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Wednesday, December 31, 2008 9:34 PM - Depending on what part of the World you are in and when you are reading this, it's either 2008 or 2009 as we've reached that day when we change years on our calendars for another time. It's the 64th time I've gone through the change, or will in about 2 1/2 hours in the Eastern USA time zone as I'm writing this. Wow, that's a lot of years under my belt. It's the 46th time I'll witness a year change as a licensed ham radio operator.

Of course this year we had to wait one second longer for the change as a 'leap' second was added to the year to bring all the atomic clocks and other artificial time measuring devices in sync with what is actually happening in the Solar System with the Sun and the Earth. That's an interesting subject in itself, but I'm not going any deeper into it here. A good Windows Live search on the Internet will get you any additional information if you desire to have any.

The year 2009 is going to bring a lot of change here in the United States, and I hope that change is beneficial to more people than not, but I fear otherwise. So I wish all of you the best in this new year.

At least one thing should change for the better. Radio propagation should improve over what it has been in 2008. That is, unless this prolonged sunspot minimum is something more that just a little longer rest than usual for the Sun.

Also it would seem that fishing is going to have to get better in 2009 as it was pretty poor in 2008, at least here in the river in Kittanning. My total catch of 88 fish is the third lowest yearly total since I started fishing again in 1992. The only two years worse than 2008 came in 1993 and 1994 when I was having some back problems and couldn't fish as often as I would have liked. My average catch per trip in 2008 was only 0.85 fish per trip, my worst ever.

I hope I can get a chance to take out my telescope more often in 2009. I'm thinking of setting up a permanent pedestal in the back yard so I don't have to lug out the heavy tripod every time and take the time to set it up. Perhaps if I get that done, the lessening of work to set up for an observing session will encourage me to do more stargazing. There will be some interesting things to observe in the coming year, one of which I mentioned a couple entries ago, the edge-on apparition of Saturn's rings in August. I'll have more to say about others as they come along.

So with all those thoughts, I hope your personal interests will improve in 2009 and you will have a great year despite any gloom that may come along. -30-

Tuesday, December 30, 2008 10:30 PM - A busy but enjoyable day today. I went for a walk with Ange, my gardening friend this afternoon. He's doing quite well after minor surgery just yesterday morning. We're both looking forward to that time when we can start working in our gardens again.

Then this evening Tom WY3H invited me over to his place to watch a movie. He and I seem to have similar tastes in a lot of things from ham radio to politics to movies to..... We've watched 3 or 4 together. He always says he has a movie he thinks I'll like, and darn if he hasn't been right every time so far. Tonight it was "Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?" with George Clooney and a cast of other folks I honestly never heard of before since for the most part I'm not familiar with movies that were made after the 1970's or so. I'm a fan of old-time movies and TV shows. This one was made in 2000 and it resembled an old time movie to some extent being free of sex, having just a little violence, and the language wasn't all that bad.

I hope everyone takes part in SKN tomorrow evening and New Year's Day. However for the life of me, I just can't figure why so many folks enjoy using CW only one day of the year and ignoring it the other 364 days. I was talking about that with Tom as he drove me home. I guess it's something like the first day of Trout season or as Tom mentioned, the Polar Bear Clubs' activities on New Year's Day. It's a ritual. For that reason I don't get all that excited about SKN since I enjoy CW each and every day of each and every year. It's not a ritual for me, but a way of life. I think it's a darn shame it isn't that way for a lot more hams - it should be. When you have something as wonderful as CW, you should treasure it, be proud of it and use it regularly - not just once a year. -30-

Tuesday, December 30, 2008 11:56 AM - As I mentioned, here's Kenji's email.

"Dear John: A late greeting for the coming year 2009. I hope it will be a happy one for you, your neighbors, and your family and friends.

I set up an old 10m (33ft) vertical telescopic pole for an antenna system today. I've been thoroughly using ICOM AH-4 for matching the wire, but this time I choose a manual tuner (Kuranishi NT-535, which can handle up to 200W PEP) and used a home made short ladder line. The system is working very well, though I have to care about the RF level of the chassis of the tuner, which is potentially hot and may not be fully grounded.

I was surprised when I could work Sweden from JA3 land on 80m with 100W. But I was even more surprised when I worked JD1/Ogasawara stations on both 80m and 40m with 4W. I think these are rare QRP DXing for me this year, though much better than none.

BTW I'm glad to know one of the officers of NAQCC is a VAX engineer (it's about Elwood, WB0OEW - see your 18-DEC-2008 diary); I was a VAX/VMS development engineer during 1990 to 1992 at Digital Equipment Corporation Japan R&D Center. I think I am one of the last guys who actually did the job on VAXen (plural for VAX computers); the later machines were all built upon the Alpha/AXP RISC processors.

While I've learned a lot and am proud to be one of the VAX and VMS guy, my home systems are BSD UNIX-based since 1993; BSD/OS till 1997, and converted to FreeBSD since 1997 for more than 11 years. My radio logging system is built upon some simple awk and Perl scripts and MySQL database. MySQL is surely an overkill, but it works without glitches since 2002.

I hope I can work some stations on ARRL SKN and JARL New Year Party. 73 Kenji Rikitake, JJ1BDX(/3) es JO3FUO"

Thanks Kenji. It's going to be a busy day here (aren't they all?), so you've helped with one of my chores - writing a diary entry. -30-

Monday, December 29, 2008 10:41 PM - I'm sitting here listening to the wind chimes on my porch. It's quite windy out there this evening although there are no storms of any kind in the area. The temperature is still quite mild compared to what it could be at around 40 degrees right now.

I'm glad Elwood WB0OEW enjoyed my relating of my observation of Saturn. I hope others did as well.

That leads to a segue into this. Kenji emailed and said he found comments by Elwood in an earlier diary entry interesting. I'll post Kenji's email later, probably tomorrow.

I'm pleased that my caregiving to my neighbor is showing some positive results. I took her to the doctor today and she got a very good report including getting permission to start driving again. So I guess most of my chauffering duties will be over now. I must say I did enjoy driving again but not enough to want to own a car again with all the headaches and expense.

We also went a few other places today so she could do some shopping, and I picked up a few things also. I needed a new microwave oven, and she said she would pay for it, which she did. I really appreciated that, and I think she did also since she had kept saying she wanted to do something for me for all the help I'd given her, but I kept saying it wasn't necessary because that's what neighbors are for - to help each other.

I also picked up some potting soil, and I'm going to try to get an even earlier start on my Siberian tomatoes this year. I will keep you up to date on that here in the diary, since each year I seem to get a lot of comments on my gardening interests.

That's it for now. Think I'll go fix a late nite snack of some sort in my new microwave. -30-

Sunday, December 28, 2008 9:26 PM - Well, the Lions did it. It wasn't easy, but they managed to complete the imperfect season at 0-16-0. That's quite an accomplishment when you think about it. It's only been done one other time since the merger in 1970 when the expansion team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost all their games in their first year of existence, 1976. That was only 0-14-0 though, so the Lions have the greater accomplishment. The Bucs came close to an encore the next year, 1977, but messed it up by beating the New Orleans (S)ain'ts in their last game of the season after 27 consecutive losses.

It's something to think about. It's sometimes as difficult to lose as it is to win. Take the card game solitaire for example. I mean the variation similar to Klondike where you turn over the stock three cards at a time. It's much more difficult to play a game where you have NO moves at all than it is to win a game by playing out all the cards. Of course now it is easy to get statistics from playing the game on the computer, but I once kept stats many years ago playing with an actual deck of cards. I had heard on the radio show Party Line with Ed and Wendy King that a prisoner somewhere played thousands of hands of solitaire and found that he won about once every 8 hands on average. That intrigued me, as does most everything involving statistics, so I tried it myself and sure enough, I won about once every 8 hands as well. I wish I had kept track of how many hands I played where I had NO moves at all, but I know it was a much rarer occurance than winning a hand.

I had an interesting experience last night. I saw the planet Saturn with its rings almost exactly edge on to us. I had never been active in astronomy at just the right time in the past - edge on apparations occur about once every 12 years, not unlike sunspot maximums, and thus had missed the previous edge-on sightings. So this time I knew it was going to happen around December 26th, and hoped for a clear night. It did clear up last night late, so a few minutes after midnight, I grabbed my old 4 inch Criterion reflector and took it to the back yard in my pajamas and a light coat (it was almost 60 degrees). I lined up the finder on Saturn and looked through the eyepiece. Saturn looked completely out of character, with what I guess was its moon Titan beside it, and not a trace of its rings to be seen. After my eyes adapted to the dark and the optics stabilized a bit, I noticed the rings looking something like a knitting needle stuck through an orange. I stared at it for a while taking in this rare sight as much as I could. It was very exciting for me. Then I took a look at the Orion nebula and took the scope inside.

For those well schooled in astronomy, I know the rings weren't exactly edge on this time. In fact, they were quite close at a tilt of just under 1 degree. They narrowed to .8 degree on the 26th, and then started opening up again which they will do for the next few months when they will start to narrow again and will be exactly edge on sometime in August. Then I hope to view it with my bigger scope which I didn't feel like dragging out that late last night. -30-

Saturday, December 27, 2008 9:58 PM - I'll write this while I'm talking on the phone with Tom WY3H, so if my sentences ramble, that's why.

We had a beautiful spring day in winter today. Our high was 68 degrees, and I took advantage of it with about 12.5 miles of walking. That 68 broke the record here for December 27th of 61 back in 1971. It was only 5 degrees below the all-time record for the month of December of 73 degrees.

My judgment of my new stats service may have been pre-mature. Today the count was way below that of StatCounter, and in trying to check now, I can't even get to the StatsSheet site, so.....

Other than that, not a lot more to say tonite. -30-

Friday, December 26, 2008 8:36 PM - In my never-ending (it seems) search to find better and better statistics services for my web site, I'm trying out another one that seems at first glance (which can be deceiving) close to the best service I've found - StatCounter. I like to have two services that count very similarly so I can be sure of always having an accurate visitor count if one is down for a day or two. This new service is called StatsSheet. I'll give it a try for a while and if it tracks closely with StatCounter, I'll keep it and get rid of W3Counter which is consistenly about 15-20 percent lower in count than StatCounter. I also tried Amazing Counters for a while, but depending on how it was set, was either 20-25 percent higher or lower than StatCounter. I just pass this along in case you have a web site and are interested in having accurate stats, that are neither too low nor inflated.

It looks like we are going to have a preview of spring or a flashback to fall tomorrow with our high temperature predicted by various forecast services to be from 62 to 65 degrees. I love it.

A bit of feedback from my readers now. Frank W9WOC emails, "Hello John: I just wanted to wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy New Year. I would also like to thank you for sharing your diary - and/with - the nice photos of the events that are happening in your life. Also thanks for all your efforts in promoting the NAQCC. Hope to hook up with you one of these days...the last time we qso'd was April 23, 1967. 73, Frank, W9WOC, NAQCC #1693 ... "Pounding Brass since 1952"

Thanks Frank. I appreciate the comments and will try to continue living up to them as the years roll along. -30-

Thursday, December 25, 2008 11:15 PM - Just a short entry to close out this Christmas day.

I hope you all had as nice a Christmas day as I did, and I thank all of you who sent Christmas greetings one way or other. -30-

Wednesday, December 24, 2008 2:41 PM - Not even the weather is co-operating to make it seem like Christmas this year. As I write in mid-afternoon on Christmas eve, it is 50 degrees and raining. Looks more like early November or mid-March than Christmas. But I don't really mind that as much as the absence of decorations. Cold, snowy, icy, winter weather is just not my cup of tea at all.

I'd like to share some diary feedback on this last day before Christmas. Paul N0NBD emails, "Hello John and Merry Christmas, I also think more and more people are not decorating like they used to. In Chanute where we work there was a housing development where EVERYONE there decorated and placed these large greeting cards in the yards. The area was referred to as "Christmas Card Lane". Alas last year there were only a very few houses decorated and less this year. I do not know what the reasons are. Our Christmas will be "weird" to us as our Grandchildren are all with the other parents this year. We always have a present opening and a HUGE dinner that everyone eats too much. Not this year! I guess things are changing. I think we will go to church tonight and listen to the carols and have a quiet night. Merry Christmas and I hope the new year finds you well and the bands pick up so I can work K3WWP on 80 again de Paul N0NBD ar sk.."

Geo N1EAV emails, "Hi John, Just wanted to drop a line to wish you a merry xmas and all the best to you in the new year. Looks like your Dolphins have a chance to make the playoffs if they win on sunday. However, the Patriots need them to lose to get in and thats only if they beat Buffalo....So, we'll see what happens. Regardless, the Dolphins have really turned it around from last year. Take care and enjoy the day"

Yes, the Dolphins look to be on the comeback trail. I wish I could say the same for my other favorite team, the Raiders, once the team with the best overall record since the merger. However they have really fallen on hard times of late as has the other bay area team, the 49ers. But these things do go in cycles for virtually every team. Some times the up part of the cycle is quite long while for others it's the down part that is quite long, but over the long haul no one is consistently a winner nor a loser.

Sorry Lions fans, but I wonder if your team is going to have an imperfect season this year? That's somewhat of a rare accomplishment, just like a perfect season like the Dolphins 17-0 season. In fact it has only been done once since the Merger in 1970. I'm sure you know which team it was, so I'll not say here for a couple days so you can have fun figuring it out if you don't know. Of course with the Internet, such research is too easy these days. -30-

Tuesday, December 23, 2008 9:03 PM - On this Christmas eve eve, I went out for a walk to look at the Christmas lights. It was rather disappointing. There seem to be less decorations than ever. I don't really know why, and won't even mention any of the reasons there could be for it as I don't want to possibly offend anyone at this happy time of year.

I remember when I was young, you could walk (or drive) all around Kittanning and maybe see a couple houses here and there that weren't lit up, but the majority had beautiful light displays. And I don't mean those cookie cutter white icicle lights that have pervaded everywhere these past few years. I mean virtually every house had some individual lighting setup.

There is a section of town called Typewriter Hill because there was a Typewriter factory there many years ago. All the houses on that hill had displays that (except for the animation) rivaled the ones you saw via the links in yesterday's diary entry. I didn't even bother checking this year as last year only one house had a very few dim lights as the decorations.

Even looking at the row of houses up on the hill where West Kittanning is shows the decline in decorations.

I know I mentioned this last year in the diary, but it is even worse this year. Last year several of my readers agreed that decorations in their towns were also in decline. I suppose it's the same this year as well.

Wouldn't it be nice if Christmas lights followed the sunspot cycle and we could look forward to seeing great displays again in a few years. However I am almost 100% certain that is not going to happen, and things will continue to decline as far as Christmas displays go.

Well, I guarantee I will keep observing Christmas as long as I am physically able. Here's a couple pictures of my tree and window this year along with my sincere wish that each and every one of you can keep the Christmas tradition going just as you help to keep the tradition of Morse Code on the ham bands.

pix_diary_20081223_01 (57K)pix_diary_20081223_02 (69K)

Incidentally the 'snow' at the bottom of the crib scene on the window was put there naturally the morning I took the picture. It was 2 degrees above zero and that is simply frost. -30-

Monday, December 22, 2008 10:13 PM - I'm going to take it easy again tonight and just give you a chance to look at some Christmas displays courtesy of Mike KC2EGL who sent these links which follow his comments.

"Turn up the sound. The first 2 links are the same song from Trans Siberian Orchestra, Wizards In Winter. One is a light show from somewhere in Ohio, the other is somewhere in California. The third link is a light show featuring Trans Siberian Orhcestra's version of the Nutcracker. You will see car's drive by slowly enjoying the show. The fourth link is, yes you guessed it Tans SIberian Orhcestra playing SIbeiran Sleighride. I do not know where the last 2 links were created.

These video's are made by people who have way too much time on their hands. I for one am grateful that they have so much time to share their talent."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tq4VMwN2aJw -30-

Sunday, December 21, 2008 10:32 PM - Hmmm, some gremlins around somewhere. I just noticed my computer inserted the wrong date in my diary entry yesterday (which I now fixed), and looking at my computer clock in the tray, it said it is now December 23rd. I guess my computer is trying for one reason or other to hurry Christmas along. HI.

Let's get back to computers with a slight detour to the computer situation at my workplace of WPIT. The station entered the computer world with a Radio Shack Model II computer. In fact the one shown in my pictures is one from the station that was given to me when the station upgraded. They were really monsters in every regard from the massive hard drives (massive in size, not storage) also shown in my pictures to the massive 8 inch floppies. I'm trying to think what amount of data they stored. I know the hard drives were 12 and 35 MB, and I think the 8" floppies stored 720 KB, but don't quote me on that. As I said, maybe some day I'll do a little research up in the attic and find out some more accurate stats on the computers.

The station computer was used in a business way to print out our daily broadcast logs, and to print the monthly billing statements. It was also used to maintain a mailing list so we could send out our periodically published listener's guides.

That brings up a frustrating memory. I was the one mainly in charge of getting the guides ready for mailing. It involved peeling a mailing label from a VERY long form, sticking it on an envelope, stuffing the envelope with a listener's guide, and sealing the envelope. Fortunately the envelopes had pre-printed postage on them. My good friend Charlie and I really always worked well together and we had a very good and efficient system set up for doing the guides. In fact we always made it a point to analyze a job beforehand to figure the most efficient way of doing it, and saved ourselves a lot of time that way. Oh, and after the envelopes were sealed they had to be sorted by the first 3 digits of the zip code to get the special bulk mail rate we used. That wasn't too hard though as the labels were printed sorted by zip.

That wasn't the frustrating part I just described. That came with the last edition of the guide. Through no fault of mine or Charlie's, there were delays in getting it ready for mailing, and it finally turned out that after we finally got the several thousand guides ready for mailing, the program director decided that the guide contained some dated material. I think it was some music concert that was just about to take place in a couple days, and it would be a bad reflection on the station if we mailed them out and by the time everyone got them, the concert would be over. Grrrrr - all that work we did for absolutely nothing. Finally the guides were taken to a recycling center. Fortunately I'm a good-humored person and made it a source of a running joke till the station was sold not too long after that.

Back to the computer. There was another very important use that it had. There was this great little game called Ladder (or maybe it was Ladders). No fancy graphics as the Model II monitor couldn't do graphics. The game was just made up of alphanumeric characters, and you had to run across pathways and up ladders while avoiding o's which were falling and rolling at you as you progressed. You earned points for how quickly you did the level and how many rocks (o's) you avoided by jumping over them. It was really very addicting, and my fellow employee Brian and I spent many hours trying to better each other's score. We'd pause the game when it came time to do a station break and start another tape. A lot of our programming was on 15 or 30 minute tapes, with not a lot to be done except to cue up the tapes, give the station breaks and introduce the next tape, so that left a lot of time for playing Ladders. Oh man, those were great days, and writing this brings back hundreds of good memories of WPIT. Maybe I'll dwell on that more in the future.

Our staff was just like one big VERY HAPPY family, and it was a great working environment as I hope to demonstrate with some stories down the line here in the diary. -30-

Saturday, December 20, 2008 10:56 PM - I'm now involved in a long phone call as I type, so I guess once again I won't have much of an entry since it will be about time to get out of here after the call.

I did manage today to get all of our NAQCC challenges planned out for 2009 and will get them posted on the NAQCC site probably tomorrow.

I finished the NAQCC Christmas mailing, and out of 3,000 sent, about 80 or so bounced. That's not too bad a record. We got several nice greetings back in return as well, and appreciate them very much. -30-

Friday, December 19, 2008 9:53 PM - I probably should have waited till after Christmas to do my computer history series. It seems like every day as Christmas approaches has some kind of chore that eats up a lot of my time. Today I wanted to get Christmas greetings sent out to all of our NAQCC members via email. As of now, I have about 2600 sent out with 400 or so to go. About 100 of the ones I sent bounced for one reason or other. So if you're a NAQCC member below #2500 and didn't receive an email greeting, please update your email address with the club. If you're above #2500 and don't get a greeting by Sunday, update your email address with the club.

I've gotten several nice responses to the greetings, and I thank you for them here. I'll also thank those who don't read this in the upcoming NAQCC Newsletter.

I was going to throw in a couple computer history notes here, but I think I'll just save them and keep them for the next full installment, whenever that will be, hopefully soon. -30-

Thursday, December 18, 2008 6:24 PM - It looks like I was a bit premature in saying no one seemed interested in my computer history, or perhaps my statement encouraged some folks to comment. Anyway, I have enough feedback now to make a complete entry from it, so here goes:

From Bill NF9D, "John, I'm enjoying your computer history very much. I think we both got involved with computers about the same time, so your experiences bring back many personal memories. I started with the Radio Shack Model 1. I think it had 256 bits of ram before an upgrade chip, and you had to add a chip to get lower case letters on the screen. The cassette tape system was horrible, so I finally went with the 5.25 floppy like you did. I ended up with a Model III, writing programs in basic and assembler. Great memories. I eventually got into online communities, founding the Motorcycling Roundtable on the old GEnie network, and later I managed motorcycling and car communities for Microsoft on the MSN network. In fact, I met my lovely wife on the GEnie network, so all that money I spent on computers was a good investment. I hope you continue your trip down memory lane. I will be interesting for me to see how our experiences dovetail. 73 and good QRPing!"

From Paul N0NBD, "Hey John, I just went and had a peek at your computer history pictures. Funny how things jog ones memory. I gave my oldest kid money to buy a used Tandy 2000 like yours. I don't remember the year. When I started here at the College in 1990 on a table in the maintenance shop was a computer that looked just like your Tandy model III that ran the Johnson Controls software on our heating and cooling systems. It did not say Radio Shack and sported JCI logos but was the same machine. I am enjoying the history lesson. Thanks!"

And from Elwood WB0OEW, "Hello John, I've been enjoying going back in time to my early computing days as I read your own previous adventures. I would not assume that lack of feedback means no one is reading; many of the reflections it conjures are mostly personal and many may likely feel not worth sharing. Such theories notwithstanding, I will share that myfirst exposure to programming was on a Monroe desk top calculator in 1970. You programmed it by punching out holes in cards, basically a manual version of the classic IBM Hollerith cards (and oh how prescient of the Florida hanging chad debacle of recent lore!). My next programmable was the HP67, which used small magnetic strips not unlike your TI. I might add I have always preferred HP's RPN technique for entering equations into calculators over the algebraic notation of TI. I did not buy the HP67 but in fact won it by winning the Calculator Olympics while I was attending Purdue in the mid 70s. In fact, I won the HP67 in turn by using another HP I won, the HP45, the previous year in the same contest. And to win that I used the HP35 I purchased in 1973 for $400(!). I still have a few of these around somewhere, and have two HP32S calculators from 1987 I still use on a daily basis. So clearly I am still a fan of HP. As for actual computers, I started on a VAX 11/780 for which, as a budding EE, I was part of the team at Digital Equipment Corporation to make the first dual-processor VAX, the 11/782. After that I used mostly VAX and PDP-11 computers until the micros hit the scene in the early 80s, the only exception was some FORTRAN programming on a CDC 6600 in the mid 70s. I bought my first genuine IBM-PC in 1982 and pretty much stayed with Intel processors, although I had my turn at the Motorola 68020 for a while also. All but the CDC work was using various flavors of UNIX, even on that first PC. I programmed on VMS, DOS and Windows just enough to confirm my true love would always be UNIX. What was I doing with all these computers? For eight years I worked on medical image processing for CT and MRI scanners. For four years I worked for Rockwell-Collins to put UNIX on the flight deck of the Boeing 777 (yes, UNIX). And for twenty years I've been building telescope control systems at the world's largest observatories, including a bit of work at STScI for Hubble. So there's a bit of my history. Thanks for sharing yours." -30-

Wednesday, December 17, 2008 10:22 PM - Are the days going to continue to get busier and busier the longer I'm retired? I had hoped to continue my computer history narration tonight, but just got too tied up with too many things all day long, and I still have some new NAQCC member applications I should process before going to bed.

I do want to thank Paul N0NBD for his continuing comments on my computer history, as well as Elwood WB0OEW for a very interesting long email about his computer history. I hope to share both with you - maybe tomorrow, but now I've got to close and get those members processed. I hate to keep anyone waiting for anything, and as a result find I keep myself waiting instead. HI. -30-

Tuesday, December 16, 2008 9:07 PM - I just uploaded pictures of the computers/calculators I have talked about and will talk about to my SkyDrive site. So that will be my entry for today in the diary. See the folder "Computers". -30-

Monday, December 15, 2008 12:56 PM - I did get a couple of comments on the computer history so I will continue the series. I think I'll try to get some pictures of all my old computers and calculators and make that the focus of Part 3. Getting the pictures may help to trigger my memory a little bit as to what I got, when.

Paul N0NBD says in part: "Hello John, I have been reading of your history and found it interesting. I remember the first computer I saw was at the Seattle Worlds Fair 1962. The machine filled a room. I remember completely the talk the man gave saying that computers would be the thing of the future. They would save paper, they would make file cabinets obsolete and they would make people so efficient that we would have shorter work weeks..... Aint that a laugh hi hi. I started with a Commodore 64 and wrote a couple simple logging programs. I later got my first IBM pc with a 10 meg HD. I remember thinking "ILL never fill this thing up HI HI."

Mike KC2EGL says in part: "Please do continue your 'Life In Computing' series. Just because you do not get many inquires about it does not mean those of us in your adoring public are not inerested. Hi-Hi!!!"

OK, now I'm off to the attic to see if I can get some pictures if there are no distractions before I get going. -30-

Sunday, December 14, 2008 9:55 PM - No time for a real diary entry this evening. I just finalized all our NAQCC sprint results, and now I've got to update my monthly poll, update the NAQCC participation award, sign up some new members, and do some other web site work.

So part 3 of my computer history story will have to wait. It doesn't seem to be all that interesting anyway. No one has commented on it yet, and my web site hits today are the lowest they have been in a while now. Maybe I should just forget about continuing it. I'll see.

I had another long Christmas shopping session with my neighbor today. She seems to always complain about her new knee bothering her, yet she just goes and goes like the Eveready bunny. HI.

I also listened briefly to 10M today, but didn't hear a trace of any contest activity. It was not a contest for the QRPer who uses simple wire antennas. I imagine the QRO stations and their big antennas were hearing and working each other though.

Well, on to my poll work now. -30-

Saturday, December 13, 2008 8:00 PM - My Computer History - Part 2: Memory fades, especially when you don't think of things for some time. It's that way with this history of my relationship with computers. I have trouble remembering specifics. The generalities come back to mind fairly well, but lack details.

Of course I could look things up, since I keep records of everything, but I don't feel like doing that. Instead I'll just recall the generalities and go with that unless someone has some specific questions about or corrections to what I'm writing.

My model III came with (I believe) 16k (yes-k) of RAM which compared to the calculators seemed like a lot, but it was miniscule compared to the 2-4 and more Gigabytes of RAM in today's computers. When you wrote a program, you really had to optimize and compact it to the utmost.

Typing in a program each time you wanted to run it got old very quickly, so I quickly went to this really great way of storing and playing back programs. A cassette tape recorder. WOW, was that neat. Of course the tape used had to be the very highest quality, and even then you better record that program you wrote at least 4 or 5 times on the tape to be sure it would load perfectly the next time you wanted to use it. It was also wise to record it 4 or 5 times on TWO separate cassettes.

With that improvement, I wrote many programs to help with everyday tasks or to play games and keep records of this and that.

The language was still mainly BASIC, but I started to dabble in machine language or assembly language where you told the CPU what to do without the go-between of the BASIC language.

As time went by and programs needed to be bigger and bigger, I eventually upped the RAM in the computer to a HUGE 64k. Now I could do ANYTHING I wanted to with such a large amount of RAM. There was still that darn unreliability of cassette tapes as a storage medium though. Sometimes it felt like it took almost as much time to load a program from the cassette as it did to just plain type it in, especially if it was a smaller program.

I had to do something about that, and I did. I installed a 5 1/4 inch floppy drive in the computer. Just thinking back on that as I write, I remember my mother reading the instructions to me as I did the installation. It worked fine and was much more reliable than cassette tape as a storage medium. And I could store as much as 360k on it. Gosh, I doubted I could ever fill up something with that much storage.

I was still dealing with DOS, BASIC, and machine language programming until one day I found out about this great new operating system called TRS-DOS which made many tasks a lot easier to handle.

That setup suited me for a couple years, but the computing world (even as it is today) was moving ahead in leaps and bounds, and I was falling behind the new norm. I had to do something about that, and it would also allow me to do a lot more if I took another step ahead. I did, and will talk about that in the next part of the story.

Just a couple other non-computer notes. I listened to 10M once briefly today to see if I could hear anything in the contest. I heard all of 2 weak stations - one about 20 miles from here, and one in Florida. Neither heard me calling them so I hung up my earphones and gave up. I may try to listen a bit more tomorrow - or maybe not.

Right now I'm in the middle of repairing a microwave oven. My main one is starting to make some unnatural noises, so I dragged a backup down from the attic which had its door release mechanism not working. I took it apart and found the plastic that held one of the pivots for the latch was broken. I tried gluing and putting in a tiny bolt to hold it together and as I type, I'm waiting for the glue to set up so I can put it back together and see if it works until I get a chance to buy a new one. Or if it works as well as it used to, I'll just use it as long as it holds out. -30-

Friday, December 12, 2008 9:27 PM - My Computer History - Part 1: My use of 'computers' started sometime in the early to mid 70's. It was around that time that programmable calculators came down in price to where I could reasonably buy one without selling my car and mortgaging the house. I bought one made by Texas Instruments and another by Rockwell Corporation. At first I had to punch in the commands each time I wanted to run a 'program', then the TI-59 came out. It had little magnetic cards that slid through a slot in the calculator to record a program, then to play in back later. You had to insert the card each time you wanted to run the program. I came up with some rather intricate programs to do such things as computing my weather records' averages or playing some games. Very crude compared to what we have today, but it was my first baby step into the computing world, and was just plain a lot of fun. I always did like programming at the very lowest level of computers or in this case calculators. Incidentally a calculator at that time cost just about what a bargain computer costs nowadays, i.e. around 200-300 dollars.

My next baby step took me into the world of real computers when I purchased a Radio Shack Model III computer in 1979 (March I believe). My goodness in looking back now that was almost as big a step as going from a DOS based computer to one running Windows. Everything was just so much easier than with the calculator with one exception. At first every program I ran had to be typed in (most often using BASIC) until..... Well, that comes in part 2 of this story, either tomorrow or a couple days down the line. -30-

Thursday, December 11, 2008 10:22 PM - I think our NAQCC members are fantastic. Despite the horrible conditions we had for our sprint a couple evenings ago, we've received 46 logs already. I'm especially proud of those members who struggled to make just 1 or 2 QSO's and yet still sent in a log. Every log we receive and post on the NAQCC web site is a strong pro-CW statement to throw in the face of those who say CW is dead and should be eliminated from the ham bands. Nothing could be farther from the truth and our NAQCC members prove that every time they participate in a NAQCC sprint and report their results, every time they participate in a NAQCC challenge and report their results, every time they earn and apply for our NAQCC awards, and every time a non-member signs up to help us in our efforts to promote the use of CW on the ham bands. So very carefully so as not to pull a muscle, pat yourself on the back and accept the congratulations of all NAQCC officers and members for the wonderful job you are doing. -30-

Wednesday, December 10, 2008 9:35 AM - Once upon a time there was a ham radio operator in Kittanning, PA with the call sign of K3WWP. As this ham explored the magic of ham radio, he found out before long that he liked the aspect of ham radio dealing with contesting. It was fascinating to try to work as many different stations as possible in a certain period of time, most of the time on weekends. He honed his contesting skills and quickly found that this style of operating came as second nature to him.

After entering many contests, he began to wonder why he wasn't doing as well as he thought he should. Of course he lived down in a river valley, and only used simple wire antennas, but still he was disappointed and discouraged that he couldn't do better. Oh he won several awards for his contesting efforts, but only for things like First Place QRP division for Western PA, never any really BIG awards. That is, until a Maryland QSO Party in the late 60's when he won first place OVERALL (outside of MD). No one had a higher score even though they had bigger antennas, ran more power, and a better location.

With that win under his belt, he gained more confidence and realized that there was more to contesting than just having a big contest station in a great location. There was this thing called persistence that rewarded those folks who maximized their effort over a whole contest period. Also there were different skills involved. You had to know what band to be on at what time for maximum results. You had to know exactly when to call a station to have the best chance of him hearing and working you. You had to know how to mix calling CQ and S&P operating effectively. The list goes on, but let's move on.

He found that he had a knack of being able to dupe check very well using only his brain. At least up to a couple hundred QSO's or so. That helped out because he didn't have to refer constantly to a check sheet to see if he had worked someone before.

With all of this going for him, he still was unhappy that at times he couldn't do as well as some other stations that seemed to be equally equipped. That led to more frustration.

Because of the frustration he got away from contesting to some extent, and instead of entering just about every contest, he picked and chose some in which he knew he could do well. Not long after that, he entered the work force, and got away from ham radio altogether for several years.

When he retired and returned to ham radio, the contesting bug was still with him, and he got back into it seriously. Now there were things like computers that made dupe checking even easier than using his brain. The ham radio equipment was much better now, especially the receivers, and that made his minimal sigs much easier to copy. Now using just 5 watts output vs. the 50 or so watts output back in the 1960's and early 1970's (QRP was defined as 100W or less INPUT to the final amp of a rig in that era), he was doing just as well, or actually much better in many cases.

He was winning more and more contesting awards now. He honed his contesting skills even further. He had become a very good contester. However there was still that lingering frustration at still not doing better than other equal stations. Of course he knew he could never be able to beat the big contest stations, whether or not he was equally skilled. Nor could he beat a QRPer who had big antennas on a hilltop and accepted that. Still why was this station in say Ohio, beating him regularly with a somewhat equal setup?

Sometimes it takes a long time for something to dawn on someone, and finally it did dawn on him that propagation had a big effect on contest results. More to the point, after he got in the position of cross-checking logs from the NAQCC sprints, and was able to analyze those results thoroughly, it became apparent that different parts of the country experienced vastly different propagation conditions. This was called by some the 'Black Hole' effect. Someone in PA could work for two hours to make a few QSO's while someone in GA or FL was making 30-40 QSO's with little effort. In fact even stations separated by a few dozen miles or less could experience different propagation for whatever the reason.

Now K3WWP cast off all his discouragement and frustration, and learned to accept whatever the 'propagation gods' dealt out to him for a particular contest. If they dealt out better conditions to someone else, there was nothing he could conceivably do to beat that station. It was just fate.

Most stories that start with 'Once upon a time' have a moral behind them. I think it's obvious what the moral of this story is. The End.

Last night I was dealt a horrible propagation hand by the 'gods' for the NAQCC sprint and could only manage to work 6 stations which turned out to be my worst result in our 50 NAQCC sprints save for the very first one back in October 2004. But I accept that, and know I could not have done anything to achieve better results than I did. -30-

Tuesday, December 09, 2008 8:15 PM - One of those days where I was busy (or should I say busier than usual) all day. Some work on my cousins estate this morning. Taking my neighbor Christmas shopping for about 5 hours this afternoon. Getting ready for tonite's NAQCC sprint. Time out for eating. Whew! So no time to write much of an entry today. Maybe I can make up tomorrow. Now I've got to go out and get my weather readings before the sprint which starts in 12 minutes now as I wind up here. -30-

Monday, December 08, 2008 9:01 AM - Some diary feedback and other comments today.

First I know Paul N0NBD reads the diary regularly. I heard you on 80M last night about 339, and answered your CQ, but apparently you didn't hear me. I'm not sure though because you were way down in the QRN with QSB as well.

Here's some info about our long delayed NAQCC Elmer project from Ron K5DUZ - "Hi John, I've had three volunteers for the Elmer Project. Farley Browne passed away, Gregory Long has [had some personal problems - JS] and the third hasn't responded to my e-mails. Shucks!!!!
However, Gregory seems committed to sticking with the Elmer Project, although he is struggling with the Koch method after learning the "slow code" way. I'm hoping that he will soon "get over the hump" and begin to make some real progress. We will see. I think young people would have an easier time learning CW using the Koch method than older folks as they have "quicker minds".
I'm thinking by the first of the year we should get something on the web site and just flesh it out over time, so I'm now working toward that end.
Maybe you could mention in your diary that we are still looking for Elmer Project volunteers."

Consider it mentioned, Ron. I'd really like to see the Elmer project take off and fly. So many of our NAQCC members are relatively new to CW or returning to it after many years. Here's a chance for them to not only help themselves, but help other members to attain a higher degree of CW proficiency. So if you are a NAQCC member, and are in that situation, email Ron and let him know. His email address can be obtained from the NAQCC web site via the 'Contact Us' link on virtually every page on the site. If you're not a member, sign up (it's FREE) and then email Ron.

In a follow up to Mike N4VBV's comments a couple days ago, Larry W9CC emails, "John, Friday evening, just before the ARRL 160 Meter contest started I went out to the mail box and found a certificate from CQ Magazine that said I was the first place winner for Indiana in the QRP CW division for the CQ WW 160 Meter DX Contest for 2007. It only took 23 months to get it. It certainly was a surprise as I had forgotten I even sent it in.

Top Band was in pretty good shape Friday evening but I finally gave up around 1:30 AM. I'm glad I worked as many as I did because Saturday evening and night was a bust. I ended up with only 78 QSO's, and 25 states, QRP of course. The number of states stays fairly constant from year to year. I did not work or hear anything west of SD or KS. This was the first time I've ever worked this particular contest QRP. I checked the propagation and the A index was at 20 and the K at 2. So things were not so hot Saturday night. It was still that way at 1600Z on Sunday morning at the end of the contest. I think that was the worst conditions I've seen during this contest, but I'll send in the log anyway. 73, Larry"

Yes, CQ Magazine does seem to be very slow in getting certificates in the mail. In addition to Larry, I've also experienced the same thing with the several CQ certificates I've earned in various of their contests over the years. Quite a contrast to our NAQCC operation where our certificates are always mailed within a very few days of the deadline for submitting results. And we also do a complete cross-check of logs for our sprints. Now CQ does have a lot more logs to check (and I guess a lot more folks to do it versus our one - me), but still, almost two years is a very long time. I suspect some of their certificates could wind up being awarded posthumously.

Finally to end this very long entry, here's a link to an interesting site sent to me by Tom WY3H. Feast your eyes and ears on this -30-

Sunday, December 07, 2008 5:01 PM - I finally got another story from a teen age CW ham, and what a great story it is. After reading his description of his ham radio career, this teen sounds like he came from the 1950's and was transported into the 2000's. I'm proud to have such a teen contribute his story to my web site. I hope you'll read the story by Itichai, KI6JPX. I think you'll experience the same delight I did when reading it. And that will serve well as the rest of my diary entry for today. -30-

Saturday, December 06, 2008 9:25 PM - The first real snowfall of the season came today. Made the roads and sidewalks very slippery. I went on an errand for a friend of mine, and while walking around, I saw car after car fish tailing or almost sliding through a stop sign. UGH!!!. Can't wait till March (hopefully) or April (for sure) and the end of winter weather.

I had some fun with my neighbor and her grandkids this evening. She had one little tree for each of the three of them, and it was a delight watching them trimming and playing with them.

I did very little in the 160M contest, although conditions were/are quite good. Just my two daily QSO's so far. I did try last nite to see how I was getting out to the more distant parts of the USA. I heard a strong CA stn (N6KI), but couldn't get him to hear me at all. I did get a K3? from MT, but no further. Nothing at all from a station in TX. I might try again tonight in the 0500 or 0600Z hours to see if I can find and work one of the 8 states I need for 160M QRP/CW WAS with my attic random wire. I need LA, MS, ID, NM, WA, AK, HI, and NV. All quite possible except for AK and HI. I don't know why I can't work LA and MS unless they still have high QRN levels down there near the Gulf this time of year.

Let's remember our WW2 veterans tomorrow on the anniversary of the cowardly Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, and let's hope America's defenses never get so weak that we are vulnerable to another attack like that and like 9/11. We need to keep the strong watchfulness we've had since 9/11 that has kept us safe ever since that fateful date. -30-

Friday, December 05, 2008 7:59 PM - A potpourri of things in this entry. I spent a good part of the day helping my neighbor. First I drove her to the doctor, then the dentist. The doctor was very pleased with the progress she is making with the knee replacement. After a check on a tooth at the dentist, I took her to visit a couple of her friends around that area. Then we made a round of 3 stores at the mall, plus a stop at Wendy's for lunch. That took up the first 4-5 hours of my day.

Now here's an interesting email from Mike N4VBV. "John, Thought you'd get a kick out of this one. In the 160m CW contest last year I made one contact from SC to GA. It was QRP/CW using my Icom IC-706MKII (non-G) and Buxcomm 80m-6m Windom wire antenna. And I won first place in the SC section for the contest in my category (QRP, Single OP). Yep, CW, QRP, and a wire antenna. Thought you'd like to see this one, it's attached. I should send it to Nancy Kott at FISTS also, would make a nice memento of what CW/QRP can do. Feel free to use it as an example if you'd like, might get a few more folks interested in trying out QRP, CW, or both. I must admit I was really surprised when it came in the mail a few days ago, but all my buds in Sumter, SC (especially the CW ops) got a big kick out of it. 73, Mike, N4VBV"

That's true. You can win certificates in contests by entering in categories that don't get many competing entries, and the contest organizers are committed to awarding the certificates in most cases, no matter how few contacts you make. QRP CW SO is generally the category in many contests, although more and more, the big contesters are cranking down the power and entering as a QRP station, and they have the advantage because they are still using their big high gain antennas.

A note on computing. I think in one entry, I'm going to give a history of my involvement with computers. Or perhaps spread it out over 2 or 3 entries, since I've been fighting with.....uh, I mean using computers for over 30 years now. I was going to comment on one particular aspect here, but I think I'll just leave that till I do the whole story.

Speaking of the 160M contest, as Mike did, I guess I'll just use that to get my daily streak QSO later tonight. I don't really feel in a contesting mood. I just don't have that drive anymore that used to motivate me to get into contests seriously. I've mentioned that before, and said that the only contests that really interest me now, it seems, are our NAQCC sprints. I really continue to love them and put in the full 2 hours in each and every one. I think one factor is that I know I'm helping some newcomers to contesting to gain some experience in this fascinating aspect of our hobby. Since our NAQCC sprints are slow speed, non-frantic events, they are ideal for anyone to test out the contesting waters, before diving into the bigger, fast paced events. If that describes you, I hope you'll first of all, join the NAQCC if you're not already a member, then plan to enter our sprint this coming Tuesday evening. Details on the NAQCC web site. I guarantee you'll have fun. I can't guarantee how good propagation will be though. Our last couple sprints have run into some poor propagation, but they were still a lot of fun. -30-

Thursday, December 04, 2008 8:33 PM - The SF hit the 70 mark today after slipping back into the 60's after the last sojourn into the 70's near the end of October. Let's hope it's coming out of hiding for good now and will start to slowly increase and get the bands fired up again.

My streak QSO again came on 160M this evening as I worked WW3DE in Delaware. Probably the next couple of streak QSO's now will also be on 160M from the ARRL 160M contest this weekend.

Really not much more to talk about today. I'm looking forward to the 8th when those of us living along 40 degrees north latitude experience our earliest sunset. Then ever so gradually it will be staying lighter a bit longer each evening from then on. By Christmas the sun will set 6 minutes later than on the 8th. Not much, but it is an encouraging start for anyone who hates the long dark evenings as I do. -30-

Wednesday, December 03, 2008 8:48 PM - Well, it took a total of one CQ tonight to get my daily QSO. I called CQ on 160M forgetting the QRP ARCI 160M contest was on and got an answer from K8RYU who wanted a contest QSO. So that served as my daily QSO. I didn't feel like doing any contesting at the time, so I then just QRT. The contest goes till 0600Z though, so perhaps later I'll fool around in it a bit.

I spent a good part of the day helping my neighbor do some Christmas decorating and also some laundry. I also walked up the bridge I talked about and took some pictures. Ange went along with me and he took a couple of pictures of me there so you'll know I was really there. HI I'll try to find some time to get them posted on SkyDrive, and also try to get a couple pictures of my Christmas decorations also.

Other than that I put the finishing touches on the NAQCC newsletter for posting Friday evening.

I have a couple of diary comment emails from Paul N0NBD that I haven't gotten to for a few days, so here they are:

"Hello John, I have been following the black hole info. Last night I listened off and on and never heard one signal on 80 meters. I think I am in a hole for RF. We had a nice thanksgiving feast as well, our eldest son brought his new fiance and her son. We had a feast and a fun day with all the grandkids. On the wedding day I will get a new daughter and grandson all in one fell swoop!!!!!Cool huh? My grand kids all have those MP3 players and I think grampa needs one for Christmas. Have a good one de Paul N0NBD" - and -

"Hello John, I just read the latest newsletter and enjoyed the history and the first session on the KX1. I will await the next installment. You are quite correct about the "anticipation". Yesterday was blustery and 45 degrees. My eldest son and I fished at Elsmore above one of the "fish pods" I caught 6 bass 14 inches in length. My son Les as usual, caught 8 and all were larger than mine. He can't stand it for Dad to get the best fish hi hi. Today's wx is not conducive to fishing with 35 degrees with rain and sleet. I read of the milliwatt challenge in the newsletter. I am going to get out my SW+ rigs and de-tune them to less than 1 watt and try the challenge in January. Have a good one.de Paul N0NBD" -30-

Tuesday, December 02, 2008 9:38 PM - Just got off the phone with Tom WY3H. We were blabbing about various things as we do every few evenings. Now I'm hungry for a snack, but I want to get this diary entry written first.

I got ambitious today and got all my Christmas decorating done in one fell swoop which took maybe an hour and a half or so.

I also finished up part 2 of the KX-1 Kit Building Project for this weekend's NAQCC Newsletter. Now I have to finish the rest of the newsletter which I think I'll do tomorrow.

I also did some shopping for my neighbor today. Also continued work on the bread dough device I mentioned. She said the name of it is something like 'doughtary', but I couldn't find anything like that in an Internet search.

This was another day where, other than the shopping trip, I didn't get much of a chance to get in a decent walk. I had to resort to walking around the house again. Tomorrow is supposed to be nice with sunny skies and temps in the mid-40's so I'm hoping to get in some outside walking. If it is not too windy, and that keeps the wind chill at a decent figure, I'm going to try to walk up the walkway on our new West Kittanning bridge that I talked about some time ago in the diary. The walkway was finally opened about a month after the bridge was open to vehicular traffic. If I do, I should get some good pictures of the bridge and also of Kittanning itself.

The bands this evening were even more deserted than usual. In one tune across 80M I heard a total of just 3 stations. It took me some 45 minutes of trying to get a QSO before someone finally answered my CQ on 80M. Things are really getting dismal on the bands of late, especially in the evenings. I suppose we'll have the same situation next Tuesday evening for our NAQCC sprint. -30-

Monday, December 01, 2008 10:31 PM - I spent the day with Mike KC2EGL working on the NAQCC KX-1 project. Then this evening I worked on getting this part of the article written up for the NAQCC newsletter. That's all I can say about the project since as you know it is exclusively for the newsletter.

I guess I can talk about Mike and I a bit though. We spent a lot of our time while working talking about a common interest we have - British Comedy shows and movies. I loaned Mike one of the Carry On.... movies that contained what I think is the funniest line I've ever heard. This particular one (there were something like 29 movies in the Carry On series) was Carry On Cruising about life aboard a cruise ship. I didn't tell Mike what the line was, but as he watched the movie at his home, he knew exactly which line it was, and agreed that the line was hilarious and the whole movie was one of the funniest he had ever seen.

We talked about many of our favorite Britcoms and comedians - Benny Hill, Are You Being Served, Dave Allen, Keeping Up Appearances, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, The Two Ronnies, Fawlty Towers, and many many more. I think that British comedy is vastly superior to American humor, or at least to recent American 'humor'. The older American comedians were great like Abbott and Costello, Laurel and Hardy, George Burns, Jack Benny, Fibber McGee and Molly, and the like. However in my opinion it's very hard to find good American comedy in the last 30 years or so, while the British have kept their more recent comedy just as funny as they did many years ago.

Mike and I have a lot of other common interests as well including our political views and sports. Obviously also ham radio goes without saying. I really enjoy our times together. -30-

Sunday, November 30, 2008 8:01 PM - Poor band conditions + other things to do + lack of interest = 19 QSO's in the CQWW DX Test. That's probably the worst I've done in a dozen years or more, and I don't really care. I got spoiled during the sunspot peak years when I could sit down and rack up almost a QSO per minute for several hours during the test. I just don't find a QSO every 6 or 7 minutes as exciting. Oh I did at one time before I experienced the great sunspot peak conditions, but not now. The only time I had fun this year was the half hour or so Saturday morning that Mike and I got in the test. It was nice to be able to concentrate on working stations and having Mike logging for me. I bet that would have been even more fun if conditions had been good enough to get a much faster rate.

Today was a rainy day, and I never got out for a walk. I did get some walking in around the house, but probably only... well let me see...3.71 miles, so that's not too bad, but not like walking outside.

I visited with my neighbor for a while this afternoon. I fixed up a desk and another piece of old furniture for her. I forget what name she gave it, but it was something that was used to mix bread dough in originally. About 3.5 feet long, 1.5 feet wide and 1.5 feet deep in a flat-bottomed V shape configuration.

I also wrote up the story of what Mike and I did with the KX-1 project yesterday for the NAQCC newsletter that comes out next weekend. Mike and I will also be doing some more work on it tomorrow, and I'll add that to the story also.

Right now I've got to go check on my neighbor again, then start work on my end of month/first of month chores like putting November's weather records in the computer and logging my finances for last and next month. -30-

Saturday, November 29, 2008 8:24 PM - Mike KC2EGL and I continued work on our KX-1 project today. That's all I'll say here to avoid any conflicts with the exclusivity the NAQCC Newsletter has for the story.

I can say that we took a break in the project to check out the CQWW DX contest and were pleasantly surprised to find good conditions to EU on 20M. I made 11 QSO's rather easily before we got back to work. A check later showed the conditions back to their normal mode of late - poor.

This evening the only good band was 80M. Eastern EU was coming in fairly well all over the low end of the band, but I couldn't even raise a question mark from anyone I tried calling despite a lack of competition. My random wire is just too low for good low angle radiation that is needed to work more than a couple thousand miles on that band.

Hopefully the good EU conditions will be there again tomorrow morning on 20M. I think I'll try a bit more tomorrow than I did today. Still it gets boring when the poor conditions limit me to just 10-15 QSO's per hour. So it will have to be a bit better than that to hold my interest.

After Mike left, I checked on my neighbor. She was watching her grandkids again, and I asked them if they wanted to go for another walk. They all eagerly said yes, so we went to the neighborhood store and they got some ice cream treats.

Other than that, I went for a walk shortly after sunset to take a look at Venus and Jupiter which are now just about a day away from conjunction when they are the closest to each other in the sky as they'll get in this apparition.

Now I may go out for another short walk, since I don't have that many miles in today. -30-

Friday, November 28, 2008 7:59 PM - I listened a bit in the CQWW DX test, and worked C6AKX right away on 20M, but that was it. He was the only strong station I heard on 20. There were only some weak stations on 40M, and all had big weak pileups, so I just kind of gave up for now with 1 QSO. I may try later on this evening, but with these conditions, I just don't know.

Tomorrow Mike KC2EGL is coming down and we're going to continue our KX-1 kit building project. I originally didn't want to do it because of the contest, but I don't think I'll be missing anything. I told Mike we'd check the bands every once in a while, and if there was some fantastic opening we'd pause and catch some good DX.

I had a good time today taking my neighbor's grandkids for a little walk today since she couldn't do it.

Since I got my little MP3 player, I've increased my walking and getting back up to my average. Of course the weather the past couple days is better than it has been, so that's another reason for the increased walking. -30-

Thursday, November 27, 2008 10:34 PM - I hope your Thanksgiving was as enjoyable and rewarding as mine. If so, you had a really great day. The reward came in the form of delivering dinners with Tom WY3H to the Veterans. It is just so great to be able to do a little something for those who have done such a great deal for all of America to help keep her a free and safe country.

The enjoyable part was fellowshipping with Tom and his family and partaking in a superb Thanksgiving meal.

Paul KD2MX and I have been emailing back and forth about the 'black hole' phenomenon that we have been experiencing from time to time in our NAQCC sprints where some portions of the country have excellent propagation conditions while others (quite close by) have horrid conditions as if all RF was being sucked into a black hole. One thing we noted is that at times the black hole seems to dissipate after a while and signals start to be heard normally again. That seemed to also happen tonight when I was trying to get my daily QSO. 80M was horrible from about 0000 to 0200Z, and I just couldn't work anyone and was only hearing a few weak signals, mostly longer skip into W0 land. Then when I went back at 0230 or so, things seemed pretty much back to 'normal', and I easily had a 2XQRP QSO with WA1ZFE in CT.

I guess the other thing to talk about today was my purchase of one of those little MP3 players. They were on sale at a local 'dollar' store at 33% off. I got a 1 GB unit, and downloaded (or uploaded depending on your point of view) some music from my computer to the player. Then tried it out on one of my walks. Turns out to be nice to listen to music while walking. It may even encourage me to take longer walks this winter which is a time of year I usually cut back a bit on the walking. -30-

Wednesday, November 26, 2008 8:54 PM - Thanks to Geo N1EAV for explaining how Bret Favre got from the Packers to the Jets.

I hope you all have a great Thanksgiving and especially that you have a lot to be thankful for.

I could use up a lot of words here if I were to list all the things I have to be thankful for. But instead I'll just let it go at that.

It's just about time to go out and get my daily weather readings now, then over to my neighbors to put her knee exerciser away for the night.

I've been having fun with my homebrew straight keys. I certainly am glad that K4UK started it all by sending me a picture of his homebrew straight key back in the summer of '07. It's given me a lot of personal pleasure and provided us with two great NAQCC sprints having a homebrew key special award. It's interesting how one little thing like seeing a picture of Stan's hb key can set off a whole great chain of events.

Someone recently asked me how come I like QRP so much. That's another subject that I could use up a whole lot of words on. However it's just basically that I believe anything worth having in this world is worth working for. Making contacts with QRP, while not all that difficult, does require a bit more work than doing it with QRO, and I enjoy that. I like to earn my way in every endeavor in life rather than being a freeloader and having things handed to me.

I'm having Thanksgiving dinner with Tom WY3H after helping him distribute some turkey dinners to those veterans who fought to keep America a free country, and are now having a bit of a tough time. -30-

Tuesday, November 25, 2008 11:51 AM - Thanks to Bret Favre and the Jets, the Dolphins perfect season record will live yet another year and increase its impressiveness still further. No teams this year now have a possibility of an undefeated season. In case you don't know, and that's unlikely, the Jets downed the Titans on Sunday to hand them their first loss. A bit ironic since the Jets started 'life' with the nickname Titans back in the early 60's.

As you know, I didn't follow football too closely last year, and am not sure of the Bret Favre/Green Bay situation or how he wound up with the Jets this year, but wouldn't it be great if he led the Jets to the Super Bowl. It looks to me like he is just as great a QB as ever.

It's s..wing today, so a good day to hibernate indoors. I'm getting caught up on some emails and web site work and may even wind up getting caught up on some housework as well. -30-

Monday, November 24, 2008 8:13 PM - I didn't do anything today I haven't done in a good many years. It was just an ordinary run of the mill day, made all the more gloomy by a rain that started around noon and is still continuing, and temperatures in the mid 30's. I did manage to get in a couple walks - one just before the rain started and one in the rain. I walked through the park and looked longingly at a couple of my fishing holes. Sure would have been nice to be able to go fishing, but I'm not fanatic enough to sit out in weather like today. Now if I was absolutely guaranteed to catch a dozen or so Carp in an hour or so, I might just do it, but that's not going to happen. I've probably done my last fishing until late May or early April now, especially if the predictions of a long cold snowy winter hold true. I'm certainly hoping they're wrong.

It seems like activity on the bands in the afternoons is picking up a bit now. I guess the outdoor activities are over with in many places now, and the ham radio bands will get a bit more of a workout for the next few months, except for those hams who are winter sports nuts, perhaps. -30-

Sunday, November 23, 2008 11:00 PM - I did something today I haven't done in a good many years - II. Well, a few years anyway. I drove a car. First time since I got rid of my own car a few years ago. I took my neighbor (the one with the knee replacement) shopping in her car today. It was kind of nice to get behind the wheel again, but not nice enough to get me to have all the headaches and expenses of owning a car again. I'll not do that till I really need it - if I ever get to the point where I can't walk to do 99 percent of the things I need to do.

That was quite a long shopping trip, but I was glad to see my neighbor doing as well as she did in getting around the stores, etc. She's tired and sore this evening though, but it was probably good for her to get out today.

So it was a long busy day for me today which is just winding down now after finalizing our NAQCC November sprint results, and getting the certificates ready for mailing tomorrow. I'm calling it a day as soon as I post my propagation info and daily QSO on the web site. Anything else can wait. -30-

Saturday, November 22, 2008 9:45 PM - I did something today I haven't done in a good many years. I said that to my friend Tom WY3H on the phone and of course he said something like, "Oh you went back to burglarizing houses again. How much did you get." I just love having friends like that you can kid around with to just about any extent. No, it wasn't that. I played Parchesi. When I went over to help my neighbor put away her exercise machine for the night, she was babysitting her grandkids and they were just starting to play Parchesi, and I got invited into the game. I can't remember the last time, or with whom I played, but it has been a long time, and I had to re-learn the game, but it came back to me quickly.

Other than that not much out of the ordinary again today. These early sunsets plus the cold weather really put a damper on anything done outside. So I did some more cleaning and re-arranging of things inside the house today. I also cooked some spaghetti for supper to get away from the standard 'TV dinner' style suppers I have most of the time. I got on the air for a little bit this afternoon, and made one QSO with KE4RUN. I heard a J6 on 30M, but gave up after a couple tries at working him since I don't need J6 on that band anyway. He was racking up a lot of QSO's as I guess a lot of folks still do need it. I prefer to let those who need it, have it anyway rather than just make a 'meaningless' QSO myself.

I listened a bit for some activity in the LZ DX contest, but didn't hear a thing except the superstation of KC1XX working EU stations late in the afternoon on 40M. 20M was dead here. -30-

Friday, November 21, 2008 8:40 PM - Some days there is just nothing out of the ordinary to talk about. This is one of those days, so I think I'll share some diary comments and let my readers do the talking for today.

Paul N0NBD writes about our NAQCC sprint, "Hello John, I was sorry to hear of your disappointing results but happy at the same time as I was thinking my antennas and rigs had went to junk on me. I was all ready and kinda pumped up to do a sprint. My wife was away at bowling and I would have a couple hours uninterrupted to look for contacts and to give out my number 238. I never heard a signal on 20, only a couple on forty and they went away quick. I did hear and try to work W5AG on 80 but he went away in the middle of an exchange with someone else. I listened to the static and went down stairs dejected and cold. I will try next time. The wx is supposed to be cold tonight at 19 degrees but warm on Saturday at 55 I will sneak in a little fishing then. Have a good one de Paul N0NBD"

John N8ZYA writes on the same subject, "Hello John, I also worked N1LU (at about 5 minutes before the end of the event) in New Hampshire.....the only "north" station for me and a good one from here in West Virginia. I use an indoor mounted Isotron Antenna and an Icom 703 "without filters". (A tuff combination) btw/ I get some of the strangest "spikes with this antenna". I never know exactly what it's going to do. (it probably has a lot to do with my location between two hills in this valley) 80 is a horrible band from me and I only worked three stations. But it was fun......and to me, that's all that matters. I've only worked contests for a brief time but have devised a strategy that I hope will maximize my efforts in the future. You did a great job and I'm amazed at your "predictions" for the event. Very good.....I don't understand much except the solar flux and watch it closely. The antenna system isn't the best in the world here, but living in a "historical district" has it's downsizes. The biggest one for me being antenna restrictions! 73's and great job! John Smithson N8ZYA / qrp"

Actually my predictions as to score weren't that good, so I imagine John is referring to my predictions of band conditions, which were pretty much right on. -30-

Thursday, November 20, 2008 6:31 PM - Let's see how I did on my sprint prediction. Predicted - 24 QSO's in 14 sections. Actual 12 QSO's in 11 sections. Last night had possibly the worst conditions I've ever seen for any contest or sprint I have ever entered. 20 and 40 were totally gone at sprint time. 80M started out long and stayed that way until a few minutes before the end of the sprint. Others here in the Northeast experienced the same conditions while those in other parts of the country, the Southeast especially, seemed to have great conditions. Another example of a 'black hole' in propagation.

The strongest signal here that I worked was K5ENA in Oklahoma. Some of the Florida stations were a close second. The only station I worked at an appreciably higher latitude than mine was N1LU in New Hampshire. It was very strange indeed. This prolonged sunspot minimum is having a somewhat unusual effect on the ham bands for sure. -30-

Wednesday, November 19, 2008 6:27 PM - It's a couple hours before our NAQCC sprint as I write. I'm not really all that fired up for it, so hopefully that means I will do good in it. That's usually the case as I've mentioned before. When I get all fired up for a contest, it seems invariably something will go wrong, and I won't do all that well. The converse is true a lot of times also. I'll know in about 4 hours how things turned out this time.

I've got my 3 homebrew keys all set up to go, and GenLog set up as well, so not much to do now but wait till the 'opening bell'. I certainly hope no matter what kind of contesting mood I am in at the time, that conditions will be better this month than last month, and also better tonight than the past couple evenings have been.

As I look at my propagation pages, I see that both the A and K indices are at 0, and the SF is at 69. That probably means that 80M will again be the band of choice as it was last month. I will give 20 a quick listen though, and maybe try 40M for a few minutes to see if I can get a couple extra QSO's on one or both of those bands. The cold weather should keep the atmospheric noise quite low at least.

I think I'll go out on a limb here and predict that I will make 24 QSO's in 14 sections, and hope that is too conservative a guess. -30-

Tuesday, November 18, 2008 9:30 PM - Kind of a quiet day today. It was COLD outside so I did some housecleaning to pass some time. I probably should have gotten on the air, but except for my daily QSO this evening, I didn't. 80M wasn't all that good. A lot of activity, but everything was weak. So maybe the law of averages will be with us for the sprint tomorrow evening since the last couple nights were pretty bad. -30-

Monday, November 17, 2008 7:43 PM - My previous poll provider came back on line today so I was able to retrieve the results of my last poll and post them. However I think I will stick with this new poll provider instead of going back to the old one because, as I said, I like this one better.

80M acted strange this evening. My friend Don N1LU answered my CQ and was 569, then when he came back on his round, he was s8/9, but quickly faded to s3 under my noise then came back to s7 as he turned it back to me. The next round I could barely hear him at all. That's unusual for 80M of late as signals have been very stable in the evenings. I hope that is not a bad omen for our Wednesday evening NAQCC sprint. I'm looking forward to making a lot of QSO's there with my 3 homebrew keys. I finished up a little junction box for them today in which I can now plug up to 5 straight keys and have them activate the keying transistor in my keyer.

While I was sitting at the rig listening to some CW op running his letters together, I got the thought that some folks must consider CW to be like handwriting and that's why they wind up connecting their letters together instead of keeping them distinct and separate like printing. -30-

Sunday, November 16, 2008 7:53 PM - We got a preview of winter today with temperatures remaining in the 30's and a few light snow flurries from time to time. I never even went outside for a walk today. That's the first day in several months now that I've missed a walk. I have walked inside the house to get a couple miles in, but it's not really the same. I have to go out tomorrow to the post office and a couple other places, so my 1 day hibernation will come to an end.

It always interests me how our NAQCC Alphabet challenges work out. Sometimes it seems almost impossible to get a certain letter, usually in my case, an R for whatever reason. Other times I'll work call after call and not add a single letter to the challenge. Then there is this month where it seems almost everyone who answers my CQ's provides me with a letter, even down near the completion of the challenge. With just around 15 letters remaining today, I made 4 QSO's and cut that down to now just needing 8 letters.

One of the QSO's was VE6ECD in Alberta around 5PM local time on 40M. That may just be about the earliest in the day I've ever worked AB on 40M. I'm going to have to check my log to see. It will only take a few seconds so I think I'll just do it now if you don't mind waiting. HI. Well, I worked VE6JY in the RAC Winter Contest at 2111Z or 4:11PM EST back in 1996. Today's QSO with VE6ECD was the earliest non-contest QSO with AB though. It came at 2206Z or 5:06PM EST. In fact it's the only non-contest QSO with AB I've ever had with QRP power on 40M. Hmmm, I wonder what my earliest QSO's with say BC, WA, OR, CA on 40M are.

BC is 2314Z - 6:14PM EST
WA is 0042Z - 7:42PM EST
OR is 2007Z - 4:07PM EDT
CA is 2326Z - 7:26PM EDT and
HI is 0247Z - 9:47PM EST
AK is 0153Z - 8:53PM EST

Figuring that reminds me of my BCB DX days when I used to see how many AM BC stations I could log in the daytime which I counted as 11AM to 1PM Standard time if I recall correctly. I'll have to talk about that some day in the diary. -30-

Saturday, November 15, 2008 10:04 AM - A couple things on my web site that seem to have declined in interest lately, although they are one of the most important things here, are my CW Stories and my Teens and CW Stories. I wonder how many newcomers to my web site have even browsed or read those sections. Personally if this was someone else's web site, I think I would definitely read each and every story carefully, especially if I were new to CW or just plain wondering what CW is all about.

I know some of you who have been regularly visiting the site for many years have probably read all the stories, and are wondering when I am going to post some new ones. Well, the stories are true to life testimonials from actual ham radio operators. They are not fictional accounts, so I can't just make one up. I have to wait till someone comes forward with their story, and then I'll eagerly post it.

After a long wait someone indeed has finally come forward again with a story, and it's a very interesting one, also. Thanks to Joe K8MP for sharing his story with us. Go to the CW section of my web site and check it out now. And if you haven't read the older stories there, set aside some time to do so.

Say, I really like this new poll provider and think I will stay with it even if my old one comes back on line. I can now have a poll with up to 20 answers to choose from. I also like the display of the votes and the way they handle percentages better than the old one. Now with multiple choice answer polls where more than one answer can be selected, I can compute a much more meaningful percentage of how many voted for each choice.

This first poll with the new provider is just kind of a test poll to see how it works. Then next month I probably will go with a poll that I haven't chosen to do before because it was too hard to narrow the choices down to my previous limit of ten.

Remember also, your suggestions of polls are welcome as long as they deal mainly with CW and/or QRP. No 'How do you like PSK?' or anything like that will be accepted. -30-

Friday, November 14, 2008 8:45 AM - When I was at Tom WY3H's place yesterday to help him get DSL set up for his computer, he tried to vote in my poll and got an internal server error. I checked when I came home and got the same error, and it persists today. Hopefully it is only a temporary problem with my poll provider. If not, I'll have to find a new provider and probably will have lost the results for the Oct/Nov poll. I'll have further details as they become available.

ADDENDUM - I have a new poll provider and a new poll up and running. Try it out with your vote, and let me know if you have any problems with it. My couple tests worked OK.

I don't know if I will ever be able to retrieve the results from the previous poll about mobile operation. I'll keep trying, but since I have no real control over my poll providers, I can't guarantee anything. That's what happens when you depend on a third party for a service. -30-

Thursday, November 13, 2008 10:27 PM - In the midst of another busy day helping folks with this and that, I made another homebrew key. This time I made it from a computer mouse. I had always wanted to try something like that and finally got around to it. It's fairly neat. I just hooked up the cable on the mouse to the two micro-switches for the left and right mouse buttons, and the other end to the output transistor of my keyer. The cable inside the mouse originally went through an IC to the computer. That's why I say I hooked it directly to the micro-switches. Now I can send with either my index or middle finger, and I could also use the mouse as a paddle, but I haven't tried that yet. My shack is starting to look like a homebrew key factory now. HI I guess I'll use each of the three that I now have for 40 minutes each in the upcoming NAQCC sprint on the 19th (20th UTC). -30-

Wednesday, November 12, 2008 10:15 PM - You know, when you're a "Jack Of All Trades", it seems you are never bored. Today in my continuing role of "Somewhat Caregiver" to my neighbor with the knee replacement, I had to help her into her friend's car so she could go to a doctor's appointment. Then while waiting for her to come home to help her back into the house for what seemed forever, I was kind of stuck here in the house. Don't think that I'm complaining cause I'm not. Just telling a story. Actually I love helping people. I think that's an important thing in life. I more or less get high on helping people, I think you could say. I don't think anyone should be forced into helping others, and I think that is wrong if it is done by government or in any other way. We should voluntarily help others in any way we can, if we can, and if we want to. Oops, better get off my soapbox and back to my story. She finally did come home, and I helped her up the stairs into the house. I notice a steady improvement in her, although she thinks the healing is going much too slowly. When something happens to us, it does seem that time will drag and we notice our own progress seems to move very slowly while actually it is moving along as fast as possible.

After I took off my caregiver cap, I helped Ange with some cement work around his mother's garage and sidewalk. It was rather nice to 'play in the mud' again. There are just so many different things I enjoy doing, that sometimes it is a long time in-between doing them. But as soon as you jump in again, it's just like you had been doing it every day. I'm referring to mixing the cement. Because there wasn't enough being done to warrant getting a mixing machine, I mixed it by hand and applied it to the cracks while he troweled it out. Getting the right mix of cement and water just seemed to come back to me naturally after not having done it for many years. I think the mix was just about perfect. It was a bit slow work even though there wasn't that much of it, and when I got home, it was just about time to eat and get ready for our computer club meeting.

It was a pretty good meeting, and after we took care of business like electing officers for next year (me not included per my own request), we did some interesting Internet demonstrations with our new DSL connection at the church where we meet.

And those three things pretty much filled up my day to where I'm here now writing about it in the diary.

Oh, I did get to play a little more with my new homebrew key today. I added a rubber band for a little more lifting tension for the lever, and adjusted the spacing of the contacts. Now it feels just like my other keys despite the fact it's virtually a completely different design. -30-

Tuesday, November 11, 2008 8:55 PM - I love to open my email and see comments and questions there regarding this diary. Paul N0NBD writes a couple things today. First he wants to know if I'll show a picture of my new magnet key here in the diary. Maybe - keep reading.

Speaking of reading I caught Paul not reading - not reading our NAQCC newsletters. He asks about the KX-1 project that Mike and I started today and where he could read more about it. Well, the answer can be found in past NAQCC newsletters where we've been explaining that I agreed to do the project with Mike only if it could be made into a serial feature exclusive to our upcoming NAQCC newsletters. He agreed, and that is where you can follow our progress, and the only place you can do so unless some other club or individual steals or copies the stories which happens a lot on the Internet. We'll mention at the beginning of each article that they are meant only for the newsletter and any use of the articles otherwise would be a violation of common courtesy.

Mike and I did start the project today, and to avoid infringing on our own exclusivity agreement you won't be hearing any more about it here in the diary. You'll have to read about it in the NAQCC Newsletter.

Back to the magnet key. There's not much to see and you won't be inspired by it's beauty since I build for utility, not show, but here it is:

pix_diary_20081111_01 (48K)

Well, I told you it wasn't a thing of beauty, didn't I? However it does work but with one little drawback. With the magnets attracting instead of repelling, the lowest force occurs when contact is made, just the opposite of what it is with a spring or opposing magnets. Since there is so little force lifting the lever and separating the contacts, if I get just the slightest jiggle or wrong hand movement at that precise time, the contact 'bounces' and I get an extra mini-dit. I can solve it by adding the force of a rubber band to increase the lifting force, but I took the rubber band off when I took the picture. Still it's something to use in our upcoming NAQCC sprint with it's special award being for the use of a homebrew key. Also it shows just how easy and how inexpensive it is to make a device with which you can send Morse code and communicate with other people. -30-

Monday, November 10, 2008 9:36 PM - Guess one of the things I did today. Nope.....No....Not that either. I better give you a clue. It has something to do with the NAQCC and November. No, nothing to do with the Turkey challenge. Oh wait, I promised to tell you what Geo N1EAV said about my comments re: the Super Bowl. After that, I'll get back to what I did today.

Geo emailed, "Hi John..... I remember asking you if you were going to comment on the superbowl late in January,and after I read your answer in the diary, I figured I wasn't going to say anymore about it. Glad you finally found out who won. The game was pretty good and the Giants really shut down the Pats offense. They also had a little luck when David Tyree caught that ball on fourth down...Oh well,a fun season anyway and they won 18 in a row without a loss. This year Brady went out for the season with a knee injury in the first game. Really makes a difference with the offense, but Matt Cassel is getting better every week. I think they'll do well to go 10 and 6 this year. Still not sure if the Titans are as good as their record....time will tell. Take care for now and enjoy the warm fall weather. It wont be long before the white stuff starts to fall..yuk..."

Some, but very little, of the white stuff did fall today. My neighbors car had a slight coating of white for several minutes before it melted. Other than that, It was hard to tell it s***ed at all.

Although they did win again yesterday so the '72 Dolphins and I still have to worry a little bit about the Titans, I don't really see them as a 19-0 team. The Pats last year really did look like such a team, but fortunately the Giants didn't see them that way.

I think that each year a team comes close to a perfect record, then falls short, be it in the regular season, playoffs, or super bowl, it only further emphasizes what a fantastic achievement that Dolphin team accomplished with their 17-0 season record. They have their critics (as every person, team, company, etc. that is successful has - mainly because of jealousy from some poor inept soul who can't even tie his shoelaces correctly most of the time, and hates everyone who can) who claim it was easier to have a perfect record in the 70's than it is now. They say the schedule was shorter, but hey the teams then played every weekend. They didn't have those 'bye' or 'rest' weeks the modern (softer?) teams have nowadays.

They say with the fewer teams then, there were fewer good teams to have to beat. That doesn't really make sense, even as I try to describe what they are saying. It seems to me that nowadays with more teams, there are a lot more poor teams to beat up on as the limited amount of quality talent gets spread out thinner and thinner. I think actually nowadays there are fewer good teams to have to beat to get a perfect season because of that watering down and spreading out of talent.

A friend of mine and I once talked about that situation in basketball when comparing teams of different eras like the old Boston Celtics and St. Louis Hawks vs. the more recent Chicago Bulls. He thought there was no doubt whatsoever the older teams were much better since there were way fewer NBA teams, and virtually all of them could give you a run for your money. He said today, there are maybe a couple of decent teams that are beating up on a couple dozen lesser teams making the decent teams look much better than they actually are. Again because of the spreading out of talent among far too many teams. As the number of teams proliferate in other sports, the same situation will occur in those sports also.

I kind of drifted from my point, so let me emphasize it again. What the Dolphins did in that 17-0 season is going to continue to be put on a higher and higher pedestal as years go by and other teams fall short of perfection. Being 'perfect' in any endeavor is very hard to do, and isn't done very often even in single contests, let alone over a season or longer period of time. Let's honor those who do achieve that perfection and not criticize them for some petty imagined reasons.

November and the NAQCC....hmmmm. Oh, you're still thinking, are you? I better tell you. I built another homebrew straight key for this month's NAQCC sprint just as I did last year. Actually it's not quite finished. I have all the mechanics figured out and working, but I haven't actually installed the contacts yet. I'll do that probably on Wednesday. Why not tomorrow? Hang on, I'll get to that. This year's key uses magnets rather than springs to separate the contacts. I had trouble getting the magnets to repel strongly enough, so I figured I'd change my plans I'd been thinking about and use the attractive force between them instead. A few tweaks and the concept seems to work. Tomorrow Mike KC2EGL and I are going to begin our KX-1 project, so my key will wait till Wednesday.

Whew, that was a long, winding entry, wasn't it. Time to give my fingers a rest, so 73 for now. -30-

Sunday, November 09, 2008 6:47 PM - If you do the math, you'll see it is now 2347Z, and in 13 minutes I'll be heading to the shack to get my daily QSO for the 10th. So let me squeeze in some comments here in that time.

Mike KC2EGL emailed and said he worked Argentina on 15M this morning. He wondered if that was a sign the new sunspot cycle is picking up. Probably not. I would guess that is some sort of trans-equatorial propagation that is present at all times, more or less. Often in the previous sunspot minimum in DX contests, I'd get runs of Argentinian stations and perhaps some surrounding countries down there when no other part of the world was being heard at all.

More of a sign that cycle 24 is getting started is the fact that of the last 5 sunspot groups to appear, 4 were from cycle 24 and only one from cycle 23. However it will be a while yet before there are enough or strong enough cycle 24 spots to have much influence on propagation. But it seems we are headed in the right direction.

After hearing and working CY2ZT/2 on 30M as the only station I heard on that band this afternoon, I decided to try calling CQ and sure enough I got an answer and had a nice rag chew with a station on Cape Cod. Folks, you've got to make the bands active if no one else is doing so. If everyone only listens, there will never be any QSO's anywhere. The bands are not dead in many cases, just inactive because no one is transmitting. And don't just call two or three CQ's and quit. Give others the time to find you and answer your CQ. Don't call CQ, then listen for a minute or more for an answer. Call CQ, listen a few seconds, and call again if no one answers. You've got to keep your signal present on the band to be heard. No one is going to hear your long pauses between your CQ's and probably will never hear you at all if there is more silence that actual transmitting in your string of CQ's. I prefer to only pause 4-5 seconds to listen for answers. That is plenty of time to tune the RIT up and down 0.5 to 1 kHz or so to listen for answers. Only those with the slowest reaction times or some kind of rig that requires throwing several switches to go from rcv to xmt will not be able to answer in that time.

Oh thanks Geo N1EAV for the email about the Super Bowl. I'll get to that tomorrow. -30-

Saturday, November 08, 2008 2:51 PM - It seems that whenever I'm in a contesting mood, there is no contest that weekend that interests me. That's true this weekend. Oh, the OK/OM contest is a good one, but propagation is completely against me in that one. I'd just sit there and struggle to maybe make a QSO or two an hour - boring. The KY QSO party will probably be a slow one also, although I may poke around in that one a bit this evening. Other than that, nothing else has any interest for me in the way of contests. I have a little bit of a cold today, and contesting would be a nice diversion. Oh well.

My great experiment is over. As you know, I'm a Miami Dolphins fan and had feared their perfect season would be matched by the Patriots last season. So for the heck of it, I decided to see how long I could go without knowing who won Super Bowl 42. Amazingly, I never found out until today that the Giants beat the Patriots 17-14, thus keeping my Dolphins as the only team with a perfect season in modern NFL history. I had considered mentioning the experiment in the diary earlier, but I figured one of you might spill the beans. HI

How I found out is that my neighbor with the knee replacement mentioned she was reading an interesting story about one of the Giants players and his devotion to Christianity. She mentioned he was the one who "made those couple catches in the Super Bowl that helped the Giants beat the 'unbeaten' Patriots." So I looked up on the Internet to see the story of the game. I kind of guessed the Giants had won since there was not a lot of hoopla about a perfect season, Geo N1EAV didn't have anything to say about the game, and Eli Manning seemed to have been getting more publicity than Tom Brady, but I honestly did not know for sure about the game until today. You can isolate yourself pretty well from events if you try, especially if you don't watch any television, as in my case.

This year it's only the Titans to worry about at this point in time with their 9-0 start. The Pats are only a mediocre 5-3 after their big disappointment. -30-

Friday, November 07, 2008 6:53 PM - I've got spring fever in the fall today with this mid-70's weather continuing, so I'll use comments from my friend Paul N0NBD as today's entry.

"Hello John, I completely enjoyed the story of you and your Dad and fishing. I THANK you for sharing that part of your life with us readers. My father never cared much for fishing but my Grandad and Grandmother both did and I have good memories of fishing with them at the ponds north of their home town of Dennis,KS. I had 2 uncles that were fisherman and taught me how to fly fish, tie flys and to enjoy the "stalk" for the fish to rise to the fly. Anyhow your story also brought some good memories back for me as well. I hope to get in some fishing this weekend. The wx here has been warm at day cool at night but the winds have been howling. That makes trying to cast a # 12 fly TOUGH! Have a good one and CUL de Paul N0NBD." -30-

Thursday, November 06, 2008 8:01 PM - It seems a lot of hams must also be fishermen. Every time I mention fishing in the diary, I inevitably seem to get an email from someone commenting on the fishing. This time it was my friend Joe W4ONC. Just as a side note Joe is a second generation friend as his dad Rip who held W4ONC until his death was also a friend back in the 60's and 70's.

Since there is really nothing much else to talk about, I thought I'd talk a bit about my fishing history after a couple brief notes about today's fishing success. Yes, I actually caught something today. I used the bread flavored with strawberry Jello again today, only this time I made the little bread balls first then dipped them in some liquid Jello mix just before casting them out. They held together much better that way than soaking the bread before making the balls. Anyway I caught a 12 inch sucker and a 19 inch carpsucker with the bread to make a meager total of 88 fish for the year which may be my final total unless I go tomorrow and get something. After that it looks like the cold weather sets in and stays for a while. I also had one nice hit on the minnies I mentioned yesterday. Just as I was picking up to reel in and check on the minnie, something hit it. I was too surprised to get the hook set right and he got off almost immediately.

OK, let's go back through the years now in the wayback machine (remember Peabody and Sherman?). It's now 1954 or maybe 1955. I don't have accurate dates marked for the first dozen or so fish I caught. Let's say 1955 which probably is right.

My dad had been an avid fisherman when he was younger, but I don't recall him fishing until I was 9 or 10 years old, and he more or less suddenly decided it was time for me to start fishing. So he, my mom and I headed off to the river with some of his old poles and some worms. I remember going up river about a mile or so from where we lived, but I don't remember why we picked that particular spot. I'm not sure if it was on the first trip or perhaps the second or third that I caught my first fish. Was that a thrill or what? Just looking at my records, it must have been a later trip because the location is Market Street in downtown Kittanning. Anyway it was a 10 inch Sucker. That started a once interrupted lifetime love of fishing.

I'm not going to just give a long list or even a total of fish, but talk about my dad a bit. He drove a mail truck on a star route which is a route that carried mail from a central post office to several branch offices. He made two trips a day, starting around 5 in the morning, coming home for an hour or so break from 10-11 AM, then heading out on the second trip and getting home sometime around 6 PM. He was no softy like so many people today who want to work as few hours as possible and get paid a lot more than they are worth. Oh, and that schedule held for 6 days a week with only Sunday's off. And during the peak of the holiday Christmas mail season, an extra trip was often made on Sundays as well.

Yet with all that work time, he always had time for me whether it was fishing or some other activity. I realize now that he must have been dead tired some of those evenings we went fishing, but that didn't deter him. The only thing that slowed him down a bit was a bad back that would act up now and then and warrant a trip to the chiropractor. However he never missed a day of work that I can recall.

I enjoyed going on the mail route with him. My mom (who also went along most of the time) would pack a lunch for us, and we'd take the fishing poles as he had an hour (or maybe it was 45 minutes - memory fades over the years) layover in Clarion and we'd go fishing near where Toby Creek empties into the Clarion river. We'd wind up catching many bluegills nearly every time. There were also a lot of perch, some catfish, a few carp, and a few other species also, but I mainly remember the bluegills or sunfish. Just looking at my log, I see 25 fish caught on May 31, 1958. There are many days with 10+ fish listed. That was a good place to fish, and this then 13 year old really enjoyed himself.

I stopped logging fish after 7/29/1958, but kept fishing with my dad up until the spring of 1964 when the hard work finally caught up to him and he had a heart attack and passed away. I stopped fishing there and then as I just couldn't see myself getting any enjoyment from it without him.

But that's not the end. We had some new neighbors move in to a nearby house in the late 1980's, and a couple years later, in 1992 the dad of the family and daughter came suddenly to see me and said we're going fishing, come on. I said but I don't have a license, and don't even know if my poles are still good. He said it didn't matter, just get some money and we'll stop off and get you a license. I believe my poles did work, so I used them as I recall. That was May 10, 1992, and Denny, his 11 year old daughter Sara, and I headed to the river. I didn't catch any fish, and don't recall if they did or not, but the next day, May 11, I caught three suckers. Then about a week later on May 17, I caught a carp - yes, a carp. I neglected to mention that above, but that was my dad's favorite fish to catch, and he and I caught many of them during that first period of my fishing. I can still feel the joy of catching a carp again that day in 1992 after nearly 30 years had passed. That firmly hooked (no pun) me on fishing again, and I've been going perhaps an average of every other day during the warmer weather for the past 16 years now.

My what wonderful memories (and almost a tear or two) writing this brought to me. I'm glad I decided to do it. -30-

Wednesday, November 05, 2008 9:42 PM - Not a lot to talk about today, although it was another 70 degree day in November. I'll have to start looking in my weather records to see how unusual this run of warm temps is. I still remember the all-time (since 1959) warmest November day. It was November 3, 1961, and I was in high school. That was our school colors day when everyone wore red and white. That afternoon we left school in mid-summer-like 83 degree temperatures.

Looking now at my records, I see 1975 was a warm start to November. From the 5th through the 10th (except the 7th) we set daily high temperature records of 75, 76, 77, 77, 72 that still stand.

While reminiscing, I remember one other warm November day. I was working at WPIT, and the chief engineer Dick Norwicke and I were working on our tower lighting box at the base of the transmitting tower. I forget exactly what we were doing, perhaps some concrete work. However I remember the warmth, and although that was in Pittsburgh, here in Kittanning it reached 78 degrees on that day, November 23, 1979. A daily record as well as the latest in the season it ever reached that temperature.

Today I took advantage of the nice weather and again went fishing, but with the same results - no fish. I did at least get some bites today using some bread flavored with strawberry Jello. Perhaps I'll try that concoction again tomorrow. And another fisherman gave me 3 minnies he had left over, so I'll see if I can get anything with them.

We also buried the last of the fig trees, one belonging to a friend on the hill overlooking Kittanning. Boy, it would be nice to have an antenna up there. I took some more pictures looking down into Kittanning at my house. I'll see if they are any clearer than the ones I posted some time ago on my SkyDrive site. It seems every time we go up there, it's somewhat hazy. Some day we'll go up there when it's a perfectly clear day and I'll get some real great pictures. -30-

Tuesday, November 04, 2008 10:36 PM - Hmmmm, somehow my computer clock gained a day. I just noticed yesterday's diary entry had the wrong date on it. Some bug with the EDT/EST time changeover on Sunday? No, it looks like Sunday's entry has the correct date. I don't know.

Today was a beautiful day, weatherwise at least, if no other way. I went fishing twice, but neither trip yielded any fish. Looks like the only good month this year for fishing was September when I got 32 fish. I'll probably try the next couple days as well, but not much hope. At least it is nice being outside enjoying this early October weather in November.

Not much else to say now. -30-

Monday, November 03, 2008 8:06 PM - Just a short message. Keep one thing in mind. It is YOU who decide the results of the election tomorrow. The newspapers, TV, radio, and the polls do not decide an election. YOU must go to the voting place tomorrow and cast YOUR vote. If YOU don't and YOUR candidate loses, YOU have no one to blame but YOURSELF. Many Americans have died over the years to allow YOU to continue to cast YOUR votes in FREE elections. Don't let their lives have been lost in vain. Speak YOUR mind - cast YOUR VOTE! -30-

Sunday, November 02, 2008 8:34 PM - It's very depressing to see it getting dark so early now after turning the clocks back last night. When we say gets dark early, that's not really all that true. Actually if you throw out all your clocks that make you think it got dark an hour earlier tonight, and only measure the difference between yesterday's sunset and today's, you'd find that the sun set only 1 minute and 12 seconds earlier today than yesterday (at my latitude of approximately 40 degrees north - times vary at other latitudes). The sun rose 1 minute and 10 seconds later today than yesterday. That means we had 2 minutes and 22 seconds less daylight today than yesterday. Yet because of the psychological dependence we have on clocks, today seems completely different than yesterday.

Let's talk a bit more about time, sunsets, etc. As I've made plain, I am not a fan of winter, and I look for all the signs that point toward its end each year. A lot of them are purely psychological also, but they do help somewhat, even though the weather doesn't co-operate with all the signs every year. It does co-operate with some later in the season, however I'm talking about very early signs of the end.

First of all, I celebrate meteorological rather than astronomical winter because it begins on December 1st and ends on February 28th or 29th. That puts the end of winter some 22 or so days closer.

I believe I mentioned this last December in the diary, but it's worth bringing up again. The earliest sunset of the year comes closer to December 1st than December 21st which is somewhat of a justification for starting winter on December 1st besides the fact that December, January, and February are the three coldest months of the year almost all of the time. Oh there are exceptions like 1960 when March was colder than January or February or December 1959. Getting back to the sunset - the earliest sunset of a year (again here near 40 degrees north latitude) is usually within a day of December 8th. This year it is right on December 8th at 4:50:11 PM EST. After that, the sun sets a bit later each day until it sets about 10 whole minutes later by December 31st.

I hear those of you not astronomically minded asking, "But isn't the shortest day of the year always around December 21st?" Well, to answer as a wise-guy first - no, all days are about 24 hours long. But knowing that you actually mean the day with the shortest period of daylight, it's because the latest sunrise doesn't occur till around January 4th. So the two events combine about in the middle of the two dates to give the day with the shortest period of daylight - December 21 which is 13 days after December 8th and 14 days before January 4th. Whew! And why is all that so? It's rather complicated and I won't go into it here other than to say it's basically because the Earth's orbit around the Sun isn't a perfect circle although it goes a little beyond that simple fact also.

To avoid re-inventing the wheel here, I refer you to http://www.analemma.com/Pages/framesPage.html where you can click on the menu item 'other phenomena' for an explanation. If that is not clear, reading the rest of that interesting site should make it clearer still. Also you can download the wonderful little program SunGraph there which is what I use here to come up with all the times and dates I mention. SunGraph is now at a later version (2) which doesn't seem to give times to the nearest second, but only the nearest minute. I prefer the original version (1) if you can find it somewhere, although I guess the nearest minute is good enough for info like this.

And one last thing - today's sunset is at 5:12:28 PM which means that it's not going to get all that much 'darker earlier' this year, only around 22 minutes or so. Looking ahead till the next date we have a sunset at 5:12 or so, that will be January 12, 2009 when the sun will be setting about a minute and 5 seconds later every day. -30-

Saturday, November 01, 2008 8:18 PM - Don't forget to turn those clocks back one hour tonight if you live in an area that should be doing so. I just took care of all my clocks about an hour ago. However I usually find one somewhere that I missed every spring and fall.

Weatherwise it was more like the first of October than the first of November today. Like yesterday, temps were in the mid 60's, although it was variably cloudy today and a bit breezy so it didn't feel quite as warm as it did yesterday at times. I went fishing for about an hour, but with no bites and the chilly breezes, that's all the longer I stayed. Had it been as nice as yesterday, I would have stayed longer even without the bites.

Of course, the ARRL CW SS is on this weekend, so those who don't like contests will either be complaining or on the WARC bands. Although as you know, I love contesting, I just wasn't in the mood for this one, so I only used it to get a quick QSO of the day for my streak. Perhaps tomorrow or later tonight I'll fool around in it a bit. However tomorrow Ange and I will be burying a couple more fig trees.

I've still got a bit of first of the month stuff to take care of, but most of it is done. I did all my financial things today and got the weather in the computer. I still have to update the contest calendar here on the web site and get the December contests lined up. And a few other little things also. -30-

Friday, October 31, 2008 8:48 PM - I could almost copy yesterday's entry and it would be close to being 100% accurate. Well, except for the Halloween parade and the clothes washing.

It was certainly a beautiful day, more like late September than the end of October. Bright sunshine and temperatures probably in the upper 60's. In fact I'll give you a precise high temperature since it's time to go get my daily weather readings in a couple minutes. Be right back. Low-26, High-66, Present-45. That 40 degree temperature range is not unusual on these clear days in October. In fact we've had October days that vary by 50 degrees and more. I remember back in 1963 not long after I started keeping temperature records in 1959, we had a very dry October with only .29 inches of rain with most days from the 1st through the 27th having low temperatures in the 30's and 40's and highs in the upper 70's to low 80's. One day we went from 32 to 82 degrees, another 34 to 85 degrees.

Since this is the last of the month - first of the month transition time, I've got a little more than usual to get done, so I better get to it now. Probably figure my monthly finances first, then maybe put my October weather records in the computer, then.... -30-

Thursday, October 30, 2008 9:17 PM - A full day helping others. I mentioned my neighbor in yesterday's entry. I did some shopping for her today and helped with a few other things. She has this fancy gadget that exercises her new knee and the pertinent muscles. We were figuring out how to set that up for her, and did come up with a plan which we'll try out tomorrow.

Then since it was a nice day I did some preliminary work getting Ange's fig trees ready for burial. Then when he finished his substitute teaching today, we got about halfway through getting the three biggest fig trees ready for the 'funeral' tomorrow. Of course those of you who know the story of the fig trees know they will be resurrected come spring to produce another good crop of figs by next August and September.

Then for a little relaxation I went to watch our town's Halloween parade this evening. It seems like participation picked up a bit this year. Last year it seemed like it was over almost before it started. This year it lasted almost a half hour or so.

That pretty much covered the out-of-ordinary part of my day today and took me to here where I'm writing this diary entry while doing my regular Thursday clothes washing....ooops, the washer just shut off. Got to go put them in the dryer now. -30-

Wednesday, October 29, 2008 8:47 PM - I learned in a QSO with Joe W4ONC last night that there was a piece in the November issue of CQ Magazine naming my web site "The Amateur Radio Website of the Month." Joe sent me a scan of the pertinent page today via email. It's page 95, by the way. I think it is part of the "What's New" column, but I'm not familiar with CQ Magazine since I ended my subscription years ago, and I only have a copy of the one page. Anyway the writer of the column is Anthony, K8ZT whom I publicly thank here for the honor. My local bookstore still has the October issue on their stands. I think I will buy the November issue when it is put out there.

The article also makes very nice mention of the NAQCC which I appreciate also. I'd noticed a couple new members mentioned CQ as their source, and I was wondering what they were talking about till I put 2 and 2 together during the QSO with Joe last evening. Also my web site stats have surged quite a bit the past few days, and now I know the cause of that also. HI.

I did it - I reached (and passed) 400 QSO's using N3A/3 this month. Of course a lot of those were contest QSO's, but I figure I have about 85 regular QSO's in the total also. My 14 QSO's today were the most out of contest QSO's I've had in one day in a good long time. The weather was bad again with flurries, wind, and cold so it was another good day to just sit at the rig and fling dots and dashes into the ether.

One of my neighbors just had knee replacement surgery and came home yesterday. I've been spending a little time helping her out also in addition to all my other daily activities. -30-

Tuesday, October 28, 2008 2:58 PM - It's a cold windy day in Kittanning, so a good day to get caught up on indoor things. I started putting plastic on my windows for the w....r season. Also did some sewing. I put in about an hour on the radio with N3A, and got three more QSO's in the log. Now it's about time to think about getting my supper ready.

Before I go though, someone asked me about Tom's antenna and tuner after I mentioned in the diary about helping him to install it. It's a homebrew Carolina Windom fed through a balun with RG-8 coax. The tuner is a Vectronics VC-300DLP. -30-

Monday, October 27, 2008 9:57 PM - Didn't I just write one of these entries a few minutes ago? These days are zipping by faster and faster. Hope they keep up this speed now till April and then slow down so we can enjoy the spring and summer weather a lot longer next year.

Ange and I buried 6 of his smaller fig trees this morning which leaves 6 bigger ones to go now which we may do Thursday and Friday if the weatherman is right in his prediction of sunny 50-60 degree weather those days. It was a bit chilly working this morning, but the bright sun did help out until it hid behind some increasing cloudiness.

I also fooled around with N3A some, but didn't have too much success with only 3 QSO's for the day. Still need 17 to reach 400 for the month.

I also did some cooking, using up the last of my garden beans and all but a few of my remaining peppers. Mixed them together and added my last 4 onions, then fried the mix in olive oil in my electric skillet. Later in the day I used up a dozen or so tomatoes boiling them down to make another jar of tomato juice as I described here a few days ago.

That plus some shopping, a couple walks and the usual daily housekeeping chores filled up the day pretty well. Now I've got a couple more hours to kill before bedtime during which I have no idea right now how to fill them. HI -30-

Sunday, October 26, 2008 9:56 PM - This turned out to be a good weather day with sunny skies and temperatures in the low 60's, so I didn't get on the air as much as I planned with N3A. Still I did wind up making about 20 or so QSO's over the weekend to put me within shouting distance of 400 for the month. I now have 380, so 4 a day the rest of the month will do it.

Right now we are just at the end of a rain shower, so I'm going out to see if I can get a few night crawlers to use when the weather turns nice again after a taste of winter the next 3 days. Then I think I may try for a few more N3A QSO's. Anyway I'm outta here. Bye. -30-

Saturday, October 25, 2008 9:06 AM - For several years now, the Zero Beat page in the CW section of my web site has been sitting there all alone with apparently no attention being given to it. However, just today I received an email from Elwood WB0OEW who actually built the unit recently and is now using it. He says it works very well for him. I've updated the page with his info and some pictures he included.

I've never built nor used the unit myself, but I imagine it would be quite helpful to many hams. I often get answers to my CQ's from folks who are nowhere near zero beat, and may be as far away as 500 Hz or more. I'm sure this unit would get them more into the ballpark, probably exactly zero beat in most instances.

If it sounds like something that might be helpful, check out the page in the CW section.

I think I mentioned this before in a diary entry, but the term zero beat is a throwback to the old days of radio. When you tuned in a signal with the BFO (beat frequency oscillator) on to produce an audio tone, you then turned OFF the BFO, and turned on your transmitter VFO. You tuned the VFO until the pitch of the received signal got lower and lower until you heard no tone at all. Then your VFO was set to the same frequency as the received signal and there was no audible beat tone, hence the term zero beat. I know all you veterans out there know all that, but I'm sure it may be new to some newcomers. -30-

Friday, October 24, 2008 8:57 PM - Looks like a rainy weekend coming up, or at least a rainy Saturday at best. So I think I'll try to get in quite a bit of N3A operating. It's always fun operating our NAQCC special event station. It's interesting the reactions you get. Of course NAQCC members for the most part know all about it so usually no need to explain it to them. Then there are some folks who seemingly can't figure out the 1X1 call with the portable designator at the end, i.e. N3A/3. Then of course there are the folks who are delighted to work a 1X1 special event call and want to know how they can get a QSL card. I refer them to the club web site. I think my favorite N3A QSO this year was from a ham who had been licensed for some 60 years, yet said I was the first ever 1X1 call that he had worked. I could tell he was excited and that made me feel good.

I got my Keynote today, and was delighted at the coverage Nancy WZ8C gave to our N3A operation. Thank you Nancy and all of FISTS. It's so great when clubs can work together so well without ever a trace of any conflict. That co-operation between FISTS and the NAQCC has existed from day 1 when I asked Nancy if I could publicize our new NAQCC in my Keynote QRP column, and she had no objections whatsoever. It's been that way ever since.

I mentioned our bridge project here in town in the diary yesterday. Perhaps I should post a couple pictures of the bridge on my SkyDrive site to more clearly explain my perhaps not too clear description of it. I'll let you know when I do.

Ange and I got started on next year's garden today. He planted some garlic which will do its thing underground during the winter and then sprout when spring comes. I'm not really sure just what does happen over the winter months, but there must be some reason to plant it in the fall. I'll have to research that on the Internet, or perhaps one of you expert gardeners can tell me? -30-

Thursday, October 23, 2008 10:25 PM - I'm just sitting here waiting for the dryer to finish with my clothes, so I only have a couple minutes. That's good though, because there's not really much to report.

We did have a ribbon cutting ceremony here in town today to celebrate the opening of new bridge that connects Kittanning with West Kittanning. It's kind of hard to explain the bridge, but it goes along the side of a hill, yet has to be a bridge because there are railroad tracks and part of the borough of Applewold underneath where the roadway is located.

It was rather a rare project in that it came in just about on budget and just about right on schedule. For a major project like it was, that is very unusual in this day and age.

Well, the dryer just shut off, so time to go fold some clothes. -30-

Wednesday, October 22, 2008 9:20 PM - The homemade tomato juice was delicious, so now I know what to do with my leftover tomatoes. Perhaps with my new found obvious trick I talked about yesterday I'll be making some of my homemade vegetable soup this winter also. And who knows what else, time permitting.

Just about all of Ange's and my gardens are history now. The burial of the fig trees in his garden needs doing, and I still left those last two bean plants in my garden. I think tonight may finish them as it's now 36 already at 9PM with crystal clear skies and almost no wind. Unless some clouds move in or something else unforeseen happens, I figure we'll see an overnight low of 24-25 degrees for a good(?) freeze.

Not much action for my N3A operation today. Just 4 QSO's, but they were with some old friends I haven't had rag chews with for a while now, so they were worthwhile.

I'm doing something I wanted to do for a long time. Gather up all my non-K3WWP QSO's into one place. By that, I mean all my N3A, N3AQC, KB3MQT NAQCC operations plus my WA3IXO second call from the 70's operations and some K3WWP/3 operations from Pittsburgh. I think I may have around 800-1000 such QSO's, most all of them QRP and of course all CW. I don't have them in my main K3WWP log, and am not going to put them there, but in a separate log called 'Other Calls'. Since I'm approaching (or maybe there, I haven't checked lately) 70,000 K3WWP QSO's, that should give me around 71,000 total QSO's in my ham career.

I've had a moderate surge in site visitors the past couple days, and just figured out it must be from my latest QRP column in the FISTS Keynote after someone signed my guestbook and said that's how they found out about the site. Another obvious thing. HI.

Oh, before I go - I'm sure there are many new readers of this diary who may have wondered what I meant by the fig tree burial. Fig trees are a warm weather tree not suited for the Western PA climate. However my friend Ange and his dad before him bury the fig trees in mid-Fall and dig them up in mid-Spring. They survive the winter just fine that way. You can see pictures of the process on my SkyDrive site in the 'My Friend's Garden' folder. -30-

Tuesday, October 21, 2008 9:21 PM - I often use the following two sayings because they are so true. "If you want to hide something, hide it somewhere in plain sight." That's the hardest place to find things, it often seems. "The easiest thing to overlook is the obvious."

I guess the second one applies. I was thinking about making some tomato juice to use up some of the 100+ tomatoes I have sitting in the basement before they go bad. I can never eat that many, and it seems all the folks I usually give tomatoes to are not around, tired of tomatoes, have another source, etc.

However a couple years ago I shut off my kitchen stove permanently to save on natural gas. Now I was wondering how I could make the juice in the microwave. Of course I can't use a metal pan or pot in there. I was afraid boiling tomatoes in my plastic microwave pressure cooker would permanently stain it. Then the obvious reared up and stared me in the face. I can set my metal pot right on my electric frying pan and it would be just like putting it on a burner on the stove. Man, sometimes.......

Now that it has dawned on me, I can start making some things again that I used to make on the stove. My first project turned out good. I now have a nice big jar of fresh tomato juice in the refrigerator cooling down. Tomorrow I will enjoy some of that.

It was a cold, windy rainy day today, so not much outdoors activities except for a walk this evening when the rain stopped and the wind finally died down. Now it's supposed to warm up a bit the next 3 days, and I'll be helping Ange clean up his garden. I'd much sooner be planting a garden in the spring, as then you have the beautiful late spring, summer, and early fall weather to look forward to. Right now, looking ahead seems to be pretty grim. But I guess we'll get through it OK and will be doing that planting again in 5 or 6 months. -30-

Monday, October 20, 2008 10:52 PM - I had a really great time today visiting with Tom WY3H. I helped him put up a new Windom antenna. I think I mentioned before that I'm not really a dog person, but I really like Tom's two dogs, Lil and Whizzer. When I climbed up the hill to pull up and fasten one end of the antenna, Lil followed me up and it was kind of like she was watching out for me, making sure I was OK. It took a couple climbs up the hill and she came along both times.

After we got the antenna hooked up, we fired up Tom's Icom and tried it out. Tom let me have the first QSO with it, and I used our N3A/3 call to work KB2JWD down in NC on 40M. The antenna tunes down to a 1:1 SWR from 80 through 10 meters except for 2 bands (I forget which now, one was 15 I think) that would only go down to about 1.5:1.

After a while Tom had some things to attend to, and I played with the rig. I worked CY2ZT/2 on 40M for a new prefix using my own call. There were some nice DX signals on 40M, one especially strong one from Moldova. His pileup was too big to break though. I also heard a very strong CT1 station but he was calling CQ JA so I respected that and didn't call him. A few more European signals were heard on 40, but not too strong. However keep in mind this was late afternoon well before sundown which gives me the impression that Tom is going to really like and have a lot of success with this new antenna. Just as he came back in the shack, I was hearing N3A/5 and trying to work him. I did catch him, although copy was not all that good. Then Tom wanted to try to work him using his call WY3H, but conditions changed a bit and it didn't work out.

Every time I visit Tom, it seems I wind up having a nice meal and this was no exception. Tom's wife JoAnne is an excellent cook and I told her today that she again proved to me that she is a great cook. This time it was some delicious Chili and homemade bread.

Driving me home, Tom thanked me profusely and added I might regret helping him if he starts beating me in our NAQCC sprints now. I came back with, "If that happens, I'll just get my wire cutters and walk down there and cut it down." HI.

That pretty much took up my whole enjoyable day. -30-

Sunday, October 19, 2008 8:54 PM - We did have our first official frost this morning as the temperature bottomed out at 27. The beans (uncovered) and 1 tomato plant (covered) I left out survived in good shape.

I spent a good part of the day just playing in the QRP ARCI Fall Contest. Made 90 as N3A/3 and 30 as K3WWP, so I beat myself handily. HI. A lot of good signals, even on 20M. Again proving the bands aren't really as bad as people say, so get on and use them, or lose them.

Now I've got to finalize our NAQCC sprint logs, and get my own N3A/3 logs in order. Tomorrow I'm going to help Tom WY3H do some antenna work. It's supposed to be a nice sunny day with temps in the 60's so a good day to be outside.

Oh, I did get in some fishing today also. Had a fair sized something or other on the line (probably a sucker or carpsucker), but the hook came out on the way in to shore. Other than that, nothing to show for it, but it was nice sitting in the bright fairly warm sun for a couple hours. -30-

Saturday, October 18, 2008 3:45 PM - This is a sad day. A freeze warning for tonight means pretty much an end to the gardening season. I took out all my tomato plants except for one which I will cover and try to get it to ripen its last tomato. It's one of my Siberians and I only saved one other one this year for seeds. I want to keep the line going and have those late May, early June tomatoes. I picked 140 mostly green tomatoes today and will let them ripen slowly in the basement, and hopefully have fresh tomatoes through December or into January again as I usually do. They aren't quite as good as vine-ripened ones, but better (and cheaper) than store-bought ones.

I left in my bean plants. If they survive, fine, if not it doesn't matter. They must have given me at least 1,000 beans this year and I'm pretty well 'beaned-out' now.

I also started preparing for next year. I buried my vegetable waste I've been saving for the past 6 weeks or so in the places where my tomatoes didn't do quite as well. That should perk up the soil for next year in those spots.

Other than that, I fooled around a bit in the QRP ARCI Fall Contest. There didn't seem to be a whole lot of activity even though conditions did seem good as the few stations I worked had good signals. I'm working as both N3A/3 and K3WWP. I figure since things are slow, I'll help out some of the contesters with two QSO's, instead of one. So far N3A/3 is ahead of K3WWP as I wasn't able to work all the stations twice. I'm not going for score, just mainly trying to get more QSO's into our N3A logs for October. With about a quarter of our 25 ops reporting their half-time totals, we're around 700 QSO's, and should break last year's total of around 1,150, I would think. Now I'm going back to the contest for a bit, then take a walk. -30-

Friday, October 17, 2008 8:38 AM - Merlin KD0V asked my opinion of bugs. Here's my answer.

I have some strong opinions on bugs. Glad you asked. I think I'll make it a diary subject on the web site also.

Far too many bugs are improperly set and cause some of the worst fists on the air. However, properly set, bugs can send code that is indistinguishable from a keyer or computer sending.

Too many folks have the dot speed set at, for example, 30 WPM while only sending their dashes at 10 WPM. This makes for very hard copy for the newcomers to CW. As a grizzled veteran, I can usually figure it out, but it still takes a little more effort than copying near perfect CW.

Setting the dot speed too high also causes the 'extra dot' syndrome - sending an H for an S, a 5 for an H, or gosh knows how many dots for a 5. Also a V for a U. Well you know what I mean.

While quirks like that give 'personality' to a fist in the form of a 'swing', and that's good, it should not be carried to the extremes I mention above.

So if you're going to use a bug, please set it correctly so the dot speed is close to the speed at which you'll be sending those manual dashes. Strive for perfect code, or at least close to it. Remember a minor 'swing' is OK, but don't go too far and make it hard on those you work to copy. After all the purpose with any type of CW communication is just that - communication. It should not involve an inordinately large amount of work. -30-

Thursday, October 16, 2008 10:19 AM - This is the day for AM BCB DXing info.

Today an interview type Q&A session with Charlie K8CB asking the questions.

See my SkyDrive site, AM BCB folder for accompanying pictures.

Would you please elaborate on your "old homebrew AM rcvr" and "your alt-azimuth loop antenna" a bit?

Sure, I'll do my best, but it's been a long time since I used the setup and I have forgotten some details. The receiver and antenna have just been sitting unused in my attic for probably 20 years or so now. So ask away, and I'll do my best to answer.

Was your rcvr tube or transistor, or both?

It was an all solid-state receiver unlike most of my other construction projects at the time.

Did you modify an existing rcvr or was it entirely homebrew?

Entirely homebrew and mostly home-designed as well with the normal borrowing of some tried and true circuit elements here and there.

How many RF stages?

The loop had its own pre-amplifier using two FET's. The receiver has another RF amp using another FET with ganged input and output tuning.

How many IF stages?

An IF pre-amp using a GE FET-1, and two IF amps using CA3028A IC's.

What was the bandwidth of the mechanical filters?

That I don't remember off-hand but I see a note here that says 1.2 kHz.

Where were they inserted in the IF chain?

After a pre-amp (2N2907A) following the mixer, and before the GE FET-1 IF pre-amp.

What was the construction of the loop antenna and how well did it work?

A picture is worth a 1,000 words, so I'll refer you to the picture for construction. However the tilt feature of the loop was removed for some reason at some time I don't remember. The metal box on the loop contained the aforementioned pre-amp. The spacers in the windings separated the wires to reduce distributed capacitance. It used to not only rotate, but tilt as well. The combo of rotation and tilt worked so well and produced such a deep null (especially on ground wave propagation from locals) that I often could hear WPEO in Peoria, IL on 1020 with KDKA nulled out to virtually nil. That was in the daytime and from my apartment in Pittsburgh.

What became of your rcvr since you seem to be a saver of most things?

It's stored in my attic with a lot of other old radio and computer gear. Not really worth anything to anybody but the sentimental value it all has for me. Unfortunately no treasures there I could get rich selling. The receiver and loop as it exists now had evolved from AM BCB DXing to LW BCN DXing, but basically the overall circuitry described in my answers is the same for both except for obviously the tuning range - 540-1600 for AM BCB, and 190-540 for LW BCN.

Just to explain the accompanying pictures a bit now. The receiver was modified now and then producing extra unwanted holes in the cabinet here and there. That's basically why it is covered with the wood-grain contact paper. The mode switch was there because most of the AM DXing was done in USB/LSB rather than AM for better selectivity from adjacent channel interference, especially when working with EU stations spaced at 9 kHz and LA stations spaced at 5 kHz and other non-USA 10 kHz spaced stations. The CW position was for LW BCN DXing. You'll see a digital readout which I had a lot of fun designing and building. The pre-set dip switches are there to set the range of the readout. The top view of the interior shows the extensive shielding used to isolate the various stages from each other. The construction was mostly from soldered dual-sided PC stock as you see. The bottom view shows the frequency counter, power supply, and audio amplifier.

Thanks for asking some very good questions. I hope I answered them to your satisfaction and that they were of interest not only to you, but to others who had or have AM BCB and/or LW BCN DXing as one of their radio-related hobbies. -30-

Wednesday, October 15, 2008 10:55 PM - Processing logs, fishing, cleaning gutters, cutting hair, typing diary entry interspersed with walking and eating. That sums up my day - bye.

I rigged up a device to reach my gutters from my second floor windows and knocked out quite a lot of leaves and one bird's nest today. It's hard to do when you can't see what you're doing and have to do it by feel. Perhaps I need to rig up sort of a long dentist's mirror so I can see the gutters and see how my cleaning is going. Anyway I'll find out how effective I was when the next rain comes, which could be tomorrow.

I don't know if I've mentioned this before, but I haven't been in a barber shop since about 1972. I've cut my own hair since then. Today was one of those days for a cut, so that's done for another month or so now.

Didn't get any fish today, nor hardly any bites. Quite a contrast from yesterday for whatever reason.

I also operated N3A again this evening for a bit and added 4 more QSO's to my log bringing it to 252 for the month.

Oh, I said I'd let you know about the sprint. The propagation gods decided to limit me and many other participants to just 80M as 20 was dead and 40 virtually dead here. Just calling CQ on 3559.5 kHz for 2 hours with time out to QSY and get KA8MPT netted me 35 QSO's in 18 multipliers - not too bad as I seemed to be in a 'white hole' this month which definitely beats those 'black holes' of other months in the past. -30-

Tuesday, October 14, 2008 7:22 PM - Just sitting here eagerly awaiting the NAQCC sprint in about an hour from now. That doesn't bode well. Usually when I get all fired up for a sprint or contest, something happens and I don't do at all well. I seem to have my best efforts when I have to practically drag myself to the shack to participate. So we'll see what happens tonight.

I battled the denizens of the deep for about two hours today and emerged victorious three times. In other words I went fishing and caught three fish - suckers from 12.5 to 18 inches. The 18 inch one was a real beauty, Big and bulky - must have been doing a lot of weightlifting this summer. It was absolutely gorgeous out today. I probably could have sat out there all day if I didn't have other things to do.

Depending on how much work I have the next few days processing sprint logs, I'm going to try to describe my AM BCB days and describe my setup as I promised a couple weeks (or longer) ago to someone who asked about it. I'll have some pictures posted on my SkyDrive site to go along with commentary here in the diary when I get to it.

I hope these next 58 minutes pass fast so I can get to the sprint before my eagerness wears off. HI.

Oh, the new poll is up if you didn't notice yet. -30-

Monday, October 13, 2008 9:03 PM - I had fun again today with N3A/3. One of our ops signed up for a late afternoon operating time, but couldn't make it because something came up. So I filled in and made 5 straight QSO's on 40 meters, then a little later 3 more on 80M. That's 248 N3A/3 QSO's I've made so far this month. I guess all told we must have 500-600 N3A QSO's in the various logs.

Our operation in both the FISTS sprint and PA QSO Party seemed to have turned out well. I was monitoring the PAQP reflector and didn't see anything but positive comments on the N3A stations so far. I thought maybe there might be some confusion with so many different N3A stations, but I apparently was wrong about not only the PAQP, but the FISTS sprint as well. At least 8 of our N3A ops made some QSO's in the sprint. I still have to hear from the last 2 ops to see what they did.

Yet another beautiful day, and in between getting caught up on things I put off during the weekend, I got a chance to sit by the river for 3 hours, ostensibly to go fishing, but someone forgot to tell the fish. Actually as has happened so many days this year I was getting microscopic little bites interspersed by a few minutes of no bites. It seems they'd come nibble on the bait, then take a break, come back and take another nibble, then keep repeating the cycle. Honestly I don't think I've gotten a dozen good solid bites all year. I don't know what is wrong with the fish here in the river this year. Hopefully next year will be better. There still is another month or so of decent fishing weather, so it may even pick up in that time. We'll see. -30-

Sunday, October 12, 2008 9:34 PM - A lot to get caught up on after playing radio a good part of the weekend. Conditions were quite a bit better today although still not all that good. I wound up with 1 PAQP QSO on 20M, got about 75 or so more on 40M to add to what I got on 80M last night. The grand total was 214 QSO's in 67 multipliers. And each and every one came from me calling CQ. Had I not been having so much fun getting answers to my CQ's and gone S&P, I might have approached or passed my last year's total of 294 QSO's. But hey, I don't get that much of a chance to do well as the hunted instead of the hunter so I like to take advantage of those contests when I can pretend I'm a big station and just call CQ and run stations. Maybe I should say 'walk' stations? My rate calling CQ is nowhere high enough to justify calling it running stations, but you get my point, I'm sure. Doing contests strictly or at least 95-99 percent S&P does get old after a while.

That's pretty much all the time I have for an entry today. Got to get to that catching up I mentioned now. -30-

Saturday, October 11, 2008 2:36 PM - I'll probably be doing today's entry piece by piece as I take breaks from the FISTS sprint and the PA QSO Party. Right now the bands are just about dead. The K index is at 7 at the moment from some kind of an ionospheric event. I think a proton event. It was a struggle to get 6 QSO's in the FISTS sprint in 90 minutes so far. There is just virtually nothing to be heard most of the time, but occasionally a signal will pop in long enough to work, then quickly fade out again. So it's not very exciting at the moment - more like boring would be the word. I hope things will turn around soon, although if you look at the graph on my propagation page, it has gotten worse for the past 5 straight 3 hour segments. More later.

It's almost 11:30PM now and I'm taking a break from the PA QSO Party at the 116 QSO mark. I'll never come close to the 294 QSO's I made using N3A/3 last year, but it's fun nevertheless.

Today's the day - yes, today the Solar Flux finally made it out of the 60's - barely at 71. So I'll have to check back in the diary to see who was the closest guesser. I think someone guessed Oct 31 and that I believe would be the closest. But that will have to wait till after this hectic weekend. Now a little more break, then back to the fray that is the PAQP. -30-

Friday, October 10, 2008 8:47 PM - I've got a problem this weekend. Our weather is going to be beautiful but this is the weekend of the FISTS sprint and PA QSO Party. I wonder if I can clone myself so I can both be outside walking and fishing, yet inside also for those two great ham radio events. Hmmmmm.....

For the first time in ages (literally) I posted some info on a reflector. I normally neither post to nor read any of those things. However I did join the PA QSO Party reflector so I could post info about my N3A/3 operation in the Party. I'll probably unsubscribe shortly after the contest is over. I just can't waste my time on such things. Well, I do subscribe to the FISTS reflector, the one that is sent out only from FISTS headquarters so there are not that many messages and every one is worthwhile unlike the junk that populates all un-moderated reflectors and even some moderated ones. It's just amazing and disgusting what some people will do and say when you give them a forum like a reflector.

In case you haven't been reading my comments on 80M or experiencing it yourself, 80M is currently in excellent condition with the still continually snoozing sun and with the summer QRN gone for the most part. My QRP signal behaves akin to a 100 watt or more signal most evenings on 80M. There are solid QSO's there for the making for the QRP operator. So take advantage of it while it lasts.

Like the weekend coming up, today was also a beautiful day and even was hot in the sun. I spent quite a bit of time outside helping Ange prune one of his pear trees. It was a perfect day for doing that. I would have been outside even more, but I had to put the finishing touches on the NAQCC newsletter which was posted a couple hours ago on the NAQCC web site. I did get in a couple walks, but a glance at my pedometer shows just over 4 miles today, not very good, and below my 7 mile average, so I may go out again or just walk through the house for another mile or two.

I received an email today asking how I measure the distance I walk. I use a Sportline 360 pedometer. Of the 4 or 5 different ones I've tried, it is by far the best performing, most accurate one. The others became less accurate or even stopped working altogether after not too long a time, but this one has been going solidly (hope that doesn't jinx it) now for about a year and a half which is some 3900-4000 miles or so. Every time I check it on our walking trail's measured mile, it registers between about 0.98 and 1.02 miles. Of course that variation could be do to minor variations in my pace from day to day. Each and every pace is not exactly 33 inches which is what I have the pedometer set to. I do try to maintain that pace though when walking the trail which is straight for the most part and paved. -30-

Thursday, October 09, 2008 10:06 PM - Well, my Alltel/Windstream Internet service was back up when I got up this morning. I didn't have too many emails to get caught up on, and I got through them all except I still have to process a couple NAQCC applications.

It was another beautiful fall day with a high of 72 under bright sunny skies, so I did a lot of walking and some fishing. I actually caught a fish - a 15 inch sucker, too. The walking - just under 10 miles.

I put N3A/3 on the air for an hour today and made 3 QSO's including my first 2XN3A with N3A/5. That's 17 QSO's so far in just a couple hours operating time. The best hour seems to be the 2100Z hour for me. I may try that again tomorrow if you would like to work N3A and get one of our beautiful certificates and/or QSL cards.

Right now, my washer just shut down, so time to shift the clothes to the dryer. -30-

Wednesday, October 08, 2008 10:32 PM - This is being written at the time shown in the dateline, but I don't know when you'll get to see it. My Alltel/Windstream Internet connection has been down for the past 5 hours now, and I don't know when it will be back up again. In a way it's kind of nice to be without the Internet, although with all the work I do that depends on the Internet, it is very frustrating at the same time.

I only hope that I am not late in dealing with any important emails or important updates to my web site or the NAQCC site. If the interruption lasts beyond tomorrow morning, I'm going to have to try to find some alternate way to check my email and update the sites.

It was a rainy day most of the time today, so I didn't get in much walking at all. I'm glad I had those big walking days in the past three days or so. Because of being stuck inside, I got to activate N3A/3 for about an hour and a half or so and made 10 contacts with it on 40 and 30 meters. It's amazing (I can't say it enough) how a 'dead' band will come to life once someone calls CQ rather than just listening. There was not much at all to be heard on 40 or 30 today till I started my N3A CQ's, and within a few minutes each time, I got an answer. It didn't work on 20 meters though. No QSO's on that band. Then using my K3WWP call on 80 this evening, it was the same way. Not a lot of activity, but I got two quick answers to my CQ's.

Now I've got to find some way to amuse myself that doesn't involve the Interner till I go to bed in a couple hours. Hmmmmm.... -30-

Tuesday, October 07, 2008 9:56 PM - Another great weather day today. So a lot of walking again - about 13 miles with some time out for fishing. I saw a couple carp playing (feeding) in the sewer outlets, but I didn't catch any of them or anything else for that matter. It was nice to sit out in the sun though. There were some high thin clouds that masked the sun just a little.

I was going to do a couple of my "Why is it that....?" questions in this entry, and I think I will do at least one.

Why is it that "How are ya doin'?" seems to have replaced "How are you?", "Hello" and "Hi" as greetings? In the first place, How are ya doin'? is incomplete. How am I doin' what? How am I doin' my laundry? How am I doin' my daily walks? What the heck are they asking me anyway. And most of the time no one waits for my answer anyway after they ask. They either keep on going on their way or if they stay, they immediately go into another subject.

Why is it that when I'm carrying my fishing poles, fishing chair and tackle box (or tackle bag) and headed TOWARD the river, folks will ask if I'm going fishing or some will ask if I caught anything. OK, I could be coming back from somewhere other than the river carrying my poles back to my house, so the second part of my "Why is is that...?" could be legitimate, However what do the folks who ask if I'm going fishing think I'm gonna do with the poles, etc.? Well, maybe I could just be taking them out for an airing...... nah, I don't think so. I don't see any reason why they would need to ask if I'm going fishing.

Finally why is it that I wonder about these "Why is it that...?" things? Ah, there's the ultimate "Why is it that...?" -30-

Monday, October 06, 2008 4:29 PM - 20.31 - That's the final mileage figure for yesterday. In case it got lost there with the timeline, that's 20.31 miles. Today I probably won't get up to 5 or 6 since I've been busy helping my neighbor shampoo rugs, then helping Ange pick some vegetables in anticipation of the frost tonight. The only real walking I did other than behind a carpet shampooer and in a garden was a trip to the grocery store for some bread. I'll try to get in a couple walks this evening in between other things.

Other than that, not much to report, so I'll close and get caught up on what I missed doing earlier today. -30-

Sunday, October 05, 2008 9:40 PM - It was just about a perfect day for walking today, and so far I've taken advantage of it to the tune of just under 18 miles. I believe I'm going to shoot for 20 to finish off the day. My record since I started keeping track is 18.73 miles, so I'm going to definitely at least break that if I don't make it to 20. I'll let you know tomorrow how I finish up.

I did a little more N3A/3 operating today on 30 meters and made two QSO's on a rather dead band. My CQ's were answered by John K4BAI and Merlin KD0V, both good friends.

Tomorrow I'm going to be busy helping my neighbor scrub her carpets so I probably won't get in much walking or much operating time and for sure no fishing. I miss my fishing. I haven't gone for 3 or 4 days now for one reason or other - mainly because it's been quite cold, but it is warming up again now. However before it really warms up, it's supposed to drop to 35 degrees Monday night, so a slight chance of some frost in the colder spots. I'll have to watch what remains of my garden.

I really love my new higher speed (12 Mbps) DSL which I've had for 5 days now. There's not a lot of difference from 6 Mbps in many ways, but it's really noticeable in other things. I guess loading in big graphics or graphic intensive sites along with streaming video show the biggest improvement. I also really notice big emails snap in much quicker. Then of course there are still some older slower servers out there, and there is no difference there as my DSL speed is faster than what they can serve out. -30-

Saturday, October 04, 2008 8:59 PM - Sometimes I wish I could go back in time before I became Vice President of the NAQCC and running the club didn't take up a good percentage of my day - every day. But that's purely selfish. What I'm doing now with the NAQCC helping to promote the art of Morse Code on the ham bands is much more important than whatever it was I was doing before this. I do miss being able to explore the ham bands more now, and when the sunspots come back again and the higher bands open up, I'll miss that even more. Hopefully by then we'll have more folks helping to run the club than we do now.

Having said that, I must say how grateful I am to everyone who is also a part of the club and does their part to take some of the work off my shoulders. Starting with President Tom WY3H. Of course without him, there wouldn't be a NAQCC at all, and we wouldn't be celebrating our 4th anniversary this month. It's been a wonderful, if very busy, 4 years. Then there is Larry W2LJ who handled our club publicity for the first 3 years or so before turning it over to Dave VA3RJ. Without both of them, we would not be so close to being the largest QRP/CW club in the world. Paul KD2MX serves in two capacities - member recruiter and member news editor for the newsletter. Ron K5DUZ and Karl N3IJR are starting up the Elmer Project to help new hams learn the ropes. Ron was also our BearMaster for the NAQCC Bear Hunt which fell victim to lack of interest because of the poor band conditions, but may be revived some day. Ron also is part of our team of newsletter emailers which also includes Rick AA4W, Larry W2LJ, Dave VA3RJ, Roy KC0RJ, and Don N9GOD. Joining us most recently are Fred KC8FS who is now doing our certificate printing and mailing, and Tom's son Ethan W3IRS who is helping me maintain the club web site. Bob VA3RKM served as our publicity person for Canada and DX before he had to leave the position due to the pressures of his job. Now I better look on the club web site to see if I left anyone out.

Well I got everyone except some other very important folks whom I won't list by name, but they get just as much credit nevertheless. Those who have in the past and are currently manning our special event station N3A. Those whose monetary donations keep the club running. Those whose donation of giveaway items add interest to our club events. And everyone who has ever taken part in any of our NAQCC events. You need a lot of people to keep a club running - good people - and the NAQCC certainly has them.

Gosh I had no idea where I was going when I started to write today's entry. As with virtually all of my entries, I don't really plan things in advance. I just sit down here at the keyboard and watch what my fingers produce with a little help from my brain sometimes. HI -30-

Friday, October 03, 2008 8:21 AM - Those of you who are regular readers of the diary will know exactly what I'm talking about. Those who are newcomers will say, "What the heck is he talking about?"

The Great Turkey Sausage Experiment update. My local grocery story finally had my Turkey Sausage on sale again - that's the only time I'll buy it. I stocked up with 10 packages or 100 sausages and would have gotten more except the freezer section of my fridge is close to full with other sale bargains.

Get to the point, John - you've got a busy day ahead! OK, anyway I've cooked about a package and a half so far, and you know what - this time they are not moving toward the center of the cooking dish, but staying at the edge. They also seem to be a little lighter in color now, so maybe the composition was changed a bit, and whatever the change was, it affected the oddity of moving in the dish in the microwave.

I'll have to keep an eye on them to see how the rest of this new batch behaves. I have them about every 2nd or 3rd day for breakfast (or brunch).

Now I've got to go do some work on our computer club computer. Hopefully later in the day, I'll get a chance to operate N3A again for a while. -30-

Thursday, October 02, 2008 9:31 PM - I received an interesting email today just full of questions about my AM BCB DX days. And Charlie K8CB, I promise I will answer all those questions when the pressure of NAQCC work lets up a little bit. As you may know we are in our anniversary month now at the NAQCC and all the activities keep me busy practically from the time I get up in the morning till I go to bed at night. So I'm going to put your email in safe keeping, and you keep reading the diary. One day you'll see a long entry here dealing with all the things you ask, because I would love to talk about them at length rather than just gloss over them with a couple quick answers right now.

I had my first stint at operating N3A/3 today. I made a couple of QSO's on 40 meters in the 1500Z hour, but that was about it as activity was slow. However our N3A operation has gotten a lot of publicity the past couple days now and I expect things to pick up. See the QRZ.com forum, for example.

Now I've got to get to processing another big bunch of NAQCC membership applications brought on in part by the aforementioned publicity blitz. -30-

Wednesday, October 01, 2008 9:37 PM - Today was the day I was scheduled to get my DSL connection upgraded to 12Mbps from 6Mbps. However when I turned on the computer this morning I had 0Mbps, nada, zilch. So I called Windstream (Alltel) to see what was going on. They told me it was quite a project changing the setup and wasn't scheduled to be completed till around 5PM. Grrrrrr.

After worrying if I was missing any important emails, and getting upset about not having Internet service most of the day (isn't it amazing how addicted we can get to the Internet), I thought I might as well make the best of it and get some things done that don't require the Internet (yes, there are still some things left like that). So I got my September weather data and punched it into Excel. It turns out September was 2.1 degrees above normal here and the rainfall was exactly 2/3 of normal, most of that coming in one day when 1.6 inches of the 2.48 monthly total fell.

After that I did my first of the month banking and bill paying. When I got home from that, lo and behold, there was my Internet connection working, and it was at the upgraded speed. So then I checked my email (nothing important) and did some web site work. I also played around a bit seeing what a difference the doubled speed made. It was noticeable as I'll mention a bit later in the entry.

My neighbor called and asked if I wanted to go shopping up on the hill. That refers to our malls which are up on the hills surrounding the main part of town here in the river valley. It's too tedious to walk there, especially when carrying the things gathered while shopping. So every once in a while she takes me along with her when she goes up there. I got the stuff I wanted and she got what she wanted, then it was back home again.

Supper time now. I had one of the personal pan pizzas I bought while shopping, then watched the NASA Channel via the Internet. They had a very interesting presentation from Ohio celebrating NASA's 50th birthday today. Happy Birthday NASA and thanks for the many hours of not only personal enjoyment, but all the good for mankind that has come out of those 50 years. It was a delight to see Neil Armstrong, Jim Lovell, John Glenn, and 16 other Ohio astronauts gathered together in one place. Also nice to see Jay Barbree who was the featured speaker at the event. He has covered every manned spaceflight the USA has made since day 1 in May of 1961 for NBC. I watched about an hour, and my new doubled speed really made an improvement in the quality of the streaming video and audio.

After I turned that off, I went for a walk. Came back from that and put in the storm windows or actually slipped the glass down over the screens in most cases. The only place to take out the screens and put in the glass are in two of my doors.

Next my 7:30PM snack - a BLT and a bowl of oatmeal. On to the ham bands next - got my daily QSO fairly quickly when W8IJ answered my CQ's after about 5 minutes or so.

Talked to Tom WY3H on the phone for a while, and now here I am writing the diary entry. And that's a day in the life...... -30-

Tuesday, September 30, 2008 6:53 PM - Well, just about an hour now till our NAQCC Anniversary month and our N3A special event call operation kick off. It's been a ton of work getting it all set up, and the work will still continue. So my entries here in the diary may, of necessity, be shorter than usual all during October. (OK, who's the wise-guy who screamed "Thank Goodness!!" - HI).

So for today, just these comments on fishing from Paul N0NBD, "Hello John, I am glad to hear that the fishing has picked up some. I fished my favorite Elsmore lake Saturday and Sunday. I caught a bunch of green side bluegills and several pumpkinseed gills along with some bass to 12 inches. They are draining 12 ft of water from Elsmore lake to make fishing better or so they say. I am excited to see the bottom of where I have been fishing and see what is there. While rowing my drift boat across from the east side my depth finder registered a depth of 30 ft. Man that is a lot of water out in front of the dam Better get to work have a good week"

Yes, fishing has been better here, and I need a dose of it each day to get away from all the NAQCC work. Today wasn't so good though. 2 hours with no fish. They were biting decently well, but I just couldn't hook them. I figure they were either small Sandpike or those Suckers with the tiny mouths. Perhaps I'll go back tomorrow with a couple size smaller hooks. Then I'll probably get something big on that the little hooks won't hold. HI. -30-

Monday, September 29, 2008 9:21 PM - You know, it distresses me to see how much ham radio is becoming dependent on the Internet. The two can work well together and be a benefit to each other. However when we become too dependent on the Internet to set up our QSO's for us, I don't think that is good. We have all kind of spotting sites, sked sites, activity sites, and so on. It's like we amateurs are incapable of simply getting on the air with a good knowledge of propagation and a lot of just plain savvy and making QSO's that way.

I'm proud to say I have never used the Internet in any way to help me make a QSO. Well I do recall once I was just looking at some spotting site for whatever reason and noticed V51AS was on 30M, and thought just for the heck of it, I'd try to work him (I did). But other than that all my QSO's came just from tuning around the bands and listening or calling CQ's. I don't even follow any of the DXpedition news that closely unless someone happens to mention some news to me. Again I just tune around the bands and listen. That has worked to the tune of 205 countries (entities) worked so far with my QRP setup.

Now things like on-line callbooks to get QSL addresses are great and I use them all the time after I've made my QSO's. Also it's great to learn about all our NAQCC activities on the Internet as well as those of other clubs. It's a wonderful way to save money by submitting our contest logs on-line or via email. I could go on listing benefits, but my point is that the Internet can be a wonderful thing, but also can just intrude a little too far into ham radio at times.

I think ham radio should adhere to something like this paraphrase of a TV commercial, "I make my QSO's the old fashioned way - I earn them." I just don't like things handed to me on a silver platter, I guess. I want to be challenged at least somewhat in most everything I do. Otherwise it is not satisfying. Looking on the Internet to see where my next QSO is coming from is just not for me.

Suppose the infrastructure of the Internet were destroyed in a terrorist attack. I would imagine some hams might be lost without the Internet crutch to help them. I hope that is far fetched and not true, but.... -30-

Sunday, September 28, 2008 9:32 PM - 80M remains quite good. I had a solid 2XQRP QSO with NJ this evening, and there were a lot of good strong signals on the band.

I missed getting in the Texas QSO Party this weekend. I usually like that QSO Party, but last night the RTTY signals ruined 40 when I wanted to get in it. Today was just too nice a day to stay inside, especially when there aren't going to be all that many more nice days before W****r comes along. Oh, October and the first part of November are usually quite nice here, but you can't always count on that.

So I took advantage of the nice day and did a lot of walking - just under 10 miles - and about 2 1/2 hours of fishing. I even actually caught some fish - 3 to be exact including a nice 18 inch sucker along with two smaller 12-13 inch suckers. 18 inches is pretty big for suckers here in the river and that's probably in the top 10 or so biggest suckers I've ever caught. In fact I can look it up in my Excel fishing spreadsheet to see if I'm right. Back in a few seconds. Yep, I have 9 suckers caught of 18 inches or more in length. Two at 20 inches are the largest, so I came close to my record today. -30-

Saturday, September 27, 2008 9:44 PM - Man, 40M stinks tonight as the RTTYer KW's have now infiltrated down into the 7020's. Sad state of affairs and I bet the Texans are hating the mess it is causing to the TX QSO Party.

Some thoughts on propagation. When I used to DX the AM broadcast band (then 540-1600), we looked for long quiet periods of solar activity. Then the EU and AF signals would be easy to log here on the east coast. Stations like the BBC on 1205, France on 1554, R. Tirana on 1394, Dakar on 764, Portugal on 665 pop into mind from those many years ago. Going the other way, KORL in Hawaii on 650, Tarawa on 844 - all were easy to log when the sun was quiet. I wish I had the time and my old homebrew AM rcvr with the cascaded mechanical filters and my alt-azimuth loop antenna to see what conditions are like now on the BCB with this VERY long extended quiet sun period.

Of course it also helps out with propagation on 160 and 80 meters as well, and now that the summer QRN is dying down, those bands will be excellent for solid rag chews with QRP or working DX or getting those last few states for WAS on those bands.

The last couple nights on 80 I've been getting RST reports of a solid 599 or even 599 + 10DB with my attic wire and having good solid long rag chews just to prove the reports are accurate.

So there's something to do while waiting for the higher bands to come alive along with the sun. Try the lower HF (MF) bands. You'll be pleasantly surprised if you're not familiar with just how good they can be for QRP work at this point in the sunspot cycle.

Hey, just got a NAQCC application from one of those hams I had the solid rag chew with tonight - Jack WA0QZK. -30-

Friday, September 26, 2008 10:19 PM - A little bit of a breather now. The latest NAQCC Newsletter was finished up this afternoon and is now posted for all to see. Can't breathe too long though as it's only 2 weeks till the next one is due for posting. I think the two October newsletters will be especially interesting as we plan to publish a fairly complete two part history of the club as part of our 4th anniversary celebration in the month of October.

Also the flood of new members has slowed down just a bit which makes me both glad and sad. Glad because it gives me a bit more free time, but sad because I love to see the club continue to grow and grow so our pro-CW voice will become louder and louder.

We had something strange happen today. Some water fell from the sky. Oh, wait a minute, now I remember - that's just rain. Sorry about that, it's been so long, I just about forgot what rain was. That's the first time it's done that in two weeks here, and it was only 1/100th of an inch. We might get a little more over the weekend that may change some of my lawn from a brown color to something closer to green. At least I haven't had to mow the lawn much this overly dry summer and now early fall. I think I did it only once in the last 5 or 6 weeks.

Oh, and I even got a couple nightcrawlers this evening. Now maybe I can get a couple more fish. I ran out of worms the day before yesterday and had to use just corn today. Apparently the fish want meat this year as I only got one of two slight nibbles on the corn whereas they had been hitting good on worms the past three weeks or so.

I haven't said much about gardens lately. They are starting to wind down here now, although Ange's fig trees have just started their annual flood of figs. Also his peppers are really doing well whereas mine only produced a couple small twisted ones on each plant for whatever reason. My tomatoes are somewhat below average so far this year. 169 picked vs. a 212 average on this date for the 7 years I've kept track. But that's good as I can only eat and give away so many and must see some of them spoil. I know, I know.... I should can some or at least make juice from some, but that takes something I don't seem to have enough of - time. It was a good year for my beans. They are way ahead of me now, and I'll have to eat a lot to catch up. My roses had a strange year. A beautiful first blooming and then virtually nothing until just several days ago when they started a nice second round of beautiful flowers. -30-

Thursday, September 25, 2008 9:38 PM - I received a second guess on the day the SF will hit 70 or above again. Paul N0NBD guesses November 1st. Apparently both guessers think all the witch and goblin activity on Halloween will be a factor somehow.

That little statement reminds me of something I thought about a while ago and was going to include in the diary today.

I firmly believe that one way you can tell who is a true friend of yours is by the amount of kidding you can do with him or her. True friends can kid each other mercilessly to any extent and they both know it is only kidding. I have a very dry sense of humor and it is often misunderstood by those who may not be true or complete friends. I have to be careful with those people, but then there are others who understand perfectly just exactly when I'm kidding, and I can say anything to them. It's a joy to have friends like that.

I'm just sitting here working on our N3A operating skeds for next month. My that's a time-consuming job. I'm also waiting for the dryer to finish with my clothes so I can put them away. According to my guess, that should be happening just about right now. Yep, so 73 for now till tomorrow. -30-

Wednesday, September 24, 2008 8:48 PM - Here's something that I just found after posting the original diary entry for today. It's an article dealing with the Sun that may be related to this extended sunspot cycle minimum we are now in. http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2008/23sep_solarwind.htm. I don't think anyone really knows for sure just how it fits into the picture, but a lot of folks are speculating. I'll let you to your own impressions since I don't have any idea here of how it fits.

Not a lot to talk about the club meeting Tom, Ethan, and I attended last night. They gave a demonstration on a 'Rig Blaster'. It dealt largely with those other digital modes, and the only time my ears popped up a bit was when they (all too briefly) mentioned CW.

It was nice, as always, to see our fellow NAQCC member and good friend Bob WC3O though. I think Ethan was impressed with the antenna setup they had at the club site, but he knows from his dad you don't need all that large amount of metal up in the air to work folks, especially if you use CW.

I've almost got a full slate of 10 N3A/# operators for the FISTS and NAQCC sprints in October. It's been a lot of work getting things set up for our anniversary celebration, but it will be very rewarding in the end, I'm sure.

And taking a wild chance, if you live in the 2nd call area (NJ, NY), are a NAQCC member, and would be interested in operating N3A/2 in our October NAQCC sprint, let me know. That's the only call area still open for our sprint.

Similarly, if you live in the 4, 5, or 8 call areas, and would like to operate N3A/# in your call area for the October FISTS sprint, let me know.

We want to have all 10 call areas active in both the FISTS and NAQCC sprints next month. We've worked on a deal for the FISTS sprint with Nancy WZ8C for many months now, and I'd be very disappointed if we don't have all 10 areas active in their sprint. -30-

Tuesday, September 23, 2008 9:10 AM - I'm clearing out my emails, so here are the responses to the SF and clock matters as written in the order received:

Elwood WB0OEW - "Hello John,
1. I'll say SF will reach 70 on October 31.
2. The hands are equal at about 4:21:49. Basically one solves 120 + 0.5t = 6t for t, where t is minutes from 4:00, 0.5 is the CW angular velocity of the hour hand and 6 is the CW velocity of the minute hand, both in degrees per minute. 120 is the starting position of the hour hand, in degrees CW from its position at 12:00. I worked out the required equation in my head but had to perform 120/5.5 and convert to min:sec on a calculator."

That's just about exactly the way I did it here. And 120 can be replaced by (Hour X 30) to work it out for any hour, i.e. to find the time between 8 and 9, replace the 120 with 8 X 30 or 240.

Bill AA4GN - "Hi John, I think the answer is 4:22"

Fred K5FH - "John, The answer to your question:
What time is it, to the nearest second, when the hands of an analog clock are in exactly the same position between 4 and 5?
There are 360/12 degrees between the hour marks on an analog clock, or 30 degrees.
In 60 minutes, the minute hand travels 360 degrees. It takes 5 minutes for the minute hand to travel 30 degrees, or one minute to travel 6 degrees.
In 60 minutes, the hour hand travels 30 degrees. It takes 2 minutes to travel 1 degree, or one minute to travel 0.5 degree.
Start by assuming that, at exactly 4:00, the minute hand is exactly at zero and the hour hand is exactly aligned with the 4:00 mark. This means that the hour hand's starting position is 120 degrees away from the starting position of the minute hand.
Let M = number of minutes traveled by the minute hand. Then, the number of degrees traveled by the minute hand is M * (30 degrees / 5 minutes) = 6M
The number of degrees travelled by the hour hand is therefore 120 + (M * 30 degrees / 60 minutes) = 120 + 0.5M
Set both equal:
6M = 120 + 0.5M
5.5M = 120
M = 21.818182 minutes
0.818182 minutes * 60 seconds / minute = 49.0909091 seconds
Rounding off, we get 21 minutes, 49 seconds.
So, the hands align exactly at 4:21:49"

I bet Fred had a math teacher who said every answer must be accompanied by a detailed explanation of how he got the answer. That certainly does explain it exactly.

Paul N0NBD in part - "Hey John, My guess on the clock hands position would be according to my "busted" home made ships clock. 4:21:21."

Paul also added some info about fishing. Nice going on the bluegills and bass.

Bob K0IDC - "4 hours 21' 49.09090909" solution:
clock dial is divided into 43,200 equal divisions 12x60x60 with one division equal to 1 sec movement of small hand and 12 divisions would equal 1 second movement of large hand
4 hours would therefore be 4x60x60= 14400 and time of solution would be 4(hrs) + s (seconds after 4pm) therefore 14400 + s =12s (point where hands are in same position) and 14400 = 11s s= 1309.090909 seconds or 21' 49.09090909""
and Bob adds - "John: I may have used a wrong label of ' for min and " for seconds. The answer would be 4 hours 21 min and 49.090909 sec"

A different approach, but nevertheless a completely accurate one.

How about some more guesses now on when the SF will next hit 70 or higher. -30-

Monday, September 22, 2008 9:42 PM - I hope you'll forgive me if I do something I haven't done in so long, I forget how. I mean 'take it easy'. I'm just all worked out right now from processing new NAQCC members, processing a record number of logs (64) for a NAQCC sprint, plus numerous other little everyday tasks that just won't wait.

So I'll be here tomorrow with the answer to the clock problem for one thing, and who knows what else. Tom and I are going to the Skyview ARS meeting tomorrow evening. That's one local (30 miles or so) club that actually still believes in CW, and talks about it at their meetings. So maybe I'll have something to say about that when I get home. -30-

Sunday, September 21, 2008 12:09 PM - Just before I head off to the river for some R&R fishing to get away from the onslaught of NAQCC work, here are the answers I got to the SF / clock entry so far.

Paul N0NBD was about 28 seconds off with his guess.
Fred K5FH was accurate not only to the second, but to the split-second.
Elwood WB0OEW was accurate to the second, and from his reasoning could have gone to the exact split-second also.
Elwood guessed October 31 as the day the SF hits 70 again.
Bill AA4GN was accurate to the nearest minute.

I'm pleased the clock problem drew some interest. Maybe I'll have some other math problems in the future when other topics are slow.

Interesting how a non-ham related topic drew more response than one more closely involved with radio (SF).

Now I'm off to the river. -30-

Saturday, September 20, 2008 11:05 PM - I got a couple responses to my solar flux guessing game and clock problem. I'll address those tomorrow as right now I'm rather tired after a long busy day and as you see from the dateline rather late. -30-

Friday, September 19, 2008 9:45 PM - There's not really a lot to talk about today without being repetetive, so I'm going to do something I've been putting off for a while and also something I've just thought of.

I just thought it would be interesting (I use that word a lot, because frankly I find a lot of things interesting in life) to make a guess when the Solar flux number will hit 70 again. It has been mired in the 60's for so long now, some folks think it will never leave those 60's again and we will have another 'Maunder Minimum' similar to back in the 1600's. I'm nowhere near that pessimistic. We're just having a slightly long normal minimum in the solar cycle. We've had these before, and we will have them again, but sometime in the not too distant future the Sun will become active again and in turn the higher HF bands will be much more active than they are now.

So email me your guess as to what date you think I'll post a SF number of 70 or above again. No prizes other than if you win, you'll have the satisfaction of knowing you guessed better than everyone else.

Secondly when I was having my kidney stone problems, one way I could minimize or at least ignore the pain was to keep my brain active doing something. One thing I did was to solve the following problem strictly in my mind without any note taking or figuring on paper. If you'd like to give it a try, either with or without pencil and paper, here it is.

At what time to the nearest second are the hands of an analog clock in exactly the same position between the hours of 4 and 5 o'clock? That is, when does the minute hand exactly line up with the hour hand? Send me your answer, and in a few days whether or not anyone responds, I'll give the answer and how it is worked out.

I wonder with the widespread use of digital timepieces if today's young kids will have any idea of what hands on a clock are. -30-

Thursday, September 18, 2008 10:22 PM - Just time to write a short entry before I get the clothes out of the dryer. Another busy day that just zipped by today.

We are in a streak of beautiful late summer/early fall weather here. It seems like Ike roared through and swept away all the clouds, rain, and other bad weather like a huge vacuum cleaner. It's supposed to be like this at least another week now also. Great for being outdoors walking and fishing. I walked a total of around 20 miles the last two days and got in some fishing today. The fish slowed down just a tad after a great 3 weeks or so, but I still caught one today - a small 11 inch sucker.

A great deal of the day though was spent doing NAQCC work. I've processed some 55 logs already from last night's sprint. The excellent conditions really brought out what may turn out to have been a record crowd. Then I also processed around 10 new membership applications as the club continues its rapid growth of late. Finally I checked the last several days of updates on the FCC database to keep our membership list up to date.

Well, better get to those clothes now. -30-

Wednesday, September 17, 2008 11:50 PM - Despite the dateline, it's actually around 1AM on the 18th as I type this. Wednesday was one of my busiest among many busy days of late. Just a quick summary will give you an idea. I had to put some money in the bank at 9AM to purchase some software via a friend's credit card (I don't own any credit cards) so I could take advantage of a big savings on it. Then after that, the order had to be placed a little later in the day. Meanwhile after brunch, my new modem came and it was a bit of hassle to get it going till I figured it out, then when I did I found out that I wasn't getting the higher speed, but was still at my old speed. So I waited for quite a while on hold waiting for a tech support person. Then I found out instead of Sept 16 as originally promised, they weren't switching me over to the new speed till October 1st - Grrrrr!.

Then Ange came over and we picked a bunch of figs from his garden as they are finally ripening in the past few days now. Following that it was off to a spaghetti dinner to benefit our veterans. It's always great to honor and support them after they've done (and are doing) so much for our great country. As soon as I got home from that, my cousin called and wanted to go for a walk. I told her OK, but I'd have to be home at 8:30. We walked about 4 miles through the park and on the rails to trails pathway.

Next up at 8:30 was our NAQCC sprint. I won't say anything about that here. You can read my soapbox comments on the NAQCC web site if you want to. After the sprint, Tom and I had a LL conversation about the sprint and other things as the logs were coming in. Following that within a minute of hanging up, another cousin called and we talked on the phone for about an hour. I processed the incoming logs as we were talking. That pretty much takes us up to this poi.....zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz -30-

Tuesday, September 16, 2008 10:10 PM - One day before our monthly NAQCC sprint. It will be interesting to see how our turnout is this month. We've added about 120 new members since our August sprint. So if you use GenLog for our sprints, be sure to go to the NAQCC web site tomorrow afternoon and download the latest GenLog data file.

With it being just about completely dark here in the East before the start of our sprint, conditions should be somewhat different from last month's. 40 will probably be in long skip already. It was tonight just after 8PM with solid QSO's with MO and GA here. 80M should be open earlier and possibly be a little less noisy although there is still a lot of summer QRN left over. 20M should be closed here in the East, but be open out West, at least for the start of the sprint.

I had a successful fishing trip this afternoon. I caught 5 fish, all different species - Bluegill, Drum, Sucker, Bass, and Carpsucker. That may be a record for the most different species caught in one trip without catching more than one of a kind. I think I've caught more different species on a trip before, but always more than one fish of one or more kinds. It will be a little tricky to look up in my Excel fishing log, but I am curious so I may do it.

Oh, I never did get my new modem/router I talked about yesterday, so I'm still waiting and may have some Internet down time here tomorrow or.... depending... -30-

Monday, September 15, 2008 8:57 PM - Those winds from Ike last night were some of the strongest I've seen (well, you can't see wind, but you know what I mean) in a good long while. I don't have any MPH figures but 60-70 MPH gusts were predicted and it sure sounded like that and felt like it when I went out to get my 9PM temperature/rainfall readings. I've always thought about getting an anemometer or building one, but never got around to it. Hmmmm... a friend of mine has been wanting to build some kind of project with me again. That's the one with whom I built the sundial and upgraded my thermometer shelter. So maybe an anemometer now? Although it's largely a mechanical/metal project and he likes working with wood. We'll see.

The winds blew down one of my tomato plants and deposited numerous small branches and leaves on my property even though I don't have any trees except the little pine in the back yard I've shown you. I took some pictures of the 'damage' and also some of the beautiful sunset painted on Ike's clouds the night before. Maybe I'll post them on my SkyDrive site within the next couple days if a lot of other things don't turn up.

Speaking of the next day or two, I'm upgrading my DSL connection from 6Mbps to 12Mbps and that requires a new modem/router which should be delivered tomorrow when the switchover is made at Alltel/Windstream. So if things don't work out as smoothly as they should for the transition, I may not be able to update my site for a day or two. I don't expect any problems, but you know Murphy's law.

I've been getting some nice feedback from folks who discovered my site via the ARRL propagation bulletin mention. That includes a couple folks who used to live in Kittanning, but since have moved elsewhere. Another person liked the idea of my streak and is going to try one himself.

I guess that does it for now. I thought I had a couple other things I wanted to mention, but they've slipped my mind now. I've mentioned this before, but I'll say it again - I get so many 'great' ideas for the diary and many other things when I'm out walking, but somehow they seem to evaporate by the time I get back to the house where I could do something with them. -30-

Sunday, September 14, 2008 9:01 PM - Although we are escaping the main fury of Ike as it passes well to our norhtwest, we are getting some very strong periphery winds right now as I type this. So I'm going to keep this brief in case our power should happen to go out.

My new poll is now posted. It's that one I promised to repeat since I think it was misunderstood the first time I ran it. The one about what you can do while you are using a key, bug, or paddle to send CW. I think many answered the first time around what they could do while copying CW, which was incorrect.

I had a great time in the FISTS GYFWW, as I already mentioned yesterday, but I got on again later last night and also late this afternoon and made a few more QSO's. I was impressed by the newcomers. All sent the exchange perfectly although a bit slow, but slow is good. I'll mention the 4 newcomers I worked here and say congrats to them. Chas K1PUB, Dave KB9MLE, Len KD8FKD, and Rich KG1W. Incidentally Dave joined the NAQCC a few minutes after our QSO. Apparently he looked up my call in QRZ and liked what he saw there about the NAQCC.

Finally for this entry, the NAQCC got a write-up in QST. Take a look at the October issue on page 102 in the 'Strays'. -30-

Saturday, September 13, 2008 7:48 PM - It seems that a lot of folks must be looking for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, or in ham radio lingo, looking for a sign that propagation is going to get better at the end of this sunspot minimum.

Why that statement as a lead-in to today's diary entry. Well that little mention of my web site in the ARRL weekly propagation bulletin yesterday gave me by far the most visitors my site has ever had in one day. A lot of folks read Tad Cook's writing in that bulletin.

I had 516 visitors yesterday shattering the previous record of 411 and well above my daily average of 130-140 visitors. And today's visitors number is at 224 with 4 more hours left in the day.

I hope you've been participating in the FISTS Get Your Feet Wet Weekend this weekend. Unfortunately with all the work involved in running the NAQCC, I've only been able to get in a few minutes and 1 contact so far, but I'm going to try again in a few minutes. There just aren't enough hours left in the day since I became NAQCC Vice President, but I wouldn't change things a bit.... well except that I wish I had more time to participate in FISTS activities. I love that club as much as I love the NAQCC.

And isn't it wonderful how the two clubs work together, and respect each other. Nancy of FISTS and I representing the NAQCC have worked together for many months now figuring out how FISTS can help the NAQCC celebrate its 4th anniversary next month. We wanted to do something that was acceptable to both clubs and approved completely by both clubs. What we finally decided on was to have as many of our 10 N3A NAQCC Special Event stations participate in the FISTS Fall Sprint and have FISTS give bonus points for contacts with the N3A stations. It's a shame we couldn't announce it much earlier than we did, but we didn't want to set up anything that wasn't a total cooperative idea. There might be a bit more to it also, but I can't discuss that yet either. -30-

Friday, September 12, 2008 5:46 PM - This has been an extremely busy past few days here with getting the new NAQCC newsletter ready for publication or I guess I should say posting this evening (12th at 2300Z). It's our biggest issue to date. And the setting up of the skeds for our N3A ops next month also began the past few days as well.

It was also time to send a new QRP Keynote column to Nancy. I had one that was pretty much ready to go, so that helped there.

Then to top it all off, my Internet provider, Alltel/Windstream had an outage this morning and afternoon for about 3-4 hours which delayed some of my usual Internet work.

Enough of that though. I sent a little note to Tad Cook who does the ARRL Propagation bulletins, and apparently he thought enough of it to publish it in this week's bulletin. Here's the item:

"John Shannon, K3WWP of Kittanning, Pennsylvania has made it a point to work at least one station a day for over 14 years, so far, using QRP CW and simple wire antennas. He notes that although he can work more DX at solar cycle maximum, propagation on a day to day basis is more reliable at solar minimum because it lacks the extreme geomagnetic storms which appear more often during greater solar activity. See his personal page at, http://home.alltel.net/johnshan/."

Thanks Tad. You'll be interested to get another confirmation that your bulletins are very popular and widely read. Even though the day is still 6 hours from ending and the bulletin hasn't been out all that long, at 5:54PM EDT I have 338 visits to my web site today so far. The average for the last 30 days is just around 135.

Now some comments on my comments and question about my streak yesterday:

Paul N0NBD, who apparently has the fastest email trigger finger in the West, (my diary entry was posted at 8:56PM - his email was time stamped 8:57PM same time zone time) says:

"Hello John, I have been following your writings for quite a while now. I was a little concerned a while back when you were having some health problems. I would have to consider an arranged QSO as "OK" especially if some things did not work right to get the QSO. A contact is still a contact.. for what it is worth... my vote is for the QSO either way. de Paul in about to be washed away rainy Kansas N0NBD"

And Geoff W1OH says:

"I understand what you mean by feeling like it would be cheating to count a sked qso as a streak qso. But, a big part of the point of your and NAQCC activity is to keep CW on the air for all to hear and appreciate. So any CW activity, random contacts, skeds, contests, etc is a plus! So I'd cut yourself some slack. Just footnote that sort of day in your stats to keep it all on the up and up! And congrats on 5153 days and counting.......... 73, geoff - W1OH"

And this just in hot (ouch!) off the wire from Mike KC2EGL:

"John, In yesterdays diary entry you asked for opinions regarding how you come by your daily QSO. To me it does not matter if you make a scheduled QSO or not. It is still a QSO. Just because you have the occasional or daily scheduled QSO does not take away from the fact that you are operating with 5W or less via CW. When I first picked up a study manual way back in 1988 my friend John KF3U told me about two ham operators who have only met on the air. One answered the CQ of the other and from that day on they started a radio friendship which at that point was a daily QSO every day for FORTY years. And they operated with 100W via SSB. The QSO's still counted in the logbook. So why worry that if you have one of your scheduled QSO's count in your logbook during your streak? Just my $.02 worth."

Thanks for the thoughts. I'll keep them in mind if the situation arises. -30-

Thursday, September 11, 2008 8:30 PM - I'd like your thoughts on one aspect of my streak. On every one of the 5,153 days so far, my QSO has never been anything pre-planned. By that I mean I've never made a sked with anyone for the purpose of continuing the streak. I've never used a net check-in to continue the streak. On every day I've made a QSO in one of three ways.
1. I've called CQ and kept doing so till I got an answer.
2. I've tuned around and answered someone else's CQ.
3. I've entered a contest and made a QSO with someone in the contest.

I think that demonstrates much more effectively how successful CW and QRP can be than if I simply had a pre-arranged schedule with someone every day.

Now to a question after a set-up. Every once in a while I do make a sked with my friend Tom here in town. But every time I do that, I don't count that as an official streak QSO and I always make another QSO that day in one of the three ways mentioned above.

Do you think if I ever should only get that one sked QSO with Tom some day, that I should consider the streak as continuing or ended? Personally I would feel that is cheating and I think the streak should end there, but I'd like your thoughts. Hopefully the situation will never come up and I always will continue to get that extra QSO, but who knows?

I'm asking now because if you look at my streak table, you'll see Tom WY3H listed as my QSO for the 11th, since it was my first QSO of the day, but I made it a point to get that other QSO later on which happened to be with W3PD John who was camping in upstate NY and running QRP.

And on a separate matter which I've discussed before - someone I'm working will say they tried QRP, but could never get anyone to hear them. And you know what, when they answered my CQ, they were 500, 600, 700 or more Hz off frequency. Need I say more than these 4 words? Learn to zero beat. Most folks, including me at times, do not tune that far from their frequency to listen for answers. -30-

Wednesday, September 10, 2008 11:53 AM - Fishing this afternoon and computer club this evening so I'll write a brief entry now for today.

Mike KC2EGL emails, "While home for lunch I visited your website. I enjoyed the flashback links you posted. The first two would not load properly but the rest did. It was nice to see how your site has grown over the years. Now on to another thirteen years."

I probably should have mentioned that many of the links on those flashback pages also work and you can see a lot more than just the main page. However just as with the pictures, not all the links do work. I'm not sure if that is what mike is referring to about the first two or not. They load fine here, but the pictures don't show up and one of the links doesn't work.

"On to another thirteen years", huh? That sounds awfully formidable, but the way time flies, who knows. Off to the river now. -30-

Tuesday, September 09, 2008 9:54 AM - After my rambling yesterday, I'm back on track today (I hope) with my web site history. I thought perhaps a journey back in time to see how it looked at various times in the past would be interesting. At least it was to me. Each of the links below takes you back to the date shown and displays my opening page from that date. I'm using the Internet Archive Wayback Machine for the views and some of the pictures here and there are missing for whatever reason, but still it gives a good idea of what was going on at that time. The link will open in a separate window with a left click or a separate tab with a center click in Internet Explorer 7 or 8.

Dec 02, 1998
Oct 07, 1999
Aug 18, 2000
May 19, 2001
May 27, 2002
Oct 09, 2004

I was close on the URL of my old GeoCities site. It actually was http://www.geocities.com/CapeCanaveral/3852/. Unfortunately the Wayback machine doesn't have pages from my site there. That number was taken over after I left GeoCities by someone else and they only have pages from his era. I might have the pages from there somewhere on a CD archive around here, but it would be like looking for a needle in a haystack and I don't have time for that now, but I will do it if time ever permits. -30-

Monday, September 08, 2008 8:37 PM - What seems like an eternity ago, although it's only 12 years ago on this day I first posted a page called "K3WWP's Ham Radio Activities" on my Geocities web site. I believe the URL was something like http://www.geocities.com/CapeCanaveral/3830/index.html if memory serves. That was the start of something that has grown from an average of 5-10 visitors a day to a peak of around 150 per day. Back in 1996 there were not that many ham radio related personal web sites. Nowadays it seems perhaps half or more of all hams have some kind of Internet presence whether it be an elaborate web site or a simple biography on QRZ.com. I'd venture to guess that figure for having an email address would be over 90% among hams.

It's debatable whether or not that is a good thing. It does allow for quicker dissemination of ham related material than the print media or on-the-air bulletins and the like. However it can lead to addiction and take hams away from their normal on-the-air activities. I fear many hams have been lost to Internet chat rooms, blogging (ugh), email reflectors, and other types of Internet communications. As efficient as the Internet is, there is not the thrill associated with it that there is with ham radio, especially the Morse Code aspect. There still remains something magical about communication with a series of short and long tones that must be converted into something meaningful using the human brain. It will remain that way until humans stop using their brains completely. I think one of the most chilling songs of all if you really listen to the lyrics is Zager and Evans' "In the Year 2525" which characterized graphically the decline and fall of the human body and mind in the coming years, decades, and centuries.

We all know that if we stop using our leg muscles, for example, those muscles will decay and we will lose all use of our legs. I think we are on the first steps of that now with everyone hopping in their car to go down the street two blocks to visit a friend instead of walking. Likewise the deterioration of the human brain is perhaps started as well with more and more folks doing less and less thinking and more and more sitting around watching meaningless stuff on a CRT or LCD screen, whether it be a TV or computer. Now both TV's and computer's can also be stimulants to the brain if used properly, but unfortunately that is far from being the case as so many people watch so called 'reality' shows or 'comedy' shows that really aren't. Perhaps the worst of all are the nightly 'news' shows that are so far from being news, it isn't even funny, but sad. The only difference in one night's news from another is a different person killed someone else, or a different car crash killed a different set of people. And heaven forbid they ever present any good or positive news - it must be bad or negative news to ever make it into a network newscaster's mouth for broadcast.

In ham radio we have all these fancy digital modes that require no brain work at all to use. Oh, it did require some brain work to devise and perfect the mode, but that's about it. After that, the computer does all the 'thinking'. You know I wonder why if all these new fangled digital modes are so great, then why are new ones constantly being developed. Huh? Morse code has been around for some 160+ years and it still works fabulously. And it's only gone through one major transformation over that time span with American Morse being supplemented by Continental Morse because American worked great on a 'sounder', but Continental worked better with 'regular audio'.

OK, OK, I know that was a very rambling entry that got away from my original thought of talking about the history of my web site, but that's what spontaneously emerged from the contact between my brain, fingers, and keyboard. I kind of like it, and although it could be improved and made more linear and logical, I'm going to leave it just as it is except for my usual spell check. Maybe tomorrow I'll delve more into my web site history. -30-

Sunday, September 07, 2008 11:18 PM - My gosh, has it been 12 years already? My baby (this web site) is celebrating its 12th birthday and entering its 13th year of existence tomorrow. I'll have to update the banner at the top of the page. And what I'm proud of is that on each day of those twelve years, something has been updated on the site, be it propagation info, my streak table, contest results, links, etc. I must admit, I don't change it as much as I used to because I have finally settled into just exactly the way I want things to be presented, and you know the saying, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it".

I played around in the TN QSO Party this evening. I made 41 QSO's in just over 2 hours. That compares favorably with last year when I made 63 QSO's in just over 3 hours. That surprised me because I had the feeling activity was down or conditions were poorer this year. Most all the QSO's came pretty easily except I had to wait out some pileups on the mobiles if I found them just after they changed counties.

I also got several State-Numbers for our NAQCC September challenge. I worked calls in TN that had the following numbers - 2, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 0. I heard a 3 call, but couldn't work him. Where was K1GU? Never heard him and I work him in many different contests.

Well, it's late now and I had a long day starting with the Butler County ARA Hamfest with Tom WY3H and his son Ethan, W3IRS. That was a lot of fun. Saw some friends there and picked up a few gadgets I needed. Oh and I finally gave in and bought a call letters cap. Anyway I'll cut this short for now. -30-

Saturday, September 06, 2008 8:13 AM - Don't forget this weekend is the FISTS G3ZQS Memorial Straight Key Contest. I think everyone who loves CW should get in as many FISTS (and NAQCC) events as possible to help out in those great clubs' efforts to help preserve CW on the ham bands. I know a lot of folks are busy in this modern fast-paced world and have many other commitments, and it is hard sometimes to find time for these activities. I'm in that boat myself. I did at least make one contact last night in the activity, and hopefully I'll work in at least a few more in between all my other work today.

I received another long-delayed email today, and did some thinking about how those things happen. Here's one possible explanation. When you send an email from a 'mailto:' on a web site such as the 'Email feedback on the diary' link at the top of this page, that email you compose goes to the default email program for handling mailto:'s. Now here's the catch. If that program is not your normal email program and that program is set to send emails manually, what you composed may look like it was sent, but actually it has only been 'sent' to that program's outbox where it will sit waiting for you to give it the command to actually send it out over the Internet.

So if you're 'sending' emails for which you expect an answer, that may be one reason. Check out your computer's email system. If you wish, you can click the 'Email feedback on the diary' link above and send me a test email. I'll simply reply that I got it OK and you'll know you don't have the 'problem'. Actually it's not really a problem, but a safety feature built into some email programs. We often write emails in haste and then regret what we said. If they are sent immediately, it can lead to hard feelings, etc. With the delay, you have a chance to cool off and delete the email you wrote or modify it. -30-

Friday, September 05, 2008 8:27 PM Nothing much out of the ordinary happened to talk about today. I went fishing and caught two more suckers. The weather was beautiful again as we are in the gap between Gustav and Hanna. It was quite windy today, probably the outlying winds from those two storms.

When I got home, I decided to give one of my fishing reels a good cleaning, something I hadn't done in quite a while. So I took it apart completely, cleaned each part, and put it back together. It looks like a new reel except for the wear from its around 80 years of use. Tomorrow I'll probably go to the river and see how it performs.

We had another beautiful sunset tonight. I think that watching sunsets beats watching TV any day. After 9 months now without TV, I honestly can say I don't miss it at all.

Finally today a bit more feedback from Paul N0NBD who says, "AH HA, You jogged my memory a little now with WLS Chicago and WSM out of Nashville and the Grand Ole Opry. I will look forward to the building of the KX1. I recently built and completed KI6DS's PFR 3 radio wich is supposed to be a KX1 on steroids hihi... Will be waiting to read. I hope to have a good fishing story after tomorrow as I have tied a few flys this week and will head to Elsemore in the early hours to try them out. Have a good one." -30-

Thursday, September 04, 2008 7:29 PM - Three items today. First this excellent description from W2LJ Larry of the way commies propagandized events. I think it is just a story, but it shows exactly how clever they were in bending (breaking) the truth. Larry emails, "John, I'm reminded of the story that I once heard where an American car and a Soviet car staged a race. The Americans won and the Soviets finished second. The headline in Pravda was "Soviet and American Race. Soviets come in 2nd - Americans finish next to last."

Oh, in case you don't know, Pravda was the Soviet propaganda Newspaper or News Service.

Second of the three, uh four (remember Monty Python and the Spanish Inquisition sketch?) things is another email, this one from Paul N0NBD who emails, "John, Sorry to hear there was no more interest in the signals. I went and listened to them but I had not heard any of them. As a kid I never had any exposure to SWLing although I did have a crystal radio that Dad and I built. It would get the local station but nothing more. I also hooked my long wire antenna to my AM radio and would get Chicago, Des Moines and a few other stations if the wx was right. As a young man doing Navy Boot Camp at Great Lakes Naval Training Center north of Chicago I was happy to hear on a clandestine pocket radio the WSM?? from Chicago that I had listened to as a kid.. AH well anyhow so much for me... Altho we could swap some good STRECHED stories about fishing HI HI... I used to have a friend that said the first lie does not stand a chance...

Could that be WLS Paul refers to? WSM is in Nashville. I was a fan of WLS here. Remember Dick Biondi, Art Roberts, Clark Weber, Ron Riley, just to name a few of the great DJ's they had? And of course I have to mention another favorite, WABC in New York and Cousin Brucie. Those were the days of the great DJ's and the great rock music.

The third of thre... uh four things is my fishing today. I got back on track today with 2 suckers and a bluegill. I had fun with the bluegill as we went one on one. He was just swimming around in front of me about 3 feet from shore, perhaps taunting me that I couldn't catch him. I took the challenge. I put a smaller long shank hook (in case he tried to swallow the hook, I didn't want to hurt him) on my pole and a piece of corn on the hook and dropped it in front of him. He went for it right away, but knocked it off the hook. First round to the bluegill. Next I tried a tiny piece of peanut butter bread. He went for that also, but managed to escape getting hooked. Round two to the bluegill. Now I was determined to get him if he wanted to continue to play. Another piece of peanut butter bread on the hook dropped in front of him. He was a bit hesitant this time, but eventually went for it. I let him go just long enough till it looked like he had the hook in his mouth, and I jerked slightly. Winner by a knockout in the third round - John!! I was glad he was only hooked slightly and not hurt. Bluegills are often so voracious, they swallow bait and hook. I took out the hook, measured him at 7.5 inches - pretty good size for a bluegill - and released him. He didn't hang around for a second match and swam away in a hurry.

The thir.... fourth of four things now. Mike KC2EGL and I are going to collaborate on building an Elecraft KX-1 - 4 band version, and we're going to chronicle the process with photos as an exclusive series of articles in the NAQCC newsletter. I'm quite excited about it, and will have more to say about it when we get started in about a month or so. -30-

Wednesday, September 03, 2008 5:27 PM - "Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose....." to paraphrase the Danny O'Keefe song which actually goes "Some gotta win, some gotta lose, good time Charlie's got the blues." Well, I don't have the blues, but I am disappointed there was virtually no interest in my interval signals quiz, so I'm going to put an end to it here with quotes from a couple emails and a story how SWLing got me into ham radio.

Mike KC2EGL got two of three that he guessed on right and said of his effort that it wasn't bad for remembering something from 25 years ago. No, that's not bad at all. I figure I might have gotten 5 or 6 of the 8 I posted correct, but I certainly wouldn't have gotten them all right without some research.

Bob N2SU said something I thought a lot of folks would have said, but I was wrong. "Hi John: Listened to the interval signals and they brought back a lot of memories from my days as an SWL from 1968-71, before I got my ham license. All but one were familiar." Bob did get 7 of the 8 correct.

Dave, W9VES though was best at the game - he got all 8 correct although he said he wasn't sure of a couple of his guesses. He elaborated on his SWL days although the stations he mentions here are not a list of the interval signals I posted. "I just plain loved the long-standing Euro 41 m broadcasters of old: BBC-7325, Prague-7345. (And BBC-9410, 12095, 15070, 18080...) All India Radio 7412. VNG-Lyndhurst on 7500. And the many Central People's Broadcasting Station regionals (7516, 7935); Yunnan on 6937. I wonder if anyone has a full tape of one of the 56-minute English broadcasts from Radio Peking from the 1968-1970 period? The shrillness of the propaganda--not to mention The East is Red IS and the overly grand Internationale at signoff--was museum quality poly sci fare. If you Google (Windows Live - js) "Farewell to Monrovia" and Newkirk, you'll see an essay that mentions Radio Tirana on 7090--those buzzy transmitters were courtesy of the PRC but poorly maintained by the Albanians. How about that wonderfully Addams-Family-creepy Radiostantsiya Rodina electronic organ IS?"

Ah yes, the commies were masters of propaganda. They could twist the truth more than any twists at the best pretzel factory and tell more outright lies than you could hear at a fisherman's convention. It was so funny how serious they were and how big a laugh we would get out of them. In a way, I kind of miss those days. It seems nowadays the SWBC bands are full of nothing but religious broadcasters which is not a bad thing by any means, but I do think it is a bit overdone in the number of stations and broadcasts. A couple of my favorites from the 60's and 70's were besides the obvious VOA, Radio Switzerland International, Radio South Africa, Radio Nederland and their Happy Station broadcasts, just to name a few.

Radio Switzerland International or the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation at that time in the late 50's or very early 60's was the first SWBC station I ever heard, but I'm getting a bit ahead of my story.

At one time I never knew there were anything but our local WACB in Kittanning and a few of the Pittsburgh stations like KDKA as that was all we listened to on our old upright cabinet style radio - my I wish I still had that. Every night we would listen to our favorite shows like Fibber McGee and Molly, Sherlock Holmes... well let me stop here or I'll go on forever and I want to move along.

pix_diary_20080903_01 (44K)

One night on my little red radio shown above pretty much as it was back then (although the green 'doily' on the nightstand was probably different) on which I would listen in my bedroom to Party Line with Ed and Wendy King, I happened to tune off KDKA's frequency a bit just as WHO in Des Moines, Iowa was IDing on 1040 kc - yes it was kc back then, not kHz. Wow, this is fantastic, I'm hearing a radio station from way out in the middle of the United States. I wonder what else can be heard. I don't really remember what specific stations I heard after WHO, but not long after that I wondered what I could do to the radio to make it receive even more stations. Remember I knew absolutely nothing about radio or electronics back then. I was into other hobbies including astronomy and meteorology, just to name a couple. I did know that antennas were big and long things, so I connected a long wire to my little red radio. I hooked it right to the tuning capacitor and somehow that changed the tuning range of the radio and I heard the abovementioned SBC station. That took me up another level just like hearing WHO did.

You'll probably already know the next order of succession. In my tuning around on the SWBC that my little red radio could now receive, I wound up hearing these folks talking to each other. Now what the heck is this? They were identifying themselves with calls like W3CYG and the like. I must confess I don't remember the next steps after that, but somehow I got hooked up with a high school classmate who was a CBer and was going for his ham radio ticket. I decided I wanted to try this new fangled (to me) thing and studied with him to get my ticket also. The fellow who had the W3CYG call I mentioned gave us our Novice tests and we both passed. He got KN3WWW, and I got KN3WWP. The rest is history and perhaps can be elaborated on a bit further in a future entry, but now I'm off to delete the interval signals from my SkyDrive site and close out that unsuccessful chapter in the K3WWP story.

Oh, the "BEAT'EM,BUCS" sticker on the radio refers to the 1960 Pittsburgh Pirates and their rallying cry. -30-

Tuesday, September 02, 2008 7:48 PM - The NAQCC reached another milestone a few minutes ago as I signed up our member #2,700. It's wonderful so many folks agree with the NAQCC philosophy as soon as they hear about it and eagerly sign up to join us in our effort to help in the fight to preserve CW on the ham bands spearheaded by the FISTS organization. We think our philosophy of urging the use of CW at QRP levels in our club activities demonstrates graphically that CW is an extremely efficient mode of operation, even at 5 watts of power or less.

My fishing success continued at the river today as I caught a 14 inch sucker making 7 trips in a row now that I have caught something. I didn't think that would ever happen this year. Oh, I'm still way off pace, but at least I'm not being shut out as often now. I've got 52 fish so far which is about 55 fish below the 107 or so I normally have by September 2nd. I probably will finish this year as my 2nd worst year since starting to fish again back in 1992.

Even though the fishing is not all that good, it still is nice to just sit by the river for a couple hours enjoying the beautiful warm late summer weather and getting away from the normal daily grind at home.

Well, time now to head off to the shack to rack up my daily QSO for the 5,144th day in a row. It was easy last night on 80M. I don't know what the bands are like now, but I soon will.

Incidentally, several sources are saying that August was the first month in 100 years without a single sunspot to be seen. There may have been one tiny spot around mid-month, but sources disagree. -30-

Monday, September 01, 2008 9:37 PM - Hope you all had a great Labor Day today. I did my share of laboring here working in both Ange's and my garden. Also the usual large amount of computer work with my web site and the NAQCC site along with answering the seemingly countless emails about this and that. Of course being the first of the month also added some chores to the normal routine like getting the monthly budget and bills in shape. Naturally the banks were closed today, but I have everything ready for quick action tomorrow when they do open. I also put my August weather records in the computer. Turns out August was a cool dry month as I knew it to be. We were around 2 degrees below normal with about half the normal precipitation.

I was pleased to get two more submissions in my little interval signal quiz. PLEASE when you submit your guesses, list the file number and your guess. That makes it much easier for me to check them at a glance if you include the file numbers which are as you'll see if you check them out - 1, 2, 3, 7, 11, 18, 19, 24. Thanks.

N2SU and W9VES both did quite well getting 7 and 8 correct respectively. They also had some comments which I'll not post now, but later, since they would give clues to the signals. I hope some more of you will try the quiz. It brought back a lot of memories to the 3 who submitted guesses so far. Perhaps it would to you also.

To repeat the instructions just go to my SkyDrive site via the link at the top of the page. Then go to the Interval Signals folder and click on the icons to play them. You'll have to click two times, the first to get the file on a separate page of its own, then again on that page to play it. -30-

Sunday, August 31, 2008 9:45 PM - Well, sad to say, today is the last day of meteorological summer and tomorrow fall starts. However in this case, unlike winter which I like to get started and finished early, I'll stick with the astronomical ending date of summer which is September 22 and enjoy 22 more days of summer.

Speaking of number of days, I was talking via LL to Tom WY3H tonight as I often do, and while looking up something for my web site, I noticed that the Solar Flux has not been above 69 since May 18th which coincidentally is Tom's birthday. I haven't figured out how many days that is, but I wonder if it may or may not be some kind of record for a long quiet spell on the sun. Maybe if I ever get time......

Thanks to Mike KC2EGL for being the only person at all interested in my interval signals quiz. Still just one person is not enough to justify my continuing the quiz, so I'll just quietly remove it from my SkyDrive site after a few more days and chalk it up as a bad idea. Also no need to say what stations the interval signals were from, except to tell Mike via email what they were. -30-

Saturday, August 30, 2008 9:23 PM - Didja ever sit down in front of a blank computer screen or a blank sheet of paper with the intention of writing something, but nothing seems to show up on that screeen or paper? Well, that seems to be happening right now to me. I really don't have much to write about here today.

I guess I could write about my fishing today. For the 5th trip in a row now, I caught something. Today it was a 14 inch sucker. I also had a carpsucker on, but he threw the hook about 3 feet from shore so I can't count that one. He looked to be around 20 inches or so.

Most of the day today seemed to be devoted to NAQCC work. It seems that as our membership continues to grow and grow, it involves a little more work each day to keep up with it all.

I could talk about the ham bands and tell you that this evening I found nothing on 20M, a billion or so RTTY stations occupying 40M down to 7.030, a large amount of late summer QRN on 80M, and a QSO on 30M. Although 30M was largely vacant, propagation wasn't dead, just a lack of stations. A couple minutes of CQ's netted me a solid 2X599 QSO with KB5OS near Chicago.

Other than that, not a lot else to really talk about unless I tell you that I had a nice concoction for supper tonight. I fried up a combination of potatoes, beans, and peppers in olive oil. Mmmmm, that was good and I got to use up some of the immense quantities of beans and peppers in the refrigerator as well.

Hope you all have a nice Labor Day weekend. Nothing special planned here - just business as usual. -30-

Friday, August 29, 2008 6:40 PM - Wow, I was wrong on this one, apparently. I thought there would be a lot of SWBC listeners out there who would have a ball with the interval signals quiz. However not a single response has come in. Let me see if I really did post the diary after I wrote it yesterday. Perhaps I forgot, and yesterday's quiz entry is still sitting only here in my computer. Be back in a minute....... Yep, it's there, I guess it's only the interest that's missing. Well, that will save me some work from not having to download and convert any more interval signals. Perhaps I won't even bother identifying the 8 that I've posted already on SkyDrive.

I had a couple of interesting days yesterday and today. I visited Tom WY3H yesterday and besides a nice fellowship together and an excellent spaghetti meal cooked by his wife JoAnne, we did some work in his shack and on his computer. I also trained his son Ethan to do some work in helping out maintaining the NAQCC web site. That will take a bit of the workload off my shoulders. I also got to visit a bit with Ethan's twin Ariel. Oh and I better mention the dogs Lil and Whizzer also or they will be mad at me the next time I visit. I'm not much of a dog fancier, but I do like those two.

Later yesterday evening I did my weekly clothes washing and while that was going on I downloaded and installed the latest version of Microsoft's Internet Explorer - version 8 beta 2. That took the clock to around midnight so with putting the clothes away I didn't get to play much with IE. The installation went as smooth as silk, and I was kind of anxious to get in my sleep and get to play with it.

That was the first thing I did this morning, and I'm extremely pleased with it just as I have been with every IE version since my first version 3.0 many years ago. Or was it version 2.0? I forget now. Anyway beta 2 has a lot of additional nice features that were developed and added as a result of the comprehensive testing by everyday users of beta 1. Of course Microsoft-bashers will find all kind of fault with it, I'm sure, but I just love it, and am truly enjoying the experience of using it.

Then I helped Ange pick some beans from his garden and after that Tom came over to get one screw for his key that we worked on yesterday. The ones I gave him yesterday were too long. So we visited a bit, and then I went fishing. Tom kindly took me to the river in his van. For the fourth trip in a row now, I caught something. Only a 12" sucker today, but I think I caught more in the past 4 trips now than I did all through July and the first part of August. Hopefully it's going to be a great fishing experience in September now.

I receive a ham radio award today for the 2007 IARU Chapionships. I'll be posting a picture in my contesting section after I finish typing this entry. And actually I guess I am done now. HI. -30-

Thursday, August 28, 2008 9:05 PM - OK, part 1 of my Interval Signal quiz is now in effect. Go to my SkyDrive site via the link above and open up the Interval Signals folder. There are 8 numbered .wma files there. Play them and see if you can identify what station they are from. Most are the interval signals the stations used in the 1970's or thereabouts. Some station names are different now and some use different interval signals now. These first 8 are fairly easy ones, although if you haven't listened to SWBC stations for a good many years, they may tax the memory. I know if I don't know what they are, I can't figure some of them out. If you want to email me with your answers, just list the number of the file (they are not consecutively numbered) and beside it the station or country the IS is from. I'll email the right answers to those who submit guesses, then in about a week or so I'll identify them here in the diary or on the SkyDrive site. Have fun. I really did when I put this all together. Brought back a lot of memories from my SWBC listening days in the 60's and 70's. Remind me to tell you sometime the story of how SWBC stations led me to ham radio. -30-

Wednesday, August 27, 2008 8:42 PM - A busy day shopping today. Since I don't drive, my neighbor takes me shopping out at our 2 malls every couple months or so to get the things I can't get by walking here in downtown Kittanning. I don't like to have her make too many trips for me so I keep a list of what I will be needing and get whatever is on that list about every 2 or 3 months. So a shopping trip like that for me usually takes a while and it did today. That plus some other chores ate up a good bit of the day. So I didn't get to make up the interval signal files, but I think I will work on them now after I finish writing this entry.

Not much more to say, but I did want to comment on something I read in a club newsletter. Someone was discouraged because it seemed all the members wanted to do was exchange club numbers and never get into a meaningful rag chew type QSO. Well at the NAQCC, in case you don't already know, we took care of that when we initially set up our worked members award. We encouraged members to rag chew by minimizing the emphasis on just exchanging numbers by giving 4 points to a rag chew QSO that went beyond the usual RST, QTH, Name, Rig, WX 'cookie cutter' QSO. When you found out more than that about someone you worked, you got the big 4 points towards the award. We think that is a nice touch that encourages fellowship among amateurs. You can find out more about our NAQCC worked members award on the NAQCC web site, of course. If you're tired of just exchanging numbers, give our club and our award a try. You'll like it.

Now where are those interval signals..... -30-

Tuesday, August 26, 2008 8:34 PM - Kind of a carbon copy today of yesterday. Watering Ange's garden with him, going fishing, getting some more nice sunset pictures while getting my daily QSO this evening.

Even the same kid was fishing today, but neither of us did as well as yesterday. I did manage one 23 inch carpsucker which is just short of my personal record of 24 inches for a carpsucker.

Oh, and the weather was pretty much the same also even to the point where it was sunny most of the day with some increasing clouds in the evening. I think tomorrow will be different though as Fay is headed this way. It looks like we may be on the NW edge of the storm so if it goes one way or the other we could get a lot of rain or very little. Something right in the middle would be nice to relieve our drought without getting carried (washed?) away.

One different thing I did today was work on my neighbors VCR. The tracking had gotten so far out of alignment there was sound, but no picture. I adjusted the tracking guides a bit and it seems to work fine now, but I'm going to try it a couple days with different tapes to be sure.

Finally for this entry - in your radio hobby 'career', have you been at one time or other a SWBC listener. I mean listening to things like the VOA, Radio Moscow, Swiss Radio International, etc. Tom and I were reminiscing about the 'heyday' of SWBC the past couple evenings. We got to talking about interval signals, and I found a web site that has an archive of literally hundreds of interval signals. I thought it might be fun to have a little quiz about them. I'll rig up some sound bites with IS's and you see if you can identify which station they are from. In my case, I would recognize most of the ones from the big broadcasters, but beyond those top 15 or maybe 20, I'd have a hard time getting them right. It will take a bit of time to set it up, but perhaps in a few days I'll have the quiz right here in the diary. -30-

Monday, August 25, 2008 8:53 PM - Hopefully the boycott the fish had against me this year is over after today. I actually caught 4, yes 4 fish today - 3 suckers and 1 carp. That's the most fish I've caught on one trip so far this year. This was the first day of school in this area, and I thought it would be nice and peaceful to go fishing. It was, but one boy who looked to be about 13-14 or so was also fishing. I guess, without passing judgment or knowing for sure, that he must have been skipping school. Anyway he was a nice friendly polite kid, and we talked a little while we were both fishing. He caught a nice 29 inch or so carp that broke his line just as he got it to shore. He had called me to come help him land it, and I just got to touch it but couldn't hold it. We agreed it counted as a catch. My carp was 26 inches which I caught a few minutes later, and darned if the same thing didn't happen. He came over to help me land it, and just as I got it to shore, the carp threw out the hook. He agreed that should count as a catch for me as well.

The weather was absolutely perfect today. A clear blue sky with a few clouds and the temperature around 80 degrees. The kind of day you'd like to have 365 days a year although I suppose in that case it would get boring.

I also helped Ange water the garden. We had our first "rain" in 10 days late last evening, but it was only a few very tiny drops. The only reason I knew it "rained" was it happened when I was outside taking a walk. So our minor drought continues, and no rain predicted until at least Thursday. Our grass is turning brown and crunching now, and the gardens need watering almost twice a day when the Sun beats down relentlessly.

Speaking of the Sun, we had a beautiful sunset this evening as I was getting my daily QSO, and I got about 20 pictures which I will cut down to 6-8 or so and post on SkyDrive. Tom WY3H (who answered my CQ and was my daily QSO) said he seldom gets to see the sunsets as he lives where there is a high close by hill to his west, so I'll share these pictures with him and with any of you in a similar situation. I'll probably get them posted later tonight in a folder called Sunset August 25 or something like that. -30-

Sunday, August 24, 2008 2:24 PM - I'm glad I did my diary entry early yesterday as it turned out to be a busy day in which I got a lot done. I'm not going to list all the things I did as that would be boring, but I would like to just mention a couple since one of the themes I get from diary feedback is that you enjoy hearing about the various things I do and the interests I have - for whatever reason.

I guess my biggest project was replacing my kitchen ceiling light. An ancient fluorescent light fixture finally gave up the ghost. Even replacing the bulb and starters failed to get it to come on, so it was probably the ballast that went bad finally. Since they are somewhat expensive, I decided to go the homebrew method. I just found a regular light bulb socket in the tons of stuff I keep in my various "don't throw that out, you might need it some day" areas around the house. I mounted that to the old fluorescent light fixture so I could cover up the hole in the ceiling tile exactly. Then I got one of the new fangled energy savings bulbs that gives out the same light as a regular 100 watt bulb, but consumes only 26 watts of power to do so. That cost me $3.17 which is the total I paid to have a brand new kitchen ceiling light.

Before that project I helped Ange water his garden, then watered mine. We haven't had a drop of rain here for 9 days now with today being #10 so far. And only .05 inches in the past 12 days so things are pretty dry right now. To make things worse (for the plants - I love it), it has also been hot, in the low 90's the past 3 days and the low to mid 80's several days before that. So it's just about an every day garden watering project till we get some rain.

I went fishing in the evening, but it was back to normal 2008 conditions and I didn't get even a single hit on any of the three lures I tried for about a half hour, so I gave up and came home.

While I was fishing, I noticed my watch said it was about 1 AM when in reality it was around 7:30PM, so I figured the battery must be going dead in it. When I got home I pried the back off the case and popped in a new battery. My those screws holding in the battery seem to get smaller and smaller every time I do that. One of the setting buttons on the watch had been sticking so I put a drop of WD-40 on it and that fixed that. Then I set the watch. I actually remembered all the strange button combinations this time withough having to stop and think about them or look up the instructions.

Since it was a 'repair' day, I did one more thing I had been putting off. The thermometer outside my shack window is very old and the numbers had been getting dimmer and dimmer and now the once black numbers were a very light shade of gray, almost the same as the white background they were on. So I unmounted it, got a Sharpie marked and re-did the numbers. Now I can actually see what the temperature is when I'm on the air and giving the weather to the ham I am working.

I guess you can tell from my day that I'm a pretty self-sufficient (stingy?) person who prefers to repair something rather than buy something new. Kind of a throwback to the olden days, I guess. And darn it, I'm proud of that in today's 'throw-away' society. -30-

Saturday, August 23, 2008 7:30 AM - Thanks for the input on the video. There was a good cross-section of opinion on it. I think all got the correct impression I was trying to make which is that I hate prejudice. I always try to evaluate everything before I make an opinion about it. I think everyone should do that. If they don't they risk depriving themselves of some great things in life. One last example, then the subject is closed. We all know of kids who are so prejudiced that they won't even let a certain kind of food come near their mouth, yet if they are somehow enticed to try that food disguised in some way, they love it. Kind of reminds me of the old Mikey commercial for "that new cereal". So my final take is a paraphrase of an old catch phrase - "try it, you may just like it."

Now let's move on after that distraction. Mark WU7F would like to know how my garden is coming. I guess I haven't talked much about it lately. Overall it is slow, especially the pepper plants Mark asks about specifically. He'd like to see pictures of them, but I'm almost ashamed to show them. But maybe I will when I get a little time. Ange's peppers likewise are slow, but they are much better than mine and he's harvested a good many of them already. Mark prefers the hot peppers if I read his comments correctly. The ones Ange and I grow are the mild variety, both banana peppers and a similarly shaped but darker green variety I don't know the name of specifically. However if you don't like hot peppers, you have to be careful with ours as about 1 in 50 or maybe 1 in 100 turns out to be something like a jalepeno pepper for whatever reason. I hope that answers Mark's question.

Something strange happened last night. I actually caught two fish. Yes, not 1, but 2 fish. I was fishing with lures only and within the span of a couple minutes caught a bass and a perch. I'm sure that's the first time I've caught a perch on a lure. It wasn't an accident either. He had the treble hook at the end of the lure well inside his mouth so he was attacking it. I didn't think I was going to get it out, but the first twist with my pliers freed it, and I don't think I even hurt the perch at all in the process. Still this remains as my third worst year since I started fishing again in 1992. 40 fish so far this year is 50 below my normal total at this time, and only ahead of 15 in 2000 and 29 in 1993. I will beat 1993 as I finished with the 29 that year. However the next worst full year is 84 in 1994. I may have to struggle to beat that year unless September and October are great months. Maybe that Muskie I caught early in the year put a curse on me as it started out as a good year (my second best at the end of April), but changed around that time.

Finally this oddity. I received an email vote yesterday for my QRP Slogan Contest I conducted in mid-2005. I thought the person might have found a very old cached page from my site somewhere. However after I questioned him, he said he had sent the email in 2005. Sure enough, I looked at the email again and the sending date was July 28, 2005. Gosh, and folks complain about slow delivery from the Postal Service. I wonder where that email was languishing all this time. -30-

Friday, August 22, 2008 7:22 AM - The few emails I got about the video yesterday just reinforced my point. There is blind prejudice against Microsoft. I'll just make a couple points here. First of all, Microsoft does not force everyone to buy their new operating systems. They just promote the heck out of them just like a car manufacturer, for example. Nothing wrong with that. If you want to keep your old '93 Camaro or whatever, you can. You are not being forced to buy a new car. Just being told the advantages of doing so. If you want to keep your old Windows 98 computer, you're welcome to do so. It basically depends on what you do with your computer. If 98 serves you, well and good. However those who want all the latest greatest bells and whistles in their cars will buy the new 2009 Whatever, just as those who love being on the cutting edge of computer technology will go with the wonderful new Vista operating system on a new dual-core processor computer with 3 Gigabytes of ram, a 1 Terrabyte hard drive, a video card with 1 Gigabyte of memory, etc. It's probably overkill for them, but they will buy it not because they are forced to, but because they want it.

Secondly most fault with new operating systems lies with third party software, drivers, etc., not with the new operating system. Third parties are given ample opportunity to prepare and upgrade their offerings by having not only Beta versions of the OS made available to them, but also earlier Alpha versions. If they don't prepare things in time, blame them, not the OS. Also it is not even close to being possible for Microsoft or any company to test the millions of different combinations of hardware and software that exist in the world today. Some of those more bizarre combinations are likely to cause problems for an OS.

I could go on, but I think the point is made about prejudice. Instead of sitting down and thinking things out, people blindly blame General Motors, Microsoft, Sears, etc. for things that when analyzed are not their fault. And once they get a car from GM, Ford, etc. that has some minor problem, the prejudice is set and they will blindly not ever even consider buying another GM, Ford, etc.

Or in simpler terms, analyze things, and base your preferences on that rather than on blind prejucide. And obviously, the same thing applies to prejudice against people as well. To use an example I hope will not offend anyone, just because someone with green hair from Upper Slobovia mugged you once, that doesn't mean everyone with green hair nor everyone from Upper Slobovia is a bad person. -30-

Thursday, August 21, 2008 7:21 AM - Prejudice: A preformed and unsubstantiated judgment or opinion about an individual or a group, either favorable or unfavorable in nature.

Watch this video and I'll comment tomorrow. -30-

Wednesday, August 20, 2008 9:42 PM - Just a bit of rambling tonight. First of all, I'm glad you enjoyed the baseball, etc. pictures. Jerry WB0T said he enjoyed them very much. Paul N0NBD asked about the submarine. The Requin is a museum sub constantly docked just where you see it in the picture. I toured it back when I worked across the river from it in the Gateway Towers which is shown in another picture. The radio room is active, although it wasn't at the time I visited. In fact there is a ham radio club for the Requin with the call NY3EC, and the club has a FISTS number 1443.

I know not everyone is a rabid baseball fan and a lot of folks have just a casual interest in the sport. So just in case you don't know, briefly Honus Wagner was one of the greatest shortstops in major league baseball and played most of his career which lasted from 1897-1917 with the Pirates. Willie Stargell was one of my favorite baseball players because he had the two qualities I admire in athletes. First and foremost, they must be 'nice guys', and Willie definitely was. Secondly they must be good at what they do, and Willie was that for sure, also. Willie played his entire career with the Pirates from 1962-1982. I won't list his stats here, but they are impressive and can be found on the Internet in many places with a simple Windows Live search, as can more info about Honus Wagner if you're interested. I especially like the Wikipedia article on Stargell which talks about many of his record setting home runs. For those of you familiar with old Forbes Field, you will remember the right field stands which extended a good ways out from the right field foul line and were, if memory serves, around 90 feet high. The first person to ever hit a home run over those stands was the Babe, and it was his final home run, #714. Willie hit 7 home runs over those same stands in his career. Writing this brings back a lot of memories just like standing under his statue at the ballpark did. I could go on writing more and more about Willie, but I'm sure not all of you would be interested in that, and there is the Wikipedia article if you are interested in reading more about this remarkable man and baseball player.

Let's change pace a bit now and ponder something. I wonder why it is that so many hams can't come anywhere near to zero beating a CW signal any more. As an example from two of my recent QSO's, one ham answered me 700 Hz high and the next one answered 520 Hz low. With the narrow filters on the 480, I really had to spin the RIT knob to even hear these folks. I know I'm not perfect, but I know I can get much closer than that consistently.

Well, I guess that's enough for tonight. More rambling some other time. -30-

Tuesday, August 19, 2008 5:42 PM - In addition to helping Ange prune one of his pear trees and finalizing the results of last week's NAQCC sprint including mailing all the sprint certificates, I took time to prepare and upload my ballpark pictures from Sunday. They include not only PNC park but some other sights from the North Side of Pittsburgh. The picture labels are pretty self-explanatory, but if there are any questions, feel free to ask. Of course they are on my Microsoft SkyDrive site via the link above, and are in a 'Baseball Game' folder. Enjoy. -30-

Monday, August 18, 2008 10:08 PM - I just had too many things to get caught up on today to get the ballgame pictures fixed up today. And tomorrow looks to be another busy day, but perhaps by tomorrow evening I can work on them and get them posted. There's really nothing spectacular about them, but I know some of you like to see some things from this area of PA that you may not otherwise see elsewhere.

I did manage to get the final cross-checking of our NAQCC sprint logs done today, and I'll try to get the certificates out tomorrow.

Also tomorrow I'm going to help Ange prune back his pear trees for the fall and (ugh) winter. Hopefully that won't take all that long. -30-

Sunday, August 17, 2008 9:23 PM - This day in baseball...oh sorry, that's already been used somewhere. How about My day in baseball. Yes, that's it. I had a wonderful time today going more or less back in time to an era in my life when I literally ate and slept baseball. Even the ball park was like a trip to the past away from the last quarter of the 20th century cookie cutter ballparks. And isn't it amazing how picking up a scorecard can immediately trigger memories of the correct way of filling one out even though it hasn't been done in probably some 30, more likely 40 years. I only really had to think about one situation that came up, a force play, but that came back to me after a bit of thinking and prompting from Mike. I also saw a modern day rarity, even though it was commonplace when I followed baseball regularly those many years ago.

Whoa, let's stop talking in abstract and get down to specifics. My friend and fellow NAQCC member Mike KC2EGL had 2 tickets to the Pirates-Mets game today in Pittsburgh and asked me to go with him. After a long period of thought, perhaps 2 tenths of a second, I said sure. So we headed off to Pittsburgh around 10:15 AM or so and arrived in the city about an hour later. It was the first time I'd been in that section of Pittsburgh for perhaps some 16 years, so I wanted to walk around a bit and see some of the old familiar places like the Gateway Towers where we had our WPIT studios, the fountain at Point State Park, the Carnegie Science Center, the submarine Requin, and a few other places. Then it was off to get our seats in the ballpark along the right field line to watch the remainder of batting practice. I had never been in PNC Park since it was only built in 2002, I believe. I was immediately impressed how much, if you remove all the modern day electronic gadgetry, it looked like an old individualistic ball park. Our view of the field was excellent and it looked like just about the whole ball park also afforded a similar great view.

After a seemingly endless string of 'side shows', the actual baseball game got started. As I expected it immediately got off to a lopsided start with the Mets scoring runs and the first 9 Pirate batters being retired. We got to see a couple of Met home runs which wound up not all that far from where we were sitting. The score wound up being 4-0 in favor of the Mets, about what I expected considering how the two teams are playing this year. Of course there are many upsets in baseball, but today was not one of those days at PNC Park.

I believe of the 24 or so players who appeared in the game, I was most impressed by the Mets pitcher, Johan Santana. One thing immediately appealed to me - he was a pitcher who got the ball from the catcher, and bang, threw the next pitch. He kept up that rapid pace through just about the whole game. And yes, he did pitch the whole game, a complete game. That's the rarity I was speaking of. Nowadays virtually every game has the starting pitcher go a certain number of innings or pitches, even though he is doing very well, and then being replaced by a 'long' or 'mid-game' reliever who then is replaced by a 'short' reliever or 'closer'. However today Santana pitched for all of the Pirates alloted 27 outs. I don't even think I saw one Mets relief pitcher warm up in the bull pen.

Going back to his style of pitching compared to many other pitchers. It seems that many pitchers get the ball from the catcher, go to the rosin bag, look around the ball park, count how many fans are in the park, and innumberable other things before they even get the signal from the catcher for the next pitch. That results in very long drawn-out games and is one of several reasons that turned me off of baseball gradually over the years. I won't go into the others. I loved Santana's rapid fire 'machine-gun' style of pitching. If you blinked or glanced away from the game for a moment, you risked missing one of his pitches.

All too soon, the nine innings were over and it was time to leave the ball park. On the way out, Mike took a picture of me next to (or under) the statue of one of my all time favorite ballplayers, Willie Stargell. I'm not going to do it tonite because it's getting late, but I am going to post several pictures of my day on my SkyDrive pictures site. That hopefully will come tomorrow or Tuesday at the very latest. Right now they need some cropping and re-sizing from the way they came out of my digital camera.

On the way home, we stopped at Appleby's for a wonderful meal. I had part of a gift card left to use up, so I suggested stopping there, and I think we both were very pleased with that decision. We had a wonderful appetizer bowl of goodies like chips and dip, boneless buffalo wings, mozzarela sticks, and the like. That was almost a meal in itself. But it wasn't, as it was followed up by a huge angus beef burger with bacon, cheese, lettuce, tomato, and onion plus a huge order of french fries. I'm still filled up some 4-5 hours later as I write this.

And to close this entry, a big thank you to Mike KC2EGL for taking me back in time to those glory days of baseball. Now if we could only get rid of those endless sideshows and distractions that accompany games nowadays..... -30-

Saturday, August 16, 2008 12:28 PM - The number for today is..... 200. That is now the number of DXCC entities I have verified with my QRP/CW/simple wire antennas. It was reached about 90 minutes ago when I pulled a QSL card from FJ/DJ2VO out of my mailbox and thus verified St. Barthelemy as #200 of the 206 I have worked. I don't think I'll go a lot further than that.... well at least until the Sun becomes active again and opens up the bands for more easily worked DX. Still it is going to be rough because many of the 130-140 that I need are pretty rare and in demand by a lot of QRO DXers. Also many are in the SE Asia part of the world, an area that is difficult for me to work, rare or not. I still need Indonesia, India, and China, for example. That is interesting in a way because Australia, not far from that area is easy for me to work. As you know, I've even had Australian hams answer my CQ's. -30-

Friday, August 15, 2008 9:19 PM - This has certainly been a cool August so far here in Western PA. I'd venture to say without doing any figuring that we are probably averaging 3-4 degrees below normal so far this month. It has kind of slowed down the ripening of vegetables and fruit, although my garden is not doing too bad. I've been picking tons of beans, and so far this year I've picked 59 tomatoes. That's not bad, but it is below the 98 I had at this same time last year. Back in 2002 my total was 156 by August 15th. Ange's fig trees have only produced about 5 ripe figs so far and as of today we didn't see any more even close to ripening. My peppers are still very tiny although I did see one today that should be ready for picking in a few days. Ange's are doing much better. His chestnut tree seems very slow to produce this year as well. The sickle pears we picked a couple weeks ago are ripening nicely and tasting delicious. The Bartlett ones from a few days ago will still need some time to ripen far enough to eat, but when they do, mmmmmm.

My friend Larry W9CC emailed and asked today what kind of shoes do I wear for my walking. I'll answer him personally in an email, but in case anyone else is curious, I just wear what we used to call 'tennis shoes'. I think nowadays the kids have other names for them. I just get the ones that are ankle high from Wal-Mart that cost around 20-25 dollars, and they serve me well. I got around 2,000 miles on one pair of them. Anything cheaper than that from say, a dollar store, wear down quickly and are not really a bargain.

Incidentally some wisecracking computer club member once asked me how many miles do I go between rotating my shoes.

Oh, today I helped Tom WY3H with some more antenna work. I climbed a hill with his son Ethan and we strung up I guess about a 175 foot long random wire. It seems to work great on receive as we were hearing a lot of DX on 20M around 5 in the afternoon including what I think was a JA station. Well it was a JA call, but I couldn't quite determine if he was in Japan or portable somewhere. Every time he got past sending his prefix, another station from Ecuador would come on top of him. We were also hearing several EU sigs, some quite strong, but the couple we tried didn't seem to be hearing us. The antenna might need some tweaking as without playing all that much with it, we couldn't get the SWR below 2 or 3 to 1 on 80 and 160. It may be at a certain length that gives a strange impedance on certain frequencies.

There's another of those RTTY contests encroaching on the CW section of 40 meters this evening so I haven't yet gotten my daily QSO for the 16th. That will probably have to wait till the morning or afternoon now. I've got my little note with the word 'QSO' on it sitting here in front of my keyboard to remind me I still need my streak QSO. -30-

Thursday, August 14, 2008 4:56 PM - One of the benefits of the cross-checking of logs for the NAQCC sprints is that I learn a heck of a lot of information about how I did so well or so poorly as the case may be.

In just the first stage of cross checking and analyzing my own log for this most recent sprint, I see clearly how I did poorly and the exact reason why.

I made 12 QSO's on 40M and 10 QSO's on 80M. Now all my QSO's on 40M were with zone 4 stations except for 2 - K1YAN in MA and K4BAI in GA. This means I missed probably a dozen more QSO's simply because skip was too long on 40M for me to work the many zone 5 stations that were active. Conversely all my 80M QSO's were with zone 5 except for VE3OBU and Ontario is practically zone 5 anyway according to distance from here. So if skip was shorter on 40M I would have added some of those zone 5 stations from 80M also. I would say with 40 being short I would have made probably around 35 QSO's instead of 22.

So location is a big factor in contesting. Let's look quickly at W5TM in OK and K4BAI in GA. In addition to having big high antenna systems, they were also in a favorable geographic location this month. The were just the right distance on 40M from many of the zone 5 stations that were too close for me to work and as a result they both racked up QSO totals in the 40's. Incidentally to enforce that, both were booming in here on 40M as was K4NVJ at around the same distance.

And as a result of that, I'm not upset with my showing. I just understand it was due solely to the vagaries of propagation, especially on 40M. So I wait for next month and hopefully then I'll be the one in the favored location. -30-

Wednesday, August 13, 2008 11:26 PM - Whew! I need a secretary to help take care of all the NAQCC business. It's just eating up all my time. I'm just taking a very brief break from processing logs from last night's sprint before delving into processing about a dozen new member applications. Some day maybe I'll get caught up. CUL -30-

Tuesday, August 12, 2008 11:32 PM - Just about my whole day today was taken up by three projects. From 9AM to 1PM I helped Ange pick pears off two of his pear trees. It's amazing how many pears a single tree can make. We must have gotten a few hundred pears altogether. Maybe 'several' hundred might be more accurate.

Then after I got home and got something to eat, I helped Tom WY3H do some antenna work for 3 hours or so.

After that, about a two mile walk before our NAQCC sprint. Conditions were not all that great here in PA. Not exactly a black hole, but folks elsewhere seemed to have the advantage this time around. One bad thing here was that skip was long on 40M and I couldn't work all the NJ, NY, OH, etc. stations that others a little further away were working. Still I managed to eke out 22 QSO's about equally divided between 40 and 80 meters. Now I'm just starting to deal with the couple dozen or so logs that have been received so far. CUL. -30-

Monday, August 11, 2008 8:43 PM - I just got my QSO of the day for the 12th, working another QRPer, NAQCC member Paul N8XMS on 40M. Then I went out and sat on the porch for a little while and spotted Venus low in the bright Western sky. That's the first time I've seen Venus in this current evening apparition that is just starting. I like to follow its progress as it slowly works its way higher up in the sky each evening till it reaches greatest Eastern elongation and then drops more rapidly down into the glow of sunset and eventually shifts back to its morning apparition.

I had my telescope out for the first time in several months a couple evenings ago. It was nice to observe some familiar sights again like Jupiter and its four Galilean moons which that night were spread out wide on either side of the planet. I also saw several other old favorites like Albireo, M11, M22, M27 - The Dumbell Nebula, M6, M7, M57 - The Ring Nebula among others I won't list here.

Tonight if it remains as crystal clear as it is right now, I may stay up or get up and see how many Perseid meteors I can spot. It seems every time there is a peak of a meteor shower here, something happens to interfere with it, mostly cloudy skies. So I wouldn't be surprised if it clouds up again.

I got some diary feedback on the sausage experiment and some other things. I'll catch up on that in a later entry. -30-

Sunday, August 10, 2008 9:55 AM - OK, here's what the sausage issue started.

Bill GM4AGL asks if it's only turkey sausage I tried. Yes, turkey sausage is the only kind of sausage I use here. Turkey meat has much less fat, cholesterol, etc. and is much more healthy.

I tried the radial experiment suggested by K0IDC and here's a picture of what happened with that:

pix_diary_20080810_01 (41K)

The picture is a bit misleading because I rotated the glassware when I took it out of the microwave, but if you look at the sausages in relation to the handles, you'll see it looks like #1 moved sideways a little in a clockwise direction, #2 moved the same, but counter-clockwise, and #3 pretty much stayed in position. Also it looks like each one rotated somewhat, especially #3. All in all, pretty random with no pattern as with them arranged around the rim. That indicates to me that whatever force is acting on them seems to be playing off that rim.

I also wonder if the motion is rolling or sliding. When I put them in the microwave, they are frozen and slippery, so a sliding motion may make more sense. They slide initially, then when thawed out, the motion stops.

Perhaps we should do what liberal congressmen do, and get a government funding to study the situation and find out exactly what is happening. HI

Jerry WB0T writes: "As to the sausage, I have no good reasons for the rolls, except that It depends on your view of them that determines whether they are clockwise or counter clockwise!" I guess he means if you look down from above or up from below. My references above refer to looking down.

And of course we knew Ron K5DUZ would have something to say, and he did: "Congratulations on discovering a new physical phenomena... "weinermagnetization", which is defined as that fundamental property of nature which causes weiners to attract one another in the presence of microwaves.
I'm guessing that the weiners roll towards the center rather than slide. If so, then surely the movement is caused by uneven heating of the weiners, which causes them to distort more on the hotter side than the other, assuming a slightly rounded shape which permits them to roll. They roll toward the center because of the rotation of the weiners with respect to the heating source. I'm guessing that they would roll in a different manner if the rotation was not present.
I suspect if they were lined up in a straight line and in the absence of rotation they would all roll in the same direction.
I propose two experiments without rotation.
1) Line up the weiners parallel to the door
2) Line up the weiners at right angles to the door.
When you win the Nobel Prize, please remember your lab assistants. :o) Ron"

I'd have to disable my turntable to do that, but maybe some day I will. Stay tuned for further developments on this Earthshaking research. -30-

Saturday, August 09, 2008 9:41 PM - My but the sausage issue drew a lot of comment. I don't have time to go over it all today, but I will in an upcoming entry.

I've been busy today signing up a new NAQCC newsletter emailer and taking care of some more new members and other NAQCC business. On top of that, I put some sealer on my porch roof which was starting to leak again a little bit. I also finally got upset enough to take my big hedge trimming shears down to the river and clear some vegetation from one of my fishing spots since the Kittanning Boro workers were never going to do it. Now maybe I'll go fishing a bit more since I improved the access to one of my favorite fishing holes. I still have one other place I want to clean up also when I get fired up enough again.

Now back to signing up some more new NAQCC members, etc. -30-

Friday, August 08, 2008 8:29 AM - It's good to see that other folks are still interested and curious about things. Bob K0IDC emails, "John: Just a couple of thoughts on the sausage:
1. Differential heating of the glass - hotter towards middle?
2. Differential heating of the sausage-hotter towards one side?
3. What would happen if the sausage were turned 90 degrees (like spokes of a wheel). Would the sausage then always rotate CW (clockwise) or CCW? This might be an interesting test. Bob Green k0idc"

Temperature differential in objects does cause motion. So that could be one possible explanation. I'm sure the pyrex glass wouldn't expand or contract enough to cause motion. And the surface is perfectly flat to begin with, so it's not a downhill rolling thing. However if the outside of the sausage heats more than the inside, it would be lighter because of the expelled water vapor and the greater weight of the inside plus the force of the expelled vapor could cause it to roll towards the middle. Perhaps they don't go all the way to the middle (they never do go further than shown in the picture) because there is less differential heating towards the center.

That is an interesting thought about seeing what happens with the sausage arranged as radii of a circle. The next time I have sausage, perhaps I'll try that if I remember.

Now tell me, where else can you get such information except in my diary? Gosh, now I feel like Don Herbert (Mr. Wizard) - HI -30-

Thursday, August 07, 2008 9:05 PM - One thing I'm proud of is that I've never lost that natural curiousity about everything that everyone has as a child. For some folks it disappears early in life, others retain it longer, and some retain it their entire life. Another trait that I've retained is a delight in the simple things in life like a beautiful sunset or a conversation with a child.

I guess you know I'm leading up to something with that preface, so let's get to it. One thing that continues to intrigue me is why, when I cook turkey sausage in my microwave, the sausage always moves toward the center of the glassware in which I cook it. See this before and after picture:

pix_diary_20080807_01 (32K)

As you may know, food cooks better in a microwave with a turntable if you place it around the edge of the turntable. That is why I start the sausages on the outer perimeter of my glassware. However as it cooks for its 3 minutes or so, it will move toward the center over 95 percent of the time.

I know that at times either a bit of frozen water or perhaps a small fat globule will evaporate from the heat and emit a bit of water vapor which could act like a small rocket and move the sausage. However that should act in a random direction, and if the sausage initially moves toward the center, a later burst may move it back toward the edge. Unless, and I just now thought of this, the rocket burst has to push against something to move the sausage. That something would be the edge of the glassware, and once it pushes away from there, there is nothing for it to push against to move it back.

Perhaps I should try using a flat plate to cook it on with no edge or rim and see what happens then.

Anyone have any thoughts on the matter?

Let's get back to ham radio a bit. As those of you who are QRP ARCI members and receive the QRP Quarterly may know, there was an article about me and my streak in the most recent issue that came out within the past couple weeks. Several of you have emailed to comment on the article, and I just want to say here that I appreciate those comments if I don't get a chance to thank you personally. Thanks. I have not seen the finished article, but Tom WY3H wrote it and he let me see the initial copy. I thought Tom did a good job of writing, and I also want to thank him here. -30-

Wednesday, August 06, 2008 10:01 PM - Who was the crazy guy who though of the NAQCC recruitment drive and made all this work for m.......... Oh, I forgot it was my idea, so I have no one to blame but myself. I've processed 103 new NAQCC members in the past 30 hours or so now and am caught up at the moment.

I'm delighted with the results that Paul KD2MX's recruitment email distributed by Dave VA3RJ got for the club. I knew there were a lot of hams out there who just hadn't heard of the club -OR- didn't realize that all that is required to be a member is to operate some QRP/CW. You don't have to be a 100% QRP/CW fanatic like K3WWP to be a member. You're welcome to operate QRO or other modes but keep in mind that all the NAQCC events are designed for QRP/CW. You can only earn our awards or certificates by operating QRP/CW, although you're welcome to enter our sprints with QRO as long as you are aware you won't be eligible to win anything, and as long as you are courteous to the QRPers trying to work each other. I think Paul's recruitment letter made that plain, and that is why so many accepted our invitation to join. Of course the blitz also served to reach a lot of hams who just didn't know about the club also.

And that's about all I have the energy left to write at the moment. -30-

Tuesday, August 05, 2008 9:54 PM - No time for an entry tonight except to tell you why. We had a mass email recruitment drive for the NAQCC today, and garnered some 60 new member, all of which I have to process at the rate of one per 4 or 5 minutes each on average. Whew! So be back with a full entry tomorrow if everything goes smoothly and something worthwhile talking about happens between now and then. HI. -30-

Monday, August 04, 2008 9:27 PM - Well, the streak completed its 14th year today (last evening) shortly after 0000Z. 6M was wide open and I made 6 QSO's there to complete the 14 years. I worked 3 new grids and 2 new states, ME and KY for a total of 17 grids and 12 states now.

Just a while ago shortly after 0053Z on the 5th, the streak celebrated its 14th birthday and started its 15th year when I worked KA8TRV on 40M. I guess other than that not a lot else to write about today. I've got to get started on putting together the next NAQCC newsletter due out this Friday evening so I think I'll do that now. -30-

Sunday, August 03, 2008 8:58 AM - I had a great time in the NAQP yesterday to say the least. I fell 11 QSO's short of my goal of 300, but 289 is not bad for an August NAQP. Perhaps the best QSO total I've had in one. I'll have to check later.

The breakdown by band and mults is:

10 - 54 - 22
15 - 41 - 20
20 - 89 - 32
40 - 97 - 35
80 - 8 - 6
tot - 289 - 115

10 meters was great, and was in very short skip for quite a while. However although they were within skip range, MD and DE never showed up or at least I never heard any stations from there. Those two states are the only ones I need for a 10M WAS. Oh well, they will come some day, I hope.

I probably could have gotten more QSO's on 15, but I was having so much fun on 10, I wasn't on 15M as much when it was open. It seemed to follow 10M as to when it was open. Both were either open or not at about the same times.

20 and 40 were the workhorses as expected at this stage of the sunspot cycle. The only DX station I worked came on 20M when I got HC2SL.

80M was just too noisy. I could hear stations fairly well, but I just had to repeat my info too many times and I respect other contesters and don't like to make them waste time with my repeats. I probably could have gotten a lot more 80M.

I never tried 160 meters. It probably was worse than 80 meters.

I was going to put in the full 10 hours, but I quit a bit early and probably wound up with 9 to 9.5 hours.

I believe I worked 40 of the 50 states according to a mental count. I missed KH6, KL7, UT, VT, ND, SD, WA, OR, and ID. I think I got the rest.

I was delighted by two things. I heard many of our NAQCC members in the contest and worked quite a few of them. I don't know if they were running QRP like I was though. Most, if not all, had some really strong sigs.

Also delighted by the performance of my friend Eric KB3BFQ. He made 50 QSO's in 25 states. I don't think too many hams, if any, in his situation of using a QRP+ rig with a random wire antenna, being a Novice, and being at this point in a sunspot cycle, could have done that well. Congrats Eric! -30-

Saturday, August 02, 2008 1:16 PM - I wanted to wait to see if any more comments on the links came in before I thanked those who did comment. Thanks go to Tim KD8GZ, Bill GM4AGL, Bill W4WLW, Paul N4UEB, Jim KC7ZMV, Dick N2UGB, Paul N0NBD. I didn't know links were such a hot topic. I think that's about the most readers who ever took time to comment on a subject here in the diary with the possible exception of my Forbes Field trivia picture.

This afternoon is one of my favorite contests, the NAQP. If other things don't interfere and the bands are in decent shape, I am going to try to put in a full effort in this one.

If I get a QSO on the 3rd, and then one on the 4th, that will complete 14 years of my streak, and then I can get started on the 15th year on the 5th. I guess QRP does indeed work, especially with CW, wouldn't you say?

I'm also closing in on a couple more milestones. I'll soon have 50,000 QSO's in the streak and 70,000 QSO's overall in my ham career. In fact, I'll have to check and see just how close I am. Hold on a minute..... I have 69,532 QSO's overall as KN3WWP, K3WWP, K3WWP/3 (Pittsburgh), WA3IXO (Pittsburgh), and WA3IXO/3 (Kittanning). So conceivably, but not likely with present conditions, I could go over 70,000 in the NAQP later today. In the streak I have 48,376, so 50,000 should come this fall some time. -30-

Friday, August 01, 2008 8:33 AM - Thanks for the response on the links situation. You have spoken and here is the deal. They are now YOUR links. I will keep them as they are now, but YOU must tell me if you find a bad link OR if you find a site to which you think I should have a link.

I will no longer do any maintenance work on them other than to try to fix any bad links YOU report to me or add any links YOU think should be added.

So if you find a link that doesn't work, don't just grumble about it - let me know. Otherwise it will never get fixed.

There were some good 6M openings yesterday, but very little activity to take advantage of it. I heard a few strong beacons, but only K0HA calling CQ DX whom of course I couldn't answer and a weak WA3(SST?) calling CQ who disappeared after I answered him. About 15 minutes of my own CQ's went unanswered. Oh well such is life on 6, I guess. -30-

Thursday, July 31, 2008 9:01 AM - I've just finished running the monthly check on all the links on my web site. As I was doing it, I was wondering just how important links on web sites are these days. It's my opinion that they have decreased greatly in importance with the advent of the wonderful Internet search engines like Windows Live Search. If I'm looking for something on the Internet, I simply type a couple related words into my Windows Live search bar and presto, there is what I'm looking for in a flash. I can't recall the last time (with one exception) I've gone to a web site to look up some link or other. The exception is the AC6V ham links site. Even then I usually don't go directly there, but am referred there by a Windows Live search result.

I'm going to do some serious thinking about dropping the links section of my web site or at least trimming it back quite a bit.

I want your opinion on the matter. If I don't get any opinions or very few, I will take that as a sign that there is no interest in keeping my links section, and will definitely eliminate or downsize it. Thanks in advance for your help. -30-

Wednesday, July 30, 2008 9:54 PM - The lack of 6M openings continued today. I wonder if any of you are hearing any openings?.

Hey, it's only a few days now from the 14th birthday (anniversary?) of my streak. Then I'll be starting the 15th year. Hardly seems possible. Time sure does fly by.

We had a good hard shower today, and I went to the river just as it was ending in anticipation of catching some carp, or at least getting some carp bites. However they were just like the 6M openings - absent. I did get a 14 inch sucker to at least avoid a shutout, but still....

Not much else outside of the normal daily routine things here today. I did get the onions cleaned that I harvested. They are now hanging in mesh bags in my cool basement stairway. I did have one in my supper salad today and it tasted good. A bit on the strong side though.

Tomorrow is supposed to be a rain-free day and I'm going to harvest some sickle pears from Ange's trees. He and his family don't eat them, so I guess I'll be getting most if not all of them. -30-

Tuesday, July 29, 2008 11:30 PM - Another day with no 6M openings and no fish. Kind of par for the course, huh? Oh well, things will pick up in both ways one of these days.

I harvested all my onions today. I think they are a little bigger than usual for whatever reason.

I also did some other work around the house. I sprayed the grass and weeds in the brick with bleach. I replaced a rusted lock on my thermometer shelter with a homemade lock of my own.

I also went over 10 miles walking today. The weather was about the same as yesterday. Nice for walking. One of the walks, I went out to Ace Hardware to get some rechargeable batteries for my new wireless mouse.

I guess that pretty much summed up my day. It's about time to get to bed now and get some sleep and see what tomorrow will bring. Hopefully some fish and some 6M openings. -30-

Monday, July 28, 2008 9:56 PM - Not a lot to talk about today, unlike yesterday. No 6 meter openings that I heard despite checking about a half dozen or so times.

I had my best walking day in a while, going just over 11.5 miles in 4 or 5 walks. It was a nice warm day with a high in the mid 80's - good for walking, at least in my opinion.

I finished off the evening by going fishing, and actually caught a 10 inch bass on a lure. And that was pretty much my day here.

Oh, I also started updating my web site where it needs to be mentioned that I also operate 6 meters. I added a description and picture of my 6M antenna in the Homebrewing section - Antennas page today to start off with. Or actually to continue since I previously added 6M to my WAS table in the Awards section. -30-

Sunday, July 27, 2008 6:56 PM - There are some days you are busy all day and yet really don't accomplish much. Other times you have a real sense of accomplishment after a busy day. The second alternative was true for me today.

I finished the mount for my 6M attic rotary dipole early this morning. Or at least I got it far enough where it works. I am thinking of setting up some kind of remote control rotating device so I can rotate it from the shack. That really shouldn't be hard to figure out. I just have to find the time and the energy to do it.

I heard one station on 6 today - a W4 calling CQ DX so I didn't try to work him. He wasn't all that strong anyway and faded out quickly.

I finished edging the front yard sidewalk. That crab grass really loves to grow along the edge between the lawn and the sidewalk, and the roots really dig in and take some effort to pull out. However now looking up and down the street my nicely edged walk stands out among the others that haven't been edged in a while. Maybe I'll get something started. HI.

I cleaned out some more leaves from my gutter. I think I've mentioned that before. I don't have a ladder to get up there, so I kind of have to reach up with a sort of hooked pole and do what I can. I think sooner or later I am going to have to relent and hire a handyman to do the job properly.

That's just a sample of the things I did today. I won't get boring and list every little thing, but there were several more projects that did get done today.

Now as I'm typing, I'm also thinking of going fishing. I got some night crawlers last night, and might go to the river and see what happens with them. The river is a bit high right now though and some of my spots are not accessible. I think they must be letting some water out of Kinzua Dam for some reason as there really hasn't been all that much rain upstream from here as far as I can tell. Or if I don't go fishing now, I guess I'll get a snack and check 6 meters again. Tune in tomorrow to see what I decided. HI. -30-

Saturday, July 26, 2008 10:00 PM - Finally another 6M opening today. I worked two MN stations which gave me two new grid squares. Actually my first 6M QSO was with MN on FD, but I don't know what grid square he was operating from. One QSO was with my friend W3FAF who said he had heard EU stations on 6M earlier. He was running 5W, so I think that was my first 2X QRP QSO on 6M. I've got to get busy and start sending out some QSL cards for my 6M QSO's as I'd like to get a paper QSL from each of my 6M states.

That was pretty much the highlight of my day today. I also did some watering and weeding in my garden and a few other things around the house not worth mentioning.

We had a nice shower this evening (my garden watering probably brought that on - HI), but it came to late to go explore the river for carp. So instead I went out and got a few night crawlers.

I also started work on a mount for my attic 6M rotatable dipole. Right now it is resting (literally - HI) on a temporary mount as shown below.

pix_diary_20080726_01 (51K)


Friday, July 25, 2008 9:05 PM - For the second evening in a row my QSO of the day came on almost the exact same frequency at the exact time, but with a different station. This evening it was G6PZ on 10.106 at 0013Z instead of AM8IL on 10.106 at 0012Z last evening. Again today I didn't notice any 6M openings - sigh! Of course they might have happened when I was busy with the project described below.

Another computer club member and I took the club computer to my house today and spent about 5 hours updating it. We've had trouble with the Internet connection at the church where the club meets and got way behind in updating our software. So that's another project out of the way. Some day I think I'll maybe get caught up with all these things and either be totally bored or get a chance to do some things I haven't done much of lately like fishing, star gazing, and gee I can't even think of what else, it's been so long now. I've even slacked off just a little in my walking, but I do try to fit that in since it is so important. -30-

Thursday, July 24, 2008 10:15 PM - I want to publicly thank Eric KB3BFQ and Don W2JEK for responding to my request about grid square maps a couple days ago. Eric suggested a nice downloadable one, and Don is sending me a copy of what he uses via regular mail.

I actually worked some DX this evening. I beat a rather large pile up to work AM8IL on 30M. I guess everyone is after the AM8 prefix or maybe it is something else special I'm not aware of. I don't really have time to look into it right now. In fact I'm out of time for writing this diary entry also as I have some other things to get done among them finishing up my regular Thursday evening washing. The clothes are in the dryer right now. -30-

Wednesday, July 23, 2008 8:42 PM - We finished up Ange's carpentry project today with about a 45 minute rain delay in the middle of it. We got about an inch of rain in one big thundershower. That's the first time in quite a while we've had near an inch of rain in a day. The gardens seem to be loving it, and I guess no watering needed for the next couple days, so that will provide a nice break in routine.

The other project today was doing the final cross checking of our NAQCC sprint logs. That's a time consuming project although each month I make it a bit more efficient one way or other. Also most participants are submitting the material for their logs and reports in exactly the way I need it. That helps immensely and saves a lot of time. I can process probably about 15-20 logs submitted properly in the same time it takes to fix up a log that is submitted in some 'foreign' format or other so it will plug into my cross-checking program.

Other than that, not much else to talk about today. No six meter openings that I heard. No fishing, although I would have loved to go to the river right after that shower. I bet the carp were in the sewer outlets by the droves (schools?). However the carpentry project consumed 3 more hours after the shower and by that time the sewer flow was back to normal and the carp probably gone. Oh well. -30-

Tuesday, July 22, 2008 8:42 PM - I said yesterday I like to get involved in many different things in life. Well, today it was carpentry. I helped Ange get ready to put up some lattice work on his sister's porch. We measured and painted the lattice work, and also mounted a couple additional posts to fasten it to. We'll probably finish it up tomorrow or Thursday depending on the weather.

I found an opening on 6M today around local Noon. I was tuning the beacon segment and heard 3 or 4 fairly strong beacons, so I headed to the main CW portion of the band and found a SC station coming in strong. I couldn't work him though, as he kept answering someone else so I gave up after about 10 tries and QRT. However I returned about 20 minutes later and found two more SC stations and worked both with just a single call. My first QSO's other than local Tom WY3H with my new rotatable 6M dipole mounted in the attic. So that's 10 states on 6M now thanks to K2SX and AA4SC who were both in different grid squares in SC. I'm going to have to start counting grid squares now that I'm officially a VHF operator. HI. Anyone know of a nice grid square map that I could color in the grid squares as I work them similar to the old county hunter books where the counties could be colored in as worked and verified? Preferably a free one downloadable from the Internet. I got a nice ARRL grid square map at the Butler hamfest in June, but it's not appropriate for coloring in the squares. Thanks for any help you can give. -30-

Monday, July 21, 2008 10:41 PM - I heard one station on 6M this evening, a WA4, but he disappeared before I could call him. He was working an N7 whom I couldn't hear. So the N7 probably had the frequency.

Now as I said yesterday, some comments on Kenji's comments.

I like what Kenji said about my diary - it's about life in general, not just ham radio. Life is definitely more than just ham radio. In fact it should be more than any one particular thing. The saying, "Variety is the spice of life." is definitely true. There are so many things to experience in life, and not all that long a time to do it. I believe in experiencing as many of those things as I can. I think in my 63 years so far I've done more than my share of experiencing and investigating many of life's available activities, hobbies, games, skills, arts, etc. I think everyone should do likewise to the full extent of their abilities and health.

What Kenji says about young people is so very true. It can be easy to become alienated from them if we point blank disagree with their opinion of things as so often happens. It's got to be a give and take with our old ways and their young ways if we are to get along together. Ideally we can learn from them and they can learn from us if we are both willing to give a little in our way of thinking.

Finally Kenji is again right on the money with conserving energy of all kinds, natural gas, gasoline, electricity, and the like. For too long we've taken it all for granted without considering there is not an endless supply of any kind of energy. How often do we (just as a simple example) leave a light burning that we don't really need or take our car for a short 4 or 5 block trip when we could just as easily (and more healthfully) walk? There are so many ways we here in the United States can conserve, and if everyone would conserve just a little, imagine what that little savings multiplied by some 250,000,000 people would add up to! -30-

Sunday, July 20, 2008 9:47 PM - Stop the presses - bulletin!!! I actually caught a fish!! Last night as I said in the entry, I went fishing with my lures and caught an 11.5 inch bass. However I didn't have the same luck today after a rain shower. I went and saw a lot of carp in the sewer outlets, got several nice carp-like bites, but somehow they never got hooked.

For the rest of today's entry, I'll use an email from my friend Kenji whom I hadn't heard from in a while. He explains why plus has a lot of (as usual) very interesting comments. I'll comment on his comments in tomorrow's entry.

"Hi John: I've been away from ham radio since the end of this March. I still enjoy reading your diary; yours is about how the life is going on, not just about the radio.

The main reason I decided to take some rest from ham radio is that I wanted to meet younger people, especially those who are active on realizing the Internet services. Younger people who are born in 1970s or 1980s have started to work as my colleagues. I've been learning a lot from their ways of thinking, although I also have to realize that many of them are ailing in the loneliness and lack of sense of reality. I decided to take chances to talk to them rather than alienating myself from them. So I can imagine how you feel when you talk to kids. We need to pass on what we know and feel to the younger people.

Japan was hot today; recorded high 37C in Toyonaka (my town). I don't think this is just another so-called Global Warming, but I should say the heat-island phenomena in Japanese Summers are getting much harsher because of air conditioners in the urban buildings. Last year in Tokyo a power disruption was expected due to the damaged nuclear reactors in Niigata; Tokyo is heavily dependent on the electricity generated throughout the nation.

When I was living in Boulder, CO, in 1974, I listened to a lot of songs on the radio. I was a 9-year old kid then, but I still remember The Eagles' Best of My Love and many good songs in the 70s. I also remember at that time we had a serious oil price hike and in the elementary school I went I was told to "save energy" and even sang a song about it. I think we'd rather focus onto saving energy again; while I understand carbon dioxide emission and the global warming is an important issue, conserving energy, water, and natural resources is still at the top priority, I believe.

I hope in a few years I can work USA in a much energy-efficient way on the HF in CW. During this summer I would rather focus on doing my job, though I may set up another antenna in October or later this year. I'm happy to know you enjoy the 6m band. I wish I could work out of the nation from Japan on the 6m with a dipole or some simple antenna, but this year I would rather focus on meeting real younger people in our nation, mostly non-hams, but with the technical excellence equivalent to many elmers in the ham radio world.

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

Saturday, July 19, 2008 6:58 PM - It's been a busy time the last 3 days or so. The estate auction on Thursday took up from around 2:30PM till after 9PM, but at least most of the stuff in the house was sold.

Yesterday we had to clean up after the auction and got pretty much everything that was left over and not sold cleaned out. Then we cleaned up the house for a while. So that was about a 9AM-3PM work day. Then about 5 minutes after I got home, and was just getting ready to eat something and relax a bit, the doorbell rang. It was my young friend Chelsey and she wanted to know if we could play some games. I said sure, but give me 5 minutes to get cleaned up a bit. So I did that then went out on the porch and she was waiting on her side of the porch. So we played Hangman on my porch for a while, then we went in my house and she played Titanic on my computer. I wound up spending about 3 hours with her. I was getting pretty hungry by now, but hey I wouldn't trade those 3 hours for the best meal in the World.

She had to go home a little after 6PM and I got something to eat - the first thing since about 8:30AM except for a couple drinks of water and a glass of Cranberry juice. After that, the rest of the evening I got caught up on some things, watered my garden, got my daily QSO, etc.

Today was a little less busy, but I still got several things done. I helped Ange water his garden this morning for about an hour and a half. Incidentally it is really dry here in Kittanning. Only .61 inches of rain this month so far. The grass is getting brown and crunchy, and now with 90+ degree heat, the gardens need watering just about every day.

Next up, I got my 6M dipole set up in the attic. I get a nice flat 1:1 SWR from 50.000 to about 51.030 without the built-in 480 tuner. However so far after checking about once an hour since the 6M contest started, I haven't heard a single opening to anywhere. And now it's about time for another check. Then if still nothing, I'm going to get a snack and perhaps go fishing for a bit. I think with all that's been going on this month, I've only been fishing twice so far. I think if I knew the fish were biting good, I would have fit in more trips, but this seems to be an off year for fishing, so I haven't really bothered going all that much anyway.

Tomorrow Eric KB3BFQ is going to stop by for a while, so that will be nice seeing him again. Then Monday or Tuesday a little more estate work, and the rest of the week perhaps will be a little less hectic. Still I much rather would be in a hectic mode than bored with nothing to do. I just don't know how some folks can sit around all day and do nothing - unless of course it is a health issue with them. But all too many healthy people just sit around also. Not me. -30-

Friday, July 18, 2008 8:14 AM - I received some diary comments from Bob N7BDY I want to share today. "Hi John, Greetings from Arizona! Just wanted to make a few comments on your diary as I find myself checking in most everyday lately to see what you are up to :)

I agree wholeheartedly about the "global warming" issue LOL. I dont see it being any different today than when I grew up as a kid in Nebraska. I lived in Tucson Arizona for a year around 1970 and it was hot as heck then too. I spent nearly 30 years in California and when I moved back over to AZ 2 1/2 years ago and its same as before ...HOT!

Anyway, glad to see you're having some success on 6 meters. I just got on about 5 weeks ago as a newcomer to 6 meters and haven't heard much at all. Couple of openings but I couldn't manage a contact. When in CA I heard more it seemed, but a lot more people in the city for local contacts. Out here in the wilds there isn't even much 2 meter activity. I'm running an ICOM 706 Mrk IIG into an indoor extended double Zepp cut for 6 meters. I really need an outside beam I suppose to be successful on 6, but like you I run indoor antennas with good success through a tuner and 300 ohm twinlead on the doublet for low bands. Works for me and I like the challenge. I tend to run more power than 5 watts but often turn it down to about 10/20 watts and do just fine on CW.

What did you finally come up with for your 6 meter antenna? Did you cut a dedicated 6 meter antenna or still using the 20 meter dipole? I'm kind of disappointed my Zepp isn't doing as well as I thought, I used the MFJ 259B to tune it, and it looks FB at 50.125. I'm using 50 ohm coax (cheap Radio Shack stuff) and maybe theres too much loss? I dont know, but maybe I'll try the 300 ohm lead on it and see if it makes a difference. I do hear sigs occasionally but weak. Could be just the band too....... guess thats what makes 6 interesting :)

Take care and keep making those contacts!"


Thursday, July 17, 2008 7:43 AM - I think I'll take care of my diary entry early today. I'll be busy with our estate auction from mid-afternoon through most of the evening. Now Ange is coming in about a half hour for some garden work. It's going to be a hot day today. We're finally having some good old fashioned hot summer weather. Global warming, where have you been all summer? I've never seen anything blown so out of proportion as this fuss about global warming. Ridiculous. I bet those who have lived through the 1930's hot dry weather are getting a big kick out of the fuss.

Anyway I had some diary feedback from Paul N0NBD who always has something interesting to say even though I don't get a chance to post all his comments here. Paul emailed, "Hello John, I am sitting here listening to some tunes on the computer. Currently is Carly Simon is singing Itsy Bitsy Spider...Now for the funny, weird,,, whatever. 3 songs that get hung up in my head and HAVE to be listened to are Daniel Fogleberg's.. Auld Lang Sine, Leader of the Band and The Blues Brothers Sweet Home Chicago. I have a few versions of that song but the Blues Bros. is my favorite. I have reflected on your visits with the little girl next door and I also REALLY enjoy my quiet visits with my Grandkids. They are interesting little creatures. As always have a good one! de Paul N0NBD" -30-

Wednesday, July 16, 2008 11:30 PM - I had a great time in the sprint this evening. Conditions weren't all that great, but there was a lot of activity including a lot of first time participants. I'm busy processing logs so I'll have to cut this entry short. Not really much to talk about anyway. -30-

Tuesday, July 15, 2008 10:29 PM - Finally somewhat of a 6M opening heard here again. At least I heard a beacon - K0UO which seems to be my most heard beacon here. I didn't hear anything else though, but maybe tomorrow will provide something.

I modified the switching portion of my antenna tuner today. Actually completely re-did it to add a 4th position for my 6M dipole when I get it mounted. It was enjoyable building something again for a change. And I didn't mess anything up along the way. All bands and all antennas worked perfectly right out of the box, so to speak. So now all I have to do is figure out where to mount the 6M dipole. I talked about the options in an earlier entry, so I won't re-hash them here, but it is hard to make a decision.

We had another beautiful summer day today. It was nice to work in Ange's and my garden this morning. Also a nice day for walking although I didn't really do that much. I was going to, but the antenna switch project took up a couple hours of the day.

I also did something I haven't done for a while. I actually sat at the computer and listened to some music. The Eagles' song 'Best Of My Love' has been running through my mind after hearing it in a store or somewhere, so I listened to it a few times and some other Eagles' songs also. They are one of my many favorite groups along with The Four Seasons, Carpenters, Them, Beach Boys, ABBA, Gerry and the Pacemakers, just to name a very few off the top of my head. Now that leads me to thinking about my favorite female artist. I like Carly Simon, Kim Carnes, Karen Carpenter (of the Carpenters), and that's just a few. Male singers I like include (again among many) Roy Orbison, Bob Dylan, Rod Stewart, and Brook Benton. Actually I probably have several dozen 'favorites' in each category. And the list changes slightly over time. One thing though, virtually all of my favorites are from the 60's and 70's for the most part. In my opinion there's not much to like about this current generation of artists.

I capped off the day with a nice half hour or so chat with Chelsey. It's just so delightful to sit down and talk one on one with a youngster. They are so interested in everything and so inquisitive. Similar to what I said a few days ago though, once you add a second youngster into the mix, then things change. In fact come to think of it, I guess that applies to ham radio as well. I don't care for nets or round-table QSO's. I enjoy one on one QSO's much better. -30-

Monday, July 14, 2008 9:32 PM - With my full day yesterday and another one today, I've got a lot of catching up to do, so not much time for a diary entry.

I had to do some more estate work first today getting ready for an estate auction on Thursday. That chewed up about 4 hours, but we're good to go for the auction now, and hopefully that will bring us a bit closer to the end of the estate project.

When we pulled up in front of my house, Chelsey was sitting on her steps looking lonely, so I took some things in the house, then came back up and visited with her. We wound up playing Monopoly for I guess around 3 hours or so. So it's now almost 5PM already. Some supper and some setting up the new wireless mouse I got at the hamfest yesterday took up another hour or so. A short walk, some computer work rolls the clock ahead further. Then a break for a peanut butter sandwich on the porch. Chelsey comes over and sits and visits for a while till her dad calls for her to come in. Back on the computer to sign up several new NAQCC members, post my new poll for July-August, and now writing this diary entry. You've just spent the whole day with me. Hope you enjoyed it. -30-

Sunday, July 13, 2008 10:07 PM - This was an interesting and busy day. As I mentioned we were going to do, we went to the North Hills (Pittsburgh) hamfest this morning - me, Tom, and Tom's son Ethan. It was a rather small hamfest compared to the one we went to in Butler in early June. About the only thing to mention was that we picked up a couple nice computer items. I got a wireless mouse that I've wanted for a while, but didn't like the price in the stores. I got this one for less than half the store price, and it works very nicely on my main computer and my shack computer as well. I wish I'd gotten 2 now instead of just the one. Tom picked up a couple computer monitors and a couple computer keyboards for less than a song.

After that, we headed to Tom's place and spent a few hours replacing a section of flooring in his trailer. It was a lot of work, but well worth the effort. I always get a kick out of Tom's two dogs, Lil and Whizzer. I'm not really a dog person, but these two are so (over?) friendly, it's hard not to like them. During breaks in the work, I played ball with both of them. I'd roll the ball to Lil, and she'd catch it in her mouth and roll it back to me. If she held it to long, I'd tell her to throw it to me and I'm sure she understood me because every time, she'd stop chewing and would roll it to me. Perhaps the best thing of all though was the wonderful spaghetti dinner Tom's wife JoAnne fixed for us.

I wound up with 136 QSO's in the IARU contest after getting on for another hour or so later last night. I even got a couple 160M QSO's.

Once again today no 6M openings although I may have missed one if it happened when I wasn't home, which was a good part of the day. -30-

Saturday, July 12, 2008 9:24 PM - Another fun contesting day today. I didn't put in a serious effort in the IARU contest, but did get on for a few periods of an hour or so now and then. The bands weren't all that great. I had difficulty working EU on any band. I only managed a handful of 'pond-crossing' QSO's, but one was a new prefix, I believe - GB7HQ. At the present time I have exactly 100 QSO's. I may or may not get back on later. 40M is rather strange. I'm hearing more EU signals than USA signals there, but I can't work the EU stations.

Tomorrow Tom WY3H, his twin sons, and I are going the North Hills Hamfest just north of Pittsburgh. Then I'm going to help Tom with some work on his trailer home, so I won't be doing much hamming tomorrow till the evening. Hope I don't miss any good 6 meter openings. I didn't hear any today during several checks.

I finished my 6 meter dipole and tried it out briefly to see how it loaded, and it worked just fine. I still have to decide which of about 4 or 5 options of mounting it I'm going to use, but I'll decide by next weekend for sure as I want to be using it for the CQ VHF contest. My first ever VHF contest. I can't wait. If only 6M will co-operate, I should have a lot of fun and add to my total of 9 states on 6M. -30-

Friday, July 11, 2008 9:52 PM - This was another one of those crazy days when something seems to be happening just about every minute. I won't bore with all the details though.

I didn't notice any openings at all on 6 meters today. That's the first off day after a few days in a row of working or at least hearing something on the Magic Band.

I don't believe in ever throwing anything out (well, almost), and today I found in my basement some aluminum tubing left over from an old TV antenna that was removed from service many years ago. And it just turned out it was the right length for a six meter dipole. So I've started building a rotatable dipole for six. I'm not sure if I'll mount it up in the attic or perhaps outside my shack window. Outside the window would be easy to rotate, but it would be exposed to the elements and I'd have to make it strong enough to withstand birds perching on it. It would be a lot simpler to install it in the attic, but harder to rotate there. At any rate, I hope to have it finished by next weekend for the CQ VHF contest.

I got in the FISTS sprint for a short time this evening mainly just to show my support for FISTS and the effort they do along with us at the NAQCC to preserve CW on the bands. One nice thing was working my friend Eric KB3BFQ on 80M.

Tomorrow I hope to spend some time in the IARU Contest to try to work some DX for a change. And there is one more good contest coming this weekend also that I may enter for a bit - the QRP ARCI Summer Homebrew Sprint. So three nice contests this weekend for CW/QRP fans. -30-

Thursday, July 10, 2008 8:57 PM - The magic continues. Yet a couple more openings today on 6 meters. Around noon I heard K1NV in Nevada, but couldn't get him. Later around 6PM there were several stations heard. I worked two of them easily - K9QVB/9 for my first Wisconsin and K5FA for a repeat Mississippi QSO, the first time I've worked a state twice other than working WY3H here in PA. That's 9 states worked now. I'm really looking forward to the 19th and the CQ VHF contest. I hope we have some good openings for that one. That will be my first VHF contest ever. -30-

Wednesday, July 09, 2008 10:29 PM - Just a brief summary of my good day. I actually caught a fish this afternoon - a 12 inch sucker. That's my first fish for July so far. I'm really slowing down and dropping well below par in the fish catching totals this year.

We had a good computer club meeting this evening attended by a new friend of mine who is quite knowledgeable about computers. I hope he will be able to sign up as a regular member.

When I got home from the meeting I talked to Tom WY3H via LL, and then on 6 meters for a while. After that I logged state number 8 on 6 meters working W5LUA in Texas. The thrill is still there when I make contact on 6, but the shaking of my hand in excitement is diminishing a bit and I can write in the log better now. HI. My TX QSO came via my CQ, the first 6M QSO I've gotten from a CQ so far. -30-

Tuesday, July 08, 2008 6:40 PM - Almost 85 years ago, an event happened in amateur radio that will never be forgotten. In November 1923 Fred Schnell 1MO and later John Reinartz 1XAM contacted Leon Deloy 8AB. Those were the first two transatlantic QSO's. 1MO and 1XAM in New England and 8AB in France. Can you imagine the excitement and thrill that must have been? I think I have an inkling of how it felt.

I just spanned the continent on 6 meters with 5 watts into my 20M attic dipole. I worked N6IG in California on 50.095 at 2223Z. WOW! I guess that surpasses or at least equals my thrill earlier this year catching my first ever Muskie.

Magic Band, Frantic Band, Wonderful Band - 6 meters. I've discovered a whole new world. I also added Kansas and Illinois to my 6 meter totals today. That's 7 states now in seven QSO's.

I'm also learning more about 6 meters every minute I operate there. I've found that it can be frantic when a good opening comes along like the ones last night and today. It's hard to decide if I should stick with one station till I get him or go tuning around while he's working someone else. I also note the CQ's are very short for the most part, more or less like a contest atmosphere. I also find as I mentioned in yesterday's entry that I seem to always hear the calling station and not the CQing station in a QSO. So I can't answer the station I'm hearing. I have tried going up or down a kHz and calling CQ in hopes that the S&P station will find and answer my CQ, but that hasn't worked so far. It really is a new world with new or modified operating procedures from what I've been used to on the HF bands.

I better come down from my cloud now and get back to earth. HI. -30-

Monday, July 07, 2008 9:36 PM - As you know, 6 meters is called the Magic Band, and after fooling around there these past couple weeks now, I'm learning how it got that name. Just as it's a joy to watch a good magic show, it's a joy (to me) to watch the vagaries of propagation unfold on 6 meters from day to day. It also gives me the same thrill as watching a magic show when I make a contact on that band. It's somewhat equal to making my first few contacts on 160 meters about a dozen years ago. Although in that case, it was the historical aspect of the 160 meter band that provided the thrill and awe of those initial contacts. It's something different with 6 meters, and I don't have a reason for it. It's something more than just accomplishing something new, although that always brings a thrill also. Each of my first 4 contacts (after the initial snafu QRO QSO) brought that thrill to me.

Tonight was the best opening I've heard yet on 6 meters. I probably heard a dozen stations or so. However I seemed to catch most of them just as a QSO was ending, and it was the other end of the QSO that I couldn't hear that had control of the frequency at the time. So I didn't really get to try calling all that many stations - only about 4 I believe. I managed to work two of the four to add Oklahoma and Mississippi to my state total on 6 meters. I now have four QSO's and four states there. I also almost worked California. K7JA came back with WW? a couple times but couldn't get any further, and he never worked any other station with a WW in their call so I'm guessing it was me he was hearing. I also heard another California station and a Mexican as well. One other state I remember now also is Missouri.

Six has really put the excitement back into ham radio for me. I think I'll go back and check the band again after I finish this diary entry and update my streak QSO table and propagation page. Who knows... perhaps there's some more magic awaiting me tonight. -30-

Sunday, July 06, 2008 6:03 PM - I now need only 48 more states for 6 meter WAS. I worked Tom WY3H today at a distance of about 2 miles for a PA QSO. Tom got his 6 meter antenna back up today, but had a high SWR so we only had a brief QSO. Other than that, nothing else on 6 meters. I did hear a beacon in Kansas last evening, but that was the only signal I heard at all. I remember when I used to do some TV DXing, there were many sporadic E openings during the summer months on Channel 2, but I have only caught a couple brief poor ones on 6 meters the past month or so of trying to monitor at least a few minutes each day. Maybe I'll hook my TV up to some kind of antenna and monitor Ch. 2 for openings since the TV is right across the room from my computer where I spend a lot of (too much?) time every day.

Here's a little equation for you to figure out - WF = #K X T. Give up? That's wildness factor equals the number of kids times the time they are together. I played Monopoly again today and the number of kids in the game varied from 1 up to 4. When there was just 1 to play with, it was all very calm and collected, no matter which of the 4 it was, but as soon as the number increased, the wilder they got the longer they played. Still again I had a lot of fun playing for about 4 hours or so.

Eric and I did complete our sked last night. That was our 362nd QSO, but the first since February of 1998, over 10 years ago. I'm happy that Eric is really getting interested in ham radio again. -30-

Saturday, July 05, 2008 7:46 PM - It did turn out that I had a good Fourth of July yesterday after not expecting much to happen. I wound up having a great time playing Monopoly with Chelsey next door in the afternoon, then again with her and her brother Dylan in the evening. About 5-6 hours all together, ending at 11PM last night.

Then they were back over again this morning for more and we played a couple more hours including a game of Yahtzee at the end. A couple other neighborhood kids also dropped in, Zoe and Steven. I guess there really isn't any better way to spend a holiday weekend than spending time with youngsters.

Harking back to other pleasant holidays spent that way, it just happens coincidentally that I got an email from Eric KB3BFQ this afternoon wanting to try a sked tonight or tomorrow. As you may know from reading this diary, my guestbook, etc., Eric is the one who got me back into ham radio in the early 90's when as a young teenager he wanted to know what this ham radio stuff was all about. Besides the ham radio, I also spent a good many enjoyable hours with Eric and his sisters Sara and Brenda during the 90's and with Sara's daughter Haley in the 2000's doing many different things. I could reminisce here quite a while about all those times, but I won't. A good many of them involved holidays also. One I do want to mention was a Christmas day evening. Sara had gotten a new game for Christmas, and seemingly wanted to try it out, but no one was available. So I wound up playing a game designed for young girls called something like 'The Babysitter's Club.' And you know I enjoyed it because she was enjoying it. We wound up playing until 11PM or so. I always try to offer my time to youngsters when I can, and wind up enjoying whatever we wind up doing just as much as they do. So those of you who have kids of your own, I hope you devote as much time to them as you can. I think you'll find out they'll turn out to be much better kids in the long run. Finally I want to add that all the youngsters I mentioned here have great parents, and I know that Eric, Brenda, and Sara turned out very good, and I feel the ones who are young now are going to do so also. -30-

Friday, July 04, 2008 7:34 AM - I hope you all have a great 4th of July today. I don't have any plans of doing anything out of the ordinary here.

Thanks to Paul N0NBD and Tim AC5SH for emailing about the Morse/Text video. Both said they could see it just fine and that the recent airing on the Tonight show was a rerun of the 2005 contest.

I spent a good portion of yesterday with Mike KC2EGL. We finished up his key junction box. There will be an article with photos about it in our next NAQCC newsletter coming out on July 12th. So if you're interested and not an NAQCC member, remember membership is totally FREE. There's no obligation other than that you have an interest in QRP operation, either full time or even if you just operate at QRP levels occasionally.

We also got Mike's spinning reel that he's had sitting around for 5 years loaded with line, and took it down to the river to try it out. It worked nicely. We weren't expecting to catch any fish, and our expectations came true - we didn't. HI.

Perhaps I'll do some fishing today to pass some time. Ange just called and we are going to do a bit of work in his garden in a half hour or so. If you're new to the diary and don't know about the garden, you can take a look at some pictures on my SkyDrive site via the link above. There are also many other pictures of Kittanning and of my antenna setup among other things too numerous to list here. -30-

Thursday, July 03, 2008 8:07 AM - My friend Karl N3IJR emailed and said that a co-worker of his mentioned there was a bit on the Tonight show about Morse Code vs. Text Messaging a couple weeks ago. I don't know if Jay Leno did the bit a second time or if Karl's co-worker was watching a re-run, but the original contest was done back on May 15, 2005. If this is new to you, I've uploaded a video of the contest to my Microsoft SkyDrive site. See the link above and go to my Ham Radio folder there to watch the video. It's 8.2 MB in size and runs 3 mins 8 secs. Enjoy! See if you can copy the CW message as it is being sent through the QRM from Jay's chatter and the audience noise. Let me know what you think and if the video worked OK for you. Also perhaps you can let me know if the recent contest was a re-run or a new contest. -30-

Wednesday, July 02, 2008 8:27 PM - Not much happening to talk about today. I went fishing this afternoon with the usual 2008 results. Only a few little nibbles and no fish.

Pretty much the same with checking 6M except not even any 'nibbles' there. The band, as has been usual here since I started to try to check a couple times daily, was dead as the proverbial doornail. Not even a trace of any beacons. Maybe some day I'll get another QSO there. -30-

Tuesday, July 01, 2008 9:09 PM - I hope all our neighbors to the north had a great Canada Day today. As you probably know, each year on Canada Day (July 1st), the RAC holds a Canada Day contest. It has always been one of my favorite contests, along with the RAC Winter contest held near the end of December each year. Unfortunately I haven't had a lot of time to participate in them recently, but I do make it a point to at least get on each one for a little while, at least. Today in perhaps a little over an hour total operating time, I made 26 QSO's, and worked the provinces of QC, SK, NS, BC, and NB. Nowhere near what I was doing in the 1990's in these contests when I won many certificates from the RAC, but still it was a little bit of fun for a while today.

This was one of those beautiful summer days today with some puffy cumulus clouds, low humidity and a high temp probably in the upper 70's or so. I haven't gotten my daily weather readings for today yet, so I'm guessing at the temperature.

I guess not much else to talk about now so... -30-

Monday, June 30, 2008 8:09 AM - I'm still a bit excited about my first 6M QSO yesterday. I guess no matter how long you've been in ham radio, there is always something to get excited about. I've added 6 meters to my WAS Awards page. Only 49 to go now on 6 - HI. I'm not going to add 6 to my DXCC or WAZ pages just yet. I'll do that later after I get more 6M QSO's in the log.

Looks like yet another rainy day here in Kittanning. Hopefully if it does rain, the timing will be good so I can go and try to catch some carp. Most of the rain has been minimal here lately although all around us they have been getting drenched.

I've been working on getting my clogged gutters cleaned out the past couple days. It's not easy on this house without a ladder. I had to invent kind of a hook device to reach up from my windows to clean them. I think I finally may have done it the third try yesterday and I am waiting for today's rain to see. I don't even have any trees, yet I get the leaves and maple seeds in my gutters from the neighbor's too tall trees. -30-

Sunday, June 29, 2008 4:34 PM - I had quite a good time in FD. I attacked it in several different ways.

First Mike KC2EGL and I had a QSO at 1800Z on 80M. Then I began my work on the NAQCC FD challenge, working one QSO per state. I got up to 34 QSO's and 34 states, then at 0000Z Sunday I thought I'd just work anybody to get my daily streak QSO, so I worked a second MO station, N0A. After that, 3 more QSO's and 3 more states for a total of 39 QSO's and 37 states - I added a second PA QSO also along the way.

Sunday morning dawned and 10M was very open, so I decided to abandon the state search and just have fun on 10M. I wound up with 22 QSO's on 10M, more than my total for 2005, 2006, and 2007 combined. I figured with 10M open to very short skip - it sounded almost like 40M - that 6 meters might well open up also. I'd do a sweep of 10M, then check 6 meters. But 6 wasn't co-operating as I wasn't hearing anything there. However after about an hour and a half, I tuned back to six and found W0GKP in MN coming in not all that strong and fading in and out. Strangely enough, I had just worked him on 10M a couple minutes earlier. I gave a call, and he came back to me. I had to repeat my call a couple times till he got it right, but we finished the QSO, and now I need 49 more 6 meter states for my 6 meter WAS. That was quite a thrill getting my first ever 6 meter QSO. I guess now I'll have to add 6 meters to my awards tables on the web site. I heard a couple more stations on 6, but very weak and they faded out before I worked them. It's great to know I can work stations there even when propagation isn't at its best using just my 20M attic dipole. I'll be doing a lot more checking of 6 now, and looking forward to VHF CW contests also. -30-

Saturday, June 28, 2008 9:18 AM - I see now what happened with the 6 meter SNAFU. There are two 6 meter (and 10 meter) segments or bands on the 480. We set the power to 5 watts on the one 6 meter band, but not the other which is the one I used last night. So hopefully now that every band is set properly to 5 watts, I can get my first 'real' 6 meter QSO today in FD. I'll sure be giving it a try anyway. I hope the propagation is there like it was last night.

I guess at least I can say my first 6 meter QSO was CW. But then that's a given since there is no way I could accidentally use any other mode on the 480. And of course I would never intentionally use any other mode anywhere, anytime.

I hope you all have a great FD. I'll be giving out a few QSO's from my home setup here and as I said, also trying to get some 6 meter QSO's. Other than that, nothing special for FD.

Oh, just thought I'd add Mike's reply after he read yesterday's diary entry. "How the #$%@ did we miss the power setting on 6M? I can not believe we over looked that. Geez! What a couple of goof off's we can be at times. Hi-Hi!!! Glad to see that you do not have to rework your external keyer." -30-

Friday, June 27, 2008 9:35 PM - Remember how in English class we used to have to summarize or outline stories? Well, here's a brief outline of this entry.
I. Elation
II. Disappointment
III. A problem solved

I got home from fishing (no fish), and figured since FD was tomorrow and I could get an easy streak QSO then, I'd go to the shack and see what was happening on 6 meters, if anything. As soon as I turned it on, I caught a station just sending SK to end some QSO. Then I kept tuning and heard K0HA booming in calling CQ, but he was calling CQ DX, so I respected that and didn't answer him, although I really wanted to. I tuned around some more and heard a couple QSO's in progress. I didn't want to call CQ myself because I'm still not sure of just how much TVI/RFI I generate on 6 meters. Then I found another CQ. This time it was VE2008VQ, a Canadian special event station. I quickly plugged my straight key into the 480 and sent K3WWP. He came back to me with a 599 and his grid square. I answered and gave him a 599 FN00. My first ever 6 meter QSO - ELATION.

II. However when I was transmitting, I noticed the S/power meter was swinging quite high. I checked into that and found the 480 was set for 100 watts on 6 meters. Apparently when Mike and I were setting up the rig for QRP, we set all the bands at 5 watts except we MISSED 6 meters. So I don't really have my true first 6 meter QSO after all, just a 'worthless' QRO QSO. I'll stick it in my log, but not really count it for anything - DISAPPOINTMENT.

III. After I reduced the 6 meter power to 5 watts (where it will stay from now till forever), I thought that's probably why I was having all the RF problems. Sure enough, I plugged the keyer back in, and it worked just fine, so I don't think I have any RF problems at all now on 6 meters - PROBLEM SOLVED.

Now perhaps tomorrow, I'll be able to get some 6 meter FD QSO's, including my first real 6 meter QSO. I also plan to keep an eye out for VHF contests now, and try to get some 6 meter (QRP) QSO's that way. -30-

Thursday, June 26, 2008 10:37 AM - I'm becoming very disappointed with my new site stats source - W3Counter. Half the time when I try to check my stats, I can't get to their page. I put that here just in case you have a web site and are looking for a stats source. I would strongly recomment StatCounter. Of all the stats services I have tried over the past dozen years or so, they have been the most reliable, and importantly, they explain clearly to their users what happened on the very few problems they have had over the years, whether it be their fault or one of the service providers they use to compile and distribute their stats. Both W3Counter and StatCounter are free services, by the way.

George N1EAV asks what I use for a 6 meter antenna. Well, when I first got the 480, Mike KC2EGL and I went through and set the built in tuner for all bands. We had no idea if any of my antennas would tune for 6 meters, but when we tried my 20M dipole, the tuner cranked out a perfect 1:1 SWR match. So that's what I've been using. I'd love to catch an opening to see just how it works, but so far I've not been there at the right time other than to hear those two beacons the other day. That was all I heard though. -30-

Wednesday, June 25, 2008 7:23 PM - Mike and I had a busy and food-filled (burp) day today. We mounted the wooden paddle handles he won on one of his paddles, then went shopping at Radio Shack and Wal-Mart. While in the mall, we ate at Ponderosa. Then the rest of the day was spent working on his key junction box. We kept coming up with some minor glitches here and there. After a while we decided it was time for a pizza. That was a welcome break. Then a little more work on the box and we almost finished it, but not quite. Mike had to leave to go to the local radio club meeting, so we'll finish up the box next week. Also maybe get in some fishing in next week's visit.

Here is some diary feedback now: Paul N0NBD emails, "Congratulations on 3 fine fish. I enjoyed VERY much the pictures of the fishing adventure. Great stuff! Oh there is a man in Humboldt where I live that collects such fine old poles and reels as yours. My Dad had a couple like that when I was a kid and I had a terrible time casting them without a tangle. I remember catching lots of fish on them tho. As always I enjoyed your diary and will continue to "haunt" your site. de Paul N0NBD"

As I said to Paul, I find it much easier to use those old bait casting reels. I've never found a good spin casting reel. Pure spinning reels are tolerable, and a must for fishing with lures, as the old bait casting reels just won't cast light lures.

Bill NF9D emails concerning the NAQCC sprint certificate he won and added some comments on my web site, "......thanks for the certificate. I was quite surprised to receive it, as I hardly ever luck out and win things in drawings. But I'm not too proud to display it on my wall -- it will remind me of how much fun the Sprints are. If it wasn't for the fact that our local club (Fox River Radio League) meets on the 2nd Tuesday of the month, I'd probably participate in every sprint.
I'd also like to pass along my thanks for your efforts in promoting QRP and CW. I stumbled on your web site a while back, and it is now a regular stop on my internet surfing rounds. Your activities are a constant reminder of what can be accomplished simply by turning on the radio and spending a bit of time with it. In these busy times, it is often hard to make time to operate, but after checking your site I usually run downstairs to the shack and fire up the rig. Thanks for the motivation!"

That's what I like to hear since the purpose of this site is not personal gratification, but promoting QRP and CW on the ham bands. -30-

Tuesday, June 24, 2008 6:35 PM - Some random thoughts in no particular order on a beautiful summer day just before I head off to the river to challenge the fish again.

I forgot to mention in yesterday's entry that a carp decided my fishing place. When I got to the river, I had intended to go to the second sewer outlet shown in the pictures where I got the 20 inch carp. However when I looked down at the water, a carp jumped clear out of the water as if he was challenging me to come catch him. So I went to that sewer outlet instead. Perhaps the 27 inch carp was the one who jumped. A lot of folks, fishermen included think that carp are not that active a fish and always hang around the bottom searching for food. Well, that's not true. While they very seldom jump when they are hooked like say, a bass does, they do quite often jump clear out of the water for whatever reason at other times. And being as big as they are, they make quite a splash.

I listened on 6 meters a bit today, and actually heard a couple beacons - W5GPM in Oklahoma and K0UO in Kansas. That's the first activity of any kind I've heard on 6 meters since I was using a borrowed 6 meter receiver back in the 1960's. Of course for most of that time it was because I didn't have any 6 meter gear. But now I have the 480, and someday I'll luck out and be there at the right time to get some QSO's.

Tomorrow Mike KC2EGL is coming down for a day long visit before he goes to the local radio club meeting in the evening. I don't attend the local club meetings, nor even belong because no one there is interested in CW (except Mike), and I have no interest whatsoever in anything but CW. I'm going to help Mike build a key junction box so he can use any of his 6 keys/paddles with either the K2 or 570 at any time he wishes. Also we'll try to install the wooden paddle handles made by Gregg WB8LZG and donated to the NAQCC as giveaways in conjunction with our challenges. Mike won the drawing for the May challenge. Also he wants to set up a spinning reel he won as a prize a few years ago but hasn't used yet. So it will be a busy fun day that will also include a couple of meals (pizza?) along the way.

I'm sure you've noticed I've changed the main 'logo' on the home page of my web site. I wanted to include my pride in belonging to the two greatest ham radio clubs, NAQCC and FISTS, helping them to promote and preserve CW on the ham bands. I threw that together late last night using the great Microsoft developed Paint.NET program.

Speaking of free Microsoft programs, I'm delighted with the new Windows Live email program I installed a few days ago. It has all the effectiveness of Outlook Express, but with a nicer interface and a few extra useful bells and whistles. It has a feature whereby you can send huge pictures via email without cramming someone's email box. You send a thumbnail of the picture as a link to the actual picture stored on a Microsoft server somewhere. I tried it out with my friend Dave VA3RJ and it works beautifully. In fact I think I can put the link here and let you see a huge picture of a sunset (oops, I just looked at it again and it's a sunrise, not sunset) here in Kittanning just as I 'sent' it to Dave. Try clicking Picture. It may or may not work as it is a very long URL. It works for me, but your mileage may vary. If it does work, either download it and examine it in your default picture editor or click view larger copy. Note the amount of detail in the picture. Now you're not limited to sending compressed pictures that lose detail through email. Thanks, Microsoft.

Well, I think I'll grab a sandwich and head to the river, either with some carp bait or with a couple new lures I bought on sale for 99 cents yesterday, maybe both. -30-

Monday, June 23, 2008 9:48 PM - Aha, I got even tonight.

Here's carp #1, 27 inches. Each little black mark on my pole is 3 inches. If you imagine the carp stretched out and parallel to the pole, you can see he is 9 marks long.
pix_diary_20080623_01 (43K)
And carp #2, a small one, 20 inches long.
pix_diary_20080623_02 (51K)
My roughly improvised fishing setup at sewer outlet #1 where the first carp was caught.
pix_diary_20080623_03 (61K)
A look down along the river toward our bridge. If you look closely just to the left of center along the shore, you'll see a beaver lodge.
pix_diary_20080623_04 (32K)
And here's a closer view of the lodge. I didn't see any beavers tonight, but I usually see 1 or 2 most times I go fishing.
pix_diary_20080623_06 (33K)
Finally my setup at the second sewer outlet where carp #2 was caught. It only took about 30 seconds from setting up there to catching him. You can see my old (1930's?) bait casting reel with the nylon line on it.
pix_diary_20080623_05 (75K)
Oh, and in between the carp I also got a 14 inch sucker, but didn't take his picture. -30-

Sunday, June 22, 2008 9:03 PM - This will be a rather short entry because I'm very upset at the moment. We had a nice shower this evening. One that is just right to get a nice flow out of the storm sewer outlets in the river, so you know what I did. I grabbed my pole, some corn and peanut butter bread and headed for the river to try to catch a carp or two. I baited up with corn and threw out into the sewer outlet. Nothing happened for about 8-10 minutes, then all of a sudden it was like I had hooked an express freight train going at full speed. I picked up the pole and... snap went my line even before I had a chance to feel the size of what I had hooked. I use 36 pound test line because there are so many snags in the river and I hate to have to keep re-rigging my line all the time as I have to do with lighter line. So either there was a weak spot in the line, or I hooked something with sharp teeth - another Muskie perhaps? There was something chasing minnies in the outflow, and carp don't do that. However the line looks more like it just broke rather than being bitten, but it's hard to say for sure. To make matters worse, dumb me didn't bring any extra sinkers or hooks since it was almost dark when I went and I didn't think I'd be there that long. So I just resigned myself to my fate and came home, very upset. I guess there will be a next time though. Maybe as soon as tomorrow as it is supposed to shower again then. But I have some work to do the early part of the day. -30-

Saturday, June 21, 2008 6:34 PM - I stumbled across another great free program from Microsoft today - a new email client called Windows Live Mail. I'm now using it as a replacement for my Outlook Express program. So far I like it very much. Thank you Microsoft for another great free program. I'll have more to say about it, good (probably) or bad (unlikely) after I use it for a while longer.

I got a mailing from the ARRL DX Buro today. Just a few cards, but a couple of strange ones. Somehow a domestic card from AK7G in California snuck through. As far as I know, California is still one of our 50 states and hasn't seceded from the Union. I guess the checkers just overlooked that one. I wish I could sneak some of my domestic cards through the bureau and save some money.

Also enclosed was a card from 5A7A in Libya. Now as far as I know, Abubaker 5A1A is the only Libyan station I ever worked, but this card is definitely made out to me and shows a time and band that I was on close to a time when I was on the air. However there is no QSO in my log remotely close to a 5A7A. I thought maybe I had worked HA7A but missed a dit, but there's no HA7A QSO there either. So I don't know how to explain it. I'll just ignore the card and return it in my next buro mailing. -30-

Friday, June 20, 2008 9:37 PM - Congrats to Jan DL9KR for completing the first ever 432MHz DXCC. Why do I bring this up when I am virtually strictly an HF operator? I say virtually because I hope to be getting some 6 meter CW QSO's if I ever catch any openings there. Anyway many of Jan's countries on 432MHz were worked via EME using guess what mode? That's right, old outmoded dead CW. Not some fancy new digital mode nor fone nor TV, but good old Morse Code. One of the newest most modern means of propagation and what mode works best of all when sending signals to the moon and back. Yep, that mode that a lot of hams say is no good any more in this modern era - CW. I just had to get that in as sort of an 'in your face' supporting statement for CW to those who detest the mode for whatever reason.

Now for something non-feisty on my part. I really enjoyed my eyeball QSO today with Don WA3ZBJ. We had a great 3 1/2 hours together discussing mainly ham radio topics. It's always wonderful to meet another CW operator. They are some of the greatest, nicest folks in the world. I think CW and 'niceness' just go together.

Thanks to Jim WG1L and Bob W4DZR for their congrats on my 5,000 day streak which was written up in the latest FISTS Keynote newsletter -30-

Thursday, June 19, 2008 11:29 PM - Another one of those days that zipped by quickly and is now almost gone leaving me little time for a diary entry. In less than 24 hours now it will be summer. Spring ends at 2359Z on June 20. As a bit of trivia, that's the first time spring ends/summer begins on June 20 since way back in 1896. That's due to all the complexities of the Earth's orbit around the Sun which I won't go into here, but you can look it up in Wikipedia on the Internet. For the next century or so we will have an increase in the number of years the summer solstice occurs on the 20th. The next one will be only 4 years from now in 2012. Again the Wikipedia article will give more info about that.

I'm going to have an eyeball QSO tomorrow with one of our NAQCC members from nearby New Bethlehem, PA - Don WA3ZBJ. I'm looking forward to that.

Right now as I'm writing this, my washing is spinning around in the washing machine and will soon be ready for the dryer. With that I close this entry for today. -30-

Wednesday, June 18, 2008 9:59 PM - My QSO of the day for the 19th was a strange one. Not that the person I worked was strange, although I know him well enough to kid him that he is strange, but the circumstances of the QSO were strange.

I was doing some rewiring of my key and keyer trying to eliminate my RF feedback into the keyer when I try to operate 6 meters. I finished the wiring about 5 minutes to 0000Z, so I thought I'd fool around and kill those 5 minutes till I tried for my QSO of the day by calling CQ once on each of the bands to see if my rewiring caused any more problems. I wasn't expecting any answer since I planned just to use the bands that shouldn't have any activity at that time of day. I started with 17M and worked my way up through 6 meters where I found I could still only operate by plugging my SK straight into the 480 without feeding it through the keyer to the 480. Then I continued on and the next band circled back to 160. I called my one CQ there just as the clock was about to hit 0000Z. Was I surprised to get an answer, more so from a good friend. I wonder what the odds of that were. Oh, who was it? Bob W3BBO from Erie, PA. Bob is one of the not too many hams I've had the pleasure of meeting in person a couple times at the Butler hamfests. We've also had many QSO's and email exchanges over the years.

Now for something different. One of my mottoes is 'never throw anything away, you might need it someday'. Sure enough, a few times I have thrown something away, and the next day or two found out I could have used it. But that's not the real gist of the next paragraph. It's more about things I haven't thrown away.

After I helped Ange plant some more peppers and beans (only about 50 pepper plants and his garden will finally be finished with the planting stage), Chelsey was on her porch so I visited and talked with her for a while before I went in to get something to eat. She also went in, but said she'd be back out in a little while. We had talked about the game 'Sorry', and I said I'd check to see if I had it up in my attic. We did get together again, and in the course of talking, I mentioned I didn't find 'Sorry', but I did find the game 'Clue'. Her face lit up and she said she loved that game. So I went and got it and we played for about a couple hours.

So you see, I neved did throw away my old games from many years ago, and they did come in handy in bringing some pleasure to my friend, not to mention me as well.

And a final thought. They say there is no such thing as the fountain of youth, but I disagree. Playing games, whether it be board games, card games, whatever with a youngster can make an old-timer like me feel young again. The only thing is that kneeling/lying on the poarch does tend to make one a bit stiff at 63 years of age. Still I felt very young again for those couple of hours and also anytime I get a chance to be with my young friends. Heck, for that matter I feel young most of the time because I keep active, both physically and mentally every day from the time I get up to the time I go to bed. It's just more noticeable when I'm around my young friends. -30-

Tuesday, June 17, 2008 7:23 PM - I get to believe more and more that time is indeed passing faster and faster. It seems like I get up, do a couple things, and the day is almost over.

Today I did my usual early morning computer work consisting mainly of taking care of email that came through during the night, and then updating my web site and the NAQCC site. Today I also finalized our last week's sprint results and got ready for tonight's mW sprint. Then I helped Ange plant some peppers and planted a half dozen he gave me in my garden. A couple of walks after that.

In between the walks I got the mail and found my St. Barts QSL I sent to Germany came back to me for what looks like an insufficient address. I wonder if anyone reading this got a card from FJ/DJ2VO? If so, what address did you use? I used what I got from either QRZ or Buckmaster which should be correct. Oh well, more research to do.

When I got home from my second walk, Chelsey was sitting on the porch, so I spent almost a couple hours with her. Then ate supper, went for another walk, came home and am typing this while thinking if I want to get in an hour or so of fishing before the sprint. -30-

Monday, June 16, 2008 7:36 AM - I may add more to this entry later today, but I'm cleaning up some emails now, and wanted to pass this along from Dale W4DS. I found it interesting that the Government is using CW in some of its operations. "........FYI, I live near Salem, SC and am involved with a government-sponsored HF radio program called SHARES. Recently, we started doing a weekly CW net and for right now I'm one of the net control stations. I think there's a Z signal for calling all stations on a govt/military net, or all station on this net, but danged if I can find it. Do you by any chance know?" I sent the info to Dale, and he responded with "Tnx for the quick reply. I'll peruse those websites and see if I can find the answer to my question. As far as information about the SHARES HF radio program, go to www.ncs.gov, then click on SERVICES, then on NCC SHARES."

It looks like maybe this CW mode is pretty darn good after all, doesn't it? -30-

Sunday, June 15, 2008 9:21 PM - It was another fun evening with the neighbors. I was just going out for a walk, and Chelsey was sitting on her front porch swing and yelled at me. I spent the next 3 hours with her and her family. She and I played Yahtzee, Checkers, and Blockhead. Her little brother Caleb came out later and hung around with us for a while. He's just short of three years old. I also helped their mom replant some daylillies to make room for a new swimming pool they are getting.

Earlier in the day, I didn't really do much of anything besides my usual walking and computer work. I also re-planted some beans that never sprouted.

When I got home from the neighbors and checked the bands, they were in their usual horrible conditions of late. I thought I wasn't going to get my daily QSO until later in the day, but finally after about 20 minutes of CQing, VE3MHY answered me. He was having trouble copying me, but it was good enough for a QSO. I wonder when things are going to finally start turning around on the bands. It doesn't look all that good for our NAQCC mW sprint this Tuesday evening unless the turnaround is quick. -30-

Saturday, June 14, 2008 11:15 AM - IMPORTANT: For reasons described below, if you sent me an email between approximately 0300Z through 1600Z today (June 14) it probably didn't get here. Please send again. That includes email for the NAQCC also.

I guess I shouldn't have said anything about Friday the 13th in yesterday's entry. Just after 1AM EDT, it looks like the Alltel servers went down, perhaps due to the flooding in Arkansas where I believe they have most of their main servers located. As a result you haven't been able to access my web site, and neither have I. Also my email is completely down as well, not to mention the Alltel FTP servers so I can't upload anything to my web site. Of course you can't read this till everything is repaired at Alltel, but I do want to let you know what was happening.

Meantime, I did get my daily QSO a little while ago, in fact two of them as I was tailended by a second ham after finishing my first QSO.

Oh, and I did have my first ripe tomato yesterday. I made a simple lettuce/tomato salad with veggies from my garden. Today sometime perhaps I'll have a BLT sandwich. Right now along with waiting for Alltel to get their problems fixed, I'm waiting to see if it is going to rain again. We had just a few lite showers last night and this morning although all around us, they got quite a bit of rain as well as strong winds and some hail. Looks like we have our shields up again this year over Kittanning. That's good, but we do need to let them down now and then to get some rain for fishing and gardening. -30-

Friday, June 13, 2008 10:28 PM - Friday the 13th wasn't all that bad a day till near the end. The bands were so poor this evening I'll have to wait till later today (UTC day which I go by for my streak in case you don't know) to get my daily QSO. That hasn't happened in quite a while now. There are a couple contests tomorrow so they should provide me with a QSO. I spent about an hour calling CQ or answering a couple other CQ's between 0100 and 0200Z with no response at all.

Now we have a severe thunderstorm about to hit us. I wonder what else will happen before the day is over.

At least I actually caught a fish this evening - a bass on a lure. I had another one on but he threw the lure just a couple feet from shore so I can't count him. -30-

Thursday, June 12, 2008 10:02 PM - I seem to be back in the groove where my ham radio operating consists solely of getting my daily QSO, then that's it till the next day starts. There just is too much else going on in my life right now. I've been on the go all day since getting up around 7 AM, and I still have to do my washing before the day is over.

It was very nice to be able to sit at the rig for 2 hours in our NAQCC sprint Tuesday evening. I really enjoyed that despite the poor conditions. As I've said many times, it's the NAQCC activities that prompt me to be more active on the bands. I think without them, every day would be a one QSO day during these beautiful summer months. Especially at this minimum point in the sunspot cycle when the bands aren't really all that exciting.

One other thing it was nice to do was to be able to go fishing this evening. And just like the sprint, conditions were poor yet it was nice just to walk along the river and cast my lure out into the water. I did have a couple strikes including what looked like a small bass that grabbed at the lure a couple feet from shore. Hopefully tomorrow I'll get in some fishing with worms and peanut butter bread.

Also tomorrow I'll have that first ripe tomato. I didn't use it today because I wanted to use up some spaghetti sauce and I got some ground meat and filled myself up with four sloppy joe's and a little extra meat and sauce. Mmmmm, that was really good.

Finally, please if you entered the sprint, send in your log. We've received 49 logs at the moment, and I'd love to see us get back to the 60 log mark after falling off to 56 last month. -30-

Wednesday, June 11, 2008 10:23 PM - Once again a very busy day what with processing logs from last night's sprint taking up a part of the day. Then garden work with Ange took another hour or more. We got ready to plant tomatoes in his garden tomorrow, and watered the beans, potatoes, garlic, cucumbers, and zucchini. Ironically as he plants his tomato plants tomorrow, I'll be picking my first ripe tomato and enjoying it in my supper salad. Yes, some 13 days later than last year, I'll be enjoying a ripe tomato. That basically means it took some 20 days longer this year to go from planting the seed to harvesting a tomato.

Then I went for a couple walks surrounding my eating an early lite supper. Our computer club picnic was this evening. That was the reason for the early supper. When I got home from the second walk, my friend Chelsey next door was lying on her porch swing, so I stopped and talked with her a while, and we started a game of checkers, but never got to finish as my friend came to take me to the picnic.

Only 6 club members showed up for the picnic, but we had a good time for a couple hours, and the weather was just right which made it even better. As usual, I stuffed myself pretty well, and I think I'll pass on my midnight snack tonight.

Tomorrow morning I have to get up early to help Ange get the tomatoes planted, so it will probably be another busy day. Another friend just called as I am writing this and wants me to help her update her computer anti-virus program tomorrow. So already there are two projects to occupy part of my time. I hope I can also get some time to spend with Chelsey again. We want to finish, or actually re-start our checkers game that we didn't finish this evening. -30-

Tuesday, June 10 - Well it's actually Wednesday just before 1AM as I write this. I've been busy processing 22 logs from our NAQCC sprint last evening. Conditions were horrible here in West PA and quite a bit of the rest of the country with a couple exceptions. My 'white hole' of last month decided to move elsewhere this month and a couple other stations shared the good fortune I had in May. More tomorrow (later today). -30-

Monday, June 09, 2008 11:15 PM - Some of the most enjoyable, highest quality time that can be spent is that spent with young children. Or more specifically with one young child at a time. That was how most of my day was spent - with 8-year old Chelsey who lives next door. She looked like she was completely lost sitting on her front porch. I said to her something like, "you look like you are totally bored." She said she was. School had just left out a few days before and now her local friends were away at relatives for the week. Since I like kids so much, I decided I'd do something about it. We wound up spending a good part of the day together either playing games or just sitting and talking (till past 10PM). We played Yahtzee, Scrabble, Checkers, and a set of four card games - Old Maid, Animal Rummy, Crazy Eights, and Hearts. I think she really enjoyed the day - I know I did.

Now it's late and I don't have much time to write more, so I'll just close for now, and get caught up tomorrow. But I do want to remind you right now that tomorrow evening is our NAQCC sprint. I hope to work you there. -30-

Sunday, June 08, 2008 10:15 AM - I'd like to talk a bit about the Morse Code Study I (and Tom WY3H among others) took at the University of Pittsburgh. Yesterday I received an email from those in charge of the study saying they are in the 'last stages' of the study now. They attached a survey to the email which I promptly filled out and returned.

OK, that's all well and good, but today Nancy WZ8C of FISTS forwarded me an email about the study also. In that one, they say the study is still ongoing apparently referring to the 'last stages' mentioned in my email. And what they say is exciting. It's a great chance for just about anyone to participate without regard to the high cost of travelling to Pittsburgh to take the study as I did.

You can now apparently take the study from your own home computer. Let me quote, "Since you will complete the study from your home computer, we will send you all of the required materials. When you complete the study, you send the materials back to us at no cost to you. This is done through pre-paid postage stamped packages. Prior to the study, you will be contacted for a brief screening to make sure you are eligible to participate. If you are considered eligible, we will then talk about all aspects of the experiment, including directions. Also, we will be able to answer any questions that you might have."

That sounds very convenient, and if you are interested you may email morsestudy@hotmail.com or telephone 412-624-7083. You must be able to receive and send Morse at 15 WPM or higher, be at least 18 years of age, and of course have access to a personal computer.

Since I didn't receive what Nancy forwarded to me directly, I am guessing they are looking for NEW participants now, and not for those of us who already took part in the study.

If you do contact them about the study, please tell them I (John Shannon) sent you. Thanks. -30-

Saturday, June 07, 2008 9:29 PM - Have you ever noticed that every time you sit down to do something you have planned, some kind of interruption happens and throws your timing off track. That seems to happen once a day at least for me. Usually it's an email from someone that I feel should be answered immediately because I hate to keep someone waiting since I absolutely hate waiting for anything myself. Often that takes a bit of research on my part which further throws me off schedule. I'm not complaining because I like helping people in any way that I can. I'm just stating how things go some times in hopes it will explain why some of my web site updates are late in coming or contain some error because I'm hurrying to catch up. Or perhaps I'm late in answering some correspondence from you for the same reason.

A friend of mine with whom I fish sometimes, Joe, is using the following saying seemingly over and over again this year, "The fish just aren't biting like they used to." The more I fish this year and the more I think about it, he's right. Although I've caught a couple dozen fish so far which is just about my average by this time of year, I can't recall a really good solid bite among them. Even the Muskie didn't really bite all that hard. He just kind of slowly pulled on my line. Otherwise most of the time you almost need a magnifying glass to see the tip of your pole move. Even the couple carp I caught didn't make that "I've got your bait and now I'm headed for the other side of the river with it" strike that carp usually do. Most of the catches have just been due to many years of skill knowing just when to jerk after a tiny nibble. I don't know what's wrong with the fish this year. Hopefully things will get better as the year goes on, and I'll get some exciting and solid strikes.

It looks like my direct.com or whozontop stats have stopped working. They've shown no hits on my site now since mid-Thursday. When that happens, I go looking for a new stats service since I feel it is important to have two good stats services keeping track of how my site is doing at all times. StatCounter has been wonderful ever since I started using it a few years ago. If they had an outage of any kind, they would have it fixed as soon as possible and have a complete explanation of what happened. direct.com has been quite good also, but now it looks like they are having some kind of problems, and I haven't received any kind of notification as to what is going on. So, I've signed up a new service called W3Counter. You'll see their tiny logo on the main pages of each section of my web site. Their count of hits tracks very favorably with that of StatCounter, and I think of the two services, W3Counter has a more friendly and easy to use interface to view my stats. If you're interested in finding out more about them, perhaps for a web site of your own, just click their little logo. Their service is free (as is StatCounter) for web sites that get less than 5,000 hits per day. -30-

Friday, June 06, 2008 2:54 PM - I think this item from the latest ARRL Newsletter speaks literally hundreds of volumes of info about CW. Please read it thoroughly and absorb what it is saying. Then go back and re-read the section in BLUE.

"Morse Code Returning to MARS Toolbox: After more than a dozen years, Morse code will soon be returning to Military Affiliate Radio System (MARS) nets. In the mid-1990s, the Department of Defense (DoD) did away with CW operation across the board -- including MARS nets -- as automatic systems such as the Internet, SATCOM, cell phones and e-mail became available and the payroll cost of manual operators escalated. Army MARS launched a limited test of CW nets in four Midwestern states in late 2007. During a DoD interoperability test this past March, a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) station used it to communicate with Fort Huachuca. In announcing the return of CW to MARS nets, Navy-Marine Corps MARS Chief Bo Lindfors cited an emergency where CW was sorely missed: "I remember the [1998] Northeast Ice Storm shortly after I became [Navy-Marine Corps MARS] Chief and the unnecessarily lengthy effort by all of southern New England to receive one voice EEI [Essential Elements of Information Report] from a northern New England member whose antenna was covered in ice and lying on the ground. It took more than an hour when CW could have handled it in a few minutes. As more and more of our members enter MARS with no Morse code experience, I am afraid that we will soon lose that skill set if we don't do something." Army MARS Chief Carter said the imminent return of CW will not replace modes such as WinLink, Pactor 3 and MT63. "Our CW nets will focus on maintenance of skills and will necessarily be limited by the shortage of available frequencies and trained members," he said. "But if members want to add CW to their skills, the nets will be available for training."

Now when is the Amateur Radio Service going to wake up and realize the importance of CW and its effectiveness when other modes fail? CW could be the life-saving mode if the USA is attacked again by terrorists. And that could happen if we abandon our fight to contain them. Amateur Radio needs to resume training CW operators just in case. -30-

Thursday, June 05, 2008 10:22 PM - I finally seemed to have some extra time available today for whatever reason. I used it to get caught up on something I'd been putting off for quite a while. I got a QSL mailing ready for the ARRL Outgoing QSL service. As luck would have it, I had just enough cards for a half-pound mailing. I like to get my money's worth and feel it is wasteful to send anything that isn't exactly on the half pound, pound, etc. For example, a 9 ounce package costs just as much as a full pound - 10 dollars. The ARRL does NOT charge in increments of ounces, but only increments of half pounds. Keep that in mind when you use the outgoing QSL service and don't waste your money.

In looking for QSL managers to put their calls on my cards, I found three very good quick methods among all the dozens of services available today. First, for regular non-contest, non-dxpedition QSO's, just do a Windows Live search for the ham's call and possibly add 'QSL' and the year to the search as in 'XX3XXX QSL 2007'. Secondly, for all kinds of QSO's, the IK3QAR managers' search site works very well with detailed info. Finally NG3K's announced DX operations site is excellent for contest and dxpedition QSO's.

I was just getting our latest NAQCC Newsletter ready for posting tomorrow evening around 2300Z, and reading the news items sent to me by our news editor Paul KD2MX. Just to interrupt myself for a moment, I want to say that Paul is doing an excellent job for us, not only with the News, but in many other ways as well. Back on track now. One of the items was from my friend Eric KB3BFQ. He mentioned (accurately) that he was the one responsible for getting me back on the air. He mentioned that one of the factors involved was his boredom during the 'blizzard of 1993'. I hadn't linked the two events together till I read his news item. The two of us actually got acquainted about three years before that when we found out we both collected baseball cards. Most of our time till early '93 was spent in sports activities. Oh, and Eric and his dad Denny are responsible for getting me back into fishing also. That was in early 1992. So I have a lot to thank the Bowser family for. There are a lot of other things also that I won't mention here, but maybe some other time. -30-

Wednesday, June 04, 2008 10:30 PM - I had a very special QSO today. Back on June 4, 1968 I had a QSO with a fellow young ham with the call VE3BMR. I'm sure you know how sometimes two people just hit it off and become very good friends for whatever reason - probably common interests being one of the prime reasons. Well, Dave (VE3BMR) and I fell into that situation. We had 92 QSO's between 6/4/68 and 5/15/69. About that time I started work at WPIT and although we got away from our regular QSO's, we still communicated via mail for a while. Eventually though we lost regular contact with each other. Then came May 3, 1997 in some contest when I worked a VA3RJ who called me by name. I didn't think I knew anyone with that call, and it puzzled me for a while until I somehow found out it was my friend Dave with a new call. Shortly after that we renewed our regular communications and have had 87 more QSO's. We've also communicated via IM on the Internet (the only person with whom I ever communicated via that method.) We must have exchanged close to a thousand emails by now, as well. Several of those took place today which brings me to our special QSO.

As you have figured out from the dates, this is the 40th anniversary of our first QSO, and as WA8REI and I did a couple years ago, we wanted to have a 40th anniversary QSO. The bands were not very co-operative though. We tried just after 0000Z on 80M. I could hear Dave's 100W signal very weakly, but he couldn't hear me at all. We tried a few times last night and realized it was futile. So we planned to try again in the 2200-2400Z time period on 40M. We failed at 2200 and 2230Z, had a very tentative QSO at 2300 that we weren't satisfied with, then decided to take one last try at 2330. All of the skeds were set up via email.

At 2334Z, conditions peaked just long enough for us to exchange RST reports and anniversary greetings. There was rapid QSB and QRN on both ends, but we made it! What a joy that was. -30-

Tuesday, June 03, 2008 9:07 PM - It looks like my tomatoes are finally starting to change color a bit moving on toward ripening. Our 3.5 degree below average May temperatures sure slowed things down. Despite starting the seeds about one week earlier than last year, the first ripe tomato is going to be more than a week late in coming this year.

Everything seems to be slow this year with some exceptions. My lettuce just loves the cool weather, and so does my grass. It seems to need cutting just about once a week or so. I trimmed the bush in my front yard today. It also grew quite well.

Fishing is picking up a bit now. It has been slow also after a good start in April. The last part of April and all but the last few days of May were very slow. I'm up to 24 fish now. That's slightly above the average of 20 by June 3rd. This is the 8th best year currently, but not all that far from 2nd place if I have a couple good days soon. I'm far behind 1994 though when I had 59 fish by this date. But that year ended pre-maturely when I had some back problems. 1994 wound up being my next to worst year by the time it was over. Carp are coming slowly this year. I've only caught two of them so far. I usually have 5 or so by this time, and the last couple years I had 13 and 11 respectively by the end of May.

Ham radio is also very slow along with everything else. We just can't seem to get the Solar flux out of the 60's except for a few days here and there as cycle 24 is very reluctant to get going for whatever reason.

Oh well, I'm sure everything will pick up in its own good time. We just have to be patient. -30-

Monday, June 02, 2008 4:51 PM - I promised some pictures from the hamfest, so here we go.

pix_diary_20080601 (86K)
pix_diary_20080601_02 (75K)

In the first picture I'm standing (blowing in the wind - see the open door behind me in the second picture) talking to some member while Tom is writing some MARS info in the background. Then in the second picture our roles are sort of reversed. Tom is talking to someone and I'm just standing in the background watching waiting for someone to come and see us. Tom did double duty at both the NAQCC and MARS tables.

I wish we could have gotten all 5 of us in a picture, or even gotten a picture of Mike KC2EGL and Tom's twin sons, but it was either kind of hectic, or when not so hectic, someone or other was off wandering around the vendors, flea markets, or food booths. -30-

Sunday, June 01, 2008 9:06 PM - We had a great time at the Butler hamfest today. Met (or re-met) a lot of our NAQCC members, and signed up 17 new members as well. I made a couple purchases at the flea markets. I got a suitable for mW wattmeter, but found it needs a little work after I got it home. I also bought a set of 10 1952 QST magazines for 1 buck which will make interesting reading whenever I get the time.

I had some enjoyable moments getting to talk with one of the newest hams who is a NAQCC member. Tom's son Ethan KB3QGW who is now 14 and coming along good learning the code. We were doing some code practice while everything else was going on around us. It was also nice to chat a bit with Ethan's twin brother Ariel who hopefully is also going to become a ham in the coming months.

It was also a pleasure to have Mike KC2EGL for company yesterday evening and today. I think you can tell from the kidding around we did in yesterday's diary entry how much fun the two of us have together.

And of course also nice to visit in person with Tom as always.

It was nice to see our member # 1,000 whom we signed up at our first Butler hamfest 3 years ago. That's Mike KD0AR who has not been on HF much lately but picked up a couple HF antennas at the hamfest and hopefully will be back on HF CW soon now.

We've got a few pictures from the hamfest. Maybe I'll post one or two in tomorrow's entry, but now I've got to start getting caught up on a million things (a conservative estimate - HI) from processing all our new members to all the end of month/first of month updates, etc. So I'll again be very busy the next couple days here. -30-

Saturday, May 31, 2008 10:03 PM - I have sort of a ghost guest writer for the diary tonight. I'm sure you probably know who it is. Maybe I'll tell you who at the end of the entry. He wants you to know that we had pizza this evening with anchovies - yes, anchovies, the things that most people don't like, but since he introduced me to them a few months ago, I really like them.

He longed after his 480 sitting on my desk. I don't know why since he has his brand new K2 now.

We started making plans for a key junction box for his station. It will allow him to use 6 keys simultaneously as soon as he trains his octopus to send Morse Code. Or if that fails, he'll have to use the keys himself one at a time.

He now knows all the crazy things I do around here like getting my daily QSO, taking my 9PM weather readings (at 9:30 tonight), and so forth.

You're right, it's Mike KC2EGL all the way from the exotic far away land of Brookville, PA - 37 miles north of here. We will be going to the Butler hamfest tomorrow morning to man the NAQCC table. We hope to see many of you there. We'll be there starting around 9AM. -30-

Friday, May 30, 2008 10:28 PM - Again a busy day that's winding down now leaving me no time to make a decent entry here. But I do want to give you the link to the Butler hamfest info about the June 1st event. It's http://www.breezeshooters.net/hamfest08.pdf. Hope to see you there. Maybe I'll have more time tomorrow to write something here. -30-

Thursday, May 29, 2008 10:43 PM - Not a lot of time left to write an entry after a busy day today. Spent 4 of my hours fishing out in the just about perfect weather, and another hour or perhaps a little more walking. Inside I got all the certificates printed and mailed out for our May sprint. Outside again I helped Ange with some garden work, as well as watering my own garden. I also sprayed some bleach on the grass in the cracks in our brick sidewalks. Now I'm waiting for a call from my cousin who needs some help with a new computer program. Whew!

I haven't said too much about the Butler hamfest coming up this Sunday, but if you live fairly nearby or are rich and can afford the cost of gas to get here, we'd love to see you. We'll have a table for the NAQCC manned by me, Tom WY3H, Tom's son Ethan KB3QGW, and Mike KC2EGL. We had a great time the previous couple setups we did there, and hope to have another one this year as well. Maybe I'll talk a bit more about it tomorrow, but now I gotta run. -30-

Wednesday, May 28, 2008 6:47 PM - Greg NE1OB emails, "John, I enjoy reading your daily diary but I got behind and must have missed a key bit of information. How did you come to obtain the TS-480 and why? I think it would be a good thing if you archived your older diary entries so that we could read them if we missed them at the time. Thanks for all the good work and 73, Greg NE1OB"

I had no idea my entries were so interesting or important that they needed to be archived. I had been trimming them to the past 30 days or so to keep from approaching my Alltel allocated bandwidth for my web site. However, I realized after Greg's request that I could zip up the archives since I have every day's entry here in my computer since day 1 of the diary. Then I could post them on my Microsoft SkyDrive site. So I've just done that, and anyone who is bored enough, curious enough, crazy enough, etc. (HI HI) to want to read my ramblings can do so. Just go the SkyDrive site and look in the Diary Archive folder. There is one zip file for each year, 2006, 2007, 2008. Download it, unzip it and read away. There are no pictures, and you may have to read around some leftover HTML tags here and there. Also there may be some dead links here and there. But Greg's request has been answered. -30-

Tuesday, May 27, 2008 9:49 AM - OK, here we go. The CQ WPX wrap-up I promised for a couple days now.

I got in the contest basically to add some more mW QSO's to my monthly total of 120 for the NAQCC May mW Challenge. Our NAQCC challenges certainly provide the motivation for me to be more active on the bands far beyond just getting my daily QSO. I hope they are also encouraging you to use more CW on the bands than you would otherwise.

I only had my RF attenuator working for 160-30 meters which basically meant my mW QSO's would be mostly on 40M with perhaps some on 80M. On the other bands I'd just operate with 5 watts. My next step is to set up some switching arrangement that allows me to easily switch in the pad for 20-10M also.

I wound up being busy Friday evening with one thing or another, and never did get in the contest or even on the bands till Saturday morning. I started off with 8 mW QSO's on 40M before the band dried up as everyone went to the higher bands. I followed suit and racked up a bunch of QSO's on 20M, all either USA or Caribbean/South America stations.

I also checked 15M and found it in decent shape. I worked another bunch of stations there from the same areas. Then I decided to check 10M to see if it might be open. It was (sort of), and I worked N0NI for my first 10M QSO since 2005.

My first real excitement of the contest came when I chased and worked E73MMM. I had forgotten E7 was the new Bosnia prefix since I hadn't really been doing much DX work of late. I thought I had something exotic and a new country, but.....

Some legitimate excitement came about an hour before sunset on 40M. I found ZS0HQ calling CQ, and decided to try him although South Africa is hard to work for me, and here I was trying it on 40M of all bands. Well, you know what's coming next. Of course I got him on my first try. I followed that up by working D4C on 40M a few minutes later.

It was very hard to work EU on 20M although there were many strong EU stations there in the afternoon. However as sunset approached here, it became easier and I finally added several EU stations to my log starting with G6PZ, OL3Z, and the aforementioned E73MMM.

I spent Saturday evening getting some more 40M mW QSO's. I'd run 930 mW except when I heard a DX station I wanted to work like the 2 mentioned above. I think I could have worked a lot more DX on 40 as EU was very strong, but I was more interested in getting the mW QSO's.

On Sunday, it was pretty much a repeat of Saturday except that 10M was better here. I worked around a dozen stations on 10M. One QSO worth mention was PW2D. He was well over S9 here without anyone answering him. I called several times without him hearing me. Then I thought for the fun of it, I'd try my 15M vertical dipole on 10M. The SWR was 3:1, but the first call to PW2D with that antenna yielded an easy QSO. Something to remember for everyone. Don't be afraid to switch antennas in a contest, even if the SWR isn't 1:1. Of course with high power and a high SWR you could damage your rig. But with QRP, even with higher SWR's, you SHOULD be OK, but still be careful.

I wound up with 198 QSO's and 130 multipliers from some 30 countries worked. All in all, I spent just over 10 hours of operating time. It was a lot of fun, and I was rewarded with several new prefixes, at least one new band country (ZS on 40M), and my 46th mW state in nearby WV which I just never got before. I need AK, HI, ND, and NM for a mW WAS now. Oh, and I added 38 mW QSO's for a monthly total of 158. Not as many as I wanted or could have gotten with more time spent on 40 in the evenings, but I'm happy with the results and glad I can operate mW again with my attenuator.

One other reward was learning my friend and former next-door neighbor Eric KB3BFQ wound up with 30 QSO's in the contest after recently returning to ham radio after about a 10 year absence. -30-

Monday, May 26, 2008 7:32 PM - I hope you all had a wonderful Memorial Day and celebrated at least part of the day in the true meaning of this proud, but sometimes sad holiday. The highlight of my day was attending our recently re-instated annual Memorial Day parade, and the Riverfront Park Ceremony following. I was proud to honor those brave folks who have fought and are fighting to protect our wonderful United States of America. What a joy and thrill it was to see a current 26 year old serviceman who had served a tour of duty in Iraq receive a long standing ovation. I don't think there was a single 'let our enemies have whatever they want' coward in attendance at the ceremony and that made my heart beat proudly.

Before that I helped Ange with some garden work, and then went to a cookout at his house after the ceremony. All in all it was a great holiday for me.

I know I promised a CQ WPX wrap-up today, but I think what I said above is much more important so I'll postpone the CQ WPX story one more day. -30-

Sunday, May 25, 2008 8:46 AM - Some diary feedback makes up today's entry, and then tomorrow a wrap-up of my WPX contest.

Tim AJ4D emails in part, "........I received the link to the newsletter and read the message on this months newsletter about LOTW and EQSL. I also took the poll on your website and was astounded at the low numbers that use either service, and they are FREE per se.

I use both LOTW and EQSL, as well as send out cards via snail mail when possible. I collect islands and lighthouses and enjoy working DX, and the LOTW seems like the way to go.

I believe many are under the impression you have to be ARRL member or that it is "just to hard" to set up the LOTW. It does seem a little complicated at first due to the security of the "digital signature", but once you set up your password and get on the site, you are set to go. I wish more would use LOTW and there should be some type of drive to get people interested in it. Anyone with a computer and internet can use the service.

Many do not like EQSL cards, but I still upload my ADIF logs to both EQSL and LOTW and vice versa, as well as keeping paper log books because I like to write extra notes and info on the paper logs. I use XMLog for my computer log, which that program is also Free!............

I just wanted to comment to you on the LOTW and EQSL poll, and about reading the newsletter which also mentioned it. Both are good things for all hams, but I guess many do not see it that way. There is nothing wrong with having 3 or 4 different options for QSL'ing and keeping up with awards at the same time." -30-

Saturday, May 24, 2008 10:28 PM - Thanks to N4UEB, KB3BFQ, WY3H, my cousins Joan and Judy for the birthday greetings.

It was a very non-special birthday. Most of the day was spent either out walking enjoying our 70 degree sunny weather or fooling in the CQ WPX contest.

It seems that every big contest brings out one or a few special QSO's. The ones that will stand out from this contest are: Working ZS0HQ on 40M well before sunset - an easy QSO as I had him all to myself at the time. ZS has always been a somewhat hard country for me to work too. Then I was excited about working a couple E7 stations. I had forgotten that E7 was the new prefix for Bosnia replacing T9. Thought I had something new for a while there, but....

On 40M for most QSO's I used my RF attenuator to get my power output down to 930 milliwatts for our NAQCC May challenge. At the moment I have around 140 or so mW QSO's for the month and hope to get more in the second half of the WPX test. I did go to 5 watts if there was some DX station I wanted to work like ZS0HQ. -30-

Friday, May 23, 2008 10:06 PM - This day before my birthday turned out to be a busy one. I started out working on NAQCC matters, processing some more sprint logs and signing up a couple more new members including # 2400. Then I had to pay a couple bills, get in one of my walks and have some brunch. It was the best day weather-wise we've had in about a week, so I went fishing this afternoon. Didn't catch anything though, and came home to find a message from Tom WY3H on my answering machine. He wanted to come over and bring me 'something' as he put it, and see if he could bring a couple boards along to cut with my circular saw. Turned out the 'something' was a birthday card.

While I was waiting for Tom, I worked on the computer RF problem I mentioned yesterday, and it seems grounding the computer case does cure the problem, so I'll be set for the WPX contest if I ever get time to get into it, probably not till tomorrow morning. I also had my supper at this time. Then Tom did come with his son Ethan who recently got his ham ticket. Tom cut his boards, and then Ethan wanted to see my ham station so I showed it to him.

After they left, I decided I needed some exercise, so I went out for a walk. While out, I got the urge to go fishing again so when I got home from the walk, I turned around and took my poles, etc. to the river. It seemed like it was going to be the same story as this afternoon, but finally I got some bites in earnest and wound up catching an 18 inch carpsucker, but he was the only fish I got all day in about 3 hours of fishing. May has been slow and uneventful fishing except for the Muskie catch on the 7th. When I got home it was 9 o'clock so I got my temperature readings and then something to eat. I sat down at the computer, got a couple calls from a friend asking me about some problem she was having on her computer, and that brings us to now with me sitting here writing my diary entry at 10:20 PM. Whew!

Oh, I forgot to mention, I also cut my grass somewhere along the line today. HI. And somehow managed almost 9 miles of walking.

Finally as I proofread the entry, I see I didn't mention the computer RF problem in the diary yesterday. I'm thinking of when I mentioned it in the sprint soapbox. I can't remember where I said what at times, it seems. Anyway while in the sprint I noticed my T/R relay chattering in the 480 when I moved a certain way or touched this or that. I finally noticed it was worse when my hand was near or on the keyboard, and figured it must be RF from the computer with me acting as a receiving antenna for the 480. I didn't want to stop to figure it out at the time because I was running stations to the tune of one every minute or two, so I just had to watch my position at the key and keyboard, and watch what I touched. After the sprint, I briefly tried grounding the computer case, and that explains my comments about computer RF above in a rather circuitous route. -30-

Thursday, May 22, 2008 10:11 PM - Sometimes working semi-rare DX is a matter of being there at the right time and place. I just turned on the 480 today to check the bands for a couple minutes while I was waiting for something else to finish. I tuned across 20M and landed on a strong DX station. It was D44AC in the Cape Verde Islands. Although quite common in contests, it could perhaps be considered a bit rare otherwise, especially on CW. Signals were strong, so I thought I'd wait around a bit and try to work him, even though I have D4 worked and veried on all 5 major bands - 80,40,20,15, and 10. In fact I did that in just one DX contest a few years ago. Anyway, the wait was very short as my first call snagged him easily. Right place, right time - nothing to it.

Other than that, I spent a good deal of the day processing logs from our NAQCC sprint last night. We had great conditions, but they didn't seem uniformly good around the country. In fact after looking at the logs, it seems I must have been in some kind of 'white hole' here. In many of the logs with only a few QSO's, I was one of the few stations in them. In fact I was the only station in one person's log. Maybe that is making up for those times when we seemed to have a 'black hole' over this area, and I had trouble working anyone. I hope everyone who was in the sprint will take the couple of minutes it takes to submit a log for their efforts. -30-

Wednesday, May 21, 2008 11:47 PM - Not much time to write right now. Had a great sprint tonite with 44 QSO's. My best ever. Then after that of course, I'm busy processing a flood of logs. So perhaps more to say tomorrow. -30-

Tuesday, May 20, 2008 7:43 PM - I guess I started talking a bit about economics when I mentioned the license renewal scam. I'd like to just add some thoughts about our USA economy today. Virtually everyone targets someone as the cause of rising prices, whether it be company executives, congress, the President, and just about anyone but themselves. I want to give a couple examples of how we, the consumers are as much to blame as anyone. I was in the grocery store today to buy simply a loaf of bread. The man in line ahead of me was also buying just a loaf of bread by coincidence. When the girl rang up his purchase, it was $2.69 cents. My loaf of bread cost me $1.00. Both loaves were simple white bread, and the same size and weight. Probably both contained the exact same nutritional value. So why was the one so much more expensive, and more to the point, why did the man buy it instead of the $1.00 loaf. I can't answer the second part, but the first part is his loaf was a brand name, mine was generic. Now if fellows like him are going to keep on buying the name brand bread and spending the extra money, that bread company is going to keep charging those ridiculous high prices. I guarantee that. If he, and thousands of others who waste their money like that would drop the high price bread and go with the generic bread, that would send a strong message to the expensive bread company, I would think. And instead of continuing to raise their price, they might just reduce their price instead.

Example #2 - how many strong, able bodied people get in their cars to drive a few blocks to visit with a friend, or just get in their cars to drive a few blocks to work? Also how many folks (the majority of them young strong people) just cruise around in their cars with no real destination in mind? A whole bunch, believe me. And you know what, they are perhaps the most vocal when it comes to complaining about the high price of gasoline. Again if those folks would cut down on gas consumption by walking or even riding a bike whenever they can do so as an alternative to driving a car, that would send a message to the gas companies just like the message in my bread example above.

So when you are thinking about complaining about the high price of something, take a look in the mirror and think instead of what you can do to join the fight against high prices by careful shopping and conservation.

Excuse me now as I step down off my soapbox, get a snack of generic cheap oatmeal, then go get my daily QSO. -30-

Monday, May 19, 2008 7:57 AM - I received my renewed license from the FCC on Saturday. The whole process from renewing on-line to receiving the printed license took only a few days and didn't cost me one penny. It was so simple, a child could do it. I hope that none of you will waste 7 dollars in a renewal scam to do something you can easily do yourself for free. It still incenses me that an organization would have the gall to try to bilk me out of 7 dollars. Of course if you have a vanity call, you will have to pay the renewal fee to the FCC, BUT you still can do the whole renewal process yourself for free. If you need any help with the renewal, let me know, and I'll try to help you (FOR FREE). In this day of rising gas and food (among other things) prices, we don't need to be wasting 7 dollars.

It's looking less and less like I'll have a ripe tomato before June 1st as I did last year. It's been a very cool May so far, and on top of that, as I mentioned earlier, my Siberians just don't seem as healthy this year for whatever reason. I bought my usual 6-pack of Early Girl Tomatoes last week, and planted them out, so at least I should be having my harvest from them by mid-late July. I've also planted bush and pole beans, but no sprouting from them yet. We really need some good warm weather here to get things going well. Only my lettuce so far is doing great. I've been having it in my salads for over a week now. And now the next 3 or 4 days are predicted to be only in the 50's or low 60's with lows in the mid-upper 30's. Brrr. -30-

Sunday, May 18, 2008 6:53 PM - A cold, windy, showery mid-May day in Kittanning. So again I got on the air a bit this afternoon. 20M was still good to EU, but not as good as yesterday. The best I did on DX was almost work a Hungarian station. I answered his CQ and he came back with WW?. However a rude N9 station with nothing like WW in his call jumped in on top of me with his big signal, and instead of the Hungarian trying to work me, he worked the N9 instead. That is about as discourteous as you can get on both ends, and it disgusts me. I really admire the DX stations who will do all they can to work the original caller (QRZ WW ONLY in this case) and get the 'butter-inners' to shut up. Had the Hungarian been one of those DX stations, I would have had another DX QSO in the log. I've got 589 QSO's with Hungary, so losing one more doesn't bother me. It's the way it was lost that irks me.

I also had a nice rag chew with K8VBL on 40M about six meters. He gave me a lot of tips about six when I finally solve my RFI problems on that band, and start operating there. Hopefully that will be before the peak sporadic E season starts soon. -30-

Saturday, May 17, 2008 5:46 PM - I finally got a bit of free time to play on the bands in the afternoon. 20M was good to EU around 2100Z, and I worked YT5T, HA9RT, LZ08KM (new prefix), and OM2VL in about 10 minutes. It was nice to be working some DX again. I'm sure there is a lot of it available every day, but I just never seem to find the time to check it out. It seems like I always have something else that needs doing, or if I don't, my neighbors and friends will find something they need help with.

Some more diary feedback to share today. Paul N0NBD writes in part, "Hello John, I put my 2 cents worth in the poll. There could have been another question>>> I go look at eqsl and sometimes find qsls waiting. If I can find them in my log I send a card by mail... I have had several that were phony to. I have not had a microphone since 1991 and sometimes get a eqsls for SSB contacts.....huh that is a strange one. Hey I did get a NAQCC logo on my web page. LOOKS GOOD!"

Yes, that is another way to handle eQSL's. However I find it easier to just upload all my QSO's and then filter out the bad ones. I check the ones marked reject for proper date, time, band, etc. to see if I can figure out if the fellow uploaded his QSO's with the wrong call (used his vanity call for his uploaded QSO's when he was actually using his original call at the time, and things like that). Of course any eQSL's I get with a mode other than CW are rejected. I know one contester accidentally marked all his CW QSO's as SSB QSO's. The bottom line is that I find eQSL's to be somewhat less accurate in the long run than LotW 'matches'. The only complaint I have about LotW in fact is that so many hams keep uploading the same QSO's over and over again, and when I check them for my log, it wastes a lot of time since I already have them marked as verified by LotW. Perhaps someday LotW will have a way of eliminating new uploads of previously uploaded QSO's? At any rate both services do pretty well considering electronic QSL's are still in their 'early childhood' years.

I'm glad Paul added our NAQCC logo to his web page. If you're a NAQCC member, and need a logo, remember they are available for free download on the NAQCC web site. -30-

Friday, May 16, 2008 9:42 AM - I continue to get wonderful feedback from my diary comments. A lot of it is rather personal and I don't share that here out of respect. I would like to share some of the less personal remarks from an email from my friend Mark, WU7F.

Mark writes in part: "John,.... I wanted to congratulate you on landing a 36 inch whale... ur, I mean fish! Wow! Did you happen to have your camera with you and get any pictures?

I just signed that petition about CW skimmers you told us about. Here is what I wrote: /I support this petition to disallow CW Skimmers for use in contests. Furthermore, I echo sentiments expressed by other signatories that CW be kept in its "organic", traditional form where the operator must use skill and rely on his/her own brain. This is true of contests, but is also true for any CW QSO. The satisfaction derived from this skilled activity is one of the reasons I love CW/!"

Mark also told me a bit about his son Mike KD7UUB who 5 years ago wrote a story for my Teens and CW pages on the web site. Mike is now 17, and despite being busy with school and other activities, still loves and uses CW when he gets the chance to get on the air. Mike is a very good soccer player, and if he wishes, may go far in the sport.

No Mark, and anyone else wondering, I didn't have my camera with me to get a picture of the Muskie. Also no one with a picture taking cell phone happened to wander along at the right time, so all I have as a souvenir of the catch is the portion of the fishing line where he bit off the hook after I landed him. Probably had I taken the camera, I wouldn't have caught him anyway. HI. It seems everytime I do take the camera, I'm shut out. I guess fish are camera shy. -30-

Thursday, May 15, 2008 10:08 AM - I'm a bit surprised by the early returns from my new poll. I don't understand why some folks only upload some of their QSO's to eQSL when it is much easier (at least it seems that way to me) to just upload them all. Perhaps I'm not seeing something here. If you are one of the ones who only upload some of your QSO's, can you let me know why? So far with LotW, it's either upload all, or don't use it. There are no partial upload votes for LotW.

It looks like a nice day today in between our seemingly constant showers of late, so I'll probably wind up at the river at some point today. Or maybe take the opportunity to get my 6 Early Girl tomatoes planted outside. Or..... something unplanned. Who knows? -30-

Wednesday, May 14, 2008 5:38 PM - This has been a busy day working on various projects, and now this evening I have to go to a computer club meeting. So not much time for a diary entry today. And when I get home from the computer club, then I'll have to get my QSO of the day for the 15th, and after that upload my new poll. Whew! Hopefully more to say here tomorrow. -30-

Tuesday, May 13, 2008 6:05 PM - Chuck W8LQ writes in regard to the 'Carrington Flare' I mentioned a few days ago, "Your mention of the "Carrington Flare" in your diary of 7 May led me to chase the link and follow to other links, too!! The story was from a book "Sun Kings" by Stuart Clark. I checked the book out from our local library and finished reading it today!! I think you would enjoy reading it, not just for the Carrington story but the history of astroscience and the guys who made our signals bounce off the aurora!! I know you're a busy fella, but if you can get a copy this is well worthwhile reading, given your interest in this and related subjects.
You would probably be interested in the book "Longitude" by David Sobel, too."

Thanks Chuck. If I ever do get time, I'll have to try to check it out. I haven't been in our Library for at least 10-15 years now. It seems everything I need to know can be found via a Windows Live search on the Internet these days. It would be nice to actually read a book again though. I haven't done that in several years as well. I guess the last time I fully read a book was my third or fourth re-reading of J.R.R. Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings".

How many of your on-air ham friends do you know by name? That is how many of you know me as John Shannon when you work me or communicate with me via email, etc.? Probably not very many. Most of your on-air ham friends you know by their call letters and perhaps first name. Still I get a lot of emails from hams who do not bother including their call letters for whatever reason. I have no idea who John Doe is even though I may have worked him on the air many times, yet had John included his call letters, I'd probably know immediately who it was. The moral of this paragraph? Any time you communicate with another ham unless perhaps it's a close personal friend, include your call letters as a courtesy to the one with whom you are communicating. -30-

Monday, May 12, 2008 8:08 AM - You only have a couple more days to vote in the current poll. It is my latest personal favorite poll. I'm finding the results very intriguing, especially since it is a poll for which I had no pre-conceived idea of what the results would be.

I think my upcoming poll will prove to be just as intriguing also. A couple days ago I talked about QSLing and just today decided to turn my comments and thoughts into a poll. That new poll will debut around May 15th at 0000Z. So you have until then to vote in the current poll, and then 30 days to vote in the QSLing poll.

Looks like a very chilly May day today. Our high is expected to be only around 50 degrees with a few showers the first part of the day. Hopefully when it clears later in the day I can get caught up on some walking. I've been under 4 miles each of the past 2 days due to the weather and the estate work I mentioned.

I also hope to get the rest of my tomato plants outside, but I think I'll wait another day for that. I bought a pack of 6 Early Girl tomatoes to go along with the two Siberians and one "World's Largest Tomato" I already have outside. The Siberians didn't look too good for a while, but seem to have picked up again now. They had some yellowing of leaves that started when they were still inside. I don't know if that will affect my goal of getting a ripe tomato before June 1st or not. There are several tomatoes on each plant with the largest being about 1.5 inches in diameter. Since they don't usually get much bigger than 2 or 2.5 inches, I may be OK. Likewise the WLT had similar problems, even worse than the Siberians, and I had to pick off quite a few yellow leaves. It has a couple tiny tomatoes on it so far. I don't feel as hopeful for its chances though.

Otherwise my lettuce is ready to start picking. The onions are up over a foot. All my roses and daylillies are doing just great. After a long display, my Tulip finally shed its flower, and will be dying back getting ready for hopefully another beautiful display next spring. Since I cut the lower branches off my pine tree a few weeks ago, I planted some grass seed in the bare spot that was under the low branches. That was about 3 days ago, and hopefully it will be sprouting soon. I don't know how well it will do, but it does have a better chance now with the lower branches gone from the tree. -30-

Sunday, May 11, 2008 8:57 PM - One of those rainy, chilly, dreary, depressing days today. Thankfully I had some more estate work to do today to keep me occupied. It was certainly no day to go fishing nor walking. I've only got 2.46 miles on my pedometer today and most of that was from just moving around the estate house. I'll probably walk another mile or two inside my house here before going to bed around midnight or so.

I did do something interesting today thanks to Maurice F5NQL. He informed me via email about an on-line petition involving CW contesting. I'll briefly describe what it is about, then tell you how you can sign as well if you wish.

It's basically a petition to keep CW from becoming TOO automated in contest work. There is a 'skimmer' technology available that can read via computer virtually all the CW signals on a band at one time. This could eventually lead to completely automated CW contesting that wouldn't even require an operator, according to some who have studied the situation quite deeply. It's explained more in detail in the on-line petition, so I won't describe it further here.

I signed the petition with comments to the effect that I believe CW should be kept a 'traditional' mode not subject to computer automation. I said it should be a mode that requires the human brain to do the decoding, not some computer chip. Then I plugged our NAQCC sprints as an example of how traditional CW contesting should be done.

If you agree with my thinking, I hope you'll sign the petition. A word of warning though - if you do sign the petition, the web site that hosts the petition asks for a monetary donation with no choice to not make any donation. However, once you sign and get to the donation page, you can just navigate away from that page to your browser home page or another web site, or just shut down your browser. Your signature of the petition and your comments will still be recorded without any donation. The URL is: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/skimmer?e.

In checking out the link above just now, I see there are currently 370 signatures on the petition. I don't know how long it has been there to be signed. I don't see a date when it was started. My signature and comments are currently #351 on page 8. I thought it was different when I signed earlier today, but I don't remember for sure. So they may re-number as new signatures are added. I don't know. -30-

Saturday, May 10, 2008 7:44 PM - I just finished renewing my amateur license on-line at the FCC web site as I said a few days ago that I would be doing. And it didn't cost me one red cent. So once again, beware of those greedy folks like the W5YI VEC group who are willing to renew your license for only 7 dollars. I reiterate - there is no charge for renewing your amateur radio license (unless you have a vanity call), so beware of renewal scams.

You know, one of the joys when growing old comes when you find you can still keep up with or even surpass the physical efforts of those several years your junior. I experienced that joy today when I was helping out taking care of the estate of one of my relatives who passed away a few months ago. We were getting a lot of the furniture and other items out of the house, and I was in there working just as hard as the younger folks. In fact I noticed a couple of them panting for breath just a bit at times while I wasn't. That's what comes from regular exercise, not smoking, not drinking, and eating properly which is the exact regimen I've followed for just about all my life. Oh, I did eat quite a bit of junk food as a young lad and as a teenager, but that's the only transgression.

The only disadvantage of the hard work today was that I had to miss the FISTS sprint, and I really wanted to participate in this one since FISTS has been so co-operative with our NAQCC in so many ways. -30-

Friday, May 09, 2008 10:16 PM - I thought since I talked about QSLing yesterday, it would be interesting to see just how many QSL's I have from the three major ways of verifying a contact. I'm talking about a traditional mailed QSL card, an eQSL, and a LotW 'match'. With my Microsoft Access log it is a piece of cake (gee now I've made myself hungry - HI) to come up with the following facts.

Let's look first at traditional QSL's.

Total number of all QSO's verified since 1963: 8,486
Number of different stations in those verifications: 6,562
Average verifications per station: 1.3

Total number of QRP QSO's verified since 1963: 5,550
Number of different stations in those verifications: 3,979
Average verifications per station: 1.4

Now eQSL's

Total number of all QSO's verified since 1963: 6,525
Number of different stations in those verifications: 2,074
Average verifications per station: 3.1

Total number of QRP QSO's verified since 1963: 6,524
Number of different stations in those verifications: 2,073
Average verifications per station: 3.1

Now LotW

Total number of all QSO's verified since 1963: 7,675
Number of different stations in those verifications: 1,806
Average verifications per station: 4.2

Total number of QRP QSO's verified since 1963: 7,668
Number of different stations in those verifications: 1,799
Average verifications per station: 4.3

The stats need some explanation before analyzing them. I have all my QSO's since 1963 uploaded to the LotW. For eQSL I only uploaded my QSO's since 1990. However that difference doesn't seem to really matter since only 7 LotW matches and 1 eQSL are from QSO's before 1990 anyway.

The average verifications per station is very obvious. Not everyone mails a paper QSL for every QSO, while it is easy and cheap (free) to verify each and every QSO on eQSL and LotW.

Finally the tiny differences in eQSL and LotW totals between all QSO's and QRP QSO's is explained by the fact that virtually all verifications from both of those services come from QSO's after 1990, and I have been strictly QRP (5 watts or less) since that time. -30-

Thursday, May 08, 2008 10:25 PM - I received an email from Lee WA8QFE about QSLing. He wonders why more folks aren't using the on-line QSL services - Logbook of the World (LotW) and eQSL. Personally I use both of them despite the fact that I think nothing will ever replace the thrill of receiving hard copy QSL's via regular mail. And I don't mean the printed copies of the eQSL's. I mean the regular old fashioned QSL cards that we used to send back in the 1960's for just a single 4 cent stamp, and most of the ones we sent we got a reply to without having to send a SASE, return postage, IRC, green stamp, etc.

Nowadays sending that QSL card via regular mail costs 27 cents per card, and that may jump another penny the middle of this month sometime. I know regular first class mail is going from 41 to 42 cents, but I haven't checked to see if the postcard rate is also going up.

Anyway I digressed from what I started to talk about, but the digression was important because it shows why on-line QSLing is becoming more and more popular and will continue to do so as the Postal Service prices sending postcards or QSL cards out of reach of many folks on limited incomes and the like.

I think all hams should sign up for either or both of the LotW and eQSL services. Both are free services although eQSL has many additional features for which they charge a not-too-small fee.

Personally I believe LotW to be the better and more secure of the two systems, and I consider a verification obtained that way to be the equivalent of a regular QSL card. I now include such verifications in my awards tables in the Awards section of the web site.

eQSL's are also quite good and have what may be to some a very important additional feature. There is actually an on-line QSL card shown for every match that may be printed out by the user. Personally I save each eQSL as a digital file on my extra 500 GB hard drive and on CD. I don't waste the ink or paper to print them out. I should clarify that a bit. I save one QSL per station per band, not each and every one. I don't need 32 40M eQSL's from the same station - one will do.

If you haven't explored these two on-line services, you may be interested to see what you will find there. You may have many many eQSL's or 'matches' (as the LotW verifications are called) waiting for you once you sign up and upload your log file. In fact you can check without signing up to see how many eQSL's you have waiting. Just go to the QSLing section of my web site, and scroll down the main page to find an eQSL form where you can type in your call and submit it to get a list of your eQSL's.

Go to http://www.eqsl.cc/qslcard/ to find out about eQSL's and the ARRL web site at http://www.arrl.org/lotw/ for more info on the LotW. -30-

Wednesday, May 07, 2008 10:43 AM - UPDATE!! - I said yesterday was a nondescript day. What's the opposite of nondescript? Whatever it is, today was that day. As I said earlier in today's entry, I was going fishing. Well I helped a neighbor before going, and that dragged out for a while, but that was a blessing in the end. I went fishing about an hour later than I would have otherwise. And just before I was ready to quit after getting only the same sneaky bites I got yesterday, I saw something pulling on my line in earnest. I picked up the pole and knew right away I had something big on. I got a glimpse of it, and it didn't look like anything I was familiar with right away. We battled for a few minutes, and I still wasn't sure what it was. I knew about 15 kinds of fish it WASN'T. Then after making my way down a short steep embankment to get closer to the water's edge, I got the fish in close to shore and saw now just what it WAS. It was a Muskellunge or Muskie. The dream fish of any angler. It was hooked right at the back end of its huge mouth away from the sharp teeth which is why I was able to land it since I only had my regular line on, and not the steel leader you generally need to catch a Muskie. Just as I got him on shore he did somehow get the line in his teeth and bit right through it. I did get to measure him and handle him though before releasing him. He was 36 inches long, which besides being the first Muskie I ever caught, was also the biggest fish I've ever caught. That eclipsed the 33 inch Carp I got last year. WOW! I'm still excited after a couple hours now. The bait? Just a small red worm from Ange's garden.

Although I've been interested in astronomy almost all my life and radio as well, I don't recall ever hearing of the massive "Carrington Flare" on the Sun which occurred on September 1, 1859. I found the following article about it via one of my astronomy RSS feeds in IE8. http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2008/06may_carringtonflare.htm. Perhaps you will also find it intriguing, as I did.

You may notice that the time stamp is back on my diary entries. I've abandoned the Alleycode HTML editor and gone back to HTML-Kit again. I found I could take some of the features I liked in Alleycode and adapt HTML-Kit to emulate them.

It's another nice day, so I'm shutting down here at the computer and getting myself outside for some walking, fishing, etc. -30-

Tuesday, May 6, 2008 - Kind of a nondescript day today. Nothing really unusual, different, or exciting going on. I just did some run of the mill stuff, like walking, fishing (well at least that was mildly exciting as I caught my first fish in about 10 days), some work around the house, and so on.

The fish I caught was a bit unusual. Or at least the way I caught it. After fishing for an hour and 45 minutes with only some sneaky bites on my red worms, I was ready to quit. When I picked up my pole to reel in and shut down, there was a fish on the line. I never saw any bites. The fish just hooked himself and sat out there without moving. I've had that happen before, but mostly with carpsuckers who do that from time to time. This was a sucker though, and I don't recall ever catching one of them that way.

That's 10 fish for the year now, still my second best total as of a May 6th. About 10 years ago, I had 16 fish at this time of year. So at least getting some bites today and catching the 'non biting' sucker is encouraging. Maybe after the 10 day lull, things are going to start picking up again. I'll probably go again tomorrow to see if that's true or not.

Oh, I almost forgot, Don WA3ZBJ emailed me today and told me that I was mentioned in a U-Tube video. Well, I watched it, and had I blinked at the wrong time, I would have missed seeing myself, but I am really there, albeit briefly. If you want to take a look, you'll at least be treated to a lot of beautiful scenery, and two hams constantly saying how well QRP works. It's at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W1oOU0eL24w. -30-

Monday, May 5, 2008 - I built my switching setup for the RF attenuator today, and now I can switch easily between 5 watts and 930 milliwatts output. However only on 160-30 meters for now. Still have to figure out how to switch in the pad for the other bands without making things overly complicated. Perhaps the easiest way to do it might be just to build another pad and use another switch for those bands. Anyway it was a lot of fun actually building something again, even though it was just something simple.

Other than that, most of the day was spent outside. I walked about 8.5 miles today. I went up to the beautiful Buttermilk Falls area I talked about here in the diary a few weeks ago. A friend of mine went with me, and he really enjoyed the scenery up there. I took some more pictures also. You may recall the last time I went there, my camera batteries were low and I didn't get all the pictures I wanted. I also learned a little about some wildflowers and birds from my friend who is a real nature lover. Here's a picture of the falls themselves. Not a Niagara by any means, but still very beautiful, I think.

Buttermilk Falls


Sunday, May 4, 2008 - I am so glad there is a NAQCC. I owe all the delightful time I had this weekend to the NAQCC and the May mW Challenge. Without that, I would have missed out on making 119 QSO's in the NE, CH, W7, and IN QSO Parties this weekend. I'd probably have just used one of the parties for my daily streak QSO and that would have been it. So in my case for sure, the basic purpose of the NAQCC in getting hams to be more active on CW certainly applies. What a ball I had. Thanks NAQCC.

I'm now up to 45 states worked with mW power. I was rolling toward a mW WAS back in the 90's, then I got the TS-570 with its minimum 5 watts power output, and got away from mW work except for a couple brief times using Eric KB3BFQ's QRP+. More about Eric in a moment. However as I mentioned earlier in the diary, I finally built an RF attenuator and now am back into mW work with a vengeance. HI. I just have the attenuator clipped in now. I'm going to build a switching device so I can easily go from 5 watts to the 930mW I get with the attenuator. Maybe tomorrow or Tuesday, I'll get to that. Also because of the way I switch antennas here, right now I can only use it on 160-30M. I'll have to figure out how to switch it in for 20-10M also some time.

An equally delightful thing happened this weekend. Eric emailed me and said he made his first QSO since getting back on the air a few days ago. I think that pleased me just as much as all the mW work I did this weekend. Eric has his own diary or (ughh) 'blog' now about his ham radio activities. It's at http://kb3bfq.blogspot.com/. Take a look -30-

Saturday, May 3, 2008 - I'm having a lot of fun with my new homebrew RF attenuator. According to my math, my output power with the attenuator was 990 milliwatts. I wanted to make sure I was below 1 watt, so I lowered the resistance in the leg of the T a bit, and recalculated the power as now being 930 milliwatts. I've made 16 mW QSO's so far in our NAQCC challenge. 15 of them today in about 25 minutes or so in the IN and MARAC contests. I worked everyone I called very easily with the exception of two stations who didn't seem to hear me at all. I think the one QRT just before I called though, as I never heard him again despite the fact he was quite strong when I did hear him. Although I know QRP and QRPp does work well, I must admit I was a bit surprised at the easy way I was making QSO's. Even the mobiles were copying me easily. I didn't have to repeat my info a single time.

I hope a lot more of you are going down into the mW range for our NAQCC May Challenge. It certainly has been a joy for me to be operating QRPp again. I should have built the attenuator a long time ago. Now maybe I'll get back to working on my QRPp WAS and DXCC again. -30-

Friday, May 2, 2008 - IMPORTANT RIP-OFF INFO. I received a letter in the mail today from The W5YI VEC, Inc. offering to renew my amateur radio license for a fee of $7.00. Now why should I pay them $7.00 to do something I can do on-line for free. The FCC does not charge a fee for license renewals except for vanity calls. I do not hold a vanity call, therefore I will renew my license for FREE on the FCC web site when I get within the 90 day pre-expiration period a few days from now.

Here are pertinent excerpts from the license renewal instructions on the ARRL web site:

"Amateur applications can be filed manually using paper forms or electronically over the Internet. Amateurs may electronically renew their FCC-issued licenses "on line" via the FCC web using FCC ULS . FCC permits on-line renewals at 90 days or less before a license will expire, and when the license has expired but is still within the two-year grace period for renewal. Licenses that have been expired for more than two years are not eligible for renewal or reinstatement. If you have a Vanity License renewal, remember to have your credit card accessible to pay the FCC Regulatory Fee."

And further on:

"For a complete list of FCC filing instructions and filing fees go to the ARRL page Instructions for License Renewals or Changes.
NOTE: Other than for Vanity license applications, all FCC license application actions are FREE." (my emphasis added)

It saddens me to think that many hams will not be aware they can renew for free, and will waste $7.00 in response to letters like the one I received. If the enclosed envelope were a post-paid envelope I would write back and tell them what I think of their scheme.

You have to be very careful in this day and age and examine very closely anything that says they will do something for you for only a few (sometimes many) bucks.

I hope this entry helps at least a few people to save a few hard earned dollars. -30-

Thursday, May 1, 2008 - Spring is back again after a couple cold days. It got down to 32 this morning, then warmed nicely to 70 by late afternoon. Nice enough to go fishing, which I did, but only got one tiny nibble the whole hour I was there.

I've been going to do this since I got my Kenwood TS-570D back in 1999, and I finally got around to it. I built an RF attenuator to cut my 5 watts in the 570 (now the 480) back to less than 1 watt. I dug out a formula for a T attenuator, designed one to cut power by 7db which is approximately what is needed to go from 5 watts to something in the 900 mW range. Then I hunted up the correct value carbon resistors from my junk box. Of course I didn't have exactly what I needed so I had to connect some in series and some in parallel to get close to the values. Then I put it together and clip leaded it between my 480 and my tuner. I still have to get my RF meter back from a loan to see just exactly what my power output is, but it should be somewhere just below 1 watt. I made one QSO so far at that power level, working W9OTE on 40M early this evening. What motivated me to finally do this? The NAQCC May Milliwatt challenge. Our NAQCC activities certainly serve their purpose in my case. That is getting me to be more active on the bands. I think without the NAQCC, I would just about every day get on just long enough to get my streak QSO, then QRT. But with the NAQCC, I manage to squeeze in more air time to master the challenges, work on the club awards, operate our sprints, etc.

Other than that, I spent about 3-4 hours on the phone helping with computer problems. I sometimes think I should be a support person for some computer company. Only then I'd go completely crazy because there are few things harder than trying to explain something about computers over the phone when you can't see what's going on at the person's computer, and they are incapable of describing it in a way that is understandable.

And that pretty much tired me out for the day, so I'm going to just close this entry now, and listen to some OTR comedy show to relax. -30-

Wednesday, April 30, 2008 - Thoughts from Geoff W1OH on my 'spotting' comments of yesterday: "Hi John, I have to agree with you about Internet spotting and particularly your statement "I believe that takes all the fun and satisfaction out of the hunt". Exactly my thought when I "discovered" spotting some years ago after getting back into active ham radio operation! There's nothing quite like tuning the CW segments and coming across some needed station on his first CQ! That's part of the magic! 73, geoff - W1OH"

Finding a station on the first CQ is often the only way a minimalist QRPer can work a very rare DX station. Because with spotting, there will be a huge pile after that rare DX works a few stations and he is 'spotted'. Of course it is fun also to break a huge pileup with a minimal QRP signal. A very skilled operator can do it by studying the pileup, anticipating the DX station's next move, and timing his call perfectly. I get a thrill out of doing that. Admittedly it doesn't happen often as those KW/beam signals just put out too strong a signal in pileups. -30-

Tuesday, April 29, 2008 - St. Bart's or St. Barthelemy, however you say it, I finally got it last night. I was looking around 30M for my daily streak QSO, and heard this station on 10.106.6 working stations, but never signing his call. I hung around out of curiosity to see who it was. I knew it wasn't YV5OIE, 6Y5WJ, PZ5RA, or the other regulars I hear on 30M, since I know their keying and operating patterns. This had to be someone different. After working about 5 more stations, he finally signed FJ/DJ2VO. I knew he had to be operating split since St. Bart's is still pretty rare as a 'new' country. So I set up the 480 for split and parked on about 10.107.7 for my transmit frequency, and called after he completed each QSO. After only about 4 minutes, he came back with K3?, I sent K3WWP once more, and bingo, after an exchange of RST's, I had country or entity #206 in my QRP/CW/simple wire antenna collection.

Now I could have gotten FJ a lot sooner had I used packet or Internet spotting, or even announced DXpedition info. However I believe that takes all the fun and satisfaction out of the hunt. I have only used any kind of spotting once in all the DX stations I've worked. That was for V51AS on 30M. I was talking to a ham friend on the Internet and he mentioned V51AS was spotted on such and such a frequency on 30M, and we wondered if I could work him. So I went to my shack, tuned to the announced frequency, and did work him. I believe that was a new band country, but I had worked Namibia before.

Other than that all my DX QSO's have come from just tuning around the band - hunting - for them. Nothing against anyone who uses spotting, but it is just not for me. To me, spotting seems akin to stocking a small barrel with some hungry fish, and catching my fish that way. Or perhaps capturing a deer and putting him in a fenced in area for me to 'hunt' and shoot. There's just no challenge in it. Without the challenge, I get little satisfaction from doing anything, be it working DX, fishing, working a jigsaw puzzle, or a hundred other things.

Likewise all but a couple of my 400+ band states worked have come from just randomly tuning around the bands, or in contests. I did make a sked to work Idaho on 80M, and I believe ND on some band, but those are the only ones that I didn't truly hunt down and work.

Similarly, that is why I kind of gave up on county hunting. Despite co-founding the CW County Hunters net with WA8EOH back in 1966, I soon realized that the net took a lot of the challenge out of county hunting. I did enjoy the fellowship with so many nice folks the net offered, but I found little satisfaction in working counties that way, especially when we started getting a lot of mobile check-ins to the net. Again it smacked of the 'fishing in a stocked barrel' concept to me.

Even further, I used to enjoy following sports a lot more when it was a challenge to find a game on TV or the radio rather than how it is today when virtually every game of every sport is seemingly readily available on TV or the Internet. I remember the fun of following the NCAA basketball tournament when all the games weren't readily available, especially the late West Coast games. You had to search the radio dial, perhaps even the SW bands to find a broadcast of the game. That was how I heard one of my favorite moments from a tournament when Danny Ainge drove the length of the court to give BYU a victory.

I guess I'm somewhat akin to the fellow in the commercial who makes his money the old fashioned way - he earns it. I like to 'earn' my accomplishments in life. -30-

Monday, April 28, 2008 - We slipped backwards a bit today. After that nice spell of weather, it was decidedly chilly today by comparison. I think the high today didn't get out of the lower 50's after several days in the upper 60's to near 80 or more. In fact it's going to get down near freezing the next couple nights, and I've probably got to cover my tomatoes, although it is supposed to be cloudy and windy which means little chance of frost. Still I'll be on the safe side.

I spent a good part of today organizing my collection of Old Time Radio broadcasts which is something I've wanted to do for some time now, but just never seemed to find the time.

I don't know how the bands were today. I started a couple times to check them out, but got distracted on the way. So I'll wait till 0000Z for my daily QSO to see what they are like.

I took a lot more 'spring' pictures the past couple days and may post them on SkyDrive depending on how many other things I have to do here. I got some nice response to the 26 'spring' pictures I posted several days ago. One especially rewarding comment from a semi-shut-in who said after seeing my pictures, she felt like she really experienced the coming of spring through the pictures even though she couldn't get out to see spring in person at the time. -30-

Sunday, April 27, 2008 - A couple more signs that spring is settling in nicely. Folks are abandoning 80M and heading to 40M. 80 was just about dead this evening, and there were many signals on 40M. Also the daily hits on my web site are dropping off as they usually do around this time of year as people discover the joys of being outside again and get away somewhat from their Internet addiction. And that's good. There's nothing like the great outdoors. I walked over 10.5 miles out there today and went fishing for about an hour and a half. Unfortunately the fish must have been on their version of the Internet as all I got were a few nibbles on my red worms, and I couldn't hook any of them. I was hoping to tie or beat my April record of 10 fish, but I've been stuck at 9 for a few trips now. Supposed to rain tomorrow so I probably won't go, unless it stops early enough. Maybe if it does, the carp will come to the sewer outlets this time unlike yesterday. -30-

Saturday, April 26, 2008 - DX was good on 20M late this afternoon. I heard several EU stations, some quite strong. I was only looking for the letter 'T' to finish my NAQCC April Challenge with 63 different calls for the 63 letters, so the only one of the stations I worked was IK3VUT, but I probably could have worked several more. Coincidentally that made 15 countries now with the 480.

My tomato babies survived their first thunderstorm in fine shape today. We had over 1/2 inch of rain in only several minutes along with some pretty strong wind gusts. Not to mention some powerful lightning strikes, some quite close as the thunder followed in just a fraction of a second which means the strikes were within 1000 feet, probably within a few hundred feet.

I figured the heavy rain might bring the carp into the storm sewer runoffs at the river, so I headed there after it stopped, but never got a single bite nor even saw any carp. Maybe they forgot about the sewer deal over the winter and it will take a couple storms for them to remember. -30-

Friday, April 25, 2008 - Again a beautiful 'outdoors' day. I planted my tomatoes, so my 'babies' are now on their own in the outside world. Hopefully they are big enough so they won't be bothered by the myriad of garden pests that can attack and sometimes destroy young tomato plants. I had almost a whole crop of 8 or 10 plants wiped out several years ago. I'm still not sure what did it.

I also finished(?) trimming my pine tree, at least until it gets its new growth for the year which I'll cut back a bit as usual. But the bottom branches are now either gone or thinned out, and it makes the back yard look a little more spacious and bright now.

After that it was off to the river for some more fishing. I caught a nice 15 inch bass on one of the little worms we dug up when unburying the fig trees several days ago. That's one of the bigger bass I've caught over the years. I also had something else on, but he got away.

When I got home, Ange called and wanted to do some spading in his garden, so I helped with that. I guess we spaded around 200 square feet or so before he had to leave to go to some meeting.

Then I went for a couple walks this evening, and just got home a few minutes ago. In-between walks, I got my QSO for the day along with another DX station - CT1ILT on 30M. When I called CQ on 40M, I got an answer from a WP4 station. After a few repeats, I got his call - WP4DQK, and he was QRP also, so I had a 2X QRP DX QSO for my streak QSO for the 26th. That makes 14 countries now with the 480. -30-

Thursday, April 24, 2008 - An outside day today. That's where I spent most of my time, either fishing, walking, or in the yard. I cut my grass for the second time this year already. It sure is growing with the wonderful weather. I also put my tomato plants outside for the first time today to harden them off. I may just go ahead and plant them tomorrow which would be about a week ahead of when I planted last year.

No luck fishing today, so my total stays at 8 for the year, but it was just nice to be sitting out in the beautiful weather doing nothing but watching the water go by. I did see one nice fish come to the surface out about 75 feet or so. Looked like a big carp from the glimpse I got of the color, but he never came in closer nor went down to the bottom to get my bait.

Tomorrow looks like another nice day although there is a slight chance of a thundershower in the afternoon. Maybe we'll get enough rain to get the carp to come to see what washed in from the storm sewers, and I'll have a little fun. -30-

Wednesday, April 23, 2008 - Do you know how to zero beat someone? I mean do you really know how? Well over half of my QSO's are made with hams who answer my CQ off frequency - some by as much as several hundred Hertz. This gives a big opportunity for QRM to happen. Someone could check my frequency while the station I'm working is transmitting, think my frequency is clear and plop down on it - all legitimately. Then when I transmit, I am being QRMed, and the other station can no longer copy me. If the ham had answered my CQ exactly zero beat with me, we wouldn't have that problem. Also if we are not zero beat with each other, we are using up two frequencies of precious spectrum space instead of one.

This is an over-simplified explanation I am going into now because I don't want to get over-technical here. There are many other sources where you can delve more deeply into the matter if you wish. Many, if not almost all, modern transceivers work this way. The sidetone that you hear when you are transmitting is equal to the offset frequency of your transceiver. So if your sidetone is set to 600 Hertz for example, when you tune in a station so that you hear him at 600 Hertz, you are then exactly at zero beat with him.

Got that? When you hear a station, and your sidetone frequency is set to 600 Hertz, you should tune the station so you hear him at 600 Hertz to be zero beat. If your sidetone is set to 600 Hertz and you tune a station so you hear him at 1000 Hertz, you are going to be 400 Hertz off frequency when you answer him.

Now if you like to listen to the station you are working at 1000 Hertz for whatever reason, then read your transceiver manual and set your sidetone to also be 1000 Hertz, then you will have the best of both worlds. You can listen to the station at your preferred tone of 1000 Hertz, AND you will be zero beat with the station.

All you really need to do is to match the tone of the station you are working to the sidetone frequency. It's so simple, EXCEPT for those who are 'tone deaf' and honestly are physically unable to tell the difference between 600 and 1000 Hertz or pretty much any other pair of tones.

Those folks need some assistance in zero beating. Fortunately many modern transceivers have some means of automatically zero beating a station. Read your manual to see if yours does.

There is also a neat little circuit described in the CW section of my web site that can assist in zero beating someone if you are 'tone deaf' and your transceiver can't help you by itself.

At any rate, please study the matter of zero beating more if you need to, and practice it until you are as close to perfect as possible.

I believe this is why I get so many hams saying they just don't seem to be able to make QSO's with their QRP power. If you run QRP, it is extremely important to zero beat someone when you call them. You are much more likely to be heard than if you call a few hundred Hertz off frequency. A station running a KW will probably be noticed if he is off frequency, but a little 5 watts or less signal may not be.

And one final exception. If you are running a crystal controlled transmitter, then you will have to call off frequency in most cases. Then you should send the call of the station you are calling at least 3 or 4 times to give him time to find you, and know you are calling him. -30-

Tuesday, April 22, 2008 - A second quiet day in a row here. Quiet enough that I finally got around to uploading a bunch of pictures to SkyDrive. If your a pictures fan, Check out the 'Spring 2008 in Kittanning' folder on my SkyDrive site for 26 new pictures. Also check the 'K3WWP History' folder for the picture I took just before getting my first QSO on day 5000 of the streak. I hope to get some audio of my first QSO to go with the picture some day soon. -30-

Monday, April 21, 2008 - Kind of a quiet day for a change. Not a lot to talk about. I went fishing this afternoon and again this evening. Got shutout both times. Too windy in the afternoon, and just fooling with a lure this evening. Those are my excuses. HI.

The bands continue good today. Only worked one DX station - CO6WD on 20M, but heard several others I either didn't need or just couldn't work for one reason or another. I'm still impressed and happy with the 480 and its receiving abilities.

I helped Ange with a bit more garden work today. We planted some potatoes and beans. I'm thinking of getting my tomatoes outside very soon now. I think I did it last year around the end of April, and may try for about a week earlier this year. They're easy to cover in case we do get a late frost. My lettuce and onions seemed to like the rain yesterday and are noticeably bigger today.

And this bit of interesting info about our NAQCC challenges from one of our first-time participants. Mike KC2LYQ says, "I had a great time completing this challenge. This is my first time working on an NAQCC challenge, and it definitely won't be my last. It got me to be much more active than I usually am, and it was one of the best amateur radio experiences I've had so far in my four years of being licensed."

That's quite a testimonial for our innovative NAQCC challenges. I hope it may encourage you to give them a try if you're a member and haven't done so yet. -30-

Sunday, April 20, 2008 - There's no doubt about it now. My tomato flowers have been successfully pollinated by my "Q-Tip Bee". Looky here:


The other wilted flowers in the picture also bear tomatoes behind them, and my other Siberian plant has a few others as well.

Our summer preview is over, and we're back to spring today with temps only in the low 60's or so. We also had a few showers which should help my lettuce and onions. This is certainly a beautiful and wonderful time of year as we say goodby to nasty old winter and look forward to another wonderful summer.

The bands also seem to be picking up with the weather. Or perhaps with my new toy, the 480, I'm just getting on the air more to play with it. At any rate I caught a nice special call station on 20M today - XE83IARU, and later worked my first non-contest EU station (other than TF4M) in a long time when I got S59AA on 20M. I also almost worked a HA7, but he only got as far as K3??P. But hey it was nice to get across the pond again outside a contest environment. Mike KC2EGL heard ZL1BYZ on 17M today, but I didn't hear him at all here 30 miles away from Mike.

Tonite I've got a sked with Eric KB3BFQ who got his station set up already after getting his equipment from me yesterday. We tried earlier today, but no go as 40 miles is a rough distance in the daytime here, especially at this point in the sunspot cycle and with a 2X QRP QSO. -30-

Saturday, April 19, 2008 - Yet another summer preview day - 84 degrees with increasing cloudiness.

No time for fishing today. Garden work this morning - all fig trees are now unburied for the season.

Had a nice visit with Eric KB3BFQ and his two year old boy, Perry this afternoon. Eric now has all his ham gear back that I'd been keeping for him, and he's anxious to get back on the air again.

A couple walks this evening, and in-between, I pretty much finished up my pine tree pruning.

The bands were good this evening. I got a quick MI QP QSO for my streak QSO, then tuned around for about a half hour or so and worked a couple DX stations on 30 - PR7AR and YV5OIE, both easy QSO's. I also did some listening on the AM and SW BC bands with the 480 to see how it performs on those bands and modes. I found out it performs quite well. I think the audio quality on AM is better than on the 570.

I'm finding my poll this month turning up some interesting responses. If you haven't voted, I hope you will.

And one other comment on the web site. I received a 'Teens and CW' report from Cal, K0DXC, and I just finished posting it on the web site. Cal is 13 years old and is already up to 30 WPM on CW, and loving it. Well, I don't want to tell more of his story here - you'll have to read it for yourself. Check the CW section of my web site.

One final comment. When Mike KC2EGL was here last week, we discussed one of our many common interests - soccer. Mike said he was going to tape some of the New York Red Bull matches and send the tape to me. I just received an email saying he was now taping the Red Bull-Revolution match, and warned me not to check out any results so as not to spoil my viewing when I get the tape. OK Mike, I'll stay off the MLS web site. And don't any of you soccer fans dare tell me the result either or we won't be friends any longer. HI -30-

Friday, April 18, 2008 - Another beautiful spring/summer day, so I did some more work on the pine tree in the back yard among other outdoor activities.

I went fishing and was more successful than yesterday. I got a sucker and a carpsucker. That makes 4 fish so far this year and ties for the most fish I've caught by April 18th in any year. So maybe this will be a record breaking fishing year, but there is a long way to go yet, and anything can happen.

My friend Eric KB3BFQ is coming to visit tomorrow and I'm looking forward to that. I think the last time I saw him was last July 4th. I think I mentioned he's getting back into ham radio after a several year layoff, and I'm delighted especially since he is a dedicated CW/QRP/simple wire antenna ham just like me.

Continuing in no particular order, Ange and I unburied 3 more fig trees today. Those were biggies, and a lot of work. Now just a couple more little ones to go. Thank goodness, although it is good exercise.

I'm getting more and more positive my tomato flowers were successfully pollinated. The flowers are starting to wilt a bit now, and that bulge at their base seems to be getting bigger. I still can't actually see any tiny tomatoes yet, but I think they are there.

I've been thinking a bit more about my streak and what it proves. I think it proves you don't have to do everything just this way and that to be successful. I think many hams believe that they must make their antenna exactly so long and put it up exactly so high. They must make their station ground exactly this way and that. And a hundred other things must be done exactly the way it says in this book or that. I've never done anything like that here. I just put up what I can fit in for an antenna and ground, and look what I've done with that.

A good analogy comes from another of my hobbies, fishing. Many people will not fish unless the sun and moon are in a certain position or the barometer is rising or falling, and the like. I go fishing when I feel like it, not when some fishing guide tells me the fishing is going to be good. And you know what, most of the time I go, probably at least 2/3 of the trips, I catch something. Most of the no catch trips come early in the season or late in the season, and the percentage from say May through September is even better than that. Maybe I'll see what the actual percentage is sometime and report it here. -30-

Thursday, April 17, 2008 - Well, it almost looks like we bypassed spring and went right into summer. It was sunny with temps near 80 degrees today, and you bet I took advantage of it. I was sick of the cold weather of winter and early spring.

I started off trimming my pine tree in the back yard. I get tired of trimming it back every year, so this time I'm taking a lot off of it to make the job easier in the next few years. Then I got to looking at my grass and it needed mowing already, so I did that.

Next it was down to the river for some fishing, and as I said yesterday my fishing streak probably wouldn't last long. I was shut out today. A friend was fishing with me, and he almost lost his pole to a fish. He was talking to someone who had stopped by that he knew, and some fish, probably a carp, thought he'd like to have a pole of his own. My friend grabbed the pole just before it went into the water, but the line broke, so we didn't get to see the fish, but I'm just about sure it was a carp. I know their habits pretty well by now.

Then it was back home for a bite to eat. Next off to help Ange dig up a couple more fig trees at his house. That took a couple hours or so, and he drove me home.

I fooled around inside for a while, then went out to go shopping for a few grocery items. However my neighbors were out playing basketball, so I joined in and played for a while, mostly with the young daughter. She wanted to play till one of us made 20 baskets. Well, she wound up beating me 20-19. Then I continued on to the store and did my shopping.

When I got home, I played with my new toy, the TS-480SAT. I worked VP9KF on 40, along with WA8QFE and KX9DX. I'm getting more and more used to it now and liking it more.

After that it was out for a last walk today. I didn't put in many miles today (only 5.55 as I check my pedometer), but I think I got enough exercise in other ways. It feels great to get so much exercise, and I'm looking forward to a lot more if this nice weather continues.

And oh yes, it looks more and more like my tomatoes have started. There is a small bulge developing at the base of the flowers which didn't open at all today, by the way. -30-

Wednesday, April 16, 2008 - It looks like I may possibly have a little tomato starting on one of my plants. Actually 2 tomatoes. The flowers didn't open fully today, and that's usually the sign of a successful pollination. So hopefully my Q-tip "bee" did the job. I'll know for sure in a couple days. If so, I think that may put me a couple days ahead of last years schedule.

My fishing 'streak' is now at 2 trips. I went again today and got a 13 inch sucker. Not many bites, but at least I haven't been shut out so far this year. That probably won't last long though, as it's usually pretty slow this early in the season.

Anyway even if the fish don't bite, it is delightful to be outside in the lovely weather that has finally arrived here. It was around 70 degrees today, and should be the same or even warmer the next couple days or so, and maybe beyond that. -30-

Tuesday, April 15, 2008 - One of the simple joys in life is having someone ask you a question you can easily and completely answer. That happened to me today. Geo N1EAV asks, "Just had one quick question that maybe you can answer in the diary. Probably pretty insignificant, but just wondering why you stopped using a time stamp in your entries." Simple - I'm using a different HTML editor which doesn't have an easy quick way to insert a time stamp like the editor I used previously. Oh and thanks for the congrats, Geo.

Today was a landmark day for me. I opened my fishing season. I went for a walk this morning and it was so nice out and the river was down to a good fishing level, so I turned around and headed home. I made some peanut butter bread, gathered up my fishing gear and headed back to the river. For the first hour or so I was shut out without even a trace of a nibble. Then a friend of mine stopped by and we chatted for a while. I noticed my pole moved just a tad a couple times. I wasn't sure it was a bite or not. My friend is kind of a beachcomber in that he walks along the river's edge looking for lost fishing tackle, etc. He wandered off a bit up the river, and then I noticed my pole was bouncing a bit more. I picked it up and before long, the telltale bite of a carp thrilled me. I didn't get impatient and waited for him to take the bait, set the hook and had a nice 5 or so minutes battle with my friend watching and reeling in my other line so they wouldn't get tangled. At first, despite the bite, it didn't feel like a carp, but after a while I saw the golden brown color in the water at the end of my line and knew it was definitely a carp. I pulled him (her?) out of the water, removed the hook, measured him and put him back in the water. He turned out to be the most common size carp that I catch - 26 inches. I was going to leave, but decided I'd stick it out a bit longer after catching the carp. About 20 minutes later I had another series of nibbles, but after waiting a while with no further action than that, I quit and headed home. So that made my day.

When I got home, it wasn't long before Ange (my garden friend) showed up and wanted to know if I wanted to dig up some of the fig trees. I said sure, so we dug up, let's see, 5 of the smaller ones which leaves 4 bigger ones to go, or actually 5 since we buried two together in the same mound last fall. 3 in the garden near here and 2 more at his house. We'll do them later in the week.

And if those are not enough signs that spring is here, all the trees are starting to turn green here in town. My lettuce and onions are growing. My tomatoes are probably getting anxious to be outside. It's just a great time of year.

I'm having fun with the 'new' TS-480SAT here. I'm learning the filter setups better and they seem to really knock down my noise a little better than the 570. I worked my first DX with it this evening - FM/I2GPT, and it was split frequency. The split setup on the 480 is quite a bit different than the 570, but I mastered it quickly enough to get the FM station before he drew a big pileup, if he did. -30-

Monday, April 14, 2008 - So much to say, and so little time. Why is it always like that? When I have a lot to say, I'm running late and involved in many different things. When there's not much to talk about, I have all the time in the world. Aha, now I understand after writing that, don't you?

At any rate, one more thanks for a 5,000 day congratulations goes to Ivin W9ILF who sent a radiogram relayed to me via Mo, WB3ING.

I just debuted a new poll a few minutes ago. As you'll see, this was suggested by Richard and amended by Tom. It's kind of a different format poll, and was hard to set up, but I think it will prove to be yet another interesting one, as I hope all my polls are.

I think I mentioned this, but my friend Eric KB3BFQ who is largely responsible for the idea for my streak, is getting back into ham radio, and just a little while ago submitted his application to join the NAQCC.

And now to another great part of today. My friend Mike KC2EGL visited today with his new K2 rig, and I got to play with it for a while. It seems to be as good a rig as everyone says, although setting all the filters it contains is very complicated at first go, and we never did get it optimized for the noise at my house. However with all the settings, I'm sure once Mike masters them, he'll bring it back for another test and we'll find out that it will make a big difference in reception here.

Mike insisted I make the first QSO with the rig, so I did, and we worked W6KBJ in Bedford, NH on 40M. Mike is making the K2 his main station rig now, and is loaning me his TS-480SAT indefinitely. So I have a 'new' toy to play with. I also made a couple QSO's with it, so I wound up with 4 QSO's using 3 different rigs on the 14th.

There's probably a lot more I could say about events of the past few days here, but I just have no more time as I've got a lot of other things to get caught up on before bed time tonight. -30-

Sunday, April 13, 2008 - Some more streak congrats, etc., but first I just want to pass along this touching story involving two of my favorite people and ham radio. It's from the ARRL Letter, Vol. 27, No. 14, April 11, 2008 to give proper credit as is always due when quoting something.

"* William F. Buckley Meets Amateur Radio: In a personal essay published in the April 7, 2008 issue of "The National Review," the late William F. Buckley Jr described a fascinating story involving himself, Senator Barry Goldwater, K7UGA (SK), and of course ham radio.
It seems that Mr Buckley was part of a 12 man trip to Russia's Vostok station, a very remote outpost at the magnetic South Pole. In addition to his brother, Senator James Buckley, their old pal Barry Goldwater and his son Barry Jr were also members of this expedition. Buckley described being in a crowded Soviet igloo, entertained with "trays of caviar and tumblers of vodka." After toasting his Russian host, he was suddenly taken aside by Barry Jr. "Dad wants to see you" he said, pointing to the door. Buckley was taken to another igloo, apparently the radio shack. "Thought you might like to talk to your wife," the senior Goldwater said. Buckley describes the prideful look on Goldwater's face, having maneuvered the Soviet radio to contact his wife back home in Arizona! Although he was a man famous for his complete control of the English language, Bill Buckley said he was "speechless" as he heard the telephone ringing and his wife answering the telephone! He said, "It's me darling" and his wife responded, "It's three o'clock in the morning!" Buckley exclaimed, "I'm calling from the South Pole!" This story reminded me of the many nights back in the late 1970s when I gladly helped with phone patches from the US Navy base at McMurdo, Antarctica. Just as Senator Goldwater did, I awakened many people in the wee hours of the morning with a phone call from their loved ones on the bottom of the world! -- Bruce Jackson, KA5ELC, Cordova, Tennessee"

Of course the two people I refer to are Bill Buckley and Barry Goldwater. It's too bad they are no longer with us.

I've updated the QRP Streak page in the QRP section of the web site to bring it up to 5,000 days if you want to take a look. A lot of the descriptive material is still the same, but some is new and of course all the stats and significant milestones are updated.

I mentioned about working Paul N0NBD on 30M. Here's the story from his end of the QSO as emailed to me a little while ago. "Hello John and thanks for the quick chat today. I worked all day on a project and looked at the clock and ran upstairs to the shack.[me running is quite a sight hi hi] Low and behold there was K3WWP calling CQ. Ur RST was 229 and I am Proud to have made ur log again. I am sending another card. My wife has not made me any new cards yet so I PROUDLY wrote my NAQCC number 238 on the top. I have about 30 cards to write on and then she will make more. Winter is supposed to come back tonight and tomorrow night. Glad I have not set out any tomatoes yet. The wx says temps in the 30s. Hope the cold wx does not come up ur way. Have a good one and CU agn de Paul N0NBD."

It is going to get cold here, but my tomatoes are nice and cozy right next to me here, and hey they have blossoms on them as of about 4 days ago. Time for me to get busy as a bee (my friend Ed gets credit for that line) and start pollinating with my Q-tip. Even though I planted them a week early this year, the blossoms only showed up a couple days early from looking at pictures from last year.

And getting back on track, I also want to thank Mike KC2EGL and Dick J49XF/G3URA for their congrats on the streak. -30-

Saturday, April 12, 2008 - LAST UPDATE - I just want to thank a couple more folks for their congratulations either tonite or a few days ago before 5,000 was actually reached. Ron K5DUZ, and Bob VA3RKM.

UPDATE 2 - Nothing much in the 2200-2300Z hour. I forgot about the GA QSO Party - that wiped me out for 40M. I was delighted to work Paul N0NBD on 30M though. He has been a long time follower of this web site and the streak, and is a good ham/email friend.

The streak is now at 5,001 days as I just worked N4NX in the GA QP shortly after 0000Z. Onward and upward!

UPDATE - The 1500-1600Z hour was pretty much a bust. I tuned all the CW portions of 20 and 30 and didn't hear a single station, and no one answered my CQ's on those bands. I did make 2 QSO's on 40M, but neither were aware of the streak or didn't say anything about it. I MAY try the 2200-2300Z hour later today on 7041+/- and/or 10111+/-, but I'm not sure yet.

I'll probably update this later in the day as I did for yesterday. Right now though I just want to publicly thank all those who have congratulated me on the streak in case I missed thanking them personally.

Thanks to: Paul N8XMS, Bob W3BBO, Brian KB9BVN, Paul N4UEB, Paul N0NBD, Ivin W9ILF, Larry W2LJ (see http://w2lj.blogspot.com/), WB2GTG. -30-

Friday, April 11, 2008 UPDATE - Here it is after 0100Z and the streak is at 5,000 days. QSO's were made in the 0000-0100Z hour with the following: WA8REI, W2JEK, W9ILF on 80M, WB4YZA, KB9BIT on 40M. Conditions were absolutely horrible with thunderstorms in the area giving S9+20 QRN on the bands. If I missed anyone's call, I apologize. I thought I heard a W1 calling at one time, but never copied more than that. Right now as I type and look at the radar, there is an ominous looking TS that looks like it will (hopefully) just pass us to the southeast. That was probably the one causing a lot of the QRN.

I got a picture of myself calling CQ just before WA8REI answered me, and taped the whole hour on cassette. When I'll get a chance to do anything with them, I don't know.

I felt it was appropriate that Ken WA8REI was my first QSO since we have been friends for almost 42 years now. Let's see what happens in the 1500-1600Z hour later today.

Oh, as a bonus, I got my final letter (T) to complete the NAQCC April Challenge.

Finally, looking ahead, day #10,000 would be December 20, 2021. Hmmmm..... Nah, I don't think so. I'll be 76 years old if I make it that far. -30-

Friday, April 11, 2008 - It looks like April is the month for milestones. I've been so busy of late, I forgot to mention that April 3 was the 45th anniversary of receiving my Novice ticket as KN3WWP. I remembered it while in the shack and was going to mention it here, but got distracted by a million other things (a conservative estimate).

Well, as I'm typing this I hear the rumble of thunder. I believe that is only the first or second time this year so far I've heard that.

I reached another milestone last night when I hit the 1,000 point mark in our NAQCC Worked Members Award.

And of course later tonight if all goes well, it will be day 5,000 in the streak.

Thanks to Brian KB9BVN for the radiogram of congratulations on the streak delivered by phone by WB2GTG about an hour ago.

I've got my cassette recorder set up to record some QSO's tonight, and will try to take a picture with my digital camera. I haven't been all that excited about the 5,000th day, but as the time approaches I'm getting a bit more excited about it. I just hope we don't get a severe storm that knocks out our power about that time. -30-

Thursday, April 10, 2008 - Well, I've decided not to make all that big a thing out of the 5,000th day. I've never been a fan of special days anyway. I always figure a birthday doesn't mean I'm a year older. I could actually feel 5 years older than my last birthday or even feel younger than my last birthday. It's really just another day. The same with New Year's day. There is really nothing special about that split second when we transfer from one year to the next. There are a million other split seconds that are identical to it as far as time keeping goes. It's all based on numbers, and I do have an interest in such things because of my life-long fascination with numbers and math, but not really because they have any special meaning otherwise.

What, when you get right down to it, is any more special about day 5,000 in my streak than say day 4,623 or day 5,104. It's really just a number. And hey if we counted in another number system, say oh... binary or hexadecimal, April 12th might not be any particular round number at all. According to my Excalibur calculator if I'm reading it right, 5,000 decimal is 1 0011 1000 1000 binary, 11610 octal, and 1388 hexadecimal. See, nothing special.

However a few of you do seem to see it as a special day, and it is even being written up in a couple of ham publications, so.... For those of you who for whatever reason do want to work me that day, I'll try to adhere to the following schedule:

0000-0100Z 7041+/- or 3559+/- depending on condx
1500-1600Z 7041+/- or 10111+/- or 14059+/-

If you do answer my CQ, I hope you'll forgive me if I don't remember your name as my memory is slipping as I get older and get to know more and more of you all the time. It's kind of like going into a store that has hundreds or thousands of patrons. All the patrons may know the name of the check-out girl, but she certainly won't know all the patron's names.

Perhaps you might indicate you are calling me for the streak in some way, so I can just make it a short QSO, JUST IN CASE there might be several folks waiting to work me, which I kind of doubt, but you never can tell for sure. Let's see, how about sending /S after your call.

If I change anything or add more times, I'll post the info here tomorrow.

The logs are continuing to pour in for our Tuesday evening NAQCC sprint. We're approaching another record number of logs, so if you participated and haven't sent in your log yet, I hope you'll do so. -30-

Wednesday, April 9, 2008 - Just a little mish-mash of things today. First I'm not going to make a big deal out of day #5,000 this Saturday since only a few of you voted in my little informal poll about it. I'll probably just announce a couple hours of op time, take a picture and perhaps record the audio from the first QSO that day. I'll post any definite info on my plans in an entry tomorrow evening.

No sore muscles today from the basketball last night, and it didn't affect my straight key sending in the sprint either.

The sprint went quite well, both for me personally and as a whole. There was tons of activity, and as Paul KD2MX said in his soapbox entry, "...I think our sprint has become the premier QRP event." Perhaps so, perhaps so.

40 meters was very up and down for me here, but 80 was just fabulous with one string of 25 QSO's in 48 minutes. That kind of steady rate doesn't happen often in our sprints. However it may become more commonplace as the popularity of the sprints continues to grow. I worked a few newcomers last night and in a casual glance at the logs as they come in, I see a lot of unfamiliar calls there as well. If you participated, please send in your log. Not sending a log is like painting a beautiful painting and then putting it in a closet so no one can see it. You should share your results with the world, no matter how many or how few contacts you made. Remember that tells the world that CW is still loved and used by many hams when they see your call listed in the results. -30-

Tuesday, April 8, 2008 - One should probably not play basketball with the neighbor kids just before a NAQCC sprint, but then I really don't know any better. The next door neighbor was putting up a basketball hoop when I was coming home from a walk, so I helped a bit including loaning him a taller ladder after seeing him tottering on the top step of his short ladder. While he was finishing up with help from his wife, I played ball with his 8 year old daughter and a neighbor girl about 13 years old. Then when the hoop was finally finished and ready to go, we all played basketball for a while. We were just kind of shooting in a rough sort of game of HORSE, for lack of a better description although there wasn't any real organization to it. That was the first time I've shot a basketball in a good many years and it felt good to get the ball in my hands and propel it in the general direction of the basket. And hey, a few of my shots even went in, including some 'nothing but net' shots from probably 15-20 feet out or so. But my percentage was probably under 20%, and included a number of 'air balls' as well. Still it was a lot of fun, and some good exercise for some muscles that haven't been used for a while. I may know which ones tomorrow. HI. Hopefully they aren't the same ones I use for pounding a straight key which I'll be doing in about 15 mins now.

I better hurry now, but I did want to say, "How about that NCAA basketball championship game last night?" That was really great. When I watch two teams play that I like about equally well, for one reason or other I get to rooting for one of them against the other. Last night I developed into rooting for Kansas, and thought they were down the tubes with 2 1/2 minutes to go and 9 points down, but wasn't that a magnificent comeback after that? Wow. I'll remember that game for a while. I think that's the first overtime game in a final since sometime in the mid-90's. I have it on my spreadsheet, but just don't remember exactly now.

Well, off to get my temperature readings for the day. The high was in the 70's, perhaps the warmest day yet this year. Then to the NAQCC sprint, so 73 for now. -30-

Monday, April 7, 2008 - After the abundance of things to write about the past few days, this was kind of an off day with not much happening to speak of. Of course the NCAA playoff final game is later tonight. I'll probably watch some of that. Actually I find the opening rounds of the tournament the most exciting and my interest kind of dwindles proportionally to the number of teams left.

It's nice to see the bands so good the past few days. I hope the trend continues for our NAQCC sprint tomorrow evening. I'd love to see us break our record set last month for number of entries, participants, and QSO's again this month. It would be wonderful to see us top the 70 log mark this month. That would make the NAQCC's pro-CW statement stronger and stronger.

Incidentally, I wasn't satisfied with the 8.5 mile walk I described yesterday, and wound up with over 14 miles for the day after adding a couple more walks later in the day. Today I had some other things to tend to, and only have 5.45 miles on the pedometer at the moment. I'll probably go out for one more walk later though to at least get up to my long-term average of 7.3 miles per day. Wow, I just looked and it's been almost 4 years (started 4/20/04) that I've been keeping track of my daily walks with a pedometer. That's a total of 10,582 miles from 20,187,000 steps. Whew! My best day was 18.73 miles, and the worst just 0.89 days I see from my spreadsheet.

Only one hour to go now till April 8 UTC and a chance to cut the number of days remaining to 5,000 down to just 4. And with the sprint tomorrow evening, that day should be a cinch.

Incidentally (to start yet another paragraph with that word), from time to time over the streak, people have referred to 5,000 QSO's, or 4,500 QSO's, etc. Folks, it's not 5,000 QSO's, but 5,000 CONSECUTIVE DAYS beginning August 5, 1994 of making AT LEAST one QRP/CW/simple wire antenna QSO. There is a big difference. My 5,000th QRP/CW/simple wire antenna QSO in the streak came on September 4, 1995, a mere 13 months into the streak. Now I have 47,501 QRP/CW/simple wire antenna QSO's in the streak as of today. -30-

Sunday, April 6, 2008 - Boy that feels good. I just got back from an 8.5 mile walk including a walk up to a beautiful scenic spot I haven't been to since I was a youngster. It's called Buttermilk Falls. I got a few pictures along the way but didn't get a picture of the main part of the falls as there was a bunch of people in front of them, and I didn't want to disturb them. Also my camera batteries decided to run low so I didn't take as many pictures as I wanted. I hope to post some of them on SkyDrive as soon as I get time. Right now I'm off to the kitchen to fix some supper.

Oh, before I go, how about the NCAA playoffs? Although I never predict anything, I had thought that UCLA and Carolina would be in the final Monday night. However Memphis and Kansas had other ideas. Still as I said, I like all 4 teams and I will still be happy with either Memphis or Kansas as champs.

Some more comments on the streak from Paul N0NBD: "After re-thinking the whole Streak thing I do think some publicity should be done. I have been coming here for quite a while reading and hoping for the best for your streak. I think Don's (VA3BOW) quote is a good one!.... Either way, GOOD LUCK, BREAK A LEG and all the good wishes. de Paul N0NBD." Thanks Paul.

Ivin W9ILF says, "I have been reading your diary and watching with a lot of interest in your upcoming 5000 days of continuous QSO's. I do hope you decide to celebrate your achievement with something special. It is a celebration of not only the QSO's, but your long term commitment to Radio, QRP, and CW! I appreciate your dedication!"

As they say in TV election returns, with just a few precincts reporting - doing something special on the 12th is taking an early lead.

And Ivin included this very telling true statement also, "I have been experimenting with PSK31 some. I got an inexpensive Rigblaster Nomic. Boy PSK31 seems a lot harder than CW. I've only made one QSO in three days that way. It really is true that a CW contact is the easiest most reliable way to get through."

So very very true. There is nothing like good old tried and true CW for making meaningful QSO's in ham radio.

Baltasar EA8BVP came up with a very good idea I'll try to implement: "Somebody can record your audio QSOs. You can send a message like "U HV MADE MY 5000 DAY". You can put those .mp3 or .wma on your website to share with us. It's just another way to celebrate that important day."

I'll have to work on that. I have transferred a lot of old cassette tape stuff to .wma files, so I could record on a cassette and then do that. -30-

Saturday, April 5, 2008 - Thanks for the votes and comments on 'Streak Day'. You see, it's you who seem to be making a big thing of this day, and that's why I decided to let you help me decide about what to do. I feel that really making a big thing out of it is in a way glorifying myself, and I don't want to do that. However, making a big thing out of it also serves to tell the ham radio world that this thing called CW is still a big, viable, effective, and VERY efficient mode of operation and should continue to be a large part of the hobby, and I always love doing anything that demonstrates that. So in that case I'm all for publicizing it to the hilt, and leaning more toward doing so.

Let me share one comment that was made in the votes so far. ".... Announce a sked of your op times and freqs for that day in your diary. A lot of people like you John and would like to share this day with you in a personal and yet long distance way via our favourite mode - CW. '73 Don VA3BOW"

Yes, I do feel I've made an awful lot of friends through the streak, and working a lot of them on 'Streak Day' would be a way of showing my appreciation. And a lot of QSO's that day would help to make a strong pro-CW statement as well.

Keep the votes and thoughts coming, and we'll make a decision together over the next few days.

In a related matter, Larry W2LJ says, "When you mentioned in your diary that day 5,000 of your streak would occur on April 12th, that caught my eye.
I've always been a huge follower of the manned space programs - both ours and Russia's. You probably already know this but April 12th marks the anniversary of three important space events:
April 12th, 1960 - Yuri Gagarin becomes the first man to orbit the earth.
April 12th, 1970 - This was one day before the famous words were uttered - "Houston, we have a problem!" The next day the explosion aboard the Service Module of Apollo 13 occurred.
April 12th, 1981 - The Space Shuttle Columbia lifts off to begin the STS era of manned spaceflight for NASA and the United States."

Interesting. I'm also a huge fan of the space program, but I didn't realize until Larry mentioned it, the significance of that date.

Finally a note on the bands. The past couple evenings have been good for DX. I worked VP5/W5CW on 30/40, PJ5NA on 30, and TF4M on 40. I'm proud of the TF4M QSO since I beat a sizable pileup to make that QSO. -30-

Friday, April 4, 2008 - Although nothing is sure or guaranteed in life, I probably (hopefully) will reach day # 5,000 in the streak on Saturday, April 12. I've decided to let you help me decide what I should do on that day to celebrate if it does happen. Email me and select any of the following. I'll analyze the votes and decide from there.

Make the subject of your email "K3WWP Streak" - any other subject and your email will be returned and you'll have to try again.

The VERY FIRST THING in the body of the email will be a list of the letters representing your choice(s) - any email without a letter or series of letters at the start will be returned also.

After the letters of your choices, you can then add any comments if you have any to make. You can only vote once.

Now the choices:

A - announce a sked of my op times and freqs for that day here in the diary.
B - make up a special QSL for all QSO's that day.
C - a special certificate to the first QSO of the day.
D - any other suggestions (list below in your email).
E - don't do anything special - treat it as any other day

I will somehow get a picture taken during the first QSO that day, so you don't need to vote on that. My digital camera has a nice delay shutter opening so I can do that by myself if no one else is around. -30-

Thursday, April 3, 2008 - Usually when I do these entries early in the day as I'm doing now, I think of some 'great' things later in the day I should have included. HI. That happened yesterday so I'm trying to remember what I thought of then, and include them now. Then the cycle will probably continue tomorrow.

I had an interesting question from Bryan N4UXA in an email that said in part, "Could you tell me where you obtained your weather station shelter? I'm speaking of the slatted wood box shown in the pictures on your diary lately. I had one of these boxes long ago, but the weather finally took it's toll on it some years ago. I'd like to get another, but I can't remember where I saw them for sale.
Thanks for any info you can provide. I'm glad you are feeling better, and good luck on your streak!"

Thank you Bryan for the comments at the end. Also for the compliment on the thermometer shelter. It's not a commercial unit but a totally homebrew unit. I made the first one back in the 60's, and it too deteriorated over time and was repaired/rebuilt a few times during the 40 plus years since then.

The one pictured now was built back in December 2006 with the help of my friend in town, Bill Hake. We used scrap wood from his collection and my collection, and built it in his workshop and mine. The only tricky part to building one is cutting the slots for the louvers in the corner posts. In the ones I built by myself, I just used a hand saw, some careful measurements and a lot of patience. I didn't even use a miter box for the very early versions. Bill has a table saw so rigging up a little jig (a la Norm on the New Yankee Workshop) and the table saw made the job a little easier this time when we rebuilt the whole thing from scratch.

In case you're also wondering if I have any plans for it, no I don't except in my head.

I love woodworking and it would probably be a main-line hobby here if I had more time and money to buy tools like Norm has. My collection of woodworking tools more closely resembles Roy Underhill's on the Woodwright's Shop. HI.

So it's nice to have friends like Bill who do have a better collection of tools. Coincidentally we are going to work on my sundial today. We built it last Spring, and it kind of suffered the ravages of the weather since then.

As I said here a few days ago, I now have buds on the tomato plants, and yesterday I took a picture to show you here. And yes, the picture will really be here, not another (late) April Fool's joke. HI.

tomato plant buds

That's one of the Siberians. The other Siberian also has buds just a tiny bit smaller. The 'World's Largest Tomato' doesn't seem to have any yet, although I might be seeing some just starting. It's too early to tell for sure.

The number of visitors to my site has been well above normal the past couple days - around 200 each day vs. a norm of about 150 or so. That usually means info on my site has been posted somewhere, but as I've said repeatedly, I do not subscribe to any email reflectors nor have time to browse other ham radio sites, so I'm just guessing about that. At any rate if any of you are new to the site and/or diary, I'm glad you decided to visit - welcome, be sure to come back regularly. And I'm glad to see all the regulars continue to visit as well.

I'm still thinking about something special to do for day # 5,000 on April 12th. I've had some suggestions like being sure to take a picture as I make the first QSO on that day. Or announce a sked of my operating times and freqs for that day so those who've followed the streak for so long can try to work me then. Or perhaps some kind of special thank you certificate to the first one I work. Maybe even some special QSL card to all I work that day.

Well my thought is that all that sounds like I'm glorifying myself and I don't think that is proper. The purpose of the streak besides being a lot of personal fun for me, is simply to demonstrate how effective and efficient CW is as an operating mode. My reward has been the number of hams who have re-discovered CW as a result of reading about my success with the streak. Thus doing my small part in preserving this great ham radio mode. -30-

Wednesday, April 2, 2008 - Portions of this entry contained apparently incorrect information and have been removed or corrected.

Early in the NAQCC's existence, we started the idea of having a mid-week evening sprint. Other sprints had been done on the weekends or days adjacent to a weekend (Spartan Sprint on Monday), but we believe our idea of something in the middle of a week was an original one.

Shortly after that (Dec 2004) Gary K8KFJ suggested we link our sprints to the use of a straight key. We thought that was a great idea and implemented it immediately.

As far as our alternating weeknights for the sprints. I think that innovation is still unique to our club as far as I know.

Another idea originated by the NAQCC, as far as we know, are our alphabet challenges which are for making words, calls, sentences, etc. from letters of stations worked. Our first one was conceived in November 2004 by club president and founder Tom WY3H when he came up with the Thanksgiving Turkey challenge of making Thanksgiving-related words.

We are proud that the NAQCC does its best to come up with original ideas for its events. If we have something that is similar to what another club is doing, we acknowledge that as in the time we had a sprint with a special award to the one who had the highest total of member numbers worked. We made sure to acknowledge that the idea was taken from the FISTS Millionaire award. One example from one of our awards is the opening line of our Alphabet Prefix award rules which says, "This is a simpler version of the popular CQ Magazine WPX Award."

All statements in this entry are true and accurate to the best of my knowledge. -30-

Tuesday, April 1, 2008 - !yaD s'looF lirpA yppaH Didja enjoy my dry humor joke in yesterday's entry? Or even realize it was a joke? Dry humor is very subtle humor. I mean the invisible picture. I hope some of you either right clicked on the area and clicked show picture or wondered if it had something to do with the IE8/IE7 info I've been talking about lately, or thought I accidentally left it out (one person did think that - GOTCHA - HI).

I don't believe in the obvious like these standard jokes. Calling the zoo and asking to speak to Mr. Bear, or calling someone and asking if their (fill in appliance here) is running, and if they say yes, telling them to go catch it.

I thought one of the better original ones of late was the fellow who bought his wife a lottery ticket, then rigged a fake lottery drawing somehow that looked exactly like the real thing (must have had help from the local TV station). At the normal drawing time, he called his wife from the kitchen to come watch, and instead of the real drawing, played the tape showing the numbers on her ticket as the winning numbers for 50 million dollars (or whatever the figure was). After they celebrated for a while, he told her it was an April Fool's joke. I wonder if the poor fellow is out of intensive care yet. HI HI

Then of course the classic joke articles in CQ magazine back in the 60's/70's(?). I got rid of some of my old CQ magazines and couldn't find that 'Ionospheric Amplification' article when Karl N3IJR visited last week. We did find one of the AF articles though so I could show Karl how elaborate they were.

Now you be very, very careful lest someone does something to you today, and then YELLS

And finally, yes, Tom did take my picture at the weather station. I've now made it visible here:
k3wwp at weather station


Monday, March 31, 2008 - Tom WY3H took the pictures today to go with his article about my 5,000 day streak, and we submitted them to QRP ARCI. I got a kick out of the reply from Ted KX4OM of QRP ARCI: "Tom, I got the photos from John. The lighting is natural, and we will have to play around with settings on the two indoor ones in Photoshop. John is smiling and he looks happy in the photos...my first impression of him a few years ago when I first found his web site was that he looked so serious :)
I think this is going to be a really notable article that people are going to talk about. Thanks again for doing it. 73, Ted, KX4OM

Gosh, I never realized I was that serious. It must be my 'dry' humor which as you know is not the outgoing 'ha ha ha' type, but more the subtle, but still very funny type of humor.

At any rate you should read between the lines that there was also an outside picture taken. Tom wanted to mention my weather record keeping in the article and wanted a picture to go with it. I really like the photo he took of me at the thermometer shelter and rain gauge. Here it is:

I also used another picture he took of me in the shack to update the main page pictures if you didn't notice on the way here. I didn't like myself in that bulky gray sweatshirt that I had there for a while.

Thanks to Bob K0IDC for checking my site in his IE and Foxfire browsers. He said it looks the same in both. I have it identical as far as I can tell in both IE7 and IE8 here now. I also did the same thing with the NAQCC web site and it looks great in both IE7 and IE8.

Fortunately I don't have time to stick some kind of April Fool's item in here tonight, so consider yourself spared. -30-

Sunday, March 30, 2008 - When was the last time all 4 number 1 seeds made it to the final four in the NCAA Basketball tournament? The answer a little later in this entry.

I spent a good deal of the day today making sure my site shows up the same in both IE8 Beta 1 and IE7, and I think I have accomplished my goal all except for a couple little items. However I'd like to know how the site appears in your browser out there. If you notice any peculiarities, let me know about them and the browser (IE, Opera, Netscape, Foxfire, etc.) and the version number. I use strictly IE here, always have, and always will.

I've also been playing with a new HTML editor and trying to decide if I like it better than HTML-Kit that I've been using for several years now. It's called Alleycode, and so far I like it quite well with a couple tiny exceptions. I don't see any place where it inserts the date and time like HTML-Kit does. Also I don't see any place for inserting custom text, nor does it have an internal HTML validator. So time will tell if I make a permanent switch or not.

With my QSO with K1YAN tonight, that leaves 12 more days to hit 5,000 days in the streak. I had an email here from someone asking me how I was going to celebrate, and I have been thinking about it. I haven't really come up with anything yet. I would like to work as many of you as possible who have followed the streak for so long on that 5,000th day. That would be one nice way to celebrate. So maybe when the time comes, I'll try to post a schedule of my operating times and frequencies for that day.

Finally, I believe this is the first time 4 #1 seeds are in the final four according to one article I read on the NCAA web site. My own spreadsheet shows the closest to a perfect 4 since 1980 has been 3 #1's and 1 #2 in 1993. So congratulations to the seeding committee this year. Great job despite the first round fiasco at the Tampa site where 2 #12's beat 2 #5's and 2 #13's beat 2 #4's. Next weekend will be interesting, and darn it, all 4 teams are favorites of mine so I don't know who to root for, although I do favor UCLA and NC over Memphis and Kansas, not prediction-wise, but as for liking the teams. I guess I'll be happy whichever of the four win. -30-

Saturday, March 29, 2008 12:02 PM - I'm going to talk about being impressed today in a couple different contexts. First I'm impressed (and honored) by how many of you read this diary on a regular basis. I guess I should say humbled also. Since I started the diary a couple years ago, my site visitors have increased from an average around 100 per day to the current figure of around 160 per day. I'm sure there are other reasons for the increase also, but I'm sure a part of it comes from the diary according to all the comments I continually receive on topics I discuss here.

I'm also growing more and more impressed with IE 8 Beta 1 as I use it more and learn more about it. One wonderful feature is the development tools included with it. Although they are still in an early stage, just as is the whole browser version, they are really helpful in figuring out just what is going on with a web page. It makes it very easy to debug a page or to see just how someone creates a certain effect on their page. This is possible by a complete analysis of the HTML and associated CSS that allows styles to be modified or disabled on a page that is being viewed. I don't want to get any more technical than that as I'm sure very few of you may be interested in going into any deeper detail. If you are, you are probably already playing with IE8 Beta 1 yourself.

One of the reason I am impressed with the number of people reading my diary is that I hardly ever ready any other diaries myself, or blogs (what an ugly word) as they are popularly called for whatever reason. About the only two that I do check fairly regularly are from AccuWeather. One by Elliot Abrams whom I have always admired as a meteorologist for both his knowledge of meteorology and the entertaining way he presents it. Another is by Brian Clark one of the 'staff' meteorologists stationed on Mt. Washington in New Hampshire. I've always been awed and impressed by the wild weather they have on that mountain ever since I first read about the world's record for fastest windspeed many years ago and long before this story was posted on the Internet. In fact there was no Internet when I first read about the record and was awed by it. I don't think I'd like to experience Mt. Washington's weather first hand, but I do enjoy reading Brian's comments about it. I have driven right by the mountain on a trip to New England many years ago, and now kind of wish we had taken the tour of the mountain, but we didn't. If you think you'd be interested in the blogs, you can get to them via http://www.accuweather.com/index.asp?partner=accuweather&traveler=0 -30-

Friday, March 28, 2008 7:44 PM - I've been wanting to change the navigation panel on my web pages to something closer to what I have on the NAQCC web site, and with the advent of IE8 Beta 1, now is the time to do it. IE8 renders a few things here and there a little differently than IE7 and earlier browsers, and the navigation panel is one of them. This is mainly due to the constant changing of 'standards' in HTML and CSS that I'm not going to go into further. During the transition period, a page or two here or there may look a little strange. I hope not, but with the huge number of pages on my site, I may miss checking one or two.

Here's an interesting article about sunspots that explains the time around sunspot minimum a little more clearly than most other descriptions. It's at http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2008/28mar_oldcycle.htm.

Now it's time for me to be off to get my QSO of the day as the new day starts in about 10 minutes as I write this. When I get my QSO, that leaves exactly 2 weeks to go for streak day 5,000. I was interviewed today for an article in the QRP Quarterly about the streak. I hope that any publicity I get for this goes to show the effectiveness of CW at QRP levels and encourages more folks to get back to CW, hopefully at QRP levels, but also at QRO levels if that's what they want. Just so it is CW so we can preserve this wonderful ham radio mode. -30-

Thursday, March 27, 2008 9:42 PM - A busy one today. I've been going ever since I got up doing this, that, and the other thing. Not much involved anything worthwhile talking about here in the diary either. Shucks, I just got time to check the NCAA tournament and both early games just ended. I had hoped to see the last few minutes of both, but I was a bit late. At least both teams I wanted to win, did win. The Xavier/WVU game went into 1 overtime, I see. I'll have to check the highlights from those game as soon as they get posted. Maybe I'll get a chance to watch more of the two second games which are scheduled to start shortly now.

I did get a chance to play around more with IE8 Beta 1 today and it is really neat. Things seem to load in faster than they did with IE7 although they were quite fast already with IE7. I really like the IE8 'Activities' where you can just highlight a word on a web page and do a multitude of things with it - dictionary, maps, search, blog, etc. I also played with the developer tools in IE8. They are really helpful in debugging web sites quickly and easily. Well, I'm off to check the tournament again. 73 till tomorrow. -30-

Wednesday, March 26, 2008 9:17 PM - Another all-around good day today. I'm continuing back to my normal routine. Nice weather and I got in around 7 miles outside walking again.

I planted my onion sets and also some lettuce seeds this afternoon, so that officially opens the outdoors garden season for this year.

I also downloaded and installed Internet Explorer 8 Beta 1, and as expected, I'm very pleased with it. Another great job by Microsoft. Not a lot of difference from IE 7 on the outside, but a lot of new things 'under the hood' so to speak. There are also some new things on the outside that I haven't had a chance to play with much yet. Something called 'Activities' that allow you to bring up a map by clicking on a location on a web page, or look up the meaning of a word similarly. -30-

Tuesday, March 25, 2008 9:11 PM - Shades of an awakening Sun? I just looked at the SF, A, K indices for today. The SF was 89. When was the last time it was that high other than from that one big sunspot a few months ago? Also minor geomagnetic storms and radio blackouts are predicted for tomorrow. Hopefully the snooze alarm has sounded for the Sun and he is getting up for good this time.

Buds! Yes, I saw the first buds on my tomato plants today. I thought I had seen them the last couple days, but I wasn't sure they were so tiny. Today I'm sure.

Another good sign today. I put in a full normal daily activities today for the first time in quite a while. I went out for four walks totalling just over 7 miles. I haven't hit that figure outdoors for a few weeks now. Also I took my full regimen of vitamins today and ate three normal meals (so far) at the times I usually do. So hopefully the kidney stone episode is totally in the past now.

Finally I want to say thanks again for all the support I received during Mr. Stone's unwelcome visit. I'm sorry I can't thank everyone personally, but that doesn't mean I don't appreciate every bit of input from every one of you. -30-

Monday, March 24, 2008 5:19 PM - I wonder how writers who suffer periodically from "writer's block" would deal with having to produce some output each and every day as I do with this diary. Somedays it gets very hard to come up with something different, then I have to fall back on some previously discussed topic, and I hate to do that. Hopefully when band conditions pick up in the next couple years there will be more to talk about in the way of on-air activities. Right now there just is not much to say without being extremely repetitive.

Also being as it is currently pretty much off-season for fishing and gardening, those topics don't lend much to discuss, although both of those will be picking up very soon now. My onion sets are ready to go in the ground along with some lettuce seeds just as soon as it gets just a tad warmer which should come as soon as perhaps tomorrow, certainly before the end of the week.

I've also been lax in my walking during my kidney stone bout, and that will be picking up very soon also. I've only been averaging about 3-4 miles a day, mostly just walking around the house and to the store, and that's only about half my long-term average of 7.3 miles per day.

One thing I can definitely talk about a bit is the wonderful visit I had with Karl N3IJR and Tom WY3H today. We had a great time talking about the NAQCC, QRP, CW, and other ham radio matters. Karl brought his collection of keys and paddles, and we had fun trying them all out, and he and Tom got a chance to try my homebrew straight key I've been using almost exclusively since October now. Tom had to leave before too long and couldn't join us for lunch. Karl and I had a great lunch at Long John Silver's here in Kittanning.

Other than that, I'm going through a bit of basketball withdrawal today after 4 straight days of watching games. Perhaps later this evening I'll pick one of the better games and watch a re-run which is possible with my VIP pass. Unfortunately though, I have to watch all the commercials along with the game itself as there seems to be no way of fast-forwarding the streaming video. Oh well, it's free, so I shouldn't complain, I guess. -30-

Sunday, March 23, 2008 10:09 PM - Basketball, basketball, basketball. I love March Madness. Especially with being able to see all 63 tournament games in their entirety if I wish to. This free VIP pass is wonderful.

Have you noticed that conditions on the bands are becoming better and better. I'm not talking about the high bands opening up. That will come later. I mean 80 and 40 are much more active with much better signals just about consistently every evening now. I had two solid long rag chews this evening on 80M to go with another one last evening. That is becoming more and more the norm on the bands now. As I mentioned, it also showed up in our sprint the other evening. This is going to turn out to be a multi-record setter when all the logs are in.

I'm looking forward to an eyeball QSO tomorrow with fellow NAQCC member Karl N3IJR. Tom WY3H may join in also. That will make for a fun day here. -30-

Saturday, March 22, 2008 9:56 PM - A day spent getting caught up on things that have been put off the past couple weeks. It's nice to feel good again, and I do feel that way today.

Not a lot of time to make this diary entry, but here are a couple of interesting tidbits from an email from my friend Don VE3HUR who coincidentally happened to be my 'streak' QSO for this evening. That brought the countdown to 5,000 days to just 20 more now.

"Hi John,
An article you might be interested in looking up in your "CQ" magazine collection is "Ionospheric Amplification" by the esteemed Professor Ostermond. In it he shows that 1 watt of power is as effective as nearly a kilowatt due the the effect of ionospheric amplification. The article appeared in the April 1964 issue on page 26.
RE: Sunday, March 16, 2008 diary entry. Ellimination of "dahs" would make using a bug a whole lot easier! Not only that, but the need for more dits may use up some of those ditdits hanging around the end of QSOs. The downside is that we'd now have a lot of unemployed dahs causing us problems.
73, Don" -30-

Friday, March 21, 2008 9:17 PM - My day today was taken up primarily with two things. I visited the hospital to have the stent removed from my urinary tract. That went well. Then I came home and am watching the NCAA basketball tournament with my VIP pass on the Internet. I've seen some really great games thanks to being able to pick and choose the games I want to watch. I can jump back and forth among the games to pick the most exciting one at the moment. This VIP pass is really a neat thing. It's hard to believe it is free. I guess maybe the best things in life are free as the old saying goes. Back to the games now. -30-

Thursday, March 20, 2008 5:25 PM - Let me expound a bit on the two topics I mentioned yesterday. I have just finished watching a couple of hours of NCAA basketball on my computer using the free VIP pass I got from CBS Sportsline. The video is pretty good quality on my ultra-speed DSL which is sold at 6000 kbps download speed and measures in actuality around 5500 kbps. There is a very slight jerkiness when the action moves very rapidly on the court, but it is very close to actual TV standards. I love the fact I can choose whichever game is currently in progress to watch or even watch a game that has already been completed via a complete re-run of the game. At least I believe that is what they mean. I haven't tried that feature yet. There is what they call a waiting room. When you initially sign in, you have to wait a bit to actually join the viewing area. The first thing I saw when I signed in was that I was #182 in line and thought the wait would be forever, but I was in the viewing room watching UNLV/Kent State in less than a minute. I got to see an all time record tied in that game as Kent State tied the record for the fewest points in a half - 10 - a record going back to 1939, if I caught the year correctly. I'll be watching some more games later this evening.

As for the digital photo cataloging program. It's Adobe Photoshop Album Starter Edition 3.2. It's totally freeware, although you are required to register it before using it 30 times or it will time out. You can create 'collections' and 'tags' to keep track of all your photos. For example I have a collection called 'Ham Radio' and put all my ham radio photos in there. When I click on that collection it immediately displays only my ham radio pictures out of my 4,000 or so pictures I have on my hard drive. I can also pick out pictures by date. I can tag each photo, something I haven't done yet, but I could tag my ham radio pictures as 'rig', 'award', 'QSL', etc. and then pick out only the pictures bearing that tag. It also has a very nice slideshow presenter. Just a really neat program, I think.

At last we had great conditions for one of our NAQCC sprints last night. The bands were in fine shape, both 80 and 40 for the entire two hours of the sprint. I made the most QSO's I've made since August getting 35 last night in 16 multipliers. That's probably the top score with an indoor antenna and may hang on for a top 5 finish overall among those with the bigger higher outdoor antennas. I just processed our 49th log with only about 20 hours gone after the sprint ended. I'd like to see us break our record of 56 or 57 logs, and that could happen, as I see several folks who usually always send in logs haven't done so yet. In fact my email notification sound just went off. Maybe that's another one or two now. I'll close for now until tomorrow. -30-

Wednesday, March 19, 2008 11:29 PM - I did it again. I had a couple good topics to discuss, but got so busy today, I just don't have time to discuss them now except to mention what they are.

I found a great digital photo catalog program and have already organized about 2/3 of my 4,000 plus digital photos with it.

I also signed up for a CBS Sportsline free VIP pass which will allow me to more closely follow the NCAA basketball playoffs on my computer including a lot of TV/Radio coverage of the games.

More about those topics as time permits. -30-

Tuesday, March 18, 2008 10:01 AM - OK, I've just been working on getting my Excel NCAA Basketball Tournament brackets ready to begin filling in scores on Thursday. How about a couple basketball trivia questions. I'm sure these can be answered by an Internet search, although since I'm only including 1981-2008, perhaps not as easily as if I included the whole history of the tournaments. Anyway please don't send in answers derived that way - just have fun and take a guess, or perhaps you just know the answers.

1. (VERY easy) Which two schools have earned the most #1 seeds since 1981? If you don't know this, you might as well not even try the next two questions.

2. Which school has the longest current string of tournament appearances? Hint - it's not either of the two schools from question #1.

3. Which 4 schools have made the most tournament appearances since 1981? The 4 missed a total of only 11 out of a possible 112 appearances. The school from question #2 is not one of the four. -30-

Monday, March 17, 2008 9:06 AM - One of the things I wanted to talk about yesterday was the NCAA Basketball Tournament, my current favorite sporting event - in fact about the only sports I follow at all lately. I've loved the tournament for almost 30 years now, and have all the brackets in an Excel database since 1981.

I never do any predicting, I just follow the results, usually picking up a favorite team, and/or a disliked team along the way and rooting for/against them while following other games 'neutrally'. Normally I don't like playoffs of any kind that involve just one game, as all too often the best team will lose. I could cite many cases over the years from the NFL playoffs, for example. Of course it also happens in 3-5-7 game playoffs as well, but not as often. Most of the time the best team will win the World Series, for example. I think the new NASCAR 'playoffs' are a farce though, even with a 10 race 'playoff'. All you need with their points system is one or two mechanical problems or accidents in those 10 races, and your otherwise fantastic season is down the drain. I needn't go far to cite an example there. Jeff Gordon in 2007. Eliminate the playoffs and he should have 6 championships now.

However I do like the one game system in the NCAA tournament, and I do like the upsets there unlike in other sports. I really don't know why I go against my grain for that one, but I do.

Perhaps my most memorable game was NC State 54 - Houston 52 in the 1983 final. In fact the whole series of games that led up to the championship. I can still see highlights from that game vividly in my mind including the final dunk by Lorenzo Charles on a "pass" by Dereck Whittenburg. Remember how they milked and kidded about that 'pass' which was really an air ball missed shot by Dereck? Also remember the late NC State coach Jim Valvano running around like a chicken with its head cut off looking for someone to hug after that winning shot as time ran out.?

Wow, that was 25 years ago. I suspect we'll be hearing about that playoff a lot this year being it's a 25th anniversary now.

I am just looking at that bracket now, and I love the margins of victory in the #6 seeded NC State run - 2, 1, 19, 1, 7, 2. And the seeds they beat along the way - 11, 3, 10, 1, 4, 1. Four rather big upsets.

With Houston, their victory margins were 10, 7, 18, 13, -2. And the seeds they beat were 8, 4, 3, 1, 6(L). That was when the 1-4 seeds received a first round bye, so #1 Houston played one less game than #6 seed NC State.

I also remember one other game, this one featuring BYU. Back then, TV didn't always carry all the games like they do today. Often the late west coast games were not shown. I listened to them on radio. This was such a game and not till some time later did I see the video highlights of this game. After knocking off #3 seed UCLA in 1981, next up for #6 BYU was #2 Notre Dame. The game came down to the final seconds when Danny Ainge took on the whole Notre Dame team single-handedly as described here from a very comprehensive Internet book on BYU much better than I could do from memory although the radio call of it is still very fresh in my mind.

"Ainge did the most extraordinary thing. He took the inbounds pass and, guarded tight all the way, dashed up the right sideline and slashed through three men at midcourt, while dribbling behind his back. . . . Ainge then went left past the fourth Irish at the free-throw line and slipped a shot over the fifth and final defender for a lay-up just before the buzzer. 51-50 BYU. It was the stuff of legends."

It certainly was - things like that are what make the NCAA tournament the wonderful thing it is. I could go on and on, but I'll spare you at least for now.

There seems to be some talk about publicizing my streak more now that it is nearing the 5,000 day mark. Personally I couldn't care less about any publicity since I'm not doing it for that reason, but to show the effectiveness of Morse Code at QRP power levels with simple antennas. Perhaps the most efficient mode of communications ever devised. So if the publicity points that out, then I'm in favor of it. Some have talked about the Guiness Book of World Records, and one thing I know for sure is there is going to be an article about it in an upcoming QRP Quarterly. I hope everyone keeps in mind there are still 27 days to go before 5,000 and anything can happen in that time. I could wind up being the Sam Rice of ham radio. Who? Sam Rice, the baseball player who came up 13 hits short of the magic 3,000 hit mark, and is largely unknown now whereas had he gotten those 13 more hits, he'd be a member of an exclusive, but growing club. Sam played for the Washington Senators for most of his career as a right fielder. He had a career batting average of .322. Other than just missing the magic 3,000 hit mark, he is best known for a fielding play in which he caught a fly ball and tumbled out of sight into the stands. When he re-appeared, he was holding the ball in his glove and the ump called the batter out. It remained a mystery for many years though as to whether he actually held the ball the whole time or not. He never told anyone, even his family what really happened until it was revealed in a letter opened after his death in which he said he never lost possession of the ball. He was offered big money to tell the story in magazines, but said he preferred 'mystery' to 'money'. Thankfully and fairly, Sam was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, and deservedly so. If you want to read more, there is a good article on Sam in Wikipedia. -30-

Sunday, March 16, 2008 3:07 PM - I sometimes think I need to get a less volatile and more stable kind of memory cells in my brain. All day I've had these great ideas pop into my brain about things to write about in the diary, and already I've probably forgotten half of them. Anyway I'll start rambling and see what I've retained.

I had an email from a friend of mine (I won't embarrass him by mentioning his name or call) who was very upset about an article in the APRIL issue of World Radio Magazine which promoted among other strange things, eliminating the DAH's from Morse Code and coming up with a new Code using DIT's only to save time. The month of the issue plus the writer's name Ray Dio, immediately triggered memories of the great April Fool's articles in the past in either QST or CQ, perhaps it was both. I told my friend to calm down, it was just an April Fool's article.

I've got a lot of old CQ's and QST's here, and I think I will look up some of those great articles. I remember one that dealt with low power operation and the ionosphere. It claimed with many charts and much info to back it up that running something like 1 watt output power was equivalent to running 100 watts because of the ionospheric amplification factor that affected low power signals in a certain range. I believe it was around 1 watt, but don't quote me on that. If I can find the article, I'll be more definite about it.

I've also been doing some more work with the integrating of our NAQCC database and the FCC amateur database. I've ferreted out many call sign changes and address changes that manual checking would have taken several days to check. Setting up the relationships between the databases took me a couple days to figure out and do, but the actual checking was done almost immediately. It turned up probably 150 or so changes in our database which the members never bothered to report to us. And that coming only a few months after VA3RJ checked the whole database manually and probably got an equal number of changes then. The ham population is certainly a mobile one.

From the looks of a lot of the address changes, it seems to me that many of them are due to the aging ham CW population with folks downsizing from big homes to apartments, town houses, etc.

Well I guess those other great topics will have to wait as they seem to be eluding me right now as I figured they would. -30-

Saturday, March 15, 2008 12:10 AM - OK, you can stop now. Trivia has become too easy now when just about any question can be answered via a search engine like Windows Live on the Internet. I've gotten several correct answers that it was "Stay" by Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs which was the shortest #1 song on the US pop music charts. You also probably found out that Maurice wrote the song for his girlfriend when he was 15 years old. He also wrote another big hit of that era, "Little Darling", but the version of the song as recorded by Maurice and the Gladiolas which was the name before they became the Zodiacs did not make it higher than 41 on the charts. However the song was covered by a Canadian group called the Diamonds and it became a smash hit #1 million seller and a classic 'doo wop' song. As the writer though, Maurice benifited hugely from the royalties and became a quite rich teenager.

So far these folks did their Internet research correctly: W0CH, WI3E, N0NBD, N1EAV, and ON5ZO. Thanks also to W9ILF for taking a guess without doing the Internet search even though his guess was wrong. And a couple more correct answers came from N2SU and W2LJ just about the time I was posting the original copy of this entry. Congrats especially to Larry W2LJ since he named the song (but couldn't remember the artist) without doing any Internet research. That's great.

I've often said you can find anything on the Internet, and I guess this proves it. I wonder how many folks would have gotten the answer so quickly, or gotten it at all, in the days before the Internet. What a wonderful thing indeed is this marvel of interconnection and sharing of knowledge. -30-

Friday, March 14, 2008 8:50 AM - No, the shortest #1 song was not Louie Louie by the Kingsmen nor Tea For The Tillerman by Cat Stevens. I'm glad I at least got a couple guesses though. I think I'll give a clue each day till someone gets it right. Today's clue is that the group was basically one of those 'one-hit wonder' groups. The only other songs by that group to make the Billboard pop music top 100 charts peaked at only #83 and #86.

I've been playing with the downloadable FCC amateur radio database. It's very interesting, and can be useful in perhaps keeping our NAQCC memberlist accurate and up to date. Obviously with almost a million entries it's a huge database and slow to work with even with my fast computer. It's a relational database and some of the tables are several hundred megabytes in size. I've never worked much with relational databases although I have been working with simple databases for over 20 years now and am quite good at manipulating them. So this is a bit of a learning experience although the Microsoft Access database program makes it very easy. It's not a top priority, so it will be a while before I get it to the point where it can be useful. Still it's a lot of fun learning something a bit new and something to occupy what little spare time I have here. -30-

Thursday, March 13, 2008 3:55 PM - I love trivia, and I love 'oldies' musc, i.e rock music from the 50's through the late 70's or so. I'm by no means a trivia expert because I don't have the time to devote to it. There are so many interests I have that applies to. If I were able to clone myself enough times, I probably would have at least 50 or so main-line hobbies. There is just so much that is wonderful in this world that I would love to explore more in depth. It's hard for me to imagine how anyone can live a life that consists of watching junk on television for most of their waking, non-working hours. It's been a full 3 months now since I dropped my cable television and I have not missed the 'vast wasteland' one little bit. Well, perhaps just a tad on Saturday afternoons when I used to watch the how-to shows on our local PBS station, but that is absolutely the only twinge of missing TV I ever feel.

Anyway I digressed there. I just wanted to pose a trivia question to you. I am willing to bet no one out there can answer this unless you do a careful Windows Live search on the Internet. I was listening to some oldies this afternoon, and went to Wikipedia to get some info on this one group whose songs I was playing. There I found out what the shortest song ever to make it to the top of the charts here in the USA was. I'll only say it was from the era I mentioned above, and it's length was just 1 minute and 39 seconds. One other source says 1:37 as the length, but the copy I have here is 1:39.

I know not many of you seem to like it when I pose a trivia question as I don't get all that many responses. The Forbes Field question probably was the most popular with about a dozen responses or so, but that was the exception. Usually I'm lucky to get 1 or 2.

If you can name the song and the group, you'll be forever immortalized here in the K3WWP diary. If you keep in mind the definition of forever as it relates to the diary is about a month, since I archive the entries after approximately that period of time of leaving them here on the web site. -30-

Wednesday, March 12, 2008 9:22 PM - Not a lot to talk about today. It was just one of those take it easy days. Still resting up a bit from the kidney stone episode. I passed a couple more fragments early this morning which was encouraging. The weather was nice and I did get to go out for a walk to the store to get some groceries. It's beginning to look a lot like spring now with the Sun high up in the sky and a lot of the snow gone. The robins are very much out and about and have been for a while. Our local supermarket has onion sets for sale. My tomatoes possibly have the beginning of buds on them. I can't tell for sure, even with a magnifying glass, but it does look like there are some very tiny buds. Anyway I looked at pictures from this same time last year, and I think this year's tomatoes are just a tiny bit bigger.

40M is getting better in the evenings with the coming of spring and also the change to DST. There have been a lot of good signals on that band the past few evenings now. Tonight I had an easy QSO with VP5/W5SL on 40 and a rag chew with AA9KH on 80M. The QRN on 80M almost sounded like summer-type noise. So all the signs are posted that spring is just around the corner. Actually as I've mentioned, meteorological spring has been here for almost two weeks already, although the actual weather didn't seem to really know that except for one very warm day on the 3rd. -30-

Tuesday, March 11, 2008 7:28 PM - I never plan these diary entries out in advance. They just come to me spontaneously most of the time, but there are some days when the ideas just don't come, then suddenly they are triggered by something. That happened today. I really had nothing to write about until Ron K5DUZ sent me the outline for the NAQCC's Elmer Project. He mentioned in passing, the old 5 WPM Novice tests. That triggered my memory and sent it back to the day I took my Novice test.

Being just about exactly 45 years ago this month that I took it, I don't remember a lot about it, but a couple things do stick out in my mind. I was nearing the end of my Senior year in high school, and another senior friend Larry and I took the test together. It was administered by a true ham radio veteran Red, W3CYG. Red was fooling around just sending us some random code letters getting us relaxed for the actual text. I was copying everything he sent, but I don't think Larry was paying too much attention. Suddenly Red threw in 'R U READY?'. I immediately said yes, but I don't think Larry had figured it out. Nonetheless we both passed the test, and on April 3, 1963 I received my call KN3WWP and Larry got KN3WWW. With high school wrapping up it was a busy time, and I didn't get much of a chance to get on the air. I had a couple QSO's with Larry and a couple others with other Kittanning hams. In those days, there were several hams who actually used CW here in Kittanning whereas nowadays WY3H and I are the only ones.

After graduation, I became a little more active and started racking up the QSO's. By August I was ready for the General test and went to Pittsburgh to the FCC office and passed it easily. I lost track of Larry along the way, as he and his family moved out of town that summer as I recall. I don't think he ever went beyond Novice in the ham radio ranks. I should say he was also into CB and I think that interested him more. Fortunately I never got into CB in any way, shape, or form. I found that I loved communicating with dits and dahs, and that has continued to this day as I'm sure you know.

At that time a General class license conveyed CW privileges on all frequencies so there was no need for me to advance beyond General. I was never into status symbols, so why bother getting something that wouldn't benefit me in any way other than something to brag about. I believe the Advanced class license at that time conveyed some extra phone privileges, but I couldn't have cared less about that.

However in 1968, incentive licensing came along, and you had to have an Extra class license to operate the lower 25 kHz of most all the HF bands. That was prime territory for DX, contests, etc., so off to Pittsburgh again where I easily passed the Extra class 20 WPM code test and the written exam. The written exams at that time were not the 'memorize the question and answer' type of test that is used today. You were given material you had to know, and perhaps some sample type questions on the material, but no verbatim questions and answers like today. In other words you had to know electronics and ham radio rules and procedures, not memorize Q&A's. Ah, those were the days. -30-

Monday, March 10, 2008 9:41 AM - Doing some testing with some pictures in anticipation of needing additional bandwidth for our NAQCC web site.

That example seems to work, using an "iframe" to display one of the pictures from my SkyDrive picture site. Now I am going to try it with one of our archived NAQCC newsletters on the NAQCC web site.

Man, this stuff is so challenging, interesting, and a lot of fun in the bargain. I just love figuring out and learning things. I think that's what life is all about, and when you stop learning, that's the first step on the path to dying.

I had hoped to do a big effort in the Wisconsin QSO Party this past weekend, but that didn't pan out. I just never got in the contesting mood and only wound up with 5 QSO's when I got on to get my streak QSO at 0000Z.

I'm still collecting kidney stone fragments here. That ultrasound treatment really blasted Mr. Stone into a great many very small particles. I'm averaging a couple per day so far. At that rate it will take a while to get rid of them all. -30-

Sunday, March 09, 2008 12:15 AM - My March 1960 record is not quite as unique as I thought. Delving into the Pittsburgh climate records from 1872 to present on the Internet (I think you can find anything on the Internet with the great Windows Live search engine), I found out some more info.

There were two other years where March was colder than both January and February. Here is the data from Pittsburgh (about 40 miles SW of here):
Year   Jan   Feb   Mar
1890  41.4  42.0  35.8
1932  41.8  38.3  33.6
1960  30.7  28.7  26.0
In both 1890 and 1932 the difference was greater than in 1960 although overall 1960 was colder. In fact March 1960 was the coldest March ever at Pittsburgh.

March was colder than January in 11 years including the 3 listed above. March was colder than February in 14 years including the 3 listed above.

I think that demonstrates why anyone interested in Math and Statistics may also develop an interest in meteorology. Statistics are an integral part of meteorology. Or perhaps I should say meteorology provides a great many random numbers that are subject to statistical analysis, the outcome of which teaches us more about the weather. I've always loved math from the first time I knew anything about numbers. I much prefer a study that has exact answers to everything like math as opposed to studies where an answer may or may not be right according to how it is interpreted. I did not like the 'abstract' studies like World Culture, Literature, and the like, but did love Math, Science, Physics, etc. and still feel the same way now. -30-

Saturday, March 08, 2008 7:54 PM - Yes, March 8th, a day that always brings back a certain memory to me. Back in 1959 for a school project of some sort, I started taking daily weather observations and charting them. Actually it was only temperature readings at that time. I began on January 12 and continued through May 24th (coincidentally my birthday). Although I discontinued my observations at that time, the seed was planted, and meteorology became one of my front-line hobbies. Later in the year I picked up my observations again. This time I started September 23rd and ended November 16th. When I started we were setting high temperature records around 90 for the last 7 or 8 days of September, and when I quit, we were setting a couple low temperature records for mid-Novemeber.

I don't remember the details now, but at any rate, on January 1, 1960 I picked up my observations again and they have continued daily to this date. While I was going to school and then working in Pittsburgh, my mother and two aunts who lived here with me took the observations on the days I couldn't be here.

Contributing to solidify my interest in meteorology were the conditions in the first 3 months of 1960. Without going into a lot of detail, it just turned out that both January and February were warmer than March that year. That has not happened since, and I doubt it happened before I started taking my readings. I'll have to look up the historical Pittsburgh records to see if I am right about that.

Here are the average low, high, and mean temperatures for those three months:
Jan  25.2  38.5  31.8
Feb  22.5  36.8  29.6
Mar  17.9  38.9  28.4
Although the average high for March was the highest of the 3 months, that was only due to the last 5 days of the month having a high of between 54 and 72. Without those warm days, the difference would be even more outstanding. The temperature never got above 35 degrees the first 16 days of the month. The departure from normal for those 16 days ranged from -11 to -21 degrees. The low temperature was below 10 degrees for 9 of those days.

That brings me to March 8th. That was the first day I saw the temperature on my thermometer go below zero, bottoming out at -2 degrees. That is a rare event around here. The Pittsburgh records going back to the 1870's only show 3 March days with a low temperature below zero, in 1943, 1960, and 1980.

That -2 record was subsequently broken here in Kittanning. We hit -3 in 1986 and then in the wake of the blizzard of 1993 we bottomed out at our all time record March low of -6 on the 15th. The next day the temperature rose to 55 degrees for a two day swing of 61 degrees and it continued warm melting the 2 feet of blizzard snow in just a few days.

That wild swing in temperature was topped in March of 1986 when it was -3 on the 8th (yes, my memorable 1960 daily record was wiped out) then up to 60 the next day and 75 the day after for a swing of 78 degrees in two days.

And to close, a note on our weather the past couple days. We definitely had our shields up this time. Here in Kittanning we only got about 3/4 inches of rain - plain rain, and just within the past couple hours a lite dusting of snow. The predictions had been for a few inches of sleet, maybe a few tenths of an inch of freezing rain, and 6-9 inches of snow. Many places all around us got off much worse than that. I worked KD8GZ in OH this evening and he had 18 inches of snow at his QTH. That is just a sample of what went on in many areas of the NE USA, but we were spared here. -30-

Friday, March 07, 2008 1:01 PM - I got a QSL Bureau mailing today. That's always an exciting time. Despite the convenience and cost savings of electronic QSL's from LotW and eQSL, nothing beats the traditional regular old-fashioned paper QSL's. Only 6 cards in the envelope, but that's not surprising since I haven't sent out a bureau mailing myself for probably over a year now. I like to save up my outgoing cards until I get exactly one pound of cards so I get the most for my money from the ARRL and the Post Office. With DX being slow of late, and me not really needing cards from most of the DX I work now anyway, it takes time to build up that pound. In fact I believe the last time I made it just one-half pound which isn't as economical as one pound, but I hate also to keep stations waiting and waiting for my card. Lately about two-thirds or more of the bureau cards I receive are from folks wanting my card for whatever reason, not from folks from whom I requested a card for a new band country or prefix.

Nothing overly rare in the six cards today, just one new prefix - TO5J and one new band country - ES1A on 15M. Otherwise some special Canadian prefixes - VX3AT and VC3E - and EF8M & HI3TEJ. -30-

Thursday, March 06, 2008 8:17 PM - It seems this month I either work DX or work a local when I get on the air. My QSO this evening was with K3HPS in Butler, PA. That's about 25 miles or so west of here, and coincidentally the location of my Urologist's office. John K3HPS is one of our NAQCC members that we signed up at the Butler hamfest a couple years ago.

The Butler hamfests have been cut back somewhat but I believe there is still going to be one this year in early June. If so, hopefully Tom WY3H and I will be there representing the NAQCC. More on that as the time approaches.

We are also making plans to set up portable for the Hootowl Sprint in late May at Tom's hilltop property. We had a lot of fun the previous two times we did it. We had to miss last year though.

I still continue to get a lot of email about Mr. Stone, and I thank all of you for your thoughtfulness. There is just too much to mention everyone by name or to respond to everyone individually, but I thank you all publicly right here and now.

I did think this one from Goran SM0PMJ was quite cute and I will share it with you. There were other cute ones also, and I'm not diminishing them in any way by sharing just this one. Goran wrote: "Good to hear that Mr Stone at last QSY-ed from K3WWP - he could from the outset at least have announced QRL? As a retired senior state geologist at the Geological Survey of Sweden I know the thrill as regards panning for gold, fortunatately not panning for the kind of stones you were familiar with." -30-

Wednesday, March 05, 2008 8:28 PM - I know a little bit now how the old time gold prospectors felt when they were panning for gold. However in my case I'm panning for kidney stone fragments, and happily finding some so apparently the ultrasound treatment yesterday broke up Mr. Stone into very tiny pieces. Nuff sed about that.

It amazes me (or maybe not really) how many questions I get either about my web site or the NAQCC. I mean questions for which the answer is right there in front of them on either my site or the NAQCC site. I guess people would rather ask questions than read instructions. I'm glad to answer the questions, but it would save a lot of my time if folks would just read a bit more or a bit more carefully. It would also save them some embarrassment, I would think, from finding out the answer was right there in front of them all the time.

I'm curious to see how the changes in the ARS Spartan Sprints effectively demoting them from sprints/contests to events with the elimination of scoring will have on our NAQCC sprints. We will never eliminate scoring. In fact we are not going to make any changes at all in our sprint schedule, hours, categories, etc. They are going to continue exactly as they are now. With participation growing nicely, I think the old axiom applies - "If it ain't broke, don't try to fix it."

It seems that something that has been in the works at the NAQCC is about to reach fruition soon. Ron K5DUZ and Karl N3IJR have been putting together some kind of 'Elmer Project' for the club to help the newcomers to CW to become more proficient in its use. Ron said in an email today that he hoped to have a draft of the program to me by Sunday evening. I think that's rather exciting as that is one thing a lot of members want from the club. We just haven't had the manpower or time to put something together till now, but hopefully it will be in place soon. Either watch my diary for details or if you're an NAQCC member, it will definitely be in the club newsletter. -30-

Tuesday, March 04, 2008 12:25 PM - I'm home from the ultrasound treatment, and I think we've left Mr. Stone in the dust. More later or tomorrow. -30-

Monday, March 03, 2008 7:52 PM - For the second day in a row, UU9JX/MM is my QSO of the day, this time on 40 meters. He also gave me his name, Oleg and his position 31N 69W which places him approximately half way between Bahamas and Bermuda.

Tomorrow, appropriately, is the day we tell Mr. Stone to get out of my kidney. Get it - March Fo(u)rth! I've got to be at the hospital in Pittsburgh at the terribly early hour of 5:30AM which means leaving Kittanning around 4AM. I haven't spent those kind of hours since I worked at WPIT in Pittsburgh. Every Saturday and Sunday I got up at 4AM or so to get the bus from my apartment into downtown to get ready to sign on the station at 6AM. Those were some fun(?) times, especially on those bitter cold winter mornings. I'll let you know how it all went tomorrow. It should be 5 hours from entry to exit from the hospital. Hopefully I'll be home around noon. Just as I was typing this, my friend who is driving me to Pittsburgh called to double check on things. I don't think he wants to be identified publicly here, but I sure am appreciative of friends like him who are willing to get up in the middle of the night to help me out. -30-

Sunday, March 02, 2008 7:25 PM - 30M seems to be picking up the past few days. I listened this evening and heard several stations with good signals there in sharp contrast to the dead band I'd been finding just about every time I checked the past several months. I worked UU9JX/MM who I believe is operating off the coast of Mexico according to my friend Mike KC2EGL who worked him a couple nights ago also.

Other than that nothing much else to report. I'm just biding my time waiting for Tuesday when hopefully this kidney stone episode will become history and I can get to feeling like doing more things again. -30-

Saturday, March 01, 2008 9:29 AM - A picture is worth a thousand words, so here's a 7,000 word plus diary entry. See the Home and Yard/March 2008 Snow and Tomatoes folder in my Windows Live SkyDrive site via the link above. -30-

Friday, February 29, 2008 8:16 PM - Well this Leap Day brought us what I think is our biggest snowfall of the winter so far. Looks like we had around 6 inches of snow today as it is just winding down now. I'm glad my kind neighbor shovelled my walk for me. I usually try to be the first one to have my walk cleaned down to the bare cement, but I've been a bit lax the past few days with this kidney stone.

Hey, I finally made a 30M QSO. I think the first one this year so far. I worked DL2RNS/HI8 with but a single call. Seemed nice to work DX on 30M again. Also my QSO on 80 with W2CUA was one where he answered my first CQ, so a very minimum of effort tonight to get two QSO's for a change.

I don't get excited all that easily, but I got some news today that made me excited. Microsoft is coming close to release of their WWT - World Wide Telescope that they've been working on behind the scenes for some time now, probably even before that other software company debuted its sky program last year. You can always count on Microsoft to come up with something fantastic. They sometimes are not always first with things, but they take the time to be sure it is done right. Tentatively the WWT will be released (for FREE) sometime this spring, and will bring together views from many of the World's major telescopes as well as the space telescopes right into your home computer where you can map out your own viewing sessions just like you were taking your own scope out in the back yard only with much clearer and better results. In fact, there is even a provision in the WWT to control your own scope with the program. All I can say is WOW - I can't wait. -30-

Thursday, February 28, 2008 8:18 PM - Gee, this is the first time I've made a QSO on February 29 (UTC) in 4 years now. WA1AR was my first leap day QSO this year. I'm just curious how I've done on the other leap days in my streak. Let's take a look together.

Working back through the years, in 2004 I made two QSO's - N4PLK on 80M and 6Y5WJ on 30M.

2000 was one of those special years that end in 00 and are a leap year as well. Since a year is not exactly 365 1/4 days long, the few extra seconds or minutes are taken care of by adjustments in the '00' years. Those that are divisible evenly by 400 (1600, 2000, 2400, etc.) are leap years while those not so divisible are not (1700, 1800, 1900, 2100, 2200, 2300, etc.). 5 QSO's went in my log on February 29, 2000 - N5QBY, VK4XA, GX0IXP, HA5CTA, and JA7AMK. 2/3 of a WAC on that day near the peak of the last sunspot cycle.

1996 saw only 2 QSO's - NU8Q and my next door neighbor Eric KB3BFQ who gets the credit (blame?) for getting me into this streak in the first place.

That takes care of the leap days in the streak. I also had leap day QSO's one other year outside the streak. Back on February 29, 1964 I made a bunch of QSO's - 13 of them, in fact. Most were in the NE USA with the most distant being a QSO with my teen age friend Don WA5FQV in Dallas, TX.

It's interesting to look back like this. I wonder what you were doing on previous leap days?

Hey, WA1AR whom I worked just submitted his NAQCC application. Great!

One final comment. Mark WU7F asks what I plan to do special when (if?) I reach 5,000 days in the streak. I hadn't really thought about it. He had a couple suggestions. I wonder if you have any? -30-

Wednesday, February 27, 2008 8:17 PM - S-day is approaching. That's the deadline for Mr. K. Stone to get the heck out of my kidney. If he doesn't leave willingly by March 4, he is going to be shattered to smithereens by ultrasonic rays. That was decided upon today at my Urologist's (Dr. K. Hu) office. So hopefully on March 5 I can get back to some normalcy here. Other than that, not much else to talk about today. I do have some things I want to discuss, but am putting them on hold for the time being. -30-

Tuesday, February 26, 2008 10:02 PM - I know you're tired of hearing me talk about the stone, but it's just kind of taken over my life these past several days now. It is more of an annoyance than a pain now, but nevertheless still distracting me from my normal routines.

To try to keep my mind off it, I worked out a secondary home page for Internet Explorer containing a wealth of local weather info maps, graphs, and charts that allow me to track my weather here down to just about the finest detail. If that sounds interesting to you, take a look at (SORRY - PAGE NOW REMOVED) and feel free to adapt it to your own use if you wish. I'm only going to leave the page on-site here for a few days, so look quickly if you're going to do so.

Congrats to all of you who worked Ducie Is. I understand they set many records for number of QSO's in a DXpedition with over 170,000 QSO's overall plus many band/mode records as well. I just never really got into chasing them here. I'm sure it would have been an easy QSO as they had excellent 'ears', and the path from here to that part of the Pacific is an easy one for me. I've made easy QSO's with the likes of 3D2AG, A35RK, C21SX, FO0AND, FO0CLA, N2NL/KH2, NH6D/KH3, K5K, T32Z, V63KP, 3 V73's, many VK/ZL's, VK0MM, VP6BR, 2 ZK1's, 2 ZL7's, and ZL9CI over the past several years. Oh well, getting a new country isn't a matter of life and death with me, as it seems to be with some folks, so I don't mind missing Ducie. -30-

Monday, February 25, 2008 8:10 PM - Again I must pause and thank all of those sending emails of concern about my kidney stone. Who'd have thought 50, or even 25 years ago that a tiny stone in someone's body in Pennsylvania would bring almost instantaneous messages from Japan, Sweden, Canary Islands just to name a few countries plus many USA states. It kind of boggles the mind.

It's kind of looking now like I'm going to have to have either ultrasound or laser treatment to break up and dissolve the stone, as it is just not moving of its own accord.

Hey, have you noticed a couple minor changes on my home page? Mike KC2EGL took an updated picture of me in the shack a few weeks ago and I finally got around to posting it today. Also I'm approaching the 5,000 day mark for the streak, so I've put up a little countdown timer of the days remaining now. I don't think the stone treatments will be anything but outpatient treatments so they shouldn't affect the streak at all. It would be a shame to come so close to 5,000 and lose it, but I know for sure I ain't postponing any treatment just because of that. I want this painmaker gone. -30-

Sunday, February 24, 2008 8:14 PM - No new stone news. At least it's giving me time to continue to do some long needed work on my web site. Today I completely revamped my QRP Rigs page which had become very out-of-date with the constant changing of the QRP Rigs business. It seems that the Elecraft Rigs have pretty much taken over the QRP market these days along with the Yaesu and ICOM rigs. When I first started the rigs page, about the only major type 5 band QRP rig available was the Index Labs QRP+. All the rest of the selections were little one band type rigs. Since then the market has evolved tremendously as QRP operation has become more and more popular.

Anyway just briefly while I'm waiting to get a snack, I eliminated all the rigs stats, prices, comments, etc. from my page, and now provide just a collection of links to the remaining active QRP rig manufacturers' sites. I also retained the reviews of some of the rigs that you, my site visitors provided over the years. I think this way, the material will remain more up to date without constant surveillance which I just haven't had the time to do the past few years. -30-

Saturday, February 23, 2008 8:19 PM - Mr. K. Stone has been given an eviction notice and shown the way out, but still refuses to leave. There, I hate to be repetitive, so at least I stated it differently. At least the steady pain is no longer around, so it's at least bearable now.

I did some behind the scenes work on the web site today, re-checking a lot of things against W3C standards. I found a few little errors here and there, but nothing that caused any page display problems, at least in Internet Explorer, the only browser I use. If you are curious about a page, you can click on the W3C HTML 4.01 or W3C CSS logos below the navigation panel on the left side or at the very bottom of some pages to see that the page is completely coded to standards. I had had trouble with the links to the validator some time ago and had disabled them, but they are now working again. That makes it easy for me to check a page both with the validator built into HTML-Kit and the on-line W3C validator as well. -30-

Friday, February 22, 2008 4:46 PM - Everything went as smooth as silk in the hospital, and the stone now has a larger pathway which it will hopefully take advantage of and leave this weekend. If so, good riddance.

I see in the latest ARRL Letter that AC6V's son Jeff will keep the AC6V web site going. Although we miss AC6V, it's great his site will remain and continue to be 'the final word' on anything ham radio. Jeff is hoping to get his license and apply for his father's AC6V callsign. -30-

Thursday, February 21, 2008 5:10 PM - I continue to be overwhelmed by the outpouring of comment, support, and best wishes for my kidney stone situation. I just don't have the time to respond to each and every one of you individually, but that doesn't diminish my gratitude to all of you one tiny bit. I'll just use this forum here to say thanks very much. Everything you've said has been appreciated and helpful.

Today was a pretty good day, and I got a lot accomplished. I'm caught up on a lot of things now and ready for about a 5 hour hospital visit tomorrow to hopefully put an end to all this. I'll let you know how things turn out. -30-

Wednesday, February 20, 2008 4:22 PM - Man, this being sick, besides not being much fun, sure puts a crimp into one's activities. I've got so much to get caught up on now. So my diary entries for the next couple days will probably be pretty brief. -30-

Tuesday, February 19, 2008 10:26 PM - Nothing new to report today on the stone or otherwise for that matter other than I just finalized the cross-checking of our February NAQCC sprint logs and posted the final results. -30-

Monday, February 18, 2008 9:05 PM - Not much news on the stone today. Dr. Hu gave me some medicine to try to get it to pass naturally, but if it doesn't do so before Friday, then I go to the hospital for some further treatment.

In case you haven't heard, AC6V became a silent key. I'm sure you all know him best for his fabulous very-complete amateur radio reference web site. My sympathies to his family and friends.

I hope his web site doesn't die with him, and that someone can take it over and continue providing the wealth of information it contains. -30-

Sunday, February 17, 2008 6:59 PM - Thanks to all of you who expressed concern about my kidney stone situation. I go to see a urologist tomorrow to see what can be done about getting rid of the pesky thing. It seems to be a bit to big to pass normally as have all my other stones over the past 30 years or so since the first one.

About the only effect today has been a few minutes of pain now and then, and a loss of desire to get in the ARRL DX Contest. Probably conditions were super good since I missed out - that's the way it goes. Oh well... -30-

Saturday, February 16, 2008 7:41 PM - Wouldn't you know it. I was all fired up hoping to go in the ARRL DX Contest today, then I woke up around 5:30AM with kidney stone pain. So I spent the first half of the day in the emergency room and the second half I just didn't feel like doing any contesting till just a little while ago. However conditions were not too good and I only logged one station before I QRT - TM9R. At least I 'crossed the pond' on 40M. I don't know if I'll be doing any more in the contest later tonight or not. If I feel better tomorrow though, I'm sure I'll try to at least get on 20 and 15 for a while. -30-

Friday, February 15, 2008 9:37 PM - Some rambling thoughts on the ARRL DX Contest for this diary entry.

Well, here it is about 2 1/2 hours into the ARRL DX Contest, and after about 45-50 minutes of activity, I've made all of 6 QSO's. All Caribbean stations. I'm hearing more EU stations on 80M than on 40M, but my minimal QRP vs. KW contest stations doesn't stand much of a chance on 80M. There was one strong CT1 station on 80, but even in the clear he wasn't hearing me. I may try again in a couple hours. It would be nice to get at least a couple new countries on 80M, but as I said, the competition is tough there.

I thought it was interesting to hear KH7B coming in strong on 40M when it was still before sunset out there. I almost worked him a couple times, but couldn't quite complete the QSO. I also heard KL7RA on 40M, but not as strong. It's been a while since I've heard both AK and HI at the same time on 40M.

I think if I was ever to go on a DXpedition in a contest to the Caribbean, the island I would pick would be St. Kitts. Every DX contest I enter, V47KP seems to have the biggest and most consistent pileup of any Caribbean station. Can anyone tell me why? As far as I know it's not any more rare than any of the other smaller Caribbean Islands. And it's not like it is worth more than 1 multiplier just like all the other islands. It has always been a puzzle to me.

I wonder if St. Barthelemy will show up in the contest. I don't study or keep up with all the planned DXpeditions nor use any kind of spotting in contests. I just like to get on the air and work the stations. It's much more fun for me that way. Doing all the planning, etc. makes it seem more like work.

There seems to be almost an overabundance of Brazilian stations in the contest. I don't think I've ever heard so many active in one contest before.

I wonder what the high bands will be like tomorrow. It would be nice to make a couple QSO's on 10M. I don't think I've made any QSO's on that band since 2006 now. I'm sure I will make some 15M QSO's as the contest will definitely 'open up' that resting band. 20M will be the star performer for me though at this point in the sunspot cycle.

I like this contest because all the DX stations have their antennas pointed at the USA and Canada, since those are the only two countries they can work. That makes it easier for them to copy my little QRP signal than if their antennas are pointed elsewhere.

I don't really have any goals for the contest. It might be nice to try for 100 or so QSO's, but that depends on how good conditions are. I hate sitting there calling station after station with no results. I also hate having to slow down the other stations by making them copy my call and info more than once. So if conditions are poor, I'll probably only put in a very limited period of operating. -30-

Thursday, February 14, 2008 9:21 AM - I know, I know, I said the RTTY discussion was closed, but I can't pass up these (extended) comments from Kenji JJ1BDX who does operate RTTY properly and also tells us the way the JARL handles RTTY transmissions in Japan.

"Hi John: I'm not against RTTY or digital modes because I enjoy them sometimes. I've already been awarded for an RTTY DXCC (100 DXCC entities confirmed including QSOs of JT65, PSK31 and MFSK16 as well as the FSK RTTY), so I'm no longer a hard-core RTTY chaser.

Nevertheless, I should say: WITHOUT LISTENING OR MONITORING TO THE FREQUENCY ANY OPERATION IS HARDLY LEGAL, SO LONG AS YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO MANUALLY OPERATE ON THE FREQUENCY. (Automatically-operating stations such as packet radio ones and repeaters are exceptions I think, though they have NO PRIVILEGE on the amateur bands either.)

I *always* listen to the frequency when I operate RTTY or PSK31 or even JT65. You want to do the DXing, aren't you? :-) You cannot work many QSOs unless you need to find out the other parties. If you are doing a DX contest, you really need to find weak signals. If you don't listen to the sound, you can't really find out the weakest.

I often speculate it this way: many RTTY-only operators do not know the feelings of the CW operators or anybody who actually listen to the signals. That's too bad for them - and I hope they would get a bit further by listening to what they send and the others send on the air.

Here are some facts: RTTY (I mean 45.45baud, Baudot code, and 170Hz-shift FSK) needs a lot of power and bandwidth than CW or even than other modes such as PSK31, to work. Working RTTY with AFSK (putting audio tones into the microphone or auxiliary audio input) makes things even worse because you tend to overdrive the final stage of the transmitter. (So I almost always use direct FSK, which is available on modern transceivers.) And when multiple stations on the same frequency, only the strongest one will be decoded (as in the general case of FM). All digital modes are so fragile when they get QRMed from CW - a single carrier kills an RTTY or a PSK31 QSO so easily (SO DON'T DO IT! It's ILLEGAL!)

Another factor I would like to speculate is that more hams don't want to speak up on the air (i.e. working Phone modes), especially when they operate at home, because their living partners and kids may intervene at any times. So they want to pretend to be doing some "work on computers" (HUH). I should clarify that you can do it on the CW too if you type and listen, but for many people Morse Code might be so hard to learn (sorry, John, I needed to get ironic on this part.) Too bad for them.

I suggest all hams to read a bit of basics on digital modulation, which is available on many books, including the ARRL Handbook. I'm not telling people to understand OFDM (a modulation scheme of digital HDTV), but once you see the spectrum of FSK RTTY and CW, you can see the difference on the efficiency. Piling up on RTTY is actually a very inefficient work; and I'm very sad to say many well-known DXers get really dumbing down on the operating skills when they interact on RTTY.

BTW in Japan RTTY on 80m is only between 3520-3525kHz, on 40m it's 7025-7045kHz, while 7030-7045kHz is restricted for the QSOs between Japanese and non-Japanese stations (i.e., no JA QSOs there). On 30m, 10140-10150kHz; 17m, 18100-18110kHz; and on 12m, 24920-24930kHz. Those five bands are the most troublesome places where I see many DXers are doing illegal out-of-band transmissions for the digital modes."

My comments: I have nothing against the digital modes or those who operate them. HOWEVER I deplore the unethical, improper, and illegal tactics that are used by some digital operators (and some CW operators as well, for that matter). To use a religious analogy - love the sinner, but hate his sins. If you operate the ham bands using any mode you must know and follow proper procedures and applicable regulations, as well as being considerate of all others who operate the bands.

I think what Japan is doing in limiting RTTY to small segments of the bands is wonderful. I may dispute the exact frequencies they use, but such regulation is a very good idea and I applaud them for doing so. If Japan, having far more licensed amateurs than the USA, can do so, why can't the FCC do the same????

Finally if what Kenji says is true, and I'm sure it is, about it being so easy to 'damage' a fragile digital signal, then we CW operators should just continue operating where we are on the bands and not be bullied into moving. Just don't deliberately try to QRM a RTTY signal, that is illegal as Kenji says and I also inferred in an earlier entry. But if they plop down on top of us as often happens and our CW interferes with their RTTY, well....

And a final final word. If you operate amateur radio modes of any kind, just do it properly, and there will be no need for complaint from anyone. THE END -30-

Wednesday, February 13, 2008 9:49 AM - Many years ago, I had a good ham friend - Rip W4ONC - who is now a silent key. A couple of years ago, I received an email from Rip's son Joe who now holds the W4ONC call and we've become friends as well. Joe is a NAQCC member and participates regularly in our club activities. After that introduction, here is an email I received from Joe a couple days ago and my follow-up comments.

"John, I have been doing this for a few years now and it may be interesting to some of the members of the NAQCC. If you go to the attached NASA web site and put in the information that it needs it will tell you when you can actually see the International Space Station streaking across the sky. Since the size of the ISS is continuously growing it is very easy to see with the naked eye. I have seen it many times after getting the sighting information from the below listed NASA web site. http://www.jsc.nasa.gov/sightings/"

That is true, and I've also been a satellite watcher almost from the beginning of the space age. I remember vividly watching the ECHO 1-A (commonly referred to as just ECHO or ECHO 1 - the original ECHO 1 did not make a successful launch) satellite shortly after its launch in 1960. I also saw a few other satellites in those early space age years. I believe I saw Sputnik 2, but memory fades as to that.

I got away from both astronomy and satellite watching for many years as other interests, school and work took their place. My astronomy interest returned with the return of Halley's Comet in 1985/86 mainly because my mother had seen it back in 1910 and wanted to be sure to see it again this time around. She did, making her one of a not too overly large group of people who had seen Halley's Comet twice in their lifetimes.

My interest in satellite watching returned in 2004 when a neighbor was excited about being able to see the ISS and asked me to help him find it as it passed over by showing him just where to look.

For the next couple years I was outside on virtually every clear night, and they are rare here in western PA. I logged nearly 800 sightings involving 271 different satellites and orbiting launch vehicles.

I especially was fascinated by the Iridium satellite flashes. Those satellites have a mirror like finish on their flat surfaces, and when the sun, satellite, and observer are in the correct position they can flash for a few seconds as bright as magnitude -8 or even -9 in a few cases. That's brighter than any other object in the sky except for the sun and moon, and many times brighter than Venus at its brightest around magnitude -4.5 or so.

There is a fleet of around 100 Iridiums in orbit, and I decided to try to log all of them. My interest waned a bit after 2006 and I stand at around 2/3 of them spotted currently.

Some of my more memorable sightings in the 2004-2007 period were:

6/21/07 - Seeing both the ISS and the shuttle (STS-117) orbiting in formation not long after separation.

8/22/04 - An Atlas Centaur rocket still in orbit after being launched back on 11/27/63

10/3/04 - An early Cosmos (#44) satellite launched on 8/28/64

8/21/04 - A trio of NOSS satellites orbiting in a tight triangular formation.

Various - Daylight sightings of the Iridiums which are bright enough to be easily seen in broad daylight if you know just where and when to look.

There are others as well, but I'll cut this short for now. Another good web site for getting satellite viewing info including sky charts is the Heavens Above site. Do a Windows Live search for Heavens Above to get to the site if you're interested or curious. -30-

Tuesday, February 12, 2008 8:46 AM - Here in a nutshell from my latest guestbook entry is why this web site and the NAQCC exist.

"I took the CW test (5 wpm) because is was what I had to do to upgrade my license. This was, for me, one of the hardest things I have done. CW did not come natural to me.

However, upon reflection, I looked farther into this. I decided, why waste all the time (5 months) it took to learn and pass the test, to just throw it away. So, I study some more. I like doing things 'right' the first time. Not to mention, I want to reduce the 'looking like an idiot' factor as much as I can.

That said.this is how I ended up on your web site. Man!....what great information! What a great web site! This has given me a lot more confidence, that I can do this, and do it long term. I am not sure how good I'll be at it, or how deep I will get into CW.

I can say, I will be going a lot deeper than I thought I would - after studying your web site.

Thank you for all your hard work! Richard Schwender - AD7KC" -30-

Monday, February 11, 2008 9:49 AM - Nuff sed about RTTY/CW. I think all pertinent factors have been covered. Let's move on to other things.

I recently made it to the 5,000,000 points level in the FISTS Millionaire award and my application was sent and approved on Sunday. The 2,3,4,5 stickers go into the mail to me this morning. Received this from Dennis a little while ago: "Hi John, Received your log and all is OK. I will send your 2, 3, 4, and 5 million stickers to you in tomorrow's mail. 73, Dennis K6DF FISTS Awards Manager"

I like that award because it requires a little more work than just merely exchanging numbers and counting how many stations you've worked. You have to add up membership numbers and keep track of who you worked on which bands. A little more stimulating to my way of thinking.

Not quite as stimulating as our NAQCC Worked Members Award though. I think our feature of assigning different point values to QSO's with members really makes it challenging and interesting. For one, it encourages you to perhaps have to work a member a second time if you work him before he became a member or merely exchange the basic RST, QTH, NAME, RIG, WX info in a QSO. Both those types of QSO's are one point each. You can replace the point value for that member by working him again in a contest for a 2 point QSO. Of course it's also a 2 point QSO if your first ever QSO with him was a contest QSO. Then the biggie. You get 4 points if you have a rag chew QSO and find out more about the member than just the basic 5 items mentioned above. All the little quirks (so to call them) are designed with the basic theme of getting more CW QSO's on the air which is what is needed to preserve the mode. Apparently it must be too complicated for some since we have had only a few award applications so far, but it is slowly catching on, and those who have applied found it to be a lot of fun.

To satisfy those who like things a little less work and less challenging, we have a basic class of the award as well. See the NAQCC web site if you are interested in either class of the award. -30-

Sunday, February 10, 2008 1:38 PM - Larry W9CC is guest commentator for today. He says:

"John, As you say, the RTTY ops are watchers, not listeners. But not one of them is going to make way for any QRP signal, especially CW. They won't hear it at all as it requires some skill to detect weak signals. You should be familiar with a similar situation in amateur astronomy where it takes skill to detect very faint patches or blobs in the night sky, even with a telescope, to detect most meteors or galaxies, or even stars for that matter.

Judging by my S-meter, most of these RTTY ops are using very high power, say a minimum of 500 Watts. Not many QRO ops ever make way for QRP. I would bet your tomato patch that a high percentage of the RTTY guys run at least a KW.

It seems only recently that CQ and the ARRL have started these RTTY contests. They could limit the power, but won't. If the mode is so great you should not need that high power even for DX. Actually, it is not that great as we know. PSK-31 is that great! 20 watts max is all you ever need with it. But they don't seem to be a problem. Wall-to-Wall RTTY is a problem. I suppose all this is some sort of response to the Regulation by Bandwidth that I keep hearing about.

By the way, have you ever seen an article that says why and HOW bandwidth regulation is good for us? Or why the ARRL won't even listen to the idea of special band segments? They are needed!

Most of this QRM issue could have been avoided if the ARRL had of set aside the band segment of 3700 to 3800 KHz for RTTY. But I'm not sure how that would fit with the rest of the world. 73, Larry W9CC"

I removed one paragraph from Larry's comments that contained a personal slur against one ham radio official. I won't have any personal criticism in this diary, deserved or not.

Also I don't like blanket criticism of groups in general. As I said, I'm sure there are RTTY operators who are every bit as courteous as any CW operator. And keep in mind it often is very difficult to detect very weak CW (or any other mode) signals, especially in very QRN-ridden locations despite the listening op being very adept in weak signal work. I know that from personal experience.

I'm not sure what Larry means by 'recently' as far as RTTY contests go, but they have been around for quite some time now. I don't have time to research just when each of the big RTTY contests started, but I know it was a good many years ago. A quick look on the ARRL site shows record scores for their 'RTTY Roundup' that go back as far as 1990. So RTTY contests were around since at least that year and probably before that. However, until the 'dumbing down' of ham radio, even the biggest RTTY contests only occupied a small portion of the ham bands and were often not even noticeable unless you happened to tune that small portion. Now with folks incapable of using or unwilling to use their brains to copy CW, many are turning to modes that require only a computer to do the 'thinking' and RTTY seems to be the current mode of choice that fits that definition.

My personal opinion about band regulations is that each mode should be given its own segment of each band in proportion to the number of hams who use that mode. The segments could be adjusted every few years as interest in different modes changes.

This current RTTY vs. CW debacle reminds me of the old SSB vs. AM feud. I think it will end the same way also with CW going the way of AM. There will always be CW, but only among a small hard-core group of followers just like AM today. However in the case of AM vs. SSB, the results were in the best interest because SSB was a much narrower bandwidth mode and the change allowed for many more QSO's in the same amount of bandwidth. The case of CW vs. RTTY (or other digital modes) is just the opposite though. CW requires the narrowest of all bandwidths (depending on speed) and thus demoting or eliminating CW will result in less efficient use of what band space hams do have available. Which will probably be OK, because I think the number of hams worldwide is eventually going to drastically decline with the use of other means of communication such as the Internet, Email, Cell Phones, etc. Just like CW though, there will be a small hard-core group of followers who enjoy experimenting with and using radio waves to communicate. -30-

Saturday, February 09, 2008 9:22 PM - The discussion about RTTY QRM came at a very appropriate time, it seems. I only follow ham radio happenings that involve CW, so I didn't know till I checked that this was the weekend for the CQ RTTY WPX contest. It seems RTTY filled up just about all of 40 meters according to my friend Rick AA4W who also brought up a very interesting point about RTTY and RTTY operators.

Sometimes the most obvious thing is the easiest overlooked. Since I never operated RTTY nor any other digital mode I never thought of this, and it explains a lot. It doesn't justify it, but it explains it.

Rick said in an email to me, "The bad thing is that I talked to a friend who does digital and he says, 'The nice thing about it is you can turn the volume down and operate and not have to listen to all of the noise'!!! That explains why they just start transmitting right on top of you even if you have been in a QSO for half an hour."

Aha, so that's what is going on. It's not intentional QRMing of CW signals, just ignorance or inconsideration by the RTTY ops. And I'm sure that applies to other digital mode ops as well. They don't have to use their brain or ears to copy RTTY, but let their computers do it for them, and the computer doesn't know any better.

Now that isn't a blanket statement condemning ALL RTTY/digital ops. I'm sure some of them do use proper procedures when they operate and DO listen on frequency before transmitting. But I'm sure a lot probably never do listen and only watch their computer screens. It's a sad state of affairs probably attributable in large part to the dumbing down of ham radio and America.

I've got some more to say about this, but I'll let this part sink in now before I continue in a future entry. -30-

Friday, February 08, 2008 1:29 PM - I thought I'd let this email from Phil, ex-WB9ZGV be my entry for today since he states things so accurately and wonderfully.

"Good morning John,

Just found your website and found it extremely interesting. I'm returning to the hobby after more than 20 years. My call way back then was WB9ZGV and this Saturday I'll be going in for a new ticket.

I'm dismayed to find that no longer is CW required, but also that the test has been "dumbed down". I remember when I got my first ticket the test was pretty tough.

CW was my only mode back then using an old Heathkit transmitter and a typical boat anchor receiver. I always thought that CW made us different, One just couldn't become an amateur, it took hard work and perseverence.

I agree wholeheartedly with your CW Forever column. Especially nowadays when the FCC can vacate a band and sell it to the highest bidder. We need to hold on to our little slice of the spectrum, we need more Generals to upgrade to Extra and use those little DX slices because if we don't use them, we're going to lose them.

And we need to re-introduce the CW requirement, make the test tougher and basically strain out those that will do nothing more than dilute the community. If you wan't to be a ham, pay your dues. If you don't want to do the work, I'm sure they still sell CB equipment at Radio Shack good buddy.

I am now getting off my soapbox!!!!

By the way, after I pass my Tech test Saturday, I'll be grandfathered to General. I feel guilty about that brcause I really don't deserve it, but I'm happy because it will give me access to large amounts of bandwidth!

Thanks again for a great site. I'm going to check the rest of it out right now! Phil"

I don't think anything needs to be added to that eloquent email. -30-

Thursday, February 07, 2008 8:02 PM - I sometimes don't understand why some folks do the things they do. Why does someone answer a CQ by K3XXX in this way: K3XXX K3XXX K3XXX DE X3KKK? Why do they send the CQer's call several times then send their own call only once? The guy calling CQ knows his own call. There is no need to repeat it more than once. But he doesn't know your call, and if you send it only once, QSB, QRN, or QRM can easily wipe out a letter or two or even more of your call. If that describes you, please do it this way: K3XXX DE X3KKK X3KKK. There's a much better chance you'll get a response to your answer that way.

Then why does a QSL buro send me an envelope of cards with only a couple cards in it? That's a waste of the postage I put on the SASE I sent to the buro. The post office is getting enough of my money as is. I want to get my money's worth for the postage. When I send cards to a buro, I'll wait till I have exactly an even weight before I send them. That is, I'll fill up an envelope with as many cards as it takes to make as close to exactly 1 ounce as possible. Or with a larger buro mailing, I'll fill the package till it reaches 1/2 pound or 1 pound.

I don't think it is asking too much of the various club, DX, etc. buros to do the same thing and fill my SASE's up similarly. I'm not in that big a hurry for my cards. I'll wait till I get the most return for my investment in stamps.

Now down off my soapbox. Say, 80M really sounded good this evening. Strong signals all over the shrunken CW segment of that band. I sure hope it is the same way for our NAQCC sprint next Tuesday evening.

I had an email complaining about the RTTY QRM on 7040 kHz, wondering what can be done about it. Well, frankly, nothing. I guess you could do something bordering on illegal, and put out a KW CW signal right on top of the RTTY. But forget I said that, and please don't actually do it. The email asked what happened to the gentlemen's agreement about band sharing. Well, this is the age of rudeness and gentlemanly behavior has gone down the drain as far as a good many people are concerned. Folks don't care about other folks, only about themselves.

Remember the school bully, and how everyone kept giving in to his demands? The same thing applies here. Too many folks are giving in to the RTTY 'bullies' or 'encroachers'. Look at what the biggest QRP club has done. They started crying and moved their QRP frequency down to 7030 kHz to get away from the bullies. Now the bullies will soon be moving down and taking over that territory also. It's the same with bullies everywhere. As soon as you give in to their demands, they have you hooked and will continue to see how much further they can push you.

On the other hand too many folks seem to believe they can only operate QRP exactly on 7040 kHz and that is it. Too many FISTS believe they can only operate on 7058 kHz and that is it. They seem to have forgotten they have VFO's in their rigs, not a xtal. If someone is on 7040 with RTTY or CW or whatever, simply QSY up or down 500 Hz or so. Even further if necessary, but don't stray too far from 7040 if you don't want to lose it completely. -30-

Wednesday, February 06, 2008 10:10 PM - I got a couple more letters toward completing the NAQCC February Challenge a little while ago when I worked N3RSD for my daily streak QSO. That gave me 2 of the 4 S's I needed leaving me with just 2 S's and 1 X to go.

Tom WY3H was looking at the results for the QRP ARCI Fall QSO party and mentioned to me that a couple of our anniversary N3A calls made a good showing along with a couple other NAQCC members. I plan to mention them in our upcoming NAQCC newsletter which 'goes to press' this Friday evening around 2300Z or so.

Not much else to discuss as I had a very long day taking care of some personal matters. Just one more day to go now and all that will be cleared up and over with. -30-

Tuesday, February 05, 2008 9:19 PM - I worked my way down to needing just 4 S and 1 X to finish our NAQCC February challenge. I only worked a few stations, just to get my letters plus I worked a couple contesting friends to help them out. Conditions weren't all that great last night, and they were even worse tonight. It took quite a while to get my streak QSO, but I made it finally. 40M continues to get better in the evenings now so that will help out things as time goes by.

Geo N1EAV said he's seen some robins up in NE also, so perhaps, just perhaps we are going to have an early spring. It certainly feels like spring here today. I went for several walks with just a light jacket once the rain stopped around noon or so. Temperatures were in the upper 50's most of the night and most of the day, and it's still 50 degrees as I write this around 9:30PM. -30-

Monday, February 04, 2008 8:44 PM - A tale of Robins, Tomatoes, SP's, and Challenges.

Yesterday afternoon after a pleasant surprise visit from my friend Mike KC2EGL, I went out for a walk in our park and lo and behold, saw a flock of 6-8 Robins. That's among the earliest I've ever seen them here, and I hope they are a better indicator of the upcoming weather than Punxsutawney Phil. There are conflicting stories about Robins. Some folks say they go south for the winter and work their way back north as the weather warms. Others say they merely hide out around here and come out of hiding when the weather warms. Either way it is a sign they think it's going to remain somewhat mild for the rest of the winter.

pix_diary_20080204 (38K)

With still a couple tomatoes left in the basement from last year, this year's plants have started to sprout. The two bigger plants came from seeds from "The World's Biggest Tomato" plants my friend gave me last year. The single plants in the other pots are my Siberian tomatoes. At least the smaller one is. I didn't think I planted a seed that far from the center in the other pot, so it may be some kind of an orphan plant. I'll know in a few days.

The SP (Spartan Sprint) is coming up in a few minutes. I plan to enter it to try to get the remaining letters for our NAQCC February Challenge of making groundhog predictor names. I need 17 letters to complete the challenge which consisted of 85 letters altogether and if conditions are decent and I run across the right call letters I should finish it. -30-

Sunday, February 03, 2008 11:06 AM - I decided to post the picture trivia entry today rather than tomorrow because of some personal reasons, so here goes...

I was interrupted during finishing this off, but I'll post it as is for now and proofread it more later.

Here's what you said about the trivia picture:
Geo N1EAV - "In regards to the picture in the diary....Is it a marker for center field from the old Forbes field where the Pirates used to play? That would be my guess."
Larry W2LJ - "475 ft. Does it have something to do with a marker from Forbes Field?"
Bill KB3XS - "Isn't the picture from Monday the wall at Forbes Field where "Maz" hit the home run over in 1960?"
Larry W2LJ adds - "If memory serves me correctly, isn't there also a plaque mounted somewhere in the same vicinity to mark where Bill Mazeroski's homer went which won the Series in 1960?"
Bob N2SU - "That picture is the center field corner of old Forbes Field (I recognize the 457-ft. sign). It was so deep that they used to store the batting cage out there, in play. Back in the 60s Willie Stargell hit one out there against the Mets and got an inside-the-park home run (quite an achievement with his lack of speed!). Love the old ballparks!"
Ron K5DUZ - "1) The corner of right field of the Pitt baseball stadium. 2) The exercise yard of the Pitt preschool :o)"
Mike KC2EGL - "The picture you have is the site of the outfield wall of Forbes Field. A former home to the Pittsburgh Pirates."
Dave W0CH - "I'm thinking that the trivia picture is the location of center field at Forbes Field, the former home of the Pittsburgh Pirates."
Geo N1EAV adds - "The picture shows the walls that made up center field and right center field. I do believe they are from the actual ballpark and still standing. The 457 foot mark designates just left of straightaway center field at the flagpole. Also shown is the original base of the flagpole."
Dave W0CH adds - "Are you looking for the fact that those are the actual walls from Forbes Field? Or that the green foam-rubber crash pads were placed on the wall in right and right-center were the first in the majors? Or maybe that Forbes was also the home of the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1933 to 1963? Or maybe that the flagpole in the picture is the actual flagpole from Forbes Field? Or that Babe Ruth hit his last home run (#714) there on May 25, 1935."

Very good gang. Yes it is a picture I took of the outfield wall from old Forbes Field in the Oakland section of Pittsburgh when Tom and I were in Pittsburgh taking the Morse study at Pitt. The picture shows perhaps about half of what remains of the wall. The rest of Forbes Field is now totally gone and the area where the remainder stood is now part of the University of Pittsburgh campus (I believe a library and dorms) and some new streets running through the campus.

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As you see from the diagram above, the 457 foot marker is actually not dead centerfield, but closer to left-centerfield. Geo N1EAV is the only one who mentioned that. That's all I was really looking for, but you all added a lot of info anyway. The distance to straightaway center was 'only' 436 feet. The yellow lines divide L,C, and R. The red ticks on the outfield wall show approximately how much of the wall remains according to my estimate. The left field wall ran out perpendicular to the left field foul line and didn't take a turn or angle toward right field for quite some distance. The point where it did angle off is the 457 foot marker. It took a mighty poke to hit a home run over that point in the fence or even to get a ball out there. As N2SU mentioned, there were so few balls hit there that the Pirates stored the batting cages there during a game.

It's not the point where Mazeroski hit the famous home run. That ball went out over the left field scoreboard near the yellow tick mark on the fence which was considerably to the left of what is shown in the picture or even of what is left standing. I'm sure you recall the picture of Yogi Berra despondently looking at the scoreboard as the ball sailed over it. And yes, there is a plaque about the wall and the homer as shown here.

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I think there were a couple of home runs hit over the 457 foot marker - or near to it. I believe Dick Stuart did it once. Dick was a very interesting player, to say the least. He played first base for the Pirates in the late 50's and early 60's. Coincidentally he was on deck when Maz hit the home run off Ralph Terry.

Dick's one specialty in baseball was hitting home runs. Had he played more recently, he perhaps would have been a very good designated hitter although he did strike out a lot. He couldn't field worth a plugged nickel. I think he still holds the record for errors by a first baseman for a single season with 29. But my, could he hit the home runs, many of them true tape-measure shots. He still holds one of the top totals for home runs in a minor league season when he hit 66 in 1956 for Lincoln in the Class A Western League. If memory serves, it says in one of the bios in an old Pirate yearbook I have somewhere up in the attic, he hit one tape measure shot that measured 610 feet. As I said, he also struck out a lot. Probably his home run and strike-out total made up a good percentage of his total at bats. He was traded to Boston for the 1963 season, probably because Boston thought he would be an ideal hitter for the 'green monster' in left field in Fenway Park. He hit a total of 75 home runs in two seasons for Boston before being traded to the Phillies. After a 28 homer season, he drifted to a couple other teams before hanging it up.

Stuart brings to mind another Pirate known for hitting home runs - Ralph Kiner. As did Stuart, Kiner batted right handed so that huge left field didn't help matters as far as home runs go. However, the Pirates knew a good thing when they had it, because at that time they didn't have many good things. The year before Kiner started playing for the Pirates, they acquired power-hitter Hank Greenberg from the Tigers. In order to get Greenberg to sign, they agreed to tailor Forbes Field to his liking by putting the bullpens out in left field. Did I mention it was even a fair piece right down the line to left - 365 feet and with that wall going out perpendicular to the foul line, the distance increased rapidly the farther from the foul line you hit the ball. With the added bullpens, the left field foul line distance was reduced to 335 feet and the left-center power alley from 406 feet to 355 feet. It was called Greenberg Gardens, and then remamed Kiner's Korner. I don't know how many of Kiner's home runs came as a beneficiary of his Korner, but nonetheless Kiner was a dominating home run hitter from 1946 to 1955 mostly with the Pirates. He hit 369 homers in that 10 year period, 301 with the Pirates, 175 at Forbes Field. Unfortunately a bad back cut short his playing career. Just imagine (and it is only imagining and speculation of course) had he played a full career of say 20-22 years, played in a ballpark with an even more friendly left and center field, and played for a better team. Oh, the Pirates were constantly one of the worst teams in baseball during the Kiner era. Opposing teams could easily afford to pitch around Kiner a good deal of the time. He earned over 100 walks for 6 years and averaged over 100 walks per season for his career. Had circumstances been different, I feel fairly certain that Kiner could have been the all-time home run hitter, and Aaron and Bonds would be 3rd and 2nd. But that is all speculation similar to wondering how many Formula I auto races Ayrton Senna would have won had he not been killed in one of those races at the peak of his career.

When Kiner became a Mets' broadcaster, he paid tribute to his 'Korner' by calling his post game show Kiner's Korner. Incidentally the Forbes Field Korner was removed after Kiner was traded in 1953 and the dimensions reverted to the original ones.

I should also mention that the Pirates had several centerfielders well capable of patrolling that vast territory, one from the '60 series era being Bill Virdon. True baseball fans will remember some of the catches he made out there over the years as well as in the 1960 series. He was flanked by a couple of pretty good fielders in their own right at that time - Bob Skinner in left and Roberto Clemente in right.

Did you know that Babe Ruth's last three homers (712-714) came in a game at Forbes Field on May 25, 1935 while he played for the Boston Braves? The last of the three was the first home run ever hit over the massive high right field stands. Those stands were 86 feet high. The home run was estimated to have travelled 600 feet. Ruth retired about a week later after injuring his right knee in a game. There were not all that many more home runs hit after that which cleared the right field stands. Willie Stargell of the Pirates was best at it. I believe he had something like seven of them.

Standing in what used to be left-centerfield of Forbes Field and taking that picture sure brought back a lot of memories, and I could go on and on, because I loved sports in those days when sports were truly sports, not big business as they are today. -30-

Saturday, February 02, 2008 10:01 PM - Well, the little furry weather predictor in Punxsutawney saw his shadow today so we are in for six more weeks of winter according to Phil. I remember last year he said winter was over and we had our worst snows of the whole season just a few days after that. So maybe this year if the same holds true we will have some very nice weather coming up in the next few weeks.

At any rate everything here is a thin sheet of ice today, and any attempt at walking anywhere is a real challenge. But I still did get in a mile or so walk to downtown and back.

Going back to groundhogs, as you may or may not know, our NAQCC February challenge is another of our popular alphabet challenges with the words to be made this month being names of groundhog predictors from around the USA and Canada. There are a whole flock (or whatever a group of groundhogs is called) of them, not just Phil, although he is the most famous.

I got a good start on the challenge today by getting in the Minnesota QSO Party. Conditions were decent this afternoon for working MN on 40M, but I didn't hear anything on 20M, and the contest ended at 0000Z this evening so I didn't get a chance to work any on 80M.

I'm thinking of ending the suspense about the photo trivia on Monday with a full posting of all the guesses and my comments on them. Still no one has specifically mentioned one small item about the picture I hoped someone would. A couple folks added additional comments to their original guess trying to come up with that item, but they didn't, although one did come up with some interesting facts, all of which were true. I guess that's enough of a tease for today. HI -30-

Friday, February 01, 2008 2:13 PM - A miserable day here, but not as bad as it could have been or as bad as it is elsewhere. We only got a trace of icing here overnight. Otherwise it was a mixture of snow, sleet and regular rain as the temperature stayed above/below the critical points that make for a lot of freezing rain and a lot of trouble.

Let me tell you about some of those sites I mentioned yesterday. First check out the new DXINFO DB lookup on my QSL routes page. It's a very nice looking site, seemingly thorough and very well done.

If you use the LotW, or are thinking about it, check out these sites for a pretty thorough analysis of it and some software to help you use it more easily and better perhaps. http://bbcyber.com/luq.htm and http://www.hb9bza.net/lotw/. When I get some more time I'll add those sites to my DX and/or QSLing links.

The latest two to take a shot at the picture trivia are Dave W0CH and Mike KC2EGL. As with all the others, the guesses are tantalizingly close, but lacking one detail I'm waiting to see included in a guess.

Not related to the guesses, but something completely different now. It fascinates me to see how different people are in the way their minds work. There is nothing at all wrong with the differences - it just makes for a more interesting world. However it is frustrating some times when trying to write instructions or rules. You think you have explained it very thoroughly and made it very simple, and the first 99 people seem to agree with you, but then #100 comes along and is totally confused by a couple of points in the instructions or rules. It makes you want to tear out your hair sometimes, or at least wonder how this one person cannot see clearly what all the rest are seeing. Repeating, it is merely how the brain works differently for different people and the person who can't understand the instructions or rules may very well be a superb genius at many other facets of life the rest of us have a hard time comprehending. I was going to give a couple of concrete examples here, but decided against it, lest it be taken in the wrong way. Nevertheless I'm sure you understand my point. But then some whose brain works differently may not. HI.

I think I need a break here. So no more rambling for today. I can't go out for a walk, as I don't have ice skates, and I got a lot of my first of the month chores done, so I'll just have to find something to do. Oh I need to get out the certificates for our NAQCC 160M sprint, and also update the Contest Calender for March here on my web site. I guess I'll work on those projects now. -30-

Thursday, January 31, 2008 10:32 PM - I had several things I wanted to discuss today, but I've wound up having such a busy day I'm going to postpone them. I got one more answer to my picture trivia, and it was correct also as far as it went. I've got an entry prepared discussing the picture, but I'm going to postpone posting it for a couple more days to see if I get any more answers.

I don't get much time to just browse the Internet looking for interesting ham related sites, but I do get some suggestions via email now and then. I got one such site suggested today, and it was a very good one dealing with QSL Manager lookups, and that led to a couple more good sites about the LotW in turn. I'll talk about them more after I get past this changing of the month day tomorrow. The last/first of a month are always busy days here. I try to schedule a lot of my chores at random times during a month, but there are some that only lend themselves to be properly done at month change time.

And now I'm going to get back to working on some of them. -30-

Wednesday, January 30, 2008 8:58 AM - Wow that was some cold front that came through last night. From a high in the lower 50's around 2AM to a low in the low 20's right now around 9AM.

I find it interesting that this current non-ham radio trivia question has drawn several responses so far, while the last trivia question involving ham radio drew a total of zero responses. Now you know the picture has nothing to do with ham radio - another clue. HI.

You remember I said I thought no one could answer the question of who received the first ARRL DXCC award, and I was right. Now that's not the discussion about the first 160M award which was another story altogether. Anyway it's rather tough to narrow this down via an Internet search. Perhaps an employee (or former employee - hint Dave AB2WH) of the ARRL can settle this definitively. I've found that according to QST, W3CRA had verified 100 countries by 1938, but the source (AC6V web site) doesn't say if this was the first DXCC or not. Later the same source says that W1FH was issued the first 'modern' DXCC award for mixed and phone in 1947.

I guess my point about the fanatic struggle to work a new country to gain everlasting fame was true if it was this hard to find the first DXCC winner.

Anyway back to the current trivia question. 3 more folks came up with guesses. 2 of them were very close with one giving quite a bit of detail along with his answer. The three were Ron K5DUZ, Bob N2SU, and Bill KB3XS. Still all the 5 guesses so far left out one point I hoped the guessers would include.

I'll keep this open for a couple more days or longer if the guesses keep coming, then post all the guesses here and comment on them.

If you don't know what I'm talking about, scroll down a couple of days' entries. -30-

Tuesday, January 29, 2008 4:42 PM - A couple of diary readers, W2LJ and N1EAV are extremely close to answering the 'trivia picture' in yesterday's diary. Close enough that I will say they are right. But I'm not going to say anything more about it now to give more of you a chance to exercise your brains trying to figure it out. There are ample clues in the diary entry for a good many of you to figure it out, I'm sure.

Geo N1EAV also asks if I plan to comment on the Super Bowl in my diary. The answer - NO. I think, and have thought, for many years now that the Super Bowl is the most over-glamorized, over-publicized, over-priced, over-analyzed, over-discussed event in all of sports. I liked sports when they were sports, not just an excuse to make more and more money, be it for the players, owners, TV networks, advertisers, bookies, and many other interests who want a cut of the take. I don't believe I have ever watched a Super Bowl in its entirety, at least not for many many years now if I ever did. It stinks as a spectator sport because of the money making aspect that draws the game out to unnecessary lengths with too many commercial breaks and a too-long pre-game, half-time, and post-game show again with the purpose of filling someone's coffer with still more and more filthy lucre.

And a good bottom line to think about is that my life is not going to be changed one iota by the outcome of the game. Just like my life is not going to be changed by any of a multitude of things that go on in the World. Yet many people consider the game and those other events as virtually a matter of personal life and death. I just don't see it. Sorry.

I will probably check the Internet after the game is over just to see who won, but that is the extent of my involvement. I'll probably be on the ham bands while the game is on, or taking care of some NAQCC business or working on my web site. Those activities are much more important to me personally than what some vastly overpaid athletes are doing. -30-

Monday, January 28, 2008 7:57 PM - I haven't had a lot to say in the past few diary entries.... oh don't worry, I'm not going to make up for that all here in this one entry. I am going to talk a bit about the Morse Study at Pitt, show you a couple pictures and info about how you can participate, and end with a trivia question (picture).

Regular readers of this diary may remember our horror story of the previous time we took the test - running into a huge several mile long traffic jam on the way - the car overheating so we had to turn the heater on full blast to cool the engine when it was already approaching 90 degrees outside. Well this time was different. We just breezed into Pittsburgh, parked the car and arrived at the study site well in advance of our scheduled starting time.

We headed up to the room and greeted the tester. She was a different one from the previous study. Her name was Jody. I thought I had her last name here, but I don't. We also saw the tester from the previous study - Sara Guediche and chatted with her for a bit.

They had me set up to take the study first, so Tom went off to wait while I did the study. It was a little different from the previous study, but still similar. A series of letters was sent in Morse Code, and after all were sent, I was handed a card to write them down from memory. There were two sized groups, 4 letters and 6 letters. The previous study consisted of only 5 letters for all groups. Then a series was sent with spoken letters. There must have been around 100 different groups all together. There weren't any letter groups displayed on the computer screen this time. I won't describe it any more detail than that. You get the idea.

It took me around 45 minutes to complete the test, then Tom and I took a couple pictures (below). While Tom was taking the study, I went out and walked around the Pitt campus as I did the last time. Doing something like that really brings back the memories of the time I went to Pitt and/or lived in Shadyside, which was about a dozen blocks from the Pitt campus, while I worked at WPIT.

Here are pictures of the test. First me and Jody, then Tom and Jody. Tom wasn't too familiar with my camera and Jody and I were sitting there for quite a few seconds staring at each other while we were waiting for the picture to be taken. It got to the point where we just about broke up.

pix_diary_20080128_2 (29K)
pix_diary_20080128_1 (30K)

Now here's how you can participate in the study with this recreation of a flyer about the study.

Do you know

Morse code?

Participants are needed for a 1-2 hr. study involving

Morse code. If you are at least 18 years of age and

are proficient in Morse, please contact:


*Individuals receive $25/hr*

And finally for today, here's a trivia picture.

pix_diary_20080128_3 (57K)
If you know what the significance of it is, email and let me know. I'll give you credit here in the diary for being a very knowledgeable person. -30-

Sunday, January 27, 2008 10:24 PM - I wound up putting in just about exactly 5 hours in the CQ 160M contest. I made 157 QSO's in that time from 30 SPC's - 28 states plus ON & QC. I'm rather pleased with that 31.4 rate. It's a little better than the 27.8 I had in 6.5 hours in the ARRL 160M contest. The QSO's came easily for the most part - virtually 90% or so needed no repeats from me. I heard more EU stations on 160 this weekend than I think I have heard previously in all the time I've been on 160. I'm wondering if some QRPers with big antenna farms worked them. I'm pretty sure they did, especially those over nearer the Atlantic Ocean. As I said in yesterday's entry, I had no chance here with my QRP and attic random wire. I did hear a strong Bahamas station which had I persisted and worked him would have been only my 4th country on 160M. I also was tired the past couple nights and didn't work the wee hours of the morning or I possibly might have gotten some new states. I did get on around 1AM Sunday morning and conditions to the western USA were not all that good at that time, so perhaps I didn't miss anything. Still it was a lot of fun. I enjoy these short times I do in contests these days rather than the sit there for 20 hours or more like I used to do. It's nice to have a fast pace in a contest rather than having things slow down after all the bigger contest stations are worked. I get bored when the rate gets down too low, and it doesn't take long to get there with my minimal QRP signal, especially on 160M or even the higher bands at this stage in the sunspot cycle. Now when cycle 24 gets going, I probably will put in longer efforts and get those higher rates to last longer like the 50+ rates I've gotten for the full 10 hours of the NAQP's at the last sunspot peak. I like that action of a QSO almost every minute. I'd love to try from somewhere with a big antenna farm. I can imagine the fun of doing a 100+ rate for hour after hour. But that will probably never happen.

After that rambling paragraph, I'm going to close for now and get some more chores done here and get to bed early to get rested up for the Univ. of Pitt Morse study tomorrow morning. CUL -30-

Saturday, January 26, 2008 10:29 PM - More fun on 160M this evening. Still not doing a serious effort, but the little time I've put in has been fun. I'm up to 110 QSO's now in 29 SPC's. I'm hearing EU which I don't often hear on 160, but no chance to work them. They're only S2 or so here. I guess I would be about a MINUS S9 over there. HI. I have worked CO and TX so far which is pretty good for my setup. I may try later to see if I can catch one or two of the 8 states I need for 160M WAS. I have heard W5XX in MS which I need, but he was S&Ping. I also heard and called N5UL in NM, another state I need, but he never heard me at all. No sign of any of the other 6 states I need.

Tom WY3H and I are heading off to the Univ. of Pittsburgh on Monday for another round of the Morse and Memory testing they are doing. I'll have a report on that here in the diary. Incidentally Tom's son Ethan is now a ham with the call of KB3QGW which he got this past Thursday. Congratulations to Ethan. -30-

Friday, January 25, 2008 10:48 PM - 160M was a little better this evening. Of course tonight I was dealing with stronger signals. The band is still noisy though. I have to turn my furnace down while operating as it produces a solid wall of noise all across the band at a level of S9 + 30db. Then it gets cold in the shack, and I can't operate as long. I have managed 50 QSO's so far. I'm mostly just gathering calls for our NAQCC January Challenge.

I don't know if I'll be getting back in later tonight or not. I probably will for a little while.

Not much else to talk about today. -30-

Thursday, January 24, 2008 10:47 PM - Well the 160M sprint was a bust here. It was just too noisy to copy QRP signals so I quit after a very short time.

Nothing much else going on here today, so I'll say 73 to all for now. -30-

Wednesday, January 23, 2008 7:26 PM - I'm just in the midst of finalizing our January NAQCC Sprint results, and answering some emails on top of that. I thought I'd take a break and make a brief diary entry for today, then go up to the shack to get my streak QSO for the day.

I did some rearranging of bookcases here today to use up some of my time. But the best thing I did was to finally get my tomato seeds started. I had hoped to gain a couple weeks on last year, but kept putting it off in favor of other things. It winds up that I'm only 4 days earlier than last year when I planted them on the 27th. So I may still have my ripe Tomato in May, but not significantly earlier than last year. I planted 6 Siberian seeds which I'll later thin to two or three of the strongest plants. Also 3 "World's Largest Tomato" seeds which I'll thin to 1 later.

Mike KC2EGL and I had a good time together yesterday discussing ham radio and our other mutual interests. Also we ordered a pizza. That was really good. I only recently decided to ignore all the bad publicity about anchovies. I never had them on a pizza because I believed all the 'horror' stories of the bad salty taste. However two pizzas ago I tried them for the first time, and found the publicity was wrong. At least I find I like them, and will have them included on future pizza shop pizza.

Well, off to the shack now. My noisy computer run furnace is about to shut off, and then I'll punch the energy saving button so it won't come on for at least an hour and give me QRN all over the ham bands. -30-

Tuesday, January 22, 2008 4:24 AM - I received the following question in an email from Charlie K8CB: "What is your secret for getting your tomato season to last this long? Our tomatoes in southern Ohio normally finish up in October, but in 2007 because of the drought in July and August they finished up early in September."

And quoting my response to Charlie: "No secret. When the growing season ends, just pick all the green tomatoes bigger than about 3/4 inch in diameter and store them in a cool place and they will ripen slowly. I probably average going a week or two into December before they're eaten or have all gone bad, but this year there was an abundance of green tomatoes at the close of growing season, and they seemed to ripen more slowly for whatever reason. I have about 15 still left in the basement.

As for the early start, I start seeds of Siberian tomatoes very early. In fact I should be getting some started now, but I haven't gotten to it yet. Of course keep them indoors in a sunny window. When the flowers appear, pollinate them with a Q-tip. Plant outdoors as early as possible. If you only plant a few as I do, it's easy to protect them from frost. That way you should have tomatoes in late May or early June at the latest. For my later crop, I buy Early Girl plants at our nursery and plant them 2-3 weeks after the Siberians. They produce ripe tomatoes about the time the Siberians start to slow down, although this year the Siberians lasted about a month past the Early Girl start." -30-

Monday, January 21, 2008 7:48 PM - Gee, what shall I write about today. It was kind of a quiet nondescript day. However it certainly is nice to look out my window on a January 21st and not see a sign of snow anywhere. Except for the leafless trees and the brownish vegetation, you couldn't tell it was winter out there. That is, until you step outside. The past couple mornings have seen our coldest temperatures of the winter so far, hovering just above the zero mark.

Tomorrow I'm looking forward to a visit from my friend Mike KC2EGL. We always have some good times when we get together since we have several common interests going beyond just ham radio.

80 meters seemed pretty good this evening. I made two easy QSO's to extend the streak yet another day. If all goes well, in 81 more days I'll hit the 5,000 day mark in the streak. I never would have foreseen that when this thing started back in 1994. And now I've made it through 2 sunspot minimums and the maximum in-between. Let me tell you, the maximum was much more interesting, but probably the minimums were more rewarding and more meaningful. They show that conditions cannot deter the determined QRPer from making QSO's. I'm delighted to see that so many of those who have responded to my latest poll continued using only QRP for their CW QSO's all last year despite it being at the very bottom of a sunspot cycle. Yes Virginia, QRP does work, especially (only?) when you use the greatest of all the ham radio modes - CW. -30-

Sunday, January 20, 2008 8:03 PM - I listened again to the HF moonbounce test last night. This time on both frequencies. I didn't hear a trace of either the uplink or the return signals this time.

I did get two reports from you, my diary readers. Let me quote them to you, then add a couple comments of my own afterwards.

"Hi John, Using my TS-870 and an inverted vee (however cut for the 30m band), the HAARP transmission was detected here in my QTH Vallentuna, Sweden. Barely audible I must admit. Although I have a quiet environment I did not detect the lunar echo. 72 de SM0PMJ Goeran NAQCC #1020"

"I monitored the HAARP test for about a half hour - any more would be a sign of insanity HI HI. I could copy the uplink signal at about S6-7. I could hear the return signal but it was not visible on the S-meter. They knew what they were doing when they chose the timing - 2 seconds on and listen for 3 seconds. All the signals fit nicely into the 5 second repeating window. 73 Mike - WB9DLC"

I did some math using 300,000 km/sec as the speed of radio waves and the distance to the moon which probably not coincidentally was only a couple hours from perigee (closest to Earth) at the time - 366,580 km, and figured that the 2 second duration return signal would be back to Earth between 2.44 and 4.44 seconds into the 5 minute window. Neat indeed.

I also did some thinking and realized that the tests were planned to take place when the moon was close to being directly overhead in the central USA. That would mean the return signals would traverse a very short path through the ionosphere, and thus be the strongest in the USA. Perhaps that is why Goran did not hear the return signals despite being in a very quiet location. The path through the ionosphere would have been longer to get to him. In fact I suppose the return signals coming back at a certain angle to the ionosphere could be reflected (refracted) right back into space.

That is all just figuring and thinking on my part. I didn't do any research on the matter. Perhaps some ionospheric scientist reading this can comment on my thoughts? -30-

Saturday, January 19, 2008 9:27 AM - I listened to the HF moonbounce test last night. I could definitely hear the direct signal 2 second pulses, but if there were any reflected signals, they were masked by my high local noise level. I would imagine anyone with a quiet location might have heard the echoes. I might try again tonight, but I foresee similar results.

It looks like we are going to have a brief very cold spell here the next couple days with lows in the single digits above zero. Not bitter cold, but compared to the rest of the winter so far, it will seem really cold.

I'm still eating tomatoes from my garden. I think this is about the longest I've gone still enjoying them in any year. Since I picked the first one way back in May, that makes an 'enjoying' season of nearly 8 months now. So I better start thinking of starting my Siberian Tomato seeds pretty soon now. I'll have to check and see when I started them last year. I know I took some pictures the first day they sprouted, so if I look up those pictures and then back off about 10 days from the date stamp on them, that should give me an approximate starting date for last year.

I also might start a couple of the seeds I took from 'The World's Largest Tomato' plant a friend gave me last year and see if I can give them an early start this year. He didn't give the plants to me until very late in the growing season last year, and I just barely got a few ripe tomatoes thanks to our warm October weather.

I've been continuing to have a ball with our NAQCC January challenge. I'm finding every time I add a couple QSO's to my worked list, I can make a few more members' calls from the letters and numbers. I'm also finding easier ways to do the figuring as I go on. If I get in a couple more contests and get a couple hundred more QSO's I may reach 1,000 points in the challenge. -30-

Friday, January 18, 2008 10:11 AM - OK, after that interjection yesterday let me get to talking about our NAQCC sprint after this. John KK7V was kind enough to point out that in my info about the streak, I had December 31, 2008 where it should have been 2007. I appreciate sharp-eyed observations like that. When you manage hundreds of pages of HTML, it's easy for me to overlook errors like that, even though I try to always read twice anything, anywhere that I write. (Just to embarrass myself publicly, I'm editing this point in the diary. I typed 'right' instead of 'write' for some reason and didn't catch it till the second reading.) So please don't be shy about pointing out such things. I won't be offended, and will appreciate it.

Although the first 40 minutes or so of our sprint again showed the black hole syndrome, things suddenly got better here after that with both 80 and 40 performing nicely the rest of the way. However I had settled on 80 meters, and stayed there much too long, it seems. I am stubborn that way sometimes to my own detriment. It certainly hurt me this time. I'm sure I lost at least 10 QSO's by not going back to 40 earlier. When I did go about 0250Z or with only 40 minutes left, I racked up QSO's quite easily on 40 meters, but had to settle with only 23 overall whereas I should probably have had over 30. I hope I learned my lesson and will check other bands regularly even though they were dead earlier as in this case.

Overall it was another good sprint with the only really poor conditions seemingly limited to the aforementioned first 40 minutes here and the whole contest for our friends up in Canada. I've already processed 51 logs so far, and perhaps we will break our record again by getting 7 or 8 more. That would be nice, although I'm always pleased when we break the 50 mark in these sunspot minimum months.

Another thing that delights me are the many very positive comments (soapbox or personal) about how much the sprints are enjoyed. I think our low-key (no pun) approach is becoming very popular even among the 'super' contesters who find it relaxing to have a less-than-frantic contest now and then. I hope if you haven't enjoyed the experience yet, you'll try either our special 160M sprint this coming week or our February regular sprint. As the old Life cereal TV commercial goes, three kids are seated at the breakfast table examining this cereal. Two of them say I'm not going to try it. Then they say 'Let Mikey try it'. Mikey does, and he likes it, so the two doubters say 'he likes it, hey Mikey, give us some'. Well there are a lot of Mikeys who have tried our sprints and liked them. You will too, I'm sure. -30-

Thursday, January 17, 2008 3:12 PM - I was going to comment on last night's sprint, but I just got the following via email from the ARRL and thought I'd post it here in case you don't get the ARRL email bulletins. It sounds very interesting, and I think I'll give it a try, although with my very high local noise, I probably won't hear anything at all.

"The HF Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP) in Alaska and the Long Wavelength Array (LWA) in New Mexico are planning an additional lunar echo experiment for January 18-19.

Interested radio amateurs are invited to participate in this experiment by listening for the lunar echoes and submitting reports.

On January 19, listen on 6.7925 MHz from 0500-0600z, and on 7.4075 MHz from 0600-0700z. On January 20, listen on 6.7925 MHz from 0630-0730z and on 7.4075 MHz from 0730-0830z (depending on frequency occupancy at the time of operation, it may be necessary to adjust the frequency slightly).

Based on previous experiments, investigators believe it should be possible to hear the lunar echoes with a standard communications receiver and a simple 40 meter dipole antenna. The format for the transmissions will follow a five second cycle beginning on the hour and repeating continuously.

The HAARP transmitter will transmit for the first two seconds. The next three seconds will be quiet to listen for the lunar echo. Then HAARP will transmit again for two seconds, repeating the cycle for one hour. In the second hour, this five second repetitive cycle will be repeated at a different frequency. All transmissions from HAARP will be CW (no modulation).

Depending on ionospheric conditions, it may or may not be possible to hear the HAARP transmission directly via skywave propagation. Since HAARP will not be using any modulation, set your receiver on to CW mode to hear HAARP and the lunar echo. Investigators are interested in receiving signal reports from radio amateurs who may be able to detect -- or not detect-- the lunar echo or the transmitted skywave pulse from HAARP.

Submit reports via e-mail to mbreport@haarp.alaska.edu and list your call sign and the type and location of your receiving equipment and antennas."

Also let me know if you participate and hear anything. I'll report here in the diary on any results. -30-

Wednesday, January 16, 2008 7:58 PM - Just a short time now before our NAQCC sprint. I wonder what conditions will be like. Hopefully they will be better than last month. It's discouraging when you put out your best effort in a contest yet come up short of your goals because of things that are completely beyond your control. That seems to have happened, not only to me, but to others all too often lately. But then we don't live in an ideal world where everyone has the exact same conditions, and the competition is based on an individual's skills rather than some other factors. If you live in a noise-filled environment without the resources to move to a better location, you just have to accept that and realize that is 1 strike against your performance. If you also live in an area in which propagation is down for whatever reason, you now have two strikes against you, and the odds of your doing well are slim and none.

What can we learn from this. I believe those who do live in a good environment with good propagation should accept their doing well gracefully without any gloating or bragging. And those who are not so fortunate should realize it is not any shortcoming of skill on their part that caused the poor result and humbly accept it without complaining. I'm sure if positions were reversed, the results would be completely different.

At any rate, if you read this before the sprint, have fun but keep the above in mind. -30-

Tuesday, January 15, 2008 2:27 PM - A couple of news items today. First a good ham friend of mine, Ken WA8REI, suffered a stroke recently and is now at a rehab clinic. You may remember I posted info here in the diary about a special QSO Ken and I had back in August of 2006 celebrating the 40th anniversary of our first QSO. As far as I know, Ken is in good spirits and doing well. ADDENDUM: You can send a card to Ken's home QTH. His mail is being picked up and brought to the clinic daily.

Second we just signed up our member # 2,200 at the NAQCC. I think that is remarkable. As I've said before, but it bears repeating, there are larger CW clubs, but they also promote QRO operation and there are larger QRP clubs, but they promote other modes besides CW. For a club specializing only in promoting CW AND QRP, I believe we are the largest in the world. -30-

Monday, January 14, 2008 9:17 PM - Just a brief entry tonight alerting you to the new poll I just posted dealing with the percentage of your 2007 CW QSO's that were made with QRP. Of course you know my answer - 100%. CU tomorrow. -30-

Sunday, January 13, 2008 8:42 PM - Everyone seems to be getting (overly?) excited about the first sunspot of cycle 24 showing up on the Sun. Yes, it's a great event, but don't expect to be working the World on 10M in the next day or two now.

I liken it to this. We're just walking up the gangplank boarding a very slow boat to China. We've started our journey, but we're not going to see the full glory of China for some time yet. Probably at least 2 years before we even spot the coast of China in the distance and some time after that to set foot on China, perhaps 3-4 years. The time frame may change a bit with the ocean currents, but that's a pretty accurate rough estimate.

Hopefully though, everyone will be testing the 10M waters regularly and not wait until the band is fully alive. Remember even now, there are some good openings on 10M although virtually no one is there to take advantage of them.

Personally I would like to see one universal CW calling frequency on 10M that everyone can monitor for openings. Or even a small block of frequencies 5 kHz wide or so. As it stands, the band is so huge, you can easily tune across it when there is quite a bit of activity and still hear nothing because the stations are not transmitting at that moment you tune across their frequency. If we could bunch the activity into a smaller segment, that wouldn't happen.

Of course with any calling frequency, once contact is established, the two stations should QSY away from the frequency to continue their QSO. But we know that almost never seems to happen. Just look at the FISTS frequencies. Stations just sit on them for hours making one QSO after another instead of moving off once contact is made.

Oh I promised to tell you how my NAQP turned out in the end. I wound up with very little additional time in the contest. Probably about 50-60 minutes total for just 36 QSO's in 18 multipliers. -30-

Saturday, January 12, 2008 7:35 PM - The best laid plans of........ They sure do. I had hoped to put in a big effort in the NAQP, but it didn't work out. I spent almost 5 hours working on my friend's computer to start things off. I had hoped that would take an hour at most, but...... Well at least she gave me a nice tip for my efforts. Then as soon as she drove me home, I ran into another friend and he wanted me to go for a walk with him. There went another hour or so. Now I had only had a couple cookies and half a pear to eat since early morning and it was now almost 4:30P so I had to fix my supper. Time marches on.

There were some good bargains at the local supermarket that ended at midnight, so I wanted to take advantage of them. More time gone. I figured by now 20 meters was closed as was 15 if it had been open at all. So there was no rush now to get on as I knew my goal of 200-300 stations was pretty much out of the question without the assistance of those 20M QSO's. If 40 stuck to its form it would also be closing pretty soon. So I did a couple chores and finally hit the bands just after 7:00P.

40 meters was pretty much gone. I did work AF4OX there before going to 80M. A few QSO's there that were hard fought convinced me I was just wasting my time and wasn't going to really enjoy things so here I am writing my diary entry.

At least I finished the first part of our NAQCC January challenge with the few NAQP QSO's I did make. Now my plans are to wait and get on the bands for the last 2 or 3 hours of the NAQP to try to help out those folks trying to get a few more QSO's in their logs at that time. Also conditions seem to pick up again here after 10 or 11 PM, so I may find the bands in better shape then. I'll let you know tomorrow how things turn out. -30-

Friday, January 11, 2008 9:28 PM - One of those busier than usual days today. I went with a computer club friend of mind to an Internet seminar which took up about 4-5 hours of my day. But at least I got a free lunch out of it and a free personal organizer as well. Then I helped a neighbor do a couple of things. That plus a little shopping and gee, the day is almost gone already. That didn't even include the hour or two I spend each day doing NAQCC business and working on my web site here. What I'm getting at is that I'm kind of tired right now and didn't really have any topics to talk about in the diary anyway.

I do hope to get into the NAQP tomorrow as that is one of my favorite contests. I have a preliminary goal of getting between 200 and 300 QSO's, but that can change depending on conditions and activity. I have to help someone with some computer problems, but I told her I have to be home before around 1 o'clock. And that's it for this entry. Tomorrow's will probably be short also because of the contest. -30-

Thursday, January 10, 2008 2:56 PM - I didn't know what to write about today until I got this email from Goran SM0PMJ: "Good morning John, You may recall that I am very much interested in working the 30m band - as a matter of fact this band I have treated as my favourite band during the last 3 years. I know you have an immense knowledge as regards the behaviour of this band since decades ago and so I would like to ask you the following question. Would you say that propagations also improve considerably on the 30m band when the sun cycle has started to develop, i.e within some few years to come. Or would you say that 30m does not depend that much when low sun spots or high sun spots are present compared with the higher bands which are very much depended on the sun spot numbers."

While Goran was incorrect in saying I have an immense knowledge of 30M propagation, it was an interesting question and after thinking about it a bit, I answered him this way: "Hi Goran, As far as I can tell, sunspots do not affect 30M too much. However these days with activity being low on that band it may seem like it is not as good as during a sunspot maximum. For some reason, people are just not using 30M as much nowadays. However when there is activity on 30M, signals are usually always very good.

During the last sunspot minimum, there was much more activity on 30M, and I found there was always some activity on the band, both USA and DX stations worldwide.

I don't know why folks have gotten away from using this fine little band. I'm afraid if we don't use it more, we will lose it. Fortunately there is not all that much demand for HF frequencies these days, or it might even be gone now." -30-

Wednesday, January 09, 2008 12:09 AM - A final(?) comment on the W1BB/160M situation from Dave AB2WH: "I see that the discussion of the 160-meter award numbering continues. All I'll add is this link-- http://lists.contesting.com/_topband/2004-12/msg00271.html --at which an ad-hoc tabulation is made of early 160-meter DXCC numbers. There is a numbering anomaly in the first handful of numbers. Yet I can tell you--because I was there--that *no numbering error was made by HQ.* That's all I'll say about the mechanics of why that could be. Something later in the page about the 160-meter numbers reports a change in the program since I was involved: DXCC certificates are no longer numbered. I think that's healthy. Healthier still would be a populace generally unneedful of artificial external validation. I think that all of those who find themselves exercised over these issues after all this time would do well to practice meditation and introspection such that they encounter and understand their motivations for their interests and their actions."

Amen - K3WWP

Well, we've jumped from March to May. Yesterday (8th) it was 71 degrees here. I believe, without checking to be sure, that ties the highest January temperature I've recorded here in my records. I mentioned how long I've been keeping records in yesterday's entry, so I won't repeat it here. It was nice to go walking without a jacket or sweater, just a regular shirt without a hat or gloves. I don't get to do that often in our normally coldest month here. I racked up over 12 1/2 miles at the time I'm writing this which is 9:30PM although it won't be posted till later tonite or tomorrow morning. It's still 63 degrees as I write and I think I'll go out for one final walk to enjoy this January warmth. -30-

Tuesday, January 08, 2008 5:20 AM - Here's some more news on sunspot cycle #24. It looks more and more like this is the real thing rather than a false alarm. A sunspot has appeared at a high latitude (27N) on the Sun and its polarity is opposite to that of the cycle 23 spots. Of course this doesn't mean that the high bands will immediately open up for world wide DX. This is just like seeing the first tiny bubble form in a pot of soon-to-be-boiling water except at a different time frame. The bubble means the water will be at a full boil in another few minutes. The sunspot means the Sun will be at its maximum energy output in a few years. In both cases the process has definitely started and definitely will continue to its completion.

Much interesting reading about the Sun and its effect on the Earth can be found at several Internet sites with a Windows Live search. In fact much info about anything at all can be found through a Windows Live search. When I'm stuck on something involving any of my many varied activities, that's the first place I go for help and I can't recall any time I haven't found it there. It does take a little wading through a lot of hits at times since the things I tend to search for are somewhat obscure.

More specifically an interesting article about our Sun's new blemish can be found here. -30-

Monday, March......ooops I mean January 07, 2008 9:08 PM - Well, it sure seems like March. I thought I went to sleep and woke up two months later. We had temperatures gradually climb during the night to a high of 64 degrees this afternoon. That's 8 degrees higher than it has been here on a January 7th in the time I've been keeping daily maximum and minimum records. That covers all the years from 1959-2008. In fact in looking at the Pittsburgh daily temperature records, it's never been warmer there on a January 7th and their records go back to the early 1870's. 63 in 1930 is the January 7th record there.

One thing that always annoys me is the improper use of 73 (and 72 for that matter). Here's what I hear used and what it means:
73 - Best wishes (correct)
Best 73 - Best best wishes (redundant, but I suppose correct)
73's - Best wisheses (I bet you don't use wisheses in regular speech)
Best 73's - Best best wisheses (ugh!)
Let's stick with saying 73 as it was originally intended.

Still more on the W1BB controversy(?). This from Bob W3BBO who has the book: "Hi John, I read your diary and wanted to let you know that I do have the book by K1ZM, DXing on the Edge. Chapter 9 just lists the various awards and under DXCC, it lists W1BB followed by W1HT, W8LRL, KV4FZ, K1PBW, and so on. No dates of the awards are listed. In Chapter 5, however it says: "By October 1976, which is when the single-band 160-Meter DXCC award actually became available, a number of other 160-meter DXers had also managed to confirm 100 countries on Topband. Given that situation, one might imagine someone else happening, by chance or otherwise, to apply for a 160-Meter DXCC ahead of W1BB, thus achieving certificate #1 from the League. Fortunately, and true to the spirit of the "Gentleman's Band", those who also achieved 100 countries between 1969 and 1976, decided informally among themselves that a distinct pecking order be observed. According to K1PBW, it was agreed that those having achieved 100 countries from 1969 to 1976 should file for their awards in the same relative order in which they were actually achieved. Thus W1BB would get his richly deserved certificate #1, W1HT would receive #2, W8LRL would receive #3 and KV4FZ would receive #4. In October 1976 those were, most likely, the only actual holders of 100 QSLs. Ernie K1PBW was very close but did not receive his 100th QSL until early 1977." Prior to this statement, Jeff relates how W1HT acknowledged that W1BB should be first during their visit to the ARRL Headquarters. I'm not sure what the problem is, Jeff clearly states that it was W1HT and W1BB at ARRL Headquarters, when W1HT said Number 1 should go to Stew. I don't see any re-writing of history that you've indicated in your comments. I believe Jeff K1ZM was given this info from Ernie K1PBW who earned his 160-Meter DXCC (No.5) in early 1977. Anyway John, I give "DXing on the Edge" a big thumbs-up and good reading for anyone who is interested in the Top Band."

Well perhaps this may be just a mis-understanding or mis-interpretation. AA1SU in the book review stated that #1 through #6 were awarded amicably and gentlemanly. The book itself says #1 through #4 were settled in that manner and #5 and #6 didn't even come till later on. AB2WH from his personal recollections says only #1 and #2 were settled in that manner and there was some controversy over #3 through #6. Personally from what AB2WH says about not identifying someone trying to mess things up, it seems to me that the public version in the book and review and the private version mentioned by AB2WH are two different slants on the matter. In that case, perhaps a minor touch of re-writing history did take place to present things in a more pleasant light. Like many historical events, the real complete truth may never be known.

Hey, the big bottom line is my diary has finally become famous. I've started a controversy. And although maybe not here(?), there definitely is an attempt by many people these days to try to adjust history to the way they want it to be seen. There is no doubt or mis-understanding about that. -30-

Sunday, January 06, 2008 9:59 AM - A few days ago I wrote a brief biography of W1BB and his 160M accomplishments. Apparently one aspect of the info that I took from a review by AA1SU (http://www.ranv.org/news/ranvmar9.html#h) of a 160M DX history book by K1ZM was in error. The review of the book contained the following quoted material: "....Stew Perry would not apply for his DXCC, even though he had it, because the ARRL did not have a DXCC for 160 meters. He instead waited until the League came up with such an award. When the award was announced, in true gentleman's band fashion, the six applicants for this award decided to file for their awards in the same order that they received their 100 QSL's. This assured that W1BB would be 160 Meter DXCC #1......"

According to Dave Newkirk, AB2WH who worked at the ARRL at the time, either the book itself or the review of the book was somewhat incorrect. Dave writes:

"All aspects of this statement are not true, and I know this because I was there--really there, because I was in charge of the ARRL DXCC Desk at the time.

The first two 160-meter DXCCs went to Stew Perry, W1BB, and Ralphe Green, W1HGT. (I may be misspelling Ralphe's first or last name; it's been 30 years. If so, I apologize. I do remember well how he joked about his phonetics being Home Grown Tomatoes.) Stew and Ralphe both appeared at ARRL HQ in person, having driven to Newington the night before and stayed at their separate respective motels. I was sweating over who should get #1, and Ralphe solved that problem for me in a way that I think should go down in ham history: He said--and I probably paraphrase a word or two--"There's no question about who should get 160-meter DXCC #1. Stew should get it. Without him, there would be no 160-meter DXCC." That is honor, pure and simple. I treasure having been part of that moment, because it was a personal pleasure to issue that award to Stew and Ralphe, and because of Ralphe's deference to Stew. (My father, as editor of the "How's DX?" column in QST at the time, had corresponded with Stew for many years, and I had had the pleasure of working Stew while operating as WB9CJS from our original location in Chicago. So by then he was a ham hero to me as well.)

The story about the numbering of the next few 160-meter awards is not so sunny, because it involves a bad-actor (or actress :-D) mail-in applicant, that person's word against mine, and the actions of a bad-actor (or actress :-D) member of the League official family who had long it in for the League's Communications Manager in particular and the ARRL HQ staff in general and who as a result ultimately ordered the renumbering of several of the early awards in addition to that of the bad-actor applicant to the accommodate the complaints of bad-actor applicant. Perhaps once both of the two have passed on, I'll name them; in my opinion, however, one wastes his care on such details. For now, suffice it to say that for me the best story about 160-meter DXCC is the story of how the recipient of #2 really did defer, in person, to #1. If you snoop around in Strays of early 1977, you can see a picture of all three of us in QST. 73, Dave, AB2WH ex-WA1VCG et al"

So apparently it was 2 hams instead of 6 who settled the matter of the first 160M DX award. It would be interesting to see if it is the book (published by the ARRL according to the review) "DXing on the Edge - The Thrill of 160 Meters", or the review of the book that contains the erroneous information. I don't have the book here, but possibly someone reading this does and can pinpoint the source of the error. According to the review, the info is in Chapter 9 of the book.

This incident also points out how easy it is to 'change history' by publishing a book stating what the author wants to state. It seems that many people are trying to do that these days by writing their own versions of historical events that have no connection to the facts. This is especially true of TV and movies as well as printed material. But that's a story for another day. I just wanted to make a correction today. -30-

Saturday, January 05, 2008 8:45 AM - A second straight day of well above par hits, even greater than the day before. Greg N3ZL offers one possible solution, but I think there must be more than that. I can't get a clue from the referrer stats because most of them come from a bookmark or typed in URL which usually means they are coming from some email source. Anyway here is what Greg says:

"Hi John, I just discovered ON5ZO - OQ5M's blog several days ago and was checking it today and was surprised to see he talked about you: http://on5zo.spaces.live.com/ so then I checked your site and you said you had a surge in hits so that has to be it. I'm one of the guys who likes to read what you have posted on your blog on occasion when the bands are dead, hihi. 73 de Greg N3ZL"

A couple hits do list Franki's site as a source, but no overwhelming number from there.

Dave VA3RJ points out a source of potential good news on the Space Weather site. Solar physicists have been waiting for the appearance of a reversed-polarity sunspot to signal the start of the next solar cycle. The wait is over. A magnetically reversed, high-latitude sunspot emerged today. This marks the beginning of Solar Cycle 24 and the first step toward a new solar maximum. Intense solar activity won't begin right away. Solar cycles usually take a few years to build from solar minimum (where we are now) to Solar Max (expected in 2011 or 2012). It's a slow journey, but we're on our way!

Excuse me, but I will wait a bit to rejoice. Remember we had a false alarm last spring saying cycle 24 began then. We know that wasn't true.

I was thinking about some of my favorite AFL games, and I've got a couple in mind to talk about in a future entry. One involves a playoff game between the Texans and Oilers in 1962. Another is a regular season game between the Oilers and Raiders in 1963.

Today I've got to get my QSO for the day as I struck out last evening. So I'm going to close for now. -30-

Friday, January 04, 2008 9:43 AM - OK, whodunit? It looks like my site has been posted somewhere or written up somewhere. I had a big surge in hits that pushed my daily total way over par. Unlike in golf, that's a good thing and I thank whoever was responsible. These big surges just don't happen spontaneously.

I have noticed that since I started this diary almost 2 years ago now that my hits increased steadily and have remained at a good level without the periodic dips that used to occur prior to the diary. I guess some folks find my ramblings here interesting for whatever reason. In fact I know they do from the regular comments I get on items here. So I humbly thank you for that. Here's one such comment now from my friend Geo.

"Hi John Read your diary entry for today and had to laugh. About a week ago I got an e-qsl from a w8xgi/vp5 that I worked in November 06...He said his qth was vp5 land....He confirmed it as that and then sent a qsl for the same qso with his qth as japan which I guess is his home qth...So guess I get credit for working Japan too Hi Hi.... Best to you in the new year.....I'm looking for another Patriots superbowl win. 73,geo n1eav"

Well, except for the fact I would hate to see the Patriots tie my 1972 Dolphins with a perfect season, I wouldn't mind seeing them win. After all they are an original American Football League team and I loved that league in its brief existence before the NFL-AFL merger. Let me just list the 8 original 1960 AFL teams here.

Houston Oilers (now the Tennessee Titans)
New York Titans (now the Jets)
Buffalo Bills
Boston Patriots (now New England)
Los Angeles Chargers (now San Diego)
Dallas Texans (now Kansas City Chiefs)
Oakland Raiders (moved to LA, then back to Oakland)
Denver Broncos

As you see there has been a lot of change over the years. In addition the Raiders were originally slated as a team in Minneapolis until the NFL expanded there with the Vikings. Also there were two AFL expansion teams before the merger.

Miami Dolphins (1966)
Cincinnati Bengals (1968)

Ah, great memories of a great league that played some great wide-open football. I'll probably have to talk about some of my favorite games from that league. I did discuss some favorite games earlier, but I believe those were games from after the merger in 1970.

I have several things lined up for today including a visit with NAQCC President Tom WY3H so I'll close today's brief (?) entry now. -30-

Thursday, January 03, 2008 1:02 PM - I'm sitting here at the computer doing a chore I try to do every couple weeks or so. I'm logging my eQSL's and my LotW matches in my computer log. I'd like to comment on one glaring shortcoming of both systems.

I'll use the current LotW match for an example, but it applies to many other situations in both systems as well. In logging a match from N0AC, in my log I have him noted as operating portable from Wyoming for the August 2007 NAQP. However his LotW entry shows him to be operating from his home QTH in Ankeny, Iowa. Now I have a match for a QSO with him, but it doesn't count as a match from Wyoming since he entered his info into the LotW incorrectly. In my case it doesn't really matter since I have many confirmations from Wyoming by regular cards, LotW, and eQSL. However can you imagine how frustrating it must be to someone who worked Wyoming as their 50th state only to find the QSL (be it a card, LotW, or eQSL) shows the state as Iowa instead.

To reiterate, the above is not an isolated example, and I'm not criticizing N0AC specifically. I've noticed literally dozens of incorrect QTH's given on both LotW matches and eQSL's. To even things out I'll mention an eQSL example from last night. In logging EF8M from the Canary Islands, the eQSL shows the ham's home QTH in Russia. It does have the correct ITU and CQ zones for the Canaries, but no mention at all of the Canary Islands as the QTH.

The bottom line is if you operate portable, please be considerate of the ham you are working or have worked and be sure to follow the eQSL and LotW instructions how to enter your QSL's with the correct QTH. -30-

Wednesday, January 02, 2008 9:38 AM - Tim KD8GZ submitted a guestbook entry that got me to thinking. He mentioned the attraction of contesting and why it seems to appeal to so many hams that the bands are crowded way beyond normal occupancy during a contest.

I wondered just why it appeals so much. I think it is something like this in my case. As everyone knows, the body needs exercise to keep us healthy as we grow older so that we can enjoy life to the fullest. Well, the mind also needs exercise for the same reason. You know I love to walk, doing an average of just over 7 miles each and every day. That plus other physical activities covers the body exercise.

You may not know I also love to exercise my mind. Nothing appeals to me more than learning something new, whether it be figuring out how to use a new computer program, delve into a study of sports history, work a challenging crossword puzzle, play Sudoku, and on and on. I can't stand to just sit back and watch some unappealing (to me) TV program. My TV watching has dwindled done to next to nothing. Of late I only would watch some 'how-to' shows on PBS like 'This Old House.' Finally I just dumped my cable TV service altogether and now my TV is just a decorative piece of furniture except when I pull out some VCR tape and re-learn something I watched a long time ago.

I kind of digressed there. I do that often. Ham radio contesting is an excellent exercise for the mind, especially CW contesting. The fast paced action really gets the brain cells working. You have to quickly copy what is being sent to you, and then send something back, all the time figuring if that was a new multiplier or if you need that multiplier on another band. There is just a lot of mental activity and the resulting exercise involved. Of course that doesn't help physically sitting there for hours on end, but the physical exercise can be caught up on later.

Just about any other ham radio activity involves a lot less mental exercise, although all other activities are also enjoyable.

That is probably why I enjoy CW so much over any other mode. I never thought of it directly until writing this, but CW does require more mental effort than just sitting and yakking into one of them things called Mickeyfones or whatever they are. It's kind of like watching some idiotic (in my opinion) reality show on TV versus watching a TV show where you increase your own personal knowledge of a subject. In both cases (ham phone and watching an idiotic TV show), you really get to exercise neither your mind nor body.

Now I've got to step down from my soapbox, get something to eat and go out in the winter weather and pay some bills while getting in part of my 7 miles today. BTW we only got a trace of snow here as I figured we would and told you in yesterday's diary entry. -30-

Tuesday, January 01, 2008 9:13 PM - I hope you all had a nice New Years Day pounding your straight key, watching football bowl games, visiting friends and relatives. I did none of the above here. I just had a quiet day doing some work around the house. I did all my usual end of the year financial updating. Also got all my weather tables and charts updated and closed out 2007. All in all it was a fairly normal year here with the temperature and precipitation both close to normal for the yearly totals and averages. I went out for a couple walks today as the last couple days I hadn't done much walking. It was cold out there with some lite snow and rather strong winds. They're predicting quite a bit of snow here, but I don't see it happening unless the lake effect snow bands get down here. Most of the snow from the storm seems to be in NY and New England as I write this. There is only a trace on the ground here. -30-