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2017-03-01 00:00:00 GMT-05:00 TILL SPRING ARRIVES

Tue Feb 21 2017 11:15AM - I just finished my ARRL DX Contest story so that will stand as my diary entry for today. It's in the CONTESTING section Stories page - first link in the table there. I'd like to hear your comments if any. Thanks. -30-

Mon Feb 20 2017 6:25PM - A great day all around today. Great weather, a great visit with Mike, some work done on my contest report, etc.

Mike arrived a little past 9 this morning. We talked about various things, then I had to take Roscoe out for a walk. Some more talk and planning our trip to the hamfest near Pittsburgh on Sunday along with some other NAQCC WPA Chapter activities for this year. Then up to my shack to check on the bands. They turned out to be pretty good. We both worked EI11WAW on a single call, then Mike got C6AKQ on a single call. We heard some other DX, but didn't work anyone else.

Next it was off to Applebee's in the Pittsburgh Mills for a fish and chips, or in my case a fish and rings lunch. After that, it was over to Best Buy to look around, and wound up buying some things. We both got a new USB keyboard, Mike got a new mouse, and I got ink for my new printer and a 128 GB flash drive. Then we walked through the main mall just looking around. We headed back home and when we got here I installed my new keyboard, and right now I'm getting used to it. It has a different feel from the one I used for several years. The key caps are more square topped than the old one. Also for some reason I'm having positioning problems with the right shift key. My little finger just doesn't seem to hit it exactly as it should, but I'll adjust to that.

Next up, Mike played a hidden object on the computer before heading home to be up early in the morning.

I still have a long way to go on my story of my experience in the ARRL DX contest. I hope to get that done in a few days and get it posted here on the web site.

Also I have to send out the promo for our NAQCC sprint tomorrow evening which I'll do a little later tonight after I get on the bands for my streak QSOs.

Almost forget to post this picture:

Although it isn't the clearest picture since it was snapped in a hurry before he moved and with a screen window in the way, I'm sure you can tell it's a robin. The first one I've seen this year. And Mike and I were just talking about the robins showing up soon, and lo and behold this one must have heard us.

So I'll close for now. -30-

Sun Feb 19 2017 7:22PM - Lots of fun in the ARRL DX test. I spent a lot more time than I thought I would because I was enjoying myself. Conditions were spotty but overall not bad for a Solar Flux in the 70s. I'm going to write a contest story so I won't say much more about it here. I wound up with 214 QSOs from 120 multipliers. I'm pleased with that.

Right now I'm going to do my laundry since Mike is visiting tomorrow and I want to get that out of the way tonight.

No DX this evening after 0000Z. The bands suffered a sudden death as soon as the contest ended. But man were they busy, especially 40 meters the last hour. Well, I said no more about the contest, so that's it. -30-

Sat Feb 18 2017 7:40PM - I'm a little brain weary now even though I didn't put in all that much time in the ARRL DX test. Only 119 QSOs so far which actually beat my first goal of 100. Now I think I'll shoot for 200. I'm finding my endurance is not as great as it was when I was younger. I guess a lot of things fade with age. HI

I did try for (or at least look for) Asia on 40 and KL7 on 80 to complete 40M WAC and 80M WAS, but no luck so far. I did hear 4X4NJ fairly strong on 40 last evening, but couldn't break the pileup.

We hit 70 degrees on my AcuRite remote unit today. I enjoyed that via a pretty long walk during one of my several breaks from the DX test. Sure felt good to walk in just a short sleeve T shirt on February 18. If my main thermometer in the shelter also shows 70, that will be one of only a few 70(+) degrees days in my February records going back to 1959. I think I'll check on that and report in a couple days. -30-

Fri Feb 17 2017 10:34AM - One thing I've always tried to do with my web site is to keep all the URLs constant so that if anyone adds a page to their favorites, the link will always work despite the page content being changed (often quite a bit). The only real major change other than adding completely new pages came March 17, 2009 when Alltel became Windstream and every page URL changed. That change resulted in a big dropoff in site visitors as folks who didn't vist the site regularly weren't aware of the change despite my publicizing it well in advance and often.

Even when I added a second hosting service in k3wwp.com, I kept all the individual page URLs the same so that the only change to the URLs was from home.windstream.net to k3wwp.com. Even that wasn't really a change, since I also kept my Windstream site as pretty much an exact mirror site of k3wwp.com.

I mention that mainly because I just checked all the links on my QRP Rigs page and there were many changes in URLs there, and it wasn't all that long ago I checked things. Lesson to be learned - if you have a web site, try your best to keep all URLs constant.

I probably shouldn't say this, but it looks like Spring may be starting 12 days early this year. After today in the mid to upper 40s, the highs for at least the next 7 days will be in the 50s. It will be interesting to see how this winter compares to past mild winters after all my February stats are in after the 28th. Right now, the 2015-2016 winter is the mildest with a Dec-Jan mean of 35.6 or 6.3 above normal. The maximum was 44.9 or 7.1 above normal. The minimum was 26.4 or 5.5 above normal. So far this winter the Dec mean was 2.2 above normal. January 8.3 above. Roughly figuring, to make this the mildest winter February would have to be 8.5 above. Or going by actual average instead of departures, February would need a mean of 38.4. According to my AcuRite average which is my backup to my actual mercury in glass maximum - minimum thermometer, so far February's mean is only 34.0 so we will need those days in the 50s to have a chance for this to be our mildest winter. Time will tell. -30-

Thu Feb 16 2017 7:42PM - A quick DX fix these evening with a lot of stations doing prep work for the ARRL DX test coming up Saturday and Sunday. In fact two quick fixes. First I worked NP2/K4XU on 40, then heard CT9/DL5LYM and thinking I haven't had an African for my DX QSO for a while, I'd work him also and got a bit of a surprise when I got him with a single call. That was also on 40. So I would say barring something entirely unsuspected, the streak is secure for at least two more days with the DX test.

I'm continuing to tweak different things on the web site. There are some pages I haven't done anything with for a few years now. They don't really need any major changing, just as I say, tweaking here and there. I'm listing the tweaks in the What's New section on the main page. If there are only one or two minor tweaks, I don't list them. Anything more significant than that, I'll list.

After a cold night tonight with a low around 20, we've got about 7-8 days in a row with highs in the 50s. That is just so great, I can hardly stand it. HI. I wish every winter could be like this one from now on. -30-

Wed Feb 15 2017 5:55PM - As you know if you've looked at the new What's New section on the main page of my web site, I've been making quite a few changes lately. Some involve changing page names, adding pages, and changing some links to conform to those changes. If you see anything that doesn't work or look right, please let me know. In a site as complex as mine with some pages on different servers, it's not easy to keep everything straight.

I got my DX streak later last night when I worked C6AKQ on 80 meters. I think that's my first DX on 80 in a while outside of contests, perhaps. Let's see. I only have 185 QRP DX QSOs on 80 meters. The last one before last evening was S53A last November 17. Only 16 of the 185 have come outside of contests. Only 3 of those from Europe - YO3APJ, ON5GK, and S53A. I never checked that before. It's interesting and pretty much shows that while it's not too hard working DX on 80 in contests, it is somewhat hard otherwise.

The non-winter is continuing, and it is really appreciated. Looks like several days in the next week or so will have high temperatures in the 50s. I only hope we don't have a replay of 1960 when winter didn't really show up until March and hung around for three weeks with quite a bit of s--w and cold weather down to minus 2 F.

Just waiting around for 0000Z and hopefully getting my DX QSO this evening. I've been hearing stations setting up for the ARRL DX test. They are very strong, but with equally strong and large pileups. The pileups are apparently other contesters testing equipment since none of what I've been hearing is by any means rare - FG, FM, CT9 and the like. Maybe I can squeeze in my call and work one of them tonight.

Looking forward to a couple things coming up in the next couple weeks. A visit from Mike on Presidents Day, and going to my first hamfest of the year in the South Hills of Pittsburgh with Mike, Tom, Jody and maybe some other NAQCC WPA Chapter members. If the weather permits, that is. -30-

Tue Feb 14 2017 6:24PM - A busy day today from start till now. I won't mention the routine things. I cut my hair for one non-routine thing. At least not a daily routine thing, but something like a 4-6 week routine. I gave my bathroom a good cleaning. I did some shopping, getting some snacks for myself and a couple bags of snacks for Roscoe.

I've gotten a couple emails from HP lately about a possible defective battery in my laptop. I wasn't sure they were legit, so I went to the HP web site instead of responding to or clicking any links in the emails. Indeed it was legit. I downloaded a program from the site, and it checked my battery and reported it was one of the possibly defective ones that could overheat. There was a form to fill out to order a free replacement. I filled it out and got a confirmation email back from them saying they were sending the replacement and gave me a tracking number to track the package. You know, that worked out well, because the battery was getting old and not holding as much of a charge as it once did. In fact last year I was going to order a new one, but I couldn't find one locally, so I never did order one. Now I'll be getting one for free from HP. I have never gotten involved in any product recalls before that I can remember.

I also did a little more work on the web site. You can see what I did in the new What's New feature on the main page. As I'm typing this, I just realized I have one more thing to take care of which I'm going to do as soon as I close this entry. I made up a new poll today, actually a repeat of one I posted a few years ago, and I've got to get it up and running. I've got 25 minutes before streak time so I'll try to get it going before then.

Oh, I also replanted some more pepper seeds today, as neither the first nor second batches ever sprouted. This time I went back to some seeds from 2015 instead of last year. Maybe last year's were defective somehow. We'll see. -30-

Mon Feb 13 2017 4:24PM - My DX QSO for today came last evening when I worked OK1FFU on 40 meters. I was a bit surprised to get him as he wasn't all that strong, but he stuck with me through several repeats of my call.

I've added what I think is an important little feature to my web site. It's a What's New item on the main page of the site. There I'll list changes, additions, etc. to the web site. I often think that regular visitors to my site can't possibly read my mind to know what has changed unless I mention them in my diary. Then they get kind of lost as the diary grows and the change slips down the page. This way, they'll be listed right on the main page and pretty much stay intact there for a month or maybe two - however long I choose to let them stay. The number of site visitors has been falling off lately. Perhaps this will help the number to pick up again. Of course there are many more ham web sites now to be perused than when I started my site over 20 years ago. I'm sure that's another reason for the decline.

Perhaps restoring my guestbook will help also. That will provide a very easy way to contact me with any questions, comments, etc. I've already had 14 signers since restoring it a couple days ago. I'm very pleased with that and also pleased with how nicely it works. With the old guestbooks, I had to copy all the info into a local viewing page as that was the only way I could preview before posting anything with that guestbook. This one, after I get an email notification of a new signing, all I need to do is read the item, then click a link on the guestbook site to approve or reject the post. If I approve, it is posted verbatim immediately.

We had a bit of s#$w during the night, but most of it melted during the day today. We're getting to that time of year when the sun is high enough in the sky that its ability to heat the ground is becoming more and more effective, even though the actual air temperature is not all that far above freezing. It seems that point is reached just about this time every year and s#$w that comes now, unless there is a lot of it, gets the you're not welcome message. In March it's even better. I remember in the blizzard of 1993, some two feet of s#$w was gone in a matter of a few days.

New readers of the diary may wonder why I use s#$w when I mention that white stuff. Well, to me s#$w is one of the more obscene four letter words and I do not want any obscenities in my diary or anywhere on my web site.

OK, I think I'll do some work on my streak stories now. And you'll see an item in the What's New section when I finish the work.

One final thing. I heard from Steve WB8IMY about the article for QST he requested I write. To paraphrase what he said, he has asked an assistant to send me a release form and he will get it into the QST schedule. I'll also get a .pdf preview file of it before they go to press. No info yet on which issue it will be in. Anyway I'm excited about it. I must have read it over around 50 times until finally I read it through without making any more changes and then submitted it. Thanks to Mike KC2EGL and Tom WB3FAE for looking it over and making a couple suggestions. -30-

Sun Feb 12 2017 4:05PM - I've just finished revising my streak stories I alluded to in the diary entry yesterday. I've got a separate page for each one of the different streaks - past and ongoing. All the navigation setup is complete. Each individual story is linked to a QSL Stories page in the QRP section. Some of the stories are pretty bareboned right now, and I'll have to flesh them out. That will come with time.

That work took up a good part of the day, although I did manage a shopping trip. Couldn't resist going for a walk in the 50 degree weather which really cleaned up the ugly messy s#$w with the help of a couple rain showers and some wind. -30-

Sat Feb 11 2017 4:28PM - Oh what a beautiful day. A high of 53 and every time I look out a window there is less s#$w left on the ground from our 5 inches or so a couple days ago. With rain tonight and tomorrow and mid-50s temperatures that should quickly dispatch what remains.

Still tweaking things of my web site. Found one page that still referred to a link in the left column from the days before I switched the site navigation from left column to the top of a page.

I'm also thinking about devoting separate pages to descriptions of eight different streaks I've had over the years instead of having them all on just two pages. That's well in the future although I have listed the eight streaks on the QRP Streaks page in the QRP section.

I also submitted some endorsements to my NAQCC awards to our NAQCC awards manager John KK1X.

Another thing I did today being a busy little beaver was submitting my QST article and pictures to Steve WB8IMY. I would guess I have a good chance at having it published since he requested the article from me. It wasn't just something I submitted on my own in hopes of having it published.

I didn't have to worry about my DX streak QSO during the day today since I worked FG/F5PGA (wonder if he's a pro golfer? HI) last evening in the 0000Z hour on 40 meters.

I hate to say this for fear of a jinx, but the next couple weeks before and after the ARRL DX contest may make the DX streak QSOs a little easier to get. Stations will be testing setups the first week and just hanging out after the contest the following week getting some relaxing type QSOs. I'm really hoping to make it through February to reach the 4 year mark on the 28th. -30-

Fri Feb 10 2017 3:12PM - Tale of the missing QSO II. Back on January 27 I wrote about how VA1MM was missing from my logs. Well, here's another tale of a missing QSO with the same happy ending. With the NAQCC QRPp challenge this month, I've been researching some of my QRPp history. I remembered several years ago, I had a QRPp streak of at least one full year. So I went through my computer log filtering it for 1 watt or less QSOs. Aha, here are a lot of consecutive dates with such QSOs. Let's see the time span. OK, it starts on May 1, 2010. When does it end? May 2011 - still going. Jun 2011 - 30 days. Oh, here it is - nothing between July 21 and 31, 2011. So I pulled out the first mW QSO of the day from May 1, 2010 to July 21, 2011 from Access into Excel and glanced through the list. Hmmm, nothing for June 17, 2010, so I then counted QSOs for each month. The very next month July 2010 had only 30 QSOs. All the rest through July 2011 are OK. So off to my filing cabinet and my paper logs for 2010 after seeing I had a QSO with K4UK on June 17, and one with WB2YRL on July 25 in the computer, but both listed as 5 watts. However the paper logs definitely show the K4UK QSO was made with 930 mW which was the power I used for QRPp then with an RF attenuator and the TS480SAT. Why that figure? Those were the only resistors I had on hand to make an attenuator. OK, that's solved. Force of habit made me log the QSO at 5 watts instead of the correct .93 watts.

That wasn't a missing QSO though. So here (a la the late Paul Harvey) is the rest of the story. WB2YRL showed up in the paper log right at the bottom of a page, but it was definitely a 5 watt QSO. Let's turn the page. OK, there was another QSO on July 25. It was WA9JTU and definitely at .93 watts. Almost the same ending except this QSO was in my paper log, but not in the computer log. Oh, I never checked yet to see if it is in my on line log. I may have to add it there. Let's see. Nope, not there either. I'll have to add it, and also do some adjusting of my QSO stats. I hate getting older and more forgetful or maybe just more careless about things.

For a while today, it looked like the DX streak was in peril. I was only hearing a couple very weak DX stations in the 1300 and 1400Z hours. TI7/W1VE was the strongest, but he'd go from about S6 down into my S2-3 noise repeatedly. I gave up trying him because I couldn't tell if he would come back to me or not. Finally in the 1500Z hour I found XE3ARV on 17M and remembered that he has worked me before when conditions were poor. He was only about S5 with some S6 peaks. Anyway I tried him and after he worked one or two other stations, it was my turn after a K3? from him. A couple repeats of my call and another day is secure in the DX streak. -30-

Thu Feb 09 2017 9:27AM - It's so so depressing. About 4 ugly inches of s#@w overnight. That's all I'll say about it. Let's move on to some pleasant uplifting things.

I finished the NAQCC February QRPp challenge last night when I worked C6ARU and VE2MF. Actually C6ARU was a triple threat - daily QSO, DX QSO, and QRPp QSO. I got my money's worth from that QSO.

Here are the 15 stations I worked for the challenge - P40LE* WA2DRG VO2NS* KP4JRS* W5CBT* KP2M* K1ARR PV8ADI* N4KS/MM* P49X* N9PR CO8LY* PJ2/KB7Q* C6ARU VE2MF.

Those marked with an asterisk qualify as 1,000 MPW QSOs. I'm not sure about C6ARU as he is almost exactly 1,000 miles according to QRZ. I'll have to do some further checking.

I found some new QRPp band countries among the 15 - PV8ADI 40, KP2M 40, PJ2/KB7Q 30. I need to concentrate more on adding QRPp countries. I often work someone easily with 5 watts, then think darn it, I should have tried him with QRPp. I could easily be over 100 QRPp countries if I thought more about it. Maybe I'll do that in the upcoming ARRL DX test. With conditions as they are, I don't think I'll put in all that much time in the contest especially if I sense a lot of folks are having too much trouble copying me. I hate to slow them down like that just for my selfish purposes.

I'm getting a couple guestbook entries a day since installing the new guestbook. It's working as smooth as silk. I think I have it tweaked to just where I want it now. Hope to see an entry from you there soon.

Well, just about time for Roscoe's first walk of the day. -30-

Wed Feb 08 2017 10:07AM - Thanks to the six of you who signed the new guestbook. Everything is going smoothly with it. Those who left an email in the entry (it's optional), I replied to.

I got three more QRPp QSOs yesterday and last night. Two were DX (CO8LY and PJ2/KLB7Q). That leaves two more to go. I think I'll try to finish it out today.

It looks like some of the ugly white stuff is on tap tonight. The only good thing about it is that it's coming at this time of winter. Much better than coming earlier and lasting forever. It's supposed to be in the 50s this weekend, so hopefully that will deal a death blow to most of it.

I'm continuing to do some more tweaking of the web site. Yesterday I made some navigation changes in the DX and QSL sections to keep them a little more independent of each other. Today I'll look to see if there is anything else I'd like to tweak. -30-

Tue Feb 07 2017 9:30AM - I'm just waiting here for the rain to stop. Isn't it great to have rain in February instead of that ugly white stuff! When it does stop, I'll take Roscoe out, then we're taking him to the vet for a toenail trimming.

Meanwhile I thought I'd write my diary entry. I got two more QRPp QSOs this morning, one a /MM and the other a DX. Both over 1,000 miles. That makes 10 down and 5 to go to master the NAQCC QRPp challenge. 8 of the 10 have been over 1,000 miles (1,024 to 2,876).

I'm still awaiting some more entries in my new guestbook. It seems to be working fine, but there still might be some bugs. I'll need more entries to be sure. I added a couple of graphics to replace the simple text navigation instructions. I think that will make it clearer as to how to get around in the book. So even if you just say hello, I hope you'll give it a try.

I've also been updating some other features on the web site. I found some things that I haven't updated since 2014 now. Especially my info on QSLing in the QSL section of the site. I'll be checking out some more things today after we get Roscoe taken care of.

OK, time to get going now. -30-

Mon Feb 06 2017 9:35AM - I got my DX last night working PV8ADI on 40M, this time with just 1 watt which also made my 8th QRPp QSO for the NAQCC challenge. Just 7 to go now to master the challenge. 6 of the 8 so far are over 1,000 miles for 1000+ MPW QSO's.

Wasn't that a great Super Bowl. I wish I'd had more interest in it and had watched it. It's nice to see another team with 5 SB wins now. I hope one of them ties the Steeler's 6 next year. I'm tired of all the local gloating about the Steelers. At least now there is a team with more SB appearences in the Pats - 9 vs. 8. If there isn't a team with a chance to get their 6th win, of course I'll be rooting for my Raiders. If they can keep a healthy team next year, I think they have a good chance.

OK, on now to my new guestbook. After having trouble with the captcha because of the difficulty of telling some lower case letters from their upper case equivalent, I simply eliminated that feature. This guestbook from Guestbook Central is very customizable for a free guestbook. Wish I'd found it long ago. I also added an email field so I can contact the signers if need be, or just to thank them directly for signing. More in a couple minutes after I take Roscoe out for his first walk of the day. QRX.

OK, back now. Where was I? I also changed the background color of the guestbook to match the rest of my site. I added my logo to the guestbook page also. There are still some more tweaks I'm thinking about to enhance the layout a bit.

Meanwhile thanks to Mark W4MMR for testing the guestbook and including some very nice comments in the posting. Everything went smoothly with his post and several test posts I made (and subsequently deleted). If you have any comments or suggestions about the guestbook, simply sign the guestbook and leave them there. Thanks. -30-

Sun Feb 05 2017 12:43PM - After getting my DX QSO from a single call to ZF2LC on 17 meters, I've spent the last hour doing something I've been putting off for a couple months now.

I've installed a new guestbook so you can return to submitting your previous great comments easily. Just click the "Sign Guestbook" link above where you'll find options to sign or view the new guestbook, or view entries from previous guestbooks. I hope you'll at least try to sign it to help me work out any bugs. Your entry won't appear in the guestbook until I approve it. That plus using a captcha are attempts to prevent the spam flooding that forced me to close the previous guestbook. I may decide to omit the captcha if I feel it is not really necessary.

Right now, it's pretty bare-bones looking. After ironing out any bugs that may pop up, I'll do some "re-modeling".

That's it for this entry. Now I may try to get a couple mW QSOs for the NAQCC monthly challenge. Hope your team wins the Super Bowl. I don't have any preferences since quarterback injuries prevented my Raiders from getting there. -30-

Sat Feb 04 2017 8:08PM - Two stones - No birds. Or something like that. I didn't get either a mW or a DX QSO this evening. I did work Roger KF8DA on 80 meters though for the main streak QSO.

How about some pictures to save me 3,000 words. The first one shows the progress of my tomatoes (left) vs. the non-progress of my pepper plants (right).

Next the progress of the sun spot on my wall. On December 21 when the sun is at its lowest elevation, the spot (left arrow) is at its highest on the wall. Today a few minutes later than when this picture was taken, the spot crossed the line at the right arrow. In only a couple more days, the spot will be below the chart. A neat way to watch the progress of the sun as spring approaches and it gets higher in the sky providing more warmth as the days go by.
Sun Spot

Here is what the view out my kitchen window looked like on most of the days this winter. No s#$w in sight. Ain't it great!
No Snow


Fri Feb 03 2017 7:24PM - One stone - Two birds. I worked KP2M on 40 at 0003Z with 1 watt. Even beat out a couple other stations I heard calling in the background. The two birds if you haven't figured them out yet? Of course my DX streak QSO and also my NAQCC QRPp challenge QSO #6 for the month. Later I worked #7 in K1ARR and earlier today on 20 it was #5 from W5CBT. We had a nice rag chew QSO till his XYL called him for something. I guess QRPp does work even with the sunspot cycle on the decline. As if I didn't know that already. HI

I don't honor s#$w by keeping s#$wfall amounts as part of my weather records, but I would say this is one of our least s#$wy winters in a good long while. The vast overwhelming number of days this winter season have seen bare ground, and that delights me. Let's hope the next 25 days till spring remain the same, and then that we don't have any early spring s#$ws after that.

I still can't figure why my pepper seeds haven't sprouted yet. I think I am going to have to do some re-seeding of them. All 8 tomato plants are coming along nicely although one is very tiny still. Hopefully I'll have tomatoes before June this year. I didn't make it last year although I did have my earliest ever peppers then. -30-

Thu Feb 02 2017 6:05PM - Sometimes I'm sure I don't know what I'm talking about. I said this month's NAQCC QRPp challenge was going to be tough, especially with the provision that 2 of the 15 QRPp QSOs required to master the challenge must be DX QSOs. Well, from yesterday and last evening I already have 4 of the 15 QSOs including 3 DX QSOs. Actually the challenge accepts Canada as DX which I don't. So I really have 2 true DX, 1 VE, and 1 W stations.

I did try a couple times today to add some QRPp QSOs, but didn't have any luck so far. Still I should be able to get 11 more to completely master the challenge.

When I worked KP4JRS last night as the last of the three DX QSOs, I was so intent on getting the QSO for the challenge it didn't dawn on me for a minute or two that was also my DX streak QSO for the day.

It sure is nice to follow the progress of winter into spring. As I write this, the sky is not completely dark yet. Also another sign is the rising of Sirius earlier and earlier. Tonight it rose right at 6PM and the sky was fairly bright still. It's also nice to see the sun higher in the sky each day now. Actually around here it's just nice to see the sun - period - with all the clouds we have during winter.

I can understand how the ancients valued these and similar signs as they left the dread and cold of winter and moved on to spring.

Actually this has been a pretty good winter so far. I was thinking about s#$w cover today. I don't think we had more than 1-2 inches on the ground so far. It's been very well behaved and not overstaying its "welcome". I've had many the occasion of watching it melt away this winter. -30-

Wed Feb 01 2017 8:50AM - I used a new source for my DX QSOs this morning - the CWOps CWT mini-test. I wasn't sure non-members could enter those or not. I checked the rules and easily worked IK0YVV with a single call to start another month of the DX streak.

The NAQCC challenge this month is going to really be a challenge. It's making 15 QRPp QSOs that include at least 2 DX QSOs. With the sunspots decreasing rapidly and good conditions along with them, it's becoming harder making QSOs even with 5 watts. Not impossible by any means, but it does take more time now. Also no contest QSOs are allowed so that makes it doubly tricky. I will give it a shot though. At least I'll be able to make one such QSO to get my participation point and keep my record of never missing one of our challenges.

I wound up doing my weather records last night and January was indeed well above normal. Not a record, but the mean daily temperature was 8.3 degrees above normal at 35.3 degrees. In fact that happens to be higher than the normal maximum daily temperature of 35.1 degrees. The record daily mean? 36.8 in 2006.

Right now we just had a brief s#$w flurry that put a light ugly white coating on the ground. It's 35 degrees though, so it may not last. I see drops coming off my porch awning as I type, in fact. Now I need to decide if I want to do my banking walk or not. -30-

Tue Jan 31 2017 8:47PM - Back to normal this evening - no DX. So guess what I'll be doing in the morning or afternoon.

I just got finished writing checks and doing some other end of the month things so my head is swimming with figures. I've got just about all the EOM stuff taken care of except entering the January weather into the computer. I suspect the month will turn out quite a bit above normal, at least if gas consumption is any indication. If I read my meter correctly (it was fogged up a bit), my usage was around 75% that of January 2016. We'll see later tonight or tomorrow.

Also tomorrow morning, it will be off to the bank and a couple other places to pay some bills.

It was a nice day today. We woke up to some s#$w, but then it warmed to the upper 30s and changed to rain. Now most of the inch or so ugly white stuff is gone, thank goodness. -30-

Mon Jan 30 2017 8:15PM - Strange conditions this evening, or perhaps it should be said conditions that may become more typical as we move down toward the sunspot minimum. When I went to the shack at the usual time of 0000Z and tuned around a bit, I found PJ2ND strong (peaking S9+) on 30 meters. I tried a few times but always lost out to someone else. Then he faded right down into my S4-5 noise level rapidly and stayed there at least for a few minutes after which I gave up and went down to 80 to find a W/VE QSO for the main streak.

After I had a long visit with NJ8D from Homer, Michigan, I went back to 30 to see if any other DX stations were there. Lo and behold PJ2ND was still at the same spot. He wasn't as strong as originally - perhaps peaking s7-8 now. I worked him easily then with a couple repeats.

I'm glad I got my DX this evening since tomorrow will be a busy day with all my usual end of the month work to take care of. Also we're taking Roscoe to get his nails trimmed and that will be early in the morning near the time when I've been getting a lot of my DX lately.

Anyway now the DX streak has passed another month and if I can make it last through February, a QSO on the 28th will complete four full years of daily DX QSOs. Whew!

Since I won't be getting on the air again today, I'm going to now upload my January QSOs to LoTW and eQSL as I do at the end of each month.

Oh, I had a question about my "Spring" countdown above about whether it was correct. In case anyone else wonders, the countdown is to the beginning of meteorological spring which starts on March 1. The meteorological seasons don't go by the position of the Sun, but by weather. To explain simply and quickly, each season is three months long. Winter the coldest three months of Dec, Jan, Feb, summer the warmest months of Jun, Jul, Aug. Then spring and fall fit in between. I hope that's clear. I think that makes more sense than going by sun position and it's easier to remember to boot. -30-

Sun Jan 29 2017 7:17PM - A somewhat strange QSO this evening. Well, that's not really the right term. I got on 40M, heard this station at high speed working a couple USA stations. He was pretty much down in my noise and I couldn't catch his call, but I called and worked him anyway. Work 'em and then figure out who you worked is what I do now and then. I listened to see who my DX station was. Darn it, it was VO2NS, not DX. Anyway that was my main streak QSO for the day. I'll have to get my DX in the morning or afternoon.

This morning it was pretty easy working F6KRK as the REF contest was winding down. I tried an earlier F station who wasn't hearing me. F6KRK got me after just a couple tries though. I also heard a strong FR station, but he was S&P and then disappeared so no chance to work what would have been a new country.

Time now to finalize the results from our January NAQCC sprint. -30-

Sat Jan 28 2017 9:07AM - Note the new format of the date stamp. I'm using a new HTML editor Komodo Edit and I'm still learning some of its features. One of them is Snippets for inserting portions of code into a page. I understand them pretty well except for some of the date formatting features. I'll get them though and maybe go back to my old style date stamp.

Inserting the breaks and line feed was the first snippet I wrote. That was very straightforward and simple as it didn't involve accessing an environment variable.

I went to the shack just after getting dressed to get my DX QSO. I know the REF contest is this weekend, but I didn't even have to use that. I heard Wolf DF2PY ending a QSO with someone and tailended him when I was sure he was done and not in the contest. It took but a single call and we had a bit of a chat about my QRP setup. I always follow the lead of the DX station and keep my QSO format the same as his. He mentioned his rig - KW to a 6 element beam - so I mentioned my setup then he asked some questions about it like how high my dipole was. It's always nice to go beyond a simple TU 599 type QSO. He gave me a 569 and copied everything I sent except one word he asked for a repeat on. Of course the 6 element beam amplifies not only his transmit signal, but the signal he is receiving as well. I don't know if there is an actual term for received ERP, but my 5 watts transmit ERP would act like more at his end. I don't know how much gain a 6 element beam has, but as an example, if it was 13 dB, my five watts would act like 100 or so watts.

Anyway, the DX streak is secure for another day thanks to Wolf. The white stuff is on the ground here so except to walk Roscoe, I won't be stepping outside the confines of my house today. I guess I'll do some more work on the QST article and some more analysis of my streaks. -30-

Friday, January 27, 2017 9:20AM - This story is too good to wait to share it.

A tale of the missing QSO. While working on the QST article, I was compiling some stats about the first QSO of every day in the streak. Horrors! In checking the compilation in Microsoft Excel, I found only 8,211 days instead of 8,212. I quickly used the Excel counting feature to count the QSOs for each year. When I got to 2008, it showed only 365 days instead of 366. I then counted each month of 2008. January 31, February 29......October 31, November 30. So far, so good. Must be December. Yes, only 30 days there. Now which one is missing. It's December 27. OK, back through my Access log to see if something got miscopied from Access to Excel. No, there is indeed nothing for December 27. Well, on to my paper logs for 2008. Nothing there for December 27, but two for December 26. However the second one was a tail end QSO, so both were December 26. Hmmmmm, did I really not make a QSO for that day. How about my on-line log. Nothing there. Any mention of that in my diary entry for that date and the day after. Nope. Think, think, think. Bright light appears over my head as in the comic strips. Could that be the day of the RAC Winter contest and I didn't transfer my paper notes to any of my logs. Let's search the Internet for RAC Winter Contest 2008. Aha, the date was December 27 that year. OK, where do I go from here. I have a notebook with many contests in it when I logged on paper and not with GenLog. Up to the shack for the notebook. Down here to the computer. Now here's something worth perhaps some Twilight Zone music. The notebook has 180 pages. Know what's coming? Yep, I opened it first try right to that contest and there was the missing QSO with VA1MM on 80 meters. The only contact I made in the contest, apparently using it just for the streak. Heart beating again now. The streak is indeed continuous. I'm glad I never threw away those contest notes. Now to correct the logs and some other stats.

So far no DX today and the bands didn't sound all that good when I checked a little while ago. I'd sure hate to have the DX streak end with the QST article coming up. Well, there are still 10 or so hours to go. The ugly white stuff is falling so a good day to stay indoors and check the bands often. -30-

Thursday, January 26, 2017 7:46PM - The ham population must be starved for DX with the sunspots soon to vanish completely. Even common stations from P4, HI, YV and the like had huge unbreakable pileups this evening. So no DX for me till the morning or afternoon, I guess.

I spent some time today working on the article for QST that I mentioned in yesterday's diary entry. It's hard to squeeze so much info into the 1300-1500 words frame I've been alloted. Just a lot of writing, re-writing, re-writing....... to get it just right. I've got most of February yet to work on it.

Oh, last night I worked an old standby whom I haven't heard in a while for my DX. I'm speaking of CO8LY. I worry about him a bit when I don't hear him for a while. At times, he seems to be on the air constantly. I've worked him 53 times now, but only a couple times on 40 where I worked him last night.

Still no pepper seeds sprouting, but several of the tomatoes are starting to develop their first true leaves now. -30-

Wednesday, January 25, 2017 9:10AM - I'm still kicking myself about the 160M sprint last night. I made some other arrangements and wound up planning to just operate the first half hour to get a QSO or two. Well, I stuck to the plan, but..... When I got on, I found conditions to be great and more surprisingly, my noise level only S5. In the half hour I wound up with 11 QSOs in 9 SPCs. That would project out to about 40 QSOs had I stayed the full 2 hours. Several participants did wind up with totals in the 30s to the upper 40s. Oh well, next year I'll be a year older and maybe wiser.

At least the DX streak continued a few minutes ago. Thanks to one large sunspot and a SF in the 80s, 17 meters was nicely open this morning and I easily worked Luca IK3VUT for day # 1,427.

To make up for my disappointment from the 160M sprint, yesterday I got an email from Steve WB8IMY, Editor-in-Chief of QST magazine asking if I would write an article for QST about my streaks. If you ask a duck if he would take a swim, you wouldn't get a quicker answer than mine to Steve. I plan to put the article together during the upcoming wintry February and get it off to him by the end of February. I think that would schedule it for publication in the May issue of QST according to my unofficial guess. -30-

Tuesday, January 24, 2017 7:38PM - Our NAQCC 160M sprint is this evening. Right now, I plan to operate just the first hour, then quit. 160 is not my best band with a high local noise level. However I just checked the band a little bit ago and there were quite a few signals there, but probably from QRO stations, not QRP. 80 was good. I saw a lot of big peaks on the PX3 on that band, and got a quick QSO from Jim K2ZF. As usual of late though, no DX in the evening.

All 8 of my tomato seeds have now sprouted. Here's a picture, then I'll close this entry for tonight and get ready for the sprint.

tomato plants

The bottom two cups are the tomatoes. It's hard to see the tomato plant in the upper right of the left cup, but it's there with its little seed leaves open. Still nothing from the pepper seeds in the other two cups. Maybe I'll have to replant them. We'll see. -30-

Monday, January 23, 2017 7:16PM - I got a shock when I got up from my shack chair after getting my main streak QSO from VE100VIMY/VE4. When I turned and looked out the window, I saw this ugly white fluffy stuff falling from the sky. Much much worse than the rain we had most of the day. I hope the white stuff realizes it is not welcome and leaves quickly.

It was nice to work the VE100VIMY station from a different province. The only problem is that the 13 characters in the call are too long to fit in the callsign field of my Access log. I'm not going to change the length of the field to accomodate that one call. I'll just note in the comments field of the log that it was /VE4 this time. You know I can't recall the last time I've worked Manitoba. I bet it's over a couple years now. I'm curious, so I'll look. Yep, JUST over a couple years. I worked VE4GV on December 14, 2014 and on July 1, 2014 - the two RAC contests for that year. Before that VE4WI on November 19, 2011. So I don't work Manitoba much here or at least recently. I have 115 QSOs overall with the province.

It was another old faithful station that gave me my DX this morning, and it was an easy QSO as it is most of the time with Mike F5IN on 20 meters. That's two days in a row with a European DX station. That could be helped by a solar flux in the mid-upper 80s those days.

Updating my plants. 7 of the 8 tomato sprouts are coming along nicely. The previously seedbound one broke out quickly this morning when I watered it and the others. Still one seed that hasn't sprouted yet and probably won't. None of the 8 pepper seeds show any hurry to sprout for whatever reason. -30-

Sunday, January 22, 2017 12:26PM - So far today the high is 65 as the wonderful spell of weather continues. I think I'll go out for a walk after I finish writing this.

Niko S53A was my DX QSO earlier today. That was on 20 meters where we even chatted a bit. It's not as warm in the mountains of Slovenia. Niko said the lows have been around -20C and the highs only -7C. Brrr!

I'm writing this early because this evening I hope to finish cross-checking our NAQCC sprint logs. I like to get that finished as soon after the submission deadline of Sunday at 2400Z as possible. No need to keep everyone waiting for the final results. With my Microsoft Excel cross-checking program that I wrote, it doesn't really take that long to handle our usual 100 to 150 logs containing around 2,000 QSOs. I'd love to see if it still as quick with 200-300 logs and 4,000-5,000 QSOs, but I don't know if we'll ever hit those figures.

This week is our annual NAQCC 160M sprint as sort of a warm-up for the CQ 160M contest next weekend. 160 should be pretty good now with the sunspot cycle approaching a minimum in a couple years or so. -30-

Saturday, January 21, 2017 7:39PM - Remember I was talking about my old weather records going back to 1959 and how January 21, 1959 held the January high temperature record of 59 for quite a while. Until today, it was also the longest lasting record for any day - 58 years. Well, no longer. We shattered it today with a high of 67 according to my AcuRite remote. Of course the 'official' high will be gotten a little later at 9PM, but it should be within a degree of that. Well, actually I am wrong. There is one record that is a little older. On January 13, 1959, the least daily temperature range was 3 degrees which still stands and will stand another year at least. And delving a bit further into my records, there were also other records set on January 21, 1959 - Highest Minimum 42. Highest Average 51. Departure from normal +22. The highest minimum will still stand. The other two will be broken.

Still another sign of how conditions are deteriorating showed up tonight. S52AW was pretty strong on 40, but couldn't hear me at all. Usually when he is at that level, I can work him pretty easily. I did something today I don't like to do. I worked XE1XR on 20 meters after working him there just three days ago. However there was an extenuating circumstance. He was kind of lost in the HA DX contest and not getting any answers. If someone goes begging for calls, I don't really mind giving them another QSO to at least let them know they are getting out.

My tomatoes continue to do well. I now have 7 of the 8 seeds sprouted with one of them seedbound but looking like it might break out. Still no pepper seeds sprouted though. I just looked back in the diary archives and I see I'm about 10 days late this year with the tomatoes. However they developed slowly last year. Hopefully they will develop faster this year. -30-

Friday, January 20, 2017 (Inauguration Day) 7:29PM - A great day today. Great weather although a little rainy. Still no s#$w on the ground and temperatures in the 40s. There is a hint of a change coming as January winds down though. But at least spring continues to draw nearer as you see from the countdown above.

My DX again came early this morning in the 1300Z hour when I worked XE1IM to eke out another day in the DX streak. I wonder how many more there will be before that day comes when there is no one strong enough to work. I heard 3 European stations on 40 this evening, but all very weak.

A couple more tomato seeds sprouted today for a total of five. Two have their seed leaves nicely opened. Hopefully I won't get any seedbound sprouts this year. I soaked both the tomato and pepper seeds before planting them. Maybe that will help. No pepper seeds have sprouted yet.

I set up a grow lamp to give the new sprouts some light now that they are out of the ground. I have it on a timer to match sunrise and sunset and I'll slowly increase the amount of light as daylight gets longer each day now. We now have 28 more minutes of daylight today compared to December 21. The sun sets a full half hour later than the earliest sunset at 4:50PM on December 7. Some very encouraging stats. -30-

Thursday, January 19, 2017 6:23PM - My first tomato seed sprouted sometime early this morning. Here's a picture with an arrow pointing at the tiny sprout.

Tomato sprout

Later in the day, it had opened up its two seed leaves and one other seed sprouted. So hopefully things are on their way.

My fourth straight very good NAQCC sprint last night. Actually even better than the previous three. I hit the 50 QSO mark and 24 SPCs is my second highest total. Conditions weren't quite as good as the previous three sprints, but I think greater activity made up for it. I simply called CQ the whole two hours on the same frequency 3559.3 and even had a few minor pileups now and then. Really a lot of fun when things go well like that. My noise was only S6 most of the time, but now and then a several seconds long burst of S9 noise came along usually at the most inopportune times when I was trying to copy some weak signal. Still I think I did manage to work everyone who called, or at least 99 percent. As with the previous three good sprints, it seemed I had a 'white hole' here in Kittanning. Anyway a large portion of stations reporting so far complained or commented on poor conditions. So far only John K4BAI and I are the only ones with 50 QSOs. There are only a handful of others with QSO totals in the 40s.

Another good thing last night was a quick DX QSO so I could devote a lot of time during the day today doing preliminary log cross checking of the 93 logs received so far. It was Alex HC2AO on 30 meters with a single call. He's one of the truly great ops. Also the letter O in his call allowed me to finish the NAQCC January challenge. Now in about 16 minutes as I type I can see what the bands will bring this evening at 0000Z -30-

Wednesday, January 18, 2017 5:25PM - Mike stopped by for another visit this morning. He brought me some kielbasa loaf and pierogies. We talked about ham radio for a while, then went to the shack where we didn't find any DX. I was glad I got XE1XR earlier in the 1300Z hour for my DX streak. We then watched some woodworking videos on the Internet. I took Roscoe out and brought him in here to see Mike. Roscoe seems to be more used to Mike now. He used to bark at him a lot. I gave Mike a couple dog biscuits to give to Roscoe, so maybe bribery helps.

Our NAQCC sprint is this evening which is why I'm writing this diary entry early. I hope I can have my 4th straight 40+ QSOs sprint after a long spell of poor results before that due mostly to strong local noise and poor propagation.

I like to analyze my DX streak every now and then. I did so this morning before Mike arrived. Here are some totals:

Total QSOs - 6,154
Total countries - 160

Most worked countries overall:
Germany - 524
Italy - 308
Slovenia - 252
Spain - 232
France - 221
Poland - 201
Hungary - 184
Croatia - 168
Czech Republic - 167
England - 161
Cuba - (top NA) 137
Brazil - (top SA) 112
Hawaii - (top OC) 75
Canary Islands - (top AF) 75
Japan - (top AS) 52

Number of countries with just one QSO - 28

Most times a country was the first DX QSO of a day overall:

Cuba - 77
Mexico - 71
Puerto Rico - 58
Slovenia - 48
Italy - 47
Spain - 46
France - 44
Nicaragua - 44
Brazil - 42
Germany - 42

Same as above, but by years:


Canary Islands
European Russia

Puerto Rico
Virgin Islands

Puerto Rico
Virgin Islands

Aland Islands
Dominican Republic
Puerto Rico
They are listed in order of most times, although I didn't copy just how many times. I thought there would be a noticeable decline in Europeans and an increase in Caribbean, North American, and South American countries. However it doesn't really stand out yet, although it may as this year moves along and if the streak still continues. -30-

Tuesday, January 17, 2017 7:40PM - We had St. Patrick's Day weather two months early today. A low of 38 and a high of 58 on my AcuRite remote unit. Fantastic! I got in a couple good walks, and might have done more without the rain showers that came and went. I remember for quite a while when I started keeping weather records in January 1959, the record high for January was 59 degrees on January 21, 1959. Which also was the date of a major flood here in Kittanning due to the melting of that ugly white stuff. Since then we've had several January days in the 60s and even low 70s, but I still remember that one particular day.

I really wanted to get my DX QSO today, and not have the streak end the way it would have. I mean with Mike working PV8ADI on 40 last night. As I said, that would have meant my station kept the streak going, but not me personally. It's a moot point now, as after many tries to work someone today - unsuccessfully, I did make it. Most of the day, any DX I heard was just barely above my noise level at S2 or S3. The strongest was maybe S5 to S6 from EA8TL on both 20 and 17. He usually hears me easily, but not today. Also TF3JB the same way. Finally I resorted to working the self-same PV8ADI, but on 20 meters just after 2100Z. He was strong again on 40 this evening, but I hate working him over and over again unless it is on a band where I haven't worked him for a while as it was with 20 meters today.

Not much else happening here. Still waiting for my pepper and tomato seeds to sprout. The soil is nice and warm with the heating pad and I'm keeping the ground moist. I hope they are not going to be slow like last year especially since I got started late this year.

Good to hear from Paul N0NBD who says he also hopes to do more 'parkpeditions' this year as well as more fishing. I hope we both realize our hopes in 2017. Of course everyone else also. -30-

Monday, January 16, 2017 8:35PM - Once again, a great get together with Mike KC2EGL day. Mike arrived a little before 10 just as I was finishing taking care of Roscoe. When I did finish, we spent what must have been a couple hours chatting about our favorite things. In this case it was mostly about football. We both have an avid interest in all things football, especially the historical aspects of it. One thing we both get annoyed about is when people think that pro football started with the first Super Bowl (which actually wasn't even called Super Bowl at that time). They claim that the Pittsburgh Steelers have the most NFL championships. WRONG? They have won the most Super Bowls (a couple on questionable calls), but the Green Bay Packers have the most NFL championships with 14 followed by the Chicago Bears with 9, the New York Giants with 8, then the Steelers. That was only one of the football topics we got into. There were many more.

After that it was off to Butler for lunch at Ponderosa. Of course we both had the buffet as usual. Then back home where we put together an agenda of the things we plan to do this year. Here it is as it stands now:

February 26 - South Hills Hamfest
April 16 - Requin subpedition
May 14 - Parkpedition
June 4 - Butler Hamfest
June 24/25 - Field Day
July 30 - FOBB
August - Skeeter Hunt
August 27 - Skyview
September - Unionville hamfest
Oct 9 - N3A Parkpedition
Nov 22 - Requin subpedition
Oil Creek and Titusville Railroad Train Ride(s)
Looks like a fun year ahead. Also we plan to have some more parkpeditions, and maybe another subpedition as situations permit.

Then up to my shack. As Mike said that's probably the latest in any of our visits that we've gotten on the air. The bands were their usual poor selves. We did hear some DX (PV8ADI) on 20. Mike tried for quite a while, but couldn't work him. I didn't work anyone then and I don't think Mike did either.

Back downstairs for some computer games (hidden object). After that it was back to the shack a little past 0000Z. I got my regular streak QSO from N8RZO then a little later we both worked W0N. Mike also worked PV8ADI easily on 40 meters. So the DX streak station-wise continued, but not operator-wise. HI. I still have to work some DX in the morning or afternoon to truly keep the streak alive.

Wow, time flies. I see it's almost 9PM and time for me to get my temperature readings, and then take Roscoe out for his last walk of the day. So I'll close here. -30-