K3WWP's Ham Radio Activities

CreditsDiaryFAQsPicturesPollsSearchSite InfoSurveysSign GuestbookView GuestbookHam Radio?Who Am I?



Monday, December 31, 2007 8:32 PM - I'm sorry, but I just can't get overly excited about Straight Key Night. Every night is SKN for me, especially since around October 20, 2007 when I built my homebrew straight key for our November NAQCC Sprint. I've used it for virtually all my non-contest QSO's since that date. I just wish the CW bands would be as crowded every night as they are tonight. Where are all these folks who only come out of the closet once a year to use CW the other 364 or 365 days each year? It almost disgusts me to think someone only likes to use CW one day a year. I know everyone can't use it every day for every year as I can, but at least how about pounding some brass at the very least one or two days a week?

Well it doesn't exactly agree with the sunspot cycle, but my logs show the minimum was in 2006. I had more QSO's in 2007 than in 2006. 253 more, to be exact. I didn't realize that till I totalled up my QSO's for the year to fix the pages in the Logs section of my web site. That's an increase of 13.3 percent for whatever reason. I think it is because our NAQCC sprints, challenges, and awards encouraged me to get on the bands more often and longer this year.

Now for something completely different. It was a very hard decision, but the diary has taken up a lot of my time and it's been a lot of work. So the time has come despite all the positive comments and interaction I've gotten from it to make a change. I've decided to make this the very last entry in my diary that has the year 2007 in the dateline. Starting with tomorrow's entry, I'll have to put 2008 in the dateline. Gotcha! - Maybe.

Although this is New Years, not April Fools, I'll always remember the one time I was truly fooled by an April Fools joke. I used to regularly listen to Ed and Wendy King's Party Line on KDKA from 10 to Midnight. I may have mentioned that in a previous diary entry one time, and I'm not going to talk at length about it here except for this one thing. On March 31st probably sometime in the late 1950's, maybe early 1960's, on his regular sign-off that night, Ed started in a very sombre voice to announce that this was going to be the final Party Line broadcast ever. He thanked everyone involved in the program over the years and carried his closing announcement just far enough past Midnight, then ended with April Fools! It was just his little joke on all his listeners, and Party Line continued for several more years until his untimely death. I was completely fooled and very depressed to think my favorite radio show was not going to be heard any longer. As I recall he never even told his wife Wendy about his little joke, nor his announcer either. I think a lot of people were ready to head to KDKA and lynch him. -30-

Sunday, December 30, 2007 8:19 PM - As many of you know, the Stew Perry 160 Meter Contest was this weekend. But I wonder how many folks know the story of Stew Perry or as he was better know to hamdom - W1BB. His nickname was "Mr. 160" and he did much to popularize this band over the 86 years (1904-1990) of his life.

At the age of 8, Stew built a receiver in a Quaker Oats box, and shortly thereafter a spark gap transmitter. Stew wanted the call 1AA when licenses were being issued after World War I and traveled to Boston hoping to be 1st in line. However instead he was 27th in line and received the call of 1BB that would become W1BB when W prefixes were added in later years. He held that call his entire life.

Stew had two stations in his house and an 'away' station on the Atlantic Ocean shore at Point Shirley. The away station featured a V beam antenna with the apex at 265' above the ocean. What a DXer's dream station that was, and would still be today.

When Stew was the first to work 100 countries on the 160M band, the ARRL did not have a 160M DXCC award. Later when they did issue the award and there were then 6 hams with 100 countries, the "gentlemen's band" and the folks who operated it lived up to the name, and they applied for the 6 DXCC awards in the order they worked the 100 countries, so Stew got 160M DXCC #1.

Unfortunately I never got to work Stew since I didn't start operating that band until after his death. However I used to listen on 160M and had heard his signal. It stood out from other signals on the band similarly to how the signals of W4KFC and W9IOP used to stand out from the pack on other bands back in the 1960's.

In 1997 the call W1BB was re-issued to the Stew Perry Memorial Radio Club and has been and will be used only on 160M. So a famous call will continue to live on, but with a different fist pounding out the Morse Code on 160M. -30-

Saturday, December 29, 2007 9:59 PM - Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, Good Time Charlie's got the blues. Yes and sometimes I'm in the mood for contesting and sometimes I'm not. I picked a bad weekend to not be in the mood with the RAC contest (1 QSO) and the Stew Perry 160M contest (0 QSO's so far). But that's the way it goes just like in my parody of the lyrics (some gotta win, some gotta lose, etc.) from the Charlie Rich song which was also recorded by other artists as well, among them Danny O'Keefe and Elvis.

Instead of contesting I did some carpet cleaning. Not as interesting as contesting, but some things do have to be done now and then. I figured after taking down my Christmas decorations would be a good time to do it before I put the furniture back where the tree was, etc.

Since this is now Dec 30 UTC and I have my QSO for today, that means one more day and another full year of daily QRP QSO's will be completed. That makes 13 full years in a row now, or 4,748 days. Add that to the partial year of 1994 and that makes 4,896 days. Project that forward and if nothing goes wrong, and there is always that possibility as nothing is completely certain in this life (except death and taxes as the saying goes), I'll hit day # 5,000 on April 12, 2008. I'd love in a way to quit then, but I know if I do, I'll later regret it, so I'll probably just keep going until something unforeseen occurs to end the streak naturally. -30-

Friday, December 28, 2007 12:25 AM - Here's the rest of the stuff I had left over from yesterday.

The preliminary results from the PA QSO Party were posted yesterday. you may remember I operated our NAQCC special event call in that contest - N3A/3. It seems I made out pretty well. Here are the results from 3 pertinent categories listing total QSO's and final score.

First the Pennsylvania CW Only - QRP stations:

N3A/3 294 85,890 KA3WMJ 118 25,502 WY3H 85 18,112 AE3J 59 10,540 N3FYW 60 8,504 N3CJM 6 144

The Out-of-state CW Only - QRP stations: K4ORD 229 50,132 KE0G 113 19,771 K3ATO 24 1,896 N4TN 20 960

And the Pennsylvania CW Only - Low power (150W) stations with a higher score than N3A/3: K3TEJ 707 155,425 KC3M 602 135,034 K3TX 562 103,805 K3QIA 497 95,170
So as far as CW only stations, I was beaten by only 4 Low power (150W) stations. It looks like the NAQCC special event station ran away with the CW Only - QRP category. We'll see when the final results are posted.

I said that Kenji had some interesting thoughts. Here is what he says about Christmas from the Japanese standpoint:

"About Xmas: Christmas in Japan is another example of craziness in our socialistically-controlled yet capitalistically-consuming economy. Very few actually believe in Christian Lord and God here; most of people are considered Buddhist. And people are just hanging out and around and spending night at the premium suite rooms in expensive hotels.
I'm not against celebrating holidays and throwing moderate levels of parties. In Japan December is a party-time month to forget the bad things happening in the year. Sometimes you need to eat and drink together with your friends and colleagues.
I do not understand, however, to define that Xmas is the one-night-stand day for young-and-even-older boys and girls. Xmas is not such a thing.
For me Xmas is to review the year and think about how the friends passed away (this year at least four nice people around me were deceased) and to reconfirm how our family is doing. It's not just a hanging-out day.
Japanese consider January 1st, 2nd, and 3rd as the holidays of beginning of year. Many still consider the days for reunion of the families and relatives. And I hope non-religious Japanese would someday understand Xmas originally has the same meaning at least for Christians."

And about St. Barthelemy:

"About FJ: I really don't care much about it, because it's in the Carribeans and I may need a whole bunch of amplifiers and beam antennas to work there now. If that were in the Pacific I would try. Yeah, I should admit I took a few hours to call E4/OM2DX. His operation was a nice one though; he tried to identify quite often, much more than every 10 minutes. I've had many discussions on how frequently you should identify. The rule is clear: FCC Part 97.119(a) for the American stations.
I'm not completely away from chasing DXCC entities, but working new entities by literally blocking and interfering others and keeping calling forever ignoring the response of the station you want to work have been becoming pervasive plagues in Japanese HF DXing scene. Many Japanese callsign holders are deliberately doing so and well-known for their behaviors. Those sociopaths are going to successfully destroy all good things about DXing. I should confess that I hated DXers in general before 2002, because of their arrogant and ignorant behavior. And I still do not want to impress too much that I enjoy HF DXing, because many Japanese hams are getting annoyed by the blunt and inconsiderate actions of the so-called self-proclaimed DXers. I know a lot of exceptions and good DXing elmers around me, but I still have to say this, even after started to enjoy DXCC chasing 5 years ago."

Unfortunately the behavior of Japanese stations that Kenji describes is not much different from many operators in the USA and I'm sure in many other countries as well. -30-

Thursday, December 27, 2007 10:02 PM - It seems there is either a lack of things to write about in this diary or a lot of things - never a happy medium. Today I have a lot, and may just put off some till tomorrow.

I spent several enjoyable hours with Tom WY3H today. We played with his new rig, an ICOM 718 and a new 'old' Vectronics antenna coupler. I like the 718. It takes a little getting used to since it has fewer knobs and buttons than my 570 and some of the 718's buttons serve multi-purposes. That always takes time to learn. Tom doesn't have any CW filter (yet) in it, and it is as broad as a barn door right now, but it works well. We (Tom) worked an Oklahoma station on 20M while I was there.

After that we watched an old movie (the only good kind of movie), "We're No Angels" from the mid 1950's with stars like Humphrey Bogart, Peter Ustinov, Aldo Ray, Leo G. Carroll, Basil Rathbone, etc. Do any of you remember that movie?

Dave VA3RJ responded to my questions about multitasking while sending CW and elaborated a bit. I won't quote everything he said, but to summarize he says he can jot things down with his left hand while sending on a keyer with his right hand. That's not really filling in a paper log, but still impressive. He says he can also talk while sending and jotting things down, but his attention is split between his sidetone and the voice in the shack. He says he doesn't often write and send at the same time, but can in a pinch.

In November we had a NAQCC sprint with a special award for those using a homebrew straight key. Some of the keys were strange, although very functional and in their own way good-looking also. Well, take a look at the 'strange keys' on this web site by OH6DC (our latest NAQCC member and first from Finland). I won't comment - they speak for themselves. http://oh6dc.cw.googlepages.com/

I have more info from my friend Kenji about Christmas and St. Barthelemy, but I'll hold that till tomorrow. -30-

Wednesday, December 26, 2007 3:09 PM - I hope you all had a nice Christmas. Mine was quiet and pretty much spent alone. The only person to spend time with me was my gardening friend Ange who brought some food over and then we went for about a 3 mile walk. The weather was great if you're someone who loves a green Christmas. Not a sign of snow anywhere and temps in the 40's. It would be nice if all of winter was like that.

I was just looking at the results of my poll before writing this. My goodness, there are some really talented folks out there responding to my poll. Either that or the poll question is being misunderstood. I mean what can you do while actually sending Morse code. I don't mean what you can do while listening to the other person sending code or during pauses in your sending. For someone to fill out a paper log with one hand while sending code with the other, I think, is remarkable. Even using a computer keyboard to fill in info with one hand while sending with the other impresses me. I can't do either here even after using Morse Code for some 45 years now.

If you're one of the 15 who can write and send at the same time or one of the 11 who can type and send at the same time, I'd like to hear more about your remarkable accomplishment. How you learned to do it, how easy it is, how often you do it, etc. Perhaps you even have or can make a short video showing how you do it. -30-

pix_christmas_2007 (29K)

May each and every one be blessed this Christmas in a very special way, and may the blessings continue through all of 2008 and beyond - a prayer for you from John Shannon, K3WWP.

Regular diary entries will resume December 26.

Saturday, December 22, 2007 9:13 AM - Some diary feedback to cover and some more comments on the latest rage, St. Barthelemy.

Tim KD8GZ from near Akron, OH writes: "John...I think you're right: there does seem to be fewer and fewer folks with Christmas lights on their homes. My wife mentioned that a couple weeks ago. The economy in most of our "rust belt" towns has definitely taken a big-time hit in the past 20 years or so. It's mainly due to new technologies taking jobs people used to do...and businesses leaving our towns for other parts of the US or overseas....that's my opinion. Love your on-line diary and excellent website. Great job, John."

Here's a good source of info about St. Barthelemy - http://www.dailydx.com/barthelemy.htm

Franki ON5ZO writes about the St. Barthelemy DXpedition. Instead of quoting him here, I'll refer you to his 'diary' at http://on5zo.spaces.live.com:80/

Franki basically talks about lack of identifying by DXpedition stations. At one point he counted 20 minutes and 40 QSO's with no ID from the DXpedition station. There's no reason for that whatsoever. Nothing is more frustrating than sitting there listening and waiting forever to find out to whom you are listening. Unless it is waiting forever and finally hearing an ID by some station or country you have already worked.

That leads to another email with a related topic from Ken KC9BSP who asks about legal ID's. He is correct in what he says, "According to the rules (part 97...dont have the page/verse handy) I read that one needs to id his/her call at the end of a transmission or series of transmissions, and at a minimum, every 10 minutes.".

However as with the DXpedition station, others are listening to your QSO trying to find out if you are an old friend, if they need a QSO with you for some award, are looking for a station in a certain area to deliver some important traffic, etc. They may be hearing you quite well, but not the station you are working. They still need to know who you both are. Therefore to be courteous and considerate to these folks listening in, I believe in both stations in a QSO sending both calls after each exchange that lasts more than two minutes or so. It only takes a few seconds of our time to do so while it wastes up to ten minutes of time for anyone listening in if we only identify the legal minimum of every 10 minutes. We should always be courteous to others. -30-

Friday, December 21, 2007 5:42 PM - Just a little further commentary on St. Barthelemy. I wonder what it is that drives hams into that fierce competition to add one more country to their totals. I'll admit I enjoy working a new country now and then, but to me it is not a matter of life and death as I get the impression it is with some people. Let's use the old argument - what difference is it going to make 100 years from now if you worked 231 or 232 countries? As far as that goes it will make no difference whether you worked all the countries or worked only a couple.

Let's take a little honest quiz. No cheating by looking up the answer. Who was the first person to work 100 countries? Who was the first person to work all the countries on the DXCC list at the time? The list has varied over the years, of course. Working them now means 338 countries, back in the 1950's it was far less. I mean the first person to work them all, no matter the size of the list when he/she did it.

I bet I will not get any answers to those questions unless someone cheats and looks it up. If even those notable achievements are not spontaneously remembered, I'm sure that working that one extra country will not survive in peoples' memories for all that long. So what's the big deal about it?

Have you noticed that Christmas decorations seem to be declining over the years? I went out last night for a walk around town to look at the Christmas lights and I was struck by how sparse they were. I wonder if that is true in your town also or is it just a by-product of the condition Kittanning is in. I mean it is a dying town to be honest. I won't go into all the reasons other than to say it is a local problem, possibly a statewide problem. This area just hasn't fully caught up to the economic advances made nationwide the past 5 or 6 years or so. Or possibly it is something else altogether. Something religious where people do not want to offend others who celebrate some other holiday this time of year. I don't know. At any rate I still proudly celebrate Christmas at my house even though I live alone here, and will probably be alone on Christmas day as well. -30-

Thursday, December 20, 2007 11:17 PM - Well, the St. Barthelemy mad chase is on. Several hundred (thousand) hams trying to work that new country. It's kind of like throwing a chunk of meat to a pride of starving lions. Personally, I will just wait my turn to try, although it would be fun to break a big pileup like that with my QRP. It can be done, although it is not easy. I have done it in the past by carefully studying the pattern the DX is working and one time getting that one step ahead of the pack. If not too many others are doing the same thing, it often is not that hard. So many folks in a pileup never bother doing any planning or thinking. They just sit there and call, call, call. It seems like sometimes they never pause to listen.

I've worked St. Barthelemy several times in the past, so I know I can work it again now that it is a separate country. I'm sure there will be a big DXpedition there for the ARRL DX contest in February. That will probably be a good time to get it, if I don't do so before then. Then of course I'll only(?) have the USA stations to compete against, instead of the whole world as is happening now.

It's getting late now so I think I'll close here. I had a couple other things to discuss, but they can wait. -30-

Wednesday, December 19, 2007 8:35 PM - Let's take a halftime break from football today. Let's have a couple 'Why Is It That...'s and a couple other items.

Why is it that often in answers to my CQ's someone will send my call a few times and send their own call only once? I know what my call is and there is no need to send it more than once, but unless signals are at a decent level I might not catch their call the first time especially if there is a lot of QSB and/or QRN. Of course if you're calling me quite a ways off frequency (why??) then sending my call more than once might be a good idea. However there is no need to do it if you're exactly zero beat with me.

Why is it in check-out lines, folks will often wait till all the items are rung up to reach into their pocket or purse to get out their wallet? They know they are going to have to pay for the items so why not have the wallet and money or credit card ready to go instead of holding up the line while they dig it out.

Part II - Why is it in check-out lines where folks are paying by check do they wait until all the items are rung up to get the check out and start filling it in? Huh? Why? WHY? That is so aggravating to the people standing behind them in line.

News item. There is a new country in the world, at least according to the ARRL. St. Barthelemy is now a separate country from St. Martin as of December 14th. Boy I'd love to mount a DXpedition to St. Barthelemy over the Christmas holidays. Can you imagine how popular those FJ's are going to be for the next several months now. I think that is the first new country so close to the USA in quite some time now. Maybe you DXperts can tell me the last new North American country before now. -30-

Tuesday, December 18, 2007 8:31 PM - More football trivia. Bob N2SU, a sportscaster who covers the 4 major sports, said the last 5-0 game in the NFL was when Dallas defeated Detroit in the 1970 divisional playoff game. He was 12 at the time and remembered the game well.

I did some research in the NFL record book and found there were two 2-0 games in the history of the NFL. GB over ChiB 10/16/32 and payback ChiB over GB 9/18/38.

I see that many team sites have all-time scores on their web sites. I may have to satisfy my curiosity and go exploring for other rare score games. I did see a 5-3 score at a quick glance on the Giants web site.

There have been 17 games where one team scored two safeties but the record book doesn't give final scores of those games. So there is the possibility of a 4-0 game, but very unlikely that the only scores in a game would be the two safeties.

There are 10 other games where each team scored a safety, but again no final scores. So a 2-2 game is possible but similarly unlikely.

Now I wonder if there ever was a 1-0 game in the CFL since they have the rouge up there.

And did you know there is something called a 'conversion safety' worth one point in the NFL, but that can only come after a touchdown during an extra point attempt so 6 points would have been scored already and the one point can't come in isolation from the touchdown. I'll try to describe that 'conversion safety' tomorrow. It's kind of complicated to explain. -30-

Monday, December 17, 2007 3:50 PM - Did you know? The Cleveland Browns 8-0 victory over the Buffalo Bills was the first 8-0 final score in an NFL game since the Chicago Cardinals beat the Minneapolis Redjackets on November 10, 1929. When I heard that, I found it hard to believe, especially since the advent of the 2 point conversion. I guess no team ever goes for the 2 point conversion on the very first touchdown of a game since the 1 point kick conversion is such an almost sure thing these days. Of course, as the Browns did, 8 can be made with 2 field goals and a safety. That combination is not all that rare either. It is very likely how the Cardinals got their 8 points in 1929. I wonder when the last other unusual scores happened like 2-0, 4-0, 5-0. I wonder if there ever was a 4 nothing score under the present scoring system. Something to think about. I wonder if an Internet search would turn up anything like that.

I've been getting on the bands a bit in the morning and afternoon several days lately in place of going out for a walk in this winter weather. Conditions then seem to be better than my usual 0000-0200Z evening times on the bands. I even had 8P6CF answer my CQ on 30M Sunday afternoon and had a nice if brief chat with Curtis.

I've been thinking of ways to handle our drawing from the December NAQCC Sprint participants to determine the winner of the set of CD's donated by K7QO. As you may know if you follow the NAQCC, in our December and June sprints, the CD's winner is determined by a drawing while the other months they go to the high scorer who hasn't won them previously.

I'm going to assign a number starting at 30 to each eligible participant selected in a random order, then ask Tom WY3H, club president to select a number in that range and whoever was assigned that number is the winner. I think that seems like a pretty fair and non-partial way of doing it. That will happen sometime this week after the sprint entry deadline. -30-

Sunday, December 16, 2007 2:39 PM - My friend Ron K5DUZ emailed me late last night and mentioned I hadn't said anything about the weather lately and was wondering how I made out in the series of storms sweeping the country lately.

I hope I don't jinx things by saying anything, but we have dodged all the weather bullets shot this way so far. It's just like we missed all the big rain storms during the summer months. However it is raining here, but so far no bad snow and no ice. The storm previous to this one now in the NE USA left us with an inch of rain. It was all liquid precipitation. This current storm gave us about a half inch of snow yesterday, just a slight trace of freezing rain around 9PM last night, and the rest was rain - about 3/4 of an inch which melted the snow and ice. Then just about an hour ago, it started to snow lightly and there is a trace on the cars and other such cold places. Its also very windy out there. So compared to some areas, we've been very fortunate. I pray it continues and also improves for all those hard hit areas.

I processed our 57th log for our December NAQCC Sprint this morning. That breaks our old record of 56 set a few months ago. Our NAQCC members are a real wonderful and dedicated bunch of folks for sure. I wonder what things will be like when we get some good propagation for one of our sprints. I hope that increases the total into at least the 70's or 80's and I wouldn't be overly surprised if it did.

I may have mentioned this, but I have done some research on our 'black hole' phenomenon analyzing the logs received from those 57 folks. I compared stations' results for the December sprint with their results for the previous 11 sprints in 2007. I'll have more on that in our next NAQCC newsletter, but it does show a fairly well defined area here in the NE USA that had worse conditions than elsewhere. -30-

Saturday, December 15, 2007 8:09 PM - First off, here's some info about the upcoming sunspot cycle. There just may possibly be a sign on the sun that cycle 24 may be coming to life. See http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2007/14dec_excitement.htm for details.

I've had some feedback on the new poll and a couple of second thoughts about it myself. Geo N1EAV thought I should have a poll about multitasking while RECEIVING CW. That was my plan. I just failed to mention it. Look for that poll to follow in February after something else I have planned for January to separate the two.

I had the thought pop into my head that I should have included a choice about eating while sending CW. That just completely slipped my mind when I was making up the choices with Don's help. I guess he didn't think of it either. If I re-run the poll in the future that will definitely be a choice. Meanwhile if you wish, you can check the 'Other' choice and email me telling how you 'pig out' while sending CW. HI. -30-

Friday, December 14, 2007 8:05 PM - I've got a potpourri of things to talk about, but I don't know how many I'll get to.

It looks like 80M, after being good a few days ago, has slipped back to its poor conditions again starting with our sprint the other night. I spent about an hour trying to get my daily QSO this evening with no luck whatsoever. I'll go back and try again later. I did have one answer to my CQ, but couldn't copy a single letter or number of his call. He was just too weak. Whoever you are, I apologize.

I'm gathering more and more info on our 'black hole' during the sprint. It seems to have been some phenomenon that had rather sharp boundaries. It also seems to have been limited to the northeast corner of the USA. I hope I do have enough ambition to follow through on my plan to try to plot the extent of it from our sprint results.

Speaking of sprint results, I've just processed our 54th log for this month's sprint. Our NE USA 'black hole' certainly didn't affect participation. 56 is our record, and with a few days left before the deadline, I feel pretty confident we will break it. I know for sure there is one more log coming so that is 55 for sure.

Someone asked me the other day about shifting the 40M QRP frequency down to 7030 for our sprints because of digital QRM. I answered him this way, "As for moving the QRP frequency, I am strongly opposed to anything like that. If we do, we are destined to be like the poor starving schoolboy who is forced by the school bully to give up his lunch money every school day. If the QRP frequency is moved to 7030, it won't be long till the 40M bullies will want to take that away from us also. It's time we took a stand and stood up to the 40M digital bullies and said we are not going to give in to you." I firmly believe that.

My response to that from the one who suggested the move was, "OK, John. Right on. 73."

Over the past couple days I've had a couple of very wonderful QSO's with hams who are returning to CW after a long absence. I took my time and slowed down a bit for them. I received emails from both of them thanking me for my consideration, help, and encouragement. That's something else I firmly believe in - helping as much as I can those who are either just starting out in CW or returning to it after many years. So please if someone asks you to QRS, or even if they answer your CQ at a slower speed than you are sending, slow down for them. You'll be rewarded for it, and you'll feel good about it.

I think that about covers the subjects I was thinking about. Now I'm going back to 80M, or maybe even 160M to see if I can get my streak QSO for the 15th.

Oh, I almost forgot. I've got to get my new poll posted. Here it is the 15th of the month already. This poll which will be posted along with this diary entry was suggested by Don VE3HUR who helped me set up the choices for the answers. It was kind of tricky to do, as you may see when you look at the poll, and I was going to just abandon the idea, but it fascinated me, so I pursued it and wrestled with it to get it in action. -30-

Thursday, December 13, 2007 6:21 PM - I wish I could type these diary entries while I'm walking. I get great ideas while I'm doing that, then forget them when I sit down at the keyboard later in the day. HI. I know, I know, I could use a little notepad or PDA, etc., but....

So in place of those great ideas that may or may not return some day, I want to talk about contesting, sports, etc.

I think the thing to remember about any kind of competition is that the best team, person, auto, etc. doesn't always win. There are so many factors involved. A sports team can suffer a loss to injury of a key player for the final playoff game, and lose as a result. Oh now and then a second string player can step in and replace the 'star' and they will still win the game. Or a team can get a 'bad call' from a game official that affects the output of the game. I could name a specific recent Super Bowl between teams whose cities' names start with a P and and S, but I don't want to start something. HI

One sport that was my favorite for a good many years was auto racing. There are many factors there besides who is the best driver that affect who wins the championship. The simplest is a plain ordinary flat tire that occurs at a critical point in the race. Even though those pit guys can change a tire in under 10 seconds, there is still the additional time slowing down coming into the pits and going back out on the track. At from 3 to 5 points per position, if you go in to the pit as the leader and come out in 20th position, you've lost a large number of points towards the season championship. I'm talking about Nextel Cup racing. Point values elsewhere vary, but you get the point. With the close parity there is in racing today, even 10 to 20 points makes a big difference.

Ham radio contesting also has its factors that prevents the most talented contesters from winning all the time. Some folks just have more money than other folks and can afford to live in a location tailored to ham radio. They can erect huge antenna farms on that property and buy the best state of the art equipment. If another equally talented contester has a poorer location, smaller antennas, lesser equipment, guess who is going to win most of the time. In fact the person at the big contest station can be somewhat less talented a contester and still win most of the time. Or like in auto racing, a key piece of equipment may fail at a critical time causing a loss for the top notch contester.

There are a myriad of things that can happen. In fact the only real true test of pure contesting talent occurs at the World Radio Teamsport Championships (WRTC) that are held in conjunction with the IARU contests.

To those not familiar with the WRTC, here is a simplified explanation of how they work. Several teams of 2 top contesters each are brought together at a common location, say the San Francisco area. Each team is set up at a station in the area that consists of basically the same setup, i.e. the same antenna system, the same kind of rig, and so on. Obviously all stations are not exact copies of each other, but they are made as close as feasibly possible. There is a judge (another top contester) assigned to each team to make sure everyone plays exactly by the rules. The bottom line is every effort is made to keep the playing field as even as possible for everyone so the contest winner theoretically will be the most talented team. That's as close to ideal as any ham radio contest ever gets. In every other contest, there is no way to ensure the best contester wins all the time. In fact not even in the WRTC does that happen all the time.

Let me finally get to my point about all this. I feel that as a ham radio contester, the only person I can compete fairly against is myself. I can look at my past performance in a contest, and see if I can better myself in that contest this time. If I can, I'm a winner and I'm happy, no matter what everyone else does in that contest. If I can't better my previous score, I'll try again next time. It doesn't matter at all to me that Joe Blow with his vastly superior station beats me or not. In fact I expect him to beat me unless a disaster befalls him, and I hope it doesn't. If every great once in a while I happen to win a contest, that's only icing on an already delicious cake.

If you're into contesting, I hope that gives you some food for thought. -30-

Wednesday, December 12, 2007 10:12 PM - This was just too full a day processing logs from last night's NAQCC sprint (42+ so far), helping a friend with his computer, getting ready for this evening's computer club Christmas party, then the party itself. So no real diary entry beyond this for today. -30-

Tuesday, December 11, 2007 1:25 PM - My favorite college game of all time? I'm sure those of you who are football fans will have guessed from my clue yesterday. If not, it's the Boston College - Univ. of Miami (FL) game of November 23, 1984. Final score BC 47 Miami 45. Although I'm a Dolphins fan, the same is not true of the Miami Hurricanes. I dislike that team for various reasons among which they always seemed to mess up one of my favorite college football teams - the Oklahoma Sooners. There are other reasons as well that I won't go into here. So I was delighted by the BC victory. But how it was achieved was even more delightful and exciting.

As with many high scoring games, this one was somewhat of a see-saw battle. BC took an early lead of 14-0 before Miami came back. Then it was back and forth until 28 seconds remained in the game with Miami up by a score of 45-41 and BC getting possession of the ball. BC drove to the Miami 48 yard line and had time for one last play.

The BC quarterback was 'little' Doug Flutie, who at 5' 9" was considered to be too small to be playing the position. It was certain, although he could get away playing QB in college at that size, he would never make it in the pros. There was little interest in him in the NFL draft, and although he did play in the NFL, he really excelled playing up in Canada in the CFL. He set many passing records up there in that wide open style of Canadian football. But that's another story for another time. Back to the game now.

Flutie called what was termed the "55 Flood Tip" play. Kind of a sandlot type play where every eligible receiver just runs straight down to the endzone and when the ball reaches them, tip it to another player if they can't catch it themselves. Well, Miami figured that Flutie couldn't throw the ball all the way to the endzone, so they pretty much left the receivers go there while their DB's played a little short of the end zone for a possible game ending interception or at least an incompletion. After all, the line of scrimmage was the 48 yard line, and after he dropped back to pass and probably scrambled a bit, Flutie would have to throw the ball over 60 yards in the air. Miami thought at his size and throwing into a 30 MPH wind after already throwing 45 passes in the game, there was NO WAY that was going to happen.

There's the snap to Flutie who does drop back and scramble a bit to allow his receivers to make the 48+ yard run to the end zone. Finally after an agonizingly long few seconds, he lets the ball fly. And fly it does, all the way over the heads of the Miami defenders, over the goal line right into the arms of Gerald Phelan for a BC touchdown. The distance of that throw was accurately measured at 63 yards in the air. A 'Hail Mary' pass, par excellence, to be sure. Along with the Stabler-Davis pass, that's another play I'll always remember. -30-

Monday, December 10, 2007 8:42 PM - I was going to have one of my "Why is it that.....?" entries today, but I'm feeling lazy right now, so this response from Geo N1EAV to yesterday's football entry will be my entry today.

"Hi John......
In regards to your diary entry of yesterday....My only fear for the Patriots is that they lose to the Dolphins in week 15, for thier only loss of the year and the only win for the Dolphins. I'm sure that would make Shula pretty happy.
Probably unlikely but you never know. They looked pretty strong against Pittsburgh. The fact that Smith guaranteed a win for the Steelers really made big headlines up here in New England. Brady and company really went after him and made him look pretty bad. Was a fun game if your a Pats fan.
One of my favorite games of all time to watch was the Dolphins/Chargers playoff game in the early 80's....don't remember exact year, but it went into 3 overtimes I think. And of course the Elway drive game against the Browns....good stuff."

Of course Shula is Don Shula, the coach of the Dolphins for many many years till he was rather unceremoniously ousted (at least in my opinion). Those other games Geo mentioned were also very good ones. I also have a couple other favorite pro games I may mention in a future entry. And one college game as well (think BC - Miami - Flutie, college football fans). Oh and yes, I do admire the Pats for what they are doing this year. I admire any organization that breeds such success as that whether it be in sports or other fields. -30-

Sunday, December 09, 2007 8:39 PM - A rainy day today, but any rainy day in December is better than a snowy day as far as I'm concerned.

I never even bothered listening on 10M today. I wonder if I missed anything. Probably not. I listened yesterday and heard absolutely nothing at all.

80M was pretty good this evening. I called CQ once and got an answer. After that QSO ended I took a couple minutes break, came back and again got an answer on my first CQ. That hasn't happened in a long time. And the second QSO was a 30 minute pretty solid rag chew.

The players from the 1972 Miami Dolphins are still worried, and I am too. That team was one of my favorite teams of all time, and I can still recite quite a few names from their roster from memory - Bob Griese, Earl Morrall, Larry Czonka, Jim Kiick, Mercury Morris, Paul Warfield, Dick Anderson, Jake Scott, Larry Seiple, Garo Ypremian, Bob Kuchenburg, Jim Langer. Why are they and I worried? They, up to this point, are the only team in modern NFL history to go through a whole season without a defeat, going 17-0 for the season including the playoffs and Super Bowl. They would like to keep that distinction, and I would like for them to be able to keep it. Other teams have come close but always wound up with 1 or 2 blemishes on their records. However this year's juggernaut, the New England Patriots look like an awfully strong contender for that perfect record which would now be 19-0 because the regular season is now 16 games instead of 14 when the Dolphins went undefeated. After today's drubbing of the Steelers, the Pats are 13-0 and on pace to set all kind of offensive records as well. They are just an awesome looking team and I think the only 2 things that could slow them down are injuries to key personnel and perhaps overconfidence against some 'lesser' team they play.

Fortunately I'm not too much of a football fan the past several years now because my two favorite teams, the Raiders and Dolphins have really fallen on hard times of late. Up until a few years ago, my Raiders had the best overall winning percentage of all time in the AFL/NFL, but I'm sure that is no longer true. My next couple of favorites are going in opposite directions from each other. The Cowboys are doing wonderfully well this year with only one loss while the 49er's are down on their luck also after all those great years not all that long ago. I am at the point now where about all I do is check the scores and standings each week whereas I used to watch as many games as possible every Sunday.

My favorite game of all time remains the 28-26 Raider victory over the Dolphins. I talked about that game a long time ago in the diary. I hope you don't mind me re-hashing it here. That was the game where the lead changed hands virtually each time the team that wasn't leading got the ball. Bob Griese for Miami and Ken Stabler alternated spearheading magnificent drives to the end zone. With under a minute to go, the Dolphins led 26-21 and the situation looked hopeless for the Raiders, but never fear, they had one of the greatest final-two-minutes quarterbacks ever in Ken Stabler, a master of using the clock.

I was watching the game while working at WPIT on a little 7 inch television we had at the station. Sometime late in the fourth quarter, knowing what a football fan I was, the station manager called from his home to make sure I wasn't missing this classic game. I wasn't - I had been watching almost from the start.

Stabler drove the Raiders against the mighty Dolphin defense down to a first and goal on the Miami 8 yard line. Then came the most memorable play I have ever seen in football. Stabler was looking for his favorite receiver Fred Biletnikoff, but the Dolphins had him too well covered to attempt a pass to him. Time was running out as the Dolphins closed in and Vern Den Herder got Stabler in his arms, but as Ken was falling he spotted Clarence Davis somewhat open in the end zone and threw the ball in his direction. The Dolphins quickly swarmed around Davis and in a 'sea of hands' Davis somehow pulled the ball in and clutched it to his chest as he fell to the ground. I can still feel the excitement that I felt then as I am typing this. I can still see the play clearly in my mind. The Raiders won the game 28-26. That was almost 33 years ago now - December 21, 1974. -30-

Sunday, December 09, 2007 9:01 AM - I'm taking a break today so this email will be my entry. Please read and participate if you can.

"Hello John; you probably do not know of me but I am a Ham W7MAP/5. I have been visiting your site on the www for some time now and am very glad you are keeping things going.

I am trying to conduct a survey about noise. A very particular noise. First a little background. I participate with another ham in working on non resonant antennas and quelling my local noise sources. For instance, since I do not, or am not able to erect large antennas here I am limited to improving station performance in other ways. A big way is to reduce locally generated noise sources within our homes. Typical results indicate there is about S6-8 noise levels operating from within our homes. This is confirmed by my own experiments and those of my friend in Boston.

I have found that it is possible to reduce noise levels in our receivers up to 6-7 S Units (AM Mode) with careful abatement.

So why write you? I would like to find a web resource that can ask the QRP community to make 3 very specific measures. Tune your transceiver to three frequencies just as if you were going to operate on that frequency and instead of transmitting, switch to AM receive and note the S meter reading. These would be 7025,10110,14025 +- signals so a resting measure can be made. All in all about 2 minutes work.

Should the survey bear out our suppositions, I would like to produce a slide show or presentation with various abatement measures we have taken that could be published on the web or a magazine or whatever gets the word out best.

I have to tell you up front that my results so far in asking the non QRP community has met with an unexpected degree of suspicion. It almost seems I am asking hams to reveal some deep dark family secret or some such thing.

Anyway data could be emailed to me or whatever."

Let's hope the QRP community is more responsive. In this day and age with the thousands of gadgets that produce RF noise, what Chuck is doing can turn out to be very important to all of us in the future. -30-

Saturday, December 08, 2007 10:10 AM - For those of us living along or close to 40 degrees north latitude, today is somewhat of a landmark day. It's the day with the earliest sunset of the year. From now on until June the sun sets a little later each day. Admittedly the change at first is miniscule, but for those of us who hate winter, it's an encouraging sign.

Tomorrow the sun will set all of 1 second later, but the rate of change picks up slowly each day reaching a maximum rate of change around the Vernal Equinox in March. On Christmas the sun sets about 5 1/2 minutes later than today. By January 15th it's just over 24 minutes later, and so on.

Many folks confuse the shortest 'day' of the year with the earliest sunset. While all days are actually 24 hours long and it is incorrect to say the shortest day, the shortest period between sunrise and sunset occurs around December 21st each year despite the fact the sun actually sets some 5 minutes later that day than it does around December 8th or 9th. Why? It's because we still have not reached the time of the latest sunrise which occurs around January 3rd or 4th each year. The difference between sunrise and sunset winds up being the least around December 21st as a result.

Why do things turn out this way? Without going into all the complicated math and physics involved, it's simply because the Earth's orbit around the sun is not a perfect circle, but an ellipse and the Earth's axis is tilted at 23.5 degrees.

If you want to delve further into this and find out what the earliest sunset date is for your latitude, go to http://www.analemma.com/ and thoroughly explore this fascinating site. Download the free SunGraph program available there (via the 'other phenomena' link in the left column) to see your sunrise and sunset info. The latest version of the SunGraph only gives the times to the nearest minute though. An older version that I have here gives times to the nearest second. Still the newer version has a lot of additional features the older version doesn't have like a world view map that shows the 'grey line' among other things. -30-

Friday, December 07, 2007 8:08 PM - More good news on the solar front today. The SF hit 82 today caused by a new sunspot group on the eastern limb of the sun. However that sunspot appears to be near the equator as far as I can see and that means it is probably still an old cycle 23 spot and not a sign that 24 is getting started. I'll leave it to the 'experts' to make the final call on the spot though. Spots from a new cycle generally appear at high latitudes and migrate toward the equator as the cycle develops and progresses.

We had another 2-3 inches of snow today, but it's slightly above freezing now and it is melting just a bit.

The weather kept me indoors again and I used some of that time to get a bit ahead on my NAQCC work. I've now got rules for all our upcoming sprints through July 2008 posted on the web site to go along with the Jan-Jun challenge rules I posted yesterday.

I think now I'm going to get a little snack then see if I can get some of the Christmas decoration pictures posted on SkyDrive. If you're interested, you might try checking SkyDrive in a couple hours after the posting date of this entry. I'll put them in a new folder there called Christmas. -30-

Thursday, December 06, 2007 10:23 PM - Hey, (knock it off John) the solar flux hit 78 today. I wonder when the last time it was that high was. I think I'll try to find out. July 13 of this year unless I missed something in my quick scan of the values. Wow, almost 5 months now. Still it is not going to help much for the 10M contest this weekend. Especially for us minimal QRPers. The big contest stations will work each other easily, and perhaps I can snare a couple of them who can copy my sigs with their big antennas, but that's about all I hope for. Better years are coming though.

I finished my Christmas decorating today. As I said yesterday, it sure brings back a lot of happy memories, and I had my share today. It was also sad missing my departed family members though. I've got some pictures of the trim, and hopefully I will get them up on SkyDrive very soon.

I had more to talk about, but that will have to wait till tomorrow's entry. I'm just finishing up my weekly washing. Don't ask me how it came to be a Thursday evening that I do it. I don't know. -30-

Wednesday, December 05, 2007 8:02 PM - Well, we had our first real snow today. I guess about 2 inches fell before it stopped a couple hours ago. That's not bad compared to what some areas got.

Anyway it kept me inside today and I got some Christmas decorating done. I'll have to show you my simple Christmas setup on SkyDrive a few days down the line. What you'll see is kind of a traditional setup we've kept pretty much the same over the years since Christmas is a time for traditions. Actually I should say I've kept up, since I am the only one left of the original household of 5 that existed when I was born. That number gradually diminished over the years. First it was my dad, then the two aunts who lived here and finally my mom who passed away almost 6 years ago now. Looking at the Christmas ornaments and trimming our window and tree sure brings back a lot of wonderful memories.

One thing that is not wonderful is trying to keep these traditional Christmas lights working year after year. A few years ago we had to give up and get new lights for the tree, and finally today I just got tired of working with the window lights and bought a new string. The old string was the kind where the little lights had to have the wire wrapped around two little wires coming out of the bulb, then shoved down into a socket that held the bulb steady and kept the wires from shorting together. What a pain it was to find a burned out bulb that way, and I figured it was no longer worth it to try to keep them going. Then I went and bought a 35 light string which was the same number as was on the old string, but they were spaced much closer together and the string wouldn't reach all the way around the window like the old one. Nothing is ever simple. So for now I am borrowing a 50 light string from the tree for the window, and using the new 35 light string on the tree.

One thing I'm glad of though, is that I put up our outside lights around the door last month when it was warm because it is windy and about 20 degrees right now as I write this. -30-

Tuesday, December 04, 2007 10:18 PM - It's so nice when you can help someone out in one way or another. I did that today. I helped my neighbor assemble a carpet cleaner, then helped her clean some of her carpets.

I don't know if I ever mentioned this or not, but I have a second cousin who has a lot of health problems including cerebral palsy, and she likes to call me and talk on the phone. In fact I'm on the phone with her right now as I'm typing this. We got acquainted over the phone through a mutual relative about 5 or 6 years ago. I've never met her in person yet because she lives quite a distance away and neither of us travel much at all. But our phone calls often last well over an hour, sometimes a couple hours. She lives alone, and I think the calls are good therapy for her. And I enjoy talking with her, or actually she does most of the talking and I am the listener. HI

Anyway I feel good about today. I think the prime reason we are put on this earth is to help out other folks however we can.

Hey (no, let's not do that again), the SF hit 74 today. That is the highest it has been since I can't remember when. It's at least sometime before September 8 which is the earliest date that hasn't scrolled off my propagation chart. So maybe I'm right about the Sun finally waking up. Let's hope so. -30-

Monday, December 03, 2007 8:21 PM - Hey, have you noticed (perhaps on my propagation page) that the solar flux has moved out of the upper 60's and has been in the lower 70's for the past 12 days now and for 20 of the last 30 days? Do you suppose that could be a sign we are finally moving out of the solar minimum and better propagation days lie ahead? I'll leave that to the propagation experts, but they seemed dead wrong to me when they declared the minimum was reached back in the early part of this year.

Hey (II), I just noticed I worked 3 new band countries in the CQWW DX test. I hadn't had time to check till now, but SV9 on 20, CN on 80, and YN on 80 are all new for me. I'll have to pause here and go update my DXCC page now. Be back in a minute with some more hey, maybe.

Hey (III), I also worked 6 new prefixes in the CQWW DX test. 5J0, DA3, EE2, HQ2, the aforementioned SV9, and ZM3. I knew a couple of those were new before now. A couple of those could be good for our NAQCC Alphanumeric Prefix honor roll listing also. I'll have to check that later also, but not now.

40M was really in a strange mood last evening. Signals went from S7-9 to zilch in a matter of a minute or less, and never returned. I lost 3 QSO's that never had a completed first round. Then another QSO which went one round and thus really counted ended during the second round. Outside of contests, I figure a QSO is a QSO if RST, QTH, and Name are successfully exchanged both ways. That's my criteria. In contests of course the rules state the criteria for a QSO.

We're having a bit of winter here today. The first snow has fallen that stayed on the ground for any appreciable length of time. Not much admittedly, but hey (again), that's good. We don't need a lot of that white fungus, as my friend Dave VA3RJ calls it, on the ground.

Continuing the diversity of topics, I'm delighted the way our NAQCC challenges seem to be gaining in popularity. Our November Turkey challenge brought a record number of participants. And the NAQCC participation award also seems to be catching one as a couple of folks mentioned that in their challenge soapbox comments. If you're one of the few diary readers that are not familiar with this NAQCC stuff I mention, go look at the NAQCC web site. If you operate any QRP at all, you should really become a NAQCC member. It's free and there are club activities that should interest everyone who loves CW and operates some QRP at times. -30-

Sunday, December 02, 2007 12:28 PM - It's one of those dreary Late November, early December days today with chilly temps and a lite rain falling which is at least better than snow. However that is expected overnight tonight.

As I did a week ago, for today's entry I refer you to the contest stories in the Contesting section of the web site for the full story of my ARRL 160M contest adventures that I started telling you about yesterday. -30-

Saturday, December 01, 2007 2:17 AM - As you see, it's now 2:17 AM and I'm just taking a break from the 160M contest, perhaps quitting and going to bed. I don't know yet. Conditions are very good, but I kind of have to pause when my furnace comes on as it puts out a good 30 over S9 noise all over 160M. Or when it's running, I switch over to listen on my 10M dipole and then back to transmit on the attic random wire, but that gets tricky at this time of the morning. HI.

At any rate, I have 104 QSO's in the log from 35 or 36 sections at this point. I've worked some states I haven't worked on 160 in a few years now and some others that I've not worked many stations from at all. Still none of the 8 that I still need for 160M WAS. I did hear MS fairly strong, but another station came on top of him with some very strong CQ's and I lost him in the mess.

I would say about 85-90 percent of my QSO's have been very easy so far. Very few stations needed repeats, although a few of those were really having problems getting my call right or my section right.

I'm happy with all QSO's of course, but I got a little extra kick out of working these states - ME, SD, NE, TX, AL, MO, IA, MN, AR. Those are all fairly tough for me on 160 except for MN.

Well I think I'll go back to the test now as my furnace just shut off. More on this later. -30-

Friday, November 30, 2007 6:32 PM - We've had a lot of talk about 160M among a few NAQCC members lately which resulted in some member news items in the latest issue of the newsletter which I just posted on the NAQCC web site a few minutes ago.

It comes at an appropriate time also as the ARRL annual 160M Contest has just gotten underway. Although with all the end-of-month/first-of-month things I have to do, I probably won't put in many hours in the contest myself, but I urge all QRP/CW ops to give it a try. If you're not familiar with 160M, you'll be surprised at how well your CW/QRP will do on that band. I figured up some personal stats for the newsletter article and I'll repeat them here.

Since starting to use 160M on February 15, 1995, I've made 2,793 QRP/CW QSO's on that band including a couple in the past few days. If I get time, I'll add to that total in the contest this weekend.

My DX results are not good at all, having worked only W, VE, and VP9 mainly because of the fierce competiton for any DX station on that band. I have worked 42 states however. The 8 I need to complete 160M WAS are AK, HI, ID, LA, MS, NV, NM, WA. I have worked CA and OR, so distance is no problem for 6 of the states, and I hope to eventually get them. AK and HI are a different story, and although you never know, I figure I will never get them with my current setup.

What is my current setup, some of you may be asking now. If you don't know, of course I limit myself to QRP or 5 watts output from my TS-570D. I operate only CW, naturally. My 160M antenna is my ~110' end fed random wire that resides mostly in my attic. The ground system is nothing more than a couple random length radials, a copper ground rod, and a connection to the cold water pipe nearby. I talked about my QTH yesterday and pointed you toward a picture of my house and its location in the middle of town.

The bottom line is that even with such a minimal setup, I do fairly well on 160M with the exception of working DX. If you are in a similar situation, I hope this will encourage you to give it a try. -30-

Thursday, November 29, 2007 8:51 PM - I added a couple of pictures to my SkyDrive site. If you want to see them, go to SkyDrive via the link above and look at pictures # 05 and 06 in my Home and Yard folder. I think you'll get a good idea of what I mean by living in a river valley in a rather crowded small town.

I think after seeing those pictures, anyone living in a similar situation should be encouraged that ham radio will work for them as well, even if they use QRP.

That kind of fits in with my statement in an earlier entry about my being a strictly QRP operator. I think that my operating QRP in such a situation will encourage others who may have given up on ham radio because of their situation, to return and give it another try. I don't think that my cranking up the power on the 570 and working 3X5A would provide much in the way of encouragement. One reason being that the person in question reading about someone working 3X5A with say, 100 watts and a beam may realize that they can never have a setup like that and instead of being encouraged, become more discouraged.

So if you are discouraged, take a look at the pictures, then the results I have gotten in ham radio in such a situation. Then realize that you too can do exactly the same because I am not anyone special. Get back in this wonderful hobby if you have left it.

And of course use CW. You probably won't do as well using any other mode. CW is still the most efficient mode of communications despite all the claims for all these new fandangled digital modes being the best. -30-

Wednesday, November 28, 2007 10:25 AM - Thanks to Jeff K3OQ for leading me to the following info about E51A.


Well, at least I didn't miss a new country by not working him. I have the South Cook Islands worked and confirmed as you can see from the pictures on SkyDrive via the link above. -30-

Tuesday, November 27, 2007 1:48 PM Some diary feedback today.

From Larry W9CC, "John, If you find out about E51A in Zone 32, let me know. I figured it was that famous guy named Slim operating from who knows where but saying he was in the Western Pacific. He was certainly west of Indiana because I had my Yagi turned that way trying to hear anything way out there. I use WriteLog to log these guys, and it coughed and wheezed when I typed in the call, and said UNKNOWN. I got him on 15 meters at 2003Z. But its been a while since I have heard from old Slim and maybe he is active again.

I did get the 3X5A on 15, but I wasn't running QRP. It was more like 90 watts. Overall you did much better than I with QRP while I was QRO at 90 watts. I was happy getting LU on 40."

Yep, that increase in power or a better antenna or location can make the difference in working or not working stations. I'm sure had I bumped up the power on my 570 I could easily have worked 3X5A. But what would be the point? I'm a 100% QRPer. Nothing against those who aren't. It's just my way of doing things.

From Baltasar EA8BVP, "Hello John, I've enjoyed your CQ CW 07 story. I took part in it too but in 15m monoband because I don't have enough room to put low bands antennas. I played with my 15m antenna and I waste some time on it.
I read that you had a QSO with EB1ISN. That prefix is not new. Until one year ago there were 3 licenses in Spain:
EBx -> for 2m and 70cm.
ECx -> some segments in some HF bands (10m, 15m, 40m and 80m)
EAx -> access to every band.
(x goes from 0 to 8)
(the prefixes EDx, EEx, EFx, AOx are for important events)
Nowadays there are new radio rules and all the licenses have the same privileges and access to all the hamradio spectrum. Some people here had two or more licenses, and new rules forced you to choose only one. That's the reason because you hear EBx prefix.
OK, thank you very much for your diary and your work in general.
See you on bands."

Thanks so much for the info on Spanish calls. That really clears it up. There are so many licensing changes going on in the world these days, it gets confusing at times.

Just one correction - I heard EB1ISN, but was unable to work him. -30-

Monday, November 26, 2007 8:22 PM - Rain, rain, go away, little Johnny wants to play.... er, walk, but that doesn't rhyme. I think we're pushing about 2 inches of rain so far today. Must be trying to make up for the dry summer here all in one day. Actually I did get out for a walk today because I had to pay some bills and I also wanted to get the bug/paddle handles in the mail to our latest winner Jesse, AB0SR. You say you don't know what I'm talking about? Well, I often don't. HI. But in this case I'm referring to the beautiful hand crafted bug/paddle handles made by Gregg WB8LZG. He has generously donated a number of sets to the NAQCC. We're giving away one set each month in a drawing of all the members who complete our NAQCC challenge for that month. See the NAQCC web site if I've caught your interest or peaked your curiosity.

At least I got quite a bit of work done inside today. I'm not going to bore you by talking about that as it was nothing exciting. However our NAQCC President Tom WY3H had an exciting day today. His new ICOM-718 rig arrived, and he called me to get on the air and give him a report. So we worked on 80 and 40 and the rig sounded great. He's going to have a great time with it, I'm sure. I know how exciting it was when I got my first commercial rig, the 570 back in September 1999. It sure made operating a lot easier and more pleasurable compared to my old homebrew rigs. -30-

Sunday, November 25, 2007 7:34 PM For today's entry I refer you to the Contesting section of the web site. I've added a story there of my action in the just completed CQWW DX Contest. -30-

Saturday, November 24, 2007 2:58 PM - Wow, that was fun! I decided to make a second NAQCC November Thanksgiving challenge from DX calls (plus a couple VE's) worked in the CQWW DX contest. I made it in about three hours, but the last almost full hour was devoted to finding the last letter - L. I missed out on the DL's, OL's, and an LX earlier in the day as EU was starting to fade out when I got on 20M around 1630Z.

I had around 3 dozen QSO's working just for the challenge plus working a few friends and some very strong stations that were not getting any answers to their CQ's when I heard them. I also worked a few what sounded like new prefixes - I'll have to check my list as I have trouble remembering all 2,000+ prefixes I've worked - HI. I also worked an SV9 (very easily - 1 call) since I don't have many QSO's from that country. Plus a few Africans as I always enjoy working AF, and it usually is quite easy - well at least the NW part of the continent. I heard 3X5A very strong for a while and that would have been a new overall country for me, but I couldn't break the huge pileup calling him. Then he faded down again. Maybe he'll be strong again tomorrow or even later this afternoon with a smaller pileup. -30-

Friday, November 23, 2007 8:57 PM - I was out at Tom's again today. We watched the movie, "The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming." I had never seen it before, but Tom said I would like it, and he was right. I told Tom he could be my movie critic from now on.

After that we set up a spreadsheet for Tom to track his FISTS Millionaire award. Then I worked with one of Tom's sons on the computer for a while. All in all it was a second straight very enjoyable day for me. Thanks Tom and family.

We're still getting reports from our NAQCC sprint. We're up to around 35 reports now. I think that's quite good considering the conditions and the holiday. -30-

Thursday, November 22, 2007 9:07 AM - Happy Thanksgiving. I thought I'd get this entry in early before I head off to celebrate Thanksgiving with NAQCC President Tom WY3H.

I was very pleased with the NAQCC sprint last evening. I figured it could go two ways. Either a lack of participation because everyone was travelling to visit or at their relatives for the holiday - or - it could be a chance for many to participate since they were off for the holiday and possibly Wednesday as well. The second alternative was the way it turned out. We had a great participation. A few familiar calls were missing, but many new calls showed up to more than compensate.

For whatever reason, 40M was in superb shape. It was in short skip to start the sprint and stayed that way for the full two hours allowing many close-in QSO's. It actually sounded like 80M normally does when it is in good shape. I racked up 19 QSO's on 40M in the first 36 minutes. I felt like I was some rare DX station. I had one run of 7 stations and another small pile-up.

80M on the other hand was to put it kindly, lousy. I thought at first it was just my local noise which was higher than normal. However after reading all the soapbox comments, it seems propagation stunk as well. With that combination, I'm sure I missed many answers to my 80M CQ's. I know I missed W9CC since he said so in his soapbox comments.

Still it was a great sprint and I'm very proud of our members for sticking it out on a holiday eve under not so great conditions overall. -30-

Wednesday, November 21, 2007 11:59 PM - I'd like to talk about the sprint tonite, but it's too late now. I'll save that for tomorrow's entry.

For now, I wish you all the very best Thanksgiving you can possibly have. -30-

Tuesday, November 20, 2007 8:45 PM - I was just sitting here getting ready to make my diary entry for today. I was wondering what to write about while running my daily Windows Defender maintenance check when I got an email from Paul N4UEB.

Paul was concerned about my saying I had only one 80M QSO last evening, apparently thinking I was complaining about the lack of QSO's which I really wasn't doing although it may have sounded like it.

So Paul suggested that I announce my operating sked here in the diary. I thought that was very kind of Paul, and I appreciate his concern. However that suggestion goes contrary to my conception of ham radio and especially my streak. I don't feel we should use the Internet as a means of scheduling our ham radio operations.

My streak has evolved over the years from an amusement for myself and my friend Eric KB3BFQ to something that shows just how effective a mode of communication CW at QRP levels with simple wire antennas can be. I have shown that it is possible to get on the air every day and make a QSO with someone completely at random without any kind of pre-arrangements. I'll reiterate again that I have never used any method of pre-arranging a QSO to keep the streak going. Every day of the now almost 5,000 days I've just gotten on the air and called CQ, answered a CQ, or gotten into a contest to work someone to keep the streak going.

I could just sked a local ham here in Kittanning to make a QSO with me every day and still have a 'streak', but what would that prove? Absolutely nothing and no one would benefit in any way from the streak. The way I do it, many hams have realized something like this - Say, if K3WWP can make QSO's every day with his limited setup, maybe I can do it also. So they give it a try, and find that they too can make QSO's from their limited setups also. They 'rediscover' ham radio, and that's my reward from the streak - helping others to enjoy our wonderful hobby.

Now as some of you long-term followers of the streak know, I have announced my operating sked for a few very significant days of the streak, like days # 1000, 2000, 3000, 4000, and the days when it reached 5 years and 10 years because many of you follow the streak very closely, and I like to give you all a chance to participate in it. However in addition to any QSO's made from those schedules, I've also gotten another random QSO on those days as well so I can truly say I've never used any kind of sked to keep the streak going.

And just for those of you who haven't been convinced yet - yes you can use very minimal equipment and still have a lot of fun and success with ham radio. Believe me - give it a try and you'll find out I'm right. -30-

Monday, November 19, 2007 9:09 PM - Sometimes it is easy. My first CQ on 80M this evening yielded an answer and a QSO from Jim AE4DT down in GA. However since that was so easy, I thought I'd try more CQ's after the QSO. Those turned out to be the same old thing of late on the bands. No answers at all.

I think the rain gods are trying to make up for our dry summer and early fall this month. I just looked at my weather sheet for the month while taking my daily 9 PM readings, and so far only 4 days in November have been without any rain. The other 15 have had at least a trace of rain with 13 of those days having a measurable amount. The forecast for the next few days predicts a continuation of the same pattern. It won't be like the November of about 10 years ago or so when we had over 10 inches of rain, but the number of days with measurable rain will probably be near a record if this continues.

Wow how time flies - I just checked my memory against my records and that was November 1985 when we had 10.18 inches of rain. I had no idea it was 22 years ago. I guess I'm getting old if time is flying that fast. We had 20 days of measurable rain that November as well as November 1972 for the record. So we're on pace this year to come close to or to break that record. -30-

Sunday, November 18, 2007 8:10 PM - When I used to do a lot of AM BCB (540-1600 kHz then) back in the 60's and 70's, we always looked for long stretches of time when the solar flux was below 70. That was when the DX was the best, and the EU stations like France on 1554, Germany on 1586, the BBC on 1205, Tirana on 1394, etc. would be quite strong if you had a receiver capable of separating them from the USA stations. EU spaced their AM BC stations 9 kHz (8 kHz in the upper end of the band) apart, so a good many of their frequencies fell in between the USA frequencies and with a good filter and a loop antenna it was possible to hear many EU stations when conditions were as described above.

I built my own BCB receiver with cascaded mechanical filters for as close to a straight sided bandpass as possible. That plus a loop about 4 feet square that of course was rotatable, but also tiltable made up my BCB DX setup. The loop worked excellently to the point where I could null out local powerhouse KDKA on 1020 kHz far enough to hear little WPEO in Peoria, Illinois also on 1020 in the daytime.

I forget my totals now, and I will look them up when I get time and report back in a future diary entry. However as I recall, I logged some 1800 AM BCB stations in some 50 countries or more. I got most of the 50 states. I know I lacked Alaska and perhaps a couple more for an 'AM BCB WAS'. I did log KORL in Honolulu for Hawaii on 650 when WSM was off for regular Monday morning maintenance. There's something else to remember. Many of the powerhouse stations would shut down for maintenance Sun night at Midnight or so until 5AM or so Monday morning.

What brought that to mind is the conditions on the ham bands lately. 80M goes very long skip quite soon after sunset these days and the SF has indeed been below 70 for almost 4 months or more now save for a couple days when it did hit the very low 70's. I wonder what conditions are like now on the AM BCB. Of course with all the 24/7 stations now, PSA and PSSA operations, it seems like very few USA AM BCB stations ever sign off as they did back when I was DXing the band. However the propagation conditions should be very good for DX if it can be dug out of the mess. Especially this time of year.

If you ever DXed the AM band seriously, you probably know of the NRC and the IRCA, two AM BCB DX clubs. Remember Gordon (Admiral) Nelson, who was one fellow who probably knew more about the technicalities of AM BCB propagation than anyone else. I believe it was he who coined the phrase mid-Winter Anomaly or mWA. This referred to the fact that even though the SF would be low and the ionosphere quiet all winter, the propagation would be better in late fall that it was is mid-Winter. That meant that November on average would be one of the best months for EU and AF reception on the AM BCB.

Gee I just brought back a lot of memories to myself. Maybe it will do the same for you if you engaged in this activity at any time in your life.

ADDENDUM - My curiosity got the best of me. I looked up my records and I see 1,826 stations logged from 66 countries. And Alaska is my only missing state. I think my most distant logging would be Tarawa, Gilbert & Ellice Islands on 844 kHz. I believe I was one of the first DXers to hear R. Nordsee Int. on 1610 kHz. This was a 'pirate' station operating aboard a ship in international waters around Europe.

Perhaps in a future entry I'll reminisce about LW Beacon DXing and Coast Station DXing on 500 kHz and SW. -30-

Saturday, November 17, 2007 10:37 PM - Three more fig trees buried today - the 3 biggest ones. Whew! I'm tired, but glad they are out of the way. Now 4 more to go. That's about all I can think of to say for today. It's late and I'm getting ready to get to bed. -30-

Friday, November 16, 2007 8:54 PM - We had our first noticeable snow today. It didn't stick (yet), but it came down pretty thick when I was out walking this afternoon. I'm certainly rooting for the AccuWeather winter forecast by Joe Bastardi. He thinks we are going to have a mild winter perhaps rivalling the wonderful one we had in 2001-2002. His prediction includes a somewhat cold beginning in Nov and early Dec, then becoming generally above normal from then until March when it will become below normal for a while again. That will be just fine for me if it happens to work out.

Even if you're not a NAQCC member, I hope you'll take a look at our latest newsletter which was posted on the web site a few hours ago. I'm really proud of the way it is shaping up into what I think is a real first class on-line newsletter. We even have a ham radio cartoon in every other issue now provided by W9CBT.

It's hard to believe we are into our fourth year of existence now with the NAQCC. Time sure does fly. The future of the NAQCC looks very bright thanks to our wonderful members. -30-

Thursday, November 15, 2007 8:18 PM - November certainly can be a very dreary month. It was dark and cloudy all day today with lite rain on and off. Very depressing. Then the Sun goes and 'sets' around 5PM adding to the gloominess. I'm looking forward to December 9th which is the day of the earliest sunset at this location, then after that it will start staying lighter a bit later each day, not by much, but it's at least a good sign for those of us who don't care for winter.

Ange and I buried three of the fig trees today for the winter in between the showers. That leaves, if I count right, 8 more to go now. They really increased their root systems this year looking for water in the really dry soil we had all summer. If you missed it last year, and don't know what I'm talking about burying fig trees, take a look at pictures of the process among my SkyDrive pictures. -30-

Wednesday, November 14, 2007 11:02 PM - Another busy day with computer club, lots of NAQCC work, and so on. So I'm just going to tell you about my NAQCC November challenge that I completed this evening by copying my Soapbox from the challenge page on the NAQCC web site.

Well, my challenge is over. It turned out to be an interesting and strange one. All QSO's were regular QSO's - nothing from contests, skeds, etc. And of all the calls save one listed for my words, the QSO's came from answers to my CQ's or someone tailending a QSO of mine. K2RFP was the only station I worked by answering a CQ myself. So I did virtually no searching for the letters, but they all came to me instead. My final QSO had a strange twist to it also. I was tuning around looking for an R to finish the challenge. I heard K1HFR send his call 3 times followed by a K around 3536 kHz. I didn't know if he was calling CQ or answering someone else so I didn't call him, but I called CQ about 500 Hz higher figuring if he was CQing he might tune a bit and hear my CQ. No such luck so I went back to one of my favorite 80M frequencies and called CQ on 3559 kHz. Well after about five minutes.... yes, that's right, K1HFR found me and answered my CQ. Perhaps now I'll try to replace the letters I got from K2RFP with ones from stations who answered my CQ's and have an endorsement for "all letters made from stations answering my CQ's or tailending one of my QSO's" or something like that. HI. Then I hope to complete the challenge a second time with QSO's just from the CQWW DX test later this month. -30-

Tuesday, November 13, 2007 9:35 AM - I had a great long visit yesterday from my friend Mike KC2EGL who stopped by and we wound up spending the whole afternoon together.

Mike used to be a postman here in Kittanning till he transferred to Brookville a couple years ago. Brookville is approximately 40 miles NE of here.

Mike is originally from the NYC area, hence the '2' call. Mike says he is keeping that call, and will never go to a vanity call.

Before I met him one day when he was delivering some QSL's to me, I never knew him since he was strictly a phone operator and never used nor thought much of CW. Well, we became good friends, and he says I'm the responsible party. What? Oh, responsible for him discovering the joy of CW operating. Mike has now gone almost 180 degrees. He is now virtually 100% CW, and most of that recently using QRP. He is very active in our NAQCC events when the other pressures of life permit. He's also an SKCC member, and is now going to be a FISTS member as well.

I just updated my counter which I like to do manually since I think it is more accurate than just displaying the figures from my two stat services. What I do is look at the number of unique hits from each service and take the daily total that is the higher of the two. Generally they are in close agreement, but occasionally one or the other is down for a day or part of a day and will show a much lower number than the other service.

According to my figures, my total overall 'hits' or 'visitors' since I started the site just crossed the 400,000 mark. But figures from ICDirect show a total of 717,154 hits which I feel is inflated because of the way they count 'hits'. My StatCounter total shows 256,850 'hits'. That is low because they didn't come on board till well after ICDirect. Keeping track of visits to sites is somewhat of a 'black art' since there are so many variables involved, but I believe the way I am doing it is somewhat fairly accurate.

Well, off in a little while to do some computer club work, so 73 and -30-

Monday, November 12, 2007 10:21 AM - I said I wanted to share some emails with you, so without further ado.

Mark WU7F writes about my 'wiki' comments of a few days ago: "I wanted to comment about your entry in the diary about the Wiki. I assume you are referring to the one the ARS group put together. I have to admit that I hadn't considered it a "negative" until I read your comments about how you believe it is an invitation to communicate among members, but in doing so, that takes time away from one's ability to make a contacts on the radio.

I like wiki's. They are a great collaborative tool. I think it would be useful if everyone that hits the trail with a radio could also share their experience via the wiki (if they wanted to). The likelihood of me ever being on air with them at the same time is remote, yet I'd still like to hear about their experience. You make a good point, however, that if I'm busy on the computer, then I'm even less likely to make contact with them on the radio.

As I type this, I'm calling CQ. The keyer is repeating the call... so it's a way to do some computing, and some hamming at the same time.

Communication via the computer is a great tool - and it has the advantage of not having to be in "real-time", so it conforms to my schedule. Some could argue that Ham radio - and CW in particular - are not as efficient when compared to networked computers with a working broadband connection for each endpoint. I think that if one were to limit their focus to just communication, then they might win that argument... but what they fail to factor in is the "enjoyment quotient".

I'd rather have a conversation in CW than via some messaging/chat program in real-time. For social interaction, I'd rather use CW than email - but email wins if I can't be there in real-time, or if the quantity of information makes it impractical for me to use CW. That would more likely be the case in a business email rather than a social email. Since I can't use CW for business, its a non-issue.

So back to the wiki - I think it is a great idea, if it doesn't distract someone from getting on the radio. It is a nice way to send some pictures, and maybe inspire the rest of us to get out there and get on the radio. In all likelihood, most users probably won't be as comfortable with it as they are with traditional sites, so it may take a while for people to get use to it."

Mark pretty much echoes my thoughts exactly. Wiki's are good things if used properly. Email reflectors are good things if used properly. Ham web sites are good things if used properly. HOWEVER, they are also mis-used and abused also. Just look at how much trash is found on email reflectors. The persons posting that trash could well have been doing something much more constructive. In the case of ham radio, the person could have been on the air using CW, adding to the effort of preserving this mode. The same goes with wiki's and web sites. Many wasted hours go into them as well.

On the positive side, I love the Internet Wikipedia. In most cases it is used properly, and I often use it to look up some information about this or that. It takes the place of my 'hard copy' Encyclopedia Britannica virtually exclusively nowadays.

I certainly hope the ARS wiki is also used properly and not to the further detriment of on-the-air communications using CW.

Ivin W9ILF writes in part about the November NAQCC challenge: "Spelling words was a lot of fun. I started Friday evening and ended Sunday. John's grid system made it much easier to keep track of what letters I still needed and then it was just hunting the bands to find them."

I'm delighted to know that my alphabet challenge tutorial and work sheets made things easier. You can read more about them and read the rest of Ivin's comments on the NAQCC web site.

Finally a brief comment from Bob VA3RKM about the SKCC situation: " I noticed the good news about the SKCC in your diary. The whole thing was strange from the beginning. Our sprints were well-established and it did them no good to schedule on top of us. I have an SKCC number from last year but haven't tried out anything with them yet. (And I can't quite figure out the Roman tribune, etc. categories). I'm really impressed with the NAQCC turnout for sprints these days."

As near as I can figure it, the Roman stuff is a copy of what FISTS is doing, but with different names relating to the Roman empire for whatever reason. That is, SKCC Centurion = FISTS Century and so on. If I decide to join SKCC, I'll find out more about it. -30-

Sunday, November 11, 2007 9:50 PM - Amazing! It was actually easy to get my daily QSO this evening. In fact I got two of them very easily. I only had to call a few CQ's before being answered by W2IFB, then after that QSO ended, another few CQ's brought an answer from N1IH. It was nice not to have to spend 30-45 minutes looking for a QSO.

It's nice to see our NAQCC activities picking up steam of late. I've processed several award applications, challenge results, and new member applications the past few days. It means a lot more work for me, but it is very rewarding work to know that so many folks are doing their part to help preserve CW through our NAQCC activities.

I've got some email from diary readers to share with you, but I'm going to put that off till another day. I've got some more work and chores to get done now. -30-

Saturday, November 10, 2007 8:39 PM - When my friend Gary N2ESE answered my 80M CQ this evening, the E and S in his call completed 3 of the 7 words in our November NAQCC challenge.

Speaking of our challenges, a lot of folks say it is hard to keep track of our alphabet type challenges. I don't think so, and I've posted a tutorial on the NAQCC web site showing a simple way of tracking them.

I've got a lot of business to get caught up on now, so I'll see you later. -30-

Friday, November 09, 2007 8:44 PM - Where have all the CW operators gone? These last few days have been very difficult for me to get QSO's. Not because conditions are all that bad. It's that they are perceived as being bad, and fewer and fewer ops are getting on the air. Then that makes the bands sound more and more empty which leads more folks into thinking propagation is just absolutely horrible. It's a Catch-22 syndrome.

Folks have short memories. Just think back to last weekend when the Sweepstakes was going on. The bands were just full of strong signals. Yes folks, propagation ain't as bad as it is perceived. Oh granted it is not as good as it will be a couple years down the road when the Sun's freckles return, but it's still pretty darn good especially on the lower bands - 160,80, and 40 meters. 30 meters is a bit iffy. 20 meters likewise. Both have good and bad times. 17 through 10 are pretty much dead, but they can surprise if anyone is there to take advantage of them. You have to be a bit lucky to catch the high band openings these days or have a setup to monitor the beacons on those bands to alert you to the openings. Still the bottom line is you've got to get on the bands in order to make them work for you. You can listen all day and if everyone else is just listening also, I guarantee the bands will be dead. Call CQ. Call CQ. Call CQ. Call CQ. I can't say it often enough. My minimal QRP signals will often liven up a totally dead sounding band. Imagine what a 100 watt signal and a big antenna can do. Let's all resolve right now to activate the bands and get them out of their pitiful sounding state they have slipped into. -30-

Thursday, November 08, 2007 3:38 PM - I belive in giving credit where credit is due. Today it is due to the SKCC. After their sprints conflicting with our NAQCC sprints for all too many months now, they have done the honorable thing and changed the dates of their sprints to eliminate that conflict.

Let me give a brief summary of the situation. The NAQCC established its sprint schedule of alternating Tuesday and Wednesday evenings in May of 2005 after we had planned to do them on random days of the week and weeks of the month. That random scheduling interfered with some other previously established QRP weeknight activities so we did the right and honorable thing and altered our schedule to avoid conflict.

Some time after the SKCC was established in January of 2006 they plopped down their weeknight sprint right on top of our Wednesday evening schedule, and stubbornly refused to move when they were made aware of the conflict. This continued until today when the good news came.

Bill NT9K, a member of both the NAQCC and SKCC worked with the new SKCC weeknight sprint manager John AI4RE to get the SKCC to finally do the right and honorable thing and move their sprint dates to the fourth Wednesday of a month from now on, thus avoiding all future conflict.

Both Bill and John are honorable gentlemen, and as NAQCC Vice President I thank and commend them for their honor and class in resolving this conflict in the proper manner.

Now we hope all our NAQCC members who are also SKCC members will be able to participate equally in both the NAQCC and SKCC sprints each month.

And now for something completely different, or maybe not because it shows that readers of this diary are also wonderful gentlemen (and ladies). I received another offer of help on the Meissner Coil situation from Don W2JEK which I forwarded to Jay W6HHT. Thank you Don for your kindness and consideration.

I think both these diary stories show that folks can work together and help each other out as was intended by our Creator. -30-

Wednesday, November 07, 2007 10:21 AM - Well, I did get a reply to the Meissner coil question of yesterday. Thanks Chuck W8LQ. I've forwarded Chuck's info on to Jay W6HHT.

Now here's an excerpt from the NWS forecast for Kittanning:

Tuesday: A chance of snow or rain showers. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 61. Chance of precipitation is 30%.

Huh? It's going to maybe snow at 61 degrees. I can't wait till next Tuesday to see that. I bet it doesn't stick to the ground for long.

I guess even the NWS forecasters have an 'off day' now and then. -30-

Tuesday, November 06, 2007 6:38 PM - One more strange operating habit showing up on the bands, then tomorrow I'll get off this subject (unless I run into something else on the bands).

I've had responses to my CQ's where the answering party calls me and then just goes ahead and sends me all his information before knowing if I even heard him answer me. There could well have been noise keeping me from hearing him or I might have answered another station. Just another mystery of modern ham radio, I guess.

Here's a real long shot, but I'll try. I received this question from W6HHT: "I am NAQCC member 1911, returning to the air after 30 years of being off the air and out of the ham radio business. Licensed in 1948 as Class B, upgraded in 1950 to Class A, further upgraded in 1961 to Extra Class (20 wpm code requirement back then), and got so stupid I let the license expire in 1991. Now relicensed as General class with my original callsign W6HHT. My return to ham radio will be QRP using vintage radio equipment including my 20-tube double conversion superhet receiver of W6TC HBR design, built by me in 1968. My plans include acquiring a Meissner Signal Shifter for my main QRP transmitter.
I am looking for someone who might have the specifications (number turns, spacings, tap point, wire gauge) for the plug-in coils (if such document even exists) with a view toward my designing and building coil sets for the WRC spectrum slices 30, 17 and 12 meters. I am doing the same thing for my HBR receiver that also uses plug-in coils.
Do you know of anyone who might have such a coil set specification? It is a much easier (and far faster) task to start a new coil design if one has a starting point at some nearby frequency."

If anyone has such info, let me know and I'll forward it to W6HHT.


Monday, November 05, 2007 6:59 PM - Some more random thought about the current state of ham radio. I think it is very sad that not all hams keep accurate logs these days, or any logs at all in some cases. I think the FCC decision several years ago to drop the log keeping requirement was a wrong one.

I liken keeping a log to taking pictures of one's children as they are growing up. Just like looking back on those pictures brings back wonderful memories, so does looking through one's old ham radio logs. Not keeping a log is sort of like taking a picture of your kid, then throwing it away as soon as you look at it. Sure you took the picture just like you made the QSO, but you won't have either to look back on in the coming years.

Personally I have a record of EVERY QSO I have made since my Novice days in 1963. Most all of them are on paper logs, and ALL are in my computer log file which is duly backed up regularly to CD.

Logs are important in other ways besides reviving old memories. Suppose you are accused of an illegal activity, either related to ham radio or just a crime in general. If you have a log, you may be able to prove you were on the air working John Doe over in Anytown, USA at the time of the crime rather that being out doing the crime. John Doe can corroborate your 'alibi' if he also keeps an accurate log.

Keeping a log also allows you to analyze it to learn more about propagation, band activity, and the like. This is especially true if you use a good logging program, and even more true if you design your own log from a database program like Microsoft's Access. I've often said I can find out virtually anything from my Access log with a few lines of SQL programming or the built in wizards. Then I go on to prove it by saying how I can tell you how many Jim's I've worked on Tuesdays in even-numbered years or some other silly example like that, and returning with the result in a minute or so. I won't do that here and now though. I'll just end with the suggestion that if you haven't been keeping a thorough log, I hope you'll see the benefits of doing so, and start right now. -30-

Sunday, November 04, 2007 9:22 PM - It seems to me that yet another ham radio club is encouraging its members to communicate via the Internet rather than using CW on the air. A well-known club is establishing a 'wiki' to allow its members to exchange ideas, stories, and the like on the Internet. Of course that takes time away from using CW on the air.

This is why as long as I am affiliated with the NAQCC, we will keep a minimal Internet presence having only a web site to inform our members of our activities. Otherwise we say fire up your ham rigs and pound brass if you want to communicate with other hams. Talking about CW on the Internet is not going to preserve the mode. Using it on the air is much more effective. End of commentary.

I hope those of you who were in the SS this weekend had (or are having) a good time. As I write this, there are still about 30 minutes remaining in the test. I made a total of 2 QSO's this year, one each for my Saturday and Sunday streak QSO's. I just wasn't in a contesting mood. I'm looking forward to the CQWW DX contest coming up later this month. That's one of my favorites. I kind of hope we have somewhat bad weather to encourage me to stay indoors and put in a good many hours in that one.

This was yet another decent day here, although it is gradually turning cooler each day, it seems. Still I am hoping for some more good fishing days before I stow the poles for the winter. -30-

Saturday, November 03, 2007 7:10 PM - I just got home from fishing where I caught a 14.5 inch Bass and a 6.5 inch Walleye. So I'm glad I took time out to head to the river. There aren't going to be many more days I can do that as we slide from fall into w....r. I just can't say or type that word.

I got a kick out of this email from my friend Don VE3HUR and thought I'd share it with you.

"Hi John, I've been getting those extra dit-dits at the end of QSOs also. I've also been hearing strings of dits during the QSO.
Now, excluding the possibility of EE5EEE calling EE5ESE, my theory is that those extra dits that bug user is sending (think I worked him too) are just floating around the ether and somehow attach themselves to an on-going QSO. They're like litter. By collecting them you're doing all hams a favour by keeping them off the air. Please be careful disposing of those dits - we don't want them back floating in the ether.
73, Don VE3HUR"

Good point Don. We must find an environmentally safe way of disposing of them so they don't contaminate future CW operators and cause them to act similarly. -30-

Friday, November 02, 2007 11:25 PM - I have been so busy lately answering emails, I don't seem to have much time for much else besides the other things that just must be done. In other words, I haven't had much time for myself to play Doom, visit my friends, fish, and the like. I still do get in my daily walks though, as they are important in keeping fit.

One project I've been working on with another ham via email is a new feature in our NAQCC newsletters. I'll say more about that in a few days after we do a little more fine tuning on the project.

I have also been making time to get on the air a bit more each day, mainly because of the incentive of our November NAQCC challenge. I've now got the challenge half completed as of my last QSO I made just about an hour ago.

And now it's off to upload this diary page and my index and propagation pages to my web site. -30-

Thursday, November 01, 2007 10:45 PM - Yes, November - Where did October go to? It's true that time passes faster the older one gets.

I'm already getting over my sadness at not having N3A to operate any longer and getting into our NAQCC November Thanksgiving challenge. I've already gotten 18 of the 52 letters required to complete the challenge after just 5 QSO's. I think I'll try to complete the challenge using regular QSO's, then try to do it again using only QSO's from the CQWW DX contest later this month.

I forgot to mention another 'strangeness' on the ham bands. The poor lost soul who only knows how to send ..--.. a question mark and seemingly nothing else. I guess that's some kind of relation of the dit dit person.

All kidding aside, it is distressing that there is very little teaching of proper CW procedure these days as was done back when I was getting started in ham radio. Oh there are sources of these teachings such as on my web site, on the NAQCC web site, and the FISTS Keynote and web site, but not everyone is exposed to these when they are just starting out in CW. Please if you come across a newcomer, point out these things to him or her. Otherwise CW will move further and further from the wonderful structured language that it has been for so many years. -30-

Wednesday, October 31, 2007 8:11 AM - Geo N1EAV comments on my entry of yesterday: "Hi John, You are not the only one experiencing these things on the bands. Seems to me that 50% of the ops who answer my cq's are off frequency.I have to use my rit to hear a decent note. The dit dit thing happens once in awhile. I will qrz, but no one comes back. Perhaps they are reading the mail and want to throw their two dits in. hi hi. The tuner uppers are a whole different breed. How much do we really have to tune up these rice boxes of today??

Have actually heard a few good bug operators working the n3a qso's of late. Nice to hear, it sounds like the old days, but I do know what you mean about the extra dits.

Funny thing I heard yesterday was a 20 over S9 carrier on top of the 15mhz WWV signal. Kept coming on and going off like someone was trying to tune up...Wonder if someone else heard it....Seems to me it might have been local cause it was so strong compared to other signals I was hearing.........strange"

Geo brings up a couple things for which I'll add my comments. How true about tuning up. I can't recall the last time I've done any tuning up with my 570 rig other than pressing the auto-tune button which only takes a few seconds at very minimal power. If I ever have to do any real tuning, I do it in the off-hours for a band. That is, 80M around noon local time when there is next to no activity on that band. Or 20M well after local sunset again when activity is at a minimum. And I certainly don't do any tuning period without being absolutely sure no one is using the frequency.

Just for clarification, I did not mean to cast aspersions on bug operators in general. Many bug ops have fists that are almost indistinguishable from keyer or computer code. Virtually all but a few send perfect code that is a delight to copy. It's also nice to hear ops with that bug 'swing' to their code. But a few do need to watch those extra dits, as do a few keyer ops as well.

I caught what may be my last fish of the year last evening. A nice 13.5 inch bass on a new 'rooster tail' spinner I just bought at Wal-Mart a few days ago. I plan to go fishing some time today, and hopefully a few times in November before it gets too awfully cold, but the catching part of fishing is very slow this time of year, so I may wind up with 163 for the year which is virtually average for the past 16 years - 162.

I also plan to use a friends woodworking tools to 'pretty up' my homebrew straight key today. I like using it so much, I thought I'd like to make it better looking. Also I'll help him get out our computer club newsletter. He took over that duty as well when he took over my treasurer's job. It's nice to have that as one less thing to do here.

Finally - and you thought Morse was still alive or wasn't going to die until sometime in the distant future:
pix_diary_20071031_1 (58K)
Tnx Dick K2UFT for the photo. As Dick said, it seems Morse died even before it was patented. -30-

Tuesday, October 30, 2007 8:13 AM - A friend of mine came over last night. Well actually I ran into him on one of my walks and asked him to come home with me to take a look at Comet Holmes. I didn't feel like bringing out my big scope so I got my old 50+ years-old 4-inch Dynascope to view Holmes. Although it is very bright as I mentioned, being clearly visible to the naked eye even among our town lights, it still looks just like a ball of fuzz in binoculars or my 4-inch scope. I didn't see any real detail except for some brightening toward a spot near the center. I still plan to get my bigger 8-inch scope out one night soon to check it out. The moon is far enough away now so its light won't interfere.

I notice a couple things on the ham bands recently that I'd like to talk about. I've lost a couple of QSO's lately, because the station calling me answered several hundred Hz off frequency and they were zero beat with some QRM while I was in the clear. I don't think a lot of hams know how to zero-beat these days. Either that or it's that they may be using xtal control which I find unlikely since in neither case were they near any standard frequency for which a xtal would be used. If they were using a xcvr, then the only way they could possibly get that far off frequency is to have been using RIT or XIT, and forgot to turn it off when they called me.

A strange phenomenon I've noticed several times recently is a third party sending dit dit after I conclude a QSO with a station with both of us sending dit dit. It's obviously a third party because the extra dit dit is slightly different in pitch from the station I'm working. I have no idea what that is all about. I listen to see if perhaps someone wants to tail-end either of us, but nothing beyond the extra dit dit is ever forthcoming.

Then there are the times when I'm calling CQ I hear someone tuning up on my frequency since I use QSK here all the time. I think OK, someone is getting ready to answer me, but no - no one does. I then think maybe I'm sending too fast, so I slow down a bit but still nothing. I have no idea why someone needs to tune up on an occupied frequency when there is so much empty space on the bands these days. These tuners are usually VERY strong so it seems unlikely they are not hearing my CQ.

Oh if anyone needs a bunch of extra dits for any reason, I worked a bug operator recently who had his dits set at about 35 WPM or so but was sending around 20 WPM and distributing a ton of extra free dits along the way. Many S's contained 4 or 5 dits, H's had 6 or 7, etc. I guess if no one wants them, I'll just throw them out. -30-

Monday, October 29, 2007 8:23 AM - UPDATE: After writing the below, I find that Comet Holmes has already made its closest approach to the Sun and is currently on its outward journey, so I guess we won't have a rival to the great comets of the past if that is true. See http://www.space.com/spacewatch/071025-comet-holmes.html.

I went out shortly after dark last night and noticed the altered constellation of Perseus immediately even before my eyes got dark adapted, and looking in the direction of some house and street lights. Comet Holmes is certainly a bright one.

With the naked eye it looks just like a star. In 10x50 binoculars it looks like a little round fuzz ball. No sign of a tail yet, but then I believe it is still out beyond Mars. I haven't had time to really study it's orbit beyond the brief info I got in my Sky & Telescope bulletin. Perhaps today will give me a little time to find out more about it.

I'm thinking if it is that far from the sun and in an orbit that brings it close to the Sun, it could be something rivalling Hale-Bopp and Hyakutake in the 1990's. But that's just a pure guess on my part till I get more info.

I'm waiting a couple days to get my scope out as the moon is pretty bright and fairly close to the comet right now. If the scope wasn't so big or if I could have it permanently mounted outside, I would have looked last night.

Wouldn't it be interesting if someone named Watson should discover a new comet soon? Then we'd have Holmes and Watson in the sky at the same time.

We had our first frost/freeze overnight. It's around 29-30 as I write this at 8:30AM.

I picked my last 176 tomatoes yesterday, only saving/covering a couple experimental plants a friend gave me that are billed as 'The World's largest tomatoes'. He gave them to me late and I'm trying to get one to ripen so I can get some seeds for next year. I don't know if they are hybrids or not though.

The 176 yesterday gave me 438 for the year from 6 Early Girl and 3 Siberian plants. That's the second best total this 21st century so far, losing only to the spectacular year of 2005 with 794 tomatoes from 8 plants.

I've been having such a good time operating N3A, I hate to see it come to an end in a couple days. I had a couple interesting QSO's yesterday. I worked W2KJ on 40M, and after saying 73 I went to 30M. A few CQ's there, and I was answered by W2KJ. I never told him I was going to 30, he just happened to also QSY around the same time and found me.

Then last evening I worked WC8E as K3WWP, said 73 to him as he had some strong local noise come on there. About 15 minutes later, my N3A/3 CQ was answered by...... yep, WC8E. As WWP I never mentioned anything about N3A to him. Just another coincidence.

I hope to get some more N3A QSO's today. I'd like to try some 20M as I've only gotten a couple there outside of contests. Most of my 350+ N3A QSO's have been on 40 and 80 with most of the non-contest QSO's coming on 40M, I believe. Maybe I'll work you in the next couple days and give you a N3A QSO. -30-

Sunday, October 28, 2007 8:19 AM - I was kidding my friend Rem K6BBQ about having something about ham radio voice in his email signature. He explained he last used voice in the CA QP, but does his rag chewing with CW. Anyway that set me to wondering just how many voice QSO's I have made out of the current total 67,600 QSO's I now have. I looked back through my computer and paper logs to try to figure it out. I knew it was somewhere around 5, but never did get an exact total till now.

I've made the following phone QSO's, all in 1969:
1/17/69 1806 W3FHT X A3
1/26/69 1914 WA3GPK X A3
3/1/69 1900 VE3BMR X A3a
3/1/69 1905 VE3BMR X A3a
3/5/69 1843 WA8NYB X A3a
3/7/69 2230 VE3BMR X A3a
3/10/69 2023 WA3GPK X A3J

So the official total is 7 phone QSO's. I am sure A3 is AM, A3J is SSB, but I don't know what the little "a" after A3 means now. That's how little interest I have in anything ham radio that isn't CW. Those 7 are the only QSO's I've ever had that weren't Morse Code (either Continental Morse or a few American Morse).

The first two QSO's were with a little 8W or so transmitter I built for CW, then added some plate modulation for AM. The rest were with WA3GPK's xmtr. He loaned it to me so he could hear what it sounded like on the air. Then I worked my long-time friend Dave, VA3RJ (then VE3BMR) with it also.

End of my confession. Please pardon me for those past sins of operating phone on the ham bands. What penance do I have to do now? HI HI.

Here are some thoughts about CW I received via email from Jeff WA2AQC. That's a nice suffix in his call, the same as our NAQCC club call N3AQC.

"C.W. is what first attracted me to amateur radio. I have not been too active lately ( last 12 years) due to change of addresses and a growing sense of abandonment by the FCC. The last straw was the abolition of the code requirement. I think learning code could be as important as learning american sign language. It is another meta-mode of communication which could save lives and serve in many other emergencies where there is only tactile/non-verbal communication available. I think it should be resurrected and even offered as a course in high school.

I only got as high as the Advanced grade, but I think I should be allowed to go anywhere on any band with cw. I know code can be tiring sometimes, and one can't send as much info as fast as with fone, but it is more stimulating to occupy one's mind with just copying code than even being concerned with the content of what is being received.

I have an old Vibroplex chrome-plated bug that I bought in 1958 for $13 from Harrison Radio in Manhattan. It needs a good cleaning and re-plating, because of the rust on it. I love that thing. I never got into electronic keyers, because I felt they removed the last vestiges of personality from one's "fist". This bug was great, because it let me set it up for my left hand.

This language must never be allowed to go extinct!

Jeffrey Levine, WA2AQC
Cape Coral, FL
formerly of: Passaic, NJ"

Well said, Jeff. -30-

Saturday, October 27, 2007 10:08 AM - Things in general are fairly caught up today. So I decided to upload some fall foliage pictures to SkyDrive as I promised about a week ago. Check the Fall Foliage 2007 folder via the SkyDrive link above if you'd like to see what fall is like here in Kittanning.

In uploading the pictures I again found how much I like Microsoft's SkyDrive. I hadn't used it in some time now, yet it's operation is so intuitive I really didn't have to do any thinking or remembering how to upload pictures. It was all just right there in front of me unlike Flickr or Windows Live Spaces. It took but a minute or two to create a new folder and upload 21 pictures.

It's a cloudy and cool day today, and there is some frost predicted Monday morning. I guess I'll do some cleaning up in my and Ange's gardens today. Otherwise not much else planned outside the ordinary like brunch which I'm off to fix right now. -30-

Friday, October 26, 2007 10:01 AM - I know several of you are astronomy buffs as I am. In case you haven't heard, there's a new bright naked-eye comet visible in the constellation Perseus. Here is more on the comet which suddenly brightened about a million-fold from 18th to 3rd magnitude in less than a several hour period.

Unfortunately it's cloudy here until possibly Sunday night so I won't be able to check it out till then. I hope you have better viewing conditions. It's looking just like a bright star now, but will remain bright and show some tail development over the next several days according to the Sky & Telescope article. Good luck with your viewing. -30-

Thursday, October 25, 2007 11:42 PM - I got involved in playing Doom and almost missed making my entry for today. Not really a lot to say anyway. I made a few more N3A/3 QSO's today and got a couple more reports from our other N3A ops. We're within 35 QSO's now of hitting 1,000 for the month. Tomorrow is supposed to be a rainy day. If so, I'll try to make several more myself to bring us even closer.

We had our annual Halloween parade in town tonite. I went with my neighbor to see that. It's always fun to see the little kids in their costumes parading proudly down the street.

Earlier today I cleaned out some more tomato plants from Ange's garden and now we have them almost all cleaned out. We are supposed to have our first frost next week so this weekend will probably finish the cleaning up process. I'm going to try to cover a couple of my tomato plants that have huge tomatoes on them. A friend of mine gave them to me late in the year, and I'd like to get at least one tomato to produce seeds, so I can try that variety next year. I'm not sure if it is a hybrid or not.

Well, I've got to update my propagation page and my QSO of the day table now. -30-

Wednesday, October 24, 2007 9:35 PM - I didn't get as much time to make N3A/3 QSO's as I did yesterday and wound up with only 2 today. But with a couple more reports in, we are now at 917 QSO's for the month from our N3A/# ops. I feel better and better about us hitting 1,000.

It's great to have nice neighbors. You may know I don't drive here after getting rid of my car a couple years ago. I find I can get most things I need by simply walking, and there is no sense paying for gas, maintenance, insurance, etc. that I didn't need. However every once in a while I do need to get out to our malls around Kittanning to get something outside walking distance. My next door neighbor Nancy is always willing to drive me out there, and I in return do what I can to help her out. We went out today, and I enriched a few of the stores out there by several bucks. We both came home with a big bunch of stuff. One thing I got was some sliced turkey breast. I refuse to pay more than $2.99 a pound for that and of late the store here in town hasn't had any cheaper than $3.99 a pound. So when one of the mall stores had it for $2.99 I stocked up. I just had my first turkey breast sandwich in quite a while now, and was it good!

I also helped Ange do some tree and bush trimming after school (he's a teacher). That took about an hour and a half and the shopping took about 2 hours, so that ate up quite a bit of my day along with the usual daily chores.

Tomorrow is supposed to be nice again after an all-day rain yesterday and some rain early this morning. So maybe I'll take advantage and go fishing. I bought a new little 'Rooster Tail' spinner today, and perhaps I can try that out. My old one is getting pretty beat up, but it still catches fish for me.

Speaking of fishing, despite this being about an average year for number of overall fish caught, I'm sure I set at least 3 personal records. I told you about the 34 inch carp, which was not only my biggest carp ever, but my biggest fish ever. I also am positive I set a record for number of bluegills caught here in the river, although I have caught more when I used to fish in Keystone Lake. Finally I'm sure this is a record year for number of fish caught on artificial lures.

I don't think there are many good fishing days left this season. I'm not a fan of sitting out in weather that is too cold just to try to catch a fish. I'll walk in cold weather, but no thanks to the fishing. -30-

Tuesday, October 23, 2007 9:37 PM - Where do the days go. It seems like I just got up a few minutes ago, and now it's almost time to go to bed again, and I only sleep about 6-7 hours here.

It rained most of the day today except for a break around suppertime when I got a chance to get in about a 4-5 mile walk. I was afraid I was going to wind up with just a couple miles today, but I'm around 6.5 miles now. A bit below average, but better than what I thought.

I spent about an hour this afternoon on the bands using N3A/3. It's interesting to see how a few CQ's can often bring an answer on a seemingly dead band. That was the case on 30 today. 40 was fairly active and I made about 5 or 6 QSO's there along with one on 30.

I was just doing a little figuring and we have at least 860 N3A/# QSO's this month so far and I still need to hear from a couple of our ops. So it looks like we may hit the 1,000 mark I talked about. That's impressive when you consider all our QSO's were made at the QRP level under some of the worst propagation conditions possible. I think it stacks up well against other special event operations that used QRO power levels.

I did a bit more fine tuning on the key today, and now, except for maybe sanding and staining the wood, it is pretty much finished. I'm still using it just about exclusively for my CQ's and QSO's since building it on Saturday. -30-

Monday, October 22, 2007 9:11 PM - I went over to Tom WY3H's home today and we got him set up to print out and mail our NAQCC N3A certificates and QSL's. We got to talking about the club a bit, and we're thinking that we are the World's largest QRP-CW club now. There are bigger QRP clubs, but they are not CW-only as we are. They promote SSB and other digital modes in addition to CW. There are bigger CW clubs also, but they are geared to QRO operation with QRP only as a sidelight. That, as far as I can see, leaves the NAQCC as the biggest QRP-CW club. Any differences of opinion? If we don't have anyone dispute the claim, we will start billing ourselves as such in our publicity efforts.

I got a chance to do some more fishing this evening. And wonder of wonders (this year), I caught two fish again. Tonite it was a 13 inch Sauger and a 10 inch Bass. Both on my favorite little white and silver spinner lure.

I'm still having fun with the hmbw straight key also. I just finished making three QSO's with it - one as K3WWP and two as N3A/3. Perhaps after I get this entry posted, process a couple more NAQCC applications, and a couple other things, I'll go back to the shack and play some more. -30-

Sunday, October 21, 2007 10:03 PM - I'll give you three..... oooops, that was yesterday's lead-in line.

I fine tuned my hmbw straight key today, and played with it some more on the air. I really like it. It has just about the same feel as my J-38 key, and I may just replace the J-38 on my desk with the homebrew JS-1. Well I have to call it something, don't I?.

I kept the N3A/3 streak going. I now have a N3A/3 QSO on every day of the month so far.

I just wasn't in a contesting mood today, so I passed up one of my favorite state QSO parties, the IL QP except for getting a K3WWP and N3A/3 streak QSO.

It was another beautiful summer day in fall with a high of 81 under clear sunny skies, so I spent a lot of it outside gardening, walking, and then fishing this evening. And I actually caught something - 2 somethings in fact. I got a nice 12 inch Sauger and a 9 inch Walleye, both on my little spinner lure. I also had a 3rd something on, but never landed him, whatever it was.

One more nice day coming up tomorrow, then it is supposed to get back to normal for this time of year with a few showers on Tuesday. -30-

Saturday, October 20, 2007 9:55 PM - I'll give you three guesses what I did today. Go ahead, but no peeking down the page.

Nope, wrong.

That's wrong too.

Last try - Wrong.

I'll have to tell you. I built my homebrew straight key for our November NAQCC Sprint. The following creation was transformed from junkbox parts and a lot of thought in about 1 hour 45 minutes.

pix_diary_20071020_1 (58K)

At the time I took the picture, it still needed some finishing touches, but the first QSO I made with it was DX. KP2Z answered my 30M CQ, and we had a brief rag chew.

I've since put lock nuts on the screws to secure their position. I'm going to put some kind of terminal posts on it to replace the clip leads. Also I may add some kind of knob although I like the feel of it just holding the end of the wooden lever.

I also went for a longer walk today and took about 15 pictures of the fall foliage along with a picture of the little snake I encountered along the way. I hope to get those posted on SkyDrive in the next day or two.

We're still having beautiful weather here, but still very dry. I missed my fishing today when I got absorbed in making the key, but the way they have been (NOT) biting lately, I probably caught as many at home as I would have at the river - zero. -30-

Friday, October 19, 2007 8:45 PM - I've just been doing some figuring about our NAQCC special event operation with N3A. All 12 of our operators have reported a total of over 620 QSO's for the first half of October. I'm hoping we can hit a total of 1000 QSO's by the end of the month. Even if we don't, it will be a large increase over the 150 or so we had last year for our 2nd anniversary. It's impressive how the NAQCC is growing and becoming more well known thanks to our officers and all the members. It shows that as we've been saying over and over CW is not dead. In fact it seems to be undergoing a resurgence since the ARRL and FCC made it somewhat of a 'forbidden fruit'. That's wonderful, and I'm sure it will continue at least as long as ham radio continues. That in itself is not an absolute certainty. There are so many alternatives to ham radio these days with cell phones, instant messaging, text messaging, and the list is endless. All of them very viable means of communication and a certain alternative to ham radio. Perhaps that accounts somewhat for the increase in interest in CW - it's a unique mode of communication that so far has largely been used only on ham radio. I mean you can use voice on any of those other communication means I mentioned. There's little incentive to get into ham radio to talk to someone around the world on voice - you can do that with your cell phone or via the internet. The same with all those digital modes. What you can do with those on ham radio, you can do equally well on your computer since they are all modes that employ a keyboard and monitor anyway. But CW, ah that's unique, and I think that factor will more than any other help to preserve it. We should beat that into youngsters' heads. They are always rebelling against what the 'older' people and the 'establishment' are doing. Well CW would be a means for them to be different. End of random thoughts for a Friday evening. -30-

Thursday, October 18, 2007 7:43 PM - This was an eventful day for the NAQCC. Tom WY3H and I received a proclamation from the Armstrong County Commissioners proclaiming October as North American QRP CW Club Month (at least here in Armstrong County) in honor of the club's 3rd anniversary. We'll have more news about that in our upcoming NAQCC newsletter as well as on the NAQCC web site.

We are delighted that the Commissioners recognize that Morse Code is still a very viable and important means of communication. Here's a picture of the presentation of the proclamation.

pix_diary_20071018_1 (44K)

L-R: Commissioner James Scahill, Me, Tom WY3H, Commissioner Patricia Kirkpatrick, Commissioner Richard Fink. -30-

Wednesday, October 17, 2007 9:05 PM - Another busy day with NAQCC affairs. I printed up and mailed all the certificates involved with our October sprint after finalizing the results last night. I also mailed the QRP Transceiver Kit to our winner of that - WB8LZG. I also notified Chuck K7QO of our CD's winner so he can get them mailed out.

Even though it was a busy day, I made it a point to be outside as much as I could as there won't be a lot of nice days left before it turns nasty. Although the 15 day forecast looks pretty good. I walked around 9 1/2 miles, worked in my friend's garden, and did some fishing this evening.

I also struggled to find out why my computer wouldn't download pictures from my digital camera after I installed the external hard drive. It took a while but I determined that the program doesn't like having the camera assigned to a drive letter other than E, so I changed the external hard drive letters. After freeing up E for the camera, the program immediately recognized the camera and started the download process.

That pretty much covered my day along with the ordinary run-of-the-mill everyday stuff that takes up a fair percentage of time. -30-

Tuesday, October 16, 2007 11:03 PM - I don't have much time to write today. I just finished up finalizing the NAQCC Sprint logs, and the final results are now on the web site.

VA3RKM was curious as to how I did in the PA QSO Party and suggested I post the results here in the diary. I made 294 QSO's in 83 multipliers, and with the bonuses that's a final score of 85,890 points. The log and summary have been sent off today, so we'll see how N3A/3 made out when all the PAQP logs are in and checked. -30-

Monday, October 15, 2007 10:41 PM - I have no idea what to write about today. I guess I could write that I actually had a chance to go fishing again after about 5-6 days of cold weather here. It warmed up into the 70's today, so I went this afternoon, but didn't catch anything. Even though it was nice to be out in the warm sun, I wasn't completely satisfied and had to go back again this evening. At least I caught something then. No record-setter by any means, but even a little 8 inch Walleye is better than nothing and even a little better than the bluegills and very small bass that comprised most of what I have been catching recently.

I could tell you about my new external hard drive I got for peace of mind. I do back up all my data regularly on CD, but now with the external HD I can simply clone the built in HD in my computer, and if anything happens to it, I just restore everything from the external to a new internal drive and I'm back in business without having to individually re-install dozens of programs from scratch. Wow that was a long sentence, but then it's a big hard drive with 500 GB of storage.

Or maybe I can tell you that with the lovely weather returning, I topped the 10 mile mark in walking today for the first time in several days.

Then there's picking 32 beautiful tomatoes from my backyard garden. That puts me at 261 tomatoes for the year from my 6 Early Girl and 2 Siberian plants. A pretty good year considering our near drought conditions here.

Also I can remind you if you haven't noticed that there is a new poll up on the site about vanity calls.

Finally tomorrow is the deadline for NAQCC October Sprint entries, and I'll be doing the cross-checking of all logs received to finalize the results and determine the winners of the CD's donated by K7QO, the Hendricks QRP transceiver kit donated by N3IJR, and our usual assortment of certificates.

That was quite a bit for not having anything to say, wasn't it? -30-

Sunday, October 14, 2007 6:45 PM - That's the most hours I've spent in a contest since I can't remember when. I really enjoyed using the NAQCC special event call N3A/3 in the PA QP. To borrow an old very used phrase, so close and yet so far. I set a couple of goals along the way, and expanded on them as I passed one goal and then another. My final goal was 300 QSO's, and I almost made it with a rather busy final hour, but came up 4 short at 296.

I was pleased to give out so many special event QSO's as well as so many Armstrong County QSO's though. A few folks thanked me along the way for Armstrong. I don't know if we had any mobiles or rovers go through this county this year or not. I didn't hear any on CW, I know. They could have been phone or digital only if they were here. Anyway Tom WY3H and I combined for about 381 QSO's, so anyone who didn't get Armstrong has no excuse.

I was surprised to get two German stations answer my CQ's on 20M Saturday afternoon. I also came close to working LA4LN on 20M this morning. I worked around 42 counties and 42 ARRL sections in the contest. All in all, not too bad an effort considering that conditions were still very poor as they have been regularly of late. I got about an equal number of 40 and 80 meter QSO's with a handful of 160 and 20 meter QSO's thrown in the mix.

Of the 296 QSO's, I'd guess about 275-280 came via my CQ's, as since I don't get to just sit and call CQ in contests very often, I took advantage of being able to do that in this one. I had a few minor pileups along the way, but no problems with them. There were also a few long periods of unanswered CQ's. Another thing that surprised me was how long I was able to hold a frequency without being 'stepped on'. There are some great and courteous operators in our PA QSO Parties.

I got a kick out of being answered by so many of the stations whose CQ's I usually answer in contests. All in all, a fun couple of days for me. I'm sorry that it's over now. -30-

Saturday, October 13, 2007 11:28 PM - Too involved in the PA QP as N3A/3 for an entry today. 210 QSO's so far. Having a ball. -30-

Friday, October 12, 2007 11:35 PM - Today was another one of those busy days here. A lot of NAQCC work to be taken care of. I created and mailed out 5 certificates to our September challenge winners. Also packed up and mailed the WB8LZG bug/paddle handles to NU7T who won the drawing among those who mastered the September challenge.

I haven't gone fishing for a couple days now as it has been too cold. After our 90 degree days just such a short time ago, we haven't gotten out of the 50's the past couple days now, although we are supposed to get back up to the 70's by Monday.

This weekend I plan to put our NAQCC special event call of N3A in the PA QSO Party, although I don't know how active I'll be, especially if the weather turns nice again Saturday and Sunday as it is predicted to do. -30-

Thursday, October 11, 2007 2:14 PM - Our autologger is working just great for our NAQCC sprints. That plus our members are getting very good at submitting their logs in exactly the format we want. That's making my job of cross-checking logs very easy. We've received about 40 logs as I write this (a surprisingly high number considering conditions Tuesday evening), and I've got them all copied, pasted, parsed and ready for the final check after any other logs arrive before the deadline next Tuesday. Thank you NAQCC members for making my life a little easier.

It'a a rainy chilly day in Kittanning, and it seems strange. I don't think we've had a day like this since back in April now. Oh we've had some chilly days and some rainy ones since then, but not both together.

So I got a chance to get on the air a bit around noon today. I made 1 K3WWP QSO and 2 N3A/3 QSO's. My K3WWP QSO was with 90 year old Carl KC8WYR and one of the N3A QSO's was with 89 year old Ed W8NZW. There are some real old-timers active during the daytime one the bands. -30-

Wednesday, October 10, 2007 7:43 AM - Here's a video featuring one of our NAQCC members that appeared in an on-line Wall Street Journal article. Chuck K7QO mentions his classic books on CW CD's that are being given away to participants in our NAQCC sprints such as the one we held last night. Take a look. http://link.brightcove.com/services/link/bcpid452319854/bctid1232414666

Last night's sprint was somewhat of a disaster compared to our last few sprints. It was totally the fault of the lousy propagation conditions we've been having the past couple of weeks here. As I mentioned in an earlier entry, poor propagation also affected the Spartan Sprint this month. It would have to happen for this special sprint, too. We really wanted to show off this month with all kinds of records.

Nevertheless, our N3A/# ops put in a Herculean effort, and I thank each and every one of the ten - The Magnificent Ten! They battled the adverse conditions in all parts of the country and came up with some impressive results considering what they were up against.

I managed to eke out 24 QSO's due mainly to persistence. That's quite a come-down from the last several sprints, yet might still be good enough for 1st place among non-N3A/# stations. We'll have to wait and see. Only 24 logs have been received as I write this early Wednesday morning. -30-

Tuesday, October 09, 2007 8:19 AM - It seems like most every day brings something interesting. I'll talk about what that is for today after this.

Well, actually this is interesting also. Tonight (Wednesday 0030-0230Z) is our very special NAQCC sprint. I hope you'll be there. If somehow you haven't heard about it yet, check the NAQCC web site via the above link. I hope to see (work) you there if propagation permits.

My QSO of the day today was with Mike, WU2D who was using a very interesting rig. Here's a picture of it followed by Mike's description.

pix_diary_20071009_1 (83K)

"I enjoy military surplus and running that old gear on the ham bands. My latest obsession has been bringing back a 1942 Wireless Set 19, which was the first single knob XCVR. This British design beat Collins by 6 years and it was mass-produced for the allies during WW2. It is a marvel of commercial off the shelf parts and stampings - el-cheapo construction but done in a way that any radio manufacturer of the day could quickly reproduce them. The block diagram is classic single HFO, single BFO and representative of any of the single conversion solid state QRP project transcievers that you see today. It also has a UHF XCVR on board and can do crossband repeat. that makes it:

The first XCVR, first dual bander, first onboard repeat, first RIT which puts the other guy at proper beat when you net him (ham xcvrs would not get this right until the mid-60's). It does 15 Watts on TX CW and 5 Watts on AM and MCW. It also has a separate onboard Intercom amplifier for the vehicle which can be used for coms and patching. First military from scratch COTS design.

Now this thing is a dog and is not to be put on the air acording to the manuals of the surplus experts published in the 50's and 60's. US hams shunned this rig. It was no small task, but I totally re-capped it, replaced any resistors that went more than 20% high, and cleaned and lubed it and checked the tubes. One needed to be replaced. I also cheated and made it a nice power supply with excellent regulation. The resulting set is at home on 80M with the ICOMS and is passable on 40M. I worked Norway on it Saturday night on 3507 kHz. That was my first DX on it. The RX is great and it even has an active filter circuit in the audio stage when you are in CW. That was a shock when I saw it because I thought that circuits like that only were around when the op-amp came out!

the USA would not use the radio. Instead US doctrine was to use crystal controlled channels in armor. So we and the Canadians made them by the thousands for the allies including the Russians. The historical pictures are from the wartime mass production at RCA Canada".

Here's one of the several historical pictures Mike sent me.

pix_diary_20071009_2 (95K)

I told you it was interesting. Was I right?

See you in the sprint tonight. -30-

Monday, October 08, 2007 8:37 AM - What a difference a few hours makes. I got on the air this morning, called CQ once and made a QSO with Ed W4ELP in GA. Maybe I should try the mornings for my streak QSO instead of my usual evening time of 0000-0130Z or so.

I hope everyone has (or had depending on when you read this) a great Columbus Day (or Thanksgiving Day up in Canada). I have nothing special planned here. Maybe I'll try for some N3A/3 QSO's.

It's supposed to be another near 90 degree day here. We hit 91 yesterday to break the record for October we just set 3 days ago. Absolutely amazing weather. I saw an article/graphic on the AccuWeather site that showed a huge area of the Northeast US is having hotter weather now than on the Fourth of July. A change is coming after today though, and we'll be back around normal October temps by Wednesday after a transition day tomorrow.

Maybe I'll be a sidewalk superintendent today. The street just a couple hundred feet from here is being torn up and re-paved today. I can see them starting to work on it now as I look out my window here. Nah, I'd sooner be doing work myself than watching others work, although I will check to see what they are doing when I go out to mail a package in a few minutes.

Before that, I'll work on getting the GenLog data file updated for tomorrow evening's NAQCC sprint. It will be available on the NAQCC web site by tomorrow if you use GenLog in our sprints, and you should if you don't. I've included all 10 of our N3A/# calls in the file with proper SPC's and names. -30-

Sunday, October 07, 2007 11:57 PM - After yesterday's hectic day, I kind of took it easy today, although I never really take it too easy. I get much more tired doing nothing than I do if I keep busy.

So I relaxed by getting on the air this afternoon and making some N3A/3 QSO's. I was going to get in the CA QSO Party with the call, but the first couple stations I called seemed to be confused by the call or just weren't copying me well, so I switched over to 30M. I was surprised to make 2 QSO's there - one in FL, and one in KS.

I think some folks must be intimidated by working a special event call. I've had a couple occasions so far that made me curious about that. One station started to call me, sending N3A/3 hesitatingly a couple times, then never signing his call. Then today WA9OWO at 599 called me, but after I explained about the special call, he never came back to me for whatever reason. Oh well... for every one of those, there are several enjoyable QSO's with folks who know what is going on.

I also played and beat Doom 2 today. I just wanted to go through all the levels to remember what they were like, so I played in 'god' mode. It still took quite a while as I had trouble remembering all the secrets and tricks from when I last played and beat it in the mid 90's.

Back to ham radio again. The bands were absolutely horrible this evening. I called CQ for over a half hour without a single reply. So I put off getting my streak QSO till later today sometime. I certainly hope things improve by Tuesday evening for our NAQCC sprint, but I wouldn't bet on it. It will be a shame to have this special sprint ruined by poor band conditions, but if it happens, there's nothing we can do about it but try our best. -30-

Saturday, October 06, 2007 8:48 PM - This was kind of a varied day with a lot of different irons in the fire.

I sent out an email to 34 former NAQCC sprint participants who haven't been in a sprint lately inviting them to show up for Tuesday evening's sprint. Then I helped Ange water his garden. It's coming down to the end of the season now and it won't be long before we'll be pulling plants and burying the fig trees.

It was the third abnormally (record-setting) hot day in a row with the temperature hitting 89 so I was outside as much as I could be. I went to see my young friend Haley, and she and her dad and little brother were just starting off on a walk, so I went with them. I also took a couple other walks during the day.

I went fishing this evening to the same spot I went last night where they were biting good, but hardly any bites tonight so I was shut out for the umpteenth time this year. Still I'm above average for the number of fish caught by this date, if only slightly.

All that plus the usual computer work (and play - Doom), some shopping, eating, etc. filled up my day. No chance to get bored today. -30-

Friday, October 05, 2007 9:32 PM - I filled our 10th position for the sprint today. W9ILF will be our 9th area representative in the sprint. So all 10 possible N3A/# calls will be active in the sprint. It's going to be a real barn-burner. I'm really looking forward to it. The only damper might be poor conditions but still it will be great. See YOU there?

I promised some Prisoner and Doom feedback so here goes:

Mike AF4LQ writes in part, "John, I found your Doom2 WAD file and just played a few minutes of it. It looks real interesting and very well done.

I hadn't played Doom for a long, long time until today when I read your diary. I downloaded Zdoom, loaded up the Doom2 WAD and had some fun with that, then thought about Wolfenstein3D, the predecessor to Doom that I used to play along with my buddies where I used to work. Found a copy of that and have been playing with all that stuff for awhile here tonight.

Anyway, after all that I thought I'd do a search on "wad doom2 shannon" and that's how I found your wad (Allmxdup). As I say I only played it for a few minutes since it's getting late here, but from the little time I spent with it I see it's good one and you did some nice work on it. A lot of the old wads were slow paced and not too involved but I like the way your starts right off with plenty of action and an interesting layout. Also like the way you incorporated the blue uniformed baddies from Wolf3d into it. Looking forward to exploring it some more later tomorrow.

Thanks for the trip down memory lane with Doom2 and I hope to catch you in the next NA Sprint. Take care!"

Mike also sent me a copy of Wolf3D which I've never played. I hope to get it set up and play it after all the NAQCC third anniversary events are past.

Franki ON5ZO wrote in part, "John, way cool that you played Doom! I am totally not into gaming but in the mid 90ies me and a couple of friends spent countless evenings and nights doing multiplayer with two PC's. One of the games we played was of course Doom II.

Then Redneck Rampage came along and I really liked that, as well as Duke Nukem.

It was the time the '486 CPU peaked and the Pentium I was a rare treat. 32MB RAM was standard. We couldn't network more than 2 PCs together because we used a serial null modem cable, no ethernet switches back then.

I haven't played a PC game other than checkers since 1999 - by no coincidence the year I got licensed (and to a leeser degree: met the XYL)!"

I've also played some Duke Nukem here, but never heard of Redneck Rampage.

And now about The Prisoner (and The Champions) from Dave Newkirk AB2WH, "John, When I was 22-23 and living on my own in a Near North Side apartment in Chicago in 1977-78, I bought a TV to watch just one program, running then on PBS. Every week I'd take the set, a small portable, out of its box and out of its styrofoam packing, set in on my kitchen counter, watch the show, and then put the TV away for another week. That show was *The Prisoner*, which I had first seen in the summer of 1968 at age 13. My favorite episode is still "Dance of the Dead." That happens to be one in which Number 6 gets in trouble for, among other things, finding and listening to a radio.

I remember *The Champions* as well. One of my sisters used to imitate Alexandra Bastedo's lisp (for example, saying "somesing" instead of "something").

These days I watch TV only because the family watches it; I might well not own one otherwise. I think it's a John Cougar Mellencamp song that's called "57 channels and nothin' on"; with the explosion of cable, that can be 457 channels or 800, and yet one can still feel like "nothing's on." That feeling is the actually tug of the call of freedom. See the J. Krishnamurti book *Freedom from the Known*."

Now that's devotion to a single TV show! Dave says it so well about the state of modern day TV also. My what a 'vast wasteland' as Newton Minow (former FCC commissioner) called it back on May 9, 1961. If it was that back then, I woder what it could be called nowadays. Perhaps in keeping with the space age terminology (Oh, happy 50th birthday to the space age yesterday), TV should be referred to as a 'vast black hole'. Personally I watch about 1-2 hours per week. I enjoy the PBS how-to shows like This Old House, New Yankee Workshop, and The Woodwright's Shop. Once in a while I watch the British comedies on PBS also. That is it though - nothing else at all. -30-

Thursday, October 04, 2007 1:05 PM - Some days there is really nothing to discuss in the diary. Other days are just overloaded with things. Today is an overload day and my time is limited, so I'll just give an overview of things here and perhaps elaborate in days to come.

First of all this is the hottest October day since I have been keeping temperature records, which is 1959. I just looked in my thermometer shelter in the back yard and it is 88 degrees breaking the old record of 87, and it may go up another degree or 2 under brilliantly sunny skies and a hot southerly breeze.

I have been doing recruiting to get more N3A/# operators for our Tuesday evening NAQCC sprint, and I now only lack someone from W9 land. All the other 9 call areas in the US have operators now. It's going to be an exciting sprint. I hope you'll be there. Consider this a personal invitation to join in the fun.

I've gotten some interesting responses to my diary entries about Doom and also The Prisoner. VA3RJ and AB2WH both remember The Prisoner show very well, and AB2WH likewise with The Champions show.

AF4LQ and ON5ZO both are or have been Doom players and have some interesting comments. I'll try to share those with you in a future entry. Right now I'm just tied up with preliminary work for our sprint as well as other N3A operation details plus our newsletter coming out this Saturday. -30-

Wednesday, October 03, 2007 4:18 PM - ADDENDUM. I remebered the name of the Doom 2 wad that I designed. It is a lot neater than I remembered it. My friend Franki ON5ZO emailed and said he played Doom 2. If anyone else is (or was) a Doom 2 player, email me and I'll tell you where you can get my wad. I'd love to see what other players think of it.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007 9:05 AM - Today something completely different. I wonder if you've ever played the classic computer action games Doom or Doom 2. One of my relatives gave me Doom 2 sometime around the early 1990's, and I got hooked on it. Not in a bad sense, but I just enjoyed playing it. I throw that in because the game has been criticized as being over-violent with satanic overtones. I just enjoyed it for the challenge as I enjoy any thing that challenges me. I also had a couple of my young friends playing it on my computer and it never influenced them in any bad ways either. They are now grown up and perfectly normal. So it's not the game itself that is evil, but the mind of the person playing it.

As computers got gradually (rapidly?) better, the version of Doom 2 I had played more and more poorly and I eventually gave up on it. Also my young friends got away from playing it, and that lessened my interest as I think I enjoyed watching them play as much as I did playing myself. My, but they were good at it with their young and quick reflexes. I wasn't bad myself, but they were a tick better.

About a week ago, I happened to think of the game again, and did some Windows Live searches for info about the game. I found that it had been ported to run on Windows XP in a version called ZDoom. I thought I'd give it a try, so I installed the original iwad file from Doom 2 and the ZDoom program. Bingo! It works perfectly, even better than the old version with a few enhancements. So I'm now playing Doom 2 again for a break from all of the NAQCC, etc. work I'm involved in.

Going back in time a bit again, I wrote my own wad file for Doom 2 sometime in the early or mid 90's. A wad (Where's All the Data) file is a file with instructions to the Doom 2 engine on how the game displays and plays. In other words a new level to play in the program. It's posted somewhere in a collection of hundreds or thousands of wad files on the Internet, but I can't remember what I named it now and haven't been able to find it yet, but I will. When I do, if any interest at all is shown in this diary entry, and I'm betting there won't be any and I'm just wasting some time writing here, I'll let you know where you can get my wad file.

Just another facet in the various interests of old K3WWP. -30-

Tuesday, October 02, 2007 8:58 AM - I'm going to use this entry to get caught up on some things, so it may be kind of disorganized. But then that's not unusual. HI.

While working with a new group mail program here called PIMEX, my memory was triggered to remember an old TV show that was a favorite of mine. In PIMEX you insert a name from a mail list with the symbol %2 which for whatever reason made me think of #2 or Number 2. That was the identifier of the head man at The Village in the series The Prisoner starring Patrick McGoohan. Patrick played the prisoner and he was Number 6. There were only 17 episodes of the show made, but it now has a large cult following. I taped the 17 episodes here when they were first aired back around 1967. There is a lot of info about the show on the Internet. If you're interested just do a Windows Live (http://www.live.com/) search for 'Prisoner McGoohan'.

Then just responding to an email from Ron K5DUZ about the show, another show came to mind. The Champions in which 3 adventurers crash in the Himalayas and are give super-human powers by a lost race of Tibetans. They go on to fight crime using those powers. Again a Windows Live search for 'Champions Tibet TV' will turn up a host of info. This show is also somewhat of a cult classic although I don't think the following is as strong as that of The Prisoner.

There certainly were a lot of good TV shows way back then. Nowadays I find virtually nothing worth my time on TV despite the huge number of channels now available.

Geoff W1OH, working in Bermuda for a few days agrees that conditions were horrid for last night's Spartan Sprint. He heard only one weak CQ and made no contacts.

Ron N3AEA has some interesting info about CW use in the military. From the web site http://www.goarmy.com/JobDetail.do?id=30, he sends the following quote, "Special Forces Soldiers in the Army will conduct offensive raids, demolitions, intelligence, search and rescue and other missions from air, land or sea. Special Forces Communications Sergeants can operate every kind of communications gear, from encrypted satellite communications systems to old-style high-frequency (HF) Morse key systems." CW is alive and well in the military. Ron adds that he thinks it is Nye Viking supplying the keys to the military. Then adds, "My senator in Maryland has been receptive in supporting amateur radio and I'll forward the info to her regarding the FCCs decision to eliminate CW. Information like this should be forwarded to federal legislators because they are probably not aware of whats going on."

I mentioned Windows Live above. Here's a link to Marc Liron's site that explains all of the Windows Live services. http://www.marctalkstech.com/windows-live-report.pdf. As you see it's a .pdf file so you need Acrobat at least to read it.

I think that pretty much gets me caught up to date on things I wanted to mention here. -30-

Monday, October 01, 2007 10:54 PM - Unfortunately conditions were very poor for the Spartan Sprint tonight. I had hoped to give out many N3A/3 QSO's, but I only gave out 14 of them, all on 80M. I hope our other N3A/# stations fared better in their part of the country.

I had some other things I wanted to discuss in this diary entry, but I think I'll put them off till tomorrow or later. I'm tired. I need an extra brain to help me do all this work with the club, my web site, etc., etc. -30-

Sunday, September 30, 2007 8:02 PM - I haven't talked about fishing much lately because frankly it has been even worse than the conditions on the ham bands. Up until the end of June this year it was very good and I was rolling along at a near-record pace. On June 30, I had 74 fish caught for the year. That was my second best total by that date, lagging behind only 1994 (in the period 1992-present) when I had 80 by June 30. I was 31 fish above my 1992-2007 average at that point.

By the time July 31 rolled around I was at 86 fish, having caught only 12 fish in all of July. I slipped to 5th place and now was only 14 fish above average.

August was a little better with 31 fish for a 117 total. I still held 5th place at that point, but I was just 9 fish above average.

On September 28 I was at a yearly total of 139 in 9th place among the 16 years of fishing records since I resumed the hobby in 1992. I was now 2 fish BELOW average.

The last couple days have been better though for whatever reason. Probably because the river is giving me bluegills this year instead of the regular assortment of fish, and I geared my fishing toward catching them. In the last two days I've caught 5 bluegills and 3 little bass fishing with small hooks and bits of nightcrawler about 5-10 feet from shore.

For the first time since 1995 I failed to catch a carp in September, and haven't caught one since August 23rd now.

What's the reason behing the poor fishing year? No one seems to know, but it is not only me who is experiencing it. Most every fisherman you talk to says something similar. Some suggest it is the dry summer we've had, but I don't know. Anyway I'm looking for it to pick up in October. At least I should catch my share of bluegills and little bass if nothing else.

One more note to close. I made 2 QSO's a little while ago (0036 and 0052Z) using N3A/3 for our NAQCC 3rd Anniversary Month special event. So I've already satisfied the NAQCC October challenge. -30-

Saturday, September 29, 2007 8:38 PM - Well, less than 24 hours now till the 3rd Anniversary Month for the NAQCC. Time sure does fly. I hope a lot of you will be looking for our special event call of N3A. With 12 members signed up to operate the station, we should have a pretty good presence on the bands all of October. I don't plan to be the main operator as I was last year. I'll just kind of fill in here and there. Mostly I'll just let the other ops have the fun, but don't worry, I'll have my share also. In fact I'm just going to check to see if our other N3A/3 operators want to do the Spartan Sprint Monday evening. If not, I might give it a shot myself, at least for an hour or so.

We've got some of our ops lined up for the FISTS sprint and the QRP ARCI contest as well as our sprint which I mentioned in yesterday's entry.

I'm getting excited about the whole thing especially since I don't have to handle the certificates and QSL's this year. HI. I suspect that's going to be a big task this year compared to our first try at using a special event call last year. One of our ops says he is planning to make around 300 QSO's in the QRP ARCI contest, and if a lot of those want certificates and/or QSL's, well...... -30-

Friday, September 28, 2007 9:05 PM - Another busy day with NAQCC work getting the newsletter ready for posting, and working on various items about our N3A operation next month which is now only two days away now.

We're trying to get all 10 call areas active with N3A in our October sprint. That may leave some openings, so if you're a NAQCC member, you may get the chance to operate N3A in our sprint. So far only the 3rd, 4th, and 6th call areas are lined up for sure. Keep an eye on the special N3A page on the NAQCC web site or the October 6th newsletter for further developments. -30-

Thursday, September 27, 2007 10:27 PM - Did someone lower the number of hours in a day. It seems I just got up a few minutes ago and here it is time to go to bed again.

If you've been following the numbers on my propagation page, you've noted the SF has consistently been 66 to 68 since September 3rd. To me that looks like the numbers we have at the very bottom of a sunspot cycle. However there are other ways of figuring the bottom, and the experts say we are past the minimum and heading upward again. I don't know. The bands sure don't sound like they are getting better. I've had to work harder than usual to get my daily QSO's the past few days now. Oh, I haven't come at all close to not getting a QSO. It's just its taken a lot more CQ's than usual to get an answer.

I got the certificates for our September NAQCC Sprint in the mail early today not long after our log submission deadline at 0000Z last evening. Also K7QO was notified as to whom to send the prize of his CD's. We try our best to give our members quick and courteous service in everything. We value our wonderful members very highly and like to treat them well.

With that behind us, now it's on to the October special event call of N3A. All our ops have been given the guidelines for their operation. There is a special page on the NAQCC web site devoted to info about the operation such as schedules, how to get a certificate and QSL, and general news pertaining to N3A. Head over there if you're interested. If you don't find the info you need there, email me. -30-

Wednesday, September 26, 2007 10:37 PM - I spent a lot of time today finalizing our NAQCC sprint results, and working out details for our N3A operation next month so I'm not going to take a lot of time to write this entry except for one topic.

In addition to the above, I moved my QSL card picture collection from my Alltel site over to SkyDrive, thus freeing up about 3 MB of space of my allotted 10 MB on the Alltel server. I continue to be overjoyed with SkyDrive. It didn't really take me all that long to upload 199 QSL card pictures. It would have taken much longer on Flickr and Windows Live Spaces. Also I like the way they display with 199 thumbnails on one page as an easy way to get to any specific card quickly. That's even better than what I had set up here on my web site. Check it out via the DX section of my web site or the SkyDrive link above. -30-

Tuesday, September 25, 2007 8:52 PM - This was a record setting day. Our high temperature of 92 degrees in my backyard thermometer shelter was the latest in any year in my records from 1959-present we reached that high a temperature. It broke the previous record of September 24, 1970 by one day. It sure felt good being out in that kind of weather this late in the year. This also was our tenth straight day with nary a drop of rain falling. That should change tomorrow as a cold front interacts with the warm humid air and gulf moisture now in place. We're getting closer to activating our NAQCC special event call of N3A. That will start on Oct. 1st and continue through Oct. 31st. We hope you'll get a change to work the station and apply for the handsome certificate and QSL we are offering to those who do. You'll have plenty of chances as we'll be operating a station from each of the call areas from W1 through W7 - N3A/1, N3A/2, etc. It's a shame no one signed up from W8, W9, or W0. We would like to have all call areas on the air, but..... -30-

Monday, September 24, 2007 9:52 PM - Yet another beautiful day here. Sunny skies and a high of 86 degrees. So I spent a good part of the day outside walking, gardening, and fishing.

I also visited a friend and helped him install an external hard drive on his computer and make an image of his internal hard drive. It was very simple to do and only took about an hour or so including the making of the image. We used a free software called XXClone. If you're thinking about imaging a hard drive, I'd recommend XXClone. I believe I am going to do the same thing that he did for my computer here. I'd hate to have my hard drive go bad and have to rebuild it manually. This way with an image, it's a piece of cake.

I also had a visit from our NAQCC president Tom WY3H who used my tools to fix his chain saw blade. Then we did some planning for our N3A special event call operation in October and got quite a few of the details worked out. I'll be talking more about that in the days to come. -30-

Sunday, September 23, 2007 10:13 PM - What a wonderful string of beautiful weather we've had here. The last 8 days have been free of rain and for the most part skies have been clear. I think May and September are my favorite months of the year. Perhaps I enjoy September a bit more because in May I know there are many many more nice days on the way since I love summer and don't mind the heat. But in September I know there are not that many more nice days before the dreaded Winter weather is upon us, so I treasure and milk the nice days of September more. I don't really have a point to make of all this. Just kind of rambling on.

I am so proud of our NAQCC members. For the second month in a row we've set a new record for the number of logs submitted in our sprints. I processed the 51st log today breaking last month's total of 50. There are still 3 more days left before the log submission deadline too, and a couple more hams have promised to get their logs in before then. When you compare our sprints to those of other clubs, the NAQCC stacks up very favorably. You must keep in mind also that unlike many other clubs we require complete logs to be submitted which requires a bit more effort than just reporting the number of QSO's made. We must be doing something right to attract such a following. I think it is the relaxed nature of our sprints brought about by our bonus multiplier for using a straight key. That tends to slow things down from the frantic pace of other contests and sprints and makes it easier for many who can't handle that frantic pace to still be able to enjoy some friendly contesting. Again no real point here, just rambling. I suppose we should have Nat King Cole singing 'Rambling Rose' in the background. -30-

Saturday, September 22, 2007 2:39 PM - I've had a couple comments on SkyDrive so far. One said there was little difference between SkyDrive and Flickr. Another said even though he is somewhat prejudiced against Microsoft, he though SkyDrive was very neat. Perhaps it what you're used to or how the brain works, but I find SkyDrive's navigation much simpler and straightforward. Let me explain it a bit.

On any page on SkyDrive, there is a navigation bar at the top similar to the following:

Windows Live SkyDrive Beta > K3WWP > Home and Yard > Looking Outside > 01 back window.jpg

All you do to go from one section to another is click on one of the items. For example right now as shown, the picture "01 back window.jpg" is showing. It's in the subfolder "Looking Outside" which is in the folder "Home and Yard". If you want to explore more "Home and Yard" pictures, just click on "Home and Yard". Very intuitive, and perhaps I'm overexplaining its simplicity.

"K3WWP" shows all the folders I have in the "Public folders" area. There is also a "Shared folders" area there, but I don't intend to use that.

Oh, and as I think I said previously, when you're viewing a picture, just click the green arrows at the upper right of the picture to see the previous or next picture in that folder.

I also like the fact that as far as I can see now, all pictures are reduced to a common width of 412 pixels, at least on my 800 x 600 pixel screen setting. I'll have to explore this further.

If you like a picture for whatever reason, there is a link right above the picture to download it.

I guess you can tell that I really like SkyDrive. It's even a clever name, unlike some of the strange names Microsoft has for some of its other great products. You store your files on some remote drive "off in the sky" somewhere. Kind of romantic. -30-

Friday, September 21, 2007 5:15 PM - I've now duplicated all my pictures on Flickr on to my new SkyDrive picture sharing site. SkyDrive (to me) is just so much easier to use than Flickr, and I like the way it displays the pictures a lot better also.

I still have to re-label many of my SkyDrive pictures, but that is a snap to do with their easy to use interface. Right now a lot of the pictures just have generic names, except those in the Antennas and Fishing folders. Perhaps I'll also have other folders' pictures re-labelled by the time you read this and take a look.

What do you think? Please only objective comments. Don't say you don't like SkyDrive because it is a Microsoft product or Flickr because it is a Yahoo product. Leave prejudice out of it and judge each on its merits as I have done here. You can access both via the links above. -30-

Thursday, September 20, 2007 10:07 AM - Personally I didn't do all that well in our NAQCC sprint last night, but it looks like we had a tremendous turnout. In looking over the logs as they come in, I see many stations represented. When all the logs are in and checked, we may show a record number of participants, but that's just a rough guess on my part for now. I missed working many of the stations I see in other folks' logs that I should have worked. Conditions just weren't all that great here for whatever reason. 40M went long, then dead for me about 9:30 so I did the last hour only on 80M. Perhaps I should have gone back to 40 again. Right now I'm down to 3rd place, and I figure I'll probably drop a bit further as more logs come in. Still the folks who beat me so far were using rather big high antennas - G5RV at 45 feet and Carolina Windom at 130 feet high at the apex. So by rights I should be losing to folks like that with my attic dipole instead of beating them as I did the last 5 sprints.

That's about all for today. I'm going to be busy working on logs the next couple days. Then I hope to get back to experimenting with Microsoft's SkyDrive. -30-

Wednesday, September 19, 2007 9:07 AM - Wow! Microsoft has done it again. They've come up with a new picture sharing/storage service called Windows Live SkyDrive (Beta). I've just been playing with it, and so far I like it better than Flickr or MySpace.

You can embed links in a web page that take you to the folder in question to view the pictures in that folder in any of three different ways.

Or link directly to an individual picture.

10M Dipole

So perhaps I'll switch some of my pictures to SkyDrive and then switch them all after Kenji's kind donation of a subscription to Flickr runs out next year. I'll have to play with it some more before I make my final decision. Stay tuned for more. -30-

Tuesday, September 18, 2007 9:47 PM - Just a couple brief notes. My plea for N3A ops garnered one more volunteer, and a couple others also came forth today, so we are getting a decent lineup now, but we could still use more ops. If you have any questions, just read yesterday's diary entry below. They are probably answered there.

One thing I always get a kick out of is seeing Venus with the naked eye in the daytime when it and the Sun are both in the sky at the same time. I did that this morning following Venus from about a half hour before sunrise till the Sun was well up in the sky. It was easy to see. I could look away for a couple minutes or so and then come back again and spot it easily. -30-

Monday, September 17, 2007 8:24 AM - We've offered every NAQCC member a chance to operate our special event call of N3A during our 3rd anniversary month of October. Only a handful have expressed any interest to do so. I just don't understand that.

I had a wonderful time last year operating N3A for our 2nd anniversary and made some 130 or so QSO's. That was the only chance I probably will get to operate a special event call. I mean operating N3A which I will do each year. Perhaps this will be your only chance to experience the thrill of operating a special event call as well.

Let me anticipate some reasons (excuses?) folks may have for not wanting to operate and address those concerns.

1. I don't have the time.

We have the call for the whole month of October. There is no minimum or maximum time you need to operate. The schedule is pretty much at your discretion based on how many volunteers we get. Operation will probably be from each call area (N3A/1, N3A/2, etc.) so if you're the only op from that call area, you pretty much have free rein in setting your schedule.

2. I never volunteer for anything.

This is the NAQCC, not the Armed Forces.

3. I'm not a good enough operator.

Nonsense! If you can make a regular CW QSO, you're qualified.

4. I can't travel to the special station.

There is no special station, just a special call you operate from your own station.

5. My CW speed isn't fast enough.

If you can operate ONE WPM, that's fast enough. YOU determine what speed you operate.

6. I'm afraid of pileups.

Last year, I only had a couple times when more than one station called me in all the many hours I put in operating the special event. I don't see that being any different this year.

7. My antennas are not good enough.

If you can work folks with your antenna, that's good enough.

8. I'm too lazy.

I guess there's no cure or answer for that one without being impolite, and I refuse to be that way.

Is there a number 9 that I'm not thinking of? If so, let me know and I'll try to address it.

You still have until the 22nd to sign up. What say? All you need to qualify as an op is to be a NAQCC member. If you're not, well - join up. -30-

Sunday, September 16, 2007 9:01 AM - Yet another take on the 30M situation from a DX station, my friend Kenji.

"Just my thought on the 30m band: historically it provides world-wide openings almost throughout the years (see the 31m band for SW broadcasting). In Japan, only the 2nd and 1st class ham radio operators are allowed to show up on the 30m and 20m bands, though the maximum transmission power for the 30m allowed is 1kW PEP (the same as other HF bands).

Some JCC/JCG hunter activists use the 30m band as an effective tool to work more stations while they are operating in motion. It's not as wide-open for Japanese islands as the 40m and 80m do, but it gives very nice openings during the day.

According to the recent "reverse beacon" activities of decoding JT65A mode transmission of WSJT on HF frequencies, the 30m gives a stable opening from Osaka to California around 07Z to 08Z. It's too bad that not many hams are using the band for CW ragchewing as they often do on the 40m band. It's also good for working Pacific stations including KH6.

The most recent my 30m work is 3B7C; 100W and a vertical antenna did it right between Osaka and St. Brandon Islands. My DXCC ranking of 30m band is 111 (as of August 24, 2007); not a bad value for a small pistol running for 4 years (I started QRV on the 30m after I earned my JA 1st class operator license.)

I like the 30m band since when it was allowed to JAs in 1982; I actually got the 1st SWL-AJD for the band in 1983 as JA1-21339.

73 // Kenji Rikitake, JJ1BDX(/3) es JO3FUO" -30-

Saturday, September 15, 2007 7:39 AM - If you haven't noticed, the new poll is posted. The previous poll results also. It was great to see how many hams have started using CW just in the past 5 years. One of those who started more than 60 years ago was my friend Chuck, W8LQ. He wonders who the other 2 60+ years CW users were, and so do I. If you're one, let me know.

I was delighted to hear from Bill K1EV that he received his NAQCC prize of the CW books on CD, etc. and has been enjoying listening to them while traveling on his job. Remember you can win a similar set by doing well in our NAQCC sprints. Check the NAQCC web site for details. -30-

Friday, September 14, 2007 9:36 AM - Here's another take on 30M from a DX (to us in the USA) station. My friend Franki ON5ZO has this to say.

"John, I'm following your diary and I'd like to support your 30m views.

30m is my favourite non-contest band. It's always open to somewhere, and with condx as we know them, 30m is just plain H.O.T.!!!! There is a lot of activity there in EU and when I call CQ I can work quite a lot of JA too. Too bad I don't raise as many JA's in a contest. Another proof that JA's are DXing but not too much into contesting. I heard 3B7C working JA by the dozen for hours on end on 17m and 15m, yet I didn't copy a single one! But I digress.

This past summer I have been very active on 30m. At my sunset I start working JA which is just after their sunrise. Then after 2 hours I turn the dipole 90 (degrees) when USA comes in. PY, LU, VK and all in between pounds in as well. Ain't that great? All that with about 600W and a rotary dipole at 10m high, and calling CQ when the time is right. And at my sunrise which is about W6/7 sunset, I was able to work many W6/7 stations, but that only works with the tower cranked up to about 22m. When it's down low I can't reach the Left Coast.

Judging by the emails asking me when I'll be uploading my 30m QSO to LotW and the QSL direct, Belgium is very wanted in the USA on 30m. That makes 30m even more attractive. Not the Greenstamps but giving my fellow CW hams a new DXCC on 30m. Yet, I feel that compared to say 17m, there is little US activity on 30m.

I hope Cycle 24 will soon bring our signals together again, so we can have a QSO (preferrably non-contest so that there's time to chat). 73 / take care. Franki ON5ZO = OQ5M"

That seems to confirm what I said about 30M becoming more like 12/17 in that it is attractive to DX chasers, but becoming less attractive as a general use band. -30-

Thursday, September 13, 2007 11:54 AM - I finally got a 30M QSO and now have completed our NAQCC September Challenge. I had a solid QSO with Nix W4CNJ down in Alabama. Conditions very good on 30M, but as usual, no activity. I heard nothing on the band except a very weak signal around 10105 until Nix answered me after I called CQ for at least 10 minutes. I just don't understand why no one uses this delightful little CW band any longer. Maybe they think it is one of the 'higher' bands and won't be good again until the sunspots increase. That's not true. 30 remains good through an entire sunspot cycle. Just as one example, 3B7C was very strong here a couple evenings ago. I probably could have worked him without the big pileup he drew. As I said, that's about the only time there is activity on 30 any longer - when a rare DX station shows up. -30-

Wednesday, September 12, 2007 10:26 PM - I think I'll take a break tonight and have a guest writer for the diary.

Here's what my friend Geo N1EAV said about my 30M comments yesterday.

"Gee, your comment about 30 meters yesterday really struck a chord with me. It seems to me that activity on all the bands just isn't what it once was, be it cw or phone.

Got licensed in 1971 and worked mostly cw, ragchewing or traffic nets. But it was always easy to find someone to qso with. Even during the sunspot minimums as we are in now 80 and 40 always brought easy qso's, and this is my fourth. But not now.

Used to enjoy a few qso's on the weekend mornings on 80 before the day got going, and now there's maybe one or two qso's in progress and I'll call cq for quite sometime and get nadda....Same in the evenings, even when the bands are in good shape.

Don't know what the answer is to get people into the hobby. They'll either find it and like it or they won't....I think there is just too much competition from other things electrical that people find more interesting than ham radio. You have your computers, Ipods, music, home theater with the high definition televisions, cellphones that do everything but make breakfast in the morning. People are keeping themselves busy with all that, and alot of it can be integrated with their busy lifestyles. Everyone is running around working, picking up the kids,and shuffleing them to their next activity. Cellphone, Ipod and pda in hand...Not much time for pounding the brass.

It is a shame that life has gotten too overloaded to sit in front of the radio and enjoy what it has to offer. Seems the romance and the magic of it that brought so many people to it just isn't there anymore. I'm a big baseball fan, and have been going to Fenway Park all my life to watch the Red Sox play. Went to my first game with my dad at the age of seven in 1963. There was something magical about walking up the ramp and seeing that beautiful green field and the players and the smell of the park, that to this day is still with me everytime I go to a game. For some reason, I can't convey that feeling to the majority of people I might talk baseball with. I think the same is true of ham radio. It doesn't touch them in the same way it touched us so many years ago...and I'm only 50 now. Maybe something got lost in the generations. I just can't figure it out.

I'm thankful to you and guys like you who spend their time promoting the hobby and in your case, cw. Seems to me you are getting many people excited about it just as I was when I started out and in subsequent years when all I could manage with was qrp and indoor wires etc. Worked my hundred countries and 50 states once with a 30 foot piece of zipcord and qrp in an apartment...That wire today is now 45 feet..lol

Hey John, as always, I enjoy reading your comments in the diary. Keep up the good work. It is appreciated."

Nothing needs to be added to that. Well said Geo. -30-

Tuesday, September 11, 2007 8:41 PM - I didn't really get any interest shown in the history of my web site, so I haven't looked for any old versions of the site in my old backups. If anyone emails me expressing some interest, I will do some more work on the history, if not, I'm not going to bother.

I spent about an hour today trying to get a QSO on 30M with no luck. I need one QSO on a band other than 80,40,20 to complete our NAQCC September challenge.

I remember how popular 30M used to be. Times sure have changed. Now 30 seems more like 12M where the majority of the activity is only DXers trying to work one more new country. 3B7C and J3/DL7VOG both had nice pileups on 30 this afternoon, but other than that there was just nothing heard.

I did get one answer to my CQ's, but I only got the last two letters of his call (WO), and when I sent QRZ? 3 or 4 times, he never came back again. Also I could have easily worked HK4CZE this evening, but I just worked him a few days ago and didn't want to work him again perhaps depriving someone else of a QSO they really need.

Oh well, I will get my challenge finished sooner or later. Or perhaps I can get someone on 160M later this evening.

Our first winner of the beautiful hand-crafted bug/paddle handles has made his choice from the 13 sets donated by WB8LZG in conjunction with our monthly NAQCC challenges. I'll be getting them in the mail tomorrow to WY7N. Congrats Bruce, and thanks Gregg. -30-

Monday, September 10, 2007 9:09 PM - After our rain last night, I went out and caught 25 nightcrawlers, so I hoped that would pick up my fishing of late. I had been in a terrible slump with 6 straight shut-out trips to the river using lures and peanut butter bread.

The nightcrawlers did help out. I got 4 bluegills and a chub this evening. Whew, it's nice to end that streak. I still get a kick out of catching bluegills, even though a lot of fishermen seem to think they are only a fish for the kids to catch. I like the way they attack the bait and considering their small size, they put up the best struggle they can. The only thing I don't like is that they are such voracious eaters, they often swallow hook and all. Then, it's cut the line and re-rig. I have heard that fish have an acid in their system that supposedly dissolves hooks that are left in them. I hope that's true. -30-

Sunday, September 09, 2007 10:29 PM - For the first time in perhaps a few years now, I put in a somewhat serious effort in a state QSO party, namely the Tennessee QSO Party. Why? Well, I guess primarily because of the personal invitation I got from Bill K4LTA in our QSO of a couple evenings ago. Also the weather wasn't all that great to do outside things. Lastly, besides Bill, I have many other contesting friends in Tennessee, and I wanted to help them out with some QSO's.

And you know, besides all that, it was just plain fun. I like contests where there is a lot of activity, and few long waiting periods just listening trying to find someone new to work. Several state QSO parties fall into that active category, and Tennessee's has become one of them. Also it is fairly short, and I like them that way. 7 hours or so is just about right for a state QSO party.

I wound up operating about 3 1/4 hours and made 63 QSO's. I totalled 40 Tennessee counties worked. That's definitely my best TN QP ever. It's also among my top scores in any state QSO party. Only CA, FL, IL, PA, VA, and WI have given me more QSO's in one of their parties.

One thing I don't like about state QSO parties is the fact they are not CW-only contests, and a lot of the stations disappear to SSB from time to time leaving gaps for us CW ops where it is hard to find new QSO's. I guess that is one reason why I like the big contests like ARRL DX, CQWW DX, CQ WPX, and the like, since they do have separate CW-only contests. -30-

Saturday, September 08, 2007 9:10 AM - Great minds run in the same circles. I think that's how the saying goes. Anyway just as I was thinking about using the Internet Archive to show you how my site looked at various times in the past instead of digging through my old backup CD's, Dave AB2WH emailed me with the same suggestion.

So for right now, I'm going to just refer you to this page to see the history of my web site on Alltel. The dates there start with December 1998 and don't always show all the graphics with a page, but it will give you an idea.

I'm going to see if I can find my old GeoCities URL to see if they also have pages from 1996 and 1997 when I was on GeoCities. Wait a minute......

In the meantime, I forgot about my qsl.net site. Here are those pages on the Internet Archive. They are pretty much the same as the Alltel pages, but there might be a few differences.

I just spent 25 minutes looking for my GeoCities URL which was http://www.geocities.com/CapeCanaveral/3852/, then plugging it into the Internet Archive, I found nothing, nil, zilch. The only thing there was the site of the person who had that URL after I gave it up. Bummer.

I still intend to do more on the history of the site in the coming days as time permits. So stay tuned.....


Friday, September 07, 2007 1:49 PM - Tomorrow is the 11th birthday of my web site, and I embark on my twelfth year of (as it says in the banner above) proudly promoting MORSE CODE usage. The thing I am most proud of over the first eleven years is the great number of hams who because of my web site (and other reasons) have either come back to using CW or have decided to give it a try for the first time and decided they like it. I think its appropriate that my latest monthly poll seems to back up that fact as many voters have started using CW in the past 5 and the past 5-10 year periods. It's wonderful to have a part in preserving CW on the ham bands along with the FISTS and NAQCC ham radio clubs. I'm proud to be a member of FISTS and the Vice President of the NAQCC. Although I belong to several other clubs, these two are the only ones in which I am at all active, and I'm very active in both. I know you know about my role in the NAQCC, but perhaps a few of you may not be aware I have been writing a QRP column for the FISTS Keynote almost as long as I have had this web site.

I kind of wish I had kept a record of the progress of this web site over the years, but I didn't. I do have a couple of old html pages from the earlier years of the site. If I get time, perhaps over the next few days I'll present some of those here in the diary. It will be fun for me to look back over the years and hopefully a couple of you will enjoy it also. -30-

Thursday, September 06, 2007 11:14 PM - I'm tired from working on all the NAQCC membership updates I mentioned before. So I'm not going to write much here.

I do want to mention a very nice QSO I had last evening though. It came as a real shock when my CQ was answered by Bill K4LTA. I figured there must be a contest going on I wasn't aware of. I've worked Bill around 100 times in contests over the years. However contesters do like to rag chew now and then, and that's what Bill called for. We had a nice chat about contesting and other ham radio matters. Bill, who incidentally is blind if you didn't know, is one of the top contest ops in the world. I admire the top contesters like Bill, K4BAI, N4BP, etc. very much. It's always a thrill for me when I get to chat with them for a while, and last night was that thrill for me. -30-

Wednesday, September 05, 2007 11:40 AM - I guess no matter how mild-mannered we are, we still all need to let off steam now and then and gripe about something.

I have just started working on updating all the NAQCC member info that was sent to me by Dave VA3RJ after his monumental (voluntary) task of checking all our 2,000+ members' info in QRZ, tne FCC database, and other Internet searches.

There were 36 call sign changes that I just finished on the web site membership listing. I still have to do those in our master database, in the GenLog data file, and our alphabetical downloadable list on the web site.

That's just the tip of the iceberg. There are still silent keys to do. Some hams have additional calls to insert. Worst of all are the address and email address changes. At least the email addresses only need be changed in the master database and not the other sources I mentioned.

What really upsets me and what this gripe is all about is that none of the members bothered to notify us of their info change. Had they done so at the time of the change, it would have been much simpler and quicker than having to do the whole batch at once.

Please if your info changes, be courteous enough to notify not only the NAQCC, but any other organizations you belong to.

I certainly don't mind working with statistics and maintaining lists of various kinds. I once helped edit the astronomical sky atlas "Uranometria 2000.0", laboriously checking the position and labelling of thousands of celestial objects in the hundreds of charts. I did that all on my own with no compensation except a brief mention in the introduction of the atlas and a complimentary extra copy of the atlas.

pix_diary_20070905_2 (41K)
pix_diary_20070905_1 (60K)

That was done simply because I had noted errors in the atlas and wanted such a wonderful publication to be as accurate as possible. I would think that every NAQCC member would want our web site and membership list to be as accurate as possible as well and notify us if their info had changed from what we have. I guess I am not thinking correctly though. -30-

Tuesday, September 04, 2007 8:55 PM - I want to thank a couple of folks who help keep me on my toes with the web site. It is impossible to keep both my personal web site and the NAQCC web site completely accurate and up to date without your help. So don't be afraid to tell me if you see something you think doesn't look right or may be outdated.

Steve NU7T caught some errors in semantics in our NAQCC Awards rules. Ken Back offered a very nice web site which I am going to include in my links. Rob AA1UY sent a bunch of corrections and additions to my QRP rigs list. Finally Dave VA3RJ took on the Herculean task of checking all our 2000+ NAQCC members info for accuracy and found around 175 members whose info changed since they joined, and those members never bothered to notify us. Dave did that all on his own time and initiative. Thanks to all these folks for their help. Now I'm off to work on the info they sent to me which will probably take a few days to get done. -30-

Monday, September 03, 2007 10:52 PM - I had a good time at Ange's cookout today. Good food, met some new people, saw some other people I hadn't seen for a while - you can't ask for much more than that.

I completed the contest part of our NAQCC September challenge this evening, making a total of 20 QSO's in the Spartan Sprint and the MI QRP Sprint. Now I have to make at least 1 QRP QSO on 2 other bands and 7 regular QRP QSO's (I believe) to complete the challenge. I'm not going to check right now to see exactly what I need.

Now I'm off to fill out the 'autoreporter' for the Spartan Sprint. I don't think you can really call it a true 'autologger' since an actual log is not involved, just a number of QSO's. -30-

Sunday, September 02, 2007 9:27 PM - I hope you all have a great Labor Day tomorrow. I'm invited to a cookout at my friend Ange's place. Besides that, I have no idea what else I'll be up to.

I may get in the Spartan Sprint and the MI QRP Sprints to get my contest QSO's for the September NAQCC Challenge, but I'm not positive about that.

I'm a little disappointed that we've only received 3 reports from those who mastered the August NAQCC Challenge. It was a rather easy one. Perhaps more reports will come in after the holiday. If not, Gregg WB8LZG is going to have an easy time drawing a winner for his free hand-crafted bug/paddle handles. I'm sure a lot more folks would like to have a set of those beautiful wooden handles. We're giving away a set each month for the next 13 months including August. All you have to do to be entered in the drawing is to complete the NAQCC challenge for the month and report your mastery of the challenge to us. Each month there will be a whole new pool of entrants. None are carried over from previous months, and no one can win more than one set to give as many different folks as possible a chance to win. -30-

Saturday, September 01, 2007 9:43 PM - I had my first regular QSO on 80M this evening since back in mid-May. The QRN seems to be letting up a bit on 80M now and sigs are good and strong. Perhaps that's yet a fifth way to measure the end of summer in addition to the four I mentioned a couple entries ago.

Anyway it's nice to be getting 80M back again after the band was pretty much useless (except for contests) during the summer here. And it won't be all that long till sunspots start building up again and give us back the higher bands for regular use. -30-

Friday, August 31, 2007 11:59 PM - This completes yet another month in my 'streak' and a QSO with WP4CQ on 40M this evening gets another month started. Apparently there is some kind of RTTY contest going on which ruined my usual stomping ground around 7040 and in fact extended almost down to 7030 so I dropped down even further and found WP4CQ calling CQ. He answered my first call. When I finished working him, either a K8CQ or N8CQ called him. I don't know if they made a QSO or not, but that kind of got me thinking about working another WWP station. I can only recall one and that was Clark W2WWP whom I worked a few times. He is now a silent key. I'm going to check my log to see if there may be another I have forgotten. It will only take a couple seconds in my Microsoft Access database log. I can find just about anything I want about any of my 65,000 plus QSO's with this wonderful MS program.

I'm back in less than a minute. All I found were 4 QSO's with Clark between 1994 and 1997. No other WWP suffix stations in my log. 2 of those were from his home QTH in NY and 2 others operating /4.

If you are into statistics as I am, or just want a way to quickly find info about any of your many QSO's, I'd suggest putting them all into MS Access. With just a little SQL programming via the Access wizard, you can find out anything you want almost immediately. In fact you often don't even need SQL, just some filtering, sorting, or searching will do the trick. I've tried several of the dedicated logging programs, and always they disappointed me compared to my Access setup. I've got perhaps about 75 queries set up to do standard things like tracking 9 band WAS, DXCC, WAC or keeping track of my FISTS and NAQCC QSO's, etc.

I had no idea where I was going with this diary entry when I started. It just came along spontaneously as I typed. That often happens. I have had several inquiries about what I use for a logging program, and I've answered each one individually previously, and now if anyone else is curious, now you know also. -30-

Thursday, August 30, 2007 9:11 PM - There are a few different ways to measure the beginning and end of our seasons. Summer has 4 different endings that I know of. When the kids go back to school - summer ended here on August 27. Meteorological summer - ends on August 31. Labor day - summer ends on September 3. Astronomical summer - ends on September 23.

So summer is sort of over here, and looking back, I had a very good summer for several different reasons.

First I got re-acquainted with my little friend Haley and was fortunate to be able to spend quite a bit of quality time with her. That was the best thing that happened this summer.

Second I had a great July 4th with my ex-next door neighbors (Haley's grandparents). I got to see my friend Eric KB3BFQ for the first time in quite a while and saw his son Perry for the first time. There was a lot of good fellowship there that concluded with a great fireworks display.

Third I caught my biggest carp (and fish in general) at 34 inches - finally breaking a logjam of several 32 inch carp caught over the years.

Fourth we had really great weather for the most part. We could have used a bit more rain in June and July for the gardens and lawns, but it was nice to have all those clear and partly cloudy days. No flooding or any other severe weather to speak of all summer was very nice for a change.

Fifth the success of our NAQCC - reaching 2000 members in August and in the same month getting 50 logs submitted for our sprint.

Those are the main things, but there were also a lot of other blessings this summer. Perhaps I'll talk about some others in a later entry.

I hope your summer was just as good as (or better than) mine, and that our Autumn will be just as good also. -30-

Wednesday, August 29, 2007 9:46 PM - I think I may have mentioned this a few days ago. I'm not sure and I'm not looking back to see right now. Anyway I found out one of our recent NAQCC members was a teenager. I've now received a full story from him, and I've just posted it in my Teens and CW page in the CW section of the site.

Greg's (N3ZL - age 17) story is an interesting one (as are all the teen stories) telling of how he tried many different modes and quickly became disenchanted with them. Then he turned to CW and now is enjoying it immensely and has been 100% CW for over a year now. I think that's very important and I urge any teen who may be reading this to consider what Greg did, and try CW yourself. It may have the same effect on you.

I hope you'll read Greg's story and more importantly if you know a(nother) teenage ham, urge him or her to read it also. -30-

Tuesday, August 28, 2007 6:23 PM - I got our NAQCC autologger working today using the mailform.cgi script on my windstream/alltel server. Now there should be no problems using our autologger to report your NAQCC sprint results no matter what strange browser/email client combo you use. Sending the email is done by our windstream/alltel server and is completely independent of your browser and email client. I had several members test it today, concentrating on those who had trouble using it for their August log submissions. All of them got flawless results. I hope I'm not being too optimistic in saying that we should have a 100% success rate for the September sprint coming up in about 3 weeks now.

Should you be bored and have nothing to do, you're welcome to play with it and submit whatever fictitious log info you want, or perhaps you want to try your August sprint results. That's fine too. The autologger is here.

Depending on how it works with the September sprint - if it is 100% as I hope, I'm going to switch to the mailform.cgi script for other forms on the NAQCC site and on my site here. That should give us no more blank email responses to any forms.

Working with Windstream, then creating the form, and testing it took a good bit of time today, and now I'm getting ready to relax with some fishing. -30-

Monday, August 27, 2007 8:21 AM - Many hams interested in improving their CW or increasing their copying speed run into a dilemma. There are only a limited number of sources of good code practice. And many of those are too short or are repetitive. Instead of copying, you get to memorize what is on the sources and know what is coming up next.

The practice from W1AW is good, but rather short. Also it is basically in 5 WPM increments. If you're copying at 20 WPM, to increase further, all you have to choose from is 25 WPM whereas say 22 WPM might be better for helping you to move on.

A lot of the copy on CD is also 'memorizable' and often locked to certain speeds. Some CD courses are better than others. One excellent one that I am familiar with is that from Chuck K7QO. His course used in conjunction with his classic books in CW on CD provides many many hours of non-repetitive practice. Chuck is giving his course and the books away to one participant in our NAQCC sprints each month. You can get more info about the course and books from Chuck's web site.

If you use Windows Media Player to listen to the CD's, depending on the format of the files, you can vary the speed of playback to vary the CW WPM. This also changes the audio frequency, but unless you change by too big a factor, that is no problem.

Perhaps the ultimate solution is to make your own CW practice files. This can be done via a couple programs, one of which is pointed out here by an email from Ron K5DUZ - "John... Attached is the link to the FREE program for making Morse files. The file will be generated in a .wav format (which is way too large). Save the file to a directory. Open the directory and right click the file. Assuming you are using Windows Media Player it will give you the option of converting the .wav to a .wmv which will reduce the file size to about 10% of original size. This will also make it playable on ipods and the like... http://www.winmorse.com/". I believe Ron meant .wma instead of .wmv as the demo practice file he sent me was in .wma format.

There is also a program with the descriptive name of "Just Learn Morse Code" that does the same thing, but with some additional features as well. You can just point it to a text file on your computer and have it play that file for you 'live' without having to record it and play it back. I don't think Winmorse does that, but I'm not sure as I haven't played with it but for a couple minutes.

Both programs (and I'm sure others I haven't mentioned here) allow you to record or listen at any speed (although I think Winmorse may be limited to 20 WPM or less), any audio frequency, and either regular or Farnsworth method CW. Just point them to any text file for your source of practice. Perhaps the Keynote columns on my web site or even this diary for example. Save the column, diary, or any other Internet source as a text file on your computer.

Using all of the above info should give anyone an infinite source of code practice.

To find info on anything above, just search for it on the wondeful Windows Live search engine. -30-

Sunday, August 26, 2007 11:49 AM - I recently found out that one of our NAQCC members Greg N3ZL is a teenager (17). I asked him if he would like to write a story for the Teens and CW page in the CW section of my web site. He agreed and will be sending a story along in a few days. I'll let you know here in the diary when I get it posted.

That reminded me that I haven't talked much about this very important section of my web site. Only by getting teenage hams interested in operating CW can we truly preserve this wonderful mode of communication for future generations.

I think having teenagers talk about their love of CW will have more of an influence in getting other teenagers to try CW than having us old-timers talk about how we love and use CW. That is why I started this part of my web site not long after I started the site itself back in 1996.

If you are a teenage ham, I urge you to read the CW stories by teens to see what you may be missing by not operating CW. If you know a teenage ham, tell them about these stories and urge them to read them and then try CW if they don't currently use it.

Just click here to go right to the stories. -30-

Saturday, August 25, 2007 7:16 PM - Kind of a 'nothing' day around here today. I guess everything slowed up because of the heat and humidity. I like it that way though, so I got in my usual walks, and also cut the grass in the back yard. I have one of those old manual push lawn mowers so I get a good work out using it. And I like it that way.

I was happy to get a couple more folks signed up to operate our NAQCC special event call N3A during our anniversay month in October. There didn't seem to be much interest in operating it. I would love to see a lot more members sign up, but hey if they don't, then I'll have more fun myself operating the call. I had a blast last October doing so.

It looks like we are going to perhaps get a thunderstorm here soon. I was thinking of heading to the river, but I guess I won't now. Perhaps instead I'll get into the Ohio QSO Party. -30-

Friday, August 24, 2007 7:54 PM - I listened to most of the second CD of Maritime coastal CW stations. It was very sad to hear the closing announcements, especially of DAO. The announcement itself only took about 3 minutes and was pretty much matter-of-fact style, but what happened afterward with other Coastal stations jumping in to say sri, good-bye, thanks, and good luck to the op at DAO just about brought a tear to my eye. I certainly hope we never have to see the day when a final CW transmission takes place on the ham bands.

The other closing announcements from other coastal stations were pretty much the same way with a somewhat terse announcement followed by greetings from other coastal stations. All very sad.

I'm sure some of you may have heard these closing announcements at the time they took place in the mid to late 1990's, but I was busy with other matters at the time and missed them then. But these two CD's let me hear them now, and I'm grateful to Geo, N1EAV for sending them to me. I'm not sure what the status of the CD's is as far as making copies, but if any one is interested in having a copy, I'll look into the legality of making copies for you. The content is pretty much public domain stuff as it was just recorded off the air by a German ham or SWL. So it may be permissible to distribute them freely. I'm not going to check unless someone tells me they are interested though.

Now I'm off to get my QSO of the day for the 25th as it is just past 0000Z as I'm typing. -30-

Thursday, August 23, 2007 9:24 PM - This was another good day in many ways. I got to see my friend Haley again, although not for very long as she was going with her little brother and mom to get some pictures taken.

I also had fun kidding around via email with my long-time (almost 40 years) ham friend VA3RJ.

I helped Ange pick beans, peppers, and tomatoes from his garden.

We had a strong thunderstorm this afternoon (.77 inches of rain in a half hour or so), and afterwards I went fishing and got a small carp (23 inches) just about 5 minutes after arriving at the river. Then another hour of watching the fish (probably suckers or carpsuckers) just play with my peanut butter bread bait without catching any.

My QSO of the day this evening was with Serge RX0QA on 20 meters. I got him on just one call and he copied me well. I still get a kick out of working Asiatic Russia, especially near the bottom of the sunspot cycle.

I also spent part of this afternoon listening to one of the CD's I received here a couple weeks ago featuring CW from the now mostly closed CW Coastal stations. It was very nostalgic since I used to love to DX those coastal stations on HF and also on 500kHz and the surrounding calling frequencies. It was also sad to hear the final CW 'broadcast' from NMN when they ceased using CW. The second CD contains more of these 'farewell' messages from the likes of DAO, DAN, PCH, EJM, GLV, GIL, VIP and maybe a couple others. Sigh!!

Finally this email, which is typical of many received here in response to the welcome email we send to each new NAQCC member. This from Dave AE5BX.

"I also want to thank you for your personal website because it has been a

great inspiration to me as I try to become active again - especially in

the world of CW and QRP. I recently upgraded to Extra after being an

inactive General for way too many years. Recently looking back in my

old logbook from my teen years (as KA5SEW), I noticed that the vast

majority of my contacts were using CW. I had forgotten just how much I

love that mode. Now with my travels, QRP has become my main focus (the

search for the "perfect" hotel room antenna continues - hi), and combine

that with my rekindled passion for cw, you have NAQCC and the K3WWP

website. Thank you for infecting me with the QRP/CW bug and reminding

me what amateur radio is all about! Hope to work you QRP soon :-)"

It seems that many hams are rediscovering CW these days, and finding how well it works at QRP power levels. I think this may also be apparent in my monthly poll results so far, with many hams saying they first used CW in the past few years. That is just so encouraging. -30-

Wednesday, August 22, 2007 9:57 PM - Any day I get to spend time with one of my young friends is a good day. This was a good day. I spent a couple hours with Haley. It was nice to be able to spend time with her on several days this summer. School starts next week so I don't know if I'll be seeing as much of her after that.

My gardening friend Ange is a school teacher, so I guess I won't be seeing as much of him as I have during the summer either.

That's true of most of my other young friends also. The neighborhood will be different around here on weekdays the next 9 months or so.

Gee, I used to love summer and dislike school when I was a kid. Now I guess I'm getting that same way again. HI.

Oh, we did make it to 50 logs for our NAQCC sprint with a last minute entry, so that's quite a landmark. It only took us 34 sprints to reach that figure. I like to use the Spartan Sprints as a source to compare things against since they are the premiere QRP sprint in my opinion. It took them 48 sprints to reach the 50 log figure. So I think we are stacking up favorably in the QRP sprint world. I know for sure our members are the greatest, and I'm delighted to be affiliated with such a FB group of QRP/CW ops. -30-

Tuesday, August 21, 2007 10:11 PM - I've just posted the final results of our NAQCC August Sprint on the NAQCC web site if you're interested.

Our rainfall total in my backyard rain gauge for the past 3 days is 3.79 inches, and no flooding. Even more strange, less than a cup of water in my basement.

Perhaps I should make this a fishing diary. My fishing stories seem to draw more comment than any other topic. Witness this from Paul N0NBD.

"I enjoy ur fishing reports. My son got my old flypole and reel going, got me some new fly tying tools and supplies and we have been hitting the creeks the [Coal and Owl] and the Buffalo Lake 10 miles west of here..... Been catching some bluegill and bass. My grandson caught a carp 20 inches long under the Owl creek bridge a couple nights ago..... I am waiting for a new fly book to get here... I think I better tie up some carp flies.... Have a good one and keep a tight line"

That should be interesting - fishing for carp with flies. I bet they would love flies resembling a Mayfly. They seem to go crazy here during our annual 1 or 2 Mayfly hatches.

I got a bluegill this afternoon. I haven't checked, but I think I may have a record for number of bluegill caught in the river this year. It seems the river changes from year to year. This is the 'Year Of The Bluegill', I guess.

Tonight I got a carpsucker on my very last cast with the very last tiny piece of peanut butter bread I had left just before it was getting very dark. He (she?) was 19 inches long and as usual slimy as can be. I don't know why they are so slimy, but I'm guessing it is because they have very sensitive skin (scales) and that protects them. They always flop like crazy when they touch dry land. -30-

Monday, August 20, 2007 9:13 PM - Rain, rain, and more rain. 2.89 inches since yesterday morning. Fortunately the ground was so dry, it so far has absorbed most of the rain without any flooding.

It really hasn't even stopped long enough to go fishing, although I did go last evening for about a half hour just before dark with no results. I looked in the sewer outlets today for carp, but only saw 1 for sure. That's kind of strange, although it probably means they might have been there, but just concentrating on bottom feeding and not making any splashes.

Tom WY3H gave me a call today and said there was a UA2 station on 20M. I went and listened, but the UA2 was only about 229 here. I also heard a SM station about 339 or so. That was in the 1500Z hour. So at least there is a little DX action on 20M.

We're one log shy of 50 for our NAQCC August sprint. That is immensely pleasing and rewarding to all of us who have worked so hard to make these sprints a success. I want to publicly thank especially Larry W2LJ our club publicity officer. It's largely due to his wonderful publicity efforts that we are seeing this tremendous turnouts for our sprints. I wonder what it will be like this fall and winter without so many competing outdoor activities. If you haven't discovered our sprints yet, check out the info via the NAQCC web site, and join in the fun in September. -30-

Sunday, August 19, 2007 10:07 PM - Be careful what you pray for, or ask for. Ron, I was only kidding about sending some of your rain up this way. Stop it. We're supposed to get about 3 inches of rain over the next couple of days here. I didn't want that much.

I wonder where all the CW contesters from NJ were this weekend? I really didn't listen all that much in the NJ QSO Party, but in the hour or so I did listen, I only heard W2LJ whom I worked and one station in MD calling CQ NJ.

It's amazing how volatile the ham population is with call changes, address changes, email changes, etc. Sadly, a lot who do change things never bother to notify people of those changes. Dave VA3RJ on his own initiative and time is checking our NAQCC membership list for changes, and in the first 500 numbers he has found something like 40 members have changed something about their situation and never bothered notifiying the NAQCC. Dave says the FISTS membership list which he helps maintain with Stan K4UK is even worse. Please if you are a NAQCC member and have changed something since you joined, let us know. We don't have ESP here and we don't have any automatic method to check the FCC database for changes. It's up to you to let us know. Thanks. -30-

Saturday, August 18, 2007 8:25 AM - I thought I'd write this today before I get involved in the usual million other things. And Ron K5DUZ suggests what I write about. Thanks Ron.

I've noticed lately, but haven't commented on, the fact that the NAQCC WAS Bear Hunt seems to have picked up a little steam for whatever reason. Maybe we are turning the corner in this event and it will start to become more popular with NAQCC members. Perhaps not as popular as our sprints have become, but I could be wrong (I hope).

At any rate we have bears operating from two states over the next couple weeks. One a rare state, Wyoming, and one not so rare, Texas. However if you don't have Texas worked QRP or 2XQRP then it is rare for you. Come to think of it, although I have QRP WAS many times over, I don't think I've ever checked to see how I stand on 2X QRP WAS. I'm not sure if I've ever worked KH6 and/or KL7 2X QRP or not. I kind of suspect I must have all the other 48 states worked that way though.

Well, just a reminder to check out the latest BH sked on the NAQCC web site, and even if you don't need those states, accept the challenge of hunting down and working Dale WC7S and Joe KK5NA. That's a lot of fun in itself, and the NAQCC does have an award for working bears in addition to the help the BH gives you in working toward your WAS awards.

I haven't mentioned the output of my garden lately either, although I talk about Ange's garden a lot. Yesterday I picked 31 more tomatoes to bring my total to 129 for the year. Actually there may be a few more because I think I forgot to mark a few here and there with all my other tasks keeping me so busy. I've also picked a lot of beans, both pole and bush. However my bean plants are now succumbing to powdery mildew. I'm going to have to watch that and treat them with one of a couple products that control the mildew. My lettuce crop was perhaps my best ever with good lettuce produced well into July, and I now have a fall crop starting. I only planted a couple pepper plants since Ange has well over 400 plants all together and I can get my share of peppers from them. I harvested my onion crop back in July. It was decent, but I still have the problem of only producing small onions (2.5 in. diameter at most) for whatever reason. Still they are good, and I don't eat that many anyway so the size doesn't matter.

I don't think I got as many roses this year, although the ones that did come were beautiful. My daylillies just stopped blooming for the year a couple days ago.

And that Ron, and others brings you up to date on my garden except to say it was a real task keeping it watered this year with our very dry weather. Ron, you should share some of that rain instead of keeping it all down there. I'm sure you'd like to do just that. How many inches have you had in Houston anyway?

Now I'm off to get started on the usual set of chores. Oh, and I've yet to get my QSO of the day, so I'd better get to that as well. -30-

Friday, August 17, 2007 10:18 PM - Another of those wall-to-wall busy days. Working on NAQCC Sprint Logs. Helping Ange pick pears and water his garden. Next door neighbor Nancy took me shopping up on the hill as we call going to our local shopping malls. It's too far for me to walk so every so often when I need something I can't get here in downtown, a friend takes me up to the mall. Time out for supper. Water my own garden. Go fishing. Have 3 friends over for a star viewing party. Whew! -30-

Thursday, August 16, 2007 10:05 PM - Some folks are really good comedians like Mark WU7F who emails, "After reading about your fishing exploits with the huge carp you landed; I wonder if you are suffering any afteraffects, like CARPal Tunnel Syndrome? ;-)"

Well my arm did get a bit tired near the end of the fight, but no lingering aftereffect.

I just processed our 43rd log from Tuesday evening's NAQCC sprint, and that's a new record for number of logs received. I'm delighted with that even though it increases my work load a bit.

However I've developed formulas for the Excel master log database that pretty much automates the cross-checking, and makes it even more accurate. As I continue to develop the system, I don't think I'll have any problems as the number of log submissions (hopefully) continue to increase.

Uhh, make that 44 logs as one just came in as I was uploading this page.

Would you believe 45, as the same thing just happened. -30-

Wednesday, August 15, 2007 6:26 PM - I spent a good part of the day processing logs from our NAQCC sprint last night. Our new autologger is working very well for the most part. All the logs received via that method were very easy to process. Mostly just cut and paste to the web page or to our cross-checking program.

However the form did not work for some who use something other than IE and Outlook Express as their browser and email client. Other browser/email combos just don't seem to know what to do with a 'mailto:' action in a form. Sigh!

I'm working on a solution to that which uses cgi scripting to do the mailing. Several years ago I found that our ISP was hesitant about allowing free web sites access to their cgi scripts. Hopefully that has changed now. If so, then the autolog should work just fine for all strange non-standard browser/email combinations. Right now I'm waiting to hear back from the NAQCC ISP about the matter.

It was a very successful sprint last night. I set personal records for number of QSO's (41), multipliers (24), and score (3840). Several other participants also had their best sprints ever. It will be interesting to see how we fare after summer ends. If we are doing this well in summer, it should only get better in fall and winter (I hope). There were many new calls I haven't seen before in our sprint logs, plus the usual batch of suspects.... I mean participants as well. We have 31 logs received as of this moment. Hopefully that means we have a shot at our record which is 42. I haven't counted yet, but it looks like we may at least approach 100 different calls in the logs, if not surpass it.

If you were in the sprint please send in your log even if you only made a few QSO's. Each log adds to the strong statement that CW is still alive and well on the ham bands, and shows that it is still the most efficient mode even at QRP power levels. -30-

Tuesday, August 14, 2007 12:10 AM - I'm very grateful to a school of hungry bluegills. Now that's an opening line that should catch anyone's attention wondering what I'm talking about.

I went fishing last evening with the plan in mind to use nightcrawlers and peanut butter bread until 8 PM, and then I'd put my little spinner lure on and head downriver to the place I've been catching bass lately. However I was catching bluegills at the rate of one every few minutes so I decided I'd stick with them instead of going for the bass. 8 PM came and went and I was still catching bluegills, but then I noticed a bite on my pole with the peanut butter bread. It looked a lot like a traditional carp bite where they hit the bait and somehow knock it back toward shore and put some slack in the line. Then they either go away or they grab the bait, tighten up the slack and keep going. I waited for that second alternative, and I didn't have long to wait. There goes the slack, and now the line is coming off the reel, but not at the usual steady speed of a carp. Still after he went a few feet I tightened the line and set the hook. I knew I had a carp on, so I reached down to put a rock on the handle of my other pole in case somthing grabbed it while I fought the carp. As I was looking down, the carp jumped and the splash he made struck me as sounding like quite a big one even though I didn't see him. He kept on taking my line out as I was securing my other pole, and had gone quite a ways before finally slowing down a bit. He headed downstream and I followed him to keep as much of my line on the reel as possible. At one point I saw his tail come out of the water and he also looked like a big one confirming the feeling I got from the splash earlier.

It took quite a while before I got him headed toward shore. From the way he fought, I thought maybe I was wrong about the size since as I've mentioned before I find carp in the 26-27 inch range to be the best fighters. After about 10 minutes I finally got him close enough to get a good view, and my gosh, he was a BIG one. I had the feeling he may be more than 32 inches which has seemed to be my size limit for carp, having caught 5 before at that size, but none bigger.

I saw that in addition to the hook in his mouth, my second hook had gone into his side as he fought, so I was kind of pulling him sideways and it was hard to get him turned the right way. It took at least another 5 minutes to get him the last few feet to shore. I was being careful since I wanted to land him and make this an official catch with a measurement. I don't count fish unless I definitely get them on land. Or sometimes if it's a very difficult place due to rocks, weeds, etc. to land him, I'll count him if I can touch him with my hand before he throws the hook.

This time I definitely got my catch up on land. I don't use a net, so I had to reach in the water and kind of juggle him up on to land. Now I positively knew I had a new personal record sized carp, or any fish for that matter. I measured him with my pole which I have marked in 3 inch increments as a ruler. He went 4 inches past my last mark which is at 30 inches. So I now have a new record of 34 inches. Whew! My hand and arm were tired after that 15+ minute fight.

I went back to my chair and logged the carp after letting him go. I wish I'd had my camera with me, but I hate to take it to the river for fear of something happening to it.

Just as I was getting ready to pull in the other pole with the nightcrawler on it, figuring the bluegills had chewed it off while I was fighting the carp, I had a sharp hit on it and caught yet another bluegill to top off the night.

I'm sure grateful to those bluegills for keeping me at that spot till my carp came along.

Oh, and to top off the evening, it was a beautiful crystal clear night and I took out my telescope for about 45 minutes of star-gazing. We only get those kind of nights a few times a year here, and it was a delight to view all my stellar favorites again. The only thing that spoiled it was I had no one to share it with. My friend Ange was going to come over, but he never showed up.

Now those are the kind of nights you'd like to have go on forever, but time marches on. I wonder what tomorrow (today) will bring now. -30-

Monday, August 13, 2007 9:08 AM - I've added a section on 10M beacons to my Propagation links inspired by my getting some time to listen to 10M lately. Some of the links were supplied by N4VBV. Thanks Mike.

Hopefully that will help our NAQCC members and others as well to learn more about 10M for our 10M activity day the 10th of every month. -30-

Sunday, August 12, 2007 11:50 PM - Looks like it is going to be cloudy here tonight. I was hoping to observe the Perseid meteor shower, but I guess that won't be possible. This area seems to be one of the cloudiest places in the nation, and it seems like it is always cloudy when I want to do something special in astronomy. At least I did get to observe the close conjunction of Venus and Saturn a couple months ago, but most other interesting events were clouded out.

At least I got in some fishing this evening and caught 2 bass on lures. I should have had 5, but 3 others spit out the lure before I could land them. I am getting better at lure fishing though with the 40 percent catch rate tonight. HI.

It was nice to relax after the fiasco with the NAQCC web site the past couple days. From the StatCounter stats, it looks like the site is back to normal now. Or I should say the ISP that hosts the site is back to normal. The site itself was always OK, and had no problems itself. It was only portsys.net, the parent of arm-tek.net that was having the problem. All in all though, the arm-tek site has been very reliable compared to the time we were hosted by qsl.net. That was so bad we had to drop them as a site host. -30-

Saturday, August 11, 2007 5:05 PM - A followup on the NAQCC web site mix-up. It seems that portsys.net who leases the arm-tek.net domain name either did not renew the domain name which expired on August 5 this year, or GoDaddy.com who controls the arm-tek.net domain name did not receive the renewal information. At any rate GoDaddy served an expiration message to some of you who were trying to get to the NAQCC web site, while others were able to get through to the NAQCC site normally. Why some could and some couldn't get through remains a mystery.

I talked to the portsys.net support folks today and they were unaware of the problem. They will work on it and hopefully have it resolved in a few days.

But to borrow a Paul Harvey line, 'Now the rest of the story'. It seems that the NAQCC web site is actually stored on a usatek.net server and the arm-tek.net address maps over to the usatek.net server. I was never made aware of this because up until a couple days ago the arm-tek.net address always worked just fine. But now that I am aware of that, I am gradually changing all references to the NAQCC site to the usatek.net URL which is http://www.usatek.net/~yoel/. You may wish to do so also, although once the renewal of arm-tek.net is straightened out both usatek.net and arm-tek.net will work equally well, at least for 5 more years when arm-tek.net again will expire and need another renewal. Hopefully that one will go smoothly. Whew!! and Sigh!!

I hope all of that is clear and explains the situation satisfactorally. I'm tired after working on this most of the day and going to go out and enjoy our beautiful weather for a while now. -30-

Friday, August 10, 2007 9:46 PM - Just this IMPORTANT announcement today. Some folks are having problems accessing the NAQCC web site although it is working just fine for me and a couple other hams I've checked with. The web site is owned by NAQCC President Tom Mitchell and he is unavailable till after sunset on Saturday the 11th. Also the support folks at arm-tek.net are only available a couple hours during the day tomorrow, then not again until Monday. So it may take a couple days to get the problem straightened out. Please be patient.

The NAQCC is still alive and well, and nothing has changed. It's just the web site that is having a little problem of some kind. Maybe it's been hacked by the NO-CODE folks. Far fetched perhaps, but who knows. If you're experiencing the problem, just keep trying every so often and the problem hopefully will be fixed whatever it is. -30-

Thursday, August 09, 2007 9:28 PM - I had a really nice day today. Topping the list of nice things was a short visit with my little friend Haley. We didn't get to spend too much time together, but I promised I'd come back again tomorrow afternoon. So tomorrow should be yet another really nice day.

I also finished up my stint of watching Ange's gardens without having to touch a hose or sprinkling can. Mother Nature did all my watering for me as we have had an average of around a half an inch of rain a day since Sunday. That really worked out well, and now it looks like the rain is over for the next several days, but I'll only have my own little backyard garden to water by myself.

I also had a couple nice phone calls and a visit from another friend this evening.

It's nice when you come to the end of such a nice day.

Before I end this though, I'd like to comment on an email or two. David KC9EHQ wrote and asked about procedures in our NAQCC sprints and other sprints. If you have a similar question, I'll refer you (as I did David) to the Sprint Tips page in the Contests/Sprints section of the NAQCC web site. I think it is all explained there.

I guess that was all the emails that needed any comment, so have a GN and a great day tomorrow. -30-

Wednesday, August 08, 2007 10:15 PM - Well, I wished for rain so I wouldn't have to water all the gardens. I suppose now I should wish for a hundred dollars. Using the same scenario, I'd probably get a million dollars, because my wish for rain got almost two inches so far with another inch possible tomorrow. Sheesh, enough is enough already.

We also had some severe storms last night that knocked out power in a large portion of Kittanning. Our service here was out about 3 1/2 hours or so after lightning apparently struck a power pole.

We had a computer club meeting this evening and right after that ended I got on the air to get my daily QSO. So I'm running a little behind again and that's it for this entry. -30-

Tuesday, August 07, 2007 8:55 PM - It's great to have a day pretty much all to yourself. I had one of those today. No deadlines to meet. Nothing that really needed doing. Only one thing to do with another person, and that person is very prompt. If he says he'll be here at 10 AM, he is here at 10 AM. I like that kind of promptness, and hate waiting for someone even though it may not be that person's fault that he is late. I hate waiting in restaurants, and have been known to walk out of a restaurant if there is a long line waiting to be seated or if I sit at a table forever waiting to be served.

Once again it rained today so that was another thing I didn't have to do - water the gardens. Only one more day to get through now, and I think we got enough water today to carry through the day tomorrow till my friend Ange gets home from his trip on Thursday.

With all the things I didn't have to do today, what did I do? Well, not a lot really. I did go fishing for about 2 1/2 hours or so after the rain stopped hoping to get some carp. I wound up with a sucker, a carpsucker, and a 21 inch carp. The one storm sewer outlet I went to was just full of carp, but they wouldn't bite until the one I caught finally grabbed my peanut butter bread bait. Then he thrashed around so much he spooked all the other carp. At least I didn't see any more left there after I caught him. It was a little frustrating, but still a lot of fun.

A couple of days ago, I signed up for higher speed Internet DSL service. Now I'm up to a download speed of 6 Mbps which helps when watching TV or videos on the Internet. I spent a lot of today exploring the video sites. I think now I'll just dump my Cable TV altogether and stick to what I can watch via the Internet. There is a much wider choice. You may be interested if you have a high speed connection in these two video sites: www.veoh.com and www.wwitv.com. I'm just starting to really explore Internet video, but one thing I found so far on the veoh site was the Hubble Space Telescope 'channel'. That's fascinating viewing. I'm sure you'll find something you like on one of those two sites. If not, there are dozens of other video sites now and more coming on line all the time. As my friend and I were saying today, some day in the not too distant future TV and the Internet will probably be completely wedded together.

Time now to get my 9PM weather readings then I think I'll see if any nightcrawlers are out and about. -30-

Monday, August 06, 2007 - Sorry, didn't have time for an entry today. Tune in tomorrow for the continuing adventures of....... -30-

Sunday, August 05, 2007 6:48 PM - It was a real struggle in the NAQP to make QSO's. My noise level was exceptionally bad at S9 on 20M and S9+10 on 40M. With the accompanying QSB, I had to wait till the sigs rose above the noise to try them because I couldn't tell if I was being answered or not otherwise. I'm sure I lost some QSO's because stations faded into the noise after possibly answering me. Also it was very hot in the shack which made operating a bit uncomfortable.

However I was in one of those contesting moods and I stuck it out for a total of just under 7 hours. I did have a couple of good hours in mid-evening when the rate meter on GenLog peaked at 85 and stayed above 50 for a while, but otherwise it was hard making QSO's and I wound up with exactly 200 and 75 multipliers for 15,000 points. I had a goal of 300 set before I ever checked the bands, but as soon as I did check when the contest started, I knew that was out of reach.

I probably worked between 35 and 40 states, a few VE provinces, and VP9 among the 75 total multipliers.

It was nice working some contesters I haven't worked for a while, and to see who is new in the contesting field as well.

In the midst of the evening while tuning 20M I heard RK9UE coming through strongly and took a moment to work him. I got him on the first call although I did have to repeat my call a couple times till he got it right. I almost lost him in my QRN, but did finish the contact, and he probably copied me better than I was copying him overall. It was nice to work Asia again outside of a contest. Hopefully that's a good sign of things to come. In the process I noticed I now have my NAQCC WAS endorsement for 20M although actually I achieved that back in the ARRL DX contest, but just didn't realize it or check it at the time.

Oh, thanks for the rain dance and prayers. It did rain today so I didn't have to water the four gardens. Now if we just make it through Wednesday till my friend Ange gets home on Thursday, that will be great. -30-

Saturday, August 04, 2007 11:38 AM - I've added a picture of my Kenya QSL to my DX QSL's collection in the DX section of the web site. It's been so long since I got a new overall country verified, I almost forgot to do that. HI

That's about all I have to say today. I plan to put in a serious effort in the NAQP this afternoon and evening. Of course those plans could change if my mood changes or the bands are really lousy. If I do, I hope to work you there. -30-

Friday, August 03, 2007 10:37 PM - Working WB9UAD, a 96 year old (soon to be 97) ex-Navy CW operator this evening brought my streak to a full 13 years or 4,748 days. If you do the math dividing 4748 by 365 you'll come up with 13 and a remainder of 3. The 3 are the 3 February 29th's from 1996, 2000, and 2004. Not counting the many NAQP QSO's I hope to get later today (4th), that's a total of 46,157 QSO's in the streak with 14,213 different stations. 13,298 of the QSO's were with DX stations. All 50 states, all continents, all Canadian provinces and territories have been worked many times over. 204 of my 205 DXCC entities have been worked during the streak. The odd entity out is Aves Island which I worked not long before the streak started, but not since.

I think that says if you want to succeed in ham radio and have a lot of enjoyment doing it, you don't need a KW and a big antenna farm on a superb location. That's the bottom line purpose of the streak. To show that you can accomplish a lot with just 5 watts or less output power, very simple minimal wire antennas, and a far from superb location down in a river valley. What's the key? Well, key is a good word, because CW is the key. I don't think what I've done in the streak could have been done with any other mode under similar conditions. CW has been and remains the most efficient ham radio mode. I hope it will last forever. -30-

Thursday, August 02, 2007 2:41 PM - For the second day in a row I got something nice in the mail. A buro mailing and another single card. The buro mailing contained 1 new band country verified - European Russia on 40 meters from RU1A. There were also some nice prefixes included - DQ80, LN2, LI8.

The single card was the real prize though. Entity # 199 verified QRP/CW in the form of 5Z4/9A3A from Kenya.

For the first time in several buro mailings now, there were more cards that I needed than there were cards needing or wanting my card.

It's still a thrill to pull a QSL card or cards out of a mailbox. I hope that never ends although with the price of postal mail rising constantly and electronic QSL's becoming more popular I think the day will come when paper QSL's become a real rarity only exchanged among the more wealthy and nostalgic hams.

It was no go again on the sked with Baltasar last night. We're going to try again tomorrow morning when skip will hopefully be more favorable. -30-

Wednesday, August 01, 2007 6:19 PM - A potpourri of items today. Hope I can remember all I intended to mention.

The QSO with W2/EA8BVP didn't come off last night. Skip was too long on 40M. We're going to try again tonight.

I received a couple of interesting CD's in the mail today from Geo, N1EAV. Thank you Geo. They are recordings of former coastal stations operating with CW in the SW marine bands and on 500 kHz. I used to love to DX those stations years ago. Mostly in the 70's and 80's I believe it was. I have them all logged, but I'm not going to look for the logs right now to see if my guess of the dates are correct. Anyway sure is nice to hear them again. I have only listened to a couple stations so far, but on the CD's are the 'farewell' broadcasts from many of the stations as they ceased forever(?) their CW operations.

Jeff KE9V wrote about the AR and SK prosigns. He was reading some old QST's from 1964 and ran across some interesting info. I've mentioned before that the SK prosign comes from the American Morse '30' which is didididahdit dah. And 30 was used to indicate the end of an operator's 30 minute shift as well as an ending sign in the newspaper industry.

He also said that AR comes from the American Morse for FN (didahdit dahdit) which stood for FiNish or FiNished. I must have know that at one time but have forgotten it since I have all the 1964 QST's here that celebrated the 50th anniversary of the ARRL, and had read all the historical info there.

I believe it was John AE5X who posted on QRP-L a link to the newspaper article about my participation in the University of Pittsburgh Morse Code Study. Anyway Larry W2LJ and Rick WA3TUU mentioned the post to me. I don't subscribe to QRP-L nor any other email reflectors, and if you're the same as me, and hadn't seen the article, and want to, it's at http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/s_514637.html. The only shortcoming is the article was written by Tom Mitchell, WY3H (ex-KB3LFC) who also participated in the study but wasn't allowed to mention himself in the article. Tom got cheated in that deal. Well, there is another possible shortcoming also. It says I'm one of the nation's foremost experts on CW. If that means enjoying and using CW, then I definitely qualify, but a lot of hams I'm sure know more about CW and are more proficient in it's operation than me.

Hey, I actually caught a couple fish on lures last night. Two pretty nice size bass around 12-13 inches. Maybe I'm finally getting better at fishing with lures.

It was 96 degrees here today and continued very dry. If that continues into next week, I'm going to be an even more busy fellow. My friend Ange is going on vacation again, and I've got to tend not only my garden, but his two gardens and his mother's garden as well this time. In this weather, it's an every day project, and almost a twice a day project for some of the plants with the smaller root systems. So please do a rain dance, pray, or whatever for some rain here. Just don't overdo it. We don't need any flooding as in some parts of the country.

Well, that was quite a collection of items, wasn't it. I've probably forgotten something also. Think I'll go for a little walk now before my sked with Baltasar. -30-

Tuesday, July 31, 2007 4:47 PM - Just a couple of items today. First I was just working on some log stats and I realized that I will complete 13 years of my streak in just 4 more days now and start off on the 14th year. It looks like I will have a lot of QSO's on that anniversary day as that is the day of the NAQP.

My friend Baltasar EA8BVP is in Buffalo, NY for a few days, and we're hoping to hook up on 40 meters this evening if conditions permit. I'll let you know tomorrow how things turned out.

I had a little more fun yesterday on 30 meters. I got on a couple more times for our NAQCC 30M Activity Day and worked a couple more QSO's. Far from an outstanding effort on my part, but I did add 4 QSO's to 30 meters that wouldn't have been there otherwise. Just think if all our nearly 2,000 NAQCC members had done the same, 30 meters would have sounded like it did those first few days it became available to hams over 20 years ago. What a busy time that was as seemingly everyone was trying to be the first to get a 30 meters WAS, DXCC, etc. or just plain enjoying having a new band to play with. Now I bet none of you can name the ham who did get the first 30 meters WAS. I don't remember myself. Fame is fleeting. -30-

Monday, July 30, 2007 2:52 PM - I had hoped to visit a friend of mine today, but she wasn't home so I had to find something else to do.

I had been keeping track of how our NAQCC sprints stack up against the early days of the ARS Spartan Sprints, but got a bit behind so I decided to update the figures today. Here's a graph that shows the comparison between the first 33 ARS and NAQCC sprints.

pix_diary_20070730_1 (17K)

So far we are doing much better than the ARS did as far as number of entrants go. One thing should be kept in mind in looking at the graph. That is the ARS only asks participants to report the number of QSO's they made while we at the NAQCC believe that complete logs must be submitted. I'm sure if we only asked for # of QSO's (and we never will), the difference would be even greater in our favor.

So I'm very proud of our NAQCC members as far as sprint participation goes. Now I hope that gradually our challenge, awards, bear hunt, and other activities will start to show an increase in participation.

I've been neglectful myself in one NAQCC activity - our Activity Days. This is the 30th of a month which means we should try to get some activity going on 30M. So I did call CQ for a while on 30 this afternoon and made one QSO with K9SKX. It's the top of an hour right now as I write so I'm going to end this and try 30M again for 10-15 minutes. -30-

Sunday, July 29, 2007 9:08 AM - When I first got into ham radio, one of the things that was at the top of my interests was making a contact with another ham in each of our 50 states. It seems a lot of other hams had and still have that same interest since the Worked All States (WAS) awards are among the most popular of all ham radio awards. Perhaps only DXCC has a greater or at least equal following.

For those with smaller stations and poorer locations, the WAS award is still fairly easy to achieve, and certainly easier than DXCC. However one of the stumbling blocks with WAS are certain states that have a lower ham population. Also much of that population may not work any CW at all. So if you don't happen to run across one of the relatively few active CW operators, that state may be holding you back from that treasured WAS award.

One state that to me seems to be very hard to work of late is North Dakota. I'm not knocking the hams in ND by any means, but just using it as an example. Other states may be just as hard or harder in your case. There are many factors involved in what makes a state 'rare'. The difficulty varies over time also. In the case of ND, it used to be rather easy to work. All you had to do was get in a contest and look for WB0O or K0EVZ. However both of those hams have now moved out of ND. Both to the same state of NM, I believe. Then of course, other states move off the 'rare' list because a very active ham moves into that state.

Adding to the difficulty may be your desire to make that WAS using only QRP power levels with your simple setup. Or you may want to make WAS on only a certain band using QRP. I've been struggling forever to work KL7 on 30 meters for example.

After that preamble, I'm going to get to the point now which involves the NAQCC Bear Hunt. The NAQCC thought that it would be a good idea to help out our members (and non-members also) to earn their WAS awards. We established the Bear Hunt with that objective in mind. We recruited Ron, K5DUZ to run the Bear Hunt. Under his capable leadership, the Bear Hunt got off to a fairly good start. Club members would volunteer to activate their state at certain announced days and times during a week, and other members could then work that state easily because they knew when and where to look for it. A great concept - right? Certainly, BUT.....

It turns out that despite the great concept and Ron's leadership, the Bear Hunt has floundered recently. Club members just don't seem to be willing to help out their fellow members for whatever reason. Personally I was a Bear myself in October of last year and it was wonderful. At times, I felt like I was like a DXpedition station with many folks wanting to work me. That despite PA being anything but a 'rare' state. I can just imagine how much fun it would be operating from ND for example. So it is an activity that is a lot of fun for the Bear and helpful to the Bear Hunters. I don't understand why club members aren't chomping at the bit to be a Bear. The Hunt is designed for the individual Bears. They decide their own schedule, use whatever speed CW they are comfortable with, and operate with any equipment they choose as long as the power is QRP.

The bottom line is it looks like the Bear Hunt is going to be discontinued in its present form at least. This week will decide its fate. We have Utah activated starting at 0000Z July 30th and continuing through August 3rd. The op is Bruce WY7N, and his schedule is posted on the NAQCC web site. Whether or not you need Utah for your WAS, if you want the Bear Hunt to continue, please work Bruce. If he only gets a few QSO's, the Bear Hunt definitely will become a thing of the past and a great concept goes to an early grave. -30-

Saturday, July 28, 2007 9:25 PM - I had a little time today so I fooled around on the higher bands. 17M sounded quite good with a few strong signals on it, so I tried some CQ's there and was answered by NAQCC member K4EQ in Iowa who was also running 5 watts. We had a good solid QSO.

Then this evening I checked 17 again and answered KV4T/P's CQ. He was apparently with an island expedition, but not in the IOTA contest since he gave me a 599 NA-213 which is Dauphin Island, Alabama.

So now if I can get 3 more 17 QSO's before the end of the month I can add another band to my July NAQCC Challenge record and tie W2JEK with 7 bands. Don't know what I'm talking about? Check the NAQCC web site via the link above and go to the Challenges section.

I also heard another Asiatic Russian station on 20M and checked 10M for beacons. I only heard two weak beacons tonight. I think one was in CT. -30-

Friday, July 27, 2007 10:39 PM - A busy day again today. The biggest project was some carpentry work. I helped my friend Ange build a new gate for his garden to replace the 25 or so year old one that was really falling apart. That took most of the afternoon as we had to replace the support posts and completely build a new gate. I enjoy doing work like that though.

Yesterday it was being an electrician. I helped another friend install some switches and wall outlets in his daughter's house. I like that also. There is just so much to do in this life to challenge a person physically or mentally. I would absolutely die of boredom if I had to live the life of a 'couch potato'. I just don't see how people can do that. Of course some have no choice because of health problems, but other perfectly healthy folks just sit and never do anything to stimulate their body and/or mind.

This evening I went fishing again for a while, but the fish had all the luck. I didn't even get a strike on my lures. Perhaps if it ever rains again here, I can get some carp like the 26 inch one I got a few days ago after a shower.

I listened again on 10M for a few minutes and again heard some CW beacons there - one from GA was especially strong. I think another was from TN, but I didn't stay long enough to really identify them tonight as I did last night because now I'm doing a washing, or actually right now it's a drying to be accurate. -30-

Thursday, July 26, 2007 9:58 PM - I haven't talked too much about my adventures on the bands lately because quite frankly other that getting my daily 'streak' QSO, nothing much else has been happening when I get on the air.

I got my QSO very quickly this evening when I heard EA8ZS booming in on 30M and got him with a single call just after I turned the rig on. Right after that while I was logging him, my good long-time friend John K4BAI worked him also.

After that I tuned around the bands. There was a lot of activity on 30M including some other DX like an LZ2. Then I switched to 20M and the first station I heard was RK9UE. I haven't heard Asia anywhere for quite a while. Hopefully that's a good sign. Or maybe they've been there often but I just haven't been listening at the right times.

Then I thought since I had some more time, I'd check the higher bands. I didn't hear anything on 17, 15, or 12, but I heard 4 beacons on 10 meters from 4 different states - KS, WI, MI, and NE. But there was no activity that I could hear in the lower 100 kHz. I tried CQ's for a while with no answers. It's hard to know where to listen or to call on 10 meters since it is such a big band. I think there should be a universal monitoring/calling frequency on 10 meters, but no one seems to be willing to set up such a frequency. I suggested it to a couple organizations but it was received with 'deaf ears'. -30-

Wednesday, July 25, 2007 10:57 PM - I just finished up finalizing the log checking for our NAQCC sprint. All the winners have now been decided and will be found listed on the NAQCC web site. Now I've got to get the certificates printed up and in the mail. Also I've got to get the newsletter finalized for publication this Saturday. Whew! That's the reason for this short diary entry. 73 -30-

Tuesday, July 24, 2007 7:05 PM - We should all be grateful for small, medium or big things in our lives. Today I'm grateful that I have my ham antennas indoors. Around 3 o'clock this afternoon Kittanning or at least my part of it got hit by a very strong microburst from a thunderstorm. I thought all the plants in my garden were going to just blow away. It has been a long time since I've seen wind (well you don't actually see wind but...) that strong. I'm sure the gusts were at least 60 mph. Fortunately as with microbursts, it didn't last long. There are hundreds, maybe thousands of small branches down in town, but in the limited area I've walked so far, I don't see any big trees down or any serious damage except my next door neighbor's canopy tent got wiped out.

Of course my antenna 'victory garden' wasn't affected in the least, since it is mostly sheltered indoors.

I went fishing after the rain (which wasn't all that much as the TS weakened quite a bit just after it unleashed its microburst and before it reached us) and wound up catching a nice 26 inch carp who was a good fighter. He took my line into a weed bed and got tangled up there before he and I co-operated to get it free. Then another 5-10 minutes of fighting and I got him to shore. Another case of a 26 inch carp being the best fighters as I've said before in the diary. That size must be at the peak fitness size and age for a carp.

And finally to update you on last night's fishing. I never got a single strike on my lures in around an hour of 'fishing'. -30-

Monday, July 23, 2007 7:37 PM - I now added the favicon to all of my K3WWP web site pages and all the NAQCC web site pages. So far 4 of you told me they work just fine and 1 said he didn't see them at all.

Here on my system which consists of Internet Explorer 7 and Windows XP SP2 Home, they work beautifully. They show up in the address bar, each IE tab, and in my favorites list.

The favorites list is where I really like the favicons. It makes it easy to find a favorite in a long list at just a glance if the favicon is distinctive. I think mine is fairly distinctive as I don't see any others among my favorites that have the cyan background.

Anyway it's been a lot of fun playing with them. Now that I have them linked to all the pages, All I need do is to change the design of the favicon itself to change how it shows up on all the pages. But for now, I'm going to leave it just as it is.

Now I'm going fishing again to see if I can get my revenge on those bass who escaped me last night. HI -30-

Sunday, July 22, 2007 9:57 PM - I proved again this evening I'm not a very good lure fisherman. I used that lure pictured here in yesterday's entry, and had 4 nice bass on, but didn't land a one of them. Two of them I got about 2-3 feet from shore and they threw the lure there. Maybe I should get a long handled net to land them. I never use a net here because it seems more trouble than it's worth. You just get too many fish that get tangled up in the net and waste too much time.

While I was typing this just now, I had a call from Tom, WY3H (ex-KB3LFC) who just got home from his trip out to Iowa and Wisconsin. We tried to work each other on 30M while he was in Wisconsin, but never did make it. He only had a 30 and 10 meter rig with him, and I guess we just didn't try at the right time.

Thanks to the 3 of you who commented one the favicon for my site. I think I'll get it on all my pages over the next couple days. I do have one on all the NAQCC pages now.

One who commented was Baltasar EA8BVP who is going to be visiting his brother in Buffalo, NY next week. We're going to try to have a sked if he can get a chance to email me and to operate as W2/EA8BVP. He is one of our very early NAQCC members having the number 0008. We're a little too far apart to have an eyeball QSO, but I hope we can work on 40 meters or maybe 80 or 30. -30-

Saturday, July 21, 2007 10:05 PM - I've mentioned the similarity between fishing and ham radio in the diary before. The main thing being there is always something new showing up in both hobbies to keep things from getting boring.

Last evening I went fishing with just my spinning reel and some lures. That was the first time I've been fishing for several days for one reason or another that I won't go into here. Anyway with a little spinner lure, I had a nice bass on, but didn't get to land him as the hook apparently wasn't set well enough. I've told you I'm not much of a lure fisherman. After he got off, a couple minutes later, I got another nice hit on the same little spinner. To my surprise, it was a catfish. I had never before caught a catfish on a lure in all the many years I've been fishing. Well, the hook was definitely set in his mouth and I had quite a time getting it out. It was almost dark at that time and hard to see, but I did finally manage to remove it and let him (her?) go.

So tonight I went fishing again with the same pole and lures, figuring I'd start at one point in the river and work my way down to where I caught the catfish last night by the time it was starting to get dark again and see if the bass and catfish were still around that spot. Where I caught them had been a good spot in previous years, but I hadn't tried it much lately.

But before I got to that spot I had another of those strange unexpected things happen. A bluegill followed my lure in all the way to about 2 feet from shore, but never hit it. That happens often with different species of fish, so it wasn't unusual. But the bluegill stuck around. I dropped the lure in front of him and dragged it around. He was curious for a little bit, but then just totally ignored it. It was like he figured out it was a lure and not something to eat. OK so far, but what followed was even more unusual. He still stuck around like he was mocking me and wondering if I was going to catch anything with that stupid little piece of metal. It was a little eerie and yet funny to watch him watching me. I wasn't getting any hits on that lure, so I changed to another one. Well, when I reeled this one in past the bluegill who was still there, he again got curious and seemed to study this new lure like he did the first one, and finally after a couple times again gave up chasing it and just watched me. The first two lures were underwater types, and now I switched to a surface lure to see if my luck would change with that one.

This one seemed to interest the bluegill more, and while he still didn't hit it, he did follow it more than he did the first two as I brought it past him still swimming there a couple feet from shore.

I was getting a kick out of watching him, and thought I'd try going downstream a little ways and throwing the lure up past him to see what happened. Well, here he comes following it down and again setting himself up a couple feet in front of me to watch some more. It was getting harder and harder to believe what he was doing, so I went upstream a ways and darned if the same thing didn't happen. This must have gone on for about 20-25 minutes or so. Finally I gave up the game because I wanted to get down to my spot before it got dark. That was one of the craziest episodes in my fishing history.

I worked my way downstream and caught a 12 inch bass at one spot on the way where there was a nice gap in a big weed bed. So I hung around there a bit, but no more luck at that spot, so I went to my targeted spot, and as soon as I got there, I got 4 or 5 nice hits, but couldn't hook them. So I settled for 1 fish and a lot of fun watching the bluegill for the evening's fishing trip.

Finally here's a picture of one of the lures that I have quite a bit of success with. It was my dad's, and I know it is at least 50 years old, but more than likely some 20 or so years older than that at 70-75 years or so. You can see it's quite beat up, but it still attracts the fish, especially the bass. I caught tonight's bass with it, in fact.

pix_diary_20070721_1 (13K)


Friday, July 20, 2007 7:02 PM - Those of you familiar with HTML or who have a web site probably know what favicons are. In fact, just about anyone who uses the Internet may know about them. But for the few who might not, they are the tiny little icons that show up in front of a URL in most browsers. They show up in tabs, in the address bar, in favorites or bookmarks, and perhaps some other places I can't think of right now.

Anyhow, WB9DLC sent me a couple favicons today plus some info about them. Several years ago I used favicons on my site, but at that time they were very unreliable. Sometimes they'd show up. Other times they didn't. But now I've learned from Mike about a new syntax that is much more reliable.

The bottom line is I'm now experimenting and you should see a little favicon in front of my diary URL somewhere on your browser. If you do or don't let me know including what browser you are using. -30-

Thursday, July 19, 2007 11:08 PM - Well team, you did great in the sprint last night. There was a tremendous amount of activity despite horrible QRN on 40 and 80 and a below par 20 meters, propagation-wise. I've processed 28 logs so far, just one below the June total, and it's only been 24 hours since the sprint ended. I hope to get at least a dozen more and come close to breaking the record for number of logs received before the deadline next Wednesday.

I had a great sprint personally pulling 32 QSO's out of the mud. Without my years of copying CW under all conditions and at all speeds, I never could have gotten that many. I'm sure it was much tougher for those new to contesting. And there are many who enter our sprints as one of their first contests because of the relaxed atmosphere. We're not a frantic 40 WPM event like some other sprints. We like to work the newcomers. If you've been thinking about trying contesting, our August NAQCC sprint would be an ideal place to start. So come on and join the fun next month. -30-

Wednesday, July 18, 2007 1:54 PM - NAQCC member Bob Hunter sent this along: "Thought you'd be interested in this: W0VLZ - QRP Operating using a K1"

As Bob said in a follow-up email, that would make a great advertisement for QRP CW.

I hope you're all ready for the NAQCC sprint this evening. You've set aside the two hours from 0030-0230Z to not be disturbed. You've got the SK hooked up, ready to pound brass. You've downloaded the latest GenLog program (version 6.57 or later) ready to use during the sprint or afterwards to produce the exact log file I need to cut and paste into our log cross-checking software. You've downloaded the latest GenLog data file from the NAQCC web site which I updated just a little while ago so it contains ALL our current members. You're going to do your best to win those CD's we're giving away in our sprints starting this month. No matter how many or how few contacts you make, you're going to send in your log and summary to show the ham radio world you're proud to still be using and enjoying Morse code on the ham bands. I'm sure you get upset with the code-bashers - well, this is your way to lash back at them. Stand up and be counted as a pro-code ham! End of pre-game speech. Now go out there and hit them high, hit them low, drive that ball down the fie..... Ooops, wrong finishing line. HI -30-

Tuesday, July 17, 2007 12:01 AM - Some tidbits and a couple pictures today.

Here's a picture I took of the Moon and Venus not long after sunset (9:03PM) on July 16th. I'm still having fun with my digital camera after 13 1/2 months and some 3,600 pictures.

pix_diary_20070717_1 (39K)

And here's a view of my house (A) from space via the wonderful Microsoft Windows Live Local site. It is so detailed you can see the thermometer shelter in my back yard (B). The round object in back of the other half of the house is my neighbor's trampoline. The dark triangle between the shelter and my house is the shadow of the small (6-7 foot) pine tree in my back yard.

pix_diary_20070717_2 (57K)

And finally for today this wonderful item from my friend Karl N3IJR.

"I had to share this with you and I think you will find it very interesting. One of the fellows I work told me his Father is in the Army and just got back from a tour in Iraq. He is an officer and guess what he knows Morse Code. He is not a ham to boot. The question is why does he know code. Its because the Military STILL uses code. The terrorists were jamming all of the other forms of communication and code is the one that they don't jam. Is CW dead? NO WAY! 73 es CW is FOREVER! Karl" -30-

Monday, July 16, 2007 11:12 AM - Love it when someone else writes my diary entry. Here's what Kenji says about cell phones which is pretty much in agreement with what I said.

"About cell phones: it's a must to maintain communication with my family

when I'm out of home due to the recent policy of NTT to phase out almost

all the pay phones in Japan. Talking on the cell phone while driving a

car is legally prohibited in Japan, though it is still a common

dangerous practice. Even talking on the cell phone while walking is

somewhat a bad practice, though I have to do so many times. I've heard

a story about people talking and texting on the cell phone while they

are riding on bicycles (VERY dangerous).

Using the cell phone while you are meeting with someone else is rude,

and I keep it short when I have to. You will be surprised when you see

most of the passengers in commuter trains of Tokyo and Osaka are texting

and ignoring the surrounding people at all. Many criticize cell phones

are the tools of discommunication than communication.

About 2m/70cm hand-held radios: those hand-held radios were the MAIN

purpose of getting an "amateur" radio license during 1980s. Most of

them were used at skiing, and among friends to talk on repeaters (in

Japan repeaters were not allowed until 1982). I have those at home,

though the main purpose is to listen to air control traffics.

Something personal on losing attention while walking: my elder brother

was killed by a traffic accident at a train crossing while he paid too

much attention on reading a book and did not notice the coming train.

My parents still do not allow me to read a book or using a cell phone or

a PC while walking.

Note on "texting": reading/writing a short text message with a cell

phone (you can hear the expression quite often on CNN).

73 and good day // Kenji Rikitake, JJ1BDX(/3)"

Like I said except for the need to use a cell phone to be in touch with family, Kenji's thoughts parallel mine for the most part. I don't have any immediate family left here so.... -30-

Sunday, July 15, 2007 6:34 PM - A couple of thoughts about cell phones. First of all they seem to be a prime factor in the decline in ham radio, if there is such a decline. I think they would be more of a factor than Morse code testing. After all, you can do just as much with a cell phone as you can with a phone ham radio station. And probably the cost is about the same when you get down to the bottom line. I don't really have any figures to back up this first paragraph. It's just my gut feeling on the matter.

Secondly, I feel very insecure when I see someone using a cell phone while driving a car, especially if it is the kind you hold up to your ear. I'm sure that the lack of concentration on driving in such a situation has led to many accidents.

Thirdly, it disturbs me when I'm walking along and see some couple walking together in the park. He or she is more than likely to be talking to someone on a cell phone, and ignoring the one he or she is walking with. I think that is just plain rude. Oh there may be times when that is some kind of an emergency call, but most of the time it is not.

Do I own a cell phone? NO. Will I ever own a cell phone. NO. If I'm walking with someone, they get my attention. I have no need to be in touch with someone via the phone all the time. I would never think of using one while driving. Actually I currently don't drive, period. One of the many reasons being I don't feel the roads are all that safe any more.

Do I own a 2 meter handie-talkie or whatever those things are called. NO. Will I ever? NO. Reason - see above paragraph.

I get my enjoyment from communicating with people in person, using Morse code, or a regular non-cell type phone. I virtually don't write any regular mail letters any more. That type of communication is done via email.

I've been wanting to say all the above for quite some time now, and I've done it for what it's worth. -30-

Sunday, July 15, 2007 12:00 AM - Actually this is my Saturday entry. I just got so absorbed in fooling around in the IARU contest, the time got away from me.

I wanted to get 5 QSO's on 160M to add a 6th band to our NAQCC July Challenge, and I made it. I also had fun in the contest in general, and worked at least one new prefix - 3V1 from Tunisia on 20M. I got 107 QSO's so far and may fool around a bit more later tonight or early tomorrow (this) morning.

That's all for now. -30-

Friday, July 13, 2007 11:28 PM - Friday the 13th definitely did not live up to its reputation for me today. I had a great day, albeit a very busy one.

Ange came home last night and we got together this morning. He was very pleased with the way I took care of his gardens. After that, I finished the transfer of my computer club position of treasurer to another member so I am free of that chore now.

Then this afternoon, I went to visit my friend Haley and we spent a great 4 hours together. I'm not going to describe that or I'll be typing here forever.

When I got home, I posted our latest NAQCC newsletter on the web site after adding a couple of last minute items to it.

Then we had some rain, so after that I headed to the river to see if I could catch some carp. No carp, just one 14 inch Catfish, but it was still fun.

Finally I got in the FISTS sprint for about 40 minutes or so, just to put in an appearance as I talked about last night. I didn't really try for any kind of score, but I will report my results.

Now I'm finishing up my web site updates including this diary entry and then after I listen to an old Fibber McGee and Molly radio show, I guess I'll head off to bed. -30-

Thursday, July 12, 2007 9:46 PM - I worked the FISTS dxpedition to the British Virgin Isles this evening for my daily QSO. Cal WF5W was the operator this evening. I hope I can work Nancy some time also. I told Cal to say hello to Nancy. The group will be there through July 18. I hope you will try to work them. All of us at the NAQCC try to support all FISTS club activities since we both share the goal of preserving CW on the ham bands. We're proud of how our two organizations can work so closely together and still not conflict in any way with each other.

Don't forget about the FISTS sprint tomorrow evening (Saturday 0000-0400Z). Let's support them in the sprint also. This is a switch from the normal Saturday afternoon time to avoid conflict with the IARU contest. FISTS was good enough to change their sprint times because the IARU has had that time period since long before FISTS was even around. This is the proper way for organizations to co-operate in such matters. -30-

Wednesday, July 11, 2007 10:05 PM - We finally had rain today, so I get a short respite from garden watering. Hooray! I don't know how much we had. I'm just home from our computer club meeting and going out to check now.

We had .93 inches of rain today. That should keep the garden wet till my friend gets home from vacation.

I went down to the river after the rain. I saw a few carp in the sewer outlets, but didn't catch any. I just got a small sucker.

I didn't mention it, I don't think, but a couple days ago I posted a few new pictures on Flickr of my garden and its progress. I just don't seem to find the time to do much posting, although I do have tons of pictures I could post. I don't know how much general interest there would be in them. Most are just of things from around the town of Kittanning here or some nice sunset or cloud pictures. I haven't fooled much with astronomy pictures of late. I did try taking some fireworks pictures, but they didn't turn out all that well. -30-

Tuesday, July 10, 2007 6:30 PM - Still waiting for rain here. Still watering my own and my friend's gardens daily. Today I watered another friend's garden also. It's very rewarding helping other folks, and I don't mind doing it, but it sure does eat up the time and keeps me from doing things I want to do. Except for a half hour walk around with a lure a couple evenings ago, I haven't been fishing in a few days now. I also wanted to visit my little friend Haley more often. I promised her on the Fourth I'd come to see her. Well, I did make it Sunday for a little while, and she was delighted to see me. I wanted to go back again yesterday or today but just never got to it. Hopefully I can do that tomorrow, especially if we get some rain. But then I also have a computer club meeting tomorrow evening. Gee, it never ends, but as I told a friend today, I just hate sitting around doing nothing. So I'm glad I have all these things to do.

Geo N1EAV thought maybe my big increase in site visits the past couple days was due to a post in the ham radio links column on eham. I'm not really sure what that is because I don't get the chance nor really have the desire to visit all that many other ham radio sites. It takes enough time to maintain my and the NAQCC sites. -30-

Monday, July 09, 2007 10:49 AM - It looks like it happened again. Someone must have posted a mention of my site somewhere, or it was written up somewhere. I had a big surge in visitors yesterday and it is continuing today. If you know of any such post or article, let me know.

Doug, VE3XDB wrote about the QRL? post of a couple days ago: "Just wanted to comment on your diary note of July 6th. In terms of "QRL?", I still use it, all the time, prior to making a call on a frequency. Another option, if the band is fairly busy, is to just send "?", then "QRL?" twice, before making the call. I have always understood that "C" was a response to "QRL?" indicating that the frequency is, in fact, in use. That's how I have used it."

Yes, that is the current practice, although I don't like sending just a plain question mark in any situation at all. If it is sent on top of a QSO it can be confusing, and can be interpreted in several ways. One of the participants in the QSO might think the station he is working is trying to break in and ask a question, for example. While with QRL? there is no such misunderstanding.

But anyway I was really asking about the old style didit dit of asking if a frequency is clear and what the correct response to that procedure signal was. And just as I was about to post this entry, this email arrived from Geoff W1OH: "Just catching up on email and your diary after a couple of weeks vacation. K8FAC mentions the didit dit query for a clear frequency in your Friday diary notes, and just thought I'd corroborate his recollection, as I too remember that as the "standard" method for checking for a clear frequency during the 60's and 70's. A couple of didit dits, and if no dahdidahdit 'C' came back, away you went with a CQ or call :-) Seems more concise than the current practice, for sure."

Any more thoughts on the matter from anyone? -30-

Sunday, July 08, 2007 12:01 AM - Mark WU7F sent a comment on K8FAC's info as follows: "The posting you had for Friday made me remember a particular incident. You posted some comments from Frank (K8FAC). One of his recollections is of sending "73" on the car horn to other hams. I used to send "CQ" to other drivers of cars with radio plates or lots of antennas. I don't do that much anymore. On one occasion the driver might not have been a ham... perhaps just a family member driving that vehicle... or maybe he was a no-code ham. Whatever the reason, he was obviously upset with my honking and responded with an obscene gesture. I decided it was best to go QRT."

Yep, I was going to mention that doing so these days might lead to 'road rage' with the attitude of many of the no-code hams. Mark was lucky it was merely a gesture.

I always get a little kick when a ham in a contest asks me to QSY to another band. It usually doesn't happen with my QRP signal unless the ham knows me well, or my sigs are really strong at the time. That happened last evening in the Venezuela Contest. After I worked Bill K4LTA on 20M he asked for a QSY to 15 and we worked there, then he asked to try 10M, but I could just barely hear him there and we didn't make it on that band. Anyway thanks Bill. Hope the extra QSO helps you out. -30-

Saturday 7/7/7 - Love that date. Better enjoy it today, you won't get it again for 100 years. Of course we still have 8/8/8 next year, 9/9/9 the following year, etc. this century.

Not much to say on this memorable date. My friend Ange is on vacation so in addition to my usual full slate of chores, I'm taking care of his two gardens while he's away the next week or so. I hope you'll think of me and pray for some rain here, or do a rain dance or whatever to save me the task of watering just about every day or every other day. -30-

Friday, July 06, 2007 9:16 PM - Frank K8FAC provided some interesting info for the diary today when he emailed the following:

"This is Frank (K8FAC) from Youngstown, and I just wanted to share a couple of observations re: some changes in CW operation that I've noticed since I was first licensed over three decades ago. First, as an alternative to sending QRL?, a practice that was often used to ask if a frequency was occupied was to simply send the American Morse letter "C" (dit, dit, SPACE, dit). I still use this procedure (because it's quick and unobtrusive), but I never hear anyone else using it, and I assume that it's probably now a forgotten practice, and no one knows what I'm doing. Second, I use a straight key or a bug exclusively, and I can remember the enjoyment I used to get out of receiving a "GUD FIST" compliment from other stations in a QSO. Unless I'm working a specific "straight key" event, that almost never happens anymore. I can only assume that since the advent of the electronic keyer, perfect sounding code is more commonplace on the airwaves, and the ham who worked to achieve a "natural" good fist is more likely to go unnoticed. That's kind of sad. Finally, thirty years ago, when encountering another vehicle with Ham Radio license plates driving down the interstate, one or the other of us might be inclined to use the car horn to beep out a "73", with the absolute assurance that we'd be understood. Now, of course, thanks to the dumbing down of Ham Radio, no such assurance will ever exist again, and that special pride that hams took in having their own unique language is unfortunately a thing of the past. I'm sure that there are many other operational practices and traditions that have fallen away, but these are just a few that I miss. At the risk of sounding like the old geezer that I've become, I note that not all change is good, and I applaud your efforts, and those of FISTS and the NAQCC to keep this antique skill, and all its traditions, alive."

I had kind of forgotten about the didit dit signal to see if a frequency was clear. I wonder just when that evolved into QRL? It must have been sometime between the early 70's and early 90's when I wasn't all that active on the bands. I don't recall QRL? being used much if at all in the 60's nor do I remember hearing didit dit since I became active again in the early 90's. I've been trying to remember what the response was to the didit dit if the frequency was in use. I thought it was either didit or just dit. I asked Frank and he thought it was 'C'. Perhaps one of you reading this can shed some more light on the matter.

Yes, even though it tends to make copy easier in general, the use of electronic keyers and keyboards do definitely take away the individuality of ham ops. You used to be able to identify a ham from his fist without having to hear his call in many cases. I don't mean that he was sending sloppy code, but there was that slight difference in character spacing, etc. because no one could send absolutely perfect code with a straight key or bug, although many came close. I use a keyer here most of the time, but I still like to use the old straight key for our NAQCC sprints, and for some of FISTS activities as well as the ARRL straight key night. It's great these organizations still promote straight key use.

As for the horn beeping, I also remember hearing HI beeped out on the horn, which took a little less time to send than 73 if the cars were passing rapidly.

Another factor to consider is that as with any language the world over, Morse has evolved over the years. Just one example from me now. Years ago when I heard BTU, I though of British Thermal Units. Now BTU has come to mean back to you used in place of BK in many cases, etc. In a way that is unfortunate because it makes it harder for newcomers to CW to figure out what is being said if the abbreviations keep evolving or individual hams make up their own along the way.

Finally I agree with Frank that change is not always for the better. Or 'don't fix it if it ain't broken'. We've sure 'fixed' a lot of things in ham radio that were not broken or even bent a little. It's sad. -30-

Thursday, July 05, 2007 1:39 PM - I hope you all had as nice a 4th of July as I did. My ex-next door neighbors invited me to a cookout. I got to see Eric's (KB3BFQ) infant son for the first time. We had some delicious food, and got to see about a half-dozen different fireworks displays including some small (legal) ones we set off ourselves. Plus since I don't see them all that often, it was just nice to visit and get caught up on things.

As always, I also got to spend a lot of enjoyable time with my young friend Haley. Those times are always a delight and a treasure. I could fill up a whole diary if I described them all here.

I'm sitting here now waiting for some rain to stop, then I'm heading to the river to try to catch some carp. While I'm waiting I think I'll quote some diary feedback.

Mark WU7F writes in part, "I have some good news about "spreading the gospel of CW' ;-) I found a small group of hams in Utah that have formed a local CW club and are all FISTS members. I exchanged emails with them several months ago. I don't think they are a very active group. On Saturday we are having our first meeting since I have been involved with the group. I've invited some other hams that I know also have an interest in CW. I'm not sure how many we will have there - I'm hoping for at least ten, but will be surprised if we get more than a dozen. At the meeting I will certainty talk about the NAQCC and will hand out some material I will print from the website."

I think that's wonderful and I hope the group works out as intended. It would be nice to see several other similar groups formed around the country.

Mark goes on, "I contacted FISTS about the Cody Buddy program. I have volunteered in the past (twice) to be a Code Buddy, but have never been hooked up with anyone. I guess there is no demand (even though I remember reading something in the Keynote about needing more people to volunteer). Anyway, the third time I contacted them was to ask for a Code Buddy. I want some help to push my speed up. I don't push it in a rag chew because I want to understand what the other person is telling me. The contests help, but I want to do better in the contests and not have to listen to the other station make four other contacts so I can correctly copy his/her info. So, I'm looking for help starting in the low 20's and have a goal to get to 30 wpm with 90% copy. CW software programs don't motivate me enough to stick to it. A commitment to another person will (as long as they are OK with the fact that I will probably miss much of what they are sending!). That's one of the main reasons I'm looking forward to joining the local group - so I can get find some others who might be willing to help. If they don't, I'll expand my search."

I'd just like to offer my opinion about the Code Buddy program. It is a wonderful concept, just as is our NAQCC WAS Bear Hunt. However in both cases, there is just not enough member support to make them work. FISTS and the NAQCC can go on pushing both programs for all they are worth, but if the members are apathetic, it becomes very discouraging. Neither program takes a lot of work by a club member, nor does it take much time. The work is not complicated or hard, and I'd venture to say that every member of both clubs is more than capable of handling it. Yet, for whatever reason, they just are not willing to do it. Not only is that true of FISTS and the NAQCC, but it is true of every organization. There are the joiners who constitue the vast majority of a club's membership, and there are a few doers in every club who do all the work. Eventually the doers get discouraged and they also become mere joiners. When the doers reach a certain minimum level, the club is in big trouble and often times will cease to exist. I hope that never happens to FISTS and the NAQCC since our purpose of helping to preserve CW is so important.

Kris KD8EVT writes, "I really enjoyed your website it has a lot of helpful info. Just ordered some cd's to help me learn cw and I cant wait to be able to make contacts with this mode. I have not been a ham for very long so all of this is new and very interesting."

Kris, that is wonderful. I'm always delighted when a new ham is interested in using CW on the air. -30-

Wednesday, July 04, 2007 8:01 AM - Mark WU7F made his guess for the 2000th member contest, then added some excellent material for today's diary entry.

After his guess, Mark wrote, "I also have a question to ask you about chatting on FISTS or other calling frequencies. I make calls there, and even have short QSO's there. If I know it is going to be a longer QSO, I'll sometimes try to QSY. Maybe I'm doing something wrong, because it seems like it causes confusion.

I'll say something like PSE QSY DN 2 QSY DN 2 QSL? BK What am I doing wrong? Is there a better way to say it that would be better understood? What are your thoughts on the subject? Am I better off to just keep my QSO's short while on a calling frequency? I love to rag chew when conditions are good, so keeping it short can be a tall order."

I answered Mark this way: You're doing everything right. It's just that with the general dumbing down of ham radio, people are not being taught the proper method of doing things. Perhaps there needs to be more explanation of calling frequencies and their proper use.

I solve the problem by just never calling CQ right on the calling frequencies. I'll go with 3559, 7041, etc. for example. That way I don't feel guilty about blocking the calling frequencies, and still have plenty of QSO's. Of course I also use frequencies far removed from any calling frequencies with the same success as well.

Personally I think the whole concept of calling frequencies is not necessary anyway, and in a way contributes to the lack of activity, or seeming lack of activity on the bands, because everyone congregates around those frequencies while the whole rest of the band may be available. That's why the NAQCC doesn't have calling frequencies.

I honestly think for example, some folks believe if they are a FISTS member or QRP ARCI member, they are only allowed to operate on the 'FISTS frequencies' or the 'QRP frequencies. Perhaps these folks are coming from the VHF or UHF bands where I believe frequency specific operation is pretty much the norm with calling frequencies, repeater frequencies, and the like. They are not used to the wide open operation on the HF bands.

After I sent that off to Mark, I also had this additional thought. If we are to 'spread the gospel' of CW, it's best to do it to folks who need it. If we keep working each other around the same frequencies, someone who needs to hear the gospel may go wanting, and give up CW.

The bottom line is please spread out your activity on the ham bands. If we don't, perhaps each organization WILL be allotted its own frequency or tiny band of frequencies so that the SSBers can gobble up that unused CW frequency space. -30-

Tuesday, July 03, 2007 9:57 PM - Time to get caught up on a few things.

We are starting to get some guesses as to the date when the NAQCC signs up its 2000th member. So far we have 5. One member was kind enough to guess and say if he won to give his CD to a needy ham, that is one who is struggling with the code. Thanks Dave W0CH. Keep the guesses coming. If you're already at 20WPM, consider doing what Dave did.

Scott AE5BH had this thought on the NAQCC Spring Ragchew Contest - "Perhaps operators didn't enter their Ragchew results since the spirit of ragchewing is to get on the air, chat, and not pay attention to time so you can log it, etc. Just my thought on the subject."

That's probably accurate, but if that's the case, there is a fault in the thinking of the hams doing the rag chewing. If they report the rag chews, then other hams will know they like to rag chew and will give them even more rag chews. Also if you make a rag chew and don't report it, only you and the ham you work know about it. If you report it, then other hams know you are doing your part to preserve CW on the bands, and they see that hams still love to rag chew using CW.

Paul N4UEB writes, "Just wanted to tell you how much I appreciate ur web site. Really has helped me out several times. From trying to learn correct cw procedure to how to operate on contest and today i heard some calling cq rac test. I thought hey I know i ll go to Johns website and look on the calendar. Sure enuff there it was. Neat."

I just love to hear things like that because that is why this web site is here - to help other hams in many different ways. That's the only reason I spend so much time on it. It would be pointless to do it if no one got any benefits from it.

I'm not much of a 'lure' fisherman. In the first place I don't have a big collection of lures like many fisherman do. I just have perhaps a half dozen or so that I got with the poles I bought and some my dad used many years ago. I don't have the money to spend building up a collection. Also I'm kind of lazy and don't like switching from lure to lure when I'm fishing. I kind of stick with just one each trip, and if it's not appealing to the fish that day, then I just don't catch anything.

When I do catch something with a lure, I'm proud of it. Tonight I got a 13 inch bass on a lure, so I thought I'd brag about it. HI. -30-

Monday, July 02, 2007 7:53 AM - I must be stupid or I'm just not seeing something. Perhaps someone reading this entry can explain it to me.

I get many emails asking how to increase CW speed. Many of these are from our NAQCC members. OK so far. That's fine and I always answer such emails as best I can.

However in our latest NAQCC newsletter we are offering a way to help a member to increase their speed. In fact three members can benefit from our offer. Yet, no one has taken advantage of it. I just don't understand.

In case you are a member, and overlooked it in the newsletter, all you have to do is to guess the date when the NAQCC signs up it's 2000th member. I'm just about to sign up # 1935 right now and we are getting an average of about 55 new members per month currently if that is of any help. Then the three members coming closest to the correct date will be sent a CW training course on CD absolutely free. This course is designed to take someone who doesn't know CW at all up to a speed of 20 WPM. Or someone at any speed level below 20 WPM up to 20.

I expected at least a small rush of guesses right after the newsletter was posted, but as I said it's a shutout so far. Why???

The CD's were donated to the club by KB3AAG. The deadline for your guess is July 10th. C'mon! -30-

Sunday, July 01, 2007 10:08 PM - Due to fishing and a long phone call last night I missed the good 10M opening in the RAC contest or I could have completed the NAQCC 5 X 5 July Challenge as Don VE3HUR did. Oh well, that would have been too easy and not really a challenge that way. Now it will be a little more of a challenge although I have 80, 40, 20, and 15M complete now, so 5 QSO's on one more band will do it. In fact I'll probably shoot for doing my 5 QSO's on 8 bands if possible. I should get 10M in the IARU contest, and 30 will be easy. 17M could give me 5 QSO's during the month. 160 and 12 will be tough, but possibly I can do 160M in the IARU contest also. I tried 160 in the RAC late last night, but didn't hear but 1 weak station there at the time.

Tonight was interesting. I went fishing (surprise - HI) and caught a mighty 4.5 inch sandpike. I thought that was what had been biting the past couple nights, so tonight I put on the tiniest hook I had and baited it with a tiny bit of nightcrawler. Still I couldn't hook them for a while, but I finally caught the one to confirm my suspicions about what was biting. It's amazing how hard they can hit for their tiny size.

That wasn't all I got though. After a rather large pleasure boat went by and kicked up some of the biggest waves I've seen at the river, a carp came by and hit my peanut butter bread. He turned out to be a good fighter at 29 inches. I'm wondering if the waves stirring up the river bottom attracted him. They certainly did stir things up.

Then I came home and got my QSO for the 2nd (UTC). I worked WO1W which is an interesting call, I thought. Gene was from Rhode Island. I haven't worked that state in a while.

Next it was astronomy. I took my scope out to observe the conjunction of Venus and Saturn. They were close enough to see both at one time in my low power eyepiece - around 40 power or so with my 8 inch Celestron. My neighbor was just coming home and also enjoyed the view. So it was a good couple days except for missing the 10M opening. -30-

Saturday, June 30, 2007 6:31 PM - Sometimes when I sit here at the keyboard, I can just type and type things into the diary, and have to force myself to stop before I write a whole book. Other times, I sit here and nothing specific comes to mind. Today is one of those days. I think that's what professional writers call writer's block. So does that mean I've reached the grade of a professional writer? No, that can't be because I've never made one penny on anything I've ever written. So I guess I'm still an amateur writer if the money is the criteria.

But then what about amateur radio? Is it truly amateur in that case? A lot of ham radio is driven by money these days. So too are 'amateur' sports. Remember when it was frowned upon for any amateur athlete to accept money of any kind? My how times are changed. And it's a shame.

Well, one thing you can be sure of. My web site will always be a true amateur web site. I've never asked for any payment for doing the work associated with keeping it going for almost 12 years now. In fact the only compensation of any kind I can recall getting is Kenji's kind donation of a subscription to Flickr for my site pictures.

The same with the NAQCC. The club never gets any payment of any kind that is not returned to the members in services such as printing certificates, obtaining a plaque to award for special achievements, buying prizes to give to sprint winners, and things like that. There is no profit being made by any club officers.

Well now that I've ad-libbed a diary entry for today, I'm going to do a couple chores, and then head off to the river to try to increase my total of 74 fish for the year so far. That happens to be second best to a total of 80 on June 30th that I had several years ago. -30-

Friday, June 29, 2007 4:44 PM - Looks like it happened again. Someone wrote up or posted my web site somewhere. 200 visits yesterday, and on target to approach that number again today. That compared to my most recent 30 day average of around 135. So to whoever did it, thank you for the publicity. I hope you will do the same for the NAQCC web site, if you haven't done so already.

It's interesting how the web site can bring folks together. I got an email yesterday from Jose XE1YJL who was the operator at XF4LWY when I worked that DXpedition back in 2000. He saw XF4LWY in my on-line logs and wrote me.

A few years back when I was more seriously into contesting (seems I had more time then), two of my favorite contests were the Canada Day and RAC Winter contests. I always did well in them and have several certificates for my efforts. The reason I mention them is that the Canada Day contest is coming up on Canada Day which is Sunday, July 1. Perhaps if I don't get involved in too many other things I'll put in a more serious effort this year than I have in a while. If you've never entered one of these RAC tests, try it - I'm sure you'll like it. Perhaps I'll see you there. -30-

Thursday, June 28, 2007 9:02 AM - Did I ever have fun last night. We got about an inch of rain which really got the water going into the storm sewer outlets in the river. As soon as the rain stopped - actually a little before (isn't it great to have Internet weather radar!) - I headed to the river with my poles and peanut butter bread. When I arrived at the Arch street sewer I was disappointed not to see any carp swimming around like I did the last time we had a rain.

However I decided I'd try there anyway, and if nothing happened I'd try another sewer. It wasn't too long before I got a signature carp bite - a slow tugging on the line, then a release. I waited him out, and as usual after a bit of play, he grabbed the bait, hooked himself, and took off like a fast freight train caught my line. He was a good fighter, and without even seeing him, I figured he'd be a 26 incher. I was close. He was 27 inches long.

A similar process was repeated 5 more times resulting in a total of 4 carp and two catfish. The cats were 17 inches each. They tend to bite very similarly to a carp on the peanut butter bread. But you know as soon as the hook is set, it isn't a carp as they don't have the power of a carp, at least at that size.

One of the carp turned out to be one of the smaller ones I've caught. A 'midget' at just 21.5 inches. For some reason he looked bigger than that and I had to measure him a couple times to be sure I was seeing things right. For that size he was an excellent fighter and I think he took out more line than the other three before I got him turned.

The last carp was the biggest at 28.5 inches and he had to be different from the other three. This one took off upstream after he was hooked. The first three all headed downstream.

An evening like that is what fishing is all about! I hope we get some more rain again today to activate the sewers again.

Changing gears now - Bob VA3RKM writes, "I read about your code/memory experiment. When I was in university about 35 years ago I was also a paid subject for a psychological experiment involving code. It was a recognition test, sending random letters at normal spacing for the dit and dahs and then decreasing the spacing until it was impossible to tell what letter was being sent. A bit like some QSOs from ops with a poor fist! Anyway, there seems to be some (slight) monetary value to knowing Morse code, as well a demand for it among those who study the operations of the brain."

Yes, and any use at all of Morse code is important to keep this wonderful means of communication alive.

Of course the NAQCC's purpose is to assist in keeping Morse alive on the ham bands along with other CW clubs such as FISTS. If you entered FD, we hope you submitted some soapbox comments to the ARRL, and we hope you included a plug for the NAQCC. That's a good way to inform other CW/QRP ops about the NAQCC. Many still don't know about the club. -30-

Wednesday, June 27, 2007 9:16 AM - I thought I'd see what email about the diary or other matters needs some comment here in the diary.

One of our new NAQCC members asked about 15M wondering why it seems like it is 'broken'. I answered him this way and thought maybe others new to ham radio and propagation might benefit from the answer as well.

"Well, you're going to have to be patient and wait 3 or 4 years before 15M really becomes good again. At this point in the sunspot cycle the maximum usable frequency (MUF) seldom gets much above 18 or 19 MHz if that far. Even if it does get above 21 MHz, most folks won't know it and won't even listen to 15M, so even though propagation will support QSO's on 15, there's no one there to take advantage of it.

If you want to see this in action, just check 15M during all the BIG contests (SS, ARRL DX, CQ WPX, CQWW DX, etc.) and you will hear activity there because folks then WILL check the band to squeeze out those extra contacts to improve their score.

So for now stick to the lower bands and be patient."

With the vagaries of propagation that may be an oversimplified answer, but in general it is true.

Nancy WZ8C of FISTS is going to feature an article about the Morse study Tom and I took in Keynote and WorldRadio. She had a question for me about the study, wondering how long it is going to continue. Let me quote an email from Sara Guediche of the study.

"Hi John, This study will definitely last through the summer. We also hope to have follow-up studies using Morse so the research is ongoing. Thanks. Sara"

So if you're contemplating taking the study, there's the time frame for you.

Bob Hunter wrote: "As for QRP, I love it and because of your diary I actually want to learn CW. My only problem is, I've been having problems wanting to even get a ham license. I was really excited about getting one but I come across so many negative issues, like those at eham that I no longer go to and which turned me off getting my license years ago, but really amazes me is the attitude of people on the airwaves. It's just sad."

Here's my answer to that. "It's obvious since you say you want to learn CW that you don't now copy CW. What you say about on-air attitude is probably what you've learned from listening to SSB. Many folks who use SSB have all kind of negative attitudes.

Except for a few folks who get upset while working in huge DX pileups, everyone who operates CW does so in a gentlemanly fashion. I've had over 66,000 CW QSO's, and can truly say that every one of them was enjoyable.

So..... I would recommend that you learn CW, get your license and confine your operation to CW. Ignore SSB and all the other digital modes. That way you'll avoid all the negativism. Join our great group of folks at the NAQCC. In fact you can become a NAQCC member even before you get your license. We accept SWLs as members and have around 10 or so now.

Above all stay away from all the Internet email reflectors, ham radio chat rooms, and the like. They give the wrong impression of ham radio as that is where all the 'flame-throwers' and other malcontents hang out."

As a follow up, Bob did join the NAQCC as #1923 and says he is going to take my advice and join the gentlemanly crowd on CW. -30-

Tuesday, June 26, 2007 6:32 PM - OK, here's a bit of trivia to introduce the first item in today's diary entry. Who is (was) Joe Btfsplk? No, it wasn't the imp who was one of Superman's nemesises. That was Mr. Mxyzptlk. Joe Btfsplk is from the Lil' Abner comic strip created by Al Capp. Joe is the character who always has a black cloud hanging over his head even though all around him is clear and bright. I can't remember now if rain was falling from his cloud or not. Perhaps some reader can shed some light on that.

At any rate I thought of Joe this evening walking through the park. As I was about to walk under the bridge a drop of water hit my arm. I thought maybe someone threw some water off the bridge. But when I emerged from the other side of the bridge, it was raining. Just a few widely separated rather large drops. As I walked, I noticed the concrete pathway further ahead of me than about 15 feet didn't have any drops on it, but as I walked I never got to that dry area because the drops kept filling in that 15 feet. I seemed to have my own private little rain shower following me along. That was when I thought of Joe. I turned around to see what was happening behind me, and it seemed like there was that same zone behind me, but it was perhaps a little longer. I could see the concrete was drying beyond the wet area as I walked though since it was about 93 degrees with the sun shining. My own little shower followed me about 300-400 feet or so, then ended.

I have seen it rain on one side of a street, but not the other, and similar phenomena in the past. This tracking shower was completely new to me however. I know this couldn't be possible, but it was like I was creating my own little 'heat island' as I walked and the hot air was rising and condensing above me and falling as the rain drops. Very strange. You may play some Twilight Zone music here if you wish.

And another thought I had while walking. A friend of mine blew his horn as he drove by me rather rapidly. Now it takes time to react to that happening, and depending on just when the horn was blown, it may or may not be possible to recognize who was in the car, unless you recognize the car itself. Then by the time you do react, it may be too late to wave at whoever it was, or you wave as they are already past you. Unless they see you in their rear view mirror, they may think you are ignoring them or snubbing them. In this case I got off kind of a half wave after the car was past me. I did recognize who it was though because as it went by, I heard a small girl's voice from the back seat say hi. It was my little friend Haley I have talked about here before.

So just in case you are in the driver's seat, don't despair if someone doesn't acknowledge your horn blowing. Oh and with all these modern cars insisting on saying good-bye to their drivers with a horn blast as the driver parks the car, I often don't even look when I hear a horn sound.

Well, I'm off to the river now to try to continue my success of late. Some 23 fish in the past 10 days or so now. -30-

Monday, June 25, 2007 9:57 PM - I guess this 15 inch Bass was reading my diary entry yesterday and thought he'd show me that Bass can go for that peanut butter bread also. So while trying out a different fishing spot in the river he came along, took the peanut butter bread and let me catch him.

Like I said, you have a pretty good idea of what you will catch using certain bait, but it's not a hard and fast rule. In looking through my fishing spreadsheet, I see that out of some 800 or so Bass I've caught, this is only the third one I've caught on any kind of doughball. I have caught many of them on corn while carp fishing though.

And now for something completely different! If you're a NAQCC member and participated in FD with CW/QRP, we'd like you to write up a little news item about your efforts for the NAQCC Newsletter. Pictures may be included also. Our news editor is out travelling so you can just send the articles to me. The deadline for the current newsletter is Friday afternoon June 29. Anything received after that will be in the next one in the middle of July. -30-

Sunday, June 24, 2007 9:55 PM - While sitting at the river waiting for the fish to bite this evening, I was musing on the similarities between ham radio and fishing.

Throwing your line out into the water is similar to calling CQ. You are never really sure what is going to bite or who is going to answer you. Oh, you may have an idea from the bait you use what kind of fish you are likely to catch, but you can't be sure. Peanut butter bread is likely to catch a carp, sucker, or catfish while minnows are likely to land you a bass, pike, or muskie. That's not a hard fast rule though and I have caught many different species of fish on just about every kind of bait I use. Likewise with a CQ. If you call on 40M in the daytime you are pretty sure you are going to be answered by someone within 600 miles or so, but again that's only a general rule.

QRN has an equivalent in fishing. It's called wind and waves. You have to mentally (visually) distinguish a bite from the random motion of your line and pole caused by the wind and waves. You have to mentally (aurally) distinguish a CW signal from the static crashes and other such noise.

I guess you could say there is QRM also in fishing. That's when a boat goes by and sends the waves from his wake at you. Depending on the size, shape, and speed of the boat, the 'QRM' can range from S1 to S9 plus. That really can shake up your line and pole and mask a fish biting.

As with learning to copy CW through such interruptions and interference with experience, the fisherman can also learn to distinguish a fish biting from the other motions of his line and pole.

Then of course, there is propagation. From day to day, what we are likely to work on the ham bands depends strongly on propagation. With fishing, 'propagation' also changes, albeit more unpredictably. Everything can seem exactly the same from day to day - the temperature, wind speed, time of day, and a dozen other factors, yet on one of those days, the fish will bite like crazy, but on the next day, you'll get nary a nibble.

Just like the ham bands provide different places to go to work different parts of the world, to have a rag chew, check in a net, etc., the river has different places to go to catch different kinds of fish. After a rain, for example, it's very likely you can go to a storm sewer outlet and catch several carp. There are several 'holes' where certain species of fish like to hang out. There is a dam in our town and that is a good place to go to catch a muskie. I know certain places that are good for catching bass, to name just a couple of such 'holes'.

Finally the more experience you get with ham radio and with fishing the better you will become at both activities. That experience will enable you to cope with the variables mentioned above and become a very skilled operator or fisherman. Neither comes easily - you must work to achieve it. -30-

Saturday, June 23, 2007 9:23 PM - I can't recall a summer with so many beautiful days. Actually I should say late spring and summer since astronomical summer just started 2 days ago, although meteorological summer has been here since June 1st. Whatever you wish to call it, the weather has been just beautiful and I live as much of the time outside as I can. As a result, since our NAQCC sprint about 10 days ago, I've only gotten on the air long enough to make my daily QSO. Ham radio will always be there, but in Western PA, you can't say the same about nice weather. So I'll get in my fishing, walking, gardening, and other outdoor activities when I can.

I've only gotten 2 contacts in FD so far, and probably won't go beyond that except I might look for a couple of friends to help them out with an extra contact.

I found a nice piece of propagation prediction software today. It's basically a graphical (map) presentation of the predictions made from the popular VOACAP program. If you don't know about it already and you're interested in taking a look at it, here's the URL - http://www.g4ilo.com/voaprop.html -30-

Friday, June 22, 2007 8:30 AM - Marlowe KF7JL writes: "Hey John: I read your site daily. Keep up the great work. I very much enjoy reading your daily comments. Having been absent from ham for 30 years, I just recently(April) bought a rig and have been doing about 95% cw QRP. Having a great time also.

Now on to the fishing you are always talking about. Are you smoking the carp or what? Fishing for carp on a fly rod has gotten very big here in Mt. I have attached a pic of a 26 lb carp I caught on a 6lb line one lunch hour here in Great Falls.

I am looking forward to working you CW QRP someday."

Thanks for the feedback. Yes, carp fishing in general seems to be catching on in a lot of places. Of course its been very popular in Europe for a long time now, but until recently carp had gotten very bad press here in the USA.

Personally I have loved carp fishing ever since my dad introduced me to it when I was somewhere around 7 or 8 years old or so. In fact I have a picture of me struggling to hold a big carp that I'll have to look up and post in the diary.

It's strictly catch and release here. I let them go to grow and get bigger and catch them again. My latest and one of the best baits I've found yet is peanut butter bread. Just spread a thin layer of peanut butter on a piece of bread, add a bit of water and mash it all into a doughball. I've also used whole kernel corn, regular cornmeal/flour/vanilla doughball, the same with strawberry Jell-O instead of vanilla, and years ago boiled potatoes.

I've also caught some of my bigger carp on tiny pieces (1 inch or less) of nightcrawler. They don't seem to like the full nightcrawler for whatever reason.

I mostly use very old bait casting reels and rods that my dad had from probably the 1930's if not earlier. But it's fun to catch them on spinning reels with light line also. -30-

Thursday, June 21, 2007 9:51 PM - I just experienced a serendipitous happening. I went to my back window to see how clear the sky was and to see how bright Jupiter was. Just as I looked I saw a very bright satellite. I thought it must be an Iridium, but the brightness was continuous, not a flash. Then another slightly dimmer satellite was following behind in the same path. Turns out it was the International Space Station followed by the Space Shuttle which had separated from the station earlier today.

Fishing continues good. I've gotten 5 carp in the past 3 days now. Tonight it was a carp, carpsucker, and 2 suckers. Our rain the past 3 days has really improved fishing.

The NAQCC Spring Ragchew Award time period has just ended. I made 17 rag chews this spring, and so far am the only one reporting. I hope many more members also participated and we'll be hearing from them.

The NAQCC has gotten more donations of prizes to be given away to members. I won't say more here since all details still have to be worked out. Full info will be in the club newsletter and on the web site.

I mailed out the two key collecting books we gave away in this month's sprint to our winners - John KA8MPT and Gregg WB8LZG. Congratulations guys! Let us know when you receive the books and how you like them. Thanks to K4TWJ who donated one of the books and club members whose donations were used to purchase the second book.

Now in July we start our CW CD's giveaway in our sprints. One set of CD's per each monthly sprint. Spread the word to all your QRP CW friends, but be sure to remind them they must be NAQCC members to win any of our prizes.

Things continue to be exciting for the NAQCC, its officers, and members. I'm proud to be a part of it all and helping to promote CW use on the ham bands. Just in case you don't know about the NAQCC yet, we are closing in on 2,000 members, and membership is FREE. Check it out via the link at the top of this page. -30-

Wednesday, June 20, 2007 8:54 AM - Great Monday - continued. After my walk around the Pitt campus, I went back to the Learning Center building where we had taken the test. I got there just in time. I went up the elevator to the 6th floor and when the door opened Sara was there. Tom had just gotten on the other elevator to go down. I told Sara another club member was going to be taking the study (N3IJR in July), bid her good-bye and went back down in the elevator. I beat Tom down and met him as he came off the elevator. We headed for the Soldiers and Sailors Building parking lot.

On the way home we stopped at the Pittsburgh Mills HUGE shopping mall to get something to eat. The place is so big it is hard to find your way around, but we finally found a Dingbats and ate there. After waiting forever for our orders to come, we enjoyed the food and headed home.

Tom went home to take a nap, then came back here later to help me put in a new post to hold my backyard thermometer shelter. We were interrupted in that by some rain and had to continue the job till the next day.

I waited for the rain to end, then went fishing. I caught two nice Carp - 29 an 24 inches. All in all a pretty good day, and a busy one. -30-

Tuesday, June 19, 2007 9:06 AM - Yesterday was one of those truly great days that come along now and then.

It started off early when Tom picked me up and we headed for Pittsburgh. Our appointment for the Morse code study was for 10 AM, so we left around 8:15 thinking that should give us plenty of time to find the building, find a parking space, and relax a bit before the study.

However, "The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry" or in the original Scottish, "The best laid schemes o' mice an' men / Gang aft agley." About half way to Pittsburgh, we ran into the daddy of all traffic jams on route 28. Construction wound up backing traffic for at least 5 miles, maybe more. Instead of arriving at our destination in 55-60 minutes, it took us two hours, and we were 15-20 minutes late for our appointment. Also because the engine in Tom's van was near to overheating, he had to run the heater to bleed off some of the engine heat. Now I think I know what it is like in Death Valley in July. I don't really mind the heat though, so it was OK with me.

Tom left me off at the building and went to park the van. I went inside and found a deserted lobby with no indication of what room we were to go to. Tom had the info with him, and I neglected to remember the room since I figured we'd be going in together. However Sara Guediche, the graduate student mentor for the test, who would be running the test today came down to the lobby looking for us just about that time. I explained the situation to her.

From then on everything went smoothly. Although Tom was scheduled to go first, I started off instead while we waited for Tom. The tests were done individually and we were the only two scheduled for that day so it didn't really matter.

I had to glance over a set of rules about the University of Pittsburgh studies in general and fill out a brief form. Then I had a brief oral interview with Sara about my Morse code history. How fast I could copy, when I first used it, how did I use it, what Morse organizations I belonged to, and a few other such items.

Then we went on to the test itself. It consisted of several parts and took perhaps 30 minutes or so.

The first part was a Morse proficiency test in which I had to copy 9 short sentences in Morse as they were being sent at speeds from 16 to 25 WPM. I 'aced' that part of the test.

Next it was 9 more sentences at the same speeds, but I had to listen to the whole sentence before writing it down. The memory part of the testing was now starting to kick in. I also 'aced' that.

Now came the real purpose of the test which was to evaluate how memory relates to remembering letters presented in three different ways - visually, aurally in English, and aurally in Morse code.

After a test run to explain how it worked, we got started. First I was presented with a sequence of 5 letters spoken in English, and after the 5 were spoken, I was handed a card to write down the sequence from memory. This was repeated 19 times for a total of 20 sequences.

Next the same procedure except the letters were flashed on a computer screen.

Finally the same thing with the letters presented in what I thought was agonizingly slow Morse code although thinking back now the Morse speed was probably the same speed as the other two groups. Perhaps something like a Farsnworth speed of 15 WPM for each letter, but an overall speed of 5 WPM or less.

That was the end of the test. I told Sara I thought I did the best with the letters flashed on the screen, then the spoken letters, finally the Morse letters. We chatted about the tests for a while longer. I told her that I found I was memorizing the 5 letters by breaking them down into two, then three letter groups. In other words I was remembering a two letter and a three letter group rather than a five letter group.

I thought the reason I didn't do as well with the Morse group was that it came at the end, and I was tiring a bit and losing a bit of concentration. I don't know the results of the test at this time, but I did ask Sara to let me know how I did. I am interested in seeing how my perception of my results matched what I actually did. However Sara did say that my memory was perhaps too good for their study. They learned more from folks who made more mistakes than I did.

When I finished, Tom came in for his session. We took a couple pictures for Tom's newspaper and for our NAQCC newsletter. We also met at that time Dr. Julie Fiez, the principal investigator for the project. Unfortunately we didn't get to met the third member of the team, Maryam Khatami, the undergraduate researcher most involved with the study.

Tom and I were only the 8th and 9th persons to take the tests so far. I thought the test was fascinating, and I hope they get many more participants to make their results more meaningful. If you have the time and are interested and a trip to Pittsburgh would not be too burdensome, I urge you to take the study.

You can contact them in two ways - phone 412-624-7083 - email morsestudy@hotmail.com. You can visit www.qrz.com/ib-bin/ikonboard.cgi and click on Ham Radio News and select report 1539 to read an interview with Dr. Julie Fiez.

It was a wonderful experience for me, and I think you'd find it the same.

I had an extra personal benefit from the visit. I went to Pitt for a couple of years back in the 1960's, and while Tom was taking his test, I wandered around the campus. I saw a lot of old familiar sights, but also a lot of things that were not there in the 60's. I also took a lot of pictures, and I will post them on Flickr when time permits.

This entry is getting much too long, so I am going to stop here and continue tomorrow. -30-

Monday, June 18, 2007 6:16 AM - I'm up early today because Tom KB3LFC and I are off to Pittsburgh to participate in a Morse code study at the University of Pittsburgh. You've probably heard about the study. I'll have a report on it in tomorrow's diary entry.

Richard W2RDD writes: "Don't know if you read e-ham. I try to avoid 'both' of those sites. Anyway, a lot of vicious, negative comments on a recent pro-QRP article. I really can't understand why the QRO operators are so hostile to the QRP crowd. I mean, if our signals are too weak for them to copy, hey, don't respond to a CQ or reply to a QRP (maybe) CQ. My gosh, some of the comments are so vitriol that I wonder if the correspondents suffer from some sort of mental disorder. I've never found that paranoia in the QRP bunch.

By the way, I agree with your ARRL comments regarding the new 'award'. I've never been into that sort of thing. I must confess though, that I sent a couple bucks to their BPL fund. Maybe I would have been better off donating to the local catholic church and have a mass said, but as a QRP operator, BPL really puts the fear of 'god' in me."

No Richard, I don't read e-ham. I don't watch news on TV either. There is just too much undeserved publicity given to the negative depressing side of ham radio in one, and the world in the other. I strongly believe that everyone has their right to voice their opinion on matters, and I will defend their right to do so. HOWEVER, that doesn't mean I have to listen to it, and it certainly means I don't have to put one iota of value into what they say if I do happen to hear it. So just ignore them, and let them express their opinions. The worst thing you can do is to encourage them by replying to it. That is what they want - controversy, and I won't give them the satisfaction of giving it to them.

The very worst thing you can do to anyone who expresses an opinion with which you disagree is to tell them they are wrong. They are not wrong, because that is what they believe, even though what they believe may be wrong in the eyes of everyone else in the world.

Whenever you do reply to an opinion, you should qualify your reply by saying something like, "Well, the way I look at it is........" or "Well, my opinion on that is.......". You should never come out and say, "You're dead wrong, it's really like this.....". When someone does that to me when I express an opinion, it really sets me off. That is what happened with the ARRL situation. I expressed an opinion and I was told by one person I was wrong. And in this case I know many folks agreed with my opinion. I was not a lone voice crying in the wilderness.

Someone expressed an opinion that they thought FISTS charging 15 dollars a year was also price-gouging. Well, my opinion on that is that I don't think so. That 15 dollars goes toward producing a very nice newsletter, as well as to cover the costs of all the FISTS awards. I have never had to pay one red cent for any of my numerous FISTS awards. It is used to cover the costs of running a QSL Bureau. It is used to give out stickers and other merchandise for free or at discounted prices. I could go on, but I won't. I believe that FISTS makes very little profit from those 15 dollar membership fees. I KNOW the 15 dollars per year is a definite bargain for a member, and he or she gets the full value from that payment. The QSL bureau alone saves a member at least 15 dollars. If someone sends out 100 cards individually it costs $26.00 or more if VE/DX QSL's are included. To send that same number through the FISTS bureau costs around $3.90 figuring 7 cards per envelope. Including the $15 dues that's a savings of $7.10 right there just by being a FISTS member. To be fair, the ARRL bureau likewise makes being a member worthwhile in DX QSL mailing costs savings. In fact that's just about the only reason I continue to be an ARRL member.

Finally coming back to Richard's email. Yes it is strange how we QRP's have no criticism of anyone using QRO and even realize that QRO is necessary in some emergency cases. We QRPers are certainly not causing unnecessary QRM to anyone running QRO. They can just run right over us if they wish. Yet they complain about us.

It is also interesting and strange that SSB operators hate CW operators so vehemently. We CW operators have no reciprocal complaints against them and again realize SSB is a necessary part of ham radio.

I venture to guess it a similar mentality (or lack of it) like the hatred against blacks in the old days of segregation in this country. That was hard to understand, and so is the anti-QRP, anti-CW sentiment in our current society. -30-

Sunday, June 17, 2007 8:36 AM - It was somewhat refreshing, I must admit, to get a negative comment on one of my diary entries. Someone emailed and expressed his opinion that I was being rough in my criticism of the ARRL. He specifically stated that no one was under any obligation to buy a new WAS certificate. That is certainly true, and I never said that. I implied that many folks will buy the certificate just to "keep up with the Joneses" even though they don't really need it. The ARRL knows this psychology and the new WAS certificate is a way of exploiting it. How many of those 10 dollar payments could be used for something much more needed?

The reader also opined that $10 was a reasonable fee for the award. I would love to know how that can be justified when it takes about a penny to buy a piece of paper, another penny or two to purchase the ink to print on the piece of paper, a few cents more for an envelope, and the cost to mail it - maybe around 60 cents depending on what organizational rate they get from the USPS. If the applicant is buying merely a replacement for a WAS award earned before, there is no cost in processing the application save for the very minute period of time taken to verify it on a computer and then to print the new certificate. If an employee is going to get around $9.30 for a couple minutes work, I'd like that job. To be fair, there are other small costs involving maintenance of the computer, etc., BUT a large portion of that $10 in reality is pure unadulterated profit from price-gouging.

The ARRL could generate a great amount of goodwill for itself if it would offer a replacement certificate free for the asking or even $1 to anyone who earned a WAS award previously.

The reader also opined my criticism was 'nit-picking'. I certainly agree that there are many larger issues for which the ARRL can be criticized. Compared to them, perhaps this is 'nit-picking' but I feel it should be said.

And coincidentally after writing yesterday's entry about price-gouging, I ran into two more instances of it. I received a QSL card from Canada and when I wrote my return card, I checked to see what the new postcard rate to Canada is now. I nearly fell over when I saw it was 69 cents - yes 69 cents to send a card to Canada whereas it costs only 26 cents to send one within the USA. I don't think I am mis-understanding that. I looked two or three times on the USPS web site to be sure. Now in many cases that card to Canada travels much less distance than to a location here in the USA. Why the huge difference?

Then when I went to pay my telephone bill at our Klingensmith's Drug Store, they informed me there was now a $1 charge for 'processing' the payment. I picked up the bill and my check and said never mind, I'll mail it, I'm not wasting 59 cents.

SIGH!!!! -30-

Saturday, June 16, 2007 7:58 AM - It never ceases to amaze me how many different ways the ARRL can think up to extract money from hams. Now they've designed a new WAS certificate to try to get money from those of us who got our WAS awards many years ago. Well, it won't work in my case. I don't fall for those kind of gimmicks, be it from the ARRL or any ham or non-ham organization.

Unfortunately many people are gullible and do fall for such schemes. In fact many people are gullible to the point where they believe the Spam emails telling them they won a fortune and all they need do is send a token sum of money to a certain address to claim their prize. These gullible people are the ones you should ultimately blame for the Spam problem nowadays. If no one replied to these scams, the Spammers would be forced out of business.

However there are folks in this world who are not money grabbers and who help out their fellow humans in any way they can without expecting anything in return. I could mention many folks like that, and write a lot about each one, but one in particular I want to mention and thank. That's W3KM, Dave Mascaro who is the creator of the FREE GenLog logging program. Dave provides not only the program without any charge, but also free support and modifications to the program. AND he does so quickly. Just in the past 24 hours or less, Dave provided an update at my request to make the output log file for our NAQCC sprints more compatible with our log cross-checking procedures. Thank you Dave.

If you use GenLog, I think it would be nice to send Dave a small contribution, although he in no way demands or even expects it. The NAQCC has done so in the past and I think we will do so again now. -30-

Friday, June 15, 2007 5:11 PM - I'm finding the process of cross-checking the logs from our NAQCC sprints more and more fascinating. Each month I seem to figure out some way of making the process more automatic and more accurate. The actual checking time is becoming less and less each month as I learn more about it.

The hardest part is converting the logs received into a standard form that can be fed into our cross-checking Excel spreadsheet. The number of different formats that participants can devise seems to be equal to about half the number of logs received. In other words if we get 20 logs, there will be roughly 10 different formats with only one of them being a simple straight cut and paste format.

It did seem to me that this month was a little bit better as more participants follow the suggested log format in the rules. If someone only makes a few QSO's it is very easy to just type the log info into our downloadable log/report form on the NAQCC web site. If someone makes quite a few QSO's, it is easier for them to send in the log file from whatever logging program they used for the sprint. That's fine, and we understand and accept that.

I feel that I am becoming more and more prepared now to handle the ever increasing number of logs received and the increasing number of QSO's in those logs. It's wonderful to see how our NAQCC sprints are really starting to grow. Let's keep it up. -30-

Thursday, June 14, 2007 8:32 AM - Just getting caught up on some odds and ends in today's diary entry.

Jerry K9UT asked about the loop antenna in one of my pictures on Flickr. The loop is not for any ham radio usage, but was for my AM BCB and LW beacon DXing. So if you also wondered, there you are.

Scott AE5BH (a young 28-year old who loves CW) commented on the CW tutorials on my and the NAQCC web sites. He made some good points, and I will be incorporating his comments and my response to his comments into the NAQCC listing.

The NAQCC Spring Rag Chew award is coming to an end soon. I've got 17 30-minute rag chews so far. Also a lot of 20-25 minute QSO's that I just couldn't stretch into rag chews because the other person had to QRT to do this or that or just plain said QRU. If a QSO was still going at 25 minutes, I could stretch it to 30 in most cases though. HI.

I've got to come up with a new poll question today. I wish someone would send me some ideas for polls like happened for the current poll. Thanks again Neal WA6OCP. -30-

Wednesday, June 13, 2007 10:56 PM - Boy, am I full. What a selection of food we had at the computer club picnic this evening. I'd list it here, but just talking about would make me feel even more full.

The logs from last night's sprint have been coming in a steady stream today. They range from simple cut and paste jobs to get the results on the web site and the log into our master cross-checking data file to, well.... some that require major surgery to put it mildly. 21 have been received so far in the first 24 hours. Conditions were very noisy last night, and I suspect that may have discouraged some folks from entering. We'll probably have fewer logs this month than last despite the book giveaway in this month's sprint. I am willing to be proved wrong though. C'mon. -30-

Tuesday, June 12, 2007 10:13 PM - With the sprint tonight followed by posting scores on the NAQCC web site, I just have no time for an entry although I do have a couple of subjects I'd like to talk about. That will have to wait till tomorrow or Thursday though. Wednesday evening I have a computer club picnic to attend. I've got to go back to work somewhere so I can get some more free time. HI.

It was a nice busy sprint. Thanks to all who participated. I can't wait to see who wins the books now. Our current leader (me) is not eligible, being a club officer. -30-

Monday, June 11, 2007 10:13 PM - All my pictures have now been transferred to Flickr and will be available there at least until June 8, 2008 when my Flickr Pro account expires. At that time I'll decide where to go from there. I've got to change all references to Windows Live Spaces or MySpace on my web site now. That may take a while, and I apologize for any convenience in the meantime. I'll also post a little explanation about navigating on Flickr as it is a bit more complicated than Windows Live Spaces was.

Don't forget tomorrow evening (Wednesday 0030-0230Z) is our monthly NAQCC sprint. This one is very special as it is the initial sprint in which we will be giving away some very nice prizes to participants. Tomorrow night the two MEMBERS posting the highest scores will win a very nice key collecting book written by noted key collector and CQ Magazine columnist Dave K4TWJ. I've read the books cover to cover while they are stored here waiting to be sent to the two lucky (skilled) hams as soon as all sprint logs are processed. They will be enjoyed by anyone interested in Morse Code whether or not they are key collectors. I'm excited about it and I'm not even eligible to win the books, being an NAQCC officer. -30-

Sunday, June 10, 2007 9:30 PM - I had a super wonderful time last evening visiting with one of my little friends - 6 year old Haley. I've said this before here, but I think there are few, if any, more delightful things than spending time with young children, and we got to spend some 3 hours or more together last night. And you know, I got the impression she enjoyed it just as much as I did from the big hug I got when time came for me to leave.

I also went back and visited a little more today. So that plus last night and my walking, fishing, etc. in this lovely weather has prevented me from getting back to my Flickr pictures yet, but I will. I might even do some after I upload this diary entry and take care of a few other things.

I'd like to remind you to be careful and not get too excited when you work what you think is a DX station. A friend of mine supposedly worked Brazil on 80 meters last night, but here's how it turned out. It seems an operator in Brazil was using an Internet controlled remote station in Reston, VA. So instead of a nifty DX contact, it was actually just a routine contact with Virginia. -30-

Saturday, June 09, 2007 8:16 AM - Do you recall Douglas Adams' book/TV series "The Hitchhiker's Guide To the Galaxy"? In it was the first time I heard the beautiful song by Louis Armstrong, "What a Wonderful World". This is a wonderful world despite some shortcomings here and there. What makes it wonderful is the people it contains. One of them is definitely my friend Kenji, JJ1BDX/N6BDX. Kenji donated a full year's Pro account for me on Flickr. So I can now be much more flexible in the way I organize my pictures. The biggest change is that I can now divide up my pictures into sets instead of basing the ordering on tags. There are other benefits also. Thank you very much, Kenji.

Another wonderful person is Paul, N4UEB who took the time to check out all of the 83 pictures I had updated so far to Flickr, and give me his comments on them. Thank you also, Paul.

Now my only problem is deciding exactly how to categorize the pictures, but with the flexibility of Flickr, I'll figure it out.

Incidentally, I am a strong supporter of Microsoft and all it has done, is doing, and will do for personal computing. I just found Flickr to be a bit better than Windows Live Spaces for what I am doing with the pictures. Windows Live Spaces is still a great thing, and it is completely free, unlike Flickr. Windows Live Spaces is much better than Flickr's free version. Without Kenji's generosity, I think I might have wound up giving up on Flickr and would have stuck with Windows Live Spaces.

I'll have more to say about Flickr and explain my setup there in future entries. Go here to see what I've done so far.

Incidentally I did go fishing last night and got a 27.5 inch carp who was a good fighter. I kept getting him almost landed, then he'd take off again. That happened about a dozen times till he finally tired out. I also caught two dozen nightcrawlers. To buy that many around here would have cost me about 5 dollars. Ridiculous! -30-

Friday, June 08, 2007 7:01 PM - We are getting some nice rain here at the moment. Maybe our grass will turn green again, maybe I'll get some nightcrawlers, and maybe the fish will start biting again. We had to endure a bit of a storm at the start of the rain with strong winds, but no damage. Our power did flicker off briefly - enough to shut down my computer and reset my microwave clock. However my other digital clocks seem to have held their settings. I think it will be dark before the rain stops, so I probably won't check the fishing tonight, but maybe early tomorrow morning, hopefully with a bunch of nightcrawlers I'll catch later tonight.

I've switched about half my pictures over to Flickr. Take a look and let me know what you think. Do you see any ads on the pages? I had a bunch of ads show up one time I was looking at my pictures, but just that once, never before or since then. I'll have some instructions posted on just how to navigate the Flickr site later, but for now either just click on a picture to see it larger, then you can scroll through all the pictures. Or you can click the word 'Tags' to see the categories of the pictures to select just a certain group of pictures to view. I had to do things that way since I could only create 3 folders (or sets as they call them) with my free membership and that wasn't enough. It was really neat with the sets, but when I tried to create a fourth one, it told me I'd have to pay to do that. Grrrr. It's a little complicated, but we'll get used to it. Click here for the pictures in a separate browser window. -30-

Thursday, June 07, 2007 7:23 PM - I'm still deciding on whether or not I am going to switch my pictures to 'flickr' or not. I found some shortcomings today when I was working with the site. The free version of flickr has some limitations which I don't like, but I am not going to spend money to upgrade to their pro version. So if I find still more that I don't like, I'll just stick with Windows Live Spaces.

I'll probably decide within the next 3 or 4 days and announce my decision here.

Tom KB3LFC and I are going to participate in a Morse Code study at the University of Pittsburgh, probably on June 18th. I'll have a report here in the diary on the study after we participate.

We've gotten a special event call for the NAQCC's third anniversary in October. Full details of that will emerge in the club newsletter as details become finalized.

The NAQCC is also giving away a few CW courses on CD to some lucky winners who come closest to predicting the date on which we sign up our 2,000th member. Details of that will be in the club newsletter also.

There's a lot going on with the NAQCC these days, all of it very positive. If you operate CW and QRP, why not join up if you haven't already. You won't regret it, I promise. Remember membership is free and there are no obligations. You don't even have to operate CW and QRP full time. All you need do is to support the wonderful mode of CW and the QRP power levels. I'll talk a little more about the club in the next few diary entries, as there always seem to be more folks joining who say they never heard about the club till now. Many via the WorldRadio article on the NAQCC in the June issue and in the June CQ Magazine QRP column. -30-

Wednesday, June 06, 2007 11:50 PM - It was just 63 years ago today that the Allies landed on the beaches of Normandy and began the ending of World War II. It's debatable, but that and the dropping of the A-Bomb's on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were perhaps the last two major decisive offensives that led to victory in a war. It seems nowadays there is just too much hemming and hawing in wars and they drag on forever. Perhaps we need some more MacArthur's, Eisenhower's, Bradley's in our Armed Forces and fewer 'let our enemies do what they want to us' people in government. I love the song by Bill Anderson, "Where Have All Our Heroes Gone". If you can, give a listen to it and see how much more it applies to our society today that it did when it was written and sung around 1970. And another song I love is Elton Britt's "There's A Star Spangled Banner Waving Somewhere" that was written by Bob Miller in 1942. That song sold the then almost unheard of four million copies in the early 1940's in the midst of WW II.

I never know what I'm going to write in these diary entries. I usually just sit down and start typing. What I said above was not planned out in advance, but I'm glad I wrote it. It may offend someone of certain political persuasions, but you know what? I don't care.

There's another wonderful patriotic day coming up next week - Flag day on the 14th. That same flag I pictured flying on my porch on Memorial Day (both the observed and traditional) will be proudly flying again that day. I hope you will also do something to honor the USA that day. I'll be attending our annual Flag Day ceremony presented at our local Elks club. Perhaps I'll have some pictures for you.

Speaking of pictures, I'm exploring a new pictures sharing web site suggested by my friend Kenji called 'flickr'. I think I like it better than Windows Live Spaces and if I decide I do, then I'll switch my pictures over to there. -30-

Tuesday, June 05, 2007 8:50 AM - Perhaps because of my lack of time and haste in writing yesterday's diary entry, I left a wrong impression. So I'll state it again and then let Kenji elaborate a bit by quoting his email.

The fault with the wrong QTH on LoTW matches of course is not with the LoTW system, but with the individual hams using the system. Obviously the LoTW system has no way of knowing where a ham operated from unless the ham tells it. In my ham career I operated briefly from Pittsburgh when I worked at WPIT. I also had a second call, WA3IXO for that operation. I also operated WA3IXO/3 in Kittanning and K3WWP/3 in Pittsburgh. That was back when if you operated away from your home QTH you HAD to use the portable designator at the end of your call. But that's another story for another day.

Anyway I set up my LoTW profile so I could 'sign' a card with each of the four call/location parameters - K3WWP Kittanning, WA3IXO Pittsburgh, K3WWP/3 Pittsburgh, WA3IXO/3 Kittanning. So each of my QSO entries on LoTW will have the correct call and location, no matter which of the four operations it represents.

Now here are Kenji's (JJ1BDX(/3), JO3FUO, and N6BDX) comments on yesterday's entry which elaborate more specifically on the matter: "About LoTW: you can change the QTH-related values such as US_COUNTY and US_STATE fields for *each* of the uploaded QSO *log*, *so long as you explicitly do so*. It is *not* the system's fault, but the user's fault when signing the log on uploading. You are supposed to correctly enter your US_STATE, US_COUNTY, IOTA, DXCC, ITU, and CQ zone parameters; since most of awards require the geographical location information, you need to do so anyway.

I signed my former K1BDX's LoTW entry with the QTH where I operated (At Wayne County, MI; near Detroit Int'l Airport (DTW)) - it worked OK. LoTW is now specifically designed for DXCC and WAS; so I guess you need to notify the US_STATE field in order to make your LoTW entries valid for WAS confirmation.

On the other hand, I do not explicitly sign my JCC number on the LoTW logs, because the system seems not to support it. Nevertheless, I always log my operation QTH per each QSO, so if I have to prove the QTHs, I can, though it'll take time (running through the MyQSL server at home)."

I hope between the two of us, we've explained the situation in different degrees of complexity that may help someone to do their LoTW uploads more correctly in the future. -30-

Monday, June 04, 2007 9:29 PM - I haven't heard much to-do about this, but there is a major fault with both eQSL and LOTW. You can't be sure of a QTH on a card or match from either source. Many hams never bother to upload separate files for their portable or mobile operations or don't bother to update their QTH when they move. As a result many of my eQSL cards and LOTW matches do not have a correct QTH on them. What do you think about this shortcoming?

I like both services here with a leaning toward LOTW as my favorite of the two. I get too many duplicate cards from eQSL which wastes my time checking them against my master log database here. With LOTW I find all too many hams keep uploading the same QSO data over and over again. They aren't duplicates like eQSL, but the new upload replaces the previous uploaded QSO. Again a waste of time in checking.

I think the problem in the case of eQSL is with the eQSL system itself while with LOTW it is with the ham doing the uploading.

With both services I do my uploading just once a month. On the 2nd or 3rd of a month I upload all my QSO's from the previous month - period. So each QSO gets uploaded once and only once to each service. That assures no duplicate or replacement cards from me unless they are created in the systems themselves.

Internet QSLing is still in its infancy and I hope these shortcomings can be worked out as time goes by. After all with the USPS prices skyrocketing, it won't be long before no one can afford to send regular QSL cards any longer except maybe the very wealthy hams. That is certainly not me, and I am thinking of giving up regular QSLing, EXCEPT I will always answer a request for my card from anyone. I just won't send out cards to every new county, new prefix, etc. that I work. I will continue to send cards via the ARRL DX bureau since that still remains fairly economical.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if the ARRL or some other organization capable of handling the tremendous amount of work involved would set up a QSL bureau for USA hams to send and receive cards to and from other USA hams. Of course that was tried several years ago with the USA QSL bureau but it failed because of abuse from its users. That's an interesting story, but I'm not going to delve into it here. Perhaps the story is on the Internet somewhere. -30-

Sunday, June 03, 2007 5:49 PM - There's water falling from the sky. I wonder what...... oh wait a minute, I remember now, it's called rain. I guess for the first time in forever I won't have to water my garden today.

Tom KB3LFC, Karl N3IJR, and I had a good time at the Butler hamfest today as you can probably tell from this picture.

pix_diary_butler_jun_2007 (49K)

We signed up some new NAQCC members, and met quite a few present members. Maybe as many as a couple dozen between the two groups. It was nice to meet and chat with you all. The hamfest seemed somewhat less crowded than it has in the past and it thinned out earlier and faster than previous ones as I recall.

Now I've got to get caught up on some things. It seems that I have been a couple hours behind in my work ever since May turned into June and I just can't seem to get caught up. Maybe I'll make it this evening if I don't decide to go see what this rain is doing to the fishing.


Saturday, June 02, 2007 9:41 PM - Boy, this day really flew by as I was busy from the moment I got up today till now (and beyond). I did want to check in though with a couple thoughts.

Another sign that it is summer is showing up. Around this time each year the number of visits to my web site seems to decline as I guess the nice weather gets folks outside and off the Internet more now.

It continues bone-dry here around Kittanning. Other parts of Western PA are getting rain, and lots of it in some places. Here we had just over 1 inch of rain in May, about 2.5-3.0 inches below normal. A sign of the dry weather is the average daily temperature range in May which was just over 33 degrees, a record since I started keeping records in 1960. The low temperature was just about normal while the high was around 4 degrees above normal which accounts for the higher than usual daily swing.

I'm awaiting a phone call from KB3LFC to discuss any last minute plans for the NAQCC table at the Butler hamfest tomorrow. After that I need to get on the bands and get my daily QSO. I hope the bands are good or there is some contest going on where I can grab an easy QSO since I don't have all that much time. -30-

Friday, June 01, 2007 10:33 PM - Just a final reminder that Tom KB3LFC, Karl N3IJR, Mike KC2EGL, and I will be representing the NAQCC at the Butler, PA hamfest Sunday June 3rd from about 9AM-3PM. Our table will be in building number 2 at the site so if you need to ask where we are or if you are familiar with the setup, you can find us easily. We hope everyone reading this who can make it to Butler will stop and visit with us. Also if you visit and are not a member, you can sign up right at the hamfest.

One further reminder that 30M has been sounding a lot better lately. Just this evening after 9PM local time there were several strong signals on the band. I didn't have time to make any QSO's, but I'm sure I could have easily worked someone. Perhaps these summer months will bring conditions good enough for you to earn your NAQCC 30-30 or even the NAQCC 30-30 Magnum Award. Check the Awards section of the NAQCC web site if you're not familiar with what I'm talking about. -30-

Thursday, May 31, 2007 4:09 PM - Yes, MAY 31 in Western Pennsylvania. A picture is worth a 1000 words, they say. So here is a 4 thousand word diary entry.

pix_diary_20070531_1 (28K)pix_diary_20070531_2 (17K)

pix_diary_20070531_3 (21K)pix_diary_20070531_4 (23K)


Wednesday, May 30, 2007 9:56 AM I'm running into a 'Diary Paradox'. The more activities here and the more I can talk about here in the diary, the less time I have to do it. HI

I do want to take time today though to first of all remind folks that this is the Traditional Memorial Day, and we should keep that in mind as we go through the day. I just hung out the huge American Flag that was draped on my my Dad's coffin when he passed away in 1964. It was also out on Monday. Here's a picture.

pix_memorial_day_flag (27K)

That flag is proudly flown each and every patriotic holiday between the hours of sunrise and sunset.

Tom KB3LFC and I had a great time at the Skyview Radio Society meeting in New Kensington, PA last evening. I was invited there to give a talk on QRP operation, and Tom to talk about our NAQCC. We were received very warmly and really made to feel at home. I am very uneasy when speaking before a group of people, but the relaxed atmosphere made it very easy for me, and the interest shown by the members added to that ease.

Two of our NAQCC members were present, WC3O Bob who is a Skyview member and N3IJR Karl who drove up from McKeesport, PA to see Tom and I. I think perhaps with the interest shown, we may also have a couple more Skyview members join the NAQCC in the future.

The club has a great location for its wonderful 'clubhouse'. Skyview is an appropriate name for the club since from their hilltop location the view all around is mostly of the sky, or would be except for the surrounding trees and ham radio towers. My only regret is that we didn't have time to listen to the bands from there. I'm sure that would have been very impressive and several hundred percent better than what I can hear on the bands from my QTH.

Unlike many ham radio clubs these days, Skyview seems to be very interested in CW operation. Our local club here in Armstrong County seems to consist of only phone "No-CW" operators who not only don't use CW, but criticize those who do. So I don't belong to it. The atmosphere at Skyview seems much different. There is quite a collection of straight keys, bugs, and paddles there plus some plaques on the wall that contain a straight key similar to the plaque the NAQCC awarded to Paul KD2MX a few months ago.

Take a look at the Skyview web site if you get a chance.

Time to get back to my many activities here after I have some breakfast or lunch (brunch?). Hopefully I'll get a chance to do some fishing. I've only gone once since last Friday now and didn't catch anything then. I'm falling off the good pace I started off this year with. -30-

Tuesday, May 29, 2007 2:24 PM - I don't have much time for an entry today. Tom and I are giving a QRP demo at an area ham club meeting tonight. Getting ready for that plus the usual million other things is eating up the time.

However I did want to show you a picture of my 'baby'. I don't know if it will be ripe enough to eat before June 1st, but if not, I at least came close.

pix_tomato (47K)


Monday, May 28, 2007 9:38 PM - I hope you all had as good and patriotic a Memorial Day as I did here. Kittanning held its first Memorial Day parade in some 20 years today. I was proud to be able to honor our area veterans by watching the parade and attending the ceremony that followed. It really put the meaning back into Memorial Day. There were veterans in attendance from World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm, and the current War On Terrorism. Each group received a rousing round of applause to show our appreciation. To my ears, I think the biggest round of applause went to the couple of War On Terrorism vets.

To loosely paraphrase the main speaker at the ceremony and adding my own thoughts to what he said, it's not a day for going to a big Wal-Mart sale, not a day that signifies the opening of the summer boating and swimming season. It is a day to honor those folks who fought to defend our freedom and preserve and protect our way of life in this country. In many cases they gave their lives or suffered life-long injuries in doing so. I wish I could give my personal thanks to each and every one of them. May God bless them all.

Incidentally our NAQCC President Tom Mitchell was one of the main organizers of the parade. Great job, Tom! -30-

Sunday, May 27, 2007 2:54 PM - You'll find my diary entry for today in the form of a contest story about my efforts in the CQ WPX contest this weekend. Go to here to read it. -30-

Saturday, May 26, 2007 1:02 PM - Maybe I exaggerated a bit when I said the fellows with the big antennas had an easier time with the challenge. I got on again today with my 600-800 mW on 40 and 20 and the QSO's came quite easy. I am now up to 39 mW QSO's in the CQ WPX contest and 40 mW QSO's overall in May, and I have a new desire to do more QRPp work once again.

One of my QSO's was with KS which is my 38th state at mW power levels. I also had another DX QSO with ZF1A. Most all the QSO's today were easy ones with only a few stations asking for repeats of my call or number. There were some strong stations though who just are not hearing me for whatever reason. However I can work most every 599 signal I hear and even some weaker ones.

We are continuing to get new NAQCC members via the article I wrote for WorldRadio Magazine. That's very rewarding to me as we want to have as many members as possible to help in our fight to preserve CW along with our big brother (sister?) FISTS. I am just so very proud to be a member of both organizations. -30-

Friday, May 25, 2007 10:21 PM - Summer has arrived in Kittanning. 90 degrees again today and the humidity is cranking up. I love it.

Well, it was staring me in the face all month, so I had to do something about it. I mean the NAQCC May Challenge involving milliwatt QSO's. I was going to let it go at just 1 QSO to get my Participation point for the month, but darn it, it was a challenge, and I was too proud not to master it.

I got in the CQ WPX contest and first of all got my daily QSO out of the way. Then I fired up the QRP+ rig I'm keeping here for my friend KB3BFQ and with the power cranked down to about 600 mW, I went at it. The first QSO was rather easy with KT5E, and that made 2 mW QSO's for the month with the one I made earlier in the NE QSO Party. It was neither too easy nor too hard getting 7 more QSO's. A few came with but a single call, some took a couple repeats. Among them was a DX QSO with VP5/WQ7X which was a fairly easy QSO.

But then with 8 mW QSO's in the test and 9 overall, I had a devil of a time getting that last one. It took about 20 minutes and several unanswered calls before I finally did make it. As soon as I did get the 10th QSO to master the challenge, I QRT. However I think I may fool around again in the remaining 45 or so hours of the contest. Maybe see if I can add to my mW states worked total and even grab a couple more mW DX contacts.

But for now - hey, I mastered the challenge, and mW with an attic random wire works! Of course, I knew that. HI. -30-

Thursday, May 24, 2007 10:11 PM - I just got home from fishing late this evening and then got on the bands for my daily QSO. Results - a 29.5 inch carp and a nice rag chew with WZ9B who was using a TT2 @ 300mW. Yes, QRP does work even at the sunspot minimum.

We had our first 90 degree day of the year today, and it felt good. I hope we have many more this summer instead of a chilly damp summer.

Thanks to all who sent birthday greetings today. I probably can't thank you all personally, but nevertheless I do appreciate them.

Now I've got to get caught up on some things before getting to bed, so 73 until tomorrow's entry. Have a great Memorial Day weekend! -30-

Wednesday, May 23, 2007 10:15 PM - This 'birthday eve' was an even better day than yesterday for me. My little friend, whose name is Haley by the way, did get to go fishing with us. Granddad and I went alone in the morning as I said, but then after school was out and Granddad was through babysitting Haley's little brother, the three of us went fishing. For the first time in a long while, I felt that Haley and I were the great friends we were when she lived next door. I could probably write several dozen paragraphs about the fishing trip, but I'll just sum it up by saying it was great and each of us caught a fish to top it off.

I'm continuing to be delighted by the response to the NAQCC article I wrote for WorldRadio magazine. Several more folks joined the NAQCC today and listed WorldRadio as the source of how they found out about the club. If any of those folks happen to be reading this, I'll get your membership numbers out to you within a couple days. I'm a bit behind because of all the things happening here lately.

I finished the final cross-checking of the NAQCC May Sprint logs and posted the final results a little while ago. I also just finished notifying all those who had errors in their logs. Now I've got to get the final editing done on the NAQCC newsletter that gets posted this weekend.

It seems like the work never ends, but having the wonderful events of the past couple days interspersed sure helps out. -30-

Tuesday, May 22, 2007 9:48 PM - I had one of those great days today when the whole world just seems right. Kind of appropriate coming just two days before my birthday too.

The weather was just about ideal with partly cloudy skies and a high temperature in the low 80s. So I took my usual daily walks and enjoyed the weather. I watered my garden and everything is coming along just as it should. This afternoon I went fishing and continued my success of late. I caught a 29 inch carp and two carpsuckers - 22.5 and 19 inches. That brought my total to 25 for the year. That's my second best start to a fishing season at this point in the year.

Then this evening I saw one of my young former neighbors. She's now six years old and had moved away about 3 years ago now. I had seen her a few times since then but she seemed shy or almost like she didn't remember me. Tonight though it was 'Hi John' as soon as her granddad and I drove up in his truck. She introduced me to one of her playmates, and when he left she talked with me quite a bit, just like old times.

Tomorrow her granddad and I are going fishing. She asked if she could come along, but we have to go in the morning and she will be in school, but hopefully when school is out in June, the three of us can go fishing together.

So I'm really feeling good as I write this and have to watch that I don't ramble on forever. HI

The article I wrote about the NAQCC for the June WorldRadio magazine has been out for several days now and we are garnering some new members as a result. Supposedly the article about NAQCC President Tom KB3LFC and the club is also out in the June issue of CQ Magazine, but our local newsstand still has the May issue on the stand, so I haven't seen that article yet, although Tom did get a good comment about it from a member who apparently subscribes and got his issue early.

And finally here are a couple pictures from my fishing trip today. The 22.5 inch carpsucker and a momma duck and her 4 younguns who swam by.

pix_carpsucker (54K)

pix_ducks (42K)-30-

Monday, May 21, 2007 12:23 PM - I want to compliment and congratulate our fellow CW-supporting organization FISTS. As is the NAQCC, FISTS is courteous and considerate of other organizations and their activities. I just received my latest Keynote and I see that the July FISTS sprint has been moved from Saturday afternoon to Friday evening to avoid a conflict with the IARU RadioSports Championship. FISTS was correct in being the one to move since the IARU contest was 'there first' with their second weekend in July schedule. In fact, the IARU contest goes back to before FISTS was even founded.

It's great that clubs like FISTS and NAQCC can do the honorable thing in such matters. Having priority to a certain schedule, frequency, etc. is very important and should be honored. This shows what a class organization FISTS is, and I am now even a little bit more proud to be a member, if that is possible since my pride in being a member is already tremendous.

I urge other organizations to follow the lead of FISTS and the NAQCC. -30-

Sunday, May 20, 2007 7:18 PM - I am truly amazed. With 36 logs in from our recent NAQCC sprint, I continue to be the leader by quite a large margin. I really don't understand it, but I do thank all of you for working me in the sprint and helping me boost my score. There are still a couple days left for logs to come in, so someone could knock me out of first place, but the couple stations I thought might do it - didn't. Amazing.

I'm more pleased about the continued increase in interest in our sprint than my first place though. It's wonderful so many of you find our sprints interesting enough to spend a couple of weekday evening hours in them each month. One participant even said although he works regularly in the evenings, he took a day off this month JUST to get in our sprint. We at the NAQCC admire that kind of dedication, but we don't want anyone to jeopardize their job situation just to enter our sprints. HI.

Remember from now on there is an extra incentive to enter our sprints as we will be giving away a physical prize to some sprint participant each month. In June the first and second place finishers (excluding club officers - sigh!) will win a key collecting book by Dave, K4TWJ who is an avid key collector and writes the QRP column in CQ Magazine. I have the books here right now, and they will delight anyone who loves CW. I was fortunate to be able to read them while we are waiting to mail them to our June sprint winners. I found them fascinating and learned a lot about keys that I didn't know before. Every key described in the books has a very clear picture accompanying the description.

So make your plans now to enter and finish first or second in the June sprint. At least you don't have to worry about beating K3WWP since I'm not eligible for the books. HI

And a little teaser that beginning in July we'll have a CD collection for the winner of each sprint. Each winner must be a club member and can win only once, so a lot of different folks can wind up winning this great CD collection. Then every six months we'll give the CD collection to a participant drawn at random who made at least 5 QSO's in the sprint and is a club member. We'll have full details on this deal as the July sprint gets closer. It will be in the NAQCC newsletter and on the NAQCC web site. -30-

Saturday, May 19, 2007 9:50 PM - Well after a couple of fairly quiet days, today was another busy one. The weather was just about perfect for walking so I put in around 10 miles in a couple of walks. When I got home from the first walk, one of the neighbor kids was there, and I had promised him he could help me trim my tree in the back yard. Now it's not a big tall tree, but a spruce tree that has been trimmed every year to keep it around 7 feet tall or so. Without the trimming, it probably would be around 40-50 feet tall now, or at least much taller than 7 feet. So I wasn't asking the kid to do anything dangerous. We took care of that rather quickly and cleaned up.

Then his sister joined us, and I let them play some games on my computer for a while, after which they went swimming at the local YMCA. Just after they left a friend of mine who lives in an apartment came over. I told him he could have a small part of my garden to plant a couple tomato plants and a pepper plant, so he planted them, and after he watered them in, I watered the rest of the garden. Then we visited for a while since I hadn't seen him for a few months or so.

Next up I received 3 NAQCC sprint logs in the regular mail, so I had to copy them into the master database for cross-checking, and post their results on the web site. Then I went ahead and did some preliminary cross-checking of about 450-500 QSO's we've received in logs submitted so far.

Some other things took me to 0100Z when I just got my daily QSO plus a bonus QSO from a tailender. And here I am writing the diary. Interesting how a day can go so fast. Never even got to go fishing. -30-

Friday, May 18, 2007 8:45 AM - It looks like we may be on pace to set a new record for participation in one of our NAQCC sprints. If you participated, and a LOT of you did, please be sure to send in your log so we can post your score on the web site and show that CW is still alive and well. After 36 hours or so, we already have 29 logs in, just 13 short of the record.

I want to personally thank each and every one who used our new downloadable log form and submitted your report with it. Those who followed it to a 't' made my job of score posting and setting up the cross-checking spreadsheet a matter of a simple cut and paste operation. This way the only adjustments I have to make are changing some spaces between items which is unavoidable because the passage through the email chain often changes spacing. So don't worry if items don't line up exactly right when you use the form. Just be sure all items are there. That is a tremendous time-saver for me.

And now for something completely different. With apologies to regular diary reader Alex K5UNY, I must include another fish story here. Alex says my fishing exploits make him homesick for the time he used to live in this area of the country and enjoy fishing success similar to mine.

We had our first real rain here in about 10 days or so, and that livened up the fishing. I had been shut out for five straight trips until Wednesday when I got a catfish, alewife, and two carp who had come to investigate what washed into the river from the storm sewers. I caught the catfish on a worm using a bobber. I think that's the first catfish I ever caught surface fishing. They are usually bottom feeders. On the other hand alewifes always seem to top feed, and virtually every one I have caught was via surface fishing.

In addition to the two carp I caught, I also had another one on the line but he threw the hook about 3 feet from shore so I can't count him. It looked like he (she?) was over 30 inches and had some kind of a circular wound near his 'face'. Despite their size, carp must be bullied because several that I catch have some kind of wound here or there.

That was Wednesday. Yesterday I got four more fish - 3 carpsuckers and a carp. So that's 18 for the year now including 7 carp. I really set this up to tell you about the carp though. It was cold and damp fishing last evening, and after getting one of the carpsuckers (I got the other two in the afternoon), I was just ready to quit because I figured there weren't any carp around, but I stuck it out for a while longer.

Carp and carpsuckers bite similarly yet differently. The carpsuckers bite is a little more rapid and jerky than that of a carp, but not always. You generally have to hook a carpsucker when you feel his biting via a tapping on the line, while a carp generally does the hooking job himself and lets you know by trying to take your pole into the river with a rapid run.

Sometimes as with one of the carpsuckers yesterday, they also hook themselves, but then just sit there and do nothing. I've caught several of them when I was just picking up my pole to reel in to check my bait. They apparently got the hook in their mouth and as I said, just sit there without giving any indication they are hooked.

Anyway to get back on track about the carp. I was finally getting ready to leave and had what looked like a carpsucker biting, so I thought the very next time he moves the line at all, I'll jerk and see if I can hook him. If not, I'm going home.

Well he did, and I did, but I could tell this was probably not a carpsucker unless it was a huge one. When he continued taking out my line I thought it must be a carp. Carpsuckers usually turn quickly while carp often go out in a straight line at full speed ahead. Anyway it was a carp and when I got my first glimpse of him, he looked like a big one. When I felt him tiring quickly and got a better view of him, I knew he was big. I've noticed that most of the time, but not always, carp in the 24-28 inch range are the best fighters. Smaller ones can be brought in more quickly while the bigger ones don't seem to have the stamina of the 24-28 inchers. There are exceptions, and a 32 inch one once took about a half hour to land and took me upstream a few hundred feet in the process.

My carp last night also turned out to be 32 inches which ties my record size. I've gotten at least 3 that size. I just can't seem to get one any bigger, but I'll keep trying. He also turned out to be one of the few that I've hooked while he was biting very lightly. The vast majority I've caught just took the bait and went out with it.

I guess I'll think about going out again today, although it is quite chilly here now. Only in the 40's. -30-

Thursday, May 17, 2007 9:24 AM - We had a wonderful NAQCC Sprint last evening. Conditions were great on 40 meters, 20 was open late, 80 was good, but as expected noisy at this time of year. I made my best score ever getting 40 QSO's from 19 multipliers. N4BP topped the 50 QSO mark including 30 on 20 meters. Our sprints are really catching on. If you haven't participated yet, "try it - you'll like it" to borrow a line from an old TV commercial.

You'll especially like our sprints from now on because starting in June we have a nice physical prize for some lucky or skilled participant. Details of that can be found on the NAQCC web site.

I'm just really excited about the way the NAQCC is growing and becoming more and more popular. I hope the growth continues. -30-

Wednesday, May 16, 2007 7:19 AM - Yesterday I told about how busy I've been lately. Well, I'd like you to make me even busier over the next few days. How?

Enter this evening's NAQCC Sprint, and submit your log for me to process and cross-check. Although it would drain my time even further, I'd love to have to process a new record number of logs this month. That would be 43 or more.

That will give me practice for next month when we give away the key collecting books to our sprint winners. I'm sure (I hope?) that will definitely draw a record number of participants. -30-

Tuesday, May 15, 2007 7:11 PM - If the days keep on being busy like the last couple have been, I'll have to back off this diary to a weekly instead of daily diary. Whew!

I could list everything I've done the past couple days and make this a rather long, perhaps boring entry, but I won't do that.

I did get the staples removed from my head cut yesterday (see the May 5 entry if you wonder what the heck I am talking about). Then I helped my neighbor with a couple projects. Later in the day one of the neighbor kids helped me trim the bush in front of my house.

I had a very nice rag chew last night with N4UEB in Canada, KY. I always enjoy rag chews because I learn something about the ham I work and perhaps something about his QTH as well. I learned that N4UEB lives near where the famous (infamous?) feud between the Hatfields and McCoys took place.

Today I had to water my garden and do some other work around the house. I also had an interesting phone call from one of our NAQCC members, Bill W7KXB. We chatted about 15 minutes about various club matters.

Those are the things out of the ordinary that occupied my time the past couple days. The rest of the time, or most of it, seems to have been devoted to NAQCC matter such as signing up new members, getting ready for the sprint this week, updating call signs, issuing certificates, getting ready for an NAQCC presentation at a local club and a hamfest over the next few weeks, etc. It seems to never end and with our rapidly increasing membership, time devoted to the NAQCC seems to be increasing daily. It's time consuming, but at the same time very rewarding work. It's very nice to see such an increasing interest in QRP and CW.

You know now about our giveaway in our NAQCC June Sprint - books to the first and second place finishers. Well, we now have a follow-up on that which will allow us to give a physical prize in each of our monthly sprints. I won't 'spill the beans' here by saying more than that till the final details are worked out, but I'm very excited about it.

I hope all the above explains the missed diary entry for yesterday and prepares you for other possible misses in the future. There are just so many hours in a day, as the common complaint goes. -30-

Sunday, May 13, 2007 9:59 PM - There seems to be a little bit of confusion about the special award portion of our NAQCC sprints. When our special award is for, say the highest score made by someone using a homebrew rig, I get an email saying "I guess I can't enter this month's sprint since I don't have a homebrew rig." Or if we have a special award for the most QSO's on 20M I might get an email saying we are placing too much emphasis on 20M when that band isn't all that good in the evenings right now.

The special award is just a little 'contest within a contest' so to speak. If it is for the highest homebrew rig score it means just that. Of all the participants using a homebrew rig, the one making the best score wins the special award. It doesn't mean you have to use a homebrew rig to enter the sprint.

Likewise with 20M. It just means if you want to operate a portion of the sprint on 20M then you can see if you can beat the other stations who also choose to operate 20M. You don't have to operate 20M at all if you don't want to. Just stick with 40 and 80M.

Perhaps we should call it an 'Extra' award rather than a 'Special' award since it is not the big deal some seem to make it. Actually it is just a way for someone who may not think they can win the whole sprint, but might still have a shot at getting a certificate via this method. -30-

Saturday, May 12, 2007 8:02 PM - They say that time flies when you're having fun. I talked about that in an earlier diary entry. It's also said that time moves faster the older you get. So I'm old and having fun, I guess, cause today really flew by. It seems like I just got up and now it's closing in on bed-time again.

I had intended to try to get in the FISTS sprint this afternoon, but time just zipped by so fast it ended before I even got a chance to get into the shack. Maybe the same thing is happening to a lot of other older hams as well, and that partly accounts for the lower activity on the CW bands nowadays.

Hey, I never even got to go fishing today either. Just what did I do? I don't even remember everything, but I did help my gardening friend whom I will now refer to by his name Angelo or Ange instead of just saying gardening friend. So keep that in mind when you read Ange in the diary. I helped Ange spade up his garden and also plant some bush beans this morning. So there are now the fig trees growing and pole and bush beans planted so far in his garden.

In my garden I have 8 tomato plants including the two Siberian plants you know about and 6 Early Girl plants. I also planted some bush beans today and already had pole beans planted as of a few days ago. Also my lettuce and onions are doing well. I should be eating some lettuce very soon.

Then this afternoon I just kind of took it easy and did some computer work after watering my garden and doing a little shopping.

This evening I had fun with the neighborhood kids. Two of them wanted to come in and play on my computer. I said that would be OK as long as they didn't fight. Well, they didn't and were well behaved so that worked out well and I enjoyed it. It took me back in time to when I had spent a lot of time with an earlier group of kids in the early to mid 1990's. I think I mentioned that this group of three kids is very similar to that earlier group of three except for relative ages. Now it's two sisters and a brother, the same as before, but one of the sisters is the oldest this time around instead of the boy as before. Of the two sisters the older one is more shy which was the same as before. Anyway I guess life comes is repeating cycles to some extent, and maybe this will be the start of another few enjoyable years for me with my little friends. Tomorrow the younger girl is going to help me with some yard work.

And since yesterday I made a very early entry, I'd like to tell you about my eyeball QSO with Mike, KC2EGL. As always it was a very enjoyable visit. He had an idea for our June NAQCC Challenge so we worked out the rules for it. Then I asked him if he wanted to join us at the Butler hamfest NAQCC table and he said yes. We then walked downtown to see if the June CQ magazine was on the newsstand yet, but it wasn't. We wanted to see the article about the NAQCC and Tom, KB3LFC that will be in it.

When we came home, I got a chance to try out the Graciella paddles that he purchased for $490. That's too pricey for my money, but I can see that they are worth the money. They are individually hand crafted and absolutely gorgeous and the operation is just about the smoothest I've ever seen in a paddle - even a little better than my Bencher that Mike gave me on his last visit.

We mounted a couple of his straight keys on some wood that I had in my junk box, and I think we may have a picture of that in our next NAQCC newsletter. However I'd like to show you a picture of the Graciella paddle before that, and I'll do so in tomorrow's entry.

Right now I'm off to the shack to get in my daily QSO for the 13th. -30-

Friday, May 11, 2007 8:27 AM - Another busy day coming up so I'm writing this early. Here are some comments on recent entries.

Mark WU7F writes in part: "I wanted to thank you for your response about 30 meter activity. It was interesting to read about the activity that you and others have experienced on that band. I plan to put up a 30 meter vertical and see how that compares. I have power lines around my yard, so I've been skeptical about using a vertical. I'll still give it a try and see what happens......

My son won't be joining me at Field Day this year. I'm disappointed in that. He has a soccer tournament out of state that week. I guess it will just be me and my brother. My brother has a Tech license, and I don't know if he will ever learn CW. I'm going to setup two transmitters. He can run SSB on one, and I'm going to stick to CW QRP on the other. I am really looking forward to it. It is as much for getting out and camping as it is for operating. Your comments about getting out and appreciating nature sure resonate with me and I plan to take your advice. In fact, I went out for a walk this morning and really enjoyed it.

Hope your head (numb skull) is feeling better, and that you continue to catch lots of fish, enjoy the weather, and watch time pass on the sun dial."

Thanks Mark. Yes the head really never bothered me. Just like one of those little scrapes you get on a finger or something like that. The staples come out Monday.

Now I've got a washing to do, and then prepare for an eyeball QSO with Mike KC2EGL later today. -30-

Thursday, May 10, 2007 1:24 PM - Well, I finally ran myself out of time for a diary entry yesterday. There's just too much to do on these beautiful spring days. Then on top of my usual outdoor activities, I helped my gardening friend plant some pole beans after I got home from fishing. Also we had our computer club meeting last night, and as soon as I got home from that it was a half hour phone call. Next my QSO of the day had to be taken care of, and it was. Easily, thank goodness. Then cleaning up some extra activities before bed.

Gosh I didn't even mention the early part of yesterday. I did some work on my neighbor's porch roof, then got some things ready for clean up day which was today. Our borough has two special trash days each year when you can throw out just about anything and they will take it. One exception being large appliances, and another being old tires. I got rid of a couple old TV sets, a couple chairs, an old typewriter table, and the like.

Other than all that, I didn't do anything yesterday. HI.

Today started out early since I had to set out the stuff I gathered up for clean up day before the borough started their pick-ups. I hate to put it out the night before since scavengers come around and generally make a mess of things. Also kids could get hurt on some of the stuff. So I got up around 6:30AM and took care of it. A good thing too, because our street must have been one of the first to be taken care of as the truck came not long after I finished putting my things at the curb. -30-

Tuesday, May 08, 2007 10:12 PM - I mentioned my birthday yesterday, and by a strange coincidence I worked someone this evening who shares my birthday. I mentioned I had a birthday coming up in a couple weeks, and he said he did also. Turns out we share the 24th as our birthday. So happy birthday in advance Tom, K8VBL.

That was my only time on the air today. Tom mentioned that six meters has been good lately. I have never worked six meters, but I would like to some day. I often wish I had gotten the TS-570 with six meters, but I thought at the time it was too much extra money.

Another Tom - Mitchell, KB3LFC and I are going to set up an NAQCC table at the Butler, PA hamfest on Sunday, June 3. If you're within decent driving distance, we hope you'll stop by and say hello. We'd like to meet you, NAQCC member or not.

In a related note, it looks like Tom and I won't be operating the Hoot Owl Sprint out in the woods this year as he is getting a visit from his daughter over the memorial day weekend. So maybe I'll fool around from my home station with mW power for our May NAQCC mW challenge. -30-

Monday, May 07, 2007 9:25 PM - I think May is one of my favorite months, perhaps because I was born in May, but more likely because of the lovely weather. Also I like the spring colors. A lot of folks rave about the beautiful fall colors, but I prefer the spring. I may have inherited that from my Dad. He drove a mail truck over 200 miles every day, and he knew those fall colors heralded the coming of winter and its nasty weather for driving. While the spring colors meant the coming of summer and its lovely warm weather.

I have been spending as much time as possible outdoors these days - walking, fishing, yard work, gardening, just any excuse to be outside. Its so nice to see all the neighbors outside after their winter hibernation. Its wonderful visiting with them. I had a good time this evening playing with the soon to be 2-year-old boy next door.

This afternoon it was fishing where I caught my 8th fish of the year for my second best total at this point in a fishing season over the past 15 years or so that I have been fishing again. I may have had better starts when I fished as a youngster back in the 50's and 60's, but I didn't keep complete records then.

I feel kind of ashamed neglecting ham radio, except for getting my daily 'streak' QSO, but there just aren't all that many beautiful weather days here in Western Pennsylvania, and I feel the need to take advantage of them when they do show up. I only got on the air briefly this evening and made one QSO in the Spartan Sprint.

I think the lovely spring weather is also being taken advantage of by other hams as well, as when I do listen to the bands they seem even quieter than usual. Also the number of visitors to my web site has been dropping off the past few days.

My advice is to forsake other things and enjoy the weather. You won't regret it. We spend all too much time sitting in front of a TV set, computer, desk, ham equipment. That will be there 365 days a year, but the fine weather won't. -30-

Sunday, May 06, 2007 9:11 AM - I fired up (down?) the QRP+ rig last night to get a mW QSO for our NAQCC May mW Challenge to get my Participation point. I doubt I'll be going for the 10 mW QSO's for the award, but I did want that PP to keep my record perfect since we started the award. I've not missed a sprint or challenge yet.

Anyway I worked KS1J in the NE QSO Party with the QRP+ set at 600mW. And you know what? He was in RI, and as I'm just looking now, I see that's a new mW state for me. I really haven't done any serious mW work for several years now since the 570 only goes down to 5 watts without mods or an external RF attenuator. Thus I still need some fairly easy states. Let's see how many I have worked now. Back in a minute.

I have 37 worked now, and of the 13 I need, with a little effort I should be able to get those wihout too much work if I put my mind to it. So the May NAQCC Challenge has re-kindled another aspect of ham radio for me. I love the way the NAQCC is accomplishing its purpose of encouraging hams to use CW more often with its very varied activities. I'm sure we have something that every one of our current 1827 members would be interested in. So come on and give at least one a try. You'll enjoy it. -30-

Saturday, May 05, 2007 4:40 PM - This is a sad day for me. It was six years ago today that my mother passed away. Ironically I wound up in the hospital emergency room last evening after I got a cut on the top of my head that I couldn't stop bleeding. But I'm fine again today and as busy as ever.

I actually had fun in the ER last night. Normally in our ER, you can count on a 4-5 hour visit of which 20 minutes or so is actualy work and the rest of the time waiting. I'm a very poor and impatient waiter so last night's hour and 45 minutes or so total time wasn't that bad. I enjoyed kidding with the nurses. I figure they have a rough time of it with most of the patients so I try to lighten things up a bit.

When Amy administered the local anesthetic to my head she said it would sting a bit, then make it numb. So I said thanks, I've been called a numbskull, and now you're making a real numbskull out of me. Things like that. Oh and when I got my 3 staples in the head to close the cut, I said don't try this at home with your desk stapler.

I believe you've always got to make the best of a bad situation, and I think in the long run it helps. So many people are just the opposite and try to only find the bad in everything.

It had already been a good day up to the point when I cut my head anyway. I was helping the granddad of the little girl who used to live next door. I talked about that family before, and how sad it was when they moved away. Anyway I got to see my little friend again, and unlike the last couple times I had seen her when it seemed like she didn't recognize me, this time, she said 'Hi John' as soon as she saw me. I got to visit with her a little bit even though she had another playmate with her most of the time I was there. I was helping her granddad do some work on her parents' house. That really made me feel good knowing she does remember me.

Well, at any rate, enough about yesterday. As I said, I feel just fine today, and I went fishing again. I caught an 8.5 inch perch and a 19 inch carpsucker. That's 7 fish for the year and I've now tied for my second best start to a fishing season. I hope to be going the next several days now as we are predicted to have a string of nice days now - sunny and 70 degree temps.

I didn't get my daily QSO as usual last evening. So I got on around 11AM today and found a lot of activity in all the contests going on this weekend. I quickly worked K7QQ on 20M for my QSO, then QRT. 20M seemed in really good shape from the quick check I took. -30-

Friday, May 04, 2007 11:59 PM - I had a problem today and no time to write an entry. I'll catch up tomorrow. -30-

Thursday, May 03, 2007 9:38 PM - I had one of those, as I call them, "stem to stern" busy days today. Fortunately every thing I did was enjoyable from mounting my sundial (see picture below) to helping my next door neighbor with some yard work to applying some sealer to my porch roof to helping my gardening friend resurrect one last fig tree he had given to someone to.... well, you get the picture.

And speaking of pictures....

pix_sundial (75K)

When I came home from the resurrection of the fig tree, one of the neighborhood girls was there, and I talked to her for a while. She's 9 years old and was interested in my sundial, so I gave her one of the paper/cardboard samples we had made. Then she wanted to know if she could use my computer so I let her, and she visited for about an hour. I enjoyed that because, as I mentioned some time ago in the diary, it's a real delight to share time with children. I was very impressed with how much they know about computers at that age.

Anyway I was going to say I had such a busy day I didn't feel like writing an entry tonight (although I did write a couple paragraphs already, didn't I?) and just as I was about to start to write here, an email came from my friend Kenji who stated things just as well as I could have. So here's what he said about a couple topics I brought up recently.

"Hello John: some thoughts on your diary as usual.

On 30m: a vertical (sometimes loaded vertical dipole) and 100W on the 30m gave me a single-band DXCC in 4 years. And remember on the 31m HF broadcasting band is very popular, so you can expect a lot of interesting props throughout a solar cycle. In JA many stations enjoy mobile operations for JCC/JCG hunting on the 30m. I've been confining myself to the 20m band these days, but the 30m is surely an interesting place to QRV. I suspect it's the legal issue (200W PEP max in the USA) which alienates the 30m from many DXers.

On Internet abuse: if you see how Internet is abused by hams, see what's going on at the DX Cluster, with a bunch of fake spots on BS7H. So many non-existent callsigns are used as the originator of the spots. It's too sad that many take Internet online logs for granted on DXpeditions.

On doing exercise and moving your body: probably I'm one of the many procrastinators who are slowly killing themselves. Exercise is important whereever you live; even living in an urban area you can do some exercise, so I've started to walk a lot. Here in Japan we're following the death trend of obesity in the world, at least for statistically speaking, and that's really, really, bad.

Also on doing exercise: if you're getting stuck on ham radio, quit for a while and move your body. That's much better than whining on the Internet :). 73 // Kenji Rikitake, JJ1BDX(/3)"

Well said Kenji. Maybe I'll have comments on your comments tomorrow, although I do agree pretty much with everything you said. -30-

Wednesday, May 02, 2007 10:18 PM - Man these days go by so fast. Didn't I just write yesterday's diary entry a few minutes ago? I must be having fun if that old saying, "Time flies when you're having fun" is true.

Let's see. Well with the help of my friend Bill, I finished up my sundial today and will mount it outside tomorrow. That was fun. I always enjoy woodworking, and if I didn't have so many other interests and it wasn't so expensive, that would probably be one of my main hobbies.

After staining the sundial and leaving it to dry at Bill's, I came home and headed for the river for some more fishing. The river was up quite a bit from all the rain upstream yesterday, but the fish didn't seem to mind. I caught my 3rd carp and 4th fish of the year today. It was a beauty - a 30 inch carp. I've only caught about a dozen carp that were 30 inches or greater. Well there was a period as a youth when I didn't log all the carp or other fish I caught, so there may have been more. But fighting that 30 incher today was definitely fun.

In between the above I went for a few walks totalling 11+ miles. I always enjoy walking, especially in weather like we had today - sunny and 70 degree temperatures. So that was fun.

In the evening I went back to Bill's to pick up the sundial after the stain had dried. We chatted about our computer club meeting coming up next week. Some more fun there.

Then I got on the ham bands for my daily QSO just after 0000Z this evening. You know that is fun for me. I got an answer to my very first CQ from Larry N0SA in St. Louis, MO. Sometimes it is very easy getting that QSO, while at other times it takes a little effort. However I must say that even in the depths of this sunspot minimum I don't really have much trouble getting my daily CW/QRP/simple wire antenna QSO(s). Actually the trouble comes further up the sunspot cycle when a very active sun wipes out the bands for a (large) portion of a day.

No wonder today went so fast. -30-

Tuesday, May 01, 2007 8:55 PM - We're dodging some heavy thunderstorms here this evening. Most of the activity has just missed us to the N or S so far, but we are getting some rain and a little lightning and thunder right now as I type.

I have received some diary comments the past couple days and I think I'll get caught up here and share them with you.

Goran, SM0PMJ writes: "I have noticed your fine words in your diary as regards the fascinating 30m band ! Where I live here in Sweden I must say that I have found 30m a most promising band with quite a lot of activities. Last two evenings there were fine openings to Japan (JA7ARM, JA1BPA), Sri Lanka (4S7NE) among others. When looking at the G3ZQS FISTS WARC Challenge Project we can see the beautiful records presented by K4UK, Stan. Maybe you should ask Stan to write something nice about the 30m band and put his ideas and piece of advise in e.g. your diary. Your diary certainly is the place where quite a lot of hams can learn more about the fascinating world of the 30m band (and needless to say of the WARC bands in general)."

Well, Stan did write a bit about his 30M activity when he reported his NAQCC April Challenge results, so I'll quote part of it here: "Aside from operating in the QCWA Sprint and the GA and FL QSO Parties all my other

contacts this year have been made on the WARC Bands. It is great fun this year running QRP on the WARC Bands. So far since January 1 in the FISTS WARC Band Challenge I have 198 QSO's - 132 on 30 Meters, 66 on 17 Meters and none on 12 Meters. Of these 198 QSO's - 82 have been with FISTS members in 57 unique grid squares."

So it seems the secret to success on 30M and the other WARC bands is just to get on and operate. Nothing tricky to it. The more time you have to operate, the better your results will be. And if your operating time coincides with the band openings, you'll do still better. Obviously the more you do operate, the more band openings you are going to catch. Stan apparently likes to confine his operating time to the WARC bands, ignoring the traditional bands for the most part, so that's another advantage if you can do that. Myself, I like to spread my operating time to all bands, and when the sunspot cycle is really hot, I find I wish I could clone myself and operate all the high bands at once. HI.

Dave, VA3RJ informed me that the NAQCC is being mentioned in the July issue of Popular Communications. That makes three major publications in which the NAQCC will be talked about. The June issues of WorldRadio and CQ Magazine being the other two. So pick up those issues and see what they have to say about our fine club. -30-

Monday, Apr 30, 2007 11:59 PM - If you know the song "Centerfield" by John Fogerty, perhaps you agree with me that it wonderfully describes the arrival of the baseball season in the spring. The joy described in the opening lines can literally be felt and experienced just by listening to these words:

Well, beat the drum and hold the phone - the sun came out today!

We're born again, there's new grass on the field.

A-roundin' third, and headed for home, it's a brown-eyed handsome man;

Anyone can understand the way I feel.

I especially like the second line. I felt that way myself today. Not for baseball, but for fishing. Our weather has been so poor and the river has been so high that I hadn't yet caught my first fish, nor even gone fishing except for a couple times back in February and March.

However the weather was so good today, that despite the high river I decided to go fishing. A minor feeling of joy was turned into a major feeling when a carp decided he liked the peanut butter bread doughball I was offering. He played with it for about 10 minutes, then finally grabbed it and took off. With a mile wide grin on my face, I battled him for a few minutes before finally landing him. He measured 28 inches. So:

Beat the drum and hold the phone - the sun came out today!

We're born again, there's a big carp on the line.

Reelin' him in, headed for shore, it's the first catch of the year;

Anyone can understand I'm feelin' fine.


Sunday, April 29, 2007 9:08 PM - Not really a lot to talk about today. It was one of those rare beautiful spring days here, and I took advantage of it spending most of the day outdoors. I walked around 13 miles today, the most I've done in a while now. It would have been a nice day to go fishing, but our river for whatever reason remains just a bit too high for good fishing. I checked my records last night and I'm only about 5 fish behind where I was at this time last year, so that's not too bad, and I should be able to catch up.

I've just about got my sundial complete now. I put the pointer on it today. Maybe in tomorrow's entry I'll have a picture of it. Maybe an update picture on the tomatoes too. There are several of them started now with the biggest just a little under an inch in diameter. I think I'll get them planted outside this week as they are drying up pretty fast in their pots now with so much foliage, flowers and fruit. -30-

Saturday, April 28, 2007 10:42 AM - Here's a 'reading assignment' for today's diary entry. It concerns the upcoming solar cycle 24. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/04/070427131848.htm. What are your thoughts?

Mark, WU7F writes: "I'm curious what kinds of signals you normally pick up on 30 meters with your 570. The signals I hear on that band are generally weak - even the close-in stuff. My G5RV won't load up on 30, so I strung a random-wire antenna though the trees. That one loads up on 30 (and on 10, which was another problem band for the G5RV). You seem to have lots of success on 30. I'm wondering if it is just more popular on the East coast and Europe. I have worked some stations from Japan, Australia, and Russia. I am happy to talk to anyone, regardless of where they are located, but most of the the time all I hear is noise."

Let me answer Mark by analyzing my 30 30M QSO's I've made in April so far for our NAQCC WARC Bands Challenge.

The QSO's by state and country are as follows:

FL - 10

IA - 1

KS - 1

KY - 1

LA - 3

MO - 1

MS - 2

NE - 1

PA - 2

TX - 2

WI - 1

6V - 1

KP4 - 1

XE - 1

YN - 1

YV - 1

Let's throw out the two PA QSO's (sorry Tom) since they were simple local QSO's with KB3LFC about two miles from here. We'll analyze the rest.

Roughly speaking all the USA stations are around 1000 miles distant with the exception of the KY and WI QSO's which are somewhat closer. There are no QSO's longer than 1000 miles, and nothing closer than the KY/WI QSO's.

With the exception of a 439 and two 549 reports, all other reports I received were from 559 to 599 with the average being 579. So signals have been good in most all cases.

I still believe the big problem with 30M is not propagation but a lack of interest for whatever reason. That's why we at the NAQCC and FISTS also are trying to promote activity on this band. If it doesn't pick up, we are likely to lose this band to other services or to other modes than CW.

Mark lives in Utah. If we look at locations approximately 1000 miles from there, it includes the Pacific Ocean, Canada, and Mexico according to my mental map which may not be overly accurate, but I think it will make my point. So the only place with a decent amount of 30M activity is the Midwest USA, and depending what times Mark gets on, folks in that area could already be off to bed.

That's a rough assessment of things, but it gives an idea of how to analyze things on the bands.

Mark also mentions that 20M is staying open later in the evenings now and hopes it is a general pickup of conditions. I don't think so, it's just the added amount of sunlight in the Northern Hemisphere. -30-

Thursday, April 26, 2007 8:52 PM - 30 meters seemed more stable today than it has been. Lately sigs seemed to be good, but up and down like a yoyo. Today the sigs continued good, but they were much more steady. I had a nice 30 minute ragchew with KA0UAW near Kansas City, MO. That was my 30th 30 meter QSO for April earning me another NAQCC 30-30 Award. I think that's my fourth without checking to be sure. Also that was my 11th rag chew this spring towards the NAQCC Spring rag chew award. That's about the same pace as I was on last year. And the 30 30 meter QSO's should give me a good showing in the NAQCC April WARC bands challenge. Whew, these NAQCC activities are keeping me busy, but that's good because they are causing me to be more active than I probably would be without them. That's good for the bands which need more CW activity if we are to hold on to what we have left.

I had another interesting QSO this evening. I worked a (X)YL mobile operator. That may well be the first since the days of the CHN in the 60's when we had Barb, K1UZG and a couple other lady mobile operators. I'm sure there are several others as well. I'm speaking of CW ops, of course. The one I worked this evening was W6CL/M Carol near Birmingham, AL. She was just getting ready for a coffee stop, so we didn't get to chat too long, but it's always great to find a YL CW operator, mobile or otherwise.

Oh, just for the record, W5ESE will be a NAQCC 'Bear' this coming weekend. Check the NAQCC web site for details, and try to work Scott. I'm sure he'll appreciate it and you'll help our struggling bear hunt get some needed activity. -30-

Wednesday, April 25, 2007 9:21 PM - I think it was perhaps Mark Twain who said something like this about the New England weather, "If you don't like the weather, just wait a few minutes and it will change."

Well, that can be said about our Western PA weather also. Over the past couple days we've gone from beautiful summer like sunny 80 degree weather to a damp dreary rainy 40 degree day today.

It was a day to stay inside, and I did. I worked on some database files of NASCAR racing that I hadn't gotten into for some time now. It seems that my interest is rekindled when my favorite driver does something memorable. This past weekend Jeff Gordon got his 76th Winston/Nextel Cup victory which tied him with the late Dale Earnhardt for 6th place on the all time victory list. That leaves him 10 victories shy of taking 3rd place all to himself.

I also went to a friend's house where we worked on some sundials. We're building one for each of us from scratch using wood and parts from our 'junk boxes'. The only problem is we have so few sunny days here in this area, we won't get all that much use out of them, but anyway the fun is in the designing and building.

I also hit 30 meters a few times today. As usual conditions were good, but there was little activity. I did manage to get a couple more QSO's though including NP3CW in Puerto Rico. That brings my total of 30 meter QSO's for April to 29, so it looks like I will make my 30-30 award, but I doubt that will be good enough to win our NAQCC April challenge. Someone with more time to spend on the band (K4UK?) than I should top my total. Still I did my part to add a little action to a very slow band this month, and kind of rekindled my interest in that band so I will probably use it more myself in the future. -30-

Tuesday, April 24, 2007 8:34 PM - I actually got two easy QSO's on 30M today for a total of 27 now this month. I might even get another NAQCC 30-30 award although that wasn't really a goal as I started the month. I just wanted to do my part to get some activity on the WARC bands for our April NAQCC challenge.

I found it quite interesting to hear from my friend Ken, WA8REI about his wilderness adventure for the ARS. We kind of piggy-backed our NAQCC Bear Hunt onto his Allegheny Trail trek hoping the ARS would draw out some interest that would spill over and get the Bear Hunt some needed activity. However according to Ken, he had very little action on his trip which means even the long-established ARS is having trouble drumming up activity on the bands. That means, to my way of thinking, that we are not doing all that badly here at the NAQCC. It's just a general lack of activity and poor band conditions that is affecting our events adversely. AND even so, a record turnout for our April Sprint is all the much more encouraging and shows that the NAQCC is prospering and really doing quite well. It will be interesting to see how that translates when conditions start to pick up again in a couple years or so.

For those who've been following the saga of my tomatoes, I'm happy to report that the little tomatoes are now just about 1/2 inch in diameter and growing rapidly. Plus there are at least 2 or 3 others starting now besides those initial two. -30-

Monday, April 23, 2007 8:33 PM - 30M seemed a tad more active this evening. I heard a few stations on and even managed an easy but brief QSO to make my April 30M QSO total now 25.

It's interesting that the FCC is lowering the cost of a Vanity call to the lowest it has ever been. There's a lot that could be written into that. Personally I have no intention of getting a vanity call here. I was 'born' with KN3WWP, graduated to K3WWP and will continue to stay that way, just as I will continue to be John Harold Shannon. I have no intention of changing that either.

Now if I had been interested in getting a vanity call, I wouldn't for one simple reason. I would refuse to contribute any money to the FCC after the way they have mis-treated us CW operators over the past few years. Think about it. What will they do next against CW with the money they will get from vanity call costs? -30-

Sunday, April 22, 2007 7:18 PM - I guess this nice spring weather has spread all over the country. I am noticing a slow down in visitors to my site, a slow down in email, and even more of a slow down on the CW bands. Most hams must be outside enjoying this wonderful weather. I know I was outside a lot today, but I did take time to get on 30M for a while and called some fruitless CQ's.

It's official now. The NAQCC is getting a very nice writeup in WorldRadio magazine. Look for it in the June issue which will be available sometime around mid-May. Around that time we will also be announcing something very nice about our June NAQCC Sprint. You won't want to miss out on that, so be sure to keep up with the NAQCC news in whichever of the several ways that appeal to you - the web site, our newsletter, this diary, and of course the WorldRadio magazine article.

My two little tomatoes seemed to have almost doubled in size. They, like a lot of folks, seem to be enjoying the lovely weather too. They are still in their pots, but they have been outside quite a bit the past couple days. I think a few more flowers have been pollinated too, this time by the bees of which there seem te be quite a few around despite the news stories of a decline in the bee population. -30-

Saturday, April 21, 2007 5:37 PM - You can successfully pollinate a tomato flower with a Q-tip:

pix_first_tomato (27K)

There's the proof. The plants were not outside until yesterday AFTER the little tomato showed up. Now I wonder if I will get my ripe tomato before June 1st which is my goal, and quite a rarity in this locale.

We finished the fig tree resurrection today, digging up SIX of them. Whew! Fortunately two were rather small. Still it was a lot of good exercise.

I always feel better after I do some hard physical work. Both mentally and physically. I can't figure out how some people can sit on a couch all day and do nothing but watch TV. Of course I know some have physical problems and are restricted to doing that. I'm talking about able-bodied but lazy folks. I know there are other factors (smoking, drinking, etc.) that lead to early death, but I think lack of exercise contributes a lot also. I also know that some folks who do exercise regularly also die young, but I'm sure overall a good exercise program contributes to a long life. -30-

Friday, April 20, 2007 8:43 PM - ATTENTION Bear Hunters. I just worked our latest NAQCC Bear who is prowling on the Appalachian Trail. Ken, WA8REI is currently in Georgia and I said I would post his latest sked for tomorrow (Saturday). He plans to be active most of the afternoon and evening on 14.060, 10.106, 7.040, and 3.560. Exact times and bands to be determined by conditions. So check for him on whichever band should be open to Georgia from your QTH at the time. Good luck. And a safe hiking trip to Ken. Give him some company via ham radio if you can.

Well, spring is definitely here in Western PA. Sunny and in the 70's today. Warm enough to think about serious gardening. Of course my lettuce and onions were put out back in March, and you know about my little (big?) babies, the tomato plants, but today was resurrection day for some of the fig trees we buried last fall. I'm sure those of you who have followed my diary regularly know all about that. If not, go to my Windows Live Spaces pictures and look at the Fig Trees Burial album. We dug up three of the fig trees today, and hopefully will finish the remaining 5 or so tomorrow morning. It's quite a bit easier digging them up in the spring than burying them in the fall, but still a lot of good hard work and great exercise. -30-

Thursday, April 19, 2007 9:22 PM - I want to talk about 3 diverse topics briefly today.

First 30M continues to amaze me with its lack of activity. I tune across and hear nothing at all, yet I can call CQ and get an answer. Sometimes it takes a while, and once in a while I don't get that answer. Today I had a couple of nice QSO's. That's another thing, when I do make contact, the QSO's are generally solid indicating the band is in good condition. I worked one station in Nebraska, K0KES, one in Louisiana, W5HZA, and the a 2XQRP QSO with N5ESE/M in Texas. So come on, give 30 a try. You'll be pleased with the results if you're a little persistent.

30M is really not a good indicator of where we are at in the sunspot cycle as it remains in good shape during the whole cycle. Speaking of the cycle, I believe we are pretty much right at the bottom now. One indication of the bottom of a cycle is a long run of days with the Solar Flux below 70. Today was the 10th straight day of 68's or 69's now. I believe that's the longest string since the last minimum 11 or so years ago. If I'm right, we can look for a gradual upturn now towards what many are saying is a maximum near the super maximum we had in the late 1950's.

Finally today, if you would be interested in helping a blind NAQCC member, send me an email and I will get back to you with the particulars to see if you can be of help. It doesn't involve a lot of work, just a little time each month or so. He lives in Indiana, but you don't really have to live anywhere near him to do it. -30-

Wednesday, April 18, 2007 9:48 PM - I spent quite a bit of time on 30 meters today calling unanswered CQ's. It seems like each day that band gets a little less active for whatever reason. I finally did get one QSO to up my April total to 20 thanks to Pete in New Orleans, KE5CTT. We had a nice long rag chew. Conditions are good on 30M, but no one uses the band. HINT, HINT, HINT.

Other than that, I took care of some NAQCC business, answered several emails, and took 3 nice long walks. Sometimes I think I'm the Dear Abby of ham radio with everyone writing for this and that piece of advice or information. DO NOT interpret that as a complaint in any way. I'm delighted to help out, if I am able.

I closed out my ham activity this evening with a nice rag chew on 80M with a 91 year old ham, Lou, W8SSI. I hope I can still be hamming when I reach that age. Actually I hope I'll be able to do anything at that age. My mom was very active and alert through the age of 95. Maybe I inherited that longevity from her. (Un)fortunately I've already lived longer than my dad who died at 51.

I'm getting a bit morbid talking about death, so I think I'll close now and update the rest of the web site with my daily QSO and the propagation info.

Oh, before I go, a note on the tomatoes. I now have two flowers that are staying closed instead of opening up. I hope that means, as I said, they have been successfully pollinated. I keep looking to see if I can see any trace of a tomato starting at the base of the flower. There seems to be a slight bulge there, but I'm not sure if it is wishful thinking, imagination or really a tomato starting.

Final finally - I've been under the wrong impression that MySpace and Windows Live Spaces were one and the same, but now I don't think they are after helping my cousin set up an account. They look like two different entities after seeing what she signed up for. So I'm changing my reference to MySpace to Windows Live Spaces which is where my pictures are and have been. If anyone can straighten me out, please do. I'm not into that chat, messaging, etc. scene, and only use the 'Spaces' to store extra pictures that won't fit here on my web site space. -30-

Tuesday, April 17, 2007 2:18 PM - I guess hamming and gardening must go together as I got some responses to my tomato situation. I'll pass some of them along in a moment.

I think my Q-tip pollination may be working. One of the flowers is not opening up today, and I believe that is a sign that the tomato is starting to form behind the flower. I've never watched the process all too closely before, so I'm not sure, but I'm hoping.

If I were to give a prize to my favorite diary comment, this from Mark, WU7F would be in very serious consideration, "If you target the tomato crop of PA with your q-tip, you might end up with the legacy: "Johnny Tomato Seed" ;-)". Isn't that great! HI HI.

And Ron, K5DUZ writes, "I've been plagued for ten or more years with a lack of pollinating insects in my garden. I've suspected for quite some time that the weekly spraying for mosquitos here in Houston may have something to do with it. I've even put out small lids of sugar water to attract bees with no success. I have read that some type of mite is having a major impact on the bee population so maybe that is the real reason.

I've used a small artists brush with a pointed tip with some success. I've often wondered if I wore a bee suit and made a buzzing sound if the method would work any better. There is some sort of hormonal spray that will cause the blossoms to 'set'. It does help to prevent blossom dropping during hot weather.

In Springtime a man's heart turns to....... tomatoes? HI"

I responded to Ron asking, "But don't plants like to be talked to, and they might think I'm giving them the brush-off if I do that?"

Back to ham radio. I'm now up to 19 QSO's on 30M for April, and I think in addition to our NAQCC April Challenge, I'll go for another NAQCC 30-30 Award as well if I continue to get time to pursue it.

Still no action on 17M though. I did hear one very weak 119 signal today who came on top of my CQ with a 40WPM CQ. I'm sure he never heard me at all if I only heard him at S1 or so. -30-

Monday, April 16, 2007 9:58 PM - This was a blustery cold windy day typical of early March, not Income Tax deadline day in mid-April. Although I suppose to some the gloominess matched their feelings about the Income Tax.

Since I didn't feel like going outside today, I went to the shack instead and sat on 30 meters trying to work on the NAQCC April WARC Bands Challenge. I made 4 QSO's on the band. Each one was a struggle taking many CQ's to get an answer. The band was in good shape, but as usual, not very active. I'm now up to 19 QSO's on 30 for the month, but nothing yet on 17 or 12 meters.

Without our NAQCC challenge, I probably would only have a couple of 30M QSO's this month. The challenge has indeed challenged me to be more active on the WARC bands than I usually am. I hope it is encouraging others as well.

Stan, K4UK emailed me just a few minutes ago saying the NAQCC and its WARC Band Challenge got a nice write-up in the FISTS (England) WARC Band Report from M0BPT. We appreciate that and thank Stan and M0BPT.

FISTS HQ in England has a year-long WARC band activity each year. We encourage our NAQCC members to take part in that as well. I may have said this before, but I think if the current demand for HF frequency space wasn't near an all time low, our 30M ham band would be readily snatched up by some other service since ham occupancy there seems to be just about nil at times. The only time there is really a lot of activity on 30M these days seems to be when a rare DX station shows up there.

Mark, WU7F commented on my tomatoes and sent an interesting article about the decline of the bee population. I just emailed him back and said if my Q-tip pollination works, I may be out in the garden with a Q-tip every day looking for flowers if there aren't enough bees around to do the job.

Finally for today's entry, Kenji, JJ1BDX emailed and said the JARL also has a code proficiency program similar to what I talked about a couple days ago. That's good to know the HQ organization of the country with the highest ham population still treats CW with respect. -30-

Sunday, April 15, 2007 8:19 PM - Time for another edition of "Why Is It That...."

Why is it that some hams say they are copying you perfectly, yet if what you just sent that they 'copied perfectly' contains a direct question that requires an answer, they don't answer it? I could never figure that one out. Even when you are fairly certain that you have to be putting in a good strong signal to them, and you are sending at the same speed or even slower than they are sending, this happens more often than it should. I'm sure every once in a while I forget to answer something, but not very often. I have a piece of paper handy, and if someone asks something that requires an answer, I note that down so I won't be impolite and not answer.

Why is it that very few USA hams are interested in working other USA hams on the WARC bands? Or does it just seem that way to me. 12M is the worst offender, 17M next, and now more and more 30M seems to be joining in. As soon as a DX station shows up on 30M, there are many strong signals after that DX, yet my CQ's go unanswered as do other USA hams' CQ's if we are just looking for a good rag chew.

Why is it that my tomato plants I started from seed are doing so fantastically well this year? Here on April 15th, they look like they have been outside growing in May and June, and it is now late June with flowers forming. Here's what I mean:

pix_tomato_flowers (39K)

Which leads me to this question - what is the best way of pollinating the flowers artificially since I don't have any bees or other insects flying around my living room? I have tried the Q-tip method, but I don't know if it has worked yet. I've also been told that shaking the plant or tapping on the stalks that hold the flowers will pollinate them, so I did that also. I guess I'll just have to try those tactics each day and see if they are successful or not. I'd love to beat my own personal record of a ripe home-grown tomato on June 17th last year. In fact if these flowers do pollinate, I might even have one in late May. If you have any thoughts, let me know and I will be very grateful. It's just too wintry-like here to even set them outside for a few hours to let nature take its course. -30-

Saturday, April 14, 2007 2:50 PM - Today I'll get caught up on a couple of your comments that I want to share with my readers.

Mark, WU7F writes about an experience in his first NAQCC sprint last Tuesday evening, "....I have to share a funny experience with you: When the sprint started, I was tuning around listing for a bit until I heard a relatively strong signal. I gave him a call and was happy to have my first entry in the log for my first attempt working a NAQCC Sprint! Then I was interrupted and had to step away from the radio for several minutes. When I returned, I tuned around the band and heard another strong signal, so I gave that station a call. It was a dupe! Feel free to share that with others. Maybe it will act as encouragement to somebody who will now feel emboldened, because he or she will know they are smarter than at least one other ham who also happens to loves CW!"

Things like that do happen. I hadn't intended to do so, but now I'm going to talk a little bit about duping in contests and sprints. When I was a young ham, I found I could easily dupe check accurately in my head up to 250-300 QSO's or so. That number gradually decreased as I got older, until I finally switched over to computer logging in the bigger contests. Not so much for the ease of entering info via the keyboard, but for the dupe checking. If I can't remember if I worked someone, a quick entry of their call and the computer will instantly tell me if it's a dupe or not. The funny thing is that when I do computer logging, my mind depends more on the computer and I find I remember less in my head of whom I worked and whom I didn't. Kind of a Catch-22 thing.

Joe, VE9OCR writes, "In regard to FISTS proposal to administer code certification tests, I believe Radio Amateurs of Canada have a similar program going where Designated Examiners will administer the test and the examinee will receive a certificate of proficiency in Morse code from RAC. BTW, I visit your site daily to read your journal entries."

Bravo for the RAC! I hope that the ARRL continues their own Code Proficiency program also. That's the least they can do after all the damage to CW they've contributed to or did not make any effort to stop.

One final thought about the FISTS/RAC/ARRL/SOWP certificates. I don't feel they are intended to be 'bragging' items. Rather they should be used as a demonstration to shack visitors that you are proud to know and use Morse Code. Perhaps some visiting no-code hams will be impressed enough by such a certificate to want to learn and use Morse Code themselves. I don't think that aspect of the certificates has been pointed out enough, or perhaps even thought of at all. That's why I'm pointing it out here, and another reason why I support such programs. -30-

Friday, April 13, 2007 9:43 PM - I'm just about 'writ' out and 'tuckered' out right now after a very busy but satisfying week. The NAQCC is really catching on right now. Our sprint this week was our most successful we've had so far and processing the logs is taking a lot of time. I love it though.

Also I've just written an article about the NAQCC at the request of the editor of a major ham radio publication. That was about 1100 words or so that had to be done on the spur of the moment to meet a deadline. I'll tell you which magazine and when it will be available in a few days.

Also there has been a steady inflow of new members this week all of which take time to process.

Plus I've been busy helping folks with computer matters. That has been time consuming but very rewarding work. I enjoy the thrill of making a malfunctioning computer work again and seeing the delight on the person's face. That's my payment for doing the work. I don't take any of that green stuff or the plastic variety either.

So I'm really not going to write anything tonight, but then... well I guess I did write quite a bit, didn't I? -30-

Thursday, April 12, 2007 8:21 AM - I'd like to comment on a couple of things FISTS is contemplating.

There is in the works a proposal for FISTS in some form or other to administer code certification tests in lieu of the now missing FCC/VEC administered tests.

I think this is a wonderful idea, and I hope it can be accomplished. It will take a lot of work to get done and there are a couple caveats involved.

I think it needs to be done personally just as the FCC/VEC tests were done. There is too much room for cheating in something like an on-air test like the ARRL Code Proficiency runs.

And anyway such a test needs to include a sending as well as receiving test to really test and certify someone's expertise in using CW.

Those issues are thankfully addressed in the proposal in the latest Keynote magazine.

It has also been proposed that the FISTS sprints be moved out of the Saturday afternoon time slots because of competition from other contests, notably the July IARU contest.

That leaves only weekdays as an alternative, and Stan K4UK suggests an evening rather than an afternoon time slot if weekdays are the choice.

I agree, but add this - if weekdays are chosen, every effort MUST be made by FISTS to be sure they don't infringe on other organizations' already established weekday evening sprints and fox hunts as one other club infringed on our NAQCC sprints despite the fact our schedule was established long before that organization even existed. All organizations promoting CW use must work together and not against each other. We have had excellent cooperation from some of the fox hunt organizers, especially N9NE so our events could coexist peaceably and without conflict. -30-

Wednesday, April 11, 2007 1:59 PM - Writing this entry will be a snap and that's fortunate because this is an extremely busy day here. So I'll let Ron and Kenji act as my 'ghost writers' today.

Ron K5DUZ says, "Interesting reading in your diary and at the link about how much time is spent these days communicating with 'CyberFriends'.

I suppose the next thing that we will see is 'HamBots' working each other on high speed CW. I can just hear it now... "My HamBot won first place in the ARRL SS CW contest" HI

Since I spent so many years working with computers and embedded processors I prefer to separate them from ham radio. I don't even want a PIC keyer. I understand that it now is possible to connect a keyer to a computer port and 'work' someone over the Internet on CW. Cute idea and perhaps a good way to practice CW with a code buddy, but the idea really leaves me cold. I can foresee someone forming the CyberHamRelayLeague and issuing DXCC certificates for 'working' 100 countries.

I've also heard that one can leave 'CW mail' messages on the Internet. Again a cute idea, but why? If we all migrate to the Internet then the FCC will award our bands to some digital radio service. I suppose that we can take some comfort in knowing that when the last few hams are in rest homes they can still ragchew using CW on the CyberBand."

Kenji JJ1BDX says, "First of all, your bio on ham radio activities was an intriguing set of articles.

On Social Networking Services (SNSes):

In Japan, an SNS called Mixi dominates the market. What I experienced in Mixi was something I've seen before: a vast majority of unknown people whom I don't care at all, some people whom I've known for a long time and already been good friends, and very very small numbers of newly-met people whom I can share some topics to talk to. Most, if not all, of the open communities on Mixi are full of junk as well as other parts of the Internet. It's exactly the same what I've experienced in 1980s and 1990s, though one big difference should be noted: more than 5 percent of Japanese population are Mixi members, so the entire social environment is getting much fragile, harsh, schizophrenic, and hostile.

Mixi is quite different from US-based services such as MySpace or Facebook: it's rather a collective set of bulletin boards, whose access rights can be controlled by each member, and group-shared bulletin boards called "communities". Since the number of Mixi member is very large, and quite a few of them are allegedly impersonating themselves or anonymizing themselves, you've got to be very careful on controlling access to your own diary and photo albums, and what you write on other people's diaries.

While I do not claim the SNSes are useless at all, I must emphasize that you've got to have a very defensive and careful attitude to avoid engaging yourself into a trouble or becoming a victim of a fraud or a serious defamation attempt. In Japan, there has been a problematic set of collaborative anonymous bulletin board (name withheld to avoid being spotted by a search engine), and there you can find many self-proclaimed DXers and QRPers are disrespecting each other. What a waste of time.

And as well as in the amateur radio, some people who apparently have mental illnesses have caused a lot of trouble using Mixi. Some stalking cases have already been reported (and some of them are under legal disputes). You have been warned.

I believe an open forum could easily disintegrate and deteriorate into pieces of junk, unless a competitive and strong editor (or a set of editors) actively monitor and enforce the editing privileges (including removal of annoying or unacceptable messages). If you cannot, you should not have one.

I also believe you don't have to run an open forum at all in most of the cases; unless you really have an ample amount of time to respond to possibly-anonymous readers. (In this sense, the K3WWP Web page system is very carefully and excellently managed.)

Sad to say, I have observed that many SNS users are utterly unexperienced and could easily be carried away by the massive flow of a rather schizophrenic dynamism of anonymous entities (which should not be called human beings) on the Internet. Unfortunately those entities could be your real neighbors; they could change the personalities online. It's like secret police agents everywhere. So you've got to be careful. (I know I'm repeating this, but you really have to.)

Maybe my viewpoint is rather too wicked and overly cautious. But I have really learned this from amateur radio, BBS before and after Internet goes into a public infrastructure.

I hope you don't feel annoyed by this comment, but I thought I should tell you my view on SNSes. You can quote the whole message to your diary page." -30-

Tuesday, April 10, 2007 9:12 AM - A mish-mash of things today. First I will be posting the new GenLog data file in a couple hours on the NAQCC web site if you plan to use GenLog for tonight's NAQCC sprint. Whether or not you use GenLog, I hope you'll participate in the sprint which is the 30th one since the NAQCC was started in October 2004.

Also being posted today possibly is a NAQCC membership list sorted by call sign suitable for printout and use in the shack for those without shack computers or for any other reason a callsign sorted list might be useful. It will be accessible via the page containing the regular numerically sorted membership list.

Jeff KE9V comments on my QSO with W9STG I mentioned a few days ago. He also worked W9STG, and is somewhat of a neighbor of his. They live 30 miles apart. Jeff also adds this saying which I though was cute and accurate since I'm both a fisherman and ham - "...working CW is a lot like fishing ... when you cast your line in the water (or CQ into the aether) you just never know what you might catch!" How true!

A friend of mine from our computer club sent this picture along of a rare cirrus clouds 'rainbow'.

pix_rainbow_small (13K)

I trust my friend, and if the source from which he forwarded it is accurate and honest, here's an explanation of what causes the so called 'fire rainbow' - "The rarest of all naturally occurring atmospheric phenomena. The picture was captured this week on the Idaho / Washington border, the event lasted about one hour. Clouds have to be cirrus, at least 20k feet in altitude, with just the right amount of ice crystals and the sun has to hit the clouds at precisely 58 degrees. Stunning!

Despite an interest in meteorology of almost 50 years I can't recall seeing anything like that either live or in a picture before.

My long-time ham radio friend Chuck, W8LQ comments on yesterday's post - "Checked out the wxpnews site you referenced. Not only do I think all this "social networking" is mainly useless, timewasting, unnecessary BS, but even the WXP site itself is overly wordy on the subject. What a waste of bandwidth!! I've given up most internet activities here except for K3WWP, QRZ dot com and a daily look at the astronomy picture of the day. Occasionally I will look up some needed information via a search engine. I also can reserve books on-line at my local public library, a great service. Time to do some socializing on 40 meters before I go to bed!! If you ever stay up late check out 7135 or 7158 for me about 0430Z."

Chuck hits the nail on the head as does the article. I was just lamenting the other day that no one seems to visit anyone in person any longer. I think I mentioned that in a diary entry a while ago also. I think Chuck and the article explain accurately why.

And yes the WinXP article is wordy, but this is an excellent newsletter with much good information for those of us who strive to keep our computers running in tip-top shape and help others to do the same. I usually gloss over the first article and go directly to the meat of the newsletter below.

Well, now I've got to process 4 more NAQCC membership applications and get the GenLog data file updated and uploaded after this busy diary entry today. -30-

Monday, April 09, 2007 8:57 PM - Perhaps the first section of this on-line WXPNews newsletter says it all as to what is happening to CW and ham radio these days, so I'll let it serve as my diary entry for today. See http://www.wxpnews.com:80/. Young folks have no need for CW or ham radio in general when they can get the same thing (albeit in a much more insecure, less safe manner) this way.

And if you don't read this right away, you may have to go to the WXPNews archives to see it. Look for Vol. 7, #15 - Apr 10, 2007 - Issue #272. -30-

Sunday, April 08, 2007 6:52 PM - I was away most of the day today enjoying some wonderful fellowship and a good meal. Not much time to write a diary entry, but I hope you all had an equally nice Easter today.

Addendum: I just had to share this. KD8EZU and I have been exchanging a few emails. I told him that Internet chat rooms, email reflectors, and the like are nothing but 99% trash and 1% somewhat useful info.

He replied, "I agree with the 99% trash content. I use the Internet mostly for searches. With two 30+ year old rigs......, it helps to find info and the occasional replacement part."

Which led to my response I am just emailing now, "Yes, the Internet has its wonderful side - the biggest reference source in the world right in your own house, yet a very bad side as well - wasting an inordinately large amount of time dispersing absolutely useless info in chat rooms, email reflectors, etc. I only use it for its wonderful side.

It is the real reason for the decline (and fall?) of ham radio, and sadly it doesn't really have to be. It can be such a wonderful adjunct to ham radio - just like a huge ARRL handbook with anything a ham needs to know in it." -30-

Saturday, April 07, 2007 8:35 AM - I guess my ham history was of interest to some. Thanks to the following who said:

Geoff W1OH - "Boring?? No way! I really enjoy reading about other ham's histories! I like to know how other folks got started and progressed. Often hearing that history either takes me back to some earlier part of my ham radio past, or reminds me of something I'd forgotten. A great nostalgia trip if nothing else!

I sat down a couple of years back and wrote down what I could remember of my early ham radio history and have been adding to it periodically ever since. A great exercise for my memory! It's posted on my website. I've had occasional emails from people who see something mentioned and either have more info, or wonder if I can tell them more about some place or event mentioned.

I, for one, would enjoy hearing any and all anecdotes you might wish to share!"

Baltasar EA8BVP - "I want to thank you for tell us your ham history. It's very interesting and fascinating. By the way, it isn't boring. I always enjoy reading about others ham career. It's good for understanding their lives.

Thanks for your diary and your activities in the NAQCC club. Happy Easter! un saludo" -30-

Friday, April 06, 2007 9:44 PM - Now let's wrap up this ham history series. In 1993 my next door neighbor Eric who was 15 at the time and his younger sisters Sara and Brenda had become good friends of mine. The four of us spent many pleasant hours together as they were somewhat like the kids I never had myself. However our relationships were more as contemporaries than as parent/child. I would take part in all their youthful activities, but also would help them out with this and that if they needed it.

Anyway, I digress, so let me get back on track. Eric became interested in all the awards, equipment, etc. in my shack and more or less talked me into setting up my station again. It currently was in a state of disrepair after 10 years of inactivity. So he helped me rebuild the transmitter which I had taken apart in the intervening years. After that we got on the air with rather a makeshift setup running a couple of watts output via a 6Y6 final tube.

As time went by, the rig became better organized, and Eric's interest increased to the point where he wanted to get his license, so I helped him with that, and he became KB3BFQ in December of 1994.

As I've mentioned elsewhere on the web site, he instigated my 'streak' by wondering how many consecutive days it would be possible to make a QRP CW QSO. Well we now know it is at least 4629 as I just worked WD8NON a little while ago to extend it to that number.

As so happens with many, if not all, teenagers, interests change and after a couple years of being fairly active, Eric drifted away from ham radio. I kept going though, and was now a dedicated DXer in addition to my other interests. I still loved rag chewing and contesting, but DXing replaced county hunting.

I started this web site in the mid-90's at the same time Eric started a web site about hockey. I was going to do a web site about either ham radio or NASCAR - ham radio won out.

And the rest of the web site pretty much chronicles my history from that point forward, so I'm not going to repeat it here in the diary.

Thanks for bearing with me these past few days. I hope the history wasn't too boring for you. -30-

Thursday, April 05, 2007 9:45 PM - There was a lot more happened in the early years of my ham radio career, but I want to move along more quickly now so as not to be boring. Let's skip ahead now to the 80's.

My activity dropped to nil in Dec 1973 after being almost nil from mid-April 1969 til Dec 4, 1973. I started work at WPIT on April 16, 1969, and that accounted for the drop. The next QSO in my log shows up on June 17, 1981 when I was really missing the ham bands and forced some free time to get on the air again.

I pretty much picked up where I had left off although I didn't really get active in the county hunters net again. It was now almost strictly a 'work the mobile in a new county' net now, and I didn't think that was really 'hunting'. I continued hunting on my own though. I also resumed my contesting and rag chewing, and did a little more DXing, although still not all that seriously. The 30M band became available to USA hams late in 1982. I think it was some day close to October 28 of that year. Anyway, my first 30M QSO took place on November 9, 1982 when I worked KW8J. I immediately fell in love with the band, and remain so to this day. I remember the first time I listened to the band which was probably closer to Oct 28 than Nov 9, there was a frantic competition to get the first 30M WAS and it seemed like everyone was only interested in working new states and not much else.

It settled down by Nov 9 as many hams had made their WAS by that time. I remember there was a hole in the middle of the band where amateurs could not operate. I believe it was something like 10.109 to 10.115 but I'm not sure now. Unlike today, CW then was spread over the whole band from 10.100 to 10.150 with the exception of the aforementioned hole, and I see many QSO's in my log in the upper end of the band that is now pretty much exclusively digital stuff.

Most of my QSO's until I went QRT again on November 23, 1983 were on 30 meters.

In the 80's I ran various powers from my homebrew transmitter. I see entries of 30, 15, 12, 5, 75, and 60 watts with the majority being 12 watts.

I must mention one night on 40 meters before I close the 80's. On September 17, 1981 I had one of my most thrilling episodes of DXing. I was running 30 watts at the time to my attic random wire which was then even shorter than it is now. I felt like I was a rare DX station myself, as one DX station after another kept calling me. The QSO's were short rag chews, not just '599 TU', and that made it even more interesting. As soon as I finished with one station, another tail-ended. I wound up working in succession the following: SM4BNZ, G6TC, GM8MJ, and F6GOY. And before that I was calling the DX stations and getting responses with just a single call. I worked ON6KD, EA7AIN, F3NB, and G3US. That's one night I'll always remember.

Next up a quick overview from February 15, 1993 to the present. -30-

Wednesday, April 04, 2007 9:26 PM - Before I resume my story of the 44 years I have been a ham, a note about condx today. The WARC bands of 30 and 17 were quite good again today as they have been for a couple days now. Maybe it's just that I've been noticing them more lately since I'm working on the NAQCC WARC Band April Challenge, but at any rate they are in good shape.

There were several strong sigs on 17 this afternoon and the same on 30 this evening. In fact 6V7F was just booming in, and I worked him fairly easily. I believe that is my first 6V7 station, although I've worked several 6V6's before. I also worked fellow NAQCC member Bill, W9BOK on 30 this evening.

Picking up my story now - HI got me near to the end of my WAS award, but it wasn't the last state. NV was next in May of '64. Then on June 1, '64 I worked KL7CVX in AK for my 50th state. It took me a year and almost 2 months to do it. Since then I have done it in a single weekend in the SS contest. Quite a difference a little experience can make.

I was never really into DX in the first part of my career and only worked something like 60-70 countries before 1992. I guess it was exciting working DX back then more so than today since I didn't do as much of it, and I remember some specific QSO's quite well like a long rag chew I had with ZL1HY on 40 meters.

My main interest in the 60's was county hunting. The story of that is pretty much told in the County Hunting section of my web site so I won't repeat it all here. I'll just give credit to Sue, W9KSE who got me started hunting, and that led to my co-founding the CW County Hunters Net in May of 1966 with Dave, WA8EOH. That was my all-consuming passion in ham radio for several years. I would sit there with callbook, Post Office Publication POD 26, and County Hunter record book in hand checking every CQ or QSO I heard to see if it was a county I needed. I rejoiced when I worked them, and was disappointed if they QRT before I could work them.

As I went to school in Pittsburgh and then started working in 1969, my time for ham radio decreased until I was off the air altogether from the early 70's to the early 80's. I'll pick up in the 80's tomorrow. -30-

Tuesday, April 03, 2007 8:41 PM - I said yesterday I'd say a little about my operating history over my 44 years of being a ham.

I guess I started out about the same as everyone, or maybe even worse because my first station was really a poor one. I was in high school and my parents weren't all that wealthy. We weren't poor, but I realized at the time that there were more important things to do with money than buy fancy radio equipment, so I only asked for and got the very simplest gear.

It took me about a month to get into the swing of things, and after 36 days of trying fairly hard, I had only 5 QSO's in my log. 3 of them from other hams here in Kittanning. 1 from WI, and 1 from IN. I only operated 40 meters and was xtal controlled with only a couple rocks. Of course Novices were limited at that time to xtal control, but we did have 80 and 15 meters also which I didn't use for quite a while. I forget if Novices had 10 meters or not at that time.

After I figured out what I was doing, the QSO's came more quickly and the next 31 days saw 55 of them in my log book. I got a couple extra crystals which helped me along with the experience I was gaining, and my QSO's kept increasing each month.

4 months to the day after I got my license, I tried 15 meters, and it was a disaster. Oh, I worked Puerto Rico and the Canal Zone easily, but I also tore up TV reception terribly in the closely packed neighborhood. There was no cable TV back then, and many sets in use still used 21 MHz as their IF frequency. Need I say more?

On advice from another ham in town I abandoned 15M. He told me to wait till I got my General, and then I could get on 20M which he said was just as good as 15M as far as working DX.

I got my General license around mid-Sept, 1963, I believe. I was still xtal controlled though. I got a rock for 7050 kHz, and spent most of my time there along with some time still in the Novice segment.

In early October, I decided to try 20M. I doubled my 7050 rock to get on 14100. I see my first 20M QSO was with VE7BMW. Later in October, I hit 80M for the first time with a rock cut to 3710.

My first big contest experience was the SS in November of '63. In case you don't remember or it was before your time, the CW (and phone?) SS each extended over a two weekend period back then. I wound up making 120 QSO's and firmly established my love of contesting.

It looks like from the frequencies entered in my log that I got my Lafayette VFO late that same November so now I could really roam the bands in style!

On December 14, 1963 I worked my first Hawaii - K4HSB/KH6 on 80M of all bands. I was so excited that at 12:22 AM I ran to my parents bedroom to wake them up and tell them. I don't think they quite shared my excitement at the time. HI.

Gosh, it looks like I could write a whole book about the 44 years, so I better stop for now. Maybe I'll pick up the story later, or try to do a better job of condensing it. -30-

Monday, April 02, 2007 9:15 PM - Since it's now actually April 3rd UTC, I guess I can say this. It was 44 years ago today - April 3, 1963 that I received my Novice license with the call of KN3WWP.

Ironically my first QSO of April 3rd this year was with someone I worked for the first time almost back at the beginning of my ham career. Actually it was in 1964 that we first worked. I thought his call sounded familiar when he answered my CQ on 80M, and while I was copying him I went over to my QSL cabinet and pulled out his QSL card. I had no idea my memory was good enough to remember a QSO from that long ago. Actually it probably wasn't because just looking now, I see we also worked more recently back in 1996.

At any rate digging out the QSL from Ken, W9STG who I'm talking about brought back a lot of memories from those early days of K3WWP. We had a nice long solid rag chew talking a lot about those days.

I was running through my mind the different equipment I used over the years. I started out with an SW-500 receiver - I believe by Hallicrafters - that had CW selectivity as broad as a barn door. I didn't put up with that for long and soon got - or my parents got for me - a used Knight R-100 receiver which was somewhat better. Next came a Hammarlund HQ-110 which I thought was absolutely sensational at the time. That was followed by a Drake SPR-4, then an Icom IC-71A. It was September 1, 1999 when I got my latest and current receiver - actually transceiver - the Kenwood TS-570D. So you see I didn't play favorites with any receiver manufacturer.

The transmitter situation was simpler. I used a homebrew transmitter that was modified over the years, but still was basically the same unit - running 75 watts input power to a 1625 final tube, and then later 5 watts output from a 6Y6 final. An old much modified Lafayette VFO drove the hmbw transmitter.

I've also gone through several keying devices over the years. I started with a J-38 straight key which I still use in our NAQCC sprints and at other times as well. For a brief period I used a homebrew bug and a commercial bug. Then I entered the electronic keyer age with the simple one-tube ARRL Handbook keyer. Next up a tube W9TO keyer, then the solid state WB4VVF Accu-Keyer. Currently I'm using the CMOS Super Keyer II.

I used my homebrew dual straight key paddle with all the keyers. There were two versions of it though. One with very cheap keys at first then one with more substantial more expensive keys. Of course as of a couple weeks or so ago, I'm now using the Bencher paddle given to me by Mike, KC2EGL.

Maybe tomorrow, I'll dwell a little on my operating activities over the years if you aren't too bored. -30-

Sunday, April 01, 2007 6:49 PM - It was slow going on the WARC bands today, but I did get my NAQCC April WARC Bands Challenge off to a start today. I had a nice rag chew with Warren KB4KUO on 30M. And that made 5 rag chews this spring towards the NAQCC Spring Rag Chew Award.

Our NAQCC activities certainly are giving me reason to be more active on the bands. Lately without them, I'd mostly just get my QSO of the day to keep my streak going, and that was it. But now I find myself getting on the air more often each day because of the NAQCC events. I'm still not on as much as I was back in the sunspot peak years, but at least I'm getting on a little more which makes the bands a little more active with CW signals. That's the bottom line purpose of the NAQCC, so in my case anyway, the club's efforts are paying off. -30-

Saturday, March 31, 2007 9:09 AM - Here's some input from a ham who is discovering the joy of QRP/CW.

Rem K6BBQ writes: "Hi John, Just a quick note to share with you that I had some QRP success today. I had changed my Buddipole over to a vertical, Buddistick and faced the radial north.

The vertical configuration helps me get to a total height of almost 30 feet, probably 28 or 29 feet in all.

I had a QRP to QRP QSO on 7040 with a station in Salem, OR. We both had good sigs but did have to put up with QRM from other stations as well as some frequent all-band QRN I have here from a welding shop or something. Anyway we had a 30 minute QSO and mentioned our rigs, antennas and our Fists numbers.

I think it may be easier to send my five watts out than hear another 5 watts with the high noise environment I am in - tall power lines right over this edge of the apartment, residential and commercial noise, etc. Anyway, it is always a good feeling to have a QRP QSO and even a better feeling when it is a QRP to QRP QSO in a casual ragchew QSO.

Have a good weekend and I will be dropping in on the April contest for a change!"

First I'm delighted to hear Rem is going to join in on the fun of our April NAQCC sprint. Welcome aboard!

I can well sympathize with Rem about his local man/woman-made QRN. I know for a certainty I miss someone calling me at times due to my local QRN level which averages out at S9 on the Kenwood TS-570D S-meter. Only my ability to copy CW under all kinds of adverse conditions developed over 44 years allows me to make some QSO's I otherwise couldn't make. But there are still some that don't get in the log. If anyone reading this has called me in the past and I didn't answer, it was the local QRN preventing me from hearing you. No other reason. If I hear even a tiny glimmer of a signal under the noise, I will do my best to dig it out, but sometimes it's just impossible. -30-

Friday, March 30, 2007 9:07 PM - I had another great eyeball QSO today. This time with Karl, N3IJR who visited for about 3 hours. Karl is another ham who absolutely loves CW. We worked about a week ago on the bands and then he emailed me a day or so later and suggested an eyeball QSO. I gladly accepted the suggestion.

While he was here, I signed him up as a member of our NAQCC, and he says he is definitely going to be active in the club events. That's what I love to hear, because the more activity we have, the stronger is our support of CW and QRP.

Anyone can, and many do, talk about preserving CW, but the bottom line is that if they just talk, but don't use it on the air, all their rhetoric is going to do no good whatsoever.

Karl agrees with me wholeheartedly about that, and we both deplore "CW" clubs that seemingly urge their members to communicate via the Internet with email reflectors, chat rooms, etc., instead of urging the members to use CW on the air like we do at the NAQCC.

It was a very enjoyable 3 hours for me, and I want to publicly thank Karl for such an enjoyable time.

When I worked WB8SJE this evening that closed out yet another month of the streak and ran the total to 4622 consecutive days with at least one QRP/CW/simple wire antenna QSO.

Another memorable day comes up shortly. The 44th anniversary of receiving my ham radio license as KN3WWP. I'll talk a bit more about that when the day arrives. -30-

Thursday, March 29, 2007 6:07 PM - Here are a couple responses to yesterday's diary entry:

From Paul, K6PFC: "I have found people very willing to slow down for me, and surprisingly only one person has chosen to continue sending way faster than I could copy despite my asking him to slow down twice. I just said, "I am sorry but I can not copy at the speed you are sending, 73 SK (his call) de K6PFC". I will remember how that felt when I get up in speed and someone asks me to slow down. Everyone has been so encouraging in my effort to learn this new language.

My biggest problem has been QRM. I'll find a clear frequency and call CQ. Eventually, I get an answer. Then, in the middle of the QSO another station starts calling CQ right on top of us. I get confused and can't figure out who I am talking to or who is talking to me as I am not at the point where I can just ignore the QRM so I sit there confused wondering what to do and give up. That has happened several times. I wonder if other stations that can not hear us are running so many watts that they are being heard in places that they are not intending to be. Of my whopping 6 contacts, 3 have been with stations running 1.5, 2 and 4 watts respectively, and honestly, they sounded as good as the station last night that was running 500 watts. I have been running 100 watts and I think I am going to cut that back to 10 or 20 just to see if I can still get out. I know you don't have this problem as you only run 5 watts or less, but I would not want to wreck the band for someone else accidentally."

I'm glad that there are other folks that do slow down if necessary. I don't really have a good answer as to why Paul runs into so much QRM. I don't know what bands nor time of day he operates. Although I have been QRM'd now and then, I can't say it happens often. Or perhaps I'm just not as sensitive to it after using CW almost 44 years now. I just narrow down the bandwidth in the TS-570, and if that doesn't help (and it usually does), I just concentrate on the station I'm working and ignore the QRM. That always works except when the QRM station is virtually exactly zero beat with AND the same strength as or stronger than the station I am working.

A follow-up from Paul: "OK. I just worked Montana, 916 miles away on 25 watts. He was running 10. I wonder where those extra 75 watts I was using last night ended up? Probably QRMing someone and I didn't even know it."

You don't need much power to work someone. Those excess 75 watts will show up in a different form on your next electric bill, Paul. I got a kick out of a comment in the soapbox from our latest NAQCC sprint. One of our participants said while in the sprint he heard a station say he was raising his power to 500 watts so he could work his friend a couple of states away. That's funny, yet sad at the same time. Also it is against the rules that state something like no more power than necessary shall be used to carry on normal communications.

And finally this:

From Randy, KD8EZU: "Thanks so much for making a plea for hams to try (at least once in a while) a QRS session with a new CW ham who's at least trying to become proficient with CW.

There are newbie hams like me who really want to take the "straight and narrow" path to Ham Heaven and only need a QSO or two under their belts to give them incentive." -30-

Wednesday, March 28, 2007 4:58 PM - I received the following guestbook entry today, and wanted to comment on it here in the diary.

From Randy KD8EZU: "Great site, Gave me incentive to take my Code test on Feb 16th rather than just wait until the 24th and "grandfather" into ham I got my General on Jan 17th. Still have not had a CW QSO as no one seems to want to talk to a newbie, a 50 yr. old one at that!. I also made a random wire (inspired by yours) and it works great on most bands especially 40 and 80 meters.' Keep up the GREAT work!"

While I appreciate the comments, that's not what I wanted to comment on. It wasn't Randy, but another KD8 who answered my CQ on 80 meters last night. It was a very slow and somewhat hesitating answer, so I slowed down from the 15-17 WPM at which I was calling CQ to about 7 or 8 WPM with Farnsworth spacing. Unfortunately he never did return after my first round. Perhaps even 7-8 WPM was too fast for him or her, but I tried. I always do slow down if someone answers me at a slower speed than that at which I am sending unless I know the ham and know he can copy faster, but just can't send fast.

It distresses me when I hear someone like Randy say that it seems no one wants to slow down for a newcomer to the mode. This is rapidly going to kill CW more effectively than any legislation by the FCC or ARRL. If we are not willing to help those new to the mode, in a few years there will be only a few 80-90 year old ops using CW, and then the mode will be gone forever. We hams ourselves can do something the FCC and ARRL cannot do - we can kill CW either by not using it enough OR by not being willing to SLOW down for those wanting to learn the mode and increase their speed.

Don't ignore folks like Randy. It won't hurt you to slow down a bit to help them out. -30-

Tuesday, March 27, 2007 9:25 PM - Another preview of summer today, even with some thunder and lightning thrown in with the few showers that came our way.

I had a couple of unsuccessful CQ sessions on the bands today. Conditions seemed good, but it's still the old story of nobody being around. It seems even though many CW hams are up in age and retired, few of them get on during the daytime. The only time the bands are close to being crowded seems to be around sunset.

It won't be long now till it's gardening time again. My couple of Siberian tomatoes are sitting a couple feet away from me soaking up some light from my computer lamp. They're about 9-10 inches tall now, and I think I even see some very tiny buds starting to form on them. My onions are poking out of the ground now - about 1/5 to 1/4 of the ones I planted have emerged, most all in the last couple of warm days. I think I see a couple of lettuce plants just starting to come out of the ground although it is hard at this stage to know if they are lettuce or some kind of weed. Finally my gardening friend you remember me talking about last year showed up at the garden today to rake some leaves and cultivate around his garlic plants which have started to grow after resting in the ground all winter. It's a great time of year!

Now if only the river would go down to a good fishing level, I couldn't ask for much more. -30-

Monday, March 26, 2007 6:59 PM - This was kind of a quiet day here. About the only real thing out of the ordinary was a visit from a friend of mine from our computer club. He wants to build a sundial for his yard and we worked up some plans for that. Then we spent quite a bit of time discussing digital photography. He's been a regular film photographer for many years now and only got into digital photography a few years ago.

We hit 78 degrees today and it is now quite a bit warmer outside than in here so I put in one of the screen panels in our front storm door and opened a window in the back to try to get some warm air to flow through the house but it's hard to move the more dense heavier cooler air so it hasn't warmed up but a couple degrees so far.

The bands were again rather dead today, but I did have one nice rag chew with Pat K8LEN. We talked a bit about American Morse, and he emailed me some kind of American Morse program which I haven't looked at yet.

I also had a good rag chew last evening which now makes 2 rag chews for our NAQCC Spring Rag Chew Award. Maybe I'll do the same as last year - get off to a slow start and finish strong.

Starting slow and finishing strong was the scenario in a good many of the NCAA Basketball Tournament games this year. This has now become the most predictable of any Tournament since the tournament went to 64 teams in 1985. If you total the seed numbers of all winners from the first round through the championship, a perfect record with no upsets would be 203. This year we are going to have between 233 and 230 depending on the Final Four results and the Championship game. The previous lowest since 1985 was 271 in 1993. Oh, and the most unpredictable tournament? 328 in 1986. The average is 298.4. -30-

Sunday, March 25, 2007 9:42 PM - I've often said if you go to a band and it sounds dead, but you know propagation should be good, then call CQ because its probable everyone is listening and no one is transmitting. Sure enough that worked for me today a couple times on 30 and 20 meters. I didn't hear anyone at all on the bands or only one or two very weak stations, yet my CQ's got me the QSO's.

Between spending as much time outside enjoying the wonderful weather - sunny skies and 70 degree temperatures - and time on the ham bands, I actually got in quite a bit of operating time today. I was amazed at the lack of activity on the bands for a Sunday afternoon when they are usually busy. It seems that maybe many hams think CW is already a thing of the past or perhaps it's just that everyone had wonderful weather as I did and was out enjoying it.

The main reason I got on so much was to play with my new toy - the Bencher paddle. I really like it and I have it adjusted now to where it is practically a 'touch' paddle. I have the contacts spaced as close together as possible and the spring tension set as light as possible. I find it very easy to send that way and I was practicing off the air sending up to 40 WPM quite well. I believe it is easier with the Bencher than with my homebrew paddle, although it works well also. -30-

Saturday, March 24, 2007 6:30 PM - Time to get caught up on a couple of things that I originally wanted to post yesterday.

But first if you saw a bunch of people looking very proud with big smiles on their faces somewhere today, they probably were members of the NCAA Basketball Playoffs Selection Committee. This was the best showing for the top seeded teams at least since I have been keeping records starting in 1981. I'm going to check back further sometime and see if it ever has been this good or better before.

The Elite 8 this year is composed of 4 #1 seeds, 3 #2 seeds and 1 #3 seed. Only Wisconsin's (#2 seed) loss to UNLV in the second round kept it from possibly being a perfect seeding for the elite 8. Still the total of 13 for the 8 teams is 5 better than the previous best (among my records) of 18 which happened twice.

Now it will be interesting to see if all 4 #1 seeds advance. That would break the record of 3 #1's and a #2 back in 1993 for the Final Four.

I had another eyeball QSO with Mike, KC2EGL yesterday. We finished up installing filters and a stabilizing unit in his new TS-480SAT. Then we fired it up to see if our installation was successful. It was, and the rig was christened in its new setup by a QSO with 9A1AA on 20M. We had the power cranked down to 5 watts for that QSO. Then we worked NJ7M on 17M, again at 5 watts.

Also Mike gave me something I have always wanted, although he didn't know that. He gave me a Bencher paddle which I now have set up in my shack and have already made several QSO's with it. I always admired the W8FYO/Bencher paddles but never had the money to spring for one. Or actually had the money, but put it to better use at the time.

And switching gears again. Isn't it strange how people will say they are going to do something, but then never do. I bet I could fill a good size notebook with things people have told me they are going to do, but don't. Our (former?) scoutmaster said he would like to bring his scout troop over to look through my telescope some time. You know when that was, and it still hasn't happened? I don't know exactly, but it's at least 40 years ago now.

Then there are the people who say they are going to come and visit you sometime, or go fishing with you, but do they ever? Nope.

I'm just glad that there are people who do things they say they are going to do, like Mike, for example. When he says he's going to visit, he does.

I guess that's largely a fault of our "I'm too busy - I don't have time" society of today. People are so busy doing nothing, they don't have time to do something that really counts. Sigh!!! -30-

Friday, March 23, 2007 8:49 PM - Second posting.

It appears that the whole "regulation by bandwidth" situation is just too confusing for the average person who has not gone to law school, and thus is not able to understand the complicated language involved in RM-11306 and associated proposals.

Since I am one of those average persons, I had held off comment on the whole situation until I received the communique from FISTS below. Even then I posted the info pretty much without any personal comment.

The whole situation has now been blown out of proportion by irrational folks or those who have become paranoid by perceived anti-CW actions on the part of the ARRL and FCC.

You may recall a few days ago I posted a question from a friend of mine about why CW wasn't mentioned in this or that ARRL communique. I said, correctly so, that was because nothing has really changed as far as CW goes. It remains the one mode that can be legally operated anywhere on any ham band with the exception of 60 meters. So there was really no need to mention it. However this was one of the things that set off the chain of events leading to the whole mess.

In doing my own research on the whole subject, I've now learned that the ARRL is even proposing ALLOWING CW on 60 meters.

I have also learned that the ARRL has apparently NOT sold out CW to RTTY and other digital modes, but it merely appeared so because of the aforementioned overly complicated language in RM-11306.

I urge those of you who hear these Chicken Little ("The sky is falling, the sky is falling") alarmist things regarding CW to cool down, and do some research before you hop on the bandwagon to go and burn down ARRL headquarters in Newington.

I do not support what the ARRL does 100 percent by any means, and I do feel they have been harmful to the future of CW in several ways - the worst of which was supporting the FCC re-farming of the bands increasing the presence of SSB in areas that were formerly pretty much exclusive CW territory and supporting no-code licensing. But I do believe in being completely fair in everything.

This is why I am so strongly opposed to chat rooms, email reflectors, etc. on the Internet. All they do is give the rabble rousers a forum to express their own personal hateful views.

Perhaps in this case it was almost a good thing though since it may have been instrumental in bringing out the truth.

Now go look at the ARRL Letter (http://www.arrl.org/arrlletter/) for this week on the ARRL web site to see the full story behind the situation. Of course those who hate the ARRL no matter what they do will not believe what is said there and accuse them of lying or read their own interpretation into what is presented there, but that is their own personal problem.

This is the end of the matter. You will not hear another word about the subject here. PERIOD. SK. CL. -30-

Friday, March 23, 2007 8:33 AM - This from FISTS. Read and do what you think is appropriate.


The ARRL had an ex parte meeting with the FCC to modify the appendix of the petition they had previously submitted to the FCC in November of 2005 - RM-11306.

One of these "modifications" to the ARRL petition has the potential to cause serious harm to CW operation. The ARRL wants to increase the maximum bandwidth for digital and RTTY to six times the current limit from 500 Hertz to 3 kHz.

Allowing these wide-band digital signals free run of the CW spectrum (for example, from 7.000 - 7.125 and 14.000-14.150, 160, 80 and 30 meters) will literally kill CW operations on most bands.

The proposed modification to RM-11306 will be up on the FISTS web page

soon, so you can read it in its entirety (http://www.fists.org/).

The League (or should I say the "National Association for Amateur Radio", as they now refer to themselves) is fully aware of the consequences of such a proposal. We don't have to remind you that when the code/no code controversy began years ago, they went against the results of their own poll and supported the elimination and downgrading of the code requirement, even after the majority of the ARRL members voted to retain it.

When I first saw this modification, it was so outrageous that I thought it might be a hoax. I spoke with Bill Cross at the FCC, who assured me that it was genuine. He told me the FCC is reading all the comments posted to the FCC web page and we should make our concerns about these 3kHz digital transmissions known, as they are being taken into consideration when the FCC decides whether to act on this proposal or not.

To file a comment, or read comments posted by others, go to http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/ecfs/.

On the right side of the page you'll see:


ECFS Main Links

Getting Started

Submit a Filing

Search for Filed Comments


Click on Search for Filed Comments to read comments already posted or click on Submit a Filing to enter your own comment.

The proceeding you are commenting on is RM-11306.

Normally, I would also recommend that you write the ARRL officials and let them know your feelings on the subject, but it's pretty obvious that they have their own agenda and will do whatever they darn well please.

Enough is enough, please read RM-11306 and the new modifications and post your comments to the FCC.

Together we can make a difference before it really is too late.

73 88

Nancy WZ8C

Nuff said. -30-

Thursday, March 22, 2007 6:06 PM - Most of today has been spent working with sprint logs. It's amazing how many varieties of ways folks send in their logs. And all of those varieties have to be converted to one format to go into our master log spreadsheet for cross-checking. At least most of the formats received are close enough that a simple find and replace in a text editor can fix them up. However there are others, well I won't say any more. I'm sure it's not being done deliberately. It's just the vagaries of various logging programs and the output they produce.

It's great that 22 logs have been received so far. I think that's a record for less than 20 hours after the end of a sprint. There certainly was a lot more activity than I was hearing last night so it was conditions and not participation. It looks like from the logs received so far that those down south had the best propagation by far. Make that 23 logs - another one just arrived as I'm typing this. So I'd better go and process it now. -30-

Wednesday, March 21, 2007 11:33 PM - Well, the activity in tonight's sprint didn't come up to my expectations, but it could have been due to bad conditions. We've already received 9 logs, and that's more than usual in the first hour after the sprint ends. Maybe the activity was there, but I just wasn't hearing it. Anyway it was fun as usual, and strangely I made the exact same score as I did in the January sprint. QSO's, members, mults, final points all exactly the same. I hope all reading this who took part in the sprint had as much fun as I did. I just love these sprints with the relaxing pace which is so much different from the frantic pace in other sprints and contests. It's great sitting there pounding out CQ's and exchanges with my old straight key. It's late now, and I've got to wrap things up and get to bed. CU tomorrow. -30-

Tuesday, March 20, 2007 9:05 AM - Since many of you seem to read this in the evening according to my site stats, I'll mention our NAQCC sprint which is actually tomorrow evening today. Confused?

Our NAQCC sprint takes place Wednesday evening at 8:30 PM EDT which of course is Thursday 0030Z according to the way most of us hams figure our logging times.

I'm really looking forward to this one since it is actually the first one that has been so widely publicized via a couple of emailings that went out to all members with a valid email address. That plus the usual wonderful publicity blitz that Larry W2LJ does each month should add up to a great turnout. I'm hoping to see us break the 100 mark in participants, perhaps by a large margin. We had at least 91 participants last month. I say at least because I haven't added those from K4BAI's log and his operation as PJ4/K4BAI because John sent it just as a check log recently.

Don't forget a couple things. Our sprints are designed to be low key, rather slow speed events. So if you're new to contesting/sprinting, they are excellent training grounds. If you use GenLog for logging in the sprint, don't forget to get the latest data file with all the newest members listed. It's available for download from the NAQCC web site.

Speaking of the NAQCC web site, the new on-line newsletter seems to be a real hit. According to StatCounter, the site averaged over 200 unique visits the past 3 days whereas the usual daily number is around 70. If you're not a member and haven't seen it yet, check it out. -30-

Monday, March 19, 2007 10:29 PM - I had another visit from my friend Mike, KC2EGL today. We installed a couple of IF filters in his new TS480SAT rig. After that, we listened around on the bands for a while.

That was the first time in a while I had listened to the bands in the afternoon, and I found it quite interesting. 20 meters was quite good. We heard stations from all continents except Oceania. It was very surprising to hear a strong Japanese station in the 1900Z hour. I listened several times to see if he was signing /MM or portable from another country, but it was just a straight JA call he was sending so it was either Japan or some bootlegger.

We heard 7X4AN who is one of the stations I would love to get my QSL from. I worked him a few years ago, sent a QSL and GS direct, but never got an answer and I still need 7X verified.

A CN2 station was very strong and I could have worked him easily except for the big pileup he drew apparently as soon as he was posted on a spot somewhere. Those spots are really devastating to QRPers. As soon as a station is spotted, all the KW stations jump on him. The QRPer has to find him before he is spotted, or when he goes to split operation, or perhaps QSY's to another band. Many stations do not listen close enough and it's possible for the QRPer the be the first one to go split and get an easy QSO while everyone else is still not aware he has gone split. It doesn't often happen that way, but sometimes it does. Likewise with an announcement the station is changing bands. Many stations miss it, and again the alert QRPer can be the first one to the new band and get another easy QSO. Of course there are also times when propagation will favor the QRPer so strongly that he can beat the pileup.

I didn't really try to work any of the DX we were hearing other than a couple futile calls to the CN2, and a successful call to XE1ZW that resulted in a brief QSO.

It was also interesting to hear two German stations working each other.

I guess I'm going to have to get back in the habit of checking 20M in the morning or afternoon. I don't really need many entities in Europe. Mike and I checked today, and it was only 4 small entities I haven't worked - SMOM, Mount Athos, Andorra, and Market Reef. Maybe I can catch some new African country though. Or if the JA was real, perhaps I can work something in that part of the world. -30-

Sunday, March 18, 2007 9:17 PM - I fooled around in the VA QSO Party for a few minutes this evening working all the stations I heard on 80 meters and hopefully helping them out a little bit.

It was very strange not hearing the somewhat weaker QRP signal of N4ROA giving the higher power stations a run for their money from Scott county. As you may know, Dan passed away last year. He was one of the truly great QRP contesters, and is sorely missed.

The band conditions have been fairly good of late. There were a lot of good signals on 80M this evening, and even 40M sounded pretty good around 0030Z. Only one weak signal from Puerto Rico was heard on 30M.

I certainly hope the good conditions will be there Wednesday evening for our NAQCC sprint. With good conditions and the big publicity boost it should have gotten from sending our newsletter to all NAQCC members, I'm hoping to see over 100 different stations in the master log when I do the cross-checking of logs. We came close last month with 91. Let's top that this time. See you there! -30-

Saturday, March 17, 2007 9:07 PM - Johnson gets the rebound, dribbles down the court - he's going to take it all the way - he shoots and..... Oops, sorry. Following 40 basketball games the past three days must be getting to me.

I got an email from my friend Don, KB3DRW asking why the ARRL doesn't seem to mention CW in a set of new band plans they just published.

I figure it's because nothing has really changed to the allocations for CW. CW can still be used anywhere on any of the bands from 160 through 10 meters except for 60 meters, of course.

Of course with the expanded phone allocations and the shift of the digital modes, you will have more QRM if you operate CW in those areas, but you have a perfect legal right to operate CW anywhere you want to, and no one can do anything about it. -30-

Friday, March 16, 2007 8:10 AM - With apologies to Charles Dickens, today's entry is titled "A Tale of Two CW Newbies".

I think I may have mentioned Paul, K6PFC before in the diary. I'm too lazy to go back and look to be sure. Anyway Paul is a CW Newbie, and he's been keeping me up to date on his progress getting started using CW on the bands. He emails:

"Well, I am on my way, it seems. Here is a snapshot of my logging software. I worked an extra class from Texas tonight. I was listening and all of a sudden there was someone slow enough for me to copy. We talked for 15 minutes and then his signal faded and that was that, but I gotta tell you I was pretty excited. Then, I popped over to my 8pm QCWA net on 2 meters and there is K6CD Joe talking about how happy he is with his student's progress and wondering where he is. Yes, the student is me. It was nice to tell him that I was late because I was working a station in Texas. Well this is a nice end to a great day. Thanks for your help and advice and for keeping your website there for me to refer to when I have questions."

You're welcome Paul. I'm always delighted to have a small part in getting someone started on CW. Likewise with John, KI4OWY whose story follows:

"I have really enjoyed the N.A. QRP Club website and all of the great information about working a QSO with CW. You were asking for feedback about the information on CW and I was just replying. Everything was easy to understand and I've made a template in Microsoft Word to guide me through each QSO with your suggestions. Thank you very much!

I really interested in QRP and I thank you for all the good information on your site. I just purchased an Icom 703+ to go along with my Icom 718. I have a BlackWidow Iambic paddle that I built from a kit, and a CMOS 4 Memory Keyer from Idiom Press. So I have all the toys. :)

One thing that I've had difficulty with many, many, many times as a new CW op is that I'm still fairly slow and I can't copy code completely in my head. I'm about 8 WPM right now and still have to write everything down. I make sure that I send my CQs at the same rate that I can copy code. However, I can't tell you how many times I've gotten replies much faster than what I'm sending. I can catch my callsign and that's about it. I ask that they slow down and often, they don't. It gets very frustrating and I really don't know what to do. I wonder if you might be able to address what a new CW op should do in this situation on the website.

Another difficulty that I've encountered is that I'll send my QRL? two times, then after I know the frequency is clear, I'll start sending my CQs. After I'm done transmitting, I often notice that someone else is sending CQ overtop me at a much faster pace. As luck would often have it, they will get an answer and I have to go to another frequency. I actually had this happen to me 4 times in a row one night! (Perhaps they couldn't hear my QRP CQs?) Any advice that you could place on your website to address these issues for a new op would greatly be appreciated!"

Well John, those are two problems that do crop up on the CW bands. Let me address the second one first.

In most cases you are right about them not hearing your QRP signals. In this day and age of every electronic device seemingly putting out RF noise (you should hear what my new computer controlled furnace noise is like), ham's local noise levels are getting higher and higher. This masks all signals below a certain level at their QTH. This is especially true if they are using a less than ideal antenna system. Also many hams now are getting older, especially those using CW. Old age is often accompanied by hearing loss, and those who once could tell there was a weak signal buried in that noise may no longer be able to do so. There's really nothing that can be done about this. It's something you just have to live with if you continue to use QRP (and I certainly hope you do).

Another reason may be that they are not familiar with their rig and they may have their RIT or XIT turned on and are actually not listening to the frequency you are on, but are transmitting on that frequency.

There's not much you can do about the situation no matter what the reason if it happens while you're calling CQ, but if this happens during a QSO, and you're working someone who is using higher power, you can try this trick. If you use QSK and can hear what is going on while you are sending, then when you hear someone come on frequency, turn it over to the other station as quick as you can. The interfering station may be able to hear the higher power station you are working whereas he wasn't hearing you. Hopefully he will then know the frequency is busy and move on.

As to the problem of folks not slowing down, that's something you will have to live with also until you build up your copying speed. Some folks just don't realize they are sending as fast as they are. Others may not understand what QRS means. A very small minority just plain refuse to slow down, and why they answered you in the first place if that's the case remains a mystery.

All that you can do is to ask them to QRS or if that doesn't work, use plain english and ask them to slow down please. If that fails also, all you can do is tell them you're sorry, but they are sending too fast for you to copy and say thanks and 73. Always be polite about it even if you feel like going to their QTH and giving them a swift kick for being so un-cooperative.

Above all, don't become frustrated and give up. Persist like Paul K6PFC did, and you'll soon be racking up the QSO's. -30-

Thursday, March 15, 2007 9:24 AM - It looks like we may be almost at the bottom of the sunspot cycle. Of course it is impossible to tell the actual bottom until a few months after it occurs, but the SF values for the past dozen days or so now have remained right around the 70 mark or slightly above. That's a sign the Sun is very quiet right now. It will be interesting to see a little later this year if March was indeed the minimum.

Conditions on the lower bands have been quite good of late and that's another sign we are close to the minimum.

I got a chance to get on 40M this morning since I had a computer club meeting last evening and wasn't able to get my daily QSO right after the 0000Z hour as I usually do just to be safe. Before working WA6VOV in NC on 40, I listened on 30 and 20. Although I suspect 30M was probably in good shape, I heard only one station there. 20M wasn't much more active. There was one weak pileup chasing someone, but I don't know who it was.

It's becoming harder and harder to tell when conditions are poor or not. Often times propagation on a band will be good, but no one is there to take advantage of it for whatever reason.

WA6VOV was using an SB-401. I haven't heard one of those for ages. I always liked the Heath SB line, and wanted to get one, but never could afford it at the time. I thought they were very neat looking rigs.

It's a rainy day today, but the past two days, especially Tuesday, gave us a preview of summer. It was 75 degrees on Tuesday, and around the low 60's yesterday. Tuesday was sunny, but yesterday was cloudy.

I took advantage and planted some lettuce and onions on Tuesday. Then I went fishing both days, but with no luck. The water is still very cold and the fish not all that active. You practically have to drop the bait right in front of them to have any success and that's hard to do when you don't own a fish locator and fish from shore anyway. -30-

Wednesday, March 14, 2007 12:05 AM - Here's something very interesting from Rich W2RDD:

"John, I won't take much of your time. I've been living in western europe for some months now and I can tell you europeans are really into energy conservation. Spot public messages on television; magazine articles, serious talk shows etc.. I'm sure your other european contacts will confirm that. There is a genuine desire over here to prepare for the future.

Point is, the time is coming when energy conservation will be mandated, not requested. It will probably happen over here first as the public this side of the pond is more concerned and aware of the problem. But, sooner or later it will hit the USA.

Those big KW ham stations could become a thing of the past. Our 100 watters may even be at risk if the government gets overly energetic.

If that is the scenario, QRP will rule, not necessarily by choice but by decree.

Perhaps some new American radio manufacturers, other than Ten-Tec (which I love) will begin producing assembled [QRP] rigs. Those who have better eyesight than I will be putting together more kits.

Something to speculate over during half-time."

Yes, it certainly is something to think about, and something I had never thought of before. The first thing that comes to mind is my wondering how vigorously the ARRL would oppose such power restrictions. They would really have to walk a tightrope to keep from alienating this side or that of the situation.

The second thing to think about is here is a really great opportunity to show the advantage that CW has over other modes of communication at lower powers. Not only could QRP rule, but CW could rule once again. Wouldn't that be wonderful.

The third thing to think about is if there are restrictions, would they be lifted in a communications emergency? While CW at QRP levels can do the job most of the time, there are times when higher power is needed to get through in an emergency situation.

I'm sure there are many other lines of thought involved here, but I'm stopping at this point. I wonder what you think about it? -30-

Tuesday, March 13, 2007 11:35 AM - OK, here are some of my memories from the NCAA basketball tournament in no particular order.

In the early years of the tournament before you could watch all the games on TV or the Internet, it was a struggle to follow some of the games, especially the late Thursday/Friday night games on the west coast that often went past midnight. Then you had to find an AM radio station or a SW BC station that was carrying the game.

One such game featured BYU and point guard Danny Ainge. I believe it was in the 1981 tournament and the opponent was Notre Dame. In the game's final seconds with BYU down by a point, Ainge got the defensive rebound and dribbled the length of the court through a flock of defenders to score the winning basket. I can still hear the radio call of that clearly in my mind.

The 1983 tournament was the year of the Wolfpack. NC State, seeded sixth and coached by the late Jim Valvano, ran off a series of victories over the following teams (seed in parentheses) by these scores:

Pepperdine (11) 69-67 in double OT

UNLV (3) 71-70

Utah (10) 75-56

Virginia (1) 63-62

Georgia (4) 67-60

Houston (1) 54-52 for the championship

That's 4 'upsets' and 4 games decided by 1 or 2 points. I can still see the final shot in that championship game when Dereck Whittenburg took a wild frantic attempt at a basket in the last few seconds that missed everything, but Lorenzo Charles was there to catch the ball and dunk it for the winning basket to keep from going to overtime. After the game Dereck kiddingly stated he was not shooting but really passing to Charles, and everyone understood he was indeed kidding and laughed along with his joke. Houston was ranked by many as one of the all time great teams that year, and the upset is now ranked as one of the biggest of all time in the tournament. Virtually no one, probably even many of the staunchest NC State fans, gave NC State a chance of winning. No one that is except that wonderful collection of players and characters on the team and their lovable coach Jim Valvano. As I proof read this, it brought back another memory of coach Valvano running all over the court after the winning basket looking for someone to hug.

Being not all that tall myself (5' 9"), I always liked the small players, and one of them was Monty Towe who stood at anywhere from 5' 4" to 5' 6" depending on which source you believed. Personally I think 5' 4" is the most likely. He coincidentally played at North Carolina State also. With him at the time was David Thompson, a 7 footer. Despite, or perhaps because of their 20" or so height difference the two became good friends, and teamed on the basketball court very well. I believe they were the first duo to develop the Ally-Oop play in basketball where the small guard throws the ball up close to the basket without actually attempting a shot, but passing it to where the tall forward or center can catch it and dunk it. They developed the play to perfection.

One basketball memory that doesn't really relate to the tournament or even to games themselves for the most part comes to mind. I always like to mention this when talking about basketball. The best pure shooter I ever saw played for Maryland. He was not all that great a player when it came to game time, but my, could he shoot that basketball. I think many fans came out early just to watch him taking practice shots before a game. He could stand anywhere in forecourt (and backcourt at times), take a shot, and it would go through the CENTER of the basket, not coming close to touching the rim. What is called in basketball lingo, "nothing but net". Heck, you couldn't even see the net cords rustle if you weren't watching closely. Who am I talking about? You probably never heard of him unless you are a real college basketball fan. It's Brian Magid. I've not seen a better shooter before or after him.

I love the 'run and gun' or 'run and shoot' style of basketball. Two teams that took that to the extreme were Loyola-Marymount and UNLV. In the 1990 tournament, the two teams between them racked up 6 games in which they scored over 100 points, topped off by Loyola-Marymount beating Michigan 149-115. When the two met in the Elite Eight, UNLV came out on top 131-101. UNLV went on to win the championship blowing away Duke 103-73.

If I were to rate my 5 or 10 favorite point guards over the years, one would be a woman. Kim Mulkey played for perennial women's basketball power Louisiana Tech, and was brilliant at running the offense. In refreshing my memory about Kim to see when she played (early-1980's) I see that after her playing days she was an assistant coach at Tech, then head coach at Baylor. It's nice to see her basketball career continued after her playing days. Oh, and I see she led Baylor to the championship last year. In so doing she became the first woman to win a championship as a player and a coach. I had gotten away from following the women's game the past few years and didn't know that till now.

This is the last of the LONG basketball entries, I promise. Unless there is a very unlikely surge of requests for more. -30-

Monday, March 12, 2007 11:11 AM - Are you ready for some basketball? I am. This is one of my favorite times of the year - the NCAA Basketball Tournament. No other sporting event is comparable in format, excitement, heartbreak, or jubilation.

Each one of the 64 (65) teams involved gets one chance, and only one chance to advance to the next round. It's not like the World Series where you can lose 3 games and still be crowned the champion. One loss and you are history till next year in the NCAA tournament.

While the NCAA officials do their best via seeding to insure that the better teams (according to their records in the regular season) will make it through to the Final Four, that doesn't always happen.

If you're unfamiliar with the tournament, the teams are divided into 4 brackets with each bracket having 16 teams seeded 1st through 16th. In the first round the 1st seed (best? team) plays the 16th seed (worst? team), #2 plays #15, #3 vs. #14, and so on to #8 playing #9. At least the #1-#16 matchups have always held true to form with #1 always winning since the field was expanded to 64 teams in 1985. There have been a few games over the years in which a #15 seed beat a #2 seed. #14, #13, etc. fared progressively better in upsets. Of course in theory the #8-#9 matchup is virtually a toss-up to begin with, and #9 beating a #8 is hardly an upset.

Each of the 4 brackets produces an ultimate winner and those four teams make it to what is simply called the Final Four. The winner of what is determined by the NCAA before the tournament starts as bracket #1 plays the winner of (again pre-determined) bracket #4 and #2 plays #3. The winners of those two games then play for the overall championship.

I've got my brackets all plugged into an Excel spreadsheet as I've done for several years now. Before that it was a printout of the brackets. Either way, I plug in the scores and watch the team automatically advance to the next round in Excel or advance them manually on my printout. I'm ready to start doing that this Thursday when the games begin.

Every sport I've followed over the years has given me memorable moments. Baseball's 1960 World Series game 7 and the Bill Mazeroski homer. Football's playoff game between Oakland and Miami with the last minute Stabler to Davis pass giving Oakland the win 28-26 in a game in which the score changed hands almost as many times as there were touchdowns made. The NCAA tournament is no exception, but since this is getting rather long, I'll save that for tomorrow's entry.

My apologies to those who are not basketball fans, but I will be mentioning the tournament quite a bit over the next 3 weeks along with the usual ham radio musings. -30-

Sunday, March 11, 2007 10:25 AM - I seem to be getting more and more feedback on the diary as time goes by. I'll share another email with you in a moment.

First I'd like to say what a good time I had last evening. I did something I haven't done in quite a while. I actually sat down and watched a movie from beginning to end. I'm usually too restless to do that, and always have to be doing something rather than just sitting still for 2 hours or so.

My friend Tom, KB3LFC had seen this wonderful movie some 35 years ago, and only recently found a DVD of it on eBay and purchased it. He invited me to come over and watch it with him. I didn't know if I would like the movie from the synopsis I had read about it. However once it started it was kind of spellbinding and held my attention for the 1 hour and 45 minutes or so running time.

I'm talking about the 1970 movie "Sunflower" or in Italian "I Girasoli" and in French "Fleurs du soleil" starring Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni. It's a story of a woman's search for her husband who was lost in Russia in World War II. As a bit of trivia, Sunflower was famed director Vittorio De Sica's last film.

If I've whetted your interest and/or curiosity, you can read more about the film at the wonderful Internet Movie Database site - http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0065782/

Speaking of wonderful Internet sites, if you want to visit a real 'museum' of Internet history with everything from old time radio broadcasts to movie cartoons to... well just about everything dealing with multimedia and much more besides, go to http://www.archive.org/, the Internet Archive site.

Well, that took a few more words than I planned, but now here's the email I promised. It's from Rich, W2RDD commenting on my last few diary entries.

"Have to agree with you about the bidding on e-bay for keys and bugs. The final prices have been unbelievably high. To be honest, most of my half-dozen bugs were purchased on e-bay, but some years ago and at reasonable cost. I see the same models today and would never consider bidding. Actually this type of purchasing doesn't help Vibroplex, the last bug manufacturer in the USA. I do have a Presentation model that I purchased new back in the '80's and I do buy parts and other sundries from them.

As for cw, I agree that the established operating procedures should continue to be applied and practiced. Any "language" should maintain it's rules of grammar if it is to survive. Operating procedures are CW's grammar.

My cooler head is now prevailing and I agree that the FCC was not engaged in a conspiracy when it kicked CW around. I am a member of CW clubs. I had hoped that large rosters would help our cause, but that was not enough. I doubt that the FCC even looked up that information. They probably made their decision based on the reasons you mentioned." -30-

Saturday, March 10, 2007 9:14 AM - As promised, my comments on yesterday's material.

First, I don't use eBay so no, I haven't noticed the price of keys there. I'm not a key collector. I have just my OLD J-38 and 2 homebrew paddles. If you watch TV shows like the PBS auction show, you'll notice that folks are becoming more and more interested in collectibles these days. I think that's good as it helps to preserve society's past. But the prices there are outrageous in my estimation. I think keys just fit into that general trend. I don't think there is any real hidden meaning in the price increase. I've always said that everything on this Earth is valuable if you find someone who wants it bad enough. Those selling keys are realizing that, and as for all other objects being sold, they are asking inflated prices and getting responses. That trend will probably continue as long as the current interest in collectibles continues. Don't be surprised to see prices go still higher.

In response to Kenji, first of all thanks for the nice personal comments which I didn't include in the excerpts from your email below.

Kenji's comments are interesting especially since they come from the country with the most licensed amateurs in the world.

Most of Kenji's comments do not really require any of my comments, but stand on their own merit. All I can say is that I agree wholeheartedly with what he says about procedure.

CW itself has different sets of procedures. There is a set for land-line communications in which abbreviations largely used numbers instead of Q signals. For example 73 and 88 came from the LL CW days, as did the 30 with which I end each diary entry. Then the military had its own set of procedures similar to what we use in the amateur service but with the addition of Z signals and other differences. Coastal and ship stations likewise had their procedures, again similar to, but somewhat different from the amateur service.

The different services borrowed from each other as time passed. If some service had a better way of doing something, the other services adopted it for themselves. However basically each service kept its own distinct way of doing things. I believe the amateur radio service should continue to use the CW procedures it has developed over the years, and not degenerate into something we can no longer be proud of.

There is a proper, more efficient way of doing just about anything in this world, and amateur radio CW is no exception. Let's not become too lazy to learn the proper way of doing things. It may take a bit of effort to learn them, but in the long run it will save a lot of effort once learned. After all, it takes a lot less effort to send QTH Kittanning PA than it does to send 'My amateur station is located in Kittanning PA' or even 'My location is Kittanning PA'. That's rather a simple maybe silly example, but you get the point.

I have no objection to borrowing abbreviations like FYI, BTW as Kenji mentioned, but keep the solid framework of CW procedure intact. -30-

Friday, March 09, 2007 8:00 PM - I received a couple of interesting responses to my posts of the past couple days, so I'll just take it easy and let them serve as my entry for today. Then tomorrow I'll comment on them.

Kenji JJ1BDX writes in part: "in JA land not much progress has been made on the CW QSO procedure. Most of JAs only replay what they once learned in 1970s or so; their styles are pretty much redundant and inefficient than most of the QSOs I hear from North American stations, or some European stations. The beauty of CW resides in the efficiency, yes SUPER-DUPER-EFFICIENT characteristics with the minimal bandwidth between human communication. So you've got to keep it terse, with the proper use of procedural signs.

(BTW I respect the developers of WSJT, PSK31, and other digital modes, and I sometimes operate them by myself, but one thing for sure is that most of the S/N-ratio gain they achieve is from accurate prediction of timing and with the assistance of audio spectrum analyzer, which is NOT the case when CW operators are looking for the stations by their own ears. Machines cannot substitute CW ops, though recently I use WinKeyer USB for accurately sending the code (you still can change timing by the

typing speed.))

About the so-called invasion of Internet chat culture into CW: I should emphasize that after all a QSO is a *chat*, and there's no big difference between CW chat, RTTY/PSK31 chat, or even with Internet Relay Chat (invented in 1988 by a Finnish engineer Jarkko Oikarinen, and commonly called IRC among the Internet ops) so long as the characteristics of using letters instead of voice or gestures. I think the Internet chat culture does not invade and overwhelm CW so long as CW ops well-define the meanings and procedures.

I was once the IRC server operator and had involved in the activities in Japan during 1989 to 2002 or so. And I find not all but some principles like keeping the transmission terse are still applicable to IRC conversations as well as the CW ones. The vocabulary of CW conversation could be applicable to many real-world chat cases, such as using SMS between cell phone terminals. I will prefer using HI from LOL, but I think some abbreviations such as FYI, IMHO, or BTW will not damage the CW culture at all.

And about the infamy of FCC dropping the morse code requirement: the doomsday was almost 30 or even 40 years ago in Japan, when the telecom authority here allowed HF activities for no-code licensees. And I should confess I was one of them during 1975 to 1978, when I was a pre-teen kid and had to study a lot for getting through an entrance exam of a private high school (of 7th to 12th graders); I didn't really have time to do amateur radio. I took my code license in 1979.

I should tell you, however, that today's many JA DXers, contesters, and well-performed hams were once no-coders, and they sooner or later discovered the Morse code. The percentage of Morse capability is roughly estimated as 10% of all ham licensees, from the result of the radio station database of the telecom ministry. Fortunately they are the core part of the ham radio activities here now, not those who just dump out their station licenses for cell phones.

I would like to quote from a letter the the Correspondence Section of the latest QST (March 2007, page 24), of Bob Locher, W9KNI, who has been one of the greatest DXers in the world (I learned a lot from his book The Complete DX'er, and his keyer CMOS-4, K-3, and K-5 of Idiom Press):

"Our job as CW operators is to get the word out, welcome them [the

newcomers] to our ranks when we hear their halting efforts on the band and continue to operate regularly ourselves."

And Ken K8BWB follows up his email of a couple days ago with some more interesting thoughts: "Thanks for posting my question on your daily diary site and commenting on it the other day, wonder if you had any comments from other hams? Your CW tutorials should go a long way to smooth the way for new CW hams........

I am not a "key" collector by any means, I only have one key and a paddle but I am a casual onlooker on ebay at keys. I have noticed in the last year a large increase in the price keys are going for, maybe even triple... I wonder why? Some of my musings are that everyone's ham radio budget, except mine, tripled last year? Because of the no-code liscense keys will not be made anymore and become scarce? Or P.T. was wrong and two are born ever minute... Or the best scenario is that all these hams are going to get on CW and the bands will ring with the music of CW again. Have you noticed this trend?"

I'll have my thoughts on these emails tomorrow. -30-

Thursday, March 08, 2007 8:25 PM - Today I ticked off another hundred day marker in the 'streak'. Working KB4JR on March 9 (UTC) gives me 4,600 consecutive days with my QRP-CW-simple wire antenna daily QSO. Whew! I guess contrary to what some folks say, QRP does work, especially when you use super-efficient CW. Even at the depths of a sunspot minimum, and this marks the second one now for the 'streak'.

My QSO with KB4JR was on 40M. With the days getting longer (ooops, no, that's not right - all days are 24 hours long.) I mean with the longer daylight hours now, 40 seems to be staying in better shape as the evenings wear on. Soon I guess I'll be abandoning 80M for the summer months and spending more time on 40 and 30 meters.

March 8th always seems to be a very cold day here. I remember back when I first started taking daily weather observations in 1960, March was a very cold month. In fact it was colder than both January and February that year, and the cold peaked (dipped?) on March 8th at -2 . That was a record for March 8th that stood until 1986 when it hit -3. Those were the only 2 March days with below zero temperatures up to that time along with a -1 on March 2, 1980. However following the blizzard of 1993 we set our all time March low of -6 on March 15th. Interestingly enough, it rose to 55 degrees the next day, a swing of 61 degrees in about 36 hours. Perhaps even wilder than that was the 1986 swing from -3 to 60 the next day and 75 the day after that. No wonder March is the windy and stormy month it is with those rapidly contrasting and fluctuating temperatures.

And to wrap up, today the temperature for March 8th continued the tradition. It was around 4 degrees above zero for a low today. I'll know the exact number when I get my 9 PM readings in about 18 minutes. -30-

Wednesday, March 07, 2007 8:07 AM - I talked yesterday about reasons (excuses?) why folks don't use CW as much as they used to do. Today I'll mention some more legitimate reasons.

A lot of folks are trying CW for the first time because it has become somewhat of a 'forbidden fruit' now, and we all know human nature and it's penchant for the unusual and forbidden.

These folks are not sure what the procedure for making CW QSO's is. I talked about that a few days ago, but it's worth repeating. Some of them don't worry about it, and just get on and use SSB or worse, CB 'procedures'. Others are more conscientious and are hesitant to get on the air at all until they know what they are doing so they can do it properly.

Unfortunately there is not a lot of information available about CW procedures except for web sites of CW-loving hams. Of course one CW-loving ham is me. Virtually from the start of this web site so many years ago I've had tutorials on CW operation available, both for regular operation and for contest operation.

Now the NAQCC web site also has such material. So if you're new to, or just returning to CW and hesitant to get on the air because of a knowledge of procedure, check out these tutorials and get to pounding brass rather than using your key as just a paperweight. You'll be helping the cause - preserving this wonderful mode. -30-

Tuesday, March 06, 2007 5:09 PM - Since the infamous dates of Dec 15, 2006 and Feb 23, 2007 I've heard and read a lot of anti-FCC and anti-ARRL invective. Personally I think a lot of it is misplaced.

Not one single person at the ARRL or FCC thought something like this: "Look at all those hams using and enjoying CW on the ham bands. We are going to have to put a stop to that."

It was really more like this: "The use of CW has declined greatly on the ham bands lately and there is a lot of deserted space in the CW-only segments. Let's put it to better use. Since fewer and fewer hams are using CW, there is also no need to test for CW in our amateur radio exams."

Or in other words, we (the ham radio general population) are to blame for what has happened to CW. I know many will disagree with that because it is very difficult to blame ourselves for ANYTHING wrong. When something bad happens, even if it is 100% our own fault, we immediately look for someone else to blame. That's human nature, be it a good or bad thing.

I hear so many hams say these days that they are just too busy to get on CW. So they don't, and look what has happened to CW.

Hey, I'm very busy also. I am retired, but I do have a life to lead yet. I can't devote 100% of my time to getting on the bands and pounding my J-38 or working my paddles. I have a large house to maintain all by myself since my mother passed away almost 6 years ago. I have 3 web sites to maintain and have to handle the multitude of emails that go with that task. I am one of the main cogs in our local computer club. My groceries and household goods don't just appear. I have to go and get them. I have a lot of good friends who depend on me to help them out with this or that. I could go on, but you get the idea.

As a result, I don't get on the CW bands as much as I used to, or as much as I would like. OK now here it comes - BUT I do get on for a while each and every day. I have not missed a day since August 4, 1994. In that time I've made over 40,000 CW QSO's in an effort to help save this wonderful mode.

I'm not saying that to brag, but to say no matter how busy you are, there should always be a little time each day to make at least one CW QSO. And that is all it takes. If each licensed ham would have done that over the past several years, I personally don't think CW would be in the sad state it is today.

So why not start today and plan to try to get at least that one CW QSO each and every day. If everyone does that, I don't think CW will suffer any more serious blows, at least for a good long while.

Excuse me now while I step down off my soapbox. -30-

Monday, March 05, 2007 1:16 PM - I didn't know what I was going to write about today until I got this email from Ron W5RCP that states the matter so perfectly.

"John... I recently signed on to the SKCC group. To my disappointment I've come to realize it stands for 'Straight Key Computer Club.' I've had to block them from my email address because of the large volumn of nonsense I was getting everday....

Live and Learn


Fists #6259 & cc#1775, ARS #1799, FP #1047, NAQCC #483 SKCC#2922 Houston QRP Club...HQRP"

I've thought exactly the same thing about that club ever since it came into being and that is why I have not joined, nor probably ever will.

That is why I am so strongly opposed to the NAQCC having things like a chat room, email reflector, and the like. We want our members to use CW on the air to communicate and not waste time sending 'junk' on the Internet.

Thanks Ron for confirming my feelings about the matter. -30-

Sunday, March 04, 2007 7:55 AM - It's interesting how well we remember things from our childhood, yet forget what we did last Tuesday. I've always (well, at least the past several years) said that Alzheimer's is more a fault of memory storage rather than memory retrieval. Perhaps the brain's memory gets filled up and has trouble finding a place to store the latest data that is input. Kind of like a filled-up hard drive. No, I don't have any proof of any kind about that. It's just what I think about the situation.

Anyway, I always remember this riddle from my childhood this same day every year: "What day of the year is like a command?" Of course it's "March Forth".

I promised to comment on an email I received from Ken, K8BWB. First here's his email:

"I heard a QSO today that was at first funny then as it went along I

wonder if it portends CW to come... One station was brand new on the

air and the other had been a ham for over thirty years... So instead of

using the Q codes and shortcuts hams have been using for Milena the new

ham was using shortcuts learned in Internet chat rooms... LOL, IMHO for

example. Being the old curmudgeon I am my first thoughts of course were

here is yet another example of how my world as I know it is ending,

then I started thinking. Who's to say what is right or wrong? Do we

blindly stick to tradition or is there a fundamental reason to do so,

really, who's to care? The FCC certainly doesn't, like all our

government they have been bought and paid for by big business... New CW

ops will not unless they've taken up CW as a tradition, are we beating

a dead horse here? Should we lighten up and enjoy it as long as it


I think if the new ham was a young ham getting into CW, it is wonderful because we need all the youth we can get on CW. Otherwise the mode will indeed die (of old age?).

However CW operators have always been the cream of the crop as far as operating procedure goes, and I feel that tradition should be continued. We should do all we can to instruct those new to the mode the proper way to carry on a QSO. The ham mentioned above should be politely informed in one way or another of such procedures, Q signals, proper use of RST, etc.

Unless he is some kind of a rebel trying to upset the status quo, I'm sure he would be appreciative of receiving such info.

In a recent survey by KD2MX for our NAQCC, many hams said they were reluctant to get on the air with CW because they were not sure of the proper procedure to use.

Almost from the inception of my web site, I have had 'tutorials' on CW operation, lists of Q signals, procedure signals, etc. here for all to see and learn. Now we are also putting that info on the NAQCC web site as time permits. If you haven't noticed, the 'operating a sprint', 'Calling CQ' and 'making a CW QSO' pages have already been posted there, and more are coming.

Let's not just sit back and allow CW operation to degenerate into the 'CB' or 'Internet' mode. That has already happened to other ham radio modes, and we all know how very unprofessional that sounds.

I know, I know, we are 'amateurs', but that does not mean we shouldn't act 'professionally' on the air. -30-

Saturday, March 03, 2007 9:03 PM - I learned late yesterday from the ARRL letter that one of the great ham radio contesters became a SK on Feb 27th. Phil, N6ZZ was truly one of the greats, and will be missed. My 34 QSO's with Phil only consisted of contest QSO's, so I never really got to know him as I've gotten to know some of the other top contesters. However I do know that Phil never had any trouble copying my minimal QRP signals no matter how poor the conditions were. He apparently had great 'ears'. My sympathies to all of Phil's family and friends.

Every time we lose a great CW contester like Phil, it makes me wonder what is going to become of CW contesting down the line. It is impossible without doing some research to know the age of the folks you work in contests, but I'm sure that most of us are getting up in years now, and I don't know how many young hams are interested in CW contesting, let alone just CW itself. I know of a few - Jason, N5NU and Dan, N6MJ come to mind immediately, but not many more.

I hoped to get some pictures of the lunar eclipse this evening with my new digital camera, but.... First of all it was cloudy most of the time. I did get to glimpse the eclipse through a couple of openings in the clouds, and did get a couple pictures taken, but.... I still have a lot to learn about taking pictures manually with the camera. It does great in adequate light in the Auto mode, as you've seen from some of the pictures I've posted on MySpace, but.... The pictures I took this evening wound up being blurred and over exposed until I figured out the right way to focus manually, what f stop to use, how long an exposure, and what ISO setting, but.... By that time the clouds moved in and I only got one decently exposed picture taken and the clouds had already started to cover the moon in that picture. Still it was a lot of fun fooling around and I did get to at least see the eclipse.

I love anything to do with astronomy, and that is probably my longest lasting hobby here. I became interested in the stars at an early age, probably in a sense inheriting that from my mom who was always interested in the stars since she saw Halley's comet back in 1910 when she would have been about 5 years old. That apparition of Halley's comet was a very brilliant one, not like the return in 1985 when you virtually needed binoculars or a telescope to see it. My mom did see it in '85 with the aid of my scope and became one of not an overly large group of people to have seen Halley's comet twice in a lifetime.

I received an interesting email today about what someone heard on the CW bands, but.... I'm going to wait till tomorrow to share that as I have some other things to get to now. -30-

Friday, March 02, 2007 8:05 AM - I just submitted my ARRL DX Contest soapbox to the ARRL web site. I included my usual 'shameless' plug for the NAQCC. Every little bit of publicity helps the club. I hope if you're a member that you take every opportunity to plug the club also. We appreciate it. It is very rewarding to see how many members we have (1700+) considering the relatively small pool of hams we have to draw from compared to other clubs like FISTS and SKC for example. They can draw from not only QRP ops, but QRO ops as well. Other large membership clubs not limited to those interested in CW have a still larger pool.

I was amazed to find only 15 soapbox comments posted over two weeks after the contest ended. Personally I like to post late, then my soapbox will be nearer the top and my NAQCC plug will probably be seen by more hams than if it were near the bottom.

Public relations and publicity are very interesting and there are all kinds of tricks involved in getting the best results. Personally I don't really publicize my own efforts all that much, but I do like to publicize the NAQCC as much as I can since that is a creation not of mine, but of my friend Tom, KB3LFC.

Oh, and as a follow up to my post of yesterday, if you are a NAQCC member and didn't receive either a certificate or a newsletter in the past month, then the email address we have from your membership application didn't work. Please update it so we can keep you informed of our club activities. Thanks. -30-

Thursday, March 01, 2007 8:19 PM - It just never ceases to amaze me how volatile email addresses are. Also ham radio call signs with the Vanity program. I don't know how many call changes and email changes we've turned up with our two big NAQCC emailing during the past month. First the make-up certificates to the 1400 or so members who hadn't applied for one or who joined before we had the certificate option available. Then the decision to email the newsletter to all 1700+ members.

Personally although I have added a couple of email addresses, I still have very nearly the first one I ever had, my john shan at alltel . net that I got when I signed up with Alltel I guess nearly (or maybe over) 10 years ago now. As for my ham call, I've always been K3WWP except when I was KN3WWP as a novice in 1963. When the portable operating regulations were much more strict than they are now, I got a second call for my apartment in Pittsburgh for a few years in the early 70's so I could operate from both Kittanning and Pittsburgh. That was WA3IXO which is long gone now. Other than that it has always been WWP, and I have never had any desire to change it, and never will.

Don't take that to mean I'm criticizing those who do change emails or calls, it's just that I don't want to do so myself. -30-

Wednesday, February 28, 2007 9:42 AM - Here's a follow-up on K6PFC from a couple days ago. Paul writes:

"Hi John, Well, I have a log entry. This was a friend of mine who is a CW whiz and is teaching me, but it was my first real CW QSO. He side paddles his bug at 5 wpm so he doesn't have to re-adjust it. He said he was proud to have helped me get started. Geez...and I was all proud that he would take the time to teach me. Amazing. 73, K6PFC"

Can't you just feel Paul's excitement? I can and it brings back memories of my first struggling attempts to make that first QSO, and finally getting it.

I got my Novice ticket along with a friend in town who wound up with KN3WWW. My very first QSO was with him, and to be honest wasn't really all that thrilling for a couple of reasons. He only lived across town, and neither of us really knew what we were doing. He came from the CB ranks and I believe he was interested only in getting on VHF phone which Novices could do in the 60's. I didn't really know why I got into ham radio. At first it was just kind of following him. The irony is that he never went beyond Novice as far as I know. He moved away after we graduated high school, and never kept in touch after that. Someone else owns the K3WWW call now and has had it for quite a while.

After the first easy QSO with him which was followed by a second QSO with him the next day, there is a 12 day gap with nothing but unanswered CQ's in my log or unsuccessful calls to other station's CQ's. In those days you had to log EVERYTHING even if you accidentally bumped your key and sent a dit so all those CQ's and fruitless calls had to go into the log.

QSO number 3 came with another Kittanning ham K3HGD. It was a QSO, but still I wanted to work someone outside of town. That opportunity came the next day when WN9GAR answered my CQ. He was in Wisconsin so I finally got my RF answered somewhere outside of town, and out-of-state as well!

Next came my first YL QSO as Dot WN8DOC answered my CQ after another 6 days without a QSO.

I don't remember much about those two QSO's. I still have my hard copy from them filed somewhere. I believe they were only exchanges of RST, QTH and name.

Another 11 day gap and then my first really memorable QSO with Frank, W9RQF. Frank was a General (maybe higher) class op, but loved to work the Novices and help them on their way. He certainly inspired me and encouraged me to keep going. It was getting frustrating for me. But from that day on, my log started to fill with QSO's. 40 QSO's in the next 22 days, several of them nice rag chews and I was rolling along on my way to where I am today with 65,000+ QSO's.

One of the reasons for my slow start was my receiver. I started using a very cheap (although wonderful to me, and a great SWL BC receiver for me) SW-500 with some sort of regenerative IF amp tube as the BFO for CW reception. The selectivity was measured in "yards, not inches". It did become more narrow as the BFO tube oscillated more, but still.... Also Novices were Xtal controlled in those days, and often you worked someone several kHz from where you were transmitting.

But hey, you know we call those 'the good old days' and darn it, they were. Making contacts under those conditions was much more rewarding that making them these days. Thinking about it, I guess that is why I like the minimal approach to ham radio with QRP and simple wire antennas. It adds that element of challenge to making QSO's, even nowadays. Anyone with a beam and a KW can easily go out and make QSO's without even trying and can make the DXCC honor roll with a little bit of effort. But doing it with QRP es SWA's kind of brings back the excitement, enthusiasm, and awe of my Novice days. -30-

Tuesday, February 27, 2007 9:38 PM - Well according to the meteorologists, tomorrow is the last day of winter, and spring begins March 1st. Meteorologists believe that winter should be the three coldest months of the year which turn out of course to be December, January, and February. Then the other three seasons are also delimited by full months rather than starting around the 21st of a month.

I like that definition because it means winter technically ends 21 days earlier than astronomical winter and the actual winter weather conforms more to meteorological winter. Here there are many more zero degree days in early December than in early March and more snow as well.

Now a ham radio question. Why is it that the letter 'R' seems somewhat rare in ham radio calls? Whenever we have one of our NAQCC alphabet type challenges involving call signs, that letter 'R' seems to be the hang up in completing the challenge. True again this month for me. Although I made the challenge using a combo of regular and contest QSO's, my regular QSO challenge is short 5 R's and 1 A as we head into the last day of February. Any ideas on that?

Our NAQCC Bear from Delaware has been active this week, but having problems attracting hunters because of poor propagation and a high noise level at his QTH. If you need Delaware check out his sked on the NAQCC web site and take your shot. -30-

Monday, February 26, 2007 8:28 AM - I hope to not be making any more weather related posts here until I tell you about some new record high temperature we set. I'm tired of cold, snow, and ice.

Every so often, I get an email that describes more accurately than I ever could what my web site is all about. Paul, K6PFC sent me one of those emails yesterday and I want to share it with you.

"Thank you! Here I am a technician class with new privileges. Seems everyone is happy that they can now move on to General with just the written test or play around with with SSB on a piece of 10 meters. Honestly, all I care about is my new CW privileges on the HF bands. I am listening to 40 meters right now and there are a few people out there slow enough that I would not be imposing on them very much if we were to find ourselves in a QSO. Problem is I hear everyone calling CQ and no two people seem to do it the same way. I figured there must be a standard way of doing things. I (searched) around a bit and found your article on CW Procedure.

Thank you!

I am going to read it over and over and will probably try to make my first contact (at a blistering 4-5 wpm) tomorrow night. I am sure I will feel much more confident having found your article. 73, Paul K6PFC"

That's my reward - helping someone out, and the reason this web site exists.

What Paul says about non-standard CW operating procedures is so true and it is becoming worse and worse as the ARRL and other groups support CW less and less. I remember the ARRL had a small operating manual that I believe was sent to either everyone who got a ham license or to everyone who joined the ARRL. It spelled out the correct way to operate on CW including Q signals, procedure signals, abbreviations and other helpful things. That was way back in the 60's and 70's and CW on the ham bands sounded like the commercial or military operation of CW.

Nowadays with no guiding light, many new (and older) CW ops have no idea of how to correctly conduct a QSO or even call CQ. Just a couple nights ago I heard someone spend about two minutes in a long drawn out sentence when he could have used a simple Q signal to say exactly the same thing.

This is one thing that the NAQCC is addressing in the current web site upgrade. We intend to add pages of CW tutorials to the site in the next few weeks as time permits. In the meantime as Paul found out with his search, such tutorials are already available here on my web site in the CW and Contesting sections. -30-

Sunday, February 25, 2007 4:42 PM - When I got up this morning, I saw the temperature was at 32 degrees after being about 22-23 when I went to bed last night. Of course that immediately indicated that the layer of warm air necessary for ice or sleet had reached ground level and there shouldn't be any ice or sleet. There wasn't. We just had ordinary rain, and not even much of that - about a tenth of an inch.

If you're not all that much into meteorology, perhaps I should include a brief recipe here for freezing rain and sleet. Most (all) precipitation starts out at the cloud tops as snow or frozen ice crystals. If the air from the cloud tops to the ground is consistently below freezing, you have a snow storm. If it gradually warms from cloud top to ground and goes above freezing sufficiently high, you have a rain storm. Now if you have a cold layer aloft and a cold layer at the ground with an above freezing layer in between you have freezing rain or sleet. Which one depends on the thickness of the layers. If the ground layer is thick enough, the rain will freeze as it passes through and become sleet. If the ground layer is not thick enough, the precipitation will remain liquid in its fall but will freeze on the surface, power lines, buildings, etc. which is freezing rain. That's somewhat simplified, but still accurate.

I want to thank all those who again expressed concern about the weather situation here. It's nice to know someone cares.

Now with meteorological spring just 3 days away now (March 1), I think and hope the worst of winter, what there was of it, is past. Temperatures are supposed to be around normal for the next 15 days or so which means roughly a high in the 40's and a low around 30. Just right for a slow but sufficient snow melt.

I'm going to finish up some NAQCC work, answer some emails now and then I think I'll just forget about things and go operate some CW like I keep telling you to do. See you on the bands. -30-

Saturday, February 24, 2007 11:57 PM - Just got this one in under the wire. This has been yet another busy day. Also another day of anticipation wondering what the ice storm predicted for tomorrow is going to bring.

Much of the day was spent involved with mailing out the NAQCC newsletter. As you probably know we are going to a new distribution system in which it is being sent to every member for whom we have a good email address. Today we got some of the kinks ironed out of the new system and got things underway pretty well with the newsletter mailed to everyone except for those in the 501-1000 number block. That hopefully will come on Monday.

I also spent about 4 hours or so with two of my second cousins, one via phone and one via a visit here. So with all of that the day went by pretty fast and it was time to get my QSO of the day this evening. It took several minutes, but I made it when K4FOY answered my CQ. Incidentally that was the first time I worked him since the 1960's.

I also got an email asking one of the FAQ's I get here. How did I train myself to copy code so fast. I found it quite simple, and I always recommend this as an answer to that query. Just find a source of CW that is a few WPM faster than you can copy solidly, and keep practicing at that speed until you can copy it solidly, then move on to a slightly faster speed, and keep doing that till you reach the speed you set as your goal. You'll never increase your speed if you always practice copying at a speed you can copy solidly. If you do copy solidly, the practice speed just simply isn't fast enough to do any good.

Perhaps a good analogy is if you stand 20 feet from a bullseye target and hit dead center every time, that probably isn't going to help you hit something at say, 40 feet out in the woods. Back off from that bullseye until you can't hit dead center every time, and practice from there. When you become perfect again, back off some more, and so on.

Thanks for all the company on the web site today. I see I had over 200 visits again today as I did on Thursday. -30-

Friday, February 23, 2007 8:27 PM - I was fooling around this evening taking some astronomy photos with my digital camera. I rigged up a crude tilting platform for the camera to steady it for the time exposures needed to capture the stars. Then I practiced with different settings of the camera taking pictures of Canis Major and Orion. I had a little problem focusing as the stars were not bright enough in the LCD monitor to focus on them so I just focused on some distant town lights and that worked acceptably well, if not perfect. My little Fuji Finepix E550 did pretty well with the pictures.

This was the first time I had taken pictures outside of the stars. Previously I had shot through the double plate glass kitchen window. It made quite a difference. I checked out some of the fainter stars that showed up and I found one that was at magnitude 5.12 as the faintest one. That's not bad for the maximum 3 second exposure the camera will take. I used ISO 400 which is the best of the 400, 200, 100, and 80 that I tried. I also can use ISO 800 which I didn't try tonight. That should be more sensitive but also may produce some noise in the picture. It was just too cold out tonight to fool around any longer.

I've just uploaded a picture of the camera mount, Canis Major, and Orion to MySpace in the Astronomy folder. I told you the mount was crude, didn't I? That's my thermometer shelter and a clothesline near the bottom of the Canis Major picture.

Strangeness: I've thought about mentioning this in the diary before, but I haven't. When I key with my straight key or paddle, I have trouble pushing buttons on my rig with my other hand. I can turn knobs just fine though. I think it's kind of the 'pat your head and rub your stomach' syndrome. Anyone else have that problem?

Finally once again we're under the 'ice gun' or will be on Sunday, so if you notice any undue interruptions in the diary or elsewhere on the web site, well.... -30-

Thursday, February 22, 2007 7:37 PM - One of the things I like to do is note in my paper log the age of the ham I work. I don't transfer the info to my computer log, but every once in a while I like to go back and sort of analyze the age data. It always seems to show the same - the ham population is aging. At least those who use CW. I can't make any statements about any other modes since I neither operate nor listen to them. I have CW, what do I need with anything else?

Anyway my QSO this evening for the 23rd UTC was with W3EDB in Delaware. Bob is 90 years old, so I thought this would be a good time to look back a bit at the ages and make a report here in the diary. I'm going to do that as soon as I go back upstairs to the shack, get my paper logs, then finish up my weekly washing which is just about at the end of the drying cycle. In fact it just shut off. I'll be back.

Well, I took a little more time and got a sliced turkey sandwich and watched one of my favorite TV shows, "This Old House". And coming up next is "Ask This Old House" which I want to watch also so....

The average age of the hams who gave me their age in a QSO was:

Feb - 67

Jan - 58

Dec - 59

Nov - 61

Oct - 66

The oldest ham was 90 year old Bob this evening and the youngest was 21 year old KC8QVO - the only ham under 40 that I worked.

Of course not everyone exchanged ages, so this is far from an accurate survey, but it is pretty much the same as the results I've found over the past few years now.

"Ask This Old House" is a repeat so I want to add this to today's entry. My web site hits today are now at 178 heading for over the 200 mark. That's 50 above normal and it usually means someone posted my site somewhere or my web site was written up somewhere. Anyone know the particulars? I don't search out publicity for my site, so I have no idea other than something happened to give me this many hits over normal. -30-

Wednesday, February 21, 2007 7:57 PM - It is just so great to see the snow melting. I'll be glad when it's all gone. We got rid of another sizable portion today, and I was finally able to uncover our back porch steps and make a 'down to the grass' trail out to my thermometer shelter in the back yard.

I also finally got out to the Post Office and mailed out some NAQCC awards and certificates. Oh and also my QSL card with 2 green stamps to 9A2AA for my Kenya QSO with 5Z4/9A3A in the ARRL DX Contest. Hopefully there will be a quick turnaround and I'll have #199 confirmed out of my 205 worked. In the early days of my hamming I never thought I would approach 200 countries, even with the 60-75 watts I was running back then. But now I've gone and done it with 5 watts. How times change. I know my success today is due in large part to the great advance in receivers over the past 40 years.

I've been doing a lot of work on the NAQCC web site the past few days now, and if you have any comment on the changes made there, I'd love to hear them.

Ron, K5DUZ was asking if I had any pictures of the snow and ice around here. I think he was hinting that I post some on MySpace so folks in Houston can see what snow and ice looks like. HI. Maybe I will do that when I get a break in all my other projects here. -30-

Tuesday, February 20, 2007 5:39 PM - Wow, I guess I was so busy getting caught up on things yesterday from the days I wasn't feeling well, I just plumb never got around to writing a diary entry. So my diary streak ended, but at least I didn't miss the big streak.

Today was also a busy day, but I am pretty much caught up now. We are having a minor preview of spring weather today with temps in the mid to upper 40's causing a lot of our snow and ice to melt. There's still a lot left though, but it's looking better outside now with part of it gone.

My friend and fellow NAQCC member Mike, KC2EGL paid a visit today and we spent several hours together discussing primarily our favorite hobby.

I also finished cross-checking our Feb NAQCC Sprint logs and was delighted to find that for the second month in a row we broke our record for number of participants. We had 91 hams participate in the sprint. Hopefully next month we will cross that 100 plateau. Fantastic! Thank you everyone!

Finally today I want to share this email from my friend Goran, SM0PMJ:

"Dear OM John,

The following quick note might give you a nice start of the day.

Last week-end a couple of friends visited me. They are not radio amateurs but very much interested in IT. Among others I presented them your site. Their opinion about your site, they remarked, was not a "normal polite" comment but truly their opinion was that your site was absolutely outstanding containing very much competent information, and for them (as non-hams) especially important, presented in a most informative way. Too often sites are, they meant, too full-crowded with elegant artistic "cosmetics" but not very informative for the reader.

Good to know for you because these gentlemen are fine IT-specialists!"

Goran, that is not only good to know, it is wonderful. This is what I have always strived for in the three web sites of which I am webmaster. I believe a web site exists to share information, not to dazzle, startle, or otherwise impress with flashy graphics, animations, and music. Sites like that obscure the information they are trying to share. My sites are plain vanilla in style with just enough structure and detail to make finding the info I am sharing a little easier.

I am delighted to get a completely non-biased opinion confirming that I am succeeding in doing just that. Thank you for sharing that with me. -30-

Sunday, February 18, 2007 9:20 PM - KENYA! 205! - Those two 'words' headline my ARRL DX Contest weekend. I finally got another new overall country, #205 with my minimal QRP setup. 5Z4/9A3A went into the books on 20M at 1953Z this afternoon. It was a fairly easy QSO, although I did have to wait my turn following several other stations before Ivo came back to me with a K3W?. A couple times sending my call, and I was logged correctly in Nairobi. I just checked and that's my first new country since May 28, 2005 when I worked 4L8A in Georgia.

Other than that, I had fun helping out all the Carribean 'DXpedition' stations run up their scores. I worked many of them on 3 bands 40-20-15 and a few of those also on 80M. I don't think I got any new band countries, but I did get a few new prefixes.

It's amazing how each of the DX contests falls into certain patterns. I can virtually be assured of working Hawaii on 15M Sunday afternoon, no matter how weak the KH6 station is here. My signal just finds it way out there somehow. That held true today as I worked KH6LC shortly before my Kenya QSO. Incidentally I had 5 straight QSO's from 5 different continents around that time. KH6LC, G6PZ, KP2/K3MD, 5Z4/9A3A, and PX2A. I never did work or even hear Asia.

I can also count on V47KP being the strongest signal to not hear me in just about every DX contest and although I usually do manage to work him, I didn't this weekend despite the big 599++ signal on 40,20, and 15M.

Another given is that I will work a rare African on the upper portion of 20M late Sunday afternoon. Of course the Kenyan provided that QSO this year.

Also I will find it easy to work into Scandinavia late Sunday afternoon on 20M. Not many this time, but OH8X at 2227Z kept the tradition going.

I worked EU awfully early on 40M. I'm just going to have to check to see if perhaps the three QSO's I made today are the earliest ever EU's on 40. Just take me a minute or so with a bit of SQL programming in Access. QRX 1. Nope, I worked 4 earlier ones 2021Z TF3WW 1995, 2148Z G3VMW 1997, 2153Z OM7M 2005, and G0/N4AR 2218Z 1994. However IR4X at 2249Z and F5OGL at 2251Z today were my earliest Italy and France on 40M. EU was really good at that time and the QSO's were fairly easy, but as time wore on, it seemed the EU's slipped away somewhat.

Still all in all it was a lot of fun and as always, very interesting. I wish I'd felt a little better and had put in more time now. -30-

Saturday, February 17, 2007 9:28 PM - A cold shack, usual strong QRN, an unexpected visit from a friend, and still a bit under the weather added up to only about an hour in the ARRL DX test so far. I did manage to snag a couple nice new prefixes though - EF8M and V49A. Maybe later tonight I'll try again. 80 was pretty good in the 0100Z hour. I worked a few stations there, although most were on 40M. I wonder if 15 and 20 will be good tomorrow. Maybe I can get in a couple hours on those bands tomorrow.

Friday, February 16, 2007 9:09 AM - My friend Gary, N2ESE emailed a couple of interesting questions yesterday. I think they and my answers may be of interest to more than just the two of us, so....

Gary wrote in part: "I want to ask you a question about QRP. I had two strange QSOs on 20 meters today on 14.060 I know thats the QRP freq. I answered the first ham he gave quick report. I gave back mine and also my fists nrs and he did not answer me, he went up one Kc. and started to call CQ again so I thought he hit the vfo by mistake and I called him again he said he "dont chase dumb numbers" said QRU and that was it, "yet he was a fist member" WOW.

Then about 20 mins later i answered another station he sent 559 then BK so I sent 559 and QTH he only sent FL. then BK then I told him my name and he told me his. Very strange contacts on 20mtrs never had that before in 45 years. WOW.

SO here is my question when people send CQ QRP or QRP after there call.. DO THEY ONLY WANT TO TALK TO OTHER QRP STATIONS???

I have answered QRP stations before and they were never like that we always had normal QSOs I thought maybe I did not read about something new with QRP operating."

And my answer: "Well, it takes all kinds, as they say. I'm wondering if there was some kind of operating event going on. That would account for the brief QSO's. There are so many different contests, sprints, hunts, etc. these days, it's hard to keep track of them all.

Or, horror of horrors, I wonder if these fellows are SSB operators who picked up all their bad habits on SSB and now for whatever reason are trying CW and bringing their bad habits with them.

Bottom line is, I don't know, I'm just guessing.

As for calling CQ QRP, that's hard to say also. And only the ones doing it really know what they want.

As the dumbing down of ham radio goes on, there is less and less standard operating procedure and everyone seems to be doing their 'own thing' on the bands now.

We're changing around our NAQCC web site over the next several weeks and one thing we intend to put on there is a tutorial on correct CW procedure similar to what I have on my web site. Perhaps that will help a little bit although that is really something that should be on the big ham sites like ARRL, etc. But with their downplaying CW, that won't happen.

Don't get discouraged by a couple bad apples in the barrel. At least CW is still much better off than the phone bands or other digital modes."

And some additional comments. As you probably know I never call CQ QRP or sign /QRP after my call. I consider myself an everyday run of the mill ham who just happens to enjoy running QRP power. No need to attract attention to the fact.

While I love FISTS only a teenie bit less than I love our NAQCC, the fact is that a few FISTS are only interested in exchanging numbers, period. And at the same time there are members who don't want to exchange numbers, but want to have a nice long rag chew with their fellow FISTS member instead. Again it takes all kinds. Just go with the flow.

I mentioned changes to the NAQCC web site. Those changes will be gradual beginning with a modified navigation system similar to what I have on my own web site. I've found it a bit difficult to find things on the NAQCC web site, but just haven't had time to change things around with all my other commitments. And if I, the designer have trouble finding my way around, I'm sure it is even worse for others.

And for those who expressed concern, I'm feeling a bit better today. I just ate some breakfast with no discomfort so far. Yesterday I ate hardly anything. So hopefully it was just a 24 hour virus. -30-

Thursday, February 15, 2007 9:30 PM - Some bear news. We have a bear lined up to operate from Delaware the week of Feb 26-Mar 4. That' a somewhat rare state, as you know. So here's your chance to work it if you need it. Check the NAQCC web site for the schedule.

Not much more to say today. I'm fighting some kind of a 24-hour bug today and not feeling all that well. Hopefully I'll be better and more talkative tomorrow. -30-

Wednesday, February 14, 2007 1:44 PM - It looks like the worst of the storm is over here, and we escaped unscathed so far. There are probably still some power lines with a bit of ice on them, and it is very windy so we are not completely out of the woods yet, but I'm breathing easier.

I'm moved by the outpouring of concern. I received several emails hoping things would turn out OK here. Thank you very much. It's great to have friends like you even though we may have never met in person.

I'm just totally swamped with things to do here. The NAQCC is just growing by leaps and bounds lately and that entails a lot of work mailing out welcoming emails, sending certificates, processing awards, updating the club web site, etc. But I enjoy it very much and I'm happy to see it going this way. There are exciting changes coming up in the club that will make it even better. They should be gradually phased in over the next several weeks.

I'm delighted with the turnout for our NAQCC sprint last night despite the horrid weather and competition from another club's sprint and a Foxhunt to boot. With 13 logs in already after less than 24 hours, I think we're ahead of last month's near record setting performance. Also I notice some new calls in the logs plus a few logs from newcomers to the sprints.

I want to offer a special note of thanks and appreciation to Bob Patten N4BP and John Laney K4BAI for putting C6AKX and PJ4/K4BAI in our sprint last night. These two are true gentlemen and members we are proud of. We made no arrangements for them to activate their DX contest stations for the sprint. They did it on their own because they appreciate the NAQCC and what it is doing. This is a definite plus for the visibility of the NAQCC during this critical period of our growth. Thank you again Bob and John. Let's all try to help them out in the ARRL DX contest this coming weekend by working them on as many bands as possible. -30-

Tuesday, February 13, 2007 6:59 PM - Well, I'm sitting here biting my nails, crossing my fingers and praying about the winter storm we're getting. I fear freezing rain more than anything because of the likely resultant power outages. We haven't had any yet, just snow, but the next 6 hours or so are critical. If we do lose power, I figure it will be a long outage, and if you notice the my and the NAQCC web sites not being updated, that will be the reason. Also it may bring an end to my streak because I have no battery to run my equipment. However that will be a secondary concern as survival will be the first concern if that does happen.

So say a prayer for not only me, but for everyone who could be affected by the storm.

Hopefully I'll be back here with another entry tomorrow and for every day from then on also. -30-

Monday, February 12, 2007 12:15 AM - Happy 198th birthday Abraham Lincoln. Gosh, we'll be celebrating the 200th anniversary of your birth in just two years now. I don't follow the current news at all here, so this may already be a done deed and I just don't know, but I wonder if we are going to see some sort of re-design of the penny in honor of that anniversary.

To answer my own question, I just checked on the Internet and indeed there are plans not only for the penny, but 500,000 one-dollar coins that are 90 percent silver as well. Wonderful. I'll be looking forward to seeing them.

There is also quite a one-year long celebration planned beginning Feb 12, 2008 to honor Honest Abe.

Now this is the kind of news that should be featured stuff on radio and TV as well as the print media instead of the nearly 100% coverage they give only to negative news. That's why I don't keep up on the news here. America is a great country with literally millions of positive news stories happening every day, yet the liberal media dwells on the negative instead. It's sad. But that's a story for another day here in the diary. I want to talk about something very positive in ham radio. In fact two very positive somethings.

First I finished my NAQCC certificate mailing. I mailed out a total of 1,386 certificates in the past 7 days. Of those, about 185 bounced or suffered the fate I described in yesterday's diary entry.

I was delighted however to receive almost 50 emails praising the certificates and not one negative comment. Now 50 out of 1386 you may think is not a lot. Consider this though. In this 'negative' day and age (as in the news media above), it is unusual for anyone to offer a compliment on something well done. Therefore I consider those 50 emails an outstanding outpouring of praise for the NAQCC. I think it is really a boost for the club as we reach a critical growth point. I'm glad now I did it.

Based on the mailing, we've also come up with some exciting design changes in the club that will be phased in over the next few weeks and months. Nothing drastic, but subtle changes that we think will improve the visibility of the club and make us stand out a bit more from other clubs. I'm excited about it, and I hope my excitement is contagious. Stay tuned for the details as they unfold right here in my diary.

And to close out this entry I want to tell you about my QSO of the day for today back in the 0000Z hour. I worked WD4GXD and in the course of the QSO, he mentioned he had been a ham for 30 years on VHF phone, yet only discovered HF CW last summer and now is completely in love with it. I'm hoping to have him elaborate on his story and post it in the CW stories section of my web site. In his case the saying I have at the top of my CW page is true - "Try CW - It will be love at first dit". -30-

Sunday, February 11, 2007 2:19 PM - What do you do when you send someone an email and get this in return:

I apologize for this automatic reply to your email.

To control spam, I now allow incoming messages only from senders I

have approved beforehand.

If you would like to be added to my list of approved senders, please

fill out the short request form (see link below). Once I approve you,

I will receive your original message in my inbox. You do not need to

resend your message. I apologize for this one-time inconvenience.

Click the link below to fill out the request:

I immediately mark it for deletion in my MailWasher program. Let's analyze the message a bit. These kind of messages always start off with "I apologize" or "I'm sorry" so we know right off the people who use this kind of system know they are doing something wrong for which they are asking to be forgiven.

Then they want me to waste my time by going to a web site to fill out some form. Apparently they believe their time is much more precious than my time and I can afford to waste mine, but heaven forbid they waste any of their precious time.

Well I have news for them. Their time is not any more valuable than mine and I just ain't going to waste mine playing their silly game. So anyone who uses such a system will never hear from me via email again. Not that that is any great loss to them, I'm sure. Because they are busy using their precious time doing whatever it is they consider so important.

I use MailWasher here to screen my email, and it saves me much more time than a silly system like I described above. Also it is much more secure than the above system since I can delete any unwanted emails right off the Alltel server without any chance of my computer being infected by a possible virus in an email.

If you stop and think about the above system, I can easily get a virus past that system assuming that is the only 'protection'. I can send the person a virus, add myself to their so-called 'approved sender' list, and then when they download my email with a virus, they are infected. Again assuming they have no other protection.

I know I talked about this before, but I just wanted to elaborate and say how insecure such a system could be in addition to being extremely aggravating. Think about it! -30-

Saturday, February 10, 2007 5:44 PM - I've spent virtually the whole day so far dealing with NAQCC matters. Mostly with sending out the certificates as I've been talking about. As I pause to write this I just sent a certificate to member # 1200 so unless you are among the ones whose email no longer works (165 of you), if your number is 1200 or lower you should have received your certificate.

We are continuing to receive your thanks and kind comments about the certificate mailing. They are appreciated, but even more so we appreciate the comments from those who say they are going to be active in our club events from now on. That's wonderful. I think I said that before, but I'm repeating it because it is important. The club can only move forward if each and every member does his/her part to help out in some way or other. The most important way is to participate in our activities and thus show that CW at QRP power levels continues to thrive despite current anti-CW feelings.

Just for the record this certificate mailing is entirely voluntary on my part. No one is forcing me to do it. I'm doing it because the NAQCC cares about each and every one of its members, and we feel each and every one should have a membership certificate, not just some members. It would be like treating one of your children to some delicious candy while giving none to another of them. So I'm going back to hand out some more candy now. Later. -30-

Friday, February 09, 2007 5:55 PM - Time for a couple more 'Why is it that?'s. Gee, that's an interesting collection of punctuation marks at the end of that sentence. Wonder if it's grammatically correct.

Why is it that folks who say they don't have time to do things spend so much time telling other people they don't have time to do things?. Did you get that? That relates to someone who emailed something about the certificates I've been mailing out. I won't elaborate further.

Why is it that folks sign up to join a club, then never do a single thing more connected with the club? From several folks who had forgotten they had joined the NAQCC.

I suppose I could give some more here, but I won't and I'm tired, and I don't have time....... ooooops. Bye. -30-

Thursday, February 08, 2007 9:35 PM - Not much time for a diary entry today. It's been a busy day working on the certificate mailing. I'd like to get it complete before our sprint next Tuesday evening. Some who are getting the certificates are being reminded they are members after having forgotten and it seems to be peaking their interest in our club activities again. Hopefully some of them will be in the sprint. I'm up to number 776 now. If you're a lower number than that you should have your certificate if your email address worked. I've had 116 bounces so far of 665 I've sent out.

Speaking of sprints, we are working on something to make our June sprint a very special one. I can't talk about it yet, but it will be worth your while to keep an eye on the club web site for details when they become available. Then be sure to take part in the June sprint. And of course all our other sprints as well, naturally.

And finally - our NAQCC President Tom, KB3LFC is going to be featured in an upcoming CQ magazine. I'm not sure just which issue, but I'll let you know as soon as I find out. -30-

Wednesday, February 07, 2007 12:15 AM - You know what makes me really REALLY angry? Whether you care or not, I'm going to tell you and let off some steam at the same time.

While working on getting our our NAQCC membership certificates, I get upset when I make up a certificate only to have the email bounce because someone never bothered to update their email with us. Of course there are other reasons emails bounce that have nothing to do with the email addressee. It's the fault of their ISP, or a glitch in the Internet, etc. I can live with that little upset.

But I really see red when I send out an email and I get a reply that starts out something like this: "I'm sorry but to control spam you must reply to this email to be added to my approved senders list....". I forget the exact wording because I immediately hit Delete as soon as I get such an email. It is NOT my job to maintain YOUR approved senders list. It is YOUR job to do so. I do not play that STUPID GAME, and I never have and never will.

You should use a program similar to MailWasher in which you can examine all your email safely and put the sender either on its black list or its white list.

I'm sorry, I'll quit now, but that is probably the most aggravating thing I encounter in all of the Internet.

I'm now up to # 452 in sending out certificates. If your number is equal to or lower than that you should have received your certificate unless you were one of the bounced emails or one of the other kind I just discussed.

Tomorrow I think I'll write a 'fairy tale' in my diary. That will be something different for sure although the topic won't be. And that's the teaser of the day.

Oh, by the way, that AccuWeather 15 day forecast I mentioned a few days ago, as I feared, has been changed now. No 40's and 50's temperatures coming next week now, they say. They've changed to predicting temps in the 30's. I sometimes think they stick these intriguing forecasts near the end of their 15 day range just to get people to keep coming back to the forecast page and see all the ads they have there. One thing I notice is they regularly stick in a 'snow and ice' forecast for a day far in the future and it mysteriously disappears as the day draws closer to the present. I'm not going to pass any judgment here, I'm just reporting what I see.

Here's some more comments on the member certificates:

"Thank you! This is very nice!"

"Thanks for the new certificate. Very nice!"

"Hi John, Tnx for the very nice certificate, I will print it out and display it proudly, here in my 'shack'. 73/72"

"Thanks Tom and John for sending along the jpg of the certificate. The one shown is correct."

"Hi John. Tnx fer the certificate, I made one off with my monochrome printer and I will send a copy so my daughter can make on off for me with her polychrome printer."

"Thanks for the certificate, John! It printed out great. More wallpaper.... 73" -30-

Tuesday, February 06, 2007 8:50 AM - Two subjects today. The NAQCC Certificate mailing and my star pictures from yesterday morning.

First, as I knew it would be, the mailing is a lot of work and frustrating when the bounces hit. But there's another side to it as well. Several members appreciate the certificates as the following sampling of responses shows.

"To tell you the truth, I am not one much for certificates, and I don't put them on the wall. However, I am with this one. I was quite impressed with its appearance and design. You did an excellent job, especially if it convinces an old fogy like me to use my time, effort, and ink. I like(d) it!!! Great design. I'm even going to use high quality photo paper to print it on."

"Thanks John... this was thoughtful and I appreciate it!"

"John, Thanks so much for the certificate. It will be printed and proudly displayed in my shack."

"Nice certificate, John. Thank you. I have followed your exploits over the years and I surely do wish we had a lot more hams like you. As we say in Alaska, 'You are a keeper.' (With apologies to the Alaska fishermen) Take care." - blush

"Thank you John, 73"

That makes the effort worthwhile.

If you are a NAQCC member with a number of 0203 or less, you should have received your certificate. If you didn't, better update your email address as yours probably was one that bounced. I'll get started with 0204 today and hopefully get another hundred or so done. I'll keep the number updated here in the diary.

As I mentioned yesterday was our coldest day in quite some time here in Kittanning with a low of -4 and a high of 12. We don't often have days with a high temperature that low in February. In fact the lowest maximum temperature in February among my 49 years of taking readings here was 10 degrees back in 1988 and 1996. So we came close to a record yesterday. The -4 low was nothing that much out of the ordinary though. We've had many February days with 'lower lows' than that. All the way down to -12 on Groundhog day of 1961.

Anyway, I woke up during the night yesterday and checked out the house. In the process, I looked out my back window and found a crystal clear sky with Jupiter shining brightly along with Antares and many other stars. At least as many as can be seen here in town with the lights. So I decided to fool around with my digital camera and see what kind of pictures I could get of Jupiter and the stars. I was pleasantly surprised at the results. Careful examination of the pictures showed stars down to 5th or 6th magnitude. Not bad for the maximum 3 second time exposure my camera allows and considering the pictures were taken through two layers of (not perfectly clean) glass.

I learned something about ISO and other settings from the experience. I found that there is a compromise setting for the ISO between low figures that are less sensitive and show fewer stars and higher settings that show more stars, but also have more 'noise' in the picture. I know all photography bugs out there reading this already know all that stuff, but photography is a new hobby to me since I got my digital camera in June of last year.

I've put a couple of the pictures on MySpace. Unfortunately with re-sizing from the too-huge originals some of the quality is lost, but you'll get an idea of how it works with the limitations of my digital camera and my minimal knowledge of photography. Even the reddishness of Antares is somewhat washed out from the originals, but a slight reddish tint is still noticeable. -30-

Monday, February 05, 2007 10:34 AM - Remember the song 'Rubber Ball' by Bobby Vee? I find myself singing that as I send out our NAQCC member certificates as I mentioned yesterday. So far about one in four has bounced back as our members apparently are neglecting to notify us of any change in their email addresses.

I watched some of the Super Bowl last night as I was sending out certificates. I generally don't like watching the Super Bowl because of the excessive length of the commercial breaks and especially the half time show. However I made the effort last night since I have always been a Peyton Manning fan. As those who follow football even slightly know, Peyton's day Archie was also a great quarterback who never got to play on a good football team in his years in the NFL. And football is a team sport, not just a quarterback sport. Some great QB's like Archie never get to showcase their talents because they don't have a good team to help them out. Other QB's with mediocre talent are ranked by some as 'great' when in fact their team made them look great. I think Terry Bradshaw of the Steelers falls in that latter category. He 'won' two Super Bowls because of the great Steeler defense, and two others because of wonderful receivers, good running backs, and a good defense.

I'm a fan of wide open football, and I like most quarterbacks who can execute that style of football. To mention just a few, there are many more - Dan Marino, Steve Young, Joe Montana, Jim Kelly, Warren Moon (especially up in the CFL), and so on. I haven't seen much of Drew Brees, but he seems to fit that category also. Oh and let's not forget Doug Flutie in his CFL years. I could go on, but I won't. Well, just one more comment. Many folks think that Peyton Manning's 'little' brother Eli is going to be an even better QB than Peyton is. So far I haven't seen that, but if it happens, Eli will be one of the best of all time.

This is the coldest day we've had in a few years here in Kittanning. It got down to around 5 below this morning, and it's still only around zero as I write this around 11 AM. But at least it's nice and cozy inside with my new furnace.

Not a lot to speak about concerning ham radio the past few days. I am delighted to see the results of my poll concerning CW usage since the 'day of infamy' in mid-December. I know my site caters to those who love CW and the results are biased because of that, but only 3 out of 141 voters saying their CW usage will be less now is still impressive. And of the 138 others, 72 are increasing their CW usage, perhaps many of them as a backlash and protest against the FCC rules change. Wonderful!

Hey, my 160M KS QSL came today. Thanks Bob W0BH. Thanks also for the comments you wrote on the card. I appreciate them. That's 42 states verified out of 42 worked on 160M with my QRP and attic random wire. I wish now I'd stayed up later for the 160M test. Perhaps I could have gotten some of the 8 remaining states also. Next year I'll have to make plans to do so for the ARRL and CQ 160M tests, as it will still be near a sunspot minimum and conditions on 160 should be good again.

I forgot to say I was up in the middle of the night last night fooling around with my digital camera taking star/planet pictures. More on that tomorrow. -30-

Sunday, February 04, 2007 6:20 PM - I've got to start taking notes or get some new memory chips for my brain. I often get ideas for the diary when I'm out walking or involved in some other project, then forget them by the time I start writing my entry. That has happened today, so whatever it was will have to wait for another day.

I decided today to send out NAQCC email membership certificates to all of our members who didn't already have one. As you may know, we recently started sending one to each new member along with their welcoming email. Before that a member had to make a separate request for one. At any rate as I always do with such a project, I try to make an assembly line type project out of it, so I spent an hour or so setting things up so I could do it as quickly as possible. I got it down to where I can paste in the member's name and number, set up the email, attach the certificate and send it off in something like a minute for each one. So the project is going to take some time to complete, but I think it will be worth the effort to have each of our members get a beautiful membership certificate.

However, not everyone is going to get one. Of the 70 or so I sent today, 13 of them bounced back. Those members apparently changed their email addresses from the ones they signed up with when they joined the club. I talked about the email situation in another entry a couple weeks ago so I'm not going to dwell on that here again. It is very frustrating to take the time and effort to prepare a certificate, then have it not reach its destination. I wonder how many more of the 1300+ left to send will bounce? -30-

Saturday, February 03, 2007 5:37 PM - Maybe Phil (Punxy's groundhog) knew something after all. That is if the long range (10-15 day) forecasts from the NWS, Intellicast, and AccuWeather are right. Generally I believe anything beyond 48-72 hours is more a guess than a forecast though. But nevertheless all three say after we bottom out temperaturewise somewhere just below zero Monday and Tuesday, each day after that until mid-February will be a little warmer than the day before until we reach the upper 40's according to AccuWeather. The other two are a bit more conservative in their temperature predictions. We'll just have to wait and see.

If we don't want to look forward to the frigid temperatures on Monday, we do have something positive to look forward to. The NAQCC has another bear roaming the woods from the 5th through the 11th. He's Ken N2ZN from New York. Of course NY is not a rare state, but if you work Ken, the QSO can be used toward a few other things besides the QRP WAS Award. Just to mention a couple, the NAQCC Worked Members Award (I'll say more about that in a minute) and the NAQCC Bear Hunter Award. So check out Ken's sked on the NAQCC web site and take a shot.... er I mean give a call if you hear him.

About once a month I check my progress toward the next level in the NAQCC Worked Members Award. I did so last night and found I came up two points short of the 700 point level. I've worked 294 of our 1680+ members now.

In case you're not familiar with the NAQCC Worked Members Award, we have a very unique concept to the award. You earn points for each QSO with a member. It's more work than just making a QSO and exchanging a number as other clubs do for their awards, but I think it's a lot more fun in the process. Also it definitely leads to more meaningful QSO's than just saying my **** number is 2332, TNX QSO, 73.

For our award, you get 4 points for a QSO if you get to know something about the ham you are working beyond what his rig is, and what the WX is at his QTH. Just two of many examples - maybe the fellow was on a D-Day invasion ship in WWII or the lady is a country western singer.

You get two points for a QSO in a contest, because contests are great for building CW skill and speed.

One point goes for a basic every day QSO that doesn't go beyond rig, WX, 73. Also working a ham before they joined the NAQCC counts for one point. Obviously you don't know at the time if he's going to join so you have to do a little log searching from time to time for that 1 point.

Finally working the club station N3AQC is worth 5 points.

One more bit of news, or rather a teaser about the NAQCC. We're working on a deal to give away a physical prize to the winner of our April Sprint. I can't say more than that about it, but I believe it will be something that will be dearly treasured by any CW QRP operator. So keep that in mind and make plans to put in a big full 2 hour effort in the April Sprint if our plans come to fruition, or even if they don't.

Such things as the prize, Paul's plaque, FISTS membership or renewal to our 2007 Participation Award winner, and printing our certificates in color now are due to the generous contributions of NAQCC members. If the contributions keep coming, we'll have even more great deals in the future. Remember we don't charge any dues, and only a minimal charge for some of our awards, so contributions are the only way we can do things like that. -30-

Friday, February 02, 2007 8:53 AM (Groundhog Day) - Yes it's Groundhog Day again. I remember as a naive youngster I always thought it was fascinating how this little creature knew it was Feb 2 each year and time to wander out and check for his shadow. Like a lot of things, it was disillusioning when I found out it was just a publicity scam, and now a very lucrative one for the town of Punxsutawney, PA. So lucrative in fact that many other towns around the USA have adopted the scam.

At this point in typing this I was interrupted by a call from a relative (coincidentally) in Punxsutawney. We often have long phone calls and this one lasted about 90 minutes. Of course we talked about the groundhog among other matters. She agrees with me that the groundhog bit is a scam.

So now I've got to get back on track with what I was saying. Oh, although it is a scam, at least it's a harmless scam, actually more of a publicity stunt that works very well to publicize this fairly small Western Pennsylvania town.

In case you don't know, the tradition of Groundhog Day was brought to the 'New World' from Scotland. The groundhog wasn't involved in the Scottish legend, but the shadow part was, in a way. In Scotland it was believed that if it was sunny on Candlemas Day (Feb 2), as they put it: "If Candlemas Day is bright and clear, there'll be two winters in the year." Hence if the groundhog saw his shadow, it would be sunny and the next 6 weeks would be a 'second' winter.

Many interesting facts can be found about Groundhog Day with an Internet search on Windows Live.

Now let me get caught up on some feedback from the diary which has been growing steadily of late. I can't mention all of it here in the diary, but I do acknowledge each email received.

Ron K5DUZ enjoyed my entry of yesterday talking about the sun, weather, etc. and asked if I knew about the Analemma web site. I do know and have been using a very interesting program called SunGraph2 that I obtained from the site. It shown among other things, the sunrise and sunset times for any point on Earth for each day of the year. It also has a daylight/darkness map of the Earth which can be used for planning 'grey-line' paths for ham radio. And of course a graph of the Analemma.

For the folks not that much into astronomy but still curious as to just what an analemma is, I'm not going to describe it here, but you can check it out at http://www.analemma.com/

Paul, K0PK commented on the CQ 160M contest. With his 90' shunt fed tower antenna, a QTH in centrally located Minnesota, and QRP power he worked all 50 states in the contest.

Among others over all the time I've used my TS-570D, Terry WI8Q asked my opinion of the rig as a CW rig. I've said this before, but I think it is a very good rig and a delight to use as a QRP CW rig especially. It is much easier to operate than one of the dedicated QRP rigs and their often too small and confusing controls. The only shortcoming is that it could have better man-made QRN filtering.

There's more, but I'll save that for another day. I've a lot to do today as usual, so I better start getting some of it done. -30-

Thursday, February 01, 2007 8:59 AM - Have you gotten started on the February NAQCC Challenge? I have. I worked two stations last evening and as a result I have about 10 of the letters I need for the 4 President's names involved in the challenge.

That leads me to a question. Do you have an idea for one of our NAQCC challenges? It's hard for just a couple of folks to come up with new challenges, plus I'm sure there are a lot of great ideas floating around out there. Just take a look at all of the challenges we have had so far on the club web site to get a general idea of what a challenge is about, then send us your idea for a new one. Remember the bottom line of all challenges is to increase CW activity on the bands, and they now must be something that involves the whole month, not just a few days of the month.

As an avowed winter-hater, I like to observe signs that winter is coming to an end. For example, I use meteorological winter which runs from December 1 through the last day of February, not astronomical winter from about December 21 through March 21. That puts the end 21 days closer each year although the length is the same, of course. The rationale for meteorological winter is that it is more closely tied to the weather than where the Sun is in the sky. December, January, February are on average here in the USA the three coldest months of the year. Mid-January is the time of the coldest days of the year - on average. So as of today there are just 28 days left in winter, not 49 or so.

Some of the signs I watch for are the earliest sunset which is around December 8th each year. The latest sunrise comes around January 5th or so each year. I like to note when we've gained 30 minutes of sunlight in the evening - that comes around January 20th.

Like the ancients with their stone monoliths tracking the position of the Sun in the sky, I like to watch where the sunlight falls as it comes in my back window. At the winter solstice around December 21 it pervades all the way into my living room. Near June 21, it only lights up part of my kitchen near that back window.

Here's a picture from December 20, followed by one from today, February 1st to show how much altitude has been gained in that time.

pix_Dec20 (23K)
pix_feb01 (21K)

There are many other signs as well. In fact at one time I made up a list of signs that showed one event just about every day from Dec 1 to Feb 29 that indicated the decline of winter.

However with all that being said, and probably boring everyone who has read this far, winter is not co-operating here and our coldest weather of the season is coming this weekend. But not to be discouraged, when the coldest weather occurs in February, you know it won't last all that long as the Sun's heating power is increasing steadily each day now.

That was no consolation back in 1960 though when March was colder than January or February. That unusual month was one of the things that peaked my interest in meteorology which obviously has lasted even to this day. -30-

Wednesday, January 31, 2007 9:09 AM - I mentioned in the latest NAQCC Newsletter about my friend Tom KB3LFC (NAQCC President) going for the club's QSO-A-Day award in January. For those who may not know, the award is offered basically for what its name suggests - making a QRP CW QSO each day for certain periods of time ranging from any 30 day period to 1 calendar month to a full year. It was based on my 'streak' and suggested a couple years ago by Stan K4UK. To make it a little more challenging, doing it for the 30 day or 1 calendar month categories requires at least TWO such QSO's per day. If this appeals to you, check out the complete rules on the NAQCC web site.

The days go by UTC, so Tom finished up his month last evening around 0050Z when I tail-ended his first QSO of the 31st with KB1LZH. So my congrats go to Tom publicly here. With his job on the local newspaper and the associated unusual working schedule, his religious commitments, raising two teen-age twin boys, and some health problems, it isn't always easy to get on the air regularly enough to do such a feat as required by the award. Yet he did do it, and I am proud of him and his dedication.

I hope that Tom's efforts and dedication will serve as an inspiration to other club members (or non-members) to try for this award in one of its 13 categories. Remember any kind of QSO's are acceptable with two exceptions. You can't schedule someone on a daily basis to make it. Also checking into any kind of net to get the QSO('s) is not allowed. Otherwise ragchews, contest or sprint QSO's, or quick DX QSO's are allowed. Basically any QSO that is not pre-arranged or regularly scheduled is OK.

With tomorrow being the first of the month, why not plan to start YOUR 'streak' then. Hey it's an easy month with only 28 days, and if you get two QSO's each of those 28, you'll earn a beautiful colorful certificate that says to the world that CW is still alive and well and a very efficient mode at QRP levels even at a sunspot minimum. You can help to silence some of the CW nay-sayers with a little effort on your part.

I had more to say on other matters, but I want this info to stand alone for today.

And just as I was about the add the 30 to the entry, I received a guestbook entry from Tom about the award. It adds a nice finish to my story.

Check http://www.arm-tek.net/~yoel/viewguestbook.html to read it. -30-

Tuesday, January 30, 2007 2:30 PM - It's very depressing. Winter has come with a vengeance to Kittanning. Here's a view out my back window earlier today.

aaa.snow (32K)

If you want to see a view out my front window right now as I type this, just get a piece of plain white paper and hold it up in front of you. That's pretty close to what it looked like here a couple minutes ago.

At least this particular snow right now is just a very narrow band moving through very quickly so it won't put much on the ground, but it looks like on and off snow for at least the next couple weeks according to the long range 'guess' by the weather predicting services.

I guess I shouldn't complain because our nice fall weather lasted all the way into mid-January this year, so winter won't be all that long. In fact there are only 29 days left now until meteorological spring.

One of the things I like about doing this web site is the many friends I've made through it. Most recently, a Croatian ham, 9A5BDP - Dubravko Pozar read about one of my old keyers, the AccuKeyer and wanted to build one himself. He asked me if I had copies of the plans. So I got out my digital camera and the old (1979?) ARRL Handbook and photographed the pertinent pages and sent them off to him via email. We corresponded back and forth a couple times now. I hope he'll let me know how the keyer turns out, and who knows I may even work him some day when he is using it. That probably won't be until the sunspots pick up though, as the conditions to EU haven't been all that great here.

The month of January is almost over as is our 'Work the Canadians' NAQCC Challenge. I guess I have between 10-20 VE QSO's for the month here. Now in another day or so it's off to work on the February 'Presidents' Challenge. I always like the alphabet challenges and it seems other NAQCC members do as well. They seem to be among our most often 'solved' challenges over the 25 or so months we've been doing a challenge now.

Well, as I said, the snow has stopped already at least for the time being. Just enough came down to paint my nicely swept sidewalk white again. -30-

Monday, January 29, 2007 11:08 AM - I got on 160 again for the last hour or so of the contest last evening. I brought my QSO total to 110 and my multiplier total to 28 by adding AA1K from DE. I put in 3.75 hours for a rate of 29.3. I'm happy with that - averaging 1 QSO every two minutes on a difficult band for QRP and my simple random wire in the attic. Now I just hope W0BH comes through with my QSL from Kansas to confirm state # 42 on 160M. Of course I'm sending a SASE, but even that doesn't insure getting a return QSL these days.

I remember in the good old days (OH NO, not a 'good old days' story) when it was so easy to get a QSL card. Everyone was eager to exchange them and the price was right at just 3 or 4 cents a card. Without looking it up, I believe from memory, the rate was 4 cents when I started in ham radio. Now of course it's 20 cents more at 24 cents postage per card. And if you don't want the PO to mangle your card which happens more and more frequently now, to send a card in an envelope costs 39 cents. For the cost of mailing a few QSL's you can buy a good meal. It's no wonder a lot of hams don't QSL at all these days.

To me, it's still a thrill to get a regular QSL card in the mail. I don't QSL all that often unless the QSO is a new band state like W0BH or a new band country - things like that. HOWEVER, I do answer every card received here, either direct for USA cards or via the ARRL buro for VE and DX cards.

That segues into this. Wouldn't it be wonderful if the ARRL would set up a domestic QSL buro so hams could exchange cards cheaply here within the USA. I don't think it would be all that much of an additional burden on the ARRL. I would imagine the volume of cards would be less than what goes through their DX buro. The two buros could be set up separately to spread the workload out. It would also provide another source of revenue for the money-hungry ARRL. I really can't see any reason for not doing it. It would also give another incentive for hams to join the ARRL and offset some of the resentment they have built up as a result of the CW issue.

You may or may not remember the USA QSL Buro that was set up several years ago to provide a domestic QSL buro for hams. It was an idea perhaps a bit ahead of its time, and it failed rather ignominiously after 'abuse' by those who were using it. I don't know the full story about its collapse other than what I say here. I was sad to see it go, as I used it and did save quite a bit on postage while it lasted, which was not very long. -30-

Sunday, January 28, 2007 11:24 AM - I entered the CQ 160M contest this weekend with no intention of doing a big effort. I was just going to use it to get a couple quick 'QSO-A-Day' QSOs for my streak and look to see if I could get any of the last 9 states I needed for 160M QRP WAS.

I only got the streak QSO's Friday evening, then QRT as the pileups were tremendous. I figured Saturday evening would be better for looking for the states. When I got on Saturday evening, the pace was still frantic, but not quite as busy as most of the big stations had now worked each other, leaving better pickings for us little stations.

Propagation conditions were excellent, and I was finding it very easy to work stations, perhaps the easiest on 160M since the last sunspot minimum. I probably worked about 80 percent of the stations I called with only about 5 percent of those asking for me to repeat something.

I still had my local QRN problems though. My new furnace would kick on and pretty much wipe out the band. However I found I could use my 15M vertical for listening which cut down the noise considerably. I had to be quite agile to switch back and forth between antennas for listening and transmitting, but I mastered it and added quite a few QSO's while the furnace was running.

I wasn't hearing any of the states I needed though except a very weak NV station and he had a huge pileup. I also heard Mal W5XX in MS, but he was S&P as I was, so I couldn't catch him. Finally I did hear W0BH in KS, and with just a few repeats I logged him for my 160M state #42. After that I didn't hear anything else new because some other kind of local QRN started up and it was the same no matter which antenna I listened on. So I gave up and went to bed after 75 QSO's from half the 50 states in around 3 hours of so operating time.

If you listened on 160M last night, you wouldn't know that CW is a dying mode as some mis-informed folks are saying. I never heard CW contest activity on 160M as busy as this weekend. There were CW contest stations all the way up to just beyond 1890 kHz. I can't recall them going much beyond 1880 before, and usually it was lower than that. I was delighted to see such a high level of activity.

Working KS on 160M also gave me another state worked on all CW bands from 160 through 10. That gives me 21 9 band states worked - all verified except my KS QSO from last night. A good many of the other 29 states are 8 band states with 12M being my weak band. I have only 25 worked on 12M. Of the 450 possible 160-10 band states, I now have 404 worked.

Now I've got to get my W0BH QSL and SASE ready to mail. -30-

Saturday, January 27, 2007 10:12 AM - OK Monty Python fans - And now for something completely different.

Instead of typing a diary entry here today, I'm going to refer you to my main CW page. I hadn't updated it since the recent disasters suffered by CW, so I did so today. See cw_ss.html and read what I have to say. About 40% of the page has been re-written to reflect the recent events. -30-

Friday, January 26, 2007 5:09 PM - It's odd how the contents of this diary just seem to pop out of nowhere sometimes like in a guestbook email today. I was really searching for something to write, then.....

I find it quite interesting that two such like minded individuals should live in the same small town in Western Pennsylvania. Even more interesting is that they both developed their perspective on CW and ham radio independently of each other although they are fast friends now. Read what my buddy Tom KB3LFC has to say about the CW issue and see how closely it mirrors my feelings.

"Hi John; I am writing in regard to the FCC decision to eliminate the Morse Code requirement for Amateur Radio licensing beginning Feb. 23.

One person offered the comment that the decision was the "...dumbing down of Amateur Radio."

I couldn't agree more. For several decades I have noticed an attitude trend not limited to Amateur Radio but one often seen in such areas as college admission and or employment requirements and others. The prevailing attitude seems to be "I can't meet your standard so you have to lower them for me." There's an old adage, "Nothing worth doing is easy."

As far as radio is concerned I do not believe that it's a matter of "I can't" learn the code," but rather "I don't want to put forth the effort to learn."

I fear that what we now have to look forward to is an influx of "10-4 Good Buddy" types on the Amateur bands. I predict that it's only a matter of time until we see additional demands for easier, more simplified tests, and perhaps a further reduction in license types.

I realize my comments may anger or offend some. That's not my intention, however, I must say that at this point I don't care if my words offend anyone.

Perhaps few people had as much difficulty in learning the code as I did. Years (decades) ago I purchased some code training tapes that sent code in the 3- and 4-wmp range. I actually memorized the tapes before I learned the code. Those tapes were played over and over to the point of wearing out. I also spent countless hours listening to W1AW 5-wpm code practice sessions. It was months before I felt I was ready to take the 5-wpm Novice code test. I passed, but just barely.

I'm not trying to toot my own horn, but my point is that anything, including mastering CW, takes effort.

Most people would have to put forth much less effort than I did to learn to copy CW. Yet, few are willing to even try.

I believe the amount of effort put into anything is consistent with the quality of the end results. Sad to say, quality and striving for excellence don't seem to matter much anymore.

In my not always so humble opinion, the recent FCC decision is not only the "...dumbing down of Amateur Radio," it is "Dumb, and dumber than dumb." I guess time will tell. At least the "10-4 good buddies" that are sure to follow won't be heard on the CW portions of the bands-or will they?

Sincerely, Tom Mitchell, KB3LFC President and co-founder of the North American QRP CW Club and proud FISTS member.

PS: There are about two dozen or more active radio amateurs in Armstrong County, Pa., yet only two of us are CW ops. Most local amateurs lauded the FCC decision to drop the code requirement. Amazing!"

Yes, and because of that, I do not belong to our local radio club and have no intention of ever belonging. I have nothing against those who choose not to operate CW, although I believe it should be learned. However I deplore hearing hams condemning other hams because they have learned and are loving using CW on the ham bands. It reminds me of the bigots who say we can't have Blacks using our bus, school, or restroom. Although they use other words beside Blacks that I would never use myself even in quoting them.

Now Tom and I will get down off our soapbox for now. Thanks for listening. -30-

Thursday, January 25, 2007 1:42 PM - I want to talk about contest log cross-checking today, but first...

It's a minor annoyance to me when someone, referring to my streak, says GL on making it to 4500 QSO's or 5000 QSO's, etc. It is not the total number of QSO's, it's the number of consecutive days on which I've made the QSO's. Getting 4500 QRP CW QSO's is not nearly as hard as getting QRP CW QSO's each and every day for 4500 consecutive days. Not that I'm seeking any glory for it. I only do it to show how dependable CW can be even at QRP power levels. Sorry, I just had to get that off my chest. Now to my main topic.

I firmly believe that in any ham radio contest, there should be some kind of cross-checking of logs to see that any mistakes are corrected and keep the playing field level for everyone who enters that contest.

We (I) do cross-check logs completely here at the NAQCC, and we notify each and every entrant who submits a log of any errors in that log. We do not penalize for errors such as copying someone's NAQCC number wrong. If you copy someone's section as MS instead of MI and that changes the number of multipliers you worked, we will adjust your score accordingly though.

The reason we do not penalize errors that don't affect scoring while many contests do penalize such errors is quite simple. We have no way of knowing in most cases if the info was copied incorrectly or sent incorrectly. It is blatantly unfair to penalize you if the info was sent to you wrong. We do notify you of such errors though so you may correct your master log accordingly.

If we know the info was sent wrong, as in one case this month where one member was sending another club's number instead of his NAQCC number, we will notify of the error, but indicate it was the sender's error, not a copying error.

It is amazing how many errors turn up in logs, and I don't envy those organizations who have to cross check many hundreds or thousands of logs. It takes me long enough to just cross check our 30 or so logs we get for our sprints, although as time goes by, I am more and more automating the process using computer programming to do the work.

Now I've got 5 new NAQCC members to sign up and I have to print our the certificates for our January sprint winners and get them in the mail, etc. It seemingly never ends but I don't mind because I love being busy. I get extremely tired when I have nothing to occupy my mind or body. I'd make a terrible couch potato. -30-

Wednesday, January 24, 2007 12:03 AM - Some random thoughts very late at night or very early in the morning depending on how you look at it - an "is the glass half full or half empty" sort of thing.

I'm delighted with the way the number of visitors to my site continues to grow just a year or so after I was seriously considering dropping the site altogether becase the response was dropping so rapidly. For whatever reason you are coming in higher and higher numbers to visit, I appreciate it and it encourages me to keep the site going.

For only the fourth time in 11+ years my 30 day average is over 150 visitors per day, and still rising. That's almost a 100% rise since a very low point in September of 2005.

Another rise in numbers that is very satisfying is taking place in our NAQCC Sprints. After two very poor months apparently due to dismal conditions on sprint nights, we are very close to a record number of logs submitted this month, and I believe we do have a new record number of participants. I'll know for sure after all logs are in and have gone through my rigorous cross-checking procedure. I'll report here when that happens.

And another smooth seque into talking about sprints. Our NAQCC 160M sprint is less than 24 hours away now as I write this. I hope you're all going to give it a try. If you do, keep in mind one thing - if you happen to answer my CQ and I don't come back to you, I'm not ignoring you - it's just that I have tremendously strong local QRN on 160M from all the electronic junk in this crowded neighborhood.

Continuing to talk about sprints, I had a landline call with Mike, KC2EGL this evening. We were discussing the sprints, and he said something that enforces what our sprints are all about. Mike is new to CW, and he enjoyed his first sprint this month, saying the relaxed pace is ideal for him. Perhaps we shouldn't really call them sprints since a sprint denotes some kind of fast paced activity over a short period of time. That's not what our 'sprints' are about. We want to get newcomers acquainted with contesting so that those who enjoy it can then either continue with us at our slow pace or decide they want to delve deeper into contesting and play with the 'big boys'. Everyone has to start somewhere, and our sprints are the place to start contesting. Otherwise the 'big boys' won't have anyone to play with in the future as the present crop of great contesters ages and dies off and no one comes along to replace them. So give our sprints a try even if you don't think contesting would appeal to you. Who knows, you might just change your mind. Anyway you have nothing to lose, and perhaps a lot to gain.

There's a lot more running through my mind, but it will have to wait as I've got to get to bed now. -30-

Tuesday, January 23, 2007 12:01 PM - I hope you're geared up for our NAQCC 160M sprint this Wednesday evening. This is our second venture into that band, and our first sprint there. We had a challenge in conjunction with the CQWW 160M contest a couple years ago, but this sprint we are on our own. I know I will not do very well because my attic random wire does not perform all that well on 160M. It does well in the big contests when the station at the other end is using a Beverage or other type of great receiving antenna, but minimal antenna to minimal antenna just doesn't cut it all that well.

HOWEVER, I will be in there the full two hours as far as I know right now. I try to support all of our NAQCC activities whether it be our regular sprints, challenges, awards, bear hunt or some other special event because each activity helps to preserve CW on the ham bands, and I certainly want to do that. Without CW, I kiss this hobby good-bye.

So those of you with good 160M antennas, get in our sprint and help those of us out who don't have all that good a setup. Who knows, you might just be one of the first to earn one of our new color certificates.

Two items about one of our most active NAQCC members KD2MX. Paul should receive his handsome plaque tomorrow for being the first to reach 1000 points in our 2XQRP Award. Actually I was first, but as an NAQCC officer, I only got a certificate since I wasn't eligible for the plaque. As soon as Paul does get it and sees it, I'll post a picture of it on the NAQCC web site.

And probably very soon Paul will not be eligible for any award that stipulates a winner must be a non-officer because he has expressed interest in becoming our Recruitment Officer that I mentioned a few days ago. Hopefully he'll be able to get the word out to those QRPers who show up in other QRP contests and events, but are not NAQCC members yet. Yes, despite my almost constant talking about our great club, there are those folks who just have not heard about it yet or may not realize that membership is totally free with no obligations except helping us to preserve CW by showing what an extremely efficient mode it is, even at QRP levels. -30-

Monday, January 22, 2007 8:33 AM - Our NAQCC members seem to be showing a bit of interest in the hunt these past couple days since my comments here. Whether that had anything to do with it, I don't know, but we have gotten one definite 'Bear for a Day' volunteer for this week and a couple others expressing interest in being a future bear. Thanks.

Our bear this past week - Lou, W7JI - had a great week. He was 'shot' 53 times by hunters from 20 states and a few Canadian hunters as well. It seems Kansas is a popular state plus Lou is a great op.

Let's hope this little bit of momentum continues now like the momentum the Colts gathered near the end of the first half last night and continued it into the second half, carving out the greatest comeback ever in a conference championship game. They came back to win after being down 21-3 in case you don't know. I'm sorry, but I don't know whose record they beat with that 18 point comeback because as usual they didn't say on the broadcast or if they did, I missed it, since I was doing other things here and didn't see the whole game.

I've always been a Peyton Manning fan, so I was pleased with the result. It will be an interesting Super Bowl with the Bears and Colts head coaches being very close friends and the teams being, at least as I see it, quite evenly matched.

I suppose we NAQCC members should root for the Bears. HI -30-

Sunday, January 21, 2007 10:44 PM - Let's see, working on my old time radio broadcasts files, a walk, NAQCC business, football, a long call from my second cousin who suffers from CP and other physical ailments, my QSO for the day which took a long time this evening, not to mention eating my meals kind of filled up my day today.

So I don't have much time left before bed and I have some good material for this entry too. Let me squeeze in what I can.

First Geoff W1OH and Ron K5DUZ responded to my Bear Hunt post yesterday so I lost my bet. I knew Ron would reply so I wasn't really including him in the bet. However Geoff also replied with this:

"Well, for me, it's definitely time - I'd love to get in on either end of this activity. But overly busy life generally doesn't allow it :-)

But, I'm hopeful too. I think I mentioned in an email a couple of weeks back that I'm expecting a change of pace as I hand over the reins of the local radio club presidency this Thursday (barring snow storm issues!!!). And with any luck, our condo will go on the market next month and hopefully we'll be in a real house once again with outdoor antennas (wow!!) by later this year.

So in the shorter run, I'll still be pretty busy, though I'm hoping to get back into the sprints a little more, and maybe chase a bear or two! But in future, I'd be really interested in being a bear.

Maybe some of the issue is just the new concept combined with mediocre propagation and busy schedules. Perhaps it will just take more time and more "gentle persuasion" to build up this activity. Don't give up - just keep on plugging!! 73, geoff"

That is very encouraging, and probably sums things up well. Thank you Geoff. We won't give up, although it does get frustrating at times knowing we have 1677 members now and it just seems that no one is interested in the bear hunt at all. It meant a lot to hear from you and telling us your particular situation, and we know that you will keep your word to be a bear someday.

I also had another email today that is typical of the kind of thing I receive from time to time. This one was from Kelly KC0UFB who basically said it was very difficult for him to make a QRP QSO and he was amazed at my results with QRP.

I answered him honestly and said it was amazing in turn to me that so many folks do have trouble making QRP QSO's since I find making them almost too easy at times even with my very minimal QRP setup. Then I went on to list some suggestions as follows for him and others to try:

When using CW, make sure your keying is as close to perfect as possible. It is much easier to copy a weak signal when the CW is perfect than when it is sloppy.

Make sure your signal is as clean and crisp as possible. Again it's much harder to copy a weak signal if it is chirpy, clicky, or drifting in frequency. A TS-50 (his rig) should put out such a clean signal.

Make sure you have a good match between your rig and antenna. Use an external antenna coupler if necessary to get your SWR down to 1:1.

Learn when propagation is favorable for making QSO's. Obviously you don't call CQ on 80M during the daytime, but local evening hours are excellent on 80M.

Realize that we are currently at a sunspot minimum and making QRP QSO's is more difficult than it was a few years ago or will be in a few more years at a sunspot maximum.

Above all, have patience. Call only the strongest signals you hear. Remember some folks have high local noise levels and can only copy the very strongest signals at their QTH. If someone doesn't answer you, just move on to someone else.

Finally, don't give up. You'll soon learn a lot of personal tricks of your own that help you in your particular case.

I think that pretty much sums up things in a very generic way and should help anyone to be more successful with QRP. -30-

Saturday, January 20, 2007 8:38 AM - NAQCC Bear Hunt Update. I feel very sorry for our Bear Master Ron, K5DUZ who is becoming very frustrated at the lack of interest in our Bear Hunt. He has contacted via email over 2/3 of our 1675 or so members and had almost no response from anyone.

I would love to know why. I know a good many of our members personally via eyeball QSO's, on-air QSO's, and email. All of them (you) are wonderful people, and I know that it can't be because they (you) are unwilling to help out their fellow hams by giving out QSO's from their states. Many of them (you) would literally give the shirt off their back to help a fellow ham.

Therefore something in the Bear Hunt is flawed and needs to be fixed. However, for the life of me, I can't figure out what. I must be stupid, but to me the Bear Hunt looks like one of the most exciting and interesting things in ham radio that has come along in years. It should serve three main purposes. Primarily it gives everyone an easy chance to get a 2X QRP QSO with an otherwise hard to work state. It also provides a beautiful certificate to those working a certain number of bears and gives points towards another beautiful certificate for working NAQCC members.

So what the heck is wrong? We've gone over some possible reasons here before, but I'd like to rehash them. Is it because current propagation conditions are so very poor that no one thinks it is worth their time to get on the air and make QSO's? Look at my streak. I haven't missed a day of making my CW QRP QSO, and they virtually all come quite easily.

Maybe it's because they (you) are uncertain of their CW ability. We've explained that before. You control every aspect of the hunt when you are a bear. You can send at whatever speed you feel comfortable with. Except for which week it is, you control the dates, times, and bands for your activity that week. You specify how to QSL you. If you need an SASE, the hunters will oblige, for example.

Afraid there might be pileups? That is definitely not going to happen at this early stage of the hunt.

No, there has to be something else. Maybe they (you) just don't have the time in this busy world of today. However many of us members are older and retired with few if any daily commitments. With the 'Bear for a Day' option, a bear need only be active for a couple of hours on just one day instead of scheduling a whole week.

Darn it, I lay awake a good part of last night in bed thinking about this, and I can't come up with an answer even after putting all my thoughts down here in the diary and reading them over a couple times.

So PLEASE tell me where we are going wrong with the Bear Hunt so we can fix it. I am willing to bet that I don't get a single reply to this entry however. C'mon, I'd love to lose that bet.

Lastly but most important of all, I wish to thank those FEW who HAVE volunteered to be bears and those who have done the hunting. Our bears have been Paul KD2MX NJ, Steve NU7T NV, Dale WC7S WY (3 times), Bill K1EV CT, Terry WU9F WI, Greg K4KO TN, Jim WD9HBC MA, Ivin W9ILF IN, Gary W6GY ID, Mike K0MDS KS, Dar W9HZC NE, Jim K5CQB TX, and Lou W7JI KS. I just don't have words to say how proud I am of these members for helping out in this venture. -30-

Friday, January 19, 2007 4:50 PM - It's the first day of winter here about a month late. Our first real snow of the season so far. Since I don't feel like going out in it, I could sit here and type a very long diary entry. However I'm not going to do that.

I'm simply going to remind you that if you entered our NAQCC sprint a couple days ago to please submit your log. We are on pace to set a record for the number of logs submitted for our sprint as well as the number of stations represented in those logs. Help make a positive statement to the FCC and ARRL that CW is alive and well following the December 15th 'Day of Infamy'. Every log submitted makes that statement stronger and more powerful.

If you didn't participate yourself, but know someone who did, remind them to be sure to report their results. Thank you. -30-

Thursday, January 18, 2007 9:40 AM - Good morning! It looks like our sprint last night was really a success. The logs are pouring in at a record pace so far. In just a few hours we've received just one less log than we did for last month's sprint.

The logs are full of calls I don't remember seeing in any of our previous sprints. It's great to have all the newcomers, all of whom are saying they really had fun and would be back for future sprints.

From my perspective, I'm also delighted that all logs received so far have followed virtually to the letter the format we request in the rules. That really simplifies my job of setting up for cross-checking when all logs are received.

The propagation gods were kinder this month compared to the last two sprints. So far only a couple participants have complained about poor conditions, one out in Nevada so maybe things weren't as good out that way. Several participants commented on the good conditions.

Personally I made almost as many QSO's in this sprint (24) as I did the last two combined (26). -30-

Wednesday, January 17, 2007 11:40 PM - Boy, what a busy day. I think this NAQCC is really starting to catch on. I spent a few hours of my time today just dealing with NAQCC business processing applications, membership certificates, newsletter subscriptions, etc. Then two hours of great fun in the NAQCC sprint this evening followed by more work processing logs and posting scores from the sprint. Whew! I'm ready for bed. I'll have more to say about the sprint tomorrow. -30-

Tuesday, January 16, 2007 9:24 AM - Today another edition of "Why is it that...?"

Why is it that we have quite a few non-members subscribed to our NAQCC Newsletter? There really is nothing in it of interest to non-members, and no reason for those non-members not to join since membership is free with no obligation.

Why is it that virtually no NAQCC members are interested in the NAQCC Bear Hunt? I envisioned it as a fun event as well as being a helpful one with the idea of helping folks work toward their 2XQRP Worked All States Award. Perhaps no one is interested in awards? That's not completely true since some have told me they would be looking forward to getting some of the states they need. Perhaps its because of the poor conditions on the bands of late and interest will pick up as conditions improve? I don't know.

Why is it that low band conditions are so poor lately when they should be good during a sunspot minimum? Is it a sign of a really great sunspot maximum coming up in a few years as some are saying? That seems to be the case as the SF during this minimum so far has been generally unusually high.

Why is it that so many folks say or promise they are going to do something, then never do it? That's true for society in general, not just ham radio. We have had a few NAQCC members promise they will be a bear when this or that happens, then we never hear from them again. I guess this or that never happened from them. Or perhaps they just never learned that you shouldn't promise something if you are not going to follow through with that promise. Well, that's OK about the bear hunt, but please don't do it with a child. When you promise them something, do your best to follow through with it. Disappointment can be much greater for a child and can lead to disillusionment very easily. -30-

Monday, January 15, 2007 8:18 PM - Oh, let's see what I can talk about today. Hmmmm. I could talk about how good 80M was this evening, but I might jinx things and have it collapse for our NAQCC sprint Wednesday evening. I'd better not say that when I got on 80 for my daily QSO around 0000-0030Z, the band was full of 599 signals and there were some pileups chasing DX at the low end of the band. I didn't hear the DX they were chasing, but did hear HA9RT about 549 away from the pileups.

I could get on a soapbox and preach about changing email addresses. The NAQCC Newsletter mailing turned out pretty good this time with only two bounces out of 382 sent, but that's not the usual situation. Usually there are 4 or 5 bounces. I guess removing the bounced addresses from our mail list is helping. You only get one chance - one bounce and you're out and must subscribe again.

Ron K5DUZ in doing mailings for the NAQCC Bear Hunt is experiencing a high percentage of bounces from the email addresses our members gave us when they joined.

It's very frustrating and I believe the whole email system is flawed and it is impossible to keep any kind of accurate list of addresses. First of all, it seems that many folks sign up for every free email address that comes along, use an address for a while, then forget they have it and never check it. The mailbox fills up and then everything that is sent there bounces. It's great for fighting spam, but a lot of legitimate and important emails are lost that way.

With the proliferation of spam these days, folks who don't regularly check their email can often wind up with full mailboxes which again results in bounces.

Continuing on, many folks have literally hundreds of email addresses in their Address Book, and it is virtually impossible to notify everyone of an email change, let alone notify all the clubs, web sites, etc. that have been signed up using an email address that no longer exists of the change.

A system like the ARRL, to use just one example, is good because everything sent to the ARRL email address is forwarded to your regular email address. BUT if you change your regular email address and don't notify the ARRL, you ain't gonna get any more email from your arrl.net address.

Personally I have 3 Alltel email addresses, one as a throwaway for places I don't ever want to hear from, but they still need my address for whatever reason. Another for NAQCC club business, and then my main personal email address. I also have an ARRL address, but really never give it out to anyone. It is linked to one of my 3 main addresses and I will notify ARRL if that changes even though I don't really use the ARRL address. Still something important might come through that way.

All three of my addresses are checked regularly every 5 minutes by MailWasher when I am connected to the Internet which is pretty much from 8AM to Midnight every day. It keeps track of what is in my mailbox and allows me to look every now and then and handle the mass of emails in just a few seconds.

Well, I got pretty wound up about emails, didn't I? And now MailWasher is signalling me there are a couple more that just arrived, so I'll QRT now and go check them.

Oh, but before I go, remember the new poll is now on line, so please cast your vote. All 11 votes so far say they will either operate more CW now or the same amount of CW. No one is giving up CW because of the FCC decision. At least none of the 11 voters so far. -30-

Sunday, January 14, 2007 9:19 AM - My but that was fun. I'm speaking of the NAQP. Although I only put in a little over 5 of the maximum 10 hours allowed, I wound up with 223 QSO's. From memory subject to checking my log, I believe I only missed 9 states - AK, HI, OR, ND, SD, ID, VT, RI, NE and maybe NV. I tried a Nevada station but don't recall now if I completed the QSO or not.

I missed out on the prime hours for 40 meters in the middle of the contest and also the first hour when 15 might have been open and 20 would have been better.

There seemed to be a lot of activity despite the claims that CW is 'dead'.

My minimal QRP was really working well, and I got asked for repeats a lot fewer times than normal, and my short term rates reached well over 60 per hour. 80M was the best band with well over 1/2 of my QSO's there. 160M also was quite good, and I'm looking forward to our NAQCC 160M sprint on the 24th and the CQWW 160M contest the following weekend.

I wonder now what I could have done with a full 10 hour effort. I know it wouldn't have matched the two 500+ QSO contests I made back a few years ago at the sunspot peak, but I might have gotten 350-400 QSO's especially if 15 indeed was open the first hour and I caught 40M at its peak conditions.

I think next to our own NAQCC sprints, the NAQP contests are my favorites of all the contests/sprints. Although the CW speed remains high as in all contests, the NAQP seem to have a less hurried, frenzied atmosphere than other big contests.

I heard a few of our NAQCC members in the contest and worked some of them, but others seemed to be just S&P as I was for the whole contest so I didn't get a chance to work them. I hope you all did as well as, or better than, I did and had fun doing so.

Now I'm off to check my log from the GenLog program and import it into my main Access database log.

After checking, I see I missed 11 states. I did miss NV and also MO. -30-

Saturday, January 13, 2007 8:38 PM - I'm having a ball in the North American QSO Party (NAQP), one of my favorite contests. Conditions seem very good and I've worked at least 95% of the stations I've heard so far. It's still a far cry from a few years back when I sustained a rate of over 50 QSO's per hour for the full 10 hours in a couple NAQP's, but still a lot of fun and I did have brief periods here and there with rates over 60 per hour. I'm just taking a short break right now, then I'll probably go back and have some more fun although only 80 and 160 are working right now, and I've pretty much covered 80M except for those who may be starting late on 80M. CUL -30-

Friday, January 12, 2007 9:57 AM - A couple of diverse topics today. If statistics are not of interest to you, you can skip ahead in the entry now.

I carefully watch the activity on my web site and keep track of the number of visitors each day. This helps me to learn if some new feature on the site has increased (or perhaps decreased) the number of daily visitors among other things. It seems that the institution of this diary back on April 23, 2006 has had a positive effect. Let me show you my Excel spreadsheet graph which covers the number of visitors since I started the site back in 1996, then discuss it a bit.

pix_visitors (50K)

The green line is my overall daily average number of visitors. The blue line is the average of the previous 7 days while the red line is the previous 30 days. As expected the smoothing is the most for the overall and the least for the 7 day average.

The sharp peaks in the blue line coincide with publicity given to my site somewhere on the Internet or in the print media. I believe the tallest peak around January 2003 came from a big article on the ARRL web site as did the second tallest peak around September 2001.

Now I'm getting to the point if you've read this far. You'll notice that each blue peak is followed a few days later by a red peak as the 30 day average 'catches up' to the 7 day average so to speak. That's only a rough statement of what is happening to lead me to the next point so all you statistical experts reading this please excuse me.

Now notice the latest rise is visitors from April 2006 to the present. There are really no sharp blue peaks causing or triggering this rise. The blue and red lines follow each other closely. To me this indicates that the diary is the cause of the rise this time which has increased visitors by around 50%. The absence of a sharp blue peak means no publicity event is involved in the latest rise.

That was a long explanation, but I find it very interesting to analyze things like that and I'm sure a few of you do as well, although I'm also sure it is boring to others.

I mentioned yesterday a couple of things I'd discuss further today. The first is my eyeball QSO with Mike, KC2EGL. As I started to say, I met Mike through his job as a mail carrier here in town. I was outside talking to a neighbor one day when Mike was delivering my mail. He had noticed my antennas and also noticed of course the QSL cards he had been delivering. So that day he asked about them and said that he was also a ham radio operator. That led to a lasting friendship although at that time he was not a CW operator, nor a QRP operator.

Over the next year or so before he transferred away, we had many good eyeball QSO's. He'd stop by the house, or more often I'd walk along with him on his mail route. We found we had other common interests such as soccer to mention one.

To make a long story short as the saying goes, Mike did discover the joy of CW. According to him, it was my influence that helped him to do so. He mentioned yesterday that my very soft sell of CW impressed him. Now Mike is a member of NAQCC and a strong pro-CW advocate. He is working on building up his code speed and is now at the point where he feels he can jump in and take part in our many NAQCC activities. That's wonderful because the NAQCC is all about helping newcomers to CW.

I just got an email and took a moment out to check it. It's yet another NAQCC membership application, so I'll have to process it. Before I do though, just a brief followup on the 'FISTS Membership' prize for the 2007 NAQCC Participation Winner. All the details are now on the web site and will also be mentioned in the NAQCC Newsletter which I will be sending out either tomorrow or Sunday. -30-

Thursday, January 11, 2007 11:04 PM - I had another busy but enjoyable day today that included a wonderful long eyeball QSO with NAQCC member and good friend Mike KC2EGL. Mike used to be a mail carrier here in Kittanning till he transferred about 30 miles away to Brookville. We became acquainted when he was delivering mail to me a few years ago. But that's another story for another day, probably tomorrow as it's quite late now, and I still have a few more things to attend to before bed time.

However I do want to take a moment and present still another new NAQCC feature for 2007. The winner of our 2007 Participation Award will receive a FREE one-year membership or renewal to FISTS, our sister CW-promoting organization. More on that later also. For now though - 73 es GN. -30-

Wednesday, January 10, 2007 10:14 PM - I just got home from a computer club meeting and it's getting late, so not a lot to say today, but what I say is important.

A couple days ago I mentioned a new feature on the NAQCC web site - the downloadable, printable NAQCC Sprint Schedule for all the rest of this year. Now the NAQCC has come up with something else for this new year of 2007.

From now on we are printing our certificates in COLOR instead of the old dull drab B&W. This is possible because of generous contributions from a few of our members. At the same time we've come up with an new innovative unique look for our Sprint and Challenge certificates. I think they are really beautiful and appropriate for a QRP CW club as we are. That's all I'll say about them. The only way you'll get to see one is to earn one by participating in our Sprints and Challenges and winning something there.

Now I've got a lot to get caught up on after a busy day, so 73 for now. -30-

Tuesday, January 09, 2007 12:30 AM - BULLETIN-BULLETIN-BULLETIN We have our first NAQCC Bear of 2007 set to prowl next week (1/15-1/21). Check out W7JI's sked on the NAQCC site, and please try to work Lou even if you don't need Kansas.

Oooops, you caught me. I sometimes write a day in advance with a filler statement to add the date/time later, but I forgot to do that yesterday.

Isn't it unusual how high the SF numbers are staying near this sunspot minimum. I've heard different reasons for it, and I don't know which are right or wrong. Some say the higher numbers are a presage of a very high upcoming cycle. Others say that means the actual minimum is going to come later than predicted.

One thing I think it does mean is that the higher numbers mean the lower bands, 160 and 80 meters, are not nearly as good as they were at the last minimum. The higher SF apparently is increasing absorption in the ionosphere at these lower frequencies. What is really needed for good propagation on 160 and 80 is a long period of very low SF, say numbers in the 60's for an extended period of time. We just haven't had that yet at this minimum. It will be interesting to see how it all unfolds in the coming months.

Ron, K5DUZ always keeps me on my toes. He asked about my new thermometer shelter that I mentioned. I guess I never did report that it is now finished and working well. I think it is good the old one was retired before winter really set in. It was in sad shape. Ron, you can take a look at pictures of it on MySpace, and of course so can anyone else who may be interested. There are 5 different views of it. The one that was taken of the thermometer was from around December 20 and you may be able to see that the high temperature that day was 56 degrees, well above normal and a sample of what most of December and so far January has been like this 'winter'.

Perhaps a bit more about the shelter for those who are not into meteorology. The Weather Bureau has guidelines for taking 'official' temperature readings. I won't go into all the technical details here though. Basically to be an official reading, the thermometer must be shaded from the sun, yet must receive a constant supply of fresh air. The enclosure must be painted a shiny white color so that it reflects the direct heat of the sun. Of course you can see the white color in the picture. The louvers are there to provide the air circulation. The double roof, the top one slanted provides an insulating layer of air so the sun beating down doesn't heat the shelter unduly. There are also other exposure rules such as the thermometer should be 5 feet above a grassy surface that extends a considerable distance around the shelter. I can't meet that requirement completely, and the concrete surface you see behind the shelter does heat up somewhat on sunny days causing the air in turn to heat up and give a reading that is 1 or 2 degrees higher than it would be if the surface were all grass. But then, I'm not an official Weather Bureau observer and only do this for my own enjoyment and education so it doesn't really matter all that much.

Finally a big thank you to my friend here in town, Bill Hake who helped me build the new shelter. It was a tricky proposition without a set of power tools like Norm Abram has on the PBS show 'New Yankee Workshop'. But with Bill's help, I was up to the task with just some hand tools and Bill's table saw and his expertise. Cutting the slots for the louvers in the corner posts was the trickiest of all, and took us a long time. -30-

Monday, January 08, 2007 7:58 AM - I received a nice email today from my friend Geoff W1OH. In addition to ham radio, Geoff and I share a love of 'The Lord of the Rings' and other writings by J.R.R. Tolkien, but that doesn't enter into the email. I just brought it up because perhaps in some future diary entry I'll talk about Tolkien and his works.

Anyway here are excerpts from Geoff's email, cutting out the more personal things. To make some of the statements clear, I should say that Geoff is winding down a two year term as president of the Falmouth (MA) Amateur Radio Assn. or FARA.

"Hi John Just wanted to say I really enjoy reading your daily diary commentaries!.....I got a short blurb posted at arrl.org SKN soapbox this morning, and put in a plug for NAQCC and others......Yesterday all day went to a meeting of ARRL New England Division Director K1KI with field org plus affiliated club presidents......the general feeling of folks at yesterday's meeting with K1KI was that they were saddened by the dropping of the CW test, particularly for Extra class, but that it was probably inevitable. However, many seemed "cautiously optimistic" that more folks will actually take to CW now that it's no longer required; rather, they'll get into ham radio and get hooked on CW later. I'm hoping that's the case, and am planning to work with FARA to have CW practice before our monthly meetings and keep a stock of CW training CDs available for Techs and newcomers. We've also had donations over the past year or so of 3 complete older HF stations (rig, power supply, antenna tuner, hand key, mic) that we'll put together as an equipment library to loan out in 3-month increments to help Techs get on HF and also hopefully nudge them towards their General class licenses. It will be interesting to see how things shake out. 73 and thanks for all your efforts (and NAQCC) to promote CW and QRP! geoff - W1OH"

Wouldn't it be wonderful if the statement about more folks getting into CW now that it is falling out of favor. That could happen, since folks tend to want to use the forbidden, whatever field it involves. I kidded (well, half-kidded) Geoff that it's a shame the mic had to be included with those equipment loans. But even so it is a great idea that other clubs could consider. And clubs should especially emulate the FARA idea of having CW practice and making CW training CD's available. Wonderful idea!! -30-

Sunday, January 07, 2007 8:04 AM - The NAQCC site now has a downloadable, printable schedule of all our sprints for the year 2007. You can post this somewhere prominent so you won't miss any of these delighful fun events. The sked is in three formats so you can choose the one that is best for you. I made it in .txt, .doc, and .jpg formats so at least one should be right for everyone.

Thanks to my friend Bob VA3RKM, NAQCC's Canadian publicity officer for some very helpful ideas about the skeds.

Thanks to another Canadian friend Dave VA3RJ/VE3JDR for letting me know that the Morsum Magnificat site has returned to the air although the wonderful magazine has ceased publication. I've linked to it in my CW Info links. There is a lot of good reference material there from past issues.

I haven't talked about the NAQCC Bear Hunt for a while as I figured all the bears were hibernating during the holiday season. However I think many have overslept as we have had no volunteers to be a bear yet in this post-holiday time. With non-ham radio activity at a general slow down following the holidays, this would be a great time to put your station on the air a little bit extra and help other QRPers to contact your state through the Bear Hunt. Plus as I always remind you, it's a lot of fun being a bear. We are trying to put off the NAQCC officers being a bear for a while, but I'm chomping at the bit (or whatever a comparable bear saying is) to have a go myself at being a bear again. It was so much fun when I put N3A on the air in October as a bear/special event station! I know that Ron, K5DUZ is working his little bear tail off trying to get folks to be a bear. I know it is very frustrating to him to not be getting any response. Please consider the matter and sign up to be a bear. Complete info on the bear hunt is on the NAQCC web site. There are many hunters out there anxious to see the bears out of their caves and on the loose again. Personally I would love to see a bear active from North Dakota. I haven't worked that state in a good long time and could use it for some WAS awards that have a time frame to them. -30-

Saturday, January 06, 2007 5:20 AM - Here's interview #3:

Mr. Interviewer - "John, I'm glad to be back in your shack for the third in this series of interviews. At the end of the last interview I mentioned something about gear building and operating. I notice very little reference to building gear on the NAQCC web site, and I wonder why since building seems to go together closely with CW and QRP."

K3WWP - "First of all, I'm glad to have you back here again. I enjoy these talks with you. Now as far as gear building goes, it took me 36 years as a ham to get my first non-homebrew transmitter when I purchased the TS-570D on September 1, 1999. So I have been an avid gear builder myself. However, the main purpose of the NAQCC is to try to help preserve CW on the ham bands. The QRP part of the club is to show how efficient a mode CW is and how much can be done with 5 watts or less power output. Now let me comment on how that purpose relates to building. A ham can be an excellent builder, and could well have built several dozen CW/QRP rigs during his career. However if he never puts any of those rigs on the air, or only makes one or two QSO's with them to check their operation, he is doing nothing to help preserve CW operation on the bands. Soon his building of CW rigs will have no purpose since there will be no CW to operate on the bands any more. Building rigs should not be an end in itself. A rig should be built and used on the air. If that person who built the 24 rigs distributed them to 24 needy hams and those hams in turn used them regularly on CW, that would be great. I know I'm getting wordy here so let me slow down and sum up. The NAQCC encourages rig building if a rig is built to be operated. That is the only way that building a rig is going to achieve our purpose of CW preservation. Too many clubs encourage building without encouraging operating what is built."

Mr. Interviewer - "That makes sense. It's in a way like the antique car restorer who restores a beautiful 1938 Cord and then lets it sit in his garage when it should be shown off at car shows or driven in antique car rallies. You mentioned power level and that leads into my next question. Why the heavy emphasis on simple wire antennas in the NAQCC?"

K3WWP - "That's simple to answer but hard for some folks to understand. Of course the definition of QRP power includes the statement that the power is measured at the output of the rig. However once that power leaves the rig it can still be 'amplified' by an antenna system designed for a high-gain. In fact an antenna system that achieves 13db of gain effectively boosts that 5 watts to 100 watts by radiating it in a single direction. You sacrifice omni-directional operation to gain power. Now it has always seemed to me that someone radiating 5 watts in every direction, more or less, has a distinct disadvantage to someone radiating 100 watts although it is only in one direction. If we both try to work say S9SS, which one do you think is going to do it the easiest? Right, and the 100-watt station is then going to move on to someone else while the 5-watt station continues to try and try to work S9SS. That gives the 100-watt station a distinct advantage in contests since he has probably worked 5, 10, or more stations while the 5-watt station continues to chase S9SS. Let me give an analogy to another activity not related at all to ham radio before giving my bottom line to your question. In auto racing, there is a group called the SCCA, I believe, that has auto races in which the entrants compete in different classes in the same race. It goes something like this. All cars that operate with say 300 HP compete only against other 300 HP cars. The 500 HP cars compete only against other 500 HP cars, and so on. One race, several winners. It's guaranteed the 500 HP cars will beat the 300 HP cars, but that doesn't matter. We want our contests and other activities to be done similarly to what the SCCA does. One sprint, but two winners, one who uses a single element antenna which we call a 'simple wire antenna' or SWA and one who uses a multi-element antenna to boost his radiated power which we call simply 'gain antenna' or Gain. SWA's compete only against other SWA's and likewise Gain's only against other Gain's. That was a long answer, wasn't it? I feel strongly about the matter though since it is frustrating when I work as hard as possible in a contest with my SWA, only to get beaten out by someone with a big antenna farm. I know I'm at least as good an operator as he is, maybe better, but the antenna makes all the difference. We feel the NAQCC system is much fairer than that."

Mr. Interviewer - "Again very logical. The NAQCC leadership has done a lot of serious thinking about things and has come up with some very innovative and fair concepts...."

K3WWP Interrupting - "Well, one of our mottoes is 'The Club With A Difference'. Sorry for the interruption"

Mr. Interviewer - "Very appropriate, John. Speaking of being different, I was going to ask why the NAQCC doesn't have a calling frequency similar to the .058 of FISTS?"

K3WWP - "If I may use a Biblical analogy, we want our members to go out and preach the gospel of CW to the masses. We don't want our members to only work each other over and over again, but we want them also to work those who are new to CW and help them to find out just how enjoyable it is to operate CW. Supposedly anyone who has joined the NAQCC already understands the joy of CW, and doesn't need to be 'converted', again using a Biblical analogy. If all NAQCC members cluster around one frequency, there is less likelihood of meeting new CW operators. We urge our members to spread their activity to all the CW bands from 160 through 10 meters, and spread out on those bands when they do."

Mr. Interviewer - "As an interviewer, I'm supposed to come up with different ways of saying things and to not be overly repetitive, but again I must repeat and say how wonderful a concept. I can see how that theoretically and in practice would work. Great! Well, we're out of time for today. Perhaps next time we can get into some general ham radio topics. I think we've covered the wonderful NAQCC pretty completely in these first 3 interviews. I urge everyone to become a member and support the great things you are doing specifically for CW and for ham radio in general."

K3WWP - "Thank you very much. I hope folks reading this will follow your suggestion and join our membership which at this moment stands at 1,644 folks. I look forward to our next visit." -30-

Friday, January 05, 2007 8:59 AM - Omigosh, I guess in a way I did myself one of the things that annoy me. Larry W2LJ wrote: "Vince Coleman and Lou Brock, I believe - both St. Louis Cardinals. John, I know it's a rhetorical; but it's one of the few rhetoricals that I have an answer to. 73 de Larry W2LJ"

Of course he's referring to my hypothetical baseball question I used as an example in yesterday's entry. And he's right as far as he went. In addition to Vince and Lou, I also remembered Rickey Henderson and Maury Wills doing it. Then I looked on the Internet and found that actually there have been 19 different times someone has stolen more than 101 bases in a season. 12 of those were before 1901 when stolen bases were counted differently. For example going from 1st to 3rd on another batter's single counted as a 'stolen' base. Since 1901 it was done 7 times by the four players mentioned above. Vince 3 times, Rickey twice, Lou and Maury once.

Just in case anyone else got to thinking about that.

Thanks to all the NAQCC members who sent in SKN results to the ARRL SKN Soapbox. And a very special thanks to those who mentioned the NAQCC in their posts. Surprisingly to me and Tom, not all did for whatever reason. Even some of our very active members neglected to mention the NAQCC or even list their NAQCC membership number, although they listed numbers of other clubs they belong to.

Remember every time you mention the NAQCC, that's a chance for someone to learn about the club, perhaps sign up as a member and become active in our on-air activities. That in turn is helping to keep CW alive which is the bottom line purpose of the NAQCC.

We have what looks like pretty much an all-day rain here. Very depressing, but at least it is near 60 degrees so no chance of snow. This will be a good day in PA to put some more CW on the bands if conditions are good. They seemed pretty good again last night on 80 meters for the 4th night in a row.

I still haven't worked any VE's this month in our NAQCC Canadian Challenge. I hope our VE members will try to be a bit more active like they did when we had a VE Special Award in one of our monthly sprints recently. There was a nice turnout then.

One thing that has been asked about the NAQCC is why don't we have 'our own frequency' similar to FISTS. I'll cover that in my next 'interview' in a few days. -30-

Thursday, January 04, 2007 9:10 AM - Although we may not be working as much DX these days at the bottom of the sunspot cycle, it's always nice to learn things about the countries (entities) we do work. In the links section of my web site on the DX information page I have links to the 'official' sites of many of the World's countries. Also the World Factbook provides info on most all of the entities on the DXCC list plus info on other geographical units (oceans, etc.) as well. The link to that is also on the same page mentioned above.

Now there is a new player in the field which unlike the two above sources is geared to ham radio plus other info in each of the ARRL DXCC entities. The format is similar to the World Factbook, but with the addition of the aforementioned ham radio info. It was created by Darek, SP6NVK who spent 4 years developing it as a labor of love. The site definitely shows the amount of time that was put into it. Take a look at HamAtlas also via my DX information links, and you'll see what I mean.

Say, we finally had a couple of good propagation evenings in a row on 80M. Another night of strong solid signals last night. As usual except for SKN, not many of them, but conditions were definitely good. Perhaps we are coming out of the doldrums. Let's hope so, especially for our NAQCC sprint later this month. The propagation gods owe us a good one after the last 3 sprints.

Still no second response to my 'math' puzzle, so I guess it will forever remain a secret except to the one person who did email and ask about it. I guess folks just don't have all that much curiousity about things anymore. Personally if a puzzle like that were offered to me, I would go nuts until I either figured out or was told the answer.

I think one of the top five things that annoy me is this. While watching a sports broadcast, say a baseball game, the announcer will say something like, "That stolen base by John Smith is his 101st of the season placing him third on the all time list." But, darn it, they don't tell me who #1 and #2 on that list are. Then I have to go searching on my own or else I won't be satisfied, and it will bug me the rest of the day. I thought my puzzle would do the same, but I'm not a very good judge of human behavior, I guess.

ADDENDUM - Shortly after posting the above, another person who still retains a natural curiousity about things wrote: "Happy New Year John, your diary is a great read, well done OM. Please tell us the answer to the math question, lemmee get sum sleep hi hi. Hope to have a 2xQrp cw qso with you sometime. vy 73 de Bill/GM4AGL"

OK, I said when I got two emails about the problem, I'd give a solution and Bill's is the second, so here goes.

What does the following series of numbers represent?

6 - 2 - 5 - 5 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 3 - 7 - 6

That series of numbers represents the number of segments in a 7 segment LCD display that must be lit to show the numbers 0 through 9. I said it had to do with something on the main page of my web site and my counter there represents a 7 segment display. -30-

Wednesday, January 03, 2007 9:24 AM - The number of visitors to my web site has been on the upswing over the past few months. I don't really know the reason, but it seems to coincide with the creation of this diary. It is now at the highest point in almost two years. The last few peaks have come because of things like articles about my site on the ARRL site, but as far as I know, there has been no such article this time. Also this peak shows a gradual climb whereas the others showed more of a sharp rise. Anyway it is rewarding to me because in mid-2005 I was actually considering eliminating my site or just let it sit here without bothering with my regular updates to the material. So thanks.

Let's clear up a backlog of things now. I was looking at the SKN posts on the ARRL site last night and I noticed only a very few from our NAQCC members. That is disappointing to me and Tom, but hopefully posts from our members will increase. After all, it's only a couple days past the event.

Also on the site, Tom and I were flattered along with our NAQCC club in general. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery so the saying goes. Right on the main ARRL page was a story of another CW club doing virtually the same thing we did in October with our special event celebrating the second anniversary of the NAQCC. That's great because that means more CW activity on the bands.

Going back to SKN, the ARRL has already removed the SKN story from the main page of their site, but you can still get to the soapbox page easily by clicking the link in yesterday's diary entry below. Then you can enter your comments if you haven't done so yet - and please do. Mention the NAQCC in some way. We gained 4 members shortly after I posted my soapbox yesterday. I don't know if the soapbox was the reason, but it could have been.

What a difference 48 hours makes. On New Year's Eve, 80 meters was stem to stern full of CW signals. Last evening 80 was in very good shape as far as propagation goes. One brief example - I had almost an hour long rag chew 2XQRP. However there were only a few stations heard on the band outside of the traffic nets. It really makes me wonder as I stated a couple of diary entries ago. How can you enjoy doing something just one time a year? Yet apparently many hams do just that. If all those hams would get on CW at least once or twice a week all year, we wouldn't be losing so much band space to other modes.

Well, I've got other things to do now like ordering an infrared optical mouse for our computer club, so I'll close with 73. -30-

Tuesday, January 02, 2007 9:56 AM - OK gang, I just submitted my SKN Soapbox comments and they are posted here.

Notice the 'shameless' plug for our NAQCC. Don't be afraid to do the same in your soapbox comments. Many other comments mention the SKCC so we should promote the NAQCC also.

More later today but I want to get this up as soon as possible before you make your SKN report via the link on the above ARRL page. Please at least mention the NAQCC in your comments. Thanks. -30-

Monday, January 01, 2007 8:31 AM - I hope everyone is enjoying SKN. I've only made a couple QSO's so far, but I may try again later today.

Personally, SKN is not all that big a thing with me since I have my own personal SKN 365 or 366 days each year - well at least it's CWN. I operate CW every single day, often times with my old J-38, but most of the time with my keyer. So doing it one night a year is no big deal for me.

Don't get me wrong, it's a great event put on by the ARRL. It's nice to see them support CW in at least a small way once a year. It's wonderful to hear the bands crowded with CW just like they were in the heyday of amateur radio. I had trouble finding a spot on 80M last night to call CQ, and when I did get a QSO, the QRM was fierce as ops tried to squeeze into whatever empty space there was.

But where the heck are these people the other 364 days of a year? Just listening on the bands last night, many if not most of the calls I heard were not familiar to me. If these folks enjoy using a SK or just CW in general one night/day each year, why don't they do it the rest of the year as well? It's kind of like making love with your wife or husband one night a year and abstaining the rest of the year. I frankly don't understand it.

I hope that at least some of those who are participating in SKN will get bitten by the CW bug (no pun) again and continue to use it. We certainly need the activity to preserve our band space. Amen!

Please, please don't forget to report your results to the ARRL. As I write this, and hopefully for the next few days at least, instructions on how to do so are right on the ARRL web site main page at http://www.arrl.org/ or go right to the SKN article here. We must let the ARRL and indirectly the FCC know there are many many hams who still use and enjoy CW.

Happy New CW Year to all!

And to close some diary feedback from Richard, W2RDD who writes:

"....congratulations on the great QRP club. I've been a member for a few months but am out of the country right now and unable to participate in the events. My spirit has always been with them though. I will be on the air for a while from this side of the pond, January and February. I hope to work all QRPrs on 20 or 30 meters when the time allows. Not to mention propogation."

Of course Richard means the NAQCC. We look forward to having him as a regular participant in our NAQCC activities when he returns stateside.

He goes on, "I was very disappointed by the recent FCC decisions. Not so much by the fact of a no-code license, but the deliberate shrinking of the legal or gentlemenlly agreed-to band plan. I am still convinced that the goal of the FCC is to, eventually, outlaw CW. I was nearly at the point of saying phoey to ham radio, but have reconciled myself to the new order of things.

I've been a General class op for 25 years and frankly have, 'til now, found that license-level very suitable to my ham radio operations. This new order of things has not moved me to consider upgrading. Quite the opposite, actually. Honestly, I really don't care anymore and at age 67 will finish my radio days running CW-QRP when and where I can."

Well said, and a great attitude. -30-