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.
Friday, November 27, 2015 10:04 PM - So CW is dead, is it. Anyone who thinks that should listen to 40 meters right now. I don't think in my 52 years of hamming, I've ever heard any CW band as crowded. I'm not sure just how the analogy might work, but it makes me think of W.C. Fields saying something like the theater was so crowded you couldn't clap sideways, you had to clap up and down. That would be better with a video of Fields, but maybe you get the picture. Or maybe you could say it's like rush hour on a normal work day in a big city that is also hosting a football game, baseball game, some awards ceremony, etc. on that same day.
It was not easy making QSOs amongst all that high power competition. I only have 17 QSOs so far, and most of those are on 20 where it is not quite so crowded. I wasn't really in a contesting mood this weekend, but I got in the mood not long after starting despite the crowds. I just hope the high bands are good tomorrow morning, afternoon and early evening.
Conditions were unusual in a couple other ways as well. My normally sound pipeline to certain areas of the world just wasn't working this evening. Normally I can work KH6LC and other KH6 stations easily with just one or two calls, but not tonight. The same with northwest Africa and adjacent islands like CU EA8 CT3. Not even a question mark from any of them.
Then 20 was a bit unusual after the first hour or so. Virtually no activity below 14030, but quite a bit between 14030 and 14060.
I also lost about an hour's operating time when my neighbor called me for some help. I didn't mind that because it is more important to help someone than to contact a bunch of DX stations. Still all of the above helped (hindered) me from getting off to much of a good start.
At least I got some DX for another day, and will surely do so again the second day of the contest.
Otherwise today was perhaps a record setting warm day with a high of 68 so I took advantage and put up my outside Christmas lights, cleaned some windows, and brought my tree down from the attic along with the ornaments but I haven't decorated it yet. I'll probably do that on Monday. -30-
Thursday, November 26, 2015 7:39 PM -
Yes, and I hope you had as much to be thankful for today as the very happy turkey. I certainly did after the past couple days. First reaching the 1,000 day mark in my DX streak Tuesday evening local time. Second having a great day with Mike on Wednesday with our subpedition to the USS Requin and just hanging out the rest of the day after that. Third having my great neighbors Nancy, Bruce, and Jeff inviting me along for Thanksgiving dinner at Ponderosa. Of course also getting the great feedback on the 1,000 days from you, my faithful diary readers. There are a lot more things also, but I won't delve into them here.
I guess I could add being thankful for two more days of DX making it 1,002 now after working HA3FTA last evening on 40 meters and C6AUM this evening on 30.
Well, you're probably all too full to even do much reading this evening, so I'll close the entry now after saying thanks to each and every diary reader for all you've done over the years, whatever it may have been from simply reading the diary regularly all the way through becoming good friends through correspondence relating to diary content. -30-
Wednesday, November 25, 2015 6:21 PM - It seems there is either too little or too much to write about here in the diary. Today is definitely a too much day with my 1,000 day DX streak and our subpedition to the Requin to be written about.
First of all, I was delighted to receive several congratulatory messages on the streak, and here is a list of those who sent messages one way or the other. Sincere thanks to each and every one listed.
I want to single out one special message. Click here to hear it in a new window.
KB3BFQ has been a good friend of mine since around 1990 when he lived next door. He was about 13 at that time and he and his two sisters, about age 11 and 10 became kind of my proxy children so to speak although they had their own happy home with two great parents. I spent a lot of time with those kids and could write quite a long story about the good times we had. Anyway they all have their own lives now and their own homes so I don't get to see them all that much. As you may know Eric was the one who really got me back into ham radio after I'd been off the air for several years, and then a couple years later he got his own license. So it was a real pleasure to receive his CW congratulatory message.
You know (he said, speaking like an athlete being interviewed - what would they do without that phrase?) there are times in life that you hate to see things come to an end and wish that they could go on forever. I feel that way right now about the streak and the Requin operation. Even though the streak is going to go on, it doesn't feel the same as it did when striving to complete the 1,000 days. Also we have an open invite to come and operate the Requin station anytime we want, but right now the latest operation is over with.
As I said I would, I went ahead and updated my DX streak page (QRP - DX Streaks via the top menu) to 1,000 days with what I think are some pertinent comments about how easy it is to work DX with QRP/CW and quite a few stats about the streak. I may add a little to it, but essentially it is complete up to the 1,000 day point now. So I won't say more about the streak here in this diary entry since anything more can be found in the streak story.
Let's move on now to a somewhat condensed version of the Requin operation. Mike and I left around 8:30AM and unlike previous trips, traffic was virtually non-existent, even in Pittsburgh itself. So we arrived a little before 9:30, gathered our gear and headed for about a 1-2 block walk from parking lot to the sub. We beat Art WA3BKD who is in charge of many aspects of the sub, especially the radio room. After a few minutes a host and hostess came out and let us in to the sub and said we could go and set up.
Of course, we know the routine by heart now and found our way there and started getting ready to go. Art walked in a few minutes later and we chatted for a while as we were finishing setting up. Once that was done, we started operating on 40 meters with Mike at the key for about an hour, then it was my turn for the next hour or so. Here are two pictures of us hard(?) at work.
As always it was a delight to interact with visitors to the sub and explain whatever needed to be explained about radio aboard the sub. Sometimes it was hard doing that and operating at the same time, but we managed quite well. After the time on 40 meters, we went to 30 and 20, but didn't find as much activity there. So we finished up on 40 meters.
In all, we made 30 QSOs - 2 on 30, 4 on 20, and 24 on 40. We worked the following 14 states in no particular order: NJ PA NY IN GA NC VA FL TX AR OH MD TN MS.
There were a couple disappointments, but otherwise it was a totally enjoyable experience. The Requin has been undergoing some painting and other work since September, and the painters wanted to take advantage of the great weather today, so the sub was closed to visitors and us about 3 hours early at 1:30PM EST. Another disappoinment, to put it mildly, was one station repeatedly calling us even though we gave him a perfectly good QSO the first time he called. I imagine that scared away others who wanted to work us.
Here now is a picture of the sub with its almost complete new paint job.
After that we headed back home with stops in the Pittsburgh Mills for some shopping and of course eating. -30-
Tuesday, November 24, 2015 7:11 PM -
Yes, 1,000 consecutive days (Mar 1, 2013 - Nov 25, 2015) of QRP/CW/simple wire antennas DX is in the books thanks to a 40 meters QSO with PJ2/KB7Q at 0002Z November 25, 2015. That made for a brief bit of exhiliration followed by now what do I do next. HI Maybe three years? That will happen on February 29, 2016. 2,000 days? No, not with a sunspot minimum coming up. That will take too much time although I'm certain it could be done. Concentrate more on the NAQCC challenges? I've been putting them in the background of the DX streak. I'll find something to do.
I must say today was a nervous day, but the final pitch was a strike. HI I could hardly bear waiting till 0000Z rolled around. I desperately wanted to get the QSO this evening since as I said, tomorrow I'll be going to Pittsburgh with Mike KC2EGL to operate from the USS Requin submarine.
I don't really have much more to say about the streak right now, but I will update the DX streak report to 1,000 days over the next few days as the sub, Thanksgiving, CQWW DX, etc. permit. It will be a busy next few days.
Just a bit more about the subpedition. We hope to get there as it opens to the public around 10A EST (1500Z) and start operating as soon as we get set up. We'll try to stick around the QRP frequencies, i.e. 7041, 10117, 14061, and the higher bands if they are open. I believe we can only operate one band at a time, so keep checking back and forth if you want to try to work us. We'll be using the sub call of NY3EC and maybe the NAQCC call N3AQC also. We'll be using Mike's KX3 at 5 watts. Hope to work you. -30-
Monday, November 23, 2015 7:05 PM - How about this analogy? It's the bottom of the ninth. Twenty-six batters in a row have been retired. The 27th batter has an 0 and 1 count. Here comes the pitch. It's a strike. Now just one pitch for the goal of a lifetime - a perfect game.
Analogy now. For 998 straight days, I've worked at least one DX (non-W/VE) station. This evening I'm trying for that second strike or 999 straight days. I fire up the rig, and look at 40 meters. The DX is there, but so are big pileups chasing it. Wonder what is on 30. First look at the PX3 shows nothing but a couple local noise peaks. Wait, there's one strong peak. Oh, it's gone. Now it's back. Who is it? PJ2/K2PLF - is he operating simplex or split. He doesn't say up, so I call him on frequency and get a K3?. A second call yields K3W?. A third and fourth call yields ONLY K3W as apparently other stations are calling on top of me. I guess they shut up now as the next call yields K3WWP 599, and now I need one more strike for the perfect game or one QSO tomorrow evening for 1,000 days of DX of course with QRP/CW/simple wire antennas. BIG WHEW!.
I really do need to get it tomorrow evening if I can since Mike and I (and maybe Tom) are going to Pittsburgh on Wednesday to operate from the sub USS Requin and I don't know how much time I'll have to look for DX during the day Wednesday unless I can work some from the Requin. It would be QRP/CW/simple wire antennas there so I guess I could count it.
I'll have more info on the subpedition in tomorrow's diary entry. I'll also send a promo email on our NAQCC email list with more details.
OK, I'm still shaking a bit from the excitement, stress, etc. of getting the QSO for 999 days, so I'll close here. -30-
Sunday, November 22, 2015 8:10 PM - OK, it's down to two days now. It wasn't easy tonight, but after about an hour of looking and calling unsuccessfully, I hooked up with KP4AW on 40 meters for day #998.
I'm going to keep this short tonight since I want to get to and finish up cross-checking of our NAQCC sprint logs. We wound up with 121 logs providing some 1600 QSOs to check. Plus I'm also doing my laundry at the same time so the next couple hours will be busy ones, but then I can take it easy tomorrow. -30-
Saturday, November 21, 2015 7:14 PM - Seems like right now I have but one aim in life and that is getting to that 1,000 days of DX. I'll be kind of glad when I make it in three more days (if I do). I think I'll continue as long as I can, but without the pressure I'm putting on myself at this stage.
Late last night just before 0600Z I worked S56X on 40 meters. It was strange. I called him several times without any indication he was hearing me, so I gave up and looked elsewhere. Not finding anyone else, I went back to S56X and got him solidly with but a single call.
I also checked the bands this morning just to see what they were like. I heard stations on all bands up through 10 meters and there is another decent sized sunspot group just rotating into view so that may bode well for the next three days. Perhaps even through the CQWW DX test next weekend. Looking at my propagation chart, I see we did have an elevated solar flux about this same time one solar rotation ago. So fingers crossed. Oh, I did work GM3WUX this morning on 17 meters to get some letters for the NAQCC European Chapter challenge. I'm only half way through it now though so I may not finish it off unless I really work at it which I haven't been doing so far this month.
Speaking of challenges, I just finished our NAQCC "USA" Thanksgiving challenge and at the same time extended the DX streak another day when I worked HT7C on 30 meters at 0005Z. He was kind of down in the noise and I didn't hear him send my call all that well, but he is a great and considerate op who always works to get calls right. Since he didn't question my call, I'm guessing he did get it right. Just to be sure though, I worked KP4SX on 40 meters a few minutes later and I'm 100% sure of that one.
Now, I'm going to get my challenge report ready and email it to our NAQCC challenge manager.
Before I do that, just a note that I'm continuing to work on the CQ Field award. I've now found QSOs in 80 different fields. -30-
Friday, November 20, 2015 8:11 PM - One solid hour (minus a few minutes for a QSO with Kurt KA2DAS) was spent examining peaks on the PX3 looking for DX. Nary a single workable DX station was found. There were some that would have been workable but they were in pileups chasing other DX. So if nothing happens later tonight, my day has been planned out for me tomorrow. The fact that the next two days are weekend days may help. In fact, let me see if there are any DX contests that might help. Well, the LZ DX contest might help. I can usually work LZ quite well. Also it's everyone work everyone which is a further big help. So the streak may be safe.
Otherwise I got a very nice email from Clark N1BCG I'd like to share with you with his permission. It goes as follows:
"Congratulations on a *magnificent* website! I've been a amateur and professional radio operator for decades and recently became interested again in CW, which was required both times I took the test (1981 & 2006). I came across your website and am forwarding the link to some friends I'm trying to recruit to join me. It works well that we'd all be slow as molasses and I'm looking forward to demonstrating the power of QRP vs what's required for phone.
Of particular interest is the section on your site where you outline proper procedures, which I discovered only after a memorable event. I was testing a newly built QRP rig when I heard a CQ at a friendly rate I could copy. He called and called and called, and not thinking I'd be heard due to a random wire strewn across a desk, lampshade, and up to a door, I sent his call followed by mine just to see how it sounded on sidetone.
He answered back. I froze like a deer in headlights, stunned and convinced I was mistaking someone else's call for mine, and missed everything that followed. Now what? I had no idea what to say so I turned the rig off, completely embarrassed, and sent him an email apologizing profusely.
Your "CW Procedures page" brought things together with great examples of what to expect and how to respond...thanks! I'm now looking forward to applying these techniques the next time I press down on a key. Of course, my having a tribute callsign (drop the "N") is a hugely motivating factor toward CW use and proficiency...
Clark followed up with this:
"Sure, you may share the story. Please include the addendum that the op I emailed wrote back, and as it turned out, was a new ham and thrilled to not only get the report but to also have someone to set up a sched with that would be ok with slow code and building proficiency.
Frankly I can't think of a more ideal ending to that story and it represents the essence of ham radio."
What more can I say than "Amen!". -30-
Thursday, November 19, 2015 7:57 PM - OK, slightly bigger WHEW! tonight. The DX came (as I surmised it might during one of the last 6 days) from Dave VP5/W5CW on 40 meters at 0001Z leaving 5 days to go now.
I also worked Marty N9SE for a nice rag chew which coincidentally gave me two Ns for the NAQCC challenge, leaving me with three letters to go to finish it. Maybe I'll finish that with the same QSO or at least on the same date as the 1,000 day DX streak is realized.
I mentioned in my NAQCC sprint soapbox last night that I'd have some pictures to show what my noise was like during the sprint. Or at least from tonight about the same time as the sprint. The noise was maybe one S unit lower tonight, but you get the picture of what I deal with on 80, 40, 30, and 20 on a typical evening.
As you can plainly see it varies - S8 (S9 last night) on 80, S5 on 40, S4-5 on 30, and S4 on 20. Not a pretty sight and hard on the ears even with the wonderful receiver in the KX3.
Actually this noise is so bad, it even pretty much drowns out my usual furnace noise on those bands. I'm not sure if that is good or bad. HI. I think someday I'm going to shut down everything in this house that runs off the AC mains or battery and see if the noise is in house or from some other house(s) in the row of houses here. See this picture (from Bing maps) with an arrow pointing to my house.
I live in the upper (right) half of that double house. As you can see there are a lot of other houses in the area in addition to the 3 double houses right in the row where I live. A lot of potential QRN for sure. -30-
Wednesday, November 18, 2015 7:24 PM - Whew! And that whew is going to get louder each of the next six days (I hope). It comes after getting my DX streak QSO during these less than good conditions in the evenings. I don't know what it is like in the mornings or afternoons because I haven't been finding time to check during those time frames. Let's see, my last QSOs that weren't in the evening happened 5 days ago on the 13th when I worked 4Z5AD and DK1AX. I haven't even listened during the day since then.
Tonight wasn't too bad. It took 19 minutes to find and work WP4L on 40 meters for a short but solid QSO. So that gives me another free day tomorrow.
A few weeks ago at the Butler hamfest I bought a book by the RSGB called the RSGB Prefix Guide. It turned out to be a lot more than just a Prefix Guide. It has info on IOTA, DXCC, ITU Zones, and more as well. Those of you who know me know that is just the kind of thing I would be interested in with my passion for lists and stats. Anyway today I found in the book something called the CQ Field Award. Not being a subscriber to CQ for many years now, I wasn't aware of it till now. Basically it is based on Grid Squares. Anyone interested in DX or especially VHF work knows of what I speak. The most familiar is the maidenhead grid system. Of that, the most familiar are the two letter two number squares such as mine which is FN00 - those squares are 1 degree latitude by 2 degrees longitude. Then it can be divided further to two letters (upper case), two numbers, two letters (lower case) such as FN00ft - 2.5 minutes latitude by 5 minutes longitude in that case. Now if you strip away the numbers and small letters you have squares that are 10 degrees latitude by 20 degrees longitude. The earth is divided into 324 squares that way labeled AA through RR with AA being the South Pole or 90 degrees South and RR being the North Pole or 90 degrees North. Got that? OK, let's move on to the award now.
The CQ Magazine award is for working 50 such squares with endorsements in increments of 50 to 150, 25 between 150 and 300, then a final endorsement for all 324 squares. I started looking through my log today to see how many I have worked. Some countries fit in just one square and are easy to figure out. Others occupy several squares, for example the USA with 11, Asiatic Russia with 27, Antarctica with 48. Those take more research with a good grid map or the listings in QRZ. So far I've found 60 that I've worked and probably will wind up with 80 or 90, maybe more after finishing the research into locations. I don't have the exact figure at hand, but some such squares are called wet squares occupying only empty ocean territory. You need to work some Maritime Mobiles to get them. Let's close as we opened with a Whew! after going through all that.
And a final reminder that tonight at 0130Z is our monthly NAQCC sprint. With the bands not sounding too good, I'll probably just get my 20 QSOs (if I can) and quit. -30-
Tuesday, November 17, 2015 8:02 PM - Where DOES the time GO? It seems like only yesterday I was wondering if I could work DX for the next 600 (450, 325, etc.) days to make it to 1,000. Now all of a sudden here it is only 7 days from the 1,000 mark after working FM/DL7VOG this evening on 40 at 0012Z. I also heard Dave W5CW portable VP5 so hopefully I can work him on a couple bands for a couple of the 7 days. He is usually an easy QSO. I imagine there will be more stations setting up and testing for the upcoming CQWW DX contest on the 28/29th which should provide a source for some DX even with the current poor conditions (at least in the evening - I haven't had much time to get on during the day).
Today was leaf raking day among other things. I helped Ange rake them in the garden, then he helped me rake around my house and also mulch my garden beds for the winter. -30-
Monday, November 16, 2015 8:07 PM - I switch back and forth among favorite sports and TV shows for my entertainment. Right now I'm watching a lot of pro bowling on the Internet. Just as I started this entry, an analogy between bowling and my DX streak came to mind. If reaching 1,000 days is equivalent to a 300 game in bowling, I certainly hope I don't leave a ringing 10 pin on the last ball for a 299 game - or to put it in ham radio terms, get to 999 days and then miss that last one. Whew, what a disappointment that would be.
Not to worry tonight though. I couldn't get the DX streak QSO much quicker. I worked HI8V in the 0000 minute on 30 meters, leaving 8 days to go now.
Another thought about the streak came to mind a little while ago. Anyone hearing about it must think that fellow must be on the air many hours each day to accomplish that. Tain't so at all. Except for contests, I only spend 30-60 minutes on the air each day, often less than that. Another point to show that QRP/CW does work, and work well. That's the main purpose of the streak, other than it being a lot of fun - to show the uninformed that they don't need QRO, a big antenna farm, and a lot of air time to work DX regularly.
When you have days like today, you don't even have the time to get on the air all that much. I started off doing my laundry. Then helped Ange bury the final two fig trees. Next up a visit to Ponderosa courtesy of Bruce and Nancy. In between all of that the rest of the usual everyday chores that a person living alone in a big house must get done. -30-
Sunday, November 15, 2015 8:32 PM - And then there were nine. That coincidentally applies to two things at the moment. The number of days till my DX streak reaches 1,000 days and the number of letters I need to finish the November NAQCC challenge.
I started off the evening not finding any DX except PJ4/OH2BAD on 30 and I didn't want to work him on the same band two evenings in a row. So I went to 80 which is where I've found it very easy to get a QSO for my regular streak lately. NS3X answered my CQ and explained something weird as he put it. He was looking up QNF and landed on my web site. As he was there he heard and answered my CQ. Now what are the odds of that? Anyway we had a great rag chew. The main topic was Tarentum, PA. He used to live there till he moved to MD 28 years ago. Of course it is only about 20 miles from here and is where Mike and I went on Veterans Day. I told Mark that if he hasn't been back to Tarentum for a while, to expect a lot of changes especially the fairly new big Pittsburgh Mills Mall just a couple miles from Tarentum.
After our 35 minute QSO I went looking for DX again and found V44KAI on 40 meters. Took but a single call and a correction from WWW to WWP to get him in the log for day # 991. So now no worries for another 22 hours or so.
Otherwise today was a nice weather day, and I helped Ange bury some fig trees. He's got a couple more left for tomorrow, and I got roped into helping again although another friend of his will do the heavy work because the two that are left are bigger ones and I'm getting too old to be doing stuff like that. I made a deal and said I would help a little if he would help me rake up my leaves.
I also went for a walk shortly before sunset to check out the river. It has come up again, but with a couple nice days coming up, I may just try for what may be the last fishing session of the year till spring comes along. -30-
Saturday, November 14, 2015 7:41 PM - I had a somewhat unusual experience last night after I wrote the diary entry. I went back to the bands about an hour or so later and found PJ4/OH2BAD on 30 meters working split with a small pileup. I called unsuccessfully a few times, then got a WWP?. I sent my call a couple more times, and then a couple more, but never heard anything more from him. He was pretty strong so I don't think the band changed that quickly. It was like his power source just quit or something along those lines. I listened for 5 or more minutes and he never did come back to anyone. Often when Mike and I are working DX, someone will leave like that before we even get a chance to call and we kid that we scared them away. I guess I really scared OH2BAD. HI. That was another one of those "I'd hate to see the DX streak end like this" moments. Not to worry though, I did work 8P9NX on 30 about another hour after that.
OK, so now a question. Whom did I work tonight for my DX? I'm sure you all got that right away. Of course it was PJ4/OH2BAD on 30 meters, and this time it was a successfully finished solid QSO.
Now it's down to 10 days to reach 1,000 days of DX. Day # 1,000 will come the day before Thanksgiving if I make it that far. That's the day that Mike and I hope to operate from the USS Requin submarine in Pittsburgh. The Requin has been undergoing repairs since September 14, and may or may not be ready for radio work according to Art WA3BKD who runs the radio room along with a lot of other things on the sub. He says he'll know for sure by the 23rd or 24th and will let us know. If it is ready and we do go, day #1,000 may be interesting especially if I don't get any DX the evening before in my usual 0000Z hour. Stay tuned, it's getting exciting now. -30-
Friday, November 13, 2015 7:57 PM - Each day it seems to be harder and harder to get that DX QSO, especially in the evenings. Tonight the only band that had any activity at all was 40 meters and I guess every other DX chaser found the upper bands dead also and all went to 40. At least every DX station that showed up on 40 seemed to almost immediately gather a big pileup that I had no luck in breaking. I might have gotten VP2ECC, but I just worked him a couple days ago and by the time I decided I'd try anyway, it was too late and he had a big pileup then. So either later tonight or the morning or afternoon will be the time for my DX if I am to get it. I worked a couple DX stations around 9:30AM today - 4Z5AD and DK1AX on 10 and 15 respectively, and there were quite a few others available I probably could have worked. I only worked them because I wasn't sure KP4CPC had my call right last night. He called me K3RWP, and never did correct it although he said QSL after I repeated it several times. I wasn't positive about 4Z5AD either as he was quite weak and I lost my call in the noise. But the DK1AX QSO was a solid one with no doubt.
I also had trouble even getting a regular QSO this evening till Fred WB8CMU - QRP in Canton OH answered my CQ. So the big streak lives and I even got a couple letters for the NAQCC challenge from his call.
I'm getting quite a bit of positive feedback about my presentation at the BCARA on Tuesday. Some nice emails, guestbook entries, and the like all saying they found it entertaining and informative. So I feel good about that. I (and Mike and Tom as well) have been invited back to their meetings whenever we wish and also to their Christmas Party next month. Also since conditions didn't permit much of a showing for the KX3, we will perhaps go back with the KX3/PX3 combo in late spring or summer when conditions should be better in the evenings. -30-
Thursday, November 12, 2015 2:12 PM - It was a great Veterans Day with Mike yesterday. Someone asked me what the two of us did. I replied with one word - "ate". That's almost true except that we did other things as well. We started out shortly after Mike arrived to the Pittsburgh Mills for a great meal at Applebee's. I had fish and onion rings and Mike had some kind of steak. Then we did some shopping at Office Max, Michael's, and Best Buy. Mike bought a few things, but I couldn't find exactly what I was looking for and wound up buying nothing. After a couple hours, we came back here.
Other than the meals, we had no real projects planned other than an impromptu one. Elecraft released a firmware update for the PX3 a couple days ago, and I told Mike to bring his down with him, and we'd update both of our units. First however, the bands were in pretty good shape, even up through 10 meters, so we spent a while chasing (and catching) some DX. Nothing really exotic, but a lot of fun having all bands available for a change of late.
Then we did do the updates to our PX3s. They turned out well, and we now have a lot of new features to play with, although the basic unit stayed pretty much the same.
Let's see, it's been a few hours now since we ate, so..... Off to Ponderosa for their dinner buffet. It was really crowded (as was Applebee's earlier) because of the free meals for veterans. We didn't have long to wait to get seated at either place though compared to some horror stories of lines extending way out into parking lots. Probably about 10-15 minutes at each place at the very most.
Then a stop at WalMart for some more shopping before heading home. This time I did find some things I needed like a new pair of shoes. Mike also got several items.
By the time we got home, it was past 0000Z, almost 0100Z, and Mike and I went up to get my streak(s) QSO. There wasn't much to be heard on 30 or above, but I did find and work VP2ECC on 40 whom I had worked during our afternoon session on 30 meters. Mike worked him also, then it was back to the computer for some hidden object games before Mike had to head on home.
As usual a great day when the two of us get together. Our next 'project' will hopefully be an activation of the ham radio station in the submarine USS Requin in Pittsburgh on the day before Thanksgiving. The Requin has been undergoing some maintenance, and we will have to check to see if it will be available for us on that day.
Before writing the above I just got home from a shopping trip to the Ol' Station Marketplace which is the place for whom I'm designing the web site. I found a couple of bureau envelopes in my mailbox, and I'm going to open them now and see what goodies are in them. -30-
Wednesday, November 11, 2015 9:26 AM - I hope you all will do your bit in honoring our brave veterans, past and present, today in some way. I've got my flag flying on my front porch. It's the one that draped my dad's coffin 51 years ago. He was a WWII veteran.
The DX streak lives. Because of the presentation last night, getting home late, and the dead bands, I had to wait till this morning to get my DX. Mike is coming back again, and we're going to Applebee's for lunch and who knows what else after that. So I wanted to get the DX as soon as possible. A few minutes after I got up, I went to the shack and noticed a lot of activity. It took a couple minutes to sort it out and find and work Jose KP4JFR. So 14 days to go to 1,000 now.
OK, I promised some info about the presentation. I'll start with these two pictures. On the left is the meeting room - empty now because we all got so absorbed in the presentation that we forgot about pictures till it was over and just about everyone had left. The large screen is where I showed the info from my web site as described below. On the right are the Three Stoog..... er I mean me, Mike KC2EGL, and Tom WB3FAE. I really appreciated them accompanying me at the presentation.
As I mentioned, I really am nervous about speaking before a group, but all 25 or so club members were so friendly and interested, all the nervousness vanished even before I spoke my first word. I didn't really know most of the members except for Bruce AA3LX whom I see every year at the Breezeshooters Hamfest in June and Rick N3VKM whom I met at the BCARA hamfest along with a couple others whom I've met briefly at hamfests. Rick is the one who invited me to do the presentation. I want to publicly thank Rick, Bruce, all the BCARA members, Mike who drove me there and provided moral support along with Tom WB3FAE. I felt a lot better having Mike and Tom with me. It made a difference.
When we arrived, we were greeted in the parking lot by John K3HPS who led us to the meeting room in the church. Once there I started setting up the KX3/PX3 with which we would close out the presentation. However I found that the power cable was missing for the KX3 and we had to use the cable for the PX3 for it and would be unable to show off the PX3. When we got home, I found the cable on the floor next to my computer desk. I apparently dropped it while packing. I mention that only because it is really the only negative thing in the whole presentation. Everything else was on a total positive upbeat. Next up, Rick helped me hook up the laptop to their TV. That went well with the HDMI cable I borrowed from my neighbor Bruce. So I was now already virtually relaxed and ready to go.
The club had to take care of the business portion of the meeting first which took about 10 minutes or so. I was pleased that they opened the meeting with the Pledge of Allegiance. After the business was taken care of, Rick officially introduced me and I walked to the front of the room, and set up the laptop so I could look at it while facing the crowd. Now I was totally relaxed and began the presentation.
I started off by describing my station and showing pictures of my antennas. After the pictures I told them about Alan KB7MBI referring to my antennas as an "Antenna Victory Garden" rather than an "Antenna Farm". Apparently most of the folks there knew about victory gardens as they laughed at that. I answered a couple questions about the antennas and my location. Most were familiar with Kittanning and when I said I lived right in the heart of town, they knew about me being down in the valley in that case. One said that I probably had a lot of noise in that situation, and as you know, he was right.
As I had planned the presentation in five steps with the first being a station and location description, up next was step two in which I described what can be done with such a simple setup as mine. I showed the various tables on the site showing my progress in the various awards. Then moved on to the streak(s). That drew a lot of interest as well as the award info. A couple more questions including one about all the award and streak QSOs being done with QRP. I answered that everything was done with the station as described.
The third part of the presentation was telling and showing how anyone can do what I have done no matter how simple a setup they may have. I showed my CW tips, DXing tips, and QSLing tips. I didn't go into detail but only mentioned a couple of things. I mentioned one of my pet peeves - folks sending way too many CQs before identifying their call once which often forces someone to lose concentration and miss the call. Then having to listen through the endless CQs a second or third time. Folks agreed about that as well as agreeing my 3X2 CQ pattern was a good way to do it. One member brought up another thing about DX stations never identifying themselves. I said that was another pet peeve and that in that case I work them, then figure out who they were. Should they QRT before identifying, I said I then use spotting (and only then) to try to figure it out. QSLing brought some discussion including using "Green Stamps", LoTW, and so forth. Looking up addresses was another topic that brought discussion. I mentioned that I generally use the bureau for my DX QSLs unless it is something special like an overall new country, etc. in which case I'll go direct with a couple GSs.
On next to part four where I asked Mike to talk about his 'conversion' from phone/QRO to CW/QRP followed by Tom converting from QRO to QRP. They both did an excellent job of reinforcing what I said about CW/QRP/simple wire antennas. I thank them here.
The last part of the presentation with Mike's demo of the KX3 while I 'tore down' the computer setup fell short of the mark, but there was nothing we could do about it. Because band conditions were so poor, we couldn't make any contacts and only heard one rag chew type QSO on 80 and one on 40. Some commented they were impressed with the sound quality of the small KX3 speaker as we listened to the QSOs. Some more thanks to Rick here who took the time and effort before the meeting to set up a temporary antenna in the church parking lot in the damp drizzly weather. Too bad band conditions didn't cooperate to make his efforts worthwhile.
I was pleased to have many members come up to me after the presentation and telling me how much they enjoyed it and found it interesting. That made it completely worthwhile.
On the way home, Mike and I played our alphabet game which was a little more difficult in the dark. We also somehow got into talking about AM BC Band stations, probably because we were listening to WABC, and I referred to Cousin Brucie and the jingles played by various stations. When we got home, we spent maybe a half hour or so just talking about various stations and listening to some old jingles on the Internet. I mentioned my AM BC Band DXing and was reminiscing about the unique sharing system of WBAP in Fort Worth and WFAA in Dallas whereby they would swap frequencies regularly as often as several times a day between 820 (50KW) and 570 (5KW). When I brought up that info from memory, I then looked it up on the Internet and learned quite a bit more about the swapping.
By then it was pretty late and Mike headed north and I did a couple things, and headed off to bed. -30-
Tuesday, November 10, 2015 11:37 PM - As you see from the time stamp, it's approaching midnight so I'm not going to have a long entry. Tomorrow, I'll talk about my presentation at the BCARA meeting. I'll just say now that as I said in yesterday's entry, I did wind up having an absolute blast there in front of a great group of hams - I guess around 25 or so. Also tomorrow, I'll have to get my streak QSOs. The bands seem absolutely dead right now, and I didn't get a chance to make a QSO at the presentation as they were not much better then. OK, got to shut up and get ready for bed now. -30-
Monday, November 09, 2015 8:07 PM - With a busy day coming up tomorrow going out to lunch, getting ready for my presentation tomorrow evening, and the presentation itself, I did something tonight I don't really like to do. I worked the same DX station on the same band as two nights ago. With only 15 days left to 1,000 now, I'm liable to do that more often to insure reaching the 1,000 mark. I'd really hate to come so close and lose it now. Oh the station was VP2MXP on 30 meters.
I did a little fishing today, but got shut out. Although it was around 60, there was a cool breeze blowing and it got pretty chilly at the river so I didn't stay all that long.
I also took a couple walks around town and did a bit of shopping along the way.
Right now my focus is on the presentation tomorrow evening. I'm not much for speaking in front of crowds, and I must admit I'll be glad when it is over. But you know, when it is over, I'll realize that I actually enjoyed it. HI That's the way these things always go.
I wanted to mention this before, but my 'sun spot on the wall' I talked about a few days ago (see this .pdf file if you're curious) is really working fine this year. Of four measurements taken so far, the average between predicted and actual 'spots' is only .066 inches (a tad more than 1/16"), well within measuring errors. One was within .011 inches. It will be interesting to see how the rest of the season goes until the spot drops off the wall early in February as the sun gets higher in the sky. -30-
Sunday, November 08, 2015 7:34 PM - And then there were 16 - days that is until the DX streak reaches 1,000 days. I must say I'll be glad when I reach that point. As I get closer and closer, it is becoming more and more of an obsession with me. I wasn't even thinking about the SS this weekend till I took a look at 20 meters this evening. The DX QSO came quickly at 0003Z with YV4YC on 30 meters. Took just one call and a repeat for him to get the last letter (P) in my call and another day was in the books.
I'm not superstitious, but I feel a little hesitant about making the following statement for fear of jinxing myself. I think the last 16 days may not be all that hard with folks preparing for the CQWW DX contest at the end of the month. At least I hope that is so.
I guess the SS is the reason my number of web site visitors took a rather big dip yesterday and today. I know a lot of you who visit are into contesting and especially the SS. Personally the SS is not one of my favorites and never really has been. I have done quite well in a few of them, but lately I've rather ignored them just awaiting the CQWW DX later in the month for my big November contest effort. I guess I'm hooked on DX. -30-
Saturday, November 07, 2015 7:16 PM - Kind of a nothing day today. I don't even remember anything noteworthy that happened or that I did. The weather returned to early November style today with gray overcast skies and a high of just 57 - 25 degrees colder than just two days ago. I still got in some walking to the tune of 8+ miles so far. No fishing though.
Oh, I did some work on the web site I'm designing for a local shop here in town. I think I mentioned that several entries ago. Also a bit more prep work for my QRP/CW presentation at the Butler County ARA Tuesday evening.
Right now I'm installing the latest preview build of Windows 10 on my laptop. I wanted to keep an eye on that, so I hoped for, and got a quick DX QSO at 0003Z, working another Montserrat station - this time VP2MXP which makes three different ones now. I think I've heard one other one also, but I can't recall for sure now. -30-
Friday, November 06, 2015 8:30 PM - Not as warm today with a high of only 70 or so. Still isn't it nice to be able to say that in November? We did have some showers, but I worked around them with some walks and some fishing. The fish were biting good, but they must have been small ones as I just couldn't hook them. To further that guess, only one bite was what I would call a good one. The rest fell under the nibble category. Still it was nice to sit out there in the warm November air.
I did a little prep work for my QRP/CW presentation at the Butler County ARA next Tuesday evening. That should be fun. I hope conditions permit working some DX with the makeshift antenna at the church where they meet.
Conditions were good enough this evening to get my DX streak QSO out of the way in two minutes when I worked VP2MEW on 30 meters at 0002Z. There are several VP2M stations active. I guess getting ready for a big multi-op effort in the CQWW DX test later this month. None of them have been really strong, and I wonder if maybe it will be a QRP or at least low power operation.
80 meters continues good with many signals overriding my steady S7 noise level there. I had another nice rag chew after the DX QSO with Rick VE3MG - solid copy both ways. -30-
Thursday, November 05, 2015 2:41 PM - I just got my insurance DX QSO from VP2MVI on 17 in case S57V had me logged wrong last night. Twenty more days for 1,000 now.
Another warm (hot?) November day today. We peaked briefly at 82, just one degree short of the 83 I talked about in a previous entry. So today is all alone in second place for the warmest November day here. Also the latest in the year reaching 82 degrees.
After I wrote yesterday's entry, I remembered one other warm November day. Back on November 23, 1979, the WPIT chief engineer and I were doing some work on the base of our transmitting tower, and the temperature hit 78 degrees in Kittanning. I don't know what it was at the tower site in Pittsburgh, but it definitely was warm there as well.
Funny how when you get old, you can remember things from long ago better than recent things. When I was looking up the above info in my weather records, I noticed an interesting temperature swing in November last year that I didn't think of till then. On November 11, 2014 it was 74 degrees. Then over the next week or so it dropped all the way to 13 degrees on November 19, then to 10 degrees on the 22nd. Just two days later on the 24th it was back up to 71 degrees with a low of just 49 which made the average 22 degrees above normal for that date. For someone who loves stats, the weather makes a great hobby. -30-
Wednesday, November 04, 2015 8:09 PM - The official high here yesterday was 78. Today it was 79 as I checked the outdoor thermometer when I came home from fishing (no, no fish). Close to the magic 80 mark for November, but not quite. Maybe tomorrow as it should be pretty much like today and yesterday also. Or even Friday as that is the day the cold front arrives and sometimes the temperature reaches an extreme high just before a front with the associated SW winds.
This morning I did some recomputing on my sun spot tracker for the upcoming winter. I'm not going to explain it in detail here, but if you're interested you can explore my diary archives. Let's see, these dates have more info - January 2, 2015 - December 15, 2014 (pretty much a complete explanation in the .pdf file linked to that entry). Anyway after the recomputation the spot today was only off from my prediction by 44.68 - 44.625 = .055 inches or just under 1/16 of an inch well within the accuracy of making the measurement. I hope it's clear tomorrow so I can get a confirming check on the accuracy before I mark all the dates and predictions on the chart.
As usual, conditions were poor for DX this evening. CN40KD (aka CN8KD) was strong on 30 and he most times hears me well, but not tonight. So I went to 80 for a rag chew with Jim AF3Z before resuming my DX search. I found the seemingly always present on 30 meters S57V and worked him yet again. He slurred (if you call it that on CW) my call a bit, but I think he did get it right. I will go for another DX QSO tomorrow just to be sure though. -30-
Tuesday, June November 03, 2015 3:20 PM - Well, it seems like June 3. Way back in 1961, let's see, that's 54 years ago, on November 3, it was red and white (school colors) day in high school. I don't remember it for that though. I remember because it was nearing the second full year of weather record keeping for me. The high that day was 83 degrees which was then and is now the warmest November day around here. There have been three other November days since when it reached 80+, but not 83. It was 80 on November 2, 1982 and 2004 and 81 on November 4, 2003. The reason I mention that is that today we came close to the all time record. Possibly even tied or broke it although that's unlikely because my official thermometer usually tracks within a degree of my remote unit which says the high reached 79 today. I could go out and check now, but I'll wait till 9 PM to do so. If the remote unit was closer to 83, I'd definitely check now out of curiosity.
I got my DX later last night so I was able to fully enjoy this wonderful warm November day. I worked LZ259PA on 40 meters around 0230Z or so. That also gave me several numbers/letters for the NAQCC challenges.
One of the things I did today was go fishing. I had a total of 3 hits, but no catches. Who cares though when you can enjoy 80 degree weather in November. I also have 8 miles walking today so far including a walk to Subway for my free sub for voting.
I really was inside for a while, and one of the things I did was to fabricate a cover for the power pole unit I built and showed here in the diary yesterday. Here's what it now looks like with it's cardboard cover.
A bit crude, but sufficient since it will only be used a few times a year for portable operations. -30-
Monday, November 02, 2015 8:36 PM - I made the power pole device for which I bought the parts at the hamfest.
Pretty much like what Mike and I built and described in a couple different diary entries, but with a couple changes. I cleaned and tinned the wire that went into the connector pins which made for easier soldering. As you see I spaced the connectors apart on the rod (made from a coat hanger) with little rubber spacers. That cured the crowding problem I described in an earlier entry. Now I have to figure out how to mount it in a tiny cover of some sort and it will be all ready for use when we go portable somewhere. I can plug my battery into one, the KX3 into another, and the PX3 into the third. First use will probably come next Tuesday when I give a QRP/CW demo at the Butler County ARA.
The bands were not all that good this evening (for me) and I don't have my DX QSO in the log for today (3rd) yet. I did have a nice long 40 minute plus rag chew with Rick KA2PBO on 80 meters. I believe I had more 80 meter QSOs in our NAQCC October sprint than the whole rest of 2015 combined - yes, 42 vs. 20. I have a constant S8 or so noise level on that band so I haven't used it much until I tried it this evening. Then the high bands have been so good, I've been sticking with them. However as sunspots decrease and the conditions on the high bands follow suit, I may have to use 80 more often and just deal with the high noise. -30-
Sunday, November 01, 2015 8:05 PM - A great time was had by all (K3WWP, KC2EGL, WB3FAE) today. It was our first visit to the Washington, PA fall hamfest. Mike and I left just before 8AM and it took a little under an hour and a half to drive down there. It went very smoothly and we didn't get lost like we sometimes (most of the time?) do. Just about the very first person we saw was Bob WC3O standing outside the entrance. Tom arrived about the same time, and despite the very crowded conditions (see first picture below), we hooked up quickly. It was a very nice hamfest and we think it will be on our annual hamfest calendar from now on. I think possibly of all the hamfests we visit, this one had the most vendors and the most things available for purchase. I bought 8 more power pole connectors after being delighted with the ones Mike and I set up as described earlier in the diary. I also bought a very complete ham prefix book by the RSGB. I also purchased a compact folding umbrella when I saw them there. I had one once and lost it somewhere years ago, and never did replace it till today. They are much more convenient to carry around waiting for the rain or after it stops.
We had nice visits with Bob, other Skyview members, a brand new NAQCC member KC3DOF (#8017), and other folks. They had good food there, and surprisingly reasonably priced. Of course you know we had to partake of some of that. We roamed around quite a bit just looking at the items. I enjoyed seeing some of the very old equipment they had there. One item in particular, an AM BC band loop antenna from 1930 since for many years I enjoyed DXing the AM BC Band with a homebrew receiver and homebrew loop antenna.
We left about 1PM or so, Mike and I came back here and did some DXing for a little while before he had to head out for another committment he had. We both worked HP1IBF, and he also worked CO8LY and maybe one other station. I can't remember now.
Before I continue, here are a couple pictures from the hamfest. A 'crowd scene', and the four of us (L-R WC3O KC2EGL K3WWP WB3FAE). We wanted to get KC3DOF in the picture also, but he must have left in the meantime as we couldn't find him.
Day # 977 of the DX streak came easily when I found and worked XE1XR at 0006Z on 20 meters. I tried a LU station before that with no luck. Then I called CQ on an almost 'dead' 30 meters and got a quick answer and a nice chat with Dan K0FD in MO. If you don't hear anything on a band, try a CQ. You'll often get surprised with an answer. After all, someone has to get things started with that CQ.
Now I'm doing my laundry so as to have a free day tomorrow with the exception of my first (2nd) of the month financial stuff. The weather will be sunny in the 60s, but I don't think there will be any fishing as the river is still pretty high, but I might try anyway. I'll also get in some walks for sure and who knows what else. If the high bands are good to Europe, I'll work on the NAQCC November challenges. I'm about a third of the way done with the "USA" challenge, but haven't even worked any Europeans so far this month for the European challenge. -30-
Saturday, October 31, 2015 8:36 PM - After I wrote yesterday's diary entry early in the morning, I had a great day on the bands. All the high bands from 17 through 10 were open for DX, especially to Europe. Figuring it was a great chance to at least finish a word or two in the NAQCC European Chapter challenge, I decided to hang around on the bands and put off some other things. I didn't think I had a chance to finish the whole challenge since I still needed 30 letters/numbers to make all the words. However, it looked better and better as I was finding and working stations that had 2 or 3 (sometimes more) of the characters I needed. Slowly my total needed went from 30 to 25 to 20 to 15, and when the bands kind of faded away, I had gotten 29 of the 30. One 'C' eluded me. I had tried 9A9C and a couple others, but they just weren't hearing me like the other 13 European stations I worked rather easily. I thought maybe 20 would pick up to Europe later in the day, but it didn't, at least for any strong stations with a 'C' in their call. Nothing last evening either, so I got on again early today determined to get that last 'C'. Today it was DL60DARC who wasn't hearing me at all. I found SM3COP on 12, and although he was weak, I figured I could work him. He's a great op, and we've worked a few times before. However he was in a rag chewing mood, and I got impatient and looked around while he was going on and on. Then I got a phone call I had to answer, and when I got back, he had faded well down into my noise level. I gave up on him and continued to search. Finally I found F5CEL on 17, and although it wasn't an easy QSO with many repeats before he could get my call right, I got my 'C' and mastered the challenge sort of "in the bottom of the ninth". Or in my soapbox, I added for our European friends, like a soccer (football) goal in the last second of extra time. Ton, who handles the European challenges agreed about the goal and added it can be very frustrating when that goal is scored by the opposing team. HI.
So tonight starts two brand new challenges. The European one dealing with active European volcanoes, and the "USA" on our traditional Thanksgiving challenge. No Europeans yet in November, but I do have 10 of the 85 letters for the Thanksgiving challenge thanks to RG0A and AE4QQ. RG0A is another of the great Russian ops. Even though he may be weak and fluttery here, he manages to copy me pretty easily most of the time in the half dozen or so QSOs we've had.
Now it's time to close here and get to a traditional fall task. Turning all my clocks back one hour. It's so much simpler back in spring to turn them ahead one hour, and also much nicer to anticipate the weather coming up back then at that time. -30-
Friday, October 30, 2015 10:07 AM - Some stats today. The 2015 Field Day results were posted a day or so ago on the ARRL web site. Our N3AQC 3AB operation with Mike KC2EGL, Tom WB3FAE, and me fared quite well as shown here in these stats I gathered from the searchable database of results. Unfortunately there was no way (that I could see) to separate results that were from CW-only operations as ours was, of course. If there were, we'd be even higher that way, than we were among mixed operations.
We finished as follows:
Second overall (of 40) in the WPA section. 1st (of 4) in the QRP category (multiplier 5)
19th overall (of 307) in the QRP category (multiplier 5). 8th (of ?) for entries with 3 ops or less.
6th overall (of 19) in the 3AB / QRP category (multiplier 5). 1st (of 4) for entries with 3 ops or less.
I think we did quite well and are satisfied with the results as well as being pleased to demonstrate that QRP can be very effective in emergency like situations, especially when using CW. It definitely was emergency like in our case with flooding rains, lightning, and a tornado touchdown about 20 or so miles away. We did shut down for an hour or so when the lightning got too close for comfort.
A couple of entries ago I mentioned about rag chewing with DX stations and said I'd like to see what the longest QSO with each country was. Well, it was very easy as I surmised with my Microsoft Access database and a little help from Microsoft Excel as follows.
First I filtered the database for only DX QSOs and for non-contest QSOs. That took all of a few seconds and turned up 5,219 QSOs. Then I copied the pertinent fields in the results to Excel and continued on. I sorted by date and eliminated the rows containing QSOs before 1990 to insure all that remained were with 5 watts or less. Thinking back now, I could have just filtered the power field in Access for 5 watts or less. Doing it that way now leaves 5,110 as it did the other way as well.
Next in Excel, I created a column for the end time minus the start time of QSOs. Since the times are actually entered as numbers in my database, the subtraction was off for those QSOs that spanned an hour. For example starting at 1939 and ending at 2018 gave 79 minutes instead of the correct 39 minutes. So in another column, I subtracted 40 (100 - 60) from those results that spanned hours and were thus over 40 for the original answer. Along the way, I found some (about 10 or so) unusual times like -4 minutes. In checking I found I had entered either the start or end time erroneously. Another one had a start time of such and such with the RST instead of end time in the end column. To get on with the story, I fixed those mistakes in my log and continued.
After the QSO lengths were computed, I decided to eliminate those less than 5 minutes to narrow the field a bit. That left 627 QSOs of 5 minutes or more in length. Next I sorted by country (alphabetically) and length (longest to shortest) and filtered to leave only the longest QSO from each country. I found I had 5+ minute QSOs with 76 different countries. I'm not going to list all of those here, but here are the top 10 + ties listed by length with the country, call, band, and length included. All continents but Oceania were represented so I added the longest from OC at the end of the table.
PUE KP4FJT 15 39
CNR EA8/DJ1OT 30 34
JAP 8J2VE 17 27
ALS WL7CDC 10 24
ENG G3RHP 10 21
BON PJ2JW 30 20
DMN HI7V 40 20
HAI N3SIY/HH2 30 20
GRD J37XC 30 18
BAH C6AGH 30 17
BVI VP2V/NY3F 30 17
FRG DL7AI 10 17
PER OA4/KA2OIG 30 17
AUS VK6HQ 30 12
Yes you can rag chew with DX stations using only QRP/CW/simple wire antennas. I think the above info proves that. Of course you do need good conditions to do it plus good ops at the other end who are willing to copy signals less than S9+. It's a big help if the op at the other end has a very quiet location as well. There is a big difference here between my home and the Community Park when we operate portable there. About a constant S5 to S6 noise level at home vs. virtually S0 noise there.
Well, enough for today. Off to get a couple projects taken care of after brunch, then hopefully I can check the bands before Bruce, Nancy, Jeff, and I head off to Ponderosa for the Friday seafood dinner buffet. I can taste it now, so I better have a very light brunch now. -30-
Thursday, October 29, 2015 7:34 PM - A cold, blustery day today. The temperature wasn't too bad in the mid to upper 50s, but the wind made it feel a lot colder. The heavy rain yesterday really raised the river. If I were sitting where I fished the other day, I would be completely under water. So I guess no fishing for a while now. If it does drop though, there are some nice looking days in the mid 60s coming up next week starting Tuesday.
I did get in some cold walks, and just got home from watching our town's Halloween parade, something I've done every year for several years now. I think the parade was a bit larger tonight than it has been. I only took a couple pictures as with my simple digital camera and not using flash so as not to disturb the marchers, they usually don't turn out all that well. Here's one I took of a pumpkin float that I thought was quite nice and clever.
It's coming up on 0000Z now, so I'll cut this short and head for the shack. But first, Tom WB3FAE has been having success on 12 meters the past couple of days. I've just got to stop getting involved in so many things and check those high bands during the day. I've got a few things scheduled for tomorrow so I don't know if that will be the day or not. -30-
Wednesday, October 28, 2015 9:03 PM - Every once in a while it is drummed into us what a great hobby is this ham radio. Although it is obvious every day that it is that great hobby, some days are a little more special than others. This evening I felt was special. I was really down because not only could I not work any DX, but couldn't even get a 'regular' rag style QSO. I thought there was a remote possibility that both my streaks might come to an end, although of course the day was far from over and if I didn't get anyone this evening, surely the morning or afternoon would provide something.
It turns out I didn't have to wait till morning. I went searching for a W/VE station calling CQ on 40. OK, here's one here about S8 calling CQ, but wait, the call starts with a C - oh, it's CO8RRM. I probably won't be able to get him since it seems there is still a lot of natural QRN in the Caribbean at this time of year even though it is dying off up here. I'll try anyway. OK, I got a QRZ? Could be me. I sent my call a couple more times and he came back with A3WWP. Hmmm, he seems talkative giving me my RST, his full QTH (Baracoa) and name (Rafael). He turned it back to me and I sent CO8RRM DE K3 K3WWP. Then I gave him the same RST, QTH, and name. I always mimic what the DX sends, be it an RST only, the full info, or anything in between. I turned it back to him and he now had my call correct and we continued on chatting about our rigs, weather, age, years in ham radio, and so on for about a dozen minutes. His English is a lot better than some W/VE ops and his CW procedure is tops. It's so nice to have QSOs like that with DX stations, and yes it can be done with QRP and simple antennas. He was running 50 watts to a dipole and copied me solidly all the way. He's 47 years old and been a ham for about 10 years. I wish we could have exchanged temperatures. I liked his 30C, and he thought my 15C sounded nice.
Some day when I have nothing else to do, I'd like to look through my log and see what the longest QSO I've had with each DX country might be. It wouldn't be all that hard to do with my Microsoft Access log and a little help from Microsoft Excel.
It was a rainy day today, but I still got involved in a lot of other things and never did get on the bands as I thought I might. Maybe someday I'll see what goes on the bands in the morning or afternoon again. -30-
Tuesday, October 27, 2015 8:39 PM - If it rains as predicted tomorrow, maybe I'll get on the bands in the afternoon and see if I can at least finish part of the NAQCC European Chapter challenge to get a participation point for the month. It's just been too nice to get tied down at the radio when you consider the nice days are numbered for this year until next spring. They need to be taken advantage of by being outdoors walking, fishing, cleaning up yards and gardens, and so forth.
I took advantage today by walking over 10 miles, helping Ange clean up his garden, and fishing. Fishing was good, and I caught another carp, number 10 for the year. This one was 28.5 inches and a very nice looking specimen unlike the one yesterday. He also put up a much better fight, probably around 8 minutes or so. That makes 32 fish for the year, leaving this year alone as my fifth worse one, and that is where it will finish unless I catch 53 more the rest of the year. That is not going to happen.
A quick DX QSO this evening added a day to the DX streak. At 0004Z, I connected with T47GDXC on 40 meters. He had me as K3WW at first, but after a couple repeats, he got it right.
This coming Sunday, Mike and I (and maybe Tom?) are heading down to Washington, PA for what sounds like a very big hamfest there. We've never gone there before. In fact we (or at least I) never even knew of it before until I got an email promoing it a couple weeks ago. That should be a lot of fun. Hopefully we'll meet some NAQCC members there. We're only visiting, not setting up a table or anything like that. Kind of like what we do at the fall Butler hamfest each year. Just visit and enjoy ourselves - maybe even find a good bargain along the way. -30-
Monday, October 26, 2015 9:09 PM - I didn't really like doing it, but I resorted to working Milan S57V again for my DX QSO. He's been my DX streak QSO three times this month now and all on the same band. It's odd how he and S58N boom in seemingly every evening on 30 meters and there are no other strong European stations being heard and really not even any weak ones save for a couple now and then like G3UJE last evening. Oh and S58MU joins the mix now and then also. Some quirk of propagation? Or is everyone else in Europe asleep at that hour which really isn't all that late over there? Whatever. This close to a thousand days of DX, I'll take whatever is available to reach that mark. Maybe when the weather turns bad which it hasn't really done yet, I'll get on more in the afternoon which is when working Europe is easiest now.
With the weather continuing nice, I'll get out and enjoy walking and fishing during the afternoons. Today it was both. I caught my 31st fish this year which ties now for only my fourth worst year. It was also my 9th carp of the year which is my best carp year since I got 14 in 2009. Maybe I'll approach that if the weather holds. The carp today was 25 inches and a pretty sad looking specimen - very dirty and somewhat slimy like a carpsucker, but definitely a carp. Usually they are a quite clean fish. I was even a bit hesitant to touch the one today, but I did to extract the hook.
I took many fall foliage pictures on my walks today. The trees are just starting to go through the peak color stage now with many turned, but many to come also. I liken taking foliage pictures to taking rainbow or sunset pictures. There is a certain time frame for all three, and if you want the good pictures, you have to be aware of that timing. -30-
Sunday, October 25, 2015 8:36 PM - I didn't need the pink note today for the 25th and won't need it for the 26th. I worked Mike F5IN late last night on 40, and the QSO this evening came quickly from Brian G3UJE on 30 meters. It wasn't an easy one, but Brian stuck with me till he got my call right. He had some flutter on his signal similar to a lot of stations last night. Tonight though, all but Brian were flutter-free. One month from today, it will be 1,000 days for the DX streak if it isn't broken before then.
I got a lot of NAQCC work done today. I finished up a couple feature articles for upcoming NAQCC newsletters, wrote our WPA Chapter news for the November newsletter, and closed out the sprint scores and stats for the October sprint.
Right now, I'm doing my laundry so I won't have to do it in the morning. In fact I don't have much at all planned for tomorrow. It's supposed to be a nice day so I will probably get in a lot of walking and maybe some fishing. -30-
Saturday, October 24, 2015 9:05 PM - Out comes the pink note with QSO on it to remind me I didn't get my DX this evening. Conditions were horrible. The only strong DX I heard was HP1RN on 30 and I just worked him there two days ago. I hope I don't wind up wishing I'd worked him anyway. The propagation numbers do not relate to conditions this evening. They're not that bad, so maybe tomorrow conditions and numbers will match up better.
Last night was not that good either, but the DX QSO was. I worked JT1AA/5 again. I always mention I like to work Mongolia and give some reasons why I do, so I won't do that again tonight. I still remember my first Mongolian QSO though - JT1DA who included a 10(? - forget the exact amount now, and am not going to go look) Tugruk bank note with his QSL.
Today started off with me cleaning the bean plants out of Ange's garden. He got some poison ivy or oak, and asked me if I wanted to do it myself today or wait a few days. I said today since it was warm, and I told him to stay away as if poison ivy or oak is 'contagious', I didn't want to get it. That took about an hour to do.
After that, I just mostly waited around for our NAQCC Anniversary Prize Drawing. This year for the first time, I wasn't involved in the drawing, except as a spectator for the 'almost live' web cast. It was nice to watch and not work. Paul N8XMS and Noz AD7TN did a very nice job with it. Immediately after it was over, I printed up the labels for the prize packages which I will mail Tuesday morning after Paul checks to be sure all the winner's QRZ addresses are correct. If not, then I'll have to print a new label. I don't forsee that happening though. We've only had one prize returned over the years and that was from Wales, because the fellow didn't want his exact correct address on QRZ for whatever reason.
It showered off and on today and I didn't get in any walks outside, just a couple inside, and I'm going to walk inside some more after I finish my web site updates here. -30-
Friday, October 23, 2015 10:02 AM - OK, the camera batteries recharged overnight and I took a couple more fill-in pictures of my power pole project this morning, so here goes with the picture story I promised.
As I said, with the dovetail connectors on the plugs (L), it was possible to accidentally engage the dovetails when inserting them into the interlocking strip and then being hard to disengage them. Also having the dovetail connectors pushed the plugs apart when inserted into the strip as shown here (R).
I thought that removing the dovetail connector from one side would solve the problem. I found the plastic very tough, and after trying to slice it off with a knife or filing it off with a file and failing, it turned out the best way to do it was to rub it off with a piece of #40 emery cloth laid flat on my desk (L). That did the trick as shown here (R). Of course there would be other ways of doing it as well, such as with a Dremel grinder, etc.
After re-installing the plugs in the strip, they now align much better as you see here without pushing on their neighbors and no accidentally interlocking the dovetails. It might even be better to remove the female half of the dovetail connectors as well, but I'm satisfied as is.
Now I've got a few more projects I might get to today since that is done, and my DX QSO was taken care of last night. Probably going fishing will be one of them as it's another nice day albeit a bit cooler than the past couple days. I may also work on a mock-up of the web site for the variety store that I talked about yesterday. Or do some preliminary work on one of our year-end NAQCC awards. Ain't it great to have things to do rather than sit around doing nothing being bored stiff. Yes, life is great if you make it that way. -30-
Thursday, October 22, 2015 9:05 PM - A fairly quick, very easy DX QSO this evening with HP1RN on 30 meters. So with some time on my hands, I did something I had been thinking about for several days now. In the entry for September 28, I described how Mike and I rigged up power pole connectors for our stations. Since then I found one drawback. When I remove one connector to replace it with another - say I switch from my regular power supply to battery, sometimes the dovetails interlock and they are very hard to get apart again. Also the dovetails on the side of the plugs push adjacent plugs apart if the dovetails are not engaged. So I decided to file or sand off the dovetail protrusions from one side of the plug. The plastic turned out to be very tough, and I found the best way to do the job was using #40 emery cloth laid on a flat surface with the connector rubbed over it. The bottom line is it worked and I no longer have to contend with unintentionally joined dovetail connections nor plugs pushing on adjacent plugs. I took some pictures, but my camera batteries died in the middle of the project, and I didn't have another charged pair ready. So I'll finish the pictures and try to get them posted tomorrow to more clearly describe the process.
I went fishing today but got shut out. Also a little shopping at a variety store about a block away. It's a converted railroad station called Ol' Station Marketplace. I've gotten to know the owner quite well, and we were talking about a web site for the store which I said I'd help her design up to a point. Those things plus some walking and computer game playing filled up my day. Now it's out to get the temperature readings. -30-
Wednesday, October 21, 2015 9:47 PM - Mike came down for a kind of impromptu visit this evening. We started off with a visit to Ponderosa (suprise) for their dinner buffet. I'm glad we chose them. It seemed their always good variety of food was even better than usual this evening. I'm also glad I kind of fasted in expectation after Mike said he was coming down. I had a really built up appetite.
When we came back here, it was right to the shack since it was just past 0000Z. The two Slovenians I've worked on 30 in the past week or so were still there booming in. I let Mike work S57V, then I looked for something else to work since I had just worked him 7 days ago, and didn't want to work him again on the same band so soon. However I did relent since I wanted to secure the DX streak because I do have a somewhat busy day planned for tomorrow. After I worked him, Mike worked the other Slovenian and also 8P9AL. I passed on them figuring I would 'ration' them out in case I needed to work them for the streak sometime in the next few days. I'm at the point now with 34 days to go for 1,000 in the DX streak, I want to do whatever it takes to make it, and still not violate some of my rules like not working the same station too often, and so forth. The S5 station made it five days in a row for working Europe and 7 of the past 8. Nice to be working Europe again pretty easily.
A 72 degree day was ideal for fishing and walking. The fish showed up today too. I caught two 13.5 inch suckers (or the same one twice?). The second one just about took my pole in the river with him. I didn't have the drag set quite loose enough. I can't recall a sucker hitting that hard. My first reaction before I grabbed the pole was it must be a carp, but I knew it wasn't as soon as I felt it. So the two suckers made it 29 fish for the year now. That's tied for the fourth worst year now since 1992. Three more and I'll have the fifth worst year all alone now. I plan on going tomorrow and Friday at least, and next week looks pretty good also as far as weather goes. -30-
Tuesday, October 20, 2015 8:36 PM - A nice day with a lot of sun and a high around 70 so a lot of outside things today. Fishing was a shutout, but that didn't really matter as I enjoyed sitting out in the nice weather. I did get a couple bites and had one small fish on, but he quickly threw the hook.
Home then to help Ange trim some branches off a chestnut tree. A bit rougher than we thought, but we got it done in a couple hours.
A trip to the PO to mail a NAQCC prize plus a couple shopping trips and a couple just plain walks added up to let's see....10.8 miles so far.
The bands were good again this evening, and a QSO with Feri HA3FTA on 40 took care of the DX streak quickly after a struggle with a XQ6 station on 30. I couldn't get his call, and he couldn't get mine so that was a non-QSO. A CQ a little later on 40 netted a QSO with NAQCC member Jerry NF5U.
That in a nutshell is my day today (so far). -30-
Monday, October 19, 2015 10:04 AM - Since it looks like most of my DX from now on will not be coming in the normal 0000Z hour, I've decided to add another column to my streak table on the home page. It will be for my DX QSO of the day whether it is a QSO from the main streak or a separate one gotten later in the day. My main objective is to keep the main streak going, so if DX looks unlikely in the 0000Z hour, I will solidify that streak with a W/VE QSO and try for the DX later that evening or the following morning/afternoon. Hope I don't jinx the DX streak by so doing. HI
Looks like a nice sunny day today although only predicted to get into the mid 50s or so after frost this morning. I've left one Siberian tomato plant in my garden and I covered it last night. We're supposed to have temperatures in the 60s starting tomorrow and continuing the rest of the month into the early part of November so I want to see if I can coax a couple more tomatoes out of the plant.
If the prediction of the 60s temperatures turns out accurate, I also will try to coax some more fish into my fishing log for the year. I'd like this year to turn out a bit better than the third worst year. I should pass a couple more years with just a few more fish. We'll see.
Right now I'm doing my laundry and it should be ready to take out of the dryer in a few minutes so I'll close this with one more thing.
I did get my DX QSO today from EI90IARU on 17 meters which of late seems to be the best daytime DX band for the time being anyway. So 37 days from 1,000 now. The QSO also gave me 7 letters/numbers for the NAQCC European Chapter challenge this month. -30-
Sunday, October 18, 2015 7:18 PM - Just sitting here killing time till 0000Z comes when I go to get my streak(s) QSO and also do the final phase of NAQCC Sprint log cross-checking. So I thought I'd get my diary entry written while waiting.
I did get my DX QSO last night in the WAG contest at 0232Z on 40 when I worked Stefan DL1IAO. I can just about with certainty count on his great 'ears' picking up my minimal QRP signal. That was the 49th time I've worked him over the years.
I was thinking that perhaps the 42 QSOs on 80 in our NAQCC sprint was my best single band total in any of our sprints, but I checked a little while ago and it wasn't. I stopped checking after finding 52 80 meter QSOs in our January 2011 sprint.
Long-time diary readers may remember the microwave sausage mystery of a few years ago. Now I've noticed something peculiar again about microwaving things. I've always cooked chestnuts in the microwave by punching a small X in both sides with a pointed knife and microwaving them for 34 seconds which I established as just about the optimum time years ago. Well just out of curiosity because a friend of mine said he microwaves them for a minute, I decided to gradually increase the time here to see if there is any difference. As soon as I went to 35 seconds last night and 36 tonight, I noticed the little X widened into a crack in the shell making it easy to 'peel' them. That happened in 6 of the 8 I microwaved.
That's the little kid still left in me. I enjoy finding out more about everything in life whether it only bores other people or not. It's one thing that keeps folks from growing old if they continue to learn things even though those things are extremely far from earth-shaking. -30-
Saturday, October 17, 2015 8:27 PM - I thought the WAG contest would provide me a quick German contact on 40 meters this evening, but not so. I only heard 3 Germans and all were so weak I couldn't have been able to tell if they came back to me or not should they miraculously even hear me. So another DXless evening unless the Europe path is better later this evening on 40. If not then possibly tomorrow morning before the WAG contest ends.
I did hear a couple JAs on 15, but they likewise were very weak. I did solidify the big streak easily though right at 0000Z when I worked W1AW/6 on 17 meters. I don't know what they are doing out in California and actually don't really care as long as I worked them for the streak.
Another day without much to talk about. It was a cold windy cloudy day. It just barely made it to 50 but felt a lot colder with the breeze. The only other thing of note was getting another new build in the Windows 10 Insider Preview program. The new build seems to have speeded things up inside the VM in which I am running the previews.
Oh, I did get our final stats from the N3A parkpedition on Monday. We made 87 QSOs from 31 states. We worked one DX station and one other N#A call. Four VE provinces. QSOs by band: 40 - 31, 30 - 39, 20 - 17. We are very pleased with those results considering the band conditions of late. -30-
Friday, October 16, 2015 9:26 AM - Last night I talked about a couple aspects of my DX streak. There is another one also. I'm finding that as conditions worsen, I get more satisfaction when I have to pull out all the stops to get my DX QSO. Even after 52+ years of ham radio and the last 23 or so years really chasing DX, there are still little nuances about the chase that I learn. I guess there is always something to learn about the quirks of propagation. What bands are best at the moment and most likely to provide a DX QSO? Is it worthwhile to keep trying that station, or give up and look for someone else? Those things, among others, do not have any definite specific answers and are something that must be learned through experience. You have to develop a feel for such things. Kind of a sixth sense that only comes from hours upon hours of getting on the bands and getting to know them like the back of your hand.
Another thing is to never rely completely on any kind of propagation predictions. Too many folks glance at some prediction that says conditions are poor and don't even bother to get on the bands. Thus we have open bands, but no one there to take advantage of them. Also you can't assume that such and such a band will not be open at such and such a time. The old adage (joke?) about the word assume definitely applies here. Often a band WILL be open at a time it is not supposed to be and to those who do get on and explore, it can sometimes bring some choice DX.
In the olden days of yore before band scanners, panadapters, and the like, it was very time consuming to have to manually scan the bands to see if there was any activity on them. Nowadays with my Elecraft PX3 panadapter, it takes but a few seconds to see if a band has any activity. Well, actually more like a couple minutes to be sure since there could only be a few stations on and the first glance caught all of them in a pause or when the other stations in the QSOs were transmitting but unable to be heard (or seen). I can't say often enough how much countless time my PX3 has saved since I got it. To give proper credit also to its predecessor, the computer panadapter HDSDR performed the same service. No one with a panadapter has any excuse for not exploring the bands since it takes so little time.
I got great satisfaction early this morning (1311Z) when I extended my DX streak to 960 days by working IK7JWY on a band that should have been dead or nearly so at that time - 15 meters. Also IK7JWY shouldn't have been strong enough to work with my QRP and dipole, but after a few failed tries and a couple repeats when he did hear me, I had my DX QSO for today. So now I can relax the rest of the day and tend to some other things.
My cousin is coming for a visit this morning. He is the last surviving relative in the same generation as I am. Then later I'll be working with Bruce next door on a couple things. Those plus other daily chores that won't be interrupted by a search for DX. A bit chilly for fishing, so I probably will skip that. I'm looking at a couple of nice days in the 60s next week to try to improve on my 2015 fish total.
Might as well ramble on a bit more here. We're at 121 logs received for our NAQCC sprint so far. I thought there would be more by now with all the nice prizes involved for our 11th anniversary. If you happened to be in the sprint and only made a few QSOs, or even one, you are still eligible for the prize drawing. So get your log in before the Sunday deadline at 2400Z. Think I'll do a little preliminary log cross-checking now while I await my cousin's arrival. -30-