K3WWP's Ham Radio Activities

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Don't forget to cast your vote in the monthly poll here after reading the diary. A new poll posted the 15th of each month.

Wednesday, May 04, 2016 3:25 PM - I finished my new KX3/PX3 support stand today and thought I'd present some pictures here. It didn't cost me a cent as it was made entirely from my wood 'junk box'. In fact I was actually 'rewarded' for making it by the enjoyment I got designing and building it.

Here it is holding the KX3 and PX3 and then just the KX3.
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Here are three different views showing the construction. Note the big gap in the bottom support of the KX3 which is for plugging in my straight key/bug connector to the little jack that was designed for the mini-KX3 paddle which I don't use here. Also note the 25 small holes in a square pattern. That is an opening for the sound from the built in KX3 speaker.
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If anyone by any remote chance would like to duplicate it, I will take the time to draw up a set of plans. Mainy it was just done because of a recent surge in my interest in woodworking. There was one improvement over my previous stand. The KX3 is now a bit more upright and the tuning knob doesn't block the lower right corner of the readout like the previous one did. I may paint it or just leave the wood natural. I haven't decided yet. -30-

Tuesday, May 03, 2016 9:26 PM - I spent over an hour trying to get my DX QSO this evening. Conditions were very borderline. The stations were there, but not quite hearing me well enough to complete a QSO. I wasn't sure about working 4A1DX on 30, so I didn't log him. He sent K3WWP?, I sent R R R, then he sent something sloppy I couldn't copy, and went on to call CQ again. Then I did work PV8ADI later on 40 meters. A very rough night. Very slowly, conditions are slipping toward that upcoming sunspot minimum. Once again I have my doubts as to how long I'll be able to keep the DX streak going. I think I'll have to start exploring the bands during the morning and afternoon hours and see if things might be better then. -30-

Monday, May 02, 2016 8:54 PM - The bands continue to act crazy. I was working Dave WV8DH down in WV, and he went from a solid S9 right down to nothing in just a few seconds and never came back up again. Before we had our QSO, my DX came from HT7AAA on 20 meters with a single call.

We had a really heavy thunderstorm during the night around 5AM. Not a damaging one, just one who wanted to get everyone's attention with an almost constant display of LOUD thunder and a few minutes of VERY heavy rain. I seldom hear rain that heavy. Good thing the whole storm didn't last but about 10-15 minutes at most.

Most of the daytime hours were dry for a change, but there is a lite shower right now which I guess will try to get me wet as I go out to get my temperature reading. Incidentally, April was almost normal as far as temperatures go compared to the wild swings of the past several months now. It was just 0.8 degrees above normal. -30-

Sunday, May 01, 2016 8:14 PM - Fifty years ago tomorrow - May 2, 1966, the first ever session of the CW County Hunters Net was held. As NCS, I called the session to order at 1700Z, and the first QNI one minute later was Irene WA9EZP. Then Dave WA8EOH, the co-founder of the net with me, checked in. Emil WA2JIA followed next. Then Van K3ZMI whom I mentioned a few diary entries ago. Finally WB2MXJ dropped by quickly. I never even got his name. That concluded CW CHN session #1. A very humble beginning to what it has grown to become during the past 50 years. Should you be interested in "the rest of the story" of the CW CHN infant years, just click the CTY HUNTING link in the menu at the top of the page.

That episode of my ham radio history was a very exciting and rewarding one. Unlike other hunters though, I have never completed the quest to work all 3077 USA counties. I left ham radio to pursue a career and was even off the air for several years while doing so. I still keep track of counties worked, but don't actively pursue them via the net, state QSO parties, or other county related activities. I just check someone's county when I work them, and add them to my list if it's a new one. Currently I have 2,246 worked overall including when I ran more than 5 watts back in the 60s and early 70s. At 5 watts or less, I have 1,893 worked.

Back to the present now. Surprisingly my DX QSO came on 17 meters this evening as both 17 and 15 were open past sunset here. I didn't check 12 or 10. Two Chile stations were s8 on 17, and CE2AWW didn't hear me, but CE2MVF got me with just a single repeat of my call. -30-

4/30/2016 8:12 PM - Well, here it is another month, at least right now as of UTC. So my usual end of month, first of month chores started today. I took my gas meter reading. Used a bit more gas than normal because we had quite a few chilly days in April. Either after I finish typing this or tomorrow morning, I'll do all my financial chores. No hurry there as the bank won't be open till Monday. I uploaded all my April QSOs to LoTW and eQSL. I made only 121 QSOs during the month. I'll make up for that in May with the CQWW WPX contest the last weekend of the month. Of course all 5 of my calendars need pages flipped over to May. I'll do that in a little bit. I updated my streak totals on the main page of the web site. Those and some other things are what I do when the months change here.

Not an end of month thing, but this morning I helped Ange resurrect the fig trees for another year. They almost really didn't need buried this winter since it was so mild. But there were a few days that could have done some damage. We also cleaned up a lot of branches and mended a fence post. He has to wait to put out his plants since the garden is so large. I can put mine out earlier because my garden is small enough that I can just cover all the plants should a late frost come along. Still I'll wait another week or so to put out the rest of my peppers and the tomatoes. I did plant the bean seeds as I mentioned in a previous entry.

A quick DX QSO this evening to start another month of the DX streak. It was CO8ZZ on 30 meters with a fairly easy QSO.

OK, now I'll close and go change the calendar pages, etc. -30-

Friday, April 29, 2016 8:13 PM - I hope IK2DAD wasn't confused. I worked him on 30 meters and when we finished Chas K3WW called him and worked him. HI Gio is a good op and as I was telling WB3FAE who worked him last night, I often work him when he is just at or below S4 or S5 here and flirting with my noise. Tonight I had a bit of trouble copying him, but he seemed to copy me OK. I did have to repeat my call once.

I wanted to get a quick DX streak QSO. That's why I tried him, even though it hasn't been too long since we worked on 30 meters. But also because that was my 30th QSO on 30 meters this month. So as I mentioned in the previous entry, that earns me the NAQCC 30-30 award.

It was another dreary day today with light rain or drizzle and a high of, let's see, just 54. Tomorrow might be a bit better at least until late afternoon when more rain should arrive.

My around 50 year old shack chair wound up with a cracked rung today, so I just finished repairs on it. Now it should be good for another 50, even though I won't be. HI.

OK, now to get off my 30-30 application. -30-

Thursday, April 28, 2016 9:04 PM - This was just not a very nice day. Rain most of the day and temperatures in the 40s - BRRRR! More like mid-March than late April.

Another 0000Z DX QSO this evening. I tuned around a bit a couple minutes before 00Z, and just a few seconds after it turned to 0000, I found and worked Rey CO6RD on 20 meters.

I've had quite a few QSOs on 30 meters this month and thought I'd go for another of our NAQCC 30-30 awards which you earn by making 30 QSOs on 30 meters in a calendar month. After working W9RDB this evening on 30, I have 27 this month, so I think I'll go for the 30 the next couple days. Shouldn't be hard to make it.

Mike and I had a good time last night. He arrived and just before we had our pizza, he took a shot at working S01WS, but conditions had changed in the half hour since I worked him, and he was weaker and a little busier, and then he kind of abruptly QRT, perhaps upset with the QRM on his frequency. So Mike didn't get him.

I told Mike to surprise me with the pizza toppings, and it was a pleasant surprise. Onions, tomatoes, sausage, and mushrooms. Mmmmm, I'm getting hungry again just thinking about it. After we finished that, we did some preliminary work on a new NAQCC banner that we are getting made up for use at hamfests, etc. It's the same design as our current one which was made for us by KA2KGP and N2COD several years ago. That one is showing signs of wear after all that time. We'll unveil it at the Breezeshooters Hamfest in Butler, PA on June 5.

That finished, Mike played a hidden object game until he had to head home around 11PM or so. He is off again on Thursdays now, so he could stay later. -30-

Wednesday, April 27, 2016 8:15 PM - Waiting for Mike to arrive for a visit, so may have to pause in this entry or cut it short.

Worked a couple DX stations this evening within 3 minutes. FY5KE on 30 meters. Then S01WS on 40 meters for a new band entity. S01WS was surprisingly easy. A case of him copying me easier than vice versa. Didn't copy well enough to know he came back to me, but then he repeated my call for solid copy here. As Tom WB3FAE and I were saying, I seem to have a good pipeline into northwest Africa as it seems to be easy to work that part of the world. Also I have a couple other pipelines, one to Hawaii, and one to Asiatic Russia. I don't really understand why, but I'll accept them no questions asked. HI. Just wish the Asiatic Russia one would work on 40 instead of just the higher bands so I could finally finish 40M WAC.

Well, guess I'll just close now and wait for Mike. -30-

Tuesday, April 26, 2016 8:40 PM - Another somewhat busy day today. I went to vote this morning. Did some more grass pulling from the bricks. A little more work on the fishing pole holder.

After waiting till the 0400Z hour last night to get my DX, tonight I again got back to the 00Z hour. I tried an EI station on 30, but man was he popular, and not turning over the QSOs all that fast. Seemed to be having trouble pulling stations out of the pileup he developed. I didn't know Ireland was so rare on 30. Then I tried a CE on 20 with no success. Then I settled for my regular streak QSO by having W1AAF answer my 30M CQ. While in QSO with him, I heard CN8KD very weak in the background. I didn't think I'd be able to get him, so after I finished with W1AAF, I looked elsewhere, but then a little later, CN8KD's signal was up nicely, so I tried and worked him. So the DX streak goes on.

I'm looking forward to a visit from Mike tomorrow evening. We'll be having a pizza and then see what else we can get into. -30-

Monday, April 25, 2016 8:53 PM - A busy day today and still getting caught up on a few things, so let's see how fast I can type this.

Spent part of the morning waiting for a repairman to tweak my new refrigerator. The doors weren't closing quite right. He came and they're fixed now.

Stopped by Honey Bear after a walk and bought a dozen nightcrawlers. Then went fishing for about an hour. I improved one notch over the last time I went with Denny. Then not a single bite. Today I at least got a bite. So maybe things will continue to improve and the next time I'll actually catch a fish.

Back home again for my mid-afternoon meal, then decided to plant out half my pepper plants since the weather is so nice and looks to continue that way. I also planted my speckled bean seeds. Then I deadheaded my tulips since the flowers were well past their early peak.

Some walking and shopping, then I worked on my hombrew fishing pole stand again.

Tonight is another nail biter as to whether this will be the day the DX streak ends. Only heard a weak LZ who wasn't hearing me, and then a PY who called a brief CQ, then vanished. So back to the bands later tonight or tomorrow morning or afternoon to try to keep the streak alive. That's the first time in a while now I haven't gotten my DX in the 0000Z hour.

OK, typed that in seven minutes. Now to do the propagation and index pages and then get my temperature readings before going next door to watch some TV with Bruce and take Roscoe for his last walk of the day. -30-

Sunday, April 24, 2016 8:52 PM - Once again it doesn't get any quicker. A single call to 9Y/K2HVN at 0000Z and the DX streak continues at 1,152 days.

A busy day today. First I took Bruce's VCR apart and gave it a good cleaning. The tracking had been skipping all over the place. In a brief check after cleaning, it seems OK now. We'll see further.

Next I pulled some more grass from between the sidewalk bricks. I'm getting it early this year. Last year, I let it go way too long before the first pulling.

Then some work on my homebrew fishing pole holder which had suffered a bit from years of use.

I also got in some walks and shopping. Of course my daily walks with Roscoe also.

I got an interesting email from one of our very early CW County Hunter Net participants and NCS today, Van (then) K3ZMI. I'd like to share it here as the 50th anniversary of our founding of the CW CHN approaches (May 2).

"That is right! CW County Hunters Net turns 50 years on May 2, 2016!

K3WWP - John -co-founder has this link that describes in great detail about the first 2 years of the fledgling CW CH Net:
Link also available at countyhunter.com - go to CW Operators tab and then dropdown menu History.
A 2nd link shows how the CW CH contest was the idea of the other co-founder WA8EOH:

My recollections of those 1st days:
Paul W8CXS put out a new county in MI Parks every Saturday morning with plenty of callers for a new county and stimulated Saturday CW county hunting, I think.
John K3WWP and Dave WA8EOH had been discussing a County Hunting Net operation.
I learned of this in a QSO on 4-18-66 with K3WWP and encouraged that he continue with the plan.
I got a postcard in the mail from John that he would call the first net session on May 2, 1966.
In the mean time I'd been monitoring & checking into the traffic handling net for Maryland & Delaware (MDD) with one of the NCS Andy K3JYZ later W3XE.
The big day came on Monday May 2, 1966 on 40M CW 7035.
I scurried home from High School and checked into the 1st ever CW County Hunter Net session run by K3WWP at 1854Z and stayed on until 1958Z.
The next 3 days WA8EOH was NCS, along with K3WWP with much later sessions. I think he began about 2300Z. Somewhere in those first 3 days, I volunteered to be NCS for the 1st ever Saturday session for May 7th, 1966 1400Z
So, loosely based on traffic handling, I asked for QNI and just called "CQ County Hunter Net All Welcome". A few check-ins was all.
2nd weekend 1430Z had 16 check-ins and several visitors handed out their counties.
It was a fun summer being NCS on Saturdays, participation grew, until I went off to college.
CW mobile was almost non-existent, so everyone was encouraged to bring stations to the net to give out their county, along with my solicitations with All Welcome.
Amazingly enough, many youngsters and young adults, way back in the 60's and early 70's that were interested in CW county hunting are still around today.
Here is a few that come to mind, sorry if I missed you
John K3WWP moved on from County Hunting to CW QRP and "The Streak" among other "All CW" activities and remains very active daily. Explore his website.
This "County Hunting" thing has been a thread on & off in my life, I've enjoyed it immensely, co-existing along with many of my other interests.
We have a come a long ways since those humble beginnings!!
73 & GH
USA-CA 1092 All CW #71"

I'm guessing from the sound of it, the email is a copy of a posting that Van made somewhere.

Like so many other things in the past, it seems hard to believe it has been that long ago that Dave and I started the CW CHN. Dave WA8EOH lives in CA now according to the callbook. I've tried unsuccessfully to get in touch with him a few times over the past several years. I think I'll try again as the 50th anniversay aproaches. -30-

Saturday, April 23, 2016 8:19 PM - Easy and pretty quick DX this evening. TZ4AM on 10.104 listening up 1. Took just a couple calls to get him in the log. First Mali I've worked since 2/18/2001 and only the third overall. One was on 30 also so no new band entity, but my first TZ4 prefix. Others were TZ6.

Took a while to develop, but it turned out to be a pretty nice day by mid afternoon after being a bit chilly, cloudy, and breezy earlier.

I helped Bruce fix up that wooden armchair he bought for a buck a couple days ago. As you know, I love woodworking so I enjoyed that chance to put my woodworking to a useful purpose. Now he's got a good solid sturdy chair to sit on.

Not a whole lot else happened today other than the usual run of the mill things. Looks like it's very clear right now, so I'll have to go see if I can add another day of seeing Mercury. Maybe for the last time before May 9th when Mike and I hope to observe it transiting the sun on that day. Sure hope it is clear then as I think if I remember right, the next Mercury transit isn't until 2019 and I'm not sure if that one is visible from here or not. Looking at Wikipedia, it looks like only the end portion of that one can be seen in the eastern USA. At the very least I hope we'll luck out on the 9th as we did with the transit of Venus in 2012 when the skies cleared up enough for us to get a clear view of it for several minutes. That's something I won't forget as I know I won't see the next Venus transit since it won't happen until the 22nd century - something like 2117. Yes, 2117 and 2125 are the next pair of Venus transits. -30-

Friday, April 22, 2016 8:48 PM - I think I'll make this mostly a picture entry as I haven't posted many pictures of late. First a couple of other things. I made my 2016 fishing debut today as Denny came to the door and asked if I wanted to go fishing. I hesitated at first because I had a couple other things planned, but quickly changed my mind. So as soon as I walked Roscoe we headed to the creek and sat there for an hour and five minutes watching our poles move not one tiny bit. There was a big carp swimming around taunting us, but he apparently wasn't hungry.

Surprise! My DX tonight was from Europe. Outiside of a couple contest QSOs, that was only the fourth European I've worked in April. Not only worked, but had a nice 8 minute chat with Mike OE5MSM with solid copy both ways.

OK, now let's see what I have in the way of pictures. First a couple of key pictures. The NAQCC is getting a new banner made up for our parkpeditions, hamfests, etc. and Mike (KC2EGL) wanted a couple of key pictures for the banner, so I sent him these and might as well show them here. They are my Begali Blade straight key and Begali Magnetic Classic paddle showing a bit of wear and a little dust after a few years of use. Probably should have dusted them off, but I didn't think of it at the time.

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And here are some pictures of two small peppers on my plants. I pollinated the flowers with Q tips and a couple of them took so far. I didn't do that great a job of photography though with one hidden by a leaf and an out of focus picture of each.

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Now my tomato plants and a dandelion given to me by a little neighborhood girl about 5 years old. She called it a sunflower. Almost looks like one in a way.

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Now my tulips. They didn't quite make it for Easter this year, but look nice nonetheless.

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And that pretty much covers my recent pictures. I haven't been taking as many lately as I used to when the camera was new. I guess I've sort of already taken pictures of all the fixed things around the house and in town. HI. -30-

Thursday, April 21, 2016 8:42 PM - Another not much happening day today. It was a nice walking day. In fact just about perfect in the upper 70s. I went out three times in addition to walking Roscoe three times. I also visited the Ol' Station Marketplace with Bruce. He bought a good solid wood armchair for a buck and I picked up a couple DVD movies for a buck apiece.

As far as ham radio, I only got on briefly for my DX streak this evening. I worked one of the old standby DX stations who seem to be there all the time on one band or another. It was Josh 6Y5WJ, this time on 30 meters.

I am kind of thinking the DX streak may come to an end sometime this year. Today's solar flux was just 77 as we continue to slip toward the next sunspot minimum. As I've often said, if it gets to be too time consuming, then I'll just let the streak come to an end. Not that it will probably become impossible to work DX with a setup like mine. It's just that I won't spend too overly much time searching for and working it. I'm sure than won't happen with the main streak as it is easy to work W/VE stations. I've proved that through the biggest part of two sunspot minimums when I didn't miss a beat despite solar flux bottoming out in the low 60s. And as you know, that never involved making any skeds or checking into nets to keep the streak going. In other words no pre-arranged QSOs of any kind. Oh, I did use contests quite a few times, but those were not pre-arranged QSOs. Oh, and absolutely no use of spotting of any kind. I have just either called CQ or tuned around to find someone else calling CQ. A very few times I may have tailended someone as they were ending a QSO, but that was extremely seldom. I point all that out just to say that you don't have to go to any kind of extremes to regularly make QSOs with your QRP and simple antennas if you use CW.

Oh, we actually saw rain today after over a week of Atacama Desert type dry weather. That was just a little while ago this evening. Just checking my spelling of Atacama and I see this statement in the Wikipedia article - "Evidence suggests that the Atacama may not have had any significant rainfall from 1570 to 1971." I don't know why the cutoff year of 1971. Probably quoted from a book published that year. I've always been fascinated by meteorologically unique places like that. If you share that interest, the Wikipedia Atacama Desert article is very interesting. -30-

Wednesday, April 20, 2016 8:41 PM - The DX streak lives for another day (or two since what I said last night). Later after the diary entry last night I worked Alex HC2AO on 40 meters for day 1,147. Then a few minutes ago it was PV8ADI for day 1,148. Working PV8ADI is usually a strange experience. Either I'm never heard when I call him, or I get him on the first or second try. Tonight it was the latter.

It looks like another streak is coming to an end though. Our rainless streak. It's supposed to rain tomorrow as the omega block that had been providing us with lovely weather for over a week straight is breaking down and is going to allow some of that moisture that has been plaguing Texas and surrounding states to come up this way. We won't get the flooding though, just some showers for maybe an inch or so total the next couple days.

I haven't mentioned my tomatoes or peppers in a few days. The peppers are still growing like crazy with more flowers every couple of days now. My pollinating with Q tips worked with at least one flower as I have a tiny pepper growing now. The tomatoes are coming along also. I think if I look with a magnifier, one plant may finally be getting some tiny buds on it.

About weather checking time now, and I'll also see if I can make it 5 of 6 days to spot Mercury. Clouds are gathering but it was clear to the west when I was looking out the shack window a little while ago. -30-

Tuesday, April 19, 2016 9:04 PM - I got a lot of little things done today, but I'm not going to write about them here. Instead I'll only say that I just saw Mercury for the fourth out of the last five evenings. Probably the most I've ever seen that elusive little planet in any one apparation either morning or evening. Mainly that's due to the stretch of clear dry weather we've had. We haven't seen rain in over a week now. We've only seen a few scattered high clouds the past couple days. Before that just about perfectly clear skies for several days. Just looking at my humidity records from my AcuRite weather station. Each day of the past seven now, the minimum humidity has been 16%. I've never seen it go below 16% in the three years or so since I got the unit, so 16% is as low as it goes, I guess. The highest humidity in that same stretch has been 71% and generally most days get up in the 80s or 90s early each morning. Quite unusual weather, to say the least.

This is another of those "will this be the day my DX streak ends" days. I didn't hear a single DX station this evening, although I did hear others chasing/working DX I couldn't hear at all. So we'll see what happens later tonight, in the morning or afternoon. Hopefully one of those periods will yield a DX QSO. But if not, well all good things must come to an end, or so they say. I still have the regular big streak going thanks to a nice rag chew about gardening with Carl WB0CFF this evening from 0020 to 0049Z.

Just a couple notes about the subpedition and related matters. I received the complete log today from Ken N3CU. We made only 11 QSOs in the horrible conditions in just about 5 hours of steady operating. A note from John N8ZYA of the WVA Chapter said they had similar horrible conditions for their outing today. -30-

Monday, April 18, 2016 8:40 PM - Still another great mid-April day today. A high of let's see...84 again on my remote thermometer and right now it's 69. A few clouds gathered today though and ended the streak of beautiful clear blue skies and maybe my streak of seeing Mercury. I'll check in a few minutes.

It probably will turn cold again though since I put my screens in today to let in some of the warmth. And it might rain next week since my neighbor is on vacation and she says it always rains then.

An easy DX QSO tonight with HT7AAA whom I imagine is the same op as the one who did HT7C last year. Yes, it's YN4SU/TI4SU who is a super great operator. I can virtually be certain he will answer my call even though he may be just at my S4 or S5 noise level here.

I finished the sprint cross-checking of logs today. It's amazing (well not really) that every month someone seems to come up with a new error situation in their log that leaves me scratching my head for a while. I had about a half-dozen really perplexing QSOs this month, but I think I got them figured out correctly. If not, we always give a week after cross-checking for folks to question or appeal changes in their claimed scores. I think we're one of the few contests/sprints that do that. We want everything to be as near to 100% correct as possible.

I hoped to have a bit more news about our results from the sub yesterday, but I'm still awaiting a copy of the log. So instead of that, here are a couple pictures.

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The left picture shows Ken N3CU operating while Tom WB3FAE looks back at the camera. The right picture with downtown Pittsburgh in the background shows (L-R) Tom, me, Mike KC2EGL, and Ken getting ready to head for home hopefully beating the Pirates baseball traffic jam (which we all did).

It was nice to welcome Ken to his first NAQCC WPA Chapter activity. Hopefully he'll be joining us again in the future. -30-

Sunday, April 17, 2016 7:50 PM - The weather was excellent, like June 17 rather than April 17. The company (Mike, Tom, and Ken) was excellent. As always, Art WA3BKD was a gracious host at the Requin. It was great when Mike and had our lunch on one of the picnic tables at the Science Center. After the day was over, a great meal was had at Chili's in the Pittsburgh Mills. Back home Mike worked a couple DX stations which was great.

OK, those were the highlights of our subpedition. Other than those, it wasn't so great though.

When we were setting up to operate, 40 meters just wouldn't tune right with an SWR of 14-15:1. Finally it did get a bit better down to 1.5 to 1 or so, but the KX3 was still balking and wouldn't give us the full 5 watts output. That shouldn't have mattered, but something was wrong as we didn't get any answers on 40 between 1405 and 1430Z. So we then tried 20 which was working a little better, but still QSOs were hard to come by and when we did work someone, QSB took their signals on a roller coaster ride from maybe 569 to uncopyable down in the noise. One time a FL station went from S9+ to nothing in just a couple minutes. Things went like that for a full 5 hours. We wound up with around 10 QSOs or so, none very easy. I don't have the complete log here yet, but I remember QSOs with NM, TX, MO, AZ, FL, OK, and France. Later in the day Art took binoculars and looked up at the Requin's vertical antenna and noticed that one of the clamps did not look right. The Requin had recently been re-painted and he surmised the painters disturbed the antenna which accounted for the poor performance on 40 meters and the sub-optimal performance on the other bands. Hopefully he can work on the antenna and get it fixed for our next trip down there, possibly in June. Also in tuning across the bands, it was apparent that propagation was not very good on top of the antenna problem.

I'll have more to say about the subpedition tomorrow, but now it's time to go get my streak QSO(s) and then close out our NAQCC April sprint results. -30-

Saturday, April 16, 2016 8:43 PM - I just took a look at Mercury for the second evening in a row. If you've never spotted this elusive planet, tonight would be a good night to try if it is as clear where you are as it is here. Just look toward the WNW about 10-15 degrees up in the sky, and there it will be pretty much all alone in that part of the sky. It's around magnitude -0.2 so it's a little brighter than Rigel in Orion which is at 0.13.

I really wanted to get my DX streak QSO this evening, so I could relax on the subpedition to the Requin tomorrow. I did, working PP5KR in the MM contest, then also HC2GRC/P on IOTA SA-034 because I needed the G and R in his call for the NAQCC challenge. Now I need only a single letter 'I' to complete the April challenge. One letter in 15 days shouldn't be that hard to get, especially since it is not that rare in call signs.

Continued beautiful weather today - sunny in the upper 70s. So if you bet I spent a lot of time outside, you can collect your winnings. I took 2 medium walks and one long walk along with doing some shopping. Then in between I continued cleaning up the back yard. It's almost ready now for planting.

I think my pepper plants are aching to get outside. They have two fully opened flowers now and a lot of budding flowers. I've been trying to pollinate them with Q-tips. We'll see how that works out. The tomatoes are also coming along and they are about the same as last year at this stage which means mid to late June probably for the first ripe tomatoes. -30-

Friday, April 15, 2016 8:32 PM - Someone wondered why only three choices in my poll this month. Simple answer. I took the three kinds of clubs relating to the material on my web site - CW and QRP. I came up with CW, CW/QRP, and QRP. Then I took the best (longest established, most members, most active, etc.) club in each category and came up with CW-FISTS, CW/QRP-NAQCC, QRP-QRP ARCI. Too complicated to try to include all CW and/or QRP clubs and would make the poll way too long.

Beautiful day today - sunny and 74 degrees. So a couple of rather long walks were taken, my grass got mowed and edged, and just generally hung around outside a while.

Right now I'm waiting for it to get a tad darker, then going to go out and look for Mercury. This is its best eastern elongation of the year this month.

Heard a couple European stations on 30 this evening, worked one easily - S57V. Didn't try the other. I'll save him for tomorrow's streak QSO - maybe. -30-

Thursday, April 14, 2016 9:07 PM - A busy day today with working on sprint logs, enjoying a beautiful day walking and cleaning up the back yard. Also visiting the Ol' Station Marketplace. I've mentioned that before, but in case you are new here, it's an old railroad station about a block from here that has been converted into what some would perhaps unkindly call a junk shop. Kind of like a large garage or yard sale indoors open once a week (Thursdays) where you are liable to find anything at all at very reasonable prices. I got a Dick Van Dyke DVD, an old clock, a plane (carpentry), and an old Wizard of Oz book, all for 3 dollars. The lady who runs it opens it in April and it is open through December each year. She got a lot of new things in over the three months it was closed. I didn't have a lot of time to look at everything today, but I plan to spend more time next week seeing what I can find. Oh, the old clock was for the innards to replace those from a close to 100 year old mantle clock I have here. It stopped about a year ago, and now today with its new works, it's like finding an old friend again.

My regular streak QSO this evening came from NAQCC president Paul N8XMS who answered my 40M CQ. Then it was CN8KD on 30 for the DX streak, followed by a QSB shortened QSO with old friend VE3OU, and finally NAQCC member NF5U on 40M.

I posted a new poll today also. I hope you'll take time to cast your vote. See the link above.

And I guess that's about it. No time for more ham history, but I hope to get back to it. Actually most of the recent history can be found in the diary and scattered around the web site. Maybe I can just point out where to look for certain phases of my history. -30-

Wednesday, April 13, 2016 10:33 AM - I'm trying to get caught up on some other things so I can start work on cross-checking our sprint logs from last night. Already some 60-70 in the email hopper.

It was a great sprint for me with my lowered local noise level of late. Nice to have S3-4 noise vs. S8-9 now. So I set a goal of 50 QSOs and a secondary goal of 60 before the sprint. I wound up in between those figures at 56 QSOs from 24 SPCs, both my second best figures for one of our NAQCC sprints. Lowered noise sure makes a difference. It was also nice that 54 of the 56 were with NAQCC members. Our membership is certainly growing.

I had a question via email from Dennis N1IMW, and I thought my answer to him might be of interest to others as well. He asked, "Hi John.... I am just catching up in your diary... have you worked any national parks on the air? Dennis. N1imw". I'm guessing he meant have I made any QSOs with other stations operating from national parks, and not have I activated any national parks myself.

I answered as follows: I really am not into parks, SOTA, IOTA, and things like that. My activities consist of, not necessarily in the following order: Chasing DX trying for new band countries or overall new countries and maintaining my DX streak, maintaining my regular streak, chasing new prefixes, working our NAQCC challenges and sprints, participating in FISTS activities, and rag chewing. I also like to operate portable a few times a year with Mike, Don, Tom, and now Ken. We'll be operating portable from the sub Requin this coming Sunday, the 17th. More on that later.

OK, now on to a couple more things, brunch, and then preparing for log cross-checking. -30-

Tuesday, April 12, 2016 8:10 PM - I'm hoping my noise level is low tonight as it has been now for a couple weeks. If so I hope to put in a full two hour effort in our NAQCC sprint. So I'm getting a lot of things out of the way now.

I got my DX QSO from HC1WDT on 20 meters at 0002Z. So the DX streak is taken care of. I've got GenLog set up for the sprint. I'll be getting my temperature readings just before 8:30 tonight. So I guess I'm about ready to go in the sprint. I just hope I don't turn on the rig and find my noise has returned.

More ham history in future entries. -30-

Monday, April 11, 2016 7:23 PM - As I move along in my history of my 53 years in ham radio, I know it will be interesting to me, and I hope to you, to take a look at the various rigs, antennas, and accessories I've used over the years.

I have not kept as good records as I should have, and the following is just a (very) rough draft of what I hope will be a more accurate accounting of my equipment as I dig through more old records. Most of the following is from notes in my computer log that were copied from my paper logs. Here is what I have so far with the dates I am sure of marked with an asterisk.
7/6/1963 - Inverted V 40M antenna
9/1/1999 - Kenwood TS-570D received in mail and first QSO made with KO1C on 40M*.
6/12/2007 - Ten Tec rig from Don
9/23/2007 - Bencher paddle from Mike
10/20/2007 - Homebrew Straight Key used first time in QSO with KP2Z on 30M*.
12/13/2007 - Morse Express key from Geo N1EAV as a Christmas gift
4/14/2008 - First QSO with Mike's TS-480SAT - N4MIO on 40M*. 
4/16/2008 - Mike loaned me his TS-480SAT which I used as my main rig till getting the K2*.
2/16/2009 - Mike's KX-1 built.
8/27/2009 - Received a Vibroplex Lightning Bug from Larry W2LJ as a gift.
9/12/2009 - 1st bug QSO - K1LGQ on 80M*.
12/26/2009 - Winkeyer Christmas present from Mike
8/23/2010 - Begali Blade Key and Magnetic Classic Paddle (from NAQCC presented at Skyview hamfest)*.
9/1/2010 - Tuthill 80M rig from Don
10/10/2011 - Elecraft K2 on loan from Mike. Purchased from him subsequently.
7/23/2012 - Homebrew paddle
8/29/2012 - Altoids homebrew paddle
9/21/2012 - KX-1 from Mike?
10/21/2012 - My Elecraft KX3 used first time - KC2EGL on 80M. 29 other QSOs that day with the KX3*.
Man, that needs a lot of work. A lot of equipment is missing, some dates are very questionable, etc. I don't know if I'll ever get it as accurate as my perfectionist nature will be happy with, but I plan to work on it to flesh it out and correct it. I should be able to get more info from my diary and also the NAQCC newsletters. Those will be what I search next.

Getting close to 0000Z now and time to try for my streak QSO(s). HA3FTA on 17M extended the DX streak this morning. -30-

Sunday, April 10, 2016 9:16 PM - Just a short entry tonight again. Busy day today with still some things left that need doing.

No DX QSO this evening. Heard a couple EU stations on 40, but they were either busy in QSO or didn't hear me when they called CQ. So the little pink note comes out in front of the computer to reming me I need to hit the bands for DX during the day tomorrow if I don't work any later tonight.

I never did get on again last evening nor during the night. Hope I didn't blow a chance for Asia on 40 meters.

OK, got to get going now. -30-

Saturday, April 09, 2016 8:38 PM - It's now 1995 in my ham history. Not a lot to talk about in that year. I did have my first QSOs ever on 12 and 160 meters. My first QSO on 160 was with K3KLC on February 15. I'm surprised at my 160 meters totals for the 1990s. I didn't remember being that active there. However it was pretty much at a sunspot minimum and 160 is always better when the sunspots are not that active. I made the following number of 160 meters QSOs from 1995 through 1998 - 427, 716, 381, 269. Of course a lot of those were in the ARRL and CQ 160 meters contests, but there were a lot of non-contest QSOs as well. My first 17 meters QSO was with NQ9L on June 28. Unlike 160, I had very few 12 meter QSOs for 1995 through 1998 - 7, 4, 6, 30. Pretty much the same cause as my large number on 160. Sunspots - low number good for low bands, not good for high bands. My 12 meters QSOs didn't really increase until the sunspot maximum years. More on that in a future entry. We're dealing mainly with 1995 tonight.

My overall QSO total in 1995 was my second highest since I started up again in 1993 and my third highest overall. 1999 - 5,615, 1966 - 5,542, 1995 - 4,777. I really got into contesting that year and stayed active the next few years entering most every bigger contest that came along, be they DX, state QSO parties, band contests, club contests, whatever.

My DX didn't increase all that much. I only made 444 DX QSOs in 1995 and that stayed pretty much the same through 1997. Again due largely to sunspots. But also still I hadn't reached that point where I had all that much confidence in being a successful DXer with my minimal QRP setup.

I did reach DXCC on February 28, 1995 when I worked my 100th country in Finland from OH2LLZ on 17 meters. Kind of surprising it took that long to work Finland. But then the order of countries worked overall takes me by surprise as I look back at my list worked by date. Some of the countries I worked after #100, I now have a few hundred QSOs with like Asiatic Russia and Japan to mention a couple. Kind of like Maryland for my WAS that I mentioned previously.

Enough history to digest for this entry. More to follow.

An easy DX streak QSO this evening. LY2NK on 40 meters in the Gagarin Cup contest. I also heard a couple weak Asians in the contest on 40. I'd love to work them, but couldn't yet. Maybe later tonight, during the night or around sunrise. The Japan JIDX contest is this weekend also, so maybe I can snag a JA on 40 and finally get the 40M WAC monkey off my back. -30-

Friday, April 08, 2016 8:40 PM - OK, we're into 1993 in my ham history now. At that time another factor entered into the equation. I had some pretty bad back problems - pinched nerve, sciatica. That was pretty painful and kind of killed my newly returned enthusiasm for ham radio. Looking at my log, I see a gap from June 14, 1993 to January 5, 1994 with actually only one QSO in June 1993 and 3 in January 1994. In 1993, I had only 299 QSOs on 4 bands - 20 30 40 80. Then along came February 1994 and a renewal of full ham radio activity.

Eric continued to study for his ham license. He picked up an interest in the contesting aspect of ham radio. I recall he really enjoyed the state QSO parties and would like to follow the mobiles on a road map to try to figure out what county they would be hitting next. We tried the ARRL DX contest in February 1994, and that reinforced my belief that you could work DX with very little power. With Eric in the shack, I made 17 QSOs - not a lot - but better things were coming as far as DX goes. More about DX in a moment.

I've told this story before, but it bears repeating. Both Eric and I were (are) big sports fans, and sports records involve streaks of various kinds - consecutive games played (Lou Gehrig 2,130, broken later by Cal Ripken), consecutive games hitting safely (Joe DiMaggio 56, still unbroken), and so on. As we talked about streaks, Eric and I wondered how a streak could be applied to ham radio. It wound up being how many consecutive days a QSO could be made (using QRP, CW, simple antennas). That was some time after August 5, 1994 because I had to look back in my log to find that August 4, 1994 was the last day I hadn't made a QSO. Well, the rest of the streak is well known history as it is now at 7,919 consecutive days as I write this.

The next big event in 1994 was Eric getting his ham license. I still vividly remember us going to Butler to take the test, and how exciting it was for both of us when he passed. Another image etched in my mind was Eric coming to my front door and holding up his license to the little glass window for me to see. That was in December of 1994, perhaps the 23rd as that is my first QSO with him in my log.

My activity took a big leap in 1994. Briefly 3,359 QSOs, of which 332 were DX. That percentage of DX QSOs would steadily increase over the next several years.

1994 also "featured" my debut on some new (and old) ham bands. My first ever QSO on 10 meters was December 28, 1994 with Eric. Not a debut, but I returned to 15 meters on September 27, 1994 working HI8LC, the first time on that band since 1968. My first ever 17 meters QSO came on April 22, 1994 working HK3DDD. That left only 160, 60, 12, and 6 to be explored. 160 and 12 would come in 1995. And I'll pick up with that in another entry.

A super quick DX QSO this evening at 0000Z when I worked 4A1DX on 20 meters. Of course that's a secondary prefix for Mexico. 40 was unusually quiet. I only saw a very few signals on the panadapter for whatever reason. A few CQs on that band yielded nothing, so I went to 30 where K5FA answered my CQ, and we chatted for several minutes before the band changed and he disappeared. -30-

Thursday, April 07, 2016 9:00 PM - I'm going to take a day off from writing my ham history. I'll pick it up again tomorrow.

It took a little longer to get my DX QSO this evening, but I did make it when I worked 6Y5WJ on 30 meters at 0030Z.

It's looking more and more like someone switched March and April this year. Now there is a prediction of some accumulating s#$w tomorrow night. That's something we had just about none of in March. -30-

Wednesday, April 06, 2016 8:49 PM - I worked one of my favorite countries for my DX streak QSO this evening. Mongolia has always fascinated me for some reason, and the fascination was aided and abetted when I saw the movie Destination Gobi with Richard Widmark. After working JT1CO right at 0000Z on 14025, I now have 10 QSOs with Mongolia. Just after I worked him, he apparently became popular because I checked back following a 40M rag chew with Paul, AA1LL and JT1CO now was working split and had a pretty good pileup. I guess I caught him just starting up as he was simplex then and it took me only sending my call four times to easily work him. He was only about 569 here and gave me a 559. That's a new call from Mongolia adding to JT1DA, JT5DX, and JT1AA whom I worked previously. JT1AA providing half of the 10 JT QSOs. Right after the QSO I got to wondering why I can't work China if Mongolia is so fairly easy, as well as Asiatic Russia. China is a bit further away, but probably the real reason is there isn't much activity from China. However, when you get down to it, Mongolia doesn't have all that much activity either. Who knows? Maybe some day I will get China also. I've only even ever heard it 2 or 3 times. The last time a few days ago when I heard BG9NUD fairly strong, but he was chasing other DX.

I'll pause now to get my temperature readings, and when I come back, a bit more ham history.

I got acquainted with three neighbor kids around 1990 or so, one of whom was Eric who later became KB3BFQ. I've talked about him before in regard to my streak and other things. So I'm not going to dwell on that too much. I just want to say here that when Eric found out about ham radio, he more or less persuaded me to get my station back together again so he could see first hand what it was all about. So with his help, I re-activated my old homebrew transmitter, this time with a 6Y6 final tube that provided 5 or less watts output. That's when I became a 100% true QRPer according to the modern definition of QRP as 5 watts or less output power. At first it was kind of a Rube Goldberg setup that I'm not even going to try to describe here. It worked, and worked well. With Eric in the shack with me, my first QSO in my third period of activity was with K3DQ in MD (ironically my first QSO this time around would be with MD when it took me so long to work it for the first time back in the 60s). That was on 40 meters on February 15, 1993 at 1930Z. By the time February ended, I had 71 QSOs in the log, and I think the bug bit Eric pretty hard, and it wasn't long till he started studying to become a ham. As for me, I had all my enthusiasm back again that waned a bit along the way. Around that time, the radio station I worked at was sold and all the employees released so I retired. That was also just in time for me to be able to take more care of my ageing mother. It also gave me more time to pursue ham radio. And that somewhat sums up the beginning of phase three of my ham 'career'. More to follow. -30-

Tuesday, April 05, 2016 10:15 AM - No problem with the DX streak today. Day 1,032 is in the log, so let's pick up my 53 year ham history.

I started working at WPIT on April 16 (I think), 1969 and that had an immediate effect on the amount of my ham radio activity. Before that date, I had 18,508 QSOs. From that date through December 4, 1973, I made only 103 QSOs. Then I became inactive until my next QSO on June 17, 1981. That started a roughly 2 year period of activity. A quick stroll through my log looks like all the QSOs through November 2, 1982 were on 40 meters. (a later check shows 8 on 80 meters also at the beginning of the period) Then in November, I found out about the new 30 meter band and modified my VFO and xmtr so I could try out this new ham band. There was a tremendous amount of activity there as hams strived to be the first to work WAS, DXCC, etc. on the new band. I came to really love the band, and it remains a favorite to this very day. It was strange at first as there was a 'hole' where no ham activity was allowed. I think it was from 10109 through 10113 or something like that. I accidentally wandered into the hole and was quickly told about it by another ham. I made 243 QSOs there through March 29, 1983. Only 2 were DX, J88CI and F9OQ. But I still wasn't all that much into DX, still believing you needed more than the QRP/simple antennas setup I had to work DX.

Although not on 30 meters, but on 40, my beliefs about DX began to be altered in that early 80s time frame. Especially in September 1981 when I ran off a series of DX contacts using a short wire in my attic and a power INPUT of 12 to 30 watts to my 1625 final amp. The night (0500-0645Z) of September 17 particularly stands out. In that time I worked the European countries of SM, GM, F, G, EA, ON. All solid QSOs and all went past the all too common RST TU type of DX QSOs and included chatting about rig, wx, etc. Still the DX bug had not bitten all that hard and I only made 22 DX QSOs during my activity in the early 80s.

Most of my activity in that period still involved county hunting, rag chewing, and some contesting. Speaking of counties, it just popped into my mind that after many years, I finally worked neighboring county Clarion on 30 meters during that period. Kind of akin to taking so long to work neighboring state Maryland as mentioned in the previous installment of my diary. On September 23, 1983 the second period of ham radio activity came to an end for almost 10 years. I had 19,365 QSOs in my log as of that date.

I'll pick up the next installment and cover part of the period from 1993 to date then. -30-

Monday, April 04, 2016 12:07 PM - It looked for a while as if I was going to postpone my history comments and instead write a post-mortem for my DX streak today. However to paraphrase I forget who it was who said it (Mark Twain?), "The rumors of my demise are greatly exaggerated", rumors of my streak ending ceased when Marin 9A5M came along on 20 meters at 1600Z and very patiently hung with me till I got my DX QSO. It wasn't easy and he wasn't strong but it's just another of many examples that QRP/CW/simple antennas still work. It does take a bit more patience some days, and today took a lot. I checked every several minutes ever since I got up and didn't find anyone I could work. The strongest DX signals I heard were S4-S5 at very best except a couple who were stronger but chasing other DX and I couldn't even try them. Normally I wouldn't even hear them, but whatever my high noise was here seems to have gone away the past 10 days or so. Now it's down to S3-S4. Hope it stays that way.

So let's pick up a "Reader's Digest" version of my ham history after 53 years and 1 day of being a ham. After I got my General and had access to all the bands at that time, I dabbled a bit more into DX, but not very successfully. I completed my WAS after getting those 8 missing states I mentioned in the following order:
SD - K0QBC (9/15/63)
MD - K3JQU (11/10/63)
NM - W5CRF (11/17/63)
ID - W7KXJ (12/7/63)
HI - K4HSB/KH6 (12/14/63)
NV - K7SFN (5/22/64)
UT - K7HAJ (5/29/64)
AK - KL7CVX (6/1/64)
I still vividly remember getting Hawaii. It was on 80 meters at 0522Z which would be 22 minutes past Midnight my local time. I was so excited I ran to my parents bedroom to tell them of the feat. My dad was a mail truck driver who got up around 4-5 AM every day and I'm not sure he or my mother shared my excitement at that time of night.

Being a goal-oriented person, now I had to find something else to pursue besides states. Since I was not successful at DX, probably because I got discouraged and honestly believed you couldn't work DX running just 75 watts (input) with my minimal antennas (boy, did I eventually prove myself wrong), the next logical step seemed to be working USA counties. County hunting was fairly new at the time. I don't even think worked all counties #1 had been issued at that time, certainly not for CW, perhaps for SSB because of the CH net. I really got into that, especially with a lot of help and advice from Sue W9KSE, from whom I actually got most of what I knew about it. She told me of the USA-CA record book, POD 26, and the like. We had many late night QSOs talking about CH and other matters. Unfortunately she became a silent key at the young age of 31.

County hunting became my main interest in ham radio up until the late 60s or early 70s. During that time, I co-founded the CW version of the County Hunters Net with Dave WA8EOH. The story of that can be found in the County Hunting section of my web site, so I'm not going to repeat it here.

In 1969, I started work at WPIT, and that cut back greatly on my ham activity to the point where I became totally inactive starting in the early 70s and continuing into the early 80s.

Just before I became inactive, I became good friends with Dave VE3BMR (now VA3RJ). The two of us had many interests in common and had many LONG rag chew QSOs. I also made many other fast friends via our CW CH Net. I'm not going to list them here for fear I will leave someone out. Unfortunately many of them are now SKs as time took it's toll in the 50 years since we started the net. Hey, it just dawned on me that the net will be 50 years old on May 6 of this year. I'm going to work on something about that.

The next entry will cover the period in the early 80s that I was active again. -30-

Sunday, April 03, 2016 11:32 AM - Fifty three years ago today, I officially became a ham radio operator. As you see below, my license was dated April 3, 1963, but I probably didn't receive it until a few days later as April 8 is when I had my first QSO with the friend who took the Novice test with me, Larry KN3WWW. Anyway April 3 is the day on which I celebrate my anniversary of becoming a ham radio operator.

pix_diary_20160403_002 (71K)

Let's go back before that date now and reminisce on the steps leading up to my becoming a ham. I really don't remember things all that well, and I'm guessing at some things, but it doesn't really matter. It did go something like the following.

I got my first exposure to anything beyond simply "listening to" the radio one night while listening to Party Line with Ed and Wendy King on KDKA. That was a nightly ritual with me from 10 to Midnight. To this day it is the only radio talk show I ever followed regularly. It was great because the callers were totally screened and not even allowed to have their voices on the air. Ed or Wendy would simply paraphrase the content of the caller's message. That kept all the crap off the air that is heard in talk shows these days. Also it was pretty much totally non-controversial and totally informative. I loved it.

One night while listening, I happened to turn the dial a bit off 1020 and wound up on 1040 just in time to hear something like "... this is WHO in Des Moines, Iowa...". Iowa!!! Wow!!! Then I started tuning around some more and heard some more "DX" stations although I had no idea what DX meant at the time. Knowing a tiny bit about radio, I wondered if hooking a wire antenna to the radio would help me get even more stations. Again with my limited knowledge of radio then, I had no idea where to hook the antenna since it did not have any kind of antenna jack. It was just a plain ordinary table radio as shown in this picture taken today, still in the exact same position as it was way back then on the little night stand next to my bed. (I hate change.) The little "BEAT 'EM BUCS" sticker is from the 1960 baseball season when the Pirates eventually won the World Series in dramatic fashion over the Yankees that October:

pix_diary_20160403_001 (54K)

However I wound up connecting the antenna (perhaps to the oscillator section of the tuning capacitor?), it changed the tuning range of the radio and I heard my first SW station, Radio Switzerland International or whatever they were called at the time. Double and Triple WOW now! More fiddling around and tuning around and I heard these two fellows talking to each other like they were on the telephone. One said something like '...this is Red, W3CYG...". Now what is this all about?

My memory fails somewhat at this point, but eventually I wound up finding out about ham radio, probably from my school friend Larry who was a CB op at the time, but was thinking about getting a ham license. I thought that sounded neat. I didn't care for the goings on I was hearing on CB, so never did get interested in that. I found out how to go about getting a ham license, again probably from Larry. I didn't know about Morse Code yet. I still can not remember exactly how I went about learning the code other than that with whatever method, I learned it quickly.

Somewhere along here, my parents had gotten me a short wave receiver, a Hallicrafters SW-500 shown below which allowed me to hear SWBC and ham stations. So perhaps I used that to copy and learn the code, or maybe it was practice with Larry, or both.

pix_diary_20160403_003 (68K)

For accuracy, the picture is not of my unit since I was too lazy to go up to the attic to take a picture of it. However the unit pictured here is exactly the same as mine.

In early 1963, we both decided we were ready to take the Novice tests which consisted of copying (and sending) code at 5 WPM, along with a 20 (I think) question written test on theory and regulations. We contacted the aforementioned W3CYG and made arrangements for him to administer the tests to us. I remember this vividly. As we were preparing for the tests at Red's house he was fooling around sending snippets of code to relax us and get us ready for the test. I don't know if Larry caught this or not, but at one point Red sent "R U READY" or something similar. I said yes, and we got on to the tests. It took maybe a half hour or so, and Red checked our tests and said that it looked like we both passed. He did the paperwork and sent it off to the FCC. That was probably in March 1963 and after a couple weeks we got our licenses. I was KN3WWP and Larry was KN3WWW. I don't know why the gap in the calls. I would think they should have been consecutive. So now we were both ham radio operators.

Again my memory is vague about the events at that time. After all it is 53 years ago now, and I sometimes forget these days what I did yesterday or even earlier today. I know that Larry and I cobbled together a little transmitter for him using perhaps a 6L6 tube and some kind of crystal oscillator since Novices had to use only crystal controlled equipment at that time. I know I used my SW-500 as a receiver. It was as broad as the proverbial barn door as far as selectivity goes even with the regenerative BFO set as sharp as possible. I don't know just what I used as a transmitter at the very start, but it wasn't long before I built one from the ARRL Handbook which used a 6AG7 crystal oscillator and a 1625 amplifier. Perhaps I built that even before my license arrived and used it for my very first QSO. At any rate, the first QSO did come on April 8 as mentioned above. It was with Larry. QSOs were hard to come by for this fresh young Novice. I see only 5 QSOs during April 1963. Of course that was my senior year in high school and April and May were my last two months of high school so I did have other matters to take care of at that time. May however was better with 42 QSOs, all but 6 in the second half of the month. From there on, it got better and better. I had 438 QSOs as a Novice before I upgraded to General in mid-September of 1963.

My "career" as a Novice included the following:

438 QSOs
5 DX Countries - USA (many), Canada (VE3FMA/YL, VE3DTZ, VE3CKC), Puerto Rico (WP4BOJ), Canal Zone (KZ5EHN), Bahamas (VP7ACF)
42 States - All but Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Maryland, Nevada, New Mexico, South Dakota, Utah
Only 1 continent - North America
3 QSOs on 15 - KZ3EHN, WP4BOJ, K3DFZ
435 QSOs on 40 meters.

My time on 15 came to an abrupt end with TVI. Most TVs at that time had an IF around 21 MHz, and as you know, I live in a crowded neighborhood. Need I say more. W3CYG suggested I postpone my DXing till I got my General and could use 20 meters. So that was that, and I headed to Pittsburgh to take the General, passed, and became a General with the arrival of that license on September 14, 1963.

I'll pick up the story in a more condensed version in upcoming diary entries.-30-

Saturday, April 02, 2016 9:25 AM - As regular diary readers know very well, I love statistics, and also trivia about statistics. Virtually all my interests in life have some kind of ties to those things. One is the NCAA Basketball Tournament aka March Madness. The setup of the tournament lends itself very nicely to statistical analysis. I listed some stats a few diary entries ago. In this entry I have three trivia questions. Of course you can look up the answers via a Bing search on the Internet, but it's probably a lot more fun just trying to see how many answers you can come up with from memory. If you're at all interested in college basketball you should come up with at least half that way.

In a side note before the questions, Bruce mentioned to me the other night about a list he saw from (I think) 1997 of the 50 greatest pro basketball players of all time (up to that year) according to a committee of basketball "experts". Well, that set me to thinking. I'd come up with names I thought should have been on the list and check with Bruce. Being a St. Louis Hawks fan in the 50s and 60s up until they moved to Atlanta, the first name I came up with was Bob Pettit who of course was on the list. Over the next few days every so often a name would come to mind. I still haven't looked at the list myself. I love testing my memory and trying to figure out how that committee was thinking. I haven't done so yet, but I may write down all those I've remembered and see how many of the 50 I have or can come up with.

OK, enough of that. On to the questions.

1. Name the six teams that have made 40 or more appearances in the tournament since it began back in 1939. I don't think there are any surprises here. At least the teams who made it. There might be a couple who didn't make it that you think should be there.

2. Name the ten teams that have 5 or more #1 seedings since the field was expanded to 64 teams in 1985. I think a couple may surprise. I'm not sure.

3. Name the ten teams who made 5 or more appearances in the Final Four since the expansion to 64 teams in 1985. One surprised me until I realized their greatness was mostly pre-1985.

OK, that's it. Go to it if you're interested. I'll have the answers sometime after this year's final game on April 4.

In another matter, the DX streak lives. I worked 8P6DR easily on 40 meters last night at 0450Z just before going to bed. -30-

Friday, April 01, 2016 9:15 PM - Just a couple brief comments tonight as I'm running behind after trying almost an hour to work some DX with no success. I did work KC2KWA and W0W for the big streak, but the DX streak is on hold till the morning or afternoon probably. This is the weekend of the Polish DX contest as it's the first weekend in April, so that should help.

For tomorrow's entry, I hope to have some March Madness trivia, then on Sunday, the 53rd anniversary of getting my ham license, I plan on looking back over those 53 years which will probably take up a few entries. So see you then. -30-