Sunday, December 31, 2006 12:11 AM - I want to post this early so as many of you as possible will read it before SKN or Straight Key Night if you don't know the acronym. It's very important to CW that you get on during SKN this year. However it's even more important that you take the time to report your results to ARRL. Too many folks participate in activities like SKN then never bother to report their results so in retrospective it looks like far fewer participated than actually did. I think there were only around 80 stations who reported their results last year. Wouldn't it be nice to see a few hundred stations report this year. Let's show the ARRL, the FCC, and other hams that CW IS NOT DEAD and interest in its use is actually INCREASING as a reaction to the beating it is taking! Even if you only make a couple SKN QSO's, take the time and report them to the ARRL. I know it takes a little bit of effort to do so, and we are becoming a lazy society. However this is worth a few minutes time taken away from sitting on the couch watching a bowl game, and much more important if you love CW and want it to continue.
Just in case you are not familiar with SKN, it was started quite a few years ago by the ARRL ostensibly to give hams an excuse to stay home on New Year's Eve. It actually runs each year on January 1st 0000-2400Z. You get out your straight key and call CQ SKN and perhaps end your CQ with SKN as well. Then when you get a QSO, to alert others listening you are in the SKN, you replace RST with SKN when you give your signal report to the other station. Those are the basics, but the ARRL web site gives more details about the event. I'll see you with my old J-38 probably on 80M 0000-????Z Sunday evening, then during the day on Monday probably on 40M as often as other commitments allow.
Just one other comment for now, then I may add more to the entry during the day on Sunday.
Dave, W0CH emailed me and said he was interested in the 'math' puzzle. I'm going to email him the answer, but I need at least one other person to comment before I'll post it here in the diary. -30-
Saturday, December 30, 2006 9:22 AM - I'm going to try to get caught up on diary feedback today with a mish-mash of items.
Dick, K2UFT says if he held CTRL while clicking on the NY Times article link it worked for him. I tried that and it didn't work for me, just opened the log-in page in a new tab. I think the folks who can view the article must have their Times Internet account which I don't and never will as I explained before.
I emailed Nancy WZ8C telling her I enjoyed her comments in the article. She responded with thanks and said she had gotten a lot of flaming from some hams about her comments. She also said the Times omitted her WHOLE comment, which included the easing of licensing requirements in general, including the written exams being made easier (moving from essay questions to multiple choice) and with less technical questions.
So true, so true. And just as expected from a liberal rag like the Times. I'm surprised they had any pro-CW comments at all in the article.
Then at the end of her response, she thanks me for my support and says at least the Times spelled her name right. HI.
I then sent her a second email talking about the dumbing down situation in ham radio and our society in general and saying that the flamers are similar to dogs barking. They have nothing positive to say and only know how to make negative statements, and have about the same intelligence level as a dog.
She said in reply, "Yes, you are so right. If they put half of the energy they use typing to the reflectors and directed it to getting on the air, we wouldn't have a 'use it or lose it' problem."
It seems Nancy and I think very much alike.
Richard, W2RDD had some interesting comments in an email. I want to ask his permission to use them here first. He also wishes to send greetings to all our NAQCC members, so consider this his Seasons Greetings to y'all.
I sent out 71 Internet Christmas cards the Saturday before Christmas via 123Greetings. If you're not familiar with that service, they will tell you via email when your card has been viewed by the recipient. So far, according to those emails, 41 of the 71 cards were looked at. Of those 41, 17 returned Internet cards or other greetings. I want to thank them very much. Not all 71 were ham radio friends. Some were relatives, computer club friends, and friends in general.
I had a very nice eyeball QSO yesterday with my friend Rick, WA3TUU who is formerly from the adjacent town of Ford City, but now working and living in Michigan. We spent an enjoyable time talking mostly about photography. He is an excellent and knowledgeable photographer who has been pursuing the hobby for a long time. I am a newcomer having never done much photography until I got my digital camera back in June of this year. So I picked up a lot of good info from him. Of course we also discussed ham radio. As of a couple weeks ago, I've been thinking about buying and building a K2. He has built the K1 among other rigs, and used a K2 at field day this year. Like so many others, he raves about the Elecraft products. Our time together went much too fast, and he will soon be heading back to Michigan.
Just a little more about the K2. I'm thinking that since the receiver in it is the feature that seems to get the most raves, that it might help my local noise situation here which becomes more and more unbearable each time someone in the tightly packed neighborhood buys some new electronic gadget. My friend Dave, VA3RJ says he can hear signals on a K2 in his Toronto location that he can't hear at all on his mainstream rig. He especially raves about the DSP add-on filter.
I haven't built any kits in several years now and in thinking about the K2, I'm kind of getting the urge to do some building again. It's not a cheap proposition, so I can't rush into it without some planning beforehand. I am especially shocked by the price of the DSP filter which is more than 1/3 the price of the entire K2 kit.
Finally, I guess either no one can figure out my 'math' puzzle or perhaps no one cares. Changing course in mid-stream, I was going to give the answer as I started typing this, but darn it, I want to know if anyone has even thought about the puzzle. If two people email me about the puzzle, I'll give the answer. Otherwise it will remain a mystery and I'll never give an answer. What say? -30-
Friday, December 29, 2006 2:15 PM - Too many topics, not enough time nor enough web site space to deal with them all. That is a developing problem with this diary as it becomes more popular which results in some great feedback from you, my readers.
I'll do my best to deal with all of the feedback, but if I don't address your topic immediately or at all, I apologize.
In addition to the feedback, other matters that I would like to address pop up also. One of those happened today. I received the latest FISTS Keynote today, and I'd like to comment on it.
My first reaction in glancing through it was being impressed with how many of the articles were written by our NAQCC members. Without naming them all, I'd like to mention a few. I won't mention my own QRP column. Ooooops, I just did, didn't I? K8DD (NAQCC 0021) wrote a short article about zero-beating. VA3RKM (0982) talked about the Morse Runner program. N2UC (1473) commented on the "Big Ear Award". K2NPN (1469) talked about the Cabrillo log format.
There are many NAQCC members listed in the FISTS sprint results. All but a couple of the ones listed in the QRP category are NAQCC members including the winner VE3HUR - congrats Don. I'd like to invite those non-NAQCC-members to join us. FISTS and the NAQCC complement each other perfectly. Our events don't overlap so that if you participate in both clubs' activities, you are doing double duty in putting CW on the ham bands to help preserve our wonderful mode. We need as much CW activity on the bands as possible to avoid losing further territory as recently happened on 80M.
That leads to another Keynote comment. Nancy WZ8C points out that we didn't technically lose any territory on 80M because CW is still permitted on all frequencies from 3500 to 4000. That's true, but it will be very hard to compete against the SSB stations who are most assuredly going to pretty much fill up the 3600-4000 portion of the band. So in reality for all practical purposes, we did lose a lot of CW territory on 80M.
One other comment about the Keynote. I was delighted to read that Dennis K6DF stressed the importance of submitting COMPLETE logs for the FISTS awards programs. That attitude is great in these days of lax log keeping. I personally believe that every award and contest should require complete logs to keep things on the up and up as well as to weed out unintentional errors in logging. Ham radio as well as every human activity should honor the concept of integrity. That's a topic for further discussion some day if I ever get back to it. -30-
Thursday, December 28, 2006 8:18 AM - Ron K5DUZ told me about an article dealing with Morse Code on the NY Times web site. It's at http://www.nytimes.com:80/2006/12/27/business/27morse.html. When I went there to view it, there was a requirement that I sign up for a free account before I was allowed access to it. However other folks went right to the article. Now I have no intention to sign up for an account with the NY Times even though it is free.
Ron did cut and paste the article in a follow-up email so I have read it. If you have the same problem accessing the article, let me know and I'll post a full copy of it here in the diary. It's rather large and as I often mention I am flirting with my 10Mb bandwidth limit for the web site, but I will do it if you request it.
I will quote two of my favorite excerpts from it now.
"It's part of the dumbing down of America," said Nancy Kott, editor of World Radio magazine and a field representative for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Metamora, Mich. "We live in a society today that wants something for nothing."
"Freed from all pretense of practical relevance in an age of digital communications, Morse will now become the object of loving passion by radioheads, much as another 'dead' language, Latin, is kept alive today by Latin-speaking enthusiasts around the world," Mr. Saffo, a fellow at the Institute for the Future, wrote in his blog.
Obviously I know who Nancy is, but I'm not familiar with Mr. Saffo nor his organization. Both however make very valid points about the situation. I've heard and espoused both ideas for a long time now and I know they are not new ones, but it's great to see them in an article in one of the World's major newspapers. -30-
Wednesday, December 27, 2006 9:48 AM - Today's entry was written by someone else. I received a wonderful email from Alex, K5UNY that was so elegant and stated things so correctly I asked him if I could use it for today's diary entry. He agreed, so here goes without any further comment from me.
A belated Merry Christmas to you.
Just thought I would write a few words on general things about ham radio. I am either feeling the after Christmas Blues or all of the new licensing spats I have been seeing and Hearing are beginning to get me down.
I have taken myself off of the QRP-L reflector once more. First I don't have the time nor the energy to deal with all of the arguing that seems to be a continual thing on that reflector. Secondly, several Hams comment on the lack of activity in the cw portion of the bands. Well, it seems to me that these goshdarned computers with internet attached are more addictive than CW !! From the numbers of folks doing postings and repostings and more repostings they apparently don't have time to operate on the bands.
I spend a lot of my work day answering customer emails and corporate emails along with the crazy and sometimes pointless conference calls. SOoooo in 2007 I am vowing to spend a portion of every evening or early morning, on some band operating cw. I am 63 years old and intend to start once more enjoying my operating priviledges. When I got licensed in 1963 as WN8HZI I had a real hoot working cw on the novice bands, and up until the internet took over my life I had a real hoot with Ham Radio in general. I spend waaaaaay too much time in front of this monster, typing most of the time pointless emails to uncaring argumentative people.
I think many other folks need to reconsider how much of their time is spent on the internet and change operating habits from internet to ham bands.
Well enough is enough already. I still enjoy reading the Diary and watching your daily contact log. YOU my friend have the right attitude.
73 Alex K5uny"
I guess no one is going to guess my 'math' puzzle I posed a couple weeks ago, so I'm going to ask once more, then give a final clue.
What does the following series of numbers represent?
6 - 2 - 5 - 5 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 3 - 7 - 6
It has something to do with the counter in the left column of the main page of my site. -30-
Tuesday, December 26, 2006 10:11 AM - I got some feedback on my Christmas postings of the past couple days. Some of it was personal, and I don't feel I should share that, but this one paragraph is so pertinent, I asked the person who sent it if I could post it, if I kept it generic and didn't mention his name, so here goes:
"I wonder what memories my son will have. He is now (teenage - js) years old. He is still very proficient with CW, but will only get on when we are camping. He has such a hectic schedule compared to when I was growing up. School, (sports - js), friends... all compete for his time. He is up snow boarding right now. His goal is to do so every day of his break. What will he remember? We did electric race cars for Christmas when he was little, and he did play with Grandpa's train set before my dad passed away. But in his fast-paced world, I wonder if those memories mean much to him. I suppose that he, like the rest of us, will probably grow to appreciate them more with the passing of time, and perhaps during future Christmas's when I and others are long gone. Perhaps he will pull out a CW key and smile as he remembers some of our camping trips. I hope he does."
Perhaps in that paragraph are the reasons that teenagers are not interested in CW, although this one is an exception. There are so many competing activities that provide immediate satisfaction, why take the time to learn CW? However not only does that hurt CW, but ham radio in general. With a large percentage of teenagers having their own cell phones, why bother with ham radio at all. The cell phones can do everything that ham radio can do, and more.
Maybe emphasis should be placed on learning CW since that is one aspect of ham radio that is unique and not duplicated elsewhere. That should appeal to the teenagers who want to break away from the pack and not just be a clone of thousands of other teenagers.
If a teenager wants to communicate somewhat privately with a boy/girl friend, CW could be the ticket. So it would have some practical uses for the teen as well as just a novelty.
Perhaps I'm way out in left field with my thoughts?
Here's more feedback I am sure I can share openly with you from someone else - Ron K5DUZ:
"From your diary it sounds like you had a nice day. Young children are what make Christmas such a special day in our families' lives. The Morrison's, my wife Jackie and son Fred ate our traditional Christmas Day turkey dinner and spent a few nice hours together. Your diary entry about your family was nicely written and quite touching. Thanks for giving us a glimpse into your fond memories! As I read your entry about your family I was reminded of mine and all of the good times that we had. I long ago came to the conclusion that life wouldn't be as sweet if we didn't eventually have to move on, hopefully to a better place. Now we are about to celebrate the end of 2006 and the beginning of 2007. I hope that your New Year will be a healthy one, filled with good hamming, fishing and the other fun things that you like to do! Wishing you the very best in 2007!"
Thanks Ron and all the others who shared their thoughts and greetings. -30-
Monday, December 25, 2006 6:06 PM - I had a really nice Christmas with my cousin's widower's family today. There were 13 of us there plus 2 pet dogs. 4 generations were represented - 4 children ages about 8-17 and the oldest adult 93 I believe. It was a real delight to see the children playing with and enjoying their gifts. And it was nice to fellowship with the adults and talk about a wide variety of subjects.
The dogs were of a breed I didn't know much about - Lhasa Apso. In fact I just had to look it up on the Internet to find the spelling. Of course when you look up spelling, you have to make your guess what the word is spelled like. I guessed they had something to do with the capital of Tibet, Lhasa, and I searched for 'Lhasa Dog' in Windows Live search and bingo, I hit it. I was right about the connection with Tibet. They were originally bred in Tibet as watchdogs for Tibetan holy men and nobles. I won't go into their history here since many may not be interested and those that may be can repeat my Windows Live search to find out more.
The dogs had two separate personalities. Charlie was very outgoing and friendly while Bo who was the older of the two was more reserved. Charlie spent a lot of time jumping on peoples' laps while Bo more or less just watched.
As a segue into another subject, I can say that one of the subjects we discussed was football. Although I live just 40 miles from Pittsburgh, I have never been a Steelers fan. I fell in love with the AFL when it was formed in 1960. The NFL at that time was more conservative and you'd see typical scores of 14-7, 21-10, and the like while the AFL had a more wide-open style of play, and you often would see scores in the 40's and 50's. One game I recall between Houston and Oakland that closed out the 1963 season went to Oakland by a score of 52-49. Just a couple other scores from that years Raider schedule were 35-17, 49-26, 41-27, 35-31. That kind of football was more to my liking.
I had three favorite AFL teams over the years, and continued to follow them after the AFL-NFL merger. First it was the Houston Oilers. I admired QB-Kicker George Blanda plus their team offensive concept in general. Then when Blanda got traded to the Oakland Raiders, they became my favorite team and have continued as my overall favorite through the years. More about them in a minute. I also grew to like the Miami Dolphins with Bob Griese, Larry Czonka, Jim Kiick, Mercury Morris, Paul Warfield. Gosh I could probably name a large portion of their roster from the 70's just from memory. I rejoiced with them through the perfect 17-0 season, and still worry with them as the members of that team follow any team today that starts the season with a long winning streak, rooting for that team to lose so they will remain the only team in NFL history since the very early days of the NFL with a perfect no-loss, no tie season.
I don't follow football nor any sport very closely these days for many reasons that I won't go into here. But I do notice that my Raiders have apparently come full circle. They started out as the worst team in the AFL the first couple years, and now I see this year they are 2-13 with one game left to play. In between those first couple years and the last ten years or so, they were the class of the AFL/NFL and had the best overall winning percentage for a long span of years. I forget the exact number of years now, but it was considerable.
One last thought about the Raiders and Dolphins. They played each other in what I consider to be the best pro football game of all time. Some very influential folks agree with me also, by the way. Curt Gowdy and his broadcast partner Al De Rogatis to name a couple. This was the 1974 playoff game won by the Raiders 28-26. The winning touchdown after the teams see-sawed back and forth with magnificent touchdown drives engineered by Bob Griese for the Dolphins and Ken Stabler for the Raiders, was scored by the Raiders with time about to run out. It was first and goal from the 8 yard line. Stabler was set up to pass and did not get to pass the ball until he was falling down after being hit by Vern Den Herder. As he was falling, he threw the ball into the end zone towards Clarence Davis who was literally surrounded by three Dolphin defenders. Somehow Davis made the catch in what has been called a 'sea of hands'. That made the score 27-26 Raiders and the extra point made it 28-26 with only 24 seconds left.
I watched the game on a tiny portable television we had at WPIT where I worked at the time. Our manager Mike Komichak who knew I was a football fan called me up to make sure I was watching the game. I told him I had been and that it was simply the greatest game I had ever seen.
And that's just a brief (well, maybe not so brief) look into another of the many interests and hobbies I have here.
In closing I hope you all had a great Christmas day as I did, and all the best to you and yours for the coming year of 2007. -30-
Sunday, December 24, 2006 1:42 PM - On this Christmas eve, I thought I'd reflect on some things about Christmas. I hope you don't mind.
As everyone knows Christmas can be a happy time and a sad time, often both emotions co-existing at the same time. It's sad to be alone at Christmas, yet if we have had many happy Christmases in the past, we can remember them and the memories will make us happy.
I've lived in the same house all my life. When I was born, there were 5 of us living here. As the years wore on, that number dwindled down to just 1 - me. I lost my dad in 1964 just before my 19th birthday. He was only 50 years old when he suffered a fatal heart attack. I think my fondest Christmas memories of him were when we would lie on the floor in front of our fireplace and play with my electric trains. I remember one time when the two of us were alone in the house playing, he said to me that someday he would go away and never come back again. I know now that he was referring to dying, although I didn't understand it then. Perhaps he had a premonition of that heart attack a few years in the future.
Now we were 4 in the house. My Aunt Josey was the next to go in 1971. Both my mother and the other aunt who lived with us worked out, so I probably spent most of my youthful years with Josey who stayed home and took care of the housekeeping. She was a wonderful cook, and I was her assistant. Baking Christmas cookies and preparing Christmas dinners with her was a real joy.
Our household of 3 remained intact for 23 years until my Aunt Laura passed away in 1994. I have a distinct Christmas memory of her. When we trimmed the Christmas tree, she was the one who put on the icicles and each one had to be put on individually and had to be perfectly straight.
My mother and I had 7 more years together before she died in May of 2001. She was very talented, and I remember her playing Christmas Carols on our piano as well as making homemade Christmas ornaments. As I'm typing this I can look across the room and see 10 angels that we made together over 50 years ago now. The angels have dwindled in number over the years as we would give one away now and then to someone who admired them.
Of course this could grow into a huge book so I've limited my family memories to just a couple for each individual. There are literally thousands of great memories as our family group was a very happy and loving one.
I have never married, but I have been blessed by being befriended by several neighborhood children over the years. They have provided a lot of wonderful memories as well, many at Christmas time.
I'll just mention a couple here, then wrap this up as a Christmas present and wish for all of you who have read this far.
I always loved it when the neighbor kids would rush over as soon as I would get home from my work week in Pittsburgh. I also loved it when they made it a point to let me be one of the first ones to see what they had gotten for Christmas. One time I didn't think they were coming over, but then Sara showed up at the door and asked me over to see her gifts. She and her brother and sister Eric and Brenda showed me all their gifts, and after that Sara asked me to play some of her games with her. We sat at her kitchen table for well over an hour, maybe close to two hours until her mother yelled for her that it was time for bed, playing a couple games that were designed for a young girl of 10-12 or so. Some games I would never think of playing, yet that time with her was just very special for me. She was sharing her Christmas with me, and only me at that time.
When Sara grew up, she had a daughter of her own, Haley, who in turn supplied still more memories for me. She was around 2-3 years old at the time, and during those years, we spent a lot of time together including playing with her Christmas toys, one of which was a battery operated toy train. That kind of brought me full circle from when I played with trains as a kid to playing with them again as an adult.
My wish for you is that you have as blessed and joyful life as I have and build up a storehouse of wonderful memories as I have done over the years. If you're young and reading this, please share this Christmas time with your parents and older relatives. If you're older, don't ignore your young children - spend as much time with them as you can this Christmas. If you're still older and are alone this Christmas as I am for most of the time, I hope you have someone you can at least spend part of Christmas with. I will be spending it with my cousin's widower's family. Merry Christmas!
I may or may not have a diary entry tomorrow. -30-
Saturday, December 23, 2006 10:43 AM - Just a couple bits of info today. First, there is another indication that upcoming sunspot cycle 24 will be a real dandy. We've all heard rumors to that effect from various sources. Here is a more scientific outlook based on geomagnetic activity at a sunspot minimum and how it relates to the magnitude of the next sunspot maximum. http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2006/21dec_cycle24.htm
Second, if you want to save some money, and we all do, then pack up your cards for the ARRL Outgoing QSL bureau and get them on their way before the end of the year. I believe I saw in an ARRL letter that the rates are going up AGAIN at the first of the year as the money-hungry ARRL strikes again. The outgoing bureau is practically the only reason I remain a member as it is a tremendous savings over any other way of sending DX QSL cards. Someday though if the cost of the outgoing QSL bureau keeps rising, it is going to make me reconsider. I really don't need all that many QSL cards from DX stations now, at least at the sunspot minimum, although I do answer all DX cards received here, and lately those wanting my card have outnumbered the cards that I need.
I want to take the opportunity before I close to extend to all my best wishes for the holiday season whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or any other holiday. Tomorrow and the next day I may give some personal thoughts about Christmas here in the diary. -30-
Friday, December 22, 2006 10:01 AM - Of course, memory fades over the years, especially when you get older. However I can't recall it being this hard to keep my streak going when we were at the last sunspot minimum. Gee, the streak has spanned a full sunspot cycle and is a year or so into its second cycle already.
The last month or so has been particularly rough. I'm used to getting on either 40 or 80 in the 0000Z hour and getting a QSO after just a few CQ's or quickly finding someone else's CQ to answer. Lately though I've called a good many unanswered CQ's and answered other folks' CQ's unsuccessfully before I finally hooked up with someone. Oh, I haven't come close (yet) to not getting that daily QSO, even when we have very disturbed propagation conditions as occurred due to sunspot group 930 a few days ago. QRP does work, even under very adverse conditions. That's the point I want to get across with my streak and this commentary.
Why does it work so well? That can be answered in one word: CW. Poor beaten and battered CW that so many folks nowadays oppose so strongly that they even want us who enjoy using it to stop doing so.
I can see why some folks don't want to use CW. There are many reasons ranging from being too lazy to learn it to more legitimate reasons like a physical handicap. What I don't like is their attitude toward those of us who do use it, and their downright hatred of it as a ham radio mode of operation.
CW is by far the most efficient mode of communication there is. It requires the simplest equipment to transmit and receive of any mode. We always have a CW decoder with us everywhere we go - our brain. I could go on listing its positive points for quite a while, but you get the picture.
Going back to those handicapped hams for a moment. Over my 43 years of being a ham radio operator (all on CW save for 4 or 5 phone QSO's testing other folks' rigs for them), I've heard of many handicapped hams who use CW despite their handicap. They send with a small paddle (the kind you spank with, not the ham radio paddle) held in their mouth, or some kind of foot activated key, just to give two examples of folks who have no use of their arms or hands. So even that is no impediment to those who truly want to use CW.
If someone has no use of their voice, it is possible to communicate using CW via various methods. A squeeze of the hand can transmit any combination of 'dots' and 'dashes' as can a blinking of the eye. Good reasons to learn CW as we never know what the future holds for us. -30-
Thursday, December 21, 2006 10:08 AM - Some more feedback to cover today. First I just posted a picture of my QSL from Azerbaijan in the DX section of the web site if you're interested.
My friend Kenji has a diary also, although he calls it a 'blog' as so many other Internet users do. I explained my feeling about that when I first started the diary about 6 months ago. Wow, has it been that long now I've been doing this? Anyway Kenji's 'blog' is at http://cyberperiscope.blogspot.com/. He has some very interesting info and comments there on a variety of topics.
Here are some very pertinent comments about the CW situation of late from my friend Ron W5RCP:
"Hey John... Hope you are well and still able to smile these days. I was very disappointed to learn that CW is being dropped from Ham testing, but then I realized that although we have always been called elitests, now we really are. And it feels good. 'Yeah, I use CW, not because anyone forces me, but because I have a been and like to put it to work.'
As for all the confetti throwing Tech's out there who found it to be too much trouble to learn CW at 5wpm they will soon find it too much trouble to use SSB as well. What they really want is cell phones and internet. So to all my FISTS and NAQCC friends I say, 'See you on the CW bands.'"
I believe that gets me up to date on diary feedback. -30-
Wednesday, December 20, 2006 2:39 PM - I'm getting a lot of feedback on the diary the past few days. It's going to take a while to get caught up on it.
You know (gosh I sound like an athlete giving a TV interview) we complain about poor propagation conditions affecting our NAQCC sprints of late. In fact we complain about a lot of trivial things. Then I get this email from Larry W9CC that puts things all back into perspective.
"I was very sorry to miss the December contest (our NAQCC sprint - js). I was primed and ready, and then I had a heart attack that morning, so was stuck in the hospital for the next four days. I'm doing pretty good now after getting a stent and if I didn't have this cold and drippy nose and cough, I'd feel just fine. So hope to be there in January for sure. Hope it all went well."
I know I'd much sooner be struggling to make 8 QSO's in our sprint as I did than what Larry went through that day.
My friend Kenji from Japan comments on the RF exposure situation in Japan as compared to that in Belgium/Europe.
"Hello again John: About the Belgium or EU's directive on radio antenna assessment: I think EU people are bit too overly sensitive on environmental effects in general. I guess you have heard about the RoHS directive, which mandates elimination of lead (metal) from electronic circuits. Because of the RoHS directive, we would no longer be able to use old soldering irons, since we need to use a higher-temperature iron to solder with a lead-free alloy.
In Japan, you need to assess the RF safety, if your power to the antenna exceeds 50W. Since in Japan you can only operate a fixed station over 50W, you have to measure the per-frequency effect based on ERP, which is almost the same as the FCC regulation, though all stations exceeding 50W antenna power are required to do so. All transmitters have to be registered to the telecom ministry regardless of the output power. If your transmitter exceeds 200W, your stations equipments have to be inspected by the local telecom bureau, and you need to submit the details of the assessment you made, including written permission from your neighbor households and how your antennas radiate.
So I see the new Belgium directive nothing new, though it is surely
Isn't it amazing there is anyone left alive in the World today with all the "new-found" health hazards that have actually been around for years before being discovered and exploited by bureaucrats for whatever reason?
Kenji continues on another topic, "Nevertheless, my ham radio operation is still focused on CW, because it's simpler, less intrusive on my wife Kyoko, and at least Kyoko does not feel me working with CW crazy. She (not a ham and will not be) claims working with Phone simply sounds stupid, whatever language or contents are being spoken there."
Kenji was following up on comments in another email about CW and QRP operation. I responded to this comment that Kyoko must be a very perceptive person from what she says about phone.
And a final somewhat in depth comment from Kenji about the Internet in today's society that I agree with completely.
"I should also emphasize that the addictiveness of Internet, which you have repeatedly mentioned on your diary, is not only harmful for CW activists (or anyone who wants to pursue something other than Internet), but also has pervasive and irrevocable impact to the engineers *working* on Internet technologies (including myself, I should confess). Many business books warn that netsurfing and verbal arguments on Internet mailing lists and BBSes, and even getting carried away with work-related email messages itself, will result in loss of productivity and huge amount of wasted time and your psycological and physical energy. I've been suffering from a chronic symptom that I no longer feel enthusiastic on writing/reading code (software) as I was in 1990s, probably because of too many bureaucratic office works which have to be done on the computers."
There is no doubt the Internet is a wonderful thing in today's society, and I am all in favor of it, but it (like many good things) does have its shortcomings and bad effects on people. Candy is a wonderful and delightful treat, but it can easily be abused, and so can the Internet. -30-
Tuesday, December 19, 2006 10:25 AM - Just one brief but VERY IMPORTANT entry today.
The SKCC has brought up the matter of changing their sprint dates so they don't conflict with our NAQCC sprints. If you are a SKCC member, please follow their procedure at the SKCC web site and make your comments and vote in favor of a change to either a First or Fourth Wednesday. Thank you on behalf of all NAQCC Officers and Members. -30-
Monday, December 18, 2006 9:24 AM - And just in case you think things here in the USA are really sad with the blows that CW is taking, here's what is going on in addition in Belgium. Read this email from my friend Gus, ON6KE. I had to read it twice to really absorb it.
Gus asked about which zones I had worked on 40M with my antennas. I was curious and in turn asked him why he wanted to know, and I got the following shocking reply.
"I'm getting kind of restricted by the end of the year. Because of European regulation that is going to be enforced in Belgium as of january 1st 2007, i will have to produce an antenna report per HAM band PER antenna to the national telecom organisation who is to approve the dossier. The exercise consists of a plan indicating the exact coordinates of each antenna, it is also to show areas in the immediate vicinity that are open to the generall public, it is per band, per antenna to show the radiation levels (using software) per 10 degrees and in the horizontal plane and in the vertical plane of the antenna. It has to include a study (also using software) and the national agency's DB on other antenna's in the neigbourhood to show COMBINED field strengths etc. the public is going to be subject to. All the property around the antenna has to be shown. (one can use air picture for that) In order to know what reaches the antenna one has to calculate cable losses, connector losses (stupid, a few hundreds of a DB), tuner etc. losses, one has to know the ACCEPTED isotropic gains of the antenna and what have you. A file PER antenna takes 10-15 pages, SMALL print because outputted 2/3 of it by a computer program.
To me it's too much hassle, can't be bothered, fed up with Europe telling me what to do while there's PLENTY they should first look into for people making their crust every day.
The ruling is about any transmitting between 10mHz and 10GHz, meaning 160-40 is not subject to the study and the national telco agencies approval. That's why I think going to 160 through 40 and forget the rest."
I always ask if I can publish such info from an email in my diary, and I did ask Gus. He just replied with this that adds a bit more info to the story.
"By all means publish this John, BTW as to a country having to follow up on a European guideline, they have to but they can also make the guideline MORE stringent which in the case of Belgium happened. There's been a lot of back and forth between the UBS our national HAM organisation and the authorities (the national telco agency) but they too have their hands tied by the law. I seem to recall that as to field radiation the levels are 3 or 4 times more stringent than what Europe prescribes as the maximum. The UBA has been taking contact with I recall also the ministry of health (don't know whether I translated that correctly) but they wouldn't budge, public opinion of course."
Isn't that completely ridiculous. I'm sure if the FCC did something that stringent here, I'd do the same as Gus is considering.
There might be danger from exposure to ham radio RF, especially at QRO levels, but I would be more concerned about other dangers to human health and life that are not addressed nearly as thoroughly as that described above. Just to give one example - I could give many - I would think nearly constant use of a cell phone would be much more dangerous with that RF, even at low power levels, being radiated so close to the brain. I don't own a cell phone here, and have no plans to ever own one. As far as ham radio RF, I feel perfectly safe using my QRP power levels and simple wire antennas which is another incentive to use QRP. I suppose, without knowing for sure, that CW would be safer than other modes also because of it's intermittent nature.
Once again, yet another example of the World gone crazy in recent years. Sigh.... -30-
Sunday, December 17, 2006 1:18 PM - I received another interesting email today that I want to share with you.
Dan KB8JFC writes in part:
"......I have been a bit discouraged by the news the past few days having to do with the cw requirements being done away with and also losing some cw space.I get a bit worried that the art of cw will disappear eventually and cw is the only thing I like on ham radio but then I realize that the best thing I can do is keep getting on the air and making cw qso after cw qso.I must admit I do work some qro at times but I do enjoy qrp very much...........I really want to make a new years resolution to try and make time to be involved with the naqcc so John again thanks and happy holidays"
Dan reinforces the point that I have been making over and over. The only way to save CW on the ham bands is to use it. Don't waste needless time on the Internet talking about preserving CW. Just get on the air and use it. The Internet is a good adjunct to ham radio just as are QST and CQ magazines and books about ham radio. However it is easy to get carried away and spend hours and hours doing meaningless things on the Internet when you could be on the air helping to preserve the art of CW.
I think Dan has an excellent idea about making a New Year's resolution to get more involved with the NAQCC since the reason the NAQCC exists is to provide different incentives to be more active on the CW bands with our sprints, challenges, awards, and Bear Hunt. I wish every NAQCC member would make that resolution and above all - KEEP IT.
You may think that one person being on CW won't make a difference so you don't bother getting on the bands. That is erroneous thinking though. An analogy comes to mind. We often don't cast our vote in an election because we say what possible difference can one vote make. Well it can make a big difference, and there are examples of elections throughout history that have been decided by one vote overall or one vote per precinct or other voting entity. It may be that your CW QSO will be heard at the right time by the right person to influence that person's decision about whether or not to further do away with CW. It could happen. -30-
Saturday, December 16, 2006 9:41 AM - Thanks Ron K5DUZ for the comments on yesterday's interview. I can always count on you for diary feedback and I appreciate that.
The FCC has gone against the ARRL's wishes and dropped CW testing COMPLETELY. Now let's see how they enforce the junk on the ham bands when they turn into CB bands.
I thought my streak might come to an end today. Boy that would really have been a triple whammy weekend with the 80M screw up, the CW test debacle, and my streak ending. However at least one of the three had a happy ending. After trying for an hour and a half of CQ's and answering CQ's last evening, the bands were better this AM and I easily worked NZ0T in Kansas to keep the streak going for another day. Conditions should improve over the next couple days now as active sunspot region 930 rotates away from the Earth facing side of the Sun.
Hey, the mailman brought me something to cheer me up a bit after the blow CW took the past couple days. A card confirming Azerbaijan from 4J6ZZ. It took 4 years, but now I have 198 countries (entities) confirmed of the 204 I've worked with minimal QRP/CW.
I also completed my new thermometer shelter and it is now in operation replacing the 40+ year old one.
And one final thing. I guess you need a further clue about my math teaser of a few days ago as I've not received a single email about it. But then, other than Ron and a couple other regulars I get very little feedback about anything in the diary anyway. "But that's another story," as a dear friend of mine I worked with at WPIT used to say. The clue - oh, it deals with something that is in plain sight on the main page of my web site. GL. -30-
Friday, December 15, 2006 12:09 PM - I'm going to do another of my 'interview' entries today, but first I'm delighted to say the NAQCC Bear Hunt is back on track. We have a 'Bear for a Day' on 12/17 and a regular Bear all of the week 12/18-12/24. See the NAQCC site for info.
Mr. Interviewer - "John, I've explored the NAQCC web site, and I have some further questions about matters other than the Bear Hunt we discussed before."
K3WWP - "That's great. I'll do my best to answer them. Shoot."
Mr. Interviewer - "Personally I do not operate QRP all the time, nor do I operate CW all the time. Is there a place for me in the NAQCC?"
K3WWP - "Certainly. There is no requirement that you can only operate QRP or even be strictly CW. Of course there are diehards like myself who do, and probably always will, operate only CW and only QRP. However we have such prominent contest operators as K4BAI who is one of our most regular sprint participants, and N4BP who shows up in our sprints from time to time as NAQCC members. Both of them regularly operate QRO and other modes besides CW, yet as I said, they have joined us in our efforts to preserve CW on the ham bands."
Mr. Interviewer - "Wonderful John. That sounds like the way a club should be run. I believe in the early days of the QRP ARCI, a member had to be strictly QRP which was then 100 watts input power or less.
I don't watch statistics very much myself but it seems to me that participation in the NAQCC activities is rather low among the membership. Do you have anything to say about that?"
K3WWP - "Yes. I often feel the same way myself, and it is discouraging. However two of our members who love working with stats have pointed out to me that our club has about the same participation level, percentagewise among the membership, as we do. Don VE3HUR found that in September 2006, FISTS and SKCC had approximately 0.7% of their members participate in their sprints that month. Flying Pigs and our NAQCC had about 2.5% participation. The long-established Spartan Sprint had just over 4% participation. So we are in the same ballpark as other organizations. Now as to why participation is so low in all organizations, I really don't know. In addition to that Kevin KI4DEF did some research on the early days of the Spartan Sprints 10 years ago and compared their first 18 sprints to our first 18. It turns out that as far as number of logs submitted and number of calls in those logs, we are off to a faster, better start than they were. That is truly impressive, I think."
Mr. Interviewer - "That's very interesting, and I agree I have no idea why club members don't participate more in club activities. I guess there are doers and there are joiners. Some folks join clubs, then never do anything in the club. I belong to some non-ham radio clubs that are the same way.
I find your concept of monthly challenges quite intriguing. I know from the web site the stated purpose of them, but I'd like a little further take on them from you."
K3WWP - "Sure. A lot of folks simply do not like contests or sprints, and don't go in much for awards either, so being as we are the club with a difference, we dreamed up the challenges to hopefully give these folks a club activity they could participate in. We have many different kinds of challenges to try to cover the many different aspects of ham radio. We have ragchew challenges for those who love to just get on the air and communicate without any thought whether or not the person they are talking to is in a different state, a rare county, a hard to work country and the like. For some reason, the alphabet challenges seem to be our most popular. Those are the ones where you make words from letters in the callsigns of stations you work. We also have band-specific challenges to try to increase activity on the lesser used CW bands so we don't lose those bands to other modes. Our current challenge of making as many 15 minute QSO's as possible on 80M is such a challenge. However as of today, we have already lost a lot of 80M territory. But I'm not going to go into that right now."
Mr. Interviewer - "Sounds like the challenge concept is a very sound one, and should draw a lot of hams' interest. One final question about awards. I notice that your awards duplicate awards offered by other organizations in many cases. Yet I see some that also look unique to the NAQCC. Our time is running out, so give me some brief comments on that, John."
K3WWP - "It's hard for me to be brief talking about something I believe in as strongly as the NAQCC and CW operation, but I'll try. First, our awards are much cheaper than similar awards by other groups. Three dollars for ours versus as much as 10 dollars for the same award obtained elsewhere. In fact some awards are virtually free for just a donation of postage. I'm proud of the unique ones like our QSO-A-Day and simplified prefix awards, and I could talk about them at length, but I'll honor your request for brevity, and close now with my thanks on behalf of our officers and members for this chance to disperse some more info about the NAQCC. Thank you."
Mr. Interviewer - "You're certainly welcome. As I told you in our Bear Hunt interview, I also enjoy CW and QRP and I'm glad to publicize any organization that truly does it's best to encourage CW and QRP operation. And that reminds me of one further question about gear building versus operation, but that will have to wait till our next interview in a couple weeks. Thanks John." -30-
Thursday, December 14, 2006 9:17 AM - Are you mathematically inclined and do you enjoy math puzzles? I thought I'd do something completely different in the diary today and offer this for your amusement. If you hate math, might as well leave now. However, I guess it is really not strictly a math problem although it does involve numbers. Perhaps that's also a hint to the solution. Email me if you know the answer or want to take a guess.
What does the following series of numbers represent?
6 - 2 - 5 - 5 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 3 - 7 - 6
Hint: It involves something on my web site and it's nothing hidden anywhere, but in plain sight. Have fun! The answer will be here in a few days. -30-
Wednesday, December 13, 2006 9:57 PM - It seems others experienced the band breakdown midway through our NAQCC Sprint last evening. Ivin in IN and Larry in NJ observed pretty much the same as I did. However John in GA seemed to have business as usual down there. It must have been strongly latitude oriented. The study of propagation is such a fascinating field, I often wish I had more time to delve more deeply into it.
It looks like tomorrow is going to be a really bad one on the bands. I'm glad I have my QSO for the 14th in the books already. WWV is predicting 'severe' space weather for tomorrow. That word is only used very rarely in predictions.
Nothing much else to talk about now as I've had a busy day and still need to get several things done before retiring. -30-
Tuesday, December 12, 2006 7:17 PM - Would you believe it was in the mid-60's today here where a normal December high temperature is in the 30's? Well, it was, and I took every opportunity to be outside enjoying it. It was pretty much the same yesterday and I took the opportunity then of even going fishing. I didn't catch anything nor even get any bites, but hey it was fishing in December which doesn't happen all that often. In fact that may have been the first time I've ever fished in December. I know I went in early January one year when the temperature rose into the 60's. The catch (no pun) is that the water temperature remains very cold so the fish are not very active. Unless you happen to plop down your bait right into their mouths, they're not likely to go very far to get it.
I'm pretty much just killing time now until our NAQCC sprint which starts in just over an hour as I am writing this. I hope conditions will be better than they were last month. They were pretty good on 80M last night but things can change from day to day.
A few of our regular sprinters have other non-ham radio related commitments (trip to Florida, Shakespeare recital for two examples), so we will miss them. Hopefully others will jump in to take up the slack. We'll know in about 3 hours or so how things turn out. I hope to see you there.
SPRINT POST-MORTEM: Well, once again the propagation gods zapped us. If you look at http://www.sec.noaa.gov/today.html, you'll see in the top chart a very sharp high magnitude rise in the Xray flux as observed by the GOES satellit. The time of that rise is just about the middle of our sprint and what I observed on the bands confirms the zapping. I worked 5 stations in the first half hour all having good signals, then it was steadily downhill from there until the 80 and 40 meter bands were just about entirely dead at 0315Z and I QRT. Man, when will we get a break for our sprints? -30-
Monday, December 11, 2006 8:49 AM - Only 5 days now till X-Day. That's when a large portion of 80M becomes eX-CW territory and becomes X-rated SSB territory. It's sad to see what ham radio is degenerating into. A lot like CB rather than the wonderful service it used to be not all that many years ago. I'd love to see everyone get on 80M CW on the 15th and make as many CW QSO's as possible. Kind of send a message to the ARRL and FCC that CW is NOT dead as they seem to think.
Unfortunately in listening to 80M CW, actually it does sound at times as if CW IS dead. I don't know why more folks don't use this band regularly. Those that don't use it are as much responsible for this unfortunate situation as anyone at the ARRL or FCC.
That's all I have to say about the situation on 80 meters for now.
Remember that this Tuesday evening (Wednesday 0130-0330Z) is our monthly NAQCC Sprint. I'll be there for the full 2 hours. I hope you will be also. Our Sprint schedule for all of 2007 has been posted on the NAQCC web site for the past several months now, so you can plan far ahead to make as many of our sprints as possible. Basically it's very simple to remember the dates. In odd numbered months it's on the Third Wednesday Evening (USA time) while in the even numbered months it's the Second Tuesday Evening (USA time). Some folks tend to make it more complicated in their minds for whatever reason. Oh, why the alternating days, I hear someone ask. Well some folks are regulary tied up on certain weekdays. This way if someone has a regular Tuesday evening commitment, they can still make our sprint at least every other month when it is on a Wednesday and vice-versa. We'd like to expand to even more weekdays, but the NAQCC tries its best not to interfere with other club's activities. This is another reason why our schedule is posted so far in advance on the web site. -30-
Sunday, December 10, 2006 2:23 PM - Before I report on my 10 meters check, I want to address an email or two. I've gotten a couple questions recently about QRP rigs wanting to know if you must use a dedicated QRP rig for your contacts to count as QRP QSO's. Simple answer - NO. The definition of CW QRP is 5 watts output power or less from your transmitter. That transmitter can be a Kenwood 570 as I use or even a KW capable transmitter as long as the power output is 5 watts or less. I don't know where the rumor about QRP rigs got started, but there must be one circulating for me to get two separate questions about it.
Thanks to Tom KB3LFC who wanted me to check out how his rig sounded I did make it into the shack briefly today and did check 10M. I heard XE1MM and some station in MO, both very weak. Definitely not enough to entice me to hang around.
I had an interesting series of emails today with N4CD about the early days of county hunting. He is doing an article on Cliff K9EAB who was the first person to earn the USA-CA award. I wasn't able to give much info about Cliff since he never participated much (if at all) in our CW CHN, but did most of his county hunting on the SSB CHN. I'm just taking a long shot here and asking if anyone reading this has any info about K9EAB. If you do, email me and I'll give you N4CD's email address so you can see if he would be interested in your info. -30-
Saturday, December 09, 2006 8:24 PM - I wanted to check 10 meters today to see if I could hear any activity in the contest with my minimal antennas here, but I never got around to it. I'm sure the fellows and gals with the KW's and huge antenna arrays were contacting each other, but I'd like to find out how my QRP would work on 10 at this point of the sunspot cycle. Maybe Sunday I'll not be so busy and can get to it.
All the radiation the Sun has been bathing us with the past couple days could possibly create some good openings on 10 meters, although that is not certain by any means. I'll let you know in the diary tomorrow if I hear and/or work anything on 10 meters. That is, if I get the chance to check it.
Today I was helping a friend with some computer work, and he is also helping me re-build my thermometer shelter in my back yard. I've shown you pictures of the old one on MySpace and you can tell it's seen better days after 40+ years of being out in the weather. It's been partially re-built a few times in those years, but I think this is the first time it will be almost a complete rebuild with just the slats being re-used since they are not all that old.
Then of course I had to go for my walks. One was quite interesting. A Flood Cleanup project spent the last two weeks cleaning up the riverbank in Kittanning. This was the first time in many many years the bank has been cleaned up properly. I mean cut and burn which is the way it should be done. It had been cut now and then, but the trees and brush were just left to lay there. This crew of 12 or so that came in really did the job right. So today I took a walk along the river through places I hadn't been able to walk in recent memory. Now if only our own borough workers could learn from these folks and keep it that way, it would be wonderful. Oh, and no, we haven't had any recent floods here, and I'm not really sure how we got a Flood Cleanup project to do the work, but I'm certainly delighted it happened. Now I'm looking forward to spring when I'll be able to explore some old fishing holes that have been inaccessible recently. Hurry up and get here March and April. HI. -30-
Friday, December 08, 2006 4:49 PM - In case you haven't heard, the Sun has been acting up the past couple days. A very large sunspot group is just rotating into view, and it has produced a couple of major flares already. Since the spots are not facing Earth directly yet, those flares should not have much effect on us, but if the spots flare again in a few days when the spots are facing Earth, we may be in for some really rough conditions on the bands. However there is also a possibility that the flares may open up the higher amateur bands for brief periods. The whole scenario is very complicated and far beyond what I will discuss here in the diary. If you want more info, check out my propagation links.
Incidentally some would have you believe that major flares at this point near a sunspot minimum are extremely rare. That is not so. Major flares can, do, and will occur at any point in a sunspot cycle.
Conditions were disturbed the past couple days, not because of the flares, but from a recurring coronal hole that has returned to a favorable (unfavorable for us hams) position to bombard the Earth with energetic particles and upset the ionosphere.
So far I've made my daily QSO easily the past two days, but it may be rough sledding the next few days. We'll have to wait and see. -30-
Thursday, December 07, 2006 11:24 AM - I know this is a busy month for many with Christmas related activities, but still I'm disappointed no one has been volunteering to be a Bear in the NAQCC Bear Hunt. Remember there is now a 'Bear for a Day' activity if you feel you can't devote a full week to being a bear. C'mon and give it a try.
You may remember I wrote about Mike K0MDS being reluctant to be a bear because he wasn't confident in his CW proficiency. Well, it turns out Mike was one of our more successful bears in the past few weeks. Mike emailed me and said following his week as a Bear:
"Thanks for the opportunity to try something new. I made some new friends, had some very interesting contacts (Polar Bear #1, one tree stand portable, and a Rockmite to name a few), and in general gained a lot of confidence."
Mike points out another benefit of being a bear that frankly we hadn't thought of when we started the program. It's an important benefit too. He gained confidence in his CW ability. You can do the same if you feel you lack confidence and that is preventing you from being more active on CW. Jump right in and volunteer to be a bear. The ONLY requirement is that you are a NAQCC member and membership is free. You set your own schedule for your week as a bear. There is no minimum time requirement - you operate as little or as much as you can - at your own convenience. The choice of bands is up to you. The CW speed is up to you. I don't think it could be any simpler or more attractive. And darn it, it's a lot of fun on top of everything else. I enjoyed my time as a bear every bit as much as anything I've ever done in ham radio. -30-
Wednesday, December 06, 2006 4:25 PM - You've certainly been providing me with a lot of material for the diary with your emails of late. Thanks.
It looks like there are others who share my opinion of the fate of 80M expressed in this diary a while ago and in a FISTS Keynote column. Richard K6TOB writes:
"Forgive me for adding to your email, but I very much wanted to support you in your article for Issue 6, 2006, Keynote. What a fine contribution, and so much truth. Isn't it interesting that so much of the in-fighting among hams goes on on phone modes, but rarely on CW! And yet, FCC has expanded the SSB segments at the expense of CW. Kind of like supporting BPL so folks can send more spam (smile).
The fact that there are many new CW ops - many of them quite young - should make any real Ham proud, but no, all they can do is criticize. I have been on since 1956, and now mostly CW for that reason. As a teacher of music braille to blind prep and college students, my radio is the world to me as an escape.
May I suggest that you consider seeing your article is placed in World Radio, or even CQ or QST. My own article in Isse 5, 2004, was somewhat lost in the back pages. Hope you did see it.
Bravo to you and your courageous statements!"
Thank you Richard. I'm proud to stand up for CW in this day and age of CW bashing. In case you are not a FISTS member and haven't read the column Richard refers to, it is similar to a diary entry I made a few weeks ago about the FCC effectively severely limiting CW usage on 80M. Also that column is due to be posted shortly on the web site. I give exclusivity to the Keynote for my columns for a few months before posting them here on the web site. -30-
Tuesday, December 05, 2006 7:04 PM - A follow-up on the Iraq email I mentioned yesterday. We now have a picture of SGT Gill on the NAQCC web site - Pictures page along with a short but interesting story of his stay in Iraq so far.
We've come up with the rules for our 160M NAQCC sprint to be held in January. That's on the NAQCC web site - Contests/Sprints page. I hope a lot of members will take part in that special sprint as well as our regular sprints we hold each month.
Do you know someone who loves to operate QRP/CW but is not yet a member of the NAQCC? If so, we hope you'll urge them to join us in our effort to keep CW alive on the ham bands. -30-
Monday, December 04, 2006 8:00 PM - I want to share yet another email with you. This one from Iraq!
"I am finally licensed here as YI9TU. Check out the article on http://www.qrparci.org/. Only one correction...I am not running QRP but I am hunting for QRP stations so spread the word that I am on the QRP frequencies every day. Mostly on 20 and 40 but will be there when 10,12,15,and 17 is open as well. SGT Mitch Gill - K7TUT/YI9TU member #1533 HHC 1/34 BCT APO AE 09331 Tallil, Iraq"
That #1533 that Mitch mentions, we are proud to say, is an NAQCC membership number. Mitch is at least the second of our NAQCC members who have spent or are spending time in Iraq ensuring safety from terrorism for peace-loving citizens of the world. A million thanks to Mitch and all of his comrades engaged in the fight against terrorism.
At this stage of the sunspot cycle it will probably be difficult to work Mitch, especially with our QRP signals from here in the USA, but we will give it a try. -30-
Sunday, December 03, 2006 10:06 AM - I often talk about the purpose of this web site which is to promote CW operation and QRP, but perhaps this email from Jim W5JCS says it best. It's representative of many emails I get here on the subject.
"....You are an inspiration to us all. You have done much to add to my enjoyment of Ham radio by encouraging CW contacts. It is fun to turn my Yaesu FT-857D down to 5 watts and make CW contacts. People are surprised! It is fun. I used a Heathkit HW-8 that I built in the late seventies previously so I knew I could make contacts. Five watts is like stroking the afterburner compared to the 1. watts I hoped for out of the HW-8...."
I removed some more personal stuff.
I hope that everyone who does increase their CW usage because of my web site, the NAQCC, or whatever other reason encourages the hams they know to also get back to the basics and operate more CW, be it QRP or even QRO. If we don't use CW, we will keep losing CW territory on the ham bands as is happening with 80M this month.
I received another email from WU7F who reported that my site works well in an alternate browser he uses. I appreciate reports like that since I only use Internet Explorer here because in my opinion it is the best browser ever designed. I've tried just about all the others and only a brief check of them showed so many shortcomings that I went right back to good old IE.
However Mark, if you read this, my email reply to you bounced from two different email addresses I tried, so let me know what your current active email address is. -30-
Saturday, December 02, 2006 12:54 PM - Once a month I upload all my QSO's from the previous month to eQSL and LOTW. I usually do this sometime in the first 3 days of a month as I'm doing today.
Also today, I'm logging all the eQSL's received and LOTW matches made in my master log database since I last did so a couple weeks ago. I like to do that once or twice a month so they don't pile up too much on me.
While I was looking at and logging the eQSL's, I noticed that some of our NAQCC members don't have their NAQCC numbers on their cards. I would like all members to help us publicize the NAQCC by putting it not only on their eQSL's, but on their regular QSL's as well. If you want to go a bit beyond just a number, there are now downloadable NAQCC logos on the NAQCC web site. They are in various sizes and with some minor re-sizing in your photo editing software, virtually an infinite number of sizes are available. Thanks.
Speaking of the LOTW, one thing annoys me about it. The fact that so many hams keep uploading the same QSO's over and over again. That eats up a lot of time checking a QSO that was matched in November for example and finding the QSO was already matched say back in July.
I'm guessing that many hams keep uploading their full logs each time while all they really need to do is to upload the QSO's they hadn't uploaded before. If you must process your entire log each time for whatever reason, you can still enter start and end dates for the QSO's you upload from the processed log. This is explained in easy to understand language on the LOTW site so I'm not going to say more here. Now I'm going back to finish logging the latest LOTW matches hoping to not find that many that I've already logged months ago. -30-
Friday, December 01, 2006 7:00 PM - Today is the first day of meteorological winter. This more accurate period of winter - the three coldest months of the year is used by meteorological aficianados in many cases instead of Dec 21 through March 21.
Today is also just one week from the earliest sunset of the year for those living at 40 degrees north latitude. Many folks believe the earliest sunset occurs on December 21st, but that isn't so, at least for those of us at 40 degrees N. The reasons for this are quite complicated and well beyond the scope of my diary so I won't delve into them except for the following.
The shortest period of daylight is as everyone knows around Dec 21 each year, yet at that time the Sun is already setting about 3 1/2 minutes later than on Dec 8. HOWEVER, the kicker is the sunrise time. The latest sunrise time doesn't occur until January 4th. The rate of daily change of sunset and sunrise times work together to make Dec 21 the shortest period of daylight. I told you it was complicated. There's a neat little program that gives you the sunset and sunrise times for each day of the year for your particular location if you want to delve into this more. I'll give you the URL for it in a moment.
First though, don't ever say that Dec 21 is the shortest 'day' of the year. Every 'day' is 24 hours long, or to be a little more astronomically precise, about 23 hours and 56 minutes long. But that's another story. It's just the time between sunrise and sunset that is the shortest on Dec 21.
If I were still working at WPIT, my friend Brian and I would start our winter countdown today, rejoicing that Spring is now only 90 (or 89 by now) days away.
http://www.analemma.com/ is where you can get the sunrise/sunset program along with some other good info and programs. You have to drill down a bit to find the program. Click on the word "Analemma", then on the blue right pointing arrow, then on the words "other phenomena", and scroll down that page. -30-
Thursday, November 30, 2006 2:49 PM - Well, I never did get on again on the 29th to add to the 7 QSO's on the 4,500th day of my 'streak'. One thing after another kept popping up here that had to be taken care of. I'm sure you all have those days and know what I mean without me going into detail about it.
Just a mish-mash of items here today. The NAQCC is planning a 160M only sprint to be held around January 24, 2007. If you're a 160M fan we hope you'll join in. When the details are finalized, the info will be posted on the NAQCC web site.
I received this question via email from Stuart, VA7CRH - "What does it mean when I am calling CQ in CW, and only get a single
"question mark" (i.e. ..--..) in return?"
I answered this way - "It means the person sending the question mark knows nothing about proper CW procedure. I always ignore anyone who sends just a question mark and continue with my CQing. I don't encourage their improper procedure by acknowledging them in any way. If they really want to work me, they will have to answer my CQ properly. I find that most of the time they never do follow up with a correct response which I take to mean they were just fooling around and didn't want to work me anyway."
At least that's the way I feel about it. I discussed that and several other strange behaviors on CW in the diary some time ago. I guess as CW falls out of favor with many hams, there is not much desire to learn all the proper CW procedures or to teach them to newer hams. It's a shame, but a sign of the times. I remember when proper CW procedure used to be an important part of the FCC license exams. I can't say for sure since I don't really know much about the current question 'pools', but I would venture to guess there is next to nothing about CW procedure swimming around in those 'pools'.
Thanks to all of those who sent congrats on the 4,500 days of the streak. I appreciate your comments and encouragement to keep going.
Remember a couple days ago I mentioned a friend who gave up the Internet. Well it lasted all of two days for him. I received an email today that he couldn't function without the Internet and he's back on-line again. I think that shows how completely dependent on the Internet we all have become. Kind of like electricity in our homes, running water, and the like. I think I could do without Television easily in this day and age, but not the Internet. The only thing I watch on Television are some how-to shows on PBS (This Old House, New Yankee Workshop, etc.) and an occasional sports show or an oldies music show. Probably about 2-3 hours a week at most. -30-
Wednesday, November 29, 2006 9:00 AM - Thanks to the 7 stations who worked me for day # 4500 of the 'streak' so far. I have a lot to do today so I don't know if I'll be able to get on as much as I thought I could when I wrote yesterday's entry, but I'll try to get on for a couple hours here and there before 2400Z. Gotta run now. -30-
Tuesday, November 28, 2006 1:08 AM - Wanna help me celebrate day # 4500 of the 'streak'? At or soon after 0000Z on the 29th when I get a QSO with someone that will mean I've made at least one QRP CW QSO on each of the past 4,500 consecutive days. I'll try to get on 3559 kHz starting at 0000Z, and hang around for an hour or two. Perhaps I'll switch to 7041 kHz from time to time if 40M seems in decent shape. If you hear me, give a call and say hello. I'd like to put a bunch of QSO's in the log for day 4,500. Then depending on how my Wednesday looks, I might get on at various times between 1400 and 2400Z on or near 7041, 10116, 14060, and maybe even 18079. -30-
Monday, November 27, 2006 12:50 PM - Just a couple more observations about the CQWW DX contest. I keep track of how often I have worked a particular station. I find it quite interesting to see how many first timers I work in contests or during a month of regular operation. The proportion of first-timers seemed quite high in the CQWW DX. It was - of my 70 QSO's, there were 23 never before worked calls.
Only a couple of stations I worked were on my honor roll of contesters whom I've worked more than 40 times in contests. See the Contesting section of my web site for the honor roll.
I don't understand propagation well enough to figure out why I often work RW1ZA in Murmansk after all the rest of Russia has faded out along with quite a bit of Europe, but it happened again this weekend. In fact other than OH8X, TM7XX, and CU2A, RW1ZA was my last EU station worked on Sunday. CU2A is down near Africa and much closer and on a lower path than the rest of EU. TM7XX is in France of course, and France is often one of the last EU countries to fade out along with G, EI, EA, and CT. That leaves OH8X. Another propagation quirk I don't understand. OH stations are often fluttery, weak, and there longer than they should be, yet I can work them fairly easily with my minimal QRP even though I may have trouble copying them at times.
I think that is one thing that fascinates me about contesting. There are enough stations on the air at one time to notice these propagation quirks. Oh well, enough rambling for today except for one more note.
An NAQCC member and email friend from Sweden - Goran SM0PMJ told me today that he is giving up the Internet and concentrating more on his hobbies including ham radio and 30M CW in particular. Now that's a brave move in this day and age. I think I would be lost without my Internet. I admire Goran although I will miss our emails. -30-
Sunday, November 26, 2006 8:00 PM - I did wind up having some fun in the CQWW DX contest. Only a few hours of action here for 70 QSO's, but it was nice to work some DX again. I worked some countries (entities) I haven't worked for a few years now like HK0GU, 4U1UN, CT3KN, CN8WW. I also worked enough stations to finish a second NAQCC November Challenge with just DX/VE stations in the test. I didn't think I was going to get the last letter 'S', but I finally worked TI3TLS on 20M to wrap it up.
I originally got in the contest just to get my daily QSO's and to see if I could work PJ4A. My friend John K4BAI was (one of?) the op(s) at that station and I always like to help John out because he is a friend and because he helps out our NAQCC so much. I did work PJ4A on a couple bands.
After seeing how poor the bands were Friday evening, I never got on again until Saturday evening, and again I only spent a short time so that by Sunday morning I had only 8 QSO's. Gary W6GY sent me his Bear schedule for Sunday and after I went to see if I could work him on 30M, the contest bug bit me and I spent a few hours in the test on Sunday despite another beautiful day here. Incidentally I didn't get Gary, and that's the first NAQCC Bear I haven't bagged so far.
I decided I'd shoot for 50 QSO's in the test and reached that, then made my goal 70 QSO's which I just made.
I didn't hear any new overall entities here, but I did hear a couple of entities I would have liked to have worked. TZ5A and ZS4TX were putting in good signals, but I couldn't break the pileups. I haven't worked TZ for several years now and I always like to work ZS station. Speaking of pileups, I did break one fair sized one when I worked TO5X on 20M. I always get a kick out of breaking a pile with my minimal QRP. I'm even happy when with my QSK I can hear one other station calling the same station I am, and I get the answer.
I expected 80 and 40 to be the best bands this contest, but the ionosphere was just disturbed enough that they weren't as good as they should have been. I hear a lot of EU and AF sigs on 80, but none were very strong. And the EU sigs on 40 were also lower than they would have been with a quiet ionosphere. I didn't work any EU or AF on 40M.
15M was quite good Sunday morning, and 20M followed suit Sunday afternoon. Most of my QSO's came on those two bands. I heard a bit of activity on 10M Sunday morning, but didn't work anyone there.
It sure was different that just a few short years ago, although I did better this sunspot minimum than during the last one. I think mainly because I am more experienced now and have confidence I can work the stations that I probably didn't even try 10-11 years ago.
And finally for this entry, I started a new Bear streak when just after 0000Z I was the first hunter to bag Mike K0MDS in KS. I hope you all will try to work Mike who was courageous enough to try his hand at being a bear despite some self-doubts he seemed to have. -30-
Saturday, November 25, 2006 2:53 PM - It's 67 degrees outside right now and the sun is shining brightly. Get the message? This is going to be a short entry for one thing. Secondly with this weather and being near the bottom of the sunspot cycle, I feel very little like getting in the CQWW DX contest. I listened last night and 20M was completely dead here. 40M was nowhere near its usual activity level. 80M was pretty good. I was hearing a lot of EU signals and a couple AF along with the usual Caribbean stuff, but too much QRO competition for my minimal QRP so I worked a couple Canadians and quit. I might try again this evening and possibly tomorrow morning, but I foresee no serious effort on my part.
Now I'm going to eat something and go out and enjoy the weather some more. These kind of days don't happen all that often here from November 1st through mid-March, so I've got to take advantage of them. -30-
Friday, November 24, 2006 12:58 PM - I hope you all had as nice a Thanksgiving as I did. I really enjoyed the visit and meal with Tom KB3LFC, his wife JoAnne and their twin sons Ariel and Ethan. It was a short visit though, as Tom had to go to work later in the day. Newspapers and Radio/TV are pretty much 24/7 businesses, and a lot of other businesses are becoming that way also in our greedy world. Sorry for the editorial comment there.
Anyway thanks Tom and family for making my Thanksgiving a meaningful one.
I also got the certificate paper from Tom and when I got home, I printed up the N3A certificates for those who worked N3A while I was operator. I got them and the N3A QSL's in the mail just a little while ago. Check the NAQCC web site front page to see if yours was one that was sent today and let me know if you get it OK.
You can still get a N3A certificate and QSL if you worked our special event station. Just send me your QSL card for the QSO and you'll be sent our card and the certificate.
I managed to finish up my NAQCC November Challenge last night when I worked KG4TUY to get that last elusive letter Y. I may try to do the challenge again using stations I work in the CQWW DX contest if I decide the bands are good enough to put in a decent effort in the test. -30-
Thursday, November 23, 2006 11:02 AM - Not much time for a diary entry this holiday, so for now just a simple wish that you all have something to be very thankful for on this Thanksgiving Day. I'm thankful for my many many good friends including Tom KB3LFC who has invited me to share Thanksgiving dinner with him and his family. I'm heading off to there in just a few minutes now. -30-
Wednesday, November 22, 2006 6:41 PM - I did a bit of analyzing of the SS results as I mentioned yesterday. I found it interesting that Bob' 2006 results were very similar to my 1997 results as shown in the graph below:
It looks like the SS entrants in both the 1997 and 2006 CW SS came largely from the same pool, i.e hams licensed between 1950 and 1980. That's a bit odd considering the 9 year spacing in the results. It would be interesting to analyze a larger sample. My 1997 results included 450 QSO's and Bob's 2006 results included 141 QSO's. I don't have an explanation except for the obvious that the more newly licensed hams just don't like CW for whatever reason.
But then we have the following graph of Bob's 2006 CW vs. SSB results, and there is a similar situation with the majority for both modes being licensed between 1950 and 1980. There is a larger SSB vs. CW participation for hams licensed since 1980 however which again tends to show newer hams prefer SSB rather than good old reliable CW.
Moving on - I'm about to post the final November NAQCC Sprint results on the NAQCC web site. If you sent in a log, thank you very much. Now you can see how you finished after a week's waiting till all logs were submitted and cross-checked.
Finally for today, also posted on the web site is the Bear Hunt sked for W6GY - Gary in Idaho. Need ID QRP? Here's your chance to get it. Look up the sked on the NAQCC web site. -30-
Tuesday, November 21, 2006 1:21 PM - Kind of a potpourri of comments today.
First of all thanks to Mike K0MDS who admits "this will be a bit of a stretch for my CW operating skills", yet he was brave enough to sign up to be a Bear for the NAQCC Bear Hunt. I'm proud of folks like Mike, and grateful to them. It's really not stretching anyone's skills though since the pace, CW speed, etc. are all in the Bear's hands (paws?).
The first fallout from the 80 meters "re-farming" has come. W1AW is moving it's digital frequency down below 3600 to create more QRM for the CW operators as I predicted. They are also planning to move their CW frequency, hopefully nowhere near the QRP or FISTS frequencies.
Bob VA3RKM and I are emailing back and forth about some SS stats analyzing our contacts by year first licensed which as you know, is part of the SS exchange. It could prove interesting, especially in seeing how many newly licensed hams are competing in the CW SS. Bob did both the CW and SSB this year, so that will make an interesting comparison, I'm sure. Maybe I'll make a future diary entry from the study.
Bob also made a very strong statement for CW vs. SSB referring to the SSB contest - "The contest was tough going for me with lots of repeats at times (not fun!). Unlike CW where there were almost no repeats." Just a little further proof how efficient a mode CW is vs. SSB, but we all know that, don't we?
I seem to have lost another email I wanted to quote from, but it said something like the following. It's a shame that a real eyesore (earsore?) for ham radio will now be expanding, referring to increasing SSB usage on 75/80 meters. Yes, I'm sure that some folks thinking about getting into ham radio will be turned off when they hear some of the garbage on 75 meters, and after December 15th there will be much more of an opportunity to hear it. Sigh! But I guess ham radio generally is just following other 'entertainment' media because broadcast radio and television have also decided to trash the wholesome clean programming we enjoyed years ago for the garbage they broadcast these days. SIGH! -30-
Monday, November 20, 2006 4:37 PM - Just a couple of operating notes for today's entry.
Remember this is the week before a big DX contest, the CQWW DX test. That means many of the stations will be setting up for the contest, testing out rigs, antennas, etc. That means a lot of DX to be had if conditions permit. It also means that when many of the stations get the contest setup fine tuned, they head to the WARC bands to hand out their countries there. For example I heard S9SS on 17M yesterday afternoon quite strong. I couldn't work him, but it was still nice to hear some rare DX on 17M. I also heard HK0GU just to mention one other station.
After looking like the Bear Hunt was in a bit of trouble, we now have states set up for this week and next. This week we'll offer Idaho later in the week. Next week it will be Kansas. Final skeds will be posted on the NAQCC Bear Hunt page just as soon as I receive them here. Happy hunting! -30-
Sunday, November 19, 2006 12:12 PM - A few days ago, I mentioned I was going to do a 'mock' interview with myself about various ham radio matters. Let's do the first in the series today. I'll basically ask one question in each interview, then elaborate on the answer. Here goes:
Interviewer's Question: John, we find the new NAQCC WAS Bear Hunt to be an interesting concept. It's a chance for everyone to add QRP states to thier QRP WAS totals plus a lot of other features besides. We know that you have already been a 'Bear', but assume that you haven't been and that you are just an ordinary NAQCC member and not a club officer. Also assume that you are somewhat of a newcomer to ham radio instead of the 43 year veteran that you are. In that position how would you feel about the opportunity to be a 'Bear'?
K3WWP's Response: That may be a little hard to answer since I am so strongly involved with the NAQCC in my capacity as vice-president, and I was the one who initially came up with the WAS Bear Hunt idea. Let me try to disassociate myself from that and answer you as best I can.
1. I believe that one of the prime directives of life is to help others in whatever way we can. In that respect I would want to be able to help others to work and confirm my state by operating as a Bear. I would find it extremely satisfying to perhaps be the 50th QRP state for someone, or even to start someone off on their QRP WAS by being their first QRP state.
2. I have read the Bear Hunt rules thoroughly and I find the fact that there is absolutely no pressure on me in my operation as a Bear to be very reassuring. I mean I can set my own schedule of operating hours without having to adhere to any fixed or pre-arranged times. Once my week is assigned, I have complete freedom to schedule the days and times I operate during that week. If something comes up, I can even change my schedule by notifying the NAQCC as late as the evening before the change. I like the fact there is no minumum or maximum number of hours I must operate during the week. Summing up I like the fact that the operating schedule is completely in my hands.
3. As with the schedule, there are no specific frequencies I must operate on. I can figure out for myself, based on my own observations which bands work the best for me at what times. Even though I may not be a propagation expert, I do have enough experience to know what should and shouldn't work for me.
4. As a newcomer, my CW speed is not all that good. But in the Bear Hunt according to the rules, that doesn't really matter. I can operate at my own speed because the 'Bear Hunters' will QRS to my speed if necessary to make the contact.
5. Hey, this works the other way also. When I work a Bear Hunter, he may very well be in a state that I need, and that will help me as well as him.
6. I love the fact that my schedule is posted on the NAQCC web site. That way I can be assured of having someone knowing just where and when I can be contacted on the air. Sometimes it is very rough to randomly call CQ and not get any answers. At least for the week I am a Bear, that would not be a problem.
7. One minor concern I have is what if I am too popular and I draw large pileups when I call CQ? I contacted the NAQCC officers about that and they assure me that will not be a problem. They say that until the Bear Hunt catches on and really becomes popular, there won't be all that many trying to work me. Plus since my operation will be spread out over a week, they say the activity won't be concentrated at one certain time or day. I should most of the time have only one station calling me with perhaps two at a time a couple times during the week. That allayed my concern about pileups.
8. One other thing that appeals to me is that I'll be doing something new and different in ham radio. I've experienced nets, rag chewing, contesting, and DXing. The Bear Hunt will be a new and fun thing to to.
I'm sorry I was so long winded in answering your question, but as a newcomer to ham radio, the whole concept of the Bear Hunt just fascinates and excites me very much.
I think if I really was in the hypothetical situation we set up for me in your question were true, I'd bid you a fast good-bye and head off to the NAQCC web site right now to sign up to be a Bear.
Interviewer's Closing Remarks: You've certainly convinced me. As you know, I'm not a member of the NAQCC, but I am interested in QRP and I'm going to first of all sign-up to be a member, and as soon as I am a member, I'm heading to the Bear Hunt page to sign up to be a Bear.
And that's how the first in a series of ham radio questions went in this mock interview. Mr. Interviewer will be back from time to time with another question for me. -30-
Saturday, November 18, 2006 8:20 AM - I just downloaded and "read" the DX book I mentioned yesterday. I should say scanned rather than read. I'd like to give my opinion of it so here goes.
First it does contain a wealth of good information, and as I surmised it is of interest both to those running a DXpedition as well as those trying to work a DXpedition. I think it answers most of the questions those of us sitting there waiting to be heard and worked might have.
While it might not give specific instructions on how to successfully work a DXpedition station, enough info is there to figure it out for yourself.
For those participating in a DXpedition, it is a very effective handbook and probably should be referred to by everyone planning a DXpedition.
On the negative side, I found it to be very wordy and repetitive. In many places it takes a few hundred words to say what could be said in a few dozen. Often whole sentences or paragraphs are needlessly repeated.
The bottom line: If you are into working DX, and even if you consider yourself a DXing expert, it is definitely a worthwhile read. Be aware of the wordiness though.
The surge in visitors to my site is still continuing and I don't really know the reason why yet. My daily average for the past 7 days is just under 150. If it goes above 150 that will be only the 14th such peak above 150 in the history of the site. According to StatCounter, roughly 75% are first time visitors which they determine from a cookie. However if someone doesn't accept cookies, they might be a returning visitor and still be counted as a first time visitor so that stat is not all that meaningful. However those who ARE counted as returning visitors are increasing proportionally also. A surge in first time visitors usually means my site has been posted somewhere new on the Internet. If that surge includes a large proportion of returning visitors it means folks are finding something they like on the site. Something that is updated frequently. Perhaps this diary is catching on and it is a factor in the surge. There's no way to tell for sure, but being a statistics nut as I have said before, I find it all very interesting. -30-
Friday, November 17, 2006 10:14 PM - It seems I have either too little to write or too much to write in these diary entries. Today I had several subjects in mind that all got replaced by a later idea as this or that happened.
I just got the ARRL Letter via email, and I see the new amateur rules go into effect on December 15th. I'm sure you all remember or know about Dec 7, 1941 even if you weren't alive then. It was called 'A day that will life in infamy'. Well to my way of thinking December 15, 2006 will be a second day that will live in infamy, at least in ham radio circles.
Just as the Japanese dive bombers swept down on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii some 65 years ago, the ham radio SSB vultures are set to swoop down on the currently CW occupied territory on 80M starting at 3600 kHz. As I said a few diary entries ago this will have far reaching effects on how CW will be used on 80M, probably making it similar to what 40M and 20M are now with CW pretty much limited to the low 60 kHz of the band with the upper part of that small portion being invaded from time to time by digital and voice signals. It makes me very sad. And unlike in 1941 when we started to fight back immediately against the attackers, there is virtually nothing we can do about this latest invasion.
The ARRL letter also had a bit of good news in it. At least I think it is interesting. They are now making available a book that is pretty much a technical manual for operating a DXpedition. It is a free download at http://www.arrl.org/awards/dxcc/dx-basics.pdf. I haven't gotten it yet, but I will. I don't plan to go on a DXpedition, but I imagine it should be fascinating reading as well for those of us who do our best to work the DXpedition stations when they show up on the bands.
And now for something completely different (yes I'm a Monty Python fan). We all have an ego of some kind, and I'm no different so it always pleases me when someone says they enjoy my Keynote QRP columns or they think my web site is the greatest thing since sliced bread. HOWEVER I don't do the column or web site to get self-satisfaction. I do it because I strongly believe in CW usage and expend as much effort as I can to promote it in whatever way. My real satisfaction comes when someone says because of my column or web site, they have either returned to or started to use CW on the ham bands. Wow, that is just so gratifying to me, and so wonderful for ham radio in general in these days when CW is taking such a beating from those who are too lazy........ Well that's another topic, and I'm not going to delve into it today.
Finally what a difference a couple of days makes. As I said in yesterday's entry, 80M was horrible for our sprint Wednesday evening. Well this evening signals were just great on 80M. I had 3 solid rag chew QSO's. The first station I worked was using QRP and he was a solid S8. Next was another station (I don't know his power) who was a solid S9. Both those stations were in NJ from where on Wednesday evening only very weak signals I had to struggle to copy emanated. The third QSO was with a ham in TN running 50 watts who for a solid half hour plus was S8 all the way up to 20 over S9. Why couldn't conditions have been like that for our sprint? -30-
Thursday, November 16, 2006 9:55 AM - I was going to write about the horrible conditions we had for our NAQCC sprint last evening after I finished my weekly check of all my web site links. During the check, I decided to check some links manually in addition to the Xenu link check. Well I found out why we had such poor conditions when I looked at this link - http://www.sec.noaa.gov/today.html. For whatever reason, the K index rose to a symmetrical peak of 5 during the hours of 0000-0300Z which covered most of our sprint except the last half hour. The 3 hour periods before and after that peak, the K index was 2. Two periods before and after the peak, the K index was 0. Take a look at the graph and see what I mean. Although if you read this too late, the peak will have scrolled off to the left.
It almost seems like the propagation gods had it in for our sprint for whatever reason. Maybe the 'no-code' hams bribed them somehow. HI.
Conditions pretty much followed the K index last night as 80M did pick up noticeably as the sprint wore on. It would be interesting to see the progress of the K index at shorter intervals like 30 minutes instead of the 3 hour block shown in the graph.
Moving on to another matter, I want to share some comments I received from one of my visitors about our NAQCC awards. I'm delighted to know how Jeff WB5GWB feels about them. Here is what he says:
"I really like the spirit of the various NAQCC awards. Hopefully, it will catch on and generate many more award applications. I'm probably going to be living in a condo for a while, where I'll be limited to indoor antennas, so I really like the idea of awards with various endorsements possible, such as an "indoor antenna" endorsement. Wouldn't it be outrageous to show that you can work DXCC with 5 watts to an indoor antenna?! The big guns would drop their guns in shock, although I'm sure that any number of us little guys have done it."
Yes we have Jeff. My 204 countries (or entities as the ARRL calls them) are proof that you can work DX with 5 watts and indoor antennas. I'm not alone in that either. Many hams regularly work DX with simple wire antennas, many of them indoors. Now Jeff continues:
"I also like the feature of the Worked Members Award by which you get more points for finding out some non-boiler-plate information from the other station. I have a large field in my e-logbook for notes, and I take lots of notes, so I have a relatively high proportion of 4-point QSOs."
Yes, the purpose of our awards and the NAQCC in general is to increase the use of CW on the bands. We felt that simple number exchange QSO's weren't sufficient to do that, hence the encouragement to stretch out those CW QSO's into longer (and meaningful) rag chews. Now another excerpt from Jeff:
"I actually find that part of the fun of going for awards is homebrewing
computer programs that go through my master logbook and put together the
information in the proper format to submit for each award......."
Jeff goes on to describe some of his programs, but that first line says it all. It is fun to analyze your ham radio QSO's in various ways, and not only our awards program, but other organizations' programs as well give a little incentive to do that. I am aware that such data crunching is not popular with everyone and it does take some extra effort to do it. That may be why more hams don't apply for more of the myriad awards available in ham radio today, and simply go for the 'biggies' like DXCC, WAC, WAS, WAZ, USA-CA, etc. However those awards cost money. Too much money in my opinion. That is why we keep the cost of our NAQCC awards at a more reasonable $3.00 in most cases. In other cases some of our awards are simply free or available for an SASE. -30-
Wednesday, November 15, 2006 12:15 AM - I confess - I'm a statistics nut. I love figuring statistics on just about anything. I think that partially explains my love of meteorology and ham radio among other things. Those two fields give me tons of data that I can analyze and produce statistics about.
Anyway for some time now I've been thinking that I seem to work a lot more NH stations than I used to. That also applies to NV. However just the reverse applies to NE stations. I finally got around to seeing if my hunch was right.
I split my log into two periods - well actually MS Access did all the hard work after I told it what to do - before 1990 and after 1990. I figured the ratio of overall QSO's for those two periods which turned out to be 2.39(post 1990) to 1(pre 1990). So if QSO's with a certain state had a higher ratio that means that state is more common for me now than before 1990. Conversely a ratio lower than 2.39:1 means the state is rarer now.
Let's look at a few states I picked at random and their post 1990:pre 1990 ratios:
NV - 7.60:1
CA - 6.76:1
FL - 5.77:1
NH - 5.47:1
AZ - 4.89:1
TN - 3.89:1
IA - 1.82:1
NE - 0.76:1
So I was right about all three states. NV and NH are both much more common now for me while NE has become a rather rare state here. I don't really have an explanation for NH and NE. I think the fact that NV is becoming a more populated state in general of late accounts for its increase.
I suspect the increase for FL, AZ, and maybe CA comes from the vast number of folks who retire to those states with hams of course being among the large crowds.
Just something to pass the time during these dark dreary November evenings.
Incidentally conditions seemed really great on 80 meters last evening. I hope they will be the same for tonight's NAQCC Sprint. -30-
Tuesday, November 14, 2006 7:52 AM - My friend and fellow NAQCC officer Larry W2LJ responded to my diary entry of yesterday with the following which prompts further comment on my part.
"Hey John, I'm glad it's not just me! The bands have been atrocious the past few days. I know we had elevated X-ray activity from the Sun over the weekend and a geomagnetic storm yesterday. But today it was supposedly back to "normal". I was not able to scare up a QSO tonight - not for all the tea in China.
So like you, I have to beg the question. Is it conditions? Or just folks not getting on? I'd be willing to bet a dollar that come Thanksgiving weekend, there will be no lack of activity during the CQWW DX contest! And of course, it will disappear once the contest is over - just like someone had flicked a big switch or something. After that, you'll be able to hear a pin drop again. It's a pretty sad situation."
Larry brings up an excellent point about contests. Just a few days ago the ARRL Sweepstakes contest filled up the CW bands so much that you couldn't squeeze in a regular QSO with a shoehorn. As he says, the CQWW DX test will do the same in a couple weeks.
To a smaller extent, contests like state QSO parties, some club contests, and the like do the same thing to the CW bands.
There is no shortage of CW operators. Contests make that very plain on many weekends throughout the year. HOWEVER where are these operators when there is no contest going on? Of the hundreds (thousands?) of different contest operators I've worked in contests over the years, I've only had non-contest QSO's with a tiny percentage of them.
Although some of the stations are strictly 'contest stations' set up with one purpose in mind - contesting, they are run by regular hams just like you and me.
Now the question implied by Larry, and asked now by me is why do these folks seemingly not get on the bands unless there is a contest going on? If each dedicated contest operator would get on the CW bands a couple or a few hours outside of contests, the CW bands would be much more occupied and perhaps we wouldn't be losing CW space as we are now doing.
I recently had a wonderful rag chew with one veteran contester who is now trying to do his part to save the CW bands. He is getting on the lesser used bands each day for at least 15 minutes to try to stir up some activity. I think that is great. Wouldn't it be nice if other dedicated contesters would do the same thing. -30-
Monday, November 13, 2006 8:08 PM - Only 15 days to go for another milestone for my 'streak'. If all goes well, I'll hit the 4500 consecutive days mark, and head on toward 5000 days. However I must say it has been rough getting QSO's the past 3 or 4 days. It has taken a lot of CQ's to get a QSO as the bands have really sounded dead either from propagation conditions or a plain lack of activity. I think more the latter.
This has been especially true during the daytime hours. I've been trying to get on at a couple different times during the day to try to get the last few letters for the NAQCC November Challenge. In the afternoon, I sometimes have called CQ for 30-45 minutes without any sign of an answer nor could I find someone else calling CQ to answer. The evenings have been a bit better, but still very slow.
I kind of thought there might be a bit of a backlash from CW operators protesting the FCC's recent ruling cutting back the CW area on 80M. I had hoped to see an increase of 80M CW activity in response, but I haven't seen that at all. It seems to have gone in the other direction.
Incidentally I get the impression that the SSB operators are kind of like vultures hovering over the upcoming dead CW space waiting for it to die. The ARRL issued a statement reminding the vultures that there are still a few legal matters to be finalized before CW effectively dies above 3600 kHz.
I had a thought today while out walking about some future topics for these diary entries. I thought I would do kind of a mock interview with myself about various CW topics. Why do you think CW is dying on the ham bands? What role should the Internet play in ham radio? I'll ask myself things like that and follow up with my opinion on the matters.
And continuing to ramble a bit in this entry, I notice the solar flux has been hovering near 100 the past couple days with low A and K indices. This could mean the higher bands may be somewhat alive. I haven't really had time to check myself, but I hope to tomorrow. Perhaps you should also, and even if you don't hear any activity, try some CQ's on bands like 17 and 15 meters. You might just wind up with some nice QSO's. -30-
Sunday, November 12, 2006 1:34 PM - I noticed a big increase in site visitors the past couple days. This usually means my site was posted or written about somewhere. If you know where, I'd like to know. As you know, I don't subscribe to any Internet groups or lists here because they would take away from the precious little time I have to operate CW, so I must rely on others to tell me these things.
It's a real gloomy, cold typical November day here, and rather boring with a lull in my usual frantic schedule, so I think I'll get on the bands and see if I can get some more letters for the NAQCC November Thanksgiving Challenge. Maybe I'll see you there. -30-
Saturday, November 11, 2006 9:02 PM - I hope you all observed Veterans Day today in some means that showed how proud you are of all veterans who fought our enemies to keep the USA the great country that it is. I also hope you fully support our troops who are continuing that fight today against those mindless terrorists who wish to do nothing more than destroy, destroy, destroy. If we let up our vigilance against these madmen, you can be assured there will be another, even worse, 9/11 style attack in the not too distant future. -30-
Friday, November 10, 2006 8:31 AM - The Bear Hunt has added a feature. Ron is now offering "Bear for a day" as kind of an introduction or trial for new 'Bears'. If you can't commit to a full week of being a bear, you can now choose to do it for a single day to get a feel of what it is like. I'm sure once you try it out, you'll want to sign up for a full week sometime in the future when it fits your busy schedule. More details on the NAQCC web site.
I had a chance to go fishing yesterday for the first time in a month. The weather was finally good (sunny - mid 60's) and the river finally down far enough. The only thing missing was the fish. Not a single bite in the time I was there, but it was nice just sitting out in the sun. I may try again later today.
I've been having a lot of fun with the NAQCC November Thanksgiving Challenge. I'm getting close to completion now, and I'm doing it using only regular QSO's, no contest QSO's. One member has already completed the challenge using QSO's from his SS participation. For those of you wondering what I'm talking about, I refer you to the NAQCC web site for an explanation. -30-
Thursday, November 09, 2006 8:06 AM - In this very busy world, apparently folks have little time to comment on any of my diary entries. Or maybe I'm not controversial enough. It seems controversy is the only thing that brings out a response to anything these days.
So when I do get the rare comments I like to share them here.
This is what my friend Chuck W8LQ had to say in a recent email: "Your diary comments Saturday and Sunday rang a big bell here!! The "re-farming" (stupid word!!) will result, I'm sure, in just what you predict. Your reasoning is right in line with my own.
You might be interested to know that of my 734 (SS) QSO's 55 were sending the QRP precedence "Q"......about 7.5%. (No, I wasn't one of them!!! My TunaTin 2 sat on the shelf laughing at me!!) You might generate a poll question asking about QRP usage in contests other than NAQCC. Would be interesting to see what results and comments you get. Keep pounding that brass.......don't get buried with the fig trees!!"
Thanks Chuck. I guess I made it through OK. All the trees are now buried and I'm still here. You might check my past poll #68 which is similar to what you suggest.
Well as expected it turned out cloudy yesterday with no chance to see the transit of Mercury. There were a couple of tantalizing patches of blue sky at the time but they carefully avoided the area of the sky where the Sun was. Maybe things will be better for the transit of Venus in 2012 or the next Mercury transit in 2016. -30-
Wednesday, November 08, 2006 12:05 AM - Yet another busy day coming up today. I've got a funeral to attend (my gardening friend's father). Then if skies are clear, I want to observe the transit of Mercury across the Sun. After that our monthly computer club meeting. Whew!
So I'm getting in my diary entry early. Chas W2SH sent me this interesting story he received from QRP-L. I'll only quote excerpts here since it is rather long.
"Last night, I was testing out a new station setup in my basement. I'm
near Boston, and I was talking with my father near Tampa, FL over the
phone while we tried out my new antenna and relatively new IC-718 to
dial in the various settings. I was working with my 40 meter dipole and
seeing how well it matched up. With 100 watts and everything tweaked
for maximum received signal in FL using LSB, I was just barely
detectable, as was dad coming back to me. We both concluded that if we
didn't know to listen very closely on that frequency we would have tuned
right by each other. It was so poor that I couldn't even come up with a
proper signal report for him.
Now dad is an old-school Extra and life-long CW op, so of course he
called me using CW and the same 100 watts. It was effortless copy. true 599.
To make a long story short, we ended up alternately reducing power until
we were just barely able to hear each other working CW but not so low we
couldn't copy.. that turned out to be about 1 watt! At 2 watts, it was
the proverbial "arm chair copy".. We switched back to SSB to see if the
band conditions had improved, but no, it was still pretty much unusable
and the same as before.
The difference was striking, and I'm at a loss to explain the difference
in S/N between the two modes.. I know it should be much better for CW
because of narrower bandwidth and higher duty cycle, but it seemed much
better than the 6dB figure I hear tossed around. I'm new to SSB, so I
have a feeling it had at least part to do with not having everything set
optimally. I was also using the same 2.2Khz IF filter for both modes
with no audio filtering or DSP engaged. 73s, Jason N1XBP"
That doesn't surprise me a bit. There is absolutely no doubt CW is much more efficient than SSB. There are many studies proving this that I could quote here if I had time. Here's just one of them that I took from our NAQCC web site: "One reason the NAQCC is a QRP CW club is because QRP and CW go together so well. CW takes up about 100Hz of spectrum whereas SSB uses about 2000Hz. The average power density for CW, given the above values, is 1 Watt/Hz and for SSB .05 Watts/Hz. So if we compare the two modes we could say that gain in using CW over SSB is Gain(dB)=10*log(1/.05) which is equal to 13dB What does this mean? It means that 5 Watts of CW is as efficient as 100 Watts of SSB. Just a little food for thought."
Or in Jason's case we could say 1 watt of CW is as efficient as 100 watts of SSB. -30-
Tuesday, November 07, 2006 2:27 PM - I hope everyone reading this here in the USA went out and voted today or will do so before the polls close. I did.
I kept my Bear Hunt record perfect yesterday when I was the first hunter to bag W9ILF Ivin on his trek through the woods this week. Even though Indiana is not a very rare state, I hope you'll make an effort to work Ivin. I think we should all show our appreciation to those who serve as Bears by giving them lots of QSO's whether or not we need their state for any awards.
Remember the NAQCC is now offering a Bear Hunter award for working certain numbers of bears. For info on that and to see Ivin's schedule for the week, check the NAQCC web site.
We have a rarer state on tap for next week when Dale WC7S activates Wyoming again. Dale gave out Wyoming to many needing it during his first week. If you missed him then, next week is another chance for you. -30-
Monday, November 06, 2006 12:05 AM - Another busy day coming up, but I thought I'd show you what I meant by a busy day on Sunday. Go to MySpace via the link above and look at the Fig Trees Burial album there. There were three fig trees to bury, and 2 of us to take care of the work with a 3rd helper for a couple of the hours. It took from about 11:30 AM to 4:30 PM to complete the task. I'd love to know how many pounds (tons?) of dirt I moved in the process.
The first step involves digging out the dirt from around the root ball (Pic 1). Many of the small side roots are cut off with shovel, mattock, or axe to allow the tree to be bent down to the ground (Pic 2). The bottom roots are not disturbed so the tree remains effectively attached to the ground all winter. This makes for quite an effort in bending the tree down. Often times it has to be stood back up so more side roots can be cut.
When the tree is finally lying down on the ground, heavy ropes are wrapped around the branches and pulled tight to compact the tree (Pic 3). Some large branches resent this, and it takes quite a bit of work and force to pull the branches together. When the branches are finally forced into a smaller bundle, the heavy ropes are replaced with wire (Pic 4).
Now the actual burial takes place. The tree including the root ball is covered with leaves and other garden remnants (pepper plants for example) as in Pic 5. It helps to have a strong heavy man to stand on the tree for this step and the next step of covering the leaves with dirt (Pic 6). The dirt that was dug from around the root ball is used. Also a trench is dug around the trees to drain water away from them (Pic 7). This dirt is also used to cover the leaves (and tree).
After the tree is weighed down with dirt and no longer needs to have someone stand on it, it is covered with plastic sheets and then like my friend who owns the garden says, 'everything but the kitchen sink' (Pic 8). More bricks, wood, branches, and anything else heavy is then added to help keep the plastic and other material in place. Now the tree is ready for its long winters rest until it is resurrected in April (Pic 9).
Whew, that was a LOT of HEAVY work, but necessary in this cold climate to keep the trees from freezing and keep them producing the delicious figs every year. The trees we buried yesterday have been undergoing the same treatment every year for at least 25 years now. However I have only been involved in the project the past 3 or 4 years. -30-
Sunday, November 05, 2006 8:08 AM - I've got a busy day coming up, but I couldn't resist taking time for these comments after I was just looking at the ARRL web site for the SS rules.
Right at the top of the rules is an ICOM logo with the words 'Principal Sponsor'. The almighty buck strikes again. Greed, greed, greed. Will we soon be seeing contests like 'The Chevrolet CQWW DX Contest', 'The Yaesu Georgia QSO Party', 'Nextel Field Day', or 'The Elecraft QRP ARCI Fall Contest'?
Foolishly I always thought I was involved in AMATEUR radio, but then the word amateur has taken on a whole new meaning in this 'How much is in it for me?' society we live in today. Look at college football, the Olympics, and too many other FORMER amateur activities.
Well rest assured that you will never have to put up with any sponsored by logos on anything connected with my web site or with the NAQCC.
Now I'm off to get my QSO for the day, and then several non ham-radio activities. -30-
Saturday, November 04, 2006 8:10 AM - As you may know, the FCC finally issued its order re-farming the ham bands. Among other things it opened up a large portion of the 80M band to phone operation. In fact everything except 3500-3600. This effectively eliminates CW operation in all but the bottom 100 kHz of 80M.
That's only on the surface. Actually it will probably be more like the bottom 60 kHz of 80M. Kind of like the 20M band is now. The non-CW digital stations have effectively ruined 14060-14100. I see the same thing happening on 80M.
Let's examine my opinion of why this happened. Actually it is quite simple. I don't blame the FCC for it. Let's look at an analogy. If your favorite store is selling a particular candy that you like, but for some reason you and others who like that candy stop buying it, the store is going to remove it from their shelves. If those of us who love CW stop using it on a ham band, we are going to lose access to that ham band.
This is exactly what happened to 80M. We did not use it enough so it was taken away from us. I foresee the same thing happening to 30M in the future. CW usage on that band has dropped dramatically recently. About the only time there is any large amount of activity there is when a DXpedition shows up.
It's human nature when something bad happens that is our fault, we immediately look for someone else to blame it on. So we target the FCC and the ARRL for the blame when we lose CW privileges. They are just responding to what we are doing (or not doing). That is not using CW.
Why are we not using CW? I feel the basic reason is the Internet, but there are other factors as well. Let's look at some.
First there is a general trend in our society that we no longer are willing to work, but want everything handed to us on a silver platter. I could go into a long political commentary about that, but I won't here. It takes a little bit of work to learn CW. It is by no means impossible to learn, but many new hams are from that lazy society and don't want to put out any effort to learn it. They want to just memorize a few questions and answers, get their license and start yakking into a microphone.
Another factor I mentioned was the Internet. Many hams who have learned CW and do love to use it are wasting many hours on the Internet talking about their love of CW and how it should be preserved, etc. Well that does nothing whatsoever to help preserve CW. Those folks should be putting their rigs on the air and pounding out Morse Code instead of pounding on their computer keyboards.
Unfortunately there are many organizations that encourage this type of activity while at the same time purport to be helping promote CW. Just in case you think I'm referring to FISTS, I absolutely AM NOT! FISTS is doing the whole CW preservation thing in exactly the right way by encouraging its members to use CW just like I believe should be done. With their many on-air activities, awards programs and the like, they have increased usage of CW on the bands among their members. Our own NAQCC emulates FISTS in that regard. Both organizations have a minimal Internet presence designed only to get more activity on the bands.
However other organizations seem to prefer to have their members communicate via the Internet instead of on the air despite their claims to want to help promote and preserve CW. I'm not going to list who they are, but I'll list their practices and you may recognize them. If any organizations are to blame, these are the ones.
They have mailing lists or reflectors that turn out literally hundreds of messages a day, most all of which are really meaningless to virtually all who subscribe to the list. Also these lists are populated with 'flame' messages griping about this or that.
They have fancy web sites that encourage folks who visit to spend an inordinate amount of time looking at all the fancy features on the site instead of having a simple site helping folks to get on the air and use CW.
And having said that I am going to close this right now, because I am doing what I am talking about myself. If you've read this far, I've taken away some valuable on-air CW time. I apologize for that. Now kindly leave my site, and go make some CW QSO's. That will make me happy and more than anything else maybe help to save some CW space on the ham bands. -30-
Friday, November 03, 2006 8:58 AM - I was all geared up to do my FCC 80M CW commentary today, but I have some good news instead.
We've signed up a bear to roam the bands for next week (11/6-11/12)! Ivin W9ILF has stepped forward to offer his services as a bear. He's added a new twist to the hunt in that part of his sked will be done while he's mobile.
I want to publicly thank Ivin for adding continuity to the Bear Hunt. We certainly appreciate NAQCC members like him. He also has been active in our NAQCC challenges that I talked about yesterday. Nice going Ivin!! -30-
Thursday, November 02, 2006 7:48 PM - Hey, I'm still having fun even though the NAQCC Special Event Station N3A's period of activity is over. I thought I'd have a bit of a letdown when I signed off N3A for the last time on October 31st - at least the last time till next October when we hope to do it all over again for our 3rd anniversary. However I've now immersed myself in the NAQCC November Challenge.
Before I continue, for those not familiar with NAQCC Challenges here is a bit of an explanation. Those who do know about our challenges can skip ahead 2 1/2 paragraphs now. Each month the NAQCC challenges its members to try to accomplish something on the ham bands. The not so hidden purpose behind the challenges being our effort to increase CW activity on the ham bands so this wonderful mode will not die for lack of activity.
Let me give a couple examples of past Challenges. One month we challenged our members to make 30 CW QSO's on 30 meters. Another time we wanted them to try to make at least two CW QSO's on as many different ham bands as possible. That may sound easy and you would think a lot of hams would do it on all the bands from 160-10 meters. Wait a minute though - this was near the sunspot minimum and without checking to be sure, I believe no one made any 10M QSO's and I think there were only 2 12M QSO's.
One of our more popular type of challenges is our alphabet challenge where we have our members make words on a specific theme from the letters in the calls of hams they work. For example right now in November the theme is Thanksgiving and we have 8 words containing a total of 72 letters to be made.
Now let's pick up the main thread of this entry. I love challenges here whether it be solving a crossword puzzle, assembling a jigsaw puzzle, trying to catch as many Carp as possible, walk as many miles a day as I can, or our wonderful NAQCC Challenges.
I think challenging ourselves to do something is basically what life is really all about. We extend ourselves that way, be it physically, mentally, or spiritually depending on the type of challenge. In that way we make ourselves a better person.
That is why I think one of the more exciting activities of our NAQCC are the Challenges. I hope that you will check them out and see if you are able to tackle and complete them. You won't regret it and I think you'll feel better about yourself as a result. I know I do. -30-
Wednesday, November 01, 2006 6:36 PM - Now that my stint as a 'Bear' is over, I've got some more free time. Oh yeah. There's always something to do. Now I have a couple other projects to take care of.
It's that time of year when I help my friend bury his fig trees for the winter. We've done a couple of the smaller ones so far. I guess that's to get warmed up for the bigger ones coming. HI I promised a photo pictorial of the procedure, and I'll get to that when we bury one of the bigger ones - probably this weekend.
I'm also working on rebuilding my thermometer shelter in the back yard. I've shown you pictures of that on MySpace. A friend of mine is helping me with that. I hope to get together with him tomorrow to work out some details of the construction.
Speaking of MySpace, it has been forever since I uploaded any pictures there. I just can't seem to find the time. Ron K5DUZ asked if I could post some of the fall foliage colors from my walks. I certainly have enough pictures to do that, and I think some of them are really beautiful. The problem again is finding time and then narrowing down the selection to the ones I want to post. I have so many - that will be hard. As those of you who have digital cameras know, you don't have to worry about using up your film, the cost of developing film, etc. As a result you just keep shooting, shooting, shooting picture after picture. I got my digital camera around June 1st this year and 5 months later I've already shot 2,030 pictures. That's more than all my other years of shooting with film.
One other thing I have to take off the back shelf and get to is making my commentary here in the diary about what I think of the FCC decision to drastically re-partition the 80 meter ham band. I have some strong opinions on that, and I will air them sometime within the next few days for sure. You may not like what I have to say, but I'm sure you'll admit that what I say is true. -30-
Tuesday, October 31, 2006 11:43 AM - Happy Halloween! Just a short entry today as I am trying to put N3A on the air as much as possible today since this is the last day of our special event license.
I'm up to 138 QSO's in 34 states now having just worked my first WA station a few minutes ago.
If you haven't worked N3A yet, check the NAQCC web site - WAS Bear Hunt page to see my schedule for the rest of the day.
Also if you haven't signed up to be a bear yourself yet, please consider doing so. I'd love for you to experience the fun that I've had being a bear these last several days now. The rest of this week is open if you're interested in doing it that soon. -30-
Monday, October 30, 2006 8:59 AM - Just a very short entry today. I apologize to all the avid 'bear hunters' out there. I feel we've let you down. Despite extensive efforts we were unable to come up with a 'bear' for this week beyond Tuesday when our N3A bear operations ends with the expiry of our special event license. I feel terrible.
Fortunately WA8REI has volunteered to be a bear the first or second full week of November, and we have a tentative bear from the 'rare' state of RI upcoming also.
So I guess this week you can clean and oil up the guns and sharpen up the arrow points in preparation for coming hunts.
Again I humbly apologize for our failure this week, but don't forget you have today and tomorrow to hunt for N3A. No schedule posted for the two days as I write this, but I will have something definite up later today. -30-
Sunday, October 29, 2006 10:06 PM - This has been one of those very busy days with so many things to get done that the whole day just flew by. I could make my diary entry a list of all the things I did do today, but that would probably bore you.
Or I could talk about the NAQCC Bear Hunt again for the umpteenth time, but you're probably tired of hearing about that and by now you know all my thoughts about it anyway.
I could mention that it's only 30 days now till my 'streak' reaches 4500 days, but that's a long way off yet and a lot could happen between now and then so I'll hold off on that.
I could talk about the upcoming SS and CQWW DX contests. I'm still not certain about the SS, but I definitely will do a somewhat serious effort in the CQWW, especially if conditions are good that weekend. It won't be like a few years ago, but it should still be fun, and who knows - maybe I'll pick up my first overall new country (entity) since I don't remember when. We'll have to see how that plays out when the time gets closer.
Oh, one thing I did want to say is that in case you don't know, I have a constant very high local man-made noise level here. I'm saying that to alert you that if you call me either as N3A or K3WWP and I don't answer you, I'm not ignoring you at all. It's just that your signal isn't strong enough for me to dig out of the noise. If I hear anything at all in the noise that sounds like a signal, I always make every effort to figure out who it is, but that doesn't always work. So my apologies to anyone who has tried (or will try) to work me, but I didn't (or won't) hear you. -30-
Saturday, October 28, 2006 12:58 PM - An open letter to the following hams: Paul KD2MX, Steve NU7T, Dale WC7S, Bill K1EV, Terry WU9F, Greg K4KO, Jim WD9HBC.
The officers and members of the NAQCC express their appreciation to each of you for taking the bold step forward in a new venture and becoming a Bear for the NAQCC WAS Bear Hunt. With your unselfish efforts, you have helped many hams to work a new QRP state and earn points for the NAQCC Bear Hunter Award. Such dedication should not go unnoticed nor thankless. So I say thank you very much. A while ago I had a 'hero' poll on my web site. Well you are all my heroes now.
I only hope that many more will follow in your footsteps. It is plain from your comments on the NAQCC Bear Hunt Archive page that you had a lot of fun in what you did as a 'Bear'.
And oh, I'm having just as much fun as you did. I've just come off another session and now have 119 QSO's in 31 states and 3 VE provinces as a bear (and the NAQCC spec event stn). -30-
Friday, October 27, 2006 5:27 PM - I reached my goal of 100 QSO's as N3A last night and now stand at 107. I'll be putting in another hour as a bear starting in just about a half hour at 2200-2300Z. I'll pick out the best band among 80,40,30, and 20 and spend most of my time there, but I'll put in at least several minutes on each of the 4 bands. I'll start on 20M for 10 minutes, then go from there.
I am totally going to miss being a bear when my tour of duty ends at 2400Z on the 31st. It will be very depressing for a few days after that as I suffer from withdrawal. I am sure if I could somehow inject my excitement and thrills I've had as a bear into each NAQCC member, we would have no shortage of bears for the next couple years.
However as I write this, we have no other bears scheduled past this Sunday (or Tuesday in my case). I personally guarantee that if you volunteer to become a bear, you will have a week of memories that will last you a lifetime.
Perhaps I haven't emphasized this enough. You don't have to be a 40WPM CW op with a long list of contests under your belt to be a bear. ANYONE can be a bear because the CW speed, times, bands, pace of action is entirely in YOUR hands. The only difference between being a bear and your normal CW operations is that your activity will be posted so that others know where and when you are operating. Folks will want to work you either because they need your state for QRP WAS or for the NAQCC Bear Hunter Award. You'll be a little more popular than usual on the ham bands for a week.
I'm trying to think of any other reason why you might not possibly want to be a bear. You don't have to worry about the expense of QSLing as you can request that everyone you work sends an SASE with their QSL. You may fear you'll draw a big pileup when you call CQ and won't be able to handle it. That is not going to happen, at least for the foreseeable future. You may have a time or two when two stations call you at the same time, but I'm sure that has happened to you before in your regular operations.
I'd love to know if you have any other 'fears' of being a bear. I'm sure I can allay those fears. So let me know your thoughts on this whole NAQCC Bear Hunt concept.
Every one of our 10 or so bears we've had has totally enjoyed the experience. -30-
Thursday, October 26, 2006 11:09 AM - This is one of those days when I have several little things to take care of that all add up to a sizable chunk of time. So I won't be able to post a regular Bear Hunt sked for myself today, but I do intend to get on with N3A when time permits, probably on 20M as I continue to try to let our WC USA members have a shot at N3A. I have worked BC, MT, ID, and OR so conditions are there for such E-W QSO's although only the BC station had a decent signal level here since he was running QRO.
One of the things I did already today was post another past FISTS column here on the web site - number 75. I think it's one of my favorite columns.
Now I'm going to close this as I have some banking to do. I do my banking in person. I don't fool around with such sensitive info on the Internet. Nor do I use credit cards on the Internet. For that matter I don't even own any credit cards here. I prefer the old fashioned way of doing business with cash, personal check, or occasionally a bank's cashier's check. -30-
Wednesday, October 25, 2006 10:28 PM - This is a sad time of year with the daylight hours getting shorter. I envy those in the Southern Hemisphere where they are looking forward to the coming of summer shortly. It's very bleak here now with the leaves getting past their fall color peak, and soon all those leaves will be on the ground to be raked up. I took all the plants out of my garden a few days ago, and today started to help my friend take his plants out. I'd much sooner be planting a garden in the spring with the anticipation of fresh garden fruit and vegetables in the air. I guess you can tell I'm not a fan of winter at all. And I didn't even mention the lack of those wonderful fishing trips sitting out in the lovely warm weather. Sigh!
At least for the next few days I still have the fun of the NAQCC Bear Hunt to keep from it being too depressing. I had a good time today working a couple more states - ID and OR plus having a nice run of stations this evening as I closed out an 80M session.
I think tomorrow I'm more or less just going to get on at random here and there. I might be going to help a friend with some computer problems or I might do that Friday instead. We're supposed to have a nice day weatherwise tomorrow and I might go for a real walk in the woods and get some pictures of the leaves before they are gone which I think will be very soon now. -30-
Tuesday, October 24, 2006 7:05 PM - I had a good bear hunt day on 20M today. Along with the usual several FL stations, I also worked a hunter in MT and TN.
The highlight of the day came this morning though when the NAQCC had its first Bear 2 Bear QSO when I used N3A to work WD9HBC on 80M.
I've got another hour coming up shortly (0000-0100Z) that I plan to split between 7.040 and 3.560. If you haven't worked N3A yet and get this in time, look for me and take a shot at me...... I mean give me a shout. HI.
I also plan to be active tomorrow evening (2200-2359Z Wednesday) on as yet undecided bands. Check the NAQCC web site for more details.
I have as a goal making 100 QSO's with N3A and am at 87 QSO's now so I should make it.
Also please don't neglect Jim WD9HBC who is putting in a stellar effort as a Bear concurrent with my activity this week. Don't let Jim get too lonely out in the woods. -30-
Monday, October 23, 2006 3:53 PM - I'm sitting here looking out at the thermometer on the front porch. The temperature is just in the upper 30's, and I've got to go out to the woods to play bear again in a few minutes.
I'm glad we don't really have to do the NAQCC Bear Hunt outdoors, especially today. Instead I just have to go up to the shack in my bedroom. It is a bit cooler up there, but nowhere near like going outside.
I've been hitting 20M mostly today with a bit of 30M thrown in. I'm hoping for an opening to the western USA so our members out there can get a chance to work N3A for either a bear or as the special event station. I'm acting as both. So far though, only a QSO from Florida on 20M.
Meanwhile I kept my record alive of having worked all the NAQCC bears so far. I got WD9HBC Jim in his first half hour of operating early today on 80M.
I just can't believe how much fun this whole thing is. I'm sure you can tell how much I enjoy it by how much I'm talking about it here in the diary.
Just two minutes to go, so 73. I'm off to upload this to the web site. -30-
Sunday, October 22, 2006 5:17 PM - Is it legal to have this much fun? I mean the NAQCC Bear Hunt is getting better and better here. I hung out today at the edge of the heavy woods occupied by the QRP ARCI contesters and had almost continuous QSO's for 2 hours on 40M. There were also 2 partial QSO's with KB3ENU and W3ZMN. I never heard them come back after their initial answer of my CQ. Either the band changed or they got scared away. Also there was another station calling me that was just too far down in the noise for me to copy. I thank all those I did work and apologize to those I couldn't.
Next week (23rd-29th) will be our first dual bear week as N3A continues to roam and is joined by WD9HBC Jim from MA. That should be interesting keeping all the schedules straight especially since N3A is operated by me, KB3LFC, and W2LJ.
I guess that's about all I have to say now except to urge you to experience the thrill of being a bear. I guarantee you won't regret it. Go to the NAQCC web site to sign up. And if you don't believe me how much fun it is, read the comments by our 6 previous bears on the bear archive page. -30-
Saturday, October 21, 2006 1:49 PM - I received an email from NT9K with a couple of ideas for publicizing the NAQCC a bit more. One of them was for a clearer resizable logo for folks to use on their web pages. I did some playing around and came up with this which is a .png transparent file sized at 120 X 123 pixels. When I get more time, I may make different sized versions and post them on the NAQCC web site for downloading.
What do you think?
I've made 2 QSO's using N3A on 30M today so far. Things are slow there. It's the band overall that is slow as usual. I only hear one or at the most two stations as I tune around. We're going to fool around and lose that band as a CW band just as we did with a lot of 80M CW territory. We've got to get on the air and use these bands. I keep saying that but it seems to fall mostly on deaf ears of those who would rather communicate on the Internet than with CW on the ham bands. -30-
Friday, October 20, 2006 11:03 AM - Some random thoughts on this, that, and the other thing, but mostly about bear hunting.
I've just finished up another hour out in the woods which makes 10.5 hours on the air as a bear/special event station. I have exactly 50 QSO's from 20 states and 3 VE provinces. That's about 5 QSO's per hour or one QSO every 12 minutes on average. An average QSO goes about 3-5 minutes or so as I am trying to keep my speed down so all will have a chance to work N3A. Also I've run into a couple old friends I haven't worked in a while and that led to a few longer QSO's. The point I'm trying to make is that there have been only a very few times of long CQ's with no answers. In other words it's been more or less a fast paced activity so far.
One of the friends I ran into was Jeff W9MSE. He was telling me he is now working on getting all the USA counties the fourth time around. Every time I hear about going for the 4th, 5th, 6th, etc. time around it makes me wonder just what the fascination is about working counties. I wish we could bottle that fascination and somehow inject it into our NAQCC awards, sprints, and challenges. I don't have an answer as to why so very few of our members take part in club activities. I know some folks just don't like contesting, period. So that accounts for some of those who don't work the sprints. However our challenges involve other things like rag chewing which should appeal to them. Our awards cover a variety of things from DXing to rag chewing to just making a QSO every day. Bottom line - the NAQCC seems to have at least one activity that should appeal to every member, yet only about a fourth to maybe as much as a third of our members have ever participated in a single activity.
It's interesting that some folks don't believe there is such a thing as a one by one ham radio call like our N3A. A couple of folks insisted on adding an extra letter or two to the call no matter how slowly and carefully N3A was being sent. One fellow added a K probably because of the K used at the end of a transmission. Another insisted we were N3ADW. I have no idea where he got the DW.
20 meters has really been poor with only 4 'bear' QSO's there so far - BC, NS, and 2 FL. 30 hasn't been much better. 40 and 80 are pretty much tied as the best band.
I wonder why when probably the vast majority of hams on CW these days are retired that there isn't more activity during the daytime. I've had much more success with the bear hunt in the evening than during the day. It seems to pick up around 5-6 PM local time here and continues good until 10-11 PM or so.
I think it has finally stopped raining here after about 24 hours without much of a break. I'll check the weather radar to make sure, and if so, I'm going out for some walking and picture taking. The leaves here are pretty much at peak color and I want to preserve that coloring digitally. -30-
Thursday, October 19, 2006 9:20 AM - I had hoped to do some things on the diary, but I'm having so much fun with being a Bear, I'm going to postpone them till my venture as a bear is over. Things like comment on the latest FCC action that severely limits CW on 80M, posting some more pictures on MySpace, etc.
I just posted my Bear schedule for later today. As always check the NAQCC Bear page for details at http://www.arm-tek.net/~yoel/wasproject.html
See you in the woods! -30-
Wednesday, October 18, 2006 2:13 PM - I'm just enjoying this Bear Hunt business more and more, but it does get tiring and I have to take a rest at times as you see here:
Seriously, I am just loving it, and increasing my hours all the time. Please check the Bear Hunt schedule often on the NAQCC web site as I am not able to plan all that far ahead for my activity and must update as short as a couple hours before my scheduled time.
I've gotten 32 QSO's so far and have even had a couple of small pileups and a lot of tailending. If you want to be popular like that and have a lot of fun doing it, volunteer to become a bear. You have to be a NAQCC member though, so join up if you still need to. It's completely free for your lifetime and no obligations hang over you. We just want to help preserve CW on the bands through our many on-air activities.
We don't have an email reflector, chat room, or anything like that. Just a plain vanilla web site to promote our activities since we want you to spend as much time as possible on the air, not on the Internet. See you in the woods. -30-
Tuesday, October 17, 2006 12:45 PM - "My Adventures As A Bear" by John Shannon.
I've had fun roaming the woods in my bear disguise the first two hours plus that I've done it so far. It could become addicting.
I roamed through several states so far and also journeyed up into Canada. There is some beautiful country out there this time of year with the fall foliage accentuating the already beautiful scenery.
I was shot at and successfully 'bagged' 10 times. Fortunately I was reincarnated each time so I could continue my venture. One other hunter shot at me and only slightly nicked me, so he didn't get his bear skin this time. I'm sure that when I wander back his way though, he'll have another go and will be successful this time.
The hunters who had success were in 8 states (MO, KS, NJ, PA, AL, TN, IL, IN) and 2 provinces (ON, NS). The one who shot and only nicked me was from TN.
After I rest up a bit, I plan to go out again later this afternoon and see what I can stir up.
I guess by now anyone not familiar with the NAQCC WAS Bear Hunt thinks I've finally gone and flipped my lid. Fortunately that can't be too many folks since we've tried to publicize the Hunt as much as possible. Also I've talked about it here in the diary many times.
I have kind of an advantage over other bears in that I'm operating our NAQCC Special Event station N3A as a bear, so many hams are after our special event certificate in addition to or instead of hunting for bear.
I was surprised to do well on 20 and 30 meters around local noon here. I figured maybe one QSO at best, but I got 5 plus one partial that doesn't count. Actually 2 of those came on 40M as I extended the hunt for 15 minutes or so on that band after my 30M time was over.
I really thought I would be blase about the hunt, to tell you the truth. However I find that hunting down the other bears and now being a bear myself really adds another dimension to all the things I've done in ham radio over the years. Kind of like that enthusiasm that hits as a youngster the first time you've done something brand new to you.
I think you'll find the same feeling if you get involved with the hunt. Remember you don't have to be a NAQCC member to be a hunter, but you must be a member to be a Bear. Give it a try - I'm virtually certain you will like it.
You don't have to be a CW expert to participate. In my stint as a bear so far, I've tried to keep my speed around 13-15 WPM or perhaps even a bit slower when I thought it necessary. In fact I found myself sending slow enough a couple times to become sloppy since I'm used to using my keyer around 18-22 WPM or so most of the time. Perhaps I should use the SK when I QRS.
At any rate I'm going to figure out when I can get on again this afternoon and post the time on the NAQCC web site when I do. See you in the woods! -30-
Monday, October 16, 2006 12:12 AM - This is probably the earliest in the day I've ever written one of these entries. I want to remind everyone that the NAQCC special event station N3A has now begun operation which will continue through October 31. Some of the dates and times are being announced on the Bear Hunt page of the NAQCC web site as the activity is also being treated as a 'Bear'. However there also will be other random times when the station will be on the air as well. All operations will take place on or close to the standard QRP frequencies. We still consider 7040 to be the 40M frequency, although there is some disagreement about that.
Speaking of the Bear Hunt, my new poll about the hunt has already drawn more votes in one day than the 'hero' poll did in two months. With a multiple choice poll allowing more than one choice like the BH poll, it's hard to figure the exact number of voters, but by doing a bit of thinking about the results, I am sure at least 8 people have voted so far.
Let's get down to the nitty-gritty of why folks didn't vote in the 'hero' poll. I received some excellent reasons from the folks who voted for me to continue the polls.
I will quote from their emails, then add my comments, but I won't identify who I am quoting.
"At first I think it was the 'hero' word...then you clarified it more and
I was thinking first about my elmer...then about some of the other
'great hams' I have been influenced by and I just never got back to
finishing the thought."
Yes, I mulled over the word 'hero' myself, but couldn't come up with a better word. I thought to some 'hero' would connote a fireman rushing into a burning building to save someone, or a soldier disarming a bomb, or some other situation in which someone risks their life to save others. However that is really not the complete connotation of 'hero'. A hero may be virtually anyone. In fact, I venture to say that there are very few people, if any, who have not done something that was heroic to someone. An adult who takes time to just sit and talk with a young child is a hero to that child. Anyone we admire for doing something well is a hero to us. The ham who took the time to help us get our first license is a hero. And on and on it goes.
That it may be difficult to narrow down the field to just one hero I can appreciate fully. That is why I included the comments field in the poll so you could explain why you chose whom you did, yet also mention others that you didn't choose as also being worthy.
Next - "Frankly, you are one of my heroes, but since I have already mentioned that before, I thought that if I wrote about you, then it would come across as self-serving to others that may read it on your site. If I omitted you, then you might think I didn't appreciate the impact that you have had on me, so decided to hold back and read what others had to say about their heroes."
To start my comment the same way - Frankly I didn't really expect anyone to consider me as their choice. Apparently I was wrong, and I didn't realize I was personally responsible for some not voting. If I ever have a similar poll, I will simply state that I am not to be considered as a possible candidate for a vote.
Next - "About your poll, John, I know very few hams in real life. I'm very new to the hamradio world and I began without help from anybody, so I've never had a mentor or anything like that. There are some people who take their time to improve the situation of the hamradio world, and John, you are one of them, so please count my vote."
I guess both my previous comments apply here. A 'hero' was perceived to be a ham of personal acquaintance, of which the writer had none. Also the writer was reluctant originally to vote for me.
Next (excerpted from a longer discussion) - "Now, since I know you're going to ask me, I'll share why I didn't submit a ham hero. I have met many fine people in the ham community, but I can't say that any one person has contributed significantly enough to my ham career that it warranted specific mention over any other person...... So all being said, the majority of hams that I've known have been very good people, and a joy to be around and to know, but there has not been one or even a few that have risen above the rest in my mind to warrant a "hero" vote in a poll."
This person's reason goes back to what I said about everyone being a 'hero' in one way or another, and it was just impossible to pick one.
Finally - "One last comment on the polls. If the visitor can just click on a box to vote it takes almost no effort to do so and I would think that most visitors would make that effort. When you ask for someone to actually do a little thinking and write a few comments you may be asking too much.... such is the sad commentary on life in these times."
If I were a nail, I'd have a terrific headache right now because this person hit me squarely on the head. Nuff said. -30-
Sunday, October 15, 2006 8:33 AM - The new poll has been up for 12 hours now as I write this and guess what. The only one who has voted so far has been me.
I'm going to be away for a good portion of the day today. I hope when I get home late this afternoon or evening I'll see more votes registered. Perhaps I should just have dropped the thing anyway, but you did say you wanted it to continue.
The NAQCC Special Event call will go into operation at 0000Z on the 16th with Tom KB3LFC at the helm. You can check the NAQCC web site Bear Hunt page for announcements of times and frequencies during the two week period. They will be posted mostly at the last minute, so check often or just take a chance at finding us around the QRP frequencies at random times. There will be operations in addition to those announced on the web site. N3A QSO's will be counted as a Bear Hunt QSO, in case you're wondering.
Finally before I get ready to go, thanks to another gentlemen among hams, my friend Ron K5DUZ for inquiring about the leg. It is getting better rather more quickly than I thought it would.
I'm off now to help celebrate my cousin's widower's sister's 94th birthday. CU here tomorrow. Don't forget to vote in the poll. -30-
Saturday, October 14, 2006 9:03 AM - Well I actually received the 10 votes needed to continue the polls so tune in around 0000Z on the 15th for a new poll. I'll talk more about the reasons some of the ten gave me as to why they didn't vote in the hero poll in a later entry. It boils down to claiming the hero poll was too much of an effort to submit a vote so I'll accept that and go back to a simple click a button type poll and see what results that brings.
I also want to comment on the FCC's latest efforts at dooming CW operation to become a thing of the past. However I have a lot to do this weekend so those commentaries probably won't come till early next week.
Hopefully next week will be a better one all around than this week has been here.
Thanks to Larry W2LJ for taking a little bit of time and effort to express concern about my leg. You're a true gentleman among hams. I appreciate it and say so publicly. -30-
Friday, October 13, 2006 8:59 AM - Here's a sample of two alternate starting lines for my Sunday, October 15, 2006 post. Which one will it be? It's entirely up to you.
I want to sincerely thank the 8 (9?) folks who emailed me asking me to continue the polls on my web site. However I needed 10 of you..........
I want to sincerely thank all of you who emailed me asking me to continue the polls on my web site. You pushed the count past the 10 emails I asked for so the polls will continue for the time being at least.........
As I write this, the total is at 8 so 2 more emails are needed in the next 35 hours for the second choice above to win. -30-
Thursday, October 12, 2006 5:36 PM - It's going to come down to the bottom of the ninth, the final two minutes in the fourth quarter and any other sports expression you want to add. I need two more votes to continue the polls in just over two days now. The deadline is 2400Z on Saturday the 14th. So the ball is in your court.
OK, here's the lowdown on my problems here which I could attribute to celebrating Friday the 13th in advance, I guess.
First of all my pedometer started giving me trouble, then the LCD stopped working at all. So I had to tear that apart and work on it before I could do any walking. I more or less knew what the trouble was so it wasn't all that hard to fix. The pads on the PC board that connect to the LCD had been wearing away and/or getting dirty. So I simply added a couple pieces of scotch tape to press the LCD board more tightly against the PC board. Problem solved.
Next I started to set up GenLog for the NAQCC sprint, and when I turned the power on the shack computer it started immediately to boot up. I knew that wasn't right since I had it set to only start after power on AND pressing the start button on the CPU. Then it showed an incorrect memory checksum and asked if I wanted to reload the default settings into setup. Well, it clicked into my mind that the CMOS battery must have died, so I took the case apart, got the number of the battery and went off to get a new one.
That led to problem number 3 and the most serious of all. When I was walking home and crossing a street, I got hit by a car. Fortunately I'm a tough old geezer and the car wasn't going that fast since it just turned a corner after being stopped at a stop sign. I just bounced off the bumper, did what must have looked like an interesting new dance to keep my balance, and succeeded. I didn't want to fall cause I knew that would only make things worse. It was a car with a very low front end so I just wound up with a pretty badly bruised calf muscle.
It got pretty sore though and my friend Tom KB3LFC pretty much insisted that he take me to the hospital to get it checked when he found out about it. So I gave in and spent most of Wednesday sitting in the emergency room waiting to get looked at. In fact it turned out to be about 5 1/4 hours to tell me I had a bruised calf muscle which I knew in the first place.
So about 48 hours later I'm sitting here feeling pretty sore but at least knowing it's nothing worse than what it is.
Oh, and I did get the CMOS battery replaced and it was indeed a dead battery causing my shack computer to malfunction. That's the first time I've ever replaced a CMOS battery, and it was a piece of cake - well except for the side effects. HI. The only trouble with that was I had to go into Setup to set the clock and keep it set.
And then came the sprint. Conditions were terrible and they seemed to be that way everywhere from comments I am receiving. I'm not going to say anything more about the sprint since we have started keeping results a secret till all logs are received here. I will say though that with the conditions, it might not take all that good a score to win something or at least make a good high showing in the standings, so get those logs in. -30-
Wednesday, October 11, 2006 10:15 PM - With the deadline fast approaching I still need more emails asking me to continue having polls on the web site. It's entirely up to you whether or not they continue. I am ambivalent about it. If you don't want them any longer, that's less work for me, however I really enjoy reaching out and checking the pulse of various issues.
With that said, didja ever have one of those days when nothing goes right? I'm just closing out two in a row here. I'm not going to talk about them now, but maybe tomorrow or the next day.
And on top of the problems, the last two days have been very busy ones with my work on our NAQCC sprint and the resulting logs. Also I taught a class on picture editing at our computer club meeting this evening. -30-
Tuesday, October 10, 2006 9:38 AM - I still need 4 more emails by the end of the week asking to continue the polls.
I'm getting ready for the NAQCC sprint this evening. I hope you are also. This is only a few days shy of the NAQCC's second birthday and it would be nice to have a record turnout for the sprint.
The updated GenLog data file has just been uploaded to the NAQCC web site. Be sure to get it if you use GenLog in the sprints. There are several new members and some call changes in this version. Also be sure you are using version 6.55 or later of GenLog.
Now after taking care of the GenLog data file update, I'm off to get ready for a photo editing demo I'll be giving at our local computer club meeting tomorrow evening. It seems the work never stops, but I love being busy here. I get extremely tired when I have to just sit around and do nothing. Fortunately that doesn't happen often.
Speaking of photos, I haven't uploaded any to MySpace in a long time now. I'll have to do so or they'll shut me down. I've been taking some fall foliage shots lately. Perhaps I can upload them. -30-
Monday, October 09, 2006 8:38 AM - Six seems to be the number. I just bagged K4KO in TN a few minutes ago for my 6th Bear to keep the record perfect. I believe I was Greg's first Bear contact. I said TN would be easy for me and it was, even on 80M at 1200Z.
I also received vote number 6 to keep the polls on the web site. Of course that means I need 4 more votes by the end of this week else the polls will be a thing of the past.
Nice weather might also be a thing of the past by the end of this week as that dirty word s**w is in our forecast for the coming weekend. I really hate to see that coming. Of course we will still have nice days throughout the next couple months but they will be fewer and farther between.
I had a very nice QSO with W1ILD last evening. One of the things we discussed was DXing, and it turns out he has exactly the same philosophy about DXing as I do. We both believe that a lot of the fun and challenge is taken out of DXing by the use of packet or internet spotting, lists, nets, and the like. We both just get on the air, listen around and try to work what we hear.
Other than being aware that a DXpedition exists and will be on the air during a certain time frame of a week, 15 days or whatever, I never use any kind of aids to find or work my DX. To paraphrase that TV commercial I work my DX the old-fashioned way, I earn it the hard way. I find that way of doing it very rewarding.
What led to the discussion was my mentioning I needed 4 zones in SE Asia to complete my QRP WAZ. W1ILD said I could probably get them easily via a sked or one of the other ways I mentioned above, but then went into his philosophy of DXing which as I said turned out to be exactly the same as mine. It's nice to know there are others who feel the same way as I do.
Now I'm not knocking packet spotting, etc. It's just that I personally don't believe in using it. If you do, that's fine. -30-
Sunday, October 08, 2006 8:39 AM - I now have 5 votes to continue the polls - halfway to the target. Thank you from the bottom of my heart to Dave KL1KW, Joe KK5NA, Mark WU7F, Bill W4WLW, and Baltasar EA8BVP. Those kind folks have also enclosed some good reasons for not voting in the 'hero' poll as well as some interesting thoughts about why voting in general has slipped over the past few polls. I'll discuss that sometime after the 14th whether or not I make it to ten votes and keep the polls.
I was thinking today that this is a bit like Abraham in the Bible trying to save Sodom and Gomorrha if a certain number of just men can be found in the cities. He bargained the number down from 50 to 10. However unlike Abraham I'm not going to bargain to save the polls. I stated it must be 10 votes and if I can't find 10 folks who want to have the polls continued, the polls will end. I won't bargain to reduce that figure despite some really sincere and moving pleas to continue the polls from the 5 folks who have emailed so far. I must get 5 more emails to continue. 4 more won't do it no matter what. I figure if 10 folks can't simply email to say continue, then they certainly aren't going to bother voting in future polls either.
Say, I happened to tune across 17 meters yesterday and the band was full of stations, both DX (mostly EU) and WC USA among those I waited to ID. I didn't have time to try to work anyone, but perhaps I'll try again today. I didn't hear anything on 15 meters though.
Tonight begins our sixth week of NAQCC bear hunting as K4KO takes to the woods of TN to be sought out by the hunters. TN is one of my easiest states to work so I should be 6 for 6 in bagging bears shortly after Greg gets started at 1200Z Monday. I hope you're having similar success and having fun doing it with this great NAQCC activity. Remember we still need bears, so check out the rules and volunteer to help out with your state, be it rare or common. I guarantee you'll have fun being the object of the hunt.
Still more NAQCC info - we will soon be activating our special call of N3A for the second anniversary of the founding of the NAQCC. Details are on the main page of the club web site. I just hope that Tom, Larry, and I can find plenty of time to operate with the call.
And I might as well continue on the NAQCC theme. This coming Tuesday evening is our monthly sprint. Wouldn't it be great to get a record number of participants and logs received to honor our second anniversary? C'mon and join in and send in your log. Remember just about any kind of log is now acceptable except ADIF format.
Speaking of logs, I disagree with organizations who ask for 'log' submissions for their sprints and contests when all they are really asking for are 'reports' of how many stations were worked without any details beyond that. To my way of thinking, logs contain details about each QSO made in a contest. Something that merely states how many QSO's were made is only a report or summary. Such reports lend themselves to errors since there is no way of cross-checking QSO's as should be done in every contest or sprint.
I got pretty wordy today, didn't I? That shows that I am at a point where I've gotten pretty much caught up with my workload here. That's good because we are having some great weather today and the next 2 or 3 days as well. There won't be many of those good days left now. In fact I see a prediction of our first frost this coming Friday from one weather forecasting service I monitor regularly on the Internet. I hate to see that coming as soon it will mean the end of two of my hobbies for several months - gardening and fishing. I will still continue my daily walking though unless winter gets really bad, then I'll have to do my walking around the inside of the house.
OK that's it for now. I've got to save something to say in upcoming entries. -30-
Saturday, October 07, 2006 8:40 AM - So far I've received 3 votes to continue the polls. I've asked each voter to explain why they didn't vote in my last poll, and gotten some interesting feedback from one of them.
While I may discontinue the poll, it is emails like the one I am going to describe here that encourage me to keep the web site going. I think what Carlos CT1JGM/ZS6AJW says and is doing are extremely important to the future of REAL ham radio - CW. Now here are Carlos' words:
"It has been long since I operated CW, 20 years in fact. I came from Pretoria, South Africa last year and have no rig on HF. I am starting a small CW Xmiter, on trany only and re-learn my morse code again, on receive obviously. Thanks for having this information available to us, the ones that gave up morse and are trying to come back. Best 73's."
If my web site motivates folks to return to our wonderful mode of CW, that makes it all worthwhile despite the occasional disappointments like the recent failure of the polls to draw votes. -30-
Friday, October 06, 2006 8:58 AM - As you may have noted on the main page of my site, I am considering discontinuing my polls. My latest poll despite my begging and pleading drew only 6 responses which to me indicates a lack of interest. So if I don't receive 10 emails before October 15th asking me to continue the polls, I will never have another one.
I would like to thank all those who participated in the 86 polls that I have run over the years.
Those 86 polls drew a total of 15,592 votes or an average of 181.3 votes per poll. The highest vote total was 1243, the lowest 6.
However the last 5 polls have averaged only 78.6 votes and the very last poll only 6 votes! I think those stats back up my decision to consider discontinuing the polls for a lack of interest.
So the ball is in your court now. Do you want the polls to continue or not. Let me know by October 15. Thanks. -30-
Thursday, October 05, 2006 8:17 AM - I wonder which state will be the first to have 100 NAQCC members. I was just curious to see how many members we had in each state so I ran a SQL query on our Access database. It turns out that currently PA and TX are tied for most members with 97 each. CA is back in 3rd place with 88. OH is a distant 4th with 68.
The states with the fewest members are WY 2, ND 2, HI 3, AK 4, RI 4.
Of the 38 countries in which we have members besides the USA which has 1391, the leaders are Canada 72, England 11, Japan 7, France 4, Puerto Rico 4.
Of our 1538 members, only 37 members have sent in their pictures for the pictures page on the web site. It seems the vast majority of our members are either extremely modest or ashamed of their appearance. Maybe they are ashamed of their shacks? I always thought hams were proud of their shacks and wanted to show them off. Looks like I was wrong again just like I was utterly wrong about my latest poll, but I'm not going to even talk about that because it upsets me greatly.
Now I'm going to do the weekly check of all the links on my web site which I do every Thursday so that hopefully you shouldn't run into any dead links when you use them. At least I try to warn you with the color coded balls which indicate which ones might not currently be working.
Then I think I'll get the NAQCC (Sprint promo edition) Newsletter ready for sending out this weekend. I often wonder just how many of the 340 or so subscribers actually read the newsletter. I don't think I've ever gotten more than a couple comments on it and we're up to 30+ editions now. Incidentally it's the same with the newsletter I write for our local computer club. But then perhaps I shouldn't talk since I very seldom comment on the newsletters that I receive from Fred Langa, Microsoft, Marc Liron, etc. -30-
Wednesday, October 04, 2006 11:10 AM - Chalk up another bear for this bear hunter. I just worked Terry, WU9F on 30M to keep my record intact. I'm really having a ball with this bear hunt activity. When I thought it up, I figured the real purpose would be to help stations get their WAS award. However it seems the hunt itself is now turning out to be infectious and more and more hams are joining in just to see if they can work the bears. That's great because it means more and more CW on the bands.
I also just spent about an hour updating my NAQCC Worked Members Award totals. I love the concept there that makes each QSO with a member worth different points. For example a rag chew that goes beyond the usual RST, QTH, Name, Rig, WX, where you learn something more interesting about the ham you are working is worth 4 points. Contest QSO's with members are worth 2 points. I'm not going to describe all the details here since you can get them on the NAQCC web site.
The concept for our award does involve a little bit more work than some other awards, but I've never been afraid of a little work. Also it helps stimulate the brain and keeps one from growing old and becoming a 'couch potato'. All too many folks these days, both young and old, seem to be afraid of doing almost any kind of physical and/or mental work. -30-
Tuesday, October 03, 2006 9:38 AM - John, K4BAI sent this along and I had been meaning to mention it here:
"I ran across an operating activity for the whole month of October sponsored by SPAR, the Society for the Preservation of Amateur Radio. It is for making contacts on CW and has a multiplier that figures in both WPX prefixes and the length of the QSO. QSO points are figured on the type of key used on both ends of the QSO, which is designed to encourage the use of Straight Keys or Hand Keys. I have been using one of my hand keys in the monthly North American QRP CW Club Sprints and, while probably not up to my Novice days (1954-55) standards, my SK fist is much improved as a result of this monthly use. The website for rules is:
In looking at the SPAR web site, I notice that they seem strongly in favor of preserving the traditional ham radio modes, and that of course means CW. I've added a link to their site in my CW Info and Misc links because of that positive attitude towards CW. We need more organizations like that!
I just updated our Bear Hunt sked for the rest of this week. Terry will be operating a couple hours or so each day so there is plenty of time left to bag another bear for your (and my) collection. -30-
Monday, October 02, 2006 9:17 AM - I didn't hear Terry WU9F in the Bear Hunt last night. Hopefully I can catch him some time today to keep my Bear record intact.
We got a report from Bill, K1EV on his successful week as a Bear. CT wasn't quite as popular as WY, but Bill still did a nice job.
Also we have another state lined up now for the week of the 23rd - MA from WD9HBC Jim. However the weeks of the 9th and 16th this month are still open. How about volunteering to be a bear? -30-
Sunday, October 01, 2006 4:57 PM - I don't know how much time if any Tom put in during the FISTS Clubs Contest. I was waiting to hear from him this morning with a list of stations he worked so I'd know who was already in the log when I took over. But since I didn't hear from him, I didn't get a chance to get in the contest.
Ron has come up with a replacement bear for the WAS Bear Hunt this week. It's Terry WU9F from Wisconsin. Check the NAQCC site for Terry's sked. Bill W7KXB will do his week from Washington later when he gets his antennas repaired. -30-
Saturday, September 30, 2006 10:14 PM - I almost forgot about a diary entry for today. I'm just sitting here listening to some oldies by Rod Stewart while doing some other computer work. He's one of my favorite male singers mainly because virtually all of his songs have great instrumental background. That's real music, not what passes for music these days. In my opinion, very little good music has come out since around the mid-80's. Oh, there are exceptions of course, but they are in the minority.
My kind of music is the kind that was done by groups like The Association, The Lovin' Spoonful, Herman's Hermits, The Carpenters, Beach Boys, and other groups who sang in that style. Some of the female singers I like are Carly Simon, Kim Carnes, and actually I'm wasting too much time listing artists here. I think you get an idea of what music I like.
Just one other note - I think my all time favorite female singer just might be Karen Carpenter of the Carpenters. What a tragedy it was to lose her at so young an age. I believe she was 31 when she passed away.
Maybe another entry I'll talk about music. That's one interest I've never really talked about on the site. I don't have any real musical talent myself, but I enjoy listening to the talent of others. -30-
Friday, September 29, 2006 8:08 PM - Tom (KB3LFC) and I will be entering the NAQCC Club call N3AQC in the FISTS Clubs contest this weekend. It won't be a full effort because of other obligations on both our parts.
Tom will start off Saturday around 2330Z or so and continue until ??. Then he might do early Sunday morning also and I'll try to finish up from when he has to leave until the contest ends at 1800Z Sunday.
This is an excellent chance to work the club call. We have just both been too busy to put it on the air very much. Remember working the club call is worth 5 points toward our NAQCC Worked Members Award.
If you don't work Tom before I take over, I hope to see you in the test.
Take a close look at my QSO-A-Day table on the main page of my site. Notice anything interesting? Two, count 'em, two QSO's with YL's. How about that. I guess YL's do use CW although from the tiny percentage of YL QSO's I have had in the past few years it's hard to tell. Things certainly were different back in the 60's when YL's on CW were not nearly as rare as they are today. -30-
Thursday, September 28, 2006 10:22 AM - Here's an extra one: Why is it that some folks do not check their email regularly? I wonder if they do the same with their regular mail. I bet not. I often will send an urgent message via email containing some dated material that will help out the recepient. However the recepient only bothers to check his email once a week or even less often so what I send is of no help whatsoever by the time he or she gets it.
It is so simple to check one's email that I just don't understand why it is not a part of everyone's daily routine.
Of course there is another problem also. Some folks have several different email accounts and I believe they even have forgotten that they have some of them. So that email address acts like the Postal Service's Dead Letter Box. Or an email black hole to more accurately describe it. Once an email goes there, it never gets out.
The whole matter annoys me because email (used properly) is such an efficient means of communication. I do virtually all my communicating via email. It's hard to remember the last time I wrote an actual paper letter to someone.
My email is checked automatically by MailWasher every 5 minutes whenever I am connected to the Internet which is pretty much at least 8AM to Midnight every single day. It checks my three main email accounts each time and that includes a couple other addresses that are forwarded to one of the three main accounts like my ARRL address for example.
So unless something unforseen happens, I should receive your email without any problem. I acknowledge every email received here that I believe should be responded to, even if it only to say a brief thanks for something you sent me.
What prompted this was my just sending out the latest NAQCC newsletter. Even though everyone supplies their own email address when they subscribe, inevitably there will be a few newsletters that bounce each issue. Oftentime the reason is that the destination email box is full, or no further email is being received because of inactivity at that email box. Grrrrrr.
Please if you use email, check all your email boxes regularly. -30-
Wednesday, September 27, 2006 9:40 AM - OK, here we go:
Why is it that several hams participate regularly in our NAQCC sprints, but still do not join and become NAQCC members? I don't have a clue for this one. Membership is FREE and there are no obligations of any kind. If you can tell me, please do.
Why is it that virtually no one is taking the opportunity to thank, honor, give credit to, etc. a deserving ham via my current poll? The only thing I can think of is that the old philosophy "If you can't say something NICE about somebody, don't say anything at all" has become outdated in this day and age where people seem to care less and less about each other. That philosophy may have been transformed into something like "If you can't say something NEGATIVE about somebody, don't say anything at all." Do you think I'm right or is there something else I'm not seeing here.
Why is it that in every club of every kind, there are folks who join and never ever take part in any club activities nor even attend any club meetings? I was distressed to learn that one of the biggest hamfests in this area, the Butler Hamfest may be closing down because only a tiny percentage of the members of the club running the hamfest are willing to help out in any way. I could give many other examples of this as well, but I won't.
And to close on the lighter side with a couple questions that really don't qualify as a "Why is it that...", if we cross the path of a black cat, does that cat have bad luck? Or if a mirror falls on a person and breaks an arm or leg, does that mirror have 7 years bad luck?
Things to ponder, serious and a couple not so serious. -30-
Tuesday, September 26, 2006 10:48 PM - I just had to make a second entry today. I received a vote in my current poll from Malcolm N4QDA. I want to publicly thank him for taking the time to give due credit to another ham (W7DAF) whom he admires for the things he does in ham radio. I was beginning to think that no one had the courage, nerve, or whatever it takes to step forward and do their bit to honor some deserving ham in a little way by 'voting' in my poll. I am so grateful to Malcolm for doing what he did. If I could vote again in my own poll, I'd have to consider Malcolm as someone I admire. I do admire those who give credit to others. I thought there would be many others like Malcolm and that my current poll would give them a chance to give credit to the one they admire, but apparently I was mistaken. -30-
Tuesday, September 26, 2006 10:27 PM - One of those busy days today so I don't really have much time for this diary entry if I want to finish some other chores. I had planned another of those "Why is it that....." entries, but that will have to wait. Fishing, working on NAQCC Sprint logs, visits from friends, a long rag chew for my QSO of the day just ate up too much time, but it all was enjoyable especially a sky viewing with one of my friends. We had good clear skies for a change and saw a lot of beautiful stellar objects in the scope. -30-
Monday, September 25, 2006 8:43 AM - One of my chores each Monday morning is to clean out the sent items in Outlook Express. When I opened up the 'Sent Items' folder this morning I saw 123 sent emails there. It's been a busy week. Most of the emails dealt with NAQCC matters, especially the Bear Hunt. Just about all the rest dealt with my web site, answering questions, saying thanks for comments, etc.
Among all the emails was one I want to feature here since it dealt with matter in this diary.
Larry, W2LJ wrote:
"I enjoyed your entry about the "adventure of radio". I think that's the
aspect I love the best, too. I remember a few years after I was
licensed, I took a trip up to New Hampshire and Maine at just about this
time of year. The purpose was to get some real good photographs of the
fall foliage. The route back to NJ involved a detour out to Cape Cod.
I remember, quite accidentally, finding out about and driving to
Wellefleet station out on the Cape, where Marconi had one of his first
stations. There's a National Parks monument there now which at the
time, consisted of a gazebo with a diorama of the station. All that's
left of the installation are the huge concrete blocks which formed the
base of the huge curtain antenna.
I remember standing on the sand dunes, looking out over the ocean on a
windy and brisk October day and thinking of how MY radio waves had
traversed over all that water, as far as my eye could see. That tiny
amount of electrical energy traverses half way around the globe and
allows me to converse with people I will probably never meet face to
face. But yet it allows me to touch their lives for the briefest of
moments and for them to do the same. And in other circumstances, that
same electrical energy allows me to meet folks and become good friends
with others that I will talk with on a regular basis.
And the best ting for me, is that the wonder of it all never gets old
and it never becomes boring. No matter what comes along, cell phones,
Internet, whatever ..... I will never become jaded to the magic of
Very well said Larry! I too stood on that hallowed ground at Wellfleet. My trip there was in the late 1970's when we toured 3 of my favorite places, Cape Cod, Nantucket, and Martha's Vineyard in Massachussetts. The day that I was at Wellfleet was perhaps the coldest, windiest, dampest, dreariest September day you could imagine. Yet it was still awe-inspiring standing there contemplating the history that took place so many years ago and how it directly affected me across those years.
If I ever get time - there's that phrase again - I'll have to look and see if I have any photos from that day and if so post them on MySpace. I'm so far behind on MySpace postings now... In the meantime here is some info on the site. -30-
Sunday, September 24, 2006 9:34 PM - My Bear record remains perfect - 4 for 4 - after just working Bill K1EV in CT on 80M. So far NU7T in NV was the hardest, and next week W7KXB in Washington may be hard as well. After that we don't have any more bears scheduled, so if you qualify to be a bear (all it takes is to be a NAQCC member, and that's free), how about volunteering to be a Bear and put your state on the air. It's not a contest nor high speed fast paced event. You can operate at your own comfortable speed and pace, so don't be afraid of anything and give it a try. You can operate as few or as many hours as fit your schedule. It would be nice to put in at least one hour a day, but even that is not a hard and fast rule.
I certainly am looking forward to being a bear some week in the future. As I mentioned in an earlier diary entry, we are postponing using club officers as bears to give our regular membership first crack at all the fun.
So far each of our three bears who've completed their week has said how much fun they had doing it. Each week the activity has grown in the hunts and we've also gotten several new NAQCC members as a spin-off from the hunt.
Hey, can you tell I'm really excited about this activity? I bet you can from the way I love to talk about it. I haven't even talked about my fishing or other matters much lately because I've been so excited about the hunt.
As far as fishing goes, this is now my 4th best year since I re-started my fishing in 1992. A 19 inch carpsucker today was fish # 203 for the year. I still need 72 more fish to make this my best year though, and I don't think that is going to happen unless we have a long warm fall. A 29 inch carp yesterday was my 33rd carp of the year. That's my 3rd best carp year behind 57 last year and 37 back in the mid 90's. I have a decent shot at the 37, but I think the 57 will stand for another year. -30-
Saturday, September 23, 2006 10:45 PM - You know what I think I like best about ham radio? No, probably you don't so I'm going to tell you in this diary entry.
I like the adventure of ham radio. Especially when I call CQ and have no idea of where that RF carrying my CQ is going to land nor who is going to convert those short and longer pulses of RF into something meaningful. My CQ may be intercepted by someone just a couple miles away (Tom, KB3LFC for example) or it may go halfway around the world to Perth, Australia. It might be heard and answered by a baseball player (Joe Rudi, now an ex-player for example), or it could have been answered by a couple of prominent statesmen (Barry Goldwater, King Hussein), or maybe a country western singing star (Patty Loveless), or perhaps an ordinary person like myself.
This evening, finding the 40M band full of RTTY signals and 80M full of Texas stations in the TQP, I thought I'd go to 30M. I found one strong signal around 10.120 so I knew the band was open despite the lack of other signals. I turned on the TV to see what was on while my memory keyer called CQ for me. I figured it would be some time before I got an answer so I might as well do something while I was waiting.
After several minutes I did get an answer that turned into a wonderful rag chew. The one who answered was Cathy N5WVR in New Hope, MN. She turned out to be a very interesting ham. When I mentioned that I wrote the QRP column in the Keynote she came back saying she was no one of note in ham radio.
I immediately contradicted her and said she was someone of note - a YL who operates CW. There are very few of them around these days. I can't recall the last time I had a rag chew type QSO with one, although I do work some in contests from time to time.
Then she told me more about herself. She said she enjoys homebrewing and kit building. Now you tell me how many YL's you know who do that and also operate CW.
She mentioned her bio was on QRZ.com, and I'm just looking at it now with my mouth open in amazement at her accomplishments in life in addition to what she told me in our 45 minute QSO. Take a look yourself.
That is why I really enjoy calling CQ rather than answering other CQ's. The mystery adds to the enjoyment.
And finally this again points out what I keep saying about the bands. They probably are not really dead propagation-wise, it's just they need someone to get things going with a CQ. -30-
Friday, September 22, 2006 3:05 PM - When I thought up the idea of our WAS project for the NAQCC a couple months ago and Tom KB3LFC approved it, I had no idea it would take off as fast as it did. That just goes to show what can happen when you have two good folks working on the project.
Although it was my idea, I knew I wouldn't have the time to do all the work involved in making it work. So we went looking for volunteers. Ron K5DUZ was the only one who stepped forward and I think he was kind of reluctant about doing so at the time. I was pleased because I had communicated with Ron on other matters over the past couple years or more, and I could tell that he would be the kind of person who was suited to the job.
Ron came up with the name for the project - Bear Hunt, and he called himself the Bear Master. He did a great job of putting it all together for the club, and I publicly thank him here.
The other key player is our club PR person Larry W2LJ. On rather short notice he put together a great publicity package for the Bear Hunt and distributed it to all his usual sources plus some extra ones as well. I want to thank him publicly here as well, not only for the Bear Hunt publicity but for all the wonderful promoting he has done for the club since we 'hired' him. Hired is a misnomer since there are no wages for Larry or Ron, nor any other club officers. We do it all for the love of promoting CW and QRP.
Now let me explain what I meant by the wonderful start we have gotten off to with the hunt. Dale WC7S, our current 'Bear', reported that for the first 4 days of his stint he has handed out Wyoming to 50 folks from 26 different states. Wow, that is really impressive. More public thanks go to you Dale for a fine job.
In case you are reading this and still have no idea what I mean by the Bear Hunt or want to know more now, go to the NAQCC web site and you can get all the facts, schedule info, how you can become a bear, and more. -30-
Thursday, September 21, 2006 10:04 PM - I know a lot of NAQCC members read my diary, and we are trying to build suspense in our sprint results by not publishing any results until after all logs are received. We hope this encourages more participants to send in their logs because everyone may still have a chance of winning something or at least showing up high on the list of scores. But I digressed a bit from my first sentence. Because of what I said in that sentence I'm not going to say a lot about last night's sprint right now.
However I do want to say that it was nice to see a lot of new participants in the sprint and I hope you (they) will send in their logs. As I said yesterday I would love to see at least 40 scores listed on the sprint results page. I think we may make it. If we do, that would be a strong statement for the popularity of CW and QRP to throw back at the CW bashers.
I hope you're all also having fun in the NAQCC Bear Hunt. The state being given out this week, Wyoming turns out to be my rarest state here. During the 12+ years of my streak I only have 44 WY QSO's, the least from any state. So it might be rare for you also, and here's your chance to grab it. Dale, WC7S is an excellent operator and more than likely can easily copy your QRP signal even if conditions are not all that great. Check the NAQCC web site for Dale's schedule. You still have Fri, Sat, and Sun to work him in the hunt. Then next week it's a state that seems to have become a bit harder to work lately although it's not as 'rare' as Wyoming. K1EV will be putting CT on the air next week followed by W7KXB and Washington state the week after that. Have fun hunting. -30-
Wednesday, September 20, 2006 8:02 AM - Tonight (Sept 21 0030-0230Z) is our monthly NAQCC Sprint. Right now propagation conditions look like they will be good. After an unsettled period, the K index has been at 2 or lower the past 24 hours or so.
I hope that we will have a really big turnout. We did very well during the slack summer months and now that fall is almost here and the other summer activities are on the wane, I feel we should have at least 40 logs submitted for this sprint. I don't think that's unreasonable at all. It will mean a lot of work for me doing the cross checking, but I don't mind.
Don't forget if you use GenLog for the sprint, be sure you have the very latest version which as I write this is v6.55. It is available for download from http://mysite.verizon.net/dmascaro1/. This version changes the output text file slightly to conform more closely to that required for entry into our master sprint database which makes my job a bit easier.
Also be sure to get the latest data file for GenLog from the NAQCC web site. Or simply click here to download it.
We'll continue holding off posting scores on the web site until after the log submission deadline. This adds a bit of mystery to it, and perhaps encourages more folks to submit logs since they don't know any other scores as they did before when we posted scores as soon as received.
Posting results is very important toward our goal of preserving CW on the bands since each result posted is a positive vote for CW. If we only have a few results posted, the CW bashers can use that for fodder saying something like, "Look how few hams participate in the NAQCC sprints. That's more proof that CW is dying." I know those of you who love CW don't want that. So please take part in the sprint and more importantly submit your results even if you only make a few QSO's. Then you can be proud to know you're doing your part for CW preservation. Thanks. -30-
Tuesday, September 19, 2006 9:30 PM - I had a very interesting QSO this evening with Derek, WB0TUA. We found several things to discuss that were of interest to both of us, but one thing stands out, and I want to talk about it a bit.
It turns out that Derek is very into Land Line or American Morse and often gives demos of this somewhat forgotten form of Morse. This was the original Morse Code used by Samuel F.B. Morse when he invented the means of communication in 1844. Incidentally and having no real meaning to anything, the first Morse message in history was sent on my birthday May 24 - 101 years before I was born on that same day in 1945.
In Germany in 1848 a new form of Morse was introduced and soon became 'Continental' Morse, then 'International' Morse when it spread beyond the continent of Europe. Of course this International Morse is what we use on the ham bands now.
One 'fault' with American Morse was its lack of uniformity. It had different length dashes and different dot spacings. For example T, L, and the number 0 were all a single dash, but of different lengths. The letters C, R, O, Y, and Z consisted of dots and slightly longer dot spacing than in letters like I, S, H for example. International Morse made the code uniform with only one dash length, one dot length, one dot spacing, etc.
I learned American Morse back in the 1960's and used it a bit on the ham bands mainly with Sue, W9KSE whom I've mentioned in a previous diary entry. Now I can remember most of the letters and numbers but am nowhere near being at all proficient with it.
If the subject of American Morse is new to you, Wikipedia has an excellent article about it at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Morse_code.
American Morse was designed to be used with a Sounder, a device that sounded out a series of clicks for lack of a better description on my part. It was not designed with the use of audio tones in mind. A computer program called 'The Mill' simulates the sound of a Sounder if you're interested. Look at the Software Links here on my web site for the URL.
I've mentioned before how the 30 at the end of these entries relates to American Morse in that a 3 is ..._. and a 0 a long dash which when combined form ..._._ or SK which is how we end our QSO's. -30-
Monday, September 18, 2006 8:30 PM - We received NU7T's Bear Hunt report for last week. He made 15 QSO's. Dale WC7S started off his first day as a Bear with 12 QSO's. I'm delighted to see the upward swing in activity, and I hope it continues. We are going to have to pick up some new bears though. We only have two more weeks filled after this one, so if you are a NAQCC member and want to become a bear and give out your state to those needing it, check the NAQCC web site for details.
I mentioned yesterday was a nothing day, but I didn't give all the reasons. One other reason was I had a kidney stone to contend with. However that is a thing of the past now as it passed effortlessly this morning to my relief. I think I could build something with all the kidney stones I've had in my life. Fortunately only the first couple gave me any trouble. The rest all passed easily. I hope that continues. Knock on wood.
A couple entries ago I talked about 80M. I'm hearing more and more very strong signals on that band around 0000-0200Z, but it seems to be like 30M with not all that much activity. How about giving both those bands a chance and let 40M rest a little bit. It seems everyone sticks to 40M lately for some reason. Perhaps believing it to be the only band that is open. Well, that's not true as you'll find out if you call some CQ's on the other bands. At various times of day everything from 160M through 17M will be open to somewhere. 15,12, and 10 will also be open, but only on a few occasions.
I haven't really analyzed it thoroughly, but just a rough look seems to show that this sunspot minimum doesn't seem to be as deep as the previous one was at the same point in time. Perhaps I'll study the figures more thoroughly if I get time and see if my gut feeling about that is correct. -30-
Sunday, September 17, 2006 9:14 PM - This was one of those nothing days until this evening. The river is too high and muddy to go fishing. None of my young friends were around today. Nothing much was happening on the bands. And so on.
However this evening proved interesting. I ran into a couple of my ex-neighbors who were fishing despite the high water, and I visited with them for about a half hour or so.
When I got home it was getting near 0000Z so I thought I'd try to bag another bear by working WC7S in Wyoming. I heard Dale on 20M, and we almost made a QSO, but I don't think it was good enough to count. So I made a couple other QSO's on 40M, then went back to 20M to see if Dale was any better. He wasn't, so I waited till he switched to 40M at 0100Z. I heard him sending QRL? and tuning up. As soon as he called CQ, I got him and we had a solid QSO. So I've worked all 3 bears so far. I'm really enjoying this NAQCC activity. It's a lot of fun.
Perhaps some day I'll give out PA as a bear. Maybe I can be called the PAPA Bear. Oh, that was bad!!! Sorry. We are not going to have the club officers be bears for a while though. We want our non-officer members to have the honor of being the first several bears. -30-
Saturday, September 16, 2006 9:23 PM - I had a little more time this evening to be on the air so I headed for the 40M Novice band. Unfortunately I must have lousy timing because now that I had the time there wasn't nearly as much activity in the FISTS Get Your Feet Wet event as last night when I didn't have the time.
I did manage to make two QSO's though. One of them with a Novice and one with an Extra. I hope the Novice was encouraged to continue using CW because of this wonderful FISTS event.
I also took a look at 30M and there was absolutely not a station to be heard there when I tuned across the band around 0100Z or so.
80M has quietly been picking up as the sun sets earlier and the atmosphere gets a little quieter with fewer heavy thunderstorms with the cooler weather. I'm looking forward to this band this coming winter. The sunspot minimum is predicted to occur somewhere near mid-winter and that should really make 80 and also 160 good DX bands. Hopefully I can pick up a few new countries in the CQ and ARRL DX tests on 80M. I don't hold much hope for 160M with my relatively small and low random wire for that band. But maybe I can get a couple more of the 9 states I need for 160M QRP WAS.
Almost a month and a half late I have finally updated the QRP Streak page in my QRP section. It now includes all the info from the first 12 years of the streak. I've also updated a few other things here and there that needed to be brought up to date. It's nice when you finally get a bit of free time to take care of such things. I still don't know how it happened tonight, but it did. I think it's because of the earlier sunsets now. I'm not as active outside in the evenings now - less fishing, etc. If so, I should have even more free time in the coming months. -30-
Friday, September 15, 2006 10:30 PM - It was nice to see quite a bit of activity in the FISTS Get Your Feet Wet event. I didn't have a lot of time to be on the air this evening, but I did make 1 QSO in the event on 40M. Maybe tomorrow and Sunday I'll get a chance to be on more although I do have other things to do this weekend.
That event fits in nicely with the NAQCC September challenge which is to try to work as many newcomers to CW as possible. We definitely need to encourage newcomers to continue to use CW and this challenge provides a good opportunity to do just that. Without newcomers to CW all us old fellows will be gone and there won't be any of this wonderful mode of communications left for future generations. -30-
Thursday, September 14, 2006 8:44 PM - 30M was pretty good this evening. Good conditions and quite a bit of activity for a change. I hope the coming of fall will bring more activity to this great little band.
I haven't had any luck hunting the Bear this week. I haven't even heard Steve NU7T out in Nevada in the several times I've listened for him. I hope others are having better luck especially because I would like Steve to be getting some action out there. It gets awfully boring sitting there calling CQ without any answers. FLASH!! 10:59 PM - I just worked Steve at 0254Z on 7.050.
Just in case anyone doesn't know what I'm talking about when I mention hunting bear, here's a brief summary. If you already know about it, you can skip the rest of today's entry because I'm not going to say anything new to you.
The NAQCC (North American QRP CW Club) is embarking on a new activity to try to help folks work on and/or complete their QRP Worked All States Award. Each week one (sometimes 2) members will activate their state(s) according to a schedule decided upon by them and posted on the NAQCC web site. They are referred to as the 'Bear'. Those who attempt to work them are the 'Bear Hunters'. For more details visit the NAQCC web site at http://www.arm-tek.net/~yoel/. The state of NJ was activated last week. Nevada is active this week. Coming up next week is Wyoming. After that Connecticut and Washington are set to go. We at NAQCC hope you will take part in this activity. It not only will help with your WAS, but there will be a 'Bear Hunting' award, and it's a great way to work toward your NAQCC Worked Members award as well. -30-
Wednesday, September 13, 2006 8:21 AM - Here's an EXCELLENT example of what I mean about a ham hero from W4WLW who was one of the few who took the time to vote so far. He followed up after reading my diary with the info below. I'm sure there is some ham hero in your life similar to Bill's description. Read it, think about it, and please vote.
"Reading about your ongoing experiences with your neighborhood children stirred my memories. I've already placed my vote, but I thought I might share my thoughts on someone who ought to be included if I could name more than one.
It would be the ham that originally got me started when I was 13 or 14 in the 1950s'. I don't even remember his call sign, but Mr. Lynch took the time to teach me how to get started in ham radio. My own father was a truck driver and was gone for months at a time and even when he was home didn't have time to spend with me, but Mr. Lynch let me hang around his shack, answered my countless questions, and even taught me Morse code with an old brass key and a homebrewed oscillator that he gave me. He helped me build my first transmitter by giving me parts and showed me how to strip old tube radios for other things I needed. He never told me to leave or to shut up or to stay away. Every night after eating I would walk to his house down the street from where I lived and spend the next three hours or so making a pest of myself, but he always welcomed me and always took time to explain, to show, and to teach.
I have no idea where he is today or even if he is still alive, but his kindness to a kid filled with wonder about radio is still remembered and appreciated."
Not only does that tell so very well what I mean by a ham hero, but it says tons about how we should treat young children we are acquainted with. Thank you Bill. -30-
Tuesday, September 12, 2006 9:16 PM - There's a parallel between fishing and ham radio. Sometimes you'll see the fish in the river, but they just won't bite. Sometimes the band will be full of strong CQ's, but none hear your call and your own CQ's don't do any better. Other times the river may look like there isn't a fish in it, yet within a couple minutes of your first cast, you'll catch a big one. The band may sound completely dead, but your first CQ nets an answer and a nice long rag chew QSO.
I guess that's why I like both hobbies so much. They are both quite unpredictable. I don't think I'd enjoy fishing in a very well stocked small pond where you're almost guaranteed to catch 20-30 fish in an hour. It might be fun the first time, but would soon grow old. If you never had to call more than one CQ to get an answer and every other CQ you hear comes back to your first call, ham radio might grow old also.
I always have believed that anything that comes too easily is not all that fun. There must be somewhat of a challenge involved in every accomplishment. That probably explains why I like the QRP aspect of ham radio. Doing things with a KW and a huge antenna farm would hold no appeal for me. Like fishing in the small stocked pond, it might be fun for a short time, but would soon become boring to me.
At the other extreme making things too hard or too challenging can also become tiring or boring. When I sit at the river for hours and hours without a single bite, that is the height of boredom, frustration, etc.
I'm also becoming very frustrated at getting no responses to my Ham Hero poll. If you haven't voted yet, and that covers most every visitor who is reading this, PLEASE tell me why. What am I doing wrong with the poll? Don't be afraid of hurting my feelings. I want to know no matter what the reason. -30-
Monday, September 11, 2006 8:27 AM - I've just decided to continue my Ham Hero poll for another month. I know there are more heroes out there than the couple who got votes so far. I don't know why you are not voting. I've explained the concept thoroughly a couple times. I don't see that as a problem. Perhaps it is 'just too much trouble' to read and follow the poll rules. Well, I'll try to remedy that by simplifying the rules and we'll see what that does. I intend to keep the Hero poll active until I get what I think are a reasonable number of votes, however long that takes. -30-
Sunday, September 10, 2006 8:25 PM - I found my old GeoCities URL - http://www.geocities.com/CapeCanaveral/3852/. However the Internet Archive site gives me an error page when I enter that address, so perhaps they don't have any copies of my site from then or something else is wrong.
Today was a better day than yesterday. It started off with helping my garden friend do some harvesting. We got about 4-5 big buckets of peppers, several dozen figs, and a few tomatoes.
This is the 250th anniversary of the battle of Kittanning when Colonel Armstrong wrested the area from Indian control. That battle was re-enacted today, and my garden friend asked if I wanted to go see it with him. I said yes. He said he'd phone later when he was ready.
In the meantime 7 year old Chelsea was out on her porch so I visited with her for quite a while till my friend called. While I was talking with Chelsea another of the neighborhood girls, Tori stopped by and I got to know her a bit better. I may have mentioned this before, but Chelsea collects rocks and I had collected quite a few for her when I was fishing. I gave them to her and she sorted them out.
When my friend did call, I had another 15 minutes or so with Chelsea and Tori. Then I went to my friend's house and we walked (and finished with a bus ride) to the Community Park where the battle was being held. It was quite well done, and very well attended. I was surprised as there didn't seem to be all that much interest in the 'festivities' which lasted between the 7th and 10th.
After that I came home, had supper and went for a walk. When I returned from the walk, Chelsea was outside again looking bored so I visited with her again. While we were sitting on her porch, a car caught on fire about a half block away. It was mostly a lot of smoke, and I don't think anyone was hurt, but it provided some excitement in the neighborhood.
Another walk after that takes me to the time I'm writing this. Well actually I got my QSO of the day after the walk - a quickie in the Tennessee QSO Party. I was thinking of doing a serious effort in the TQP, but that never did pan out.
I'm going to try to work another 'Bear' in the NAQCC WAS Bear Hunt a little later this evening. Steve, NU7T is putting Nevada on the air this week. See the NAQCC web site for his schedule if you need NV or just to work Steve and give him some encouragement in his Bear venture. -30-
Saturday, September 09, 2006 10:10 PM - This was a frustrating day. First of all it wasn't supposed to rain today, but it did, off and on most of the day. Well, when it rains the fishing is good -- usually. Today I saw a lot of carp in the storm sewer outlets after the showers, but they were very sneaky. They'd pick up the bait and just as they started to take it ready for me to hook them, they'd spit it out. That happened several times and resulted in two shut-out fishing trips today. Then a friend of mine took me up to our shopping mall so I could buy some Corn Flakes, but our Dollar General store was out of them. I think that gives a picture of how my day went up to then.
To top it off this evening there was a lot of activity on the bands and conditions were good, but I just couldn't get a QSO. No one answered my CQ's, I didn't feel like getting into any of the contests that were going on, and no one else was calling CQ. I did finally get a QSO after about 45 minutes though.
One good thing today was getting two more weeks filled for our NAQCC WAS Bear Hunt. If you need WY, CT, or WA for a 2XQRP state, keep checking the NAQCC web site for times and frequencies which will be posted as soon as the 'Bear' sends them to me. -30-
Friday, September 08, 2006 11:59 PM - Just a brief entry today. Larry W2LJ reminded me of the Internet Archive site at http://www.archive.org/index.php. There you can see snapshots of how the main page of my site looked over the years. To go back to 1998, you'll have to enter my old URL of http://www.windstream.net/~johnshan/ into the form. There are probably pages from my old GeoCities site, but I forget the URL. I'll see if I can find it and if so I'll post it here if they do have pages from way back then. Some of the links on the Archive site don't seem to work. Also only the text portion of the pages are there, not any pictures, but still it's interesting to see how my site evolved over the years. -30-
Thursday, September 07, 2006 8:59 AM - I finally found out where 4O5A is located. He is in Kikinda which is in Serbia. So I still need Montenegro.
Back on September 8, 1996 I made a widespread change in my life. I didn't know it at the time though. That's the day the K3WWP web site was born. In those 10 years I don't believe there has been a single day that I haven't updated or changed something on the site. I think my claim that this is one of the oldest continuously updated amateur radio sites is accurate.
The site went through a few major changes in appearance over the years before it settled into its current look which seems to be popular with you my visitors. I think it is very easy to navigate in its current configuration and will probably keep it this way.
The site exists to provide information about QRP and CW. The keywords being 'provide information'. I don't overload the site with bells and whistles which have nothing to do with that prime directive.
Here's a brief capsule of how the site came about.
Eric KB3BFQ and I decided we were going to start up our own web sites. I believe it was he who had the original idea. He wanted to do something dealing with sports and eventually decided on NHL hockey which was his favorite at the time after kind of evolving into it from baseball.
I was thinking of either a NASCAR racing site or a ham radio site. You know which one won out.
I wasn't sure what aspect of ham radio I would concentrate on. There was a strong interest in county hunting then which still remains to this day. I thought a web site that told the early history of the CW County Hunters Net would be interesting, and who better to tell it than K3WWP who was the co-founder with WA8EOH back in 1966.
So my web site started out with mainly a county hunting theme. I was still somewhat interested in county hunting then and had recently gotten my USA-CA 1500 for all CW operation.
After working up a look for our sites, Eric and I signed up for free web site space on GeoCities. In fact you may still see a link URL to my GeoCities site on some amateur radio pages that were created back in that era and never updated after that. However that is a thing of the past. I switched hosts to Alltel sometime in 1998 (Jan 21?) when they started to offer their customers free web site space. I dropped the GeoCities site at the end of June 1998. I added a mirror site on QSL.net around July 1, 2000. That lasted until I became dissatified with their frequent downtime and slow service and dropped them after about a year or so. The site remains with Alltel to this day. I'm very happy with their service. There has been a corporate change in Alltel and the Internet portion of their service is now with a company called Windstream. I sincerely hope there is not going to be any change in the Alltel URL's. It was a real struggle when Alltel changed from www.alltel.net to home.alltel.net a few years ago and I don't want to go through another change like that.
After that history of my site hosting situation, let me give you some more content history.
The site evolved from a county hunting orientation as more and more sections were added. I don't really have an accurate history of just when the changes happened so the following is not strictly accurate timewise. I added a propagation section in which I listed the current SF and A index numbers plus my own observations of what was happening on the ham bands that day. Those observations were very popular and I was reluctant to drop them, but I finally did when it happened I wasn't spending all that much time on the bands each day to make the observations meaningful. Now when something eventful happens, I'll mention it here in the diary.
Other sections came along to show what could be done with QRP and CW like my Awards, Contesting, and DX sections. Then sections on QRP and CW themselves followed.
While today my ham activity is pretty much limited to operating, in the 90's I was still doing some gear building so a section showing what I had built was added.
As the bands heated up with the rising sunspot cycle, a new emphasis was placed on the DX section. I added the popular QSL Route Lookup page, and for a while had a link to 'all' log lookup pages. The log lookup feature was eventually dropped after it became just too time-consuming, and others who had the time were doing a better and more complete job. So I just linked to their sites for the log info. Nowadays it's probably easiest to just type the call of the log you are looking for into a good search engine like MSN or Windows Live.
I think the last major section added was my own log pages in the Log section. There was some controversy over that since some unscrupulous SWL's were using my log for their SWL reports. One SWL in particular was sending out reports that were propagationally impossible. On top of that, I received a call from ARRL HQ suggesting that I make my logs a little less detailed. So I dropped a couple of items and now only give a date, band, and call for each QSO.
All in all it's been a lot of work and taken a lot of time. Would I do it all over again? You bet. Am I going to continue doing it? You bet - as long as I am able.
I have some of the old pages on file somewhere and when (if) I ever get time I'll try to post them to show those of you who haven't been with me from the beginning what the site looked like back then. -30-
Wednesday, September 06, 2006 10:06 PM - For the first time since I started this diary, I am sitting here with no pre-thought-out ideas of what I'm going to say. I did archive some of the older entries and noticed that I hadn't mentioned some old ham friends who may no longer be with us in quite a while, so perhaps I'll do that tonight.
There are still several members of the CW CHN from the 60's I haven't mentioned. Let me start with Dave WA8EOH who co-founded the net with me. He is still around as far as I know. At least he is still listed as a ham and now living in CA. He was in Ohio when we started the net together back in 1966. I emailed him a couple times a few years ago but never got any reply.
Frank W1WY was the USA-CA columnist in CQ magazine at the time we started the net. He was helpful in giving us publicity in the column and even devoted a complete column to the net and me one time. It's the April 1967 issue should you have access to it and are curious. If anyone emails me and asks, I'll photograph it and post it on MySpace. Frank is no longer with us.
Paul, W8CXS used to activate a different Michigan county each weekend and would often check into the net although his operation was basically separate from the net and had been going on before the net got started. Thanks to Paul, MI is one state of about a dozen for which I have all counties worked. Paul is still listed in Buckmaster but I don't personally know if he is still alive or not.
There were basically two groups of folks who participated in the net. There were several youngsters, most of whom are probably still around today. Then there were many who were over 50 or so, and they would be over 90 if still alive today.
One of the youngsters was Van K3ZMI who was one of the first to offer to help with NCS duties on the net. He was in DE at the time. Today he is still active but from TX with the call WC5D. I've worked him a few times in the past several years. He just not too long ago completed working all USA counties.
That's one thing I've not done since my interest in county hunting waned by the time I entered my first period of inactivity on the bands in the early 70's. Rather than work all the counties via the mobile route, I preferred to get as many as I could from hams who actually resided in the county. That was a real challenge since a few counties had no licensed hams, and some had hams, but ones who didn't operate CW. Today I don't do any county hunting although I still do put the county for a station in my computer log in case I pick up the activity again.
There are still more hams I want to mention, but I'll save them for another entry. -30-
Tuesday, September 05, 2006 8:43 PM - It looks like the Bear Hunt is catching on. Ron tells me he has two more offers from NAQCC members to be a Bear. One is from Wyoming, so if you need that somewhat rare state this will be an opportunity to get it. It will tentatively be the week of 9/18-9/24 but I haven't received a definite schedule for posting yet. I'll let you know here when I do post it, then you can go to the NAQCC web site and check the WAS Bear Hunt page for the sked. I don't know yet what other state Ron has lined up.
So far it's been slow going for Paul KD2MX this week, so even if you don't need NJ how about trying to work him and give him some encouragement. Plus there is going to be a nice Bear Hunter Award set up by the NAQCC for working a certain number of Bears or states. Details still to be worked out. Oh, Paul's sked is posted on the NAQCC site, so you can check it there.
This was the first day of school in town, so the atmosphere took a sudden change today in Kittanning. All the parents breathed a big sigh of relief and had a day pretty much to themselves today. HI. At least I guess that's the way it was. The seven year old next door was excited about going back, and I talked to her for a while this evening, and she is enjoying her second grade experience so far. I think she will continue to enjoy it also. She's a bright child and seems to like to learn things.
I didn't get a chance to talk to my other young girl friend to see how her first day went. The other night when I asked her if she was looking forward to going back to school she answered undecidedly, "Yes.....no".
I always dreaded the first day of school myself. In fact I wasn't much of a fan of school - period. Some folks said that I didn't like it because learning came too easy for me and there was no challenge to it. I don't know if that was true or not.
Enough rambling for now. It's time to get my daily weather readings, then I've got to update my QSO of the day table on the web site, and also the propagation figures. -30-
Monday, September 04, 2006 8:33 AM - I'm going away today so I thought I'd write this early.
I'm extremely disappointed about the poll this month. I just don't understand why virtually no one wants to take the opportunity to say a few words about their ham 'hero'. Perhaps the word 'hero' connotes someone who dashes into a burning building to save someone, or who singlehandedly knocks out a terrorist bomb factory, or those brave souls who attacked the terrorists on the plane on 9/11, and you just don't know any ham who fits that definition.
That's not what I had in mind for the poll. I wanted you to tell about the ham you admire most for whatever reason. Let me give some examples. It could be the ham who took the time to help you get your license. Or that ham you hear on the air always being courteous to those he works, using all the proper CW procedures, having a great fist, etc. Maybe a ham who spends much of his time helping others improve their operating skills, CW sending, equipment, etc.
All of those things in the previous paragraph plus many more qualify someone to be a hero. Just as in life in general, many acts qualify as heroism, not just those flashy things that make the headlines. Everyone has done something heroic in their lives even though they may not be aware of it.
So please think about it and submit your poll vote. -30-
Sunday, September 03, 2006 8:47 PM - The Bear Hunt is officially under way. I worked Paul KD2MX on 40M at 0030Z and became the very first 'Bear Bagger'. I then listened a bit and Paul also worked K9IS and VE3HUR. I hope this is the start of a very popular NAQCC activity.
Other than that nothing much else of note happened around here today. The river came up and became muddy from the rain deposited upstream by Ernesto so I didn't bother going fishing. I'm glad I went last night and caught a 26" carp and a 12.5" catfish cause it will probably be a couple days now before going fishing again.
I also had a nice chat with one of the neighborhood youngsters this evening. She and I visited for about a half hour on my front porch steps. It is just such a delight to talk with young folks (I think she's about 9) especially in a one-to-one situation. They are so free in what they have to say that way when they are not surrounded by their peers and so much unlike some adults who seem to weigh every thought and word very carefully before they utter it.
Tomorrow I go to my cousin's widower's relatives which will provide another nice change of pace day for me. -30-
Saturday, September 02, 2006 10:36 PM - I've just spent a lot of time working on the NAQCC WAS Bear Hunt so I'm not going to have much to say here. What's that? You say what the heck is the Bear Hunt? Check http://www.arm-tek.net/~yoel/wasproject.html
I promised a report on the rain. I predicted between 1.00 and 1.30 inches from Ernesto. Well, the total came out as 1.30 on the nose when I got my readings at 9PM this evening. The rain ended around 5PM or so.
And to close this entry some comments from a diary reader:
Hello John, Want to thank you for informative discussions in your diary as regards the "behaviour" of the 30 m band. It is thus very good when you frequently discuss the ups and downs of this band like in your diary of "Tuesday, August 29, 2006 9:25 PM - Is 30M still a ham band? Sure didn't sound like it today. I called CQ for a total of about an hour at various times of the day with no response at all."
During other days you have reported that 30 m was outstanding and so we should not be frustrated but should work actively so that we do not use this fine band.
Myself I have noticed som very dead periods, but then suddenly - when you did not expect it - a VK or a JA appeared in front of you... As a matter of fact I got my 1000 Miles per Watt certificate of QRP ARCI on 30 m (10 MHz Band #59) when running 4 W with JA6GGD, Masa in QTH Fukuoka on 10.109 at 15:25 UTC March 31 2005, a period of the sun cycle that indeed was not very favourable.
Your comments in your diary with respect to this fascinating band is important to all hams who believe 30 m is not an attractive alternative. 72 de Goeran, SM0PMJ NAQCC #1020 -30-
Friday, September 01, 2006 9:28 PM - This was rather a 'nothing' day. I spent most of it watching the weather radar trying to figure out how much rain we are going to get from Ernesto. As of now we've been right on the western edge and have only had .04 inches of rain so far.
It even has the professional weather forecasters confused. I watch 4 weather services here - AccuWeather, Intellicast, Weather.com (The Weather Channel's Internet outlet), and of course The National Weather Service. Not only do the 4 totally disagree on how much rain, but each service is constantly changing their predictions.
Right now let's see what each is saying. AccuWeather says 3.08 inches in their ultra-precise way. Intellicast says around .50 inches tonight and possibly over 1 inch tomorrow. Weather.com doesn't give an amount. The NWS says .35 inches to .75 inches.
So the only sure way to find out is to wait and see what falls. I hope I don't jinx it by saying this, but I think we are going to come through in pretty good shape. There are a couple heavier rain bands moving this way, but they've been doing that all day then weakening before getting here. I think that rain is from downsloping over the Alleghenies and staying near the mountains. I'd say we will get between 1.00 and 1.30 inches of rain. That's my guess. I'll let you know in the diary tomorrow who was right.
I wasn't on the ham bands much today. I just got on this evening to continue the streak. 30M seemed a bit more active than usual. I found W4YA calling CQ, worked him, then QRT.
Speaking of QRT, my washer just QRT, so now I've got to transfer my clothes to the dryer. CUL -30-
Thursday, August 31, 2006 8:45 AM - Time now for another episode of "Why Is It That....".
Why is it that so many web sites insist on playing music or other audio that has no relation whatsoever to site content and isn't really necessary? Do the webmasters simply want to show off that they can do it? Do they really think the audio is useful? You tell me cause I sure don't know.
I'm in the midst of checking all the links on my site as I do every Thursday, and I just had to take time to comment as I ran into a few sites that fit right in to what I describe above. I'm not going to mention specific sites, but I'm sure you have run into them yourself.
While we are at it, why is it that so many web sites insist on using excessive and non-essential animations? I guess for the same reasons as above.
That is one thing I personally like about my own web site and the NAQCC web site. The only audio on either site is a sample of what CW sounds like for any visitors who may not know, and these days unfortunately even a lot of ham visitors don't know. I think that serves a purpose, and is why it is there.
As far as I can recall, I think the only animation on either site is the Morse key. It's there again to demonstrate the motion of a key to those who may not know what a key is. Yes, there are folks who don't. I suppose even some modern day hams.
I guess some of the site logos on my credits page are also animated, but those are their animations and not mine. Likewise on my poll provider's page.
What are your thoughts on the matter? Although I don't call this diary a 'blog', in a way it is, and blogs are supposed to be interactive. If you see something you wish to comment on, you should, be it positive or negative. I've had only one comment the past several days now. Thanks to Chuck, W8LQ who sent along a bit more info about the tobacco hornworms.
Back to finishing my link check now. -30-
Wednesday, August 30, 2006 10:28 PM - There was some heavy rain upstream that raised the river here in town to the point where it was difficult to fish, so....
I sat down at the rig at 2300Z and decided I wasn't going to get up until I got my last 4 30M QSO's for my NAQCC 30-30 Magnum Award.
An hour and 34 minutes later, KZ5EK answered my CQ for QSO # 30. Thanks Ern!
I now have the Magnum Award # 0002 following Paul, KD2MX who made it a couple months ago.
Prior to KZ5EK I heard a weak CQ from PR7PO. I almost wasn't going to answer because I don't work Brazil all that well on 30M. However I did call and got an immediate answer for QSO # 29.
Before that I had switched to 40M to make sure of getting my QSO of the day for Aug 31st since we just passed 0000Z. After a few CQ's with no answers, I answered AE4DT's CQ and got my QSO.
After QSO # 27 which I'll talk about in a minute, I called CQ for 3 minutes before K4GXY answered to make it # 28.
I did this in reverse order because my first QSO of the session was my most exciting. Shortly after getting on 30 at 2300Z, I heard a CQ from VK6HD at about a 569 RST. Knowing that I often (well 3 times) have worked Western Australia on 30M, I called him confidently and got a P? response, called again and had a short rag chew with Mike. I thought it was amusing when he at first said conditions seemed to be pretty poor after giving me a 559 report, but after I told him my QRP and attic antenna setup, he said he must have been wrong and conditions were pretty good. I believe that now becomes my most distant QSO since VK6HD is about 10 miles further from here than VK6HQ/VK6AU at 11,396 miles or 2,279 mi/W.
It really feels good to have the Magnum Award completed. The past couple days I was thinking I wasn't going to make it in August and would have to start all over again next month.
Now I guess I can work on the NAQCC September Challenge of working as many newcomers to CW as possible. -30-
Tuesday, August 29, 2006 9:25 PM - Is 30M still a ham band? Sure didn't sound like it today. I called CQ for a total of about an hour at various times of the day with no response at all. Nor did I hear any other CQ's that I could answer. It looks like I'm not going to get my last 4 QSO's this month for my NAQCC 30-30 Magnum Award. I guess it will wait till next month unless things pick up Wednesday and Thursday
I wonder how many of you can recognize the receivers I am using in those pictures I posted in the 'Ham Radio History' folder on MySpace. I was going to identify them here, but I think I'll make a little contest out of it. No prizes other than you'll be known as a great 'boat anchor' identifier among your peers. There are two different receivers to be identified in the pictures from 1964-1972. Email me with your answers.
I had an upsetting experience today. I went out to look at my garden and found the top foliage of a couple tomato plants had been eaten. I immediately went on a search for a tobacco hornworm since I recognized the damage. It took a while to find him since they blend in so well with the tomato plant, but I found the rascal and disposed of him. Hopefully there are no more. I'll have to check carefully each day for a while. That's the third time since I've started growing tomatoes in the 80's a Sphinx Moth has laid her eggs on my tomatoes and had the larvae eat my plants. It's amazing how fast a single hornworm can lay bare a plant. The first time I had them, it looked like a large animal had just attacked the plant, as it was about half eaten away. This time I caught the troublemaker before all that much damage was done. I shouldn't lose much of my crop, but even if I do, I get way too many tomatoes anyway. It even gets hard to find people to give them to since a person can only eat so many and they don't keep fresh all that long. -30-
Monday, August 28, 2006 3:25 PM - Not much to say today. However several new ham history pictures can be seen on MySpace. They cover the period from shortly before I got my Novice ticket through the early 1970's. I'll write up some commentary about the pictures either later today or more likely tomorrow. -30-
Sunday, August 27, 2006 10:05 PM - As you know, a couple days ago WA8REI and I had a 40th anniversary QSO. Well, it turns out that I accidentally came very close to having a 42nd anniversary QSO as well.
On July 31 I worked K3ROO in Burke, VA who subsequently sent me a QSL card. I had noticed I also worked a K3ROO back on Aug 3, 1964. When I answered his QSL I mentioned that QSO and asked if it was him back then that I worked. The K3ROO from 1964 was in Morton, PA. It turns out that the K3ROO from 1964 and 2006 were the same person. So I just missed a 42nd anniversary QSO by 3 days.
While I have held my call continuously since I was KN3WWP in April of 1963, it turns out that George got out of ham radio and lost his K3ROO call but got it back again via the vanity call program in 2002.
More and more I'm wondering how many other hams there are whom I worked in the 1960's and again in the 2000's using the same call. Two other ones comes immediately to mind - John, K4BAI and Dave, VE3BMR although Dave is now VA3RJ so I guess in the strictest sense of my definition he doesn't really qualify but I mention him because he has been one of my best friends over the years and we also have many non-ham radio interests in common. I'm sure there are several more. I'll just have to come up with a good SQL query for my Access database to find out.
Since we're talking about old times, I'd like to remember a couple of old ham radio friends who are no longer with us. It's been a while since I've done that, and I do want to pay a small tribute to these folks who in one way or another helped me along in my ham radio career.
These are two more hams I really got to know via the County Hunters Net. One did a wonderful job as NCS, the other gave out counties from northern New York State. I got to know both quite well, although like so many ham radio friends, we never did meet in person, only on-the-air via CW.
Alex, W4OWE in Fauquier County, VA was not there at the very beginning of the CW CHN, but he quickly became an important part of the Net. He was a great operator and had a great omnidirectional signal which really helped out in his role as NCS. He had a big conical monopole antenna that really radiated his signal well.
We used to keep track of how many QSO's were made under each NCS, and Alex was always at or near the top of the list.
Archie, W2RSV in St. Lawrence County, NY was always ready to give out his home county to anyone needing it. He also operated mobile and gave out several other of the 'rarer' counties in that part of NY state. I always liked the name of his town which was 'Fine, NY'
As you probably know, I became inactive in the early 70's because of work commitments, and I lost track of many of my friends from the 60's. Although I was active briefly in the early 80's I never really got back in touch with many of those friends then. When I became active for good again in 1992, I found out that Alex and Archie had become silent keys.
I found out about Archie from his brother whom I happened to work one day. When I worked W2RSY from St. Lawrence County I figured there had to be a connection, and there was. He told me Archie had passed away a few years prior to our QSO which was in 1994. I found out about Alex from another ham in Fauquier County. -30-
Saturday, August 26, 2006 5:00 PM - I did some work on the ham history pictures and have posted them in an appropriately titled "Ham Radio History" folder on MySpace. There are still more to come, but at least it is started.
You'll see a picture of me at my station from 1966 and 2006. My how we age while some things stay the same. I definitely have aged while the chair and desk are still the same across the 40 years. It looks like the only piece of 'gear' that is the same is the lamp although it does have a different shade now.
Let's see if I can describe the equipment on the shelf in the 1966 picture. Out of sight behind my head is my antenna tuner and sitting on top of that is my loudspeaker in a light blue box. Next is the massive Knight Kit R100 receiver and on top of it my SWR/Power meter. At the right of the receiver is the old Lafayette VFO I've talked about. On top of it is the W9TO keyer (or possibly the WB4VVF Accu-keyer). Partially blocked by the mantle is my homebrew 75 watt transmitter. Hanging under the shelf is a TVI low pass filter. Those two large grey boxes are my QSO card files. On top of them looks like something I was working on, but I don't remember what now. I believe I switched chassis' for my transmitter at one time. Possibly that's the old chassis.
In the 2006 picture the overwhelming story is how compact ham radio equipment has become over the years. The only thing that the computer monitor is blocking from view in the Kenwood TS-570D transceiver on the shelf and the paddle on my desk. I think you can tell I spend a lot of time outside from the suntanned (burned?) face and arms.
The other picture I posted is a composite of WA8REI and my QSL's to each other for our 1966 QSO. Wouldn't it be nice if we could still send QSL cards for 4 cents?
Stay tuned for more pictures as I get them edited. -30-
Friday, August 25, 2006 10:04 PM - You asked for it, and you're going to be getting it. In my recent poll about the diary two items that got an above average number of votes were ham radio pictures and my ham radio history. Spurred on by my 40th anniversary QSO with WA8REI recently I dug into my mother's old photo albums to see if there were any pictures of my ham station from the 60's. I found about a dozen or so and converted them to .jpg files with my digital camera. So as soon as I edit and re-size them, I'll post them on MySpace with some comments here in the diary. Hopefully I can also post some info with each picture on MySpace. I'm still not all that familiar with the workings of MySpace.
I've got pictures from shortly before I took my Novice test in March 1963 up through early 1972. None are strictly of the shack itself but are pictures of some of my radio friends and/or me with the shack in the background.
If tomorrow doesn't turn out to be as busy as today maybe I'll get a chance then to do the pictures.
I hadn't been quite getting in my average 6.75 miles per day walking the past several days so I made it a point to surpass that figure today and I did with 3 or 4 longer walks plus walking down to the river for some fishing. I caught two Bluegills and a Sucker today. Those Bluegills can really strip a hook quickly without getting hooked. So I put on a smaller size hook and just a tiny piece of bread and went after them. That worked and I caught the two rather quickly that way, but just after that they stopped biting and apparently left the spot for whatever reason. Maybe they got wise to me. HI. It seems Bluegills do that. I mean bite very good then all of a sudden quit. It's happened several times at various fishing spots.
I also watered my garden and did some grocery shopping. When I headed out to do the shopping, Chelsea was outside bouncing a beach ball around looking like she didn't have anyone to play with. So I spent about 30-40 minutes playing with her and another neighborhood girl, Zoey who showed up. So I got my share of exercise today.
Another disappointing evening on 30M. I did have a short chat with HI8RV but that was it. I tried CQing on several different frequencies with no answers after that despite hearing a couple of strong stations in QSO plus the seemingly always present CHN on 10.114. Again good conditions but no activity. We're going to fool around and lose that band if we don't use it more, I'm afraid. It's just a good thing there is not all that much demand for HF spectrum space these days what with most HF services moving on to satellite communication. It's an ideal band for CW since the area from 10.102 to about 10.122 is pretty well clear of non-CW QRM versus 40M which is being taken over by a lot of different non-CW stations all the way down to near 7.000 at times. -30-
Thursday, August 24, 2006 9:42 PM - WA8REI and I had our 40th anniversary QSO just a little while ago. We couldn't get it done on 40M, but 80M worked out just fine despite high noise levels at both ends. We gabbed for about an hour about the old days, between then and now, and the current times.
It was really wonderful and a bit mind boggling to think about that 1966 QSO so long ago. Neither of us had even the slightest inkling then that we would be having another QSO in the next century.
It was interesting talking about the rigs we used back then. I used a homebrew 75 watt (input) xmtr. QRP was considered 100 or less watts input then, so technically I was QRP even then. Ken used a T-150A transmitter at 130 watts.
For receivers, it was a Knight-Kit R100 for me and an HR-10 for Ken. He used a vertical antenna, and I used a dipole.
Our QSO then was on 7.020 at 1631Z. I gave Ken a 589 report and got a 579 from him. By contrast we both were 599 tonight on 80M although the noise level was 10-20 over S9 at both our locations.
Ken is going to scan my QSL from 1966 and send it to me. I'll put it up on MySpace along with his QSL to me from 1966, and both our QSL's for tonight's QSO.
I was so glad that Ken suggested this 40th anniversary QSO idea, and I really enjoyed our visit tonight. I asked Ken if he wanted to do it again in another 40 years. HI I'll be 101 in 2046 and he'll be 98 if we both do happen to make it.
There's another matter I also want to mention tonight. My web site was mentioned in a very favorable light on the ARRL web site at http://www.arrl.org/news/features/2006/08/22/1/. However that's not why I bring it up. I was disappointed that the listing of clubs Anthony K8ZT gave in the article did not include the NAQCC. I feel the NAQCC is now one of the major QRP clubs and should have been on the list. I wrote an email to Anthony and sent it off just before writing this diary entry. I'll let you know when I get a reply from him. I say 'when' because he and I have corresponded before and he has always answered me honestly and favorably so I am sure he will respond when he gets a chance to do so. -30-
Wednesday, August 23, 2006 9:43 PM - Tomorrow evening I have a very interesting QSO scheduled. I hope to work Ken, WA8REI. That will be the 40th anniversary of our first QSO back on August 25, 1966. There are not too many hams that I worked back in the 60's who are still active today and still using the same call they had back then. Ken and I are in a small minority. I'll have more to say after the QSO tomorrow evening.
Today was a somewhat quieter day than the past couple. I don't even know just where the time went except for when I went fishing this evening. Ooops, back in a minute. I've got to add fabric softener to my washing. OK. I caught a 10" Bass and a little Bluegill, but the most interesting happening was just at dusk when a large swarm of bats descended on the river. While I was casting, my pole knocked one out and he landed in the water. He floated apparently unconscious for a while, then started to stir a bit. It was just about dark then and I had to leave so I don't know if he made it out of the water or not.
I again tried 30M this afternoon and evening, calling CQ for many minutes with no answer. I'm sure conditions were good - as I've been saying it seems for whatever reason hams are deserting that band. -30-
Tuesday, August 22, 2006 9:17 PM - This was a day similar to yesterday. Fishing, talking with 7 year old Chelsea next door, walking, etc. The big difference was the evening fishing trip was replaced by a visit from a friend I hadn't seen in about 3 months. I had been wondering what happened to him, and then this evening he showed up at my door. We visited for a couple hours. It's always nice to get back in touch with someone you haven't seen for a while. Since I don't have a car here any more (my choice - too expensive), I can't just take off and visit someone who lives more than a couple miles away. Also this friend who visited tonight doesn't have a telephone so we can't even communicate that way.
Let's talk ham radio a bit now. It seems that the disturbed ionosphere of the past couple days has affected 30M quite a bit. It's been three days since I made a QSO on that band now, although I have been trying hard since I do want to complete my 30-30 Magnum award this month if I can. Now I need 8 QSO's in the 9 remaining days to make it.
I received a great email today and I want to share it with you. I hope the sender has no objection. I wrote and asked his permission but haven't heard back from him yet.
It goes like this - "What a great site. I copied a couple of the stories from teens who like CW to pass along to some of the people I know think you can't "sell" CW to people today. My nephew David KC9EHQ got his general ticket awhile back and already is making to move to being primarily a CW operator. We keep a weekly schedule on HF between Elgin, Illinois and Valrico, Florida. He has discovered - like so many others - that CW is the mode to use for comms when the sunspot cycle is down or conditions are not the greatest. I have been a ham for about 35 years and CW is still my dominant mode. Thanks for the great stories."
Well, they are not my stories, but those of the teens who wrote them. I'm delighted that they are serving their purpose of showing what a great mode CW is. Incidentally KC9EHQ is a NAQCC member, having joined just a few days ago. I asked if he is a teenager, and am awaiting an answer. If so, I'd love to have him add his story to my 'Teens and CW' page on the web site.
Also if any of you reading this are teens, I'd love to have your story. Or if you're out of your teens, but still love CW and have a story to share, please send it along for inclusion in my 'Your CW Stories' page. I can talk forever about how great CW is, but I'm just one person. If you add your voice via a story then that makes it clear I'm not alone in promoting this wonderful means of communication. -30-
Monday, August 21, 2006 9:54 PM - I must have had a really good day because the time really flew by. Seriously it was a good day that I really enjoyed. That's nothing unusual because most of my days are like that. It's just a way to get into this diary entry.
I went for a walk early and took some pictures of the storm sewer outlet I talked about previously and some other pictures around town as well, but I haven't uploaded anything to MySpace yet. In fact I haven't posted any pictures for quite a while now although I have quite a few that I could upload.
When I got home the 7 year old girl next door was sitting on her porch steps looking at a book and she wanted to show it to me. It was a book about Australian animals. We looked all through it and then she showed me some other books. School starts here the day after Labor Day and she said she is anxious to get back to school. She's a rock collector, and I had a couple more rocks to give to her which I did. Then she wanted to count and label them so I helped her with that. I wound up spending an enjoyable 90 minutes or so visiting with her.
After that I got the garbage ready for collection tomorrow, put it out, and then headed off to the river for some fishing. I caught a couple little perch, one of which I took some pictures of.
Then it was home for supper, a check of email and a couple other things on the Internet.
Some work in the garden harvesting the ripe tomatoes and some beans followed. I picked 21 more tomatoes today for a total of 153 so far from my 7 plants. I wish I could send you all a couple. They are starting to overwhelm me. I can only eat so many and give so many away to the neighbors, and they are getting a bit ahead of me now. Hopefully none will go to waste.
Next it was back to the river again, this time resulting in catching a Walleye, Bass, and White Bass. That's 149 fish this year which locks in my 8th best year since starting to fish again in 1992. I figure if everything goes normally the rest of the year I should wind up in 3rd or 4th place if not better.
I came home, got my 9 o'clock weather readings, got my daily QSO for the 22nd in the log, and here I am writing this 'day in the life of...' diary entry.
One more thing to comment on. The first thing I did today was to go through our NAQCC records just to see how many of our members have participated in at least one of our activities - sprints, challenges, awards. I found 309 of our 1499 members qualified. Then I separated the members by states and found out 26 of our PA members qualified for the top state. There were about 10 states that didn't have any participating members. Although I wasn't doing it for that purpose, I though that Ron, K5DUZ might be able to use the info in our NAQCC WAS Bear Hunt, so I sent a copy off to him. I wonder how the percentage of active members compares with other clubs. Ours is just under 21%. -30-
Sunday, August 20, 2006 9:57 PM - My 'streak' just reached 4400 consecutive days a little bit ago when I worked NB4M on 40M. That reminds me I still have to update my page about the streak in the QRP section of the web site. I update it each year and each time another 500 days passes. I haven't done the 12 year update yet. However not much noteworthy has happened since the last update, so it might not even be worthwhile doing it. I'll have to take a look later tonight or tomorrow.
Today was a good fishing day, the first one in August so far. I caught more fish (9) today than I had the first 19 days of August. There was quite a variety with Smallmouth Bass, White Bass, Suckers, a Carpsucker, and just as I was about to leave this evening, a Drum. No Carp though, and that was the only disappointing thing about today.
I saw some Carp last night after our 2.25 inches of rain yesterday really got the water flowing out the storm sewer outlets. However Kittanning Borough workers have been very negligent in cleaning up the river bank and it was too over grown with vegetation and too dark when I went down then, and I decided against risking injury and passed up the Carp. It did take a 5 minute debate with myself before I chose the safe route however. Maybe I'll get a picture of the sewer outlet to show you what I mean. It doesn't even look all that safe in the daytime, but I do fish there then when it is light enough. -30-
Saturday, August 19, 2006 11:55 AM - That's a little better. The hero poll votes doubled yesterday from 2 to 4. Now there are 4 examples for you to look at to see perhaps more clearly what I am looking for. A ham hero doesn't have to risk his life to save someone or anything extreme like that. Just doing little, but important things with and for ham radio is enough.
30M was really good last night. I made 3 QSO's in short order. I think perhaps whatever that RTTY contest was on 40M probably drove hams to 30M as it did me. As a result I'm a little ahead of pace now to get my 30 30M QSO's for August and finish up my NAQCC 30-30 Magnum Award. In fact I think I'll go to the shack right now and see what is on 30, if anything. It has been pretty dead every time I've checked lately during the daytime hours. Maybe today being a weekend and the RTTY contest (or was that perhaps the NAQP RTTY test which would have ended last night?) will change that. We'll see.
Well 30 turned out to be just about dead when I tuned across it, but a CQ did yield a QSO with my friend Bob, K8FN.
After Bob left for lunch I tried some more CQ's with no answers so I decided to do something I had been putting off for way too long. I've got some computer noise on 20M almost on the QRP frequency of 14.060, and that hurts me when I use the computer for logging in QRP contests. I decided to fix that today one way or another. It turned out to be a simple fix. I simply switched to another monitor and that either eliminated the noise or moved it somewhere else I have yet to find. Anyway I can now use 20M in our monthly NAQCC Sprints and perhaps add a few more QSO's to my results. I might have won the August sprint had I not had the noise on 20M that only allowed me 1 QSO on that band despite hearing others calling me that I just couldn't pull through the noise. -30-
Friday, August 18, 2006 7:05 PM - Do you remember the song by Bill Anderson, "Where Have All Our Heroes Gone?"? Perhaps that should be the theme song for my poll this month. Aren't there any hams you consider to be heroes? If so, I find that very hard to believe. I think I could easily vote once a day in the poll with a different hero each day. There are just so many hams who have devoted themselves to improving ham radio, to preserving the traditions of ham radio, to become the very best operator possible, to help new hams become better operators, to introduce non-hams to our wonderful hobby, and so on. Each one of these hams qualifies to be a hero to someone.
Ah, perhaps that's why I only have one poll vote so far besides my own. There are just too many hams who qualify and it is so hard to narrow it down to just one. Maybe you need several more days to narrow down your list of deserving hams and there will be a rise in poll votes a few days down the line. I certainly hope so because I am definitely NOT one of the only two ham heroes there are. That is an absolute fact.
Changing gears a bit, the first draft of the rules for the NAQCC WAS Bear Hunt are now posted on the NAQCC web site. They are very near to being the final rules with just a bit of fine tuning left. Check them out and think about volunteering to help with the Hunt by handing out QSO's from your state to those needing it toward a WAS award. There are also a couple of other awards and endorsements that will be presented in conjunction with the Hunt.
Don't shy away from the Hunt because you think it is some sort of contest. There are many hams who just don't like contesting for whatever reason. Those hams don't have to avoid the Hunt because it is not being conducted in a contest atmosphere. The QSO's won't be long rag chews, but neither will they be the high speed super quick exchanges of a contest, rather they will be something in between.
If you seem to have been waiting forever to get those last couple states for your WAS, here's the chance for you to get them.
I'm excited about the project and I know my friend Ron, K5DUZ is going to do a great job of managing the project for our NAQCC. -30-
Thursday, August 17, 2006 9:32 PM - It's been quite a busy day here. No major projects - just getting caught up on a lot of little things here and there. If I listed them all, this would be a very long entry so I won't.
One thing I will mention is that I did all the cross-checking of logs for our NAQCC August 9th Sprint. There were 202 QSO's in our master log database for August. Of those there were 34 errors of one kind or other, most of which had no effect on scores, but a few did either increase or decrease a score.
I'm not saying this to criticize anyone because we all make mistakes. I'm saying it because it points out how important having COMPLETE logs for a contest or sprint AND cross-checking them are to ensure fairness to all participants. I hate to see anyone get cheated because of their own mistake or because of others' mistakes. Even though it is a lot of work, I will always cross-check logs in any contest in which I am involved as an official.
After I finished the cross-checking and corrections, I posted the final results on the club web site. Then I printed up and signed the certificates and got them in the mail. Congrats to W2JEK, W2SH, WB7AVF, and K4BAI for 1st, 2nd, Top Non Winner, and Special Award respectively. You should get your certificate in a couple days. -30-
Wednesday, August 16, 2006 11:50 AM - Just a quick note for now. More later. It looks like another site counter service has bit the dust. I'm not able to access my StatCounter results, and the StatCounter site seems to be down completely. This probably caused some of my pages to load slowly the past 2-3 days because the page was unable to reach the StatCounter site to record your visit. I've temporarily (permanently?) dropped StatCounter and am now using CounterTracker instead. So if there was a delay in loading pages, it is cured now and my site should again load in as quickly as it always has.
I just wanted to explain what was going on in case you did notice any loading delay. Now I'm going fishing.
I'm back after fishing. Or maybe I should say sitting by the river. The way they were biting, it's hard to call it fishing. I had one good bite in a couple hours, and had him on for a few seconds, but he threw the hook. I think it was a medium size catfish from the way he was biting.
Thanks to Bob, VA3RKM for getting the ball rolling on the poll entries although I'm embarrassed he chose me as his hero, but appreciative also. Now I hope many of you will continue the roll and send in your choices. There are many many deserving hams out there, and perhaps this is the only chance they will get to be 'honored' in any way. I know being named a hero on my little web site is minuscule compared to being honored in other ways, but it's something.
Just for the record, StatCounter came back on line shortly after I removed all their tracking code. Grrrrr! I've now got it pasted back in and have 3 counters in operation now. -30-
Tuesday, August 15, 2006 9:49 PM - Perhaps my excitement over the new poll was unfounded. Or at least no one yet seems to have shared my excitement as it has been over 24 hours now and no one has responded yet to the poll. Hopefully it is just because you are having trouble deciding on just one ham hero to honor out of many possibilities and the results will start pouring in soon. I guess if nothing happens after a few days then I can become disappointed. However for now I'll hold on to some hope.
I have had a strange happening here. I just had two consecutive QSO's with stations having the same suffix. WA3GNW followed by K9GNW. I don't know that has ever happened before. I know I've worked two consecutive stations with 2 letter suffixes several times, but not with 3 letter suffixes. Sometime I'll have to check my log to satisfy my curiosity to see if it is unique or not. -30-
Monday, August 14, 2006 2:47 PM - One of my regular site visitors for many years, Chuck W8LQ pointed out that possibly 4O5A whom I worked in the WAE contest might be in Montenegro. I had thought of that, but couldn't find any definite info as to his location which could be either Serbia or Montenegro. If anyone knows for sure, let me know. That would be country number 205 for me. At any rate I know I will get Montenegro sooner or later.
In just a few hours now, I'll be putting up the new monthly poll. I'm especially looking forward to this one since it will give you a chance to publicly acknowledge your ham radio hero. I was talking with Tom KB3LFC about the poll, and he thought that perhaps 'hero' wasn't exactly the right word, and might be confusing. I thought that too, but couldn't come up with anything more exact. I want to know which ham you most admire for whatever reason. Everyone has their 'heroes' in many different fields, perhaps sports being at the top of the list of fields. So I think you probably know what I want from you for the poll. If you're still not sure, I'll post my choice first on the results page when I debut the poll later tonight.
Our NAQCC WAS Project is progressing nicely, and the details are near to being finalized. So if you have a few states you just can't seem to work with your QRP, hopefully you'll be able to overcome that difficulty and get them via our project.
I haven't posted any new pictures on MySpace for a while now. Perhaps in a couple days I'll have some. I certainly have enough pictures. I've taken over 1300 now with my new digital camera since early June when I got it.
With the coming of the hero poll tonight, the poll about the diary will come to a close. I want to thank all of you who offered your input, and I will adjust the diary contents according to the final poll results. To be honest though, the spread from the first to last item in number of votes was quite small which means you must like the diary pretty much as it is now. -30-
Sunday, August 13, 2006 8:59 PM - Seems like old times again! Well, at least a little bit. I got in the WAE contest the last hour this evening and lo and behold 20M sounded like it did a few years ago when we actually had a lot of sunspots.
I worked 11 EU stations in 26 minutes, and could have worked a lot more if they had been on 20M instead of on 40M or 80M. I worked almost all that I heard except for a couple that seemed to always be busy copying QTC's when I heard them and I didn't feel like waiting.
Right when I got on RK2FWA in Kaliningrad was booming in at S9+ and I worked him easily. He was followed by LY9Y, IO3P, SN3X, DM1A, LY2IJ, 4O5A, DR3X, DL0XM, DL0LA, and finally HG1S - one of my most often worked DX stations.
Just now I got the numbers for my propagation page and I see why condx were so good. SF-86, A-0, K-0 says it all. I wish I had gotten on earlier in the day. I was going to, but got sidetracked.
Anyway it was nice to work DX so easily again if only for a brief time. It shows that there are good periods of DX work even near a sunspot minimum.
It was strange that I couldn't work EU on 30M this evening though. YU6AO was booming in without any pileup at all, but just wasn't hearing me at all. I sure would have liked to have gotten that new country. -30-
Saturday, August 12, 2006 7:28 AM - Within the next few days a couple of interesting (to me at least, and I hope to many others) ideas are coming to fruition. Let me talk about both briefly for today's diary entry.
The NAQCC is starting up a project to try to help hams work on, or hopefully complete their QRP WAS. We hope to have our members put their states on the air at scheduled times to be announced on the NAQCC web site. Eventually we hope to include all the 'rare' states that are so hard to get at other times except in big contests. Many ops don't like contesting, so this will give them especially a chance to get those states. Ron K5DUZ is managing this project so other than posting the info he sends me to the club web site, it won't add to my already nearly overloaded work schedule. There should be a page up on the club web site sometime early this coming week with all the info.
Also coming up starting on the 15th is my new poll that I talked about several days ago. I'm asking you to tell who your ham 'hero' is, and why he/she is your hero. I think this will prove fascinating and give you a chance to 'honor' your hero in a small way. It will involve a bit more work for me since I can't have a regular poll limited to a maximum of 10 choices by my poll provider. I'll have to set up an email system and tabulate and post the results myself, not automatically as it is done now. Hopefully the results of the poll will justify the extra work.
So think about your ham hero (limited to one choice per person) and get ready to vote for him come Tuesday.
This weekend is one of my least favorite contest formats. I like getting into the WAE contest and making contacts, but I don't like the QTC feature of the contest as a minimal QRP operator. In case you don't know, the QTC feature allows stations to earn extra points by sending and receiving lists of stations they have just worked in the contest. It is not mandatory to do so, and I choose to opt out. I don't like slowing down the station I am working by probably having him to ask for many repeats in any list I would send with my minimal QRP signal. I may do it sometime during a sunspot peak when the great conditions are with us, but certainly not now near a minimum. -30-
Friday, August 11, 2006 7:25 AM - I'm writing this very early in the day. Hopefully before anything else comes up. I truly enjoy helping my friends with their various projects. I'm not complaining about all the things I have been doing for/with them this week. I love doing it. Don't misunderstand that. Helping others is what life is all about - I've said that several times before.
I made many ham radio friends via our CW County Hunters Net that WA8EOH and I founded in the Spring of 1966. Several of them were YL's or XYL's. Back then there were many females who loved and used CW on the bands. Nowadays, as with teenagers, I have very few YL QSO's. It seems the percentage of CW YL's (and teens) is at a very low ebb now. I wish there were something that could be done to increase CW activity among these two groups.
Anyway I'd like to talk briefly about a few of the active YL's who frequented our CHN in the 60's. I tried to contact some of them for the 30th anniversary of the CHN in 1996, and none of them were active hams at the time as far as I could find out.
One who was with us virtually from the start was Irene, WA9EZP from Fort Wayne, IN. She gave out Allen county to those who needed it and also served as NCS to help others make QSO's with other counties. Back then, the CHN was more structured than the free-for-all it is today. So the NCS was an important part of the net. Nowadays I don't even know if there really is an NCS. But I digress. I also had many non-CHN QSO's with Irene and always enjoyed chatting with her about various matters. I see 103 QSO's with her in my log, about 75% of them in the CHN. Our last QSO was on Oct 29, 1966. That was about the time I kind of dropped out of the CHN because of schoolwork and other reasons.
Another active YL was Barb, K1UZG from Chester, VT. Barb was an active CW mobile operator and gave out many different counties in addition to her home county of Orange. I see counties from MI, WI, MT, VA, WY, IL, KY, and NC in my log. She was a very good CW operator and loved contesting. I never got to know her personally as well as some other YL's because most of our 40 QSO's were either in contests or the CHN, but I admired her skills as a CW OP.
Finally for this entry there was Phyl, K1QFD from Sharon, MA. I had exactly 100 QSO's with her in 1965-69. As I look at the log, I forgot she moved to Washington County, RI in 1968. As with Barb, most of our QSO's were in the CHN.
Out of curiosity, I'm just looking up these three YL's in Buckmaster. I see that Phyl is still listed there and still in RI (North Kingstown). She renewed her license in 1996 and it is due for renewal again Dec 3, this year. So she possibly is still active.
Unfortunately, my check today on WA9EZP shows she has been reported as a silent key. RIP Irene.
Barb, K1UZG just recently renewed her license (Apr 11, 2006) and is still in Chester, VT. So she, like Phyl, may still be active, maybe just not on CW.
One of the three told me back in 1996 they were no longer active, but I forget which one now. Possibly Irene, but I'm not sure.
Perhaps I will try contacting Phyl and Barb via regular mail to see what they are up to these days. If you happen to have any info about any of these hams I mention in these reminiscences, let me know please.
Not to be morbid, but I wish there were a quick source where we could check to see if someone is a SK. I wrote to the ARRL a few years ago asking if they could post a lookup database of SK's on the ARRL web site. I never followed up to see if they ever did anything about it. One official did say at the time I wrote it was a good idea and they would consider it. -30-
Thursday, August 10, 2006 9:56 PM - My busy week continued today with an 8 hour roofing job with my gardening friend. I've noticed that I have neglected some updates on my web site as a result of all the side activities. I apologize for that. So instead of a long diary entry tonight, I'm getting caught up on the updates. CU tomorrow for a longer entry. If nothing else comes up, I'll talk about some more of the hams from the past who've influenced my ham career and given me a lot of good memories. -30-
Wednesday, August 09, 2006 5:43 PM - This will be rather short since I'm in the middle of a very busy day.
It started early with helping water my friend's garden, then I watered mine. Another friend came over to visit for a while. Then it was fishing for a couple hours with a nice Carp the result - 27 inches. Back home for supper, and now I'm waiting to go to our local computer club meeting to teach a tutorial on backups. In between all of that I've been processing logs from the NAQCC sprint last night and handling other club business like setting up our new WAS project. Ron, K5DUZ volunteered to handle that for us, and we've been setting up details. Then I've got to get up early again tomorrow to help my garden friend with some more roofing work. Oh, and I got a QSL buro mailing today as well which I just finished processing. Included was an answer to a QSL I sent almost 13 years ago for a QSO with TK/DL2HYF. So never give up on a QSL, I guess.
Gosh, I've got to get a regular job again so I can have some free time to do things. HI. -30-
Tuesday, August 08, 2006 9:29 AM - With our NAQCC sprint coming up this evening plus wanting to go fishing this afternoon, I thought I'd write today's entry early this morning.
Speaking of the sprint, I just updated and uploaded the .dat file of NAQCC members for use with the GenLog program. So if you plan to use GenLog in the sprint, you can now go to the NAQCC web site and download the latest file which has all 1484 current members. Look in the Contests/Sprints section of the web site.
And again relating in a way to the sprint, I want to share this email with you:
Just want to drop you a line on how excellent your cw straight key article is.
I am a new cw op and have not been able to send code properly
until I find your method of holding the key. :)
It is the best I have tried. Now I don't have to sweat nor pound on
the key any more.
CW is much more enjoyable now.
Thank you kindly!
73, John, ve3jkm
John is referring to the page 'Using a straight key' in the CW section of my web site that presents tips from a 19th century telegraph book on the proper use of a straight key. If you haven't used a straight key, or think you might be rusty, I think reading this will help. After that you can hook up the key and get that 2X bonus when you participate in our NAQCC sprint this evening.
If you need some QRP states for your WAS award, it looks like our NAQCC plan to get some rarer states on the air with QRP is starting to come together a bit now. At least we have one member who has expressed interest in helping out with organizing the project. More info forthcoming as the days go by. -30-
Monday, August 07, 2006 11:38 PM - What makes life so interesting is that you never know what the day is going to bring when you wake up in the morning. Oh of course there are the daily routines that are going to happen every day, but there are also the un-ordinary things that add the spice to the ordinary meal of events.
I had a couple of those things that made today interesting for me. First as soon as I got up, my gardening friend was at my door wanting to know if I could help water the garden. That wasn't so unusual, but when he first came I was still asleep because I was a bit tired and didn't really have anything lined up for the day. He was concerned when he couldn't get any response the first time he tried, and one of my neighbors happened to come out at the same time and now she was concerned also. It was nothing major, but it is nice to know that someone is concerned about me since I do live alone here.
After we finished working in the garden, I gave him some of my tomatoes since mine were ripening ahead of his. Then as he was leaving the seven-year old girl next door came out and I started talking with her. We wound up talking about an hour and a half. I think that conversing with children can be such a rewarding experience. I've said that before in an earlier diary entry, and I think one thing I can attribute that to is that I freely admit I'm just a big kid at heart and when I do visit and talk with kids its just like being with my peers.
One of her hobbies is rock collecting, and when I'm fishing I usually try to find a few unusual rocks to bring to her. We spent some of the 90 minutes organizing her collection a bit. Most of the time it was just talking though.
Nothing much out of routine happened in the middle part of the day. I did my usual walking, shopping, etc. No fishing though, but I am going tomorrow at least for a while if nothing else comes up.
Then my day closed just a few minutes ago in an unusual way. I was going out for a late walk when I saw another neighbor sitting on her porch rocking away in a rocking chair she had gotten about a week ago. I asked her how she was enjoying it. It was dark and I couldn't see her too well, but when she answered, I could tell she was crying. Without going into any personal details, I'll just say that I spent about another hour and a half listening to her problems. After that she told me talking about it helped her feel better.
And that sums up my day today except to say that 30M was good to me this evening. I made two QSO's there, and it looks better for me getting my 3rd 30-30 this month as I have 9 30M QSO's at this point of the month.
Finally I've noticed a surge in web site visitors the past few days and also a gradual increase over the past few weeks. I appreciate that since it means 'spreading the gospel' of CW to more and more folks. -30-
Sunday, August 06, 2006 6:20 PM - I said I'd talk a bit more about the NAQP in this entry so here goes.
First let me see how many hours I worked the contest. I haven't figured it yet. I know it's not the full 10 hours by any means. Back in a minute or so.
My time on totals up to just about 5 hours. If I counted by the NAQP rules it would be more because a couple of my breaks were less than 30 minutes.
The reason I didn't spend more time can be summed up briefly. QRN and QSB. The bands were very up and down, and many times if I didn't catch a station on the upswing, I couldn't get him. Near the end, I just about gave up trying to work stations in the SE USA. The QRN must have been terrific down there as many stations mentioned it not only to me but to other stations they were having trouble copying. It certainly was bad here although I could dig most of the stations out of the mud if they managed to hear me.
Usually conditions swing around from one area to another with one area fading out, but another fading in. This time it seemed the same areas were just fading in and out, not being replaced by any other areas. So I just kept hearing the same stations over and over again as I tuned around the bands.
I did get a couple of surprises along the way. I beat a big pileup to work K0WA in Kansas. Usually when I call a station and can hear other stations calling at the same time, I think to myself, "I wonder who's going to get him?" with the somewhat sarcastic meaning it definitely won't be me. However it was me with K0WA.
I also worked PY2NY very easily on 40M although South America is not a favored area for my setup for whatever reason.
All in all I made 159 QSO's in 61 sections which is probably close to my average for the August NAQP. I never do as well in August as I do in January. I've broken the 500 QSO barrier a couple times in January, but my best in August has been 281 QSO's back in 1997
Still this is always a fun contest for several reasons. I like the simple exchange of name and state (province) which reminds me of the old ARRL CD parties with a snappy exchange of appointment and section. Most of the best contest operators in North America show up for these contests and it is a pleasure to get the snappy high speed exchanges from these ops. The time frame is just about ideal with a station being allowed to work 10 out of the 12 available hours. Not too long, but not too short. Sometimes in the shorter sprints, I'm left wanting for more. I just can't do a full 36 or 48 hour contest any more, so 10/12 is wonderful for me.
The NAQP's are the only big contests where I can comfortably sustain a rate of 40 to 50 or more IF conditions permit as they do around the time of a sunspot maximum. Even this contest gave me a rate of just under 32 which is not too bad for minimal QRP.
This time I also enjoyed the NAQP for a secondary reason. Our NAQCC August challenge is for collecting as many different names as possible, and what better place to do that than in the NAQP. In fact that's why we had a name challenge this month in the first place. To try to introduce our members to the delightful NAQP's. -30-
Saturday, August 05, 2006 10:49 PM - I'm just taking a short break from the NAQP. I'll have more to say about it in tomorrow's diary entry. It's been kind of up and down so far with some fun fast paced times mixed in with some slow boring times. At least I'm collecting a lot of different names for our NAQCC August Challenge. -30-
Friday, August 04, 2006 7:46 PM - Well, in a few minutes, I'll start off the 13th year of the streak, so I thought I'd get a short entry written in the meantime.
I didn't get back on the air last night, but I called CQ on 40, 30, and 20 about 20 minutes during the day today to no avail. The bands, except for a couple QSO's on 40 and some stations working DX on 20 were pretty dead as usual of late during the afternoon hours.
Tomorrow I plan to do a full 10 hours in the NAQP as that is one of my favorite contests. I hope my plans will come to fruition and something else doesn't turn up to keep me away from the contest. It probably will, but I definitely will wind up with at least a few hours on the air.
Soon I'll get back to talking about some of the hams I used to know in the past. I've got several in mind I want to mention.
Right now, I'm finishing up my laundry and talking to my second cousin on the phone as I'm writing this. I do a lot of personal multi-tasking. CUL. -30-
Thursday, August 03, 2006 9:53 PM - Well, the 'streak' is now at a complete 12 years and counting.
My first QSO on the 4th (UTC) came on 30M at 0002 when WA2VQV answered my CQ. That ushered in some very strange conditions on 30M. When he called, he was a solid 599. After I sent my info and went back to him, he was about 339. He said I went from 579 to almost nil. However after another round and saying 73, he came back to me saying I was 579 again, and he was 599. I can't recall ever having anything like that before. I've seen signals disappear from 599 to nil in a few seconds, but I can't recall ever having them come back up to a solid 599 again after 3 or 4 minutes.
Just to prove it wasn't a fluke, the same thing happened a bit later on 30M with VA3CBE. Incidentally VA3CBE was also using an indoor antenna - an attic dipole. I also worked another indoor antenna later on 40M. More on that later.
In between VQV and CBE, my friend Bob, VA3RKM called to wish me congratulations on the 'streak' reaching 12 years. His signals were way down in the mud though and never did get strong.
That was it for 30M. I now went to 40M and guess who answered my first CQ there. It was Bob, VA3RKM who wanted to make sure I copied his congratulations OK. On 40M Bob was a solid 579 copy. Thanks Bob.
It took 13 minutes of CQing on 40M to get another QSO. Gene, W3PM in Madison, AL answered me. He was the other QRPer with the indoor antenna, an indoor doublet. Copy with Gene was ruff, but solid for about a 20 minute rag chew.
After my QSO with Gene, KB2JWD, Jim in NC called me. He was running 1 watt. We had a short QSO, and then I QRT. I might try again later this evening around 7040 and 10110 if time permits.
Rather than listing any one of the hams mentioned above in my QSO-A-Day table, I want to list and thank all of them for helping to bring the 'streak' to the 12 year point.
What now? Well, I just go on like I have been going. As I've said, I have no intention of stopping the streak any time soon. It will take something beyond my control to stop it. The next thing to shoot for is the 4500 day mark which will come in November of this year. -30-
Wednesday, August 02, 2006 9:57 PM - When I get on the air around 0000Z tomorrow evening which will be August 4, 2006 UTC, I'll be looking for a QSO with someone. When I make that contact, that will complete a run of 12 complete years during which I made at least one contact using QRP, CW, and simple wire antennas. That's 4383 straight days (12 X 365 + 3 leap year days in 1996, 2000, and 2004). I think that says heaps for the effectiveness of CW as a means of communications.
I'm not going to say a whole lot about the streak here since I have already documented (and continue to document) it in the QRP section of this web site.
I do want to say thanks to all of you who have made comments about the streak over the years. Of course thanks also to all who were on the other end of the QSO's. Naturally the streak would have ended a long time ago without you.
Although I am never sure from one minute to the next what I'll be doing, I would like to let you know when and where I'll be on tomorrow evening in case anyone wants to help me celebrate the 12th birthday of the streak. I'll try to start out on 30M around 10.110-10.111 at 0000Z, and stay there for at least a half hour depending on conditions. Then QSY to 40M around 7.040-7.041 and stay there for a half hour or so. Then I'll play it by ear for a while after that, using one of the bands from 80-20M. 80M around 3.560 and 20M around 14.060 if I use those bands. Then during the daylight hours on the 4th, I'll try to check 7.040, 10.111, and/or 14.060 from time to time depending on whatever else lies in store for me then. -30-
Tuesday, August 01, 2006 3:49 PM - Well, I spent half my 8 hour 'working' day as a roofer and the other half as an electrician.
I helped my gardening friend finish his shingling job starting at 6:30AM (yawn!), then as happened yesterday, Denny called and asked me to help install another ceiling fan at his other daughter's house. If you've never installed a ceiling fan (especially in an older house), my suggestion is not to do it unless you have a lot of patience. It will most likely not be a simple job.
However I must say it was great to work with Denny again. When he lived next door, we used to do all kind of work together, and I kind of missed that since he moved away. I don't know how many hours we spent working on his old truck, camper, etc.
In between those things it was doing some end/first of the month things like getting my July weather records into the computer, updating my web site contest calendar for next month, uploading my ADIF files for July to eQSL and LOTW, and so on.
So now I'm going to put this diary entry to bed and get some supper. -30-
Monday, July 31, 2006 5:57 PM - This was one of those rewarding days. It's always nice to help someone out with something. I got a full dose today.
After I did all my usual early morning computer work updating web sites, taking care of NAQCC matters, etc. I helped my gardening friend with some shingling work on an overhang from his garage. That went pretty smoothly although he had to quit before we finished. So we'll try to finish it off tomorrow morning.
Then when I got home from that, my neighbor said that Denny (a former neighbor) had been there to see me. He wanted to know if I could help him install some ceiling fans in a house his daughter had just bought. So I walked the 4 or so blocks to there. It was an old house and we had to do some alterations to the ceiling to support the one fan. That took quite a while.
Denny's daughter is one of the kids I talked about several entries ago, and her daughter is another one. I got to see Haley (Denny's granddaughter) for a couple minutes. She's the one I mentioned about spending so much time with when she was 2-3 years old. It seemed to me that she didn't really remember me after not seeing her for a couple years though. But that's understandable since so much information is fed into a child's brain at that age, it kind of overrides previous memories. For example how many actual memories (without prompting from photos, etc.) do you have of things that happened before you were 5 or 6 years old? It was kind of sad, but perhaps now that she is living within a few blocks again, we can get re-acquainted.
Next it was home again for some supper. After that my gardening friend came over, and we picked some ripe figs - the first ones of the season. I think we got about 15 or so. I had a couple and they were delicious as usual. We also picked a couple of big zucchinis. He also took some zucchini flowers which his mother cooks some way. I don't really know much about that.
Our river is up quite a bit and very muddy from heavy rains upstream the past few days, so fishing is on hold now for a couple days. Looks like I finish July with 65 fish. That's my second best July total to 81 a couple years ago. My 128 so far this year has already beaten 4 other whole years.
I've come up with an idea for a new NAQCC activity, and Tom likes it very much, so we are going to work on it. Details will be announced on the club web site as well as here in my diary. -30-
Sunday, July 30, 2006 3:21 PM - I don't know why, but the thought just came into my head about all the hams I have known over the years, but no longer have much contact with for various reasons. Many are now silent keys, some are aged and no longer involved in ham radio. Perhaps some no longer operate CW so I have no way of contacting them on the bands now.
I think now what brought that to mind was glancing through some diary entries getting ready to archive some older entries. I saw the one in which I mentioned WA5FQV or WN5FQV, and how we used to QSO regularly in the wee hours of the morning on 40M. Don is still around as far as I know. I heard from him via email a couple years ago.
I'd just like to mention a few that are silent keys and kind of pay tribute to what they meant to my ham radio 'career'.
Perhaps one of the first hams whom I worked regularly was Sue, W9KSE in Wisconsin. Sue and I would have regular rag chews a couple nights a week or more. Many of them were an hour to 90 minutes long. She was the one who got me started in CW county hunting, and we discussed that a lot in our QSO's. She told me about P.O. Publication 26 which listed every post office in the USA and what county it was in. That was how you knew what the county was for the ham you worked if he didn't tell you on the air. There were no Internet call sign lookups back then in the mid 60's.
Sue also had another friend Bob, W1AFM (later W1HV) whom I got to know quite well. Bob was into American Morse and he and Sue used to converse in American Morse on the bands, and they got me to give it a try although I never became very good at it.
Bob and I also had many QSO's including 3 way's with Sue. However the saddest QSO with Bob came when he broke into the county hunter's net one time when I was NCS with the news that Sue had passed away. She was only around 31 or 32 years old. I could hardly continue with my net control duties.
Bob was rather old at the time of our QSO's in the 60's and I believe he must also be a silent key now. I didn't hear much of him on the bands after Sue's passing. W1HV is now held by another person according to Buckmaster. W1AFM is not listed at all.
I had planned to make this a one time entry reminiscing about old friends, but if I continue, this daily entry will become very long, so I think I'll break it up into separate entries and mention a couple of friends every now and then. -30-
Saturday, July 29, 2006 7:19 PM - I was just finishing up the details of our July NAQCC sprint on the club web site. One thing that always disturbs me is the low number of logs submitted for our sprints. However I don't think I should be disturbed any more.
I was just curious to know how a sprint run by the biggest of all QRP clubs, the QRP ARCI does in log submissions. I checked their web site and looked at the recent Hootowl Sprint results. They only received 30 logs for that sprint, and the QRP ARCI member numbers are up in the 12,000 range now, I believe. So our NAQCC submissions don't look bad at all by comparison. In fact, they look downright good. In June we had 38 logs submitted, and in July there were 24. That's out of a much smaller membership of around 1,475.
So pat yourself on the back NAQCC members. Great showing. Let's make it even better in the months ahead.
We're changing things a bit in the future. Currently we post results as soon as they are received. Perhaps that discourages someone from sending in a log since they didn't do as well as the scores already posted.
Starting in August, no scores, soapbox comments, number of logs submitted, or any other hint at the results of a sprint will be posted until a day or two after the log submission deadline. We'll see if that increases our number of logs submitted even further. -30-
Friday, July 28, 2006 5:36 PM - I received an interesting question today from Rich, W2RDD. He wonders since I use a QRO rig for my QRP work, how I resist the temptation to run more than 5 watts with it, especially when conditions are bad.
Well, I don't know since I've never felt any temptation to run more than 5 watts. I never have any trouble making QSO's using 5 watts so why bother with more power. I think my streak proves that. I can only recall a couple days in the almost 12 years now that I really thought I might not get a QSO, but one did come well before the 2400Z deadline.
Hey, that reminds me, the streak will hit the 12 year point just a week from today. More to say about that later.
I don't see any difference between not using QRO and not using any mode but CW. I love CW and I love using QRP to prove just how wonderful and efficient a mode CW is. I could use QRO CW and make a lot of QSO's and probably make it to 300+ entities for DXCC, but I would feel no sense of accomplishment doing it, since almost anyone could do the same.
Likewise I could use QRO and SSB, but I'm sure I'd quickly get bored with that.
I've always believed that accomplishments, in ham radio or any other activity, are worth a lot more if you have to work a bit to earn them rather than getting them too easily.
So you see there's no temptation to raise the power on the 570.
I got the 570 simply because I enjoy QRP contesting and QRP DXing, and both of those activities require you to concentrate your work on making contacts, not how to operate the rig. Most dedicated QRP rigs either have tiny hard to operate controls, or use a combination of button pushes and dial twists to change something on the rig.
Running the 570 is like second nature and I can concentrate 100% of my effort on operating the contest or working the DX stations. With a dedicated QRP rig, it would be necessary to use a percentage of the concentration just to run the rig. Plus the 570 has many extra bells and whistles to assist in operating.
Another nice warm summer day today, and good fishing. A 27.5 inch Carp, 12 inch Sucker, and 12 inch Alewife added to the log. 65 fish, 12 of them Carp in July so far. -30-
Thursday, July 27, 2006 6:55 PM - As I said I would, I re-photographed most of my antenna pictures today and have now posted them on MySpace under an appropriate album, e.g. Random Wire Antenna for (obviously) my random wire pictures and so forth.
I still have to pull the old pictures from the Homebrewing section of my web site though to free up some space on Alltel. Maybe tomorrow for that. The pictures and fishing (2 - 26" carp) plus helping my gardening friend took up most of the day so far.
It looks like I am not going to get my 30 QSO's on 30M this month as I did the last two months. Although the band is in good shape there just hasn't been all that much activity there when I get the chance to get on in between all my other activities. Oh well, maybe next month I can do it and earn my NAQCC Magnum Award.
I checked the special events call sign web site today, and apparently we have gotten our special NAQCC call for the second anniversary of the club in the second half of October. So stay tuned here and on the NAQCC web site for details of what we will be doing with N3A. -30-
Wednesday, July 26, 2006 9:44 PM - A hot and humid day in Kittanning. Just the kind of weather I like. So naturally I was outside again today for quite a while walking and fishing. No garden work to do today though. Although I did pick a few beans.
The fishing was good, well for a little bit anyway. I only caught one carp, but it was a 27 inch one and I caught him on my new spinning reel with the light 4 pound test line. So it was about a 15 minute battle to land him without breaking the line.
There was quite a bit of activity on 30 meters tonight but most of it was DX I had worked before like CO3ET, YO8OU, etc. I don't like to deprive others of a shot at working these stations by working them over and over again. It may be that they are a new country for someone else, so I let them work those stations. I went to 40M and worked W4SEZ in Alabama for my QSO of the day. Last night I worked VP5/K4ZGB on 30M who apparently is setting up for the IOTA contest this weekend.
I hope to post some more pictures on MySpace soon, maybe tomorrow. I think I am going to re-take all my antenna pictures with my new camera and then remove the old ones from the web site and post the new pictures on MySpace. That should free up some of my Alltel bandwidth and give me a chance to update some of my other web site material. I'm still hovering just about 140K below my 10MB allotment.
A friend of mine is having computer problems though, and I might be working on his computer tomorrow instead of my pictures. -30-
Tuesday, July 25, 2006 6:28 PM - It sure is hard to stay inside on these wonderful warm (hot) summer days. I spent most of the day outside up to this point.
I started out getting out our local computer club newsletter this morning, and just as I was finishing that up my gardening friend called and wanted to know if I could help him weed the garden. I said sure so he came and we worked on that for around 90 minutes or so.
After that I watered my own back yard garden and picked some beans and tomatoes. Those were the first tomatoes other than my early Siberian tomatoes which I started picking June 17th. July 25th for my regular tomatoes is just about average or perhaps a few days early.
Next I finished edging my sidewalk which I started yesterday. I just hate seeing sidewalks with grass growing over the edge and love the neatly trimmed ones. I also hate seeing grass and weeds growing in cracks in the parts of my sidewalk that are brick. I spray them with bleach to keep the bricks grass free. When I was young I liked to take a screwdriver and dig out the grass and weeds from the cracks, but not any more. It just takes too much time. I tried some commercial weed killers, but found that bleach is much less expensive and works just as well.
Next it was off to the river for some fishing. I wanted to go to one of my special 'holes', but it was taken so I walked down along the park intending to go to the amphitheater to fish, but when I walked by the sewer outlet by the bridge, I looked in there and lo and behold I saw about a half dozen carp (like the pictures I posted a couple days ago on MySpace) swimming around. I stopped, put peanut butter bread on my hooks and tossed my line in. After just 2 minutes, bang - a carp grabbed the bait and took off. He turned out to be 28 inches long, just like the one in the picture. Maybe the same one, who knows.
His thrashing around in the water spooked off the other carp, so I then went to the amphitheater and there caught a 24" carp, a 13" sucker, and an 18" carpsucker.
It seems a lot of people, including fishermen don't know what a carpsucker is, and mistake it for either a carp or a sucker. However a carpsucker is a breed unto itself. It's similar to a carp, but darker in color. It has a tall dorsal fin, often up to 6 or 7 inches. Apparently they have very sensitive skin (scales) because on land they constantly flop to keep contact with the ground to a minimum. And they are generally very slimy, and I try to avoid touching them because it then takes a while to get all the slime off my hands. Other names for a carpsucker are quillback carp, quillback sucker, and they are also very similar to a smallmouth buffalo. I think the buffalo is a sub-species of the carpsucker, but I never knew much about the buffalo until a bass fishing tournament here in town last year when they had a lot of different species on display in a huge portable tank.
And that's my day up till now. I'm thinking of going fishing again, but probably won't. Then either after fishing or after 0000Z, I'll hit the bands to get my daily QSO.
Last evening I worked a station in New Orleans, and I believe that's the first time I've worked that city since before Katrina hit. I also worked some real DX in KB3LFC Tom at a distance of about 2-3 miles. HI. -30-
Monday, July 24, 2006 11:08 PM - NAQCC President Tom KB3LFC has come up with the idea of having a special event call for the club's second anniversary this October. We applied for the call today. I'll let you know here when we get it.
I find it remarkable that in less than two years the NAQCC is closing in on 1500 members. We must be doing something right to garner than many. If it were just a CW club or just a QRP club, I wouldn't be that surprised because many CW operators use QRO as well as QRP so there is a much bigger base of hams to draw members from. Likewise with QRP - many hams use QRP but only with voice or digital modes, again a much bigger base to draw from.
But to gather so many who enjoy BOTH CW and QRP - I think that's wonderful and shows just how efficient a mode CW is. There is so much that can be done with CW that just can't be done as well or as easily with any other ham radio mode.
It is just such a delight to sit there and use one's brain to make sense out of a collection of long and short pulses of radio energy. I feel sure that the resulting exercise that the brain gets from doing that helps to prevent deterioration of the brain cells. As I kind of ramble on writing this, I wonder if the incidence of Alzheimer's Disease among CW operators is lower than that of the general public.
I never studied medicine so I could be erroneous in what I say, but I believe that just as the muscles in our bodies need exercise to keep them from atrophying, so the brain needs exercise as well to keep it in shape. Again I wonder if there is any connection between brain exercise and Alzheimer's? If exercising the brain does prevent Alzheimer's then I feel I am pretty well off since I spend a great deal of each day using my brain. Probably the only rest it really gets is when I'm fishing, but even then I'm thinking about ham radio, computing, and on and on.
Speaking of on and on, that seems to be where I'm going with this entry so I better stop now before you all get bored and fall asleep. -30-
Sunday, July 23, 2006 8:27 PM - While this was an off weekend for contesting, next weekend is a contest that I like a lot and have had good success in getting new countries from. The IOTA contest. I've never done much with the IOTA program here, although I do note in my log an IOTA number if I work one.
In the IOTA contest in past years I've worked things like my first ever Asiatic Russian station. In 1995 I worked RW0A, then within the hour also RU0B. The year before that either in the IOTA contest or just before or after it, I worked my only Aves Island station, YW0RCV. In 1998 it was Guam from N2NL/KH2. I believe that was my first ever Guam. I think there may have been a couple more, but I don't have time right now to do a complete search of my log.
It also has been good for new prefixes as well, since many of the island stations use special or different prefixes. Often the numeral 0 (zero) is assigned to island operations from certain countries and seldom used otherwise. The aforementioned Aves Island comes to mind as an example. YV or YW with a 1-9 numeral is Venezuela while YV0 or YW0 is Aves Island. That doesn't seem to be a hard and fast rule, but it does happen.
So hopefully I'll find some time to put in the IOTA contest and perhaps come up with a new country. It has been so long now that I've not worked any new overall countries, I can't even remember for sure what my last (#204) was now. I think it was Georgia, but don't hold me to that.
We had another quick rain shower late this afternoon so I went to the river 'Carping' and came up with a nice 27" Carp. Now I'm heading out for another walk after working KC1DI on 20M for my July 24th QSO. -30-
Saturday, July 22, 2006 11:23 PM - It's a good thing it's late when I'm writing this because I'm going to talk about something that could really get me going into a soapbox mode.
I received an email today from KC2MJT who got fed up with all the petty flaming on QRP-L and decided to QRT on QRP-L as he put it. In his posting on QRP-L which he forwarded to me, he mentioned my Keynote article in which I urged those who subscribe to reflectors or use chat rooms to think about the time they are wasting there that they could be communicating on the airwaves with CW.
I do NOT subscribe to any email reflectors here NOR take part in any chat rooms. While a percent (very small) of reflector posts or chat room info is useful, it seems that these activities attract the 'nabobs of negativism' as Spiro Agnew (I believe) so aptly named them back in the seventies.
These folks seem unable to offer anything at all that is positive, and are only happy when they are criticizing someone or something. I have no use whatsoever for that kind of person or attitude.
For the same reason, I do NOT watch any television news, nor read any newspapers. Those media NEVER offer us any positive news. It's always negative - murders, rapes, terrorist activities, etc. This only encourages copy cat crimes by those who hear these things on the news and then go out and do the same crimes themselves because they know they can get publicity for themselves that way. What the news media needs to do is offer more positive examples for everyone to follow. Mention the negative briefly, but dwell on the positive. We'd have much less trouble in the world if that were done. -30-
Friday, July 21, 2006 6:39 PM - I think I've come up with an interesting idea for my next poll which will be in the period Aug 15 to Sep 14.
Before I tell you what it is, let me digress for a couple paragraphs. Do you remember the PBS TV series "Connections" by James Burke that made its debut in 1979? If not, or if your memory needs refreshing, let me briefly describe it. Burke would show how different events related to one another and how some obscure happening in the Middle Ages was connected to some modern technological advance. For example how a climate change in the 13th century led to the gasoline engine. Here is a quote from an episode guide, "Details many of the changes in building construction and energy usage which occurred when the climate of Europe changed dramatically in the 13th century. He shows how the scarcity of firewood contributed to the invention of the steam engine, which was the predecessor of gasoline-powered engines used today."
I want to do a 'mini James Burke' and tell you the evolution of my poll idea.
My current poll deals with items in this diary, as you probably know. I had mentioned that town history was the least popular item at this stage in the voting.
In an email exchange with my friend Bob, VA3RKM, he mentioned that he was one who liked the history items and said that he was currently reading a very interesting book about history "To Rule The Waves" by Arthur Herman.
I replied to Bob that I used to read a lot on the bus when I worked in Pittsburgh, but hadn't done much reading lately. The last book I have read is my 3rd or 4th reading of J.R.R. Tolkien's "Lord Of The Rings". I said that I would like to read Winston Churchill's "History Of The English Speaking Peoples" some day because Churchill is my #1 hero in the field of politics.
A couple of hours later while I was out walking, I got to thinking about Churchill and how I admired and respected him. I do a lot of my thinking and get some of my best (?) ideas then. Unfortunately I forget a lot of them by the time I get home. HI.
Anyway I was just thinking about who my idols were in other fields of endeavor. Scott Hamilton in ice skating, Jeff Gordon in auto racing, just to mention a couple.
Then I got to thinking about ham radio and who my ham radio heroes are. I thought of some contesters, some who promote CW, those who use QRP so effectively, etc.
Now the light bulb lit up. I thought why not a poll asking my site visitors to name their ham radio heroes. It would have to be an 'open' poll, that is a poll without a list of choices. All my previous polls had up to ten pre-defined selections that could be voted on. This one will be different.
And that's my 'Connections' episode. Stay tuned to see how I implement the poll in mid-August and be thinking about your ham radio heroes in the meantime. -30-
Thursday, July 20, 2006 7:11 PM - My what a good time I had in our NAQCC sprint last evening. My overall score was down a bit from my average for the past 5 or 6 sprints, but I worked a lot of new members and/or older members who haven't showed up in our sprints before. It's always wonderful to introduce new/older hams to the art of contesting. We try to do that in our sprints by keeping them low-key and low-speed events with our 'huge' bonus for straight key operation.
I generally try to just sit on a frequency and call CQ for most of the sprint without doing much more than some token S&P. I try to stick around 15 wpm to attract those not all that familiar with contesting who might be scared off by the frantic high speed action in most other contests. That strategy pays off as I have come in first in quite a few of the sprints and seldom finished out of the top three except when my local QRN was particularly bad or I split my time using my call and the NAQCC club call.
So far I've processed 16 logs, and am hoping for many more to come in before the deadline next Wednesday. Our record is 38 logs received. It would be nice to break that, especially here in the very middle of summer when so many hams are engaged in outdoor activities. That would bode well for the upcoming fall and winter contesting seasons.
Changing gears a bit, thanks for the votes in my poll about the diary. All the choices are still quite close together except for perhaps the town history which is lagging behind a bit. So it looks like you must like the mix I present here.
It's always been my belief that a person should not limit himself to just one hobby or activity, but should spread himself around and take in many different things. There are so many activities and such a short lifetime to enjoy them. That's not to say, for example, that I love ham radio any the less because I also like to take part in other hobbies as well. All it means is that I have a little less time to devote to any specific activity.
One of the things I liked very much about working at WPIT was the variety in my job. I did virtually everything at the station except go out and sell air time. I was an engineer, announcer, DJ, worked in traffic (program scheduling), computers, billing, swept the floors, cut the grass at the transmitter site, etc. It was great to always be doing something different. Some poor broadcast engineers have to sit around all day and just watch some meters to make sure certain parameters are within limits. Or at least that used to be the case. Now boring jobs like that are mostly automated.
That long preamble leads me to this diary. One of the reasons I started it was to try to show that I am not a one-dimensional person living and breathing ham radio 24/7. While I do admire, say a professional or olympic ice skater who devotes just about all their waking hours to perfecting their skating, that kind of life is not for me.
I like to share all my activities with you here on the web site while still keeping it to its main purpose of promoting the wonderful mode of CW and QRP operation. The diary gives me the chance to do that.
To that end, I'll tell you that I went fishing again last night just before the sprint and also this afternoon. I love being outside in the 90-95 degree weather we have been having here lately. I caught a sucker and a drum last night - two bass and a perch this afternoon for a total of 110 fish for the year so far. I just posted pictures of three fish I caught on the 19th in an album entitled 'July 20'. I think the red-tail suckers are such a pretty fish. All three fish are alive and well and back in the river in case you are wondering. I'm strictly a catch & release fisherman. The last picture is one of my favorite sights - watching my poles waiting for that next strike. -30-
Wednesday, July 19, 2006 5:57 PM - Outside of the 3 1/2 hours I spent fishing today, I have mostly been busy taking care of NAQCC business. We had a rash of membership applications, membership certificate requests, and newsletter subscriptions the past couple days. Probably due to the excellent job our PR person Larry, W2LJ does in promoting our NAQCC sprints, the latest of which takes place in just a couple hours now. So I don't really have much time for this diary entry, and I had a lot of good material which I will have to save for the future.
What's that? How did I do fishing? Oh, it was a pretty good day. I got 4 Bass, 3 Suckers, 1 White Bass, and 1 Catfish. That's 105 fish so far this year - the best total I've had as of July 19th in any year. I got a picture of the catfish and a couple of the suckers that I'll post on MySpace soon. -30-
Tuesday, July 18, 2006 8:41 AM - I'm continuing to get good feedback about the diary. George N1EAV says my web site inspired him to get back on the HF bands again with QRP/CW. That's what I love to hear.
George also asks what the -30- at the end of each entry means. It's from the newspaper world and is a code that means basically 'end of copy'. It also is connected to telegraphy and ham radio because there is another Morse code that is different from the Continental or International code we use on the ham bands. It's American Morse which was widely used on the railroads and other land line Morse. In that code a '3' is ..._. (three dots, a dash, and a dot) and a '0' (zero) is ___ or a long dash. Put the two together and shorten the long dash and you have ..._._ or SK which means end of QSO in our ham radio service.
American Morse was designed to be used on a sounder rather than with CW. However it can be used with CW, and is found on the ham bands from time to time, although I haven't heard much of it lately. I learned and used it for a time back in the 1960's to talk with some old railroaders on the ham bands.
There is a program called 'The Mill' created by Jim W4FOK that gives a realistic demo of American Morse either as it was used with a sounder or with CW. Do a MSN search for 'mill w4fok' if you are interested in more info and to download the program.
Hey, I finally got my 50th state - ND - verified in the Logbook Of The World (LOTW). Thanks WB0O. I didn't think any ND hams that I worked would ever submit their logs to the LOTW. Now I think I need a couple more states to reach 50 via eQSL then I'll have WAS verified 3 different ways - regular cards, LOTW, and eQSL.
I had an interesting QSO on 30M this evening. I worked HP1IBF and had a nice chat with him. He was using a whip antenna mounted on his window frame. I found it interesting that he copied me solidly all the way with that antenna. Just thinking about it, the whip probably gave him a very good S/N ratio which allowed good copy of my minimal QRP signals. It's kind of like when I switch off to another antenna here to copy someone who is down in the noise on my normal antenna.
One final thing for today. I've uploaded the new NAQCC GenLog .dat file. If you plan to use GenLog in the NAQCC sprint tomorrow evening, you can get it from the NAQCC web site. -30-
Monday, July 17, 2006 8:26 AM - It's early here, and I'll have more later for today's entry, but I wanted to address a couple of emails I just received.
I'm glad the courthouse and fish pictures are being enjoyed. Thanks for the comments. I'd just like to add a bit of history related to the courthouse. Someone wanted to know when the courthouse was built. I don't know offhand, but I will find out and post the info here.
My mother worked in the courthouse for many years in the Prothonotary, then Register & Recorder's offices. In fact while she worked in the Prothonotary Office, the office holder died, and she was appointed by the Governor to fill out his term, thus becoming the first ever woman to hold a major office in Armstrong County.
If you're here and reading this, you probably don't have this problem, but you should be aware that several years ago Alltel changed their URL's from www.alltel.net/~....... to home.alltel.net/....... That is changing the www to home and dropping the tilde (~). They had been forwarding the old URL's, but may have stopped doing so by now according to an email I received from WB0JNR who said his link (old style) to my site was broken.
Next weekend seems to be one of those without any CW contests, so better get your CW contest fix from our NAQCC sprint this Wednesday evening (Thursday 0030-0230 UTC).
Today was our second day in a row where the high temperature was 95 degrees. Yes, summer has finally come to Kittanning and I love it. This hot weather really peps me up and I've been on the go with this and that all day today.
I did have a chance to listen to the bands around Noon today when Tom KB3LFC brought his HW-7 over for some work, and they certainly were dead at that time. I heard one QSO on 20M and that was about the extent of it. It sure will be nice when the sun gets in gear again and starts energizing the ionosphere, but that won't be for some time yet. It is getting closer and closer though. It looks like the minimum will be sometime in 2007, depending on which prediction you believe. Then the next cycle peak is expected to be a good one, perhaps as high as the last peak, or even higher according to some predictions which say it might rival the super peak of the late 1950's. We'll just have to wait and see. -30-
Sunday, July 16, 2006 8:27 PM - This was a day of 3's for me. I got three QSO's on 30M in the 00Z hour to advance a little on my 30-30 award for July.
Then I went fishing today and got 3 carp and 3 other fish. There were a lot of carp in the river today for some reason. I'm embarrassed to say this but I should have logged 10 carp today. Twice I got a bit anxious and jerked too soon. Once my hook straightened out and came free. Three (there's that number again) times the hook just came out. Once my line broke at a weak point at the knot for the hook loop.
One of the carp which was 28" I caught on a new spinning reel I just got last Friday. That was a struggle (10-15 minutes) to land him with the 4 lb. test line.
The final (?) 3 today is 3 pictures uploaded to MySpace. One of a carp in the water, one of the carp I caught (same one?), and a 200+ year old Cottonwood tree in our park. The carp I caught in the picture was about 28 inches - see the 30" marks on the rod lying next to the fish.
Now it's time to get on the bands and get my daily QSO for the 17th. -30-
Saturday, July 15, 2006 9:28 AM - So much material and so little time. That's what I'm finding out about this diary project. There is so much to present here, I could sit here for hours a day typing away, but obviously I can't do that, so I must pick and choose.
Today I'll get caught up with some email comments and info I've received starting with excerpts from an email from Bill AE3J that lists yet another reason why it can be important to learn Morse Code.
I have to edit it down, but here is the jist of it. The Volvo company has buried an SUV somewhere in the world as a buried treasure in conjunction with the Disney movie Pirates. Do an MSN search for 'Volvo buried car' for more info.
The company releases clues to the location of the buried car on the Internet. The clues are coded, and you have to break many of them before you finally win the car. I won't go into any more detail although it is fascinating. As I said you can read all about it elsewhere on the Internet.
The bottom line is that some (all?) of the clues are in Morse code, so if some friend or stranger suddenly develops an interest in Morse code and comes to you unexpectedly for help, this may account for it. Thanks for the info Bill.
Ron K5DUZ is very interested in the courthouse here in town and would like a picture of it to be posted. I will do that some day. Ron mentions a PBS show that features many courthouses in Texas and says that Texas courthouses are kind of 'status symbols' for the county and town.
Ron also comments on fish bait. In case anyone else is interested in carp or catfish bait, I found a web site that lists what looks like at least 100 or more different mixtures to use. Check http://www.willontheweb.com/fishing/baitrecipes.html.
Ron also enjoys the history aspect of Kittanning as well as pictures of the town, so more of that will be coming when time permits.
Thanks to all of you who are sending comments about the diary. I can't respond individually to each and every one, but I enjoy hearing from you and I appreciate all the positive comments. You make me glad I decided to do this even though it is more work for me. I will continue it, and as I mentioned previously, I'll fine tune it according to the results of the current poll. Very early returns show that all items in the poll are just about equally getting votes.
Well I'm back for an addendum. I've posted by request a picture of the courthouse plus a couple others. My rain gauge showing .30 inches of rain from late last night. One of my yellow roses surrounded by 3 buds. A picture that shows what a perfect summer day looks like in Kittanning. Enjoy the album 'July 15'! -30-
Friday, July 14, 2006 8:25 AM - I thought I'd write my entry early today in case it turns out to be another busy day like yesterday.
This is the day of the month when I change my poll and post results of the just finished poll. I thought the results of the QRP frequency poll were quite interesting. If it is representative of the ham population as a whole, and I make no claim that it is, then most hams want to keep the frequency where it is now. I'm pleasantly surprised that there were so many votes to shift to 7060 to keep the frequency in line with the other bands.
My personal thoughts are:
1. Keep it where it is now at 7040. Don't let us be bullied into moving.
2. If we must move, let's go to 7060. FISTS seem to do well on 7058 among the SSB and digital signals, so 7060 might work especially since the phone portion of the band is expanding upward in parts of the world which should reduce SSB crowding around 7060 (hopefully).
3. I don't like 7030 because we are encroaching on a frequency that is used by many high speed operators who use high power. Also since 14060 is the second harmonic of 7030, QRP operation on 7030 would interfere with any multi-op setup that uses both the 20 and 40 meter QRP frequencies.
My new poll released later today will hopefully help me to fine tune this diary a bit. It will ask you what you like to read about here, and what kind of pictures you like to see in MySpace.
I'm adding a way to easily provide feedback on my diary via clicking the feedback link at the top of the page.
One other thing I've done is to change the email link in the left column of each of my pages. Now instead of going through a two-stage process, clicking the link will open your email client with an email containing my address and the subject all filled in. My elaborate method to eliminate spam wasn't any more effective than anything else. Anyway MailWasher does such an excellent job of detecting and eliminating spam, it doesn't really matter whether I get spam or not.
Hopefully I'll also be adding some pictures to MySpace later today. I'll add a note here at the end of this entry if I do.
I'm back after a huge meal at the Ponderosa. I'm so stuffed..... Anyway I uploaded a couple of pictures from the park and one from my backyard in a new album entitled 'July 14'. I've decided to put the new photos in albums by day, then after they are there for a while shift them to the appropriate permanent album. That way you can quickly see what's new without going through all the old stuff if you are a regular viewer. I've got so many pictures now (about 800 with the new camera) it's hard to decide what to post. I'd like to show them all to you, but that would be like the cartoon or situation comedy idea of the host boring the guests with hundreds of vacation or baby pictures, and I don't want to do that. So I'll have to carefully pick and choose and that will take a bit more time to do it that way, but I think it will be the best way to do it. -30-
Thursday, July 13, 2006 8:50 PM - This was one of those days when it seemed like every time I had something planned, someone needed my help with this or that.
I don't really mind that though, since one of the important things in life is helping others. My gardening friend showed up first. His mattox handle had become loose and we said that when we had a rainy day, he could bring it over and we'd fix it up. Well it was sprinkling today and he showed up. It wasn't raining all that hard - in fact hardly at all so we picked some beans before working on the mattox. It didn't take all that long to fix the mattox. I just pounded it down a little further on the hanle, cut off the protruding worn couple of inches, pounded a metal wedge to spread the handle and tighten it, and that was that. "Good as new," as the saying goes.
Then another neighbor wanted me to help him get some driving directions for his daughter who was coming to visit from Virginia. So we did that via Mapquest on the Internet.
Not much later, my gardening friend came back again to tie up some tomatoes and do some weeding. I helped him with that for a half hour or so.
Next was the really big project. My friend from the computer club showed up and said 'The Brat' was really misbehaving. That's the name he's given to his computer. He couldn't get out of a chkdsk loop. It would keep rebooting and running chkdsk over and over again. I was just starting supper when he came around 3:30, so I told him I'd come over and see what we could do after I finished eating.
I went over and solved the chkdsk problem rather quickly. He also had a problem with Internet Explorer. It seems that his uninstall of Beta 2 didn't go smoothly before he installed Beta 3, and he wound up with what I call IE 6 and a half, or a browser that had characteristics of both 6 and 7. It took quite a while for me to figure that one out as it wouldn't let me uninstall the Beta 2 Preview version. Finally I had to dig into the registry and make a change there before the uninstall finally worked and we went back to a clean IE 6. Now we reinstalled 7 Beta 3 and that went smoothly. All that took about 3 hours of heavy thinking.
He had just been on a vacation trip to Las Vegas, so I asked him about the pictures he took with his new digital camera out there. I told him if he didn't have a couple thousand or so, we could look at them now, otherwise I'd wait till another time. He said there were 'only' about 175 or so. We set up a slide show, and I sat there entranced for about 15-20 minutes looking at the fantastic buildings in Vegas.
He told me about one meal they had there for him and the 5 other people in his party. One of the party members knew the owner and chef of 'The Mix' restaurant so they got the 10 course meal for 'only' $600 instead of the normal $2500. That just boggled my mind and makes me wonder how so much money can be squandered in places like Vegas when it could be used in so many other ways. We have no reason to criticize the government for its financial policies when money is spent like that. And you know what, and I said this to my friend, I bet those same people who 'waste' all that money still complain about the high price of gasoline.
Well, I'm sorry to have gotten on the soapbox, and I'll get off now. Anyway that's how my day went so I didn't get the chance to pick out some new pictures for MySpace. Maybe tomorrow although I already have some other things set up for then. One of them being my computer friend taking me out to dinner - not a $600 dollar dinner, but to one of my favorite places - The Ponderosa.
Oh, a Happy Bastille Day (14th) to all my French friends around the world. -30-
Wednesday, July 12, 2006 10:59 PM - I got home from the computer club meeting not all that long ago, and am pretty tired so I'm going to pass up an entry for today.
I think tomorrow depending on how things go, I'll add a few more pictures to MySpace. 73 -30-
Tuesday, July 11, 2006 10:28 PM - Hey Ron (K5DUZ), I haven't tried your suggestion of using Wheaties for bait, but I have been using something similar the past couple days with good results. Someone gave me a mixture of peanut butter and wheat bread to try. So far I've gotten a carpsucker, a couple of suckers, a 19 inch catfish, and a 26.5 inch carp with it. They really seem to like it, so your Wheaties would probably work just as well. Now I've got to learn to make it myself. I tried a batch tonight and it worked out pretty good, but needs some fine tuning yet to get the mixture just right.
I heard back tonight from Chuck, W8LQ and he said it was indeed his slow computer that was causing the problems with the MySpace pictures. He tried them on another faster computer and they work just fine that way. Chuck also made some nice comments about the pictures which I appreciate very much. Thanks Chuck.
That's pretty much all I have to say tonight. Tomorrow evening we have our local computer club meeting at which I will be giving a tutorial on the use of Microsoft Works Word Processor. Before that I'll probably try some more fishing if the weather permits. Right now I'm tied for my second best number of fish caught by July 11. I have 89 and my best at this point in the year since I started fishing again in 1992 is 90 in 2004. -30-
Monday, July 10, 2006 9:52 PM - Wasn't it just a couple minutes ago I wrote the last entry? Nope, I guess not - it's 24 hrs and 14 mins since I last wrote. Where does the time go? I guess if that saying 'time flies when you're having fun' is true, I must really be enjoying myself lately.
I'd like to talk about kids today. I hope you don't mind reading all of this non-ham stuff, but frankly not a lot exciting is happening in ham radio these days. That's not to say I don't enjoy getting on the bands and chatting with someone on CW, because I love doing that. It's just that I mean there is not a lot of rare DX to work, not a lot of contesting on my part, not a lot of CW news to be talking about without saying the same thing over and over again.
Anyway back to kids. Having never been married and not having any children of my own, I always enjoy it when some neighbor kids make friends with me. I hope that those of you who do have kids appreciate them for what they are worth and spend as much time as possible with them. I think a lot of kids are starved for affection from adults because there are so many broken homes these days, and even in normal complete homes, both parents are so busy working that they don't have (or make) all that much time for the kids.
I've been blessed three times somewhat late in life over the past 15 years or so to have had 3 great experiences with neighborhood children. First with a boy and two girls, from when they were 9-12 until they were 15-18 or so. That started out when I working and as soon as I would get home for my weekend off, I could count on one of them yelling for me even before I would get out of the car. We spent countless hours together on the computer, playing ball, helping with homework, just talking and much more. In fact, the boy Eric is the one I mention who encouraged me to get back on the ham bands and got his own license.
I kind of thought when they grew up and drifted away to other things like college, boyfriends, etc. that my blessings were over. However I was wrong. One of the two girls had a baby girl of her own, and when the baby got to be about 1 1/2 years old, she developed an attachment to me, like her mother, aunt and uncle had before. She would yell for me to come out if I was inside or even come over and crawl up my steps to look in my screen door for me. One day when I came home from fishing she figured out how to open the screen door and came out on the porch yelling for me. Then when I got out of the car, she came down the steps and over to me. I didn't see anyone with her, so I picked her up and took her inside. Her grandmother was out in the kitchen and she just wandered out on her own. Needless to say the screen door got a higher lock after that so she couldn't reach it to open it. It was a little scary to see her come out alone like that, but at the same time it gave me the feeling of really being loved.
She was just a total delight, and as with the three before her, she and I spent countless hours together. I was now retired so I had even more time for her. I literally could write hundreds of pages about the times we spent together. In fact I have done that for both of the two previous episodes with the kids. Just so if my memory goes I can still relive those wonderful times through my writings.
It broke my heart when the family had to move away a couple years ago. I still miss my little friend very much.
Again I figured that was the last time I'd be so blessed. Again I was wrong. Now I've got a new set of neighborhood kids as friends. What prompted me to write this was the good time I had a couple hours ago playing ball with them and just talking with them. The girl next door is 6 years old, and the other neighbor kids I'm just getting to know the past couple weeks or so. I think they are about 8 or 9.
So I've pretty much run the gamut age wise with kids from 1 1/2 up to 18 years old.
I just want to make it plain that in all the situations above, none of the kids had parents who neglected them. They all have very loving families. I just kind of fitted in as an extra friend for them, and not as some kind of parental replacement.
It seems to me that too many adults can't seem to communicate with kids or shy away from them for one reason or another. I find it very easy to communicate with them at their own level. I never talk down (nor up) to them, but always try to communicate as their peers. That seems to be easy for me since I'm just a kid at heart myself and have no intention of ever growing up.
So please realize the blessings you have with children and take advantage of it NOW because they will definitely grow up and situations will change one way or another. -30-
Sunday, July 09, 2006 9:38 PM - I took a lot of pictures today, and thought I'd upload a few to MySpace. They're in an album called 'July 9' appropriately enough. Please read this entire entry before going to MySpace to look at the pictures.
I've talked about my interest in meteorology. That plus my interest in astronomy leads me to really appreciate beautiful sunsets. So I've included a couple of the literally dozens I've taken since I got the digital camera.
Also to follow up on the meteorology theme, there is a picture of my maximum-minimum thermometer. The right end of the black index at top shows the high temperature for the day (actually 9PM to 9PM since that is when I take my readings). Actually it was 83, but the parallax of the photo makes it look like 84. The minimum for the day shows on the right end of the lower index at 57. That is correct since the lens was almost directly in front of that point. The present temperature is 70 degrees as shown by either left end of the mercury in the curved tube.
And an astronomy related picture shows the moon rising near the Courthouse dome. The redness may be due to the smoke from the Canadian forest fires which is drifting down into the USA. Do you remember the major smoke invasion from Canada in 1950? I do, and will talk about it in one of these entries.
Finally there is a picture of my pedometer showing 3,899 steps early this morning on my walk along the Armstrong hiking trail. That was just a start for the day. It now reads 17,559 steps. I average 6.8 miles of walking a day which is just about 13,000 steps at 33 inches per step.
I've also completely changed the layout of MySpaces page. I took out a lot of the unneeded modules since I am only using it as a picture gallery. I also changed that boring ugly dull black background to something a little more bright and cheerful, I think. The thumbnail pictures are also now a lot bigger, and it seems the slideshow works more smoothly, and perhaps loads faster also. Let me know what you think of the changes, please. -30-
Sunday, July 09, 2006 8:26 AM - Although I only spent a short time in the IARU contest (<2.5 hours), it was really enjoyable. I set a goal of 100 QSO's and quit when I made it. That gave me a rate of just over 40 QSO's per hour which I don't achieve all that often with my minimal QRP when I operate more than an hour or so in a contest. It's easy to achieve that rate in short bursts, but sustaining it is hard after you sweep the bands and work all the 'easy' ones.
There were several short bursts when my rate was in the 60-100 range including quite a few 2 and 3 QSO minutes. That's what makes contesting fun for me. I love that constant activity. It gets boring when you have to just sit there and listen, listen, listen to station after station you've worked before, but that's what happens with minimal QRP many times. It must really be fun to operate a big contest station where you can maintain rates of 150-200 or perhaps even more for an entire contest.
All 100 QSO's were made via search & pounce, as I find that more effective than calling CQ in big contests with minimal QRP.
I was pleased to work several DX stations among the 100 as I just haven't worked much DX lately because of propagation conditions and a lack of time to be on the bands. Even though the DX wasn't all that strong at the time I was on, the stations I worked were easy QSO's. It's not surprising though since most of the DX was the IARU headquarter stations with their big contest stations and good receiving equipment.
I was disappointed that I didn't work any of the WRTC stations in Brazil though. Conditions just weren't favorable to that area when I was on. I didn't even hear any on 20M, and the few I heard on 40M were very weak and had big pileups so I didn't even bother trying them. It will be interesting to see the results and see who won. In fact I'm just looking at the WRTC web site now (http://www.wrtc2006.com/site/home.asp) and it looks like the Canadian team of VE3EJ and VE7ZO are the winners although I don't think those are the final official results yet as the contest just ended within the past hour as I write this. Two time past champion team K1TO/N5TJ weren't able to compete this year to try for a 'hat trick'. I did work Dan K1TO from his home station though.
As I've mentioned in my contest reports on the web sites, I always enjoy it when stations in big contests like this take a moment out of the frantic activity to add a brief personal note in the QSO. That happened twice this contest when Matt K7BG gave me a personal well done, and then on 160M when whoever was operating NU1AW/8 at the time commented on my QRP.
Now I'm looking forward to the next big contest, the NAQP in August. Hopefully I'll be doing the full 10 hours of that contest.
And incidentally I'm finally getting my laundry done as I write this. CU tomorrow. -30-
Saturday, July 08, 2006 7:19 PM - After all my talk about the WRTC and IARU contests yesterday, I still have yet to put in a single minute. It's been one of those 'one thing after another' days, but has finally slowed down a bit so I think at 0000Z I'll at least use the contest to get my QSO of the day, and perhaps put in an hour or two if conditions are good.
The day started out as usual getting my daily computer work done, plus since this is Saturday, that's my day to run the anti-virus, anti-spyware, etc. programs. Then my friend came to work on the garden, so I helped him for a while, and got some more beans in the process.
I had two other 'appointments' for the day so I thought I'd get in a walk before that. I got home just as my cousin's widower showed up for some help with a tax matter. We took care of that quickly, and visited for a while.
Then I went to do something at the kitchen sink, and noticed the water was only about 2/3 pressure, so I quickly went down to the basement to make sure nothing was wrong. There wasn't anything wrong, so I figured it was something other than a problem at my house, so I went outside and did some work in my garden. I prepared a spot for another friend who was to visit later and transplant his tomato plants which he had been keeping in my yard in a container. They weren't doing so good in the container so I said he could plant them directly in my yard. After I prepared the spot, I continued on weeding my onions and other plants. About that time a neighbor came along and asked me about the water pressure as his was low also.
It turned out there was a rather large water main break a couple blocks from my house so I went to check it out. I noticed a lot of water flowing into the storm sewers, and wondered if that would attract some fish where it ultimately flowed into the river so I gathered up my poles and went and caught three Drums. Also another fisherman gave me some new bait I had never used before. A mixture of wheat bread and peanut butter. I tried that and got a lot of bites, and had one Carpsucker on, but he threw the hook just as I was about to land him.
It was now time for my friend to come so I headed home. My water was now completely off, so I had to endure my dirty hands for the time being. They weren't that bad so I fixed some supper while waiting for my friend. Well, I'm still waiting about 3 hours later. I don't know what happened to him.
I went for another walk while I was waiting as he always emails me before he comes so I knew I wouldn't miss him.
Now I'm just thinking I still have to do my laundry, and fortunately my water is back on now.
Whew, with these kind of days occuring all too often, I wonder how I'm able to keep my QSO a day streak going, but I still haven't missed yet.
Well I got in the IARU contest long enough to get exactly 100 QSO's, and long enough so that I'm putting off the laundry till tomorrow. I'll talk a bit more about the contest in tomorrow's entry. -30-
Friday, July 07, 2006 11:41 PM - This weekend is what I believe the fairest of all amateur radio competitions. I'm speaking of the WRTC (World Radio Team Championships) within the IARU contest.
Let me tell you a bit about the concept of WRTC if you're not familiar with it.
A large group of teams of amateur radio operators is brought together into one small geographical area and operate very similar stations in the IARU contest. Each team consists of two top contesters. This year's competition is held in Brazil. If you want more specific info about the event, you can find it on the Internet through a MSN search.
The reason I think it is so fair is that the only real variable is the skill level of the operators. Normally you can have two equally skilled operators, but vastly different equipment. In that case the one with the big bucks to buy the big station will win every time. A KW and a beam will beat a 100W/dipole station every time, even though the operator skill is about the same.
In the WRTC, the difference in equipment is eliminated since all stations are virtually the same.
Now if you have two stations manned by equally skilled operators using the same equipment, but one is in a valley and the other on a hilltop, who do you think is going to win every time? Right. Or one in a geographical spot that has easy access to a vast number of hams or one in a not so geographically favorable spot. Who's going to win? Right again.
Again the WRTC eliminates to a large extent the location difference as much as possible. At least the geographical factor since all stations as I said are within a small area.
With a setup like that, you can really find out who the great and not quite so great contesters are. Everyone who is invited to the competition is a very good contester, but some may have the advantage at their home base of a better station, location, etc. Here they are all on equal footing.
Forgive me for being so wordy, but I am just so enthralled by the idea of the WRTC, I have to talk about it.
It's a shame that we can't handicap ham radio contests like golf scores to equal out the competition. At least the WRTC comes along every couple years and lets us all know who the cream of the crop, skillwise, is among the top notch contesters.
This is why I believe what we are doing in our NAQCC sprints is so interesting. I'm speaking of how we list each station's antenna setup so that if you have only a dipole you can compare how you did among your peers who also have dipoles, etc.
I know I rambled a bit in this entry, but it's late and I'm not going back and editing it now. I think my point shines through all the wordiness. That is fairly comparing operating skill in contests. -30-
Thursday, July 06, 2006 8:41 AM - I'm just working on my weekly links check and thought I'd take time out to complain a bit. It really upsets me when webmasters are constantly changing the URL's of their web pages. They'll decide to redo their main page for example, and in the process change the name from index.html to index_new.html or something like that. If I'm linked to their site, that of course will break the link. Their web site will lose traffic until I can figure out what they've done, and I'll get the blame for having a bad link.
It would be so much simpler to just change the content of their index page and keep the name as index.html. That way there would be no interruption of traffic to their web site.
Most notorious of these changes are in the contest calendar and the QSL routes lookups. The web masters posting their contest rules often insist on changing the URL for their rules from year to year as in rules2005.html to rules2006.html. If the rules are the same each year, please keep the URL the same. If you must archive the old rules for any reason, keep the active rules as something like rules.html and each year archive last years rules as rules2005.html, etc.
Unless you change hosting services or your host changes your URL for you, keep the URL's as constant as you can. You'll help yourself and make it much easier for those checking links for accuracy.
Although I have gone through modifications to many of my pages over the years, I have strived to always keep the URL's exactly the same. That's why if you look at the URL for some pages, they might no longer make sense. For example my credits page is named home_ss_awards. That's because originally the page contained awards I gave out like a .jpg certificate for my 10,000th visitor, etc. Gradually it evolved into a page giving credit to the web services I use to help maintain my page. Same URL, but slightly different content so anyone linked there would still be able to get there. The only real change for many years now in any of my pages was when Alltel changed all their URL's from 'www......' to 'home.....'. That really upset me when they did that. Many sites still have me linked to the old 'www' style URL's, and anyone clicking those links thinks my site doesn't exist anymore.
The bottom line is that if you have a web site, please keep your URL's the same unless your host forces a change. Thanks. -30-
Wednesday, July 05, 2006 12:41 PM - I was just playing around with MySpace and I noticed that the transitions between pictures aren't completely smooth until all pictures have cycled through at least once. So those with slow dial-up connections may experience problems similar to what W8LQ was having.
So just analyzing the situation, it must be that for the slide show the pictures have to be loaded into your browser's cache to be perfectly smooth. That would take time with a slow connection since the pictures are rather large so I could give you the best quality pictures possible. Actually the size is a compromise between the original pictures from the camera which are HUGE and something that would be so small that the detail would be very hard to see.
I've just uploaded 3 more pictures to the 'My House and Yard' album showing some of my tomato, bean, and onion plants. Also there is a picture of my 'weather station' consisting of a homebrew thermometer shelter and a rain gauge. I've been taking daily temperature readings since 1959 and daily precipitation readings since 1962. My mother, two aunts, and a friend helped with the readings when I couldn't be there because of my work at WPIT.
I said I was going to try some CQ's on 30M today. Well, I did but they resulted in nothing but silence. The whole band was dead except for one N2 station who sent a few dots and his call not too far from where I was calling CQ. I have no idea what he was doing and maybe he didn't either. HI. I'm going upstairs to the shack to try again now for a while on 10110.5.
No luck on 30M again. There were a few weak DX stations there, but no QSO's for me, so I went to 40 and got a quick QSO there for my 'streak'. -30-
Tuesday, July 04, 2006 11:34 PM - Hope you all had a nice and safe Fourth of July. I went fishing a couple times, and was surprised that I was about the only one fishing. Usually the river is quite busy on a holiday, but not today. Maybe they all knew something I didn't know, since I only caught two small bass all day.
My only ham activity was spending a few minutes in the MI QRP Sprint this evening. I didn't hear a whole lot of activity, and I also wanted to do some work on the computer so I only made three QSO's, then QRT.
The past couple days I've been enjoying beans from my friend's garden. He harvested I would guess about 100 or so of them a few days ago. So that's lettuce, tomatoes, and beans so far. Looks like it will be a while for the peppers to show up. I could pick some of my onions now, but I'm going to wait till the tops fall over and see how big they get. I usually get big tops and small onions, but this year I think my onions will be bigger from the looks of the way some of them are pushing up out of the ground a bit. I just realized that other than one picture of one tomato plant, I don't have any pictures of MY garden on MySpace. I'll have to fix that, maybe tomorrow.
I see from my site stats that I hit a third of a million visits to my web site today. Thanks to all of you for being such loyal followers. It makes my time and effort spent on the web site worthwhile to know so many folks are so interested in what goes on here.
I've only gotten two 30 meter QSO's this month so far and am going to have to pick up the pace a bit if I want to get 30 this month. Maybe tomorrow I'll try to spend some time on the band calling CQ around my favorite hangout frequency on that band - 10.110.5. Maybe I'll see you there. -30-
Monday, July 03, 2006 10:54 PM - So much to write about and so little time to do it. I went fishing this evening for a couple hours and caught 7 fish. Then when I came home I decided to fool around in the Spartan Sprint for a little bit since I got a bit of a renewed feel for contesting in my blood in the RAC test over the weekend. I put in just over an hour and made just 25 QSO's. I took a half hour out in the middle to watch some fireworks. They were somewhere up on the hill where West Kittanning is located, but I couldn't figure out just where. I had to stand out in our street to get a good view of them. Fortunately it's a dead end street so there is virtually no traffic except for the occasional soul who only drives a few feet ahead of his hood and can't see that it's a dead end until he actually gets to the dead end.
I hope all of you have a great Fourth of July tomorrow and do something to honor our great country and its leaders in its fight against terrorists who are jealous of our country and want to destroy it via their despicable acts of violence. I hope we never give up our efforts to wipe terrorism from the face of the earth forever. -30-
Sunday, July 02, 2006 8:00 PM - I added some pictures of my friend's garden that I have been talking about. Look for the new album 'Garden' on MySpaces. Remember the fig trees when you look at them. I'll have an interesting pictorial story about them this fall telling you how we 'bury' them to keep them from freezing in our cold winters. They are basically a tropical or semi-tropical tree and don't grow in cold climates without some help.
Now let me cover some email comments I've been receiving about the diary briefly before I head to the shack to extend the streak another day hopefully with some 30M QSO's for my July NAQCC 30-30 Award.
Bob VA3RKM says he enjoys the landscape pictures and enjoys reading the diary when he gets the chance. He says that MySpaces always prompts him to install Windows Messenger when he goes there. Does that happen for anyone else. It doesn't for me, and I don't have Windows Messenger installed here. Or perhaps I do, and it's just disabled since I never use it.
Ron K5DUZ always has interesting comments about the diary and the web site long before I had the diary. His latest says he enjoyed my story about getting started in radio with an AM BCB receiver. He did the same thing and asks if I remember 'White's Radio Log'. Yes, I do although I didn't use it all that much since I didn't really DX the AM band until later on. Then I used the WRTH (World Radio TV Handbook) plus info from the NRC (National Radio Club) and IRCA (International Radio Club of America?), both AM BCB DX organizations to which I belonged at one time or other.
Ron adds he enjoyed the history of Kittanning and wants more along that line. OK, that's a future project for me.
Alex K5UNY writes that he also enjoyed old time radio broadcasts like the Phantom, Jack Benny, The Lone Ranger, Gang Busters, Fibber McGee and Molly, etc. Well Alex, I'm currently listening to a Fibber McGee and Molly episode on my computer each evening. I'm trying to go in order and am now into the year 1945. That was probably my favorite radio show when I was young. I remember listening to it with my Aunt Josie who lived with us. I always got a kick out of the hall closet bit.
Alex is one of our newer NAQCC members and comments also about some 30M DX that has been very strong in Dallas although he hasn't worked them yet as of when he sent the email a few days ago. Yes, 30M has been good to EU here also. I had a few EU stations answer my 30M QSO's during June including HA/SP7JLH who completed my June 30-30 for me. And just last evening I worked another of the German World Cup stations on 30M.
Chuck W8LQ writes that he has been having problems getting my pictures on MySpace. I wrote him back but haven't gotten any follow-up yet to know if his problem was solved. Is anyone else having problems? If so, let me know and we'll see if we can work something out.
Baltasar EA8BVP wrote and said he enjoyed learning about our Flag Day observance here in the USA and said Spain doesn't have a similar holiday. He also asks a few questions that I will answer via email instead of here.
I think that gets me caught up on commenting on your comments. Now I'm going to get a bite to eat, then see what is on 30M. -30-
Saturday, July 01, 2006 8:46 PM - As I said yesterday, today was going to be a busy day and it was.
I started out the day doing my first of the month financial chores - paying bills, etc. Ouch!
Next I helped out with the neighboring garden I've mentioned before. I'll have to put up some pictures of it when I get time. And talk about it a little more as well.
After lunch, I put my June weather records into my weather database of personal observations from 1959 to present. This June was our wettest of record mainly due to the 5.57 inches of rain we had last Sunday. It topped out at just under 10 inches for the month. Also it was rather a cool month at 1.7 degrees below normal.
I got in the RAC contest for about 20 minutes and picked up 9 more QSO's. Incidentally I did complete the July NAQCC challenge last night after 51 QSO's at 0310Z.
A walk followed that. I told the 6 year old girl (Chelsea) next door I would have to get her some rocks from along the river where I fish after she showed me her rock collection last evening. So I gathered up a small bagfull of vari-colored rocks along my walk.
Next it was over next door to little Caleb's first birthday party. I really enjoyed that. I met a lot of my neighbor's relatives I hadn't met before and had fun watching the young kids playing. I also sampled all of the good food they had. I spent about 3 1/2 hours there.
At 2300Z I decided I'd get in the RAC contest for the last hour. I added 18 more QSO's for a total of 85 in the contest. I think that's up among the best I've done for the Canada Day RAC contest, although I have done much better in the Winter RAC contests.
Right after that at 0000Z, I went to 30 meters, heard DQ2006Q calling CQ on 10.115 and got him on my first call for my QSO of the day for July 2nd
Another walk and that brings me to sitting here typing this diary entry. I guess this is a true 'diary' entry today in the real meaning of the word.
Now I'm off outside to get my temperature readings for today. There is a picture of my thermometer shelter and rain gauge on one of the MySpace pictures in the 'My house and yard' album. It's in the left of the picture titled 'Tree in backyard' so you know what I'm talking about. Then I've got to enter my 85 QSO's from the RAC contest into my masted log database. I paper logged this contest so now I've got to type in all the info manually instead of just transferring it from a GenLog file. -30-
Friday, June 30, 2006 11:53 PM - I don't have much time left tonite to write much. I got into the RAC contest thinking I'd just use it to get my QSO for the day. However two hours and 58 QSO's passed before I quit. That gives me a good start on the July NAQCC Alphabet Challenge. I did get my 2 30M QSO's last evening to get my June NAQCC 30-30 Award. Right now at almost midnight I'm doing my laundry as I write this and it's about time to switch the clothes from the washer to the dryer, so instead of trying to do too many things at once, I'll just sign off the entry for tonite, and hopefully get more time to write tomorrow although that is going to be a busy day. A lot of first of the month things to take care of, plus the young boy next door is having a 1st birthday party and I'm invited to that. CUL -30-
Thursday, June 29, 2006 2:26 PM - I added a couple more pictures to the Kittanning Sites/History album on MySpace. Two of them show portions of the north and south sides of the town which is divided by the bridge and Market Street. The third picture is of the bridge itself. If you can tell me in what movie the bridge is featured, I'll bestow on you the title of 'Supreme Movie Buff' since the movie was far from being a hit. Of course you can simply do a search on the Internet to find out, I'm sure. However let's see if anyone knows the answer without doing that.
I've got two more 30M QSO's to go for my 30-30 award now. I worked a couple of stations on 30 last evening. It is amazing how good conditions are on that band in the evening, yet there is so little activity to show for it. As I have said, and will continue to say, many times - Don't assume a band is dead propagation wise just because you don't hear any activity. It's possible everyone is listening and not transmitting. Try some CQ's.
While I was on 30 last night for some reason my mind drifted back to my Novice days when I used to stay up late (12M-2A or so) and get on the 40M Novice band. There was always plenty of activity and propagation at that time favored the W0 and W5 areas from here. One ham I used to work often was WN5FQV in Dallas, TX. Don and I had many QSO's and I also worked many of his friends in Dallas. There were a lot of hams in Don's neighborhood, and had there been such an award for working all those hams, I probably could have gotten it.
The kicker is that all those hams were TEENAGERS ON CW, and so was I at the time. My, how things have changed in 43 years. When is the last time you worked a teenage ham on CW? I'll bet it's been a while. The last one for me was probably N8IY several months ago.
CW would be an ideal mode for adventuresome teenagers since it is the only mode that is not duplicateable elsewhere. Ham radio phone has been replaced by the cell phone. A large percentage of teens have their own cell phones now. They have no need for SSB, AM, or FM. All the digital modes, too numerous to list here are cloned now by instant messaging, email, etc. on the Internet. Who needs PSK-31, RTTY, etc. on the ham bands?
But take CW. Now that is something that is unique to ham radio. Or virtually so, as there are some attempts underway to put it on the Internet. If a teen wants to be different, and being different is a teen thing to do, they can learn CW and communicate via radio waves. Think about it! -30-
Wednesday, June 28, 2006 11:00 PM - Once again the flow of my diary gets sidetracked. This time with some sad news. I just learned via N4UW that a good QRP friend of mine passed away a few days ago. I'll miss you Dan, N4ROA.
I never met Dan in person, but we had many QSO's - mostly in contests, but also several rag chews. I don't really know why he did it, but Dan always referred to me as 'Sir John' when we would have a rag chew and even did it in some of his emails to me. Dan was a true gentleman and he probably did that to all of his friends.
Dan was an excellent QRP contester and especially loved the 160M contests. One thing he was especially proud of was working Hawaii on 160M in one of the 160M tests. He wrote a couple paragraphs of info about the QSO to me in an email or perhaps it was regular mail.
I forget exactly what it was now that he would use as a 160M antenna. I emailed N4UW and he thinks an abandoned AM broadcast tower near Gate City, VA and/or an abandoned fire tower near Mendota, VA. It's probably the fire tower I am thinking of since it was about 100' tall at 1,000' above the surrounding terrain. Dan sent a picture of it several years ago. I'll have to see if I still have it. Anyway it served him as a good tall 160M vertical antenna and allowed him with his other antennas to always do very well in all the 160M contests.
But he wasn't good only on 160M. He had the skill, antennas, and good location to always finish well up in the top ten of any contest in which he chose to do so.
Dan became a member of NAQCC in February 2005 as number 0747. However his health was starting to slip by that time and he didn't get the chance to participate in many of our NAQCC activities. In fact, I can only recall him submitting one log for one of our sprints.
The QRP community has lost one of its strongest supporters, as well as a wonderful person. 73 & RIP Dan. -30-
Tuesday, June 27, 2006 10:28 PM - There just aren't enough hours in the day, especially when the fish are really biting like tonight. Hey Ron (K5DUZ), I agreed with you when you said in your email the heavy rain would probably mess up my fishing. Well, we were either wrong, or if this is messed up fishing, I hope it's messed up all the time. I caught 14 Drums from 10-18 inches and a nice big 8 inch Bluegill this evening. I love the way those Drum bite, almost like Carp, but they don't move away as quickly. The Carp grab the bait and spin the line off the reel like I hooked a fast freight train. The Drum hit as hard, but don't get much beyond just bending the reel down and starting to pull the line off the reel.
I had hoped to get some 30M QSO's tonight, but 3 1/2 hours at the river put a crimp in those plans. I still have a couple days left to get my 4 30M QSO's I talked about last entry.
In addition to his fishing comments, Ron also asked how I got into ham radio. That could make for a long answer, and I may flesh out what I'm going to say now some day in the future. However, I do want to answer briefly now (if I can indeed be brief when I'm writing something - HI).
I had an old AM BC radio on which I used to listen to KDKA quite often, especially to a show called Party Line which was pretty much the first ever radio talk show. It was hosted by Ed and Wendy King. Anyone remember it? They had listeners all over the country and down into the Caribbean with KDKA's powerhouse clear channel signal on 1020 kHz. The one thing that set it apart and made it better than any talk show since was the fact they didn't let the callers get their voice on the air. So that kept a lot of the trash talk you hear on talk shows nowadays off the air, and they were able to deal strictly with positive information. Ed was a walking encyclopedia and could answer just about any question on any subject right on the spot. He would relay what the caller said, then respond to it, be it a question, comment, or whatever. They also had quizzes and puzzles for the listeners to call in and solve. One was called the "Party Pretzel" - the meaning being you had to untwist the question to get the answer. Well, I could reminisce for several more paragraphs about Party Line, but I said I'd be brief, didn't I?
One night, I happened to tune away from KDKA and heard WHO in Des Moines, Iowa on 1040 kHz. WOW, this is something! I wonder what else I can hear on this radio? That was the start.
After logging many stations from around the country, I wondered if I could make it any better. I tried hooking up a piece of wire to the radio. I knew very little about electronics at that time. I just clipped the wire to the tuning capacitor. Apparently to the oscillator section rather than the RF section, because I started getting short wave stations as I tuned the dial instead of stronger AM BC stations. The capacitance of the wire must have retuned the oscillator. I think one of the first stations was Radio Switzerland (or whatever they called themselves then - I forget). That was followed by many others with my AM BC receiver that now acted like a SW receiver.
Then one day I heard these people talking to each other on the radio like a telephone conversation. What the heck is this now? Well of course they were radio amateurs. I thought that was neat and wondered if I could do something like that.
Coincidentally around the same time, a high school friend of mine was into CB and wanted to get his amateur radio license. I don't really remember the details of how it came about, but he and I studied the code and theory for the Novice exam, and eventually took the Novice test from Red, W3CYG who incidentally was the ham I first heard on my AM BC receiver. We both passed. He got KN3WWW and I got KN3WWP. He moved away after graduation and we lost touch with each other. I don't think he ever went beyond Novice, and nowadays someone else has the K3WWW call. The new K3WWW has visited my web site, by the way.
I learned things on my own. You couldn't really say Larry (KN3WWW) was an 'Elmer' since we were both in the same boat just plodding along without anyone to guide us.
We built up a so-called transmitter using, I believe, a 6L6 tube. It was actually his transmitter. I can't recall now if it ever worked or not. I built my own transmitter from a circuit in the 1963 ARRL Handbook with a 6AG7 oscillator and a 1625 final amp. My receiver was an old Hallicrafters SW-500, which was pretty much like using a crystal set compared to the receivers I've used since then. It had no selectivity at all as it was designed primarily for SW BC listening. The BFO was some kind of a regenerative circuit.
I struggled mightily to get my first QSO other than working Larry or Art, K3HGD who was also in Kittanning. Finally I did work WN9GAR (John) in WI, WN8DOC (YL-Dot) in MI, and then Frank W9RQF in IL. Frank was a wonderful helpful amateur who did a lot of operating in the Novice bands and really encouraged me in my efforts as he did for many other Novices.
From then on, things got better and better and easier and easier. Still in that first month as a Novice (Apr 3-May 3, 1963) I only made 5 QSO's. W9RQF didn't come along until May 9. I made 41 QSO's in May, 1963. In June it was exactly 100 QSO's, and except when I was off the air tending to my work in broadcasting, I've never slowed down since. More(?) some other time, but for now 73 and -30-
Monday, June 26, 2006 3:11 PM - It seems like items for this diary come in bunches, and I either have too much to cover in one day or other days I don't have enough. Today is a 'too much' day, so I'll spread it out over a few days.
I mentioned a couple of nice emails I received about the diary. One was from Baltasar, EA8BVP. He liked the pictures of my tuner on MySpace and suggested I add a picture of the front. Well, I just did. He also had many other nice comments and a couple questions that I'll answer in a future entry.
Ron, K5DUZ was curious about my town of Kittanning, and asked several questions about it. He was curious about the history of the town. I'm answering that for now with a picture of some historical plaques around town on a new MySpace album entitled 'Kittanning Sites/History'. More history later.
He also asked for a little info about the location of Kittanning. It's almost right in the center of Armstrong County along the Allegheny River about 40 miles northeast of Pittsburgh.
The population according to a 2004 US Census Bureau estimate was 4,529 which is down from the 2000 official census figure of 4,787 (-5.4%). Unfortunately it is a dying town far removed from its heyday in the first half of the 20th century.
More of the town's history in later entries.
I promised some flood pictures. That also will come later. Meantime you have some new pictures to check on MySpace as described above. -30-
Sunday, June 25, 2006 9:37 PM - The past few days have not been all that good here. First it was the computer crash which has been fixed almost 100% now. Today we had almost 6 inches of rain and quite a bit of flooding around town. I got about 3 inches of water in my basement, and my sump pumps had to struggle to keep up with it, but they are winning now as I write this. About two thirds of the water is gone and the one pump has gone back to intermittent operation after running steadily for a few hours.
It was a lot worse in many other spots around the area. We had one area of rain that just sat over Armstrong County from about 7AM until 7PM. The total in my rain gauge was 5.57 inches which rivalled that from Hurricane Ivan in September 2004. Back then the rainfall almost doubled the old one day record rainfall, and everyone said then it was a once in a lifetime storm or a once in 100 years storm. Well everyone, you were wrong - less than two years later we did it again.
I took a few pictures of the rain. Maybe I'll post them tomorrow. That is, if we don't do it all over again then. Storms are predicted again tomorrow as the stationary front lingers along the Appalachian Mountains and just refuses to move.
I had two very nice emails from readers of my diary. I also want to share them with you, but not tonight. I'm tired from worry about the flooding and the struggle to keep my basement from getting worse. -30-
Saturday, June 24, 2006 11:39 PM - Since our NAQCC challenge this month is to see how many states we can work during Field Day, that's the way I treated FD so far. I only worked a station if it was a new state. So far in about an hour and a half or so, I have 26 QSO's and 26 states. Oddly enough I don't have a single W5 state yet. I do have the 1, 2, 6, 8, and 9 call areas complete. Well actually I guess KH6 is a 6 and I don't have HI yet. I figure I should be able to get around 40 states or so since I don't plan to put in much more effort. Maybe an hour later tonight and an hour or so during the day tomorrow.
Right smack in the middle as I was tuning the low end of 20 meters, I heard DQ2006X calling CQ, so I took time out from my state hunt, gave him a call and got an answer on my first try for a nice new special station prefix. In case you don't know that is one of the World Cup Soccer special event stations. This one is in Thuringen, Germany.
Speaking of soccer, it's a shame the US team was eliminated so early in the tournament. We've still got a ways to go to come up to the level of play in other countries. It seemed like we were progressing pretty well, but slipped backwards a bit this year.
I hope you liked the pictures I posted yesterday. I think I'll try to post a new set about once a week or so. Let me know if you enjoy seeing them or think I should just forget the whole idea. -30-
Friday, June 23, 2006 8:10 PM - As one of my favorite singing groups, The Four Seasons say in their song "Bye Bye Baby" - Can't put it off any longer. I just gotta tell you anyway.
I finally uploaded some pictures to MySpace after promising to do so forever now. Sorry for the delay, but I hope you enjoy the pictures. Click the link above and check out the 'My house and yard' album. Just don't waste too much time there - time that you could be on the air using CW. I certainly don't want to keep you away from that overly long.
That's pretty much all I have to say here since as you know - a picture is worth a thousand words. So you have 14,000 words to look at on MySpace. -30-
Thursday, June 22, 2006 8:57 PM - My computer crash seems to have done even more damage under the surface. I'm finding when I start some programs, they either don't start at all or give me an error message that a .dll file is missing. So that Comodo program (if that's what it was) seems to have really trashed a lot of .dll files. In most cases just reinstalling the program over the original install replaces the missing .dll's, so the fix is easy, but tiresome.
In a couple cases though I had to do some digging on the Internet or on one of my old computers to find the proper .dll though.
Let me talk just a bit about ham radio now for a change. The NAQCC mW sprint of a couple evenings ago was not very successful in my case and from the logs received, others had problems also. I wonder if it would have been better to have it later in the evening. Maybe we'll experiment with it if we have another one.
My roll on 30M seems to have really slowed down. There just seems to be no one on there when I listen, and even calling CQ doesn't raise anyone. I was hoping to get 30 QSO's in June for another NAQCC 30-30 award, but I might come up short.
Sorry, but I've got to put off the pictures I promised yet another day. I got interrupted in the middle of this entry by a phone call, and then I realized I better get outside while the grass is wet and get some nightcrawlers. I spent about 45 minutes on that and got a couple dozen which is a savings of about $5.00 over what I would pay in a bait store. Talk about inflation. Nightcrawler prices are a prime example, even if other things (not to mention gas) haven't been going up in price all that much lately. -30-
Wednesday, June 21, 2006 7:26 PM - Well, that wasn't all that bad. I've got my computer up and running again. I hope you don't mind a bit of boasting, but I'm pretty proud of myself how I was able to do it all by myself. I guess I have learned a little about these computing devices after 27 years or so.
I still have a couple of programs that are not behaving normally, but I think a re-installation of them will fix that.
I would STRONGLY suggest you not try out the anti-virus products from Comodo. They came out with a firewall that got very high ratings from all the computer gurus. I tried it and it worked, so I thought the Comodo Anti-Virus would be just as good. Nope. I believe that is what led to my crash, although I can't say for sure. I believe in running a Comodo virus scan it found some false positives in some very important .dll files and simply deleted or quarantined the files without asking me first. One of those files was hal.dll which is vital to Windows starting up. So my computer hung right after the eMachines logo saying my hal.dll file was missing or corrupt.
So I took the hard drive out of my computer, put it in as a slave in the club computer, copied hal.dll to the windows/system32/ directory, put the drive back in my computer, forgot to change the jumper from slave to master and got an 'Operating System Not Found' error now. After realizing my mistake and kicking myself, I reset the jumper to master, and lo and behold, the computer booted into Windows XP as it should.
The first thing I did was uninstall all the Comodo software and went back to ZoneAlarm and AVG Anti-Virus.
All that work and stress of the past couple days was a good learning experience, but it was tiring. So I'm going to close now, and hopefully tomorrow's entry will contain some thoughts about last night's NAQCC mW Sprint and maybe some pictures from around town here. CU then. -30-
Tuesday, June 20, 2006 6:38 PM - Well, after about 27 years of playing with personal computers of various kinds, I finally had a major crash last night. So right now I'm using a computer borrowed from our computer club till I can get mine up and running again (if I can). I've got my web site stuff and my email up and running on this machine so at least I'll be able to take care of those things. Fortunately I am pretty good at backing important stuff up to CD, so I won't lose too much if the worst happens. That's pretty much all I have to say today. -30-
Monday, June 19, 2006 8:21 AM - I promised a follow-up on Jack N9IIF from yesterday's entry, so here goes.
Jack, as you know if you read my entry yesterday was getting back into CW after several years. In his second email to me he added the following.
"i really didn't feel this way until the thought of the code may disappear and I felt I was one of the causes because I took it for granted that it would always be there and let someone else use it. well I now no that it is up to me also and I guess at 44 yrs old you have a tendency to see things in a different light and it just looks like fun."
There is a wealth of wisdom in those few lines, so let's analyze them a bit.
Perhaps many hams felt the same as Jack, and more or less took Morse Code for granted. They figured it would always be there, and they could come back to it if the desire ever returned, or they got tired of playing with phone or digital modes.
All of a sudden the CW bashers came along and wanted to get rid of this wonderful mode because it was too much of an effort for them to learn it.
Let me interject something here before I get back on track. Making an effort to do something seems to be a stumbling block for many people and many activities in today's lazy society. Folks want things handed to them on a silver platter without doing one bit of work to earn those things. I'm sure I could list dozens of examples here, but then I know that you could also come up with your own list since that attitude is so prevalent.
Anyway perhaps we who love CW should re-think our attitude towards the CW bashers. Maybe we should thank them since they are possibly one of the causes for driving hams back to CW after they strayed off the Morse Code path.
It seems that when something is criticized, there will be a group of people who will in turn stand up for that something whereas without that criticism they wouldn't care one way for another.
At any rate, it is great to see so many hams returning to CW whatever the reason. I am working many hams who say that they are getting back to our wonderful mode, some after many years.
I hope I've given you some food for thought. Especially anyone who was taking CW for granted and thinking they could get back to it whenever they wished. Well, the CW bashers are very extremist in their views and may well get their way some day, so maybe now is the time to pull out the key and hook it up again.
Isn't it interesting that many SSB operators want CW eliminated while you seldom, if ever hear a CW operator say that SSB should be eliminated. We CW operators, although we don't use SSB, realize that there is a place in ham radio for SSB and other modes as well. Why the opposite isn't true, I don't understand. We CW operators certainly don't bother the SSB ops in any way. Why are we the object of hate for some who use SSB?
I think tomorrow, I'm going to post a few pictures in MySpace. I wanted to do that the past couple days, but then this wonderful email from Jack came along and I had to comment on it. -30-
Sunday, June 18, 2006 10:17 AM - Gee, I'm getting these entries done earlier and earlier. I'll soon be getting a whole day ahead of myself or something like that.
I received an email early today that delighted me and I want to share it with you. I won't quote it in its entirety, but here is a highlight from it:
"What do you think the best approach to re-learning cw, did it back in 1988 enough to pass the test then never picked it up, finding ssb starting to become a little boring wanted a new avenue...."
I love it when someone wants to come back to real ham radio - CW. When you sit down and analyze boredom, it basically comes from having nothing to stimulate the brain. I think that is why TV programs like Jeopardy and Wheel Of Fortune are so popular. You tend to use your brain while watching these types of shows as you attempt to beat the on-air contestants to the answer (I should say to the question in the case of Jeopardy) or the solution to the puzzle. I can't recall folks saying they are ever bored with that kind of TV show, while many other shows on TV offer nothing whatsover in the way of brain stimulation and quickly promote boredom. In my opinion Newton Minow's 1960's definition of TV as a vast wasteland is certainly true today. Oh there are many wonderful oases in that wasteland, but all in all..... I just wanted to interject that definition of boredom before continuing.
Using CW on the air (as long as you don't use a computer or CW reader to copy for you) is an excellent way to stimulate your brain, and that most definitely will relieve boredom.
While SSB can be useful in ham radio, much of what goes on there requires very little brain work, and it is easy to see how it can become boring very quickly.
With CW, the brain is stimulated constantly as you must convert that stream of dots and dashes into letters, then combine the letters into words and finally into sentences and ideas. Or when you are sending you must use the brain to break down your ideas into sentences, then words, letters, and dots and dashes.
I'm thinking back as I write this, and I honestly can't recall ever being bored while operating CW. It seems to be something fresh, new, and exciting every time I sit down at the key, whether it be for a rag chew, a contest, or chasing DX.
I know I could never find that same thrill operating any other ham radio mode.
I know the ham who wrote me the email won't regret his decision to come back to CW. I've emailed him back with encouragement, info, and a request to use his name and call in this entry. I'll mention his call if he gives me permission to do so. Then you can look out for him on the air and help him along.
Well, just as I'm finishing this, Jack N9IIF who is the ham I am talking about did give his permission in a follow-up email. Also in that email he gave me more interesting info about his decision to return to CW which I'll share in tomorrow's diary entry.
Sorry, but now I must finish this upbeat entry with a rant. One thing that makes me very angry is when I respond (perhaps after spending 15 minutes writing that response) to an email from someone and get a reply that my email will not be accepted until I go to some web site and add my address to an approved addresses list. Well I REFUSE TO PLAY THAT SILLY GAME. I know Earthlink does this as do certain other ISP's. If you who are reading this are part of such a silly system and you would like to hear from me via email for whatever reason, YOU better add my email address to that approved sender list, because I for sure ain't gonna do it for you! It's your responsibility, not mine. I don't know if this is mandatory or optional with Earthlink, but I may just stop wasting my time writing responses to email from someone with an Earthlink address unless they assure me in their email that my response will be accepted. End of rant and entry for today. -30-
Saturday, June 17, 2006 5:27 PM - It's kind of a slow quiet day here so I'm writing this earlier than usual. Although it doesn't bother me - and I like it in fact -, the heat around 90 degrees seems to have slowed everyone down around here. My friend with the garden down the street was up early while it was still cool working in his garden and I helped him for a while. I've got some nice pictures of the garden which I'll share with you sometime in the future via the MySpace site which I'll explain in a moment.
Next I helped another neighbor install an air conditioner, did some grocery shopping, went for a nice walk, then created the MySpace account described below.
One of my sayings here goes something like this - "If you want to hide something, put it in the most obvious spot and it likely will be overlooked." Well that was true of extra on-line storage for the photos I want to share with you. I completely overlooked Microsoft's MySpace storage area for blogs, photos, etc. It's completely free and run by the best software company in the world. So as soon as I happened across a mention of it in one of my RSS feeds, that big bright light bulb lit up signifying an idea had hit me. I went right there and created an account and uploaded a couple test pictures. You can get there via the link at the top of this page to look at some pictures of the inner workings of my antenna coupler/tuner that I use with the TS-570D.
The MySpace system is brand new to me, so it's a learning experience for me in using it, and I'll probably have to experiment a while before I get it working exactly like I want it to. Microsoft has made it pretty intuitive and easy to use, but it is quite customizable which is what takes the learning to get it just right.
Incidentally just because I am writing this diary and now presenting some pictures to you, I don't want you to disobey my prime directive of getting on the air and using CW to communicate. So please don't waste too much time reading my monologues here nor looking at the pictures. Just think of it as a brief respite and get back to your telegraph key as soon as you can. -30-
Friday, June 16, 2006 11:09 PM - I've just finished adding a couple more logs to our NAQCC Sprint results. I'm delighted with the number of logs that have been submitted so far this month. I figured with it being the first month of summer (meteorological summer, which starts June 1) with the late sunsets that a lot of folks would be outside enjoying the nice evenings. However it looks like this month we may get the most, or at least second most, logs received for one of our sprints.
It think there are a couple of reasons for that. First adding 20M to our sprints seemed to work very well for our west coast USA members, and we received quite a few first time logs from our members out there. Secondly, it seems that a lot of members took the time to send in their logs this month even though they only made 5 or less QSO's. We really appreciate those members. It's easy to send in a log when you've made a lot of QSO's and think you'll have a high finish. Conversely making only a couple of QSO's in a contest usually discourages that person from submitting a log, but not in this case.
Getting so many logs makes my job of cross checking logs a little more time consuming, but I don't mind since I strongly believe in being as fair as possible to everyone who enters a contest. True cross-checking of logs is the only way to do that. There is just too much room for error, intentional or un-intentional when a contest only requires participants to report their number of QSO's and multipliers without any further data to back it up.
Don't forget there is another NAQCC sprint coming up next week. A special mW sprint 'honoring' the first day of summer (astronomical summer this time). Check the NAQCC web site for details if you think you'd like to take part.
Time now to go get my washing out of the dryer. Yes, I am alone here and have to do all the household chores myself in addition to all the other things I talked about in yesterday's entry. CUL -30-
Thursday, June 15, 2006 9:24 PM - Boy, these days go fast. Seems like I just wrote yesterday's entry a few minutes ago, and here it is time for another one already. That means one of two things - either I'm getting old or I'm enjoying myself a whole lot. Both of those factors are supposed to make time pass faster. Well, in my case it's probably a little of both. I'm definitely aging, but I still feel young most all of the time and I am enjoying each and every day that comes along.
Today for example I started out helping a friend of mine work in his garden planting about 130 pepper plants and watering beans, tomatoes, garlic, and pepper plants that were planted earlier.
After that I worked on posting some results from our NAQCC sprint of a couple evenings ago and putting the log info into our master sprint log database.
Then I went for about a three mile walk and took some more pictures with my new digital camera along the way.
Earlier this evening I went to our local computer club picnic in the park and had a good time eating and fellowshipping with our members and their families.
After I finish writing this entry, I might do some star gazing or some artificial satellite observing. I enjoy catching the Iridium satellites when they flare up. I'm trying to observe the whole fleet of 100 or so Iridiums, and have 53 logged so far.
I really wanted to talk about links today though. I received a request from Bob to link to his site, which I will do because it is an extremely informative ham radio site. But what I want to say (and perhaps the preamble of this entry serves as an explanation why) is that I find myself extremely busy with various activities here and no longer have any time to go searching for good ham radio sites to add to my collection of links. I know there are many out there deserving of a link.
So I'm asking for your help. If you know of any good ham radio sites, let me know about them so I may add them to my links. The only qualification is that the sites must deal with CW and/or QRP or at least be related to those two topics in some way. I won't link to any sites that strictly promote SSB, PSK, RTTY, etc. even though they may deal with QRP for those modes, for example.
You can either email me or use the ADD-A-LINK form on the main page in my links section. Thanks.
Oh, today marks the completion of the first month of the diary and I'll start removing some of the earlier entries now to keep the size down. As I mentioned in one of the first entries, I'll try to keep only the latest 30 or 31 days' entries here on the web site and archive the older ones on my hard drive or CD's. -30-
Wednesday, June 14, 2006 10:05 PM - I hope you all had a very good Flag Day here in the USA and honored our flag and the country it stands for. Here is a picture of the flag that I fly on our front porch on every patriotic holiday
This is the flag that was draped on my father's coffin when he passed away 42 years ago. He served in the armed forces in World War II helping to defend our country against the terrorism of Germany, Italy, and Japan.
Then this evening I attened a Flag Day ceremony at our local Elks Lodge. Featured there were band music from our award winning Kittanning Fireman's Band, a tribute to the veterans from the nearby Butler VA Hospital, a demonstration of how our flag has changed over the past 200+ years along with a narrated history of the flag, and a stirring speech by a local county official.
Included in that speech was a rendition of Johnny Cash's moving poem, "Ragged Old Flag". Click here to read and hear Johnny Cash reading the poem. The version at tonight's ceremony was updated slightly at the end to include 9/11 and the current fight against terrorism.
I came away from that ceremony with a very proud feeling.
It was especially moving to see the brave veterans sitting in their wheelchairs and knowing what they gave to keep our country free and safe. I know that many years from now we'll be similarly honoring those who are currently fighting the current gang of terrorists with a similar goal in mind. -30-
Tuesday, June 13, 2006 11:03 PM - I just finished my outing in the NAQCC Sprint and it's late so this will be another short entry. I really enjoyed the sprint. I did one of my laid back efforts just basically sitting on a frequency and calling SLOW CQ's. I was rewarded with QSO's from quite a few new members including a couple who had commented about the sprints being a bit fast for their tastes. That's what made it all worthwhile as we like our sprints to be learning experiences for those new to contesting. After all we all have to start somewhere and it's not easy for a newcomer to jump right into the fray in a high speed contest or sprint. OK, maybe tomorrow night I'll have a bit more to say about something or other. -30-
Monday, June 12, 2006 11:44 PM - It's always nice to work someone on the bands that you haven't worked for a while. That happened tonight on 30M when I worked CO3ET and KN2GSJ. I hadn't worked Emil and George for about 7 and 6 years respectively.
That makes 16 30M QSO's so far in June as I go for my second consecutive NAQCC 30-30 award, then go for the 30-30 Magnum award in July.
Another NAQCC activity that has really helped me to be more active on the bands as intended is the Spring Rag Chew Award. I doubt I will win the award which goes to the one making the most 30+ minute rag chews during the spring season, but I have made 31 so far as we enter the last week or so of spring.
I suppose this may be common knowledge, but I just realized it today as I was hiking on the Armstrong trail that runs through Kittanning. Since I got my Fuji digital camera I am taking more time on my walks to 'smell the roses', so to speak. I can never remember if the period or comma goes inside or outside the quotes as in the previous sentence. But I digress. As I was saying, I find myself smelling the roses more now, or actually looking more at the scenery as I walk by looking for another picture to take with the camera. I'm noticing things that were there before, but I just never saw them. I'm getting some really beautiful pictures of the scenery around Kittanning. If I wasn't so close to my 10MB limit on the Alltel web site, I'd share some of them with you. Maybe someday when I pare down the site a bit as I mentioned a few entries ago I can do that. -30-
Sunday, June 11, 2006 11:10 PM - Just a short reminder tonight that this Tuesday evening is our monthly NAQCC sprint. More specifically the sprint is Wednesday 0030-0230Z. You can check the NAQCC web site for all the particulars. I'd like to see a really big turnout even though as the log checker it'll mean more work for me. We do cross check all logs received in our sprints to make sure that everyone is treated fairly. Last month for example after checking, a couple of positions had to be adjusted for the final standings. This can't happen when only a number of QSO's is submitted as some clubs do. The NAQCC believes in being as fair as possible in every way to everybody. I'm proud of that. -30-
Saturday, June 10, 2006 11:52 PM - Gee, I've been so busy with this and that I almost forgot about writing my diary entry for today.
I had a fun time fishing this evening. The water has finally warmed up enough to get the fish to be really active, and that they were. Just a couple minutes after I threw my line in I had a white bass in my fishing log. That was followed by six other fish - 2 more white bass, 2 perch, 1 sucker (18.5" - one of the bigger suckers I've ever caught) and 1 drum (18").
Then when I got home from fishing I got on 30M and had two nice rag chews with hams down in hot Florida.
I really wanted to talk about some emails received today though. Thanks to Goran, SM0PMJ for some very nice personal comments about the latest NAQCC Newsletter and specifically my response in it to one of our members comments about our sprints and QRS. Briefly I explained that our sprints are meant to help newcomers get into contesting and urged all who enter the sprints to keep that in mind and QRS if necessary to help out the newer operators. Also Goran read my diary entry a few days ago about re-discovering 30M and fixed up his 30M antenna and got active on 30M again.
Gary, W9FNB also emailed about the newsletter giving his comments on our splitting our NAQCC sprints into 2 categories when we add 20M this month. Again briefly we are doing that to keep those with tiny little simple wire antennas from having to compete directly against those with the huge antenna farms. We now have a simple wire antenna category and a gain antenna category. Gary was concerned about the gray area in between the two categories. Maybe I'll talk more about that in a future entry here.
Gary also agreed with my comments about slowing down in our sprints as did George, KK8J in a later email today.
And finally for tonight as it's after midnight now, another nice email about a diary entry a couple days ago in which I commented about those just starting out on CW. The ham who prompted that commentary - Bill, KI4MOD - wrote today and said he took the plunge after my encouragement and made his first CW contact today (Saturday). That's great, Bill and I hope it's just the first of many many more. I think it will be from the tone of Bill's email.
This is what makes such a huge reward for me with my web site and the NAQCC. Helping others in one way or another. That's true in other aspects of life as well. The biggest reward you can get is the knowledge you've helped your fellow man in one way or another, no matter how small or large whatever you helped with. -30-
Friday, June 09, 2006 4:46 PM - I'm writing this a bit early to explain a couple changes on the web site. I've replaced the pictures of my station gear in my Homebrewing section with ones taken with my new Fuji digital camera. I think they show off the gear much more clearly than the previous pictues. Note especially the detail in the picture of my paddle. Many of you have asked about it, and it was hard to explain in words, but as they say, "A picture is worth a thousand words". I think the new picture shows enough detail so that anyone who might want to, can copy it and make their own cheap paddle.
I continue to flirt with the maximum 10MB limit for my web site on the Alltel server, and I deleted the picture that came with my diary entry a couple days ago. You can now see the quality of the Fuji pictures on the Homebrew page as mentioned above.
I still need to delete some more content from the site and it is very hard to decide what to get rid of. I hate to do it, but I think the next thing to go might be the archived guestbook entries. I think I'll only keep the current year's entries plus the last previous full year's entries.
Finally for today here is something to think about if you have multiple antennas as I do.
I often find when I am working someone on 30M as an example that if their signal dips into the noise, I can pull it back out by switching to another antenna for receiving them. This works a lot of the time mainly because of the differing S/N ratios on the different antennas. It doesn't always work as sometimes the S/N seems to be the same on all 4 antennas I use here. However I have been able to complete many QSO's with this technique that otherwise would have ended prematurely. -30-
Thursday, June 08, 2006 6:32 PM- My latest guestbook entry gave me the inspiration for today's diary entry. Basically the entry asks something similar to this. I'd love to try CW, but I feel I am not good enough at it. I'm afraid of being too slow or being unable to copy what is being sent to me. I'd be embarrassed at making mistakes in my sending. What should I do? Does everyone starting out feel this way?
I answered in this way, "Well yes, unless they came from somewhere that used Morse code like the Armed Services, Merchant Marine, Ship to Shore, etc. organizations used to do. And when they started out in those organizations I'm sure they felt the same way there.
After all, could you tie your shoe perfectly the first time you did it? Could you even button your shirt correctly the first time? How about getting in a car and driving it the first time? I am virtually certain you were slow, stumbling, and not perfect in any of those situations, yet now all those activities are second nature to you and you could almost do them in your sleep.
I'm sure you were probably afraid of embarrassing yourself in those situations, but went ahead and did them anyway.
There's no difference at all between that and CW, except that the other person involved is not a parent or a driving instructor, but probably some stranger many miles away who incidentally might be feeling exactly like you.
So jump in there and do it. Find someone who is sending slow enough for you to copy and answer their CQ or call CQ yourself at a speed that you are able to copy.
Join organizations like FISTS that have a 'code buddy' program to match you with someone in a similar situation for on-air code practice.
Don't be afraid to ask for repeats or to ask someone to QRS. All except a very few hams are glad to do that for you. People are much more understanding, friendly, and cooperative on CW than on any other mode."
If you want an example of being embarrassed the first time you did something, I'll give you a personal one.
The very first time I got behind the wheel of a car happened like this.
My friend who was teaching me to drive drove my car out to a place near here where there is a long straight stretch of road without much traffic on it. We thought that would be a good place to get an initial feel of the car.
When we got to the beginning of the straight stretch he pulled the car over so we could switch places. Wouldn't you know it? Just at that time a state police car stopped on the other side of the road and the officer came over to see what we were doing.
Well, we explained the situation to him, and he was satisfied and went back to his patrol car, but instead of leaving right away, he stayed and watched as I pulled out and started my adventure.
While that's an extreme example, we can generally expect to be embarrassed in some way during the first time we attempt something. At least a large proportion of those times.
We can't let that stop us though or we'll wind up lying in a baby bed all our lives with the only events in our lives being when we have to get a bigger bed.
CW is just another aspect of the multitude of events in our life that has a stumbling unsure beginning, a variable speed learning curve, and finally a level of proficiency. -30-
Wednesday, June 07, 2006 10:00 PM - 30M was again rather dead today and this evening. Storminess in the ionosphere probably was the cause again. However the band was definitely usable. I called CQ for a while this afternoon after hearing nothing at all on the band except a couple weak signals on the CHN. After a while I got an answer from N5RDN in Texas and that turned into an hour and ten minute rag chew with solid copy most of the time. Again I say don't trust just listening to a band. If you hear nothing, try some CQ's. Someone has to be transmitting to make a band sound alive.
I guess my main activity today (besides walking around 8+ miles) was playing with the new digital camera I mentioned yesterday. I'm getting more familiar with it now and can take pictures without much thinking. HI. I still have tons to learn about all its features. I think maybe I'll concentrate on one feature (like bracketing pictures, for example) each day until I become thoroughly familiar with it and can take one look at a scene I want to photograph and know exactly the best settings to get the best picture. That may take a while.
Even without knowing much, I took some pretty nice photos today letting the camera do all the thinking in its Auto mode. You can see some in my Homebrewing section showing my station equipment.
Not bad for someone who doesn't really know photography (yet). -30-
Tuesday, June 06, 2006 9:06 PM - Just some random thoughts today after this site news. Today I posted a CW story from Jane KC2OBS in my CW section - Your CW Stories page. Jane is the YL who worked CW WAS in her first year of being a ham. She was written up in the ARRL News and other places, so you may have heard of her and her wonderful achievement. Now you can read her full story here on my web site. An inspiring story it is. I hope it inspires other YL's to discover the joy of CW. CW is not only a male activity, but for females as well. Thanks to Jane for submitting her story in response to my request.
You're also invited to submit your story about how you came to use and love CW, especially if you're a young ham, but stories from all ages are welcome, as long as they deal with CW.
Now the random thoughts. If you use Internet Explorer 7 to explore my web site, there are many places where you can open a link in a new tab rather than a whole new browser window. If you have a mouse with a center button, clicking a link with that center button will open the link in a new tab, even though I have it coded to open in a new window. Or you can right click a link and select 'Open In New Tab' to do the same thing.
Thanks to Larry W2LJ who emailed and said he enjoys the diary, expecially my D-day comments yesterday.
I got a new toy today, a digital camera. I should say a GOOD digital camera. I had a cheap little camera that had like 100K pixels. This one has 6.3M pixels and is so complicated I doubt I'll ever learn or use all its many features. However I have taken a few photos in its Auto mode so far with great results. When I learn more about it, I should be able to produce professional quality photographs with it. So I'll probably be posting some new photos on the web site over the coming weeks and months.
After all my talk about how great 30M has been lately, this evening it wasn't very good. Even the German meteo station was almost inaudible. It seems we had a bit of storming in the ionosphere today which probably accounts for that. -30-
Monday, June 05, 2006 9:28 PM - It's ironic that two of my QSO's on 30M this evening were with hams in Romania and the Czech Republic. It was June 6 in those countries when I worked them, and that as you know is the 62nd anniversay of the D-Day landings in France that led to the downfall of a terrorist of the worst order. It meant eventual freedom for Romania and Czechoslovakia from that terrorist, although unfortunately they fell under another form of terrorism that lasted for a much longer time.
The terrorist of whom I'm speaking of course is Adolph Hitler. The terrorism that followed was the horrible terrorism of Communism. Today the world is again threatened by another kind of terrorism. A more hidden, cowardly kind of terrorism, but nevertheless just as brutal. We can only hope that these modern day terrorists meet the same fate as their predecessors, and that those opposed to fighting terrorism will not prevail. I salute all the brave military personell, politicians, and other folks who have stood up to these terrorists over the years and the ones who are doing so now as well.
It's something wonderful when we re-discover a lost love. I like the British comedy TV series that deals with this subject - As Time Goes By. We'll I've more or less re-discovered 30M after having gotten away from that band for some time now. For a good deal of May and most of June so far, I've pretty much stuck to 30M for my regular operating (non-contest, that is).
I'm finding it to be a great source of DX as it was during the previous sunspot minimum when I was just becoming active as a ham again. I worked YO8OU this evening with just a single call. Then when I was calling CQ a bit later, OK1DVK answered my CQ and we had a brief rag chew.
It's also a good domestic rag chew band, and I've had several of those over the past few weeks now also.
The one difference between this sunspot minimum and the previous one is there is a lot less activity on 30M this time around. I hope that more hams will come to 30M and enjoy this wonderful band. I came back, and you can too. One thing that brought me back was the NAQCC 30-30 Award that offers a certificate for making 30 30M QSO's in a calendar month and a further award for doing it for 3 calendar months.
I hope to be working YOU on 30M in the coming days and weeks as I continue to do a lot of my operating there. -30-
Sunday, June 04, 2006 11:18 PM - Other than it being a rainy day, having our table in a location that almost constantly had cold, damp air blowing on us, having a PA LOUDspeaker right over our heads, and a noisy jigsaw belonging to someone making wooden callsigns right behind us, Tom and I had a good time at the Butler hamfest today and welcomed 15 new members into the ranks of the NAQCC.
I refrained from spending any money on those 'gee that's neat' or 'I gotta have one' items that are everywhere at hamfests. I definitely refrained from buying any food at the hamfest. I'll not pay $3.50 for a hot dog, $4 for a hot sausage sandwich, $6 for some kind of pork sandwich, etc.
Tom and I instead stopped at a Subway after we left the hamfest and got a delicious, low-calorie, but filling vegetable sub for $2.49. I used to eat at Subway a lot when I worked in Pittsburgh, and probably have eaten every variety of sub they make at one time or other. As a result I seemingly always have a tough time deciding what I want when I go there. So this time I let Tom go ahead and I just copied what he got. Great choice, Tom.
It was nice as always meeting all the different hams who showed up at our booth. A lot just looked and passed by probably when they saw either the 'QRP' or the 'CW' on our banner. However a lot were interested and stopped and chatted a while. I had my collection of QSL's from 196 countries there to show what can be done with QRP and CW. That elicited a lot of comments and one particularly interesting conversation from a QRO DXer who was very positive in his comments. We compared notes on the various countries we both had worked, and the difficulties of getting a QSL from some countries. Often times some QRO operators will ridicule or disbelieve QRP operators, but that didn't happen today.
Another item of interest was the rigs Tom and I brought for as Tom put it, 'show and tell'. Many hams stopped and looked at them. Some asked how much we wanted for them, especially Tom's HW-7 and HW-9. That's when Tom gave his 'show and tell' answer, saying they were not for sale.
As in the previous times I've been at the hamfest, one impression overwhelms me. Ham radio is a hobby for us OLD folks. Virtually all the hams there were over 50 years old. There were a few young hams, but definitely a small minority. Other young folks were there also, but they seemed to be non-hams who were interested in the other aspect of the hamfest which was computers.
I have not seen any indication that reducing the CW requirement to get a license has brought any newcomers into ham radio. CW has nothing to do with the decline of ham radio, in my opinion. It's that when a youngster has his own cell phone, can talk to his friends down the block or around the world on his computer, and so forth, he has no use whatsoever for ham radio.
And to close my entry today another of my "Whyisitthat's" - Why is it that some hams will answer my CQ by sending my call several times and their call only once? I know what my call is, but I don't know theirs and may not get it if they send it only once especially if there is QSB and/or QRM/QRN to contend with. I suggest answering a CQ by sending the CQing ham's call ONCE DE your call TWICE or in common parlance a 1X2 answer. If the CQer is very weak, perhaps even a 1X3 answer. -30-
Saturday, June 03, 2006 9:48 PM - This will be short tonight. I just got home from fishing (19" Catfish and a 27" Carp) and now I want to go get some nightcrawlers if I can (never stopped raining last night). Then I have a few other things to do before a little earlier bedtime tonight so I can get up early for the Butler Hamfest with Tom KB3LFC tomorrow morning.
I meant to write earlier and invite you to come to Butler if it isn't too long a trip. I always enjoy meeting visitors to my site in person. If you get this in time and are in the Butler, PA area, please drop by. We hope to be there from 9AM until at least 3PM or so if Tom's plans aren't changed and he has to leave earlier for work. The last I talked to him, he said he was taking the whole day off work so we wouldn't have to leave early as we did last year.
I'm doing everything quickly this evening. My QSO of the day for the 4th (UTC) was a quick QSO with F2YT on 30M who was putting in an S8-S9 signal. He is often that strong on 30M if you need France on that band. It only took a couple calls to get him with my QRP, and I beat out a couple other stations also calling at the same time. Yes, QRP works - for anyone that has any doubts. Gotta run now. CUL -30-
Friday, June 02, 2006 9:27 PM - I'm going to start datelining these entries with the approximate time I write and then upload them. That way any references I make in them to 'today', 'this evening', etc. will make a little more sense.
The number three appears in a lot of sayings such as "the third time's the charm" just to name one and get down to business.
I had something happen to me for the third time on the ham bands Thursday evening. As I usually do, I got on the bands just after 0000Z to try to get my daily QSO to keep my streak going in case something happens later in the day. The rig was on 30M, so I tuned across the band and found it devoid of amateur signals. The German meteorological station at the very bottom of the 30M ham band was coming through good though, so I knew the band wasn't dead as far as propagation goes. What's that, you say? Oh, that strong RTTY like signal around 10.101 MHz is supposedly located in Germany and is transmitting some kind of weather data continuously. I believe the location is correct because it is strong when the EU ham signals are strong and vice-versa. So it's a good indicator of how good 30M conditions are to EU.
Back on track now. Since I was on 30 and propagation apparently was good, I started calling CQ. I did so for maybe 5 minutes or so before I got a weak answer from someone whose call started with 'V'. Ah, a Canadian I figured, but the second letter wasn't an 'E'. It started with a dash - maybe a VO or a special Canadian prefix, of which they have many and use them often. The second time he sent his call, I copied it - it was a VK call.
My mind flashed back to the two previous times this happened in 1996 and 1999. Those times it was VK6HQ answering my CQ on 30M around the same time in the evening and the same time of year. The last two letters weren't HQ though. I thought the call was VK5AU. I was close. It was VK6AU in Perth, Australia which is about as far from Kittanning, PA as you can get on the earth. He gave me a 529 RST, and apparently copied me almost solidly. Probably better than I was copying him since my always present QRN here was making it rough.
Before I go on with some general comments, let me interject that VK6AU was a new call for my friend John, VK6HQ. So we've had 3 QSO's on 30 meters now. Each one as thrilling as the others. The first time in 1996 I could hardly believe I was really working someone in Perth with my 5 watts into a random wire antenna in the attic. I was even a bit skeptical after the QSO was over until I got John's QSL (here) a couple weeks later.
The second QSO in 1999 was special for another reason. After we finished the QSO, my phone rang and wonder of wonders, it was John calling LONG distance from Australia. That must have been quite a phone bill! We talked a few minutes, and later exchanged emails and pictures.
The most recent QSO was special because it confirms a couple of things I've always said about ham radio. Just because you don't hear anyone on a particular band doesn't mean the band is dead. You should try some CQ's before giving up on it - you'll never know who might answer, maybe even someone on the other side of the world.
I've also said that working some particularly impressive QSO using QRP isn't a fluke that happens only when conditions are just right, you have a big antenna on a hill, and other such factors are involved. QRP even with simple antennas will work, and work well regularly. I think working Perth, Australia from Kittanning, PA not once, not twice, but three times on 30 meters proves that.
Well, I'm QRT on the computer for now and going out to see if I can get some nightcrawlers after our rain this evening. -30-
Friday, Jun 2, 2006 - Just a short preface to my entry as a bit of explanation. I'm not a news follower at all, and oftentimes I figure I'm the last person in the world other than a hermit or a castaway on a desert island somewhere to know when anything newsworthy happens. That is the reason I am way too late in posting this entry.
While checking something out on the FISTS UK web site, I learned that the FISTS founder George, G3ZQS passed away on April 25th. Before I get to my thoughts on George, I must express my sad feelings about the lack of coverage his passing received. When I first saw the item, I thought it was perhaps just my lack of following the news that caused me to miss it. However I do glance through the ARRL News Letter, and I could be wrong, but I don't recall seeing it there. At least it wasn't obvious enough to catch my attention if it was there. I don't see anything about it on the FISTS USA web site main page. In looking at the comments from members on the FISTS UK site, virtually none of the entries there are from USA FISTS members. Something like that doesn't seem right to me. This was the passing of a major figure in ham radio.
Now that those two preliminary paragraphs are said and done, let me get down to my thoughts about George.
My only direct contact with George was working him a few years ago when he was operating GX0IPX. Oddly it was on a leap day, February 29, 2000. It was only a brief QSO on 12 meters. That lack of personal contact doesn't diminish the impact George had on me, and on EVERY ham who loves and operates CW.
Indirectly because George loved CW and felt it must be preserved on the ham bands, it led me to become a disciple of his and start up my web site devoted to preserving CW and to write my QRP column for the FISTS Keynote also devoted to the same principle.
When George started FISTS in 1987, I'm sure he realized the tough times that were ahead for CW. Had he not realized that and started the club, CW might well be much worse off now than it is. However through FISTS, George strengthened the love of CW in those who already loved it, and created a love of CW in others who wondered why these 'fanatic' FISTS members were so devoted to what those others thought was a dying or dead mode of ham radio operation.
Thank you very much George on behalf of all ham radio CW operators. I could write several thousand words on how important you were (and are) to us. Without you and the wonderful organization you started, I'm sure there would be much less CW being heard on the ham bands in 2006.
My sympathies go out to George's family and to all those who knew this wonderful man. I only wish I had somehow gotten to know him better so I could write some more personal info in this eulogy. I'm sure George is now promoting Morse in another world and making that world a little better as a result. -30-
Thursday, Jun 1, 2006 - A few days ago I gave some stats about the age of the hams I've been working on CW and the percentage of hams I worked for the first time. I'd like to flesh out those stats a bit now.
In May 2006 I got an age from someone in 26 QSO's. The average age was 61.3 years. The oldest was 91, the youngest 33.
In April 2005 I got an age from someone in 19 QSO's. The average age was 60.7 years. The oldest was 78, the youngest 40.
So in just over a year, the average age increased by 0.6 years. Although the sampling of CW ops is very small, that indicates very few young hams are getting into CW.
In April 2005 24 of my 94 QSO's were with someone I never worked before. That's 25.5%
In May 2006 45 of my 131 QSO's were with someone I never worked before. That's 34.4%
Looking at it that way, it seems more hams are getting into CW, but they are older hams discovering or perhaps re-discovering the joy of CW.
I'm not sure what to make of the stats overall, but I find them interesting nonetheless.
Although combining the two set of stats would give me an even smaller sample, I think it would be interesting to see the average age of the hams I worked for the first time. That involves co-ordinating my paper log and computer log though since I only note ages on paper and don't transfer that to the computer. So I'll put that off till a later entry.
I spent the whole month of May except for the WPX and Hoot Owl contests operating with my straight key for the NAQCC straight key states challenge. I must say it was very enjoyable to be really 'pounding brass' regularly again. Kind of like my old Novice days in the 60's till I drifted off to using a bug briefly, then a keyer which I then used virtually ever since except for SKN, the NAQCC sprints and a few other occasions.
I might just continue that way into June and maybe even beyond. The NAQCC has really broadened my enjoyment of ham radio again. I'm certainly glad my good friend Tom KB3LFC started up the club. Because of it, I have more incentives to get on the air than just getting my QSO of the day to keep my 'streak' alive. I was falling into that pattern - getting a QSO in the 0000Z or 0100Z hour, then QRT the rest of the day. Now I'm getting on more often each day. Still not as often as I did in the peak sunspot years when those high bands were tantalizingly open world-wide every day, but nevertheless still more often than before there was a NAQCC.
I hope those of you who visit my site regularly are also NAQCC members. If not, I'm guessing you're here because you enjoy CW and QRP, and that combination of interests would make the NAQCC ideal for you, and we would love to have you aboard sharing your interests with other members. -30-
Wednesday, May 31, 2006 - At last! The hot humid summer type weather I love is finally here. 92 degrees Monday and 94 degrees Tuesday. It was really nice sitting out in the sun fishing Tuesday afternoon and I even caught a couple - a sucker and a perch.
W9ILF, Ivin commented on my diary entries in general and one entry in particular from a couple days ago. He says, "I read your diary entries again today. You asked for feedback about if anyone likes them. Well I am enjoying them very much." Thank you very much. That makes my taking 15-20 minutes of my day to write these entries worthwhile.
He goes on to say, "...it is funny you bring up points to think about that I thought about. Like just yesterday, 40 meters during the early afternoon was very quiet.... I had a SKED so I started sending for my friend.... and I get tuned right on top of. I was hoping it was my friend, but no, there was no answer I guess just a friendly tone in the quiet Hmmmm????" Hmmm indeed - I wonder why they do it. I'd love to know the psychology behind it. At any rate it's not a phenomenon that happens to me alone.
I've got some other interesting material to present here, and now that the Memorial Day weekend is over, maybe I'll have time to get it organized and presented unless I succumb to that overwhelming urge I get sometimes to head to the river to try to catch some more carp. -30-
Tuesday, May 30, 2006 - Before they bunged up the holidays in the USA, May 30 was always the traditional Memorial Day, not the Monday closest to May 30 as it is now. So a happy Traditional Memorial Day to all.
This is going to be an easy entry for me to write because I want to tell you about my Hoot Owl Sprint experience with Tom, KB3LFC. And I already did that elsewhere on the site. So for today's entry, go to my Contesting section - Contest Stories page and click on the link to the 2006 Hoot Owl Sprint. Bye - I'm going out for a walk now. (Oh I'm writing this at 0100Z on the 30th in case you wonder what time I walk around here) -30-
Monday, May 29, 2006 - One of our very active NAQCC members told me of a very interesting way of promoting CW on the bands and providing code practice for newcomers. I'm going to quote an email from Steve, NU7T for my entry today.
"John, Our repeater code practise begins at 8 pm every Monday night for one hour.
The session is informal and those with the appropriate license are welcome to send a sentence or two with their turn in a round table arrangement.
There are no tone or sound requirements. Even DTMF pads will work. If someone wishes to use a hand held radio for the FM CW session, Donald J DuBon wrote "CW With Your H-T" in the July 1997 QST.
Folks around here have used an oscillator and hand key such as the MFJ.
I call the session to order and act as director. Those wishing to send, select their own material. I choose material from about 30 pages of code practise ideas and notes I have written over the years. My chosen lines are then programmed into "Just Learn Morse Code" by Sigurd Stenersen, LB3KB and "WinMorse 2.0" by Mark Bellamy. The sender first sends a sentence followed with it read back slowly including punctuation and prosigns.
The sessions are spiced up with, prearranged and preformatted conversations by a couple of the participants, guessing games, funny call signs and many other nontypical, but fun subjects. On occasion, a seasoned CW operator may interject a small bit of wisdom, but we try to keep the code flowing.
Following our one hour session, we may hang around to discuss Morse Code and related equipment topics."
What a wonderful idea, Steve! I'm sure that idea is introducing many hams who only know 2 meter phone operation to the wonderful joys of CW, and will encourage them to give HF CW a try.
Hopefully this idea will spread to other areas of the country and world as well.
Lastly for today - happy Memorial Day to all! with a sincere thanks to all our brave and patriotic servicemen fighting terrorism in far off places to keep our country safe from attack and the brave and concerned government officials who are keeping up the fight despite criticism from those who seemingly don't understand the situation. Because of you all, Americans can sleep much more securely these days. -30-
Sunday, May 28, 2006 - The following is my personal opinion and not necessarily the opinion of any organization or other individual, although I have had contact with others who agree with what I am about to say.
I am strongly opposed to shifting the QRP 40 meter frequency down to 7030 kHz. I feel this is giving in to the SSB and digital 'bullies' who are attempting to take over 7040 as their own.
This reminds me of a couple of things. The schoolyard bully who controlled the school playground until someone came along with the guts to stand up to him. It also reminds me of those who are insisting we give up our fight against terrorists in the world today. As soon as we do that, we will have another 9/11 on our hands, probably even worse this time around.
As soon as QRP CW is moved down to 7030, the move will be on to shove us even further down the band until QRP CW is shoved right off of 40 meters into oblivion. This is just another facet of the conspiracy to eliminate CW from ham radio.
I believe that instead of moving, the QRP community should fight to hold onto what we have now. I will continue to operate as much as I can near 7040 in my QRP activities.
It has even been suggested that the 40 meter QRP frequency should be moved UP to 7060 to keep it in line with the .060 frequencies on the other bands. I feel that it would be very difficult to establish a beachhead there now since the SSB and digital 'bullies' have already pretty much ruined the area already. However I strongly commend FISTS for hanging on to their .058 frequency on 40 meters. It's wonderful to see that little island of CW activity in the midst of the 'shark' infested frequencies surrounding it.
There is a ray of hope though in the adjustments that are being made to 40 meters worldwide. The area from 7100 to 7200 is being opened up to amateurs in many areas, and that SSB that is creeping down the band can now occupy that space. In that light, perhaps a 40 meter frequency of 7060 is not as far fetched as I seem to believe.
Look for Tom KB3LFC and me in the Hootowl sprint this evening. I'll be doing a 40 meter only operation (around 7030 - sigh) and Tom will be on 80 as we did last year unless we change our minds at the last moment. -30-
Saturday, May 27, 2006 - I had a really great time last evening. We had a brief heavy shower around 5-5:30 PM. That doesn't sound so great, you say. Well, that's just the set-up, so let me continue. When it rains like that, the town's storm sewers fill up and discharge into the river that runs through town. This most of the time brings the carp to see what has washed into the river. So if you go to one of the discharge points, the fishing is often quite good, especially if you like to fish for carp as I do.
My dad took me fishing many times when I was young, and his favorite fish to catch was a carp, so it became mine also. My dad did a lot for me, and that was one of the really neat things he did. I absolutely love fishing for carp, even though in this country many other fisherman look down on those who fish for carp. However in England, carp are considered a sport fish like bass and walleyes in this country.
In my opinion, nothing compares to the thrill I get when a carp grabs my bait (usually corn, but sometimes doughball also) and tries to pull my pole into the river. Then when I grab the pole, the fight is on. The carp pulls the line off the reel at a frantic rate as he seems to be trying to make it to other side of the river as fast as he can. After a bit, he slows and I turn him back toward this side of the river. Then he gets his second wind and heads the other way again. This goes on for several minutes usually, then he tires out and I land him. Sometimes the battle lasts longer, and once in a while, the carp seems to be in a hurry to be landed and get the hook out of his mouth.
I guess the longest battle I had was several years ago when I got a 32 inch carp who was a great fighter. It took me about 40 minutes to land him. I twice got him within a few feet of shore, when he recovered his strength again and the battle resumed as he took my line out toward the middle of the river once more.
Most carp are in the 22 to 30 inch range with a definite peak at 26 inches. Fortunately the 26 inch ones are generally the best fighters with the smaller ones yielding more easily and the bigger ones (with exceptions) relying more on their weight instead of a good fight to keep from being landed.
Anyway to shorten the story, last evening I caught 5 carp after our rain shower as they hung around the sewer discharge for at least 3 hours. They were still biting when I had to leave at dark since I didn't have a light with me. The 5 measured 24.5, 27, 27, 27.5, and 28.5 inches and the four biggest ones were great fighters. That's the second most carp I've caught in one day, and makes it 12 so far this year as I chase my record of 57 last year.
There's a connection between carp fishing and CW also. As I said earlier other fishermen often put down those who fish for carp. And unfortunately other hams often put down those hams who use and love CW.
It looks like the diary is starting to catch on a bit. Thanks to Bob - VA3RKM and Chuck - W8LQ for their comments. -30-
Friday, May 26, 2006 - It's getting a little discouraging spending 15-20 minutes making these diary entries every day and so far having only 2 people comment on them, one of those because I asked them directly for their thoughts. Just drop me an email saying you like, dislike, or are indifferent to the diary so I know someone besides Baltasar is reading it.
Perhaps because I call it a diary, you think it is private like those diaries that teenage girls used to (still do?) keep. They would just 'die' if anyone read their secret thoughts in that diary. Well my diary is definitely intended to be PUBLIC and available for anyone to read.
I finished my NAQCC 30-30 Award last evening with the 30th QSO being with W1DUW. I kind of got myself re-acquainted with 30 meters in the process. I had strayed away from it except to perhaps check it in the 0000Z hour for my daily QSO. Now I've explored it at different times of the day because of the 30-30 award.
When I work someone I generally tell them my age and how long I've been a ham and I get their age in return most of the time. I note that age in my paper log. When I transfer paper to computer, I number the QSO with that particular ham. Well lately as expected the average age of the hams I QSO continues to rise, but strangely the number of first time QSO's with someone also has been rising. I'm not sure what to make of that. I'd like to think it means that many hams are re-discovering the joy of CW after being away from it for some time. Some hams have told me that, but not enough to justify that being the main reason for working so many hams for the first time on CW.
Also a few of the hams who are 'up in age' tell me they are just starting in ham radio late in life, but again not enough to make that the prime reason either.
I can't explain the phenomenon, but I find it interesting. For example in April 2006 17 of my 93 QSO's were with hams I never worked before. In May 2006 so far it's 31 of 87 QSO's.
I'm going to expand those stats a bit more in a future entry, but now I've got much other work to get done before the holiday weekend.
Well just as I was about to upload this, my email notification sound went off and when I checked, there was an email from K5UNY who says "....I enjoy reading your daily diary. I also enjoy reading your FISTS column..... I read your writings with eagerness....". Thank you Alex, you've made my day. Thanks also for the birthday greetings. -30-
Thursday, May 25, 2006 - Well, I don't feel any older today. I'm a little late in writing this today not because I'm older and slower, but I've just been busy with other things.
Among them a visit from Tom, KB3LFC. We discussed our set-up for the Hootowl Sprint on Sunday and took care of some NAQCC business. We printed up some membership application forms for our NAQCC setup at the Butler Hamfest on June 4th also.
My birthday was good to me yesterday. Thanks to Baltasar, Tom, Dave, and others who gave me their birthday greetings.
I went fishing and the fish were co-operative also. I caught a nice 27 inch carp who was a good fighter and 2 suckers. The weather was beautiful and I think I might have enjoyed it even without catching any fish. It's raining today, so I either will not go fishing if it continues or if it does stop, I'll see if it entices the fish to be biting good as it often does.
If I don't go fishing, I think I'll get on 30 meters and try to finish my NAQCC 30-30 award. I need 5 more 30M QSO's to reach 30 this month. Also I can work on the NAQCC May challenge of getting as many states as possible using a straight key. And there's the NAQCC Spring Rag Chew award. I've had quite a few rag chews lately. I tend to rag chew more when I use a straight key which I've done all month because of the challenge. The NAQCC has really encouraged me to get on the bands more. I had fallen into the routine of getting my daily QSO, then it was QRT till the next day. Now with the NAQCC, I get on more often each day. So one of the NAQCC goals of producing more CW on the bands is working in my case.
Well, I still have to get my breakfast and perhaps do some work on the NAQCC newsletter which I hope to publish this weekend. Also I have a local computer club newsletter to produce. Then I just got an email from Nancy, WZ8C saying it's time for me to submit another QRP column for the Keynote. So I'm going to run now. -30-
Wednesday, May 24, 2006 - Well just a few hours now and I'll be exactly 61 years old - I was born at 3:21 PM Eastern time here in the USA. Since that was during WW II and we changed our daylight savings time system around during the war, I've never been quite sure if that was Standard, Daylight, or perhaps even Double Daylight savings time. I always seem to get distracted when I start to research that, and never finish the research. Maybe one of you knows what time was in effect on May 24, 1945?
I've been having a lot of fun on 30 meters the past few days. I decided to go for my NAQCC 30-30 award with about half of May already gone so I've been spending a lot of time on 30 meters at various times of the day. The band seems very dead during daytime, but it's a lack of activity not poor propagation as calling CQ on the dead band often brings an answer and a solid copy QSO from someone.
Oh, in case you don't know what I'm talking about, the NAQCC offers a certificate to anyone who makes 30 QRP QSO's on 30 meters during a calendar month. Do it for 3 months and you get another certificate. It's kind of an alternative to the NAQCC QSO-A-Day award for those who can't get on the air each and every day as I seem to have been able to do for almost the past 12 years now.
I've had some nice rag chew QSO's on my 30m outings, and made some new ham friends that way. As a lesser benefit of those rag chews, they also count toward the NAQCC Spring Rag Chew award awarded to the one making the most rag chews during the spring season.
Another highlight on 30 meters was completing the sked I mentioned a couple entries ago with Larry, W0QE to give him Armstrong County on 30 meters towards his goal of working all counties on 30 meters. It turns out that Larry and I first worked almost exactly 40 years ago when he lived not too far from here and had the call of WA3BLE. I always enjoy helping out with my county and especially enjoy working those hams I first worked back in the halcyon days of ham radio in the 1960's. So that QSO was doubly pleasurable for me.
Then just a few minutes ago as I write this late Tuesday evening, I was calling CQ on 30 meters, and got a pleasant surprise when Laci, HA7UG answered my CQ. I always enjoy getting answers to my QRP CQ's from DX stations. I've had hams from about 30-35 different countries answer my CQ's. Anyway I had a nice chat with Laci who asked me if I was still using QRP. We have worked 16 times before, all of them in contests. This was the first rag chew type QSO we have had. That made it even nicer.
Now I may change my mind before then, but the next entry I make I plan to talk about the age of hams I've been working and also how many of my QSO's of late have been with hams I've never worked before. I think both those subjects make a statement about CW on the bands in this day and age. -30-
Tuesday, May 23, 2006 - Some random thoughts. I'm going to have to make a change here tomorrow. When I'm in a QSO and I give my age, I've got to start saying 61 instead of 60. Ouch!
Why is it that when I'm calling CQ on a dead band, someone will pick my frequency to do their tuning, then never answer my CQ when they are done?
What the heck does it mean when someone answers my CQ with a ? (..__..)? I sure don't know, and I never acknowledge them, but just go on with my CQ's. When I do, I never get an answer from the questioner.
Why do some hams say R or even RR, but I missed your name, QTH, weather, etc.? The procedure signal R means I copied everything perfectly.
Please, please - Best 73 means 'best best wishes' which is perhaps redundant, but 73's is just plain silly because it means best WISHESES - use the term 73 correctly as a standalone 'best wishes'. It's already plural without the added s at the end.
Why are hams reluctant to ask someone to QRS? I always try to match my speed to the speed of the ham I am working unless I know him well and know he can copy much faster than he can send. But still I get the sense at times when someone doesn't answer a question I ask or for some other reason that I am too fast for them. Yet, they won't ask me to QRS. Why?
Does anyone remember (without researching it) who was the first ham to get WAS on 30M when the band opened in the early 80's? Do you remember the frantic activity on the band to get that first WAS? If you don't, believe me, it was frantic. Yet for what if no one remembers who did it? Let's slow down and take time to get to know our fellow hams better with a nice rag chew rather than (or in addition to) just working them to get a new state, country, county, zone, club number, etc. You'll be remembered more for that than for some award or certificate you earned.
End of randomness for this entry. Probably more of these in the future.
I promised someone I'd comment on the proposed switch of the 40 meters QRP frequency. I will, but not just yet. -30-
Monday, May 22, 2006 - I received a couple of interesting emails yesterday from which I'd like to share excerpts.
Several days ago I read in the ARRL letter about a YL (Jane - KC2OBS) who had gotten her ticket and made it a goal to get WAS on CW. Well, she made her goal and I wrote her and congratulated her and expressed my delight she was interested in CW since the number of YL's I work on CW these days is almost nil.
I asked her if she would be interested in writing her story for the CW section of my web site. I hoped it might encourage other YL's to give CW a try. I heard back from her yesterday and she said, "I am currently writing something and than having a friend go over it for me. When it is complete, I will submit it to you."
I'll tell you here in the diary when I receive and post the story.
If you'd like to write a story about your love of CW, you're invited to send me your story also. The more stories posted, the more visitors to my site will see how popular CW still is despite all the rumors to the contrary.
I also heard from our NAQCC member #1400 - W9ILF, with whom I had a wonderful QSO a couple days ago. Along with K5JYD whom I mentioned a couple diary entries ago, he agreed that my comments regarding CW vs. Internet chat rooms were right on, and said, "I am taking your advice and getting on the air after I get my daughter to bed tonight, and not looking at any club chat rooms!"
That's wonderful, Ivin! We need more hams to do the same thing and get off-line and on-air with CW. That will help more to preserve CW than all the talking we can do about it in chat rooms or email reflectors. -30-
Sunday, May 21, 2006 - Before I start with the main idea of this entry, I want to sincerely thank Baltasar, EA8BVP for his input on this diary idea of mine. He is the only one who has said anything about it after the first week or so. (Perhaps I should be more controversial in these posts - controversy always seems to draw a response.) Baltasar's reaction was very positive to the idea, so that's encouraging. He said it was just like having a conversation with me. I hope you feel the same way about reading these entries, because that is basically what I intended for the diary. I guess that is really the purpose of the whole 'blog' fad sweeping the Internet these days. A one-to-many conversation instead of many different one-to-one conversations.
I've changed the look of the page, adding the navigation sidebar and changing the font to sans-serif. Better, worse, or the same? Your opinion wanted.
I just received an email request from Larry, W0QE requesting a sked to add Armstrong County, PA (my home county) to his county collection. I am glad to do so for Larry and for anyone who needs Armstrong Co. I don't do any mobile work and very little portable work so I can't help with other counties though.
Even though I am the co-founder with WA8EOH of the CW County Hunters Net (story of the founding in my County Hunting section), I am not interested in county hunting these days beyond checking my computer log every few months or so to see if any new counties showed up between checks.
My interest waned when it switched from being a county 'hunt' to a county 'sit on the CHN and work the mobile from his latest county' type of activity. I also don't go to a stocked pond to do my fishing. HI
It was a lot of fun back in the 60's to sit there tuning the bands listening for someone new, and checking his QTH via the callbook - printed of course (there was no Internet for immediate checking back then). Then checking the USPS POD-26 to see what county he was in. Next checking the USA-CA record book to see if I needed that county. I got so good at that, I could do it while a station was calling CQ in most cases, and certainly if I found him in a rag chew (after he had exchanged his QTH). If he was new and CQing, it was a matter of answering his CQ. If he was rag chewing, I'd note his frequency and come back every minute or so to see if he had finished. If he had, I'd tail-end him (if he hadn't sent CL).
That was what I call county 'hunting'. It was exciting, fun, challenging, sometimes depressing, always different. Depressing when I'd wait on someone for a half hour or more to finish a QSO, then either have him send CL and QRT, have someone else tail-end him, or have him not hear me calling.
I guess I like doing things the hard way. Like that TV ad that says something like "I made my money the old-fashioned way, I earned it." Each county I worked back then was earned. However I guess I didn't appreciate it at the time (the impetuousness of youth?) and wanted to make things easier and started the CW CHN with Dave.
Gradually my interest waned as it became easier and easier to work new counties as the number of mobiles increased. I decided I would try to see how many counties I could work using only stations operating from their home QTH. That became harder and harder once I reached somewhere around 2000 counties or so since many USA counties only had a few hams, and none of those operated CW or HF.
This rambling is not intended to put anyone down who enjoys working counties via whatever means. It just explains my attitude here. As I said, I enjoy doing things the hard way. After all I work QRP with simple wire antennas. I don't think I'd enjoy running QRO with a huge antenna farm as that wouldn't challenge me as much. -30-
Saturday, May 20, 2006 - I'm having fun making my daily entry in this diary, but I wonder if anyone is actually reading it or not. This is the sixth entry and I've not had a single comment on it yet, good or bad. How about taking a minute or two to send me an email with a brief comment or thought?
I'm very pleased with the way interest in the NAQCC is growing. We just signed up our member # 1400 yesterday. I think that helps to show that CW is not dead yet when you consider that many CW operators don't operate QRP. If we have found 1400 who are BOTH CW operators AND QRP operators, that is only a small percentage of the number who operate CW at QRP AND/OR QRO. FISTS has about 10 times that number of members who enjoy CW at all power levels. The new kid on the block - SKCC, likewise not limited to just QRP operators must have about twice as many members as the NAQCC now. I am too busy with my activities with the NAQCC and FISTS to get involved with SKCC, but I wish them well in their stated goal of increasing CW activity on the bands as we at the NAQCC and FISTS have been doing.
One thing distresses me about a few CW and QRP clubs. Their members seem to me to spend too much time on the Internet and not enough time on the air. I wrote about this matter in one of my recent QRP columns in the FISTS Keynote and received this response from one of my readers that I think addresses this matter succinctly.
Here it is: "John, You hit the nail on the head with your latest column in fists. About a week ago I got fed up with the flame wars on all the reflectors I belonged to and I unsubscribed to everything but the fist group on yahoo. No longer do I spend an hour or two a day on the internet plowing through a bunch of e mails etc. Instead I go out to the shed and fire up my ic718 or mfj9020 and make a cw contact. In the last week I average three contacts on cw a day as compared to 3 a week last month (if that many). I already have noticed an improvement in my cw skills. Instead of talking about cw I am actually doing cw!" - Larry, K5JYD.
The Internet is a wonderful adjunct to ham radio, but not when used in the wrong way. The overabundance of useless 'trash talk' on the various reflectors is a good example of a bad thing. Even an overabundance of well-meaning talk on reflectors is bad. As I stated in the column, don't just talk about preserving CW on the ham bands on the reflectors, get on the air and use CW. That's what we try to do at the NAQCC. We don't even have any kind of Internet reflector. We simply urge our members to get on the air and use CW. Our sprints, challenges, and awards program are designed to do just that.
OK, you've wasted enough time reading this diary entry. Now get off-line and on-air with CW, be it QRP or QRO. Perhaps I'll meet you on one of the bands this afternoon or evening. -30-
Friday, May 19, 2006 - I hear the following so many times, I have to comment on it: "I don't have room for an 80M antenna so I only operate 40M and higher."
Nonsense! While it may not perform quite as well as a half-wave dipole cut for 80M, your 40M antenna can be made to work well enough on 80M to make many QSO's on that band. All you need is a good tuner between your rig and the 40M antenna if the built-in tuner in your rig can't match it.
Or you can just string up a length of wire in the space you do have, feed it through a tuner and work the world on 80M. Well at least a good part of the world if you run QRP as I do.
Too many hams are intimidated by antennas and afraid to try something simple because they read all these articles by well-meaning hams describing in intricate detail how this or that antenna must be exactly so long, must be fed with only this certain kind of feedline, must be set up with a ground system consisting of exactly 32 buried radials, and on and on. Balderdash!
Those of you who regularly visit my site know my antenna situation here and what I have done with my little antenna 'victory garden'. Let me just describe in a bit more detail the attic random wire I use on 80M. When I thought of writing this, I took a good look at the antenna up in my attic and did some measuring. While the length of wire is approximately 110', it is squeezed into a much smaller space by bending it in many places. How many places? I never knew until last evening. It actually has 22 bends along its length ranging from a few degrees all the way up to 90 degrees. Because of the bends, the distance from the point where it leaves the antenna tuner to the end in my back yard is approximately 75'.
Does it work. You bet! I think using 5 watts output and working all USA states except KL7 and KH6 plus 38 DX entities strongly affirms my 'you bet' statement.
So don't ignore 80M because you believe the antenna 'experts'. Look over your situation and put up a hunk of wire, build a tuner for it, and start to enjoy this wonderful CW band. It is nowhere as crowded with SSB and digital crap as 40M. There are acres of space for your CW signal. But if we don't use the band more than we are now, that won't last for long, so..... 'nuff said. -30-
Thursday, May 18, 2006 - I had a really great time with ham radio matters yesterday. My eyeball QSO with W2SH was great yesterday morning. I just wish Chas could have stayed longer, but he had an appointment with another ham at Dayton for that afternoon and had to get going.
Then last evening I really enjoyed our NAQCC sprint. I made my third best score ever. I was afraid that Dayton would hurt activity with many hams traveling to there or already there, but thankfully I was wrong. The activity was great with many regulars, some who hadn't been in a sprint for a while, and some doing their first sprint. I think our sprints are really starting to catch on now. I hope that most, if not all who entered will send in their logs. That will make an impact and show that CW is indeed alive and well.
I just posted a new CW story in the CW-Your CW Stories page of my site from VE6HF. Also I've decided to add the posting date to the index of stories so you can more easily see which stories are new. Unfortunately I only have exact dates for the last couple of stories.
Oh, did you know that the "30" at the end of my daily diary post comes from the newspaper industry where 30 means end of story? It also has connections with Morse code since "SK" is an ending signal for Morse transmissions. What? Well, 30 in American Morse is didididahdit (3) long dah (0) which when combined is didididahdidah or SK. -30-
Wednesday, May 17, 2006 - As I write this, I'm sitting here waiting for an eyeball QSO with Chas, W2SH who is going to try to stop here for a while on his way to Dayton. It will be nice to meet one of our active NAQCC members in person.
Speaking of Dayton, I've never been there myself since I'm not much of a traveler. NAQCC President Tom, KB3LFC and I do go to the nearby Butler, PA hamfest, and we will be doing so again on June 4th. If you plan to attend, please look us up at the NAQCC table and say hello. We'll also be accepting new NAQCC memberships there. Last year we signed up our member # 1000 at the hamfest - perhaps we'll sign up # 1400 this year as we are just a few short of that number. Since we've been getting a rash of new members the past few days, we'll probably hit 1400 well before then. Perhaps it will be # 1500 for the hamfest. Wouldn't that be nice? That would make a strong pro-CW statement to the CW bashers.
I think while I'm waiting, I will take the opportunity to update the GenLog data file for tonight's NAQCC Sprint (0130-0330Z May 18) and get it uploaded to the web site. We added a lot of new members since the April sprint and hopefully many of them will show up in the sprint tonight if they are not in Dayton or on their way there. -30-
Tuesday, May 16, 2006 - The 19th edition of our NAQCC sprint is tomorrow evening. We hope to see many of you there, although we realize some of you will be traveling to Dayton for the hamfest.
Several days ago, Kevin KI4DEF and I were wondering how the early days of the now very popular Spartan Sprints compared to the early days of our NAQCC sprints. Well, Kevin kindly took the time and effort to do the research.
It turns out that our sprints outperformed the Spartan Sprints for the first 18 editions. The NAQCC had 410 logs submitted vs. 282 logs for the SPs. We're very proud of our members for that. Going a bit further that's an average of 22.8 vs. 15.7 logs per sprint. The most logs for a Spartan Sprint was 27 (twice) and 38 for the NAQCC. Kevin also provided much more detailed statistics which I won't go into here.
I then did a bit more research myself using our master log database which we use in cross-checking logs for our NAQCC sprints and found that 214 of our members participated in at least one of our first 18 sprints along with 257 non-members. Allowing for those 33 who participated both before and after joining the NAQCC, that's a total of 438 different hams who have participated in our NAQCC sprints so far.
All of this looks like there is a bright future for our sprints and shows that our ideas for the sprints including alternate second Tuesday-third Wednesday dates, a straight key bonus, emphasizing 80 meters, and requiring submission of full log data rather than simply reporting number of QSO's seem to be working out well. -30-
Monday, May 15, 2006 - On other sites you'll hear them called blogs. Well I don't like that term. It sounds something like a contraction or nickname for the Balrog in "The Lord of the Rings." Those of you who have read this wonderful trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien know that the Balrog is the embodiment of pure evil. Since LOTR is perhaps my favorite book of all time, I'll avoid any reference (even though it is imagined) to Balrogs or blogs and call my blog simply my Diary. Incidentally I will probably never watch the LOTR movies as I see no way they could ever come up to the high standards of the book.
Since this is the first entry in my diary, I'd like to tell you what I have in mind for it. First of all it is a place to talk about current news of my site and the NAQCC. Therefore I'm leaving the news items below on this page for a while. Speaking of retaining items, I plan to keep only the latest 30 days or so of items on this page. So if you should somehow find this interesting, keep that in mind when you check in here. If you don't check in regularly you'll miss some classic items. Whoa, back to reality, John. Probably nothing ever posted here will come close to being 'classic' in any respect, but a few hams here and there may find something of interest in my comments.
Here you'll also find random thoughts mostly about CW and QRP, but I may also stray afield and even comment on some non-ham radio matters.
This is an experiment for now, and I'd like to know how it is received by you, my visitors. When I first started this web site many moons ago, I had some daily propagation comments as I'm sure those of you who have been regular visitors (thanks) for a long time now will remember. When I dropped those, I received a lot of email saying how they were missed. So perhaps you (for some reason) enjoy my comments on things. Email me and let me know how you feel about this Diary idea.
Here's an example of the kind of things you'll be reading here. Tonight my QSO to continue my streak turned into an enjoyable rag chew with a 91 year old ham. Along with much other interesting info we exchanged, he mentioned how glad he was to have ham radio and especially CW. He told me he is losing his hearing and has trouble copying SSB transmissions, but he can still copy CW perfectly. That immediately struck me and made me wonder how those hams today who for whatever reason dislike CW will do if their hearing goes as they get older. Something to think about. I'm even more glad now that I'm a KNOW CODE ham. -30-
May 11, 2006 - I've just posted a very inspiring CW story in my CW Section - Your CW Stories page. I think when you read Geoff Pallett's story, you'll be as touched and inspired as I was when I read it and asked his permission to post it.
April 23, 2006 - My next web site project is streamlining some of the content. I'm getting near the bandwidth limit on my alloted space from Alltel and must cut out some things. I'm trying to do it without eliminating any content. So far I've simplified my log pages taking out unnecessary spaces and removing the state name from the QSO's. Also the guestbook and guestbook archives lend themselves to considerable trimming while still leaving the meat of the postings.
April 23, 2006 - I've now validated the HTML and CSS for all of the pages on my site, thanks to the Internet Explorer Developer Toolbar for IE from Microsoft. It has helped me find a few little glitches in the HTML and Style Sheet which may have caused some strange behavior on a page here and there in a non-IE browser. If you have a web site, I'd definitely consider getting the IED Toolbar to check your site. It's available from http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?familyid=e59c3964-672d-4511-bb3e-2d5e1db91038&displaylang=en