I will have nothing to do with running the club in any capacity. In that regard it's another closed stage just like WPIT and a few other things I haven't mentioned in this much too long already diary entry. -30-

Wed Jan 24 2018 8:24AM - A simple game plan for our 160M sprint last night. Get on, check conditions, if good stay a half hour, if not try to get one QSO if possible or at least try a few CQs to get credit for participating. Conditions were not good with the only sigs heard right at or just below the noise which included some wierd broad band noise about 5-10 kHz wide centered on the sprint frequencies. I did hear and work KD9VT for the one QSO. It wasn't easy, but we both stuck with the QSB and QRN to complete the QSO after a couple minutes. The bottom line is that I still have never missed any of our 160M, mW, or regular sprints since we started them back in late 2004.

Speaking of never missing things, I still have to get my DX QSO for today, so I'll end this here and go check the bands now.

ADDENDUM: Once again it was the CWT sprint and my friend Bert F6HKA to the rescue of the DX streak. As soon as I went to the shack, I saw several peaks on the PX3 which reminded me that it is Wednesday and the CWT sprint. I first tried working LY8O, but either he never got my call right or he was working someone with a call very similar to mine. So I tuned a bit more and found and worked Bert easily as I usually do. So day # 1,791 is in the log along with another grid for the 2018 ARRL Grid Square event. -30-

Tue Jan 23 2018 6:29PM - There are many beautiful events in nature. I can think of many, but just to list a few, there are sunrises and sunsets, trees budding in the spring and turning multi-colored in the fall, and so on. There is one though that is underrated but still beautiful in many ways. That's the annual January Thaw where Mother Nature decides to denude the Earth in certain areas by removing the ugly white blanket of s#$w. Simultaneously renewing the atmosphere with warm air and relieving folks from suffering from the bitter cold air. We've been fortunate to have had two January Thaws so far this year. A couple weeks ago when the temperature hit 62 and completely removed the s#$w cover, and the past couple days when all but some piles created by shoveling and plowing melted away with temperatures in the upper 40s and low 50s.

The January Thaw is more than just a myth. If you look at the daily mean temperature at least at certain numerous locations around the country, there is a definite peak centered around the third week of January. It's a small peak but a definite one. It's smallness is accounted for by the fact the thaw doesn't happen every year, and when it does, it's not always on the same date each year. Yet the peak does show up proving there is more than myth about it.

Many years ago on one of the weather broadcasts from Penn State, one of their meteorologists had a very detailed explanation of why there is a January Thaw. Unfortunately I can't for the life of me remember the details. I believe the meteorologist was Mark Mancuso who is now working for AccuWeather after a stint with The Weather Channel.

I don't have time right now, but I'll try to extract the January/February daily normal temperatures from my weather records and post them here to show how the thaw shows up for here in Kittanning.

Time now to get ready for my daily QSO(s) and then for the NAQCC 160M sprint later tonight.

I got my DX last night in the 0500Z hour. I first worked KH7XS on 40M, but I wasn't 100% positive he got my call right at the end. I'm not sure if he had WWP or WWW because of my local noise here. So I went for an insurance QSO and worked OK2RZ a little later on 80M for a good solid positive QSO with Jiri. -30-

Mon Jan 22 2018 11:38AM - The streak goes on. Here's the start of another obituary from today as the bands sounded even worse than the other day.

Part I - Of all the days lately when I had to resort to the morning hours for my DX QSO, today was the worst. There was absolutely no trace of any DX on 30, 20, or 17 on my first check at 1345Z. In fact only one station heard at all and that was the superstation of N3BB on 20.

Part II - Things pretty much the same at 1440Z, although there were a few very tiny peaks on the PX3 on 20M that might have been signals. Too close to my noise level to be sure.

Part III - Europe a bit stronger at 1515-1530Z or so, but still not strong enough for me to be heard over there.

Part IV - 1615Z found things about the same with Europe gaining a bit of strength, but still not hearing me at all. I thought maybe I could get PI4DX on 20 who was about the strongest of the weak. However about 5 minutes of trying yielded nothing, and when he kept calling CQ after I called him, I realized it was hopeless. So I checked out a couple more PX3 peaks and found one acting like a stronger DX signal according to the exchange of info. I listened a bit and it was 6Y6J, so I parked on his freq and after he worked 5 or so other stations, I heard WWP? in answer to my call. I sent K3 K3 K3WWP and the QSO was made and the streak kept alive by the skin of my teeth once again.


Oh and as I was logging him, it dawned on me that his call had not one but two 6s in it, so that finished the NAQCC January challenge. Two huge birds with one QSO.

I think the prediction of 64 and sunny today was overy optimistic. It's only 45 right now and only a couple brief peeks of sun so far. Still some time left though, and it could still happen. Anyway 45 is good enough for more delightful s#$w melting. -30-

Sun Jan 21 2018 7:53PM - Exciting news. The NWS is predicting a high of 64, yes 64 for tomorrow. I sure hope that's right so we can get rid of more of the ugly white stuff. I did get to enjoy watching some melting today but it was cloudy and only 44 for a high. At least I finally got the s#$w and ice off my back steps which will make it easier getting out to my thermometer shelter for my 9PM readings now. Oh and with the 64, skies are supposed to clear and allow us to see some beautiful sunshine. Can you tell I'm excited?

Ham radio is not as exciting. Well actually it is exciting anytime, but I mean it's getting harder and harder to work DX. Most of the time, the DX is just out of reach. I heard and called a few stations this morning with nary a reply from any of them. I did finally work PJ2ND on 17 meters though for DX streak day # 1,788 at 1446Z. This evening there was a strong 6Y station on 40 meters, but he was very popular and I didn't feel like waiting for a lull in the popularity for a chance to work him since I had some other things I wanted to do. I'm doing my laundry tonight in hopes of getting outside tomorrow morning and afternoon to enjoy the peak of the January thaw. Of course I'll have to hit the bands also for some DX. At least the normal Monday morning laundry will not interfere with anything. -30-

Sat Jan 20 2018 7:40PM - After a fairly quick DX QSO last evening at 0041Z, it's back to the same old routine of late again. No DX in the evening and having to search for some in the morning. I did hear several HA stations in the HA contest on 80 this evening, but none heard me at all. It ends at 1159Z so it won't be on long enough for me to take advantage of it in the morning. Oh well, hopefully I will find someone and work them.

It was a nice day today with a lot of s#$w melt going on as the temperature made it up to around 50 degrees. Unfortunately there's still quite a bit left. Hopefully with similar temperatures the next couple days now, we'll get closer to beautiful bare ground. -30-

Fri Jan 19 2018 4:05PM - For the third or fourth time now, I've started writing an obituary for my DX streak only to have to cancel it after finally working some DX that particular day. I guess the closest call came back in December when I worked HB9CVQ on 80M around 2355Z to save the day.

Today looked even worse as I'll describe below in the now aborted obituary. However this time it was PV8ADI and his superstation to the rescue at 1954Z on 20 meters with an easy QSO after all that went before as I'll describe here so as to not have wasted my writing effort and time.

The following is a true story, but with a fictional (non-)ending:

Just a couple days ago I was thinking of writing an article about ways to keep a DX streak going during the approaching sunspot minimum, and maybe through the minimum itself.

Now that has turned into an article about how such a streak (almost) ended. Today January 19 featured some of the worst conditions yet experienced during my DX streak. It was just impossible to make the required DX QSO to keep the streak alive and well.

Part I - I started checking the bands as soon as I got up around 1315Z and was encouraged to hear a few European signals on 20 meters. However after observing them, I found that none were getting above about S5, and when they did, QSB took them back down again into my noise. Knowing that I had worked signals like that in the past, I tried calling some of the stations, but with one exception I wasn't being heard at all. The exception was SM5CAK. He said he was hearing something but too far down in his noise to copy. The timing seemed to indicate it was me he was hearing, but I'm not sure. So I gave up on that attempt at making a QSO and QRT for a while.

Part II - Around an hour later I checked again, and now any European signal I heard was a mere shadow just at or below my noise level. The only strong DX was P4/S50M and it seemed like the whole world still needed Aruba as he kept working one station after another except for me. Time to walk Roscoe now, so I QRT again without getting my DX.

Part III - Another brief check after that showed Europe a bit stronger, but not even as strong as it was at my first check of the day. SM5CAK was back again with the same results as before, but I think it was a K4 station he was hearing this time as he did send K4?. Also at this time I heard a station signing 3Y0-- well over S9. I figured it wasn't legit, but I called anyway and he never did come back to anyone, and I never heard him again.

Part IV - Around 1645Z another check showed a lot of strong W/VE stations chasing and some working DX that I could not hear at all. That was on 20. Nothing at all on 17 or 30, the only other bands that might have some workable DX.

Part V - Looking more and more like this is it. Not a trace of DX nor even anyone working DX around 1745Z.

Part VI - One weak DX station I couldn't hear with a huge wide pileup. Otherwise nothing from 1845-1900Z.

The (non-)End.

I think I'll enjoy looking back on these incomplete obituaries some day. Then one day there will be a complete one to write, probably not all that long in the future, but it's hard to tell.

I really don't know how many more of these suspenseful days I can stand, but I still refuse to give up the streak voluntarily. Also I might be able to more easily get that DX QSO if I would use spotting to see where and when a workable station might be. Maybe I could use another mode besides CW. How about stretching the KX3 to its full power output. Maybe erect a big high beam antenna.

I can state absolutely that I would never do anything like that though. I am a man of principles in all that I do in life and I stick to those principles 100%. I'll never use spotting, QRO, big beam antennas, or other modes. I will stick strictly to QRP, CW, simple wire antennas, and tuning the bands to find my DX, not relying on others to find it for me with their spotting. I would sooner have the streak end than to resort to anything that violates my principles.

I do hope that I can at least make it to the end of February as if I do, whomever I work on February 28 will help me close out 5 solid years of daily DX QSOs. If I then make it that far, I'll still continue on with business as usual, conditions and other factors permitting. -30-

Thu Jan 18 2018 9:00AM - I'm starting something new this month. Instead of having my soapbox comments for our NAQCC sprints posted on the results page, I'm simply going to refer those who may be interested in my comments to my diary here. They will be here either right after the sprint or more often in the following day's diary entry.

So let's go. Last night had to be the worst conditions I've ever experienced for one of our sprints - or even in general. The basic problem was my noise level at S7 to S8 and most signals at least down to S5 or lower. There was enough QSB to pop signals out of the noise briefly, but most times they didn't stay out long enough to complete a QSO.

Another problem was finding a place to call CQ. I'd do the QRL? bit twice with no response, but after I called CQ a couple times it turned out someone was on the frequency, but I couldn't tell until the QSB popped out his signal. That happened often enough that I pretty much abandoned CQing and went to S&P instead since I didn't want to interfere with other stations. Anyway it would have been very difficult to hear anyone answering me - another reason to abandon CQing.

All in all, I managed only 9 QSOs in 7 SPCs. That's only the 7th sprint in the 159 that I've entered I wasn't able to reach at least 10 QSOs. I probably could have made it had I stayed the full two hours, but the QRN along with the QSB gave me a nice(?) headache so I quit not long after the halfway mark.

Since I am not involved in running the sprints any longer, I don't receive the sprint logs here so I can't really analyze overall results now. However a glance at the web site results page shows a plethora of low QSO numbers even from the big antenna farm entrants. So I'm guessing my conditions were pretty much widespread except for perhaps a 'white hole' area here and there, maybe down south?

Although I do miss some facets of running the sprints, I'm really glad that I don't have to spend the next few days involved in the cross-checking, etc. that is involved each month.

Oh I even took time out during the sprint to look for DX and found old faithful PV8ADI for a pretty easy DX streak QSO.

Also yesterday when I worked N5DY, the D and Y took me down to needing a 6 to complete the January NAQCC challenge. So maybe today instead of having to look for a DX QSO, I'll take some time to try to find that last number/letter to complete the challenge. -30-

Wed Jan 17 2018 8:00PM - This has been a trying day in several ways, all of which I won't bother you with. I guess it started when I woke up with a headache which at least didn't last all that long. Then my email was down just when I really needed to check some emails. That went away also, but it took a couple hours.

In the meantime I was struggling to try to get a DX QSO. The morning opening to Europe wasn't all that good and it didn't last long enough for me to make a contact. I did try a few stations but wasn't being heard at all. When that opening ended, I thought maybe the streak had run its course as the bands were pretty much dead all over especially for DX. I kept checking every now and then though and finally found a weak KP4TF on 30 meters at 1824Z. I could barely copy him but I called anyway and he came back with K3WW?. I breathed a sigh of relief and sent my call two more times and the QSO was made and the streak extended.

This evening the bands are even more horrible with virtually nothing above 80 meters and very little on 80 itself. Apparently along with the QSB and QRN there is very long skip. About the strongest signal in the lower 60 kHz or so was YL3CW who was a good S9 with some peaks over S9. However I kept losing out to other stations calling him and finally gave up and went looking for a regular W/VE QSO for the main streak. CQs yielded nothing so I went looking for other CQs and found N5DY whom I worked for a few minutes. He is in Oklahoma, a further indication of long skip.

Now it's about time for our NAQCC sprint. I might be lucky to get one QSO if the bands are still the same. Maybe even no QSOs, but at least I'll get credit for participating and still having never missed one of our sprints. -30-

Tue Jan 16 2018 7:54PM - After yesterday's busy fun day, today was kind of a nothing day. Just glancing out the window every now and then to see the ugly s#$w still falling. I guess we had about 3 inches of new stuff today on top of 3 or 4 from a couple days ago. Hard to tell because of all the blowing, sweeping, and plowing moving it around. I did have it down to a wet sidewalk at one point today with some sweeping and ice melt, but that didn't last all that long. Sigh.

No DX at all again this evening. I did have a nice chat with Dennis K1LGQ though. Tomorrow evening is our NAQCC sprint. Since my final retirement from all NAQCC work at the end of 2017, I'm not really all that enthused about the sprint, but I will get in it at least for a while just so I can keep my record of never having missed one of them. -30-

Mon Jan 15 2018 7:55PM - As usual, a great day today with a visit from Mike (KC2EGL if you're a new diary reader). He arrived just as I was going over to take Roscoe for a walk. He barked at Mike like he used to do. We thought he got over that, but perhaps it was because Mike was in his coat and cap this time and Roscoe hates change or anything different at all. In my house Roscoe still barked and shied away from Mike even though Mike had treats for him. I'm going to jump ahead now in the story. Later in the day on another Roscoe walk, when we came in my house Mike was sitting in the chair he usually sits in and Roscoe is used to that. He jumped right up on Mike's lap and was as friendly as could be.

OK back in sequence now. After I took Roscoe over home from the first walk and gave him his breakfast, Mike and I got started on our plans for the day. The first order of business was getting the dates for our WPA Chapter activities for the year. That meant the hamfests, Skyview visit, Skeeter Hunt, FOBB, and also a train ride and visit to the PA Trolley Museum. Let's see, oh yes and Field Day and our N3A activation during NAQCC anniversary week, plus our annual day before Thanksgiving visit to the Requin. I think that's all, but I better look at the list we made. Back in a minute. Oh, and the Museum Ships on the Air event in June which we'll be operating from the Requin. Then we'll be filling in the gaps with additional parkpeditions, subpeditions, and a sky viewing or two with Mike's scope. Whew, sounds like a busy year. We strongly hope that other chapter members will take part in any or all of the activities also. Of course as each activity draws closer, I'll talk more about it here in the diary.

Next up was a visit to Chili's in the Pittsburgh Mills for a great meal. I had a California Turkey Club Sandwich and ORs. Mike had some kind of chipote and ORs. Of course faithful diary readers knew a meal had to be involved somewhere when the two of us get together. After that we stopped briefly in Best Buy where I got a printer ink cartridge and Mike looked at some phones.

Back home again for an attempt at some DXing. The bands didn't cooperate though. We did hear a pileup working some DX station, but couldn't hear the DX at all. So we moved on to do something we have been wanting to do for some time. Here's a picture hint:

Yes we set up our Tuna Tin transmitter to figure out if we had all the cables necessary to get it up and running. We did, and gave it some on air testing using it to transmit and the KX3 to receive. The tone sounded good on the KX3 with only a very slight chirp almost unnoticeable. We didn't get any answers to our CQs though. In the picture L to R are the MFJ antenna tuner, the MFJ SWR/power meter, my popsicle key, and the Tuna Tin transmitter. We powered it with my old 7Ah Gel Cell, and used my attic random wire antenna. The tuner got the SWR all the way down to 1:1 and we were putting out something less that one watt of power. That all took time to do, but we learned we have a viable setup and will give it some more testing on Presidents Day in February and later out in the field when the weather warms up. We also each have in addition to the Tuna Tin transmitter for each of us, a Tuna Tin transceiver for each of us. We built them a few years ago, but never seriously tested the transmitter till today. We still have to test the transceivers.

Then to close out the visit, another of our favorite things - playing hidden object games on the computer. By now it was s#$ing and Mike wanted to start for home a little earlier than planned.

After he left, it was time for Roscoe's third walk. Then when 0000Z rolled around, I got my DX streak QSO pretty quick from CO5LB on 40 meters at 0009Z. A couple more QSOs with NM1I and K4BAI brought me here to where I'm writing this diary entry. Now to proofread and post it. -30-

Sun Jan 14 2018 9:12AM - Well, that was quick. I headed to the shack about 1403Z, and at 1406Z I had my DX streak QSO for day #1,781. Thanks to PZ5RA on 30 meters for an easy QSO. I got a K3WW? on the first call, repeated my call twice and got K3WWP K3WWP 599 BK. Sent my TU 599 73 and got a 73 back, and that was it. No new letters for the NAQCC challenge, but maybe a new grid square for the ARRL GS activity. Let's see. Yep, GJ25 is #27 for the year overall and #2 on 30 meters. There hasn't been much on 30 when I've checked that band.

If you're working on the GS activity and don't know about it, here's a site recommended by the ARRL for finding GS info. Amateur Radio Ham Radio Maidenhead Grid Square Locator Map. All you do is punch in a call sign and it will spit out a GS in a second or two. A couple of caveats though. If it's a DXpedition station or in some other situations it may spit out the DXpedition station's home location or some other false info. You have to use your brain power to verify the info in those cases which isn't hard to do. Also in my case, I often get time outs or it takes a long time (over a minute, at least) to spit out an answer. If the wait is long, I'll often go to QRZ.com and try to get an answer there. However another caveat in that case. You have to look at the source of the location info. If it says "User Supplied" I consider that accurate. Anything else is questionable. When I first started looking up Japanese stations years ago for 1000 MPW info, I couldn't understand why so many mileages were exactly the same. Then I noticed the info was based on the center of a DX entity if an exact figure for the station was unavailable. Hope that info is helpful.

I've got some spare time now before walking Roscoe. How about a progress report on the dreaded season of winter so clearly exemplified by this picture taken this morning when it was 3 degrees:

1. We're at the halfway mark with 45 of 90 days remaining until spring (see countdown timer above).
2. The sun is now setting 24 minutes later than on December 7.
3. The sun is now rising 2 minutes earlier than on January 4.
4. Combining 2 and 3 means 26 more minutes of daylight than on December 21.
5. The altitude of the sun is now 28 degrees at noon vs 25.8 degrees at noon on December 21.
Here's a picture sort of illustrating the difference in altitude.

A indicates approximately where the sunlight first hits in my living room on December 21. B is where it first hit today. Somewhere around a month from now, it won't make it into the living room at all.

So far it's been a four seasons winter. We've had daily high temperature, daily low temperature, and daily precipitation records set just in the first 13 days of January. Here's a list:

Jan 1, -5, old 3 in 1968,1969,1977
Jan 3, -4, old -1 in 1979
Jan 7, -10, old -9 in 2014
Jan 11, 62, old 60 in 1975,2006
Jan 12, prec. 2.37, old 0.85 in 2017 (also an all time daily record for the entire month of January, old 1.79 on January 6, 2005)

Fortunately no s#$w or ice records. Although Erie did smash all kinds of s#$w records. Too numerous to list here, but you can do a Bing search for "Erie PA snowfall records" and the first hit will list them with videos as well.

OK, enough for today. Come on spring (and better band conditions). -30-

Sat Jan 13 2018 9:08AM - One more day. Yes, another day added to the DX streak. There were several European stations on 20 meters and even one on 17 meters this morning. However, none of them were hearing me and I had to resort to working XE1XR again for my streak QSO. Probably 20 would have picked up a little later, but when I heard David, I thought I'd just go ahead and work him rather than waiting.

Thankfully we did transition directly from rain to s#$w last night without any ice, or maybe just the very slightest trace. For once in my later life I was rather glad to look out the window and see it s@#wing. We also wound up with less s$%w than predicted. I did better than they did. My prediction was in a narrower range than theirs. I said about 3-4 inches maximum after studying the radar, temperature, etc. It was also in their range, but their range was wider all the way from 3 to 8+ inches. I think as in many things these days, too much dependence is placed on what computers say which leads to errors. The human brain needs to be factored into what the computers say. That would lead to greater accuracy.

As an example, when I was doing the cross-checking of logs for our NAQCC sprints, the Microsoft Excel program I used was very helpful in catching most of the errors. However it also couldn't figure out some things. I ultimately had to apply brain power to clean up what it missed. Computers designed by man are still inferior to brains designed by God. They are a tremendous help and time savers, but in the end, brain power must dominate. -30-

Fri Jan 12 2018 7:47PM - So far we've escaped the bad weather with only rain, and a lot of it. I emptied my rain gauge early this evening to avoid the predicted ice, and there was already 2.07 inches of rain in it. It's still 36 degrees here. I just worked K8EHE near Columbus Ohio and he said it was s#$wing and 21 degrees there. He did have some sleet in between rain and snow there. Hopefully we can transition here from rain to s#$w or rain to sleet to s#$w without any freezing rain involved.

I had a tough DX QSO this morning from OT4A. He was within a very few Hz of a strong always present birdie here on 14016. I had to use my best filter that I have - my brain - to pull him out from the beacon. It was even too close for the great filters in the KX3 although had I had a bit more time, I might have tweaked them to pull him out. Anyway I got my DX streak QSO in the books as the early morning 1300-1500Z hours continue to be good for Europe on 20 meters. -30-

Thu Jan 11 2018 9:15AM - I heard a lot of Europeans on 20 this morning, but none were hearing me until.... I got a P? from 7S75AA, but after I sent my call a couple more times he said "QRM QSY". Not to fear, I've got a PX3 panadapter. I watched up the band until I saw a similar strength peak. I tuned the KX3 to the peak and it was 7S75AA up about 15 kHz higher. He worked someone, then I got a QRZ? after I tailended the QSO. I sent my call two more times and he came back with K3WWP 599. I sent TU 599 and not only was the streak extended another day but..... I got a nice new prefix in 7S75, got 4 As for the NAQCC challenge and a new grid square JO89 for the ARRL 2018 grid square activity.

It looks like we have a mojor winter storm setting up for the weekend, so if you don't see a diary entry that means we might have lost power, Internet, or whatever. -30-

Wed Jan 10 2018 7:51PM - The rut keeps getting longer and deeper as the days go by and we move further down the sunspot cycle. I clawed out another DX day for the streak thanks to the CWT sprint this morning when I worked my friend Bert F6HKA. It wasn't the easiest QSO we ever had by any stretch of the imagination, but it was a QSO and that's the bottom line.

This evening I heard PJ7/UT6UD on 40, but he couldn't hear me at all. Then I heard Bolmar HK1MW on 30, but pretty much well into my noise so I wouldn't have been able to tell if he answered me at all, so I didn't call. I guess it will be somebody on 20 meters in one of the morning hours again.

80 meters was generally poor this evening again after a couple good evenings. I struggled for a while, but finally got an answer from Tom W0MFQ in MO. It was a 2x KX3/5W to KX3/5W fairly solid QSO with a lot of the credit due to the great RXs in our KX3s. I just can never say enough good things about the KX3 and the Elecraft company. I'm sure my DX streak would have ended a long time ago without the KX3/PX3 combo.

I updated some stats on my DX streak report in the QRP section of the web site today. It's now current through today, January 10 at 1,777 days. The monthly stats there really reflect clearly the downswing in the sunspot cycle.

I got a chance to watch some more s$%w melting today. A lot of green showed up in my back yard by late this afternoon after being pretty well covered early this morning. Now we have two more warm days coming up before a cold front invades late Friday and brings back some more winter precipitation. -30-

Tue Jan 09 2018 7:55PM - I had some Internet problems yesterday and they caused my site updates to be done intermittently. I think with the Internet back to normal today, I got everything caught up now. If you see something that doesn't look right, please let me know. Thanks.

It was a rather nice day today and I got to see one of my favorite winter sites - s#$w melting and water running down the streets. Not a complete melt yet, but maybe by Thursday when it may be near 60. It was only about 37 today for a high, but that was enough to allow me to break up some ice on my and my neighbor's sidewalks. It was great to see that go and have bare walks again. Here we are 10 (9) days into January already. The end of winter draws every so slowly closer although there will be rough times yet before we reach spring. Sure is nice to have something to look forward to though.

Ham radio? Oh yes, I haven't forgotten about that. However the current conditions are more forgetable than memorable. The past couple evenings have been a bit better, but still not as far as DX goes. I have had some nice domestic rag chews though. My DX for today (9th) came last evening from old faithful PV8ADI on 40. So I didn't have to spend the morning looking for a DX QSO. I guess I will tomorrow morning though. I'm toying of writing an article for the web site about how to try to keep such a DX streak as mine going at different points in a sunspot cycle. If it continues, I will soon be able to talk about continuing it through a sunspot minimum. Actually when you look at the current sunspot and SF numbers, they are not all that far from what we'll see at the depth of the upcoming minimum. -30-

Mon Jan 08 2018 5:57PM - The path to Europe is still there early in the morning on 20M. Most of the time I have a decent pipeline to the Scandinavian countries, but not always. I can often go up and down the bands, especially 20 meters, in big DX contests and easily work virtually every SM, LA, OH, and OZ station I hear even if they aren't that strong. I say that because my DX streak QSO this morning was with SM5CCE on 20M. He wasn't all that strong at S5-S6, but we had a several minute QSO talking about rigs and weather. It's been raining in Sweden interestingly enough while it's been bitter cold here. Kjell is also SM0CCE and we've worked a few times when he was using that call in contests.

The bitter cold broke today. The temperature actually rose during the night to reach freezing early this morning. It did bring some s#$w, but less than an inch. We may lose that over the next few days as it reaches the mid-40s to mid-50s for Wednesday through Friday. That will be so nice to be able to start with a clean slate instead of having the stuff keep piling up. -30-

Sun Jan 07 2018 8:27PM - I can't remember the last time I resorted to 160M for my streak QSO, but I had to do it tonight. There was just nothing on 80 or any higher bands strong enough to even try to work. So I went to 160 and before long I found and worked Mark K1RX in NH easily for a brief QSO. I guess it will be the morning again for the DX QSO. This morning it was DK1NO for an easy QSO on 20 in the 13Z hour. Hannes is a good contester with a good station. I've worked him before in a few contests.

Among the many emails I got wishing me well on my retirement from NAQCC work was one from Tom N3UFJ who very succinctly described my attitude toward promoting CW. I liked it so much, I've now incorporated it into my initial opening statement on the main page of my web site. With his permission, of course.

Out of the freezer into the refrigerator now. It was 9 below this morning, and it looks like, if the long range outlooks are correct, that may be our last below zero temperature this winter. Of course, outlooks are not forecasts, so that could change. Anyway with the less cold temperatures, now we have to deal with precipitation. Tomorrow it starts with 2-4 inches of you know what. But by Thursday it should be in the 50s with some rain. -30-

Sat Jan 06 2018 7:30PM - Still the same old story - miserable weather, miserable band conditions. At least I ran into someone running 200 watts to a (dipole I think he said) with the apex on a 100 foot tower who lives on a 3,000 foot mountain top in the Blue Ridge mountains. Of course that made for an easy QSO on 80 meters this evening with Jack W4TJE. He was 20 over vs. my 569 report and solid copy both ways. Other than that there wasn't much else to be heard at any strength on any of the bands. I thought maybe I'd find someone in the PMC contest on 80 or 40, but no such luck like I had this morning on 20 when I fairly easily worked S53EO in the contest to keep the DX streak going.

As for the weather, it's 4 degrees right now supposed to hit 5 below overnight, but then some good news with a warmup for the next few days until we hit the mid 50s on Thursday. One fly in the ointment and that's a mixed precipitation bag on Monday with the various services predicting one or more of the following - s@#W, sleet, rain, and/or freezing rain. That might even be worth going through as long as the freezing rain isn't bad to get to the warmup. AccuWeather then predicts mostly above normal temperatures for the rest of January which is good but that means a better chance for precipitation compared to these real cold days with only a few light flurries. -30-

Fri Jan 05 2018 9:02PM - Things are getting more and more ridiculous around here. It took an hour and 7 minutes to get a QSO this evening, and that wasn't even DX. It did wind up being a good almost half hour QSO with Butch NM1I. He has a very impressive all Elecraft station. I can't even remember all the gear he said, but it did include a K3/P3 combo with amp and QRO tuner and a KX3/PX3 combo like I have here.

The weather? Bah humbug is the best way to describe it. We haven't been above freezing since Christmas day. The only saving grace is a lack of s#$w. We're heading below zero again tonight for the third time already this year. -30-

Thu Jan 04 2018 7:28PM - I'm not sure which is more depressing, the weather or conditions on the ham bands. I guess it's a tie, and neither look to be improving any time soon. It's even getting a bit hard to get my regular streak QSO, let alone a DX QSO. This morning it was old faithful John ON4UN to the rescue. I wasn't hearing much of anything my first two checks of the bands, and the third check was about the same way when I heard a fairly strong CQ. I figured it was probably a W/VE station, but I listened anyway. It was John peaking around s7/8. He answered my first call with K3?, and on the seond try, I got him and he gave me a 559. That was on 20 which is about the only DX band these days. Oh, I did also hear CO8LY on 17, but he wasn't hearing me at all.

Although it isn't very pleasant, it is at least interesting to see how the band conditions are following the sunspot cycle pretty closely. Actually I think the poor conditions are cumulative. They seem to be decreasing more rapidly than the actual propagation indexes (indices). I remember when I was into seriously DXing the AM Broadcast band years ago, conditions would improve when there was a long streak of ionosphere quietness, not merely the first few days of a quiet ionosphere. I think it's similar with the ham bands, but the other way around. Conditions get worse the longer there is little or no ionospheric activity. Anyway the bottom line is it still doesn't look like the DX streak will go on much longer although I still am eking out some DX each day somewhere, sometime. Hope tomorrow will be another such eking out day as well as the days beyond. -30-

Wed Jan 03 2018 7:20PM - I got a bit of a shock when I looked up PY2ZEA whom I worked last night on 30 meters for my DX streak QSO on QRZ to find his grid square for the ARRL GS activity. That's another call for the world famous contester Villi Hiilesmaa OH2MM OH0MM EA8EA among other calls. I've worked him before on several of his other calls. His list of contesting achievements is AWESOME to say the least. Too many top 10 World scores in big DX contests to count, and the majority of them are #1 World scores. I never knew he had a PY call also. If you want to be impressed, look him up on QRZ. Wow!

I had a contact today with another very interesting person, not on ham radio, but via landline. That was my good friend WY3H Tom Mitchell who as you know is the founder of the NAQCC and former resident of this area now living down in Georgia. He called to wish me well on my second and final retirement from NAQCC work. We also got caught up on some other things since we last talked about a month ago. I miss Tom up here, but as we said at the end of our conversation, at least we can visit via landline or ham radio.

Business as usual (or is it lack of business) on the bands this evening. An easy QSO for the big streak, but no DX. I did hear HK1X, but not very strong and I couldn't get him. So you know what I'll be doing in the morning.

It kind of looks like the bitter cold spell will hold on maybe 3 more days, then moderate possibly for the rest of the month if a couple long range outlooks are correct, and I'm rooting for them as long as the moderation isn't accompanied by the horrible white stuff or even worse, ice. -30-

Tue Jan 02 2018 8:02PM - Finally another day when my DX comes in the 0000Z hour. Thanks to PY2ZEA who made the effort to get me in his log on 30 meters. It was rough, but we made it. It's great to have operators who will take the time and effort it sometimes takes to get a QRP station in their log. All too often, stations seem to have what my friend Mike calls, their "599 Filter" turned on. If you don't blast their eardrums with your signal, you get ignored. Those fellows are not going to get that many stations in their logs the next few years as we go through the sunspot minimum.

This morning looked rough for a DX QSO. Even John ON4UN was weak and a bit fluttery and didn't hear me at all. He was about the only European above my noise level. Finally though XE2I showed up and I got him with one call and a repeat.

I'm having fun with the new ARRL International Grid Square event for 2018. I've made up a special Microsoft Excel spreadsheet to track the grid squares as I work them. I've alwaya wanted to do something with grid squares and started a few times, but never followed through. Maybe I'll stick with it this time.

Still bitter cold here. Right now it's let's see.... 10 degrees on both my remote sensing units, one in my shelter in the back yard and one on the front porch. That's much too cold for my outdoor walking, so my floors here in the house are taking a beating as I get in my ration of miles for the day. My neighbor, Roscoe's owner Bruce, took me downtown for my first (second) of the month banking run in his truck. That was greatly appreciated. I do miss my outdoor walks though, but my health is more important as I get older. -30-

Mon Jan 01 2018 6:19PM - These long bitter cold spells really leave not much to do. The only time I go outside is to walk Roscoe, and I try to keep those walks as short as possible so he doesn't get too cold. He does have nice long hair now though, and I imagine that helps keep him warm. Still I can tell his feet get cold walking in the s@#w or on the bare cold concrete. On one walk yesterday he was limping just a tad as we came back up on the porch, but very quickly recovered as soon as we got inside.

At least the past couple days I've kept busy with my EOM/EOY and FOM/FOY things. I think I've got most everything taken care of. The final thing today was putting the weather from December and 2017 in my Microsoft Excel spreadsheet and then printing out hard copies of some of it. December with the mild start and very cold finish wound up just about normal at -0.2 degrees (below the long range average). Fortunately precipitation was just below 50% of normal. It was another warm year overall at 3.7 degrees above normal. 47 inches of precipitation was about 5 inches above normal.

The 54.4 degree mean for the year was the third warmest year in my 58 years of keeping records. Only 2012 at 55.4 and 2016 at 54.9 were warmer. Shades of the 1930s.

My first DX of 2018 came very easily this morning with a single call to IK8TEO on 20 in the 1300Z hour netting a solid short QSO. I had worked Frank a couple times before a few years ago.

The first overall QSO of 2018 came in SKN last evening when I worked Bob KC8MFF on 80M. In about 25 minutes now I'll see what the 2nd day of 2018 holds in store. I hope some DX as I still have a few things to take care of tomorrow.

It seems strange talking about tonight, today, tomorrow, etc. when UTC and local time both have to be taken into account. However I'm sure since probably over 99% who read the diary are hams and understand such matters. -30-