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-
Tuesday, July 15, 2014 9:11 PM - No DX tonight. I only heard SF2014ECC very weak on 20 meters, and couldn't get him. Didn't hear a single other DX station.
Some strange W1AW happennings tonight. According to the schedule only SC is supposed to be active this week, and I did hear them on 30 and 40 but didn't try hard to work them since I got them the first time around. However I also heard W1AW/1 in RI which is not supposed to be activated until the week of the 23rd according to the schedule on the ARRL web site. Worst of all both SC and RI were on the same frequency of 7030 for a while, both listening up 1. What a mess that was. After I got a QSO with K4GDR to keep at least my big streak going, I went back looking for RI, but they had disappeared. Perhaps the op realized his mistake(?) and QRT. I need to really follow that since RI is one of the three states I need for my W1AW WAS along with ME and IN.
Otherwise this was a computer day. I went to the library for a couple hours to do some updating and virus removal from our computer club computer. I made out pretty well, but it still needs a little more work. That's what comes from having a computer that is only used once a month for a couple hours at our monthly meetings. Then when I got home, I helped Bruce with a few things on his computer.
Also I got my package of QSLs mailed off to the ARRL for $6.85 postage. Still that plus the $12.00 fee plus the cost of paper and ink to print the cards beats by a large margin sending DX QSLs direct. It's too bad that all hams don't use or have access to bureau mailings. Unless it's a brand new overall entity, I refuse to mail DX cards direct.
And finally I harvested my first crops from my garden today. I picked a dozen bush beans and about 10 peas. I didn't realize the peas were ready till I saw them while picking the beans. I thought I noticed one of my tomatoes getting a little lighter green in color meaning it's on the road to ripening, so maybe before the end of July, I'll have some garden tomatoes also. There are some peppers about ready for picking and a ton of buds and flowers on my pole beans. So after a slow late start, things are picking up in the garden. -30-
Monday, July 14, 2014 8:57 PM - A bit of a struggle, but I extended the DX streak another day. Like last night, the bands were not all that great. DX was there, but weak and with a lot of QSB. Finally after a few calls, HT5T came back to me. The times I've worked him before it usually took but a single call, so the bands are in the doldrums right now, at least for me.
I got a surprise when I checked my garden this evening. I have several bush beans ready for picking. They seemed to have come along in just the past 3 or 4 days as I didn't notice any then. So they beat my tomatoes this year. My peppers are coming along nicely though and it depends on how big I want them to get before picking just when I enjoy the first one. The pole beans are getting a lot of buds and flowers, but I didn't see any small beans yet although it's hard to tell with them and their thich foliage.
Something else that burst into activity the past few days were my daylillies. Picture to follow showing them, my little yellow plastic bird, my sundial, and my garden cherubs.
Alongside that picture is a picture of the final stage of my buro QSLs packed in a homemade box I made from a cut down shoebox. All the cards are enclosed along with the fee and proof of ARRL membership. Now a trip to the post office tomorrow will put an end to a hectic 6 days of playing with QSL cards.
Oh, my new poll is posted. After this past week I thought a good question would be how many QSOs you have verified with QSL cards. I have somewhere around 10,000 here. -30-
Sunday, July 13, 2014 8:57 PM - A busy day with a lot accomplished that I'll tell you about as soon as I take care of my 9PM weather readings. Didn't know it was that close to 9 when I started. Back in a moment.
1.45 inches of rain today, and I believe about an inch of that must have come in a very heavy 10-15 minute TS we had earlier this evening.
First of all, I updated my DX streak report to 500 days and I won't repeat the info here, but simply refer you to this page for the data if you're interested. I found it interesting to see how many of the days I got that DX QSO in the 0000Z hour.
When I first checked the bands this evening, I got the impression they were telling me '500 days is enough, give it up' as I only heard one very weak DX station in HB9DAX on 20 meters. With nothing on 20 through 10 meters, I then went to 30 and found and quickly worked HK1MW there for day #501. So I guess the streak will go on as I thought it would.
Meanwhile here is the last remnant of the massive QSL mailing from the buro 4 days ago:
Yes, all cards have been printed, filled out, sorted, and ready to be mailed to the ARRL outgoing QSL buro. I lucked out and the weight is just under 1 pound, so that's $12 instead of more. I was shooting for mailing them on Thursday, but looks like it will be before that.
I also filed all the incoming cards today which involved altering my storage method a bit as shown here:
Since all drawers were filled up as shown in the left picture, I converted the storage in the last drawer as shown in the right picture. Then I shifted cards down in the drawers to make room for the new cards as needed. That bottom drawer is for cards from the 1960s and 1970s so it won't be changed barring a very late QSL card. HI.
So now I'm ready for a quiet day tomorrow, but I'm sure something else will pop up by then. -30-
Saturday, July 12, 2014 9:21 PM -
Yes, the DX streak is at 500 days as of working TM0HQ plus a dozen or so more DX stations in the IARU contest. You know, I think it is much more satisfying and rewarding working toward a goal sometimes than actually achieving the goal. Of course this is an open ended goal of sorts. 500 days is just a number and I intend to keep on working some DX each day as long as I can. Just like my main streak which is now nearing the 20 year mark. I'll keep going on past the 20 year mark until something unforseen brings it to an end.
I do think I've proved a point with the DX streak, be it 500 days or whatever number. YOU can work DX also if you wish to do so despite your local conditions. As you know I have a very minimal setup here which has been and is fully documented on these pages. If I can work DX every day for 500 straight days, then you can also - period. Well, maybe unless you live in an underground cave with no acces for any outdoor antennas or some ridiculous extreme like that. You DO NOT need to run more than five watts nor have huge high outdoor antennas nor live on a hilltop. All you need is something similar to what I have here to be able to do it. I will not stand for any excuses. I know DX does not appeal to everyone, but if you would like to work DX and think you can't because of your situation, I say you're dead wrong. Just get on the air and DO IT.
When I get a chance, I'm going to come up with some stats about the 500 days and post it on my DX Streak page here on the web site. I'm curious to know just how many DX QSOs were involved, how many countries, QSOs per band, and the like. It will be easy when I get a little time with my Microsoft Access log which can spit out just about any statistic I can think of with a bit of SQL programming on my part.
Back to the IARU contest for a bit. After I got the streak QSO from TM0HQ, I noticed that the QSO might have started a few seconds before 0000Z. I'm not sure, but I thought I'd get an insurance QSO just in case. Then I got a bit interested in the contest and thought I'd see how many HQ stations I could work. So I concentrated on them only, but also worked a couple of contest friends I heard along the way. I think I got 13 HQ stations plus 3 other stations. Part of my log is in the shack computer yet so I'm not sure.
Speaking of goals, I'm getting close to another goal of getting all my buro QSLs that came in the other day taken care of. I printed up enough cards today using some photo paper that came with the ink cartridges for the printer. I probably have accumulated near 100 sheets of it as I always buy the cartridges in packages that contain the free photo paper. So all cards are now printed and filled out. Also all the correct QSL routes have been found and noted on the cards. Some info was given right on the cards which helped a lot. Others I had to look up on QRZ.com. I also added in another small bunch of cards I had been accumulating over the past year or so to send to the buro. So now a few tasks remain. I have to sort the outgoing cards by the countries of the stations the cards go to, which with QSL managers are often different from that in which the station operated.
Then I have to sort the incoming cards by country of operation and file them into my QSL collection. I probably have 9-10 thousand cards in a metal cabinet. I sort them by country, then by the number in the call, then by the suffix such as for Poland - SP1AOB, SP1AX, SP2XV, HF2ZZ, SO3A, SQ3ABC, and so on. Special calls like SN2012SA go at the end sorted similarly. My cabinet drawers are pretty tightly packed right now, so I'll probably have to adjust things a bit to squeeze in all these new cards.
Of course then I have to get the outgoing cards packed up and shipped off to the ARRL outgoing QSL buro. So still a lot of work ahead, but it will be nice to get caught up on my QSLs. Oh, but wait, I also have some new ones to write yet for the special prefixes, etc. I've worked recently. So it, like my streaks, never really ends, I guess. But it's a lot of fun along the way so I don't mind. -30-
Friday, July 11, 2014 8:24 PM - I'm sitting here in the midst of let's see.....8 piles of QSL cards, but I'm making headway. I wanted to get some cards printed today, but the local print shop was unexpectedly closed the two times I stopped by with no signs saying what was going on. So I decided I'd print my own cards which would probably be cheaper anyway. So I took the sample (here) I was going to take to the print shop, fed some 8 1/2 by 11 card stock into the printer and printed six sheets (24 cards) at a time, filled out that many, and did another batch.
I filled out cards for about 100 QSOs so far, and have around 90 to go. Using my Microsoft Access log it was easy to write a query to feed me the data for the cards, and all I had to do was write it in. Took less than a minute for each card except for those that confirmed multiple QSOs. Right now I'm paused in the middle of the Bulgarian Saints stations QSLs.
I don't have enough card stock to finish all the cards I need so I'll have to try to get some more tomorrow and also get a black ink cartridge for my printer. I think they may have both at our local Rite Aid.
Well, tomorrow (Sunday) will be the big day. I'll hit 500 days in my DX streak. I feel very confident about it since the WRTC will be going on then. This evening for day 499 I worked what seemed to be a station warming up for the Championships - HG5DX, then I heard and worked a special event station - E72NATO. I still need a U to finish the NAQCC European Chapter challenge. Just can't find any Russian U stations or any Ukrainian or Serbia U stations for some reason. I'll make it though.
I did master the NAQCC 'North American' July WARC/VHF bands challenge though when I made my first six meter QSO in a long while with K2DSW. This last burst of solar energy really opened up the bands all the way at least to six meters. Not a lot of folks took advantage of it though except for maybe six meters. The stations I were hearing were working one station after another. My little 1 watt which I use on six meters just wasn't making it except for the K2 station in Iowa. There were some strong CA signals heard here also. Now the solar flux is back down in the 160s and dropping fast. Maybe that big sunspot group that provided all the excitement will survive a rotation and be back again in August around the first week or so. I hope. -30-
Thursday, July 10, 2014 9:30 AM - How about another early entry with some feedback and a progress report on my work with the 221 buro cards that came yesterday.
First this from Glenn K3SWZ, "Hi John, According to the report that just came out, you won the 2014 ARRL CW DX Contest -- Atlantic Division -- QRP... Outstanding!!! Hopefully there will be a nice plaque in the mail soon..... Check out the ARRL web site under "contest results" 73 de Glenn, K3SWZ."
Thanks Glenn. That's neat. I thought maybe I'd win PA, but not the entire Atlantic Division. I see I came close to the top 10 Single OP QRP USA also - I think I was #11 in a quick glance at the overall QRP scores. And I was #5 in the Northeast Region. I'm pleased.
Now on to the cards. After weeding out a few cards that beloged to someone else (W3WW, etc.) and some for N3AQC and our N#A special event calls, I was left with 215 that belonged to K3WWP. I logged all the QSOs from those cards in my Microsoft Access log and found they verified 274 QSOs (many single cards verified more than one QSO). There was one SWL report from France (I believe. No QTH on the card, but the SWL call started with an F and some of the info was in French).
As I logged, I separated the cards basically into two stacks, one from those who replied to my card and one from those wanting my card. I haven't counted, but the latter group looks to be about twice the size of the former which means I probably have some 130-140 cards to write. That means I need to get some more cards designed and printed.
After logging all the confirmed QSOs, I used Access and Excel to sort by prefix from the cards and found 177 different prefixes confirmed. Of those, 77 were never verified before by card.
Next up a check of band countries. I didn't count the overall total yet. I'll do that in a minute, but of the total, I found 31 new band countries that were never before verified by card, although a lot had been confirmed by the LotW. 15 were the beautiful cards from the Bulgarian Saints stations. Many cards were beautiful and contained a lot of info on them. I wish I had time to read it all. Maybe some day. OK, the total was 149 different band countries from 60 different countries. All QSOs confirmed were DX except for two from Canada.
So that brings us up to date on the huge QSL task. Again remember to be sure you have envelopes on hand at your QSL incoming buro to avoid what I'm going through right now. However it is a very enjoyable task although time-consuming. Also I'm just thinking of how my late mom used to enjoy looking at my QSL cards. She would have really enjoyed this batch.
Now before brunch, I'm going to update my DXCC and WPX pages with the new totals. Oh, and maybe check for any new band-zones. I haven't done that yet. I guess all I really need to do for that is check the 31 new band countries since they would be the only source of new band zones. -30-
Wednesday, July 09, 2014 2:32 PM - I'm writing this now in the middle of the day because the next few days have just been planned out for me. First of all the computer club this evening. That's not the big thing though. I just got a massive mailing from the QSL Buro containing 221 cards all of which must be sorted, logged, and cards written for those wanting my card for whatever reason. Whew!!!
I think I mentioned in the diary a few weeks ago about realizing I hadn't received any Buro mailings for quite a while. I then checked and found my envelopes at the Buro had run out so I sent off 20 envelopes, seven of which came back in the mail today with an average of about 32 cards per envelope.
So take my advice if you chase DX and don't have any envelopes at your incoming Buro, get some to them and keep tabs on them to be sure you never run out like I did and face this massive task I now have. -30-
Tuesday, July 08, 2014 8:58 PM - The bands were kind of strange today. Some very good signals here and there up through 12 meters, but not many of them. This afternoon, I easily worked ZY14RR with a single call after trying him I don't know how many other times to get that ZY14 prefix. Then an easy QSO with EI3KG. However calling a few other stations netted me nothing, not even a ? except from one of the Bulgarian Saints stations who just couldn't complete my call.
This evening the bands seemed even worse when I first got on a little after 0000Z. There was no DX that I could work, so I went to 30, called CQ and got Gary K1YAN for my main streak QSO. After we chatted for a quarter hour or so, I went DXing again. I had an iffy QSO with Z37HWX which had I been satisfied with would have been my DX QSO and I would have shut down. However I wasn't satisfied, and wanted to get a more solid QSO. Well, I did, after finding a good station and losing out on my first call to him to an EX station, I called again and he came right back with a snappy K3WWP.... It was TA3AX, and that was exciting since I haven't worked all that many Turkish stations over the years. Let's see.... this was only my 11th QSO with that country. One of them oddly enough came in response to my CQ on 30M on 12/29/2000 at 2139Z. That was TA3D.
That leaves just 4 nervous days now to reach 500 days of DX here. I sure would hate to come so close and not make it, but it could happen. Then I'm only 26 days from 20 solid years of my main streak. I'm not so nervous about that one as it's almost impossible not to make some kind of QSO every day. I hope I haven't jinxed myself by saying that now.
Well it's just past 9PM so I better end this and go get my weather data for the day. We spent the day dodging thunderstorms. Our deflection shields were up and the storms split us to the north and south leaving us with probably less than a tenth of an inch of rain.
Tomorrow it's up early to help Bruce take Roscoe to the groomers. He's been feeling the heat and I'm sure he'll enjoy having short hair now for the remainder of summer. Then tomorrow evening it's my computer club. So a busy day tomorrow. -30-
Monday, July 07, 2014 8:29 PM - Conditions didn't seem quite as good this evening as last evening, but I did get a quick DX QSO in AM04ZK to keep the streak going as I close in on 500 days of DX. This afternoon was somewhat better and I narrowed down the NAQCC European Chapter challenge to needing a 7 and a U to complete it. I also added a couple more WARC band QSOs to the NAQCC North American challenge. -30-
Sunday, July 06, 2014 9:11 PM - Question: When was the last time the solar flux was as high as it was today - 201? I'll write my entry, then check my records and give an answer at the end.
I didn't have a lot of time to explore the bands today because a few hours were spent helping Tom WY3H take down his big antenna as I mentioned yesterday. It went pretty smoothly - much more so than when we put it up last year. Tom then treated us helpers to some pizza. A lot of good memories ran through my mind when I was there today. I did have a lot of good times with Tom. I could write a whole dozen pages or so here, but I won't. I'll just mention only one. A few years ago when I was helping Tom put up another antenna, I had to climb the big hill on his property to fasten one end of the antenna. Tom had two big dogs at that time - Lil and Whizzer and when I went up the hill Lil went with me and I got a kick out of how she acted. She would run around up there but every few minutes or so she would come back to me as if she was checking up to see if I was OK. Sadly both dogs are gone now, succumbing to old age. Other things come to mind like Tom and JoAnne always inviting me over for holiday meals if I didn't have any other plans. Also we watched some good movies together. And I'm going on and on, aren't I? I have to mention what I think was my first ever portable operation when Tom and I did a Hoot Owl Sprint from atop one of the hills on his property. The last portable operation was last year's field day when with the help of the antenna we took down today, we racked up 352 QSOs in not all that many hours of operation. That was a great antenna.
Moving on now. As expected with a SF of 201, the bands were really hot. Even 6 meters had several stations on it, although I didn't work any of them. This evening I worked 3 Polish stations in search of letters/numbers for the NAQCC European Chapter challenge, then AH6V on 15 meters just because I enjoy working Hawaii. Earlier in the day I got OF3ERTC, W1AW/9, and K2K in NH. Again I was picking and choosing who to work or I could have had a lot more QSOs as activity was pretty high on all the high bands except 10 which only had a few stations on it. 12 was the most packed I've seen it in a good while. With my WARC bands QSOs today, I now have 13 toward the 20 needed for the NAQCC North American challenge. All on 17 and 12 meters. Man what a great time to be a ham radio operator. I hope these conditions last for a while yet. They should because there are several sunspot groups still to rotate onto the center of the Sun.
Answer: It looks like it wasn't all that long since the last SF over 200. From Jan 4 through Jan 7 this year the SF was 215 218 204 237. -30-
Saturday, July 05, 2014 9:18 PM - WOW! - Band conditions in a word. With a Solar Flux of 193 and A index of 4, the bands acted just like they should with those figures this evening. Still not a lot of folks seemed to be aware of the good conditions or they just ignored them for whatever reason. There wasn't a lot of activity, although more than the past couple nights. Great signals on all bands from 20 through 10 meters. I was picking and choosing who I worked or I could have had a lot more than the six QSOs I did make - 1 on 17, 2 on 15, and 3 on 12. An amazing QSO on 12 meters - K2ADK in Saranac Lake, NY. Yes that's how short skip was on 12 meters. That's the first continental USA QSO I've had on 12 meters since 10/22/2012, almost two years and 71 12M QSOs ago. All the rest in between have been DX.
My first QSO was a great one for the NAQCC European Chapter challenge - DR50RRDXA. I got a bunch of letters and numbers from that one to move toward the 2/3 completion point of the challenge. With the 17 and 12 meters QSOs I am just short of halfway toward the NAQCC North American challenge of 20 WARC band QSOs. I have nine.
Now if we can just get more folks to get on the high bands while these conditions last, it will really be a ton of fun. How about it?
Tomorrow I'll be going over to Tom's (WY3H) to help him take down his antennas preparing for his move to GA which should now take place on July 13th if all goes according to plan.
It was a good day today besides ham radio also. Great weather again. Early this morning I helped Ange water his garden. I got in a couple of walks. And I just took some nice sunset pictures after my stint on the ham bands was over. Let's see if I can find a couple nice ones to post here. I haven't been posting many pictures in the diary of late and you say you enjoy seeing them.
And here are a couple more of Mike and me at our front porch FD setup last weekend. Wow, has it been a week already since FD. Where does the time go, and why does it speed up when one gets older?
Friday, July 04, 2014 9:06 PM - It looks like folks are waking up and discovering the good conditions on the bands finally. The bands from 20 through 15 were really hot this evening well past sunset here. I got my first four European QSOs of the month - RA6MQ EI4II IZ4ZZB and IY1GMS. The first 3 on 17M and the last on 15M. In the process, I gathered 18 of the 42 letters/numbers needed to master the July NAQCC European Chapter challenge. Also the 3 17M QSOs gave me a total of 5 WARC band QSOs toward the NAQCC North American challenge. There were also many other strong European signals but some were in the YV contest and others had no letters or numbers I needed so I didn't try to work them. Now having said all that, the bands still were not very good today until this evening. I checked earlier in the day and they were pretty dead. And hey, where did the W1AW stations go. I haven't heard them at all the past two evenings. Doesn't matter since I don't need WI or UT, having got them the first time around, but still....
The weather today was the kind you would like to order for every day if you could. Partly cloudy skies with crystal clear, low humidity air. Some pretty strong breezes with temperatures in the upper 70s. Another nice day to work outside which I did, doing some weeding, watering my garden, etc. -30-
Thursday, July 03, 2014 9:03 PM - You would think with a SF of 178 and A index of 6 with no significant ionospheric storminess that the bands would be alive with DX. That wasn't the case today though. I was hard pressed to find any workable DX at all in three separate sessions on the bands. I guess about the strongest DX I heard all day was PY22MC on 30M this evening, and he QRT just after I found him. Other than that I had a hard earned QSO with YV1KK this afternoon on 12M and another one for my streak this evening with XE2ST on 20M. I think the bands may indeed have been pretty good, but just not much activity from the DX world. I will try to check again tomorrow a couple times. I still haven't worked any European stations this month for the NAQCC European Chapter challenge and the 12M QSO was my first WARC band QSO for the 'USA' challenge.
It was cooler today and much less humid so I took the opportunity to pretty much completely weed my garden and get some stakes up for my tomato plants. My Siberian plants have some small tomatoes on them, but I would say it will be at least two or three weeks before I have any ripe ones. I should have started them much earlier than I did. My pepper plants are doing well with some small peppers on the bigger plants. -30-
Wednesday, July 02, 2014 8:46 PM - The bands didn't sound too good for DX this evening so I thought I'd get a regular QSO to keep the big streak going. I found W1AW/9 on 20M operating simplex, called once and got my QSO. Then I found ZB2FK on 17 and EV1R on 20, but never got as much as a ? out of either one. So I looked some more and found HK1N on 17. I got him on just a single call with one repeat. So the DX streak is now at 490 days.
The big highlight in ham radio for me today though wasn't on the air. I checked my LotW matches from the ARRL as I do a couple times each month, and found a match from W1AW/KL7. I didn't say anything at the time I worked them, but I wasn't 100% sure of the QSO as QRN knocked out the final letter of my call and I wasn't sure it was a P or not, but it was and I now have all but the latest two states veried on the LotW. Those two gave me a few solid QSOs each so I'm not worried about them being verified. Now it's sit and wait till the last three states are activated in late July and late August. It's been a lot of fun and I hate to see it coming to an end. I think maybe now I'll see if I can work the repeat states on additional bands to the ones on which I worked them the first go around. It would be nice to see 12M open up the second half of the year as I need about half the states overall on that band and the W1AW tour would be an easy way to get them IF the band opens up. I also need a few on 17M that I can perhaps try for.
A very hot hazy humid day today and I didn't do a lot besides sit at the computer with the fan blowing on me. There was a humidity front come through today though and the humidity dropped late this afternoon and the surrounding hills here became crystal clear as the haze dissipated. It got nice enough for me to cut the grass in my back yard which I just finished a few minutes ago.
A final note. In checking the SF and A index to update my propagation page I see the SF today was at 169 so tomorrow might be a good day for DX if everyone wakes up and realizes the bands will be in good shape. If something else doesn't come up, I may try to make a sizable dent in the July NAQCC European Chapter challenge if the European stations show up on the higher bands. -30-
Tuesday, July 01, 2014 9:02 PM - Mike and I didn't have a lot of time together today but we made the most of it. He had to do some shopping for some things for the local radio club, and I 'tagged along' and found a couple of things to buy for myself. I got one of those little fluttery butterflies for my garden just because I always liked the one the neighbors have. I also got a pack of 50 DVDs since I was completely out of them.
Then when we got back here we got our Field Day report off to the ARRL, then got in the Canada Day contest. There wasn't a whole lot of activity. I added 13 to my 15 from last night, and Mike worked most of the ones I worked plus a couple that I had already worked last night. It was nice to work a bit of DX in the contest like F5IN, PA0VAJ, and UA1CE. All too soon Mike had to head north for a meeting up in Brookville this evening.
After I helped Ange a bit in his garden and had my supper, I got back in the Canada Day contest and added 9 more QSOs for a total of 37. Not all that bad for the little time I spent.
Then this evening I set out to get my DX QSO plus maybe work W1AW from WI and UT. I have worked those two states before on the first part of the W1AW tour so that wasn't too high a priority. Good thing too, because the pileups built very quickly. So I went looking for the DX and after striking out with a couple stations, I managed to work PR77AR although he wasn't all that strong and Brazil is not one of my easiest countries to work. Anyway that leaves me with 11 more days to reach 500 days of DX. The solar flux is building back up again and was in the 150s today so barring any major geomagnetic storms that bodes well for my DX streak, and hopefully for the NAQCC European chapter challenge as well. -30-
Monday, June 30, 2014 10:12 PM - Another busy day today getting caught up on things that didn't get done because of the FD weekend. Also it being the last of the month, I had my usual end of the month things to get done. I'm a bit tired now, but I think I got it all done except putting my June weather data in the computer which I might do a little later tonight or tomorrow morning.
Hopefully it will be tonight because that will free up tomorrow for that follow up visit from Mike I mentioned. He'll be coming here about 10 AM which will give me an hour to get my first of the month financial 'stuff' done.
Of course this is Canada Day and hence the RAC Canada Day contest. I used it to get my streak QSOs and continued on for a while to the tune of around 16 or so QSOs. Mike and I hope to get in some 'tag team' work in the contest tomorrow after we get some other things taken care of. I remember the RAC contests back in the 90s when there was very little activity and with a decent effort I could wind up in the top ten or even top five overall USA scores. Now they have grown to be very popular contests with an abundance and more of activity. It's nice that they have caught on so well even though I don't have a chance of a top ten listing anymore with my QRP and simple wire antennas. -30-
Sunday, June 29, 2014 8:48 PM - Another great day today as are all days that Mike and I hang out together. We got up early (for me) and had the Ponderosa Sunday Brunch meal which is becoming a tradition with us since the food is so great and filling with a busy day coming up.
It was busy as we resumed our FD operation from my front porch. When we got home from Ponderosa, it only took several minutes to get all set up again and we were off and running. We set our goal for the end of the day to be at 300 total QSOs. Last year we had 352 from the QTH of Tom WY3H with two extra operators there, so with poorer conditions this year thrown in the mix also, we thought 300 was a reasonable although challenging goal. The QSB was horrific today. Stations would send the first letter of their call at S9+ and by the time the last letter came, it would often be inaudible. So it was a struggle at times to pull the QSOs in out of the QSB. The bottom line is we came close, but didn't quite make our goal. We wound up with 288 QSOs from (I believe) 41 states, some VEs, C6, KP2, KP4. We're going to put together our report when we get together again on Tuesday to do that plus some other things.
Once again we were both impressed with our KX3s. They performed perfectly with our 'makeshift' antennas. I was amazed how easy it was to make QSOs on 20 meters with my random wire plus its extension to reach down to my front porch. When conditions were steady it only took a single call with no repeats to log a QSO whether it be short skip to W1, W2, W4 or long skip to W6 and W7. The only thing I couldn't work for whatever reason were a couple European stations from Russia and Hungary.
After FD ended at 1800Z it took less than a half hour to return things to the state that you couldn't tell we had done a FD operation. Then we had a pre-planned phone call with Paul N8XMS, NAQCC Manager to discuss prizes for some upcoming NAQCC activities and some other matters. Then (as you already know, I'm sure) it was time to eat. I had half my Subway sub from yesterday and Mike had some left over pizza. Next up we played a hidden object game on the computer before Mike had to head back up north.
He said when he got up there that they had had some heavy rain, but here we only had a very slight mist just as we were taking down our FD setup. So the weather was good for the entire weekend although a bit hot and muggy in the afternoons with the temperature nudging 90 degrees. A couple of fans on the porch kept it bearable though.
Tonight the poor conditions continued and I thought I might not get my DX QSO. I did though. I first worked YT2ISM but wasn't positive he had the last letter of my call correct because of the QRN and QSB here. So a little later I worked ZY14PB for a sure solid QSO. That makes the last 16 months that I've made a DX QSO every single day now and the 500 consecutive day mark is drawing near. -30-
Saturday, June 28, 2014 11:17 PM - Diary entry for June 28 - Book 1, Chapter 1. Just to let you know it may be long.
About the first thing we did yesterday when Mike arrived was to try to see if his tent would fit in the back yard. It didn't, so we had to adopt plan B which was to set up and operate from the front porch of my house. After that we had our usual which was chicken sandwiches, fries, and Frosties from Wendy's. The rest was mentioned yesterday in the diary, so let's seque to today.
Up around 9 o'clock and off to Ponderosa's breakfast. After stuffing ourselves we came back home and started setting up for field day. The most involved thing was setting up antennas. Mike used his jumper dipole with the center fastened at my attic window and the ends slanted down in an inverted Vee configuration. With the jumpers set at 40 meters, the KX3 tuned up just fine on all appropriate bands. Next we set up my antenna which consisted of adding enough wire to the end of my random wire to reach down to the porch. The extra wire didn't bother the KX3 at all and it tuned the wire just like always.
That left us with about an hour and a half before the start of FD so we played a hidden object game on the computer to pass the time.
Approximately 20 minutes before the start, we went to Subway and got a couple subs to eat later in the day.
At 1800Z with the neighbor's lawnmower running in the background, the fun began. Mike had 40 and I had 20. Both bands didn't seem all that active, but we did make the QSOs. We continued doing so for the next 9 hours with a couple short breaks here and there to eat our subs and later to top that off with a Vocelli's pizza. We shut down at 11 PM and are both sitting here now collaborating on this diary entry.
In the midst of the FD QSOs I managed a DX QSO to keep the DX streak alive and well. -30-
Friday, June 27, 2014 11:50 PM - Mike and I got absorbed in playing a computer hidden object game after doing some preliminary FD setup, having chicken sandwiches at Wendy's, chasing some DX, and taking a long walk. So this is just a statement explaining why the diary is so late. We'll have more details in tomorrow's entry. -30-
Thursday, June 26, 2014 8:55 PM - Mike and I had a good time last night albeit only for a short time. We had an anchovy and mushroom pizza which we ate out on my porch since the weather was so nice. Then we made up a check list for our FD operation this weekend. After that up to my shack to chase some W1AW QSOs. Mike worked W1AW/9 on 20, 30, and 40 I believe, then got W1AW/3 on 80 meters. After he left I 'stole' a W1AW/9 QSO. As I was listening, the op suddenly said UP 1 to 2, so it struck me to try UP 1.5 and lo and behold I got him on the first or second try.
Tonight I got my goals in steps. I wasn't hearing any DX stations nor any W1AW stations, but I did find W7F and worked that special event call for my main streak QSO. Then in hunting some DX, I heard W1AW/9 pretty strong on 17 meters. Again listening carefully, he requested folks to spread out as signals were weak. I had been set right on +1, but then bumped up to about +1.15 or so and got him on my very next call. That makes 5 bands for W1AW/9 in IL now 80 40 30 20 17. Then a bit more tuning and I found about the only strong DX station at all, and he was quite strong. It was F5MUX on 17 and I worked him easily for the DX streak. Finally I had a rag chew type QSO with AC2CM on 40 meters. I almost forgot the procedure for rag chew QSOs after all my DX chasing and W1AW chasing, etc. HI -30-
Wednesday, June 25, 2014 7:30 PM - Mike's stopping by for a short visit this evening for a pizza and some planning for our FD operation this weekend. He probably won't have time to do any ghost writing so I'll just get my diary entry out of the way now.
I had a little spare time this afternoon so I thought I'd check the bands. There wasn't a whole lot of action, but I easily worked W1AW/9 on two new bands - 40 and 20 just because they were there and not getting a whole lot of replies.
Before that I helped Tom WY3H via land line to get a panadapter up and running with his KX3. We came up a little short when I visited in person several days ago, but today everything is working perfectly so he should be all set to go when he gets his move to GA (or TN) completed in a couple weeks or so.
After yet another rainy day, it looks like maybe, just maybe a couple of dry days Thursday and Friday are in the works. I haven't actually totalled up our rainfall this month, but a glance at the figures leads me to guess it may be around 7 inches or about twice normal. The ground is absolutely saturated which could lead to trouble if we get any really heavy rain in the next week or so. Right now it's sunny and breezy with a temperature in the low-mid 70s. Sure feels and looks good.
To close here's a picture of my AcuRite remote weather unit at 6:03PM this evening. Sevens are wild. I think that's the first time I've seen 7 of the 8 bigger digits all the same. I don't think I've ever seen all 8 the same. Now if the pressure had been 29.77.....
Tuesday, June 24, 2014 9:03 PM - I had hoped to get the W1AW states in one of my 'sneak in before the pile builds' operations, but right at 0000Z we had a heavy thunderstrom move through plus I got a phone call at 2359Z. So that delayed me just enough to find all the W1AW/9 and /3 ops with big pileups already a couple minutes into the hour. OK, next order of business is getting my DX QSO. KP2/K3TEJ had been booming in on 20 when I checked earlier and at 0004Z he was still strong so I worked him. Then I decided to try to break the W1AW pileups, but I was unsuccessful for quite a while until the W1AW/9 pile on 30 diminished and after figuring out where he was listening, I got him with a bit of difficulty, but a solid QSO. I had been chasing W1AW/3 on 80M where he was booming in, but couldn't break the pileup. However just 4 minutes after getting W1AW/9 (at 0047Z), I found the W1AW/3 pile also diminished somewhat and it was the same as the /9 QSO - a bit difficult but solid. So after 51 minutes this round, I have the two new states, and now stand at 47/47 which according to simple first grade math means 3 more to go for my W1AW WAS. It's going to take a while though as the next new states won't be up until the week of 7/23 (IN RI), and as I've said a couple times before, everyone has to wait on ME until the week of August 27.
Just noticed when logging the above QSOs that I've worked W1AW on their WAS tour on each band from 80 through 10 meters. Nothing on 160 or 6 (yet?).
Other than that not a lot to talk about today. I did fix up my computer so I could listen with headphones to the new Pileup Trainer program I mentioned. That made it a little easier since I am used to using headphones for all my ham radio operations except perhaps when Mike or someone is here with me. Then I use the speaker so we both can hear. Although when we have a serious 'tag team' effort or something like that going, we'll use a Y splitter so we can both use headphones. With the headphones I cracked the 180 QSOs/hour barrier a couple times and was up well over 200 at times during the run.
I also added a little extension to my random wire in preparation for when Mike and I do Field Day this weekend from my back yard. I figure I'll just feed the KX3 to the other end of the random wire which should work well. Mike will hang some kind of antenna from a nearby tree in a neighbor's yard. Should be interesting.
Oh, since I wrote yesterday's entry early, I didn't get to mention a very nice special event station I worked later in the day. It was simply EF6 with no suffix. I didn't know what it was when I worked the station because as you well know, I'm not one to check to see what is on where beforehand via spots or other information. When I did check after the QSO, I found out it was in honor of the new King of Spain - Felipe VI who had the throne turned over to him on June 19 by his father Juan Carlos who 'abdicated'. I thought it was a Balearic Island station when I worked it, but no, the F6 stood for Felipe 6 and was in Spain itself. -30-
Monday, June 23, 2014 9:45 AM - Sometimes when I get ideas, diary feedback, or other info early in a day, I like to write the diary entry then so my old brain doesn't forget when the normal diary time in the evening rolls around. Today is such a day.
First of all I got this info from Glenn K3SWZ: "....Glad you got your KL7 QSO!! I have been pulling for you... That has been a tough one for sure, for all, I think.... Not many spots at all this past week....." Well as regular diary followers know, I NEVER use spotting of any kind in my efforts with one minor exception which I'll reiterate a little later. So I wasn't aware whether there was less operating time from KL7 or if I just wasn't hearing it here. Looks like the former was the case which is too bad because I'm sure not only those chasing the W1AW WAS as I am doing, but those who were looking for KL7 to complete a WAS period were counting on W1AW/KL7 to accomplish their goals.
On the other hand, W1AW/7 in MT seems to me to be one of the most active operations. I think every time I've turned on the KX3 the past few days I've heard W1AW/7 on at least 2 or 3 bands, often more. I've worked them easily on 5 bands here (40 30 20 17 15) mostly while looking around for KL7.
The exception to spotting? If I work some DX and because of sloppy sending, QSB, QRN, or he went QRT before I could hear his call again to be sure, then (but ONLY THEN) will I check spots to confirm the call. I believe in the old fashioned way of DXing - just get on the bands and look for it. Of course I have conceded to the use of a panadapter to aid in the tuning, but only to save time in scanning a band. I still have to check each blip on the panadapter to hear who it is causing the blip. I'll never use anything like Skimmer which visually identifies each blip.
Also today and last night I received some interesting and rewarding email from Jock N1JI, who lives in a similar situation to mine. He says he's been inspired by my results here on an even smaller lot than his. He worked KL7 about a half hour after I did. Anyway the point in mentioning this is to say that it is rewarding to me when the true purpose of my web site comes through. That is encouraging by example others in a similar situation to know that they too can do what I've done here. Thanks Jock.
Well, let's see now what I can do for the rest of the day. Right now my laundry is in the dryer and should be done in a few minutes. Although some showers are predicted today, it looks sunny out there at the moment. So maybe some walking. The river is down somewhat, but still a little muddy, or at least was yesterday so a slight possibility of some fishing. Who knows? -30-
Sunday, June 22, 2014 8:28 PM - Three birds, er goals with one stone, er call. At 0003Z I sent a single call in reply to W1AW/KL7 and got my streak QSO, my DX streak QSO, and W1AW state 45 of 45 in the log. Whew, what a relief. That's the first time I've gone till the 6th day to get a W1AW state. Now with IL MD IN RI and ME left for WAS, it looks a lot brighter than it did just an hour or so ago.
Another nice day today at the start of astronomical summer. I took a couple of nice walks and did some weeding in my back yard and garden. The river is slowly going down, so if we don't get any more heavy rain upstream, perhaps my itinerary in a few days will include fishing, if I still remember how. HI -30-
Saturday, June 21, 2014 8:36 PM - The fourth day now with no W1AW/KL7 QSO. I can't even see any light at the end of the tunnel. Today I only heard KL7 briefly and weakly on 17 meters late this afternoon, and I checked all likely bands at several different times. The bands were busy with various DX stations, the AA contest, and W1AW/7, but only a very few of the signals were very strong. And my noise was about as low as it ever gets here, not even moving the S meter on the higher bands. I had some difficulty getting my DX QSO this evening. I tried some of the Asiatic Russians in the AA test, but never got more than a K3?. I did sort of work an AM08 station, but didn't log it because he never confirmed having my call right. Finally after a couple repeats I did get a solid QSO with AM03NN on 20M. So now I need 21 more days to hit 500 days in the DX streak. If conditions continue to deteriorate it's going to be tough.
Otherwise a nice weather day for walking and doing some gardening. Ange brought me some pea seeds to replace the plants that either never sprouted or got eaten by bugs or birds before they had any chance to develop. They are in a wire cage now, so at least that will stop the birds.
I've developed some deeper respect now for those who operate DXpeditions after downloading and using a program called Pileup Runner. It puts the operator in the DXpedition operator's seat and let's him (me) work the pileup. The parameters for the pileup are variable and can be made as rough or as easy as possible. Tuning in the stations in the pileup is via mouse clicking on a panadapter waterfall display. It's very neat how it works with stations in the pileup behaving very much like actual stations in an actual pileup. I've only played it a few times so far and I can get up to a 180/hr rate in bursts, but have trouble maintaining that rate for a full 10 or 15 minute session. I usually end up with only 120-140 or so. Hopefully I can improve with more practice. A long time ago some prominent DXer told me after I said there wasn't much difference between chasing DX with QRP and QRO that there certainly was. He said the amount of stations attracted by a KW station can be simply awesome. Well, that's the way it is with Pileup Runner, believe me. -30-
Friday, June 20, 2014 8:46 PM - Still no W1AW/KL7 QSO. It's looking more and more like I'll have to wait for the second activation of KL7 later this year unless conditions improve dramatically over the next 3-4 days. I have not heard much activity from KL7 so either conditions are really that bad or there is just not as much actiivity from KL7 as there should be. I hear MT all over the bands just about all the time. I've worked it on 4 diffferent bands so far. The few times I have heard KL7 something happened each time to prevent a QSO. The first time when sigs were the strongest I got there just a few minutes before that shift was up. The second time when I had him pretty much to myself, I forgot to change my power up from the 900 mW setting for the mW sprint the night before. When I noticed and did raise it, the pileup had become huge. Today I just couldn't break the pileup at all, and to make it worse, there was some DX using the freq W1AW was listening to.
At least my DX streak continues unbroken after working DQ60WAE at 0000Z this evening. Then a little later I got one of the Brazil World Cup stations, ZX14MG. They have been almost as rough to work as KL7.
A pretty nice day today after several rainy days, so I got a chance to work in my garden a bit, cut the grass, and dig some invasive weeds out of the lawn. -30-
Thursday, June 19, 2014 9:18 PM - I spent several hours with Tom WY3H today in kind of a going away get together before he moves down to GA in a couple weeks or so. We had some good pizza, and also did some ham radio and computer work. I got him set up with the Elecraft KX3 Utility computer program so he can update the KX3 firmware, program the KX3 memories, etc. I also installed the HDSDR panadapter. That took quite a bit of doing and it still has a couple bugs in the setup that I couldn't figure out. However the basic panadapter works just fine for seeing what's on a band at a glance and exploring the blips to see who is causing them. It was a good time and a sad time all at the same time. Once he moves down to GA there's not too much of a chance of us getting together in person again, although who knows - it could happen.
This evening I was having trouble working anyone till it finally dawned on my aging brain that I never raised the power from the 900 mW setting for last night's sprint. When I did go back to 5 watts, I worked OH4MDY for my DX, then my 3rd band (20M) for W1AW/7 in MT. This time I'm sure it was Matt K7BG cause after he greeted me with Good Work John or something like that, I sent Matt? and he said yes. That only took a single call. I also chased KL7 for a while, and had it been with 5 watts instead of 900 mW, I might have got him because there wasn't much competition yet. After I did realize the power mistake, the pileup had gotten built. So KL7 might just be my Achilles heel this first time around for WAS. Still 5 days left though. -30-
Wednesday, June 18, 2014 9:26 PM - I guess there couldn't have been a worse evening to have a NAQCC mW sprint. Severe thunderstorms plus high local man-made QRN plus generally poor propagation equals one of my worst NAQCC sprints ever with only 4 QSOs in 3 SPCs in the 25 minutes I put in before throwing in the towel.
To add to the woes, I still haven't gotten W1AW/KL7 yet. There were some good signals late this afternoon on 15 meters, but just as I was getting into rhythm, he vanished - I guess he quit since it was right on the top of an hour. He never said anything about going QRT though - just disappeared. I'll try the same band and time tomorrow if I get the chance. Still 6 days left to track him down. I may need all of them.
At least the DX streak continues. Day #476 was added thanks to OZ/OK1JAX and HK1ANP. Neither was an easy QSO, but a QSO nonetheless.
It's pouring rain again as I type. This has really been a wet late spring here. The river still hasn't had a chance to get down to good fishing level, and the gardens may be getting too much water this year. Things are growing very slowly. I finally did get a couple blossoms on my Siberian tomatoes a few days ago, but that's about all to report. -30-
Tuesday, June 17, 2014 9:08 PM - In the jungle it is often the aged lion who makes the first strike on and kill of some prey before the pack or pride descends on the prey after the aged lion has had his fill. Although the aged lion is no longer as fast nor as strong as his younger counterparts, he has the experience to know exactly where, when, and how to go for the kill, be it a wildebeest, impala, buffalo, zebra, or whatever.
With that preamble, I'll just say I got W1AW/7 in MT with a single strike... er call on 18086 at 0001Z before the pride... er pileup descended. I think the op may have been my contesting friend Matt K7BG as he called me by name, and unlike the op on 15M who was calling everyone by name, I was the only one in the time I was listening to the 17M op to be greeted by name. KL7 may take a bit more skill and a little luck thrown in. I heard KL7 on a couple bands, but fairly weak and very fluttery and with a big pileup already. I might have gotten them on 20 had there been no competition from the younger stronger lions, er the hams with higher power and bigger antennas. The signals from KL7 were nowhere near as strong as they are when I easily work that state in contests. Now KH6 I can work easily when I barely can hear them, but KL7 needs for the most part to be fairly strong without much flutter for me to work them. However I have almost a full week to find a good band and time to get them. If not this time around, then the second week later in the year when conditions might be better. Now after all that having been said, I'll probably get on later tonight or tomorrow and easily work them. HI.
Anyway, MT is tied with ND for 2nd quickest state behind #1 VT. Then at 0003 I grabbed HT5T with a single call for my DX streak QSO. -30-
Monday, June 16, 2014 9:16 PM - In the last day or so, the world has lost two icons from different fields of endeavor. Tony Gwynn was one of the premiere hitters of all time in baseball for the San Diego Padres. His lifetime batting average of .338 is (I believe) second highest in the era in which he played. He was also great in the field as well with something like 5 golden glove awards. Although there are many others who were good and whom I won't name here, I always thought that Gwynn and Rod Carew were right at the top as far as natural hitters go.
Pop music also lost one of its greatest DJs especially among those who built their career around Top 40, Top 20, Top 10, etc. music lists. I'm speaking of Casey Kasem. He was 82 years old.
Back to ham radio now. The bands seemed a little better this evening than they have been of late. You know my trials at first in getting W1AW/5 in AR. Well tonight I found them on 15 meters, and got them with but a single call in a small pileup. I've also had trouble working the Brazil World Cup special event calls, but tonight it only took a couple calls to get PY22XB. Last but not least, I finally got that final R to finish our NAQCC "USA" challenge when my CQ on 40 was answered by W3MWR. -30-