K3WWP's Ham Radio Activities

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Friday, December 31, 2010 5:38 PM - Boy, give someone a toy for Christmas and it will keep him busy as a beaver the next several days. That's true with me and my PHP/MySQL toy. The latest couple of things I've done are:

I wrote a search for my log. You can now go to the Logs section of my web site, type your call (or someone else's if that's your wont) into the search box, and immediately see all the QSO's you've had with me. To prevent unscrupulous SWL's from using the data, I only include the band and date of the QSO's in the search results. Oh, and if you don't know, that did happen when I first put more complete logs on my web site. In fact even the ARRL suggested it wasn't a good idea to put too much QSO data in on-line logs.

I'm also working on the NAQCC member search. When I'm done, when you search for a member and he has a picture in our picture gallery, the picture will pop up along with the search results. I don't have all the pictures info in the MySQL database yet, but if you want to see how neat it looks, go to the memberlist page and search for my call. Of course the 'neatness' has nothing to do with how I look, but how the feature works. You can also try VA3RJ - his picture is linked, as are all the club officers and our USA members whose call starts with 'A'. Eventually I'll have all the pictures linked in. Probably after I get all the regular end-of-month, first-of-month, end-of-year, first-of-year stuff done. Whew! Makes me tired just thinking of it.

Not because of PHP or MySQL, but because of the 10 GB of web space I have to play with now for the NAQCC, I'm using a small part of it for my own web site use. I'm taking some of the stuff from my SkyDrive space and moving it to the NAQCC server where there is not all the advertising and other unnecessary stuff. So far I've gotten my diary archives moved over, but they need some formatting work before I'll turn them loose for you to look at if you wish. OK, back to play now. -30-

Thursday, December 30, 2010 3:12 PM - Do you know what I hate - really hate - REALLY REALLY HATE? Going to a web site that blasts you with 105 DB music that has no connection with the web site whatsoever. It seems the webmaster just wanted to show you how good he was (in his own opinion) - "Hey visitor - listen to this, I know how to put music on my web site". Big @#$% deal!

Why not concentrate on putting some good relevant content on your web site instead? Or is that too much work for you to do.

I could include other things besides music, but music is at the top of the list because it is not only useless, but extremely annoying, and even frightening if your surfing the web tired and sleepy.....THEN ALL OF A SUDDEN YOU GET BLASTED BY THIS MUSIC!!

I think I will mention a couple other 'cutesy' but totally unnecessary and useless things that I run into on web sites. For one, those stupid animated cursors that trail a string of letters around the screen as you move your mouse. How about an overabundance of large (huge, humungous?) pictures that cause the page to take forever to load in. Or lest I forget, useless animations that do the same thing. Oh, and the "under construction" signs that have remained on web sites since their inception whether or not the site was ever constructed. I could go on and on, but I'm tired of standing up here on this soapbox, and it's not going to do one bit of good anyway. Folks will still consider their web site as a place to show off (in their own minds only) how great they are at webmastering.

Now where did I put those hearing protectors? I'm going back to check some more web sites. -30-

Wednesday, December 29, 2010 10:46 PM - Just a couple comments, then I've got to get to posting scores from our NAQCC mW sprint this evening. My QRN here really ruined things for me. I managed just 10 QSO's. I just couldn't hear much of anything at all besides the 10 stations I worked. I did hear perhaps 5 or so other stations, but except for W4FOA whom I couldn't work they were all very weak and in and out of my noise.

I started my Siberian seeds just now after I left the sprint. That's only a couple days earlier than last year. I wanted to get a bigger head start this year, but just never got around to it. -30-

Tuesday, December 28, 2010 9:37 PM - My mW QSO this evening came rather easily. After trying around 3559 for a while, I went to 3546 and NM3B Wayne answered my first CQ there. I guess sometimes you have to be on the right frequency at the right time. Still overall 80 continues to be rough for mWing. It will be interesting to see how our NAQCC mW sprint turns out tomorrow evening. One thing is for sure - I won't get 57 QSO's as I did in our regular sprint this month.

I've been doing some more fooling with PHP today, and wrote a new guestbook script for my web site here. I'll try it out a few days then if it works well, I'll put the same thing on the NAQCC web site also. This one has some security features programmed in like a referer check and an IP check as well. I'd appreciate it if you'd give it a try, even if you don't want to send something to be posted. Just put "don't post this" in the comments if that's the case. If you do try it, and don't get an acknowledgement email from me in a day or two, let me know so I can figure out if there is some problem with my programming.

I think next I might delve into writing my own poll or survey script. That should prove challenging and be a good learning experience. I'm really enjoying my new toy here - PHP and MySQL. -30-

Monday, December 27, 2010 8:56 PM - Let's have a bit of diary feedback today. I've got a couple emails that have been here a while now.

Well, one anyway. I did quote one earlier. Paul N0NBD emails, "Hello John, 80 has always been my favorite winter band, the last 2 weeks I have looked for the Fox hunts and the 4SQRP net. I can hear a few signals in 1 or 2 land but they are almost ESP level.... I am not sure where every one is. I will keep listening and trying de Paul N0NBD"

Anymore, it seems about the only time 80 gets active in the evening is for our NAQCC sprints. The level of activity was really high this month for our sprint. Wonder what it will be like Wednesday evening (local time) for our NAQCC mW sprint.

I listened around a bit on 80 this evening instead of just getting on and calling CQ around 3558-3561 and at a couple of points I heard only 3 or 4 QSO's going on from 3520-3570 or so. However interestingly enough there was quite a bit of DX chasing going on below 3520. OZ1CTK was quite strong here. I might even have been able to work him, but he had a pile-up so I didn't try.

It took a while for me to get any QSO's at all on 80, but finally at 5 watts I worked Dennis K1LGQ, and at the end of our QSO, I was tailended by Ron KB3AAY. Those were two good solid QSO's so it's (as I say so often) not that conditions are bad - folks just aren't getting on like they used to.

I got my mW QSO on 40 for the 27th when I worked Gordon W9QKL around 11 AM. I'll probably have to do something similar for my mW QSO for the 28th.

Right now I'm more interested in getting either a 5W or mW QSO for each of the next 10 days to make it to 6,000 straight days for the big streak. -30-

Sunday, December 26, 2010 9:28 PM - I had an enjoyable day today studying PHP and MySQL. There's no better way to learn a programming language than by making mistakes and then finding the problem and solving it. That way you really get to the heart of the matter, and always remember the situation and don't make those mistakes again. Or if you do, you know very quickly what you did wrong that time.

Gee, other than that, eating, getting on the NAQCC QRS net this evening, and answering some emails, I can't really recall much else I did. Oh, I did run down to the grocery store which is pretty much an everyday thing with me. And visited with the neighbors a bit.

It's a very windy and cold 'Boxing Day' here. I would guess the wind chill to be down in the single digits if not lower. So again today, no long outside walks.

And again this evening, no mW QSO. That will have to come later tonight or more likely tomorrow morning. I did get the 5 watt QSO to put the big streak just 11 days from 6,000 days now. The first QSO on January 7th, be it mW or 5W will make 6,000 days. Whew! I never would have thought I'd see anything like that when I started the streak back in 1994. -30-

Saturday, December 25, 2010 9:42 PM - Once again, a MERRY CHRISTMAS to you with the wish that your Christmas was as nice as mine.

My wonderful neighbors Nancy, her sons Bruce and Jeff, and I'm sure Joe invited me to have Christmas dinner with them. Also there to make it even better were Jeff's 8 year old twins, since in many respects Christmas is for children. It's always a delight to watch children open presents, and harken back in our memory to the days when we were the children opening our presents.

Once again tonight, my mW QSO came pretty easy when W0LGU Tom in MN answered my CQ. Then another Tom KA2KGP tail ended our QSO. The second Tom is one of our NAQCC members along with his brother Mike N2COD. They often show up at local hamfests and we get to see them in person.

You don't notice it but the above paragraph was interrupted in the middle by a knock on my door. When I opened it, there was Mike KC2EGL standing there with a plate of Christmas cookies and an offer to go out for a ride and look at the Christmas lights. So it's now about two hours past the middle of the last paragraph, and I'm back home and Mike is on his way home up to Brookville. That was a nice way to close out Christmas. That's two years in a row now we've gotten together on Christmas. I guess next year I won't be as surprised if he shows up. HI. He'll be back on January 17 for a couple little ham radio projects and one astronomy project. He bought an orrery kit we are going to be assembling.

Mike also took a picture of me and my Christmas tree with his phone and emailed it to me. Let's see if it's here and I'll share it with you.

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Friday, December 24, 2010 9:46 PM - A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ONE AND ALL!

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Thursday, December 23, 2010 10:44 PM - I guess Santa gave me my gift a bit early. I got a pretty easy QSO on 80 this evening when John KQ1P up in Maine answered my mW CQ. Copy wasn't all that great on either end, but we managed to stay hooked up for 11 minutes which made a good QSO.

I received some diary feedback today which indicates the dead band syndrome is not something local at my QTH. Read what Don N7IGK has to say.

"John, It's the same out here in the northwest. The bands are really quiet. It use to be that on 30 meters I could get at least one person to come back to me when I was calling CQ. Not any more. It seems like it was last summer the last time I really heard any one in 30 meters. I wonder where they went. 40 meters is not much better. At least in 40 meters I can get someone every now and again to answer my CQs. I'm only running a little under a watt with my Cub so that may be part of my problem but you seem to have problems at 5 watts. Soon I'll have a radio that will put out a little more power than 1 watt. That's as soon as it warms up here enough to go out to my work bench in the garage and assemble my next project.

I've noticed that you work N2ESE a fair amount. I managed to work N2ESE a year or two ago."

Yes, Gary N2ESE is a great op who is not afraid to try to work the weaker signals on the ham bands so he often answers my mW CQ's when he hears me.

As for 40 meters, it is good here during the day on most days, and if need be, I can generally get a QSO with either 5 watts or 930 mW by getting on at the right time of day which is usually in the morning or sometimes late afternoon or early evening before the band goes long. The real problem of late has been 80 meters in the evenings which used to be very good for mW work, especially in the colder months when the QRN is lower.

I got another interesting email today from Bert PA1B who has designed a nice Excel spreadsheet to calculate values for RF attenuators. I'll talk a little more about it in tomorrow's entry or if not then, in the next few days. Meanwhile you can go to his QRZ entry and take a look at it yourself. -30-

Wednesday, December 22, 2010 10:15 PM - Dear Santa, All I want for Christmas (and beyond) is more CW activity on 80 meters in the evenings so I won't have to waste so much time trying to get my mW streak QSO. Thank you and 73 de K3WWP

Yes, where has everyone gone? 80 meters in the evenings is like a vast wasteland of empty frequencies. Except for net activity, some isolated QSO's here and there, me calling unanswered CQ's, and occasionally Gary N2ESE answering my CQ's, that's pretty much it. I've really had a rough month making QSO's. I didn't even get a 5 watt QSO this evening (yet).

I thought maybe getting on at 8 PM instead of 7 PM would be better, but it seems just about the same or even worse. It's the old situation of conditions being good, but activity not.

Actually it was even rough on 40 meters today getting my mW QSO for the 22nd, but finally I was answered by AA4MC, and we had a nice solid QSO for some time.

It's just all hard to figure out. Maybe the Christmas season has something to do with it. Folks out shopping, visiting friends and family, parties, etc. Or maybe like so many folks seem to say, CW is slowly dying. I hope not. -30-

Tuesday, December 21, 2010 9:17 PM - As I figured, it was cloudy most of the night last night, so no eclipse viewing here. Technically I did see part of the eclipse about an hour before the end when the Moon peeked through the clouds. However then it was only in the penumbra part of the shadow and didn't really look any dimmer than normal although it could have been. It might have just been hard to tell because of the clouds. I haven't even had time to check to see what kind of eclipse it was. I mean was it a very dark almost black eclipse, a dark copper red, light copper red, or something in between.

This month continues to be a very hard one for making mW QSO's. Once again this evening, no luck. I did manage a 5 watt QSO though, and will try for the mW one tomorrow morning on 40 meters.

Not much else to talk about, so I'll just close by wishing you all a very Merry Christmas coming up in just a couple days now. -30-

Monday, December 20, 2010 8:15 PM - I can't believe Geo N1EAV was the only one to take a stab at the baseball trivia questions. Looks like no one else will, so I may as well give the answers in case some lonely soul out there may care. Can't be many.

1. Willie Stargell with 7
2. 18 total
3. Bob Skinner and Eddie Mathews with 2

If those by themselves don't mean anything to you, look back a couple entries for the questions.

It doesn't look like much of a chance to see the lunar eclipse tonight here at my location. If you're interested in seeing it, may your skies be clear where you are. I will check from time to time to maybe catch a hole in the clouds, but I doubt there will be any here.

I came close to giving up on my mW streak today. Last night with running the NAQCC Net and other things I didn't have much time to chase a mW QSO, so I snagged a 5 watt QSO to keep the big streak going. Then today after almost an hour of trying and within a couple minutes of giving it up, W4LGJ finally answered my CQ to stretch the mW streak another day. Then as you might guess, this evening it was ____ who answered my CQ. No matter where I am on the bands, he seems to find my CQ and answer me. I guess my mW sigs always make it into Stanhope, NJ to the QTH of Gary N2ESE. It's good too, because as I've told you, he also has a streak going that's different from mine in that he makes 2 QSO's a day using QRO power around 75 watts or so.

So now it's back to work on some NAQCC business. That seems to be an 8 hour a day, 7 days a week job. There's always something to do. Right now I need to update our Participation Award page with the sprint results. -30-

Sunday, December 19, 2010 10:22 PM - Another busy day today. A lot of time spent doing the final sprint log processing and cross-checking. We wound up with our third best log total with 120 submitted this month. Almost made it to second place. Two more logs would have done it. First place 135 was pretty much out of reach, but maybe next month. I just love the way participation in our sprints speaks volumes about the popularity of CW on the ham bands still.

We also had a very good NAQCC QRS Net this evening as that NAQCC activity continues to grow in popularity. I had to take the NCS job this evening as Tom WY3H was not feeling good. We had 8 check-ins and in the short time I had to be on the net, that was good, and everyone who checked in had their turn to make their comments. There were more stations out there trying to check in, and I apologize for not being able to get to them either because of bad QSB and QRN here or because time caught up with us. Time is really a factor in a slow-speed CW net and quickly runs out. -30-

Saturday, December 18, 2010 9:43 PM - I figured Geo N1EAV would be one of the ones to respond to my trivia questions and I was right. He emailed, "Hi John, Interesting diary entries the last couple of days. I will say that I have to agree with you on your thoughts of baseball becoming a big business. I still love to watch it on tv. But to go see a Red Sox game nowadays........If you purchase good seats...$100 - $120 each , parking $25 - $50 , and whatever you eat......maybe $50 - $100.....Thats a hefty outlay to take my little family of 3 to a game... Anyway, off my soapbox . I have some answers for your trivia quiz , and I didn't look them up. Will be interesting to see how close I come.

Question #1.....would have to be the great ------ ------
Question #2.....I'm thinking around -- homeruns total
Question #3.....besides ------ , I'd have to say.......------ ------, ------ ------.

Take care and a Merry Christmas to you John."

Geo, you got #1 right. You guessed two too many on #2. Your second guess on #3 was right - he hit 2. Your first guess on #3 had only one.

That's nice going on something that was so long ago now. For the rest of you, I'll give Geo's answers and the right ones a couple days down the line. I know there are others of you out there who love baseball also, and may want to try to figure out your own answers before I give them away.

Another tough night on the bands. 80 and 40 were both just about devoid of signals this evening. But the couple I did hear on 80 were pretty strong so it's the old case of folks just not getting on, I guess. I did manage a very sketchy QSO with K1TMJ up in Maine with my mW power. I think I may try to get a more substantial QSO tomorrow morning on 40 meters, but I'm counting K1TMJ for now.

I'm coming along pretty well with my studies of PHP and MySQL. I've set up a nice membership search on the NAQCC web site, and I'm just about finished with another search of past NAQCC sprint results that works nicely so far and provides several ways of analyzing our past sprint results. You can instantly see how many sprints you were in, and what each of your results were for those sprints. You can also see at a glance what your competition has done in your call area, and oh, just a number of other things as well. I'll probably get it posted on the web site later tonight or tomorrow after a bit more fooling around with it. -30-

Friday, December 17, 2010 7:53 PM - My mW QSO was easy this evening with the RAC contest on. A quick call to K4LTA in the test took care of another day.

I spent a good part of the day shopping with Nancy. Got my freezer stocked up with enough goodies so I can make it through any bad weather that comes along. Actually that sounds worse than it is because although I hate the s**w, I can go out in it and walk to the store about 4 blocks away when I run short of something. But it is nice to have a stockpile to fall back on nevertheless.

Not a lot else to talk about today unless you want a baseball trivia question. Bruce and I were talking after yesterday's broadcast of the 7th game of the 1960 World Series, and got to talking about home runs. Many of you remember the huge grandstands in right field at old Forbes Field. It was not that far from home plate, but the roof was some 90 to 100 feet high. It took a prodigious blast to clear that roof. The first to do it was (who else) Babe Ruth. His final home run of his career (#714) was #1 to clear the roof. He actually hit 3 home runs in that game. The first went into the lower deck in right field, the second into the upper deck, and to top things off, the third one cleared everything and left the park. Now of course anytime a trivia question is asked these days, a quick Bing search on the Internet will turn up the answer, but without resorting to that, can you answer these questions. The first one is easy to any fan who has followed baseball for a while. The last two are perhaps not as easy, and probably will require research. Please if you answer, be honest and tell me if you knew, or had to 'look it up'.

1. Who cleared the roof the most times?
2. How many (major league) homers cleared the roof?
3. Besides the answer to number 1, who cleared it more than once (two other players)?

Answers in a few days. -30-

Thursday, December 16, 2010 8:30 PM - I took a trip in the Time Machine (H.G. Welles) or was it the Wayback Machine (Peabody and Sherman) back to October 13, 1960 today and watched the seventh game of the 1960 World Series. I'm sure all baseball fans remember that game as the first WS that was ended by what they call in today's baseball terminology, 'a walk-off home run'. Of course I'm referring to Bill Mazeroski's lead-off HR in the bottom of the 9th to give the Pittsburgh Pirates a 10-9 win over the powerful New York Yankees. The Yankees dominated the series statistically and absolutely destroyed the Pirates in 3 of the games with scores, if I recall correctly, of 16-3, 12-0, and 10-0. However the Pirates also won 3 of the first 6 games to force the dramatic seventh game which was probably one of the greatest baseball games of all time.

The scoring in the game went something like this. The Pirates scored 2 runs in each of the first two innings for a 4-0 lead. The Yankees came back for a 5-4 lead and then a 7-4 lead going into the bottom of the 8th inning. The Pirates exploded for 5 runs in that inning to take a 9-7 lead into the ninth. The inning featured two memorable plays that eventually were overshadowed by Maz's homer. First Dick Groat hit a sure double play ball right at Yankee SS Tony Kubek that would have stifled the Pirate rally right then and there. But fate took a hand. The ball hit a stone in the infield or somehow took a bad hop and hit Kubek right in the throat knocking him to the ground unable to do anything with the ball. So there was no double play, but instead runners on first and second. A little later in the inning, catcher Hal Smith who replaced Pirate catcher Smoky Burgess earlier in the game came to bat and hit what might be remembered today as one of the greatest homers in WS history. There were two runners on base and the resulting 3 runs put the pirates ahead 9-7 which is how the game went into the 9th inning. The Pirates were only 3 outs away from their first WS title in 35 years. However the dramatics were not over just yet. With his relief ace Elroy Face having already seen action in the game, Pirate Manager Danny Murtaugh brought in one of his starters, Bob Friend to try to shut down the mighty Yankees. That didn't happen though, and the Yankees squeaked out 2 runs off Friend and Harvey Haddix who relieved him to send it at 9-9 into the bottom of the 9th.

Just about everyone on the planet knows what happened next. Ralph Terry threw that pitch to leadoff batter Bill Mazeroski who sent it on a long journey over leftfielder Yogi Berra's head and the big scoreboard beyond him which in turn sent Pittsburgh into a pandemonium it hadn't seen in many years. One pitch, one run, several earlier memorable moments in the game relegated to footnotes instead of headlines, and a battered but victorious team emerged as the 1960 World Series champions.

Now that's the stuff that baseball was made of when it was a game, not big business as it is today. -30-

Wednesday, December 15, 2010 9:24 PM - Last night's NAQCC sprint turned out to be another great one. We have 102 logs in already with almost 4 days remaining till the reporting deadline. In direct opposition to last month when most of the country experienced horrible conditions, this month most of the country experienced wonderful conditions with some of the best found here in the Northeast USA. I had my personal best ever NAQCC sprint with 57 QSO's in 24 sections. That's almost a QSO every 2 minutes. I had many long runs with either tailending or just one CQ between contacts. Surprisingly 40 meters started out in long skip, but when I returned later in the sprint, it was back in short skip. I worked stations in nearby states like MD, VA, and NC. 80 was the champ with probably 45 or so of my 57 QSO's there. A little judicious skipping over to 40 now and then might have yielded even more multipliers and a still higher score, but 80 was going so great I hated to switch. With 57 in the bag, I figure it shouldn't be too hard to hit 60 or more under similar or slightly better conditions.

I spent most of the day processing logs, but did manage to get out for a little shopping trip downtown. Bought a little toy for Joe for Christmas and a few necessities. I also took Joe out for a couple quick walks. It's pretty cold here and his feet get cold quickly so we have to watch that.

I'm going to stop here. I want to call Tom WY3H and discuss a little NAQCC business now.

Oh, I didn't get my mW QSO this evening, but did get a 5 watt one, so I guess one thing for tomorrow will be getting the mW QSO to keep that streak going. -30-

Tuesday, December 14, 2010 3:01 PM - I'm getting ahead on things here getting ready for our sprint this evening and the big flood (hopefully) of logs I'll have to process following the sprint. If you're reading this and have never tried one of our sprints, let me paraphrase an old TV commercial, "Try it, you'll like it". I'm sure like Mikey, you will like it. They're designed to be pleasant for everyone from the very raw newcomers to contesting like.... well, maybe you? to seasoned contest veterans like K4BAI, N8BB, etc. and I guess I'm one with some 950 contests participated in over the years.

One thing that needed done at 0000Z this evening was changing my poll. Well, I've done that about 4 hours earlier than I should have. So check it out along with the final results of the previous poll.

I'm afraid of jinxing it by saying this, but we've been pretty fortunate weather-wise the past few days. The worst of the ugly white stuff has been all around us, but left us with only about an inch or two total. The nice December rain yesterday melted a lot of it to give us basically a fresh start, and that's always nice so it doesn't pile up too much.

See you in our NAQCC sprint tonite at 0130Z? Hope so. -30-

Monday, December 13, 2010 8:49 PM - I've been having a good time the past few days now studying .php programming. Since we have .php capabilities now on our new NAQCC web site, I want to learn how to use it, and see what can be done with it. It's all been experimental so far and nothing is up and running for the 'general public' yet. I've got the whole NAQCC membership in a MySQL database on the site, and have been learning how to manipulate it with .php and MySQL programming. I've also got our autologger, membership application, and guestbook in .php form on the web site. Once again though, don't go looking to try these things out just yet, as they are only experimental now.

I think that's one thing I really enjoy in life. Learning new things like the example above with .php and MySQL programming. It's a real joy exercising the brain by learning something new. It saddens me to think how many people just waste their lives watching meaningless drivel on TV or in other ways that offer no stimulus to the brain whatsoever. I could never be that way.

I'm thinking that there may be things I can do with .php on my own web site as well. Although as far as I know, Windstream doesn't support .php, I could use a portion of the huge 10 GB space at naqcc.info to put a few .php pages for my site and link over to them. Stay tuned for further news. -30-

Sunday, December 12, 2010 8:25 PM - I'm in the mood for a little ranting tonight. It really upsets me when someone complains that I didn't answer their email when I really did. You know what really happens in most cases? The person or his/her ISP has some kind of an overzealous email filter that deleted my email before it ever got to them. Don't these people realize that they are probably losing more important email than mine as well. I think everyone should use some system where they themselves get to look at each email and decide for themselves what is good and what is not. A program like MailWasher is ideal for that. You can examine every email in your email box right on the server before it ever gets to your computer. You can teach it what is good and what is bad and then you can go through the list quickly and delete those you agree with are indeed bad, and download and look at what is rated as good, if you agree. That's kind of a brief and perhaps not all that clear description of what goes on. If you do a Bing search for 'MailWasher Filetrust', you can find out more.

Well enough ranting. I worked VE3FUJ last night and he sent a follow-up to his email about s**w I posted here. He made a good point when he said, "According to what I see on the weather report, most of the snow we are getting comes from the south, so why not send it all up here. And very little of the systems with snow generated in Canada, comes down your way. HEE HEE"

Actually the heavy s**w they get often does come from here in the USA. So perhaps I should have worded it better, and said I wish they'd keep the cold air up there that turns our rain into s**w. If they'd keep that cold north of the border, we'd only get rain down here instead of s**w.

Oh, and some of our s**w does come from Canada via the appropriately named 'Alberta Clippers' -30-

Saturday, December 11, 2010 7:03 PM - Thought I'd make the diary entry just before going up to the shack to get my daily QSO. Wonder if Gary N2ESE will find my CQ again? HI. I wanted to check 10 meters today to see if there was any contest activity I could hear, but never got around to it. Maybe tomorrow. There should be some I can hear with the SF around the 90 mark or so. We'll see.

Now a couple email diary comments.

From Brion VE3FUJ, "Hi John: In Harriston we've had about 16" of S**w fall since Sunday noon, aahhh what a lovely winter so far. Brion VE3FUJ"

Brion, if you love the @#$%* stuff so much, why don't you keep it up there? We don't need it down here. HI

From John W4PAH, "Hi John, I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate your web site. It's really encouraging to see what you have done over the past 16 years.
Although I have been a ham for nearly 12 years, I just recently got back into CW. I had passed my 5 WPM test "back in the day" but never progressed further than that. I had used the Code Quick course then, and I think the mneumonics held me back from progressing much further. In the past few months I have relearned the code using K7QO's Code Course as well as other resources like LCWO.net and RufzXP. I now feel fairly comfortable in the 13-15 WPM range and hope to increase my code speed as time goes on.
After I finished building my Elecraft K2 in October I have been really enjoying using it to make CW contacts. I am up to 20 states (not all confirmed) on CW 40m and 30m. I really hope to make it to all 50 by the time RARSfest (a large hamfest in Raleigh, NC) occurs in May 2011 so I can get my CW WAS. I think it's do-able!
In any case, I would be honored to make your logbook sometime. If you are amenable to setting up a schedule on 40m (I can't go any lower than that), that would be great! Generally, I get on the air after my wife and son are in bed (after 9pm ET).
73 -john W4PAH Carrboro, NC
P.S. I enjoy reading your daily diary when I have time. I have learned some great tips--like using RIT to "listen" around the frequency you're calling CQ. I'm lucky to have quite a few elmers here in my club, but the internet elmers are helpful, too."

John doesn't say if the WAS he is trying for is with QRP or QRO. Either way, it's very makeable by May. Just get in contests and you'll have it in no time. With a concerted effort in the January NAQP, you'll come close just with contacts from that contest. The only real limiting factor is just when and how often you can get on the air. When I had more free time before all the work with the NAQCC came along, I could routinely get a WAS in a month or so. In fact in the 1999 ARRL SS, I got a WAS just in that contest alone. So all the best to you in your WAS quest, John.

If you are reading this, I'll get with you about a sked. However 40M at that time will probably be in too long a skip for a PA-NC QSO, but we can try. -30-

Friday, December 10, 2010 8:56 PM - We got another inch or so of s**w today, but had rising temps all day to the upper 30's, so some melted, leaving perhaps an inch or so. Corry up near Lake Erie got a total of around 64 inches the past few days. Glad I don't live there.

My main projects today were finalizing and posting our NAQCC Newsletter and finishing a tutorial on using GenLog that is now posted on the NAQCC web site. It sure is nice to have all that web space now. I can (and did) load the tutorial with screen dumps of GenLog.

I also actually found time to do a little housecleaning today. Amazing how much dust can accumulate if you don't keep after it regularly.

It wasn't too bad outside today, so I also went downtown to do some shopping. The afternoon walk with Joe was nice also. Actually it was more of a run for Joe as he had fun running in the s**w. It wasn't like a couple times last winter when he delighted me by prancing and running in the s**w. That's one memory among many I'll always treasure. One other one was one time when he somehow jumped down off a chair and hurt his leg. I was worried about him when Bruce and I took him to the vet. It wasn't anything serious. The leg was just stoved a bit and he may be sore for a day or two. Then when we took him out to the car to take him home, I got in and expected Bruce to pick him up and hand him in to me. Even normally, he usually doesn't jump in the car, however Joe had other ideas this time and jumped in himself. So then I knew for sure he was just fine.

For the second night in a row, Gary N2ESE found my CQ and answered me for my mW QSO even though I wasn't quite in the usual frequency range we both seem to like. He was QRP with 3 watts tonight. We had a pretty solid 21 minute QSO. -30-

Thursday, December 09, 2010 6:24 PM - Here we go with the NASCAR Sprint Cup stats I promised.

The following stats list the all-time best in each category plus Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson plus the next best active driver or any better active driver(s). Each table lists driver name, stat, and ranking.

Richard Petty - 200  (1)
Gordon -         82  (6)
Johnson -        53 (10)
Bill Elliott -   44 (15)

Winning Percentage among those with 20 wins or more:
Herb Thomas -  .210  (1)
Johnson -      .162  (6)
Gordon -       .133 (12)
Tony Stewart - .091 (21)

Peak Win Percentage* among drivers with 20 wins or more.
Herb Thomas -  .261  (1)
Johnson -      .173  (9)
Gordon -       .160 (13)
Tony Stewart - .098 (21)

* Percentage excluding races before first win and after last win.

Milestone wins (10, 20, 30, 40, 50):

Win #10 - Race# - Rank
Speedy Thompson - 55  (1)
Tony Stewart -    79 (10)
Ryan Newman -     95 (13t)
Johnson -         95 (13t)
Gordon -          96 (15)

Win #20 - Race# - Rank
Fred Lorenzen -   99  (1t)
Herb Thomas -     99  (1t)
Gordon -         125  (5)
Johnson -        150  (6)
Bill Elliott -   222 (20)

Win #30 - Race# - Rank
Herb Thomas -    124  (1)
Gordon -         158  (3)
Johnson -        215  (8)
Bill Elliott -   276 (16)

Win #40 - Race# - Rank
Herb Thomas -    152  (1)
Gordon -         186  (2)
Johnson -        254  (3)
Bill Elliott -   430 (15)

Win #50 - Race# - Rank
Gordon -         232  (1)
Johnson -        296  (4)
no other active drivers have 50 or more wins

Top-5 finishes:
Richard Petty -  555  (1)
Gordon -         274  (6)
Several active drivers - 153 to 264 (7-19)
Johnson -        134 (23)

Percentage of top-5 finishes among drivers with 100+ such finishes:
Tim Flock -     .545  (1)
Gordon -        .444 (11)
Johnson -       .410 (14)
Tony Stewart -  .357 (18)

Top-10 finishes:
Richard Petty -  711  (1)
Mark Martin -    428  (4)
Gordon -         378  (6)
Several active drivers - 216 to 361 (10-24)
Johnson -        203 (26)

Percentage of top-10 finishes among drivers with 200+ such finishes:
Lee Petty -     .778  (1)
Johnson -       .621  (6)
Gordon -        .613  (7)
Stewart -       .577 (10)

I think that shows that those who are NASCAR fans nowadays are privileged to be watching two of the greatest drivers of all-time in Gordon and Johnson. Gordon has slowed down the past 3 years or so. Before that he was often #1 or #2 in many of the percentages listed above. Ironically it was Gordon who 'discovered' Johnson and predicted that he would someday be a better driver than Gordon. Of course, fans know that Gordon is technically Johnson's car owner in the Rick Hendrick stable. -30-

Wednesday, December 08, 2010 9:47 PM - Just got home from our Computer Club Christmas party, got on the air to get my daily mW QSO (which I did), and am now updating my site as I do every day.

Again it was pretty easy getting my QSO this evening, but it did take a little while, about 10 minutes of CQ's until N9FDF answered me from Indiana. We had a nice QSO until his keyer developed some kind of problem and he had to QRT.

I finished entering the results of the 2010 Sprint Cup races in my database and compiled some interesting stats. I'll put them together into a little presentation and put it in the diary tomorrow.

Right now I've got a few things to get caught up on before going to bed. -30-

Tuesday, December 07, 2010 8:19 PM - Finally an easy mW QSO this evening on 80 meters. KF8R Dan in Xenia, OH answered my CQ after not too long and we had an nice 29 minute QSO. Earlier today I had to wait till around Noon to get my mW QSO for the 7th. It wasn't easy, but I finally made it after about 20 minutes of trying. That was thanks to Steve N4LQ in NC. So the mW streak goes on.

Tim KJ6HQT sent a very nice email today. Among other things, he mentioned he is a Jimmie Johnson fan and is looking forward to my analysis of Jimmie vs. Jeff among other NASCAR info.

I don't know if I ever mentioned this in the diary or not, but back in the mid-90's when I started up this web site, it could well have been an auto racing web site instead of a ham radio one. I was debating between the two subjects, and ham radio eventually won out. I wanted to post the history of how Dave WA8EOH and I started up the CW County Hunters Net back in 1966. That was the initial thrust of this web site, and now perhaps the history of the net is the least used of anything on the site. It certainly has evolved over the years.

Getting back to NASCAR. I now have all the Winston Cup, Nextel Cup, Sprint Cup races in the database except for those from this year 2010. When I get those in, then I'll hopefully report some interesting stats here for those who enjoy racing as I do (although my interest is not as intense as it once was which is why I got so far behind on my database).

Looks like we made out OK on the s**wfall here. I'd say we got a total of about 2 inches overall since it started and it's pretty much wound down now except for a few s**w flurries.

I got to take Joe for two of his walks today, and he seemed just like a little kid in the s**w. Instead of staying where it was cleared, he preferred to walk through the deepest parts. HI. -30-

Monday, December 06, 2010 8:19 PM - As is typical with lake-effect s**w, it tends most of the time to come in bands off the lake so one strip of land can get hit hard while others get off easier. So far we've been in the latter selection. It's been s**wing off and on for the past 2 days now, but has only totalled about an inch of the ugly stuff so far. With this bout of s**w hopefully scheduled to wind down in about 24 hours or so, we may, just may luck out. I certainly hope so. Except for a walk with Joe today, I haven't done any outside walking for a couple days now.

Once again my mW QSO eluded me this evening, and will have to wait till the morning probably. I did get a 5 watt QSO on 160 meters though to add another day to the main streak. I worked 87 year old Ray K2PQI. That's the oldest ham I've worked in a while now, as far as I know since we don't always trade ages in a QSO.

I've been getting caught up on some of my NASCAR racing stats the past couple days here for something different to do. I'm interested in seeing just how Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon compare at similar stages in their careers. Of course Jimmie has already passed Jeff in number of championships won, 5 to 4, but it will be interesting to see other things like how quickly both got to their 30th, 40th, etc. win on the circuit, and what their winning percentages are. I'm only up through 2007 in compiling stats, so I've got 3 years to go before I can really analyze things. -30-

Sunday, December 05, 2010 9:40 PM - It's been a depressing day here. It has s**wed just about all day. Fortunately it was light and only about a half inch has accumulated. However the forecast for the coming week or so is pretty dire, and if the worst scenario develops, we could be buried under a foot or so of the miserable stuff by next weekend. I hate it when the s**w gets started so early in the season, as then it just hangs around way too long. I prefer it get started some time in mid or maybe early January, then you only have to put up with it for about 5 to 6 weeks or so.

I only ventured outside twice briefly today, once on the front porch and then to get my temperature at 9 PM. Most of my walking will be done inside when the weather is this miserable. I'll only venture out when I have to go to the store. And with that, I'll close this brief entry. -30-

Saturday, December 04, 2010 9:06 PM - Once upon a time, I truly believed that QRP and my simple attic random wire probably would not work at all well on 160 meters. The antenna was just not high enough and was nowhere near being naturally resonant on 160 meters. I thought to get out of one's backyard on 160, you really needed at least 100 watts and a good vertical, inverted L, high dipole, and the like for an antenna.

Nevertheless, I had always liked AM BCB DXing, and propagation on 160 meters was sort of similar to that on the AM BCB, so I had to give 160 meters a try.

The old Lafayette VFO I used with my homebrew transmitter at that time didn't cover 160 meters, so as I did or would do for 30, 17, and 12 meters, I modified it for 160 and got on the band using the random wire and my homebrew antenna coupler. That was back on February 15, 1995. I worked K3KLC in MD and KZ1R in CT. Hmmmmm... maybe 5 watts and my random wire will at least give me some QSO's here in the local Northeast USA area. QSO's followed from CT, IL (got a 229 RST from there), MD, NJ, WV, NY. With that IL QSO being the kicker, I was convinced that the NE USA was the limit of my playground on 160 meters.

Wrong! On February 23 I worked WA0CML in Parker, CO who gave me a 589 RST. I escaped the playground fence! Still that proved to be an isolated incident, and through April 28 and a total of 50 QSO's, 49 of them were from the NE USA. However a glimmer of hope showed again as I worked K4KZS (349) from Alabama. My QRP signals can break out of the playground now and then.

My next escape outside the fence came after 160 QSO's when I got in the ARRL 160M Contest on December 1, 1995. The QSO's were not easy, but I did work places like IA, GA, MO, SD, TX, TN, AR, SC, MN, FL. In the CQ 160M contest I added places like VP9, UT, MT, AZ, WY, NE, CA (so I can span the continental USA!).

QRP and my simple attic random wire worked some 42 states at 5 watts output. Seems to me that anyone using 100 watts and a decent antenna should have no problem getting WAS on 160 meters, and probably working a good many DX entities as well. I probably will never get WAS, nor get much DX at all though with my setup. My QSO's with those places listed above were very difficult ones for the most part. VP9 remains my only DX on 160 to this day.

Are you wondering if I'm leading up to something to do with the ARRL 160M contest that is going on right now? Yes, I am. I decided to use the contest to get my daily mW QSO last evening and this evening. It was K3WW in PA last night, then tonight W2FU in NY.

However tonight I thought I'd just see how many states I could work with my 930 mW and attic random wire on 160 meters. Here's a list in the order worked: NY MI KY NC QC IN VA DE TN WV IL GA OH. Including PA from last night that's 13 states and one Canadian province worked.

I guess I've proved once and for all my original thoughts on 160 meters were a misconception of the first order.

My point to all this - you can have fun and succeed on 160 meters no matter how simple your setup. That's what I try to prove over and over again in different ways about different bands with my QRP and QRPp work. I hope that encourages those in ham radio challenged areas that they can participate in and enjoy this wonderful hobby anyway - AS LONG AS they use the greatest and most efficient ham radio mode of all - CW. Now get out there and enjoy what the bands have to offer you. It's a lot! -30-

Friday, December 03, 2010 9:44 AM - I'm in the process of updating my January 2011 contest calendar page. I had to stop for a moment and report this sad news. While checking out the SOWP contest, I see on the SOWP web site that the SOWP (Society of Wireless Pioneers) is being phased out of existence. That's a shame, but not much can be done about it since there are so very few true wireless pioneers left. However even without the society, I'm sure we will still honor and give thanks to all who pioneered the use of commercial CW operation. It would be an entirely different world in many respects without their brave service in helping to preserve lives and equipment and making the world a safer place to live.

While my clothes were in the dryer this morning, I thought that would be a good time to get my streak QSO that I didn't get last evening. It was. I not only got one, but three mW QSO's in the half hour. 40 meters was a very busy band in the 1330-1400Z time frame and getting the QSO's was easy. The last took but a single CQ to get an answer. I'm thinking of maybe giving up on the evenings for a while and just trying the mornings. Or perhaps set a time limit in the evening, and if I don't get a QSO within say 15 minutes, quit and wait till morning.

Now I'm off to finish the calendar, get something to eat, and probably do some more work on the NAQCC web site. -30-

Thursday, December 02, 2010 8:55 PM - Only 88 more days till the end of meteorological winter, and it can't come too soon. It's COLD out there today and the ground is covered with s**w and the forecast mentions s**w each day until next Thursday.

Once again my little QSO note is here by my keyboard. 80 was very poor again this evening. No really good signals. Even the usually strong net stations were on the weak side tonight. So no one answered my mW CQ's nor even my 5 watt CQ's. I guess I'll be on 40 meters tomorrow morning.

I'm continuing work on the new NAQCC web site. I've got all the featured member pages restored up through December 2008 now. It's interesting seeing all the nice member photos and reading the bio's again after they laid away in archive for all this time. It was also good to read all the old newsletters as I was restoring them. Well, at least I glanced at them as I was doing them, not reading them thoroughly. There are a lot of good articles in them, and I hope to get an index of the articles on the web site when time permits or someone volunteers to help me do it. -30-

Wednesday, December 01, 2010 8:48 PM - Well, it's now meteorological winter as of today, and it kind of looks and feels like it. There's a light coating of s**w on the ground and the temperature is in the 20's with a moderate breeze making the wind chill somewhat lower.

If you happen to remember the old 'Party Line' show with Ed and Wendy King that was on KDKA for many years mostly from 10 to midnight Eastern time, perhaps you remember this. Ed would always bring up this old Indian legend which says you can predict the number of s**wfalls you'll have in a winter by adding the date of the first s**wfall to the age of the moon on that date. A s**wfall being defined as enough s**w in which to track a cat. You know I tried that a few years and for whatever reason, probably more coincidence than anything, it came out pretty close. So let's see, the date is the 1st, and new moon is on the 5th which makes the age of the moon about 26 days, so that means we should have 27 s**wfalls this winter.

Once again this evening my mW QSO turned out to be with Gary N2ESE. He was kidding me, saying people are going to think the streak is fixed with his call showing up so often. However it's just that Gary and I both do have long streaks going, his having just passed the 4 year mark, and both get on about the same time of day and around the same frequency to try to get our streak QSO's in as soon as possible after the UTC day starts. So we often run into each other. He'll answer my CQ, or sometimes I'll answer his or tail end him. We both have a lot of the same interests to talk about, so the QSO's always wind up being very interesting. In one a couple nights ago, we got to talking about seeing Venus in the daytime, and Gary was very interested in that, and said he was going to try it. I wanted to ask him tonight if he got to do it, but the QRN and QSB ended our QSO before we could get to that. -30-

Tuesday, November 30, 2010 8:06 PM - 80 meters really sounded dead here this evening or everyone was buried under my noise level. I only heard a handful of stations in tuning from about 3520 to 3600. However I did manage to get my mW QSO without too much effort when Ed K1GDH answered my CQ. I think he was copying me better than I was copying him as I was having a really rough time with QRN and QSB, then some QRM came on top of that. Anyway it was a QSO, and got my December off to a start.

I spent a good part of this rainy day working on the NAQCC web site. I now have all of our newsletters in .html format back and available on the site. I think next I'm going to do something with our featured member section. Perhaps revive all the old featured member pages in a section. Before they were only available for one month. Now with all the space we have, I think it would make it nice to be able to see not only the faces of our members in the gallery, but other pictures of equipment, antennas, etc.

Maybe I should think about building an ark. We had over 1.25 inches of rain today, probably be more like 1.5 inches when I get my reading at 9 PM. Then there is supposed to be 1 to 2 inches more overnight. It's a good thing it's been so dry around here so the ground can just absorb a lot of that water. Then it's supposed to s**w tomorrow for a little while giving less than an inch of the ugly white stuff. That would be our first s**wfall of the season. Appropriately that would come on the first day of meteorological winter. -30-

Monday, November 29, 2010 8:21 PM - I got a definite daytime sighting of Venus this morning. I followed it into the daylight, and it was easy to pick out with the sun shining right through the window onto me. I tried to take a picture of it, but I'm not quite sure if it is there or not in the picture. I'll have to do a little tweaking of the contrast, brightness, sharpness, etc. when I have time.

Other than that, not much out of the ordinary today. I did have a very nice long walk with Joe this morning. I always enjoy that. Today's was longer than usual, and Joe was just like an obedient little kid seeming to understand everything I was telling him and doing what I said.

I also am continuing my fine tuning work on the new NAQCC web site. I think I've pretty much gotten rid of all the references to windstream and replaced them with naqcc.info. Also I've restored a lot of the archived newsletters for which there was no space on windstream. Then when I get all of the fine tuning and correcting done, I've got some new ideas I'd like to set up on the site. You can follow along with my progress here in the diary as things unfold. -30-

Sunday, November 28, 2010 9:23 PM - I got to play for a few minutes in the DX contest this morning. Worked VE6JY and IR1Y with 930 mW. Added a few more stations with 5 watts. 15 meters was very good to EU with a lot of strong signals, and I could have worked a good many of them if I'd had time to do so, but I didn't.

I spent a lot of time fine tuning our new NAQCC web site at naqcc.info. Mostly fixing up some pictures and adding some of the old newsletters that had to be taken off the windstream site for lack of space.

Tom had some power problems with his rig tonight so I had to NCS the NAQCC QRS Net. Turned out pretty good with 8 stations from 7 states checking in. Conditions weren't all that good or we might have had more. -30-

Saturday, November 27, 2010 10:40 PM - A rewarding and enjoyable day today. The torrent of new NAQCC member applications seems to have wound down to a slow drip, drip, drip now. We've added 408 new members in the past 5 or 6 days now. That's very rewarding, and it makes our pro-CW voice of the NAQCC much louder now.

Also our new NAQCC web site with the domain name of naqcc.info is up and running as of this evening when the propagation of our name to all the DNS around the world was completed. Shortly after being notified of that, I uploaded all our pages to the new 10 GB server. There's still a little fine-tuning of the site to remove references to windstream, but the new site is there in its entirety as of now. Eventually we will phase out the windstream site and just go with naqcc.info hosted by Go Daddy.com. Another rewarding experience come to fruition.

Then as a break from the MANY hours of NAQCC work this week, Tom WY3H packed me off to a model train display at a local church. That was a welcome break and an enjoyable experience. I think if I had more time, two hobbies I'd like to take up would be woodworking and model trains. I always have liked trains, both the real thing and the models, but other things forced them to just a background interest. What really caught my eye at the display were the N gauge trains, and something labeled HON3 gauge that is even a bit smaller than N gauge. I think that I would have room here to put up a display of N gauge trains. If I remember right from the sign at the display, N gauge is 1 inch = 160 feet, so that's pretty small. I once started work on an HO gauge setup, but it never progressed very far.

Once again my daily QSO will have to wait till the morning. I got an easy one this morning when I turned on my rig and right away heard a strong CQ from NZ3U and worked him easily. I still don't have any DX QSO's in the contest though. Maybe tomorrow I'll find a little time to try for a few at least. -30-

Friday, November 26 - Actually it's Saturday morning now. What with processing the last 100 or so new NAQCC members from our membership drive, I just didn't have time to make an entry last evening. Also the other NAQCC project I talked about. We now have our own domain name for the club - naqcc.info - along with a lot more web site space. More about that later. We added 400 members to the club this past week giving us a lot to be thankful for plus a LOT of typing exercise. HI. Now I've got to throw together a NAQCC newsletter to post a little late this weekend. Still have to get my QSO for the day also, so I better get going. -30-

Thursday, November 25, 2010 10:40 PM - I could write a very long entry tonight, but I'm tired so it will be kind of a condensed 'Reader's Digest' type entry. Maybe I'll fill it out more tomorrow.

The day started early with Tom WY3H picking me up a little before 9AM. We went to a Veterans Center where Tom called some Bingo games for the Vets. Then we went to a nearby fire hall where meals were prepared and took about 60 of them back to the Vets. A couple more dinner deliveries, then off to Tom's house for a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner. Tom had to work, so we didn't visit too long after dinner. Then back home where I've been continuing to process new NAQCC member applications. We'll wind up with 350-400 new members as the result of our latest membership drive. Our pro-CW voice is become louder and louder faster and faster now.

I think just sitting and chatting with a couple of the Vets at one of the bingo tables was the highlight of my day. These wonderful people are really my heroes. They have done so much to keep our country free from all kind of attacks over the years. We must never let our guard down for a moment, as there are more and more attacks on our country in many different ways these days. We need the breed of men I saw at the Vets Center to fight off these attacks. Men who are not afraid to give everything they have to keep our country the greatest in the world. These men I visited with today, more than any others, are the kind of men (and women) whom we need to thank wholeheartedly on this Thanksgiving day and every other day, for that matter. -30-

Wednesday, November 24, 2010 10:48 PM - Mike KC2EGL visited today. We worked on a modification to the masts we used on our portable N3A outing for the NAQCC 6th anniversary back in mid-October. You may recall the crappie (type of fish, not a comment) fishing poles were a little too flexible and flimsy. So we made new masts today out of some PVC pipe and couplers. We also made a couple of stakes from wood dowels to pound into the ground for the PVC pipe to fit on. We won't get to try them out for a while, but they should work well.

We also got caught up on some NAQCC prizes info, had our usual food break (two pizzas - sausage and pepperoni), and just did some other little things. Tom WY3H dropped by, and we started to set up something new and exciting for the NAQCC. I can't talk about it yet, but as soon as the deal is sewed up, I'll release the info here in the diary. So if you're a NAQCC member, you'll hear it first here, hopefully on this Friday's entry if all goes well.

Things are going well in our latest NAQCC membership drive. I just assigned # 5070 which means we've gained 227 new members so far, and I have another 70-75 or so applications queued up to process. I may not get to them till late tomorrow afternoon.

Tomorrow Tom WY3H and I are going to deliver some Thanksgiving dinners to the Veterans at a Veterans center near Kittanning. There also will be some games for the Veterans. Tom and I will then deliver some dinners to a couple other deserving folks. After that it's off to Tom's for our own turkey dinners. We'll have to compress all of that into fewer hours than we'd like since Tom has to go to work at the local paper in the afternoon and evening.

I hope you all have as great a Thanksgiving as it looks like I'm going to have tomorrow. -30-

Tuesday, November 23, 2010 11:44 PM - I signed up NAQCC member # 5,000 a couple hours ago - Ken KF7MUZ from Idaho City, Idaho. So my goal of 5,000 members in 2010 has been reached with some 38 days to spare. I worked all day getting the members signed up so I'm rather beat right now, and that's about all I have to say for this entry. -30-

Monday, November 22, 2010 9:51 PM - It has long been my goal of reaching 5,000 NAQCC members by the end of 2010. With that in mind we started a membership drive today with Dave VA3RJ posting an invitation to join the club on a vast array of sources. So far in about 10 hours since the posting we've added 45 new members. We're now 112 away from 5,000.

It constantly amazes me that our club is so popular, especially when you consider to be interested in the NAQCC, a ham must like BOTH CW and QRP. Clubs that are CW only like FISTS or QRP only like QRP ARCI have a much broader base from which to draw members. Hams who operate CW, but not at QRP levels, increase the CW club bases. Likewise hams who operate QRP, but not CW, increase the QRP club bases. Yet even so we are not all that far behind some CW clubs or QRP clubs, and even ahead of some in our membership size.

I've got another membership to process now, then I'm going to rest a bit before going to bed. Think I'll watch some how-to show on Hulu, and then listen to a Fibber McGee and Molly radio show. -30-

Sunday, November 21, 2010 10:50 PM - Another one of those hectic days. A good deal of it spent on wrapping up our NAQCC Sprint results. As we become more and more popular and get more participation, the work load increases, but I love it and hope we continue to grow.

Then the neighbors invited me to watch the Oakland/Pittsburgh NFL game since I'm a diehard Raider fan. Things didn't turn out well there though as the Steelers took a big lead in the first half and won 35-3. I left after the first half. At least the company was good and so was the pizza. Plus time spent with Joe is always good also.

Well, at least NASCAR turned out good for me today. As a Jeff Gordon - Jimmie Johnson fan, I was happy to find out just now that Jimmie won his 5th championship (consecutive as well) after trailing going into the final race. He finished second in the race today to wrap it up. I'm going to pause here and read a bit more about it on the NASCAR site then come back and wrap up this entry. I see Mark Martin finished in the top spot in the standings OUTSIDE the 12 who qualified for 'The Chase'. I always like Mark, so that's good news for me. Kind of sad to see Bobby Labonte finish in last place among all who ran all 36 races.

Well, a lot of stuff on that site that I don't have time to look at now, but I will later.

We had another great NAQCC QRS Net this evening with 12 participants, a new record as the net continues to grow in popularity.

It again took quite a while to get my mW QSO this evening. It's been a hard stretch the past couple weeks now. Finally I got KD0V, but we were wiped out by a net. Then he slipped down a kHz and called CQ again. I found him once again, and this time we had a solid 23 minute QSO. -30-

Saturday, November 20, 2010 8:44 PM - EXTRA: The QRP community and ham radio world in general lost one of its top-notch operators and promoters recently. I just learned that K8DD Hank (or Duck which he used as his alias in the NA QSO Parties) passed away on November 13 at 63 years of age. I worked Hank at least 41 times since 1993 in contests and or dxpeditions (C6 and HK). Without taking time to check, I'm sure there are other QSO's when he was using a different DX call like YN2DD. He would often comment on my QRP signal when we worked. For more info check his web site at http://www.k8dd.com/

Yet another of the all too frequent of late evenings that my mW CQ's just wouldn't yield an answer from anyone. So my little pink paper with the word QSO on it came down with me from the shack to remind me I'll have to get that mW QSO probably in the morning. Or perhaps I'll try again later tonight yet. I think this might be the weekend of the ARRL phone sweepstakes (I don't follow anything to do with those other 'useless' modes - HI) so those who do operate other modes may be there instead of on good old CW.

It's continuing to look like November around here. Ugly dreary chilly days when the temperature is just cold enough to make going outside far from the pleasant experience it is in late spring through early fall. At least there hasn't been any snow so far. However there is some predicted for around Thanksgiving.

We made it over the century mark in logs for our NAQCC sprint. We're now at 103 with about 22 hours remaining before log submission deadline. It's wonderful how many soapbox comments lament the poor conditions, and yet say our sprints are still the greatest and a lot of fun. -30-

Friday, November 19, 2010 8:19 PM - As I'm typing this, log # 98 for our NAQCC sprint just arrived. Now if we can eke out two more, we'll hit the century mark for the 8th straight month. I'm really pleased with the dedication of our NAQCC members to our sprints and other club activities as well.

My mW QSO came fairly quickly this evening again when George W2BPI answered my CQ. However the band went away after two rounds and we lost each other.

Not a lot more to talk about. I'm doing my washing and waiting to put it in the dryer. I usually do that on Thursday's, but getting the new water heater yesterday delayed me a day.

We, along with a lot of other towns and cities are having light-up night this evening. We're supposed to have some fireworks that start in a few minutes, so I think I'll see if I can see them from my house. If not, I really don't feel like standing out in the cold to watch them. It's around 30 degrees right now. -30-

Thursday, November 18, 2010 8:57 PM - This was such a busy day, I thought for a while my mW streak was going to come to an end for lack of time to get on the air. Conditions for the sprint last evening were so bad I had trouble making 5 watt QSO's, let alone 930 mW. So that pushed the time back to today for getting the QSO.

Processing the logs (88 so far) and new member applications took up a good part of the day, and they are still coming. It's looking pretty good for making the century mark for the 8th month in a row now. If you participated and haven't sent in your log, please do so. 3 folks even reported they couldn't get any QSO's. That's fine, as long as they were actually trying, and that counts as a log or report.

On top of that, I had to get a new water heater installed today to replace my 27 year old model that finally gave up the ghost. So that absorbed a couple more hours.

A few other odds and ends took away some more time, including walking Joe. But that's something I like doing anyway.

Finally around 5 PM I decided I was going to get my QSO, and I did after several minutes of trying. Jack WD4E answered my QSO at 2209 and that extended the mW streak another day to 202 days. Then 203 came quickly this evening when my friend of some 65 QSO's answered my CQ on 3560. I'm speaking of Gary N2ESE whom I talked about a couple entries ago. -30-

Wednesday, November 17, 2010 7:49 PM - Just sitting around waiting for our NAQCC sprint to start. I tried to get my mW QSO in before the sprint, but didn't have any luck, so I'll just get it sometime during the sprint. That should be easy.

Today was the kind of day I'm glad I have my antennas mostly indoors. It was very windy most all day especially during the night. There are a lot of little branches down all over town. Fortunately I didn't see any big ones that might have done some serious damage. It continues to be a somewhat unusual November here. Still no real cold temperatures and not a lot of rain. Thankfully not a sign of any snow either. We did have a bit of either sleet or hail this afternoon. I was out walking and saw some of the 'rain drops' bouncing on the sidewalks and streets. Nothing over 1/8 inch in diameter, and most of the stuff that was falling was really rain drops. The temperature was around 50 degrees so most likely it was small hail as sleet usually comes with lower temperatures. -30-

Tuesday, November 16, 2010 8:40 PM - I just noticed as I was updating my propagation page that the SF has been 84 or higher for the past 11 days now, and was at 92 today. That should serve to open up the higher bands for some easy DX. Now if I could just find time to get on and see if that's true or not.

It took a little while, but I had a nice solid 2X599 mW QSO with Jerry N4LZY in TN this evening. That's day number 201 in my mW streak now.

Tomorrow evening is our NAQCC sprint. Here's an invitation to everyone reading this to join in. You don't really have to be a member to do so, although we would prefer you join if you enjoy our sprints. The price is right - FREE. We also don't encourage QRO operation in the sprints, but if your rig doesn't quite go down to 5 watts, well you can still join in. The only disadvantage is that non-members and QRO stations are not eligible for any certificates or prizes. Check the NAQCC web site for info if you'd like to give it a try. I'll be there for the full two hours for sure. Hopefully as has been true for the last several sprints, a couple hundred folks will decided to join in the fun with over 100 of them following up by submitting their log. -30-

Monday, November 15, 2010 9:42 PM - Got a quick mW QSO this evening with N1KK who was also QRP and later reduced to QRPp 500 mW. Copy was a little rough both ways, but we stuck it out for 23 minutes. Then I had a couple more QSO's with 5 watts, the last one with Gary N2ESE who closed out his streak of 4 years, and now will start on the 5th year tomorrow evening. I think it's neat that Gary has made a QSO every day since he got his Vanity call of N2ESE.

We had a good NAQCC QRS Net last evening with 9 stations in attendance. There is a lot more interest being shown in the net now after an agonizingly slow start. Now if we could just get some additional NCS and some more regional nets started, we'd really have something good going for those who need some actual on-the-air code practice. It's easy to copy code from a tape or computer, but a different thing when you add in QSB, QRN, QRM when you're actually on the air.

This is the day of the month to post a new poll here on the web site, and I've just done so now, actually several hours late, but it's there now for your consideration and vote. -30-

Sunday, November 14, 2010 8:07 PM - Today was a Nov in Nov day for sure. After almost a week of wonderful weather that made it seem like October or even September, today was gloomy, dreary, rainy, and chilly. And that perfectly describes a normal November day for this part of the country. We did hit 72 degrees yesterday for the second day in a row, but today's daytime high didn't get out of the 40's, I'm sure.

80 meters was gloomy and dreary also this evening. 45 minutes of CQ's, and answering a couple of other folks' CQ's yielded nothing in the way of a QSO. So it looks like checking into the NAQCC QRS Net in about 20 minutes will be my mW QSO for this evening, but that won't satisfy me, and I'll try to get another one in the morning. When we first switched back to standard time and 0000Z became 7PM local time, the QSO's seemed to come easier than when 0000Z was 8PM, but not the past few days now.

Not much else in the way of things to talk about so I think I'll have my mid-evening snack, then go check into the NQN. -30-

Saturday, November 13, 2010 8:18 PM - Yet another Oct in Nov day today, although we did have a few high clouds starting to move in this evening and may get a little rain the next couple days. We did hit 70 yesterday, in fact 72 was the high which could be a date record high. I haven't checked yet. I suppose I could do so now....... Yes it was, breaking the 71 degree high from 1984. The record for today is 72 from 1989. I don't think we made it that high today. I would guess in the upper 60's, but I'll report here tomorrow.

I used the KY QSO party for my mW QSO this evening. A quick exchange with W5MX did it. Then I went "QRO" to 5 watts and made a couple more QSO's trying to finish our NAQCC November Thanksgiving challenge. I needed a 'G' to finish 'PILGRIMS' and all 5 words, and by golly, N1TGI answered my CQ and I got it.

One more tip about QRP. This is a personal thing, but I NEVER sign /QRP after my call. Adding the slant bar and 3 letters just makes for more confusion in poor conditions. Also it takes up time, and many top-notch contesters hate the practice as it robs them of valuable time. Some won't even answer someone signing /QRP unless it is near the end of a contest and they are desperate for an extra QSO or two to pad their score. Not using it doesn't seem to have hurt me or made me less of a success, I would say. -30-

Friday, November 12, 2010 8:53 PM - Another night when I had to go down to 3547 to get my mW QSO. There wasn't too much activity around 3559 tonight like last night, but I just couldn't get an answer to my CQ there, so I left, and after about 5 minutes or so got an answer on 3547 from Don N8JIW.

It was another October in November day today. Might have reached 70 degrees. It's about 5 minutes from my weather check time here so I'm not sure about the maximum for today yet, but it felt quite warm. So warm in fact, I actually went fishing in shirt sleeves. Didn't catch anything although I did get a few bites (nibbles is more like it). Also went over the 10 mile mark in walking today.

Today's QRP tip which may be the last in the series is to always use the right procedure signals. Don't make the fellow you're working try to figure out what you are saying when he may be having enough trouble just copying you at all in QSB, QRN, or QRM. I could give a long list of examples here, but instead I'll refer you to the CW section of my web site where you'll find everything I could possibly say here - there. -30-

Thursday, November 11, 2010 9:23 PM - I hope you all took time today to honor the brave Veterans who have helped and are helping to keep America the greatest, most free country in the World. As I do every patriotic holiday, I flew the flag that draped my dad's casket back in 1964. I hope that served to remind some folks about this wonderful holiday we celebrated today.

As you know, the holiday was originally called Armistice Day to honor those who served in WW I, and the name was later changed (1954) to Veterans Day to honor veterans who served in all our wars and other peacekeeping efforts around the world.

I was thinking of the date and time of the signing of the Armistice ending WW I. The 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918. Next year Veterans Day will be 11/11/11. It would be nice to have some sort of world-wide moment of remembrance on that date at 11:11:11 UTC.

80 meters showed a lot of activity this evening. Just after 0000Z I found my usual operating range of 3558 to 3561 full up. I had to go elsewhere to find a place to call CQ. I tried 3547.5 which is my unofficial back-up 80 meter favorite place to operate. That worked and I had a nice rag chew with Bob K8FN using my 930 mW. After that I made three more QSO's for the evening including a sked with Norm K1NAJ who wanted a QSO with me.

Let's have just a brief QRP tip this evening. I mentioned you should always zero beat the station you are calling unless of course he is operating split frequency. However if you are rock-bound or are not sure you are zero beat with someone, send their call a few times when you answer their CQ, as it does take a bit of time for them to scan up and down from where they are calling CQ. If you only send their call once, they may not hear it and think you are calling someone else, or maybe calling CQ themselves, or in a QSO with someone else. They need to hear their call before they know you are answering them, so do send it at least 3 or 4 times when you are not sure you are zero beat. If you're sure you are zero beat a 1X2 answer is best, that is K9XXX de K3WWP K3WWP AR. -30-

Wednesday, November 10, 2010 9:49 PM - We had a loooong computer club meeting this evening, and I'm a bit tired so I'm not going to write much here. I'll continue with my QRP tips tomorrow. I did want to mention that Norm K1NAJ emailed to thank me for the tips, and is going to get himself a mainstream rig that goes down to 5 watts for his QRP work.

Now I'm off to get my mW QSO of the day and do some more things before bed time comes. -30-

Tuesday, November 09, 2010 8:04 PM - Well, forget about the last paragraph in this entry. I'll leave it there though for anyone who has already read it, and explain the follow-up here. Thanks to a very nice very intelligent support person at Windstream named Myriam, my Internet is now working again. She talked me through resetting my browser to all its default settings and that cured the problem. However now I have to re-enter some passwords for different sites and do a bit of re-customizing my browser. Hopefully that won't be too much of a problem.

Let's talk about another QRP success tip. Make sure your rig does NOT drift in frequency. It's very hard to follow a drifting signal at QRP levels that flirts with a local noise level. Also make sure your keying is crisp and doesn't have any trace of chirp or buzz, hum, etc. A perfectly clean CW signal is much easier to copy. Again that harkens back to my first tip in this series about using a mainstream rig turned down to 5 watts as your QRP rig. They're not free of problems, but have a better performance rate than SOME of the small QRP rigs, especially those that use battery power. If you keep freshly charged batteries in the rig, that will alleviate the problem. Replace them at whatever intervals you feel you need to maintain the good quality of you transmitted signal.

NOTE: Things mentioned in this paragraph are now history. For the first time in I can't remember when, I'm having some Internet problems. It's either in my browser or firewall. I can get email OK, and upload these pages OK, but I can't view anything on the Internet. Therefore unless one of you kind folks sends me the Solar Flux, A index, and the other info I put on my propagation page, I won't be able to update the info there until I figure out and solve this problem. Nothing I've tried so far has done anything to help. I think I have two options left. Check the firewall settings in my router/modem or maybe re-install my browser. Anyway that's my top priority right now, so I'm not going to add anything else to this entry for now. -30-

Monday, November 08, 2010 8:38 PM - So far the switch to Standard time has made getting my mW QSO easier. Of course the first couple nights were helped by the SS. Tonight though I found K3JK calling CQ near 3558 and got him on the first try and had a nice 24 minute QSO.

Continuing with my series of tips on being a successful QRPer, tonight I think I'll talk about a knowledge of propagation. It certainly helps if you have even a basic knowledge of when propagation will be good on this or that band. Barring the unexpected, and strange things do happen, it's very unlikely you'll have much luck calling CQ on 10 meters after midnight local time or calling CQ on 160 or 80 meters around noon. Instead of me making a long list of what bands are good at what time, the best way to find out is to simply listen to the different bands at different times of day and night. Take notes and you'll find out a lot.

After you do find out a lot, consider some simple facts that should be obvious. If propagation is good to a certain area and you hear good strong steady signals from that area, it's likely you will be able to answer a CQ from there and have a good solid QSO. Or call CQ, and if anyone is listening from that area, there's a good chance your CQ will be strong enough for them to answer you.

When answering a CQ it's always best to answer a very strong one. Unless of course, you know the weaker CQ is also coming from a QRP station. In both cases, you will have a good chance of them hearing your response to their CQ's.

Even if you don't hear any stations on a certain band at a certain time when you know from experience that propagation should be good, don't just ignore the band, but try several CQ's yourself. Someone has to transmit. If everyone just listens, there will definitely not be any QSO's heard at all on that band.

Still more to come in this mini-series of tips. -30-

Sunday, November 07, 2010 7:32 PM - I forgot the SS continued past 0000Z Monday so I got another easy mW QSO from N4DW. I had to repeat my info unlike last night, but only one repeat so it was still an easy QSO and a solid one.

I got some feedback on my tip about QRP rigs a couple days ago in the diary. Brion VE3FUJ pretty much agreed with me about rigs except he added one point that may be important to some. It's more expensive and more of a hassle to get a big rig repaired if something goes wrong with it.

One very important thing to having success with QRP is to always zero beat the station you are working. Not everyone takes the time or effort to tune around the frequency on which they call their CQ. So if you're not zero beat, they won't hear you, especially at the level of your QRP signal. They may hear a KW station slightly off frequency, but it's a different matter with QRP. Conversely, a good QRPer will always tune up and down with the RIT (if his rig has that feature) between 500 and 1000 Hz after his CQ to catch those folks who don't know how to zero beat or who may be rockbound. I make many QSO's in which the other station called me several hundred Hz off frequency. This tip harkens back to the big rig vs. QRP rig tip. It is often very complicated to zero beat with a mini rig whereas in most all cases, zero beating with a big mainstream rig is a 'piece of cake'.

I hope these tips are giving you some food for thought if you are someone who is having trouble making QRP QSO's.

Well, it's about 45 minutes now until our NAQCC QRS Net. Tom WY3H will be NCS on 3575 at 0130Z, and I plan to check in. So I'm going to do a few other things here in those 45 minutes. -30-

Saturday, November 06, 2010 10:29 PM - A very easy mW QSO this evening thanks to the SS contest. One call to K3ZM, no repeats, bang - another day in the books.

I'm all set for standard time. Don't forget to do the same and get yourself set also. Well unless you live in Arizona, parts of Indiana and I think a couple other places that don't observe DST. Then you don't have to worry. Maybe someone of you can tell me the places that don't observe DST. I'm not going to take time to look them up.

With the SS going on, it's a good time for that tip I mentioned yesterday about QRP in contests that can also be applied to DXing as well.

As some folks equate QRP with those little tiny rigs, others equate QRP with QRS, and seem to think that QRP CW needs to be sent at slow speeds. Nothing could be further from the truth, especially in contesting and DXing. When you operate with QRP, you have to deal with QSB - ups and downs in propagation that are often very rapid changes. Therefore you should send your info to the contester or DX station as rapidly as possible so it arrives at his location on an upswing in propagation. I generally match my sending speed to his as a good rule of thumb. If he heard you send your call and answered you, the odds are good you have good propagation at the moment, so take advantage of it before it changes. Send your info quickly with no repeats or anything extra. Most times the other station will get it on the first try. If not, then it's up to him to ask for repeats. Be quick and brief with the repeats also. He DID NOT miss your info because you were too fast sending it, but because your signal dropped out briefly. Here are a couple examples of a brief contest exchange and a DX exchange using my call and a fictitous call - X3XXX.

me - K3WWP
him - K3WWP 599 143
me - TU 599 76
him - TU

The 143 and 76 are serial numbers, but could be states, zones, power or whatever is required for a particular contest. Very brief, but covers everything required for a complete QSO.

A DX QSO is similar:
him - CQ DE X3XXX
me - K3WWP
him - K3WWP 599
me - TU 599
him - TU or maybe just dit dit

You've sent three items (K3WWP TU 599), but now have what was perhaps a new country worked.

So always remember - SPEED and BREVITY rule in contests and DXing for the successful QRPer. And hey, you'll also make brownie points with those waiting in line to work that contest or DX station since you didn't make them wait over long by sending slowly and adding unneeded info.

Oh, and you don't really need the TU's either, but I believe in courtesy even in the frantic contesting and DXing atmosphere. -30-

Friday, November 05, 2010 9:05 PM - It's funny how memory works, and how one object, scent, word, action, etc. can trigger a whole chain of thoughts that haven't been brought out into the open in one's mind for many many years. It was a word tonight that did it. I had a nice long rag chew for my mW QSO this evening with Craig WA1HEW in York, PA. At the end he called me 'sir'. That made me think of another ham who always called me 'sir John'. To go off on a tangent a moment, 'sir' is something that members of the Knightlights QRP Club called each other - you know, Knight - sir. Anyway Dan N4ROA who unfortunately became a silent key a few years ago, is the ham I'm thinking of. Dan was one of the best ever QRP contesters. He didn't do it with a big antenna farm and fancy rigs, but mostly with skill and persistence. Oh, now and then he did put up some fancy antennas, but basically his was not a 'professional' contest station as some QRP contesters now use. I think my favorite story about Dan was this one. I may not have all the facts exactly right, but the gist of the story is here. One of Dan's favorite band for contesting was the 160 meters band, and he loved, and did very well, in both the ARRL and CQ 160 M contests every year. One year he used an abandoned tower of some kind for his 160M antenna, and I believe it was then that he worked KH6 with his QRP 5 watts. He emailed me about it, and you could sense the excitement even in the plain text of an email. I wonder if I'll ever have that thrill of working KH6 on 160M. I doubt it, but at least I did have the thrill of working 2 KH6 stations on 80M, and yes, it was indeed a thrill.

Talking about Dan and QRP contesting is a good lead-in to my second in a series of tips about how you can ensure success when using QRP. Obviously in many cases when propagation is not all that good, QRP signals will drop in and out of the noise level. Because of that, a CW signal with perfectly spaced dots, dashes, letter spaces, and word spaces will be easier to copy than sloppily sent CW. It's even easy to figure out letters that get lost in QSB and QRN if everything is sent perfectly. Just one of many examples, if you copy two dots, a burst of static, and another dot, there are a couple possibilities. It could have been an H with the third dot obscured by QRN or an F with the dash obscured. You should be able to easily tell which if the CW is being perfectly sent. Maybe that's a silly example, but I think you get what I am trying to say. It is much easier to copy perfect CW than sloppy CW. So always strive to send perfect CW, especially if you are using QRP power levels.

I think that serves for tonight. I was going to talk about CW in contests which is where I was headed in the first place, but that can wait now till tomorrow's entry. -30-

Thursday, November 04, 2010 10:14 PM - I'm writing this while talking on the phone. Or more or less, listening on the phone, and saying 'yes', 'umm humm', etc. every now and then. However that's another story altogether that I'm not going into right now.

I got my mW QSO this evening, so I won't have to wait till morning to do that. I worked K2GTC with mW, then N9UUI with 5 watts. Those two QSO's gave me the G and I towards our November NAQCC Thanksgiving challenge. Now I need 7 more letters to finish the challenge.

I often get questions about my antenna system like it's something magic. Well, it's not. You don't really need all that great an antenna to be successful with QRP. There are a lot of things you can do to be successful with QRP. I thought for the next few diary entries, I'd offer some thoughts about what can be done to make your QRP ventures successful.

So let's start in no particular order. I'd suggest that to be really successful you should use a mainstream rig, and not one of the small little QRP rigs. As you know, I use Kenwood rigs here. I started with a TS-570D in 1999 and went to a TS-480SAT a couple years ago. Just set them to 5 watts output and you have the best possible QRP rig. Of course I don't mean only the Kenwood rigs, but ICOM, Yaesu, Elecraft, etc. In other words rigs with all the bells and whistles that make operating them second nature and as easy as pie. The small dedicated QRP rigs are best used for portable operations, and they work well for that. But nothing beats a rig with digital readout, easy to use RIT, several layers of filtering, quick band change, and all those other things that make operating a snap. You should be able to use all your concentration on making QSO's and not how to operate the rig. I've used a few of the little QRP rigs and had to think more about what I was doing with the rig, than on making the QSO's.

Remember these are only my thoughts and how I do things. I think I've proved they work very well, but other QRPers, I'm sure will have other opinions and that's great. -30-

Wednesday, November 03, 2010 9:19 PM - Once again instead of bringing my paper log downstairs to add another QSO to my computer log, I had to bring down my little purple pseudo-sticky-note with the letters QSO on it to remind me I'll have to get my daily streak QSO later tonight or more likely, tomorrow morning.

80 meters was pretty much vacant this evening except for a handful of QSO's here and there between 3500-3580 or so. You'd think with an empty band like that, my CQ would kind of stick out like the ring on the merry-go-round and someone would reach out and grab it, but such was not the case. almost 50 minutes of steady 3X2 CQ, pause 4-5 seconds to listen for an answer, then repeating over and over and over again ad infinitum yielded absolutely nothing.

Don't folks listen around 3558 to 3560 in the 0000Z hour or what? As I mentioned a few entries ago, that frequency range used to be filled with signals, either from FISTS, QRPers, or just hams in general. And that wasn't too long ago.

I know there are a lot of folks re-discovering CW or just starting to use our wonderful mode, but where are they? Do they all have something else to do in the 0000Z hour? Maybe when we go to standard time this weekend, and 0000Z becomes 7 PM EST instead of 8 PM EDT, things will change. We'll see, or is that not going to be a factor at all?

A lot of questions, but no answers. -30-

Tuesday, November 02, 2010 11:59 PM - Oooops, just in under the wire. Well actually not, it's really after midnight. I've been absorbed in watching Newt Gingrich and the wonderful election returns, and I just about forgot about the diary entry. And since it is so late, I'm really not going to say too much beyond that, and get myself to bed in a little while. -30-

Monday, November 01, 2010 7:48 PM - I actually got some time to play radio late this afternoon. I really wanted to get a few more letters for our NAQCC November Thanksgiving Turkey challenge. I thought the way to do that would be to check for some quick DX QSO's. I started out on 17 and found it quite active. Heck, very active compared to 40 and 80 at night sometimes. I first tried FG5FR, but he had a pretty good pileup, so I tuned around and found YV7/UY5ZZ going wanting for answers to his CQ. I got him easily. I disected his call and added Y V U to my list of Thanksgiving words. Then I heard VP5/WA2VYA who was working some JA stations. I listened a bit to make sure he wasn't calling directional CQ's to Asia or Japan, and when I decided he wasn't, I called and worked him easily. That added P W A to my words. That was it for 17 meters, so I just thought I'd see if 15 was open as well, and it was. I didn't work anyone there, but it was nice to hear signals on that band, and good ones at that.

I mentioned directional CQ's. Let me elaborate a bit. Whenever I hear someone calling CQ Asia, CQ JA, etc., no matter how badly I'd like to work them, I will not answer them and honor their wishes. Likewise with W/VE stations calling CQ DX. I think we should always be sure that we would be a desireable answer to a CQ, before we even think of answering it. Likewise with partial calls. If a station sends WP? in response to my answer, then I will guess it is for me since I have a WP in my call. If someone sends QG?, then I do not respond. There is a grey area though. If someone sends AWP?, WAP?, WWW?, which are only a dot or dash removed from my call, I'll wait a couple seconds, and if I don't hear a AWP, etc. station answer, I'll respond with my call. I think the above examples plus similar ones are the way every ham should act in those situations. Ham radio should be courteous at all times.

Now it's 0000Z and I'm off to get my mW QSO of the day. -30-

Sunday, October 31, 2010 9:26 PM - Darn it, I'm getting to like being NCS of our NAQCC QRS Net. I hope Tom or someone else will be back regularly soon. I just can't afford to take on another responsibility now.

It was a good net tonight - our first of the cold wx season on 80 meters (3575). We had 7 check-ins which is near a record. Not as busy as that one net I had several weeks ago, but just about the right pace for a QRS type net. Let's see where the folks were from: PA ON OH IN ME NE TX. A pretty wide area for 80 meters QRP.

My mW QSO came before the net from Nate KC2MJT whom by coincidence I mentioned in yesterday's diary entry. After working him, I cranked up to 5 watts and worked a Halloween special event station, W0O in Frankenstein, MO before moving on the get the net going.

I did pretty good today with the EOM FOM stuff (End Of Month First Of Month). Except for actually going out and doing my banking and bill paying (of which all the paperwork got done today) and putting October's weather records in the computer, I am virtually done with everything. That's about the earliest I've ever gotten that far, I believe. HI

A ham friend came over today to clean out my gutters. He won a rig at a hamfest this past summer, and said he may bring it over tomorrow and let me play with it for a while, possibly for a week or more, as he is going on some kind of vacation for a week or so starting Friday. I can't remember which rig it is now, but it's an all bander from something like 160 through 2 meters, and can be lowered to 5 watts output. -30-

Saturday, October 30, 2010 8:26 PM - Well, you can't get much quicker than that. My first mW CQ at 0001Z was answered by Bill W9VC, and we had a 16 minute solid QSO. He was 5 watts and peaking over S9 and said that my mW sigs were also over S9 at times. I guess conditions were really good on 80 meters this evening. With that QSO, my mW streak reached 184 days, 6 full months, or just over 1/2 year.

It was another pretty nice day today, and I spent time walking and doing some more clean up work in the back yard. I also helped Ange pull his pepper plants today. So about all that is left in our gardens now is burying his fig trees. We plan to do the 4 little ones tomorrow and the remaining bigger ones later in the week when they lose the rest of their leaves.

Nate KC2MJT emailed and said he also noticed the lack of FISTS activity on the ham bands lately, especially 80 meters. So I guess it is a real thing and not just my imagination. That's really sad, and I hope all of you who are FISTS will make a very early New Year's resolution to start supporting FISTS activities NOW and continuing your support through the fall and winter as well as beyond. Let's not let this great club wither away. Without FISTS, there will be very little in the way of CW left on the ham bands, even with our NAQCC helping out as much as we can. -30-

Friday, October 29, 2010 9:54 PM - Another fairly quick mW QSO this evening as Chas W3KC with his 5 watts answered my CQ after a few minutes.

Do you remember when 3558 used to be one of the most used CW frequencies on any of the ham bands? What has happened lately? I never hear any activity there. Where have all the FISTS gone? Did I miss a FISTS 80M frequency change or what?

Or is it just that the lack of Keynotes the past couple years due to circumstances beyond anyone's control has lessened interest in FISTS? If so, that's a shame because FISTS is THE club that has done, and is doing, the most to help preserve CW on the ham bands. I am equally proud to be a FISTS member and a NAQCC member. It's possible that without FISTS there wouldn't even be a NAQCC, since FISTS is the driving force behind the popularity of CW on the bands these days.

I certainly hope that the problems at FISTS HQ are over now and we will be getting back to receiving the wonderful publication Keynote regularly again.

Just in case you don't know, there was a fire at FISTS HQ on top of some health problems for the USA head of FISTS Nancy WZ8C. Those two things combined laid a good 1-2 punch on FISTS. Almost like someone was out to destroy FISTS for whatever reason.

I hope if you're reading this, and are not a FISTS member, that you will join the club. If you're here, then you must love CW, and that is the only requirement to be a FISTS member. FISTS does charge dues unlike the NAQCC and some other clubs, BUT with those dues, FISTS can do much more to help preserve and promote CW than the other clubs, our NAQCC included. -30-

Thursday, October 28, 2010 9:12 PM - My mW QSO came quickly this evening for a change even though 80 sounded like its regular dead self of late. Vince KG8WF answered my CQ after not all that many minutes. Despite storms up in MI, he copied me pretty well for a 17 minute QSO.

The weather started good today, then went downhill all day as a couple of dry cold fronts came through and clouds increased and temperatures fell throughout the day. Still except for the wind chill, not all that bad a day overall.

This was the night of our annual Halloween parade here in Kittanning. I've gone to see them the past several years now. It's almost more fun watching the kids watching the parade that watching the parade itself. There was one little, I guess about 3 years old, girl in a wagon near where I was standing and every time a fire truck went by, she let out a scream of delight with a big smile on her face.

I did some more yard work today. I cut the grass in the back yard for hopefully the last time. I still have a few tomato and pepper plants, but they may get picked and pulled tomorrow as it looks like a frost tomorrow night and some cold days and nights ahead.

I forgot to mention in yesterday's diary that I had another good sighting of Jupiter well before the sun's rays cleared the hill to the east. I was at the neighbor's and didn't get over here till several minutes after Jupiter rose. I figured I'd never find it since it was now quite a distance from the reference point on the horizon. However I swept up from that point and it popped right into view. Hopefully the next clear evening I can catch it even earlier. -30-

Wednesday, October 27, 2010 9:24 PM - The October weather continues good. We hit 72 degrees today under mostly sunny skies. A nice day for walking, and I went over the 10 mile mark including about a 5 mile walk early this evening.

Perhaps the nice weather was widespread and it kept folks off the bands this evening. 50 minutes of CQ's yielded nothing at all so my streak(s) QSO will have to wait till the morning. Hopefully it will be better then. There were only 4 QSO's I heard in tuning across the whole CW segment of 80 meters. And a couple nights ago when I talked to Gary N2ESE he was saying getting his daily QSO with his QRO 70 watts or so was hard the past several days also. Hopefully things will pick up again soon. Actually this is the first time since October 12th that I've had to wait till morning to get my QSO. So that's not all that bad. -30-

Tuesday, October 26, 2010 9:22 PM - Another late 80 degree day today as we got into the warm wedge between a warm front and a cold front this afternoon. The cold front was an interesting one. It had a very narrow line of heavy rain and wind right along it which essentially held together and looked pretty much the same on radar all the way across Ohio into our area here in western Pennsylvania. I wish I had a time lapse radar picture of its entire journey so you could see exactly what I mean. Generally such a system varies in intensity and shape on its travels across country. This one kind of looked like it was frozen in time with the Earth just rotating underneath it. Very interesting to anyone with an interest in meteorology. Some of the neighbors were expecting something that lasted longer, but I could tell from the narrowness of the line and the speed it was travelling that it was only going to put on a very brief show which it did. I don't have an anemometer to measure wind speed, but I would say when it passed, the wind must have hit 50 MPH or perhaps a bit higher, but again only for a very few minutes, maybe 3 or 4. It was accompanied by a very heavy but brief downpour.

Besides that, I had another interesting (I use that word a lot, don't I? I'll explain after this story) experience today. When Nancy and I were walking Joe this afternoon before the rain, I looked down and saw an old beat-up coin on the ground. It looked like a penny, and when I picked it up, it was a penny. However it was, of all things to find in 2010, an Indian Head penny which haven't been minted in 101 years. It was hard to see the date at first, but after I looked at it for a while, it looked like maybe 1909 or 1899. After we took Joe on his porch, I came over here and checked it with a magnifying glass. It was 1899. In too poor a condition to be worth anything especially since that particular year was not a rare issue by any means, but still a thrill to find a coin that old. It's strange no one else picked it up as it was right in the middle of a sidewalk. Here's how we think it may have gotten there. The sidewalk where I found it was right next to an alley, or I should say it crossed the alley. Now the alley had a new gas line and a new sewer put in it over the past 6 weeks or so. Probably the penny was buried in the ground and dug up by the gas or sewer workers. Then it laid in the alley undetected till someone without knowing kicked it up on the sidewalk. Or it could have just laid on the sidewalk so beat up and dirty it didn't stand out enough for anyone to see it. As for me, I look down a lot when I walk and check out any round objects I see in case they are coins. I save all the money I find that way, and every once in a while I count it up to see how much I have. I haven't done that for a while, and don't remember the last figure now, but I think it was something like $20.00 in coins that I've found. Today's find was by far the oldest though.

Oh, about interesting - I guess I'm just like a kid who is filled with delight every time he observes something new or different. I find things like that.... well, interesting, so I justifiably use the word a lot in conjunction with the new or different things I seem to run into very often. Perhaps that's why I very seldom get bored here except for days very few and far between like the one the other day when I got to talking about writer's block.

No writer's block tonight. Just the opposite, it seems. HI.

I got two mW QSO's this evening. The first one was from someone in some kind of sprint or contest. I guess the action in the contest was slow, so he answered my CQ to get an extra QSO. He never did ask for any info from me though, just mentioned he was in a contest and said a quick 73. Probably whatever contest it was wasn't getting the great participation we get in our NAQCC sprints. Anyway, it wasn't all that satisfying a QSO, so I went for a second one after that, and Rich K8UV answered my CQ and we had a little longer QSO. -30-

Monday, October 25, 2010 10:04 PM - I worked another good DX station this evening - not with 930 mW, but with 5 watts. H74LEON on 30 meters for a new prefix. My mW QSO was with Gary N2ESE who answered my 80 meters CQ.

Today was quite a contrast to yesterday's sunny 80 degrees. Today it was a rainy 62 degrees at best. The rain was a pretty steady rain from about 10 AM to 6 PM or so. It was tricky getting in Joe's 3 walks. I took him around 9 AM before the rains came, and about 6:30 PM after the rain had just stopped. The in-between walk around 2 PM came when the rain slacked off a bit, but was still raining lightly. Joe is not too fond of the rain, but once he gets his mind made up and goes out in it, he seems to get along OK.

Not too much else to talk about this evening. I spent some time today working on the NAQCC newsletter which 'goes to press' this Friday. That's another place for "writer's block", but with the somewhat fixed format of the newsletter, that's not much of a problem. It does require a bit of effort to keep saying the same things over and over again when describing our sprint or challenge results, talking about our slow-speed net, and so on. Still I find writing the newsletter does flow more smoothly and consistently than writing this diary. -30-

Sunday, October 24, 2010 10:15 PM - Summer made an encore showing today. We got up to 80 degrees which isn't all that common at this time of year. We have had a few 80 degree days in November, but they are quite rare once we hit October 20th or so. So it was a nice day for walking which I did to the tune of some 8 miles or so. I also did a little cleaning up in the yard and garden. I picked a few tomatoes and about 10 peppers. I took out the pepper plants that didn't have any more peppers on them. They had flowers, but it's way to late for them to develop into peppers. My tomato plants all have tomatoes on them except for one Siberian. It does have flowers and I'm thinking of potting it up and bringing it inside just as an experiment to see if I can get the flowers to develop into tomatoes. Maybe I can pick a fresh tomato around Thanksgiving or even Christmas. My late cousin's late husband did that one year. He's the one who got me started with the Siberian tomatoes.

Last night it was across the pond for my mW QSO. This evening it was just across town so to speak. I worked Tom WY3H after our NAQCC QRS Net this evening. That leaves just 6 days to go for the mW streak to reach a half year. You know, except for some contests and sprints, I haven't had all that many QSO's since May 1st in which I used more than my 930 mW. I'm sure I've had more mW QSO's in that time span than in all the rest of my ham 'career'. I'll have to check that some time. Well, maybe right now since it is so simple with my Microsoft Access log. Back in a minute or so. Nope, I'm wrong. Before May 1, 2010 I had 477 mW QSO's (<1 watt) and since then 247. A lot of the pre 5/1/10 QSO's came in our NAQCC mW challenges and sprints in 2007-2009. Before 2007, I had only 195.

While I was getting ready to write the diary entry doing some NAQCC work on the computer, I got a little visitor. Joe came up on my porch after he and Bruce came back from a walk. Bruce said he and Joe were sitting on their steps, and when he asked Joe if he was ready to go in, Joe ran over here up on my porch. So that made me feel good and helped to close out a good day.

Oh, can't close without saying this, "How about my Oakland Raiders today!!" They put up 59 points against Denver. That's the most points they ever scored in their 50 year history. Hopefully that's one of the signs that they are going to turn around their poor performance the past 7 seasons and once again become the power they were in the NFL from 1963-2002. -30-

Saturday, October 23, 2010 10:05 PM - I got some DX for my mW QSO this evening. I worked EG8FPT to continue the mW streak. It also turned out to be a new mW country for me raising my mW DX entities to 35 now. I probably could have a lot more, but I haven't really worked at it recently, and never really worked that hard at it. For a long time I didn't have the capability to go below 5 watts until I built my RF attenuator to get me down to 930 mW for some of our NAQCC mW challenges. Now that I do, when the sunspot cycle kicks into gear, perhaps I'll try harder to increase the total. It would be nice to get a mW DXCC, and I know that is very possible with a little effort and some time to do it.

We finally had another fine fall day today with a high of 74 under mostly sunny skies. It was nice to be able to be outside without a jacket. Actually it was warmer outside than inside, and I had to wear the jacket inside, but take it off outside.

I forgot to mention this yesterday, but I had another early Jupiter sighting. I saw it just after 6 PM while most of the hill to my east was still bathed in sunlight. The sunlight didn't move up and off the hill till some 15 minutes later. Here's a picture of what the hill looked like just after I spotted Jupiter. The arrow shows about where Jupiter was although the picture didn't capture the image of Jupiter itself. There wasn't enough contrast between planet and sky although it was very apparent in binoculars.
pix_diary_20101023_01 (49K)
With Jupiter rising about 4 minutes earlier and the Sun setting about 2 minutes earlier each day, I hope to be able to spot Jupiter when the Sun is illuminating even more of the valley here, perhaps even when it is hitting my house. By catching Jupiter as it rises, the horizon makes a good reference point for finding it. In the open sky, it is even hard to spot much brighter Venus without a reference point. -30-

Friday, October 22, 2010 10:36 PM Well, here we go writing late at night again. I said I'd make some comments on the comments I got yesterday.

I'm sure Larry is right about December being a busy month. Some folks just don't have the 'right' priorities, and put Christmas, family, parties, etc. ahead of our NAQCC sprints. Can you imagine that? It's hard to believe.

I guess you know that I'm kidding, but just in case you don't, well I am.

Geo suggests getting political. No thanks. I want to stay alive a while longer yet. I find his comment about a lull in conversation every 14 minutes interesting, and thinking about it, it does have a lot of truth in it.

I like Brion's comment about the fish being bigger next year. I heard from another person today that the fishing wasn't very good this year here. That's 3 or 4 people who have said that, so perhaps this was a good year to not go fishing as often as I usually do.

I don't think Tim is extreme at all with 4 or 5 hobbies. We all need to keep active as we get older, and hobbies are there to take the place of the job we had during the working part of our lives. I have more than 4 or 5 here and normally one, a couple, or several keep me busy each day. But there are some days even with all the interests that aren't all that great.

I had a good one today though. Spent a good deal of time with Joe. When I went over to see him today, Nancy said he wasn't feeling well and had thrown up. She had to go out, so I just kind of hung around with Joe till she got home. Whatever it was, he recovered quickly and was his normal self not long after I went over, but I stayed anyway, and we took a walk and played with his toys.

Later in the day, I helped Ange tear down the garden. The only thing remaining now are the pepper plants and the fig trees. We'll probably take out the pepper plants tomorrow, but the trees will have to wait for their burial until they lose their leaves.

It looks like we might have a frost tonight. It's crystal clear with almost no wind and already at 11 PM down in the upper 30's. So I covered my tomato and pepper plants to try to squeeze a few more days out of them as it is supposed to be quite warm starting this weekend and continuing most of next week. -30-

Thursday, October 21, 2010 9:20 PM - I had a very nice QSO this evening with Phil W8OZM, and we got to talking about dogs. He has 5 dogs, and of course I was telling him about Joe. I mentioned that I'd post a picture of Joe in the diary tonight if there wasn't one here already. I wasn't sure because as the regular readers know, I only keep something like the past 30 days entries active here before archiving them on my SkyDrive site. Well Phil, there is a picture of Joe here if you scroll down past the first dog picture (which is NOT Joe) to the second dog picture which is Joe. That's in the entry for September 29.

My rambling about writer's block, boredom, etc. a couple days ago drew some comments as did my sprint analysis of yesterday.

I'm just going to post them here without comment and maybe add my comments on their comments tomorrow.

"John, I think it means in general, that in December, people are busy with preparing for the Christmas season. Shopping, decorating, Christmas plays, pageants.... There are also parties, visitors, etc.... I know for myself, that once Thanksgiving comes, that means a very busy upcoming month with not a whole lot of time for myself. If that's true for enough of us, that would explain poorer numbers for that month. Larry W2LJ"

"You're not getting any older than rest of us John......You just have nothing to say. Someone once told me that during a conversation, about every 14 minutes or so there is always a lull. Go with that and I'm sure you'll spark some comments for your diary......hi hi Maybe you could get political......That always produces dialog.... Or take a few days off. Anyway, whatever you do, enjoy the day...........geo n1eav"

"Hi John: Look at it this way---------- The fish you didn't catch this year, will just be a little bigger next year. And, I never had Writers block. I don't sit down to write unless I have something to write about. ----- But of course for you its different, you have a deadline. Keep up the good work, its appreciated. I haven't missed a day of your Dairy since I started reading it, about 1 1/2 yr ago. Keep healthy. Brion VE3FUJ"

And from Tim KD8GZ in my guestbook, "John...The reason I rarely get bored is I have 4 or 5 hobbies. As much as I love ham radio, it doesn't take up 100% of my leisure time. Maybe I'm a bit extreme with 4 or 5 hobbies. But, it does keep things fresh and interesting for me! Do not dispair. We love reading your daily diary...even though every day isn't totally exciting in our lives. Like they used to say in A&P Grocery store advertising: "everyday's not a Weee-oh" -30-

Wednesday, October 20, 2010 8:33 AM - Maybe if I do these entries earlier in the day when I'm not so tired, I can come up with some more interesting things to talk about.

For example, I was just finishing up the stats for our NAQCC Sprint after adding a late log from one entrant. I got to looking at my results for our 72 sprints so far, and noticed that every December I seem to do poorly. I figured my average number of QSO's for each of the 12 months of a year and they turned out as follows:

Dec 14.7
Oct 23.4
Jan 24.0
Nov 26.4
Feb 27.8
Mar 30.2
Aug 30.5
Jun 32.0
Sep 32.0
Jul 33.5
Apr 38.3
May 41.3

Then I wondered how that order compared to the total number of QSO's in our cross-checking master log for each month of the year. In other words was my poor performance in Decembers unique to me or was it just that Decembers as a whole are poor months for our sprint. Let's find out.

Dec 351.2
Nov 474.6
Feb 482.5
Mar 504.3
Jan 517.5
Oct 574.5
Jul 602.7
May 715.0
Jun 723.7
Aug 743.8
Apr 764.0
Sep 806.3

Looks like December is just a poor month in general. Let's rank (1=worst,12=best) my months by number vs. overall months in general:

Month Me Ov'all Diff
Jan    3     5   -2
Feb    5     3   +2
Mar    6     4   +2
Apr   11    11    0
May   12     8   +4
Jun    8     9   -1
Jul   10     7   +3
Aug    7    10   -3
Sep    9    12   -3
Oct    2     6   -4
Nov    4     2   +2
Dec    1     1    0
So it looks like I do better than average in May, Jul, Feb, Mar, Nov. Worse than average in Oct, Aug, Sep, Jan, Jun. Break even in Apr, Dec.

What does it all mean? I'm not sure, but it was fun to figure out, and easy with Microsoft Excel. One interesting point is that I do worse than average in Aug, Sep, Oct - three months in a row. That may have something to do with our surge in participation in Apr 2010 through October 2010. The average total QSO's for those 7 months is almost double the average for all previous 65 months. More folks with bigger and better antennas are entering now. However in that time, May and Jul are my two best months vs. the average. When you think about it, that makes sense also, as there are more stations for me to work. So maybe all those 7 months I should be above average?

Perhaps best of all, this little demo just goes to show that you can pretty much analyze stats in any way to make them come out the way you wish. Also that they can sometimes confuse things more than clear things up. Still they do make some points very clear as well, such as showing December to be a poor month for our sprints anyway you choose to put it. -30-

Tuesday, October 19, 2010 9:23 PM - Didja ever get writer's block? Sometimes I sit down to write my diary entry and things just flow like the river during the spring thaw. Other times it's like there's an ice jam on the river and nothing is flowing. Tonight I think it's an ice jam night, but I'll try.

I do hate to keep writing about the same old thing over and over again because that tends to get boring very quickly. But then, if nothing new happens that day, then the day itself can also be boring.

I've not done much fishing at all this year, and it will wind up being my least productive year since I started fishing again in 1992. There really have not been all that many clear nights for stargazing, and often when we do get a clear one, I just don't feel like dragging out the scope. I wish I had a place for a small observatory of some kind so I could pretty much keep the scope set up for viewing at any time. But just like I don't have any room for experimenting with my ham radio antennas, I don't have room for an observatory either.

So that kind of cuts out two subjects I could talk about here in the diary. The weather is another topic to discuss, but that subject can get exhausted rather quickly unless something really unusual happens like a 90 degree day in October or snow in May.

Even ham radio itself has limits of things to talk about without reaching a boring stage. Since I'm now at 209 DX entities worked, a new one to talk about doesn't come along very often. Except for our NAQCC sprints, I haven't done much contesting at all, so nothing to talk about under that topic.

Maybe all of this talk is just about getting old. Maybe that's what happens when one does get old. Maybe I'm getting old here. Yep, that's probably what is happening. -30-

Monday, October 18, 2010 9:46 PM - I finally managed to break through and get one of the PJpedition stations. I haven't really had all that much time to chase them so that sentence may give the wrong impression that I'd been trying and trying and trying. Actually, I probable have spent less than 10 minutes total time trying, so I guess that sentence is wrong.

After I got my mW QSO on 80 with N2ESE, I decided to check out 30 meters for the PJ's. I found one (PJ4?) weak, and he QRT or QSY shortly after I found him. So I looked around some more and found PJ6A AND the station he was working, so I knew where he was listening. I waited through about a half dozen or so stations, and finally got to enjoy hearing my call come back from PJ6A with the usual 599 report. I sent TU 599 599 and put him in my log. I haven't really followed the PJ story much, and now I've got to see just which of the new entities it is I worked. I'll do that as I pause typing here..... Looks like there are 4 new entities that came out of the situation and the one I worked is Saba/St. Eustatius. With a couple days to go yet, maybe I'll get one or more of the remaining 3.

So that topped off another busy day. I have the sprint results finalized. I'm tabulating the anniversary stats as they come in from our ops. I've got my N3A log off to Rick AA4W for processing our certificates and QSL's. Still have to get my log off to the QRP ARCI for my N3A operation in their Fall contest.

So with that all nearing completion, maybe I'll have some quiet peaceful days coming up. Nah, something will happen, and it'll be a different kind of hectic with this or that.

Oh, as promised, N8LA had the Party Line answer, and I think it was Paul N0NBD who asked about it. Can't find his email now - must have gotten deleted in the madhouse known as my email inboxes. -30-

Sunday, October 17, 2010 10:07 PM - I'm right in the middle of 3 projects right now and also have to walk Joe shortly. The projects? Cross-checking the sprint logs, wrapping up our NAQCC anniversary event, and working on my QRP ARCI log. I didn't think I was going to submit the ARCI log, so I was a little careless with it and have to give it a good going over before I send it off.

I will take a moment to answer the Party Line question since one person asked about it, and another had the right answer. 1961 was the last year you can turn the digits upside down (actually rotate it 180 degrees) and it stays the same. The next year you can do that with is 6009. I'll credit the folks who emailed in tomorrow's entry. Got to get going now. -30-

Saturday, October 16, 2010 10:02 PM - Where does the time go? A famous question that applies to our NAQCC Anniversay Celebration. Seems like I just started it by working WA2TDL at 0000Z October 11, and now there are only 22 hours left to go of the week. It was a rough week, but I think when the final totals are in, they will be something to be proud of even if they may not come up to previous anniversary celebration stats.

I'm having fun wrapping up the week with a modest effort in the QRP ARCI contest. My one hour so far provided 20 additional QSO's for N3A, and I plan to do a few more hours here and there tonight and tomorrow.

Those hours will come in-between visiting with and walking Joe. That has priority over other things the next couple days. He was really good today and quite frisky playing with his toys and moving along good on the walks plus, of course, eating snacks, dog food and people food. He does a lot of eating and sleeping, but then what else is there for a dog to do? They can't get on a computer, read books, or partake in other activities that humans can do. That's one reason I like to just spend a lot of time with Joe. He seems to enjoy that as I do. I'm glad he's so active this time with Bruce gone. Usually he kind of mopes and just watches the door waiting for Bruce to come home when he's away.

A lot of folks have astronomy as a second (3rd, 4th, etc.) hobby according to my last poll, so you should be interested in this. I spotted Jupiter virtually in daylight today. It rises at this point in time just when the last rays of the sun are hitting the hill at the place it rises. That is down in this valley here the sun sets behind the hills to my west and you can watch the sunlight creep up the hills to my east as it sets. Jupiter rises just as that sunlight illuminates the last 50-100 feet of the eastern hills. Since I know the point it rises exactly, I'm going to see if I can find it with even more of the hills illuminated, and maybe even stretch it to the point where I can see it with the sunlight still hitting my house. That would really be neat. Of course Venus is easy to see in the daytime, and I've seen Mars in the daytime when it was near the moon which was a guide to the planet. I can't recall if I've seen Jupiter before in daylight or not. -30-

Friday, October 15, 2010 9:14 PM - I had another good hour of operating N3A again today. Made me wish I'd had more time to use N3A so far, and wish I could get some more time the last two days. I made 7 QSO's on 7040.5 in-between two QSO's on 7040.0 and 7041.0 in 50 minutes until a PJ station showed up and kind of took over.

It was otherwise a good day also. Pretty good weather except for a couple short showers. Bruce is away for a couple days, so I'm walking Joe 4 times a day today and the next couple days. I always enjoy that.

We're now at 104 logs received for the sprint and stil almost 48 hours before the log submission deadline. I'd like to get a few more before then. We won't break our record, but 110 or more sounds like a nice number. Maybe we can make that. -30-

Thursday, October 14, 2010 10:50 PM - I just posted my new poll. It's one that was suggested by David AI4VA. I hope you'll make him happy by casting a lot of votes. As they say in ...... (won't mention the city or I'll get in trouble), vote early and vote often, living or dead. Well you can't do that in my poll, since my poll provider has some way of limiting it to one vote per person.

For the seventh straight month, we topped 100 logs received for our NAQCC sprint. I didn't know if we'd make it this month because of the PJpedition. Then on top of that, QRN was terrible in most of the country. However our wonderful members didn't let that stop them and responded with 102 logs so far with still 3 days left to report.

I finally got the chance today to operate N3A some more. I put it a little over an hour and a half and made 7 QSO's. Nothing like a contest rate, but it was satisfying, and hopefully made a little more publicity for the NAQCC. -30-

Wednesday, October 13, 2010 11:13 PM - Yet another busy day processing sprint logs, new member applications, anniversary skeds, etc. Then a computer club meeting this evening. I just got my mW QSO a few minutes ago. After posting AF3Z's N3A sked for 11PM, I went looking for him and found Jim for my QSO. So that's one less thing to do in the morning.

Right now I can't even think of anything to talk about, and I'm about ready for bed after posting a couple more things. -30-

Tuesday, October 12, 2010 11:34 PM - A very busy day today with NAQCC work plus a shopping trip and a couple of Joe walks. Walking Joe made for a couple restful interludes as did the shopping trip.

Looks like another successful sprint with 47 logs received in the first 70 minutes after the sprint. I wonder if we'll hit that magic 100 log mark again this month.

That's about it for this entry, except I did get one lonely email about the Party Line question. I guess either everyone knows the answer or it's just that no one cares. I was going to answer it, but just now I decided to wait another day yet out of curiosity. In fact this is just coming to mind as I'm typing. I'll wait till one of you gives the answer. Go back and read the end of the October 9 entry below for the question if you need to. -30-

Monday, October 11, 2010 9:14 PM - Mike and I felt very ignored at community park today. Only a QSO with Joe KD2JC kept our operation from being a total 3 hour shutout. Conditions seemed quite good, but no one wanted to work N3A for whatever reason. When I worked Joe, he was 599 and gave me a 579. I was running about 1.7 watts output with an SWR of 2.2:1 at the time. On 20 meters, I was using about 2.3 watts and and SWR of 1.3:1. Mike was putting out 5 watts with an SWR of 1:1. We really can't figure out why we didn't do better. There was very little PJ DXpedition activity to ruin the bands. It was very discouraging, and almost disgusting. The only saving grace was the beautiful weather, a great lunch from Subway, and the fun we always have together despite the situation. Anyway thank you very much Joe, for preventing the shutout. -30-

Sunday, October 10, 2010 9:45 PM - This was a hectic day with last minute details of our NAQCC Anniversary week-long celebration to be taken care of. Also another nice weather day not to be wasted, so I was outside a lot. Didn't get to go fishing but did get in about 8 1/2 miles of walking and helped Ange with a little garden work. As a result, I didn't make any more QSO's in the PA QSO Party. I did manage to check the bands to see how the PJ DXpedition was affecting them. I listened in the 2100Z hour and about all I heard of the expected chaos were a couple pile-ups on 30 meters. I didn't hear anything on 40, 20, or 17 meters. It was kind of surprising to hear so little activity. Probably it will be worse tomorrow when Mike and I go out to the community park for our portable N3A operation.

I operated N3A briefly this evening and my first couple CQ's drew an answer from WA2TDL, but that was pretty much it. I tried working N4A on 40 meters being operated by K0NWT in GA, but I don't think it really qualified as a QSO, as conditions were very poor. Then I did have a good 2xN#A QSO on 80 with N2A operated by Tom KA2KGP.

I also had to fill in as NCS on our NAQCC QRS Net for Tom WY3H who wasn't feeling good. The net was very slow as skip seemed quite long with poor signals. Only N0AZN and KA5TJS checked in, but got lost in QSB and QRN before there was much of an exchange of info.

I think that's the first time I ever used 3 different calls in an hour (N3A, N3AQC, and K3WWP), and only once did I start sending the wrong one (K3WWP for N3AQC).

What's that? Oh, you say I was going to give the answer to the Party Line question in yesterday's diary entry. Well, I said I'd only give it if someone emailed and asked me for it. That hasn't happened (yet?). -30-

Saturday, October 09, 2010 9:03 PM - What I'm going to say reminds me of a question on "Party Line" with Ed and Wendy King almost 50 years ago now.

Today (UTC) or tomorrow (EDT) something will happen that will only happen two more times after that in this 21st century. I'll let you think about that while I talk about a couple more things. Then I'll give the answer along with the Party Line question and answer.

Today I had a tough decision to make. I couldn't decide if I wanted to get in the PA QSO Party or spend a lot of time outdoors enjoying some 80 degree weather in October. Enjoying the weather won out. I only made one QSO (for my mW and regular streaks) in the PAQP. I'm sure I could have really done well and been in demand as possibly the only fixed station from Armstrong County. My friend Dave VA3RJ who keeps up with all such things said there was only one listed operation from my county on the PAQP reflector, and that was a brief visit from a mobile. I still may get on later tonight or tomorrow and try to give out some Armstrong QSO's although it is supposed to be beautiful weather again tomorrow, and there won't be all that many nice days from now through April or so. I might even go fishing! Who knows.

Today I walked some 11 miles and worked on starting to clean up my garden. That's one chore I don't like, not because it's so hard or complicated, but because it's a harbinger of the nasty weather that is on the way. I'd much sooner be planting in the sprint with the delight of late spring, summer, and early fall to look forward to.

Still having a tough time spotting Comet Hartley 2 here in the brightly lit town. I've had a couple tentative glimpses of what I thought was the comet, but I'm still not sure. I did take the scope out last night and even that didn't help to find it. I guess I'll have to wait till it gets a little brighter or find a dark sky site. Bruce (Joe's "daddy") and his brother Jeff got to see some nice things through the scope though. I showed them the Ring Nebula, the Double Cluster in Perseus, and the yellow/blue double star Albireo among some other objects. The highlight though, I think, was the transit of Io across the face of Jupiter. I just love seeing the tiny pitch black circle where the shadow of a transiting satellite falls on the planet. It looks just exactly like the period at the end of this sentence.

I'm sure many folks are figuring their lives are going to change for the better if they work the PJ DXpedition stations, or for the worse if they don't. They'll be glued to their rigs the next few days.

Me? - I know my life is not going to change one way or the other if I work or don't work them. If I happen to casually come across one in a lull in what is sure to be a huge pileup, I may try to get a QSO. However that's about the extent of my plans. I'm more concerned about how the DXpedition is going to affect our NAQCC anniversary celebration week and especially the sprint in the middle of the week. We may have to adjust some frequencies to find some that the DXpedition is not outright hogging.

What's happening tomorrow (EDT)? It's the tenth triple digit date this century - 01/01/01, 02/02/02, etc. through 10/10/10 tomorrow. Only November 11, 2011 and December 12, 2012 left this century.

The Party line question - what happened in 1961 that won't happen again till the year 6009? Well, that should be pretty obvious, so I don't think I need give the answer unless someone emails and asks me to. -30-

Friday, October 08, 2010 8:38 PM - This will be a short one. I want to get the scope out to see the transit of Io in a few minutes.

A busy day today. The usual early morning computer work, then I took Joe for his morning walk. Next up was helping Ange prune his second pear tree. That took about 5 hours including a meal at Wendy's afterward. Time then to post the NAQCC newsletter, get in a walk to enjoy the nice weather. Then I just got my daily mW QSO from John KQ1P up in Maine. Now got to get the scope ready. -30-

Thursday, October 07, 2010 10:09 PM - Mike KC2EGL and I had another of our project days today. First we took care of some NAQCC prizes business. If you don't know, Mike is the NAQCC Prize Manager who takes care of all the prizes donated by club members to be awarded in various ways.

After that we fixed up the final details of our portable antennas for our N3A operation from Kittanning Community Park on Monday. I'm not going to go into details here as the antenna project will be written up in a future NAQCC newsletter, probably the edition for Oct. 30. Then we can combine the project with the results of our portable operation into one story.

Of course we had our usual trip to the buffet at Ponderosa's. On the way there I experienced something I had never done before. Mike wanted to get his car washed so we went through a fully automated car wash. When I had a car, it was just get out the bucket of soapy water and the hose and go at it. Much cheaper my way, but more work.

Mike left in late afternoon. This evening I got a glimpse of Comet Hartley 2. Although it's fairly bright, its quite diffuse and the spread out light does not contrast much with the sky. That was just with binoculars. Tomorrow evening I think I'll get my scope out and see what the comet looks like that way. Also tomorrow night Jupiter's satellite Io transits across Jupiter's face and throws it's shadow on the surface. I always like to watch those events. I think the shadow on the planet is really neat. Looks just like a totally black little period like at the end of this sentence moving across the surface. -30-

Wednesday, October 06, 2010 9:35 PM - Kind of a relaxing day for a change. I spent quite a bit of time "dog sitting" with Joe. That's always relaxing. I even watched over an hour of a movie which is something I just about never do any more. Saw the last part of the Charles Bronson movie "Death Wish 5" while Joe was lying on my lap sleeping through most of it when he wasn't snacking.

I think Mike KC2EGL is coming down tomorrow to do some finishing up and checking out of our portable equipment for our N3A portable operation on Monday as part of our week-long celebration of the 6th anniversary of the founding of the NAQCC.

On Friday I'll be helping Ange prune his last pear tree.

Fortunately it looks like great weather for all three events with the rain gone and warm sunny weather settling in for the next several days. I even see one high (Sunday I think it was) predicted at 77 degrees.

Had a nice long rag chew mW QSO with Gary N2ESE this evening. He gave me a 579 for the first two rounds for which I stayed at 930 mW. Then being an official mW QSO according to my rules for the streak, I went to 5 watts and was 599 over in NJ. We had a good solid path for sure. He was 30-40 over on peaks with his QRO power there. -30-

Tuesday, October 05, 2010 9:54 PM - I think my current poll which has about 9 more days to run is going to be helpful to me, so if you haven't voted yet, I hope you will do so.

It is interesting to see what your other hobbies are, and it will guide me in what I discuss most often in the diary. As of now, computers is the leading hobby, followed by photography, camping, walking, astronomy. All of those are hobbies of mine also except for camping. Fishing is doing quite well in the voting also, and you know how I feel about fishing. Cycling, music, and pets have a good following also. I don't cycle and never have. I like listening to music, although I don't play any instrument. Pets in my case is singular - Joe. Other than a cat and some goldfish when I was young and a duck when I was very young, I haven't had much in the way of pets in between that and Joe.

Now I've got to post some more N#A schedules for next week's NAQCC anniversary operation. -30-

Monday, October 04, 2010 9:46 PM - It took a lot of doing (too much, in fact) to get my QSO this evening. The bands (well 80 anyway) sounded good, but no one wanted to answer my mW or even my 5 watt CQ's for almost an hour. Finally I made a QSO in the Spartan Sprint working W4VHH in NC for my mW streak QSO.

My how the activity in the Spartan Sprints seems to have declined the past couple years or so. I guess about the time they changed their format in a big way. Except for hearing W4VHH, I wouldn't have known there was a SP this evening.

It was cold enough today for my furnace which is set at 64 degrees to kick on a few times, so now the gas bills will be heading up again after being at a minimum since April or May. The lo and hi today were 42 and 52 which is the lowest maximum temp so far this late summer and early fall. Plus it was another drizzly overcast day for the most part which added to the gloom. However it looks like after we kick this persistent low pressure system up into the Maritimes and North Atlantic, we have some more nice weather coming later this week and continuing into early next week. Should be a lot of sunshine and temperatures in the low 70's. Hope it's that way at least for our NAQCC N3A portable operation next Monday. Last year it was so cold, we had trouble using the keys and we had to QRT earlier than planned. By we, I mean Mike KC2EGL and I. -30-

Sunday, October 03, 2010 9:41 PM - Today's weather was somewhat of a preview of the dismal weather of November and December. A lite cold rain much of the day under ugly gray overcast skies. Although the high officially was 56 from midnight, I don't think it got much above 50 or 51 during the day. Quite a change from just a couple weeks ago when it was 95 degrees under sunny skies.

We had a slow NAQCC net this evening, and I'm not referring to the QRS aspect of it, but to the very few check-in's. Just two, in fact - faithful Dick K1IEE and a newcomer (I believe) in Kieth WI0S. And yes, that's the way he spells his name, it's not a typo. Both had fairly strong to strong signals so I don't think conditions were that bad. I didn't really do much listening around 40 meters though. I was busy on 80 the half hour before the net getting my mW QSO of the day. I answered Dan KF8R there and we had a nice visit before I had to QRT for the net. It seems 80 is really living up to my expectations I mentioned in the diary some time ago. I figured it would be a good QRPp band starting sometime around the end of summer when everyone is convinced that the summer static is gone and they return to 80 again. Actually 80 is generally good in the summer except for the days now and then with the heavy thunderstorm static. However a lot of hams believe 80 is completely useless in the summer and avoid it like the plague. I do avoid it myself, but only because I know the habits of hams and they are more likely to be found on 40 than 80 during the summer, so I just go along with them. Perhaps I shouldn't, but I don't really have the time to waste trying to get someone on 80 when it is so much quicker on 40. -30-

Saturday, October 02, 2010 10:31 PM - Another nice rag chew (30 mins) for my mW QSO of the day with Mike WB2KKI on 80 meters. 80 is showing up more and more in my streak QSO table as we move into fall and head toward (ugh!!) winter. Better low bands is about the only thing I can think of that winter is good for. -30-

Friday, October 01, 2010 10:13 PM - Geo N1EAV enjoyed seeing his dog's picture in my diary.

We had a beautiful day today with a high around 70 and mostly clear skies with a few cumulus clouds, just like a mid-summer sky. I took advantage and walked around 13 miles total in 3 or 4 walks.

I just finished entering the September weather records in the computer. We had had another very warm month about 2.5 degrees above normal. Also some 'latest in the year it's been this warm' records with a 96 on the 7th and then a 95 on the 24th.

Still have some end-of-month - first-of-month things to do, but I'm pretty well done. Right now I'm going to get my September QSO's uploaded to eQSL and LotW. -30-

Thursday, September 30, 2010 10:30 PM - I got a couple responses to my comments about and picture of Joe in yesterday's entry. Let me share them with you before I talk about tonight's QSO's.

"Hi John, Thought I would drop you a little note in agreement about the life of Joe. Our little Arty has the same thing going on up here. It really is a dogs life. He is rarely left alone. He spends the days with me at work , and usually someones home when he is there. He is very loyal and loving. Loves to play and walk. We take him up to a local park that is very beautiful with lots of wildflowers,trees, a beach and a paved path about a mile long that goes around it. Dogs really have it made. It's nice to have him around here at work when things get busy and crazy. Kind of keeps me grounded and calm. Here's a picture of him. He is 9 months old and we have had him about 4 months. He is really a sweet dog. Hope all is well your way.........geo, n1eav"

pix_diary_20100930_01 (8K)

Hope Joe isn't jealous with me showing a picture of another dog in the diary.

"Hello John and it is great to see Joe. He certainly looks happy... Wx has been much more conducive to sitting at the radios for me. cul de Paul N0NBD"

I had two QSO's this evening, one with mW and one with 5 watts. Both were with NAQCC members. Thanks to Dick K1IEE for extending the streaks, and thanks to Dave AA3EJ for a great rag chew about QRQ CW. It was nice to send some semi-QRQ speeds of around 30 wpm with Dave. Also for me to reminisce about the 60's when I did quite a bit of QRQ work. That was fun, but now I enjoy working slower speeds and helping newcomers to CW. I think one of the best QRQ ops from the 60's was Joe K1WKW. He was a teenager (as were many CW ops in those days) and sent beautiful virtually perfect QRQ CW probably at speeds up to around 50 WPM or more. Remember that was with a paddle and keyer, not with a computer or keyboard keyer that many (but not all) current QRQ CW ops use to send at those speeds. There were other good QRQ ops back then also, but whenever I think back to those days, K1WKW comes to mind. I only ever had one QSO with him, but always enjoyed copying his CW when he was working some of the other QRQ gang members. Ah, aren't memories wonderful. -30-

Wednesday, September 29, 2010 10:17 PM - So little time, so much to do. You know, I really in a way envy Joe. He really leads a great life. He is totally loved, has no real responsibilities, no deadlines to meet, doesn't ask for much, and gives so much love. Just about the most relaxing times I spend these days are the times I hang out with Joe, either walking with him, giving him his food, or just sitting on the sofa, porch swing, or porch with him.

I suppose there are new readers of this diary who say, "Who the heck is Joe?" Well, here he is. This is my current desktop picture on my computer.

pix_diary_20100929_01 (102K)

It took a while to get my mW QSO this evening, and I jumped back and forth between 40 and 80 with no results till Dennis WD9DWE answered my CQ on 3558 and we had a solid 29 minute rag chew. He's also a NAQCC member.

Speaking of the NAQCC, it looks like I'm going to come up just one letter short of mastering our September chess challenge with mW QSO's unless I get on during the day tomorrow and work someone with a 'P' in their call. Too bad I can't work myself. I have mastered it with 5 watts QSO's thrown in, but I'd kind of like an all-mW completion if I can get that last 'P'.

And one other NAQCC item. We're having a problem with getting an op for N8A during our anniversary celebration week starting Oct. 11. The lone op who signed up from W8 land to op N8A seems to have disappeared or at least has never responded to any emails since he first signed up a couple months ago. So we desperately need someone to step forward to use N8A in our sprint that week and also to provide some other hours of air-time for N8A during the week. Perhaps a member from MI, OH, WV is reading this and will volunteer to help out? -30-

Tuesday, September 28, 2010 8:57 PM - After trying unsuccessfully on 40 meters for my mW QSO, I went to 80 and Gary N2ESE answered my 2nd CQ there. Gary and I have had many QSO's over the past few years and it's always nice to chat with him. With that QSO, the big streak is now at 5,900 days headed for 6,000. Thought I'd reactivate my counter above to count down to that day. I put the time as 12 noon on January 7th because if I make it that far I'm sure I'll have the QSO that day for sure by noon. So don't really pay that much attention to the hours, minutes, and seconds part of the countdown, just the days. The script could probably be modified to just display days, but I don't have time to do that right now. Or maybe I will look at it. HI. OK, disregard previous. It is modified. It was a challenge and I never back off from a challenge so I did it.

Now after that interruption I've kind of lost my train of thought as to what I was going to talk about. If you can, always stay young. Otherwise things like that will happen to you. HI.

Oh, now I remember, so I guess there is still some youth left in me.

Apparently I got a good idea from my diary entry yesterday, but I didn't realize it until David AI4VA pointed it out to me. He said in an email, "Hi John, I read your diary entry for Monday, 9/27 about making QRP contacts back in the 60s. Very interesting. You have just come up with a great question for your monthly poll. Something like:
Were you regularly making CW contacts using QRP power back in the 1950s?
Y __
N __
I know Ten Tec with their Power Mites and Argonauts increased the use of QRP and QRPp in the early 70's. Just an idea, but it is your idea. 73 and take care."

I cut them out to save space, but David had one question for each decade through the 70's. And no David, it's really your idea. I never would have thought of making a poll question out of my thoughts. However, I'm going to use it maybe with a few modifications for the Oct/Nov poll. So that will give folks a lot of time to think about their answers. -30-

Monday, September 27, 2010 9:46 PM - This was one of those days we were supposed to get a lot of rain, but once again our shields were up and we wound up with just .04 inches. The rain came up from the south and kind of split us here with a lot going over into Ohio, and most of the rest to the eastern half of Pennsylvania. The grass is really getting brown around here with the late hot and dry summer weather.

My mW QSO for the 27th came pretty easily early this morning (1250Z) when I worked K8TAO in Michigan. For the 28th it took a while but I finally worked N2DKB out in Indiana. The K8TAO QSO made the mW streak 150 days now. I'm beginning to wonder if it will be as easy to keep it going as it has been for the regular QRP streak. It doesn't really seem like much to make QSO's with mW power when I'm sitting there doing it. However when you reflect on it a bit, I think it becomes something to really wonder about. I wonder if it is mainly due to the better receiving equipment that exists everywhere these days. Is it because so many CW ops these days are true 'grizzled veterans' at working with this wonderful mode, and are expert at copying weak signals. Maybe a combination of both or perhaps there are other factors that enter into the mix as well. I honestly don't think it would have been as easy to do either streak back in the 1960's. I recall then it was hard sometimes to make QSO's with the 60-75 watts or so I ran back then. Or maybe my extensive experience as a CW op has something to do with it. Perhaps I've learned some tricks from the close to 75,000 CW QSO's I've made over a 47 year time span. Tricks like knowing what band, time of day, speed to use, etc. Like learning that the best pattern for calling CQ is alternating a short CQ with a short time to listen for a response over and over again till someone finds the CQ and answers. Learning how to exactly zero beat someone when I call them. Sending as near to perfect CW as possible. Oh, and just a flock of other little things that are so second-nature now, I can't even think what they might be.

My rambling above leads me once again to refute what some folks say about QRP success. They say it is 100% due to the receiving station. I disagree. While a lot of it is indeed due to the station doing the receiving, there is much the QRP operator can do to insure success as well. -30-

Sunday, September 26, 2010 9:20 PM - I just finished up being NCS for our NAQCC QRS Net, filling in for Tom WY3H. It was a very interesting net. Skip was quite long on 40 meters, and I had no close-in check-in's at all. Basically all were from about the same distance, I would guess. Well, you figure it out. Here's a list of the states and provinces that had check-in's. NE, GA, AL, FL, MO, IA, NS. All signals at the start of the net were quite strong, but the band seemed to go out about 15 minutes or so into the net. QRN and QRM were horrible, and there wasn't really a lot of info changed beyond checking in, getting an RST, and later saying 73. Still I enjoyed it.

I still need my mW QSO for the day. Of course I used our club call N3AQC at 5 watts for the net. After the net though, I did work Don K3RLL with my call of K3WWP for my main streak QSO. I guess the mW QSO will come tomorrow morning some time.

Now I've got some email from some of the stations who checked into the net, so I'm going to end here and take care of that. -30-

Saturday, September 25, 2010 9:27 PM - I've made a couple changes on the web site I should tell you about here. I added a QRP rig or rigs to my QRP Rigs page. They're a group of transceivers from the Genesis company in Australia. Along with the listing, KE5YUM submitted a brief review of the 20 meter version.

My bad luck with the solar picture on my propagation page continued as yet another picture that should have been updating wasn't. Ron K5DUZ pointed out it hadn't been for several days now. I decided to try something a little different, and now on the propagation page you'll find a movie of the sunspot activity on the sun for the past 48 hours that is (supposedly and I hope so) updated every 30 minutes. We'll see how that works out. It's a rather neat little movie showing subtle changes in the sunspots as the frames from the 48 hours unwind. It only takes several seconds to play the movie, and it keeps looping forever.

My mW QSO tonight again came on 80 meters when AC8AP answered my CQ after quite a while. With the 'P' in his call, I only need one more station worked with a 'P' in the call to complete our NAQCC September Chess Challenge with all 930 mW QSO's. I do have it completed including some 5 watt QSO's, but I'd like to finish it with just mW QSO's also. -30-

Friday, September 24, 2010 9:30 PM - 80 meters is coming back into play. 5 minutes of CQ's on 3559 got me an answer from K4FOY in VA. Turns out that Dave and I worked before a little while ago - July 5, 1965. I thought his call sounded familiar and I thought he was an early USACA contact so I looked in my old USACA book and there he was. So I dug into my QSL drawer and pulled out his QSL. We had a nice long solid rag chew talking about the old QSO. Kind of like a time travel event in a way.

Dave had to leave as his XYL was due home, so after we signed, I tried another couple CQ's and was answered by a ham in NC. It was a very short QSO as I think he just wanted to show off his 800 watt rig. Yes, 800 watts. He was 30 over S9 here and gave me a 449 RST.

Anyway 80 meters is working well again, and I hope that makes my mW QSO streak a bit easier now with 2 bands available for a while, at least until 40 starts going very long by the time 0000Z rolls around. -30-

Thursday, September 23, 2010 9:09 PM - Well, my mW QSO came very easily this morning as I hoped in yesterday's diary entry. Only 2 CQ's netted a QSO with KC9ICT that lasted some 20 minutes. Then this evening it took a little longer to get the QSO, about 10-15 minutes, but once gotten, it lasted over a half hour. I had a very nice solid chat with Dave WK8V in MI until 40 meters suddenly dropped out on us.

Right now I'm off to put the finishing touches on the latest NAQCC newsletter which I'll be posting sometime around noon or so tomorrow.

We had another hot day today with the temperature hitting 90 degrees again, but with more humidity today that made it seem even warmer. In fact I was surprised to see the high was only 90. I was expecting to see a 94 or maybe even 95 from the way it felt. Tomorrow is supposed to be the hottest day of this brief late summer, early fall heat wave, so maybe we will see the 94 or 95 then which I believe would be the latest in the year for so high a temperature. I know we had temps in the very low 90's the first week in October a couple years ago, but I think, without checking to be sure, it only hit 91 or maybe 92 then. -30-

Wednesday, September 22, 2010 10:11 PM - Looks like for the first time since September 3, I'll have to wait till morning to get my mW QSO. Just couldn't get any answers to my mW CQ's, and the couple stations I called didn't hear me. So I went to 5 watts and did get my QSO for the big streak when Ken WA8REI/P answered me.

So I've got my my little purple 'sticky note' with the word QSO on it by the computer to remind me I still need the mW QSO for the 23rd. It shouldn't be that hard to do - at least I hope.

When the moon gets a couple days past full and the skies are clear I plan to try to see Comet Hartley. It's supposed to brighten to naked eye visibility over the next few weeks. It will make a quite close approach to Earth during that time, and in fact will make one of the closest approaches of any comet in the past few centuries. Rather than me quoting everything here, I'll just put a link to the Sky and Telescope article about the comet. -30-

Tuesday, September 21, 2010 9:19 PM - Summer is taking a final curtain call. It was 89 degrees under bright sunny skies today. Sure felt good.

It took a while to get my mW QSO this evening, but after some 25 minutes of trying, Dave AI4VA came along and answered my CQ. We had a good 15 minute QSO. After that I went to 30 meters and worked FM5LD with my mW fairly easily. I'll have to look to see if that may be a new mW country for me. Nope, not a new one. Still at 34 mW countries. I'll have to get back to doing mW DXing. I hadn't done any at all from the time I got my TS-570D in 1999 until I built my little RF attenuator a couple years ago. Even since then I haven't done much because the attenuator is only hooked in to be easily used from 160-30 meters. It does work on the higher bands, but only with my attic random wire, not the higher band dipoles. Someday.... -30-

Monday, September 20, 2010 9:02 PM - I actually went fishing for a while today. I think that's the first time since August 6. Only got a few light bites on some red worms. I think it was just some sandpike or other similar size small fish. Nothing at all on my peanut butter bread. It was a beautiful late summer day so it was pleasant sitting there at the river even without the co-operation from the fish.

My mW streak reached a gross of days this evening. I thought I'd do a little analysis of the 144 days of the streak here in the diary just for something different.

Total number of QSO's - 210
QSO's from my CQ - 126
QSO's from contests - 32
RST's received:
599 - 43
589 - 4
579 - 32
569 - 24
559 - 36
549 - 10
539 - 5
529 - 1
509 - 1
499 - 1
479 - 2
469 - 1
459 - 7
449 - 14
439 - 2
429 - 2
359 - 1
349 - 1
339 - 9
229 - 1
none - 13
Number of states worked - 31
VE provinces - NL ON PE QC
DX worked - 8P 9A DL HI CO VE W
QSO's by band:
80 - 11
40 - 177
30 - 16
20 - 6

That should give some idea of the effectiveness of QRPp. Some factors need taken into account. I didn't do much contesting. I didn't really try for such things as WAS, DXCC, etc. I just took the QSO's as they came. I stuck mainly to 40 meters. Had I tried, I could have increased my state total, probably to the upper 40's. I also could have gotten many more DX entities if I had spent more time at it.

All in all, I've learned from the streak that there really isn't a whole lot of difference between 5 watts and 930 milliwatts. It is just a little harder making QSO's with 930 mW, but really not all that much.

In case it sounds like I'm ending the mW streak, I'm not. This is just kind of an interim report. I have no intention of ending either the mW or QRP streaks. It will take something beyond my control to end them. -30-

Sunday, September 19, 2010 9:27 PM - Another easy mW QSO this evening. Only took a couple minutes of CQ's before Al KB3JPP across the state of PA from here answered me, and we had a good solid QSO for 20 minutes. And he joined the NAQCC just after our QSO. We could probably have talked longer, but I had to run to check into our NAQCC QRS Net. We only had 4 folks there tonight - NCS WY3H, me, WM4X, and ever-faithful K1IEE. As I said to Tom on the net, must be everyone is watching Sunday Night Football. HI.

About a half hour ago, I finished cross-checking, correcting, and posting the final results from our NAQCC sprint last Wednesday evening. As you know, we topped the 100 logs mark again for the sixth month in a row now with 118. I saw 178 different calls in the logs from 40 states, NS, ON, and SK. All figures down a bit from last month, but still just great. -30-

Saturday, September 18, 2010 9:49 PM - Today was a take it easy day after the past few hectic days. I helped Ange pick some figs after some computer work to start the day. Then I did a little shopping, came home and just hung out with Joe for almost a couple hours. We took a couple walks in that time, and otherwise mostly just sat on the porch watching life (such as it is) go by. I also went for a couple long walks myself.

I also worked on the Tut 80 rig to try to cure its drift problem. Don had sent me some suggestions that were posted on the Internet which said the cause of the drift was the trimmer capacitor which was the wrong temperature compensation. It was suggested to either replace the trimmer or add NP0 capacitors in parallel with it to reduce the capacitance provided by the trimmer to the very minimum so the bulk of the capacitance would come from the fixed NP0 capacitor. I took this second approach and added a 20pf NP0 disc capacitor into an empty 'slot' on the PC board next to the trimmer. Then I checked the VFO for drift and found it was greatly reduced from 500 Hz in 20 minutes or so down to less than 50 Hz in an hour or so.

Then later in the evening I checked it out on the air, and fortunately ran into good friend Gary N2ESE whom I could count on for an honest report on the rig. He said other than being slighly off of zero beat (still got to practice zero-beating with that rig some more), the rig had a good clear note and did not drift at all, staying stable in his 200 Hz bandwidth filter.

So all-in-all it was a good and restful day. Oh somewhere in-between the stuff above, I also pulled some weeds and grass from the brick sidewalk between my and Joe's, I mean Nancy's house. Doing something like that is always relaxing for me. Some physical exercise, but mental rest.

Got my mW QSO right at 0000Z from W1QK in the CT QSO Party on 40M. Then made a QRP Afield QSO with WQ1RP with the Tut 80 and the Tut 80 QSO with Gary. -30-

Friday, September 17, 2010 10:04 PM - Things are finally slowing down a bit. After 112 logs, they're down to a trickle now. However in a couple days I've got to start work on the Sep 25 NAQCC newsletter. Also the log cross-checking process has to be done as soon as all the logs are in Sunday evening.

I was just checking a couple days ago, and it's been since August 6th that I've gone fishing. That has to be (other than winter) the longest period I've gone without fishing in many years now.

I had my first regular streak(s) QSO on 80 meters in quite a while this evening. It'll be great to have 80 available for the coming months now as the summer static goes away. Actually I had two nice mW QSO's this evening on 80 meters. Both were solid copy 20 minute QSO's. In between I went to 40 and grabbed a mW QSO in the CT QSO Party. -30-

Thursday, September 16, 2010 10:29 PM - Whew, this was a super busy day, and as soon as I get this posted and a couple other little things done, I'm going to relax and listen to an old Fibber McGee and Molly radio show.

In addition to processing 108 NAQCC Sprint logs last night and today, Mike KC2EGL was here most of the day and we worked on putting together a couple of portable antennas we're going to use for our NAQCC N3A Sixth Anniversary operation on Columbus day next month. That will be written up in a future NAQCC newsletter with detailed instructions in case you might want to duplicate the antenna(s) for your portable operation.

My mW QSO came quickly tonight (thank goodness) when Fred KA4RUR in St. Louis, MO answered my CQ after just a couple minutes or so. We had a nice solid QSO. -30-

Wednesday, September 15, 2010 10:53 PM - A pretty good sprint this evening despite the horrible QRN on both 40 and 80. I struggled to the tune of 42 QSO's in 17 multipliers, and I'm sure I missed a few others who were just too far down in the noise to pull through. Sorry about that. Got to get going and post some scores now. Over 30 logs already in during the first half hour after the sprint. -30-

Tuesday, September 14, 2010 7:05 PM - I just posted my new poll on the main page of the web site. I thought I'd do something different this time since I think I've pretty much exhausted all the ideas for a poll involving QRP/CW in the 133 polls I've done so far. If you can think of something involving QRP/CW that hasn't been explored in any of the 133, let me know. Just keep in mind that the polls must have a certain number of definite answers (around 20 at most), and can't be an essay type of question that has an infinite number of different answers. That makes it a bit hard with some ideas, but that's the limitation of the poll structure.

Tomorrow evening is our monthly NAQCC sprint. I hope to work you there and that you will be one of a new record number of folks who submit their log. Remember 135 is our record now, so it will take some doing. However even if you only make 1 or 2 QSO's, and submit your log, you are automatically eligible to win a prize in a drawing among all participants, no matter how many or how few QSO's they make. -30-

Monday, September 13, 2010 9:33 PM - This was kind of a take it easy day after my busy weekend. I did quite a bit of walking both by myself and with Joe. Everyone next door was working today so I kept Joe company as much as I could. I wound up with almost 14 miles walked today. That's the most I've done in quite a while now. The weather was just about right for long walks, neither too hot nor too cold.

I also fooled around on the ham bands a bit this afternoon. There wasn't much to be heard, but my mW CQ on 40 meters netted a nice rag chew with Larry W2HHV in NJ. Then this evening my mW QSO came fairly easily and was another nice rag chew, this time with Craig WA1HEW in PA. After that I worked one of the many Route 66 special event stations W6O in MO. Couldn't quite get him with mW, so I went to 5 watts and had an easy brief QSO.

I heard from Matt MW3YMY (NAQCC EU Chapter Pres.) that the first NAQCC EU Chapter sprint went well today. More details on that later. -30-

Sunday, September 12, 2010 5:56 PM - Tom and I had a good time at the Butler Hamfest (Swapfest) today and saw several NAQCC members there. Let's see if I can remember them all. N2COD and his brother KA2KGP were there set up selling some parts and equipment. We also saw KG3W who is looking to become active again on the air. There were AA3LX and AA3YW from the local area, Butler and Sarver respectively. The ever-present at local hamfests Bob WC3O naturally was there. It was nice to visit with all of them. AA3LX donated a couple items to me which I am going to use as NAQCC prizes in his name.

I found a third link to some of my old pages. This one goes back to the time (2000) when I had a mirror site on QSL.net:

Link 3 - http://web.archive.org/web/*/http://www.qsl.net/k3wwp/

Now if I can find or remember (ha!) my old GeoCities URL, we may have a complete range of years from 1996 to present. Remember I said Link 1 below probably won't work for you. I'm pretty sure of that now. It has something to do with a robots.txt file which discourages webbots from scanning certain pages. Alexa which does the scanning for the Internet Archive strictly honors robots.txt files, and I believe I did have a robots.txt file on some of my pages at one time, or it may have been placed there by alltel.net. Mike KC2EGL also said Link 2 didn't work for him, but I just checked now again, and it works for me as does Link 3 I'm just posting now.

Well, I found my old GeoCities URL (http://www.geocities.com/CapeCanaveral/3852"), but the pages from that URL are from a site that took over my URL after I dropped my GeoCities site. So I guess I don't have copies of the first few years of the web site unless I have them archived locally here on my massive CD archives. I seem to remember the GeoCities address did change once, and if so perhaps I'll find a slightly different GeoCities URL in a paper copy of my older Keynote columns. I updated the web site version of the columns with my new URL as it changed. I'll keep looking.

Hope you don't mind me taking you along on my detective work here. Now I've gone back to the Keynotes when I first started my QRP column there and found my GeoCities URL was always the same as above, so that lead died out. And that's the end of the work for now. -30-

Saturday, September 11, 2010 10:19 PM - This was a busy Patriot Day for me. So busy I didn't even get the chance to fly my flag on the porch as I usually always do for patriotic holidays. After doing my usual morning computer work, I helped Ange water the garden starting around 9 AM, then went with him to his house and we spent the next 4 1/2 hours pruning one of his pear trees. That took me to just around my supper time after some more computer work. Then I did some of tomorrow's work since I'll be at the Butler hamfest for most of the day tomorrow. After that, I got my daily QSO, temperature readings, checked with Tom to see when we would be leaving tomorrow morning, and now I'm here writing the diary. Whew!

Now to tie up some remaining loose ends, then head off to bed. -30-

Friday, September 10, 2010 7:59 PM - Because of my comments being published in the ARRL Propagation Newsletter by Tad Cook and my link being in the NAQCC newsletter notification email, I've had a flood of visitors today. Although many have already come and gone, I'd like to welcome those who will still show up as they read their emails. I hope you are reading this diary entry and will find many useful things on the web site.

As it says on the main page of the web site, this site exists primarily to show just what can be done using CW at QRP levels with simple wire antennas in not that great a location. I've heard from many hams over the 14 years (hey, it just dawned on me my site had it's 14th anniversary a couple days ago) this site has been around that because of the info here they decided to give HF CW QRP a try from their apartments, antenna restricted dwellings, etc. and found it works and works well and they are now enjoying real ham radio again instead of just yakking on those walkie talkies or handhelds or whatever those things are called.

I hope if this is your first visit here, you'll drop by often and explore everything. Perhaps you are one of those apartment dwellers I just mentioned and will be encouraged as they were to give it a try.

My goodness, with all the NAQCC work, etc. my site's anniversary just slipped right by me. Yes, the site started on September 8, 1996 mainly as a means to describe the history of the CW County Hunters Net that was started 30 years earlier by WA8EOH and me. It soon grew to much more than that and became a showcase of, well you know - CW QRP and simple wire antennas and what can be done with them on the ham bands. So now I'm in the 15th year of having this web site and will have to modify the banner at the top of this and all pages to reflect the change.

For anyone who has an interest in history, you may possibly be interested in seeing how the look of the site evolved over the years. You can do that at the Internet Archive. However in checking just now, I don't seem able to access the older pages at link #1 which went back to 1996. Link 2 seems to still work, but only goes back to 2003.

Link 1 - http://web.archive.org/web/*/http://www.alltel.net/~johnshan/
Link 2 - http://web.archive.org/web/*/http://home.alltel.net/johnshan/

Anyway I've got to be going now, so I'll have a little more about the web site history in one of the entries from the next couple days. Got a busy weekend coming up. -30-

Thursday, September 09, 2010 10:35 AM - Here's the link I promised to the hamfest this Sunday - http://www.w3udx.org/Activities.htm

Just got the mail and in it was a QSL from 4O3A which confirms Montenegro as my 201st QRP DX entity. -30-

Wednesday, September 08, 2010 10:04 PM - It seems we always make these announcements near the last minute, but Tom WY3H and I plan to go to the Butler, PA fall hamfest this coming Sunday, the 12th. If you're from (and/or in) the area, we'd love to have an eyeball QSO with you there. I'll try to have a link for more info in the diary tomorrow. Now it's late after a computer club meeting and I've got to get going.

Thanks to Dave NF0R who provided my mW QSO for the 9th after about 15 minutes of calling CQ. I was just getting resigned to having to get my QSO in the morning when Dave called. -30-

Tuesday, September 07, 2010 9:09 PM - Still looking for those stations to finish the NAQCC chess challenge. Also I re-worked the challenge with only my mW QSO's and need a couple more extra letters to finish it that way.

The mW QSO came pretty easily this evening when I worked Mike WB9DLC after about 5 minutes of CQ's. After we finished though, I couldn't get a second mW QSO, and couldn't even get one at 5 watts. But at least the streaks are still going strong.

We had another hot day today. When I looked at the maximum reading, it was a toss-up as to whether it was 95 or 96. I figured I'd round it off up, so now September 7th is the latest in the year we've hit 96 degrees. It's still quite warm at 82 degrees out in front of a cold front that's coming through in a couple hours. Tomorrow will be another day with a high around 70 or so. Actually the 82 current temperature will be the 24 hour maximum. The daytime high will be the 70 degrees. -30-

Monday, September 06, 2010 9:15 PM - Needing to work 3 stations with a 'P' in their call to complete our NAQCC September alphabet chess challenge, I thought I'd get in the MI QRP Sprint and try to work maybe N4BP, K9PL, and the like. However there was very little activity in the sprint so I just tuned around and found a strong S51V calling CQ near 7030 kHz. I turned up the power to 5 watts and worked him without too much difficulty. Then I went to 30 meters and heard a strong CO6RD calling CQ so I went back to 930 mW and worked him easily for a solid QSO.

It was now only 10 minutes past 0000Z, so I thought I'd hang around a while even though another day had been added to both my streaks already. I went back to looking for P's in the MI Sprint. I didn't find any but I did make 3 mW QSO's and also almost a fourth one in the Sprint. KA5S just could not copy my power even though I sent 930 mW more than a dozen times. The closest he came was 300 mW?? I guess from the looks of the weather radar there is some storminess up in MI and I guess QRN might be pretty bad there when trying to copy a QRPp level signal. I might go back and look around some more. The sprint doesn't end until 0300Z. Although there doesn't really seem to be all that much activity, unlike our NAQCC sprints of late.

Oh, I posted a picture of my latest key setup on the Station Pictures page in the main section of the web site. Those of you interested in keys, and I guess that applies to anyone reading this diary, probably would like to see my new Begali keys along with a couple others I have set up now. I was glancing at the other pictures there and I really should do some more updating to them. I don't even have a picture of the 480 there as far as I could see with the quick glance I took. -30-

Sunday, September 05, 2010 7:48 AM - I want to get caught up on some feedback today, then I'm off to do my every-5-day check of the FCC database for NAQCC member data updates. I appreciate those who notify us of changes, but not all do, and I like to keep our database as accurate as possible.

Paul N0NBD asks about fishing. Well, I have done very little this year. The least since I started again in 1992. I mentioned a while ago in the diary the sad state of the river bank here in town. With only a couple places easily accessible for fishing, they are usually taken up when I head down there, so I've kind of given up even trying. I've only got 22 fish in 20 trips this year.

Don VA3BOW emails, "Hi John, I have an interesting CW quote for you. It comes from WC4X BICYCLE MOBILE. Ned is active on HF and VHF and still favours CW. He said CW is "the only direct digital input to the human brain." This quote came from an article in the July & August 2010 issue of TCA The Canadian Amateur by Garry Hammond, VE3XN. The article was titled DX'ING WITH HAMMOND REMINISCING and centred on mobile stations. By the way, that quote is at the bottom of WC4X's QRZ.COM bio. I thought you might like to use this quote some day. '73 Don VA3BOW"

That is so true and the reason I prefer CW over all that other digital stuff. I get to use my brain with CW, not my computer.

Bob N7BDY emails, "Hi John, Just dropping by your website and checking in as I do every so often to read the mail. I was curious what keys the group picked out for you .... they made an excellent choice and you deserve it for all the hard work you put into this site. I use an old Nye Viking, a Junkers, or a Soviet TK hand key that I swap around. You know, after being licensed since 1964 I've never moved up to a paddle or keyer yet LOL. And I have one. Am I lazy or what? haha. I just like pecking along at 12/15 wpm maximum, and I like to encounter newbies to CW to talk to. Its hard for them to find low speed ops to practice with sometimes, altho there are some around 7.115 that take the time.
Was sorry to read that Jack Horkheimer passed away :( I used to watch him almost every night on PBS when I lived in Southern CA. I'm a VERY amatuer stargazer myself and sorry to see him go. He introduced a lot of people to astronomy and to "look up" at night.
As usual .... your site is always interesting and a very pleasant read . You take care and will check in again soon. Bob Tadlock N7BDY (ex WD6GLA)"

Yes, a lot of FISTS operate around 7110-7115 and all FISTS members are always courteous and encouraging to newcomers to CW. As you all know, I'm proud to be a FISTS member as well as a NAQCC member, of course. Our club activities are excellent for CW newcomers.

Here's another email from Don VA3BOW that has been sitting here for a little while, "Hi John, You did it again. You got me interested in being a ham radio operator several years ago and I studied and got my license. With a couple of TV towers, a good vertical antenna and a few dipoles I was having a lot of fun. Then as I mentioned my wife got sick, died and I moved to a condo for health reasons. This situation limits my ham operation tremendously. You, and your wonderful web site, have got me interested in picking up the hobby again.
When you went to the Community Park with Don K3RLL and told us about the 33' sloper working two DX stations on little more than 2 watts I got interested in a possible portable operation.
I am a member of FISTS but not a NAQCC member. I was waiting for my CW proficiency to improve before joining. Then the trouble, mentioned above, started and my time in the hobby went to zero. A few days back you told us about Tom presenting you, on behalf of NAQCC, with a Begali straight key and a Magnetic Classic dual lever paddle. I own a Begali Simplex and just love it. Unfortunately it is packed away at this time. You are encouraging me to bring it out and brush up on my CW especially after your glowing review saying "I absolutely love it (the Magnetic Classic).
The picture of you and Tom presenting you with your "beautiful present" was priceless. Your smile says a thousand words. I wish I could have had the opportunity to contribute to this gift.
A friend and fellow ham told me about the MFJ Super Hi-Q Loop antenna for apartment use. I checked it out and it has some good reviews, even though it is expensive. This would make regular ham operation from my condo apartment possible. I did some research and ran across Alex Krist KR1ST from Ladson, SC. He is also a QRP operator, although he uses SSB and not CW. With his home made magnetic loop and at no more than 5 Watts he has been able to work Europe, Asiatic Russia, the Caribbean, South America, North America, and West Africa. In total he has been able to work over 80 countries with only 5 Watt SSB and this antenna. Alex gives instructions on building his home made magnetic loop on his web site at www.kr1st.com
Now I am really interested in the possibility of getting back into ham radio. Many hams are getting older and having to move into an apartment or condo with limited antenna possibilities. Have you heard of any better antenna for apartment use than the magnetic loop?
Congratulations on your 16 year streak with CW, low power and simple wire antennas. You have encouraged the use of CW more than anyone I know and really deserve the gifts you received. You have got me interesed all over again.73 and God bless, Don VA3BOW"

That's my reward for all the things I do to promote CW. Bringing someone to know the delight and joy of CW. That's better than any material gifts. That's why FISTS and the NAQCC are so great as that is what they do also.

David AI4VA wrote a while ago, and perhaps I did mention it, but he would like to see a page on QRPp operation on the web site here. I think I will do that sometime if I ever get time, although QRPp isn't really much different than QRP at 5 watts, and the same operating practices apply to both for the most part. You just need a little more patience at QRPp.

Well, better get to that FCC database check now. -30-

Saturday, September 04, 2010 9:31 PM - Sometimes it's incredibly easy - kind of like my QRP or QRPp gets a KW/beam mentality in its ease of making QSO's. First this evening I worked Joe N1NUH up in CT. I answered his CQ. After we signed, a single CQ netted my second QSO of the evening with Stan WB2LQF in NY. Stan had almost the same setup as me. He was running 1 watt to an attic dipole. So that was a 2XQRPp QSO and a 2XAttic Antenna QSO as well. After finishing with Stan, yet another single CQ was answered by Art WA3BKD in PA. He was running 5 watts. After that I just wondered if it could be possible to get a 3rd straight single CQ mW QSO. You know what, it was. This time my long time friend Ken WA8REI answered my 1 CQ. Ken and I chatted for quite a while. He had a recent setback in his recovery from a stroke a couple years ago, but is on the mend once again and planning a new antenna as well as a trip to MN later this month. OK, I really had to QRT after that long time on the air, but I just had to try for a fourth straight single CQ QSO. However it didn't happen, so I did QRT to get my weather readings and get this diary entry typed up.

Yes, if folks are on the bands, QRPp does work, and work well. Keep that in mind when you tune around the bands. If you don't hear anyone, try some CQ's. Perhaps it will only take a single CQ to come up with a nice QSO.

Oh, after our high of 96 yesterday, It only hit 70 degrees today. And I was a bit over on my estimate of the number of 96 degree high days we've had in September. I thought there were several, but I checked and there were only 4 of them. Yesterday and the day before as well as Sep 1 and 2 back in 1973. Thus the 96 yesterday was the latest in the year it has been that warm here, at least in my 52 years of record keeping. -30-

Friday, September 03, 2010 9:45 PM - It looks like 96 degrees is the best we'll ever do here in September. We hit that figure again today before the cold front came through. Now it's down in the 60's at about 65 degrees, and that's supposed to be about the high for tomorrow.

The cold front came through with a flourish today. Some of the strongest winds I've seen in some time. With everthing being so very dry, it looked something like what a good sand storm in the Sahara must look like. The dust just blew everywhere as the strongest winds came before the rain started. It even did something I had never seen before. I have tilt-in windows and the one in my shack/bedroom blew in at about a 60 degree angle to vertical and I found a light coating of that very fine dust on just about everything in the half of the room nearest the window.

The wind also did some damage to Ange's garden, but nothin serious. One bean pole blew down along with one tomato stake. A few small branches were scattered about here and there, and surprisingly the low to the ground zucchini plants took a beating.

We wound up with just under a half inch of rain. Well-needed rain, but we could have done without the wind.

It took a while, but the mW QSO came this evening when W4NHO in KY answered my 40M CQ. He was using the same rig as me, the Kenwood TS-480SAT. I don't often work many of them. I used to work quite a few 570's when I used that as my main rig. -30-

Thursday, September 02, 2010 9:19 PM - I just finished about an hour of fruitless CQ's. The bands sure sounded deserted this evening, so I guess once again I'll have to spend some time tomorrow morning trying to extend the streaks another day. It'll be nice when the summer QRN dies down and 80 becomes more useful in the evening. Then I'll have a couple good bands to work with.

We tied the warmest September day since I began keeping records here back in 1959. It hit 96 for the high temperature tying the record that has been set several times in those 51 years.

I got kind of energized by the heat and got a lot of things done today. After tying the temperature record I did a little maintenance on my weather station. I also picked about 350 hazel nuts from the trees near Ange's. Then we watered his garden this evening after picking figs earlier in the day. I watered my garden earlier in the day. I also did some grocery shopping, but then I do that about every other day. HI. And I also did some checking out of my TUT 80 rig. Add to that my other usual routine doings, and you can see I had a busy busy day. And with that I close this entry. -30-

Wednesday, September 01, 2010 6:29 PM - I'm surprised no one commented on Tom's article in the latest NAQCC newsletter about one of our newest members, AB3EAR. I know a lot of NAQCC members read this diary and probably saw the article, but no one said a thing about it. I think Tom was a little disappointed.

If the bands sound dead, don't you believe it! Don't just listen, call CQ. I did that on a 'totally dead' 30 meters a while ago and was rewarded with a great rag chew with Roger KO5Q up in WI. My 5 watts was solid copy the whole way, as was his 150 watts. Bands are, for the most part anyway, only dead if you make them so by only listening and not transmitting. If everyone only listens, hey I'll guarantee they'll be 'dead'. -30-

Tuesday, August 31, 2010 6:51 PM - 'Tis said a picture is worth a thousand words, so here are 4 thousand words about our portable operation on Sunday with a few more words of explanation at the end.

pix_diary_20100831_01 (21K)
pix_diary_20100831_02 (48K)
pix_diary_20100831_03 (72K)
pix_diary_20100831_04 (76K)

The first picture shows how beautiful a day we had and also Don's multi-band inverted V dipole on a telescoping pole. You can also see one of the mobile whips to the left of the pole.

Next is our 30 meters position with Mike's KX-1, my Bencher paddle, my headphones and log page. Underneath the table is Mike's portable power supply which we also use when stargazing at Community Park.

Next it's me while trying to work Rick AA4W and also look somewhat good for the picture. Working Rick was successful, looking good, well...... I wanted to get the promo in there for the NAQCC so there would be no doubt what club the portable operation was for, but the hat didn't fit well over the large headphones I was using at the moment. The yellow rig is Don's Hendricks PFR-3. A nice little rig but with a bizarre method of tuning using tiny toggle switches to tune up and down in frequency instead of a knob.

Finally it's Mike - I guess he's sitting there calling a stream of CQ's waiting for an answer. Or maybe he's playing computer games on his laptop. :o).

I believe Mike has some pictures also including one of the three of us. The first two above were taken by me, the last two by Don. -30-

Monday, August 30, 2010 9:13 PM - One solid hour of calling CQ with no responses this evening. Where is everybody. Afraid of digital signals around 7040? There's still plenty of room for us very narrow band CW signals. C'mon, don't give up the ship. I refuse to. I'll stay around 7040 forever.

Mike, Don, and I didn't make many QSO's at the park yesterday, but we had a lot of fun not making them anyway. I think we had 7 QSO's all told among the three of us. Let's see if I can remember. There were 2 QSO's with Rick AA4W, 1 each with Chuck W8LQ, Dick K1IEE, Chuck WA1IIE, K0BJ, and an IK5 whose suffix I forget now. Rick was running just 300 mW for his two QSO's on 40 and 20. The three of us ran somewhere around 3 watts with 2 KX-1's, and a PFR-3. Antennas were a 40/30/20 dipole, an end fed wire and a couple mobile whips. We've gotten some emails from folks who listened for us, but propagation at the time didn't cooperate. Also we got started late because the spots we had planned to use were taken and we had to hunt another spot to operate from. So if you listened between about 1800 and 1845Z, we apologize for not being there in that time period. I guess we stayed around until 2030Z or so. I didn't really note the time we tore down. Maybe some pictures tomorrow. -30-

Sunday, August 29, 2010 8:36 AM - Another early entry today. There was a typo in the info about our portable operation today at Community Park. We'll be there starting at 1800Z, NOT 1400Z.

Mike and I had another good stargazing session last night, especially before the moon came up. We saw perhaps 30 or so Messier objects, Jupiter, Uranus, and Saturn. I continue to be impressed by the GoTo scope with one big exception. It seems to be quite difficult and time-consuming in setting up the alignment. Actually it was even more difficult last night for some reason. When setting up on the first star, which happened to be Arcturus, the scope aimed itself quite far away. The last time we tried it last week, it pretty much put Arcturus right in the finder scope. The second and third stars were closer, but still required quite a bit of tweaking. Then we had to re-align a couple times due to bumping the scope or apparently a little problem with the gears in the drive. We are going to investigate the gear problem. There were a couple strange noises coming from the drive, so we shut down a bit early. Still it was a great session despite the problems. I'm sure we'll get things figured out about the gears and the big discrepancy in finding the first alignment star.

A little more feedback about the keys now.

From Brion VE3FUJ, "Hi John: That is a nice pair of keys you were presented with, on behalf of the Members of NAQCC, I hope you will use them for a very LOOONG time, and that I will get a chance to listen to them a time or two. You really deserve every bit of them. CHEERS."

From Larry W2LJ, http://w2lj.blogspot.com/2010/08/naqcc-does-itself-proud.html which is a link to his blog item about the keys.

Thanks Brion and Larry and every one of the conspirators. -30-

Saturday, August 28, 2010 8:33 AM - I've got kind of a busy day coming up concluding with the stargazing with Mike this evening. So I'm writing this entry early in the day as you see from the date/time stamp.

I was playing around with the TUT 80 late yesterday afternoon. There were a couple of stations on 80 then so I think I have the zero beat and RIT figured out on the rig. I tried a few CQ's but didn't get any response. I then put it away again and thought I'd see what was on 20M. I worked a couple of nice prefixes there in DL60DARC and AM7VCE. The DL60 was a new one. EU was booming in just like it did up at community park with Don last week.

As I mentioned, I've gotten a lot of nice emails about the keys, and have been hesitant to share them here as they are a bit embarrassing to me. However I think perhaps I should anyway since you took time to send them. So here we go without comment on my part other than thanks to each sender.

This actually went to Tom who forwarded it to me. John N0EVH, "Tom, Great to see the photo of John with his gifts from the club in the news letter. Thanks for making that happen, I know it took effort to coordinate and get it done in a timely manner. I ran into John on the air the other week and could not ask him about the key, since I did not know when you were going to do the presentation! So I kept the secret!"

It was good to hear from Baltasar EA8BVP again. It had been a while. "Hello John,.....I've been reading your diary and I realized that you reached "the first 16 years streak" CONGRATULATIONS!!!......Ah! I see you liked the keys. Tom and you are very good OM and deserve everything because of your work trying to keep NAQCC Club and CW QRP alive and well. On the other hand, I look forward to the first NAQCC Eu Chapter (Matt) first activity. I will be very nice to entry in a NAQCC "sprint contest" early in the evening. Hear you on bands John!! un saludo."

Bob KB0TUA, "John, It was nice to see your photos today. Congratulations - well deserved. Of course, we are all in anticipation of the upcoming review of your new keys. Keep up the good work."

Paul N0NBD, "Congratulations John, those are beautiful keys! You work hard for the group and deserve the recognition... THREE CHEERS TO JOHN!"

Carl N5XE, "John, Many thanks for all your hard work in keeping CW alive. No one is more deserving of the small tokens you have received from NAQCC members. Keep up the great work and hope to hear you on the new paddles and/or key. 73 for now and CU on the bands...."

David AI4VA, "John, Congratulations on receiving the new keys from the club! They really look nice, and I hope you enjoy them for many years to come. We really do have a great club. I also wanted to let you know that I appreciate all you do for the NAQCC, and QRP Ham Radio. I know it takes a great deal of your time. Your FB web site has been a tremendous help to me over the years. It is a great source of information on QRP and CW operations. Keep up the good work, and I'll see you out on the bands!"

And something from Paul N0NBD about bug weights and the TUT 80, "Hello John, I was reading about ur bug taming efforts. U might send ur friend to this site. Building a extendadot looks pretty simple by just extending the weights beyond the end of the bug... may help...http://www.extendadot.com/. I built a TUT 80 last year and love it. It will be fun for U to play with. How are the new keys working... Like smooth as glass I imagine.... have a good one" -30-

Friday, August 27, 2010 3:25 PM - I just learned this morning that Jack Horkheimer passed away. Many of you will probably say, "Who?". Those with an interest in astronomy may know the name. Jack hosted a little program on PBS and the Internet that was designed to get the "common person" interested in the goings-on in the sky overhead. Each show was about 5 minutes long and explained some celestial event in simple language that anyone could understand. The show was originally called "Star Hustler", then changed to "Sky Gazer". Those of you who watched the show or those who may want to know a little bit more about it can click here for an obituary or here for the Sky Gazer web site.

Just another reminder to look for NAQCC members K3WWP, KC2EGL, and K3RLL operating portable with their own calls on Sunday, August 29 1800Z to ?? on or near 7040, 10116, 14060. There might even be a special certificate for those who work all three stations. That's not definite yet. -30-

Thursday, August 26, 2010 11:04 PM - Tom WY3H was just over here. We were putting together some last minute things for this weekend's NAQCC newsletter. As a result it's a bit late now and I still have some other things to get done before bed time, so just a couple comments for today.

I tried out the Ft. Tuthill rig briefly today. At first when I tried transmitting I thought it wasn't working. However I found out the problem was in the homebrew SWR meter in my old tuner that I plan to use with the rig. I guess it gathered so much dust in the attic that quite simply, the meter needle stuck. Once it freed itself, it worked very well as does the TUT '80. I still have yet to use it on the air. I studied the manual on how zero beating works, and I think I understand it now so I'm ready to give it a try. Incidentally I can see now why I so often get called by folks off frequency. If they are using something similar to the TUT '80, zero beating can be a bit confusing with the direct conversion and RIT setup. -30-

Wednesday, August 25, 2010 9:10 PM - Don K3RLL stopped by this evening on his way to the local FAWA club meeting and dropped off the full documentation for the Ft. Tuthill 80M rig. So I can read it and learn how to zero beat with it. It's a Direct Conversion rig and I've never played with any of them before.

I also heard from Mike KC2EGL with a little more info about our portable operation on Sunday. So among the three of us it's pretty well settled that we'll shoot for about 2 PM EDT (1800Z) Sunday afternoon near the QRP frequencies on 40, 30, and 20 meters (7040, 10116, 14060). So give a listen for us using our own calls. We have yet to decide who operates what band. Or perhaps we'll just skip around so we each get a shot at each band. -30-

Tuesday, August 24, 2010 9:25 PM - As promised, a picture of my bug with the fishing sinker on it:

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Note the sinker is somewhat further back on my bug than on Don's. In this older picture taken not long after I got the bug, the sinker is sort of lying down. I've since cut a deeper slot in it and it stands upright now at the same position. I never figured out the speed reduction exactly, but a rough estimate would be it slows about 5-10 WPM.

I received several comments about the keys I was presented. I thank each one who sent comments. It's a little embarrassing to see the fuss made over the presentation, but that doesn't lessen my appreciation in any way. However I'm not going to share the comments here in the diary, but will keep and treasure them personally.

Bob KB0TUA was interested in my review of the keys. I've only used them a couple days now, but feel I can comment on them.

The straight key is the Begali Blade key. My first impression of it was that the knob was quite high from what I am used to. However it took no time at all to get used to it, and with that I would have to agree with the statement on the Begali site that it is perhaps the ultimate key. Sending with it is absolutely effortless. It is so heavy that there is no problem at all with it moving around on the desk, especially since the force to close the contacts is so light. Appearance-wise, it is beautiful to look at, as is (are?) the paddle(s).

The paddle is the Magnetic Classic. I always though the Bencher paddle was the ultimate in performance, but I think this paddle outperforms it in smoothness and feel. It is virtually a 'touch' paddle. There is so little motion in the handles, it actually does feel like touching them rather than pushing them is actuating the contacts. Using magnets rather than springs along with the superb craftsmanship is the reason for that. I absolutely love it. Although it may be like comparing apples and oranges, it is my favorite of the two overall in a very close race.

Oh, and here's a picture of the Ft. Tuthill 80M rig Don gave me.

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Monday, August 23, 2010 7:39 PM - I promised some more pictures.

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Top is a view looking west from the community park as Mike and I were setting up for stargazing. Bottom is Mike's scope just about ready to start our observing. We didn't include ourselves in the pictures as we didn't want the flash to ruin the dark adaptation of our eyes. I think you can tell it's a great dark site for stargazing. There is just one not too bright streetlight as you can see in the right half of the picture. Also you can see from the first picture how very flat and unobstructed the horizon is. The white dot in the sky is the planet Venus.

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That's me operating Don K3RLL's KX1 at our portable operation at the same community park the night before the stargazing. I wish I had a picture of Don to add here, but I didn't take my camera, and he had only the pictures of me from his phone or camera.

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When Don was here Sunday morning before going to Skyview, we talked about bugs, and he said he had trouble slowing his down. I showed him the fishing sinker on mine that did the job. His had a round arm though, rather than the flat arm on mine so the way I put the sinker on mine wouldn't work. At any rate, I gave him a couple egg sinkers, and it turned out that enlarging the hole in one of them allowed it to slip nicely on the arm as shown in the picture. He said it slowed it down somewhat, but not quite enough. It wasn't possible to get his as far towards the end of the arm as I could get mine.

That's the end of the picture show for today. I'll try to get a picture of my bug with the sinker on it and post it in tomorrow's entry. Now I'm off to the shack to play with my new keys and get my QSO of the day. -30-

Sunday, August 22, 2010 7:39 PM - Today's NAQCC gathering at the Skyview Radio Society turned into quite a surprise for me. I knew Tom WY3H had something up his sleeve the past month or so, but I didn't know it would culminate at our gathering today.

It seems that Tom asked each of our NAQCC members to contribute $1.00 towards getting me a nice straight key to show appreciation for the work I do for the NAQCC. The response was overwhelming according to Tom, and if that was overwhelming, then my feelings about the matter would have to be described as OVERWHELMING!!! It's hard for me to even talk about it, but I do want to put the facts down here briefly. Then Tom will have more of a write-up about it in the next NAQCC newsletter.

If you were one of the ones involved in this little secret plot of Tom's, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. The keys (yes, there was more than one - but I'm getting ahead of myself) are mere material things, but the way you feel about what I've done for the club is the real reward that will be remembered along with Frank KB3AAG saying at the little presentation ceremony that the NAQCC is the main reason he is so active on CW and enjoys it so much. That's the bottom line of why I spend so much time working for the NAQCC in all of its facets - keeping CW alive and well on the ham bands.

OK, I'm sure you're wondering about the keys. Because the response was so great, Tom was able to purchase two keys from probably the very top of the line key manufacturer in the world - Begali. One, the originally planned key, was one of the Begali straight keys. The bonus key was one of the Begali dual lever paddles. And on top of that, Tom says a third gift is coming in the form of an Appleby's gift card.

Those are the facts. If I was eloquent enough, expressing my appreciation would take up much more space, but I'm not, so simply again - Thank You Very Much Tom and all the co-conspirators.

Here are two pictures from the presentation. Unfortunately there were only 4 members present as it was sort of a last-minute thing without the opportunity for more advance publicity. I would love to have been able to thank more members in person there.

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The top picture shows me and Tom with the keys set up on the table. The bottom shows Frank KB3AAG (L) and Don K3RLL looking over my shoulder as I admire my beautiful presents. What a great day.

Now I'm off to get my first QSO with the new key and paddle in the form of checking into our NAQCC QRS net with Tom as NCS. I feel it fitting that he should be the first one I work with the keys.

I've also got some other pictures of other things like our star-gazing, portable operation, etc., but I will wait to share some of those till the next entry. -30-

Saturday, August 21, 2010 10:20 PM - Tomorrow as I mentioned, I'll be at the Skyview Radio Society with Tom WY3H and Don K3RLL for a little NAQCC QRP get together. Hopefully we'll have some other NAQCC members show up also. Or maybe we'll sign up some NEW members. That would be nice.

Three easy mW QSO's this evening for a change. VE3CGC and VE3MPQ both near Detroit, MI. Good solid QSO's. Only one CQ after finishing with CGC netted me MPQ, then after that, Tom WY3H tail ended me. -30-

Friday, August 20, 2010 8:35 PM - The mW QSO came rather easily this evening when Jeff WA3OZX in NJ answered my CQ after about 8 minutes or so. There was a lot of digital and fone crap around 7040 so I went down to around 7030 and tried there. Jeff was also using an attic antenna so it was a 2X attic, 2X QRP QSO as he was running his K2 at 5 watts.

Not a lot else going on today. It was another hot one. I'll probably find a high of 90 when I check the temp in a few minutes. It was a hot sun beating down, but somewhat of a breeze in the shade.

Looking forward to Sunday when Tom WY3H, Don K3RLL, and I head down to the Skyview Radio Society for a little QRP get together in conjunction with their regular swap shop. If it's convenient for you, I'd like you to stop by and say hello. If you're interested, email me and let me know and I can give you more info. -30-

Thursday, August 19, 2010 10:37 PM - I've got some diary feedback. Let's get to that tonight. Don VA3BOW asked about the 33' sloper antenna Don and I used for the portable operation. He thought info about it might be useful to hams in restricted antenna situations. So let me describe it a bit more.

It's Don's so I'm not sure just how long it is overall, but it's on a small reel, and we just reeled off about 33' which is about a half wavelength on 20 meters. The remainder stayed on the reel, so there was in effect a coil at the far end of the antenna. I threw Don's antenna raiser which is just a golf ball and a long piece of string over a suitable tree branch. Then hooked the reel onto the string and pulled it up so the wire was at around a 45 degree angle. The loose end of the antenna went into the output of Don's KX-1 with about a 4 foot counterpoise attached to the ground of the rig. The built-in antenna tuner tuned it to an SWR of about 2:1 with a power output of just over two watts. Not rocket science by any means, but the bottom line is it worked well enough to snag Ukraine and the Balearic Islands on 20 meters. We probably could have tweaked the setup by adjusting the length of the antenna a bit to get the SWR lower, but 2:1 is by no means excessive. There often is too much of an obsession to get the SWR down to 1:1. If you can, that's great, but there's not a whole lot of difference from 2:1 or so.

Geoff AE4RV, also into astronomy, asked what I thought about using a GoTo score as Mike and I did. He also asked how it worked, so let me cover that first. It's a bit hard making the initial alignment. You tell it to find 3 stars in order. That's called (obviously) the three star alignment method. There are also a one-star and two-star method. Those last two basically require a really accurate polar alignment which is not that easy to achieve out in the field withouth a polar alignment scope on the mount which Mike doesn't have (yet?). The three-star method works without all that accurate a polar alignment so we use that method. Without the accurate alignment though, the initial finding of the 3 stars is a bit cumbersome, especially with the eyepiece and finder scope arrangement on his scope. All too frequently they turn out to be on top of the scope about 6 feet plus off the ground necessitating a step-stool to reach them. That makes it a little hard to exactly center the 3 stars for the alignment.

Once the scope is aligned though, it is fairly accurate in finding objects. With Mike's 8 inch mirror and a 25mm eyepiece, most all objects turn up in the field of view of the eyepiece. Most times they are not centered though. I noticed that objects nearly overhead seemed to be centered best and objects low in the east sometimes appeared right at the edge of, or even just out of, the eyepiece field of view. As long as you don't manually move the scope (rotate it on the RA or Dec axis), it will remain consistent through a whole viewing session.

What do I think of GoTo scopes? They are nice if you want to view a whole lot of objects in a short time. However they contribute to the dumbing down of amateur astronomy somewhat in that folks who rely strictly on them to see things lose the skill of finding things by star hopping, and perhaps even lose recognition of the various constellations. It seems almost like thumbing through a book of photographs of objects rather than searching them out in the sky yourself. But of course the thrill of actually seeing something itself rather than a picture of it remains even with a GoTo scope. -30-

Wednesday, August 18, 2010 11:59 PM - Well, that's not quite right. It's well after midnight, and I just got home from the Community Park stargazing session with Mike. We had a great time and probably observed 50-60 or so objects ranging from the moon out to some distant galaxies. We got to (not) see the missing belt on Jupiter that I talked about a couple entries ago. Jupiter does look a bit strange with only the one belt now. More tomorrow, but now time to wrap things up and head to bed. -30-

Tuesday, August 17, 2010 7:47 PM - Just got home about 15 minutes ago from the portable operation with Don K3RLL up at Community Park. With his KX-1 at about 2.1 watts output to a 33' ef sloper I worked UY5BA and EA6UN on 20 meters. Serge UY5BA had my call as K3WLP, and I don't think he ever did correct it. The QSO with Jurek EA6UN was solid both ways - I got a 579 and he was a 599. A little later Don also worked Jurek. There's a world of difference between here and there. We got a chance to compare EA2IF's signal there and here, and he was much stronger and steadier with less QRN up at the park although admittedly it was about 10-15 minutes later here that we checked him. Makes me wonder what I could do in one of our sprints if I operated from there. Maybe next summer I can give it a try.

About time now to go for another day in my mW streak. -30-

Monday, August 16, 2010 9:09 PM - I thought I might have another of those times when I'd have to wait till morning to get my mW QSO, but after several minutes of fruitless CQ's, Dick K1IEE up in ME answered me, and we had a nice chat. The batteries in my keyer quit in mid-QSO, but having a SK, bug, and a second keyer all hooked up in parallel made it only a brief interruption.

Looks like, weather permitting, Mike and I are going to have another impromptu star-gazing session Wednesday evening. This time after getting used to the GoTo scope at the last session, we're shooting for going to the darker skies of our Community Park this time. We're going to ask Don K3RLL if he wants to join us also.

It's a brilliant clear sky tonight, and I might get my scope out later on if the mood is there. I'd like to take a look at Jupiter and its 'missing' belt, but it doesn't rise until some time in the 11PM hour now. -30-

Sunday, August 15, 2010 10:09 PM - The final totals are in for our NAQCC sprint. We had 134 logs submitted showing 211 participants from 44 states, 4 provinces, and 2 DX entities. I'd say that was very impressive and shows the quality of our NAQCC members and their dedication to our 'little' club. I would venture to say that turnout for a 2 hour weekday evening sprint tops even some longer weekend contests as far as turnout goes. I wish I had the time to check some other organizations' sprint and contest results to see how we compare with them, but I really don't with all the things I have to do here.

Another thing that I must sacrifice for lack of time is responding in more detail to all the many emails I get here about various matters. I do try to respond to everyone, but if you've sent me something and didn't receive a reply, rest assured I am not ignoring or slighting you in any way. Sometimes things 'slip through the cracks' among the tons of correspondence I deal with daily.

Don K3RLL from New Bethlehem, about 20 miles NE of here is coming down for a visit Tuesday evening, and if time permits, we may try a little portable operation from our Community Park on the hill just a fraction of a mile NW of my QTH. Regular diary readers may remember we did that previously last year and had a good time.

Next Sunday there will be a mini-QRP-get-together at the Skyview Radio Society near New Kensington about 20 miles south of here. We hope to see some local NAQCC members there. Info was in our last NAQCC newsletter. -30-

Saturday, August 14, 2010 8:09 PM - I just posted the new monthly poll, so check it out and vote, please. Thanks.

I also updated my streak story in the QRP section to 16 years, updating the totals and adding some comments.

I did the initial cross-checking of logs from our sprint today to get some of the preliminaries out of the way. Still almost 24 hours to send in your log though, if you haven't done so. We're at 130 logs at the moment. I think that's fantastic. And even more impressive perhaps, in those 130 logs I count 211 different participants. WOW!

Now I'm off to get my streak QSO for the 15th.

Well that was easy. Got 3 DX QSO's on 20 meters in the WAE test, one (DK9PY) with my 930 mW. He was the easiest of the 3 strangely enough. The other 2 (OM7CW and 4O3A) with 5 watts took a bit more work.

4O3A is a new overall country - Montenegro - which is #208 I've worked with QRP/CW/simple wire antennas. Last new country was K5D back on 2/15/09, so it's been a while getting a new one. -30-

Friday, August 13, 2010 8:23 AM - It definitely seems to be easier to get a mW QSO early in the morning than in the 00 or 01Z hours. I had a nice solid rag chew with K1HTN in NH earlier this morning. We could have gone on longer than we did too, but I was doing my washing and had to QRT as I wanted to get it finished.

I wonder if other mW users find something similar to that? I'm speaking of 40 meters. The mileage may vary on other bands.

I got interrupted in typing this and it's now 11:50 AM and I've already had a full day of work. Besides the QSO, I did a washing as I mentioned, then went to help Ange pick pears. Later today I'll have to go through the hundred or so he gave me and sort them out a bit. Right now it's a late brunch. -30-

Thursday, August 12, 2010 10:12 PM - I got my mW QSO for the 12th pretty easily at 1300Z this morning when NAQCC member KC9ICT answered my CQ on 40M after just a few minutes.

This evening was a different story. About 30 minutes of mW CQ's yielded nothing at all. Then I went to 5 watts to at least get my streak QSO at that level. After a few minutes Tom K2THB answered. I suspect I could have gotten him with mW power also as he gave me a solid 599 report and copied me solid all the way. He was at 100 watts and peaked at 30 over S9 on my meter. I guess I should have stuck with mW a little longer, but I didn't and now will probably have to get my mW streak QSO in the morning.

We've still got some logs dribbling in from the sprint, and we now stand at a new record of 124 logs for 5 straight sprints with over 100 logs. I'd love to know if any other 2 hour sprint can boast of that accomplishment, but I just don't have time to check other clubs' results to see.

Still some club work to get done tonight, so I better get back to that now. -30-

Wednesday, August 11, 2010 11:11 PM - After processing sprint logs just about all day (we have 119 so far this month) in addition to adding 12 new members to the NAQCC plus a computer club meeting this evening, I'm plumb tuckered out. I didn't even get my daily QSO yet for the 12th so that will have to wait till morning. Now I'm going to just take it easy for an hour or so then get to bed. Make that 120 logs - one more just came in but it will wait till morning to be processed. -30-

Tuesday, August 10, 2010 11:53 PM - See, it's almost midnight as I'm typing this, so I'm not going to say much. We had another great sprint tonight. 53 logs received in the first 90 minutes or so after the sprint. That's a good start to our 5th straight 100+ logs sprint, I'd say. That's it, I'm off to a midnight snack, then to bed. -30-

Monday, August 09, 2010 7:31 AM - I want to get caught up on a bit of diary feedback today. John N0EVH whom I worked about a week ago sent some nice pictures of a fishing trip to Colorado. Thanks John.

Geoff AE4RV also followed up a QSO and QSL of a couple weeks ago with this, "Thanks for the card, John. I don't know why I didn't send you one after our first QSO, you being one of my _very_ long time virtual elmers albeit mostly from just visiting your site. I want to tell you something kind of funny about our QSO. It was very noisy that night with regional thunderstorms causing much QRN. QSB was a factor as well. When you came back and started giving me particulars I found myself putting down the pen and holding the phones tightly to my ears. I managed to get almost everything (head-copy practice starting to pay off!) but I thought to myself that I would cut it short - conditions were just that trying. But, then you mentioned that your power was only 930mw! I couldn't end it after hearing that! You know that cliche about how your RST suddenly takes a nosedive after you tell an OM that you're running low power? It's happened to all of us, myself included. So I plugged away until you had to QRT about 10 or so minutes later. Difficult, challenging and very fun. Thanks!"

I really wanted to print that mainly because of what Geoff says about copying weak signals. It's important to do that because someday a life may depend on pulling some info from a weak signal out of QRN or QRM in an emergency situation. Besides that, it's common courtesy to do one's best to try to copy someone whether the signal be strong or weak. Of course there are times when it just can't be done even after fiddling with every possible setting on the receiver. However there are some hams, fortunately not many, who just refuse to copy someone if they have to make the slightest effort to do so. If you're not S9+++, they'll ignore you or basically tell you to go away, you're too weak to copy.

Since Mike was here last night, I only briefly checked into our NAQCC QRS net. Old faithful Dick K1IEE was there also as he is every week. We certainly appreciate Dick's loyalty. I don't know if Tom got any other check-ins or not. I hope so. -30-

Sunday, August 08, 2010 10:50 PM - Just got in from a sky viewing session with Mike KC2EGL. A couple days ago I mentioned in the diary an upgrade we did to his scope to make it a GoTo scope. He wanted to try it out, so with clear skies predicted he came down. We had a nice session, and I was impressed with the GoTo features of the scope. I still prefer star-hopping to find objects as you learn more about the sky that way. However being able to tell the scope what to find for you and having it do so is a nice way to show off celestial objects to your non-astronomical friends. Also nice if you just want to see a lot of different objects yourself to take advantage of a particularly clear night. Those clear nights are rare around here, and the GoTo would allow for more efficient use of the clear nights. So basically I have mixed feelings about it. -30-

Saturday, August 07, 2010 8:32 PM - All days are good ones, but some are better than others. Today was one of those. About the only thing that didn't go well was fishing. I didn't get a single bite in just over an hour at the river. However the weather was just about perfect so it was nice sitting there anyway.

I did catch a couple fish yesterday in a couple trips to the river. I'm starting to just say the heck with a lot of things and getting in some fishing finally. I'm some 40 fish below average so far this year, and I'm going to have to fish fast, often, and good to come anywhere near my average by the time fishing season ends in November.

Late this afternoon John KB3SVJ called and said he could come over and finish cleaning my gutters. After he finished he and the friend he had helping him wanted to see my station. I knew the NAQP was going on, so I thought this time I could get a QSO or two while John was here. The last time we didn't have any luck. This time was different, and I worked ZF2DO on 20 meters.

Then the NAQP provided me with 4 easy mW QSO's for the 8th. I stuck with 20 meters, but reduced power to 930 mW this time. I worked 3 TX and 1 CO stations pretty easily. However the heavy contesting mood still eludes me, so that was all I worked and instead headed to 30 meters. It was very good for DX. I tried unsuccessfully for a mW DX QSO, but the couple stations I called didn't hear me. Then I heard RK2FWA, and since UA2 is not that common a country, I boosted power to 5 watts and easily worked Radik. I think I do have UA2 on 30 meters, but I wanted to make sure. He copied me so easily, now I'm wondering if I could have made it with my mW signal. I guess I'll never know.

And just as I was writing this, I saw Nancy's grandkid came home and I promised to play some scoop ball with him, so I did that and am now back to finish this and update my streak table and propagation info on the web site.

Oh, hey another good thing. I see my mW streak reached 100 days when I made the NAQP QSO's. Almost forgot this was the day for that.

Oh, hey again. Kaliningrad on 30 meters is a new band country. -30-

Friday, August 06, 2010 4:26 PM - This will be a short entry. I just want to thank the many folks who contacted me with congratulation on the 16 years of the streak. It's been very moving for me. I'm not going to list the calls of all who contacted me for fear of leaving someone out. However my thanks and appreciation go to each and every one of you nevertheless. -30-

Thursday, August 05, 2010 9:25 PM - Sometimes it is very hard getting that mW QSO, then all of a sudden the 'hardness' turns to 'easiness'. Whoa, maybe I better just explain.

I tried for perhaps 20-25 minutes calling CQ with my 930 mW with no response, so I decided to go to 5 watts and at least get my main streak QSO. Then I'd get the mW QSO in the morning. Well, CQing with 5 watts wasn't getting results either for a while, but after maybe 5 minutes, KF3CD Mike in Eastern PA answered me. We chatted for a while and it turns out he is a somewhat new county hunter and asked what my county was. To shorten the story a bit, he said he was trying to (I believe) get all the PA counties on 80M. Copy was rough here despite his 150 watts. Anyway I said I could QSY to 80 if he wanted. We went to 3532 kHz and exchanged signal reports there and signed.

I thought I'd go back to 40 and again try to get my mW QSO. Now comes the easy part. It only took a couple CQs before Dave K5MQ answered me. We had a solid QSO, and he copied my 930 mW signal virtually solid. Oh, he was in Jena, LA. I think that's my first mW QSO with LA in the mW streak so far. He was running 100 watts to a 2 element Yagi, so that I'm sure helped in copying my mW signal. And hey, just as I was about to post this diary entry, I see Dave just submitted a NAQCC membership application.

It looks like we are going to have a NAQCC QRP get together at the Skyview Radio Club on August 22. That's somewhat short notice, but if you're a NAQCC member, check out the newsletter to be posted on the NAQCC web site sometime tomorrow. Tom WY3H is writing an article about it.

Incidentally Tom wanted to be the first QSO in the 17th year of my streak as he was the last QSO in the 16th year, so that's why you'll see his call listed two days in a row in the streak table. It wasn't because I couldn't get someone else for the daily QSO, and had to rely on a local. QRP (and QRPp) works better than that, as you know.

I hope to have my streak report in the QRP section of the web site updated to 16 years soon. I'm pretty well caught up at the moment on other things, so I may even work on that tonight. -30-

Wednesday, August 04, 2010 8:14 AM - Well, the first 16 years of the streak are now complete. Tom WY3H wanted to be the one who completed the first 16 years, so he answered my CQ at 0001Z last evening. That was a mW QSO. After that I went to 5 watts and hung around for about an hour. I had two more nice long QSO's with Geo N1EAV and Aaron N9SKN. Then after I QRT, I found a message on my answering machine from Geo congratulating me on the streak. That was very nice. Thanks Geo.

So this evening or tomorrow morning, I'll get started on year #17 of the streak. Still looking for an answer to Eric KB3BFQ's question of how long it is possible to make a QRP/CW/simple wire antenna QSO each day. The answer keeps changing constantly.

I say 'or tomorrow morning' because Mike KC2EGL is coming down this evening for me to help him make some modifications on his telescope and by the time we get finished it may be pretty late especially if it happens to be clear and we get a chance to check it out.

A few entries ago I asked a question about what you thought constitutes a mW QSO. Brion VE3FUJ provided some feedback on that. Here's what he said, "I think going 2 rounds of Qso at mW level as long as the proper info has changed hands, such as RST -QTH - op name and obviously call its a valid mW Qso, Qro to 5W would also make a valid 5W Qso, but not the other way around. In my book anyway. Was that the info you were looking for???"

Exactly - thanks Brion. You were the only one who provided any feedback on the issue, so at least there are two of us who think alike on the matter. -30-

Tuesday, August 03, 2010 7:16 PM - When I get my QSO shortly after 8 PM (0000Z) in about 45 minutes or so that will put my streak at a full 16 years or 5,844 consecutive days. If it is a mW QSO it will put me 4 days short of 100 for my mW streak. I'll probably start calling CQ just after 0000Z somewhere close to 7040 kHz if anyone reading this in time wants to give me a QSO.

I'm really pleased with the way our EU chapter of the NAQCC is taking place. Our new EU Chapter President Matt MW3YMY is a joy to work with and he is going to lead our EU NAQCC members to some really great things, I'm sure. If you're a NAQCC member from EU, be sure to read this Saturday's newsletter when it's posted on the NAQCC web site for an introduction to the chapter from Matt. Wouldn't it be great if our EU members can have as much fun as we in the USA and Canada do in our monthly sprint. Now they'll have a sprint that is suitable to the EU time frame. I'm really excited about the whole thing, and I hope our EU members will be also. Matt also has a lot of other good ideas besides the sprint also. -30-

Monday, August 02, 2010 9:18 PM - Another easy mW QSO this evening. The bands seem to be picking up in activity. I heard a lot of CW signals around 7030-7050 tonight. Hopefully those who hang around up in the 7100-7150 range are coming on down here, and maybe folks are finally realizing that conditions aren't as bad as many claim they are. Anyway there was so much CW activity tonight I didn't even hear any usual digital crap around 7040 and got my mW QSO on 7040.2. I hope the trend continues.

Speaking of trends, I notice the hits on my site are creeping back up again and the 30 day average hit 100 again for the first time in a while. -30-

Sunday, August 01, 2010 9:26 PM - We had a good turnout in our NAQCC QRS net. Tom WY3H was NCS and there were 6 check-ins from ME down to GA and out to OH.

Otherwise it was another easy mW QSO this evening. Just 5 minutes of CQ's got Dave N9KKY for a 21 minute QSO.

I got most of my first of the month work done today except for updating next month's contest calendar. That won't take long though, since I've cut back on the number of contests I'm listing to those I consider major contests plus some personal favorites of mine. -30-

Saturday, July 31, 2010 8:45 PM - Both the QSO(s) for the 31st and the QSO for the 1st came easily with my 930 mW. Early this morning it was Hargrove KE4RUN in NC on 40M. At the end of that QSO, Tom K8VBL called me on a tail-ender for 2 mW QSO's. I think that's the first tail-end mW QSO in the mW streak so far unless perhaps Tom WY3H did it somewhere along the line. This evening a couple minutes of CQ's netted my friend John N0EVH in MO.

I've decided something about the streak, and wonder what you think. When a good friend of mine answers my mW CQ, after two rounds of the QSO, I'm going to go to 5 watts so we can continue to visit a while longer. I think going 2 rounds establishes it as a mW QSO as long as I started with mW as I always do. After all, I could just say 73 after those two rounds and that would definitely be a mW QSO for sure, so what's the difference in going 2 rounds, then going QRO to 5 watts to continue a while longer. I don't think that should be done all the time, but only on special occasions when I work a friend I haven't talked to in a while and he is having trouble copying my mW sigs. Normally I always start and end with mW and everything in-between is mW also.

So now that completes 3 solid months of mW QSO's and starts off the 4th month now. If it continues to be as easy as today, I may forget about my thoughts of ending the mW streak at 100 days and keep right on going.

Time now to get started of some of that end of month, first of month stuff that needs doing each month at this time. Wasn't it just a couple days ago I did the June/July transition? Time sure does fly. -30-

Friday, July 30, 2010 9:45 PM - I got my mW QSO early this morning when I worked W8IX in Kokomo, IN. I answered his CQ just a couple minutes after I turned the rig on.

Then tonight was the same old story. When I tuned across the band, I got the feeling it was going to be tough to get a mW QSO so I decided to get one at 5 watts and get the mW in the morning again. The 5 watt QSO came with just a single CQ that was answered by Lynn WA2DAC who was also QRP at 4 watts. That puts the big streak just 4 days from completing 16 years now. A QSO on August 1, 2, 3, and 4 will do it.

I'm seriously thinking of ending the mW streak when (if) I reach 100 days which will come in 8 more days now. It's just taking up too much of my time. Maybe when folks perceive the bands are in better shape and start becoming more active again, I'll start another mW streak then.

Today was a very nice summer day. Just about perfect with a smattering of cumulus clouds, a pleasant breeze and a high in the low 80's. I guess if you could order the weather, that's what would be at the top of many people's menu. I spent about an hour and a half or maybe a bit longer just sitting on the porch swing with Joe doing nothing. That's pretty rare for me, but that's what Joe seemed to want to do, so I stayed with him. He almost looks like a different dog after his haircut yesterday.

For the second night of the past three, I came home from a walk to find Mike's car parked in front of my house. He and his girlfriend Susan came down to the Fort Armstrong Folk Festival which is held each year around the First of August here in Kittanning. I'm not much into the festival myself. I used to like to go and get some 'festival food' just to do something different, but now they've priced the food out of my budget. 8 bucks for a small bag of nuts, a 4 dollar hot dog, and the like are just too expensive for my tastes.

Also I got disillusioned about their music performances a few years ago when the Vogues were performing there. Instead of singing their hit songs, they sang songs I'd never heard of before and didn't really care for. That was very disappointing and I haven't gone to one of the festival concerts since then. -30-

Thursday, July 29, 2010 9:08 PM - An eventful day for Joe. We took him to the groomers for a haircut and a good bath. He was pretty well behaved through it all, and seems to be a lot cooler now.

I thought I had another easy mW QSO this evening, but after K1MLP answered my CQ, I noticed my power was still set to 5 watts after chasing some DX last night. So after that QSO, I went back to mW and it turned out to be one of those evenings when the QSO didn't come easy - didn't come at all yet in fact. So I'll have to try later this evening or tomorrow morning to stretch the mW streak. -30-

Wednesday, July 28, 2010 9:07 PM - Another fairly easy mW QSO tonight with WB5RYB down in GA answering my CQ after a few minutes. I also had a 5W QSO tonight. After working WB5RYB I went to 30M and chased (unsuccessfully) TA3AX with 5 watts. Then I came back to 40M and thought I'd try for another mW QSO since the first one came so easily. However I forgot to switch back to 930mW and worked W1IMA with 5 watts.

I had a brief visit with Mike KC2EGL who stopped by on the way to the local ham radio club meeting. I was out for a walk and saw his car in front of the house then him sitting on my porch when I got home. That's 4 eyeball QSO's in the past 3 days now. Wonder if I should start an eyeball QSO streak now??? HI Actually I may make it to 4 days as John KB3SVJ wasn't able to come back today to finish up the work on the house and may come tomorrow now although I think he said he had something else to do on Thursday.

Another hot and humid day today. Just got the temperature and the high hit 92 today, and it felt like more than that with the humidity. However I am pretty much used to it now after I got through those first couple days a few weeks ago. -30-

Tuesday, July 27, 2010 8:38 PM - Ho hum, sometimes it's so easy.... Well hey, I need it easy once in a while, especially this month. One CQ on 30M netted my mW QSO with Jim K4AHO in FL who BTW was also QRP, almost QRPp at just 2 watts with a new SW-30 rig.

I had a visit from another ham today, although it wasn't primarily a ham radio visit. John KB3SVJ is a handyman and he came over to do a little work on my house. He's a relatively new ham and is interested in learning CW, so after the work was done (well for today, he's coming back tomorrow to finish up), we spent some time in my shack talking ham radio.

For the first time in a while, Ange's garden needed watering, so we did that before John came this morning. I picked the first cucumber from my garden this afternoon and did some cultivating and weeding in my garden just before coming into the shack to get my easy QSO.

Incidentally when Joe came out for his morning walk, he approved of John today with no barking at all and going right over to greet him. Hard to tell what the difference was from Tim yesterday.

Well now it's time to finish my mid-evening snack, get my weather readings, and then maybe sit on the porch with Joe and Bruce for a while. We've had some nice cool evenings the past couple days now. -30-

Monday, July 26, 2010 6:31 PM - I had a nice visit today with my ham radio, email, and now personal friend Tim KD8GZ from Akron (Norton), OH. Tom WY3H also came over here to meet Tim, and the three of us did a lot of gabbing, went out to eat at Wendy's, and after Tom had to leave, I gave Tim the tour of my ham radio setup and showed some of the things I mention here in the diary. He met Joe right away as I was sitting on the porch with Joe when he came. Joe did a lot of barking at Tim, either because Tim owns a lot of cats and with the super-sniffer that dogs have, Joe could have sensed that. Or just that Joe is protective of his territory when someone he doesn't know comes onto it. I also showed Tim Ange's garden, and my garden. When we drove up to Wendy's, Tim was impressed with our river and park. All in all a very enjoyable 3 hours or so before he had to head back to Ohio.

Now to some follow-up comments from Geo N1EAV, "Read your diary entry for today and just wanted to add a short comment. There was an IOTA contest on that started yesterday at I think 8am edt. Think it got over this morning at 8.....I heard and worked quite a few stations. Activity seemed pretty good on 40, but I don't get out that well with the current compromise antenna. Worked much more on 20. Don't know what time you got on, but after 8 things got real quiet on 40......twenty stayed busy with normal qso'es. My thoughts are that maybe people were radioed out by the time you got on??

I've been hearing pretty good activity in the evenings up here on 40,30 and 20......don't check out 80 all that much. They are out there especially during contests. I listen on the phone bands once in awhile also, and the cw portions always seem much busier to me anyway.

There are so many things now to keep people occupied.....Computers being the #1 hobby in my estimation. Music,TV, cellphones etc. They are all readilly available and just about all people know what they are. Ham radio on the other hand isn't out there in the public view so unless people know someone is a ham or are exposed to it in some fashion, they don't even know it exists. And even if they do, it doesn't peak thier interest like the newest flat screen tv, or I-phone etc.

Back in the days of our youth, I'm a little younger than you,but relate to many of the same things......Radio was really magic....So cool it was to be able to tap out a message with your code key and have someone answer you that might be anywhere in the world. But at the same time, things were so much different. Especially the way we as kids passed our time. Boy, I could go on and on about how things have changed...and not for the better in my estimation....

Anyway, Ham radio in those days seemed to be a way of life. You got licensed, got on the air, made new local friends on the 80 meter novice band went to hamfests etc. It played a bigger part in your life than it does today......Today it's more of a side thing that is at the bottom of the list after people get tired of all the " modern amusements ".......family and work obligations etc.....Plus time....people just don't have the time on their hands that they used to....It's a shame we have to run around so much, but thats the way it is....

I don't think ham radio or cw for that matter will leave us completely.....It probably won't be what it was, but then again nothing is what it was these days.

Now I see that my small comment on band activity has turned into a whole spiel, I'll just stop right there....lol....oh one more thing....

Your streak to me, shows much more than what you can do with cw and simple wire antennas. It shows a loyalty and dedication to something you believe in. The world these days seems to lack these qualities and its refreshing, to me at least, to see someone that is still " old school ".......

Anyway, hey, thanks for taking the time to read this and enjoy the evening.

Hope to catch you on the bands sometime again....I see we have qsoed a couple of times....."

A lot of material there and all of it good. It doesn't really need comment except to say that contesting always brings out a lot of CW activity, so it wasn't a thing just this weekend. Then all the contesters go into hibernation somewhere until the next contest comes along. If they also operated during non-contest times as well, the CW bands would sound somewhat like they did back in the 60's with wall to wall signals. You needed a pry bar to open up a tiny spot to call CQ at times then. -30-

Sunday, July 25, 2010 10:02 AM - Some diary feedback in a moment. First I just got my mW QSO for the day, and it demonstrated band conditions very well, I think. WA9JTU (599) in upper WI and I (579) had a rag chew length QSO with virtually solid copy all the way except for some QSB near the end. However except for one other strong signal, 7000 through 7050 was almost dead. Good propagation - poor activity for sure. Folks are just abandoning the bands for whatever reason.

Geo N1EAV (good to hear from you again) says this about condx and other things, "Hi John. Waking up this morning to another hot and muggy day. Can't remember a summer that has been this consistantly warm and muggy for such a long stretch around here.
Just dropping you a line to reinforce the fact that it is just so easy to make qso'es with a simple setup. I sold my TS-570 sometime ago because I just could never warm up to the receiver in it. Had been off the air for awhile and busy with other things,etc. I wanted to get something to get back on the air. Just didn't know which rig I wanted. Finally settled on a Yaesu 817nd qrp rig. Something pretty minimalistic at best. While I await my Miracle whip antenna from Canada, I decided to throw a 35 foot piece of hookup wire in a tree outside my shack window and a counterpoise on the shack floor....It loads very easy on 20 and ok on 40.....Anyway, been making contacts all over the us and have about 10 dx qso'es to boot. People need to realize it just doesn't take much to have a little fun on the bands......especially if they are using cw.
My qrp tuner should arrive tomorrow and will put up a more permanent random wire as time permits. Am real curious to see how the Miracle Whip performs portable style. My interest has been rekindled. Will have to try the milliwatt settings on the rig as well.
Other than that my work is real busy and the new dog takes up a lot of time.....but it is fun time. He is 9lbs. of nothing but energy. He likes to chase the geese off the property at work which really helps me in keeping the place well kept....
Hope all is well with you. Sounds like you stay pretty busy which is good. Take care."

A couple comments. I'm glad to hear of the rekindled interest. Hopefully we'll be seeing you in our NAQCC activitites. Yes, dogs are really a delight. Can't understand how I got along without Joe all these years. It's sad to think they aren't going to live forever, so spend all the time you can with them. It's sad to see so many dogs almost ignored. Makes you wonder why the folks got one in the first place.

"Pretty busy?" - That's the understatement of the century. But I wouldn't have it any other way. Doing nothing tires me out completely. I need to be active all the time. Can't figure how 'couch potatoes' do it.

Ed KC9HSY emails, "Thanks very much for the great CW website. I've been working at CW for almost a year. I can copy at about 15 wpm. I've recently tried my hand in two NACQQ sprints. I made two contacts my first time and made five this last time. Problem is, I had a really hard time copying during this last spring because of all the noise on the band (20 meters) and all the interference from nearby signals. I have a Yaesu Mark V Field, but apparently can't use it well enough to suppress the QRM. So I'm not sure if my contacts were complete valid contacts or not. I'm going to log them anyhow; I'd hate to deny someone else a contact because I was unsure. Anyhow, I'm really struggling with CW these days, but I've decided to try to make at least one QSO, QRP or not, every day. Last night I made two. Thanks again for the excellent resource. With folks like you and the others at FISTS and NACQQ, both of which I belong to, the future is bright for those of us coming up who love CW. 73"

My admiration is unbounded for those who jump into the CW ranks in this day and age to help prove it is NOT a dying mode as some would have us believe. We need a lot more folks like Ed who get on the bands and make those CW contacts and not abandon the bands for this or that reason (without basis). Reading Geo and Ed's comments really brightened up my day. Hope it does yours also. -30-

Saturday, July 24, 2010 7:23 PM - Well, I learned something, or perhaps it was remembered something today. I was still having trouble getting my mW QSO for the 24th early today, although I did get a 5 watt QSO pretty easily with WB3AAI. Then I thought I'd check 20 meters to see what was there. I heard W0VLZ calling CQ with his QRP signal. I thought just for fun I'd see if my attic random wire would load on 20M through the RF attenuator. I pressed the autotune button on the TS480SAT and instantenously got an 'A' indicating a good match. So I called W0VLZ and got my mW QSO on 20 meters. So I now have another band which should help me out. I do remember that back in the 90's I used the random wire for the higher bands before I got my separate antennas for those bands. I also got a nice new prefix in the IOTA contest by working VP50V (VP fifty V). That was with 5 watts.

This evening it was the same story with the mW QSO, so I decided to just wait till tomorrow to go for it, and get a 5 watt QSO instead. I had a nice QSO with WB2YRL before I had to QRT to batten down the house from an approaching thunderstorm. Right now it's pretty windy, but looks like (as has happened so many times the past couple years) the worst of it is going to split us and spend most of its fury SW and NE of here. However as I type, it is raining pretty hard at the moment. I'll have to double check the radar. -30-

Friday, July 23, 2010 10:08 PM - July 2010 continues to be a very rough month for my streak(s). It looks like for the 6th time this month I will have failed to get my QSO in the evening and will have to wait till morning to keep the streak going. Folks are just not getting on the air in the evenings it seems. Once again the very few signals there are turn out to be good strong ones so propagation is there, but the hams aren't. I almost got my QSO this evening. I answered AI4VA's CQ and he came back to me with my call wrong as K3WPP, sent his info and turned it back to me. I sent my info, then never heard him come back so I don't count that as a complete QSO. To count, there must be a minimum of 1 good completed exchange from each station. That's my criteria I've used every day of the streak so far, and I'm not changing now.

On a brighter note, we exceeded 100 logs in our NAQCC sprint for the fourth straight month now with still a couple days left to submit logs. I think that says a lot about how dedicated our members are to the club, and I appreciate that very much.

Would you believe it's still 86 degrees at 10:15 PM? That has to be close to a record for so warm so late in the day in the 50 plus years I've been keeping records here. I don't have a quick way to check, but I can't offhand remember such late warmth. -30-

Thursday, July 22, 2010 9:06 PM - We're closing in on 100 logs from our NAQCC sprint last evening. I believe we're at 91 after I process 3 logs that just came in. It seemed to me that propagation conditions as well as participation were down a little from our June sprint. At least for me that was true. However the jury is still out and we'll know more by Sunday evening when the deadline for log submissions comes along. It was interesting to get our first sprint log from a European station. G0AZR made a couple of non-member QSO's from the EU continent.

My mW streak QSO came fairly easily tonight. About 8 minutes or so of calling CQ before K3KYR in way upstate NY answered. He was 20-30 over here and said I was about S9 up there with my 930 mW. We had a solid 30 minute rag chew that could have gone on much longer, but I had to run.

More hazy, hot, and humid weather here. It's been that way for most of July now. My body adapted to it pretty well after the first 3 or 4 days and I don't mind it now. I took a couple pretty long walks and did some gardening work. I see 7 miles on the pedometer now, and most of that was from legitimate walks outside at a good pace.

Well, guess I'll go process those latest 3 logs now. Oh oh, my email just dinged, so maybe that's another one to add. -30-

Wednesday, July 21, 2010 8:13 PM - Just about 15 minutes now till our NAQCC July sprint. I'm anticipating a flood of logs after the sprint (hope I'm right) so I'll make my diary entry now and make it short.

Not really much to talk about anyway except perhaps my fishing. We had another moderate shower after my diary entry yesterday and I went back to the sewer and the carp were there again. There was one smallish carp swimming around and around kind of like he was taunting me. He must have passed right over my bait several times without even stopping. Finally though he did what carp are supposed to do. He grabbed the bait without even stopping to taste or give any sign he was interested then took off like the proverbial freight train. He put up a decent battle for about 7 minutes or so. One time he swam into some weeds and I thought he'd get tangled up and I wouldn't be able to get him out. I did get him landed though. He turned out to be rather small at 22 inches. That makes 3 carp in the past few days now, and kind of re-kindled my interest in fishing. -30-

Tuesday, July 20, 2010 12:51 PM - Well, I eked out another day in the mW streak. I started out this morning to continue the big streak, and did that without too much trouble as KC9MXQ answered my 5W CQ after not too long a time. Then I took some time off to visit with Joe and Bruce while we were having a torrential downpour (1 inch in probably 15-20 minutes). I was having a self-debate as to whether I wanted to go fishing after the rain ended. Because of the luck I had a couple days ago catching that carp and having another one on the line, the side that wanted to go fishing won the debate.

When I got to the sewer outlet, there were several carp there in the weeds just about on shore. If it would have been possible to do it without spooking them, and if I had a net, I could have caught several just like that. Well anyway, even if possible it wouldn't have been any fun unless I was catching them to eat. However as you know I'm a catch and release fisherman. Anyway I threw my bait (peanut butter bread) out a little ways and reeled it in toward where they were. They were more interested in whatever was in the weeds though. However after a while, in the perfectly calm still water I saw some ripples from a carp swimming toward the sewer and he was heading for the exact spot where my bait was.... BANG!, he took it and headed toward the middle of the river. I could see him and I figured he was about 28-29 inches. It took about 10 minutes of walking through the weeds and rocks trying to keep from falling as he headed downstream to finally land him and measure him. He was as I estimated 29 inches.

Those weeds and rocks are really making it hard to fish from shore this year, and Kittanning borough shows no sign of making any effort to clean it up. So I haven't been fishing all that much this year. I believe this was only my 15th trip this year and my fish total is at just 19 which is about 36 fish below normal by July 20. -30-

Monday, July 19, 2010 10:39 PM - I believe this month has been the hardest to keep my streak going of any of the months in the past almost 17 years now. I just could not get any answer to my CQ's this evening either at 930 mW or even 5 W. So once again after a couple of easy days I'll have to get on tomorrow morning to try to get my QSO. I guess the factor that ends the streak someday will be attrition. There won't be anyone left using CW. I've almost never heard so few stations on the air as I have several days this month. I still think it's due to folks believing the propaganda about the bands being dead during this prolonged sunspot minimum and not getting on the air to see for themselves. But I guess if you tell folks things long enough they'll come to believe it as the truth.

So maybe I need to be saying over and over again that the bands are NOT shut down. The propagation is still good enough to make QSO's if folks get on the air so there will be someone there to work. Don't you think my streak proves that? The last 80 days through the 19th, I've made at least one QSO using just 930 mW of power output feeding a hunk of wire in the third floor or attic of my house. C'mon and get on the CW bands. End of plea. -30-

Sunday, July 18, 2010 9:25 PM - Another easy mW QSO this evening. AJ4PT answered my CQ after about 5 minutes. It turned out that I was Chris' second ever CW QSO. He's a fellow NAQCC member as well. It really makes my day to work a newcomer to CW like that. Oh, you might want to read Chris' comments in my guestbook.

After that I checked into our NAQCC QRS Net for a while. Tom WY3H was NCS and there were 4 check-ins. We had some QRM on the net this evening and that kind of added confusion to the mix.


Saturday, July 17, 2010 8:41 PM - My mW QSO's for the 17th and 18th both came quickly for a change. In fact I got two QSO's for the 18th so far - Roy VE3ROY and Geoff AE4RV. I thought I'd try around 7030 tonight to see I could find some folks who are avoiding instead of fighting the digital bullies around 7040. That seemed to work, but I'm not making that a permanent thing and yielding 7040 to the enemy.

I'm sitting here now watching the progress of some pretty heavy thunderstorms in the area. It looks from the radar that we'll just be on the very southern edge of them, but if they expand and/or shift just a bit further south, we may get a good dousing. We could use some rain, but not any kind of excessive amount. I'll find out what it will be within the next half hour or so.

If you don't already know from being a NAQCC member, we're starting to gear up for our October 6th anniversary celebration the week of October 11-17. We've got several ops lined up to operate our special event 1x1 calls that week. It's going to be an exciting time again as have our previous anniversaries. -30-

Friday, July 16, 2010 12:36 PM - Well, I got my mW QSO around Noon today, thanks to Ned W2NED, so the mW streak is secure for another day. Oh and if you didn't notice, I got my 5 W QSO late last evening from TI5/W8KJ who answered my CQ. I looked him up on the Internet because I wasn't positive it was TI4 or TI5. Turns out it's a 'DXpedition' intended to expose young hams to what it's like being on the 'other end' of DX contacts. There are apparently several teen-age hams involved one way or another with the event.

Mark WU7F comments in agreement with yesterday's entry about CW on the bands, "The bands out West were also quiet last weekend. I haven't been on during the week, but plan to get on tomorrow if I get back from by bike ride early enough to squeeze in a contact before work. I like your idea about grouping the CW together. I notice digital signals that sometimes extend down to 7030. I have to admit there is a nostalgia I feel when I go up to the old Novice bands on 40 - particularly on 7112 - where my only 40 meter crystal would transmit when I first got my license 32 years ago (a Heathkit DX-40 was considered 'old' even at that time, but I was grateful that my elmer, Kelly, KV7V, was kind enough to lend it to me). I don't see any harm in opening up the CW bands - some of the QRP rigs won't tune as wide so as to allow the old Novice/Tech frequencies without compromising or elimination portions of the lower CW band."

Mark adds in a followup, "BTW, when I mentioned that I hear digital down around 7030 - I'm not advocating for CW users to acquiesce and get squeezed into a space below that. It was more to your point that if we have a more concentrated group of activity in one contiguous section of the band, it is easier to listen for stations calling CQ and we don't have to tune/scan disparate sections of the band. It also would better delineate the CW section from the digital section and hopefully avoid encroachment in the CW portion (this assumes that we keep activity high - especially near the upper edge. It's very difficult for me to copy CW when I get part of a digital QSO within the passband of my filter. There is plenty of space for all... there are just more reasonable ways to use it."

Mark enforces my arguments with some very valid points. We definitely should not let the digital bullies keep pushing us further down the band till we're completely out of the band. Also a very good point about finding CQ's easier if all CW activity is concentrated in a segment of the band instead of being spread helter-skelter as it is now.

While yes it is nice to have the nostalgia about the old Novice bands, we need those folks who operate there to come down to 7000-7050 to help in the fight against the digital bullies.

Mark's idea about operating near the upper end of the CW segment (that is 7040-7050 if 7000-7050 would be the CW segment) is an excellent one and I am actually doing that now as virtually all of my 40M CW activity is from 7039-7046 kHz. -30-

Thursday, July 15, 2010 9:42 PM - Yet another 'dead band' evening. In several tunes from 7020-7060 or so this evening, I encountered only 5 or fewer stations heard. Even the digital crap was noticeable in its absence. I don't know what is going on, but it is getting harder and harder to get a QSO in the 0000Z hour. I spent 45 fruitless minutes this evening trying to get one. Now I guess I'll have to devote some more time in the morning to try to continue my streaks.

Folks, band conditions are NOT bad. Any signals I do hear are at a good to strong level. Get on the bands and see for yourself. Of course, don't forget to call CQ if you don't hear much activity. Someone has to start it in order for the bands to be active. If we don't start using the prime CW territory from 7000 to 7060, we're going to lose it to other modes.

What really needs to be done is to give everyone access to all of every band for CW, and for the CW operators then to occupy the lower portion of every band with CW as it used to be. Let the phone and digital folks have the non-lower part of the bands for those modes. Right now there are puddles of CW activity here and there on 40 meters. We need to unite those puddles into a large pond from say 7000-7050 or so. There's plenty of empty space in that range currently that may not be there in the near future if we don't unite. -30-

Wednesday, July 14, 2010 11:34 PM - I really should take notes on the ideas that come to me for inclusion in the diary. Somehow they manage to escape before I sit down at the keyboard to write about them. That happened today, I think. At least it seems like I've forgotten something.

Anyway we had some 'excitement' in town tonight. A large bunch of fire trucks and emergency vehicles gathered on Market Street which is Kittanning's 'main' street. While not numerically true, word was going around the people gathered to see what was going on that there were more fire trucks there than there was for the Memorial Day parade.

Oh, why were they there? Near as I can figure from my personal observation.... I'm not a fire truck chaser at all but I was bored this evening.... there was a 'fire' in the First National Bank. Now ten or a dozen folks smoking cigarettes on top of the building could have made more smoke than I saw. I didn't see nary a lick of flame. But that's good as it probably means there wasn't much damage.

After the ladder went up from the 'hook and ladder' truck, there was nothing but boredom for the next 45 minutes or so, and I left and went home.

The 'fire' was the last event of the evening here. Before that was our computer club meeting, so my time to get my daily mW QSO was squeezed backward. Tom WY3H who went to the meeting with me said he might get on the bands later, so I kind of watched out for him. However, before I did find him, Craig W2KEZ answered my CQ. Then when Craig and I finished, Tom tail-ended, so I got two mW QSO's for July 15. -30-

Tuesday, July 13, 2010 5:45 PM - I think I'll take it easy today, and let my readers take over the diary.

First Don N7IGK, "John, I agree that the bands are kind of quiet lately. I hang out mainly in the 30 meter band. I usually find someone about sunset here to talk to. But not always. Sunset here is about 04:00 utc. Last night I talked to Myrt N1GKE in Rhode Island at about 4 utc with readable conditions.Not the best but good. I'm using an SST at 2 watts into a folded dipole."

Now Dave W9VES, "John, Taking a look just now at the continuing success you're enjoying with your QRP and QRPp streaks, I thought of a story told me in the 1980s by Paul Rinaldo, W4RI, then manager of ARRL HQ's Publications group, about yet another way radio transmitting power can be misunderstood. Working in the government service in Southeast Asia, Paul encountered conscripts who were sure that operating with too much transmitter power would break communication by making the signal overshoot its target! Not radio adepts, they had been assuming all along that transmitted radio waves operated more or less according to a ballistics model, like firing a cannon."

"At the moment the highest transmitter power output easily available to me is about 7.5 W; if I revamped a power supply and shuffled some gear around, that same transmitter---the 12AL11-1631 (12-V metal 6L6) strip in my homebuilt-in-cookie-tins Summer40/Winter80 transmitter/80-meter receiver--would put out 10 to 11 W, max. But my most recent modification of the box went in the other direction: I added a front-panel control that lets me fine-adjust the box's switch-selectable TUNE/QRP output setting to exactly 5 W. As I finished up by marking 5-W ticks for 80 and 40 with a Sharpie, I thought for a second about how a communicator with cannon balls in mind might have labeled the control RANGE instead."

"The fundamental irony of the "radio as projectiles" model is that transmitter power has nothing at all to do with how far our signals travel because every electromagnetic emission, be it from a red giant star or an Elecraft KX-1, ultimately fills the entire universe. All we do when we adjust transmitter power is change the ratio of signal to noise (for purists, signal-plus-noise to noise) at the receiver, thereby changing the odds that communication may or may not succeed. So much for higher transmitter power equalling better DX! Best regards." -30-

Monday, July 12, 2010 7:25 PM - Perhaps you've noticed I've been modifying my 'streak' table located on the home page of the web site. Over the past few days, I've moved the table closer to the top of the page and modified the explanatory text accompanying the table. I've also added a column for the mW streak day number and another column explaining a bit more about the QSO.

That column indicates up to 5 things about the QSO:
1) C means the QSO came in response to my CQ
2) N means the station is also a NAQCC member
3) Q means the station was also running QRP
4) T means the QSO came in a contest
5) 5 means the QSO was made with 5 watts, but I also made a mW QSO that day

I think that shows that QRPp works just as well as QRP because of the efficiency of CW as a ham radio mode. It also shows that QSO's may come just as easily in different ways. You can call CQ with QRP or QRPp and make QSO's. Two way QRP QSO's occur quite often. Many QSO's are with other NAQCC members since there are almost 4,700 NAQCC members active on the CW bands. Then of course, contests are a good way to make QRP or QRPp QSO's.

I've done some thinking about the streak lately, and feel that I should emphasize here that it is really nothing personal on my part, but perhaps the best possible way to show just how effective CW is on the ham bands, DAY IN, and DAY OUT, despite the stage of the sunspot cycle. Someone can easily work DXCC with QRP, perhaps even cross the 200 entity mark easily. However many of those DX QSO's need just the right conditions to be made. It's also easy to work 700-800 QSO's or more with QRP in contests. However the conditions the day of the contest must have been very good. Those things are impressive, but they don't show how effective CW is (again) DAY IN, and DAY OUT like the streak does.

I wish everyone would realize that, and not shy away from the ham bands when they feel conditions don't support QRP CW, or CW in general for that matter. Conditions are always good enough to make some CW QSO's sometime during EACH and EVERY day. Well, at least for the past 5,821 days for certain. Now I'm off to make it 5,822 days in a few minutes, or perhaps it will not come till the morning, but I'm sure it will come.

P.S. It was easy tonight. Chas AI4OT answered my CQ after just a couple minutes. -30-

Sunday, July 11, 2010 9:20 PM - Where is everyone. The bands continue to be virtually deserted in the 00Z and even 01Z hours anymore. Once again it looks like I'll have to wait till the morning to continue my streak(s). I think everyone must be getting tired of what they perceive as poor propagation conditions and abandoning the bands. That plus what I mentioned in an earlier entry is contributing to the deserted bands. Now whenever I do hear a signal, it's generally quite strong which means propagation is not really as bad as folks believe. So come on and get on the bands! Let's make them sound like they did a few years ago once again.

I did do the NAQCC QRS Net this evening, but that was with the NAQCC club call of N3AQC so that really doesn't count as a K3WWP operation even though it was with my station. I did get two check-ins, K1IEE in ME, and KC9MTP in IN. Both had good signals - 579 to 589. -30-

Saturday, July 10, 2010 8:14 PM - Mike KC2EGL made an impromptu visit today. He had to come down to Kittanning for some other business and stopped here for a while. That gave us a chance to work on the details of some new NAQCC prize giveaways. We also talked astronomy for a while and looked at some things on my Voyager astronomy program.

Looking at the Voyager program caused us to wonder if too many people are using astronomy software or the Internet to 'view' the celestial objects in the night sky rather than actually seeing them through a telescope. We both feel that although with software astronomy you don't have to worry about cloudiness and you can observe at any time of day, it doesn't come close to actually looking at objects through a telescope. Not to say that software isn't a nice adjunct to actual telescope use, but it should never take the place of that eye on eyepiece view through a telescope.

Unfortunately the same is true of ham 'radio' these days. Way too many 'hams' are abandoning their radio gear for the Internet. They do just about all their communicating through email, chat rooms, forums, voIP, and other Internet communications. Again the Internet is a great adjunct to ham radio. The callsign servers are a prime example. You can get up to date info on virtually any ham in the world, updated daily in many cases, and it's totally FREE. No need to buy an expensive printed callbook or a CD callbook that is out of date a few days after you spend your hard earned money on it. Another example is researching info on a rig you are thinking of purchasing. You don't have to write to or call the company for info. You don't need to purchase magazines to read reviews of the rig. It's right there on the Internet for FREE.

HOWEVER, the Internet should not be a replacement for actual on the air communicating via actual radio waves. It is nowhere even close as satisfying to get an email from someone in say, Australia as it is to actually talk to someone in Australia on the ham bands. It's not quite the same, but several years ago, I worked VK6HQ near Perth, Australia, and after our QSO, he called me on the phone LONG!! distance. While both conversations were interesting, the thrill and satisfaction wasn't there with the phone call as it was with the 30M QSO. It's also nice to get a follow up email following a contact, but again the email lacks the thrill and satisfaction.

Unfortunately a lot of people do not think the same way, and they are just as happy communicating via the Internet these days. This, more than anything else is contributing to the decrease of activity on the ham bands the past few years now. To make matters worse, a lot of ham radio clubs seem to be encouraging this by setting up their own chat rooms, forums and the like. I guarantee the NAQCC will never do this. We want our members to keep real ham radio alive by communicating via radio.

My mW streak QSO was a cinch this evening. All I had to do was to find a strong station in the IARU HF Championships and call him. That turned out to be Sam K9SD. An easy QSO and the streak is at 72 days with mW now. I needed that after struggling a bit the past few days for a mW QSO. -30-

Friday, July 09, 2010 6:29 PM - It's very nice to find the concern my readers have for me. I'm very appreciative of that.

I received this from Bob KB0TUA: "John, It seems that your diary is not updated today nor is you daily contact. Hope all is well. Thanks, and keep up the good work."

Thank you Bob. My daily contact was not updated until earlier today because of this:

Last night as I mentioned in the diary for yesterday (which was posted later than usual), I didn't get home from shopping till late, and never was able to get my QSO which I usually do get sometime in the 00-02Z hour time frame.

I tried again early this morning, and couldn't get any answers to my mW CQ's, so I went to 5 watts and finally got an answer from Steve K4YZ to extend my main streak to 5,818 days. After that I again tried unsuccessfully for a mW QSO, and it kind of looked like the mW streak may end.

However not being a quitter and knowing how important it is to show that CW works, even at mW power levels, I tried again late this afternoon, and it didn't take too long to get an answer from Vern W9HLY to extend the mW streak to 70 days.

Today was a RAINY day with over 2.1 inches of rain in several brief downpours and one longer spell of heavy rain. It's still raining as I look out the window, but not too hard right now. That was the first rain we've have all month so far. So no need to water gardens here for at least a couple days now, especially if it stays less hot than the 94-96 degree highs we've been having the past few days. Since the rain was from a cold front, it should stay moderately cool. -30-

Thursday, July 08, 2010 10:46 PM - It's getting rough getting my QSO fix in the evenings the past few nights now. Once again tonight I'll have to wait till tomorrow morning to get my streak QSO(s). 80M is just too noisy, and people don't get on that band much in the summer. 40M has been pretty deserted, although the few signals I have been hearing are quite strong so conditions are good. 30M has had very little to offer although often the German RTTY station at the bottom of the band is booming in so conditions seem good there.

It was another HHH day today - Hazy, Hot, and Humid, but I seemed to tolerate it much better than the past couple days. I guess my body is getting accustomed to it. After all those past couple days were really the first true HHH days we've had in a couple years now.

I just got home a little bit ago from a late evening shopping trip with Nancy. She was going out to the mall, and I like to go with her when she has to go, so she doesn't have to make an extra trip for me. I really don't buy all that much stuff at the mall, so I don't need to go very often. I get most of what I need by walking to the stores here in downtown Kittanning. -30-

Wednesday, July 07, 2010 11:28 AM - I tried again this morning to get my mW streak QSO. I called CQ for about 20 minutes with no luck. I also answered a couple other CQ's, but the one didn't hear me at all, and the second heard me, but couldn't get my call. So I decided I'd better QRO to 5 watts and at least get a 5 watt QSO to keep the big streak going. That didn't take but a couple minutes of CQind till my friend up in Maine, Dick K1IEE answered me. He asked if the streak was still intact. I told him the 5 watt one was, but I still needed a mW QSO for the day. We chatted a few minutes, then QSB got to both of us. So with the big streak now alive and well, I went back to 930mW, and called CQ some more. This time it only took about 3 minutes till Bob W2SF on Long Island answered and we had a 16 minute rag chew which could have gone on longer, but I wanted to QRT and get some chores done before the weather got too hot. -30-

Tuesday, July 06, 2010 9:36 PM - What a difference a day makes. Last night I got my mW QSO with a single CQ. Tonight I called CQ for probably 45-50 minutes with nary a reply. Even tried 5 watts a few times with no better success. So I guess for the first time in a while I'll have to get my streak QSO in the morning unless I try again later tonight and succeed. Maybe this will be the end of the mW streak, but I'm sure I should at least be able to get something with 5 watts as I try around 7040 kHz or so either tonight or tomorrow morning.

It was a couple degrees less hot today at 94 degrees, but the higher humidity today didn't make it feel any different from yesterday. Supposed to continue this way now through at least Thursday, and actually according to AccuWeather's outlook, the rest of July will have highs mostly in the upper 80's and lower 90's.

One thing I really enjoy is learning something new. I think when you stop learning, that's when you start dying. Today I've been having fun playing with and learning Doom Builder, a program for building wad files for the game Doom. I mentioned a year or two ago in the diary that I had built a Doom wad in the mid or late 90's, but I hadn't done any more since then. Now I'm learning a whole new building program updated to run with Windows XP. It seems a lot more user-friendly than the builder I used before so long ago. I don't even recall the name of that one. Guess I'll go back and play some more now. -30-

Monday, July 05, 2010 8:53 PM - It was HOT today.

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I think when I get my weather readings after posting this entry, the 'official' high from my thermometer shelter will be 96. At least that's what it looked like when I took a quick glance late this afternoon. As you can see from the picture, the thermometer on my porch showed 96 degrees. Any way you look at it, it was the hottest day of the year so far by a few degrees, and more to come through Thursday.

I find myself getting a little less heat tolerant as I get older. It used to be the hotter the better, and I was walking around, working, etc. just fine even with the temperature in the upper 90's. Not any more. I stayed inside most of the day today. After opening up the house overnight to cool it off, then closing it up during the day, I manage to keep it somewhat cool inside, although it did peak at 80 degrees in here today.

It took a total of 1 CQ to get my mW QSO this evening. Bill W9VC answered just that quick and we chatted about our gardens for a bit before he had to leave to go water his.

Now I'm off to go and get those temperature readings. I know for sure the precipitation will be 0.00 inches. We haven't had any rain at all for a few days now, and the grass is starting to turn brown in spots now. That should continue till at least Thursday now. -30-

Sunday, July 04, 2010 9:19 PM - I hope you all had a happy, safe holiday and did something to honor our great Republic today. As I mentioned, I flew my flag proudly from not long after sunrise till sunset today, then Bruce helped me fold it military style for storage until the next patriotic holiday. It's a shame how many flags are flown with no regard for proper flag etiquette these days. While it is wonderful to fly a flag, it should be done according to the official rules.

Kittanning is not having any fireworks display, so I may go and see if I can find a spot to see our neighboring town Ford City's display

The MI QRP Sprint made for a couple easy mW QSO's this evening for day 66 of the mW streak. Then I checked into our NAQCC QRS Net for a while and when Tom had to QRT early, I took the NCS chair for about 15 minutes and got a couple check-ins - Mike WM4X, and Ray K9EYT.

I just picked 7 Siberian tomatoes when I went out to get my 9PM weather readings. So they are indeed picking up a bit now. In fact at 19 tomatoes so far, that's second place to the 22 I had at this time last year. I've also got some Early Girls that are a pretty good size and may ripen before the end of July. I had some Cherry tomatoes in a salad today. Those were given to me by one of my neighbors. This is a great time of year when we can start eating home grown tomatoes among other home grown vegetables.

My flowers are also nicely in bloom now. Here are a couple pictures of a rose and a daylilly. I used Gimp to highlight the flower itself and either make the background B&W or reduced the saturation of the color for contrast.

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Saturday, July 03, 2010 8:26 PM - Bill WM8E in WV was my mW QSO for the 4th of July. It only took a couple minutes of CQing to get him. There was a lot of RTTY activity around 7040, so I dropped down to 7030 for this QSO. I hate to give in to the RTTY QRM since it shouldn't be that low in the 40M band to begin with, but sometimes you have to. However I'll be back on 7040 again tomorrow evening and many evenings after that as well.

Looks like we're getting back to hot summer weather after several days of almost early spring like weather. It's going to be dry as well with no rain predicted until Thursday evening. So the gardens are going to take a lot of watering. I noticed some beans on my bush bean plants today when I was watering. Also my Siberian tomatoes are producing multiple ripe ones now after just giving one or two at a time during June. I've had a few good BLT's so far with garden tomatoes and lettuce.

I spent quite a bit of time with Joe today as B & N were away for most of the afternoon. Joe even spent about an hour over here with me. I remember the first couple times I brought him over here to visit last year he was quite restless. Now he comes right up on the porch and in the door when I want him to. He was so relaxed today, he spent most of time either half-asleep or fully asleep.

If anyone had told me a couple years ago I was going to become very close with a dog, I'd have told them they were crazy, but you know, it has indeed happened. It's just a total joy having Joe in my life. -30-

Friday, July 02, 2010 7:43 PM - I thought I'd write this just before heading off to the shack to get my daily mW QSO. I hope you all have a safe and happy holiday weekend.

Don't forget to fly your flag on Sunday to show those determined to destroy our country that you are proud of our heritage and grateful to our founding fathers who established the greatest country in the world. We need to remember and honor them for the wonderful Republic they set up when we gained our independence from the tyrannical rule of England.

Today we have a different set of tyrants to fight to keep our Republic on the track that was established by Adams, Washington, Jefferson, Hancock, and so many other great patriots. I wish I could list them all here, but that would take a long time.

It looks like a beautiful day on Sunday with sunny skies and warm temperatures. Ideal weather to be flying my flag on the front porch. -30-

Thursday, July 01, 2010 9:24 PM - Every 1st of a month is a busy day with end of month processing and first of month updating plus all other monthly chores that need doing. Today was no exception. Things went smoothly and quickly today for a change. I had most of the computer updating work done the first 90 minutes or so, then took time out to help Ange water his garden. After that I got all my financial matters taken care of. The only real thing I have left to do now is enter my June weather data into the computer. I'll do that as soon as I finish this entry. Then it will be back to the same old every day chores again tomorrow.

With the crystal clear skies we had this evening, I finally got to make a daytime Venus sighting with the naked eye. I caught it clearly about 10-15 minutes before sunset. It took a bit of looking to get it, but once I found it, it was rather easy to see. It was kind of in the open sky from where I was looking with only a couple of power lines and cable wires to give me a rough idea of where to look.

My mW streak QSO this evening was with a special event 1X1 call N1M operated by Sandor. I haven't looked to see what the special event was yet, and may not even get to it.

Working those special event calls doesn't give many letters for our NAQCC alphabet challenges though. HI. This month's challenge in case you don't know is to make words related to astronomy. -30-

Wednesday, June 30, 2010 11:51 PM - As you see from the date/time stamp, it's almost midnight and almost July. Mike and I just got back from a stargazing session. We took his scope up to the Kittanning community park where the sky is about as dark as it gets around here. A big difference in what can be seen there vs. what can be seen here in town around my house.

We had a good time not only with the stargazing, but we got some NAQCC prize updates taken care of, took a good walk around town stopping at the local Subway for a sub, and doing some other computer things, mostly looking at my Voyager astronomy program.

My mW QSO came in the Canada Day contest when I worked VO2RAC. Maybe the first time I've ever worked NL with mW power.

Now, actually tomorrow I've got to get my end of month, first of month collection of things to do taken care of. So it will be another full day for sure. -30-

Tuesday, June 29, 2010 9:54 PM - I thought I'd re-activate my countdown and count down till my streak reaches 16 years which will come with my first QSO on August 4th. Since I don't know what time that will be, I put the time at the end of August 4th UTC.

Day 61 of my mW streak tied for the easiest day since it took but a single CQ to attract George W3MWR. If you look at my table on the main page of the web site, you'll see 3 different stations whose call ends in "WR" as my QSO of the day. Other than being a curiousity, I don't think it means anything, although WR (or AC) run together is the recently adopted Morse symbol for the @ sign in email addresses.

Just to clarify, when I say a single CQ, I mean a 3X2 CQ or CQ CQ CQ DE K3WWP K3WWP K. That is the only way I ever call CQ except in contests when I make it even shorter. A 3X2 CQ with a pause of a few seconds to listen for an answer is absolutely the best way to call CQ. After those few seconds, you repeat the sequence again - over and over until you get an answer or quit. An endless string of CQ's without sending your call is a turn-off to many hams. After the 5th, 7th, 10th CQ without a mention of your call, they'll be gone looking for someone else. Waiting too long in between CQ's will also be a turn-off because folks can tune right by you if you pause too long. I find a 3X2 with a 4-5 seconds pause to listen works very well for me. If someone tunes me in while sending "CQ", they'll only have to wait through at most 2 more CQ's before my call is sent and I invite them to answer with a K. If they tune in while I'm sending "K3WWP", they can't be sure I'm calling CQ or not, but at most they'll have to wait through one more K3WWP, a K, and a 4-5 second pause before I send CQ again.

If you're having trouble getting answers to your QRP CQ's, I'd suggest going back and reading that paragraph again, then give my system a try -30-

Monday, June 28, 2010 9:16 PM - Day 60 for the mW streak thanks to KA9KWR who answered my CQ on 40M this evening. Maybe even 930 mW is too easy. I better not think anything like that or I'm liable to jinx myself.

There really hasn't been a lot out of the ordinary to talk about in the diary lately. My days seem to consist of a couple hours of NAQCC work, time spent visiting Joe, Nancy, and Bruce and walking with Joe, some walking myself, doing the regular daily housework that never stops, eating my meals, getting my daily QSO. That pretty much fills up the day. I don't even seem to find all that much time for, nor even interest in, going fishing this year. Part of that though is the condition of the river bank here in Kittanning. The Borough has really let it go to ruin and there are only a few easily accessible spots at which to fish, and those are often taken by the few folks who still show an interest in fishing. It's really a sad state of affairs as I sit here thinking about it as I write.

Not all that many years ago pretty much the whole area from Lock and Dam #7 to the lower end of Kittanning, about 3/4 mile, was accessible for fishing. You could go to the river and pretty much be assured of a good fishing spot no matter how many folks were fishing at the time.

Well, talking about it here in the diary isn't going to do a thing to help the situation. I just wanted those of you who take an interest in my fishing exploits know what is going on and why I don't mention fishing much these days. -30-

Sunday, June 27, 2010 9:05 PM - Mike and I made our FD QSO a day late. We worked each other this afternoon around 1 o'clock instead of yesterday at 2 o'clock. I only made 3 FD contacts here. I hope the rest of you had more QSO's and more fun. I just don't seem able to get excited about contesting like I used to except for our monthly NAQCC sprints, and I really get fired up for them. I haven't missed a single one since we started them back in 2004. Just about every one of those I put in the full 2 hours. Only a couple times were conditions just so horrible I shut down 15 minutes or so early.

Other than that I spent a lot of the day trying out some new software. I always like to try to see if I can find something that does things a little better than what I have now. Among other things I tried a new screen capture program, a new .pdf writer, a new defragger, a breakout game, a new HTML editor, a new email backup program. Of those, the best was the email backup program. It works really neat with my Windows Live Email client, and allows a search of and display of the archived emails within its own interface. It's called MailStoreHome if you're interested. Just Bing the program name to find it. The new defragger seems pretty good also and much faster than what I have now. It's the Auslogics Defragmenter if you want to Bing for it. The screen capture, .pdf writer, and HTML editor were either the same as what I have or worse. The Breakout game is pretty good. I always did like that computer game.

All of the above is freeware (of course - I don't buy software if I can avoid it), and I found out about it from Gizmo's Freeware site. There are hundreds of good freeware programs there in several dozen categories. Again a Bing search can get you there.


Saturday, June 26, 2010 8:33 AM - I thought I'd take another break today and have a couple of guest hosts do the work.

First Jim WG1L sent this, "I was looking at your web site and saw that in your shack you showed a cw paddle made from 2 str/keys, I did that several years ago to show others how cheaply they could make and use the home made paddles and that they worked just fine. I will add a pic of mine for you to see. I worked you a couple times a few years back and will holler agn when I hr u on. You are doing a great service to all Hams and the Amateur Service, keep up the good wrk es hpe to cu sn."

Thanks for the comments, and here's Jim's picture:

pix_diary_20100626_01 (82K)

Next some more follow-up comments from Ken WA8REI, "Like you, I certainly don't condemn anyone who strives to be a "Code Warrior" no matter how sloppy the Code. I, for one, suffered a stroke. The neurological connection between my brain and hand was severely damaged. I could not send 8 WPM CW accurately two years ago. I am still not 100%. I have a ham buddy who has a severe brain injury from an accident. Once, in the middle of sending, he couldn't remember the characters in Code, started sending jibberish, then abruptly went QRT. Later, he sent an email explaining what happened. His brain "snapped." He asked for an apology, but I told him that no apology was necessary. You don't NEED an apology from a friend. The support and longsuffering hams have for one another makes our hobby the best. To call a Russian, Iranian or Chinese ham "friend" whereas our countries may be at odds is the height of courtesy and camaraderie. If nations got along with other nations as ham operators in QSO around the globe get along, the world would be free of jealousy, hatred, wars and the like. One on one, we are FIRST human beings, and treat each other as such."

Well said. The terrorists threatening to destroy our country and a large portion of the world could learn well from amateur radio. -30-

Friday, June 25, 2010 10:14 PM - A long and varied day today. Garden work with Ange in the morning planting a second crop of pole beans and watering pretty much all the other plants and then watering my own garden and re-seeding some bush beans that never sprouted.

After brunch, some computer work, and visiting with Joe a bit. Then Tom came and picked me up to go over to his place for some work on his computer. Had an always great 5 or so hours over there, mostly just visiting and having some good snacks and a great spaghetti dinner prepared by Tom's wife Joanne. It was kind of strange only having one dog around there, as Tom had to put one of his dogs Whizzer down a couple months ago and only Lil is left now.

I came home pretty well stuffed and saw that Nancy had her grandkids for the evening. I was wondering if I'd get that knock on my door to come out and throw the football around. Yep, but we didn't get a chance to play too long as we all took Joe for a walk, and not long after that, they had to go home.

My mW QSO of the day came next and it came fairly easily, but did take several minutes to get. Once gotten though, it was a good solid QSO with Joe W2TKG near Syracuse, NY on 40 meters. Joe said I hit S9 on his rig's S meter with my 930 mW. So the streak (mW) is at 57 days now. The 58th day should be easy as I should be able to easily work someone in FD Saturday evening.

Tomorrow afternoon I have to remember to try to work Mike KC2EGL at his FD setup. For the past 2 years I was his first FD contact and we're going to shoot for that again this year. I'll probably use 5 watts for that one.

We got some nice comments on our latest NAQCC newsletter which I posted today. It's always nice to get things like that as a lot of work and hours go into producing each newsletter. This was issue # 121, so we've been at it for quite a while now considering it comes out just twice a month, so that's about 60 months or 5 years now. Wow. I'll have to check and see just when we did the first newsletter if I can although the first several were just email newsletters and not full-color on-line newsletters like we have now. -30-

Thursday, June 24, 2010 9:43 PM - Mike KC2EGL and I got together today. It was a day when I had to take Joe for a couple of his walks, so Mike went along. We also took some pictures (ham radio related), but I can't talk about them just yet. Then I helped him set up his tent at the local club's FD site. He is the CW op for the club. I'll just say that I'm not a member because I don't like some of the members' attitude toward CW. Yet they are glad to have Mike there to pull in the CW QSO's to add to their FD score. Enough said about that.

After that, we partook of another of our favorite activities. Oh, you already know what I mean, don't you, if you've followed the diary long enough. Of course, eating. This time we went to the hoagie shop, and Mike got a steak hoagie. I got this huge tuna hoagie. I think it must have taken a couple of tuna boats to bring in all the tuna that was in the hoagie. If that wasn't enough I had a side order of onion rings as well.

Back home again and we watched a few highlights of the USA soccer team in the World Cup. After that, Mike had to leave and head back to Brookville. We're going to try to have a star gazing get-together next Wednesday evening, weather permitting.

This evening was another fairly quick mW QSO when Mike VE3WMB answered my CQ. He said in a follow-up email that he had heard about my mW streak from WA8REI and wanted to help me extend it another day even though he couldn't stay long. It was time for his daughter to get to bed and time for him to read her a bedtime story.

That kind of got me thinking if recognition is a factor in the success of my streak(s). I know recognition is important in contesting and a lot of 'part-time' contesters seem to always try to work the well known contesters such as.... well, I would have to name a lot here to be fair, so I just won't name any instead to simplify things. You know who I mean if you're into contesting and probably couldn't really care less if you're not. HI. -30-

Wednesday, June 23, 2010 8:47 PM - You know how Rush Limbaugh has guest hosts now and then? Well, I've got a guest host, so to speak, for the diary today.

Ken WA8REI adds to his comments I quoted yesterday, and comments further on my comments on his comments yesterday. Got that? Here we go from Ken.

"I hear so many terrible fists on the air in this day of no-code licensing. Elmers no longer stress good character formation or good spacing, which makes Code a joy to copy. Like any habit, bad ones are hard to break, so learn it right from the git-go. Hams no longer emulate W1AW Code Practice. It's there every night, free for the taking. If they did, they would have a NAME instead of a NAG, or send a TEST message rather than a NST message. WA in a call sign becomes one character: didahdahdidah! WRONG! Didahdah [space] didah Don't get lazy just because you send it 1,000 times. Then there's the guy who without fail sends 6 dits for a number 5 instead of five [was that a 669 RST?], sends a 5 for the letter H, or sends the numeral 3 as didididahdahdah. Or an active ham who sends W5 as didahdahdididididit. followed by a space, then a run-together suffix. The guy trying to copy him is scratching his old, bald noggin til it bleeds trying to make "head nor no-hair" of what the dude at the udder end, a-hangin' from the udder, is sending, moo! Sending good Code is truly an art which requires constant maintenance just like anything worth having takes maintenance. It requires attention to detail and the task at hand to send near-perfect Code. We're talking the microseconds of length of each character and its spacing! I have worked many a straight key that I cannot tell from an electronic keyer or W1AW Code Practice. Now THAT'S a ham who prides himself in sending the sweetest CW, which thusly wafts hence and forthwith out o'er the ether with the greatest of smoothness and ease, to be plucked up by a very happy ear "somewhere out there!""

Well said, but I must add this. There are hams out there with physical disabilities, a nervous tic, etc. that prevent them from sending perfect code and should not be condemned. I'm sure Ken wasn't referring to them at all, but to those who are perfectly capable of sending perfect code, but too lazy or not interested enough to do so. Thanks Ken. -30-

Tuesday, June 22, 2010 5:10 PM - My entry today deals mostly with WA8REI. First of all I uploaded Ken's video of how I sound and look on his S-meter up near Saginaw, MI while running my 930 mW to the attic random wire on 40 meters. If you're curious, take a look/listen here. Ken was operating 'portable' from the front porch of his home, and there is some traffic QRM at a couple points.

Secondly Ken made some interesting remarks about CW vs. SSB in a follow up email to me. I quote him here, "The beauty of CW is that words or sentences can be pieced together. You miss whole sentences on SSB. On CW, if QSB took ur signal out for a couple words, I cud get the gist of what u were saying." That's very important and very true. Read it again, then I'll add my comments.

Ken stated it so succinctly that I scarce need add a thing. However I would like to point out that when CW is sent perfectly, that is with all dits and dahs the correct length as well as the space between dits and dahs, characters, words, etc., not only can you figure out a missing word, but you can sometimes figure out a letter in a word, call sign, etc. Just for one example, if someone has the call X3XEX, you can totally miss the letter E between the X's, but know exactly what it was because only one letter takes up that particular time frame of one space, one dit, and one space.

Properly sent CW owes its efficiency to many factors, but the two above are probably not mentioned as often as they should be. That is why everyone should strive to send CW as perfectly as they are physically able to do so. -30-

Monday, June 21, 2010 9:16 PM - I'm just about to go take Joe for his fourth walk of the day, so I'll squeeze in this diary entry before I go over there. Joe seemed in good shape today. He usually mopes around a bit when Bruce goes away, but he seemed happy with just Nancy and me today.

My mW QSO this evening (for the 22nd) was with my long time friend Ken WA8REI. He said he took a video (yes video) of our QSO tonight and was going to send it to me. I'm not sure exactly what that's all about but he said it showed my S8 signals there on his front porch in Michigan. I'll have to post that to my SkyDrive site when I get it so you too can see what it's all about.

Other than that not really much to talk about tonight. It was just another run of the mill day here. Hot, but not too humid. With the sun being as high in the sky today as it ever gets, it was quite hot in the sun when no breeze was blowing. Sad in a way, because now the sun starts on its southern journey, so to speak, towards win#%r and s$%w, but that's still a long way off, thank goodness, and we've got a lot of great summer weather in between now and then. -30-

Sunday, June 20, 2010 9:05 PM - One of those pretty quiet not much happenin' days today. OK, now where was I going with this? Tom called after that first sentence, then I went over to see my neighbors and Joe. Now it's 1 hour and 10 minutes later already. HI.

Anyway I forgot to say that yesterday we had a nice antique car show in the park here in town. I just happened across it on one of my walks. It's amazing to me the amount of work antique car owners must put into their hobby. Those cars don't look like they just came off the assembly line - they look BETTER than that. I think it's great that those folks preserve that aspect of our history and heritage so well. The oldest car I saw there was a 1914 Ford. There were a couple from the 1920's, a few from the 1930's, and many from the 1940's and the 1950's. Kind of hard to believe 1950's cars, and even later models are now considered antiques. I remember all of them well from my childhood. I guess maybe that makes me an antique also?

As I started to say, not much happened today. I took a couple nice long walks and visited with Joe quite a bit. I did some weeding and watering in my garden. It's impressive how fast weeds grow. They seem to easily outpace the desired flower or vegetable plants and probably would completely take over after a time if not removed.

The next couple days, I'll be giving Joe most of his walks as Bruce is going to Indiana for a short visit, and Nancy will be working. I'll enjoy that. I hope it's not too hot so we can take some good long walks. Joe's getting a little on the chubby side and needs some good exercise and some dieting as well.

I got another fairly easy mW QSO for day 52 when KB9UWR answered my CQ after not too many minutes. He was a good op who took the time to copy my miniscule signals and wasn't afraid to ask for repeats if he missed something. Too many folks just pretend they copy you, but really don't. They are easy to spot. -30-

Saturday, June 19, 2010 9:34 PM - I just got an email from Geo N1EAV mentioning that my diary didn't update yesterday. Sure enough, the index and propagation pages were updated, but for some reason the upload of the diary page failed. So if you're just checking the diary now, you've got two entries to get caught up on. HI.

Geo also said I hadn't mentioned Joe lately. Well, coincidentally last night's entry that didn't upload does have a mention of Joe in it. He's doing fine and a source of enjoyment for me in one way or other every day.

We had a nice rain shower - thunderstorm this evening so I thought I'd try my luck at getting a carp, but as is par for the course this year, I didn't see any, nor even get anything but a couple tiny tugs on my peanut butter bread bait.

I did see a couple of unusual phenomena in the sky tonight though. During/after the rain, there was a rainbow that persisted for a very long time, the longest I can remember ever seeing one last. It was there for at least a solid hour. It's appearance changed from time to time, but it was the same rainbow, not a series of different ones. For a good deal of the time, it was a double rainbow with at least 3 supernumerary bows inside the primary bow. It was also extremely bright in the mid-portion of the hour. I wish I'd had my camera with me not only for the rainbow, but I wish I'd been able to take a picture of the other phenomenon, but it happened while I was looking out my front window while getting my daily mW QSO.

After the sun set, you often see rays in the sky caused by cloud shadows. Tonight those rays were a beautiful pink since they happened just at the pink phase of sunset colors. Apparently the lower clouds were casting shadows on the slightly higher clouds so there were alternating dark bluish and brighter pink rays. I was almost going to ask the person I was working to stand by while I got my camera, but I didn't. They didn't last all that long anyway, as the pink phase of a sunset always seems to go by pretty fast although this one might have lasted a bit longer than usual.

Anyway it is things like that which make life really enjoyable. And for sure it is much better viewing than just about anything on television these days.

I mentioned the mW QSO. Tonight it was a solid 2X 599 QSO on 40M with Pat KC8JNL in MI. That makes 51 days now and gets me thinking toward the 100 day mark. I haven't figured it exactly, but if it happens, day 100 will come some time around the 16 year mark of my main QRP streak on August 4. A quick mental calculation says it should be August 8 for mW day 100.

Now let's hope this uploads OK. I never have time to actually check to see - I just trust my Filezilla FTP program to do its job. -30-

Friday, June 18, 2010 8:54 PM - More gardening work today. After I did my weekly washing, Ange came and we planted cucumbers, zucchini, and peppers. He gave me 4 cucumber plants for my backyard along with 10 pepper plants.

Today was a sharp contrast to yesterday as far as weather. Yesterday was cloudy and cool, today sunny and hot. Still I got in a lot of walking today - almost 8.5 miles - which is more than I've had in a few days now.

Joe gave me some enjoyment late last night. Bruce took him for a walk, and when they came back, Joe came up on my porch and wouldn't leave, so Bruce knocked on my door and when I opened it, Joe ran in to see me and look around.

The mW streak is now at 50 days and counting. K4WY in VA answered my mW CQ tonight after about 8 minutes of unanswered CQ's. We had a solid although short QSO. -30-

Thursday, June 17, 2010 9:24 PM - Another busy day. Worked in Ange's garden most of the morning helping him with the weeding and picking collard greens to give to a couple of my friends.

Then after brunch, I prepared a little place in my back yard to plant a couple cucumber plants Ange insisted on giving me. I never have any luck with cucumbers though, so I don't know how successful that will be. He mainly wanted to see if they would do any better in the mostly full Sun I get all morning and well into the afternoon vs. his garden where he doesn't get much sun till mid-afternoon through early evening.

Then this evening it was the computer club picnic where I, as usual, ate way too much. However I'll have it worked back off in a day or so with all my activity. It's a good thing I'm not a couch potato or with my eating habits, I'd be a rather large person instead of my 155 or so pounds I've hung around for many years now.

My mW QSO came easily this evening. Just a few CQ's after getting home from the picnic netted a nice QSO with Ron KB3AAY. He was peaking at 40 over S9 with his 100 watts and 20 over when he dropped to 4 watts. He said I peaked at 10 over at times with my 930 mW. After that QSO ended my friend Tom KA2KGP called me. We didn't have as good a path though and copy was very rough for the few minutes we were hooked up. -30-

Wednesday, June 16, 2010 9:47 PM - A fairly easy time of getting my mW QSO for the 17th this evening. My long time friend Stan K4UK answered my CQ after a few minutes. That takes me quite close to the first of what I hope will be many milestones along the mW streak way. This is day #48, so the 19th will make 50 days.

I went fishing again this evening. A complete turnaround in 24 hours. Last night it was cloudy and cool. This evening sunny and hot. Last night 5 fish, tonight just one a few minutes before I was set to absorb a shutout and go home.

Tomorrow evening is our computer club picnic and it looks like we'll have a great evening weatherwise for it. It's supposed to be clear and cool. -30-

Tuesday, June 15, 2010 10:29 PM - I took some time to go fishing this evening now that all the sprint logs are processed and there was a lull in other activities. I'm glad I did. I had my best trip of the year with 5 suckers added to the log. That brings me to 16 for the year which is the third worst start I've had since resuming my fishing 'career' back in 1992. But maybe things will pick up now and I'll improve on my totals. I'm actually just 14 fish below average for this date so a few more good trips could improve me to being above average for the year.

I also got the chance to cut my backyard grass today. It was just about the right temperature for work like that. I use an old push mower as it provides good exercise and saves money over a gasoline or electric mower.

After I got home from fishing and took my temperature observations, I went to the shack to try to extend the mW streak. I called CQ for a few minutes and answered W1CGI's CQ with no results, but then I called K9EW who was camping out and running 2 watts and we had a pretty good QSO although QSB would take his signal from 589 down to 339 then back up again. But finally it went down and stayed down after about 10 minutes. That stretches the mW streak to 47 days now though. -30-

Monday, June 14, 2010 7:55 PM - I hope everyone took time out of their allegedly busy schedule today to honor the Stars and Stripes on this Flag Day. When many even in high places show disdain and disrespect for our beautiful flag, it makes me feel good to proudly fly the flag that draped my father's coffin back so many years ago in 1964. I bring it out on every patriotic holiday to show my respect for the flag and to honor my father who likewise had great respect for our flag.

Then this evening I attended our Kittanning Elks Club Flag Day ceremonies, and got a tremendous upwelling of pride. I especially felt good at one point when the keynote speaker, a retired Army officer said he would never apologize to anyone anywhere for our flag or our great country. Very refreshing oratory. A lot more people need to feel like that.

Oh, and I did get my mW QSO for the day this morning from W1RFN in Vermont who answered my CQ after another quite long spell of calling unanswered CQ's. Hope things will come more quickly for the 15th. I'm going for it now in a few minutes. -30-

Sunday, June 13, 2010 10:53 PM - Well, I failed to get my mW QSO this evening so I'll have to do that in the morning to keep the mW streak going. After almost an hour trying at mW levels, I went to 5 watts to keep the main streak going and answered AB0TO's CQ on 7040.00 kHz. I mention the exact frequency because I'm going to make a point shortly. Dave and I had a very nice QSO. He's just getting really interested in QRP work and uses a KX-1 rig at about 3 watts. However after about 25 minutes a strong station came exactly on top of us and brought an end to our great rag chew. Apparently he must be a channelized ham who is used to the channel type of operation on VHF/UHF and thought he had to operate exactly on 7040.00 for some reason.

Now to the point. I try 95% of the time not to operate on an exact .00 frequency for that reason. I'll operate on 7040.60, 7039.30, 3558.50, and the like as there is less chance of getting blasted by QRM on those 'unexact' frequencies. Only if I may be having a very hard time getting a QSO will I go to say 7040.00 or 3558.00 since a lot of folks monitor those frequencies, it seems.

However that is still no excuse for not listening before transmitting as that station did. He never even asked QRL?, just threw a carrier then started calling CQ. I don't think he could have been QRP either from the strength of his signal. Can you tell I'm a bit upset? HI

Now I've got to process our 121st sprint log, then close it down as we're past our submission deadline now, and any further logs will be counted only as check logs. -30-

Saturday, June 12, 2010 8:47 PM - This was perhaps our most hot and humid day of the year so far. Felt kind of good after so many cold and chilly days the first 5 months of the year. It's the kind of day you can work up a sweat just walking at an average pace. Of course my average pace is probably faster than most. Very few people can walk faster than I can.

My friend Ange was away this week, and I lucked out with having to water his gardens for him. The rains came just right during the week. All I had to do was to water some pepper and tomato plants he still has in hot boxes awaiting planting. I guess we'll do that this week. I've already had some ripe tomatoes as you know, and he still only has a small portion of his tomatoes and peppers planted out yet.

My mW QSO came fairly easily again this evening. It did take about 7 or 8 minutes of CQ's, but that's better than a lot of days. I probably could get them quicker if I went S&Ping, but I still get more of a kick out of never knowing who is going to answer my CQ than knowing beforehand who I'm going to work (or try to work). -30-

Friday, June 11, 2010 9:03 PM - I had a nice rag chew QSO with N1GKE in RI for my mW QSO this evening. Solid copy both ways for 33 minutes.

I did some preliminary cross-checking of our sprint logs today. I saw 188 different stations total in the 116 logs we've gotten so far. Maybe we'll make it to 200 if we get some more logs in before the Sunday evening deadline.

Not a lot else going on today. I did prune my roses and removed the dead flowers to prepare for the next round. I picked another ripe tomato today and had that and some of the lettuce for an all home-grown salad. I don't seem to be getting too many Siberian tomatoes after those 3 I picked on the last day of May and the one today. There is one other partially ripe one, a few small green ones, and a smattering of flowers, but that's down from previous years. I also pulled some grass from between the bricks in my sidewalk. It was a nice day for being outside and I also got in a couple walks and some shopping. -30-

Thursday, June 10, 2010 10:08 PM - I wonder how old I'll have to be before the kids don't come to my door and ask me to come out to play with them? Actually I hope I never get that old, because I enjoy it. Nancy's grandkids were visiting tonight and I got summoned to come throw the football around. So I got about 45 minutes of good exercise.

Otherwise I didn't really do much else out of the ordinary today. The river got muddy again after our 2 inches of rain yesterday so that discouraged me from going fishing. I did get in a couple pretty good walks.

Oh, I almost forgot. I did do something a little different today. I put some sealer on my porch roof seams as it was starting to leak again a little bit. Nothing like a 2 inch rain to call attention to things like that.

I'm still going on the mW streak. 42 days now when W9VC answered my 40M CQ and when I finished with Bill, Joe W4HH tail-ended me. It really is not all that hard to get QSO's with mW power.

We're up to about 115 logs from the sprint now. I got a small batch come in when I was out playing football. I think I saw 5 of them there. I'll get to them when I finish writing this and getting it posted. I'm getting more and more impressed with our sprint results. I was hoping to break our records set the past couple months, but I didn't think they would be completely shattered as they are. -30-

Wednesday, June 09, 2010 10:12 PM - I would say we (NAQCC) definitely are the premier 2-hour sprint in all of ham radio. We now have 107 logs for this months sprint with 4 full days to go yet for log submissions. WOW! That's 104, 105, 107+ logs submitted for our last three sprints. I'd love to know if any other 2-hour sprint has ever topped that. If you know, let me know and I'll give them the credit they deserve.

Now I've got to get going and post the latest scores that came in while I was at our computer club meeting this evening, then getting my daily mW QSO after that.

First I'd just like to mention we had 2.03 inches of rain today. We don't too often go over the 2 inch mark in rainfall in a day here. Probably once or twice a year on average, if that often. I'll have to satisfy my curiousity and just figure that out some day. -30-

Tuesday, June 08, 2010 11:57 PM - As you see from the time stamp it's almost midnight. I'm ready for bed. I got 45 QSO's in the sprint, and we've already received 52 logs, so it was another successful sprint. I made my first QSO with 930 mW to keep my mW streak going, then went to 5 watts. It was nice to work special event station CF3NAVY in the sprint operated by VE3RCN Kevin. That's it for now. More tomorrow. -30-

Monday, June 07, 2010 10:18 PM - Do you know that today is the 1,485th straight day I've made a diary entry on the web site? No? Well, I didn't either until a few seconds ago. I was just wondering what to talk about tonight that could be something fresh and new. That train of thought then led me to wondering just how many days I've been trying to do that. It's no wonder it's so hard to do. After 1,485 days there's not a lot that I haven't covered before.

So I guess I'll just remind you that tomorrow evening is our NAQCC June sprint. I hope it's another record breaker for the club. Some of the members, both old and new, at the hamfest yesterday expressed interest in the sprint so I hope they'll show up.

I had two mW QSO's this evening for my 39th day in the mW streak. One with Tom WY3H locally, and a solid 2X 599 QSO with NK3Y from the other end of the state. I guess tomorrow night I'll go mW for my first sprint QSO to keep the mW streak going, then go to 5 watts for the rest of the sprint.

We've had a lot of exciting things happening in the NAQCC, but one that really excites me is just getting underway now. We've got someone from Wales who is going to organize a UK chapter for the club. I've wanted to get some way to have our EU members more active in the club, and this looks like the opportunity to have that happen. They'll be more news about that coming up in the next few months as the chapter gets going. -30-

Sunday, June 06, 2010 10:12 PM - The weather man didn't co-operate for the hamfest day, but hey, we just ignored him and went ahead and had a great time anyway. Despite the severe thunderstorm and even tornado warnings in western PA, attendance seemed as good as any previous Butler hamfests. There were a few raindrops to be avoided now and then, but even that didn't seem to dampen any enthusiasm anywhere.

We signed up about a dozen new NAQCC members there. We also had some nice visits from current members. There will be a complete report in the next NAQCC newsletter coming out June 26.

I also got to see our NAQCC hats for the first time and they look great as shown in this picture.

pix_diary_20100606_01 (40K)

Saturday, June 05, 2010 8:43 PM - I'm all ready to head to Butler tomorrow for the hamfest, but we may have to go by boat. The forecast is for anywhere from 1 to 3 inches of rain overnight tonight. However in studying the radar, it does look like the bulk of the rain will go north of here, but of course that can change quickly, and if they are forecasting it to rain here, there must be a change in the works.

I had a little trouble getting my mW QSO this evening. I thought I might get an easy one in the AL QP, but all I got was a "?" from the half dozen or so AL stations I called. So I went an answered a CQ from W1KX up in ME, and we had a nice 12 minute chat with pretty good copy both ways in QSB and QRN. -30-

Friday, June 04, 2010 10:36 PM - If I had a dollar for each little bit of NAQCC business I took care of today, I'd be rich. Our newsletter sure brought a lot of feedback and all of it was positive. The banner contest brought a lot of votes to start with and it went on and on from there and is still going.

I thought I'd have a tough time this evening getting my daily mW QSO, and it was rough. There's some kind of RTTY contest on 40 meters wiping out a lot of what should be CW space. 80 meters has its share of summertime QRN. 30 meters had a lack of activity. I finally did get my mW QSO though when Joe W4HH answered my 40 meters CQ down around 7030 away from the bulk of the RTTY junk.

My fingers are just about typed out now. I'm going to update my main page and propagation page, then take a break. -30-

Thursday, June 03, 2010 8:43 PM - I'm trying out a new media player as I'm writing this. Actually as far as I can see, it's not really a media player, but a music or audio player. I don't see where it plays video files of any kind, but maybe I just haven't seen it yet. It's calle MediaMonkey and so far I think I like the way it organizes my music a little better than Windows Media Player. I'll have to give it a longer test before making it my default music player though.

Getting my mW QSO this evening was quite easy. I only had to call CQ a few times before getting answered by Walt WB8E near Detroit. So that's 35 days now for the mW streak.

I had a much harder time trying to catch a fish this evening. In fact I never did get one, and never got but one decent bite in about an hour and 15 minutes. Someone else was fishing at the place I usually fish, and I had to settle for an alternate spot that usually isn't all that good except right after a rain. And we didn't have any rain today. So my fishing streak ends at 4 trips now. -30-

Wednesday, June 02, 2010 9:00 PM - A day with storms all around us, but we had our shields up and only got .02 inches of rain so far, but there is at least one more line of storms headed this way. We'll see if our luck holds or not.

I got in a nice long walk this morning up our 'Rails to Trails' walking/cycling trail. I almost got in trouble on the way back home. But I was wise and held my tongue. I saw a couple big fellows pushing a van that had stalled or run out of gas along a street next to the trail. I almost said, "It's nice of you to take your van out for a walk." But I didn't, and probably was wise not to, as I'm sure they weren't in a mood for such humor as that.

Back to the rain which never happened. I was hoping with each line that passed through that there would be enough rain to make it worthwhile to go check the sewer outflows for carp, but it never did. I'm still anxious to get that first carp in the log this year. So far it's been catfish who seem to be checking the sewers this year. I've gotten three of them.

I know it's very late notice, but Tom WY3H, Mike KC2EGL, and I will be at the Butler, PA hamfest on Sunday the 6th. If you might be interested in dropping by, just Bing "butler pa hamfest" and check out their web site. We'll have a NAQCC table set up and will all be wearing our brand new NAQCC hats for the first time. It's always a jam-packed hamfest with a lot of booth, table, and tailgate bargains to be had. Also there is usually a VE session there if you are interested in upgrading your license class. I'm looking forward to it, and just about to gather up some NAQCC material to take for our table. -30-

Tuesday, June 01, 2010 9:42 PM - Boy, people are staying away from my web site in droves these past few days. I hope it's simply because the great summer weather finally arrived and people are spending more time away from their computers. The number of visitors the past few days hasn't come close to 100. For long periods of time, there will be well over 100 visitors per day. The only time really that didn't happen was back when Alltel/Windstream had the URL change. Now it's happening again for whatever reason.

Today was a very busy productive day. I got all my first of the month stuff done quickly for a change, and had time after that to trim/prune my tree in the back yard. I also got in two fishing trips, one in the afternoon after a heavy but short shower and again this evening. I caught 4 fish in all, 2 catfish, 1 sucker, and my first drum of the year. But where are the carp? I haven't even seen one, let alone catch one yet.

I also had my first all garden-grown salad for supper. Two Siberian tomatoes and some lettuce that sprouted from seeds left in the ground from last year. I didn't plant any lettuce this year.

The QRPp or mW streak continues and is at 33 days now thanks to a QSO with WA8BXN on 40 this evening (2nd). -30-

Monday, May 31, 2010 8:18 PM - I picked 3 ripe tomatoes today, so I made it before June 1 albeit just barely.

I got 6 more mW QSO's today to make a total of 57, and 50 were of the no-contest type required for the NAQCC challenge. On only one of the 31 days did I make only a contest QSO - the 29th. So of the 4 goals described in earlier entries, I made three of them.

I've also decided to continue using mW QSO's for my streak. For June 1 I worked KM5PS in AR on 40 meters. As I've said, it hasn't been that hard getting mW QSO's and it should continue to get even easier as the new sunspot cycle starts picking up steam. I'm going to have to add a switch to my tuner though so I can switch my RF attenuator between the two Kenwood antenna outputs. Then I can go mW on 20-6 meters also instead of just 160-30 which is what I can do now.

I hope you all had a great Memorial Day and paid homage to those who have kept our Republic free over the years and who hopefully can continue to do so. I attended our local parade which was the biggest it's been in recent years as folks are paying more attention to what is going on in our Republic today. After that I attended the Memorial day ceremony at our town amphitheater. It was a very stirring experience. I took a lot of pictures of the parade and several of the ceremony. When time permits, I hope to post them on my SkyDrive site.

Another thing I plan to do is have a page in the QRP section on my mW adventures in May. I mentioned that before, but it bears repeating because that page will serve to show once more, even more emphatically, how wonderful a mode CW is, even all the way down to power levels in the milliwatt range. -30-

Sunday, May 30, 2010 10:17 PM - I completed my full month of mW QSO's tonight. Unless I get some more mW QSO's during the day tomorrow, my total is 51 QSO's in 22 states, VY2, 8P, and HI8. For the NAQCC challenge, contest QSO's did not count, so for that, I had 44 QSO's. I think I'll analyze things more and have a report on "31 days of mW QRP in May 2010" in the QRP section of my site when I get the time to do it.

Tomorrow we honor the brave men and women who have fought to keep our country the great Republic that it is. I plan to proudly fly my flag tomorrow. The one that draped my dad's coffin back in 1964. I'll also attend the Kittanning Memorial Day Parade and ceremonies. I refuse to ignore the sacrifices these brave men and women made to fight oppression and terrorism, as some prominent figures will be doing tomorrow. Shame on those figures. -30-

Saturday, May 29, 2010 10:23 PM - Fishing is picking up. Got a catfish last night, 3 suckers and a carpsucker tonight. That's kind of perked up my interest in going to the river now. My 7 total at this point is my 13th best total in the past 19 years which is pretty low - even lower than last year when I had 14 at this point and way below my best at this point - 43 in 1994. Still all it takes is for me to just become determined to put some other things aside and get to the river more often from now on and the totals should improve rapidly.

As a result, my mW goals are slipping away. I never did get a non-contest QSO today (29th), so I won't have a NAQCC-challenge-rules 31 day streak of mW QSO's. I'll still get a 31 day streak though, but it will include CQWPX contest QSO's for the 29th and 30th. Probably a contest QSO for the 31st also. I could get 50 mW QSO's, but again not by NAQCC no-contest rules, so I don't even know if I'll try for it or not. All I need to do is get 5 more CQWPX QSO's for that.

Still the bottom line is that mW power levels worked just as good as 5 watts in continuing my streak for a whole month. Oh it was perhaps a bit harder at times with mW, but that still speaks volumes about how effective CW is with simple wire antennas and not all that great a location. All the mW QSO's came on 80, 40, and 30 meters, mostly on 40 meters. That says even more about the effectiveness of this wonderful mode of communication. -30-

Friday, May 28, 2010 3:08 PM - Just a simple entry today of about 1,015 words.

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Thursday, May 27, 2010 9:00 PM - I might just get my ripe tomato before the 1st. All of a sudden 3 of my tomatoes turned a very light red overnight. I guess it's the 90 degree days and overnight 60's that is making the change. I'll try to get a picture in the diary tomorrow.

My 930 mW got a nice 599 report from KS0X in Iowa this evening for day 28 and QSO # 43. However I just can't seem to get the multiple QSO's I need to hit 50 this month. Obviously I need 1 more for the 28th now and 2 on each of the 29th, 30th, and 31st to make it. Sounds easy, but it hasn't been the past few days now. The first half of the month it seemed easy to get multiple QSO's a day, then things changed in the second half. In the first half I even had one tailend QSO and a few that took only a few CQ's to get. The last few days if I got a nickel for every unanswered CQ, I'd be rich. -30-

Wednesday, May 26, 2010 7:47 PM - I thought I'd get caught up on a couple of loose ends or hanging threads tonight before I go and get my streak QSO. When I get my QSO this evening that will be 27 straight days with a mW QSO. So I may just make it the whole month now. I don't know if I'll make my secondary goal of 50 mW QSO's though. Oh, I can easily do it if I get them in the CQWPX contest this weekend but I'm trying to get them by the NAQCC May challenge rules which say no contest QSO's. I've been calling CQ a few times in the afternoon the past few days. However the bands sound just about completely lifeless then. Kind of like looking for water in the middle of the Sahara desert.

As far as my quest to see the moon in each day of its cycle, I didn't tell you how that turned out. It was the most complete cycle I've made yet, but I still missed one day just after full moon and a couple more days before new moon. That wasn't too bad for this area of the country and its notorious cloudiness. Now this current cycle is another story. I've only seen it on about half the days so far between new and full moon.

It doesn't look like I'll get my ripe tomato before June first this year. with only 5 days left, there are only a couple that are just starting to turn a lighter green color. There is a streak of very warm days coming up to bring the month to a close though, and that might just do it, but I'm not holding my knife and fork in anticipation.

Finally for today - fishing. Still have only gone fishing 4 or 5 times and have a total of 2 suckers. Just been too busy or the river has been high and muddy or I just haven't felt like going. I hope to remedy that soon and get some more use out of my new lifetime fishing license. -30-

Tuesday, May 25, 2010 11:16 PM - Yet another busy day with NAQCC work. We established at least a couple more records in our sprint last week. Total number of participants found in cross-checking logs, 168 and total QSO's found in cross-checking, 1433. We had 38 states represented plus NS, ON, SK, and France.

It seems the amount of work involved with the NAQCC and the sprints in particular increases exponentially to the number of members or sprint entries. But hey, I think that's great and it shows the ham radio world that the NAQCC is one of the major clubs now. Everyone who uses CW and QRP should want to join our organization. Remember members don't need to be strictly CW nor strictly QRP ops, but must show SOME interest in both those aspects of ham radio. -30-

Monday, May 24, 2010 11:55 PM - Well, we broke last month's record for NAQCC Sprint logs when the 105th one showed up. I haven't compiled all the stats yet, but I'm sure we broke more records this month also. I think 100+ logs for two months in a row is a rare accomplishment for 2 hour sprints. That just goes to show how great our NAQCC members are and how dedicated they are to the club and to our goal of helping keep CW alive and well on the ham bands.

I think one thing that helps to make our sprints so popular is the fact that we don't just ask entrants to tell us how many QSO's they made, but we require full logs be submitted so they can be carefully cross-checked to ensure fairness to all competitors. As we get more and more logs, the job of cross-checking becomes more and more time consuming, but I don't mind that since it means our club is really thriving and many members are experiencing the thrill of ham radio contesting for the first time in our user-friendly sprints.

I could go on raving about our sprints, but it's late now and I've had a long day, so I'll give you a break and close now. -30-

Sunday, May 23, 2010 10:26 PM - I did something this evening I don't think I've done since the late 1960's. Acted as a NCS. No one was available for our NAQCC QRS net this evening on 7118 kHz at 8:30PM EDT, so I took the spot and really enjoyed it. I fielded 8 check-ins from 7 states and copy was good all around. The last net for which I acted as NCS was our CW County Hunters Net.

Just before that I got my mW QSO of the day for the 24th when I worked W9VC on 40M. That's, of course, 24 straight days now with a mW QSO. The total QSO's now is 39.

Not much more to talk about now. I'm tired after a busy day closing out the sprint results, etc. Oh, we got 103 logs this month, just 1 short of our record April showing. -30-

Saturday, May 22, 2010 9:31 PM - Using the call KN3WWP and K3WWP I now have 72,139 QSO's. Add to that some QSO's using other calls like WA3IXO that I had for a couple years for my Pittsburgh apartment, NAQCC club calls KB3MQT and N3AQC, K3WWP/3 in Pittsburgh, and a couple other operations using other folks' stations, and I've made probably between 72,500 and 73,000 QSO's. Now every one of them was a 'good' QSO, but without a log to remind me, I could not honestly remember the majority of them. On the other hand, there are many that I can recall very well as I'm sitting here typing this.

After that preamble, I'd like to talk about a few of the really memorable ones that come to mind. These are not in any particular order and are far from being all-inclusive.

Working Australia on 40 meters before the sun had set here was a real thrill for me. That was VK6DXI in the IOTA contest last year. A couple other of the 20 QSO's I've had with Australia also pop into mind. Getting my 30 meters CQ answered by VK6HQ always comes to mind when I think of memorable QSO's. That was a double thrill as John again answered my 30M CQ 3 years later, and then there was an encore when he did it a third time with his new call VK6AU. All those QSO's were from near Perth which is just about as far from Kittanning as you can get and stay on the Earth. Incidentally of the 20 VK QSO's, all but 1 came with me running 5 watts. The other was from 1966 when I ran 60-75 watts or so.

Working K5D on Desecheo Island was memorable because it is the next to last NA country worked here. I still need Navassa Island. The K5D QSO came with just a single call on 30M.

It came as a total surprise to me when TA3D answered my 30M CQ late one December afternoon. Turkey is not all that common a country, and to have my QRP CQ answered by a Turkish ham was quite a thrill.

Actually any time I get a DX station to answer my QRP CQ is exciting, but most times it is from a country that is far from rare like G, DL, and the like. When I counted last quite a while ago, I had something like 30-35 countries worked via my QRP CQ.

Similar to K5D, working VK0MM on 20M was memorable as I had gotten the feeling that everyone in the world had worked them but me, and when I heard my call coming back from Macquarie Island, I couldn't believe I had finally done it. When it did happen it wasn't all that hard. I think I only had to wait through 3 or 4 stations for my turn to come up.

I could go on for quite a while, but I'll end with this one. I had needed KL7 on 30M forever to complete my 30M QRP WAS. One night I was playing computer chess with my neighbor and was late in getting my streak QSO. When I finally did get to the shack, I turned to 30M to see what was there and heard KL7J signing. Without even knowing if he was in a QSO or calling CQ, I was so excited, I just called him anyway. Well, he was calling CQ and came back to me. We exchanged reports, QTH, etc. and thus I completed my 30M WAS thanks to being late getting my daily QSO.

Well, that reminds me of one more. Working KH6 on 80M. Actually a couple more. HI Back in the 60's working K4HSB/KH6 in the middle of the night and being so excited as a teenager then that I ran to my parents' bedroom to wake them up and tell them. Then just last year in the ARRL DX test working KH6 not once, but twice, and almost 3 times on 80M with QRP. The two QSO's were quite easy and leave me now with KL7 to complete my 80M QRP WAS. OK, that's it for sure now. -30-

Friday, May 21, 2010 9:03 PM - Well, we're up to 88 logs received for this month's NAQCC sprint. Only 12 to go for the magic 100 mark. There are many calls appearing in those 88 logs that haven't yet sent a log in themselves, so it would be easy to hit 100 if only a small percentage of those folks would take a few minutes and submit their logs.

As expected, N8BB with his big high antenna out in Michigan knocked me down to second place overall, and there is one other station I figure will top my score if he submits his log. However I'm proud of my showing because it shows the CW world that you don't really need high power and a big antenna to do well. CW is such an efficient and easy to use mode you can, as one ham once put it, easily work the world with just one watt and a coat hanger for an antenna when the bands are open, especially on 10 meters.

My mW streak is now at 22 days and 37 QSO's. Only one was in a contest - our NAQCC sprint - because the May challenge rules say no contest QSO's except in the sprint. All other QSO's must be normal every-day type QSO's. In my case also, I don't have my RF attenuator set up to use it on any bands except 160, 80, 40, and 30. So I'm limited to those 4 bands where I use my attic random wire antenna.

Yes, QRP and QRPp do work and work very well when you use the wonderful mode of CW or A1 or Morse Code or whatever other name it goes by. Even with very simple antennas. -30-

Thursday, May 20, 2010 7:25 PM - A busy day today processing logs from last night's sprint, adding new members to the NAQCC, plus updating some NAQCC web site pages. So another simple diary entry tonight.

A bright fourth-grader friend of mine found a rock at the river when he and his foster dad were fishing. He thought maybe I'd know what it was, but I can only guess. He thought it might be a fossil, but I don't think so because it has many different figures on it wheras a rock with a fossil usually has just the one fossil as far as I know. If anything it looks like some kind of drawing or writing on it. As you look at the picture below, the lines on it are depressed into the rock slightly, not just drawn on the surface. It looks like perhaps there is a snake there, and some birds among the recognizable symbols. Kittanning is the site of a one-time major Indian village (Kit han ne) so the possibility is there that it could be some kind of Indian artifact although most of them have probably been found in the 250 years or so since the Indian village was destroyed. Anyway I told him I'd post it on my web site just to see if anyone had any definite ideas. I know it's a remote chance, but I do want to keep my promise to him that I'd try. Here it is.

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Wednesday, May 19, 2010 11:58 PM - 2 minutes under the deadline or it would be tomorrow. Just sitting here processing logs and posting scores from our NAQCC sprint this evening. Looks like another big month. Time will tell if we go over the 100 log mark again. The first 90 minutes or so has shown 35-40 logs submitted so far. More tomorrow. I'm tired now...zzzzzzz. -30-

Tuesday, May 18, 2010 9:11 PM - Have you noticed that the Sun may have rolled over and pushed the snooze button again? 3 of the past 5 days, the solar flux has been at 69 and the other 2 days just at 70. You have to go back quite a ways now to find the last time the SF was that low. I don't have my archive up to day, but it is at least sometime before February 20 or more than three months ago now.

Tomorrow evening is our NAQCC sprint, and I'm very curious to know if we'll have an encore performance of our great sprint last month that produced over 100 logs and over 1400 total QSO's in those logs. With the dropoff in the SF, 40 didn't sound all that good this evening, and 80 is into its warm weather QRN mode now. Still those two 'downs' could be overcome if we get a huge turnout tomorrow evening.

I hope everyone voted in Pennsylvania's primary election today. Also any other states that may have also held their primary today. 2010 is a very important election year, and everyone needs to get out and vote to make sure our wonderful country can have many more healthy years. -30-

Monday, May 17, 2010 9:26 AM - I received a couple of interesting emails about the current poll that caused me to add a couple choices to the poll. If you already voted in the poll, you don't need to do anything. Your vote will count in the final results although it won't show up when you view the current results. I thought these two emails suggested excellent reasons for having a vanity call that I overlooked when I set up the poll.

Chris K0PF, "Hello John: And to think you are a CW aficionado and missed the best reason for a Vanity Callsign: It has good "swing" on CW!!......."

Chris added a lot more info in his email that I enjoyed reading, but won't share here. I guess since my call does have good "swing" or "rhythm", I never thought of that as being a choice for a vanity call.

Chuck W8LQ, "Hi, John...... Couldn't enter your poll tonight as none of the categories quite fit me! I switched from W2WOE to W8LQ because the original 8LQ (no "W") was issued to my uncle in 1914 in Niagara Falls, N.Y......"

I don't know how I missed 'the call of a relative or friend' as a choice. That may be one of the most popular reasons.

Anyway Chuck and Chris do now have a choice they can vote for.

So far the 'I don't have a vanity call' choice is way out in front although as I mentioned, the current results won't show that, although the final results will factor that in.

To close today, a summary of my May mW streak to date. I'm now at 17 days and 28 QSO's with my 930mW output. That includes 4 entities (W, HI, 8P, VE) and 16 states. Over half of the QSO's came in response to my CQ including one from a special event station, W1S in DE honoring the 100th anniversary of the Boy Scouts. If I make it through the month fairly easily, I may consider continuing my overall streak at the mW level but keeping the option open of using 5 watts if the going gets rough one day. -30-

Sunday, May 16, 2010 8:53 AM - Let's talk today about RST's. In the latest NAQCC newsletter published yesterday, KQ1P mentioned that 559 was the most common RST he received for his QRP operations. I wondered how my own RST's received counted up. So as I mention so often, Microsoft Access and Excel make it easy to find out such things in just a few seconds. I think anyone who really likes to analyze their log data should use Access for their log. As far as I know, any other kind of log would not allow you to count RST's, at least not as easily or quickly as can be done with Access.

Briefly I filtered the log for only QSO's where I used 5 watts or less. The SQL filter also removed all contest QSO's since RST's in contests are for the most part meaningless, being mostly 599 even if it takes a couple minutes of repeats for the station to get the info.

Then the query counted the number of times a particular RST showed up, and divided that total into columns for each different power level I used. So I know how many times I got a 339 for a power level of 0.5 watts, for example.

Including the times I didn't get an RST to log, there were 52 different RST's in my log for non-contest, QRP QSO's. Some of them were strange. Access found a 068 for example. Either a typo when I entered it, or someone confused a 0 with a 5 when sending, and I just logged it the way it was sent. Often times, folks seem to think the T should track with the S or R and there are some 233 and 535 RST's, to name a couple.

I boiled it down by eliminating the T and just tabulating the RS part. That gave me 32 different RS's from 11(9) (I eliminated the 068) through 59(9)

OK, now let's get to the stats after that preamble. Counting all QRP power levels, the 5 most common RS's are as follows:

59 - 2,309
55 - 2,117
57 - 1,910
56 - 1,137
58 -   783
Of the ones starting with 4, 3, 2, 1, these are the most often received:

44 -   423
33 -   265
22 -    29
11 -     3
Interesting that all are the double figured ones.

For all powers UNDER 5 watts:

59 -    50
55 -    50
57 -    38
44 -    17
33 -    17
That shows that folks just love to give 599 reports.

Finally (I heard that sigh of relief - HI), The 5 most often received for my QRPp operations:

59 -    37
55 -    30
57 -    16
56 -     9
44 -     8
No matter how low you go, 599 is the report of choice.

What does all this prove? One of two things, maybe a combination of both. I'll let you decide.
1. RST's are for the most part, meaningless in this day and age.
2. You don't need a lot of power to put out a strong signal with the modern day receiving equipment in use. -30-

Saturday, May 15, 2010 6:52 PM - It's picture time.

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The picture of the Siberian tomato is representative of 3 other plants. The fifth plant is a little on the slower side. It will be a real push to get a ripe one by the end of May unless we have some real warm weather the rest of the month.

Those of you who have seen my other homebrew key pictures know that I don't build for beauty, but for utility. The sideswiper is no exception as you see. Just some wood for the frame, a hacksaw blade for the lever, and screws for the contacts. I still have to add terminals to connect it to the rig. Right now I just am clip leading it in to test it out and get used to it. I think I may add some kind of knob to the end of the hacksaw blade also. That may give me better control over it.

That's it except to mention that my mW streak is at 15 days and 23 QSO's. I got an extra one this afternoon when special event station W1S in DE answered my CQ. Kind of unusual to have a SE station answer some one else's CQ, especially a mW station. -30-

Friday, May 14, 2010 6:39 PM - I've just posted my new poll for May 15-Jun 14. It's an expanded repeat of a vanity call poll I did back in 2007, I believe.

I built myself a homebrew sideswiper today, and now am embarking on learning to use it. I'll try to get a picture of it in the diary tomorrow (along with tomato pictures, Paul). Initially I think it is going to be a struggle to master it. Making the manual string of dots is the hard part as in using both a bug and keyer, the string is made automatically, and with a straight key, an up and down motion makes the string of dots. So making a string of dots with a side to side motion is completely alien to any keying device I've used before. My mind tells my thumb to just hold the dot side closed, but hey brain, that doesn't work with a sideswiper - the thumb has to do the work itself. The letters A, C, E, G, J, K, M, N, O, P, Q, R, T, W, Y that contain only a single dot or separated single dots are easy. Even I, S, H, 5 are coming along nicely because they contain only dot strings. It's B, D, F, L, U, V, X, and Z that are giving me trouble since they have both dashes and dot strings. So it's going to take quite a bit of practice before I actually use it on the air.

I got a QSL buro mailing today, but haven't opened it yet. Let's do that now and see what's there. If it's like most lately, it contains mostly cards from DX that want my card for whatever reason. It contains just 6 cards. AO8FLH and AZ4F are new prefixes verified. TF4M on 40M is a new band country. OH2KW, JA7FTR, and 9A0HQ nothing new, but all cards received here are special to me, and are appreciated. Oh, the JA7FTR card is from a QSO on 29 November 1998, so never give up hope on getting that DX card. HI -30-

Thursday, May 13, 2010 6:33 PM - BULLETIN: I'm just reading in the ARRL newsletter that the FCC is proposing changes to the new 5MHz amateur band. One of those changes is ADDING CW to the band. I'll try to post more on this great development as I get more info and have time. Meanwhile here is an excerpt from the item containing a link to the full ARRL article. "....Also proposed is an increase in power from 50 to 100 W effective radiated power (ERP) and the addition of CW, PSK31 and PACTOR-III modes with provisions to ensure that such operations would be compatible with the primary service." Read more here.

At the end of the article pointed to by the link is this quote, "The commenting period for this NPRM will begin once it is published in the Federal Register and end 30 days later. The period for reply comments begins once the NPRM is published in the Federal Register and ends 45 days later."

I hope everyone will watch for the publication and comment strongly in favor of adding CW to this band. -30-

Wednesday, May 12, 2010 9:35 AM - Some time ago, a couple diary readers asked where and when I 'hang out' on the bands. I answered them at the time, but last night when I was on the air, I just got to thinking about how my activity is spread out on the bands. So I wrote a quick query for my Microsoft Access log to find out. I totalled the number of QSO's for each frequency in each band for all my QRP QSO's. In contests, I most of the time don't log exact frequencies, but just put 3500 for 80, 7000 for 40, and so on. So there were huge peaks at those low band-edge frequencies which I removed to get a more accurate picture. That removed 25,331 QSO's from the totals which left about 27,400 QSO's for my results. All QRP - I didn't count anything over 5 watts from the 60's, 70's, and 80's. Here are the graphs from 30, 40, and 80 meters.

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pix_diary_20100512_03 (37K)

I think they clearly show my 'hang out' frequencies. In 3 cases they are near the traditional QRP frequencies, 10116, 7040, 3560. The FISTS frequency of 3558 makes the 80M peak a little broader around there although it doesn't really show as broad because of the wide frequency range on the graph. I also like to use 10110 on 30M for whatever reason, probably because it is right in the middle of the most used frequency range of 10100-10120.

I also have graphs for 160 and 20-6 meters. Perhaps I'll post those someday when the higher bands wake up completely again. Or next winter when 160 emerges from the warm weather static.

After I finished the above, I decided to chart QSO's by hour by band also since it is so easy with Microsoft Access and Excel. Here's that chart:

pix_diary_20100512_04 (77K)

As you can see, the prime hours are 00 and 01Z for the low bands and 13, 14, and 15Z for the higher bands. It also shows that I'm not on very much at all in the middle of the night. The corelation between band and hour is interesting to me. I had never analyzed that before.

That pretty much satisfies my curiosity and confirms my feelings exactly about how I use the bands. I hope you find it of interest and perhaps useful in planning your band activities. The pattern should work for you as a QRP/CW op just like it does for me.

I think repeating the above with just non-contest QSO's would also be intriguing. I may do that some day, but right now I'm hungry and am going to take care of that.

Oh what the heck, I'm not in any imminent danger of starving and it only takes a few seconds with Access/Excel, so here is the same info eliminating contest QSO's:

pix_diary_20100512_05 (77K)


Tuesday, May 11, 2010 9:07 PM - I don't need no steeenking 5 watts to keep my streak going. I made two easy 930mW QSO's this evening for day 12 and 18 QSO's in my current mW streak. The two QSO's lasted a total of 37 minutes and consumed a total of 8.36 watts of power among the three stations involved. Virginia was the 10th different state in the streak. I'm getting more and more into this each day now. Just another case of the NAQCC activities influencing someone's operating habits. We've got a couple of good stories coming up in this weekend's NAQCC newsletter from hams telling how much the NAQCC has changed their ham life in very positive ways. If you're not a NAQCC member, you should sign up. As you may or may not know, it's FREE and always will be as long as Tom and I are the Pres. and VP of the club. And if you are a member, but haven't been active in our many varied activities, well.... need I say more.

It's still March in May here with a high of just 48. It seems we went through this last year also, and it really slowed down my Siberians then and is doing the same this year. I haven't really noticed all that much growth since I planted them out several days ago now. It's going to be touch and go to make my goal of a ripe tomato before the end of May. And another year is already past without my goal of a ripe one by May 15th. That apparently is going to be rough unless I get more equipment like grow lamps or a small greenhouse or hot box to help things along. Or maybe much cheaper gas prices so I can keep my house warmer in winter without going bankrupt. That's certainly not going to happen any time soon.

Paul N0NBD emailed today, "John, The absence of posts had my attention as well. You were going to get one more day before I inquired. HI! Your posts had not said anything about feeling bad but the flu stuff went through our house a couple weeks ago and layed me out for a couple days. Good to see spring has arrived and summer is looming in the near distance. Post a picture of your tomatoes soon. Mine are sick too cool I think! Have a good one de Paul N0NBD"

Thanks for the concern Paul. I will try to post an updated tomato picture soon, but It won't be much different from what I posted before as I mentioned earlier in this entry. They're just not growing much now. -30-

Monday, May 10, 2010 10:53 PM - For some reason, my updated pages didn't upload the past couple of days although my FTP client showed that they did. Thanks to Ron K5DUZ for wondering what happened to my updates and being concerned enough to email me about it. I guess instead of depending on the FTP program, I'll have to take some extra time and actually check the web site to see if the updates appear correctly. Sigh!

Sometimes it's so easy! Just one CQ with my 930 mW got me my QSO for the evening, and it turned into a great 40 minute solid ragchew with Rick KC4KNN down in NC. So now I'm about a third of the way through the month on my mW streak.

The tomatoes and beans seem to have survived the 28 degree temp early this morning. I'm trying to figure out if I should cover them again tonight. It's warmer now than last night at this time and some clouds are supposed to be moving in, so it shouldn't get much below about 35 or so. I'll wait till around midnight to see for sure. -30-

Sunday, May 09, 2010 10:00 PM - It was a second day in a row of 'battening down the hatches' against strong winds. Not quite as strong as yesterday, but still enough to produce a really low wind chill temperature. It started out in the upper 30's today and stayed in the 40's most of the day except for a short time it touched the 50 degree mark. I figure as just a rough estimate without checking that the wind chill had to be down in the upper teens or low 20's. Now tonight we have to deal with a freeze warning. I've got my Siberian tomatoes doubly covered and the Early Girls and the beans singly covered. I can easily replace the EG's and the beans, but I'd hate to lose the 4+ months of work already invested in the Siberians.

I'm really having fun with our May NAQCC mW challenge. The mW streak is now at 10 days and 15 QSO's. I just counted the states, and I have 9 so far along with the two DX QSO's (HI and 8P). Both the DX QSO's are 1000+MPW QSO's. Tonight's QSO came fairly quickly as WA2MDF in VT answered my CQ after not too many minutes of calling. 6 of the 15 QSO's have come from my CQ's, and one via a 'tailend' call. -30-

Saturday, May 08, 2010 9:49 PM - We had some of the strongest winds in quite a while today and they lasted for a good part of the day. It was even hard to open my and my neighbor's screen doors today. I don't know of any real damage from the wind except for a lot of small limbs blown down and a power outage for a while at one of our shopping malls.

Days like today make me glad I don't have a big antenna farm to worry about. My house will have to be blown down first before any of my antennas suffer any damage. Well perhaps my 10 meter sloping dipole on the front porch roof might be a little vulnerable but it has withstood a lot in its 15 years or so without any damage so far.

My mW streak is now at 9 days and 14 QSO's. I worked NAQCC member Tom KA2KGP for my QSO this evening. I tried CQ's on 30 meters and a few on 40 meters with no results before going to 80 and hearing Tom calling CQ.

I helped Ange finish spading his garden this morning, so that's all done now and ready for more planting. The NWS has issued a freeze warning for Sunday night/Monday morning, so I'll have to protect my tomatoes and I guess my beans also which have sprouted and shot up in just a few days. I was amazed to see some of them already 3 inches tall. Apparently soaking the seeds overnight before planting them really got them off to a fast start. -30-

Friday, May 07, 2010 9:19 PM - Another nice day to be outside. More garden work with Ange, walking, pulling grass from the bricks, and a walk with Joe are some of the things I did today. Didn't approach the 12 miles I hit yesterday though. Only about half that today.

And the mW streak went another day. Didn't think I was going to make it this evening, so I went to 5 watts to be sure to continue my regular streak. Worked Mike KE2EH, then after that QSO, I switched in the RF attenuator again to go down to 930 mW and after not too long, got an answer to my CQ from Dave W5DAW down in MS. Dave was just new to using CW and doing pretty good at it. Conditions weren't the best and I had trouble copying him at times with QSB, QRN, but we did exchange enough info for a QSO and even some extra tidbits. That makes 8 days now and 13 mW QSO's for the mini-mW streak.

Looks like we are going to slip back to winter over the weekend with even some s*%w in the forecast. Guess I'll be covering my Siberian and Early Girl tomatoes on Sunday night as the low is predicted near 32. -30-

Thursday, May 06, 2010 10:10 PM - Another day with a mW QSO. I worked Dave NF0R out in Missouri this evening to stretch the mW streak to 7 days and 12 QSO's now. That's just under 25% of my goal of a mW QSO a day for May.

It was another beautiful day today after a windy, rainy, stormy night from 1AM to 6AM or so. I put in 12.32 miles walking which is the highest single day total I've had in a while now. I was thinking of getting in some fishing, but never got around to that. There were some folks fishing in "MY" spots when I was out walking, so I didn't feel like taking my gear and then finding there was no place to fish. Well, that sounds like a good excuse anyway. HI. I really just didn't feel like going. -30-

Wednesday, May 05, 2010 8:47 PM - As I said a couple entries ago, I got my first fish on May 5 last year. Well, I copied that feat today and went it one better. I got my first TWO fish of the year today. I decided to try this evening instead of the afternoon and it worked. I caught two suckers, 14 and 13 inches. I also had something else on, but he threw the hook about halfway in. Probably another sucker. So the 'catching lamp' is now ON for 2010.

My mW streak continued for the 6th day this evening as I worked 8P9NX easily with my 930 mW on 30M. Other than that though, I had a lot of unanswered mW CQ's. I think it is going to be a real challenge to continue the streak for the whole month of May as I am going to try to do. It will depend mainly on how much free time I have for the bands. If conditions are good and the bands are active when I get on, it's not all that hard. But if conditions are off a bit and activity is down, it can be rough. I'll just have to try to hit the bands at the right times. -30-

Tuesday, May 04, 2010 9:26 PM - Another shut-out fishing trip today. That's 6 in a row now dating back to last year. I thought I had a couple good hits today, but when I checked, I didn't see a scratch on the worm. Maybe I'm starting to hallucinate. HI. I guess sooner or later, they will start biting. It's kind of sunspot cycle 24 - off to a slow start.

I got my mW QSO of the day today although it wasn't easy. I wasn't getting any response to my mW sigs, so I went to 5 watts to get my regular streak QSO in the log. Then at the end of that QSO, I did finally get the mW QSO. So only(?) 26 days to go now for a full month of mW QSO's. I wouldn't dash out and bet on me making it though. HI. -30-

Monday, May 03, 2010 8:50 PM - I continue to have success with my 930mW. I now have 9 mW QSO's in May so far. I'm thinking of going for a mW QSO each day this month, and like with our NAQCC mW challenge, not using any contests to get the QSO's - just regular type QSO's. That's a pretty big order, but if I spend a little extra time each day on the bands, I can probably do it. 30 meters has been the star so far. 8 of my 9 QSO's have been on that band, and 1 on 40 meters. I presently don't have an easy way of switching in my RF attenuator on the bands above 30 meters, so unless I rig something up, all my mW QSO's this month will have to be on 160 through 30 meters.

It was a beautiful summer like day today, so I packed up my fishing gear and headed to the river. I wound up just sitting there for a little under two hours watching my poles do nothing except sway in the wind. Still the weather made up for the lack of activity. I think I'll probably go again tomorrow if it's this nice again. I checked and last year I caught my first fish on May 5, a 26 inch carp. Hopefully I can do the same this year a day earlier. -30-

Sunday, May 02, 2010 9:54 AM - I mentioned a little while ago, I was going to modify my contest calendar. I have now implemented the modifications beginning with the June calendar. The modifications will cycle in each month as I do the monthly updates until they are complete by May 2011.

My calendar will only contain my personal favorite contests. If your favorites are not there, they will be found on the WA7BNM calendar. I'll provide a direct link to Bruce's calendar on each of my calendar pages.

From the look of Bruce's wonderful virtually complete calendar which is even divided into various categories of contests including CW and QRP, he apparently has unlimited time to devote to keeping it accurate and updated. I just don't any longer mainly due to my ever-increasing commitments in running the NAQCC and other activities as well. A person can only do so much before he 'burns out'. I don't feel like having that happen to me if I can avoid it. -30-

Saturday, May 01, 2010 9:01 PM - I just finished up the MAY NAQCC challenge. I didn't want to fool around this month like I did in April and almost blow my participation point. Using 930 mW, I made 5 QSO's including one DX (HI8A) on 30 meters today to make 5.5 points and exceed the participation point requirement of 5 points. I may still try to run up my score with more mW QSO's throughout the month, but at least I don't have to wait till the last minute to get my point.

Gosh with 5 mW QSO's on 30M in just a couple hours today, I wonder how many WARC band QSO's I could have made in April had I devoted more time to the challenge and run QRO 5 watts? I bet I could have approached 50 or so, although soapbox comments for the April challenge say conditions were pretty poor on 30 during the month. Still, looking back.... Oh well, that's water over the dam now. At least I got my April (and May) participation point.

EU was pretty strong on 30M this evening, but I couldn't get any answers with my 930 mW. I tried RP2F with 5 watts since that would have been a new prefix, but the pile-up was too big to break, and I didn't want to waste too much time since my main goal was the mW challenge. -30-

Friday, April 30, 2010 10:51 PM - I love days when I can keep busy all day, and today was one of those days. It's very boring and tiring to do nothing. I would make a lousy couch potato.

I probably can't even remember all I did today. I cut the grass in the back yard and edged around the yard and my garden areas. I also planted my pole bean seeds after soaking them in water overnight. Of course I took my usual walks, let's see...7.69 miles worth. Oh did I say it was in the low 80's today and that warmth really gets my going. I know a lot of folks slow down in the heat, but not me. It works the opposite way for me. I also did some shopping, and got a nice bargain on some turkey sausage. The package is normally $2.19, but it was on sale and with doubled coupons, the price became $0.55 per package. Not bad at all.

I also did a lot of odds and ends around here. Oh and took Joe for one of his walks. Bruce's son came in from Indiana and will be here for a week. I spent some time visiting with him, and I just came in from a star-gazing session with him and his dad. Now it's time to slow down for a bit before going to bed.

Oh, I can't really say much about band conditions. With all the other things going on, I just got a quick contest QSO for my streak QSO this evening. I did tune across 30 quickly and only heard a couple very weak stations. -30-

Thursday, April 29, 2010 9:46 PM - I planted my tomatoes out today. I think I know why they were starting to turn yellow. They looked pretty rootbound when I popped them out of their pots. Next year I'll have to pot them up further to see if that cures the problem. Anyway I hope they'll be better now with unlimited soil to spread out their roots.

I also went with my neighbor Bruce to Wal-Mart to get a couple things, and I picked up 3 Early Girl Tomato plants which I'll plant out in a week or so. I usually get a six pack, but I always wind up with too many tomatoes, so I thought I'd try just 3 plants this year. If they don't produce for any reason, I'll always have Ange's tomatoes to fall back on. He's always trying to get me to take some, and I keep telling him I have enough of my own already, but this year depending on circumstances I may have to take some.

It was a really nice but slightly cool day today so I was outside a lot. I went for a couple good walks, did some grocery shopping, pulled some grass from my brick sidewalk, took Joe for a little walk and sat on the porch with him a couple times for quite a while. About the only thing I didn't do was go fishing. I probably will wind up April with only one shut-out fishing trip this year. I thought that was unusual, but I see from my records that of the last 18 years, there were 7 Aprils when I didn't fish at all, and 2 others with just one trip. However in 2008 I went 14 times and caught 9 fish, in 2006 13 times for 4 fish. Best April was 1997 with 10 fish. So I'm not all that far behind schedule this year. -30-

Wednesday, April 28, 2010 9:28 PM - Hmmm, what to write about. Some days there is just not much to say that hasn't been said before, and nothing really new happened that day to talk about.

I am a little disappointed with my tomatoes. A lot of the lower leaves are turning yellow for some reason. Possibly I watered them too much a few days ago or it could be some other reason. I think I may plant them out tomorrow as it is supposed to be quite warm the next few days here. Perhaps that will help them. I guess the biggest tomato on them is about 3/4 inch or so, and there are a lot more on down in size to tiny ones just starting after the flower was pollinated.

It was a cold day today with a pretty low windchill, probably in the upper 20's or low 30's at times. We did have a bit of frost early today as the low was 32. It may get lower than that tonight and skies are crystal clear and the wind is dying down.

40 meters was very good this evening. I had a solid 2XQRP QSO with Ed W4ELP down in Georgia, and then another good QSO with Paul N9GXA out in Illinois who gave me a solid 599 report after our first go-around. I took a quick tune across 30 meters and didn't hear but 1 station on there, and I didn't ID it. -30-

Tuesday, April 27, 2010 9:04 PM - I did get another WARC band QSO this evening. I worked Oscar EA1DR to bring my NAQCC April challenge total to 7 QSO's, 4 states and 4 countries. Conditions were quite good on 30, but as usual, not much activity. I wonder when folks will realize that 30 is very useable right now and should continue to be. Or maybe it's just that other folks, like me, just are finding less and less time to get on the bands.

I made another little update on the site today that I'd been wanting to do for some time now. I made the NAQCC and FISTS logos on my home page clickable links to their web sites using the AREA and MAP HTML tags. It was very simple to do, but I never seemed to find the time before. -30-

Monday, April 26, 2010 5:50 PM - Well, I eked out 4 WARC band QSO's today to make it 6 for the month to get my NAQCC participation point for our April challenge. Eked out is the right phrase too. It wasn't easy. I got 3 on 30M - WA4KXX in AL, OV1CDX in Denmark, and KM4DB in NH. 1 on 17M - FM5LD in Martinique. 17M was quite active with both stateside and DX stations. 4B1XR was a nice prefix on 17M, but I couldn't get him. However the OV1 was a brand new prefix for me, and the OV was a new one for our NAQCC Alpha Prefix Honor Roll. It was rough but fun. Wish I had more time to just hang out on the bands like I did for about an hour and a half or so today. But there are just too many other things to do.

One of those things was figuring out the percentage of return I was getting from eQSL and LotW. I did that and updated the main page in the QSL section of the web site if you're curious how that turned out.

Now I've got to get these 4 QSO's from my paper log into the computer log, and I guess write up my soapbox for the NAQCC April challenge since I probably won't be getting any more WARC band QSO's before the end of the month. However, you can never tell. I might just steal some time from my other projects to get on again for a while. I was impressed by conditions today even though there wasn't a whole lot of activity, it's better than it has been, especially 17 meters. -30-

Sunday, April 25, 2010 8:57 PM - We did get our rain today, mostly during the night and early this morning. The rest of the day wasn't all that bad. Just some lite showers, but mostly just overcast. I got in a couple good walks, but most of the day just goofed around on the computer. I never did get to the shack. It looks like if I don't get on the ball these next 5 days, this will be the first time I've failed to even get the minimum requirements for a participation point in our NAQCC monthly challenges. I need 4 more 30 meter QSO's to qualify. 30 was pretty good this evening, but everyone was in a long QSO, and I didn't get any answers to my CQ's.

Speaking of CQ's, a lot of you know one of my pet peeves is calling endless CQ's. I heard someone this evening who must have called CQ 20 times before he ever bothered to identify himself. I never answer someone who does that unless I'm desperate for a QSO. There's no reason for it. I never call CQ any other way but this:
Then I listen for an answer for about 4-5 seconds, and if I don't get one, I repeat the above sequence over and over till I get tired and tune around a while. You know from the success I've have with QRP/CW that the pattern works and works very well. If it works for me with my simple wire antennas, then it's almost guaranteed to work with QRO and/or bigger antennas. There is absolutely no need for endless CQ's. Please don't do it.

Just to wrap up, in contests I call even shorter CQ's like:
in our NAQCC sprints for example. -30-

Saturday, April 24, 2010 9:43 PM - 30 meters was really good this evening. I heard all continents except Africa within a few minutes. My Australian 30M friend VK6AU was pretty strong, but he wasn't hearing me like he usually does. S58Q and HI8A were very strong as were a couple other stations whose calls I forget now, but they all had pile-ups so I didn't get them either. I did get a couple stateside stations though - K9DP in TN and WD5GYG in TX, the first 30M QSO's I've made this month toward our NAQCC WARC band challenge. Now I want to get 3 more to satisfy the very minimum end of the challenge. Perhaps since tomorrow and Monday are going to be rainy, I can resist going outside and go to the shack instead and get those 3 and maybe some more as well. -30-

Friday, April 23, 2010 8:46 PM - I was wondering what to write about in the diary this evening when I get this email from Don N7IGK, "John, I saw in your latest diary posting that you like to see Venus. A much better catch would be if you could see Mercury. I saw Mercury 2 weeks ago when it was near Venus. Right now Mercury is on its way to the morning sky and covered up by the sun's glare."

Actually I was referring to catching Venus in the daytime, but Don makes a good point that Mercury is a very elusive catch because it always stays so close to the Sun in the sky. It's by far the hardest naked-eye planet to observe regularly. This latest apparition was one of the best I've ever had here for Mercury. I didn't keep an accurate count, but I must have seen it on 7-9 different evenings. In fact every clear evening, and for a change there were quite a few at that time. I even dragged out my scope one night so my neighbor and I could take a look at it close-up so to speak. It was easy to spot because of its proximity to Venus. Also near the vernal equinox is the time for the best evening apparition here near 40 degrees north latitude because of the geometry of the relation of the ecliptic to the western horizon. At that time the ecliptic is at its highest angle related to the western horizon so Venus and Mercury were both very high above the Sun and thus by the time they set, it was quite dark.

Unfortunately later this year when Venus reaches its greatest elongation from the Sun and also its greatest brilliancy, the ecliptic will make a much lower angle with the western horizon and Venus will set much closer to sunset than had those events happened in March. -30-

Thursday, April 22, 2010 8:24 PM - Today was one of those days that I must have done something, but nothing really special worth mentioning here. HI.

Let's see.... it was a nice day and I was outside quite a bit walking, helping Ange prepare the garden for planting, walking Joe, and sitting on the porch. That's about all I can remember.

One thing I've tried to do, but never really succeded is trying to see the moon in each day of its 29 day cycle. Of course if it is too close to new moon, it's impossible to see it. However I have seen it within 2 days of new moon, and followed it all the way to last quarter or so a couple times. However a solidly overcast day/night always seems to break the streak somewhere. Western PA is by nature a very cloudy area with moisture from the Great Lakes, the Atlantic Ocean, and even the Gulf of Mexico making frequent incursions into our area and causing cloud formation. So far in this current moon cycle, I haven't missed a day/night so we'll see how far I make it this time.

Another thing I'm looking forward to is spotting Venus before the Sun sets. I always like to do that a few times during each evening apparition of Venus. It's really quite easy if you have a reference point where to look like standing at the corner of a house and referencing Venus' position to another building or tree. Or on a day when it is near the moon. It's much easier when Venus is a 'morning star' as you can just follow it from darkness into light. I particularly enjoy pointing it out to friends who never realized you could see more than the sun and moon in daylight. Of course I'm speaking of seeing it with the naked eye. I've also caught Mars and Jupiter in the daytime but they are right on the verge of visibility and need the clearest skies and must be high in the sky thus almost needing a day when they are near the moon. Also both must be near their very maximum brightness which doesn't happen all that often with Mars especially. -30-

Wednesday, April 21, 2010 8:48 PM - No second QSO today so the 2-a-day streak is ended, but the QSO-a-day streak rolls on (and on, and on, an....). After taking but a single CQ yesterday (21st) to get my QSO, it took about 20 minutes of CQ's for today's QSO (22nd).

'Twas a nice day today - sunny, perhaps a couple degrees too cool but still good for walking and working. Ange and I dug up the last 4 small fig trees today and leveled off the ground around all 7 trees getting ready for planting beans, peppers, tomatoes, etc. in a few weeks or less.

The tomatoes on my plants sitting next to me here are perhaps 5/8 inch in diameter. That's pretty much in line with what they were the last few years at this time, so I probably will get my first ripe tomato around the end of May or early June depending on how the weather is after I plant them out. -30-

Tuesday, April 20, 2010 9:15 PM - It was fig tree resurrection day today. I helped Ange unearth the three big fig trees. Now we have 4 little ones to go plus 1 medium sized one. Those will be pieces of cake compared to today's though. Some readers know what I mean, but I'm sure new diary readers will wonder what I'm talking about. If that describes you, go to my SkyDrive site via the link above and drill down through Gardening -> My Friend Ange's Garden -> Fig Tree Burial. That's the fall burial process. Just picture it in reverse for the spring unearthing process.

40 sounded really good this evening. I had a great rag chew about different keys with Jack KK0I in WI, and heard many other good signals around the band. Probably could have gotten several other QSO's had time permitted, but I had to get my temperature readings, check with the neighbor for a few minutes, and get here to update the web site. I don't know if I'll continue my 2 QSO's a day streak or revert back to just the 1 a day. Probably the latter. I applied for the 2 a day certificate today and our NAQCC Award Manager Rick AA4W said it's already in the mail. I could have just printed it myself, but this makes it more legit, I guess. -30-

Monday, April 19, 2010 8:59 PM - Well I completed my 30 days with 2 or more QRP/CW/simple wire antenna QSO's when I worked WA3CKA and K8WHA on the 20th (UTC) a few minutes ago. Now I'm going to apply for the award. That was a lot of fun doubling up my usual streak QSO's each day. Who knows, maybe I'll continue it for a while still.

Our final tally is in for our NAQCC Sprint logs. We wound up with 104 which I regard as fantastic. I just wonder if we can sustain a level like that or perhaps even move on further up the ladder. I'm amazed that of the 104 entrants, only K4BAI made more QSO's than I did, although N8BB beat me in score also because he had 4 more multipliers than I did although 1 fewer QSO. I guess that shows yet again that you don't really need a big antenna farm to have fun with QRP CW. I think the secret to doing well in a 2 hour sprint or any contest for that matter is to be doing something the whole contest period. That is either calling CQ or looking for other CQ's to answer. Computer logging helps too, as it is quicker to type in the info than to write it with a pencil or pen. That gives more time to be putting out RF in search of QSO's. Don't wait more than a very few seconds in between your CQ's and keep the CQ info at a minimum like CQ NA K3WWP then listen those few seconds and repeat CQ NA K3WWP, ad infinitum or until you get an answer or go S&Ping. -30-

Sunday, April 18, 2010 10:13 AM - I talked several entries ago about how the number of visitors to my site seems to drop off every year from January to May. Today I decided to analyze the drop off more closely. It shows my initial analysis was pretty close, but still off a bit. Lets look at the data in graphic form followed by an explanation and comments.

pix_diary_20100418_01 (33K)

Of course the number of month is 1=January, etc. The average by month is actually the daily average for all months from 1996 to 2010. That is the total number of visitors for all January days was 48,087, divided by 14 years (the site didn't start till September 1996, so no January that year) divided by 31 days = 110.8 visitors per day in January.

It shows a definite cycle with a double peak in February and November and a null in June and July. Apparently weather related as I surmised in the earlier entry. The minor drop in December and January are probably due to the Christmas holidays. Another factor is just when my site was prominently mentioned in places like QST. That brought huge surges in visitors that skewed the graph. Although the three biggest surges came in August/September 2008, January 2003, and August 2001. So perhaps the weather factor is the more important. Examining my full-sized daily graph closely shows that the cycle has taken place each year from 1996 through this year. It wasn't as noticeable the first couple years though when my site was gradually becoming known and there was pretty much a steady increase from its inception is September 1996 through January 1999 when the first definite dropoff took place. Perhaps I'll do another graph and eliminate the build-up years sometime. -30-

Saturday, April 17, 2010 8:18 PM - I wish the Canadians would fix their leak up there. They let some of that cold Canadian air escape and find its way down here today. It felt more like late February than the middle of April. I didn't see anything much higher than 43 on my computemp as I glanced at it from time to time. Our official high for the day will probably be the temp from midnight and won't really reflect how cold it really was during the day today. Then we had some light rain to go along with it plus some gusty winds to make it feel even worse. Overall though this has been one of the nicest Aprils we've had in quite some time so we can't complain too much about one or two bad days.

We did it! 101 logs so far from our NAQCC sprint which demolishes our previous record of 76 set a couple months ago. Almost 1400 QSO's in those logs is also a record. 20 and 40 both had more QSO's than ever before. There were many other records as well. We reached 100 in just our 66th sprint. It took the Spartan Sprints 120 sprints to reach the century mark in logs. That says a lot for the dedication of our members. It should also be said that we require complete logs, not just a report of how many QSO's were made as other sprints do. That says even more for our great NAQCC members.

I got my two QSO's for the 18th easily in the MI QSO Party this evening to stretch that 2-a-Day streak to 28 now. Two days to go for the record. -30-

Friday, April 16, 2010 9:19 PM - As I'm sure you knew I would, I got my two QSO's for the 16th early this morning in the 13Z hour. It took a bit of CQing, but finally AB2ZT, then WD4LZC answered me. That made 26 straight days towards the NAQCC 30 Day (2)QSO(s)-a-Day award.

This evening was a bit easier, and I've got the two QSO's booked for the 17th already as I worked K9LW, then K0TC on 40M. That's day 27 now - 3 to go, then I guess I'll slip back to my 1 QSO a day requirement, but of course, I'll get more the days I feel like it, especially on our NAQCC sprint days or working to complete one of our NAQCC challenges.

Speaking of the NAQCC, which I do a lot because it is such an important player in keeping CW alive and well, we are at the doorstep of 100 logs for our sprint a couple evenings ago. I believe we're at 98 now as I write this. Well over 1300 QSO's represented in those logs. We've set a lot of club records this month in the sprint. I'll have them listed in the April 24th newsletter. Gosh, almost time to get started getting it ready for posting. Time sure flies. -30-

Thursday, April 15, 2010 10:27 PM - Where was everybody this evening? The bands were about as dead as I've heard them in quite a while now. I went 45 minutes with nary a reply to my CQ's nor an answer from the couple stations I did hear and call. Maybe everyone is doing their government robbery.... er I mean income tax forms at the last minute. I'll have to get my 2 QSO's for the 16th in the morning or afternoon. I did get my second QSO for the 15th early this morning, but it wasn't too easy till WA5BDU finally answered my 40M CQ.

I finally got to try out my new lifetime fishing license today, but the fish were not at all impressed nor interested. Except for a possible couple tiny nibbles, there was nothing to show for the trip to the river except the start of a sunburn/tan.

The sprint logs have come almost to a stop now, so I guess we'll have to wait till a future month to hit 100 logs. Still I'm very pleased with the 93 we have for this month. And there could still be a few stragglers come in before the Sunday 2400Z deadline.

Oh, the new poll has been posted in case you didn't notice yet. -30-

Wednesday, April 14, 2010 11:02 PM - As of the time of writing this, we've received 88 logs for our NAQCC Sprint held last evening. That shatters our record and more than makes up for the off-month we had last month. WOW! I'm delighted! I hope it won't be too long now before we crack the 100 logs mark. Heck, we have an outside chance of doing it this month. There are a lot of calls in the logs I've glanced through so far that haven't sent in a log (yet?). If you entered the sprint, please send in a log if you haven't done so already. Even if you only made one or two QSO's, your log is important too. Let's show the ham radio world how alive and well CW still is. And how efficient a mode it is, even with just 5 watts of power or less.

Right now I've got to get the 53 QSO's I made last evening transferred from my GenLog file to my Access main computer log. Then process some more logs from last night.

We had our monthly computer meeting tonight so that's pushed me a bit behind in things. I only had time to get one QSO so far today (15th), and will have to get my second one in the morning or afternoon. I only need 6 more days for the award now. -30-

Tuesday, April 13, 2010 8:12 PM - Just a quick kind of check-in entry tonight. I'm getting ready for our NAQCC Sprint in about 18 minutes as I write this. I've got to get my temperature readings just before 8:30 and do a couple other things yet. I just updated my Propagation page and it looks pretty good for conditions tonight, but then actual propagation doesn't always follow the numbers. The only way to really know what the bands are like is to get on and check them out. That's it for today. -30-

Monday, April 12, 2010 10:37 PM - My site stats picked up a bit tonite. After 3 of the past 4 days being under 100 unique visitors, tonite the number is 110 with about 80 minutes left in the day.

My streak within a streak of getting TWO QRP/CW/simple-wire-antenna QSO's a day is now at 23 days. I worked two station in Missouri this evening. One from Kirksville AB0DK and one from Hannibal K0ZXQ. Only 7 more days now to get the 30-Day NAQCC QSO-a-Day award which is actually a 2 QSO-a-Day award as is our one-month QSO-a-Day award.

However it works out, it is serving its purpose of getting me (and perhaps others) on the air a bit more each day which is important in keeping CW activity up on the bands which is one of the main reasons the NAQCC exists.

Tomorrow evening it should be easy to get my two QSO's (and many more, I hope) as it's the night of our monthly NAQCC sprint. I'd love to see conditions be as good as they were Sunday evening with strong local skip on 40M well past our sprint starting time. However there was some minor ionospheric storming today that could carry over into tomorrow evening and mess things up. We'll just have to wait and see. -30-

Sunday, April 11, 2010 9:29 PM - I find it interesting and informative to watch the stats for my web site. A graph of the daily unique visitors to the site shows pretty much a similar pattern each year. The number of visitors always drops when good weather starts. There is a downward trend that begins in February or so and runs through May or June, then it levels off, and starts increasing again when Fall comes in September and October. I guess a lot of you who visit are interested in the outdoors and give up or cut back on indoor activities such as surfing the Internet when the weather improves.

Conditions were really great on 40M this evening. I made a couple QSO's to keep my TWO a day streak going, then went to check on our NAQCC QRS Net on 7118. Our NCS Karl N3IJR (using N3AQC) was a solid 599 and he had continual check-ins for the 12 or so minutes that I listened before going QRT to get my 9PM temperature readings. I hope that's a sign that the Elmer features of the club are starting to pick up now.

I mentioned some astronomy software several entries back. I just want to update that a bit. I finally wound up with a program called Voyager. Even the free version is better than any other that I have tried. If you are interested in Astronomy, I'd recommend trying it out. I'm sure you'll like it. When Mike KC2EGL visits sometime this month, we're going to compare Starry Night and Voyager side by side. I think Starry Night is one of the best programs, but it requires some extra hardware I don't have on this computer in order for it to run. Now I believe Voyager may be very close to Starry Night. I'll report on the tests when we run them. -30-

Saturday, April 10, 2010 9:06 PM - Here's some further info about the shoes Hush Puppies from Brion VE3FUJ, "Hi John: A little Enlightenment for you. I think the name "Hush puppies" is still around, (seem to recall seeing it) but its no longer the same shoe. They used to be made in Guelph Ont. by Greb Shoe Industry. The sole was a kind of rubber almost like a med. hard foam, the overs was made from Pig skin, which by the way, don't have any pores Now you know why your feet used to be hot wearing them. The owner, Harry Greb, liked power boating, so to facilitate his boat, he also owned a couple of Boatyards, in Oakville and Bronte (which is now incorporated into the Town of Oakville Ont), where i used to work in the early 60's, among other things, I did a lot of work on his Yacht, "Nostrum" 54 ft long, Twin Caterpillars. Being a Wood Boat Builder by Trade."

Yes indeed, Hush Puppies are still being made. In fact they have their own web site at www.hushpuppies.com. They also have the same dog I remember as their logo/trademark. They seem to have a much wider selection of styles than they had when I was wearing them.

Of course those of us who love food (isn't that about everyone?) know that Hushpuppies are also a delicious food made from cornmeal. I've even made some of them here at home, but I really like the ones at Long John Silver's Seafood restaurants.

I appreciate the info on Hush Puppies. I would like to get more info on why a bug is called a bug. I'm sure someone out there must know something about the subject. I could do a Bing search on the Internet for info as I did with Hush Puppies, but it's more fun hearing from you, my diary readers. -30-

Friday, April 09, 2010 11:16 PM - Some feedback for today's entry. Chuck W8LQ on bugs, "Hi, John..... I'm guessing but the Vibroplexes are probably called "bugs" because of the trade mark on the nameplate. It shows a 4-legged critter (more like a beetle of some kind)...at least the three units I have show the same trademark. Of course my WW2 Lionel doesn't have one!! Will be interested to hear the replies you get. My tomatoes are about 10" high under the workbench shoplite here, and a long way from blossoming, much less planting in my cold soggy garden!! Vy 73....."

So far that's the only response I've gotten. Surely more of you have 'guesses' or sources of info. Incidentally Chuck has been a ham friend since the 60's when he was W2WOE/5 in OK and W2WOE/9 in WI. Our first QSO was on May 22, 1964, some, let's see.... almost 46 years ago.

A more recent ham friend Brion VE3FUJ comments on my QRN and adds a story, "Good morning John. Your dry soil Theory has a ring of possibility to it, when you rub dry thing together you get static, so dampness makes for easier unloading of static at a lower potential as well, the way I see it. Take house carpets in the dry winter month. ZAP ZAP ZAP. I got the shock of my life some years ago now, I had built a wood cabin for a 42ft aluminum sail boat, and we had lifted it of and placed it on saw horses on the concrete floor, for easy varnishing. I was putting on the fourth coat, and about 3/4 finished, when I shifted a little to the right (working from left to right), thats when it happened, I was wearing a pair of shoes called "hushpuppie's" which had a 1/2" rubber sole and the spark jumped around that and hit me on the left edge of my left foot, abt. half way back, almost knocked me over, and I spilled the varnish. That was it for the day, the last of 2 quarts spreading nicely over the floor. I'll never use a nylon brush again. Using a bristle brush may not have made any difference, Ill never know. I'll like to add, this incident happened about mid February 1966."

I used to wear hushpuppies all the time during a long portion of my life. That's been quite a while ago. I don't even know if they are being made any more, or perhaps they are, but under a different name now. All I wear now are 'tennis' shoes. -30-

Thursday, April 08, 2010 9:20 PM - A potpourri of items tonight. When I was sending with my bug tonight, the thought struck me, "Why do they call a bug a bug?" I'm sure the answer is on the Internet, and I think I've heard it somewhere sometime, but if anyone can refresh my memory or give me a link to the info, I'll appreciate it.

I wonder if the Connecticut Huskies (women) will tie or break another UCLA Bruins (men) record. Two consecutive undefeated seasons ties the John Wooden UCLA teams. Now I believe the Huskies have 77 wins in a row, not too far behind UCLA's 88 in a row. I was looking up something about the Bruins and noticed that John Wooden was born in 1910. I think he is still living and may make it to 100 later this year.

I've successfully pollinated a couple of my tomato flowers with a Q-tip, so I've got at least a couple tomatoes started now. In looking back at pictures the past couple years, it looks like I'm a few days behind last year, but a few days ahead of 2008 as far as getting the tomatoes started.

I think maybe I'll restore my countdown and count down to the target date for harvesting my first ripe tomato this year and see how close I come.

We had some rain today and my local QRN was down quite a bit this evening, so I'm thinking more and more the QRN is cause somehow by the very dry soil. I'll have to research that some more. -30-

Wednesday, April 07, 2010 8:43 PM - Still haven't come up with anything for the countdown, so I removed it temporarily. We can't count down till summer cause weatherwise summer is here already. Today continued our warm/hot early season weather, but with a little more humidity thrown in as well. It really does feel a lot more like mid-July than early April here. It seems strange with the hot weather and the sun setting so early. Something really seems out of place. I am NOT complaining if the weather gods are reading this. I LOVE it. Keep it up.

My streak of days with TWO QSO's is now at 18 down and 12 to go for the NAQCC award I've been talking about here in the diary. A lot of local QRN on the bands and a disturbed ionosphere have made it a bit tricky, but no real problem. It amazes me how many folks think that QRP is only good under the best conditions, and they have to use QRO if conditions are not optimum. Well, I think I've proved that just isn't so. There's no doubt a KW and a big antenna farm will make getting QSO's easier, but it's by no means necessary to have a set-up like that.

I'm helping Nancy take care of Joe while Bruce is away for a few days, and it's about time for me to go over there and check on him. -30-

Tuesday, April 06, 2010 10:08 PM - I'd say my prediction of the game last night that I made after watching the first five minutes turned out pretty good and accurate. That game will be remembered for a long while as one of the best finals. However just imagine how much more famous it would have been had that last second shot by Butler come down an inch or two differently and went through the net. That would rank with the all-time fantastic finishes of all sports right up there with Mazeroski's homer and the "sea of hands" pass from Ken Stabler to Clarence Davis, just to name a couple.

More often than not, I believe, carefully watching the first five minutes of a college basketball game can give a lot of insight into how the game will finish up. Of course it doesn't always work that way - games can and often do make a 180 degree turn down the line. I think that's what helps make college basketball so very interesting. It's why I love the tournament so much. It's great to see a small school like Butler getting a chance to play the bigger schools in important games. Even though they may not always win or may even get blown out, it's a great experience for the young men (and women too - their final is this evening - I'll have to check on that) playing in the game. Beating that bigger school is even a better experience, and as happens every year, a few teams get to participate in what is called a thrilling 'upset'.

I believe I heard somewhere in the many games I watched in the tournament that most, if not all, Butler players will be back on the team next year. With the experience they got this year making it to the final and almost beating one of the best basketball programs in the country, they could be a very big player in the college scene in 2010-11. -30-

Monday, April 05, 2010 9:33 PM - Time to change the countdown above again, but not right now. We're about at the 5 minute mark in the game, and so far Butler is playing like they did Saturday - missing easy shots, etc. However Duke is not playing as well as they did Saturday, so the game is close right now - 6 to 4 in favor of Duke. So to me, it looks like if it continues this way, it will be a narrow victory for Duke and perhaps an exciting game. We'll see. -30-

Sunday, April 04, 2010 9:43 PM - Well, less than 24 hours now till tip-off of the championship game. I wonder how many folks who pick these things picked Butler to be in the final game, and of those how many have them picked to win that final game. I see it this way. If both Duke and Butler play the kind of ball they played yesterday, it should be over 10 minutes into the game with the only thing to be decided being how many points Duke wins by. However if Butler plays like it did earlier in the tournament, and Duke is off their game a bit, Butler might have a chance. I think watching the first 5 minutes or so of the game should give an indication of which of the two types of games it's going to be.

I hope you had a nice Easter today. Just a quiet day here. The only thing out of the ordinary was having a little late meal over at Nancy's. Joe was doing his best to beg some food from me, but he's got to lose a couple pounds so I only gave him one small bite. I don't have a good picture of Joe with his new hair cut yet, but here's one that I did take the day after the cut that is a tiny bit blurry. Quite a difference and just in time for the hot weather.

pix_diary_20100405_01 (44K)


Saturday, April 03, 2010 9:45 PM - First of all, I wish all of you a Happy and Blessed Easter tomorrow.

I had fun on 40M tonight. After getting my 2 QSO's on 80 in the QRP ARCI contest, - I'm going for the NAQCC QSO-a-Day award for making TWO QSO's a day in a period of 30 consecutive days - I went to 40 and got in the Polish contest after hearing a couple of 599 Polish stations calling CQ. I only heard 3 altogether, but worked all 3 the first time I called them. I got at least one nice new prefix in 3Z80PZK which I guess is the 80th anniversary of the PZK? I also worked SN7Q and SN6Z which are not new prefixes, I see from my list. In fact I only need SN1 to complete all 10 SN prefixes (excluding any possible double digit numbers).

I also had an exciting time watching the Final Four game between Butler and Michigan State. It was one of the worst played games in this year's tournament. It seemed like neither team wanted to win. They looked like they both choked up badly. Still since both teams played the same way it turned out to be a close exciting game all the way. I did watch most of the game this time. I usually can't sit through a full game and just wind up watching perhaps the start, then the end of the first half, and finally about the last five minutes of games. Even less if the game is a blowout unless the team getting blown out is one I don't care for like... Well I won't mention anyone here other than to say that I'm not too fond of Michigan State so I was glad to see Butler win. I haven't liked Michigan State since they beat the Indiana State Sycamores with Larry Bird back in 1979. I so much admired Bird and wanted them to win, but they came up short to the Magic Johnson-led Spartans. That was the Sycamores only loss in a 33-1 season. After that I enjoyed every game in which the Celtics beat the Lakers when Bird and Johnson played for those NBA teams respectively.

There seems to be a lot of talk now that the Butler Bulldogs won't be able to handle whoever wins the WVU-Duke game going on now. Well, that's true if they play Monday night like they played against MSU this evening. However if they do get back on track, it just could happen. Remember 1983 when everyone wrote in the Houston Cougars as champions against a "hapless" North Carolina State Wolfpack? Well everyone was wrong then as Dereck Whittenburg took a frantic last second shot that missed everything, but was put in by Lorenzo Charles to give NC State a 54-52 victory over Phi Slamma Jama as the Cougars were called because of their prolific 'dunkers' like Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde (The Glide) Drexler. I'll always remember that last second shot and the follow-up comments of Dereck claiming (seriously or not) it wasn't a missed shot but a pass to Lorenzo. Then the late coach Jim Valvano running around the floor looking for someone to hug. Great memories.

This Butler-MSU game while having no really memorable moments will provide some overall memories that will last. I watched the last few minutes with my neighbor Bruce who lived for many years in Kokomo, not far from Indy where the game was played and where Butler is from. I'll remember that for sure.

One fact - no team has won the championship in its hometown since UCLA back in 1972. If Butler wins Monday night, they will have accomplished the same thing. I'm wondering if Butler is the smallest school to make it to the final game in the history of the NCAA tournament. The aforementioned Indiana State wasn't all that big. And CCNY who won not only the NCAA, but the NIT also back in 1950 was a small school. Perhaps one of you reading this has the answer.

Think I'll check on Duke-WVU now. -30-

Friday, April 02, 2010 10:45 PM - Since this is the 3rd of April UTC, I can say it's been exactly 47 years since I got my ham ticket. On April 3, 1963 I was given the extra personal identification of KN3WWP by the FCC after being tested and learning the Morse code, and like my name John Shannon, I have not changed it since except for dropping the N when I got my General a few months later in 1963. Although I abandoned ham radio for a couple periods of a few years each while I was busy working to make a living, it has remained an important part of my life to this day. As I'm typing this, I think it would be of interest to look back through those 47 years and perhaps pick out the top 10 or 15 most memorable happenings along the way. That would be difficult though, mainly in narrowing it down to just that few as there are so many. Instead maybe I'll just mention one or two in each diary entry for the next ?? days till I run out, if I ever do.

We set a weather record today when the temperature hit 86 degrees. That's the earliest in the year we've reached that figure since I've been keeping records - that means since 1959. The previous earliest date was April 11 back in 1977. I hope that's a harbinger of a beautiful hot summer here. We could sure use one after the winter we had. The winter was mainly compressed into just the month of February when we had most of the cold and a large percentage of our seasonal snowfall. December and January had a mix of good and bad days. March wasn't too bad at all with temperatures averaging almost 5 degrees above normal. -30-

Thursday, April 01, 2010 10:58 PM - We had our first 80 degree day of the year today - no fooling. It got up to 82 degrees and it was absolutely great to feel that warmth after a miserable winter. I even put in some screens today and opened up the house to let in the warmth. It was wonderful not to hear the furnace coming on all day.

It was still nice this evening and I took my scope out with a couple neighbors and we looked at Mercury, Venus, Mars, and Saturn among some other deep sky objects. -30-

Wednesday, March 31, 2010 5:58 PM - The bread in this current sandwich of a diary segment or the alpha and omega is going to be an analysis of my QSO's. The last current entry way below deals with the first QSO I made on each of the HF bands. This entry analyzes my DX on 40 meters.

It was prompted by two emails from Bill N3GWI who is getting into 40M QRP with an intention to specialize in DX as I understand it. His first email asked the best times to work DX on 40M. Of course I told him about having a path in darkness to the area he wants to work or better yet having a grey line path to there.

His follow-up email aroused my curiousity. He asked the best frequency to work DX on 40M. Well, that sent me to my Microsoft Access log where it took an SQL query and a couple minutes to come up with an answer. My answer to him is as follows:

"Interesting question. It prompted me to analyze my 1,116 QRP DX QSO's on 40 meters.

Of those, 605 came in contests where I did not log an exact frequency, but only noted the band in my log. During big contests like the ARRL DX and CQWW DX tests, the activity can be spread over most of 7000-7070 or so with the biggest concentration toward the low end of that range and gradually tapering off toward the upper end.

Of the 511 QSO's where I did log a frequency the distribution is as follows with a somewhat greater concentration toward the lower end than in contests:

7000-7009 140 or 27%
7010-7019 102 or 20%
7020-7029 143 or 28%
7030-7039  46 or  9%
7040-7049  51 or 10%
7050-7059  21 or  4%
7060 and above 8 or 2%

Since the HF bands are not channelized like VHF and UHF, there was no concentration near any one particular frequency, but the activity was spread out equally among all the frequencies in each segment.

To sum up, like Gold, DX is where you find it. So just tune around the entire band concentrating on the lower frequencies below about 7030 or so, and that will provide your best chance of finding some."

I just love doing analysis like that. I think my love of statistics is the basis for all of my hobbies, as all of them are things that do lend themselves well to statistic analysis. Yes, even walking where I can tell you that since April 20, 2004 when my cousin gave me a pedometer, I have walked 29,388,302 steps for 15,371.30 miles. I could analyze that further in Microsoft Excel where I keep my records, but I won't bore you.

We had a good trip to the Vet today with Joe, and he got a great bill of health except the Vet would like him to lose a couple pounds. He was well behaved all the way there, in the vet's office, and on the trip home. -30-

Tuesday, March 30, 2010 9:18 PM - Today we took Joe to the groomers for a haircut and a good bath. He looks like a totally different dog now as his hair had grown very long over the winter as you can see from this picture from mid-late Feb.

pix_diary_20100223_01 (66K)

It was even longer before the trim this morning. It did its job of keeping him warm, but with warmer weather here now, he really needed the cut. I'll try to get a picture of his new very short hairstyle in the diary in the next few days. He behaved pretty well today. Tomorrow he goes to the vet for his annual shots and check-up. I'll be riding shotgun again on that trip in the morning.

I've been checking out some astronomy programs the past several days. I have Starry Night here on CD, but it requires Open GL drivers for a monitor to run and my computer doesn't have them. So until I get a new computer which probably won't be too long now, I've been trying out other programs. I've tried Stellarium and Hnsky, both which have good features but lack features I would like. Stellarium's interface leaves something to be desired and Hnsky lacks a good horizon view. A little while ago I found SkyGazer, and so far it looks a lot like Starry Night. Unlike Stellarium and Hnsky which are free, SkyGazer costs $29.95 for the full version. The version I'm trying now is free, but limited somewhat in what it can do. I think I might spring for the 30 bucks to get the full version if I still like it after checking it out more thoroughly.

I think everyone who is a ham and has a G or P in their name is purposely avoiding me since astronomical spring arrived. It looks like I am not going to get the word SPRING for our March NAQCC challenge with only one day left and not much time to get on the air tomorrow. Oh well, I'll still get my participation point for making one of the two words (WINTER). That will keep my record alive of never missing a participation point in our sprints and challenges. -30-

Monday, March 29, 2010 7:57 PM - As you see from the date/time stamp, it's just a couple minutes before the time I go looking to add another day to my streak. I'll probably hit 40M although I may check 30M first to see if I can snag any DX.

I got an envelope from the QSL buro today containing all of 3 cards, but those 3 gave me one new band-country (SV9CVY/Crete on 20), and two new prefixes (SV9 and UU9JX/MM). The other card was from CT8T. Although my records show I should still have one envelope left at the buro, the envelope I got today was marked 'last envelope' so I'll have to look into that.

Well it's past the hour now, so off to the shack. -30-

Sunday, March 28, 2010 9:23 PM - Kind of a gloomy day here brightened up by a couple of good basketball games. Has there ever been a tournament with so many close exciting games? I know all the tournaments have had their share of nail-biters, but I think this year had more than usual. My neighbor and I were glancing at the scores in the bracket records we are keeping and about the only games that stood out without further analysis as 'blowouts' were the 1 vs. 16 seeds games and a couple other games here and there. I may analyze it a bit further after all the games are played. I have the complete brackets and scores of all the tournaments since around 1980 in the computer here. I did analyze all the 1 vs. 16 games some time ago, and including this year, the closest a #16 ever came to beating a #1 was back in 1990 when #16 Murray State took Michigan State to overtime before losing 75 to 71. All other 1/16 games ended in regulation with the closest margin being 2 games in the same year of 1989 that ended with a margin of 1 point. #1 Georgetown beat #16 Princeton 50-49 and #1 Oklahoma over #16 E Tennessee State 72-71. Biggest 1-16 blowout? 1998 Kansas 110 Prairie View 52.

In ham radio, not much news. The bands continue to produce good signals, especially 80 and 40 in the evenings. I didn't get to check the higher bands today so I don't know what they were like. I've been trying to get at least two QSO's a day now. I'm going for the NAQCC QSO-a-Day award for 30 days which requires 2 QSO's a day. I've, of course, been getting the full year QSO-a-Day NAQCC Awards ever since we created the award. So I thought I'd try for something different along the way to this year's full year award. -30-

Saturday, March 27, 2010 9:04 PM - With apologies to my friends out in Kansas, it was great to see Butler make it into the Final Four in an extrememly exciting game today with a great finish. The game tonight is shaping up to be another upset as the last score I saw had WVU by 10 over KY with about 6 minutes left. I'll watch the rest of that when I get my web site update finished.

The bands were quite good this evening. I had two 2XQRP QSO's on 80M with 599 reports all around. In between I checked out 30M and worked CR1Z there with but a single call. Still looking for the elusive G and P to finish the NAQCC March challenge. Where are all the Garys, Georges, Gregs, Petes, Pauls, etc. when you need them? HI. I'll have to try a full court press... oops, wrong term. I mean a full next few days of on-air work till I get those letters. I've never not completed one of our NAQCC challenges before, and I hope this won't be the first. -30-

Friday, March 26, 2010 11:03 PM - Just finishing up a ton of NAQCC work after all the responses to our latest newsletter posted today. Two very good close games going on right now in the NCAA BB Tournament, so I'm not going to say more in the entry today. CU tomorrow. -30-

Thursday, March 25, 2010 10:35 PM - DX was down a bit today when I listened in the 1600Z hour. I didn't get anyone today as far as DX goes, but did have some nice rag chews on 40M. 40 has really been solid during the day and well into the evening now.

I've been watching the NCAA BB Playoffs, and right now taking the halftime of the Xavier-Kans St. game to get my web site work done. Earlier this evening, another #1 seed was eliminated as Butler (from Indianapolis, IN) beat Syracuse. -30-

Wednesday, March 24, 2010 9:50 PM - Hey, the bands are beginning to be fun again. Or have they been fun and I've been missing it? Anyway the NAQCC March challenge has got me more active trying to get the rest of the letters from folks' names to complete the word "Spring" before the end of the month. I've got S R I so far.

I checked 17M today in the 1500Z hour and found quite a few DX stations there. I worked LY11A for a special prefix and HR2/NP3D for possibly a new prefix. I haven't checked yet to see if I need HR2. Guess I'll do that right now. Yes it is new. Both QSO's came with but a single call from me.

I didn't hear a thing on 15, 12, or 10 though. They either haven't awakened fully yet or they are open and no one is going there. The second choice is probably the correct one. I can't wait till 12 becomes good again so I can see if I can get the last few countries there to reach 100. Then I'll have DXCC on all bands from 40 through 10. QRP/CW/simple wire antennas, of course. My totals 40 through 10 are: 112, 140, 162, 122, 151, 95, 137 worked. 100 or more confirmed on all but 12 meters.

I'm pretty sure I'll never get even close to DXCC on 80 and 160 though. Definitely not on 160. I do have 42 worked on 80, and that includes most of the 'easy' ones. I guess Cape Verde is my most distant African, Poland/Czech Rep./Slovak Rep. the most distant in EU (the rest of my 11 EU countries are all Western EU), Hawaii is my only OC country, I've only worked HC8, P4, and PJ2 in SA. So you can see it doesn't look good for 80M. I really should have tried harder in the CQWW and ARRL DX tests the past couple years as 80 is generally poorer as the sunspots increase. -30-

Tuesday, March 23, 2010 9:20 PM - I did something different today. I got on the bands in the 2100Z hour. 20M was wide open to EU. I easily worked IZ0AEZ with but a single call. SM0EPO and UA1CE were also quite strong but EPO wasn't hearing me and CE had a small pileup I didn't try breaking. I should have tried though as CE's name was Gene which would have given me a choice of G or N for our March NAQCC challenge. I also checked 17M and F6GC? was strong but with QSB. I forget the last letter of his call. He was running 500 watts. So the higher bands are responding to the increasing solar activity. Now hams just have to realize that and start using them.

I also worked K8WPI on 40M in the 2100 hour. A good solid 23 minute QSO as was the 43 minute QSO with N9KKY this evening starting at 0010Z. So as I said yesterday, it looks like 40 will become my band of choice in the 0000Z hour from now through the summer, but I won't completely forsake 80M as some folks do all summer.

I have some comments from Paul N0NBD here, so let's go - "Friday's wx was great 70 es sunny. Saturday we had several inches of snow and 4-5 ft drifts... Most of the snow on the flats went away today as it was 55 degrees again. I will listen for you first on 80 at 0000 then 40 to see if I can get you a P (for the NAQCC challenge - js). hope this is the last of that nasty white stuff. I and my crew put in about 40 man hours clearing snow Saturday and Sunday. Cul de Paul N0NBD"

I certainly hope you and I and everyone else is done with that stuff. I put my shovel away yesterday. Hope I didn't jinx things. HI. -30-

Monday, March 22, 2010 9:59 PM - Looks like it's drawing close to the time when I switch from 80 to 40 for my streak QSO in the 0000Z hour. 80 is getting pretty noisy and 40 is not going long till later. I worked PA and VA on 40 this evening. The path between here and Hampton VA was rock solid. 2XQRP signals well over S9 both directions for over 20 minutes. K4AEN was 40 over S9 at 100 watts, then went down to under 5 watts and was still 10-20 over S9.

I got a second letter for 'SPRING' in our NAQCC March challenge, and now need p i n g to finish off the challenge. So I need to work someone like Paul jIm johN and Gary, and I'll have it.

Just sitting here looking at my tomato plants and it looks like they have grown quite a bit since I re-potted them a couple days ago. Still as I said a few days ago, they're still behind the past couple years' crops at this point in time.

I got my census filled in and mailed out today. Tomorrow I hope to work on my income taxes and get them out of the way. -30-

Sunday, March 21, 2010 9:19 PM - What happened to spring? Seemed like we jumped into summer today. Shirtsleeve weather in the mid 70's (high of 76). Fabulous. Too bad it won't last. I certainly took advantage of it today though. I spent more time outside than inside for the first time since last fall. About the only thing I did inside was watch some basketball and eat. Well actually I ate part of my meals on the front porch.

I did pot up my tomatoes yesterday, and they seem to be loving the greater volume of soil to explore with their roots. The biggest one has 4 small buds on it. I don't see any on the 4 smaller plants although the next largest might have a couple very miniscule ones. Hard to tell.

Another thing I did over the past couple days was sand down and clean my homebrew sundial. Then coated it with a clear coating of deck protector. Actually about 5 coats. It really looks nice now with all the winter crud gone from it. I probably should bring it in during winter, but it's nice to look out and see it there. Also nice to see the flowers (artificial) on the front porch along with my porch furniture which I leave out also. It just kind of gives hope to a very dismal dreary season. -30-

Saturday, March 20, 2010 8:27 PM - For sheer continuing drama over a period of a few weeks, is there anything to match the NCAA BB Tournament? I don't think so. St. Mary's beating Villanova, Washington destroying New Mexico, the #1 overall seed Kansas losing to Northern Iowa in a dramatic finish. What more can you ask for?

I've changed the countdown above which now points to the approximate tip-off of the championship game. It's usually around 9:15PM so I'm guessing that till I get a more exact time.

I was going to talk some more about the tournament, but I'm waiting for a phone call from Tom WY3H. I've got to help him with some web site work. He should be calling any minute now. -30-

Friday, March 19, 2010 9:08 PM - A busy day today. Washing clothes first thing this morning while getting caught up on Internet work. Shopping after brunch, then following the NCAA BB Tournament mixed in with taking Joe for a walk and sitting on the porch with him for a while. Then Nancy took me and her son Bruce out for a fish dinner. Boy was that good. Home again for some more Tournament action. Then a walk through the park and a walk with Joe and some more porch sitting. Back to the Tournament once more interrupted by getting my daily QSO. Now after getting my temperature readings, I'm watching BB again while typing this.

Oh and I didn't even mention I pruned back my 6 rose bushes today and did a little more yard cleaning.

I noticed I do have a couple little buds on my tomato plants, but when I checked pix from last year, this year's plants are quite a bit behind. I think I need to pot them up a bit. Maybe I'll do that tomorrow. -30-

Thursday, March 18, 2010 9:41 PM - It was a good sprint last night. Condx on 80 were great with a lot of legit 599 signals. So far of those reporting I have the most QSO's at 32, but that will fall when those with the big antenna farms report in. No disgrace for someone with a hunk of wire in the attic to lose to someone with this or that antenna at 50, 60, or 70 feet in the air. This was our 65th NAQCC sprint and I have yet to be beaten by another ham with an indoor antenna, so that's something to be proud of, I guess.

The only down thing is that it looks like our number of logs received for this sprint may be down quite a bit for whatever reason. Maybe everyone was celebrating St. Patrick's Day and missed the sprint. Most of our logs usually come in the first day after a sprint, and so far we're only at 40 or so logs and really need to get a bunch of logs before Sunday to maintain our 70+ logs performance of the past few sprints.

Time to change my countdown above again to something else or maybe I'll just drop it for a while. Anyway the tournament is now underway with the usual excitement, usual upsets, usual great shots, etc. We almost had a #15 seed win for the fifth time ever as Robert Morris (from Pittsburgh) gave Villanova all they could handle taking them to overtime before losing by a three-point shot. A 14 and a 13 seed have won so far after the first 11 games have been completed. Guess I'll go back and watch some more after I process some sprint logs and post this. -30-

Wednesday, March 17, 2010 8:02 PM - Hope all enjoyed a good St. Patrick's Day today. It was great here with 60+ degree temps under clear blue skies. I pretty much finished cleaning up the back yard and getting my garden beds ready for planting in a few weeks.

It was also nice for sitting on the porch which I did about 3 times today - a couple times with Joe and Bruce. I also just came in a little while ago from watching to see how soon after sunset I could spot Venus. There is also a beautiful tiny 'young' crescent moon above and to the right of Venus. Days like today almost make the horrible weather of winter worth waiting through.

Our NAQCC sprint is coming up in about 20 minutes, so I'm outta here for now. -30-

Tuesday, March 16, 2010 9:32 PM - My QSO of the day came easily this evening. Two calls to TM7CC on 30 meters who wasn't really all that strong here and the streak continued yet another day. 30 meters now is reminiscent of how it was in the mid-90's when I got back to being active on the bands again. It was very easy to work EU stations then as it is now. And just as then, the activity started picking up as sunspot cycle 23 was kicking into gear as 24 is doing now. I'm sure that will be followed now by 20, 17, 15, 12, and 10 gradually picking up steam as well. Now all I need to do is to find time to be checking those bands during the day when we have the best chance of finding them open.

Just looking back through my computer log, I see my first ever EU QSO on 10 meters was with TM2Y on 11/30/97. However EU didn't become common on 10 for me until October of 98, after which it really became hot through the whole cycle 23 peak.

As far as 12 meters, my first EU there was SV2BOH on 11/5/97. Almost like 10 meters, EU became common on 12 in September of 98 and remained so through the 23 peak.

15 meters came into play for EU much earlier with G4NOK being worked on 10/16/94. The bands came into use at different times as shown by my first QSO with anyone (post-1990) on the various bands:

160 - 2/15/95
80 - 3/17/93
40 - 2/15/93
30 - 2/18/93
20 - 3/26/93
17 - 4/22/94
15 - 9/27/94
12 - 6/28/95
10 - 12/28/94

The variety of dates is explained by the fact that at that time I was using a strictly homebrew transmitter, and had to add bands to the VFO as I went along after starting with 40 and 30 meters in February 1993. It wasn't like buying a new rig and having all bands available at once. -30-

Monday, March 15, 2010 11:03 PM - Just a couple days now till our NAQCC sprint. It's the one contest I am really interested in any more. Love the 2 hour weekday evening format. Apparently a lot of other folks also feel the same as our participation is really first rate. I figure if we keep going the way we are, we'll have 100 logs submitted for one of our sprints in a few months now. That will be a lot of work cross-checking them all, but I don't mind if we are helping to keep CW alive and allowing a lot of newcomers to contesting experience a contest that is friendly to them.

80M seemed really good tonight, and with daylight savings time in effect, 40M should still be good at the time of our sprint. Heck, 20M will probably be open also, especially for those out west. Let's just hope the propagation gods don't decide to mess things up for us as they seem wont to do regularly. -30-

Sunday, March 14, 2010 11:13 PM - Well, as you see, I've decided to count down to tip-off Thursday for the NCAA Basketball Tournament. I just finished putting the brackets in my Excel spreadsheet where I've been keeping track of the tournaments for around 30 years now. I don't make predictions, I don't bet on the games, I just love the format of the tournament and how it gives some small college or university somewhere a chance to be a Cinderella by knocking off some higher seeded team. Although nothing is a certainty, it sure looks like the #16 seeds will go yet another year without winning a tournament game. Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, and Syracuse should definitely win their first round games.

That kind of goes counter to my feelings about championships in other sports where I believe a one-loss-and-you're-out format is unfair since anything can happen in a single game, and the team that was best all season may be knocked off by a lesser team, and often is.

What I'll count down to after the tip-off, I don't know yet. Brion VE3FUJ suggests - "You could count down to Autumnal Equinox". Sorry but that's a negative thing, and I only count down to positive things. The Autumnal Equinox signals the end of the best season of them all - Summer with its wonderful warm fishing weather. Perhaps a count down to the Summer Solstice, but then that would be bypassing the wonderful warm days of late spring. Oh well, I'll think of something that is worthwhile looking forward to as was the first day of spring and is the tournament tip-off. -30-

Saturday, March 13, 2010 9:40 PM - If you've been following the countdown above, you know you should be thinking about getting your clocks turned ahead one hour to issue in Daylight Savings Time. Even though that's a misnomer since you're not really saving daylight, just shifting it from the morning to the evening. At any rate, I'm just about ready to make a tour of my house and take care of all the clocks. Too bad they can't all be like my computer and turn themselves ahead. But I don't have any of those kind of clocks here. I'm just counting in my head and I think there are nine that need adjusting including a couple watches and one old computer from the days when DST dates were different. Again at any rate, I like turning them ahead in the spring for a couple reasons. First it's easier going one hour ahead on some of the digital clocks I have. Secondly it means nice weather is on the horizon vs. the fall when all there is to look forward is dreadful winter weather. Brrr.

Wonder what I can count down to now. Maybe the tip-off of my favorite sporting event of the year, the NCAA Basketball Playoffs, aka March Madness, although it now seems to stretch into April also. -30-

Friday, March 12, 2010 8:44 PM - This was supposed to be a rainy day, but except for about a half inch during the night it was dry and nice most of the day. I got in 3 nice walks with Joe with one more yet to go shortly. Also a couple of walks on my own as well.

Other than that, I finished up our latest NAQCC newsletter and got it posted. Then I sent out the email announcement about the posting. I guess that pretty much covered my day if you leave out the usual sleeping, eating, etc.

Can't really think of much more to say. I guess I'm getting tired so I'll let it go at that. -30-

Thursday, March 11, 2010 9:06 PM - I almost forgot that I didn't get my streak QSO last night. About 3PM this afternoon it dawned on me, and I rushed up to the shack. Well, didn't really need to rush since at that time I still had 4 hours to get a QSO, and if I can't do it in that time, the streak deserves to end. Anyway I worked K2JMK on 40M after several minutes of calling CQ - so the streak goes on.

The weather continues beautiful and warm. 70 degrees the past two days on the thermometer in my shelter in the back yard. That took care of a lot of that horrible white stuff. What a joy to see it turn into water. However now the fear is flooding around the state. There's a moisture laden system heading up from the gulf that will join hands with one coming from the midwest to give a couple inches or more of rain. Around here, I think a good deal of the snow in the Allegheny River watershed has already melted slowly over the first 11 days of the month, so the situation shouldn't be all that bad here unless we get considerably more than 2 inches of rain. The river will never get up to my QTH barring a flood of biblical proportions as I'm well above the water level. Even the biggest flood we ever had before any kind of flood control system was on the river was still a few blocks from here and about 20 feet lower than here.

I finally had a chance this evening to work Larry W2LJ for the first time since he gave me the bug. So I got to let him hear how my bug fist sounded on his gift. Also I have my streak QSO for the 11th so I don't have to worry about having to remember during the day tomorrow.

Incidentally in listening around on the bands looking for my QSO today I noticed a lot of strong EU stations on 20M plus the TA1C/2 that I worked with Mike's rig on Tuesday was even stronger today. I didn't hear anything on a quick tune across 17M though. But things overall are picking up on the higher bands. -30-

Wednesday, March 10, 2010 11:36 PM - This was a busy evening with little time left for writing a diary entry. Our computer club met this evening, then after that, it was time to take Joe for his final walk of the day. Add in a phone call from Tom WY3H, and.... Well I haven't even had time to get my QSO of the day this evening, so that will wait till morning as it did this morning. It took a while to get a QSO on 40M, but I finally caught K9DP to keep the streak going another day. -30-

Tuesday, March 09, 2010 10:30 PM - I said I'd tell you what Mike and I got into today. As I said to Mike, if I do that, this will turn into a book rather than a diary entry. We accomplished a lot today. I'll try to condense it to a reasonable length. I probably can't remember everything anyway.

When Mike was here last month, we started building a little homebrew speaker box that he could use with the KX-1. Today Mike added a couple more coats of black spray paint to the box. While the coats were drying we did several other things.

The first thing we did was to catch up on work on the NAQCC prizes of which Mike is the manager. We awarded one prize, and then wrote up info about a new prize just donated to the club. Info about that is in the NAQCC newsletter, so the 80 or so percent of you (according to my latest poll) who are members can read more about it there.

While we were doing that, Tom WY3H dropped by for a visit and we chatted about NAQCC business among other things. When he left, Mike and I helped Nancy take Joe for a walk. Just as she was about to go, we noticed a big dog running loose, so Mike and I went along to watch out for the dog.

Mike had a couple old computers with some personal data on the hard drives that he wanted to destroy. Since the computers were useless and quite old, one about 14 years old, and one about 7 years old, we just removed the hard drives, saved a few parts, then destroyed the hard drives. Neither of us had ever seen the innards of a hard drive before, so we disassembled them and it was interesting to see how simple the mechanism of a drive is. Of course I knew how the drives worked, but actually seeing what makes them work the way they do was something new to me and better than seeing diagrams or pictures.

Next up we ordered a pizza and walked to the shop to pick it up.

After we finished eating it was another walk with Joe. This time I wound up going alone with Joe as Mike and Nancy got to talking and Joe didn't want to wait.

Mike bought a new Kenwood TS-2000 rig, and brought it along. So when I got back from the walk, we went to my shack to try it out. It worked beautifully after we took a bit of time to figure out the multitude of controls and settings. I 'took the helm' and in tuning around heard TA1C/2 on 20 meters and tried to work him. After 3 or 4 tries he came back with WP? so I sent my call again twice and we wound up with a QSO with a somewhat rare country to christen the new rig. That was followed a few minutes later by working YO9HP on 30 meters with just a single call. Of course it goes without saying that both QSO's were with the 2000 turned down to it's minimum power of 5 watts.

We then went and finished assembling the speaker box, installed the speaker and tried it out on Mike's KX-1. The audio quality was superb. We'll probably have more to say about it and have a picture in the upcoming NAQCC newsletter.

Somehow we got into looking at Bing maps on my computer, and I showed Mike my apartments that I lived in while working at WPIT in Pittsburgh. Then he was showing me the layout at some of the Army camps he was stationed at in Germany, Korea, and the USA.

Next over to see if Joe needed to go out again, but Nancy had taken him out already. When we were coming back over here, Mike was looking up at the sky and I asked if he was looking for Orion. He said yes, and then suggested we set up my scope to look at the Orion nebula. We did, and spent about an hour or so looking not only at the nebula, but several other objects as well.

Mike asked me to email him a list of the objects we viewed, and I said I'd either do that or list them here in the diary. Well, I choose the second option, so here goes.

The Orion nebula - M42, Rigel and it's white dwarf companion, fiery red Betelguese, Sirius and Procyon, the red disc of Mars, Regulus and Gamma Leonis - double stars in Leo, the double star Castor in Gemini along with star cluster M35 also in that constellation, then emerging from some thin clouds in the east - beatiful Saturn with its rings still nearly edge-on along with Titan and a couple other of its large retinue of moons, one of my favorite star clusters - the jewel box cluster in Canis Major - I don't recall its NGC number right now - perhaps 2362 - I'll have to look it up. Then with a curtain call by the Orion nebula we closed our observing session, and Mike packed up and headed on home to Brookville. -30-

Monday, March 08, 2010 8:21 PM - Houston, Kittanning base here, the robins have landed. Yep, when I was walking Joe late this morning, we saw a few robins near the riverfront park. So yet another sign of spring's arrival has been noted.

I cleaned out the mulched leaves from a part of my garden beds today. It felt so good doing some outside work besides shoveling s**w.

I'm really enjoying working on the FISTS military award. As they do each year, FISTS comes up with some really neat year long events. What a great club, and I think after being a little down for a year or so due to various reasons, FISTS activity is again picking up on the bands. I know I'm doing my part to try to help that happen. As you know, I think FISTS is by far the greatest club in ham radio, and with a little prejudice, I think our NAQCC is right up there in second place.

Tomorrow for the diary entry, I'll let you what Mike and I accomplished or tried to accomplish during his visit here. Maybe we'll have one of those rare (for us) days when everything works out smoothly. But whether it does or not, it will be an enjoyable day. -30-

Sunday, March 07, 2010 8:17 PM - Still no robins here which is very unusual. I've been out for two long walks yeterday and today and covered quite a bit of territory. If they were here, I think I would have seen them. It can't be long now though. We're getting a little warmer each day now and may see 60 degrees in a few days. I took both walks today with just a light jacket (actually my FISTS club jacket), and was quite comfortable.

Mike KC2EGL is coming down for a visit on Tuesday for several small simple projects. However as he said in an email, somehow our projects never seem to turn out as simple as they should. HI.

30 meters had some activity this evening. I heard about a half dozen stations. The only one I IDed though was HK1KYR, and I couldn't work him, but I only tried twice. He was the first station I worked in the ARRL DX test a couple weekends ago.

Time now to finish my mid-evening snack, then I'm going to see if I can check out our NAQCC QRS net on 3575. Usually I'm in the skip zone of our NCS N3IJR and can't hear him, but I'll try anyway. -30-

Saturday, March 06, 2010 8:25 PM - I mentioned a couple days ago about modifying my contest calendar here on the web site. Chuck W8LQ emailed with an idea that sounds pretty good to me - "Hi, John..... Suggestion: Eliminate all but QRP, NAQCC and FISTS related listings and see how many complain and how many contest sponsors request a listing. Just a thought....I don't want you to neglect the tomato patch for lack of time!! Vy 73............... Chuck W8LQ"

I'm going to think about that. In addition to those suggested ones, I thought maybe add those who have good web sites with always up to date info as well. Stay tuned for developments.

After a nice burst of activity a few days ago, 30M again is sounding rather dead in the evenings. 80M has been quite good either with very strong short skip openings or longer skip openings with steady signals. The last 3 80M QSO's I've gotten 599 reports, and from the way I was being copied, they seemed to be legit 599's.

Ever since March 1st arrived, we've had great weather here, and today continued the trend. I got in a couple long walks as the snow is pretty much gone from the sidewalks and paths now. Plus I've been able to take Joe on longer walks as well, and he is really enjoying himself. We had 3 good ones today with one more yet to come in 45 minutes or so. -30-

Friday, March 05, 2010 11:30 PM - Our snow melt continued today with a high of 46 degrees under sunny skies. A lot of bare ground is showing now, but still a lot of snow piles left also.

Last November when I went fishing for the last time, I had a lot of worms left, so I decided to see if I could keep them through the winter. I just stashed them in the refrigerator and didn't disturb them until today. I was surprised to see about half of them still hale and hearty. I gave them some new dirt and now I'm just waiting for some warm days to head to the river. Unless we get some hard rain, it looks like it will be at a good level for fishing this spring as the snow is melting just right to keep it from raising all that much. That could change though as there is still a lot of snow in the watershed. -30-

Thursday, March 04, 2010 9:06 AM - Ever since I started the contest calendar on my web site way back when, it has become more and more work to keep it updated. I've always done my best to keep all info up to date at least one month ahead. That is all the info for May was updated the first day or two in April. However many contest sites seem to wait till the last minute to update their info, and I have to guess at things in that case. Other contests never seem to even bother to update their info, and a link to their site shows rules from 2, 3, or more years ago. Also many contests are constantly changing their site URL's, sponsors, etc. which makes links to rules obsolete. Many contest sites seem to dwell on how fancy their site looks, and finding the actual info is like going through a complicated maze. Other sites use almost obsolete frames to format their sites again making it hard to find info.

I could go on and on with such negative examples, but I won't, and I'll get to the point. I'm seriously considering altering the contest calendar to reduce all of the hassle I have to go through each month. I'm not sure just how I'm going to go about it yet, but look for some upcoming changes.

Incidentally it looks like other contest calendars suffer from the same things. Many of them have links to obsolete rules, or completely broken links, etc. It seems to be a universal problem. It's probably due in large part to the general dumbing down of ham radio in recent years. At one time ham radio ops were meticulous about keeping accurate records of everything. That is no longer the case. It's ironic, because with computers such record keeping is so much easier now than it was before the computer age. Perhaps there is just so much info to be kept track of these days, that even with computers, folks can't keep up.

It's a subject that lends itself to much discussion, but I'm going to stop here, lest I contribute even more to the overflow of information that abounds. -30-

Wednesday, March 03, 2010 8:25 PM - I had a couple interesting QSO's this evening. Tony KC8UR and I have been trying a sked on 80M for a few nights now with no success. This evening we finally hooked up with 599 signals both ways. We first worked several years ago, and it was nice to get together again. In fact it was almost exactly 16 years ago - March 2, 1994.

After that, I called CQ and got answered by Jerry WB0T. Sound familiar? Yep, he had some diary feedback in yesterday's entry here in the diary. That was our first QSO ever after several email exchanges

With those two QSO's, I also finished the first part of our NAQCC March challenge - making the word WINTER from letters in the QTH of stations worked - one letter per call. Took me the minimum of 6 QSO's to get the letters. Those are not the hardest letters to get as a great many town/city names have one of the letters in INTER, and the W although a little rarer, is easy also. Not really too much of a challenge, and those who complain our challenges are too hard should like this one. -30-

Wednesday, March 03, 2010 8:19 AM - Time for some more diary feedback. First from Paul N0NBD, "Your mention of robins made me remember seeing a robin in the grass south of Scatter Creek on the Petrolia road on the way home from work. The woods are heavy there and there are a couple pocket fields where they can feed. I suspect that is a good area for robins to "hole" up for the winter. I have not seen any in town yet".

I'm still waiting here. They should show up at any time now. Perhaps it's because I haven't been venturing far in my walks of late due to the huge snow cover which is finally disipating.

Next and last from Jerry WB0T, "Hi John- I enjoyed your article in the latest Fists Magazine. Well written as always. Congratulations! You seem to take an interest in wx conditions. Here are some from NW Iowa. We have had a record amount of snow this winter. About 58" total. We have 6" left to melt. Yesterday it was 9" and the day before, 12", so we are making progress. We have not gotten to 50 degress F. wince early December, or late November, and those are records here. I know you also have had quite a bit of snow as well. I wor ked abit of European DX on 40 meters the other night, so propogation is starting to pick up. (DX in Iowa is a little tougher, as we have a half continent to go in any direction!!) Sorry about the length, but just wanted to give you an "atta boy"! 73"

Thanks Jerry. I'm really not sure about the snowfall record here. I know in Pittsburgh, they were close to a record. Many cities in the east had their snowiest February ever, and some of those had their greatest seasonal snowfall also. Yessir, Algore global warming is really kicking in this year, isn't it? -30-

Tuesday, March 02, 2010 8:53 PM - Another good sign that things are getting better is the onset of Daylight Savings time. Except for those folks who get up early in the morning, it's great to have the extra hour of daylight in the evening instead of the morning.

There are some things that are humorous about daylight. Folks always seem to say that December 21 is the shortest day of the year and June 21 is the longest. Well actually both days are exactly the same length - 24 hours. It's only the ratio of daylight to night that is different.

Some folks think that changing the clocks for DST actually means there is more daylight when that happens. There's an old story credited to some American Indian who said that only the white man would think that cutting a foot off one end of a blanket and sewing it on the other end would make the blanket longer - referring to DST.

At any rate my countdown timer is now counting down to the onset of DST, since we have already counted down to spring. -30-

Monday, March 01, 2010 8:46 PM - I think I'm having Olympics withdrawal symptoms. It seems odd not to have some events to watch this evening. It also seems strange not to be processing dozens of NAQCC applications. But at least it's allowing me to get my end/first of the month things done without much trouble. I've got most of the big things done except for updating next month's contest calendar here on the web site. I'll try to do that tomorrow.

Our temperatures in February were 3 degrees below normal. I don't keep snowfall records, but I'm sure that was well above normal. Oh, say I've got to take down the countdown timer cause SPRING IS HERE. It really does seem like it also, as the temperature only dropped down to 31 degrees last night. That's the highest minimum we've had for a while here. We've only had 4 days when the minimum was higher than that this year. 3 34's in January, and one 32 in February. There was a lot of snow melt today. Quite a bit of my back yard is bare now, and when I was walking today, it was a joy to hear the water from the melting snow running into the sewers. This is such a wonderful time of year. It is just like a whole re-birth of the world. One thing is missing so far though. I haven't seen the first robin yet. I usually see them in February or even January some years.

The bands were pretty good this evening. I worked KP4UD on 30M before coming to 80M for a 35 minute QSO with WA1JHV in RI. We were reminiscing about the old days of broadcast and ham radio and how both have changed over the years. A couple of points we made - there used to be an engineer in constant attendance at a BC transmitter site while nowadays it's down to having an engineer (if there is even such a thing now) make a check perhaps once a month at the transmitter site. Don't quote me on that, I've been away from BC work for quite a while now. Then in ham radio we've gone from having to log even unanswered CQ's to not even having to keep a log. Everything seems to be going downhill, not only radio, but other fields of endeavor as well. I wonder where it will all end, and how soon. -30-

Sunday, February 28, 2010 11:47 PM - The closing Olympic ceremony was quite impressive. It was especially nice as always to see the athletes entering the stadium. I thought the difference in attitude of the USA Hockey goalie right after the loss vs. entering the closing ceremony was refreshing. The USA played a great game against the Canadians, and naturally it was disappointing right after the overtime loss, but I think the players later realized just what a great effort they put up and that any sudden death sporting event can go either way. There are a lot of great memories taken from the Olympics this year. I'm glad I watched a good deal of the coverage.

I didn't get on the bands till after the ceremony was over, and when I did, it seemed 80M was in longer skip. I had a solid 26 minute QSO with WN0WWY in Kansas for my first streak QSO for March. -30-

Saturday, February 27, 2010 8:43 PM - I started out on 30M this evening for my QSO. It sounded pretty good with the German RTTY station strong at the low end of the band and HA3FTA very strong around 10106. He was very popular and had a big pile so I only tried a couple times to work him, but couldn't.

I still haven't had time to explore the higher bands during the day as I said a few days ago. However the workload is decreasing with the membership drive slowing down, and the Olympics will be over tomorrow. That should give me more time to do this and that. But first comes my usual last of the month/first of the month rash of work. Gee, I need a vacation, but I guess you don't get that in retirement. HI.

Joe had fun walking (running) in the snow today when I took him out. He likes it when it's not too deep. On our walk this evening, we had company as Nancy's three grandkids came along.

Almost time now to go get my weather readings, then I guess I'll do some Olympics watching. -30-

Friday, February 26, 2010 11:41 PM - I thought I'd try 30M this evening to get a quick DX QSO since it was near Olympics time when I got to the shack. However unlike the past few nights, it was devoid of activity except for a small pileup of 7 area stations chasing some DX that I couldn't hear. So I went back to old faithful 80M, and it wasn't very faithful to me this evening. It took over a half hour of calling CQ to get my QSO, but it turned out to be a nice rag chew with Bill KY8W, a fellow FISTS member.

We're getting more s#%w tonight. Although it's hard to tell with the strong winds drifting it, I'd say we got around 4-5 inches so far. It's slowed down now though. It looks like weather-wise this year we may have to wait till astronomical spring to improve things, although AccuWeather does show a warming trend starting the middle of next week. I think that may just be wishful thinking though. I feel we're going to have something like we had in March 1960 when it stayed pretty much below freezing the first 3/4 of the month. Time will tell, as the saying goes. And I'm going now to have a snack and listen to an old Fibber McGee and Molly radio program. -30-

Thursday, February 25, 2010 11:51 AM - I'm pausing in NAQCC application processing to get caught up on other things like diary feedback, guestbook postings, etc.

Here's what Paul N0NBD offers, "The picture of Joe is a good one. He always seem to have the "Joe" attitude on... I love it. Burt says hello and would like to go for 4 walks a day. The best Burt gets is 2. Here is Burt the fishing dog de Paul N0NBD"

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From Brion VE3FUJ, "Hi John. As for the snow IT will just ignore Your NO VACANCY sign. Why don't You put up a sign with an ARROW pointing North VACANCY 210 miles that way? Since Your going to put up a sign anyway? Brion VE3FUJ"

I guess that catches up on the comments. Back to other work now. -30-

Wednesday, February 24, 2010 11:10 PM - The broken record continues. NAQCC applications, eating, watching Olympics, walking Joe have consumed another day here. I think the end of the applications is in sight though, so maybe I can get to doing something different. And of course the Olympics will be ending Sunday. I'll miss watching them. I've really enjoyed it, especially because I was watching them next door and not here. When I used to watch television here, I'd always be doing something else at the same time. Over there, I just concentrate on watching the show and really get more out of it. I saw a lot of great moments in the last 12-13 days. The ladies freestyle comes up tomorrow and that's always a joy to watch, although the USA chances for a medal are not that great this year.

Well, think I'll process a few more applications now before going to bed. -30-

Tuesday, February 23, 2010 9:02 PM - For the second evening in a row, my streak QSO came on 30M. A quick QSO with KP2/K3CT that took but a single call. It's so nice to see 30M open nicely in the evenings again as the new sunspot cycle continues to advance. Hopefully when the NAQCC membership drive slacks off, I can get to checking 17, 15, and 12 during the day to see what those bands are like now. 15 was certainly good during the ARRL DX Test, but then those big contests always seem to make the bands sound good at any time. The real test comes on normal non-contest days.

As I promised here's a picture of Joe from a couple days ago when he was visiting over here.

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Monday, February 22, 2010 7:53 PM - Another nice snow-melting day. What a great sight it is to see snow departing. It wasn't sunny, but temps in the upper 40's did their job anyway.

30M was really good this evening. Some stations closing out their stay in the country they operated from in the ARRL DX Test plus a good mix of other stations. I had a short rag chew with KD5RDD in New Mexico, and could have added more QSO's if there would have been time. However I'm racing now to get things done to go watch the Olympics with Nancy and Joe. Joe spent a good part of the day with me today over here while Nancy was working. I got a nice picture of him which I have to crop, then I'll post it here. That picture I posted several days ago was from early 2009. This one will be up to date. Time to go now. -30-

Sunday, February 21, 2010 8:39 PM - I had a great time in the ARRL DX Test although I only put in something like 5-6 hours for 92 QSO's in 69 multipliers. I wasn't really going for score, but as I said yesterday, just kind of testing out the bands to see what shape they were in. I think 15 and 20 were not quite as good as yesterday, but still provided those deep into EU QSO's that came quite easily, then later 15 switched to the other direction and gave me 2 easy KH6 QSO's and TX4T which I thought for a while was a new overall country till I found out it was just French Polynesia. Still nice to work it, and it was a new band country, but not as thrilling as a new overall one would have been.

I'm just wrapping up some loose ends here, then going next door to watch some more Olympics and take Joe for his last walk of the day a little later. Tomorrow it's back to processing more NAQCC applications. The queue is down to 130 or so now with only a handful of new ones coming in today. So hopefully in a couple days I can get back to a 'normal' life, whatever that is. HI. But then, I've got the newsletter to produce. I guess it never ends which is good because I don't take 'doing nothing' at all well and always like to keep busy. No couch potato in this house. -30-

Saturday, February 20, 2010 9:30 PM - 15M sounded pretty much like it did several years ago when I checked it this morning. I got in the ARRL DX Test during a break in my other routines. It was easy working deep into Europe with QSO's with UR, YL, OH. I only made about 20 QSO's, but I was really just testing out the band seeing just where I could work into. I probably could have easily gotten 100 QSO's in 2-3 hours including 20M as well. Now if I can just find the time to get back into the DX contests, it should be fun again.

Much more snow melted today and a couple of huge icicles came down harmlessly today on Nancy's house. I've taken some pictures of them, and when this membership blitz for the NAQCC winds down, I'll post some more pictures. The incoming applications are slowing down now, and I'm making some headway. The queue was up around 200 at one point and was staying there as I couldn't get ahead of it, but now it's down to around 140 with only a couple new ones trickling in. -30-

Friday, February 19, 2010 11:55 PM - To keep this from sounding like a broken record, I won't mention it was another day filled with processing NAQCC applications and watching the Olympics. Oh, hmmm, I just did mention it again, didn't I?

Well other than that, it was a day that provided me with one of my favorite sights, that of watching the snow slowly melt away. Actually we had a pretty good melt the past couple days, and that's great. The sooner the stuff is gone, the better. Just so it doesn't melt too fast and cause flooding.

I never did get my QSO for today (20th) yet. I'll pick up some DX contacts in the ARRL DX test in the morning. That's a virtual certainty. The bands may be the best they've been for the test in a few years now with sunspot cycle 24 finally picking up steam. -30-

Thursday, February 18, 2010 11:55 PM - Processing applications and watching the Olympics filled my day again. We've garnered almost 300 new NAQCC members with our latest membership drive, and processing each one takes a couple minutes if everything goes smoothly and a bit more if it doesn't. So it's very time-consuming and brain-draining, but great to see our club grow so fast. I had set a goal of 5,000 members by the end of 2010. It'll be a stretch, but we just might make it. A few things left to do, then off to bed. -30-

Wednesday, February 17, 2010 7:56 PM - Processed 41 new NAQCC members today. I'm beat. Worked R1ANB for my daily QSO. First Antarctica QSO in quite a while now. He was very fluttery. Off to get a snack and watch the Olympics now. -30-

Tuesday, February 16, 2010 11:44 PM - I worked my first DX of the year today - PJ2/W8AV on 30M. A lot of stations getting ready for the ARRL DX Test should make the next few days interesting for working DX. I probably won't have much time to chase any though. I'll hopefully be busy processing NAQCC applications as we're starting our recruitment drive for 2010.

We had a little more snow today - about 3 inches - hardly noticeable on top of what still remains from the last two storms.

I've been enjoying watching the Olympics, especially the figure skating the past couple evenings.

Not much else to talk about as once again it's getting late, almost midnight. -30-

Monday, February 15, 2010 11:59 PM - Two (three) things basically occupied all my time today in an enjoyable way. My friend Mike visited and it's always a great time when we get together. A good part of the evening was then spent watching the olympics. Then of course taking Joe for his 4 regular daily walks. As a result it's now actually past midnite instead of what the timeline says, so I'm outta here. More tomorrow. -30-

Sunday, February 14, 2010 8:13 PM - Just taking time out now from finalizing our NAQCC sprint results. We wound up with 76 logs submitted for a new record. 1160 QSO's were in the logs for, I believe, another new record. I'll check later. I haven't counted the participants nor the number of states yet. The bottom line is it was a great sprint and shows the NAQCC is becoming more and more a major league club.

I'm thinking of putting up a NO VACANCY sign for the snow that's coming tomorrow. There just isn't much room left for any more of the ugly white stuff. I don't think the sign will help though.

Well, back to work on the sprint now, and then I think I'll go watch some of the Olympics next door. Pairs figure skating is supposed to be on tonight and I like to watch that as does Nancy. I don't know about Joe. -30-

Saturday, February 13, 2010 1:27 PM - I really enjoyed watching the Olympics opening ceremony last night with Joe and Nancy. That was some spectacular stuff, but I guess you can do that kind of stuff with 40 million bucks, can't you?

I hope to watch some of the events over the next 16 days or so, either next door or here on the computer. I'd like to watch the downhill and slalom skiing and some of the skating events. Oh and the ski jumping also.

I think my most memorable Olympic moments were watching Olga Korbut coming close to getting the first perfect 10 ever in gymnastics then Nadia Comaneci doing so 4 years later, and the downhill run by Franz Klammer. Of course, those are only a couple among many, but those couple are the first ones to come to mind.

Let's take care of a bit of feedback now.

Paul N0NBD, "WOW great looking Siberian Tomato!!! Wow on the 2 ft of snow. Some of the ground is white here but going fast and Joe was looking good.. de Paul N0NBD"

And Geoffrey AE4RV, "Hi, John, I know you're not a cat-guy but I thought you might enjoy seeing the feature Jeff K1NSS did on my pets (http://www.dashtoons.com/OP.html). He is asking for readers to submit pet pics with a radio theme. His Dash the Dog-Faced Ham cartoons are really great, in my humble opinion. Sorry about all the side-scrolling though - his site is best viewed on a large monitor...de geoff ae4rv" -30-

Friday, February 12, 2010 8:14 PM - I just finished a QSO with KA2KGP whom I have worked several times, and also met in person a few times at hamfests. Tom is a deaf (hearing impaired) ham who loves to operate CW. He has become a very good contester thanks in large part to our NAQCC sprints. In fact he won our special mW sprint in December. Near the end of our QSO he mentioned something that caught my ear (no pun intended). He said he would like to see some kind of a club for deaf hams in the future. I think that is a great idea, and I wonder if perhaps there already such an organization. Also I wonder what your thoughts are on such a club. I'd especially like to hear from any of you who might be hearing impaired.

I just put the propagation numbers in my web page, and it looks like we might break the 100 barrier in SF for the first time in quite a while. There are a lot of cycle 24 spots on the sun and they are generating some storminess in the ionosphere with some level 1 radio blackouts. Take a look at my propagation page to see what's going on. It's starting to change now from the same boring thing day in and day out for so long now. -30-

Thursday, February 11, 2010 8:53 PM - Picture day today.

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UL - My Siberian Tomato plant (on steroids?). It's far ahead of my other 4 plants as of today.

UR - The Siberian Tomato plant that went into a coma or slept or whatever for over 3 weeks with no visible signs of growth is catching up to the other 3 plants (excluding the steroid one).

LL - The top of a giant vanila ice cream cone.... oh wait, no, it's just my pine tree in the back yard after 2 feet of snow.

LR - Heeeere's Joe! For those of you who haven't seen him before, here's who I'm referring to when I mention Joe. Right now I'm going to go out and get my weather readings, then go over with Joe and wait for Nancy to get home from work. -30-

Wednesday, February 10, 2010 8:36 PM - Boy has this been a busy day with NAQCC work. I'm snowed under (ohh, bad analogy) with sprint logs and membership applications with a few awards thrown in for good measure. I think we're already at 70 logs submitted, just a couple from our record. There are about 800 QSO's total for cross-checking so far with a couple 'big gun' contester's logs still being waited on. I figure N8BB and N4BP will probably be in the 40-50 QSO range if they do submit a log. Possibly even more.

However to change the subject, I wanted to talk a bit more about the zero beat information I presented a couple nights ago. Of the 42 rigs I recorded, 15 were low in frequency, 14 were zero beat, and 13 were high in frequency. How's that for a nice balance?

Only 6 rigs showed any noticeable drift in frequency, and all 6 drifted lower in frequency. I didn't record the amount of drift, but the rigs that drifted were a TS-830S, Drake C-line, 2 TS-520's, a homebrew, and a TT Omni-5.

The amount of offset from zero beat ranged from -650 to +570 Hz. Now there may have been other rigs that were further off than that, but I normally only tune around +/- 500 Hz after a CQ.

There was no corelation between the age of a rig and how far off frequency it was to my knowledge. I'm not all that familiar with the age of rigs since I never owned nor even shopped for a commercial transmitter or transceiver until 1999 when I bought my first transceiver, the TS-570D. Before that I always used homebrew transmitters and a variety of receivers. Perhaps someone who is interested enough to download the spreadsheet and analyze it for age of rig will send a report I can post here.

Well back to work on NAQCC stuff now, then I'll take Joe for his last walk of the day. I'll have to post a picture of Joe for those of you new to the diary. Maybe tomorrow. -30-

Tuesday, February 09, 2010 11:50 PM - I meant to do this before the sprint this evening, but got involved in some other things. Now it's just too late to say much. The early part of this latest snow storm kind of fizzled out, but we're still not out of the woods as it can still strengthen there off the coast and bring in some Atlantic moisture to give us several inches overnight and tomorrow. I don't think (knock on wood) we're going to get another 15 inches like we did in the last storm. More tomorrow. -30-

Monday, February 08, 2010 9:19 PM - A few months ago I had a discussion about zero beating here in the diary. One of my readers (I forget who now - sorry) suggested that it might be due to the rigs used rather than the operators. Personally I thought that every rig that is not crystal controlled could be used to zero beat a station as long as the operator knew the particular quirks of that rig. At any rate, we thought that making a list of the rigs that I worked by someone answering my CQ's and how far off zero beat they were might be interesting. I didn't keep track of every rig I worked, but tonight I added #42 to the list and thought I would close out the survey with a report. Now if you want the full report listing all 42 rigs, it's available in Excel format for download here. It lists the model number, how far + or - off of zero beat, and as an additional stat, if the rig was steady or drifted. The second column is in Hz. The third column lists S for steady, D for drifted down in frequency, and U for drifted up, although there weren't any that did drift higher in frequency.

I think it more or less confirms my thought that it's largely the operator causing the lack of zero beating, rather than the rig. However the data is up for analysis and comment for anyone who wishes to do so. I'll put your report here in the diary.

Let's do a little feedback now. Brion VE3FUJ offers some comments on the things I've been saying about the weather, "Hi John Just to let you know, I envy you your snow. We haven't had nearly enough this year about 1/3 of our normal. I'm not at all an outdoors Person, I don't Ski ,skate, snowmobile or make snowmen, However, I do like snow, but the only thing I do with it, is look at it walk in it or shovel it. Then I wonder if you have considered the alternative to living in snow Country, such as living in Florida with its Hurricanes, Temps. in the high 30's low to mid 40's humidity in the upper 90's, sinkholes or perhaps California, with its Earthquakes, Mudslides, heavy rains, flooding, Smog and Wildfires. even Paradise has its draw backs. A friend of mine used to live in California, then when he retired he moved to Hawaii, which he considered to be Paradise, to get away from earth tremors, now he sits on top of a volcano. More snow equate with more hobby time. In a small way I'm trying to make Your day. 72 Brion. -30-"

Actually when you get down to analyzing all the 50 states, Western PA is one of the best places to live as far as weather goes. We have very little in the way of severe weather extremes here. For the most part, no flooding rains, no massive snowfalls, no tornadoes, no hurricanes, no really bitter cold, no really oppressive heat, etc. However I still don't like the snow, and that's that. I don't think the folks in Pittsburgh which is in a state of emergency because of the snow like it either. Now we're going to get several more inches tomorrow on top of the 15 inches we got over the weekend. Come on, Spring!!!.

Also come on good propagation for our NAQCC sprint tomorrow evening. -30-

Sunday, February 07, 2010 8:01 PM - I'm doing this at the half-time of the Super Bowl. I wasn't really going to watch it, but Nancy (and Joe) asked me if I wanted to watch it with them, so I am. However I never care for the half time Super Bowl shows, so I'm getting some things done at half time, then I'll go back over and watch the rest of the game.

My daily QSO came quickly when I turned on the rig and heard N5UL in the NM QSO party and worked him easily on 80M. I bet I have less than 5 QRP QSO's with NM on 80M. I just don't work it that often on that band, but it was easy tonight.

I do have some diary feedback and other things I wanted to discuss, but I'll put that off till tomorrow. -30-

Saturday, February 06, 2010 4:56 PM - Danged rodent and his predictions!

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Friday, February 05, 2010 4:46 PM - More feedback makes up today's entry.

Geo N1EAV, "Hi John, Wonder if you are in the track of that big snowstorm for the weekend. We got lucky on this one. It's going to stay south of here. I'm like you, and can do without the snow. Am on call all winter for snow removal here at work and get tired of losing out on my weekends...oh well. Your new banner looks ok. My thought would be to keep the one you have and maybe do some color changes to give it a new look. Maybe the pages also if you feel like it....Just my 2 cents. Hope the no snow gods are with you and have a good weekend"

Thanks for the thoughts on the banner, etc. If the storm were a bulls-eye, it looks like we're sitting on the second or third ring from the center. It will be bad here, but not as bad as further south and east of here near and in Maryland.

Baltasar EA8BVP, "Hello John! I planned to send you this email yesterday evening but I forgot it!. I like your diary banner, it's different. I also use GIMP to do some image editing and I think it's a great program and above all, free (in crisis time) hi hi. I keep reading your diary daily and I like it very much. I know you are not in a contesting mood lately (like me) but I think conditions will improve in the near future (I hope so). ARRL test is on 20-21st February and I plan to take part in it and try to work all the American states, although West and KL7 and Hawai are very difficult from here. Hear you on bands John. un saludo. --- 72"

Yes, GIMP is not bad for an open source offering. It does crash once every couple days which seems normal for that type of software, at least in my case. Still it's slick enough that I can put up with the crashes. I hope to be active in the ARRL DX Test. I'd love to repeat my accomplishment in the 2009 test, but with the target a bit further north. In case you don't understand that sentence, last year I worked KH6 in the test for state # 49 on 80 meters. This year I'd like to get KL7 on 80 meters to finish my 80 meters CW/QRP/simple wire antenna WAS. Conceivably with the still near minimum sunspots, the ionosphere could be quiet enough to let the path from here to KL7 be good enough to be able to do that.

Paul N0NBD, "I liked the old banner with the picture of you and your shack. Maybe a picture old/new could go at each end. Good looking banner. Durn Groundhogs anyhow!"

I wasn't thinking of changing that "banner". I mean the one that is at the top of every page like the example of the new banner on this page. They would all be the same on every page.

Paul N0NBD adds, "After careful consulting with Burt the weenie dog, he predicts that there will be and early spring and turn off nice in a narrow band from Humboldt, KS through Kittanning, PA and a very narrow slice from PA to W2LJ's qth in NJ... so we can go fishing. Burt does not like cold wx fishing. Hows that for prognosticating?"

I love it, but as of now looking out the window, Burt gets an "F" in prognosticating. It looks like about an inch an hour rate right now. -30-

Thursday, February 04, 2010 9:51 AM - Some feedback from yesterday's entry leads off today.

Paul N0NBD, "The banner looks 599 here in KS and I am rooting for the early spring groundghogs...de Paul N0NBD"

Larry W2LJ, "John - Milltown Mel, in Milltown, NJ predicts 6 more weeks of winter."

I've added the depressing blue color to NJ. Sigh!!!

Thanks for the comment on the banner, Paul. So far you're the only one who's said a word about it. I don't know if that's a good or bad sign.

I just got two envelopes from the QSL bureau with a total of about 15 cards I've got to process now. At first glance looks like a couple new E7 prefixes in the batch. -30-

Wednesday, February 03, 2010 10:40 AM - The results are in, and this is not a political map at this time, but a groundhog map. The groundhogs in the red states and provinces predict an early end of winter. Blue states and provinces 6 more weeks of winter. Purple states have two or more disagreeing groundhogs. There is a definite pattern showing a dividing line following the Canadian border in the east through NY PA CT and Long Island. It will be interesting to see how it turns out. The list of groundhogs and their predictions was taken from Wikipedia. I'm sure there may be others they didn't include.

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OK, that tells you I've been playing with and learning the GIMP image editing program. I'm sure the banner at the top of this page confirms it. It's experimental now, but I think I am definitely going to revise the old banner on the other pages. Any opinions? -30-

Tuesday, February 02, 2010 8:22 PM - Wanna go with me to Punxsutawney and do some groundhog hunting? Imagine the nerve - predicting 6 more weeks of this lousy winter weather.

Actually it was nice here again today and I got in a couple walks plus an extra one with Joe. The sun wasn't out most of the time, but it did get into the upper 30's, perhaps even hit 40. And with none of that white stuff around, that's a pretty darn good day for the middle of astronomical winter.

I worked a couple more FISTS this evening who were in the military. Now I'm up to 6 towards the 100 FISTS military personnel needed for the award. I don't know if I'll make it or now, but I sure appreciate the significance of this award. It's wonderful to honor those who served in the military keeping peace and defending freedom at home and abroad.

Well, I've got a phone call to make now, so as we say on the bands, I better QRT now. Even though that technically is not the proper way to use QRT. More about Q signs in a future entry perhaps. -30-

Monday, February 01, 2010 10:15 PM - Well here it is February and the first day started out pretty nice. Like yesterday it was mostly sunny and around 30 degrees for a high which felt almost warm compared to the past couple weeks. I've got about 8.25 miles on the pedometer today, the majority of it outside. I walked a lot this morning doing my first of the month financial stuff and a bit of just general walking.

My tomatoes got another good dose of sunshine and look like they grew a bit more today.

I've just been going through my log getting a lot of FISTS award info updated. I've decided this year I'm going to work on the FISTS awards I haven't yet applied for. A rough check of FISTS WAS shows I'm missing a Hawaii for that. I'm between 9 and 10 million points for the FISTS millionaire award, but I have to check to see if all the dates fit the time frame for that. I also have to check the time frame of my QSO's for the FISTS NANFA award. I have 256 of the 260 combos needed for that one, but I think a lot of those may be bumped when I incorporate the QSO dates. Except for 10 rag chews with Gary N2ESE that he looked up for me, I haven't done anything else for the FISTS rag chew award.

Of course I'm also working on our NAQCC February Groundhog Challenge. I've got probably 1/4 to 1/3 of the letters so far. My worksheet is up in my shack right now so I can't give an accurate figure on that.

I still have to put my January weather figures in the computer. I may do that now or wait till tomorrow. I'm a bit on the tired side now after the busy day. I probably will just listen to an old radio show or watch an old TV show on the computer then go to bed. -30-

Sunday, January 31, 2010 9:57 PM - I made my first QSO on 30M in quite a while today. The band was in excellent shape, but as usual - empty. My QSO with K1TG in CT was a solid copy 20 minute QSO. It's a shame the band is not used more than it is. I guess I'm partly to blame for that and I'll have to pay more attention to what I say about it.

Our NAQCC QRS net was pretty good this evening. Tom WY3H was NCS in place of our regular NCS N3IJR.

The weather was a little better today. We had a high of 29 after an overnight low right at zero. It was sunny all day and my tomatoes got a good dose of sunshine vitamins for about 6 hours or so today. I noticed some development in their beginning true leaves. I think if we could get a good streak of sunny days, they might catch up to last year's crop or even surpass them. -30-

Saturday, January 30, 2010 7:26 PM - Another cold miserable winter day today. I sure hope the medium range outlooks for a warming trend this coming week are correct. Even temps in the 30's will feel better than this. I'm really missing out on my walking lately. I do walk around inside the house, but it's not the same as those good outdoor walks when the temperature permits.

I adjusted my tomatoes today. A couple pots had two good seedlings in them while a couple others had none. So I transplanted the weaker of the pairs into the empty pots and now have 5 decent seedlings going. The one that had been more or less dormant for the past 3 weeks seems to be growing a little bit now. We've had some breaks in the clouds the past few days to allow the plants to get some good sunshine and that seems to have perked them up a bit. All 5 are starting to get their first real leaves now, and that's a good sign. So maybe I will have some ripe tomatoes before the end of May, although unless we have a really warm sunny sprint, I don't think I'll see my goal of a ripe one by May 15th. -30-

Friday, January 29, 2010 8:29 PM - I wish that countdown above was down to just a couple days. It was bitter today. I haven't checked outside yet, but I think our low this morning was right around zero, and I don't think it got out of the teens this afternoon. We'll probably hit zero again tonight, but then it's supposed to get gradually better from Sunday through the week with temps maybe back to 40 by the end of the week. I think that's a bit optimistic though.

I listened to the 160M test a bit, heard a LA station and was determined to sit there and try to work him, but after he worked a couple stations, he disappeared without a trace. Probably moved to another frequency. I may try again later since conditions seem good to that area and I need MS and LA as two of the 8 I need for 160M WAS. I also heard AB and WY so conditions also seem good to that area for possibly working ID and NV, two more I need. I'm not really in that much of a contesting mood though, so I may just skip the whole thing or wait till tomorrow night when the pileups decrease. -30-

Thursday, January 28, 2010 8:29 PM - I've just finished posting our 40th score from last night's NAQCC 160M sprint. That is nothing short of fabulous. The QRP ARCI 160M sprint before the ARRL 160M contest drew 36 logs by comparison. And the deadline for our logs is still a couple days away so we could go even higher, maybe even hit 50 logs. I know there were many more than 50 stations participating in the sprint. Whether they all will send in logs or not, I don't know. Probably not as we usually get about 50-60 percent of participants report their scores.

Right now I stand in 5th place with the 4 above me having much bigger and better antenna systems than my attic random wire. That doesn't really matter though. I had a lot of fun in the sprint and then seeing the results afterward.

We're in for a very cold next few days here as winter returned with a vengeance today with temps falling all day from around 30 to 15 now. Also we got about an inch of snow.

So with the weather being that way, I think I'm going to work on and update some of my FISTS awards. I want to see if I qualify for the FISTS WAS award and the FISTS rag chew award. Then I need to update my FISTS millionaire award. It's been quite a while since I checked and I don't even remember what million mark I am at in the millionaire award now. -30-

Wednesday, January 27, 2010 7:32 PM - I'm just waiting around for our NAQCC 160M sprint coming up in about an hour. Nothing else important or exciting happening this evening so I plan to put in the full 2 hours of our sprint. I hope conditions and activity make it worthwhile. The QRP ARCI 160M sprint had great conditions back in December. If our sprint enjoys the same conditions, it could really be a lot of fun.

I haven't mentioned it much, but I've been playing a lot of DOOM lately. Right now I'm in the middle of a full replacement wad called Fragport. It's just about the difficulty level I like. Hard enough to be challenging, but not impossible or nearly impossible like some wad authors seem to like to make their wads. I don't like wads that have important doors that don't give even the slightest hint that they are doors. Also another thing that bugs me is wads that have pits you can easily fall into with no way (short of using the IDCLIP cheat code) to get out of. I usually play in God mode just for the fun of exploring the wads without getting killed and having to restart over and over again. Then if I really like a wad, I'll play in normal mode and take my chances. If anyone is interested, I'll list some of my favorite replacement wads in a future entry. -30-

Tuesday, January 26, 2010 10:19 PM - Some comments from Paul N0NBD and a picture to get you up to date on my tomatoes.

Paul emails, "Hello John, I think there is a saying for March 'in like a lion, out like a lamb' or some such thought. I got to go fishing Sunday at Buffalo. The ice left the lake last week. I caught two bass about 15 ft deep with a black marabou jig. Some FUN! It was cold and the wind was in the NW but above freezing. Right now it is 29 degrees with a howling wind. Have a good one and think SPRING de Paul N0NBD"

The saying deals with the way March starts and ends. If it starts like a lion, it ends like a lamb, and ALSO vice versa. Paul is not talking about Buffalo, NY and Lake Erie. I don't think even he would be doing any fishing there. As for me, I don't like the cold and don't fish in a boat. To fish this time of year, you must be the opposite of that - like the cold and use a boat. That's OK, my time is coming.

Now here's the tomato crop from this year, and below that, a picture from 1/28/2009 for comparison. Looks like the best plants from both years are about the same, but if the one I planted near December 20, 2009 had developed properly, it would be out ahead of all the rest. It is still alive, but now it's been about 3 weeks since it has done anything at all except the one seed leaf withered a bit. That's it in the middle pot in the top row.
pix_diary_20100126_01 (83K)
pix_diary_20100126_02 (59K)


Monday, January 25, 2010 9:38 PM - You know, there just isn't a whole lot to do in winter other that sit inside and wish you could be outside fishing, gardening, walking, sitting on the porch, and a myriad of other things. At least it was nice enough today to get in a couple walks as the rain stopped very early this morning. I also worked a jigsaw puzzle to pass some time and to get away from the computer for a while. At least now all we need to do is to get through a few more days in January and the month of February before things will really start looking up as meteorological spring arrives March 1st. Well, unless March 2010 is like March 1960. It stayed pretty much below freezing the first 20 or so days of March that year. However usually the first week of March starts the turnaround from winter to wonderful spring. Sometime it even happens in the last 5-10 days of February. I wonder what this year will bring. -30-

Sunday, January 24, 2010 11:06 PM - Anoather Maine station provided my QSO of the Day today. I don't know how many Maine QSO's I've had this month, but it's well above the ordinary.

We got our 72nd log for the NAQCC sprint right around the deadline for log submissions to be received. That breaks the record set a couple months ago of 71 logs. Also the 117 participants this month is a new record. That gets me to wondering what we will do when conditions improve as cycle 24 develops. I'd love to see 100 logs with 150 or more participants. I don't think that is out of the question as folks love the laid-back style of our sprints.

It looks like the Colts and Saints did the right thing when they rested their 'stars' instead of going for a perfect season. Now one of them will be a Super Bowl champion in a couple weeks. That Vikings-Saints game was a good one, but it was a shame so much of the output depended on mistakes and penalties. It was hard to say who was the better team in the game other than to say it was the one making the fewer miscues. -30-

Saturday, January 23, 2010 8:04 PM - A pretty nice day for January today. Sunny with a high near 50 degrees. That plus having most of our snow melted now made for a good walking day. I took three nice walks, two by myself and one with Joe. He likes this nice weather also, and is reluctant to come in unlike when it's cold and snowy. Then he is anxious to get inside.

Other than that, nothing much out of the ordinary today. Just the usual NAQCC work, updating my web site a bit, answering emails, and the like. It looks like a record setting sprint this month with 71 logs received so far tying the most received. And the number of stations participating in my first rough count was 114 which is a record or very close to one. More when the log submission deadline passes in about 23 hours now and I can do the final cross-checking and stats. -30-

Friday, January 22, 2010 9:47 PM - I guess it's time to spill the beans. The most notable glaring error in the Morse documentary shows "What Hath God Wrought" being sent in International Morse, not American Morse which was the only Morse in use at the time. International or Continental Morse didn't come into being until years later. If you caught that, congrats! You know your Morse history.

I think I've got one tomato plant on steroids. It popped its head (sans seed cover) out of the ground two days ago and is already about 1.5 inches tall. Much bigger than any that had germinated before it. Overall though, they are still not doing all that well. Probably no ripe tomatoes until June this year. That's still almost a couple months ahead of the regular Early Girl tomatoes and the Siberians fill in the gap nicely.

Are you working on the FISTS Military Appreciation Award? I certainly am. I've got two FISTS who were in the Navy so far - N1LU and K3MRG. Although lack of time usually shoots me down, I love working for any and all the FISTS awards. They are certainly the top of the line in CW clubs with our NAQCC a close second in my opinion. Those are the only two CW clubs I belong to, although I'm still thinking about joining the new CW Ops club, and probably will do so. -30-

Thursday, January 21, 2010 9:20 PM - Despite the horrid conditions in most of the country last night for our sprint (save for the southern USA and out in the Rocky Mountain area), we're already near a record number of logs received. That's a tribute to the wonderful members we have and their dedication to the NAQCC. Thank you.

It was a real struggle here with QRN and QSB wreaking havoc. It's frustrating when you run into something you have no control over. In my soapbox for the sprint, I likened the situation to playing no-draw "play what you're dealt" poker without even being able to bluff. I likened the hand I was dealt to something like 2H, 3C, 5D, 6S, 7H which as you poker players know is about the lowest value hand you could ever get. I had to work for just about all my 18 QSO's that I did make. Also I apologize to W8BS, K4NLT?, W1?? and anyone else I couldn't complete a QSO with. The W1 might have been W1OH, but I'm not at all sure.

So now it's on to our 160M sprint next Wednesday evening. I'd love to see conditions there equal to the ARCI 160M sprint in early December when 2XQRP QSO's were as easy as 2XKW QSO's.-30-

Wednesday, January 20, 2010 6:07 PM - I'm clearing out the agenda to get ready for processing logs after tonight's NAQCC sprint. I'm hoping for good conditions that produce a record number of log submissions. Don't forget, if you're a newcomer to our sprints and submit a log for the first time, and if you have the highest score among your peers, you get a nice First-Timer certificate. Also I'm just thinking as I type, perhaps we can put all 12 First-Timer winners into a drawing for a prize at the end of 2010. Shhhh, that's off the record just yet.

I watched the Morse documentary again, and a lot of the 'errors' that have been pointed out may or may not be errors. Especially the ones that depend on whether or not this item was in existence at the time of Morse's discovery. There is really no progressive time line to a lot of things that are mentioned. For instance they may say something like, this item led to the development of this or that. The phrasing may lead to the impression that the developed item came along the next day, week, year, etc., when in reality it wasn't until many years later. However the item I mention is a chronological thing that leaves no doubt (oops, there's a clue).

After the work from tonight's sprint subsides, I'll explain what the error I found was. That will probably be a couple days, so you still have a chance to see if you can find it yourself. -30-

Tuesday, January 19, 2010 8:05 PM - My gosh, it's been so long that the space weather has been quiet that I had to stop and think how to mark the prediction for "Minor" space weather tomorrow in my propagation info on the web site. Radio blackouts reaching the R1 level are expected tomorrow. And of course that's the day for our monthly NAQCC sprint. Grrrr. Of course sometimes those disturbances have the opposite effect, so maybe we'll have good conditions. Naahhh, that's not our kind of luck.

Mike and I had a good time yesterday. We got a lot of NAQCC work done, especially on our club prize giveaways. Mike is our Prize Manager in case you don't know. We also did one of our favorite things - eat. This time it was at the Ponderosa where we got the buffet and Mike added a steak to his order. I just filled up on the goodies they had at the buffet. We also went for about a 3 mile walk, visited Nancy, Bruce, and Joe, and went to an ice skating rink where Mike got his skates sharpened. Oh and Tom WY3H visited us for a while also.

The second batch of tomatoes I planted seem to be doing a little better than the first batch. About half the seeds I planted have sprouted starting about 3 days ago, and 1 is completely out of its seed and another about half way out. My one original sprout from the December 21 seed planting is looking like it is going to die now after holding completely steady for two weeks.

Let's check the progress on the Morse error. Don W2JEK found 'my' error and pointed out a few others. Brion VE3FUJ and Franki ON5ZO both were unable to view the video since apparently Hulu is only distributed to ISP's here in the United States.

Turns out that Carmen, for whom I did the email Morse interview, is a 'class act' for a middle school student. I received a very nice thank you email for my efforts. -30-

Monday, January 18, 2010 9:23 AM - I'm really enjoying this error hunt in the Morse video. So far only one person has found the glaring error that slapped me in the face, but several have found other minor errors, omissions, etc. The latest is Don W2JEK who emails, "hi john, saw the telegraph video. one scene showed Morse using a telegraph key that looked like a Bunnell Triumph model that was invented by Jesse Bunnell in the 1870's. was this the error you saw? 73 don younger w2jek"

That's a good catch, but not as obvious as the one I'm talking about.

Mike KC2EGL is visiting today. I don't know what we'll be up to other than going over the prizes we're giving away in the NAQCC. Mike as you probably took over the job of prize manager a few months ago, and we need to compare notes to be sure everything is up to date with our prize structure. -30-

Sunday, January 17, 2010 9:48 AM - Looks like this is a period for dealing with Morse. Yesterday I received an email from a middle schooler named Carmen who was doing a report for National History Day about Morse code asking me to answer some questions about Morse which I just finished doing.

I've also received some emails about the error in the Morse documentary. I'm not going to tell you the one I was referring to just yet, but here are some wrong guesses, although they are 'errors' in a way also. One person so far did hit the nail on the head. That's a good analogy because that's pretty much the way the error I saw affected me - like a hit on the head.

Geoffrey AE4RV who got the right answer also said, with the correct error and a possible clue edited out, "OK, John, I decided to have a go at spotting errors in the German Morse documentary you referred to in your diary. By far the most glaring error was the complete omission of Alfred Vail's important contributions to the Morse system of telegraphy..... Not an error but they didn't mention Germany's contribution to the code which helped make it what it is today. We have them to thank for the long "C" which is not used as often in the German language."

Those are probably accounted for by time constraints in the documentary. When you have a time frame to fit, it's a hard choice what to keep and what to omit. Just try writing a 30 second radio commercial some time. HI.

Mark WU7F emails with a possible clue edited, "John, I just started watching the video you mentioned in your diary. I haven't watched all of it yet, but I saw what I think is the same error you had noticed. The video stated that Morse became interested in the Electrical Telegraph while on a voyage back to the United States. That wasn't the case because that was 1825 and the electric telegraph hadn't been invented yet. Cooke and Wheatstone had an Electric telegraph, and I think there was one even a bit earlier than that, but I can't remember the guys who had that... but it wasn't around in 1825 when Morse's wife was dying and he got on a ship to come home. It wasn't until 1838 that Morse had a working telegraph, and he didn't get many investors until his demonstration in 1844 from Baltimore to the Capitol. I think he hooked up with somebody on the ship that was into electromagnetism, so that voyage was instrumental to the development of his invention... but I don't think it is accurate to say he became interested in the telegraph on that voyage. I might be wrong about the dates, but I'm sure he couldn't have become interested in an invention that had not yet been invented at the time of his voyage. Is that the same error you noticed? As I was typing this, the video was still going. I just noticed that it said that Morse sent the 'What hath God Wrought' from Washington to Baltimore. It was actually the other way around. There was an earlier message about a Presidential candidate of the Whig party that was the first popular message - but the other one is what most people know about. The only reason I know some of the other info is because my son did a report on Morse when he was in Middle School. That has been a number of years ago, so I am a bit foggy on the details. I'll have to look it up when I have more time."

Mark is correct in that the message was sent from Baltimore to Washington so that is a legitimate error, but not the one. As for becoming interested in the telegraph, that's a matter for debate and no one can say just when that happened. We know the slowness of notification of his wife's illness and death was the prime factor that led to his desire of having some means of 'instant' communication. According to Wikipedia, the boat trip took place not after his wife's death in 1825, but in 1832. For his wife's death, he travelled from Washington where he was doing a painting of Lafayette to his home in New Haven after he received a horse messenger message from his father saying "Your dear wife is convalescent". When he got home, she was already buried.

Oh, and Mark mentions a middle school report. Hmmm. -30-

Saturday, January 16, 2010 8:43 AM - I had another of the 'twelve' report in that he probably mis-understood the poll when he voted NA, and promised to read and study the poll questions more thoroughly before voting in the future.

We already have a couple people making errors in the new poll I just started. Despite saying in bold capital letters twice that a vote should be cast in each of the three sections of the poll, the total votes in each section are not equal as they should be. Oh well, it's not the end of the world. Many more mistakes are being made in Washington these days that are much more crucial to our future than my polls.

Every once in a while I get a question asking what the "-30-" at the end of each column means. I just got one from Brion VE3FUJ so it's time to explain again. With virtually everything, there seems to be a conflict of opinion as to its origin. However, this is the most often quoted origin and meaning of -30- or just 30. In 1859 Western Union came up with a series of numerical abbreviations for phrases. Among them were 73 - Best Wishes and 88 - Love and Kisses. Also included in this list is 30 - No more (end). 30 was often used in the newspaper industry to signify end of copy, no more is coming.

Now here's a connection between 30 and a pro-sign we use every day in ham radio. In American Morse which, if you don't know, is different from the International Morse we use in ham radio, the number 3 is 3 dots, a dash, and a dot or ...-. and 0 (zero) is a long dash. Now if you put the 3 and 0 together you have ...-.- or SK which as we all hopefully know means end of transmission, no more coming.

Finally for today, when you have 15 minutes to spare, I found a very interesting video about Samuel Morse and the telegraph you may like to watch. It's on a web site called Hulu which contains literally thousands of videos ranging from classic TV shows like "McHale's Navy" to movie clips from "The Day the Earth Stood Still" to full length movies, to cartoons like "Rocky and Bullwinkle" to documentary films like the Morse one I mentioned to.... The end is nowhere in sight. Just Bing Hulu and go to the site to see for yourself.

Anyway there is a glaring error in the Morse documentary that should be obvious to everyone who watches it, except apparently for the German outfit that made the film in the first place. I'd like to know if you are knowledgeable enough about history to catch it yourself. Let me know. Oh there may be other minor errors that I didn't catch also. But this one got my attention immediately. The video is here -30-

Friday, January 15, 2010 9:37 PM - As I work at my computer I can see out the large front window of my house which overlooks the front porch and beyond. What a joy it was today to watch the drops falling from the awning on my porch as the snow melted away. We lost a good bit of snow the past couple days but there's still quite a bit left to melt before my goal of not seeing any of the ugly white stuff at all. Hopefully we'll reach that goal before we get any more snow. It's always nice to clean the slate periodically during winter to keep it from piling up too deep.

One of the twelve who said his last continent worked from NA was NA for his WAC, emailed an explanation today. He said he wasn't much into working DX and must have misunderstood the question. OK, I'll accept that. It's never possible, no matter how much time you devote to it and how careful you are, to phrase even a simple question or statement in a way that everyone understands. What seems simple to me may be complicated to someone else and vice versa.

If you're a NAQCC member, I hope you read the latest newsletter that I posted today on the NAQCC web site. There's a lot of important info in it as there is in every newsletter as well as in every nook and cranny of the NAQCC web site. I'm pleased to see the NAQCC web site had 790 hits so far today. I hope each one of those hits represented someone who read the newsletter from well... can I say cover to cover for an electronic newsletter? -30-

Thursday, January 14, 2010 8:11 PM - I posted the new poll early today. I hope you'll all go cast your vote. It's a repeat of a poll aired about 3 years ago about QSL's, LotW, and eQSL. I think it may prove interesting to see how usage of those three services has changed, if at all, over that time frame.

Once again tonight my CQ was answered by Gary N2ESE. When I talked about him a couple entries ago, I neglected to mention that he also has a streak going. He used to be WB2FGZ, and when he got the new vanity call, he started a streak of making one or more CW (but QRO, not QRP) QSOs a day. So far he's made that goal each and every day he's held his new call. That's another reason we run into each other so often. We're both trying to extend our streaks as soon as the new day starts, and both are usually trying to do it on 80M, although Gary has been using 40 and 160 more than I have lately. However before too long, I think 40 will be perking up in the evening hours, and I'll be on there equally as often as on 80.

I've just checked my tomato pictures from last year to compare how they were doing then vs. this year. I've told you I have had nothing but bad luck this year so far. Just one sprout, and its appearance hasn't changed one bit in a couple weeks now. It's standing nicely upright and has one tiny seed leaf and two tiny regular leaves, but they're on hold now. I don't know if they will sooner or later start to grow or if the sprout is just going to die.

As for last year, I see pictures from Jan 11, 2009 with some just starting healthy looking sprouts, so I would say this year is lagging behind last year at this point in time anyway. We'll have to see what happens from here on out. -30-

Wednesday, January 13, 2010 9:47 PM - Here it is time to think up another new poll. The months really fly by, don't they. I'm kind of disappointed in the results from the current poll. Let me explain.

Just checking now, there are ELEVEN folks who reside in the USA/Canada who say their LAST continent worked for a QRP CW WAC was NORTH AMERICA. C'mon now - either those are folks just goofing around with the poll or just can't understand the very simple voting info provided with the poll, or.... Well, I don't know any other alternative. Do you?

Now maybe, just maybe, and it's a very very slim possibility that someone in the USA/Canada thought it would be neat to work all the DX continents before working someone on their own continent. However there is no possible way that ELEVEN someones would do something like that.

Crazy answers like that diminish even further any validity my polls have. The very small percentage of hams in the world who vote in the polls keep them only as a fun little activity with no real indication of how the ham population in general feels about any matter in the polls. So they are not valid for that reason anyway, but frivolous voting makes things even worse.

I'd love to hear from the ELEVEN folks who voted that way explaining their vote, but I'm sure I won't. -30-

Tuesday, January 12, 2010 8:19 PM - If you look at my QSO of the Day table, you'll see Gary N2ESE there three times currently. That's not a sked or anything like that. It's just that Gary and I tend to hang out near the same frequency and the same time of day, and always have something to talk about so we answer each other's CQ frequently.

93 - that's the number for today. The Solar Flux number, I mean. That's the highest value I can find in a quick search since it was 94 back on December 13, 2007. If it should hit 95 or higher tomorrow, you'd have to go back to December 12, 2006 when it was 102 to find a higher value. My table on the Propagation page shows only 4 days when the SF dipped below 70 at 69 back on October 6-9. Old Sol is definitely waking up and seemingly has abandoned pushing the snooze alarm. This time he's getting up for good, I believe. -30-

Monday, January 11, 2010 9:20 AM - I figured my remark to George yesterday would get a response as he's a regular diary reader and he (N1EAV) emails, "Hi John..... Kind of a sad way to end the decade for the Patriots, But they did get their butts spanked yesterday. The Ravens deserved the win, and I hope they do well in the playoffs. I thought the Packers/Cardinals game was going to be another blowout game, but the Packers tied it in the 4th quarter but eventually lost in overtime.
Don't know how much of the Pats game you watched, but in the third quarter the pats had 1st and goal...Brady twice tried pass plays that were well defended. Both times he had an open lane to try to run it in himself, and both times flinched...That kind of did it for me. I know Elway would have tried to take it in,but I guess Brady doesn't like to get hit...You don't deserve to win like that....Oh well, pitchers and catchers report in six weeks. Then we can start suffering with the Red Sox for the summer. hihi
That's a great deal on pot pies. Just got some up here on sale, but paid $2.00 each marked down from $4.00.
Well, stay warm down there,spring is coming. It's been pretty cold up here as well. It's 10 degrees on my outside thermometer here at work this morning, but at least no snow in the forecast.
73,geo n1eav"

I only watched the first quarter of the game, then had other things to do like get the pot pies. That's sad to hear how Brady reacted in the 3rd quarter. Yes, Elway would have found some way to the end zone in that situation, as would many other quarterbacks. Two others that come to mind are Ken Stabler and Ken Anderson. Those two were great in situations like that, especially if it came down to the end of the game with the outcome in doubt.

I guess I should have watched the Packers-Cardinals game. That was my kind of football game, but I had other matters to take care of, and since I don't have TV, I would have had to watch it at the neighbor's and would have gotten behind in a lot of things here. I will take a look at the highlights on the NFL web site some time today though. I did check out the winning play in OT already.

Looks like our 'warming' trend is starting here. From a low of -3 on Sunday, it 'only' got down to the low teens this morning. I see a 40 degree high predicted later in the week. Hope that's an underestimate. -30-

Sunday, January 10, 2010 10:33 PM - Some diary feedback first today from Brion VE3FUJ, "I been reading your Dairy for a while and find it interesting, one thing I haven't figured out yet? Just what have you got against Winter? Without it, summers would be boring after a while, NO? Brion VE3FUJ"

That kind of boredom I could live with and enjoy for certain. Ahhh, imagine it - no snow, no ice, no freezing your (whatever) off, no taking 10 minutes to get dressed to stand the bitter wind chill, no shovelling snow, no slipping and sliding, no power outages from freezing rain, no exorbitant gas bills to heat your house..... Is there any end to the disadvantages of winter? I'm sure I could go on and on to explain why winter is the pits.

Brion does point out one of the only two good things I can think to say about winter. It makes us appreciate summer a little bit more when it finally comes. The other? Less QRN on the lower ham bands. And that's it - period.

I had a good time today despite the weather though. I watched the first quarter of the Ravens whupping up on the Patriots (sorry George) over at my neighbors with Joe. I think Joe had the right idea. He dozed off on my lap not long after the 85 yard run for a TD on the first play from scrimmage by the Ravens. He was even snoring after a while.

After excessively and time-consumingly dressing for the winter weather, I went out for a couple trips to the store to take advantage of some great bargains. Pot pies were on sale plus I had several coupons on top of that and stocked up with a couple dozen or so at just 30 cents each. Can't resist bargains like that in the current economic times no matter the weather. -30-

Saturday, January 09, 2010 8:08 PM - Well at least it was sunny today which made it a little less depressing. However it's going to be a mostly clear and cold night tonight with the temperature going down into the single digits, and that is depressing.

Still no action from my tomatoes. The sprouts are just sitting there doing nothing, and the second group of seeds have not sprouted at all yet. If things would just start happening with the plants, that would be an encouraging sign.

The NAQP brought 80M really alive this evening. However I'm just not in a contesting mood and only used it to get my streak QSO. Just for fun I also checked 40M, and only heard K6LL in AZ in the contest on that band, so it is still closing down pretty well a couple hours past sunset. -30-

Friday, January 08, 2010 8:33 PM - Another Maine QSO for my QSO of the day this evening. My friend up in ME John KQ1P answered my CQ. Conditions weren't good enough for a long QSO, but we did exchange a bit of info. Then my next CQ was answered by Bob W1IS in MA. He was running just 120 mW.

I know a lot of you reading this are FISTS members, and may have already seen this info about the latest new FISTS award. I think it is a wonderful award in this day and age when those fighting to preserve freedom in the USA and around the world are not given nearly as much honor and respect as they once were. Anyway here is the info directly from the FISTS mail list in condensed form:

"The FISTS Military Appreciation Award

The North American FISTS CW Club announces a new operating achievement award, the USA FISTS Military Appreciation Award. To earn the award, make 2-way CW QSOs with 100 FISTS members who are U.S. military veterans or currently serving in the U.S. military.

The award may be earned by anyone, FISTS and non-FISTS.

This is an open-ended award with no closing date, but contacts must be made on or after January 15, 2010. Contacts may be made on any legal CW band. Since the military record of FISTS members is not in the database, it is hoped that this award will encourage rag-chewing."

Full details are or will be posted on the FISTS web site if you are interested in pursuing this wonderful award. Let's honor those brave souls protecting our freedom.

I think this is a wonderful award for another reason as well. It 'encourages rag chewing'. Ham radio exchanges should be more than just exchanging numbers. That's why we at the NAQCC downplay simple number exchanges and gear our worked members award (which soon will have a new name, by the way) towards members getting to know each other better on the air and going beyond RST, QTH, name, rig, WX type of QSO's. Find out what the person does for a living, what other hobbies and interests he/she has - things like that. -30-

Thursday, January 07, 2010 8:43 PM - It seems Maine is becoming one of my most worked states recently. Three of my last eight QSO's have been with ME from 3 different stations. I guess they're pretty well snowed in up there with not much else to do in the evenings but ham radio. HI.

Well, I guess I am now officially a senior citizen. I bought my senior lifetime fishing license today. I wonder when the first chance I get to use it will be. I'm pretty sure it won't be in January or February, and maybe not March either. Some long range weather forecasts are saying March is going to be a pretty wintry month this year. I wonder how Algore's global warming is making this winter so very cold and snowy so far. And it's not just local, but the whole Northern Hemisphere seems affected.

I haven't noticed any appreciable growth in my tomato sprouts, and no sign yet of any of the seeds I planted a few days ago sprouting. That's kind of disappointing, but I'm still not far behind last year, and perhaps am even somewhat ahead. -30-

Wednesday, January 06, 2010 8:35 PM - Well, at least the snow took a pause today and it wasn't as cold, but there is still a lot of snow on the ground and some ice mixed in here and there. Still not all that good for walking. About all I did outside today was shovel off the sidewalks.

Merry Christmas to all those who observe the Julian calendar and celebrate the holiday tomorrow.

I spent a good part of today working on NAQCC matters. Our Awards Manager Fred KC8FS had to resign because of health reasons and that left a lot of work transitioning things over to our new Awards Manager Rick AA4W. We're lucky to have had Fred as he did a wonderfully efficient operation with the awards until his health intervened. Now I'm sure we're just as fortunate to have Rick at the reins and he will do an equally great job with the awards. We've got a lot of real class people in the NAQCC and it's an honor to be the VP of such a wonderful club.

I went ahead today and forced the seed coating off my one tomato sprout as it was not making any progress doing so itself. So now we'll see if the 'operation' was a success or not. I did damage one of the two seed leaves, but the other one seems intact. -30-

Tuesday, January 05, 2010 10:03 PM - And the cold and snow just keeps on coming. It's disgusting, as well as depressing.

I got some more tomato seeds planted today. I made up four more pots with 3 seeds in each one which I'll get down to the strongest plant in each pot. The two sprouts I have now are just not making any progress at all, and I think I'm going to lose them as well as the two week head start they would have given me.

Again not much more to talk about. -30-

Monday, January 04, 2010 8:50 PM - Man, I wish that countdown up above said only 1 or 2 days till the end of winter. I'm sick of the snow and cold already and ready for spring. We got about 3 more inches of snow today. At least it was the light dry kind of snow and easy to move around. Unfortunately the NWS and AccuWeather say this cold is going to be locked in for at least 2-3 more weeks now. I've already got a good case of cabin fever. It's just been too nasty to go out for my nice long walks with the snow, ice, wind, and cold.

I also hate it even more because it's rough on Joe having to walk out in the bitter cold and snow. Although with his built in fur coat, I don't think he minds it as much as Bruce who has been doing most of the walking.

Not really much else to talk about. I'm finding out just how much I miss getting outside though. It gets quite boring in here at times. I've even resorted to working more jigsaw puzzles to pass the time.

I never did get around to planting more tomato seeds despite being bored though. The two sprouts are not doing all that well so I better get some more started if I want to have tomatoes in May this year. Hopefully tomorrow for sure.

Time now to go out in the cold and snow for a couple minutes to get my weather readings. -30-

Sunday, January 03, 2010 8:39 PM - It seems like the scuttlebutt around ham radio this new year involves a new worldwide CW club that is starting up - The CW Ops Club. I was extended an invitation to become a charter member, and am weighing all the possibilities in my mind. I like their stated purpose of promoting CW use without conflicting in any way with other already established CW clubs like FISTS and the NAQCC. They also promise to not only not conflict with those clubs, but to assist in promoting them. Still I am not quite sure that another CW club is needed unless they are truly different as they promise to be. If they are not simply a clone of other clubs and are truly different as our NAQCC has been in its 5 years of operation, that's a strong point in their favor.

I think the bottom line is that if I do join them, am I betraying FISTS in so doing? I am totally devoted to FISTS as THE main CW promoting club. They have been doing what they are doing for 20 years or more now, and are capable of doing that for many more years to come. However as I mentioned in my diary, I am concerned that FISTS activity appears to be on the decline this past year.

It's a tough decision to make. I'm going to do some more research and ask some questions before I commit one way or the other. Stay tuned to the continuing story, "To Join, or Not to Join." -30-

Saturday, January 02, 2010 8:22 PM - Strange happenings with the tomato sprouts. The second one that sprouted yesterday is now up about 3/4 inch, but it looks like its seed leaves may be seedbound and it may have a hard time breaking out. However the other one was even more strange. It seemingly disappeared today. I could not see it at all this morning. But then it reappeared this evening again. The only thing I can figure out is that perhaps some dirt washed over it when I watered it, or perhaps the first one died and the one that showed up this evening is the third seed I planted. However in looking at the picture in yesterday's entry, the one this evening looks to be in the same position. Oh well, anyway I have two sprouts going. Tomorrow should be a less busy day than the past couple have been as I am just about caught up with all the EOY, etc. things now. So I'll see if I can get those extra Siberian seeds in some pots. -30-

Friday, January 01, 2010 10:34 PM - Looky here!
pix_diary_20100101_01 (54K)

Yep, the first tomato sprout. Ironically(?) I noticed it just as 2009 was turning into 2010 at midnight. Should I get a prize for the first baby of the new year? Do they still do that? I remember local businesses would award a lot of items to the first baby born each new year.

And a second sprout turned up during the day today. Now I'm going to plant a couple more seeds as a backup. I think I may only go with the Siberians this year and maybe just one or two Early Girls. I always wind up with more tomatoes than I know what to do with. Too many folks are growing their own in this current economy and it's hard to even find anyone to give away my excess tomatoes to. Oh oh, ended that sentence with a preposition.

I only made one SKN QSO this year. Just not much time to get on the air with all the end of year, first of year, etc. things to get done. But then SKN isn't all that very special to me anyway. Every night of the year is more or less SKN for me albeit I also use a bug and keyer off and on. It's a shame that the ARRL only promotes CW for one night a year and that so many hams only dig out their keys for one night a year. It should be a 365 or 366 nights (and days) a year thing for everyone as it is for me. -30-