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Wednesday, July 30, 2014 8:42 PM - I had a call from Tom WY3H a little while ago. He is now settled in down in Georgia after an event filled moving trip. It was a very interesting story and he said it is posted on his Facebook page. Now I don't use Facebook at all here and have no desire to, so I can't tell you how to get there, but if you know and can get there, it makes for an interesting story. Kind of sounded like he was Joe Btfsplk from the Li'l Abner cartoons by Al Capp. He sounded happy about the whole thing though, and I think the move may turn out to be good for him. In addition to telling me about the moving experience, he also wanted to try a sked on 30 and/or 40 meters. Unfortunately other than perhaps hearing a '3H' very weakly in the noise on 30, I didn't hear him calling me at all. We'll have to try again some day. The bands weren't in as good a shape as last night although the SF and A numbers were better. Propagation is not rocket science.

I did finish out another month of DX QSOs though which makes 16 straight months I've worked some DX each day or 518 straight days. Tonight it was EJ0PL in an easy QSO on 17 meters. One call, one repeat, solid exchange of info. I also heard W1AW/0 in SD very strong on 20 and tried briefly to work him, but couldn't break the pile-up. Had I needed SD, I would have tried harder and longer.

Another cool day today with some rain showers. In fact I'm hearing some thunder right now although I don't see much of anything on the radar except a tiny little area from which a storm might be developing. Guess I'll go out and get my weather readings before it hits. -30-

Tuesday, July 29, 2014 8:34 PM - Well, I'm in a new rut now. A quick DX QSO followed by a W1AW QSO. Three evenings in a row for that now. Tonight's suspects were AM08BLV and W1AW/4 in KY. I also 'worked' 3E2000PC on 12 meters, but he had me as K3WWW so I didn't log him.

Yes, I said 12 meters. What I 'predicted' a few days ago about the higher bands opening up in response to the rising solar flux is happening. 17 meters was full of signals. 15 meters had an abundance including some short skip (W1AW in KY). 12 meters had just the one station, but that's more than it's had lately. So once again I say, give the high bands a try in the next few days before the current sunspot group rotates out of view and the SF probably goes back below 100 again. We don't know now if the current sunspot group will survive another rotation. It is weaker than it was last time around.

A beautiful day today and I was outside quite a bit. Early today I was out talking with Bruce waiting for Ange to come to work on the garden. Then I helped him for a while. After some lunch, I cleaned some grass (and mostly clover) out from between the sidewalk bricks. Later in the afternoon I cut my grass and edged the back yard and garden with the weed eater. Finally a walk and shopping trip this evening.

In looking at the river, It has cleared up from the muddy state it was in last evening and strangely hasn't risen in response to the heavy rain we had. So possibly if the weather is again good tomorrow and I'm in the mood, perhaps a trip to the river with fishing pole is in store. That will be the first time since April, I believe. -30-

Monday, July 28, 2014 9:05 PM - Tonight was pretty much like last night. At least on the bands. The only thing is the DX QSO came a little quicker in the form of E72NATO on 20M at 0001Z. Then I went searching to get a backup W1AW/1 RI QSO just in case the first one didn't work out. Strange things do happen. I think it was Paul N8XMS who told me one of the logs from one of the first state operations got lost or wiped out somehow. So it doesn't hurt to get a state on 2 or 3 bands at least as insurance. Anyway so far I do have a couple QSOs that aren't in the LotW, but I did have backups for those states at the time. I think those may have actually been QSOs with K3WW, and the timing seemed right and QRN/QSB made copy of W1AW difficult at the time. Anyway I'm virtually certain that when I upload my July log to LotW, I'll wind up with 49 states verified there. Then it will be all up to Maine to finish things off.

The propagation figures are in with the SF still rising, but not as fast as it did the last rotation so my outlook of another peak of 200 or so may not come to pass, but still the bands are gradually getting a little better each evening. Activity is still down though despite the improved conditions.

A little explanation of "At least on the bands." The bands were the same, but the weather sure wasn't. Not long after I wrote the entry last night, the rain started again and we got about 1.35 inches in not much more than an hour. Thats PI inches of rain total the past 2+ days - 3.14 inches. Now tonight it's still cloudy, but the rain is over and it feels like mid-fall instead of mid-summer with a 9PM temperature of just 62 degrees and strong breezes making it feel even colder.

It's been confirmed and barring any last minute changes, the WPA chapter of the NAQCC will be operating from the submarine USS Requin in Pittsburgh in the form of Mike KC2EGL, Don K3RLL, Tom WB3FAE and me. That will be on August 14 probably starting around 10AM or so. Full details will be in the August NAQCC newsletter with a reminder being sent about the subpedition to our NAQCC email list the day of or day before. -30-

Sunday, July 27, 2014 9:12 PM - If you take a look at my propagation chart, you'll see that this sun rotation is tracking very closely the last rotation in Solar Flux numbers. If it continues to do so, we may see another brief period of 200+ SF around August 3-5 or so. Keep that in mind and try to reserve some air time those days, just in case it does happen. Maybe we'll even see an opening on Six meters again.

Meanwhile the bands are already starting to pick up. There was a lot more strong DX tonight on 20 and 17 and I worked Gena UA9MA fairly easily on 20M not long after 0000Z. Then I mostly just listened for about a half hour or so, trying SF2014ECC without luck and working W1AW/9 on a new band - 30M.

We had some very heavy rain today totalling 1.65 inches from several 'cloudbursts' that included some nice lightning displays. I guess lightning displays are 'nice' as long as they don't strike too close to home nor do any damage to speak of where they do strike. I never did get a chance to go out for a walk nor get out much further than my back yard to pick off the dead daylilly flowers and straighten up a couple pepper plants that the storms knocked over. At least I shouldn't have to water the garden for several days now. The same with helping Ange water his garden. -30-

Saturday, July 26, 2014 9:29 PM - The bands were a little different this evening. DX signals were stronger, BUT suffered from rapid QSB. A station would be 599 when I called, then when they came back (always to someone else, it seemed), they might be as low as an S3. I called several different European stations in the IOTA contest with no answer. So I went to 40 and worked a USA station in the contest for the big streak. Finally I found a DX station that seemed immune to the QSB and stayed at a pretty constant S7-8. After waiting through a few other stations working him, it was finally my turn and I put day 514 of the DX streak in my log. Oh, who was it? LZ5R who got me after just one repeat and copied my number with no repeat necessary.

It may continue to get a little better over the next few day as the SF today was 117, the highest it has been since July 13 - two weeks ago. AND it looks like on the 360 degree view of the Sun on my propagation page that the very active region that raised the SF about 3 weeks ago to over 200 is about to rotate into view again. Let's hope it fires up the bands as it did the last rotation, AND that folks know it, and get on those bands which didn't seem to happen as much as it should have the last round. -30-

Friday, July 25, 2014 9:01 PM - Well, another re-run this evening but with a slightly different ending. No workable DX to be found so I went after W1AW/9 on 40M for my regular streak QSO and got him with a single call. Then as usual back to the search for DX. I was kind of waiting for that one strong signal to show up as it has now for the past 5 evenings or so, but it didn't happen. So I went after one weak station. I wasn't even sure of his call because of QSB and QRN, but I called and got a K3?. I sent my call twice and he came back with K3WWP 559. I gave him a generous 579, and then we traded names successfully. His was Marek. I still wasn't sure of his call beyond OK1MV. There was something after that, but each time he got to that point in his call, either QSB or QRN or both interfered. Finally after I listened a half dozen or so more times, I got it. It was OK1MV/P. Maybe getting ready for the IOTA contest this weekend. I thought the contest might have to be my saviour for the DX streak when it looked like I wasn't going to get my DX for day 513 this evening. It still may have to be for day 514 on Sunday. I might get in the contest anyway as I often find some new band country or new prefix in that one. I've even gotten a couple of new overall countries from it.

Paul N8MXS, our NAQCC manager and I have been following each other's progress toward our W1AW WAS awards. He still needs a couple make up states plus ME. I only need ME to wind up. Anyway he posed an interesting statement in his email today about me probably making WAS in a single contest some time. That turned my mind to working. I couldn't quite remember if I had or if I had just come close and missed by one state. So I researched it and found I did get a WAS in the 1999 ARRL SS contest and missed a clean sweep of all ARRL sections by 5 NNY, VI, BC, QC, and MB. Then I was curious about how close I have come to a DXCC in a contest and had to research that as well. My closest was 93 countries in the 2011 CQWW DX contest.

Well, the river is finally down to good fishing level, and perhaps if the expected rain this weekend doesn't raise it again, I might get a chance to go early next week. That is, if I still remember how to fish. HI. This is by far the latest in the season I've gone without catching a fish since I started to fish again in the early 90s.

I took a couple good walks today as it was sunny and in the upper 70s. Actually the high was 82 but most of the time it was in the 70s. It was pretty chilly for July early this morning at 50 degrees. Most of the daily low records for July are in the middle 40s with a range of 40 to 51. In fact I see that 50 reading breaks the old record of 51 for the 25th of July. That 40 record came in the strange year of 1988 when the month was very dry with mostly clear skies. That led to very wide ranges of temperature each day. Only a couple low reading including the 40 and a lot (11) of all time daily high records ranging up to 104 degrees which stood as our all time high temperature until we high 107 in 2011. The mean daily range of temperature in July 1988 was 30.5 degrees or 6.5 degrees above the normal of 24.0 degrees. -30-

Thursday, July 24, 2014 9:04 PM - A nice day again today. I helped Ange water his garden, then weeded and watered mine later in the day. Only went for one walk. Should have done a couple more.

Conditions pretty much the same again this evening on the bands. No DX to be found at first so I worked KB4MNG to keep the big streak going as I approach the 20 year mark in about 10 days now. Then I searched and found ZF1DX, but I just couldn't seem to work him. Apparently he has a very directional beam as most of the folks he was working were deep into Europe and some Asiatic Russians. Finally though after about a half hour of on/off trying, I got him. Even the W1AW stations weren't all that strong tonight like last night. Well, except for W1AW/1 in RI who was pretty good again on 20 meters. -30-

Wednesday, July 23, 2014 8:11 PM - Let me tell you, it just don't get any easier. At 2359, I heard W1AW/1 booming in and got him easily. At 0003, I heard W1AW/9 and after realizing I turned off split and turned it back on, I got him with a single call and a couple repeats. That's 49 states down and Maine to go the end of August. All except these latest two are verified in the LotW, and both were solid QSOs, so I have no worries about them. OK, then at 0006, I found the one strong DX station (interesting how each of the past four nights, I've heard only one strong DX station) in MJ0IKL and worked him after about 4 other stations. So that's 511 days now for DX.

Other than that it was a changeable day. Hot and humid till early to mid afternoon with a high of 88 and humidity in the 70s. Then Canada sent us some cold air and the temperature has dropped steadily since then down to a current 71 degrees. The humidity is still high at 73%, but that will take longer to drop since there was so much moisture in the air.

I went for a walk a little while ago and it felt really nice so I decided to do a bit of shopping while I was out. Right now I've got the house open to cool it down to prepare for the next hot spell whenever it comes. The inside temp dropped from 79 to 74 now.

I was kind of expecting a visit from Mike this evening as it's a fourth Wednesday which is the local ham club meeting night and he usually drops in after the meeting. However I haven't heard from him in a couple weeks now. Wonder if he's been kidnapped by aliens? HI -30-

Tuesday, July 22, 2014 9:09 PM - One of our warmer days this year with a high of 92 and pretty humid. Fortunately my house hasn't really warmed up all that much yet. I don't think it's been in the 80s inside yet this year or if so, only for a couple days here and there. My big project today was going to the library (air-conditioned) to do some work on our computer club computer. Most of the time was taken up with an upgrade from 8.1 to '8.1 Update' as it is called. Another member was there with me and while the upgrade was going on, we got a couple lessons ready for our August club meeting.

Then just a little while ago, I picked off the dead daylillies from my plants. It's amazing how they work. Each flower only lasts one day, then they are 'magically' replaced by a whole new bunch of flowers for the next day. I must pick off at least 100 dead flowers each day during their peak season which is happening right now.

Before that I took a trip to the store. Seems like there is always something to get every day since I have to walk to the store, so I can't really stock up all that much like I could when I was driving.

Right before that, working backwards, I got on the air to see what the W1AW situation was. As expected, huge unruly pileups right now, so outside of just a couple calls, I didn't hang around to work them. I'll do that later in the week. Like the past couple nights, it took a while to find some workable DX, yet for the third night in a row, I finally found a strong easily workable DX station. Tonight it was EI/SP3CW whom I got after waiting through 3 other stations. That's 510 days of DX now. -30-

Monday, July 21, 2014 8:48 PM - The day is different, the story the same, the times and calls different. Tonight it was a QSO with KE4QZB to keep the main streak going since there was no workable DX to be found. After that QSO, I searched, and searched, and se.... for a DX QSO since tomorrow I would be busy a good part of the day. Finally I found a very strong OE3XMA on 20 meters and worked him with one call and one repeat. So the DX streak is still going at 509 days now, but it's getting rough. The SF is creeping back up now and is at 90 today so that may help things if it keeps going up. Actually I think a lot of folks must just look at the SF and A index and if it doesn't look good, they don't bother getting on the air. There have been some very strong DX signals the past few days with the SF in the 80s, BUT not very many of them - few and far between as the saying goes. -30-

Sunday, July 20, 2014 9:06 PM - I'll make thie brief as I want to try to finish the cross-checking of our NAQCC sprint logs tonight. Once again it was hard to find any DX at all so I solidified my main streak with a 40 meter QSO from Nick KA3SJK early in the 0000Z hour, then searched, and searched, and se.... for some DX so I wouldn't have to look during the day tomorrow. Finally I found IZ4ZZB who was pretty strong on 17 meters. It took a few calls to get his attention, but once started it was a solid QSO for about 5 minutes and the DX streak continues with the SF still in the 80s. -30-

Saturday, July 19, 2014 8:28 PM - Here's my soapbox comments from the NAQCC European Chapter July challenge, "FINALLY!! It took a LONG time to find and work that final letter "U". Did all Ukrainians, Russians, and Serbs go on a two week break. It took almost that long to get the final letter after getting all the others fairly quickly early in the month. Thanks UA1CE for helping me finish up another great NAQCC European Chapter challenge at last. This may be a record for the latest in a month for me to finish one. But hey, I did finish and that is what counts. Now I'm looking forward to the Formula 1 challenge in August although my favorite driver Sebastian Vettel is not having a very good year thus far. Thanks to all for the contacts, not only UA1CE. This is the first challenge in which I've used a station from Albania."

I'm glad that is out of the way now. I always say antennas are not rocket science. Now I don't think propagation is either. The last two evenings with the solar flux down in the 80s and the sun spotless, I've worked DX just as easy as when the solar flux was in the 200s and the sun looked like a teenager with severe acne. I got AM03NO right as the clock turned 0000Z, then went looking for the "U" mentioned above and found UA1CE at 0009Z. I had to wait through a couple other stations to get him and had to repeat my call a couple times until he said ONLY K3? KN which shut up the QRM from the non K3 stations. I always admire and congratulate DXers who do that whether it is me they are trying to work or someone else. So I'm now a week past the 500 day mark for the DX streak. I could have also worked several other DX stations this evening, but I quit after getting UA1CE.

Next immediate goals are to get RI and IN from W1AW for states #48 and #49. They will be activated Wednesday at 0000Z. Also to make it to 20 years for my main streak which will happen in just a couple weeks now. Then the NAQCC August challenges also. There is always something to keep my interest high in this great hobby. Oh, and I can't forget the NAQP in August plus a possible operation from the sub USS Requin, and an operation from the Skyview hamfest near the end of August in which I (plus Mike, Don, and Tom) get to operate QRP from a HUGE antenna farm just to see what it is like. Then into September with the special Honor Nancy WZ8C FISTS/NAQCC sprint. It just goes on and on. -30-

Friday, July 18, 2014 7:00 PM - ADDENDUM at 8:45PM - What? Me? Worry? I found out there was no need to. At 0001Z I worked JH0INP on 15M. It wasn't a solid QSO, but he definitely got my call right. Then it was CR5W and EW8DJ on 20M, both easy ones. So you can work DX despite what I say in the earlier part of this entry here.

Tom W3TLN pointed out some discouraging news today. For the first time since August 14, 2011, the sunspot number was at zero as the sun cleaned up all its 'blemishes'. See here for more info. That does not bode well for continuing my DX streak although as in 2011, the zero count is probably just an isolated incident and the sunspots will pick up again. In fact as I mentioned in an earlier entry, in looking at the 360 degree animated image of the sun on my Propagation page, I see still a lot of spots on what is the side of the sun facing away from earth right now. If they last, they will start to rotate onto the side facing the earth in a couple days now. In looking back at the other numbers for August 14, 2011, I see the SF was 88 and the A index was 8. That's close to today's reading which is 89/4. Looking at my log for that date, it looks like it was a weekend with some sort of DX contest (WAE I would guess), and I did work 10 European stations, so even without spots on the sun, DX is still possible. Since this is a weekend coming up, let me see if there are any DX contests to help me get my DX on Saturday and Sunday. Nope, I don't see any contests that could be of any help. I'll just have to rough it out, I guess.

We made it to 100 logs for our NAQCC sprint once again despite widespread complaints of poor conditions from many parts of the country. We stand at 102 right now with still a couple days of reporting time left. -30-

Thursday, July 17, 2014 8:15 PM - I did what I said and went for 20 QSOs in the sprint, then hung it up. That was a lot better than fighting my local QRN for a full two hours. However it did take an hour and 38 minutes to make it to 20 so I didn't really save all that much time away from the noise. I'm pretty sure I'm going to make that SOP for our sprints for a while. Maybe if the local noise gets fixed or goes away I'll go back to a full effort again.

The bands were poor again this evening so I went for and worked W1AW/4 in SC for my big streak QSO. Then I found Rey CO6RD on 30 meters and got him with a single call for my DX streak QSO. I have a feeling though that the DX streak days are numbered and it won't be long before it just takes too much time to find and work a DX station. If you look at my propagation page, you'll see the current face of the Sun looks fairly devoid of spots. But if you look at the 360 degree view of the Sun at the bottom of the page, it looks like the sunspots that gave us the SF over 200 several days ago will rotate back into view hopefully with the same results.

I also checked the bands in late afternoon and found the same conditions then.

A nice cool summer day today so I took a couple good walks and did some yard work also. Supposed to be the same tomorrow although a few degrees warmer. -30-

Wednesday, July 16, 2014 5:01 PM - I came very close to giving up the DX streak today. I just couldn't find anyone who was workable. Either they were very very weak so that I probably couldn't even copy well enough to hear if it was me they were answering - or - the stronger stations were all chasing something else (W1AW?) and not looking for answers themselves. I was wasting a lot of good time and was just about to pronounce an end to the DX streak at 502 days, when along came one more (not very good) chance. ZY14RR was calling CQ on 15 meters, not very strong plus as I mentioned in a previous entry he seemed to have a lot of trouble hearing me at all several times. Well, this time I called and got him on the first try to extend the streak yet another day. I'm thinking of another goal now if it doesn't prove too time consuming. I'd like to continue at least long enough to get a DX QSO on each day in 2014. We'll see.

Continuing on the DX theme, I received the following from the NAQCC European Chapter today:

pix_diary_20140716_001 (51K)

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.

pix_diary_20140714_001 (108K)pix_diary_20140714_002 (40K)

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:

pix_diary_20140713_003 (30K)

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:

pix_diary_20140713_001 (39K)pix_diary_20140713_002 (36K)

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 -

pix_diary_20140712_001 (13K)

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.

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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!!!

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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.

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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?

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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-