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Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:53 PM - A new year is almost upon us. Actually going by UTC, it is already upon us. So pretty much as I did on Christmas eve, I say to you simply:


As every year before, and every year to come, it will have its happy moments and its sad moments. 2011 was certainly that way here. Although we tend to remember the sad more easily than the happy, I would say that most years for most people contain many more happy moments than sad ones. My wish for you is that the happy moments overwhelm the sad ones by a huge margin in 2012. -30-

Friday, December 30, 2011 8:56 PM - It was a nice warm (by December standards - upper 40s) day, so I decided to take my new bait casting reel and rod outside and try some casts. The action turned out to be quite different from my old bait casting reels. The first time my sinker went all of about 5 feet and I wound up with a real bird's nest on the reel. After untangling that, my second attempt went further but I had another backlash again to untangle. The third try was about the same as the second except the backlash tangle took longer to untangle. Finally I got the hang of it on the 4th attempt and was getting the sinker out about 30 feet without any backlash over another dozen or so casts. I think I'll master it with a little more practice and be ready for some nice warm (by normal, not December standards) weather to go fishing.

Other than that, I posted our NAQCC newsletter, did some more end of month/year stuff, and took a couple walks in the nice weather. Now I'm going to update some yearly totals on my web site after I go get my weather readings. -30-

Thursday, December 29, 2011 10:44 PM - Busy, busy, busy. Processing sprint logs, working on my web site, doing my washing, getting the NAQCC newsletter ready for posting in the morning, etc. No time to write a real diary entry this evening. Someday I'll get caught up, but not soon as all the end of month, end of year is now coming up in a couple days. I need a vacation from my retirement. -30-

Thursday, December 29, 2011 2:24 PM - While I'm pretty much stuck here at the computer to process logs from last night's NAQCC mW sprint (64 so far), I'm also getting caught up on some other computer things. Here are some 'Diary_commment' emails that came in the past several days that I'm just getting to now.

Paul N0NBD, "Merry Christmas John, The day here was great with the kids and grandkids all here for dinner and movies. I hope you will like your new bait caster rig. My son got me one last summer and it is smooth as butter.... Have a good one de Paul Smith N0NBD"

Two from Geo N1EAV, "Hi John I have to say you got my attention with your diary entry last night. I am of the guilty one's who use's xmas. But please understand, not out of disrespect. Perhaps it's just laziness. Never really thought about it till I read your entry. A Merry Christmas to you my friend. Enjoy the day. 73, geo n1eav"
"Hi John In regards to your question in the diary entry, I saw your site posted on the Eham site a few days ago. Only got a 3.7 rating out of 5......hihi The first day of winter is kind of spring like here this morning. Temperature is 51 and skies are partly cloudy. Had about half inch of rain last night and some thunder. Fine by me as white christmas's belong on cards only..... Got to run, but hang in there John. Hopefully you'll feel a little better as time goes by. 73,geo n1eav"

Brion VE3FUJ, "Hi John: Just a note to wish you Happy Holidays. Brion"

Thanks very much, my friends.

I'm still amazed at my results in the mW sprint last night. You know, many years ago in one of those April Fool articles in CQ magazine, something called ionospheric amplification was the topic. It was stated that below a certain power level, the ionosphere acts in a way that actually amplifies RF signals as they pass through it. A graph showed a definite peak in signal strength somewhere in the 0-5 watts range (I forget exactly where now). Anyone else remember that particular article and the other April Fool articles in CQ? They were a lot of fun to read, and presented in a way that really could fool some people who weren't in on the know. I'll have to look in the attic to see if I have any old April issues of CQ.

Oh and speaking of that, didn't I hear somewhere in this crazy mad past few weeks that a bulk of old 73 and CQ magazines are now on-line. Or was it just 73 or exactly what? I'm sure one of you knows. The info got lost in the madhouse it's been here lately. -30-

Wednesday, December 28, 2011 11:48 PM - A great mW sprint this evening. By far my best ever NAQCC mW sprint with 35 QSOs vs. a previous best of just 10. So far only one station (with a big antenna farm) has a higher score in the 29 logs I've processed. But I'm sure a few others will top me when all logs are in. That doesn't bother me. I'm proud to have done what I did with my little antenna victory garden here. Time to slow down now and relax before going to bed. -30-

Tuesday, December 27, 2011 9:45 PM - I de-decorated today and put Christmas to rest for another year. It looks strange after 3+ weeks to look across the room here and see a table instead of a tree. It was a good day to do such things as it rained all day until just an hour or so ago giving us just under 3/4 inches of rain. It's good it wasn't that ugly white fluffy stuff or we'd have had a lot. There is some predicted overnight but it shouldn't be much as most of the moisture has moved on up north out of our area now.

Not really much else to talk about tonight, I guess. -30-

Monday, December 26, 2011 9:09 PM - My streak QSOs came easy this evening, and both lasted over 20 minutes. I now have twice as many 20+ minute QSOs as required for our NAQCC December challenge, so I guess I doubly mastered it. HI. I also got another K2 serial number toward my quest for the Elecraft CC award. I've never received my Elecraft DX Chasers award yet despite applying about 3 weeks or more ago. I'll put that down to the busy time for the Christmas holiday.

Nothing much happening today. I got caught up on logging my LotW QSLs. I've now got over 12,000 of them. I still have to figure out what new band-countries, band-states, etc. were involved in the 200 or so I logged today.

One thing really annoys me about LotW. Not the system itself, but the way some folks handle their uploads. It seems every time that some folks upload their files, they pay no attention to the date range and upload the same QSOs over and over and over.... again and again. It's very annoying and time consuming to have to go through 20 or 30 QSLs to find just one or two new ones from that person. Please if you are guilty of that, pay attention to what you are doing and only upload QSOs that you have not uploaded before. -30-

Sunday, December 25, 2011 9:52 PM - It was not all that bad a Christmas. Although we all still miss Joe, Nancy and Bruce had me over for Christmas dinner with her other son and his twin kids and one adopted kid. I had been expecting a visit from Mike KC2EGL who has visited each Christmas day for the past 3 years or so now. He showed up just as we were finishing dinner and Nancy sat him down and gave him a nice dinner also.

It is so nice to have an 'extended' family like that when all of my immediate family are gone as well as many of my cousins, aunts, etc. Those that aren't gone are mostly elderly or live far away.

They gave me one of the new generation of baitcasting rod and reel combos. I'm anxious to try it out now. My baitcasters are all very old, probably at least 70 years or more old. It will be interesting to find out how these new baitcasters work. If it is nice tomorrow, I may just put a small sinker on it and go to the river for a few practice or test casts. Oh and as Bruce tells it, there is a story connected with it also. He says when he brought it home early in the month before Joe died, Joe sniffed it and gave it his approval with a couple of licks. So maybe that will attach some good luck to it.

For my gift to them, I made up one of those digital picture frames loaded with about 50 pictures of Joe. As I suspected, it was rough for Bruce to look at, and after a couple of pictures he had to quit for now and wait another day or so. I know how rough it was for me to lose Joe having only known him for just under 3 years and only an hour or maybe two at most a day. I can imagine how rough it would be for Bruce after 8 years and many hours each day or even Nancy with 3 years and many hours a day. So I understood, but I know they will like the pictures when the appropriate time comes.

It was great to see Mike again. That was the first time since our N3A outing at Community Park back in early October. Hopefully now we'll be getting back to our regular get-togethers again, starting with a visit on January 16.

The bands were certainly deserted this evening. I only managed one DX QSO with FM/F6AUS on 30 meters despite about 45-50 minutes of CQs on 80 meters. So my second QSO for the day will wait till the morning or afternoon, I guess.

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and kept in mind the real meaning of this holiday. -30-

Saturday, December 24, 2011 10:13 PM - What more is there to say on this glorious evening but:


Remember it's Christ's birthday we celebrate, not X's birthday, so don't use Xmas. -30-

Friday, December 23, 2011 9:32 PM - Message to Ron NT8P. That email address you gave me in our QSO is no good and my email to you bounced. Please email me with a good address so I can get you signed up as a NAQCC member.

OK, Ron said he reads my diary regularly so I hope he gets the message. I worked him as one of my 3 QSOs this evening. W8AW the second night in a row, Ron, and Rich W9KMF. There was a bit more activity than usual on 80 this evening so it wasn't as hard as it has been recently to get my streak QSOs.

Other than that, I helped Tom WY3H work on one of his QRP rigs this afternoon. We determined the final transistors were bad, so he'll have to get replacements before we can go any further. Then this evening I helped Nancy set up her Christmas tree. So it was nice to have a couple different things to do today for a change. -30-

Thursday, December 22, 2011 10:29 PM - Only 9 days left before we have to learn to write 2012 instead of 2011. It looks like most of those 9 days will have some nice weather or at least nice compared to late December normal standards. I think December will wind up being a pretty warm month overall, but not near a record for December. We've had a couple quite warm Decembers here since I started keeping weather records. We'll talk more about that after the end of the month when the figures are all in. I would guess this year as a whole will wind up just about normal or maybe a tad above normal.

I got both my streak QSOs this evening by answering CQs. I don't think that's happened in a good long while, except in contests. I just couldn't get anyone to answer my CQs. The bands are really desolate of late, but conditions are great. The two QSOs I got were rock solid, one on 30 with Hugh NC1M in MA, and one with Jim W8AW on 80. Is everyone busy getting ready for Christmas or what? They certainly are not on the bands, at least in the 00Z hour. -30-

Wednesday, December 21, 2011 8:37 PM - I better get going if I want to have 200 days this year on which I've worked some DX. I need 3 more to do that. I just haven't had the interest the past couple weeks now since losing Joe. After dropping to 120, the SF is heading back up again now, so maybe DX will be easy in the morning again. I'll have to start checking.

It took some 20+ minutes of CQs tonite to get my first streak QSO from Bob N9HAL, then the second from Ned W8VFM came via a tailend right after Bob and I signed.

A very mild day today with a high around 60 degrees or so. I was outside quite a bit enjoying October in December. Looks like the next 10 days or so will also be pretty good with highs mostly in the 40s which is not bad this time of year.

Incidentally the number of visitors to my web site the past week has been the highest weekly total in almost two years now. I guess my site was posted in some prominent place. Anyone know where? -30-

Tuesday, December 20, 2011 9:48 PM - Two easy QSOs this evening for the streaks. Alex NX1T and Scott KD8PJP on 80 meters.

I found an old diary comments email from Paul N0NBD that I hadn't posted. It deals with my mention of our 9 PM curfew whistle, "Thanks John, I have to agree that the "old" days held some really good things..... also the 9 PM whistle tells John when it is time to go gather the weather. When I was a kid there was a noon whistle at the wax plant on the south end of Chanute KS. The refinery on the north edge of town had a noon whistle, the Santa Fe RR had a whistle at noon too. The last whistle was at the cement plant. My Dad used to get a good laugh as he knew guys that worked at all of the whistle places and "THEIR" whistle was the ACTUAL noon. Have a good one de Paul N0NBD"

Thanks to Dit W8IX for pointing out an error in this month's poll when he said one of the choices was not incrementing. Well, 4 of the 8 answers had apostrophes in them, and the .php poll page did not like that and was not counting votes for those 4 answers. I had forgotten that. It is now fixed, and you might want to cast your vote again if you voted for any of the current answers there that now start with "I am" instead of the previous "I'm" or "I do not" replacing "I don't". Computers are SO PICKY. HI. -30-

Monday, December 19, 2011 9:56 PM - Well, we're 19 days into meteorological winter and about to start astronomical winter in a couple days. Although it is barely noticeable, the Sun has been setting later each day since December 7, and that is encouraging. Not necessarily encouraging for the future, but it is nice we've only had 2 s#o@falls so far, each a half inch or less, and both melted by the next day.

Speaking of s%o@, Brion VE3FUJ emailed, "Watch out John I think the s%o# fairy may have it in for you, the way you keep misspelling s%o# Brion" Well I won't have obscenities in my diary and that's the worst of all four letter words. There is a worse 3 letter word though - i*e.

It was nice to have Tom WY3H answer my CQ for the second evening in a row. He hasn't been to active on the bands for the past several months, and it's good to hear him back now. My other QSO was with Wayne NM3B in St. Mary's, PA. That's a town very familiar to me. My mother lived there in the early part of her life. My grandfather was head stonemason there for the building of their Catholic church over a 100 years ago now. -30-

Sunday, December 18, 2011 10:46 PM - I just wrapped up the cross-checking of our logs from last week's NAQCC sprint. That's a mentally tiring process, and I'm going to relax and listen to a Cinnamon Bear episode and the TL show just as soon as I finish this brief entry.

We wound up with 123 logs which is our second most ever behind 135 in August of 2010. Our sprints are really right up there at or near the top in popularity among similar 2 hour weekday evening sprints. In checking the logs, I found 186 stations from 40 states, 4 provinces, and 2 DX countries who participated in the sprint. Too bad they didn't all send in logs.

Our s%o# from yesterday all melted today, and it's departure was appreciated by almost everyone. This may be one of most s%o# free seasons ever through December 18. However January and February are still ahead. -30-

Saturday, December 17, 2011 8:57 PM - I don't think I've ever heard the bands as dead as they were this evening. At least 40 on which I heard one weak station from 7000 to 7060 and 80 on which I heard maybe 4 or 5 QSOs in progress. No response at all to about a half hour of constant CQs on my part. So I thought I'd try 160, and found the Stew Perry contest in action so I got a couple quick QSOs there for my streaks.

A cold wintry day here with s#o* on the ground, about a half inch of it. Wind chills down pretty low. Hate to go out to get my temperatures, but it is time now. So that's it for the diary entry tonight. -30-

Friday, December 16, 2011 9:29 PM - Well Paul (N0NBD), technically it is a curfew, but not really. I guess kind of a leftover from the good old days when we had the blue laws, etc., and people really behaved as they should instead of what we have today. But I don't want to get started on that.

John WA8HSB did make it here and we spent a very enjoyable 3+ hours visiting and mostly talking about our ham radio experiences. John has operated from over half the USA states, and several foreign countries with associated stories to go with many of the operations. He got a chance to use a K2 for the first time tonight. He has several rigs including an Elecraft KX-1. Hopefully we can get together again sometime if he travels up this way. He lives in Mobile, AL so it's not quite a matter of going down the street to visit. HI.

I got my streak QSOs while John was here. I just worked two stations in the RAC Winter contest. If nothing else comes up, I might fool around some more in the contest later tonight or tomorrow. In the mid 90s, that was a favorite contest of mine and I got some nice certificates from the RAC. Lately I haven't done a lot of work in it just like I've not done serious efforts in many other contests as well outside the big DX tests and our NAQCC sprints. -30-

Thursday, December 15, 2011 9:00 PM - Yes, 9:00 PM exactly as I'm hearing our town 9PM curfew whistle blowing the same time as the computer inserted the date/time stamp. That means I better go get my temperature readings for the day before I type any more here.

We had a low of 36 and a high of 58 today - more like late October or early November than mid-December. It has been a highly unusual late fall, early winter. Only one snowfall, and that less than a half inch, back in late October. Only a couple flakes mixed in with rain since then. It certainly would be nice if the remaining 2 1/2 months of winter would be like that also.

Not a lot to report besides the weather. I've been busy processing logs from the sprint and getting caught up on some other computer things today.

Oh, one other interesting thing I hope comes to pass. I'm hoping to have a visit tomorrow evening from one of our NAQCC members whom I've 'known' since the 1960's when we both were teenage hams. It's John WA8HSB from WV who now travels around the country a lot. He's doing some work in nearby Mars, PA today and tomorrow. I'll let you know what happens if it does work out we can get together for an eyeball QSO after all those years. -30-

Wednesday, December 14, 2011 6:10 PM - Just enough time before my ride picks me up for the computer club Christmas party to tell you the new poll question for Dec 15-Jan 14 has just been posted - bye. -30-

Tuesday, December 13, 2011 10:36 AM - This is the day of our NAQCC sprint which occurs this evening at 0130-0330Z. Since I will of course be in the sprint and then processing logs after it's over, I wanted to write my diary entry early.

First of all, Windstream was having problems earlier today and you may have been unable to access my web site. All seems OK now.

Next and last, I have decided based on your feedback to cut back drastically on my contest calendar. At one time my calendar was one of the only ones on the Internet, and probably the ONLY one that concentrated on CW/QRP contests exclusively. Nowadays there are many calendars including two excellent ones, the ARRL and WA7BNM calendars, and mine only serve to create more work for me each month to try to keep them updated. Now I will only list the major contests along with my favorites each month. To get info on them, I refer you to the WA7BNM calendar to which I provide a link. -30-

Monday, December 12, 2011 8:22 PM - It seems it's getting harder and harder to get that second QSO of the day. The bands are getting deserted in the evenings. I can tune across most of the CW portion of 80 and find only two or three QSOs other than the regular nets. Signals are strong, but just very few of them. 40 was even a little better than 80 this evening, and I got my first QSO easily there from Bruce W1WQG in CT. Even 30 had a little more activity than 80, it seemed. So I've got to either try later this evening or in the morning for my second 'streak' QSO.

I believe I took care of thanking each one individually for their emails about Joe today. If I missed anyone, please accept my apology and my thanks here now. I printed out all the emails and gave a copy to Bruce and Nancy. They also appreciated them, and I think they helped out a bit in knowing that Joe was so well known around the country (and the world for that matter). Nancy particularly commented on the note about our February NAQCC challenge being a tribute to departed dogs. I assured her that Joe would be at the top of the list.

One more matter. I'm thinking about possibly eliminating my contest calendar on the web site. It's an addition to my already oversized work load in maintaining the web site and also running the NAQCC and its web site. I'll leave it up to you, my diary readers. If you would really miss the calendar, I'll keep it. If you have any thoughts on the matter, email me as soon as possible before Christmas. -30-

Sunday, December 11, 2011 9:50 PM - 10 meters continued to disappoint today, acting just about the same as yesterday. There were a good many sigs from EU, but none all that strong and all were gone by 1500Z or so. Then it was working CO, AZ, UT, MT, TX, etc. the rest of the day. I did work one last EU in EI2CN at 1624. Often Ireland will be the last EU country to vanish on the high bands. I was impressed by the large Mexican turnout, apparently eager to use their state names in the exchange. I think this was the first year for that? It was unusual not to work KH6 or KL7 although I heard two or three from each state. They were just extremely popular and I couldn't get through the pileups. Usually I can work them easily on the high bands in contests. I was able to hear some MD stations, but too weak to even try to work them. It was probably scatter propagation and that mode does not work well with QRP power levels. Overall I made just 72 QSOs in the test. 10 years ago in 2001 it was 460 QSOs, and I could go up and down the band from 28000 to 28200 and work most every station I heard easily. Maybe if the sunspots continue to improve, 2012 will be better. -30-

Saturday, December 10, 2011 10:04 PM - I was a bit disappointed in 10 meters today, although I did miss what are usually the hottest 3 hours this morning. Before 1430Z or so, there were very few strong EU stations, and after about 1800Z or so, EU was pretty much gone. Hopefully tomorrow morning I'll be able to operate those hours. Or it could have been that conditions were just down today and will be tomorrow also. Ten did not sound as good as it did in the CQWW DX test a couple weekends ago by any means. I spent a lot of the afternoon just looking for a station from NE to see if I could work him with QRPp to get my NAQCC QRPp WAS award. I've worked NE with QRPp, but just not since the starting date for our NAQCC award. As you may remember I worked KL7 in the CQWW DX test to finish an overall QRPp WAS. Other than that, not much else to say here today. -30-

Friday, December 09, 2011 9:19 PM - I just came home from next door where we spent about an hour looking at pictures of Joe and reminiscing about him, and how much a part of all our lives he was for the past almost 3 years. Of course he was a part of Bruce's life longer than that. I'm not going to write much here because I've been working on a long story about Joe. It probably will be much too long for a diary entry, but I think I will have a "Reader's Digest" condensed version of it here sometime in the future.

It was a little easier today, and the tears were fewer among all three of us. We can talk more about all the wonderful times he gave us and push the bad times a little further in the background.

I continue to get messages of condolonces from you, and again want to say I appreciate them and they are helpful. I intend to compile them all and give a copy to Bruce and Nancy. I also am going to email each and every one of you who sent anything to thank you personally. That will take a few days.

Let's talk a bit about ham radio now since this is a ham radio site even though I reserve to talk about any subject I choose here in the diary.

I checked 10 meters at 0000Z this evening to see if I could hear anything in the contest. Of course I didn't as at that time of night it's a band strictly for those with big beams and QRO. So I'll have to wait till the morning to get in my QRP licks. If it is as good as or better than it was in the CQWW DX test, I should have a lot of fun.

I got my two streak QSOs already from K1IEE and WU1E, so I don't have to worry about that, and can concentrate strictly on the test tomorrow. -30-

Thursday, December 08, 2011 10:48 AM - Thanks to all my diary friends for your messages of sympathy and condolences about Joe. They are very much appreciated and helpful. -30-

Wednesday, December 07, 2011 2:05 PM - This is the saddest entry I've ever had to make in this diary. I lost one of my best friends ever this morning. Joe passed away. It's very hard to write about it, but so many of you would mention Joe now and then to me, I thought I had to say something. I couldn't say anything about it before, but a few weeks ago, Joe developed a cough that wouldn't seem to go away. A trip to the vet showed he had a shrunken (I think that's the term the vet used) windpipe which is common in small dogs like Joe as they get older. He also had a heart murmur. Medication didn't do any good and he kind of got progressively worse until this morning when he was breathing faster than his heart was beating, and after a while he collapsed. We rushed him to the vet, but there was nothing that could be done. Now I feel a vast empty space in my being, and don't really feel like doing much of anything. That's about all I can write now. Hopefully in a day or two, I'll tell a more full story of how Joe came into my life and changed it just under 3 years ago. -30-

Tuesday, December 06, 2011 9:44 PM - Thanks to Larry W2LJ for providing a topic for tonite's diary entry. Larry emailed, "John, FYI ... When I used to do stencils as a kid, I used Glass Wax, and dabbed it on with a sponge. I think it came in a pinkish can. Not sure if it's even sold anymore. Larry W2LJ."

Bingo Larry. We did the same thing here for many years until we could no longer find Glass Wax. I guess it was replaced by Windex and other similar sprays for cleaning glass. You could color the Glass Wax by adding a few drops of food coloring (or special colors sold where the Glass Wax stencils were sold) to it. Just pour some in a small saucer, add the coloring. Make one saucerful for each color, and have a different sponge or part of sponge for exch color. Tape the stencils to the window, fill up the empty spaces with the Glass Wax, and CAREFULLY remove the stencil so as not to smear the Glass Wax.

Nowadays it's a bit more messy with the spray snow. You tape (or hold) the stencil to the glass, shake up the can of spray (very important for an even spray), and spray to fill up the empty spaces. No matter how careful, there always seems to be some overspray which must be CAREFULLY wiped off with a paper towel after CAREFULLY removing the stencil. You're stuck with the white color. I don't know if they make spray snow in other colors or not. If so it would be an expensive proposal to get one can just to make one little part of one stencil a different color. It would be hard to do also, as the surrounding areas would get sprayed as well unless they were masked off somehow.

Getting back to Glass Wax, you may enjoy these pictures.
pix_diary_20111206_01 (108K)
pix_diary_20111206_02 (106K)

They are pictures of the original envelope the stencils came in. Note that price. Wonder what they would cost today if still available. Note also how well-used the envelope is. The stencils themselves are equally well-used. That house scene on the back was what we used for many year until we changed to a display more closely attached to the REAL meaning of Christmas - the one used today and pictured in yesterday's diary entry.

Thanks Larry for bringing back a lot of memories of when there were 5 of us in this house to observe Christmas. Now it is only me after losing my Dad in 1964, my Aunt Josie in 1971, my Aunt Laura in 1994, and my Mom in 2001. Still I do my best to keep up the tradition each and every Christmas even though it is not really the same.

I hope you enjoyed this bit of Christmas nostalgia. I hope it's not too early to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. -30-

Monday, December 05, 2011 9:26 PM - I had two more 20 minute 'rag chew' QSOs for our NAQCC December challenge this evening. I find that a lot of hams like to talk about the Elecraft rigs. That makes 7 of the 10 required to master the challenge are in my log now. It should be a cinch to easily get the remaining 3 now.

I was also able to help out one of the hams. He said his computer was in the shop and wondered if I could look up a call on QRZ for him. I told him my computer was in another room, and I had to QRT for a phone call in a minute anyway. However I told him if he'd give me the call, I'd look it up and come back on 80 in a hour to give him the info. That worked out just fine and he got his info.

Otherwise today was a Christmas decoration day. Oh, let me see if I can get a picture of the tree for you to see. OK, here we go with the tree and my window stencils.
pix_diary_20111205_01 (74K)pix_diary_20111205_02 (56K)

I didn't know if I was going to get the stencils done or not. I went to get my spray snow, and I couldn't find it. I guess I used it all up last Christmas. So I had to go downtown to buy some. However I couldn't find any there. I tried to think up some alternate ways to display the stencils. I had a couple in mind, but before that I had mentioned to Bruce earlier in the day that I couldn't find any spray snow. A little later he said he was going up to Wal-Mart if I wanted to go along and see if they had any. I went and they did, so I got the window stenciled today after all.

Then this evening I put the lights on the tree, and hung the ornaments (or ormanents as Ed King of the old radio show Party Line used to call them to distinguish them from ordinary ornaments). I took the pictures without the lights turned on as you can see. I think the ormanents show up better that way. -30-

Sunday, December 04, 2011 11:27 PM - Gee, I got an email from Nancy WZ8C saying she needs an new column for the upcoming Keynote, and I got so busy writing that, I almost forgot about the diary and my streak table and propagation page. Anyway, the column is written and sent off, and I'll squeeze in a couple comments here in the diary now.

Tomorrow might be a good day to chase DX. The SF is up to 164 and the A index only 4. It is supposed to be raining here, so that's what I might do.

Today was another winning weather day with a high of 63. That's almost in record territory for the month of December. I logged over 11 miles on the pedometer today.

Now I've got to get a couple other things done before bed and listen to the TL show. -30-

Saturday, December 03, 2011 9:40 PM - I'm not too impressed with the 160 meters contest this year. I'm not hearing very much activity here. Used to be it was almost a solid wall of stations from 1800 to 1870 or so. The past couple evenings I've listened, I've heard many sizeable gaps and very little at all above 1850. I worked 33 stations, then it seemed about all I was hearing were those same stations again or other very weak stations. I might try it again later this evening around midnight to see if there is any difference. I suspect it may be that the increased sunspot and ionospheric activity has increased the absorption of the lower frequency signals while of course the signals on the higher bands are now being bent back to earth with the higher level of ionospheric activity. In other words low activity is good for the lower bands while higher activity is good for the higher bands and vice versa.

Anyway I am pleased with how eliminating my external antenna tuner is working out. I've had good solid QSO's on 160, 80, and 40 now. I haven't had much of a chance to try it on 30 yet, but it should be the same there. It sure is nice to have a couple less controls to change when changing bands.

We had a pretty nice day again. Still above normal temperatures for this time of year, and that's fine with me. We got up to 52 degrees today. Nowhere near a record but still well above normal. Most of the long range forecasts show the mild weather continuing through mid-December although cooling down a bit along the way. -30-

Friday, December 02, 2011 8:23 PM - I found out a couple interesting things about the K2 today. First of all, I had been thinking about seeing if the K2 built in tuner could handle my random wire without the external tuner. I guess I first seriously thought about it when I tried tuning the 15 meters dipole on 10 meters during the CQWW DX contest. I found out the K2 tuner was very broad as neither the 570 nor 480 could do that, but the K2 did it easily. So a few hours ago I plugged the random wire into the 6 meters switch position, as it is now empty since my 6 meters dipole now is plugged directly into the 6 meters transverter. So switching to the 6 meters position now connected the random wire directly to the K2. I tried it out on 40, 30, 80, and 160 and bingo, I got an SWR of 1.5:1 or less on all four bands. That should make things a little more efficient here now as it eliminated having two tuners in series which should give an overall better xmtr-ant match, and also eliminate a couple of tuning adjustments when changing among 30, 40, 80, and 160.

After I found it worked on 160, I gave it a better test. I got in the 160 meters contest for about 40 minutes and made 27 QSOs in 17 sections including the most distant (so far) in MO. Most QSOs came easily so I think I have something here now. Later I'll give it a better test on 30, 40, and 80 also.

Another thing I found out is that my furnace noise seems to be much less on 160 with the K2 filters. 160 and 15 used to be two really rough bands when the furnace came on. 15 is still pretty bad, but all other bands including 160 are now better thanks to the K2.

I finished going over my band-countries worked with a fine-tooth comb today and found I had 5 or 6 additional ones worked that I didn't put in my web site records. I now stand at 1,013 worked. So that's taken care of now.

I guess that's pretty much today's story. Oh, I did start getting ready to put up my Christmas tree which I will probably do on Monday.

As you see, I've reinstated my countdown to winter's end above. Let's hope the days go by quickly. Or maybe we shouldn't as we'll all grow that much older that much faster. HI.

Oh, one other thing I did today was check to see if I have earned our NAQCC WAS award for QRPp power and for 40 meters only. I came up one state (NE) short for QRPp, but made it for 40 meters. I have NE worked with QRPp, but not since the starting date for our NAQCC awards (Jan 1, 2004). I'll try to get it in the 10 meters contest. I'm also one state (DE) short for 20 meters only. I also have worked it, but before the starting date. -30-

Thursday, December 01, 2011 7:55 PM - One of those days when a lot got done, but nothing really worth talking about here in the diary. I'm sure you don't want to hear a blow by blow account of how I did my banking, wrote checks for a couple bills, did some grocery shopping, etc.

One thing to follow up on though. I made a guesstimate of the November average temperature as follows: "I wouldn't be surprised if this turns out to be the warmest November since I started keeping my weather records back in 1960. The average high may turn out to be 7, 8, or so degrees above normal from a quick glance through the November daily highs a little bit ago."

Turns out I was right by a few tenths of degree. The average was 6.0 degrees above normal and a little higher than my previous warmest November. The average high was also a record by a few tenths of a degree and was 8.6 degrees above normal. The average low was about 4 degrees above normal, but not a record.

I haven't heard from my friend Mike KC2EGL in a while. I'm going to cut this short and give him a phone call to see what he's been up to and if he's OK. -30-

Wednesday, November 30, 2011 10:41 PM - This was a productive evening ham radio-wise. Our NAQCC December challenge is for making a number of QSOs that last 20 minutes or more. Well my first QSO tonight was with one of our very active NAQCC members Chris KU4A, and we chatted for not only 20 minutes, but for 33 minutes all told. So not only was that good for our NAQCC challenge, but also toward the Elecraft Rag Chewers award. That was on 40 meters, then I went to 30 trying to get a quick DX QSO for my second QSO of the day. Only heard one weak DX station, but a strong K9IL whom I called. Bob and I wound up chatting for 41 minutes and could have gone longer had the band not decided to change. So that was not only another challenge and Elecraft RC QSO, but Bob was using a K3 so we exchanged serial numbers for the Elecraft CC award as well.

Earlier in the day Kurt HB9AFI on 10 meters turned out to be the second QSO for the 30th that I didn't get last evening as I explained.

Now I've got to get back to doing some more end-of-month first-of-month processing here, so I'll cut this short. Oh, time to start counting down for the end of winter since the 1st is the first day of meteorological winter as I remind you all every year. And only 7 or 8 more days till the earliest sunset here around 40 degrees north latitude, after that it starts staying light a very little longer each evening - a good sign. -30-

Tuesday, November 29, 2011 9:40 PM - It's amazing I can make 296 QSOs in 93 countries in 2 days, but have all kinds of trouble this evening getting 1 QSO from my own country. It took nearly 50 minutes of calling CQ this evening to get a QSO. I did have one answer about halfway through the 50 minutes, but could only copy "1" and could never get the rest of his/her call. Finally WB9DKL answered me, and we had a good 14 minute QSO. A case of conditions not being all that bad, but just a lack of activity. About the only real activity I heard were the stations in the NTS nets. All that was on 80, and there was even less on 40 and nothing at all on 30 meters. Maybe everyone is resting up from the CQWW DX contest. So I've got my little note with the big "QSO" on it sitting here at the keyboard to remind me to get the second daily QSO tomorrow morning or afternoon. I haven't had to use that note for a while.

I mailed my application for the Elecraft DX Chasers award today. I found out I actually had 106 countries (entities) worked with the K2 since October 10 instead of the 102 or 103 I thought I had. I missed a couple that the computer and the Access program didn't, I guess.

We had another very nice weather day today with a high in the mid-60s. I wouldn't be surprised if this turns out to be the warmest November since I started keeping my weather records back in 1960. The average high may turn out to be 7, 8, or so degrees above normal from a quick glance through the November daily highs a little bit ago. We'll nail that figure down when I put the stats in the computer Excel weather program probably on Thursday. -30-

Monday, November 28, 2011 6:10 PM - I'm going to make this a very brief entry. Tell you why in a moment.

First another goal was finally achieved today in kind of a strange QSO. I went to the shack, turned on the K2 and went to 12 meters. The first thing I heard was a pile-up on about 24893.5. I didn't hear the station they were working so I figured it must be a split operation. I tuned down to 24892.5 and there was the (as yet UnID for me) station. So I set up for split, tuned back to 92.5 and heard the unID station ending a QSO. I thought I'll try to work him, then find out who I worked. So I sent my call and the station came right back with K3WWP HI JOHN 599. That kind of threw me and I sent HI TU 599. Well, then I found out who it was as he sent TU PJ4/K4BAI. My friend of many years John K4BAI. Then I thought hey, do I have the new Bonaire on 12? If not, then that will be #100 on 12 meters. Turns out it was. So now I have 100 or more countries (entities) on all bands 40 through 10 meters. In checking things, I found a couple of bands have a discrepancy of one or two countries, so I'm going to have to run a fine tooth comb through my logs and correct the totals. It may be that what I thought was my band-country #1,000 a few days ago will actually be a band-country or two before or after that one.

And that's it for this entry. If you want more, go to my Contesting Section, Contest Stories Page, and look for the 2011 CQWW DX story. I wrote it this morning and just posted it along with this diary entry. -30-

Sunday, November 27, 2011 7:45 PM - I really got into the contest today. I was pretty much in the contest from 8 AM till about 7:30 PM except for a couple visits and a walk with Joe plus my meals. Got to the point where my hand was getting tired and sore from tuning the dial, using the paddle, and keying the QSOs into GenLog as I worked them. I sent everything 'live' and didn't use the keyer memories for anything. It's feeling better now after I squeezed my tennis ball for a while and used the keyboard at this computer normally. The one for GenLog is not in the best position in the shack and I kind of hunt and peck with my right hand to enter the data there.

It looks like I achieved another of my goals. At a first quick check it looks like I now have 102 countries worked with the K2 since I got it on October 10. I didn't get Asia on 40 nor KL7 on 80 though. As I said I did get KL7 with mW, but that was on 10 meters.

297 QSOs (including one dupe) is probably the most I've made in a contest since the early 2000's. I'll figure all that out later on when I check my log and score. I also plan to write a story for my contest stories page here on the web site. So I won't say too much more about the contest here in the diary except for a couple notes.

It's always nice when in the heat of a big contest like this, someone takes time to greet you by name and even chat a few seconds. That happened twice in the contest. 6V6V greeted me by name at the end of our contact - something he wasn't doing for other contacts he was making so he just wasn't getting a name from a computer program. I'm really not sure who it was unless it was K3IPK whom I've worked several times in Senegal. The other one was my friend Franki ON5ZO who was operating OQ5M in the contest. We go back pretty much to the beginning of my web site and have worked several times on the bands in addition to email exchanges.

Some of the memorable QSOs in the contest were TC3A on 10 meters for a new prefix and maybe band-country. I haven't checked band-countries or prefixes yet. It was a thrill to work Australia on 20 meters in late afternoon. He wasn't all that strong, yet copied me after several calls. It was nice to work ED9M in Ceuta on 3 bands with his big pile-ups. I beat quite a few pile-ups along the way with some thoughtful calling.

I also learned that my 15 meters vertical dipole does a great job on 10 meters. It tunes nicely with the K2 wide range antenna tuner. I used it for most all of my 10 meters contacts. Using the vertical dipole also gave me a better S/N ratio than the sloping 10 meters dipole.

Well, enough said here. If I've whetted your appetite with these tid-bits, check out my contest story which I should have written and posted within the next few days, maybe as soon as late tomorrow. Now I guess I'll head back to the shack to get my streak QSOs for the 28th. -30-

Saturday, November 26, 2011 8:24 PM - Almost, but not just yet. I mean conditions this year vs. 2000-2001 or so. 15 meters is pretty close, but 10 still lags behind quite a bit. I could run up and down 15 and work most stations I heard unless they had a big pile-up. I couldn't do that on 10, and had to work harder for my QSOs on that band. Still it was very reminiscent of the last sunspot peak - much more so than the past several years have been.

I mentioned goals last night. I achieved one of them so far. I worked KL7 (WL7E) with 900 mW on 10 meters to complete a mW WAS. I don't know if I'll make it to 100 countries with the new K2 though. I didn't think I already had so many countries that I worked in the contest. I got around 35 new ones in the contest for a total of 85 now. I can't see me making 15 new ones late tonight and tomorrow though. Getting into the 90s is about the most I can hope for, I believe. There are new ones floating around, but weak and with big pile-ups so far. Let's see, I recall 3V, 9L, HC, C5, ZK, NH2, and some others I forget now.

I'll have a wrapup of my contest either in tomorrow's entry or that of the next day.

Conditions were rough after 0000Z this evening. EU was good on 40, but they just were not hearing me. I did manage to work old faithful D4C on 40 though. I bet it would be great to operate from that station out in the middle of the Atlantic. Several years ago I worked them on 5 bands in one DX contest, probably an ARRL DX test.

I'm looking forward to tomorrow morning on 15 and 10. Hopefully they will be as good as, or better than this morning. I have 150+ QSOs so far, and that was without really concentrating on score. I was just having fun picking and choosing who to work. Probably if I was going for score, I could have around 200-250 QSOs by now. I mostly looked for what might be new band countries, new prefixes, etc. or worked the very strong stations I knew would be easy. It was surprising how easily I worked some stations I thought would be hard - ZM1A on 10 whom I could barely hear, 403A in a still somewhat hard to work country, TK4W in rather rare Corsica, and a few others also.

Well, I'm starting to sound like I'm writing that wrapup already, so I'm going to stop here. -30-

Friday, November 25, 2011 8:26 PM - I thought a few days ago that it might be interesting and helpful to analyze my DX contacts. How? Well, figure the number of QSOs by continent, band, and time. That might show the best time and band for a QRPer with simple antennas to look for QSOs from a certain continent. I did a preliminary run with Europe on 40 meters and came up with the following. Time is UTC (Z). Since working EU on 40 is a nightime thing, I listed the times from the Noon (1700Z) to 11 AM (1600Z) hours local time. Hours not listed I haven't made a EU QSO on 40 (yet?).
2000  1
2100  3
2200 19
2300 72
0000 58
0100 61
0200 47
0300 34
0400 62
0500 77
0600 35
0700  1
1100  1
The earliest QSO was with Iceland (TF3WW) at 2021Z. The earliest continental EU QSO was with the Czech Republic (OK5W) at 2145Z. The latest was with Sweden (8S2F) at 1124Z. I'm sure that the 0700-1000 hours would have more QSOs, but I generally don't stay up past 0700Z or so. Probably if I operated the same amount of time for each hour, there would be a somewhat flat peak from 2300Z through 0600Z with a rise before then and a falling off afterwards with similar slopes.

The CQWWDX contest is really busy this year. Probably due to a couple factors. Better propagation and a better RX here in the K2. The activity on 40 in the first hour was fantastic and frantic. I only managed to beat the stiff competition for 7 QSO's with a couple of those being on 20 meters. When it dies down a bit later on this evening, I think I'll dig back in.

I have a few goals I'd like to achieve in the contest. I'd like to up my total to 100 countries with the new K2 rig. That's probably pretty likely. I'd also like to work KL7 with mW power on some band to complete my mW WAS. Then I'd like to work it on 80 meters to complete my 80M WAS. If I reach 100 countries with the K2, then I'll try to up my mW country total. Hopefully the upper bands will be good tomorrow morning and Sunday morning, and I find time (or make time) to get on the air.

Whatever happens, I will have fun one way or another in the contest no matter how much or how little time I put in. Oh, and another goal is to get Asia on 40 meters to complete 40 meters WAC. I heard a couple Cyprus stations already this evening, but the one had too big a pile-up to even try and the other one didn't have a pile-up, but wasn't hearing me at all. One of my QSOs surprised me. I worked PJ5G with just a single call despite him not being all to strong and in a somewhat rare "in-demand" country.

Time now to get my weather readings, then go see Joe, Nancy, and Bruce for a bit. After that maybe back into the CQWWDX fray again for a while. -30-

Thursday, November 24, 2011 10:54 PM - I had the usual great Thanksgiving dinner today at Tom's place prepared by his wife JoAnn. That was after delivering the dinners to the veterans. Before and after the dinner we played radio in Tom's new workshop/shack. I used Tom's HW-9 to work P40L, FY5KE, and HK1R, all on 15 meters.

This evening my two streak QSOs were both DX - J79WE and P43E. After that a nice rag chew with NAQCC member Joe W4HH.

I'm typing fast because my laundry is in the dryer which should be shutting off in a couple minutes. Then I'll have to fold and put away the clothes. So I better get going. -30-

Wednesday, November 23, 2011 9:56 PM - I hope you all have a Happy Thanksgiving with many things to be thankful for. As I have done each year for the past few years now, I'll be helping Tom WY3H deliver turkey dinners to veterans, then having dinner with him at his home. This year he has a new workshop/ham shack he built this past summer and fall. After dinner we're going to hang out there and see how many folks we can work. If you're interested we'll be using our own calls and looking around the QRP frequencies for contacts UNLESS DX is really good, then we might do mostly some DX chasing.

I actually had a USA QSO on 12 meters this afternoon. I worked KB4POJ in North Dakota. I thought maybe that would be a new 12 meters state, but I kind of remembered working someone else there before. When I checked, I was right. I worked Doc K0EVZ when he lived in ND a few years ago. After that I decided to do some checking of the different band states I need and make a list of them for the shack. When I made the list, it showed I need 23 states on 12 meters, whereas I thought I needed 25, so I'm going to look into that discrepancy right now while I'm thinking of it. Be back in a few minutes. OK, I goofed on my needed list. I omitted SC and had MI on 10 instead of 12. So I do need 25 more states on 12 meters. The bands where I need states and how many are:

160 - 8 (AK HI ID LA MS NV NM WA)
80 - 1 (AK)
17 - 8 (MD MI NV OH RI VT VA WV)
12 - 25 (too many to list)
10 - 2 (MD DE)
6 - 38 (all but CA IL KS KY ME MN MS OK PA SC TX WI)

From the way things turned out in my search for my streak QSOs this evening, it looks like it may be time to switch my main efforts from 40 to 80 meters. It was rough getting a QSO on 40 this evening, and when Brion VE3FUJ did finally answer my CQ, the band died on us after about 15 minutes. His sigs went down into the noise and never did come back. Then I went to 80 and got two QSOs after only a few CQs for each one. Both ran about 30 minutes with AB8DF in MI and N0AJ in MO. Seems I have developed a good path to MO recently.

From Geo N1EAV about my AL0A comments last night, "Hi John, Looked up the call AL0HA on qrz. It belongs to the Coconut Island DX Association in Hilo.......Betcha I'm not the only one who looked it up and sent you a note....hi,hi Geo, n1eav."

Thanks Geo, and so far you lose the bet. You're the only one unless that new email notification that just went off as I'm typing is another one. Let's see. Nope, just an email ad. -30-

Tuesday, November 22, 2011 10:49 PM - If you look in a dictionary or encyclopedia for November, I'm sure the description for the weather will be an exact quote of what we had here today. Very gloomy with a cold rain falling most of the day. Well over an inch of rain has fallen and it is still coming down. Fortunately the temperature, while chilly, is well above freezing so no chance of any frozen precipitation around here. The dampness makes it feel a lot colder than the 51 degrees it is right now. Also the very early onset of darkness enhanced by the overcast skies is another thing that makes November days among the most gloomy of any month. It's somewhat consoling, but not much, that the Sun will only set 4 minutes earlier than today. That's on December 7/8, and after that it starts setting a (very) little later each day from then on, accelerating the daily change a little bit each day as well. I always like to think about that on that day and know that in one regard, we've turned the corner and seen the first sign of the end of winter only 7 or 8 days after it began. That's meteorological winter, of course, which starts on December 1st and ends on February 29th. Yes, winter is one day longer this time around.

My first QSO this evening was with a station with an interesting prefix which I'm sure is a new one for me. Greg AL0A answered my CQ on 40 meters. No, he's not in Alaska, but in the other northern corner of the USA, the northeast corner in Maine. It would be nice if someone in Hawaii had the call AL0HA, wouldn't it. Perhaps someone does. I couldn't get a second QSO the first time around, but I came back in the 0300Z hour and worked Steve WB9UDL in IL. Oh, both stations were also QRP at 5 watts each. I tried to work some DX, notably a PJ2 and PZ5, but couldn't break the big pileups they had, then PZ5T went QRT not long after I found him anyway. -30-

Monday, November 21, 2011 9:53 PM - Hmmmm, now let's see what can I talk about today? It was pretty much a nondescript day with nothing out of the ordinary happening. I spent some time with Joe as usual, and took him for his afternoon walk. I played around with my new K2 some. Still learning things about it. Although I will never use it for SSB, I did align the SSB filters today. I don't even think it is equipped to transmit SSB, and have no desire to find out. However it might be fun to do some SWBC listening and since it doesn't have an AM mode, that will have to be done on SSB. They were quite a bit out of alignment as were the CW filters. I just did the filters by ear today. I'll do a Spectrogram alignment later. I've also been doing a lot of reading on the Internet about the K2. Oh, and I'm going to work towards the Elecraft awards. I downloaded the forms for the CC and WAS awards, and started filling them out. I have 35 states worked with the K2 already.

The streak QSO's came easily tonight. First it was NAQCC member Paul N8XMS in a 2XK2 QSO, then FISTS member Ken K0ZXQ who is 82 years old, then John N0EVH whom I haven't worked in quite a while. He's also a NAQCC member. Counting W0RNM whom I worked this afternoon, 3 of my last 4 QSOs were with Missouri stations.

All the cross-checking of our sprint logs is done now. Also except for info from our columnists, the latest NAQCC Newsletter is ready for posting this weekend. So I guess I'm pretty caught up on things.

Right now as I type, I'm listening to the Terry Lee show on the Internet. TL has also started a 50's Music channel on the Pittsburgh Oldie's Internet Channel which is very enjoyable listening also. Along with Terry, it also features replays of old Porky Chedwick shows. I wonder how many of you have heard Porky or heard of him. He's a Pittsburgh area legendary R&R DJ who was perhaps the most hip talking DJ of all time with ton's of great phrases like "Your Daddio of the Raddio". I'm really getting into this 50's and 60's Oldies music again. I would never have though it was possible to relive those days, but the Internet is a great Time Machine. -30-

Sunday, November 20, 2011 8:14 PM - This will be a short entry as I want to go visit Joe and Nancy a bit, then do the cross-checking of logs from our NAQCC sprint.

Some of you have asked about my K2 - what's the serial number? - what add-ons does it have? The serial numbers of the K2 and KX-1 are:
K2 - 6418
KX-1 - 02101

The add-ons for the K2 are:
K160RX - 160 meters and separate receiving antenna switching
K60XV - 60 meters and transverter adapter
XV50 - 6 meter transverter
KDSP2 - DSP filter and real-time clock
KAT2 - Automatic antenna tuner
KIO2 - Auxiliary I/O module for computer interface

All the add-ons are useful for me except the computer interface. I don't seem to hear anything on 60 meters so I'm not sure if the K60XV is working. I probably will look into that though, as the FCC is now going to permit some CW on 60 meters. The overall star of the add-ons is the KDSP2. That's what has really improved my S/N situation here. I also haven't played much with the XV50 except for a little bit of listening on 6 meters. Haven't heard anything there yet.

Our weather was nice the past 2 days and I did go fishing, but didn't catch anything. In fact I only got one decent bite the whole 2 days. Still except for the breezes and wind chill it was nice to be sitting there by the river. I'm definitely going to get started fishing earlier next year. -30-

Saturday, November 19, 2011 6:20 PM - OK, about the sked. It was with VE4WI Craig, of course in Manitoba. MB was the last province I needed to earn the first NAQCC WAVE award which I now have done. Our QSO wasn't the best, but we did exchange reports so it was official. The NAQCC version of the WAVE award was designed by Gary K1YAN. It's for contacting 8 Canadian provinces. Yes, there are 10 provinces, so read on. Gary combined NB, NS, and PEI into 'Maritimes'. That plus AB, BC, ON, QC, SK, NL, and MB are the 8 required to be worked for the award. I had all but MB worked a few months ago, and decided when VE4WI submitted a log for the sprint to ask him for a sked, and it worked. I hope Gary is happy someone has now earned his award. He also designed another one for the NAQCC. It's the Capital Cities Grid Square award. I guess I'll have to start work on that one now as no one has earned it yet.

Continuing with awards - I total up my prefixes worked and verified around the 18th of each month. When I did it just now, I found I reached a couple milestones. I now have 1,000 prefixes verified with either a card or LotW on 20 meters. I also now have 1,001 prefixes worked on 10 meters.

I listened around late this afternoon about an hour ago and found a ton of Japanese stations on all bands from 17 through 10. I didn't work any though, because as is true most of the time they are only there chasing some rare (for them) DX stations. One I heard was an FP station. I don't know who the others were. I also heard some other DX in the LZ DX contest, but didn't bother working any of them. I was mostly just listening to see if I could find anything that was new for me, but I didn't find anything at all.

We're up to 106 logs for the sprint and I'm wondering if we are going to wind up with 107 for the third month in a row. Hopefully with 24 hours to go, we'll surpass that figure this month. -30-

Friday, November 18, 2011 8:27 PM - A pretty nice day today although a bit on the cold side. It was close to being nice enough to go fishing, and I think tomorrow may be good enough unless it becomes breezy.

I fooled a bit more with the K2 alignment today using the Spectrogram program. That's a really neat program for any kind of audio spectrum work that needs to be done. I took a bit more time today and found a couple of the filter alignments were off a bit. I fine tuned them and I think it sounds a tad better now. I plan to hook Spectrogram to my 570 just to see what it looks like vs. the K2. Should be interesting.

It was easy getting my streak QSOs this evening, but conditions are still a bit spotty compared to how they were until a few days ago. I didn't check during the day for any DX openings although I did get on a couple times during the day just to check my K2 settings.

I'm waiting for 3 more logs to come in from our NAQCC sprint. That will put us at 100+ logs once again. In fact there went my new email sound just as I typed that. Let's see if that's another log. Well, in fact it was two logs, so the next one will be #100.

I've got a sked coming up in 25 minutes. I've got to keep my mind on that so I don't forget. If it comes off, I'll tell you what it is all about in tomorrow's entry. -30-

Thursday, November 17, 2011 9:48 PM - It was a great sprint last night even though some areas of the country seemed to suffer from the 'black hole syndrome'. I was in one of those areas, and was disappointed in my results although I realize there was nothing I could have done to make it any better. I probably did do a little better than I should have because of the new K2 and its great receive section. Even it couldn't help the overall situation though.

On the other hand, some areas of the country apparently had great conditions as reflected in scores and soapbox comments from those areas. It would be interesting to do something like this to analyze the situation. On a state outline map of the USA, put a + sign for those who had a good score and commented on how good conditions were, and a - sign for the opposite. That might show up a pattern and point out the black (and white?) holes of propagation. I did something similar a few years ago for one of our sprints and it quite definitely did show areas of good and poor propagation.

We are on our way to 100 logs again. Before coming here to type the diary, I just posted score #91 so only 9 more needed for the 100 mark. I think this may be one of the fastest times we've made it to 90 logs at just over 23 hours after the sprint ended.

It was nice to have Brion VE3FUJ as my main streak QSO this evening. We had a nice solid rag chew type QSO on 40 meters. Overall though conditions tonight were pretty poor similar to last night. I also worked W2BPI. We've had a lot of QSOs, always with good signals, but tonight I could barely hear him, let alone copy him well. Strangely enough and without explanation of any kind, Tom WY3H was also weak tonight at just about 2 miles away. I was weak there also.

It was a cold day today and I didn't get out much except to take Joe for a nice walk this afternoon. With his built-in fur coat plus his little doggie jacket, he was a lot more comfortable than I was out there. He was really enjoying himself.

Other than that and paying some bills and a bit of grocery shopping, most of my day was spent working on sprint logs. Oh no, that's not so. I also played with the K2 and the Spectrogram program. It looks like my by-ear filter adjustment came out pretty good as the audio graph on the screen looked just about exactly like it should. I think I'll still re-do the whole adjustment with Spectrogram though when I get some time. -30-

Wednesday, November 16, 2011 7:25 PM - A bit of diary feedback as I await the start of our NAQCC sprint in an hour or so.

Glenn K3SWZ emailed about my comments about that long sentence last night, "Hi John, Re your Tuesday 15 November diary entry...... My XYL, Barb taught high school English for almost 30 years.... I had her look at your sentence and she laughed.. She said, not to worry, it is not that bad and she has seen lots worse over the years.... You can imagine what it is like being married to an English teacher, hi.... Actually, I have learned a lot over the years about writing.... I guess it just rubs off... (I don't want her to get a bad rap.. She has always been very supportive of me and my crazy activities) 73 de Glenn, K3SWZ."

That's good to know. HI.

And Brion VE3FUJ emailed, "Hi John: Sorry to hear that you are not feeling well. I had to curtail work on my new 50ft Tower due to a long finger injury on the left hand.(I did something stupid. Its self inflicted) It also make it awkward to do kit building, and likely to last for some time. Now we can sympathize with each other. 73 Brion"

Thanks Brion. I hope you heal quickly. My cold is quite a bit better today and I think it is about to depart completely very soon.

And that's it for now. Trying to get everything caught up so I can just devote most of my time later and tomorrow to processing sprint logs. -30-

Tuesday, November 15, 2011 10:30 PM - First time in a few days I didn't have a DX chasing session. I had two great rag chew QSOs this evening with K3ASW and W1IDL. I planned to elaborate a bit on the discussions we had here in this diary entry, but my head cold is really bugging me now, and I think I'll save that till tomorrow or more likely the day after since tomorrow evening is our monthly NAQCC sprint and I'll be busy in it and processing logs after it's over. With that long sentence that would drive an English teacher mad, I'll close for now. -30-

Monday, November 14, 2011 8:15 PM - Is this November or September? Another day in the low 70s here. Nice enough, despite pretty strong breezes, to go fishing. I added one more carp to the yearly total as I caught a 25 inch one. I had a second one on, but he made good his escape shortly after I hooked him. It looks like the next few days will leave no doubt what month it is, so probably no fishing until late this week or early next week when the outlook is for another bout of nice weather although not as warm as today. Right now there's a line of storms to our northwest slipping down this way. That's a forerunner to a cold front that's coming after it.

I reached my band-country #1,000 today when I worked MU0FAL on 12 meters which was country #99 on that band. I also worked 5 other DX stations today being selective. I could have worked more, but I was mainly, as usual, looking for something new or for letters for the NAQCC November challenge. I found enough today to complete the challenge using only letters from DX stations.

So all in all it was a good day here. Now I've got to update my monthly poll. So check the main page later tonight or tomorrow and vote in the new poll. I'm not even sure what it will be. I'm thinking of doing something about rig manufacturers since I got the Elecraft K2 recently. We'll see. -30-

Sunday, November 13, 2011 10:24 PM - Another fun day on the bands. Gee, deja-vu all over again (Yogi Berra). Yep, not as many DX stations worked today, but still fun. No, I didn't get band-country #1,000 today. I did hear PZ1DY on 12 meters, I believe, but very weak and he was S&P, not calling CQ. That would have been #1,000 as well as #99 on 12 meters, but..... I did work HC1HW which gave me WAC in 28 hours over the weekend. I've done it much quicker in contests, but that possibly could be at least a top five quickest with no contests involved. I worked JH7VHZ on 17 meters which gave me a 17 meters endorsement for our NAQCC WAC award. The kicker there being all QSOs must take place after January 1, 2004. I had 17 meters WAC long before that, but today was the first Asian on 17 since before 1/1/04. Some countries I always enjoy working for whatever reason. Iceland is one, and I worked TF2JB on 10 meters today. After working W8YML for my main streak QSO this evening, a DX station provided the second QSO. A single call netted FG/DK9PY on 30 meters. I worked DK9PY a couple times before from his home country of Germany.

604 DX QSOs so far this year. That's the best since 699 in 2004 and 689 in 2003. I'm pretty sure of surpassing those totals this year. I won't come close to the 1981 QSOs in 2002 though unless I put in full efforts in the CQWW DX, ARRL 10M, and a couple other DX contests, and even then it's unlikely. Still it's been a lot of fun chasing the DX this year. Great to have the sunspots and the good conditions back again.

It was another beautiful weather day today, and it's still in the low 60's this late at night after peaking at 65 degrees late this afternoon. Too windy to go fishing though. I did get in a couple good walks. Also I put up my Christmas lights around my door so I won't have to freeze my fingers off doing it later on. Looks like the nice weather will continue for at least another week though. However some rain the next couple days. That's better than s#$w though. -30-

Saturday, November 12, 2011 8:29 PM - Another fun day on the bands. DX really is booming. I worked 10 different DX stations today, and missed a 1-day WAC by not getting South America. I worked ZD8ZZ easily again, this time on 12 meters. That's entity #98 on 12, and band-entity #999 overall now. The next new band-country will put me at 1,000. I got at least one new prefix in PA25OSK on 17. I worked New Zealand for the first time outside a contest in a good long while now. That was ZL4PW on 10, and he wasn't all that strong here, but copied me well with a couple repeats. I got a new mW country (#67) when I worked OK7K and OK6W with 900 mW on 15 meters - OK7K with a single call, no repeats. I worked DX on 5 different bands. I added many letters to my NAQCC November Challenge which I am re-doing with only DX calls. I need only about 10 letters now. UW2ZM on 30 meters was the strongest Ukraine station I've heard and worked on that band, I believe. The same with UA0DC in Asiatic Russia on 10 meters. This is pretty much like it was back in the 'halcyon' days for DXing at the peak of the last sunspot cycle around 2000. I always liked that word even though it's use here may not be quite totally accurate.

With all that good DX, after it turned 0000Z, I had trouble getting QSOs and still need my second streak QSO for the 13th. If not tonight, it should be easy tomorrow. -30-

Friday, November 11, 2011 8:54 PM - It was another cold cloudy day and me having a head cold made for a good ham radio day. There was a lot of DX around on the high bands, and I could have worked a ton of it, but I just picked and chose since I'm sure a lot of hams need certain stations/countries more than I do, and I don't like to deprive them of their fun. The only station I really wanted to work was ZD8ZZ whom I ran across on 30 meters just before 0000Z. He had a big pile-up so before blindly trying to work him, I analyzed the situation. He was on 10106 listening up, so I set up for split operation, tuned around with VFO B on the K2 till I found the stations he was working. I set my frequency a couple hundred Hertz above the last station he worked, waited till he finished, sent my call. Got a QRZ? that seemed timed to the end of my call, so I sent my call twice again. He got me as K3WJP? and sent his report. I sent my call twice, his RST, and my call again. He came back with K3WWP TU, and I logged my first Ascension Island station in quite a while now. It's so easy a lot of the time if folks would just take time to think first instead of blindly jumping in the fray.

Since I completed my NAQCC November challenge so quickly, I've decided to re-do it now using only DX calls. So far I have 34 of the 59 letters and with a little effort, it shouldn't be hard to get the remaining 25 letters.

I also have been doing a bit of re-wiring of my station so that I can switch back-and-forth between the K2 and the TS-570D to compare how they receive signals. I did a little comparing today and on some bands there was little difference, however on 17 for some reason, the K2 was hearing stations the 570 couldn't hear at all. I'm going to do some more comparisons on other bands over the next few weeks and see just how good the K2 receiver is. -30-

Thursday, November 10, 2011 8:01 PM - It was a cold cloudy day today and I needed a second QSO for the day so I wound up on the bands 3 different times today not counting my usual evening session. Early in the day (13-14Z hours), DX was pretty good on 10 and 12. Nothing really rare or needed so I didn't work much. I worked EW8O to get my 2nd QSO in the log, then I worked LY2OU with 900 mW for a mW QSO. Both came on 10 meters. A little later around 1800Z needing just an S to complete our NAQCC November challenge, I found EA5ASQ and worked him on 12 meters. So I wound up getting my 4 last letters today - 2 O's, 1 T, and the S.

This evening I found the rig setting on 20 from earlier in the day so I tuned that band and found and worked CT7ACG for my first QSO, then W9ZI on 30 for the 2nd QSO for 11-11-11. Had to fit that date in somewhere as the next to last triple-double digit dates of this century. 12-12-12 next year will do it until the next century - 1-1-1 on January 1, 2101. Not too many, if any folks reading this will be around to see that. -30-

Wednesday, November 09, 2011 9:59 PM - Not much to say tonight. I'm developing a head cold here, and think I'll make a brief entry, then think about getting to bed early.

We had a good computer club meeting this evening. The first one we've had in a while as we've been searching for a place to hold our meetings. That's a long story and you don't really want to hear it. I gave what everyone thought was a good demo on working with spreadsheets, and even I thought it was pretty good and went well. And I'm usually my own worst critic. HI.

Only got one QSO this evening after getting home late from the meeting. So I'll have to get on during the day tomorrow for my second QSO. It's supposed to be poor weather so that shouldn't be a problem as the urge to go fishing, walking, etc. won't be there. HI It will be nice to check the high bands and maybe even work a bunch of DX. Conditions look pretty good with a high SF and low A/K indices. -30-

Tuesday, November 08, 2011 8:35 PM - Yet another beautiful day. This first part of November is more like the weather we get here in mid or early October. We've not had a drop of rain this month so far. An 8-day rain-free streak in November may be a record as it's usually a very rainy/snowy month. It does look like we may not complete 9 days though as we may get rain late tomorrow afternoon or evening.

Of course with the nice weather, it was yet another fishing day. Bill and I went to the Crooked Creek spillway again today. I caught 6 and Bill didn't count his, but I think he got 7 or 8. My 6 consisted of 2 crappies, 3 bluegills, and a small walleye. I should have had a lot more, but unlike the last trip when they practically hooked themselves on purpose, today they were much smarter. I probably 'almost caught but not quite' a dozen or so more. I was more glad seeing Bill catch as many as he did.

Tomorrow will be another fishing day, the last for a few days at least as the weather will turn cold the latter part of this week, but may recover after that to permit fishing a couple more times early next week. We'll see. Bill is busy tomorrow, so I'll go to the river and see if I can catch a carp or two.

My QSOs came pretty easily this evening. First was Tom W4VHH operating portable from his RV down in NC. Then Peter KG4PRK (FISTS and NAQCC member) in Iowa. Both on 40 meters.

Perhaps when the cold weather comes, I'll get to have some time to look for some high band QSOs during the day. I don't think there is a DX or mW QSO listed on my streak table which means it's been at least 10 days since I've had either kind.

I listened to the TL show last night. This time it was a live feed of his recently resurrected "Music for Young Lovers" show being aired in the Pittsburgh area. He still sounds pretty much the same at age "somewhere in the 60s (I guess)" as he did back in the late 1960s. Tonight will be another live feed, and I plan to listen. Last night he played another of the really popular area songs from the 60's - High on a Hill by Scott English. That's another of my all-time favorites, but it wasn't "lost" like Creators of Rain since I've had a recording of it over the years. Also it is played on oldies stations quite a lot. -30-

Monday, November 07, 2011 9:42 PM - You never know what you may find when you look on the Internet. I not only found a ton of info on TL - Terry Lee and his oldies shows, but found actual streaming versions of recordings made of his shows going all the way back to the 1960s. I listened to an hour or so to some of them last night and intend to do so again a little later tonight.

I also found out that Terry is still going strong today and recently returned to Pittsburgh radio with his oldies show and dance hosting. It's amazing that you can find out more info about something that took place 40-50 years ago now than you could when it was happening. I never realized just how Terry was involved in a great many different ways in the radio business beyond his 'Music for Young Lovers' radio shows which by the way also aired out in Arizona when Terry moved out there, and of course now air everywhere in the world that someone chooses to listen to them on the Internet.

To make the cycle complete, I'm waiting now to hear one of the shows where he played Creators of Rain. I'm sure that will happen before long since he did play the song a lot back in the late 60s.

I took a stab at transcribing the lyrics of Creators of Rain since I couldn't find them on the Internet anywhere. Here's what I have:
Smokey - In the beginning land was stained, parched by the sun, desert and plain. Then the creators of the land created rain.
Vicki - I was that barren wasted land. I was too weak to stand. Then the creators of rain created you.
Smokey - High on a mountain, growing there, land was plenty, trees were rare. Then the creators of rain created air.
Vicki - I was that mountain, growing there. My life was empty, nothing there. Then the creators of air created you.
Duet - There would be no land, no seas, no plants, no trees, no life for me without you
Smokey - Life had forgot the caring of dreams that were lost to fade above. Then the creators of rain created love.
Vicki - I was that dream that life had made. To ?????????? hope and faith.
Duet - Then the creators of love created you, created you, created you for me.

It seems like virtually every song I try to get the lyrics for have a few words that no matter how many times I listen, I just can't figure out. Creators of Rain is no exception.

Easy QSOs tonight with really good conditions. I think the K2 S-meter was peaking higher tonight than I've yet seen it, especially from KB3AAY in MD on 40 meters. Still didn't get a chance to listen during the day. The weather is just too nice. I went fishing instead and I'm glad I did as I got a nice 26 inch carp. He really fooled me. When he hit, he acted like a sucker. When I first got a glimpse of him, I thought maybe it was a catfish. The next glimpse, he looked like a carpsucker. Not till I got a really good look at him, did I know for sure it was a carp. Usually 26 inchers are great fighters, but this one fooled me not only when glimpsing him, but the way he was fighting. Tomorrow it's back to Crooked Creek spillway and hopefully another large batch of bluegills or maybe something bigger if we get to explore the area a little more and aren't limited to one small spot. Still it's always been fun, and continues to be fun, catching the bluegills. -30-

Sunday, November 06, 2011 8:49 PM - I never got around to doing any more research on Creators of Rain, although I did listen to it a good many times today. I was also doing some thinking about the TL show on WMCK. As I remeber, Terry closed his show every night with the song Goodnight My Love. That song was recorded by many artists over many years. I think the version TL used was by Ray Peterson. That will require more research when I get time also.

I think it was the end of a tradition today. According to Ange, this is the last year he is going to bury the 3 big fig trees. Next fall they will be dug out and the following spring replaced by new younger trees. Although I cut back on my work on the project, he and the fellow who helped him today had a real struggle to get the trees down flat to the ground as they had really spread out their heavier limbs more so than usual this year. Perhaps just a sign of old age as they are quite old now and are not producing as well as they used to. I'm not sad about it, as burying younger trees is much much easier than burying those three monsters.

Once again this evening as I did last evening, I got my streak QSOs from the SS. However last night I also added a 30 meters QSO, and this evening tried some CQs on 30 meters as well with no response. Well almost no response. Don N7IGK in Washington state emailed and said he heard my CQs, but only about 219, too weak to bother calling.

I almost came close to getting KL7 with mW power which would have completed a mW WAS for me. I was hearing several KL7s in the SS on 15 and a couple on 20, but the ones I called weren't hearing me except for a QRZ? from one which may have been directed at me. The others were S&Ping trying to add a few more QSOs to their totals. I think had I thought about it earlier, I might have made it as it seemed when I was hearing them, the band was just starting to go out for the PA-KL7 path. Maybe in the CQWW DX test, I can make it. That will be easier anyway since they wouldn't have to copy the long SS exchange in that one. -30-

Saturday, November 05, 2011 9:54 AM - Did you ever discover buried treasure? Well, I did last night, in a way. That's why this early diary entry today.

Many years ago - well around 1967 to be exact, I used to listen to the TL (Terry Lee) show on WMCK in McKeesport (a 'suburb' of Pittsburgh). Terry wouldn't play the top hits of the day unless they happened to fit his style of music which was basically romantic music for 'young lovers'. He played local 'unknown' artists or artists who never came close to having a 'charted' hit song. Their music was great and some of them really deserved to be on the charts. Well at least some of their songs. In addition to the good songs, some of them also recorded some really forgettable songs.

For many years for no particular reason one of the TL songs has stayed in my memory. Some songs I like remind me of an old girlfriend, some event, a particular location where I heard the song, and so forth. However this one had no such connection. I just plain liked it. Not being a top hit by any means, I really never heard it after the late 60s when TL played it. I think I do have a very poor quality tape of it somewhere that I made off the air that really wasn't worth listening to because of the poor quality.

From time to time I had thought to see if I could find it on the Internet somewhere. Although many of the newsgroups had MANY songs from that era, I never did find this one. But yesterday when I was out walking, the song popped into my mind as it does frequently so last night I decided to do a Bing search for it, and typed in 'Smokey Sister Creators Rain'. I came up with a YouTube recording of it. Right then and there that confirmed my often stated statement that you can find ANYTHING on the Internet if you just look for it properly is indeed true. I listened to the song over and over again much as I do when I hear a song that strikes my fancy the first time I hear it. With the music of today, that happens extremely rarely, but that's another story.

With that preamble, let me talk about the song and artist a bit. The song is "Creators of Rain" by Smokey and His Sister. It's a somewhat allegorical song about how love was created and how a woman and man are created for each other.

Smokey was Smokey Timms who I learned last night passed away recently on June 28, 2011 in Galveston, TX. His sister was Vicki who according to the wording of the post I saw, also has passed away. I intend to do some more research on them.

Although Creators of Rain was the only song that I knew by them, there are other songs by them on YouTube, and frankly and sadly, they are not all that good, at least to my ears and in my opinion. I am going to give them some more listening though. Sometimes a song doesn't strike my fancy the first time I hear it, but then does grow on me. I'll give their other songs a chance to do that.

Their style, at least in Creators of Rain is similar to that of Donovan. I'll give the YouTube link in a moment and if you never heard the song before and listen, I think you'll agree.

If you have heard the song before, I'd love to hear from you. It's conceivable it was more popular in other areas of the country back then when a lot of songs were 'local area' hits. The song was covered by a couple other artists over the years, but none matched the Smokey and His Sister version. One version was by Claudine Longet which definitely leaves a lot to be desired compared to the original.

Click here if you want to hear this great song. -30-

Friday, November 04, 2011 9:33 PM - Only one more bright evening, then we turn the clocks back and it gets dark in late afternoon. Very depressing. It may help to keep in mind that those of us who live around 40 degrees north latitute will have our earliest sunset just about 33 days from now around December 7 or 8. After that, the sun starts setting a little later each day all through win#$r, spring and early summer

The weather was pretty good again today but cooler and windier than yesterday. A little too cool and windy to do any fishing. I did get in a couple good walks though and mowed my grass for probably the last time till glorious spring arrives.

I also got on the bands a couple times during the day. The high bands showed quite a bit of DX around noon, but nothing really all that strong. Certainly not like the S9 plus signals a few weeks ago. I could have worked some of the stations I was hearing, but chose not to since none were new band-countries, prefixes, etc. Later in the day I got on again and made a few USA QSOs to get some more letters for our NAQCC November challenge. Those plus my streak QSOs this evening gave me enough letters to total 51 of the 59 needed. It shouldn't take too long to get the last 8 letters now.

One of the things I always enjoy and unfortunately it doesn't happen too often now is working someone I first worked back in the 1960s or 70s. It did happen tonight when Vic K9UIY tail ended my QSO with N0JL. Vic and I worked many times way back then in county hunting or contesting, but not very often since then, and only in a couple contests. So it was nice to have a rag chew with him this evening. -30-

Thursday, November 03, 2011 10:40 PM - The weather continues to be beautiful. Typical Indian Summer since we did have our first frost and Indian Summer is not official until that occurs. Bill and I went fishing again today and had a ball. Although Bill wanted to experiment with different kinds of bait and did so most of the time, I stuck with little pieces of nightcrawler. That resulted in me catching 18 bluegills and Bill catching 2 bluegills.

Let me tell you a bit about where we went fishing and even present a couple pictures. There is a large recreational area near Kittanning centered on Crooked Creek Lake which is more or less an artificial lake created by damming the creek like a lot of other lakes around the country. I've always heard the fishing at the spillway of the dam was very good, but never went fishing there till today. It definitely is a popular place as there were around a dozen people fishing there. That didn't leave us much room to experiment. I would have liked to have tried some artificial lures in the swift water or some peanut butter bread where I thought there might be catfish or carp. However that wasn't possible. I scanned the area and found a couple of places along the swift water where the water was calm, and figured there might be fish in that area. I used the bits of nightcrawler with a bobber, and got nothing at all for quite a while. Then suddenly the biting lamp got turned on and the bluegills heeded it. I caught 5 in just a few minutes before they slowed down a bit and finally pretty much quit when I had caught 7. I had my eye on another spot where no one was fishing. There was a rock just at water level with the water flowing around it at slow to moderate speed. I figured there might be fish right below the rock. When I got there I noticed a weed bed right there also. I threw my bait in there and pulled out one bluegill after another. I don't know how many I would have wound up with had we not had to leave since Bill had a dinner engagement. We're definitely going back there again and Bill says he'll use the nightcrawler bits then.

Let me see how the pictures turned out. No fish pictures, but some pictures of the area to give you an idea of what it looks like.

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pix_diary_20111104_03 (91K)
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The red arrows show the two areas I fished in the order I mention them in the story.

Of course with all the fishing it was another day of no checking the bands during the day, but my streak QSOs came very easily this evening from Tim WA1SIY and Henry KF4VWZ.

Well it's late so I'm going to upload this and listen to a Fibber and Molly show before bed. -30-

Wednesday, November 02, 2011 10:32 PM - I forgot to mention last entry that I find the best way to cook chestnuts is to make an X shaped slit on both sided of the nut, the cook in a 700 watt microwave for 45 seconds. I used to do 35 seconds, but I find that 45 does a better job of separating the inner husk from the nut. The time probably should be adjusted for different wattage microwaves.

It was nice enough today to get in some fishing. I caught a 14 inch sucker for fish number 65 this year. I plan to go the next few days since the weather is supposed to be very nice through at least next Tuesday.

Conditions seemed a bit better today, as I at least was hearing some more DX on the higher bands, although I didn't work any. This evening, the streak QSOs came fairly easily and turned out to be a couple of nice rag chews. One a 2 way QRP. -30-

Tuesday, November 01, 2011 9:59 PM - And now for something completely different (a la Monty Python). I'm going to write about chestnuts tonight. Those of you who buy chestnuts in the store may not have run into this, but those who gather chestnuts in the wild probably have. After you gather them and store them for a while, you find tiny little white worms in your storage space. When you examine the chestnuts carefully, you'll find tiny perfectly circular holes in the shell. That's where the worms have emerged from the chestnuts. Here's a picture:
pix_diary_20111101_001 (15K)

Some background, then a question or explanation. The worms are larvae of the lesser chestnut weevil. The weevil emerges from the ground in late May until July and in late summer or early fall they lay eggs in the downy inner layer of the chestnuts in the burrs. I've also heard that they lay the eggs in the tassells before the chestnuts start to develop. I'm not sure which is correct, but anyway when the chestnuts fall to the ground, if they are not gathered promptly, the larvae will emerge from the chestnut and burrow into the ground where they develop into the weevil, and the cycle is repeated.

And now my question/comment. If you count the worms in your storage bin, and count the holes in the chestnuts, you'll probably find there are more worms than holes. It must mean that some of the worms share the same exit holes. If so, what does that mean? Do the worms have energetic leaders and lazy followers?

Just another thing to think about that has virtually no importance to anyone. Don't tell the government though, or they'll waste several million dollars of your tax money to fund a study of the matter.

OK, enough of that. My QSOs came pretty easy this evening. I didn't get a chance to get on during the day today except another brief late afternoon check when I heard only a PJ5 station. I did a little homebrew work today. I added a switch to my tuner so I can have two rigs hooked up and switch between the two with a throw of the switch. So I probably will hook up the K2 and the KX-1 or maybe the K2 and the TS-570D. Oh, my QSOs this evening were NAQCC members K9KHJ and K3RLL. You may recognize K3RLL as Don who winters in FL where he was tonight, and comes up here to PA for the summer. We've had several eyeball QSOs and he's operated at Kittanning Community Park with Mike and/or me a few times. So it was good to talk to him tonight for quite a while as we had good conditions between FL and PA. -30-

Monday, October 31, 2011 10:11 PM - A little better weather day today with a high of 53. We did have some lite rain showers though.

The bands weren't too good during the couple of brief checks I made. In fact I didn't hear much of anything anywhere. Maybe I just wasn't there at the right time.

Not much else to report on today. I'm in a phone call right now with Tom WY3H. -30-

Sunday, October 30, 2011 8:52 PM - I worked FP/KV1E this afternoon on 10 meters for a new band-country. That puts me just 2 from the 1,000 band-countries mark. I'm also close to a couple more marks. I need 3 countries on 12 meters to reach 100 there and have 100 or more on all bands from 40 through 10 meters. I'm also just a couple of NAQCC members away from having worked 900 different club members.

It was a cold day today and a good day to stay indoors. I only went out once this morning to walk with Joe and Bruce and one trip to the grocery store. I'll be getting the temperature readings after I finish typing this entry and uploading it. I bet the high just barely got into the 40s if it even made it that high. It did warm up a bit late this afternoon so it may have made it.

My streak QSOs this evening came quickly. WD5CNC answered my 30 meters QSO at 0004Z and as soon as we finished KN3ZOG called me. Can't get too much easier than that.

Well, it is 9:00 now so out I go into the cold to get the temperature. I might as well keep this open and let you know the readings. It's 31 right now and the high was just 38. That's one of only a very few October days in the 52 years I've been keeping records when the high was below 40. The record low maximum is 34 on 10/26/62 and 10/31/93. So this was a memorable cold October day for sure. However not a record for the day as the high on 10/30/02 was just 35. -30-

Saturday, October 29, 2011 9:28 PM -

pix_diary_20111029_001 (32K)  pix_diary_20111029_002 (25K)

At least it melted by mid-afternoon, thank goodness. It's much too early for s%#w.

Congrats to Penn State coach Joe Paterno who is now the all time winningest coach in the Division I level of college football. Penn State staged a 4th quarter comeback from a 7-0 deficit to beat Illinois 10-7. That was coach Paterno's 409th victory in 46 years, all at Penn State.

The streak QSOs came easily this evening, even a DX one. I got SV2GNC easily on 30 meters. I listened this afternoon for a while and the bands still didn't sound all that good.

I continue to learn about the K2 and all of its menu items. I solved a couple minor annoyances today by reading the manual. Had I built it myself, I probably would have known all these things. I hadn't been able to figure out why the 'bar' choice on the S/Power meter wouldn't work, and no matter if it was set to 'dot' or 'bar', it would always show up as 'dot'. Turns out the Opt menu choice was set at 'batt' which disables the 'bar' setting. I switched the Opt choice to 'perf' and now the S/Power meter looks a lot better in my opinion with bars instead of dots.

One other thing was every once in a while when using my bug, the internal keyer would kick in. Only with the bug and not with my straight key or keyers. In that case I found the Inp menu choice was set to 'Padln' which is for a paddle input. I changed it to 'Hand' for straight key or external keyer input and that cured that annoyance. -30-

Friday, October 28, 2011 10:14 PM - This was pretty much just a 'getting caught up on things' day with nothing much to talk about. So I'll just present this feedback from Paul N0NBD about fishing, and mention my streak QSOs briefly after that.

"Hello John, Man, I was excited to read of the "second " largest catch. I have never caught a monster that large at all. That was a great catch and to have caught another an inch larger ...is even better. I will keep riding along...and wishing for a big fish, have a good one de Paul N0NBD"

I worked two NAQCC members this evening for my streak QSOs. First Jack WD4E in NC, then Fred KA4RUR in MO, both on 40 meters. Earlier in the day I listened around the high bands, but despite good SF, A, and K numbers, the bands sounded pretty dead and I couldn't even rouse anyone with my CQs. Hopefully the weekend will be better. I'm getting anxious to get the last 3 band-countries to reach 1,000 and also to finish WAC on 12 and 17 for my NAQCC endorsement for those bands. Only QSO's starting on January 1, 2004 count for our NAQCC WAC awards. Other than that restriction, I do have WAC on all bands from 30 through 10 meters thanks to QSOs before that date. Only recently have conditions improved enough to even think about WAC on some bands. -30-

Thursday, October 27, 2011 9:19 PM - It was a rainy windy cold day today so I played around on the bands a few times. Conditions weren't as good as they had been. The DX was there, but not as abundant nor as strong. I did get a new band-country though when I worked 4Z5AD on 10 meters. That gives me 997 band countries now. I also had a few nice rag chews along the way. Also my lowest power K2 QSO so far when I worked, and had a nice 15 minute chat with Jon KI4UUZ in TN. Copy was solid both ways with me running 500 mW and Jon running 5 watts on 20 meters. However the band went away on us suddenly after the 15 minutes.

This evening a single call to HR9/WQ7R netted my first streak QSO on 40 meters. Then a nice 27 minute rag chew with Tom K8VBL in MI on 40 gave me my second streak QSO.

I guess no one else is going to take a guess on the trivia question, so I'll give the answer. Johnson Wax, Pet Milk, and Reynolds Aluminum were all sponsors of the Fibber McGee and Molly radio show. Johnson Wax sponsored the show through 1950, Pet Milk through 1952, and Reynolds through the final 30 minute episode in 1953. Harlow Wilcox was the announcer for the show and did the commercials for all three products along the way. The commercial at the midway point in the show was always wound right into the dialog of the show. Wilcox would enter the scene with some comments related to the theme of the show and would quickly then (to the feigned chagrin of Fibber and Molly) switch the subject to the commercial. Apparently all three sponsors loved the format for their commercials despite the chagrin and even slight ridicule of the product.

Those who got the answer were as I said, regular diary readers with a logical mind to connect the question with my occasional references to Fibber and Molly. Chuck W8LQ, Geo N1EAV, and Paul N0NBD all said sponsors of the Fibber McGee and Molly Show. Very good, my friends.

Paul also added this, "I have been off work on leave for a week, at work this morning I had a email from the Library wanting two men to come move a fig tree that was donated.... I do not believe I ever saw one before. Well I have now. It is in a VERY LARGE pot and is 8 feet high and looking healthy..... I will keep an eye on an indoor fig tree. de Paul N0NBD."

Yes, that is another way of preserving fig trees through the winter in cold climates. However Ange does not have the indoor room to do it that way and as I've commented in the past, his fig trees have to be buried each fall and resurrected the following spring. A lot of work to get some sweet tasting fruit.

In yesterday's entry I did something that I hate when others do it. Sports announcers will say so and so just hit the second most doubles in a season, scored the second most extra points in a game, made the second most free throws in a quarter, etc., BUT leave you trying to figure out who had THE most whatevers. I said the carp I caught yesterday at 33 inches was my second biggest ever, but never said what the biggest was. Well it was a 34 inch one I caught back in August 2007. My biggest fish ever was a muskie caught back in May of 2008 which measured an even 1 yard. -30-

Wednesday, October 26, 2011 10:26 PM - After some rain early this morning, the weather turned nice so I thought I'd get in some fishing since there won't be many nice days left now. I went down to the lower end of our town amphitheater along the river where I caught a nice 28 inch carp a couple weeks ago. After about 15 minutes of nothing, I started getting hits on my peanut butter bread. It sort of acted like carp biting, but not quite. I thought maybe it was turtles. Whatever it was would tug on the bait and almost run the reel, but would drop it before I could hook them. That happened numberous times and it was getting frustrating. Finally I was down to my last chunk of pbb. It was either catch something now or go home being shut out. Well that time there was no doubt. Whatever it was took the bait and headed like a runaway train toward the other side of the river. Had there been a snag in the line on the reel, my pole would have gone in the water - that's how fast it happened. The line spun off the reel nicely though, and I knew with 99 percent certainty it was a carp. I tried to hold him from going down river into the weed beds where the 28 inch carp took me. I was successful, and at one point his tail came up out of the water and I knew it was a carp, and a big one at that. There was really only one place between the amphitheater and a sewer outlet where I could land him without scrambling up over the sewer outlet through the weeds. That opening was only about 4 feet wide. After a 10-15 minute fight, I finally got him to head to the opening. Along the way I could see all of him now and he definitely was BIG. He tired out finally and I dragged him on shore with his tail still in the water when the hook came out. I scrambled down to where he was and measured him with my pole on which I have marks every 3 inches as a readily available yardstick. The marks take up a full yard, and he covered 11 of the 12 marks - 33 inches which makes him my second biggest carp ever. Just as I was figuring how to get at him better and help him back in the water, he took one big flop and was gone. So I'm very glad I decided to go fishing today.

Other than going to our computer club meeting this evening, the rest of the day was pretty uneventful.

I did get my two QSOs rather easily although the second one took a bit of time. After that I went next door and took Joe out for a late walk, then visited with Nancy and Bruce for a while before coming over home to write this entry and update my streak table and propagation page. -30-

Tuesday, October 25, 2011 9:37 PM - When I said yesterday that today would be a busy day, I didn't know it would turn out to be an understatement. I think I spent less time at the computer today than I have in a good long time now.

The day started early with Tom coming over and he and I trying to complete our NAQCC web site renewal. Turned out we didn't get it done because of a glitch that I won't bother detailing.

After that I went out and walked with Bruce and Joe, then Bruce had some things to do on my computer so I told him it would be a good time to do it since I was just waiting for Bill to come to go fishing. So he completed his work, and not too much later, Bill did come and we went out to Keystone Lake. We didn't catch anything. I had a few pretty good bites, but couldn't hook anything. However the weather was so beautiful it really didn't matter much whether we did catch anything or not. Also it was nice to see the lake again. I hadn't been out there since late summer of 2004. It really hadn't changed much in all that time.

Just after we got home, it was time to go out to Ponderosa with Nancy. As always, I ate more than my fill there, and Nancy wasn't too far behind me. Then we went to Wal-Mart and a couple of food stores for some shopping. All in all that took about 3 hours or so with the meal and shopping.

Next up Tom called and said he had some good news. He thought he solved the glitch in the web site renewal and said he'd be over in 10 to 15 minutes. He showed up, and after some hassling with GoDaddy, we did get the web site renewed for 2 years. Then I asked if he wanted to see my new K-2. He did, so I showed it off to him.

Now it's past 0000Z so time to get my QSO. When we tuned across the bands looking at the K-2 there wasn't much activity and Tom mentioned there was a good strong aurora display visible as far south as Michigan. So I thought I might have some trouble getting my QSOs. However Jim AE4DT answered my CQ before too long and after we finished, John WB4UHC called me. So the streak(s) were extended easily.

That brings us up to the point where I'm typing this diary entry. After I finish, I've got to get caught up on some emails that came in today and a few other things before relaxing with a Fibber McGee and Molly episode before bed. -30-

Monday, October 24, 2011 10:16 PM - I knew the trivia question would be an easy one, especially for regular diary readers who think logically. That statement can be taken as a clue for those who haven't figured out the answer yet. I'll mention those who came up with the right answer in a few days.

Again I'm back to where I haven't had much time to check the bands during the day. I hope I'm not missing anything really good. I did listen a bit today and conditions didn't seem quite as good as a few days ago. Even the JA pileups chasing Caribbean DX weren't as strong, although just as big.

I got my streak QSOs easily this evening on 40 meters including one extra one. Two of the three were solid rag chews, one with 5 watts and one with 3 watts. The 3 watt one with Vin W1IDL in MI was an interesting one in which Vin asked a lot about my QRP work and antennas.

I spent quite a bit of time with Joe today. He was in the mood for sitting on the recliner so I got in some good relaxing time today.

Tomorrow will be a busy day with Tom and I renewing our NAQCC web site and domain name in the morning. Then early afternoon a fishing trip with my friend Bill to Keystone Lake about 20 miles from here. When I get home, then Nancy and Bruce are treating me to a trip to the Ponderosa buffet to thank me for all I do in helping them out with Joe and other things. So not much room for ham radio again tomorrow till the evening comes along. -30-

Sunday, October 23, 2011 11:03 PM - It's late and I'm tired so a brief entry tonight. Just a couple short items.

My task of helping Ange with the garden came to an end for this year as we pulled all the plants today. The fig trees need burying, but I'm not helping with that any longer, except maybe as a 'supervisor'.

If you haven't gotten T32C yet, they were begging for answers today. You should be able to get them easily on the higher bands.

Finally a trivia question. What do the three companies - Johnson's Wax, Pet Milk, and Reynolds Aluminum have in common? -30-

Saturday, October 22, 2011 10:31 PM - This was a notable day in college football. I don't watch TV so I don't know how much of a story it was, but Penn State coach Joe Paterno earned his 408th win when PSU beat NW 34-24. Those 408 wins tie him with now retired coach Eddie Robinson as the most wins in the Division I level of college football. Congratulations Coach Paterno. There is one other coach in college football who has more wins, but in the Division III level. That's John Gagliardi, coach of small college St. John's University in Collegeville, MN. I believe his current up-to-date record is 456 wins at St. John's plus 24 wins at Carroll College in Helena, MT before coming to St. John's in 1953. That's a total of 480 wins. For comparison it took Gagliardi 63 years, Robinson 55 years, and Paterno 'only' 46 years to reach their record totals.

Ham radio continued good today also. I was mostly just fooling around now and then, but managed to make a QSO on 80,40,30,20,17,15, and 12 meters today. No mW QSOs, all with 5 watts. Best DX was UA0BA on 12 meters. That 12 meters band is the 'pileup' band lately. Most all of the activity there seems confined to pileups chasing this or that DX station.

It took a while this evening to get my two streak QSOs as I was interrupted by a long enjoyable phone call with Tom WY3H. I first worked N3LCW in MD on 80 meters, then much later after the phone call, it was K9TTM in IN on 40 meters. I thought for a while I was going to have to wait till morning to get my 2nd QSO as it took a while before K9TTM answered. When he did, it just about knocked my headphones off at S9+++. One thing about the K2 - the noise level is so low in it that I sometimes turn up the audio gain thinking I've got it set too low. Then BANG.. along comes a strong station right out of nowhere. Or even a weaker station just seemingly comes out of nowhere at a good strong level also. I continue to be impressed by the K2 receive section. -30-

Friday, October 21, 2011 10:06 PM - Great conditions again today. I didn't work nearly as many mW DX stations today as yesterday. I was more picky today after completing the NAQCC mW challenge yesterday. I only tried for some new mW band countries or overall new band countries. In the latter case I worked TF8GX on 10 meters with 5 watts which is my 996th overall band country, and in the former it was YT3AA and UT7UJ on 10 meters. I tried later in the day to get a JA on 10 as I need Asia for a 10 meter endorsement for our NAQCC WAC award. Of course I've worked a lot of Asians on 10 meters, but actually none since the start date for our NAQCC WAC award of January 1, 2004. However all the JA's I heard except for a couple were chasing a PJ2 station or some other DX station. The couple I heard that were not in pile-ups were busy rag chewing. Oh well, maybe tomorrow.

This evening was much easier getting my streak QSOs. In fact I made 4 QSOs in about 40 minutes. While all QSOs are interesting in one way or other, the last 3 of the 4 were of a little more special interest. VE3VJC turned out to be 79 years old and a veteran of the Indian (VU) army. His name threw me at first (Chauhan) and when I questioned if I copied it correctly, he explained about being from India. The second QSO was on 30 meters with SV2BOH. I mentioned a few entries ago that Ilias was my first ever DX station on 12 meters, and now it is nice to add a new band QSO with him. Finally it was Jeff N1SNB who answered my CQ on 80 meters. Jeff is kind of special to me and the web site. He was one of the first who wrote an article about himself for my Teens and CW page in the CW section of the web site. In fact, I think he may have been THE first. I learned from our QSO tonight that he's now 31 years old, married, and has one son. He's also building a super ham station in his new home in MA. -30-

Thursday, October 20, 2011 10:13 PM - Ham radio can be very strange at times. After working the world with 900 mW during the day today, it took me almost 2 hours this evening to get my second streak QSO.

I thought for a while something was wrong with my new (to me) K2. I called an endless stream of unanswered CQs and got no response from a couple of stations whose CQs I answered myself. It really got frustrating. Actually somewhere in the middle someone started to answer my CQ then messed up my call and ended the answer. I guess maybe he was embarrassed at messing up my call. Anyway the QSO attempt was aborted without me ever knowing who it was. Finally an hour and 49 minutes after my first QSO, AE5KA answered my CQ. He gave me an S7 report so I was getting out. I don't have any idea why the lack of answers to my CQs for so long.

OK, that's the bad part. Now let's talk about the mW DX day I spent. In fact, let me quote first my soapbox comments for the NAQCC October mW Challenge which I completed today.

"K3WWP - With only 5 mW QSOs in the log as of mid-day on the 19th I worked DL5ANT, OE4PWW, and T32C with mW power on my new K2. Then on the 20th I really set out on a mission to get the challenge completed before the evening of that day. I cranked the K2 down again to 900 mW and parked on the 4 high bands of 17, 15, 12, and 10 looking for strong DX signals to work. I wasn't going to be shamed by not mastering the challenge this month after all my mW work. The problem was simply a lack of time. I wasn't going to let that do me in any longer. So thanks to the good ears of HB9CVQ (12), UA4HEJ (12), SM5COP (10), GM7WCO (15), LY775A (10), II5ITA (10), LY775A (15), UA2FR (15), S52F (17), CO6WD (10), T32C (10), and finally F5NBX (15), the challenge was completed. Also a lot of new mW band countries were added to my records. in fact several overall new mW countries as well. Oh, the first T32C QSO mentioned above was made with 800 mW. The rest with 900 mW. Maybe Paul was right - this wasn't much of a challenge if you just put aside some time to do it."

Paul is N8XMS with his comments about the challenge being so easy. After checking, I found I had previously worked several of the band countries some time ago. However OE4PWW, CO6WD, T32C (both 10 and 12), II5ITA, LY775A (10), SM5COP, HB9CVQ, DL5ANT, UA4HEJ were new mw band countries. UA4HEJ, T32C, SM5COP, and HB9CVQ were overall new mW countries to bring my total to 66 now.

At any rate it certainly was fun and thrilling working all that DX with just 900 mW and simple dipole antennas. I think now that I mastered the challenge, I may play around the rest of the month with even lower power and see what can be done.

Oh, the T32C QSO at 800 mW is nowhere near 10,000 MPW. I was thinking Kiribati was further out in the Pacific when actually it is pretty much just south of Hawaii. So it's somewhere in the 6,000-7,000 MPW range instead. -30-

Wednesday, October 19, 2011 10:16 PM - DX IS....fun....available NOW....everywhere....workable with 1 mW into a wet noodle antenna.... Well, maybe that last one is a stretch, but I haven't tried it, so it could be true. I am sure it is workable with less than 1 watt into a hunk of wire. I did that today a few times.

It's not my policy to do so, but I couldn't resist today. I mean working T32C on 12 meters again after just working them yesterday. They were calling CQ with no answers so I figured it would be OK to work them again without depriving anyone of a chance to get them. So I cranked the K2 down to 800 mW, gave a call and as I did with 5 watts yesterday, I got them with that single call. That should be somewhere in the neighborhood of 10,000 miles per watt.

I also worked DL5ANT on 12 and OE4PWW on 10 with 900 mW - both easy QSOs. Later on with 5 watts I had a good QSO on 12 with Naito JF2IWW. My streak QSO this evening was with T32C again, this time with 5 watts on 17 meters. That was the hardest of the 4 QSOs with them, but I made it after a few calls.

I also had a frustrating 'almost' QSO today. 4Z5LA on 12 got my call right, but he wasn't sure and never did send a RST or anything else, just K3WWP? a few times. So I can't really call that a QSO, and I think it would have been band country #98 on 12 also. Darn it. I also almost got 9H9?? on 20 meters which would have been a new prefix. I forget his suffix now.

That's all part of what DX IS. Exhiliration when it works, frustration when it doesn't. But it is great to have conditions now such that you can experience those feelings, rather than when all you heard on the high bands was nothing. I only wish I had more time to play DXer. Maybe this winter when the weather is less kind for outdoor activities.

The K2 continues to impress me the more I use it. It really does improve my local noise situation like I thought it should now that I have tweaked the filters to my liking. Split frequency operation seems very natural with it, more so (I think) than with the 570 or 480.

It was beautiful today although it did get windy. I went fishing and had a few good bites, but didn't quite connect. Also 3 good walks with Joe. His 'master' is home now, so my walks with him will be down to maybe one a day instead of the regular 4 the past several days. -30-

Tuesday, October 18, 2011 9:31 PM - I got in some ham radio today for a change. I made a mW QSO on 30 with N3FCS - a nice 33 minute rag chew with my K2 at 900 mW. Then shortly after that I was checking 12 meters and worked T32C with but a single call (at 5 watts). I also worked JA1VND on 12, but that took a couple repeats of my call to make the QSO. Then this evening for my streak QSO, I worked T32C again, this time on 15 meters. Not quite on the first call. I had to send my call 3 times. With the ease of working T32C I'm guessing they must have already worked everybody. HI. I just looked at their web page and they were at the 140,000 QSO mark on the 15th. I was hoping one of the QSOs would be a new band country, but I have T32RD on 10 and 12 and T32Z on 15. Oh well. I'm getting anxious to get those last 3 countries on 12 to reach 100 on that band. Also I'm close to 1,000 band countries overall, and I'd like to reach that mark. That really shows what can be done with QRP, simple wire antennas, and not that great a location.

This was a nice day today and I spent quite a bit of time outdoors. I went for a couple walks, went fishing (nothing caught), walked Joe 3 times with a 4th one coming up shortly, and cleaned up the back yard a bit more getting ready for w*n%er.

I also got a lot of NAQCC work with the sprint and anniversary event caught up. So maybe tomorrow, I can play some more radio. I'm just over-delighted with the K2. Each rig I've used seems to be a bit better than the previous one. The 480 topped the 570, and now the K2 tops the 480.

A bit more work now on my computer log, then the Joe walk winds things down to where I listen to an old Fibber McGee and Molly radio show and get to bed. -30-

Monday, October 17, 2011 11:38 PM - Today was pretty much occupied by two main things mixed in with some usual little things.

Cross-checking the NAQCC sprint logs was a real demon this month for several reasons. It seems the more entrants we get the more discrepancies we get and the more variety of those discrepancies. They all take time to correct even with the computer doing most all of the basic background work.

Along with the usual 4 walks with Joe while his 'master' is away, I helped Nancy with seversl little projects.

I never did get to play too much with my new toy - the K2. About an hour or so this evening was the extent of that and most of that taken up in rag chews. I never did get to check the high bands which should have been good again according to the SF and A/K numbers. Hopefully tomorrow when I at least won't have the log cross-checking to do. I'm sure something else will turn up though to take its place and take up time. -30-

Sunday, October 16, 2011 10:22 PM - I TOOK some time to play radio today and had fun. I said the heck with all the other stuff (except taking care of Joe), and fooled around with my new K2. As they have been lately (but I've been missing it for the most part), the high bands were in great shape. I worked my 97th band country on 12 in Z30U. 3 more on that band and I'll have 100 on all bands from 40 through 10. I still need some fairly common ones on 12, so if I can just steal some more time to get on there while conditions are good, I may make it soon.

Another interesting QSO on 12 was SV2BOH who happens to be the very first DX I ever worked on 12 meters back in 1997. Even more unusual was working a USA station on 12 - NW8L in NM. It always seems USA stations are not interested in working other USA stations on that band, just DX. I have a lot more DX QSOs on 12 than USA QSOs.

Then another good DX catch this evening while getting my streak QSOs was 9H3TA on 30 meters. I'm not sure and haven't checked yet to see if I have Malta on 30 before now or not. I think I do. Might as well take a second to look, I guess. Hey, no I don't so that's 2 new band countries today. Haven't done that outside of perhaps a DX contest in a long time now.

I also got a mW QSO this evening at 900 mW with AA2ID on 40. 900? Yes, I'm not stuck at 930 mW now that I have the K2. I can operate at more normal sounding levels below 1 watt now. In fact I took out the RF attenuator and switch from my tuner today.

I've also got everything set up to go through all the filter settings on the K2 and tweak them to their optimum. I found some great info on the Internet about doing that. It's close right now, but I think with the additional info I found, I can make it even slightly better to my preferences. One of which being that I like using a sidetone of 550 Hz for my CW work.

It's really impressive how signals just jump right out of the (very low) noise with the K2 and become solid copy. Much better than the 570 or 480, I believe.

Well, just waiting for some rain to stop to take Joe out for his last walk of the day. His 'master' should be home tomorrow evening. I'll kind of miss the 4 walks each day, but I'll still be doing at least one of them each day. -30-

Saturday, October 15, 2011 9:48 PM - Another day that zipped by pretty fast and it seems like I didn't really accomplish anything, although now in thinking back, I guess I did.

I cleaned all the vegetables out of my garden. A sad task, but I wanted to get it done while the weather is still decent and not stand out there in 30 degree weather doing it. Ange seems to put things off till the last minute so helping him clean his garden will probably be done in worse weather. We did pick most of his peppers today so those plants are pretty much cleaned off ready to be pulled. The fig trees will be buried in a couple weeks, but I've just about retired from helping with that except as a 'supervisor' - HI.

I also walked Joe 3 times today with one more coming in a half hour or so. I also spent a very relaxing hour and 15 minutes or so with him sitting with me on a recliner chair. That was very nice. He seems to be getting along well after a first rough night with his 'master' away till Tuesday.

I also got the new poll up that I was talking about in yesterday's entry, except I forgot one thing which I'm going to do right now. OK, I wanted to give credit to David AI4VA who suggested the question. I also revamped the main page of the web site a bit. The last few polls have been way down in votes, so I moved the poll, the NAQCC info, and the Guestbook up the page above my 'streak' table. I also streamlined it a bit as it was getting pretty crowded looking.

I've got a little NAQCC work to do now before walking Joe again. -30-

Friday, October 14, 2011 9:28 PM - I've got an interesting poll coming up suggested by a friend and regular diary reader, and I should be posting it right now. However I just can't seem to get caught up on things during this hectic week which I've talked about and won't do so again. So the poll will wait till tomorrow or maybe even Sunday.

I had fun for an hour this evening running N3A. I guess I got about 8 QSOs. My log is still in the shack and not here with me. I'm glad I'm able to contribute somewhat to our N#A operation this year, but not as much as I would like to.

For the 3rd or 4th night in a row now, my first streak QSO came on my very first CQ in the 0000Z hour. Tonight it was W4MY who answered. Then just after that I worked the ARCI SE station K6JSS/4 to get the streak QSOs out of the way for another day.

Still having fun playing with the K2. Looking forward to next week when it shouldn't be so hectic and I can get in even more playing time. There are several things I want to try out with the rig that I just don't have time for now.

Joe is doing good, and I try to give him as much attention as I can while his 'master' is away and Nancy is busy doing a lot of things around her house. Helping with Joe is one of the highlights of this week and will continue through Monday.

We passed the 100 log mark in our NAQCC sprint this month which makes 18 of the past 19 over the 100 log mark. I've got a few to process now including one that came via regular mail which will take a bit of data entry to get it into the cross-checking program. So I'll close here and get to that. -30-

Thursday, October 13, 2011 11:04 PM - I had fun today playing with the K2. I calibrated the AFIL filters today and now have it sounding pretty much the way I like it. I still think there is some more minor tinkering to be done. Rich AA9L asked me via email about the ergonomics of the K2. It was funny because I was sitting at the rig today thinking about that very thing. I think of the many rigs that depend on their operation from push-buttons and menu driven items that the K2 is by far and away the most ergonomic. Everything that you need to change constantly or often is right there - VFO knob, band switching, filters, RIT, and so on. Items that are set once and forgotten or only changed very seldom are the ones that are buried in a menu - sidetone level, sidetone frequency, filter settings, dial illumination, and so on. The readout may pale in comparison to the bigger commercial rigs, but still a lot of items are available at a quick glance or button push. You can tell if things like RIT, NB, ANT2, etc. are on or off at a glance. Of course the frequency readout is always present when operating, and the RIT frequency alternates with keying with the transmit frequency. I think you get the idea. Perhaps after I use it for a longer period of time and get some spare time (?) I'll write a longer review and post it here on the web site.

I also got a kick out of Rich alleging to my "Romancing the Stone", of course using the movie title to refer to my kidney stone which hasn't been bothering me lately. Hope it's not just resting up for another bout.

If you haven't checked the high bands, especially 12 and 10 lately, and if you love DXing, you should get on those two bands. They are really hot now. Although my time was limited to a few minutes I quickly worked OK1FGS and DL/KE9I on 12 and IV3JCC on 10 around 1615Z today.

Time to rush off now, do a couple more things, and get to bed. -30-

Wednesday, October 12, 2011 10:18 PM - First of all, many thanks to all of you who sent best wishes re: my kidney stone. In this busy week, I don't have time to acknowledge each one personally although I'd like to. That doesn't lessen my appreciation for each and every one though. Mr. Stone is still hanging around avoiding my eviction notice so far, and letting me know he's still there at times, but it's not noticeable at all a lot of the time.

I played around with calibrating the XFIL filters in the K2 today and now have it sounding more to my liking. Tomorrow I'm going to do the AFIL filters. Counting the sprint last night, I've made 63 QSOs with it so far, and am growing to appreciate it more and more. I think with some more tweaking of various settings, that appreciation will continue to grow. Tuesday afternoon, I tried working DX with it on the high bands and got the following:
10 - RN3ZDD 9A3IH
12 - H77EX
17 - EW8O

Not a lot and nothing spectacular, but a start. I think DXing will be made easier also with the great filtering. I'll have to get used to the slightly different way split operation is handled though. Overall I think the controls are laid out very well and logically. The only change so far that I would make is to have maybe a quicker way to zero the RIT. Oh and perhaps an always on display of SWR. That's in the nit-picking category though and with all the positives I can live with those minor annoyances.

VERY easy getting my 2 QSOs this evening. Took all of 2 CQs to get them. I guess the only quicker way would be to get someone on the first CQ and get a tail-ender at the end of that QSO.

Well, I think I'm going to shut down early tonight and get to bed early (for me). Hopefully Mr. Stone will sleep tonight as well and not aggravate me. -30-

Tuesday, October 11, 2011 11:24 PM - This is really turning into a more and more hectic week. Some of it good and some bad.

First it's our NAQCC 7th Anniversary week which requires additional time from me added on to the many hours of regular NAQCC work.

Second it's a sprint week which is always additional work for me processing logs, but I like doing that although it is time consuming.

Third is the annoying, if not serious, kidney stone problem which robs me of some of my sleep and rest.

Fourth and very enjoyable was our portable N3A operation on Monday in which we made 25 QSOs in some very beautiful weather.

Fifth and some extra work, but which I don't mind at all, is helping take care of Joe while his 'master' is away for a few days.

Sixth, last and maybe selfishly best of all is having a K-2 to play with. As I said in the 'headline' yesterday, I'm using it as my rig for now and will be purchasing it later this year. Even though I see the filters in this one need some calibrating work which I will do, it is already a fantastic unit, especially the rcving section. I think the way to describe it is to use a visual analogy. Hearing stations on the K-2 through QRN compared to hearing stations through QRN on most all other receivers is kind of like reading a newspaper through a clear glass pane vs. reading the newspaper through a pane of frosted glass. In the K-2, the QRN just magically seems to become completely transparent. You're aware it is there, but it's really not a bother.

Well, a lot to do yet, unless I just decide to quit and go to bed. The kidney stone pain is non-existent right now, and I could probably get some good sleep and rest. -30-

Monday, October 10, 2011 11:27 PM - A lot of news, but it's late and I'm tired so how about a 'tease' headline summary with more details in tomorrow's entry.

The kidney stone is still a pest.
Mike and I made 25 QSO's on our portable op today.
I now have Mike's K-2 and KX-1 on loan until I purchase them later this year when he gets his KX-3.
Looks like the nice weather is going to turn back to rain after tomorrow. -30-

Sunday, October 09, 2011 4:12 PM - I'm going to post an early diary entry each day this week listing any N3A operations I'll be doing. Then I'll add to the entry later if necessary.

My first operation will be Monday October 10 at 0000-0030Z on 3559, then 0030-0100Z on 7031. Later in the day on Monday, I'll be operating at Kittanning Community Park with KC2EGL and WY3H. See the N#A Operating Schedule here for times and frequencies.

Checking back in now to report I made 6 N3A QSOs all on 40 meters including one with N0A. Also to report the kidney stone situation was much better today. More tomorrow. -30-

Saturday, October 08, 2011 11:14 PM - Thanks for the emails of concern about my kidney stone. It's late and this will be a short entry. I went over next door for a 'short' visit and wound up staying an hour and 20 minutes or so. But I do want to report on the stone. The pain wasn't bad today and it was in a somewhat different area which may indicate it it on the move - hopefully on the way out.

My QSOs came quickly tonight. I just called CQ in the PA QSO party and made 4 QSOs in 3 minutes. Had I been feeling better, I might have stuck around longer and see what all I could have worked with my QRP CQs. -30-

Friday, October 07, 2011 10:54 PM - Only a couple days now till our NAQCC 7th Anniversary Celebration starts. All our N#A ops seem fired up and ready to go. I know I am. If you'd like to try working our special event calls, see the link to the operating schedule on the main page of the NAQCC web site.

I'm having another of my kidney stone episodes. Had to go to the hospital early this morning. Now I hope it one of the episodes where the stone passes of its own accord, and I don't have to go through any hassled like I did with the last one.

I didn't get much sleep last night, so I'm going to cut this short and get to bed early tonight. At least that's the plan now. -30-

Thursday, October 06, 2011 10:32 PM - I broke the short dry spell today. I got a nice 28 inch carp who gave me a good battle through some weed beds. I also got a little bluegill to boost my yearly total to 61 fish now.

My first QSO of the evening took a while until Terry W9UX finally answered my CQ for a short QSO. He was running mW power collecting QSOs for our NAQCC October mW challenge. Then I worked another NAQCC member Hap K7HAP in VA. We had a nice rag chew. He was running 4 watts.

Now I've got to put some finishing touches on our NAQCC newsletter which is due for posting tomorrow some time. -30-

Wednesday, October 05, 2011 9:34 PM - Seems like ever since I had my picture in the paper (oh, I don't think I told you about that) a week or so ago, I haven't caught any fish. Is that a jinx like being on the cover of Sports Illustrated?

Well actually I have caught fish since then, but none the past couple of days now. I went twice today and was shut out both times - both almost no-hitters also, but I did get a few meager 'infield' hits.

Anyway back to the picture. One day while I was fishing, the photographer for our local paper was roaming the park taking some candid pictures. One of them was of me fishing. We knew each other from the feature that Tom WY3H wrote and he took the pictures for a year ago or so. Turns out the picture of me fishing was the one that the paper used. Here's a copy of it.

pix_diary_20111005_01 (119K)

My 'catches' for my streak QSOs came easier this evening. At 0002Z, Joe AB8AV answered my CQ. After we finished, I thought I'd try 30 meters where I hadn't made a QSO the past 3 days. Took just a couple CQs there to get an answer from Don VE3EDT way up in Thunder Bay, ON. -30-

Tuesday, October 04, 2011 9:45 PM - Some time ago, I talked about playing the computer game Doom and found that a few of you were also interested in the game. It was one of the first 'shoot-em-up' action computer games, and although the graphics compared to today were primitive, the 'engine' was very well written to the point where it is still played today. The game play is excellent - so much so that many different people wrote their own scripts or .wad files to replace the original story line. There were also many .wad designing programs written to aid in designing new .wad files. I just finished playing what may be one of the most well written .wads. The designer wrote in much new scenery, many new monsters (including a very vicious 50? foot Amazon warrior who is almost impossible to destroy), and a slew of new weapons to fight the new monsters. It would be great with just all the new features, but the game play itself is also excellent and true to the original game play style. Of the 32 levels, there was only one that I couldn't figure out how to beat it because I just could not find where the keys were hidden. All the other levels were hard, but not 'sneaky' hard as some .wad designers make them. I'm talking about a .wad file named NeoDoom which you can find with a Bing search should you be interested.

Today was a transition day for the weather. The first half was the usual of late damp dreary cold weather followed by clearing and warmer for the second half. Tonight it's clear and going to be cold again, but tomorrow we should get the full effect of the change to sunny warm weather with temps in the mid-70s. Best of all it's going to stay that way at least through next Tuesday.

It took a little time to get my QSOs this evening, but I made it well within the 0000Z hour. First it was NAQCC member Pete K6BFA in VA answering my CQ. The band changed on us and we lost each other after about 10 minutes. I called CQ for about 5 minutes after that before Dan KD8QBF in MI answered me. We lasted about 12 minutes before a S9+++ tuner came on exactly on our frequency and wiped us out with a steady VERY long carrier.

Today was my big monthly shopping trip to the malls. Nancy and I spent about 3 hours or so on that sandwiched in between a couple of Joe walks. Even Joe enjoyed the weather change today and was hesitant to go inside after the walks. -30-

Monday, October 03, 2011 9:25 PM - A bit of a tough time getting my second QSO tonight. The bands seemed quiet for some reason although propagation was good. After working Brian WB9THJ after a few CQs, I couldn't get anyone else until I worked Art WB4MNK in the Spartan Sprint. I didn't even think about trying to get a mW QSO tonight. Oh, I probably could have gotten some in the SS, but contest/sprint QSOs don't count toward our NAQCC October mW Challenge.

The time is drawing close for our NAQCC Anniversary Week celebration the 10th through the 16th. As of right now it looks like great weather for Mike KC2EGL and I to operate N3A portable on the 10th. The outlook is for Sunny skies and temperatures in the mid-70s. Of course that is just an outlook and not really a forecast and things could change in a week.

I almost went fishing this evening, but it was a bit late when the rain stopped so I passed up the chance. Maybe tomorrow afternoon or evening. I probably should go out now and see if I can get a few nightcrawlers but I don't really feel like it. Maybe I'll just break down and buy some for the first time in a few years. I only have 1 or 2 left now and if the weather is as nice as the outlook says, there will be a lot of opportunities to go fishing, but none for catching nightcrawlers. I've often thought of trying 'electro' catching some nightcrawlers, but so far haven't gotten around to it. I wonder if any of you have tried it and have any suggestions? -30-

Sunday, October 02, 2011 10:12 PM - Rain, rain go away, come again some other day. Remember that children's rhyme? I feel like going outside and shouting it. Although it has now let up in the past few minutes, it has rained virtually all day here and on top of that it was very cold staying in the low 40's all day. I even had to turn my furnace on for the first time this year. I sure hope the mid-range outlook is correct. The outlook is for great weather - sunny and warm - beginning Tuesday and continuing for about 8 to 10 days. If so, it sure will be welcome. We don't need this November type weather this early.

Not much going on here today. About the only thing out of the ordinary was taking some time to organize some of my video tapes. I had a lot of them sitting around here with no label for quite some time now. So I stuck them in my new VCR/DVD Player and found out what was on them and labeled them. I had some interesting stuff I had forgotten about. Although most of the tapes were NASCAR races from when I followed NASCAR Winston Cup very closely, I found other goodies like the Shoemaker-Levy comet impact on Jupiter, the last baseball game ever played at Three Rivers Stadium before its demolition, Mark McGwire's 61st and 62nd home run games, New Years Day 2000 worldwide celebration, and more. I've got so many tapes here, I'll have to live to be 200 to ever watch them all. HI.

The QSOs tonight came separated by a Joe walk. I worked Danny K9KHJ on 40 for a short QSO before I had to QRT to help walk Joe when the rain finally let up. Then I came back and easily got the second QSO when Bill KB8DFK answered my 4th or 5th CQ. Both Danny and Bill are NAQCC members. I think our club members are getting more and more active on the bands as conditions improve. -30-

Saturday, October 01, 2011 9:13 PM - If other months beside April can be compared to lions and lambs, October definitely came in like a lion. Cold, breezy, showery with the temperature barely getting above 50. Felt more like the first of November than October. Needless to say no fishing today at all. I did get in a couple mid-length walks though in between the showers.

This evening I used the CA QSO Party for a couple easy QSOs on 15 meters, then since that only took a couple minutes, I thought I'd try for another mW QSO toward the NAQCC October mW challenge. I tried some CQs on 30, and lo and behold after just 2 or 3 CQs, Rob WB4GKI in GA answered me, and we had a nice 18 minute chat. Strange how the last 3 evenings I couldn't get any answers to my 5 watt CQs on 30, but tonight it was easy with 930 mW. That unpredictability is what makes ham radio the exciting and fun hobby it is. -30-

Friday, September 30, 2011 10:47 PM - An interesting set of QSOs this evening. All three were from my CQ, all NAQCC members, all running QRP also. First Chris NG3W, then Rick N8MFN, and with my 930 mW Mike VE3MKX. Yes, I did make a mW QSO this evening. Our NAQCC October challenge is to make 20 mW QSOs during the month so I will be turning down the power again regularly this month after a couple months with only one mW QSO.

Other than getting on the air, most of the rest of the day was taken up getting a lot of end of the month chores done and getting ready for the first of the month chores tomorrow. Also posting our latest NAQCC newsletter.

I had an interesting question from one of my diary readers about why I chose the TS-570D instead of an Elecraft or TenTec rig which are geared more toward CW operation. I deleted the email after answering it. Let's see if I can find it to give proper credit. No, I'll have to dig back into my email archives for it. I don't want to take time to do that now, so I'll get his name and call and list it in tomorrow's diary entry.

To answer the question, Elecraft was just getting started when I got the 570. Just about any other rig I looked at, especially the smaller QRP rigs didn't have anything remotely near all the bells and whistles of the 570, and I wanted something that would make operating simple and second-nature so I could concentrate on making contacts and not operating the rig. The 570 satisfied those demands perfectly and so does the 480 I have now. Operating the rig is pretty much transparent between me and making QSOs. No fiddling with this control or that. Most of the time the only thing I ever touch on the rig are the main tuning knob and the RIT knob except when I change bands and use the bandswitch. Yet all the controls are there if I really need to fine tune at times. I really do think for a QRP 'operator', a mainstream rig that can be turned down to 5 watts (or less) output is the way to go for ease of operating. -30-

Thursday, September 29, 2011 10:15 PM - The time is drawing near for our NAQCC 7th Anniversary celebration Oct 10-16 when we activate our 10 special event calls N1A, N2A...N9A, N0A. We provide a nice QSL and certificate for anyone working any of the 10 calls who requests either the QSL or certificate or both. We make it easy to find out when and where the stations will be operating with a special schedule page on the NAQCC web site. We hope you'll join in the celebration. I'll be operating N3A a few times during the week along with other members from the 3rd call area. I've already mentioned Mike KC2EGL and I will be operating N3A portable from the Kittanning Community Park on October 10. Tom WY3H may join us then also.

I added two more bluegills to my yearly fish total tonight. A nice 7.5 inch one and another smaller one. That's 59 fish for the year now. Unless I have a really busy October at the river it looks like I won't make my goal of 100 this year, but then you never can tell. A few 5 or 6 fish days here and there mixed in with some 2 or 3 fish days could just add up to the 41 I need.

Once again tonight I had no luck on 30 and had to go to 40 for my 2 streak QSOs. It seems the dropping SF and rising A index is knocking down the good propagation we were having on 30 meters before the past couple days. The QSOs on 40 came pretty easy. I answered a CQ from Rick KC4KNN, then a little later Pat KC8JNL answered my CQ. -30-

Wednesday, September 28, 2011 10:34 PM - For the first time in several days I missed making a QSO on 30 meters. After 10 minutes of CQs there with no answer, I went to 40 and got three QSOs pretty easily. My first CQ on 40 was answered by Kevin W8KJ, then after our QSO, it took a few more minutes to get Al ND2K. At the end of that QSO, Charley W4IIC called. He's the fellow whom I replaced at WPIT back in 1969. I talked about that in the diary back in January when we first worked.

I didn't think I was going to get to go fishing today, but finally just about an hour before dark, I decided to take a quick trip to the river. I'm glad I did because I got 3 bluegills to bring my total to 57 fish for the year.

I haven't talked about my garden for some time now. Although I planted fewer tomato plants this year, my total of tomatoes picked at this point in the year is one of my best totals. I picked 15 green ones today to give to Nancy for frying. That brought my total to 214 tomatoes this year. And my 4 remaining plants still have a lot on them. I pulled the Siberians about a month ago as they stopped producing. Now only the Early Girls remain. In the ten years I've kept records, 214 is my 4th highest total at this point. Some of the other years I had several more plants that gave me a lot of tomatoes in October though, so this year's total will probably wind up a few places below the current 4th.

I planted a late crop of peas as an experiment and they provided a couple of small bowls of very good peas. My peppers gave me a lot of delicious red peppers, but they're slowing down now. My Kentucky Wonder beans really produced well and I had to give away a lot of them because I can only eat so many myself. They are slowing down now also.

All in all considering the wet spring, very hot early summer, and the wet late summer, it was a very good year for the garden. Also for my roses and daylillies which produced lots of flowers to decorate the back yard. -30-

Tuesday, September 27, 2011 9:18 PM - 30 meters has really been great this month. More or less like I remember it from when it first opened as a ham band in the mid-80s or during the last sunspot maximum. Good strong steady signals from a variety of skip distances. Last night a solid QSO with MD. Tonight two solid QSOs with KS and WI. The QSO with Brian W9BRE in WI lasted 45 minutes and was solid copy on both ends all the way with his signals mostly S9+ and mine S7 to S9.

I had some company for a while this afternoon. Joe came over while some satellite TV work was being done at his house. I remember the first couple times he came over here after he first moved in next door, he seemed nervous, but now he seems to think this is just his second home.

I went fishing again this evening. Only got one little bluegill but at least that added to my total for the year bringing it to 54 now.

We just had a short heavy shower here and I'm wondering if it was enough to bring out some nightcrawlers. I'm down to just a couple now and could use some more. So I may go out to check in a few minutes. -30-

Monday, September 26, 2011 9:46 PM - A good deal of my time today was taken up doing the final log cross-checking from last Wednesday's NAQCC Sprint. With 2,049 QSOs to be checked this month, that added to the work load. However most of the time is consumed in correcting errors in the logs which results in having to recompute scores and post the new results. That's compounded when logs are received in a format different from what we require and I have to re-work them before I can even put them into the cross-checker. Still the bottom line is even though it is a lot of work I enjoy it and I believe it is the only way to insure that final results are as accurate as possible. I think any contest or sprint worthy of the name should insist on full logs being submitted AND cross-checked. As long as I am a part of the NAQCC that is the way our sprints will be handled.

I guess it didn't really consume all my time though, as I went fishing twice for a little over an hour each time. I caught 3 bluegills in total including a big 8 inch one which must be close to a record among all the bluegills I've caught over the years. I'm going to pause in my typing here and go check my fishing database to satisfy my curiosity. Well that is one inch bigger than any I've caught before so that's a new record for me. That somewhat makes up for the first trip today when I had 6 bluegills? on but they threw the hook after I would reel them in 5-10 feet. That was frustrating, but it happens from time to time. Not as frustrating as a couple of times when it happened with carp. I'd hook them, play them a while, then zap - the line went slack and they were gone.

Another quick QSO on 30 this evening with KB3AAY at 0006Z, then as with last night, I had to go to 40 and look around and CQ for a while for the second QSO with KK4BMB who has just been licensed about 5 months although he was K3JME for a while back in the 60's. Once again I missed checking the high bands. I heard 10 was full of DX this morning too, darn it. -30-

Sunday, September 25, 2011 10:18 PM - A return to summer weather today with temperatures in the mid-80's. Much the same activity as yesterday. One thing different though. I went fishing this evening and upped my yearly total to 50 fish with a perch and a bluegill. That was my first time fishing in the evening this year except for the time I just walked along the river bank with some lures.

My streak QSO's came quickly this evening. At least the first one when KI4UUZ answered my 30 meters CQ at 0001Z. The second took a bit longer and I had to go to 40 to work WA2RVT. Both are FISTS members and KI4UUZ is also a NAQCC member. -30-

Saturday, September 24, 2011 10:12 PM - On this first full day of astronomical autumn, we had just about perfect fall weather. The temperature under partly cloudy skies reached into the mid 70s and it's still in the low 60s as I write this.

With the nice weather, I spent a lot of time outside. I walked Joe this morning, then helped Ange prune his pear trees and pick figs, tomatoes, and peppers. A couple other long walks by myself pretty much carried me into late afternoon when including my meals. Then some computer work, my daily streak QSOs and a visit with Nancy and Joe took me to this point in time.

I never did get a chance to get on and see how the high bands were today. Maybe I can do that again tomorrow. My QSOs this evening again came on 30 meters when I worked Terry W9UX and Rick WZ8N. That makes 17 QSOs on 30 meters this month so far which is the most I've had in quite a while for a monthly total. And there are still 6 plus days left. If I can get a couple each day, I might qualify for another NAQCC 30-30 certificate.

We did make it to 100 logs for our NAQCC sprint, so as I said on the NAQCC web site, the NAQCC Sprint Train is back on track after a slight derailment last month. In fact, #101 is awaiting processing right now and there are still some 22 hours left till the submission deadline, so perhaps we'll get a few more yet. -30-

Friday, September 23, 2011 9:16 PM - I've got to talk about a couple interesting happenings today, then I'm going to try to answer a very intriguing question.

Once again today I wound up on the high bands, this time in late afternoon in the 2000Z hour. First of all, I worked the omnipresent CO8LY on 12 meters with a single call. He was 599 plus. I have probably worked him on all bands from 40 through 10 over the years. I'll know when I put today's QSO in my computer log after I complete this diary entry. Then I tried to work NP3CW who was just as strong and in almost the same area, but he didn't hear me at all. Oh well, the next QSO made up for it. I tuned up the band a bit and heard another strong CQ. Turned out to be JH0INP. I called him and almost got him with a single call, but I had to repeat my call as he missed the P the first time. It was very nice to work Japan again, and so very easily. Actually I think that was about as strong as I've ever heard Japan here. There were many other 599 JA's on the band, but all chasing either FM5BH or NP3CW so I didn't get a chance to try to work any others. There were also good signals on all the high bands from 17 through 10 meters. I don't remember who I heard where for the most part, so I won't list any more here except to say I did hear and try to work unsuccessfully KH2/N2NL in Guam on 12 meters. Much too big a pileup for me to beat even though I do have a good path to Oceania usually. Oh I also worked EC4DEX on 17 meters for what I think is a new prefix.

Then this evening I worked a new and an old friend for my streak QSO's. First it was brand new NAQCC member NM1I whom I worked last night and introduced him to the club which he joined right after the QSO. Then old friend Geo N1EAV who reads the diary regularly and contributes comments now and then. We had a nice rag chew on 30 meters. Then I QRT and went out and got my weather readings. As soon as I came inside, the phone rang and it was... OK you guessed it - George. So we had another rag chew on the telephone. As I said to George, that leaves only an in person rag chew as we've communicated via email, ham radio, and telephone now. I also told him it wasn't quite as long distance as the time the Australian called me after a QSO. However it was just as enjoyable chatting with George. We have a lot of common interests.

Another long time friend sent me an intriguing question via email which I'm going to try to answer now. Carl N5XE emailed: "Hi John...
Kind of curious about something. You may have covered this before, but if so, I missed it. I know you pride yourself in using modest antennas with your station. Wednesday's diary entry about your antenna systems vs. the "bigger antennas" got me to wondering...
If you had an unlimited budget and no home owner restrictions, would you ever consider installing a tower of some type and installing some type of gain antennas, such as a yagi or quad?
Hope everything is going well...
73 for now,
Carl, N5XE
Sulphur, OK"

That is a tough one as is any kind of 'what if things were (or had been) this way...?' question. I can only speculate for the most part, but there are a couple of definite things also.

If circumstances were different when I first got my ham license back in 1963 then... If I lived on a hill with a lot of land, I might have gone with big antennas and QRO rigs... If I had a lot of money, perhaps I would have moved to that big hill and gotten a QRO rig. Today I might be sitting at the top of the DXCC honor roll had things been different.

However things weren't different, and I like the way they evolved very much. I especially enjoy showing many other hams in similar situations that they too can succeed with simple antennas and equipment. Ham radio is a hobby for everyone, not just the very rich nor those gifted with a great location. Today I wouldn't change my everyday operating habits one bit even if the opportunity presented itself. Of course if somehow I would move to a better location, I wouldn't put my antennas in the attic just to continue the way it is now. If there were trees, I'd string something in them. But I wouldn't buy a big beam and tower or make any major changes like that.

The one thing I would like to change just for a time or two, but not permanently, would be to operate a contest from a really good station and location. Not QRO, but QRP, just to see what I could do under those circumstances. I know I can do well in contests with my current setup, and just wonder how much better I could do.

I did get that opportunity to a certain extent several years ago when I operated the CQWW DX contest from my late cousin's house which was outside this valley I live in. Even with a simple makeshift ef random wire antenna, the difference was very noticeable. Signals were very much stronger there and I could work stations much easier. The story of that contest is in the contesting section of my site on the contest stories page. Look for the 2003 CQWW DX story if you are interested.

I hope that is a satisfactory answer to Carl's question, and I thank him for asking it. -30-

Thursday, September 22, 2011 11:22 PM - As you see from the time stamp, it's late and this is going to be short.

I finally got the chance to check the high bands today - early this evening actually. I called CQ on 17 where I only heard one station and almost immediately got an answer from Alberto WP4L who gave me a 599 report. I then checked 12 meters and heard J39BS quite strong, but with a big pileup. I tried calling about a half dozen or so times to no avail. So I went on to 10 which was also open. I heard 3 or 4 strong signals there. One was YV5DTJ calling CQ, and I worked him with just a single call.

Later this evening after 0000Z I got my 2 streak QSOs easily. Butch NM1I on 30 meters to whom I told about the NAQCC and right after our QSO, he signed up. Then Terry AB8AL on 40 meters.

We're up to 90 logs for last night's NAQCC sprint so a good chance to get back on track with 100+ logs.

And that's it for tonight. I have a bit of diary feedback and a couple other things I'll get to tomorrow or the next day. -30-

Wednesday, September 21, 2011 10:44 PM - Superb conditions led to a very enjoyable and very interesting sprint for me tonight. Interesting because I stayed on one frequency - 7040.6 - the whole two hours calling CQ. Enjoyable because I hit the 50 QSO mark for the first time in a while now. It won't be a top 3 score, I'm sure since those with the big antennas should easily top that. I wouldn't be surprised to see a few logs with total QSOs in the 60's or 70's, maybe more if conditions were as good as they were here. I probably could have hit the 60 mark had I added in some S&P work, but I was having too much fun calling CQ and getting a steady stream of answers. I probably never went more than 5 minutes without an answer. Well, got to get to processing logs and posting scores on the NAQCC web site now. -30-

Tuesday, September 20, 2011 9:31 PM - It was a good fishing day today. 5 bluegills, 1 rock bass, and 1 carpsucker upped my yearly total to 48. 100 still looks a long way off but a few more days like today may make it possible.

Again I got my main streak QSO on 30 meters this evening when good friend John KQ1P answered my CQ. Then I got an answer to another CQ on 30 from K1EAR, but conditions did us in as they changed suddenly. After that I went to 40 and worked Mark WB2DKH. The letters R and H in those calls completed my NAQCC September Challenge of 'back to school' words.

Tomorrow evening is our monthly NAQCC Sprint. You're invited to join in the fun even if you are not a NAQCC member (but why aren't you?). We're looking forward to getting back on track with 100 or more logs after our streak of 16 straight 100+ logs sprints ended last month with only 87. We need to tell the ham radio world that CW is still very alive and very well, and the more logs we get, the louder our voice proclaiming that will be. So see you there? And if so, don't forget to submit your log. -30-

Monday, September 19, 2011 9:18 PM - I got both my streak QSOs this evening on 30 meters. That band is picking up in both conditions and activity lately. Once again today I never did get a chance to check the high bands. There just aren't enough hours in the day for all my varied activities.

I went fishing with my friend Bill this morning and then wound up at his house checking out some things on his computer. Then when I got home, I went to pick some hazel nuts. When I got back from that - pretty much a wasted trip as I only found 13 nuts - it was time to take Joe out for a walk. Then some computer work, supper, a second Joe walk before the rain came, some more computer work, an evening snack, my streak QSOs, writing this entry, and in a couple more minutes going over to Nancy's to have some biscuits with her and Bruce, and I'm sure Joe will get in on the act also. So I'm outta here to get this posted and head next door. -30-

Sunday, September 18, 2011 9:37 PM - Another good propagation day today for those who had time to take advantage of it. I think this may be the first time the SF has hit 150 in cycle 24, and with the geomagnetic storminess diminished today, I bet the high bands were probably full of DX, and I never got around to checking myself. I know 20 and 30 were much better this evening than last evening. There was a strong JW8 station on 20 meters to mention one thing I heard. His pileup was too big for me to wait through it, so I didn't work him, but I think I have JW on 20 meters already anyway. Skip was quite short on 30 meters. I worked Long Island there in the form of Bruno AB2GU.

Maybe tomorrow I'll find a little time to check the bands. However I do have some other plans including going fishing with a friend of mine, and walking Joe in the afternoon to mention a couple of things. -30-

Saturday, September 17, 2011 9:55 PM - Did you check the bands today as I suggested? If so, I wonder what you found. I didn't get a chance to check them myself till this evening, and it was rather disappointing. 20 and higher were dead here, as was 80. 30 and 40 had activity, but signals were not all that good for the most part. Then I just looked at the propagation info for today and I see there was a geomagnetic storm some time today which probably accounted for the conditions this evening. Anyway I did get my 2 QSOs - 3 in fact - for the streaks although it did take some doing with several CQs and a couple unanswered calls before working Alan W4AMV in NC, W5TZC in AR, and NAQCC member Bob K9OSC in WI. I had good rag chews with Alan and Bob so conditions weren't all that bad, I guess.

Other than that, it was yet another fall-like day here although a bit warmer than the past couple days. Good walking weather, although I didn't walk quite as far as the past couple days, it seems. I see only 8.1 miles on my pedometer. I thought it was more than that, but the pedometer is very accurate.

No fishing today, but I hope to go tomorrow, then on Monday with a friend of mine. It's looking a little doubtful now about my goal of 100 fish for the year as I'm just at 40 now. -30-

Friday, September 16, 2011 9:18 PM - Tomorrow, being a weekend day and with the SF at 143 and A index at 3 today, might be a good day to check out 12, 10, and maybe even 6 meters for some good openings. Of course if you don't hear anyone, don't forget to try some CQs yourself. Everyone else may just be listening and not transmitting.

Thanks to Dave AI4VA for taking the hint and sending an idea for a poll. It's a great idea and I'm going to use it. It's something I've talked about in the diary and in the NAQCC newsletter but never thought of making it into a poll. I'm not going to say more about it now. Also it was nice to work Dave on 40 meters this evening and thank him in person (more or less) for the idea. He answered my very first CQ right at 0000Z so I can't get my streak QSO any quicker than that ever.

30 was very good again tonight. 9A2YM sounded like he may have been right here in Kittanning. I didn't work him though since we've worked many times before and I let other folks who may not have worked him get their QSOs with him. 20 was also pretty good well after sunset. I worked K6JSS/7 in Utah there and heard a couple good strong EU signals. I didn't get a chance to check any other bands since I've got a lot of emails to answer this evening plus some other computer work to get done.

It was another very nice 'fall' day today. Well actually it is meteorological fall since September 1, although for that season, I prefer to use the astronomical day of September 23 to extend summer a bit longer. Then for wi**er, I'll use December 1 to get it started sooner and hopefully over with quicker. HI. It's all just mental juggling, but it does help. I did a lot of walking today and also went fishing this evening to enjoy the nice weather. Didn't catch anything, but I didn't really care.

Well, I've got to get back to 'work' now. -30-

Thursday, September 15, 2011 9:36 PM - The middle of September and today felt almost like the middle of October. Strong breezes and temperatures in the 50's made it seem quite chilly. Well, at least for me. Joe seemed to really enjoy it. After our afternoon walk, he wouldn't come in the house until I took him around the block one more time. His natural fur coat is growing in again after his short hair cut a couple months ago, so he's ready for the upcoming cold weather.

I made my first mW QSO in almost 2 months this evening. I got my 2 regular QRP QSOs plus a DX QRP QSO easily, so I thought I'd try my 930 mW again, and I got an answer to my mW CQ in just a few minutes.

Tonight a bit about the history of my web site poll. The current poll is #145 in the series that began way back in July of 1999. Some polls have been re-run once or twice so there haven't been that many different polls, but I think there has been quite a variety, especially when the subject is pretty much limited to matters dealing with CW and/or QRP.

Some may wonder why the polls run from the 15th of a month to the 14th of the next month. It's because I have a lot of things to change and update around the 1st of each month and didn't want to add changing a poll to that burden.

I've gone through several different poll providers over the years. All were free services and some included advertising on the poll result pages. Now the poll is hosted by GoDaddy, who hosts the NAQCC web site. I've developed my own poll pages using PHP and MySQL, so they no longer have any kind of advertising and are still more or less free. The NAQCC web site hosting is paid for by the club and I'm just using a little corner of the many GB of space that will never be filled up by the club web site.

Over the years I've used suggestions from my web site visitors for some of the polls, but most I've had to think up myself. HINT: How about you offering some more suggestions? I haven't gotten any for some time now. The only criteria is that the poll must deal in some way with CW and or QRP. No questions dealing with QRO or other modes are appropriate for my web site. -30-

Wednesday, September 14, 2011 9:29 PM - Great propagation numbers today. A SF of 143 really made 30 meters sound good this evening. I didn't have all that much time to really check the bands, but 30 was full of strong signals in the 0000Z hour. As far as 40, I had a solid half-hour rag chew with Michel VE2TH (NAQCC 0214) in Quebec City. The second QSO came a little harder with Kevin W8KJ, and QRM wiped out our QSO after just a couple rounds.

Tonight's web site history deals with the diary. It seems everyone else calls them blogs (ugh!). That's an ugly sounding word to me, and it reminds me of the Balrog in the Lord of the Rings. I think diary is a much more meaningful and more friendly sounding word, so I decided to call my web site daily story a diary. The first ever diary entry was back on April 23, 2006. Next came an entry on May 11, 2006. Then after those couple 'false starts', the diary started in earnest on May 15, 2006, and I've provided a new entry every day since then. I guess that's another streak in my life. HI Let's see, that would make 231 days in 2006, 365 in 2007, 366 in 2008, 365 in 2009 and 2010, and 257 days this year if my quick figuring is correct. So this is day # 1,949 for my diary streak. And counting those couple of 'false start' days, it's day # 1951 for diary entries. Whew. I wonder how many words or how many letters that makes. NOPE - I'm not going there. HI

Some more web site history tidbits coming in future entries.

Oh, the new poll is up if you haven't noticed yet. Check it out on my main page and cast your vote. -30-

Tuesday, September 13, 2011 8:37 PM - I've never been married, so I can proclaim I've never forgotten a wedding anniversary. However, I seem to have forgotten the anniversary of the start of my web site. Actually I did think of it a couple days ago, but then consistently forgot about it again. HI.

It was back on September 8, 1996 that my web site first went public. So it is now 15 years and a few days old, and a couple years younger than my streak. Let me talk a little bit about the history of the site in this entry.

Back then I was very much into NASCAR, and when Eric and I were talking about making a web site, - yes, as with the streak, Eric is also involved in my web site - I couldn't decide whether to make a NASCAR site or a ham radio site. Eric was pretty much decided on making his site a hockey site, since that was his current sports interest, and probably still is today. Anyway I thought a site featuring how WA8EOH and I started the CW County Hunters Net back in May of 1966 might be of interest. So that was really the first focus of the site, and the CHN pages are among the oldest on the site, and probably to be honest, the least visited pages nowadays.

The site was first located on GeoCities who provided free web site space, and I believe they may still do so. I started a mirror site on Alltel.net on January 16, 1998. Some time after that I dropped the GeoCities site and started a mirror of the Alltel site on QSL.net. On August 31, 2003 I removed my content from QSL.net and went strictly with Alltel to this very day. Sometime in 2003, Alltel changed my URL (and all other Alltel sites similarly) from www.alltel.net to home.alltel.net. On October 12, 2003 they stopped forwarding traffic from www.alltel.net to home.alltel.net and my site took a significant loss in visitors for a while until the new URL got circulated around. Not content with that mess, once again the URL was changed by Alltel/Windstream to home.windstream.net. That caused a more significant drop in visitors from which my count has never fully recovered. That was in March of 2009. My 30 day visitor average dropped from around 150 to as low as the mid-60's and never got back above 100 until September of that year. Still to this day I've never come back to the 150 level and am currently in the mid 110's

The site changed in appearance over the years. Older versions going back to the mid-90's used to be available on the Internet Archive site, but a quick check there a few minutes ago shows only versions going back to July 10, 2003. If you would like to see those older versions check out http://web.archive.org/web/*/http://home.alltel.net/johnshan/.

At one time when frames were the rage on the Internet, I had a frames and a non-frames version of the site. Eventually I gave up the frames and went to table-formatted pages which is what I use today.

That's a basic overall history of the site in a nutshell. I'll go into a little more specific detail in coming diary entries, such as when this diary was started and other significant changes in content. Right now I've got to go change the wording in my banner from FIFTEENTH to SIXTEENTH year. -30-

Monday, September 12, 2011 9:35 PM - Once again today I proved a band is not dead just because no signals are heard. I didn't hear a thing on 40 meters around 10:30AM (1430Z) this morning, but went ahead and called CQ anyway, and in just a couple minutes Joe W2QID in IN answered me and we had a nice chat. Please remember, if a band sounds dead, it is probably only sleeping and needs your CQ to wake it up.

I sorted out that pack of resistors I bought at the swapfest yesterday. There's a nice selection there all the way from a few ohms up to a few megohms. All are at least 2 watt carbon resistors. I already put together a few to make up a 50 ohm dummy load. Next I may make a couple different RF attenuators for different mW power levels.

I got in quite a bit of walking today. A couple walks with Joe, and a couple by myself all of which added up to over 10 miles. We finally saw some sunshine today after morning cloudiness. I think tomorrow I'll get back to my fishing again and see if I can add to my 36 fish total so far this year. The river came up a bit and got pretty muddy after the rain from the remnants of Lee, but it's clearing up now and dropping back down.

This evening's QSOs came easily from KW3U and W4ELP, both of whom I've worked several times before. -30-

Sunday, September 11, 2011 9:58 PM - I think for the first time since my mW and DX streaks ended in late July, I have to wait till the morning or afternoon to get a streak QSO. I could only muster one QSO tonight with Dave KO1E. I got a late start and I guess a lot of folks had already QRT for the night as activity was not as good as it had been the past several nights in the earlier hours. I won't have any problem getting the QSO in the AM or PM though. The only problem I might have is forgetting to do it. HI However I dug out my little QSO note to put here by the computer to remind me.

Tom, his 2 sons, and I had a good time at the Butler hamfest (or as they call it - The 4th Annual BCARA Swapfest) this morning, and we picked up several items. I got a keyboard for my computer on which I am now typing this entry. Not that it bothers a touch typist, but the letters on my old keyboard were wearing off the keys from all the use I gave it. I like this one, and the price was right at $1.00. I also picked up a pack of power (2 watt) resistors of various values from which I can build different value RF attenuators to play with more than just my standard 930 mW. Also a couple DVDs for my new DVD/VCR player I got yesterday. They are concerts by a singer I met while working at WPIT - Daniel O'Donnell. Let's see what else, oh yes, 6 tennis balls for squeezing exercises for my hands to continue to fight off CTS. And a little SWR/PWR meter which I plan to use on our portable operations.

The reason I was late getting on this evening was I spent some time over with Joe. All his 'family' were away at one place or other, so I thought I'd keep him company especially since we had a thunder storm - something he's not too fond of. -30-

Saturday, September 10, 2011 9:53 PM - This was a shopping morning. Nancy took me up to the mall where I bought a new VCR/DVD player and a carpet sweeper. Although I had found the problem with my old VCR, it wasn't repairable without spending a lot of time, effort, and money. One of the plastic gears had a pin break off of it where a spring was fastened. That controlled the pins that positioned the tape around the video playback/record heads. It was rewarding figuring out what was wrong, but I knew then I'd be better off just getting a whole new unit since they are so reasonably priced now and many are DVD/VCR combos. As for the sweeper, Nancy bought one a week ago, and I really liked it since it was so small, light, and easy to use. It also can be used as a dust buster by simply removing the long handle and sweeper base unit. Although those were my big purchases, we also went to about 7-8 places all told to get things she needed and a few more little things I wanted to get.

I took Joe out before we went, and we took him out again when we got home. Two more uneventful walks. Then I played with my two new toys for quite a while, went for a short walk, and really didn't do too much else worth mentioning till I got on the air at 0005Z for my streak QSOs.

I almost immediately ran across K5DB in the AR QSO Party, so I snagged him for the first QSO. A few CQs after that and I got answered by WA9S Ken who was camping in Niles, MI and running a PFR3 rig at 5 watts. We had a nice rag chew till he had to QRT for chow.

Then I went over and visited with Nancy, Bruce, and Joe for a while till coming back here, getting my weather readings and now writing this diary entry. -30-

Friday, September 09, 2011 9:08 PM - A more uneventful day than yesterday, especially for Joe. We had an uneventful walk this afternoon. Perhaps he remembered the b-a-t-h from yesterday. HI.

I had a more successful fishing trip today. I caught an 18 inch carpsucker, a 24 inch carp, and a 5.5 inch sandpike. I think the carp read my diary the day before yesterday, and wanted to prove me wrong. He was biting very gingerly, hardly moving the line or pole at all. I figured it was probably a small sucker or maybe a carpsucker. I never suspected a carp when I tried to hook him and it felt like I snagged an outgoing freight train when the hook engaged and he took off. I didn't think he was going to stop, but finally I got him slowed down and after a while, got him turned back toward shore. It still took a little while before he gave up the fight. He was a real beauty with very clean golden colored scales and body. So that makes 3 dozen fish this year now. My goal of 100 is probably not going to be reached after the past 6 or 7 fishless days, unless I can get in maybe 20 or so more trips before the weather gets bad and I catch 3 or 4 each trip.

The QSOs tonight were with Dick N4LT in TN on 40 and Dave ND0CW in ND on 30. The QSO with Dave was perhaps my longest rag chew with a station in ND. A good many of my ND QSOs are contest QSOs or short QSOs as far as I can recall.

I can't remember if I mentioned this before or not, and I'm not going to take time to look, but Tom WY3H and I are going to the fall Butler hamfest this coming Sunday, the 11th. If you're in the area and can go to the hamfest, perhaps our paths will cross there for an eyeball QSO. I don't know if Mike KC2EGL will be going or not. I haven't been able to reach him via email for almost a couple weeks now for whatever reason. I was going to give him a phone call this evening, but time slipped away from me, and since he goes to work early in the morning, he might already be in bed so I won't call now. If you read this Mike, what's happened to your email? -30-

Thursday, September 08, 2011 8:44 PM - A little diary feedback. Thanks to Mark WU7F for the link to a story about the supernova in the pinwheel galaxy. It would be interesting to look for it if the sky would ever clear here, and that doesn't look likely for at least another week or so. By then the supernova will have dimmed quite a bit.

Paul N0NBD emailed about fishing, "Hello John, the weather has finally broken here. It is still warm in the daytime but cool and nice at night. I looked up the alewife fish and it is similar to what we know as a shad. I think our shad are gizzard shad? My sons tell me that you cant get a shad to take a bait. I do know guys around here seine them and use them for bait..... Neet fising news... I fished at Buffalo today and with my driftboat and depthfinder I fished some brush piles and drop offs. I just caught a few small bass. Have a good one de Paul N0NBD"

Yes, an alewife is a relative of (or sub-species of) a shad. It is a pretty fish with a bright silver body and a large eye similar to a mooneye fish. Both have very large eyes for the body size, although the mooneye is a little larger in comparison. I've caught them on worms (mostly) and minnows, as well as the one I mentioned on peanut butter bread, and one on a lure. They range in size in the river (at least those I've caught) from 9 to 14 inches in length. Most all of the 42 I've caught have been caught by floating the bait just below the surface using a bobber. You can easily tell when they are present and feeding from the ripples they make which to the experienced eye are different from minnows or other fish.

Poor Joe had a traumatic day today starting with his walk this afternoon when he rolled in a pile of dog dirt before we had a chance to do anything about it. We didn't know what he rolled in until we got him up on the porch and Nancy spotted some dirt or something on his shoulder. Well, that led first to a paper toweling off on the porch, then into the bathroom for a washing of the area. That still didn't really do the trick, so it was into the tub for a b-a-t-h. Remember the story of the last time Nancy and I tried to give him a b-a-t-h? Anyway this time I had him in control so he couldn't run off, and the b-a-t-h went pretty smoothly. He got out and shook himself off giving me a shower before I could get the towel around him. After a preliminary drying, he ran off and jumped up on the couch and rolled around there a bit, after which I toweled him off some more. He seemed to really enjoy that.

A little later Nancy wanted some pictures taken of some of her furniture, so we had to move Joe's favorite spots in the rooms around a little bit which he didn't seem too fond of either. Eventually he got away from all the madness and went upstairs. A little later, Nancy called me over for some pancakes, sausage, bacon, and potatoes with her and Bruce. Strangely Joe wasn't there, and he always shows up when anyone is eating. After a while I went on a search for him, and now he was upstairs in the middle room with the door closed. As soon as I opened it, he ran downstairs and out to the kitchen. We guess somehow he must have gone in the room and bumped the door so it closed.

So that was Joe's day. A day he'll be glad is over now, I'm sure.

My QSOs came easily tonight again. I went to 30 meters and before long heard RK6YY finishing a QSO. I called and he sent P? which I figured was for me, but another station WITHOUT a P in his call, called anyway and beat me out. However after they finished, I called again and got my QSO. I've only worked one other Russian on 30 meters despite the fact I have 415 European Russian QSOs all told. Surprising because tonight's was so easy.

Then for my second QSO, K1DX answered my 40 meters CQ after several minutes. Now after writing this, I'm going out to get my weather readings for the night. -30-

Wednesday, September 07, 2011 9:24 PM - The remnants of TS Lee have pretty much dissipated without leaving any more rain here today. We had a quarter inch during the night, and that was it. We even had some sunshine today and clear moonlit skies tonight.

I took advantage and went fishing for the first time in almost a week. I didn't catch anything, but did have some bites on my peanut butter bread. I wasn't sure if it was a carp, carpsucker, or sucker biting. The three of them can bite similarly, but also there are subtle differences in how they bite and how to hook them. If the line moves around a lot, that generally means it is not a sucker. If it does move a lot, it's probably a carp although carpsuckers move the line pretty much the same way. If I think it is a carp, I'll wait him out until he takes the bait, hooks himself, and 'runs the reel'. Of all the carp I've caught virtually everyone was after a 'reel run'. It's hard to hook them while they are just playing with and nibbling on the bait. They are cautious eaters. On the other hand, if I think it's a carpsucker, I generally will try to hook them when they are vigorously moving the line around. They tend to get the bait in their mouth and keep it there unlike a carp, so it is possible to hook them much more easily. They will even get the bait in their mouth and just sit there without any motion, perhaps even hooking themselves with still no indication anything is happening. I've often decided my bait must be gone and pick up the pole to check and see and have a carpsucker hooked just waiting to be reeled in. They also at times will 'run the reel' just like a carp, and the bigger ones act like a carp when they are hooked. Although they are easily distinguishable from a carp by their appearance, there's another way you can be sure it's a carpsucker if there is any doubt. Carpsuckers in virtually every instance will flop like crazy once they are out of the water on land. I guess they have very sensitive skin that is irritated by being out of water. They are also very slimy compared to a carp which are a very clean fish. The third player in the game, the sucker generally is a less active eater and the line does not move much at all when they bite. Occasionally they will hook themselves and 'run the reel', but they move faster than a carp, and after you get used to the sound the reel makes, you can pretty much say "that's a carp" or "that's a sucker" and be right just about every time. If they don't hook themselves, then you have to hold the pole with the line between your fingers to feel them biting and jerk at just the right time to have any chance of hooking them.

Fishing for carp is a sub-science of fishing in general and made more interesting by having the carpsuckers and suckers involved in the game. Oh and with peanut butter bread, there are other occasional players also. Especially catfish and turtles, but I've caught some bluegills, bass, and alewifes (alewives?) with it also since another fisherman introduced me to the bait back in 2006. -30-

Tuesday, September 06, 2011 10:13 PM - Living on the edge. That's what we're doing here. For a good part of the day, the edge of the rain has pretty much divided Armstrong county in two. If you lived in the NW corner, you'd have gotten very little rain. If you lived in the SE corner, you'd have gotten quite a bit of rain. We live right in the center of the county and we got just under a quarter inch since last night. To our east and southeast the total was between 1 and 2 inches. It looks to continue that way the next couple days although the edge may slip a little further to the west and northwest so we'll get a little more rain than we did today.

It was dry enough at times today though to get Joe out for two dry walks, and I had one umbrella walk and one dry walk by myself. I went over the 11 mile mark today for my highest daily total in a while now.

As far as some different things, I've been having some trouble with my VCR. Although I don't have any off the air, cable, or satellite TV, I do have a lot of shows on videocassettes that I've taped over the years and I watch occasionally. However the VCR just locked up on me, and after I took it apart and got the mechanics of it working, now the video is garbled although the audio is fine. So I think I'll just get a new VCR/DVD combo unit which are available at very reasonable prices these days. Then I'll be able to play either DVDs or videocassettes in the future.

I got three easy QSOs in the 0000Z hour this evening. Two from old friends, AE4DT and N2ESE, and one from someone I don't think I've ever worked before - KB1KDW. I'll know for sure when I transfer my paper log to computer after finishing this diary entry and updating my streak tables and propagation page on the web site. -30-

Monday, September 05, 2011 9:43 PM - A very damp dreary rainy day today. Almost a steady light rain all day, and unless I blinked and missed it, I don't think the sun came out once all day. So I spent the day doing some piddling chores inside which I won't bore you by talking about them. I did grab my 'golf' umbrella and go for a long walk when it wasn't raining quite as hard. Tonight I got a couple more nightcrawlers, but the grass is too thick to spot them easily now after our rainy August and early September. Tomorrow if we get a break in the rain, I'll head to the river to see if there are any more carp around.

This coming Sunday Tom and I are going to another hamfest. This is the fall hamfest at Butler which is always a nice little gathering. Hopefully the rain will be out of here by then although it looks like the remnants of Lee will be slow in moving out.

Another contest, the MI QRP Contest gave me two quick QSOs this evening, then I caught PY2WC on 30 meters for an additional DX QSO. -30-

Sunday, September 04, 2011 10:20 PM - I thought tonight I'd just grab a couple quick QSOs in the TN QP, and unlike last night with the CO QP, it worked tonight. So quick in fact, I thought I'd hang around and get a couple rag chew QSOs to top it off. Anyway the contest QSOs couldn't be used for our NAQCC challenge, and I wanted to get a few more letters. First I answered Skip N2EI who was calling CQ, then after that, Ken WA8REI called me. Two nice rag chews with old friends plus a bunch of letters for the challenge.

Other than that today was pretty much like yesterday except for the temperature. We still had the humidity but the temperature was only in the low 80s instead of near 100. It rained today also which it didn't do yesterday. In fact we're supposed to get about an inch more rain before it stops tomorrow for a pause until the remnants of Lee get here a little later in the week.

I took Joe for a couple walks today between the raindrops, and got in a good long walk myself during one longer pause in the rain. Other than that not really much to talk about. -30-

Saturday, September 03, 2011 10:39 PM - I thought tonight I'd just grab a couple quick QSOs in the CO QP, but that didn't pan out as the couple stations I tried calling were having small pile-ups when I called them. It didn't matter though as I went to 40 and called CQ, winding up with 3 good QSOs in the 0000Z hour. A couple of stations I may have worked for the first time, and one with an old friend of many years whom I hadn't worked in a couple years, I bet. That was Ernie VE3OU. We couldn't talk too long though as he had a bad thunderstorm approaching.

It was a re-run of July here today weatherwise with a high of 98 degrees and quite humid. As we did in July, we set an all-time high temperature record for September with that 98 degrees breaking the old mark of 96 degrees set several times in my almost 52 years of weather records. Of course as I said with July, that was not an official reading because of the exposure of my thermometer shelter to the heating by the sun of a large concrete area near my back yard over which I have no control. However those definitely were the highest readings going back to 2002 when the building on the concrete slab was torn down.

It was definitely too hot to go for much of a walk or to go fishing. I did take Joe out for a couple short walks though. I also did some cleaning inside the house which is still pretty cool. It takes a while for it to heat up and also to cool down. -30-

Friday, September 02, 2011 9:20 PM - It just may be that some hams are coming out of hibernation. The bands, especially 40 meters seemed quite busy the past couple nights. There was so much activity at times it was a bit hard to find a spot to operate. I'm talking about CW activity of course, and that's a good sign.

It kind of makes me wonder if news is getting out about the increase in solar activity and hams are coming back to the bands because of that. Some believe that the bands are useless during a sunspot minimum, and I think I (along with many others) have proved that is not true at all. For whatever reason, it is much better to have too much activity on a band than to have virtually none at all. I just hope the activity continues.

Don't forget this coming sunspot maximum is predicted to be a very minimal one, and looking at the prediction chart on my propagation page, it seems that the maximum may not be very much higher than what we have right now. So you better get on the bands and enjoy it while it is here.

Of course some scientific sources are predicting that cycle 24 may be the last sunspot cycle as we know them for some time to come. They say we may have another Maunder minimum like back in the 1600's when the Sun took an extended sleep without any really noticeable sunspot activity at all.

However even if that happens, radio will still work just as it does every sunspot minimum. It's just that minimum conditions would prevail for much of the time and there would be no real maximums. All of that is just speculation now with no really solid evidence to back it up.

Still, why not get on the bands NOW and enjoy them just in case something like that does come to pass? I certainly am going to continue to do so, and in fact will try to be a little more active during the upcoming cycle 24 maximum, whatever it turns out to be - a very low maximum - the last maximum as we know it - or just an abberation in a stream of sunspot cycles that will resume normalcy again with a good solid cycle 25. -30-

Thursday, September 01, 2011 10:04 PM - The first of a month is always a busy day here, and today was no exception. I get a little more efficient all the time though in dealing with the first, so today wasn't all that hectic. It was pouring rain when I got up so I got my computer work done before heading off to do my first of the month banking. However the rain still hadn't stopped so I got out my big old golf style umbrella I got from my cousin's estate a few years ago and headed to the bank. After that was done, the rain stopped shortly afterward so I decided to head to the river and see if any hungry carp were visiting the storm sewer outlets in the river. Well, there was one anyway, who grabbed the peanut butter bread bait and thought he'd take bait, hooks, sinker, line and pole to the other side of the river, but I ruined his plans and slowed down his freight train like run. I finally got him turned around and he decided he'd tangle himself in my second fishing pole's line. I had just thrown it out and set it down when he made his run so I didn't have time to reel it in to avoid the tangled mess. It took maybe 5-7 minutes to get him landed. Of course he turned out to be 26 inches, the most common sized carp here in the river, and the best fighting size, I believe. I removed the hook, let him go, and sat down on the ground to untangle the mess. That took another 5-7 minutes. I got a few more bites after that, but he was the only catch of the day.

Other than that, I took Joe for a couple walks, and took one myself. I also put my August weather data in the computer. Turned out it was a warm month - confirmed by the figures - as I already knew from living through it. HI. Not as hot as July, but still 3 degrees above normal. I updated my October contest calendar here on the web site, and did some other first of month things I won't bother adding here.

My QSOs this evening came easily, and gave some more letters for our NAQCC September 'back to school' alphabet challenge. First Curt KD8IFJ answered my CQ and we chatted for about 45 minutes until I had a phone call to check on my answering machine. It was Nancy who had cooked some corn and asked if I wanted a couple ears. Of course I did, and went over and got them and came over here and ate them just before going out to get my temperature readings. Then I went back to the shack to get my 2nd QSO for the day - it was George K1PQS whom I hadn't worked in quite a while. It was nice to hook up again and we chatted for about 20 minutes after which I came here to type this entry. -30-

Wednesday, August 31, 2011 10:07 PM - A bit of a changeable mixed-up day today that turned out well in the end. First I expected Ange to come over and work on the garden, perhaps water it or pick some vegetables. Also Bruce wanted to use the computer. So I got up a bit early and got my computer work pretty much on the way. Then Ange called and said he wasn't coming. So I did more computer work waiting on Bruce. However then he got the info he needed from a phone call and didn't need to use the computer. So I had my brunch, then went fishing. Yet another day I got just one fish. This time a 20 inch carpsucker.

On my way home from fishing, I remembered Nancy was going shopping and I was going to go along. So as soon as I got home, I went over only to find those plans were changed also. She said she was going to go to several places, and I said I really didn't need anything urgent, and I'd go with her another time. Now Bruce and I were going to go to an auction later in the day so I wanted to time Joe's walks so Nancy wouldn't have to take him out by herself. So I took Joe out for a walk and when I got back or maybe it was a little after that when Nancy said she changed her mind about going shopping since her son might want to use her car when he got off work. Now she was just going to the post office and asked me to tell Jeff if I saw him that she'd be back with the car in a few minutes.

OK, so it turns out Jeff didn't need the car as he needed to use his truck instead. On top of that, Bruce calls from work and Jeff tells me he had a longer bus trip than planned and we'd have to pass on the auction. So then Nancy asks if I want to make our shopping trip now since the auction was off and she had her car. I said OK, so we made it a true shopping trip, going to 3 or 4 places looking for the best prices and so forth. That turned into about a 3 hour trip altogether. We came back home once to check on Joe and Bruce was home so we went back to one final store.

Got that? There will be a 5 question quiz tomorrow. HI.

By now it was 0015Z so I went to the shack to get my QSOs. I worked two W9s, one in IN and one in IL, both of whom were also QRP at 5 watts. Then it was time to get my temperature readings, after which I got all my end of month/first of month financial stuff in order so I could do my banking early in the morning and see what else tomorrow has in store for me. HI. It's supposed to rain, so maybe when it stops I can go check the river for carp. -30-

Tuesday, August 30, 2011 9:52 PM - A day today much like yesterday. Fishing netted one more bluegill to add to my total. My 2 QSO's came easily tonight with Fred DH2MS/P right at 0000Z and Geoff AE4RV 6 minutes later. After that I went and sat on the porch with Nancy and Joe till her sons came home. Other than that, let's see. Oh I picked some beans this morning from Ange's garden and this afternoon helped him pick some more beans, tomatoes, and figs. Amazingly after July and all the watering, I don't believe we watered his garden once during August. I had to water mine a few days only because mine gets more hours of sun each day than his does. That pretty much sums up the day along with the usual NAQCC work, eating, walking, and walking Joe a couple times. -30-

Monday, August 29, 2011 10:37 PM - Pretty much an ordinary day today with really nothing much to talk about. I did go fishing and raised my 2011 total to 30 fish with a couple bluegills. So now the worst scenario is that this could be my 3rd worst year since I now have passed 2010 (22) and 1993 (29). I'm still pretty confident if nothing happens that I can reach 100 for the year. All I'd need would be 35 each in September and October, both still good months for fishing. Even into November some years is not all that bad.

My QSOs came easily tonight. I caught OX/OZ4UN at 0002 and WZ2Z at 0011. Later I added VA3PEN who called after I finished with WZ2Z. Again this evening 17 was in good shape although I didn't work anyone there. I didn't hear anything on 15 meters. -30-

Sunday, August 28, 2011 10:20 PM - An interesting day. Watching the progress of Irene up the coast, although terrifying to those actually in the storm, was fascinating. Here in Western PA of course, we had none of the bad effects of the storm, but we could watch the progress from the changing wind directions illustrated by the movements of the clouds. Last evening the clouds were moving in from almost due east as we were on the northern counterclockwise rotation of the storm. Then today as the storm moved to due east of us, the clouds were moving from the north as then we were on the western edge of Irene. The cool ocean breezes all day were very refreshing. I would guess they peaked at maybe 20-25 MPH at most, but a good part of the time less than that, probably 10-15 MPH. You could tell from the quality and humidity of the air that it was coming in from the ocean.

So the storm didn't affect the hamfest in any way except for some papers blowing around. We had a good time. Tom and Don found a couple items they needed or wanted. I didn't find anything, but enjoyed meeting some of our NAQCC members.

When we got home, I went for a couple walks to enjoy the cool breezy weather. Then took Joe out for a walk this evening. He enjoyed the cool weather also.

I had three nice rag chews for my QSOs this evening. All three involving Irene one way or another. JJ WA3NZR in eastern PA bore quite a bit of the brunt of the storm. Zeke KD8HES in MI has a brother near DC who is without power. K3ASW in MD is without power operating by candlelight using a gel cell battery to power his rig.

Oh and also this afternoon I got on the air mainly to see if I could work Kalawao county in the Hawaii QSO party. I only worked AH7C in Honolulu county on 15 meters. I also checked 17 just to see what was there. It was full of EU stations, but I only managed to work S57S. -30-

Saturday, August 27, 2011 9:54 PM - Although no one along the east coast is enjoying by any stretch of the imagination, Hurricane Irene, it's nice here in Western PA to experience the Atlantic Ocean air being blown here. The breezes are cooling and have that feel about them of the ocean. Nancy, Joe, and I were sitting on the porch for almost an hour, and now I've got my front door open with the breezes blowing in.

However our prayers do go out to the millions of people who are being very adversely affected by the storm.

Tom WY3H, Don K3RLL, and I are ready to head off to the Skyview Hamfest near New Kensington, PA in the morning. It's our first activity as members of the newly formed Western Pennsylvania Chapter of the NAQCC.

My QSOs tonight were far apart geographically. First I worked my friend Tim KD8GZ over next door in Ohio. Tim, Tom, and I had an enjoyable eyeball QSO last year, and we hope to do it again this year. Then it was Steve 9A2YM way over in Croatia on 30 meters. -30-

Friday, August 26, 2011 6:43 PM - I've had some feedback hanging around for a while, so let me make today's entry an early one and take care of that.

First regular commenter Brion VE3FUJ about my fishing, "Hi John: The Fishes has gotten smart, You have been training them that every time they get too close they get hauled out. And don't think the rest haven't noticed. Be looking for you tomorrow near 10116. 73 Brion PS; I just couldn't resist. -30-"

Well, I had a good talk with the fish and told them folks were making fun of me for not catching them, so they agreed to cooperate if I was sure to only catch and release them. It seems to have worked as I now have 28 fish in 14 trips for an average of 2 per trip. My overall average since 1992 is 1.89 per trip, so I'm above average this year. My best year was 1994 with 4.42 per trip. But back then I used to fish longer each trip. Now as I get older I find about two hours is my limit per trip. I've surpassed last year's poor total of just 22 fish already, and am just 1 behind my 1993 total of 29. I've got a goal to reach 100 this year and now that I've straightened out the fish and am determined to go fishing more often as long as the weather holds, I think I may just reach that goal.

Brion's comment about 10116 referred to our Community Park operation and unfortunately Brion was not among the 24 QSOs we made.

Oh did I tell you among the 6 fish I got yesterday was my first carp (finally) - a 23 inch one. I also got another big snapping turtle and a 9 inch rock bass to tie my rock bass record set just a couple days ago. Today I got a bass and my first sucker of the year.

Before I wrote yesterday's entry about the bands, I received this from Dick K1IEE who apparently does just what I suggested in the entry, "Hi John, Just a thought I would share my 15M contacts. I try to listen on 15M each time I am on the air. On the 21st I worked PY2YU at 0019Z and then JM7OLW at 0033Z. The 25th I also worked CE2/VE7SV at 0004Z and ZL1CDX at 0020Z. All with QRP @ 4W. It was nice to hear and work New Zealand. ....Dick K1IEE"

Some nice catches there. I almost got my friend in Perth, Australia on 30 meters again a couple evenings ago. But we couldn't quite connect. I'm speaking of VK6AU - ex VK6HQ.

Also thanks to John N8TA who reminded me about diversity reception and its noise cancelling effect. He mentioned a unit I may look into in that regard - the Timewave ANC-4. I could certainly use some noise reduction of any kind around here. -30-

Thursday, August 25, 2011 10:48 PM - This is going to be a short entry since I've been busy getting the NAQCC Newsletter ready for posting tomorrow morning or afternoon.

What I wanted to say about the Internet and the ham radio bands is simply this. I think that the immediate availability of propagation information plus 'spotting' stations has led to too many people checking the Internet instead of actually checking the bands. If they see that propagation conditions are such and such and those conditions mean that say 10 or 12 meters shouldn't be open, they never bother to check those bands. Well, as of right now, there is no one on the planet who understands radio wave propagation completely enough to know exactly whether or not it is possible to communicate between point A and point B on a frequency of C. You have to actually listen to the bands to find out what is possible and who is on them at the moment. Just because these 'spotting' lists (which I never use, by the way) don't show any activity on a band doesn't mean there is necessarily no one on that band.

The very best way to find out what is going on is to go to your shack, not your computer, turn on your rig and listen. If you don't hear anything on a band, try calling CQ for a while. You may be surprised what you'll find or what your CQ will turn up.

Only use the propagation info and 'spotting' lists as a very broad general indication of what is going on. Use your ears and key to be more specific.

End of soapbox remarks. Now I'm getting off the soapbox and getting a late nite snack to eat while listening to an old Fibber McGee and Molly radio show. -30-

Wednesday, August 24, 2011 8:38 PM - I got distracted last night and didn't upload my diary entry for yesterday until this morning. Thanks to Geo N1EAV for calling it to my attention. If you missed it, I hope you'll read it after you finish this entry. I think it is one of my more interesting entries if I may say so.

A few entries ago, I was talking about how the sun sets noticeably earlier each day in August. Well right now it's about 8:40 PM and quite dark. Around the first of August it was still quite light at this time. I got to wondering just how much the sunset changes each month and made up this table. All times are Standard without taking into account Daylight Savings time.

Month  SS on 1st day  SS on last day  Difference  Ave per day
Jan        1701           1734             33        +1.06
Feb        1735           1808             33        +1.18
Mar        1809           1842             33        +1.06
Apr        1843           1913             30        +1.00
May        1914           1942             28        +0.90
Jun        1943           1954             11        +0.37
Jul        1954           1935            -19        -0.61
Aug        1934           1852            -42        -1.35
Sep        1851           1802            -49        -1.63
Oct        1801           1716            -45        -1.45
Nov        1715           1651            -24        -0.80
Dec        1651           1700              9        +0.29
Wow, that is very interesting. The rate of change is far from a perfect sine wave. Apparently the skewing of the rate of change relates to the effects of the analemma. Especially notable is the difference in the change to later sunsets the first half of the year or so vs. the change to earlier sunsets the second half. It sets earlier much faster from summer to winter than it sets later from winter to summer. Of course the period from earliest sunset to latest is quite a bit longer than from latest to earliest as shown here:

Earliest to latest
Dec 8 (1650) to Jun 27 (1954) is 201 days
Latest to earliest
Jun 27 (1954) to Dec 8 (1650) is 164 days
37 days or about 1 month and 7 days
So that would explain in part the difference in rate of change as it has to get from latest to earliest 37 days quicker hence each days change must be a little greater. The total change is 184 minutes which yields the following:

Early to Late 184 minutes / 201 days = 0.92 minutes per day
Late to Early 184 minutes / 164 days = 1.12 minutes per day
That is just totally fascinating to me and it shows why the transition from summer to winter seems much faster than from winter to summer.

I'm sure this is boring to some of you so I'm not going to pursue it any further here in the diary, but I intend to do the same figuring with the sunrise times some day. Since the earliest sunrise is about June 15 and the latest is January 4, the effect should be somewhat the opposite of the sunset times which probably makes the change of the total length of sunshine each day closer to a true sine wave.

I had another topic in mind, but I'll save it till a later entry. How the Internet and the immediate access to propagation figures may be altering band usage.

Finally just a note on my QSO's this evening. The two came very quickly, both DX. CO6WD on 20 and CE2/VE7SV on 15. Yes 15 meters, and that is what prompted my thoughts about the Internet and propagation. -30-

Tuesday, August 23, 2011 9:08 PM - It was quite an eventful day around here. The big event was the earthquake down in Virginia. For the first time in my life as far as I can remember, I actually felt the tremors from an earthquake. I was over next door visiting with Nancy, Bruce, and Joe. I was sitting on the floor as I usually do to be down with Joe at his level and had my back resting up against the corner of a sofa. Bruce was dozing off in their recliner and Nancy was out in the kitchen. Joe was lying on the floor next to me. Suddenly I felt the corner of the sofa move back and forth just enough to be noticeable. I thought maybe Bruce was rocking the sofa to get Joe's attention, but he was still dozing. Then I really didn't know what to think except I was imagining things or it wasn't the sofa moving but some kind of muscle twitch in my back. Earthquake did pop into the back of my mind, but I didn't think seriously about that. I didn't say anything about it. Then a little while later I heard another neighbor outside say something about an earthquake down in Virginia. I did a Bing search for 'earthquake virginia' and sure enough there was an earthquake at the same time as I felt the sofa move and it was felt over a wide area of the Eastern USA. I called up an article about it being felt in the Pittsburgh area, printed it out, and took it over to show Nancy and Bruce. Neither of them felt anything, and I know it was so minor that had I not been leaning against the sofa with the corner right in a sensitive area of my back I wouldn't have felt anything either. In thinking back on the incident I seem to remember Joe barking at something unknown just a few seconds before the tremor. I'm not at all sure about that now though. He did bark when the mailman delivered the mail about a half hour earlier. Joe is a very quiet dog and only barks when he 'has something important to say'. So if I remember right, perhaps he did sense something just before I felt the tremor. I've learned from Joe that dogs have a much keener sense of perception than we humans.

Earlier in the day, I helped Ange pick some beans and peppers, then I went fishing. I didn't match my exploits of yesterday though. I got only a single bluegill today. I did see a big bass swimming around the weed bed where I had been catching all my fish of late, so perhaps he scared off the smaller fish and he himself wasn't interested in my little pieces of nightcrawlers I was using. Also when I was fishing my fishing stool gave way after many years. The fabric split and I suddenly dropped about an inch. Well actually I'm a day off. The stool went yesterday and today I used an old uncomfortable wooden stool, and decided that wasn't going to do. I'd have to go and get a new one at Wal-Mart or somewhere. But just as I got home from fishing today, I had the thought that perhaps I could use some lawn chair webbing to fix the broken stool. The frame was still in very good shape, just the fabric was shot. I had a lot of old webbing in the basement, most in very good shape, so a little later I set out on the repair project. I removed the remains of the old fabric, stretched out the webbing and screwed it to the metal framwork. It took 5 widths to span the seat and it turned out well. My cordless drill ran out of juice just as I finished drilling the last hole for the last metal screw. Hopefully tomorrow I'll take the stool to the river and try it out.

After that, I went for a walk to enjoy another beautiful evening. I picked up a flyer at our local supermarket listing next week's sales items. That's a regular routine every Tuesday, and I pick up a copy for Nancy also. I took it over to her, and she and Bruce were just in the midst of giving Joe a bath..... or I mean letting Joe swim in the tub. Joe doesn't take to that word 'bath' too well. When he was done swimming, he jumped out and shook himself off doggy fashion, and I got a small shower in the process. Then Bruce gave me the towel and I helped dry Joe off. That was a fun little project. Also it was time for Joe's monthly medicine and flea preventative 'lotion'. So I helped hold Joe while Bruce rubbed in the lotion. Then I visited for a while. Joe kind of hung close to me after the treatment he got from Bruce and Nancy. HI.

At 8 PM or 0000Z, I came over home and got on the air to get my daily QSOs. I worked two NAQCC members - AA2YK and W3BUG on 40, then went to 30 and 20 to see if I could get any DX. I worked a special event station - W0W - on 20 which was for the upcoming KS QSO Party this weekend, then I found a pileup working FS/W6IZT and figured he was strong enough to work, so I set up for split operation and started calling him. I guess he worked a dozen or so stations, then came back with K3WW?, and after I sent my call again and he said ONLY K3WW? as other stations popped in, he got the ending P and the QSO was in the books. I'll have to check to see if FS on 20 is a new band-country or not. I'll do that right now. Oh no, I'm thinking of FJ - St. Barts. I have FS on all HF bands. Oh well, it was fun breaking the pile-up to work him anyway and add another DX day to my 2011 total. -30-

Monday, August 22, 2011 10:18 PM - I had a good fishing trip today, catching 6 fish including my biggest ever Rock Bass at 9 inches. That's 19 fish for the year now, just 3 short of what I had in my poorest year last year, and a couple more than I had at this point in 2000. Back in 2000 I wound up with 120 for the year, so I may break 100 this year if I'm diligent at it.

It was an absolutely gorgeous day today - the kind of day you'd like to bottle and save. I went for a couple walks by myself and also a couple with Joe. I also did some weeding in the garden. Speaking of gardens, we've been lucky with the watering lately. I think it's been at least 3 weeks since I've had to help with Ange's garden. The rain has been coming at just the right times all of August so far. Hope it continues. -30-

Sunday, August 21, 2011 10:45 PM - I guess I tied my quickest ever QSO of the day tonight. Just as the clock changed from 23:59Z to 0:00Z I sent my call in response to XE2S' CQ and got him with that call. OK, I know there should not be colons in UTC or Z time, but that's the way the display on my 24 hour clock shows it.

After that I checked into our NAQCC QRS net for a few minutes, then went back to 20 where I worked XE2S and found a nice prefix in 5P7XJ (if I remember correctly - I'm sure of the 5P part anyway) which I found out from my very old prefix allocation list would be in Denmark. He was very popular and I gave up trying to break the pile-up after about 5-10 minutes or so.

Next it was back to 40 and a bit of CQing which got me Jerry W8HOG for my third QSO of the evening.

Earlier today, I did go hunting for that last 'P' for the NAQCC August Challenge. It wasn't much of a hunt though as after just a minute or so I found K4HPP calling CQ and worked him. The one P finished off the challenge, and I have that extra one if another NAQCC member wants it. HI HI.

Other than that it was an off and on rainy day, but I did get in a couple walks, and also took Joe for a walk this evening between the raindrops. Other than that I worked on getting the NAQCC Newsletter ready for publication (or posting actually) next weekend.

Don K3RLL, Mike KC2EGL, and I decided to form a Western Pennsylvania NAQCC Chapter since the things we do - portable operations, attending hamfests, building gear, etc. are the things that our chapters do. Hopefully that will encourage members in other areas to form chapters and enjoy the kind of fellowship that Don, Mike, and I enjoy. -30-

Saturday, August 20, 2011 9:08 PM - I thought of a couple more memorable QSOs that should have been included in my list in yesterday's entry.

Working Hawaii on 80 meters in the form of KH6MB and KH6LC within 13 minutes on 2/22/09 for my first QRP KH6 80 meters QSOs. That leaves only KL7 for an 80 meters QRP WAS.

Working KL7J on 30 meters to complete 30 meters QRP WAS. It took over 10 years to go from 49 to 50 states on 30. It was kind of a freak thing. I was playing chess with my neighbor Bruce and we went well past my usual 0000Z hour for getting on the air. In fact it was well into the 0200Z hour, I believe when I got on 30 and immediately heard KL7J and didn't even wait to see if he was calling CQ or working someone when he sent KL7J K. I just sent my call, and he heard me and we worked. If not for the chess game, I would have gotten on in the 0000Z hour and might still be waiting to get KL7 on 30.

Egypt on 10 meters in the 2003 CQ WW DX contest. The only country I haven't worked from my home shack. I got it from my cousin's house a couple miles from here while I stayed with her a few days while her husband was away on a hunting trip.

Asiatic Russia to complete my QRPp WAC.

I think someday I'll put together a more orderly list of my most memorable 25 or so QSOs. I could never put them in any meaningful order though since they are all pretty much equally memorable.

The bands were pretty poor this evening considering the SF and A numbers of 101 and 3. It took quite a while to get my 2 QSOs - first WA8VTD on 40 and then HI8A on 20. The 'I' in HI8A means I only need 1 station with a 'P' in the call to complete our NAQCC August challenge. So I think I may just go searching tomorrow to try to finish it off. -30-

Friday, August 19, 2011 9:35 PM - If you happened to look at my 'streak' table on the main page of the web site, you may have noticed my DX QSO for the 19th last night was ZS1JX on 40 meters. Well, it wasn't one of those TU 599 BK QSOs as you might expect. I was calling CQ and ZS1JX answered me. I was so surprised I didn't catch his suffix the first time and had to ask for a repeat. We wound up having a nice almost 10 minute QSO, and he copied me solidly all the way. He told me he was using a beverage antenna for receiving and a vertical for transmitting. He gave me a 469 report, and he was peaking 599 here. That has to be one of my more memorable QSOs. South Africa is hard to work here - period. To have the QSO on 40 meters and in response to my CQ makes it all the more memorable. It seems to be a legit QSO as far as I have determined so far. He was spotted on 40 meters quite often the past few days, and his QRZ log shows several other USA QSOs on 40 meters, but he apparently doesn't look at his log as there are 118 UNSEEN entries there. There is still that little bit of doubt in my mind, and until I hear directly from him, I won't feel 100% positive about the QSO. I sent an email to his email address in QRZ, but it bounced as do a lot of QRZ emails as folks don't keep them updated. In the South Africa callbook he is mentioned as being a member of a local SA club. I emailed the club. It hasn't bounced, but I haven't gotten an answer either. I may try a regular mail letter and QSL card, or wait to see if I get a match on eQSL and/or LotW when I upload my August QSOs at the first of next month.

In contrast to last night when South Africa and Ukraine were two of my 3 QSOs, tonight my 2 QSOs were with PA and OH. I heard a few DX stations, but except for a K3? from what I believe was a R1 station in Antarctica (very sloppy CW), no one heard me at all.

I thought maybe I'd list some of my other memorable QSOs that come to mind. In no particular order they are:

My first Japan - JA3ZOH on 20 meters. Took a long time to get it, but now I have 170+ JA QSOs.

Having VK6HQ answer my 30 meters CQ, not once, but twice. And he followed up one of the QSO's with a VERY LOOOONNNGG distance phone call to me.

Working VK6DXI on 40 meters before the sun had set here, probably a long path QSO.

Working VK0MM on Macquarie Island, beating one of those big wide pileups to do so.

Having TA3D answer my 30 meters CQ.

My first South Africa QSO with ZS6EZ. It took a long time to get SA like JA, and then my QSO was so easy with ZS6EZ, I mentioned that on my web site. When I got my card from ZS6EZ he had apparently seen my comment and had written on the card something like, "apologies for making it so easy, next time I'll make it harder." Well, I worked him 3 more times after that and all were pretty easy also. However besides him and ZS1JX the only other QRP QSO with South Africa was with ZS0HQ.

I enjoy working what I consider exotic countries. One that always fascinated me is Mongolia. One reason being watching the movie Destination Gobi with Richard Widmark. So my first Mongolia QSO with JT1DA is memorable.

First QSOs with other exotic or 'rare' countries - ZA1AJ, ZD8OK, ZL9CI, 4J6ZZ (Azerbaijan), K5D (Desecheo Is.), 3D2AG (Fiji), UN7JX, EX2X, ZK1XXC (South Cook Is.), HL4HLD, HV5PUL to name some of them.

No matter how long you are in ham radio and no matter how many QSOs (48 years and almost 75,000 QSOs in my case), the possibility is always there for a new exciting exotic memorable QSO. That is one of its strong drawing cards. -30-

Thursday, August 18, 2011 4:21 PM - I just got home about 15 minutes ago from our NAQCC N3AQC portable operation in Kittanning Community Park. We didn't have quite as many QSOs as we did July 3, (24 vs. 28), but we still had a lot of fun as always when Don, Mike, and I get together.

I had 8 QSOs on 20 meters including what I believe is our first QSO with a mobile station. Strangely (or maybe not) the mobile QSO was the most solid one of the bunch. He was near Colby, KS heading east on I70. My most distant was K7ZI in Utah.

With about an hour left I traded bands with Mike, and I got on 30 meters and added 6 more QSOs there from ME to FL to TN to MN. I worked Dick K1IEE on both 20 and 30. All but two of the 14 QSOs were with NAQCC members which was rewarding.

There will be more details and pictures in our upcoming NAQCC Newsletter due out August 27, so I'll leave the topic till then. We did wind up with beautiful weather as shown in this picture of the view out the front of our pavillion.
pix_diary_20110818_01 (43K)


Wednesday, August 17, 2011 10:12 PM - I'm looking forward to our portable NAQCC N3AQC operation tomorrow. Mike, Don, and I will be at Community Park from 12 noon till 3 PM or 1600-1900Z on 40 (7040), 30 (10116), and 20 (14060) looking for you. Or I guess I should say I hope you'll be looking for us.

The fish shut me out today. I saw a lot of bluegill, little bass, and even a walleye, but they just swam right by my bait or merely nibbled at it without ever coming close to getting the hook in their mouth. Smart fish, I guess. Still it was another beautiful day, so that made the shutout not as bad as it would have been on a cold windy damp rainy day.

After saying DX had disappeared from 20 in yesterday's entry, there was quite a bit of it on 20 this evening, although I couldn't work any due to competition or the stations just not hearing me. Ever notice how some stations never seem to hear you, no matter how strong they are. One of those stations was there tonight at S9+, but never gave a hint of hearing me at all. I did work one DX station on 30 - PQ8XB for a new prefix, I believe, and the letter 'P' in his call brings me closer to completing our August NAQCC challenge. I need QSOs with two different stations with a 'P' in their call and one with an 'I' to finish the challenge. Or I could work someone like PI4PXY and finish it with just his call.

Incidentally Don K3RLL has now indexed the past NAQCC Newsletters, and pertinent content is listed on the NAQCC web site in the Newsletter section on the 'Past Issues' page. Some good material there that until now was pretty much hidden like the proverbial needle in a haystack. -30-

Tuesday, August 16, 2011 9:46 PM - Let's see how well I can multi-task. I'm on the phone talking to Tom WY3H while writing this entry.

I've been fishing the past couple days. Yesterday I caught a 6 inch bluegill, and today it was a 4.5 inch perch. Not much in the way of size, but at least that brings me to 12 for the year. I think I mentioned this a couple entries ago, but back in 2001 (I think) I was only at 11 at this point, and still wound up with 120 for the year.

I guess no one else is going to take a stab at the song trivia, so I might as well give the answers.

1. Recorder Solo - No Fair At All by the Association (and as N2SU said Wild Thing by the Troggs also has one)
2. Steel Drum - Carrie Anne by the Hollies (among many other stories, it's claimed the song was actually written for Marianne Faithful)
3. Marimba - Moonlight Feels Right by Starbuck

I made 3 QSOs this evening for my streaks. However I notice with the earlier sunsets, DX on 20 in the 00Z hour is disappearing along with that on 17 meters. So the times they are a'changing. -30-

Monday, August 15, 2011 7:55 PM - Here it is the middle of August already. School starts in 9 days. The traditional end of summer - Labor Day is only 21 days away. The sun is setting noticeably earlier each evening. It's a bit on the sad side although weatherwise, we'll still have 2 1/2 to 3 months of good weather (if tradition holds) before the nasty W***er weather starts to set in and we start to worry about how much s**w we'll be getting. About the only good thing to look forward to is the quieting of 80 and 160 meters. I've made hardly any 80 meter QSOs since spring except a few in contests here and there.

It's time now for me to head to the shack and get a couple QSOs in the log. I'll start out on 20 meters and see if there is any DX there. If not I'll head to 40 and call CQ near 7040 or 7030 depending on QRM.

Before I go, a reminder than my new poll is now up awaiting your vote. It's in the usual place on the main page of my web site. It doesn't seem anyone has found it yet as it has been up over 24 hours now and my vote is the only one recorded so far. Or maybe it's not working. Let me know. -30-

Sunday, August 14, 2011 10:49 AM - One of my very knowledgeable diary readers Bob N2SU found another song with a recorder solo in it. It's not the one I'm thinking of, but Wild Thing by the Troggs has a recorder solo also.

Bob also got the right answer to the steel drum song. I'll provide the three 'right' answers in a couple days.

Meanwhile, we cancelled our N3AQC outing today because of heavy rain and thunderstorms. Naturally since we cancelled, now it looks like the rain and storms are going to bypass us. Sometimes you can't win. Of course, storms have to develop somewhere and just because they don't show up on the current radar as moving toward us, some could develop and move toward us this afternoon.

If you're a NAQCC member, you'll get an email with our re-scheduling plan(s). If you're not a NAQCC member - why not? If you operate any QRP CW at all, you qualify for free lifetime membership and can join in our many activities. -30-

Saturday, August 13, 2011 1:13 PM - I feel like a bit more music trivia. Three of my many many favorite rock or pop music songs have intervals in them featuring a solo by an instrument not normally associated with rock or pop music. Here are the three instruments - can you name the song and artist?

1 - Recorder
2 - Steel Drum
3 - Marimba

If you supply any answers, let me know if you did it purely from memory, or if you needed help like an Internet search.

It looks like possibly our NAQCCpedition to Community Park tomorrow may be rained out. If you're a NAQCC member (if not - why not?), we'll send an announcement on our NAQCC email list tomorrow morning and tell you if it is go or no go.

We're still getting a slow trickle of logs for our NAQCC sprint, but we're still far short of the 100 logs mark this month with only about 32 hours left before the submission deadline. -30-

Friday, August 12, 2011 8:36 PM - Of course with the WAE DX test on, my streaks were easily extended with LX7I, EA5FID, and 9A6XX being the guilty parties. I also worked IR2C, but conditions weren't all that good, so I only operated a few minutes. Maybe I'll see what conditions are like later this weekend. It would be nice if 15 and 10 were open to EU but with the SF in the low 80's that's not likely, at least for my minimal QRP setup.

No further logs received for our NAQCC sprint, so I'm pretty sure we won't hit 100 logs this month. Very disappointing to have our streak broken after 16 months. However I would just love it if I was proven wrong and we do get 21 more logs before the Sunday evening deadline.

Let's get back to the song trivia of a few entries ago. As I said Carl N5XE got the right answer. Paul N0NBD tried to find some info on the Internet, but gave up. No one else said anything about it. The songs are El Paso and El Paso City, both by Marty Robbins. El Paso City told the story of the earlier El Paso song as Marty (in the song) flew over El Paso and all the events of the earlier song came to mind and he wondered if it was him in an earlier life that lived the events in the song. That's kind of a convoluted explanation. If you get a chance, listen to the two songs and you'll hear what I'm trying to describe. -30-

Thursday, August 11, 2011 9:40 PM - Isn't it strange (or maybe not) how the least little thing can often trigger something that lay buried in the mind for many years? That happened to me twice today. Once Bruce mentioned a person with the last name Faulx, and that made me think of a friend of my dad who had that same last name. I bet I hadn't thought of him for at least 40 years if not more. I'm sure like my dad, he also has been dead and gone for many years now.

Then this evening I worked VE3ROY who is in Orillia, Ontario. As soon as he started sending Oril... I knew it would be Orillia and CFOR popped into my mind. When I used to do a lot of AM BCB DXing, CFOR was one of the first Canadian stations I logged, if not THE first. They came in loud and clear every night on 1570 KC. I probably hadn't though of CFOR for well over 30 years. Amazing how the brain works. Yet if you try to remember something you did yesterday, you can't. HI

Another beautiful summer day today with the puffy cumulus clouds, low humidity, and temperatures in the low 80s. I hope it is like that on Sunday when Mike KC2EGL, Don K3RLL, and I do another of our portable NAQCC operations using N3AQC from Kittanning Community Park. However there seems to be some rain predicted for then, but it could miss us as it does so often lately.

Besides the aforementioned VE3ROY, I also worked W1KX this evening for the multi-QSO streak. I was hoping to work some DX, but the past few evenings there has been very little DX heard here. I guess we may be slipping into a change of propagation as the sun sets earlier and earlier each day, especially on 20 and 17 meters.

Things look pretty hopeless for reaching 100 logs for this month's NAQCC Sprint. We're at 76 and no new ones have come in since this morning. I did a quick count of stations that showed up in the 76 logs and there were at least 128 stations participating, so the potential is there for 100, but the pace is going to have to pick up. My new email sound just went off as I was typing that sentence. Maybe it's a new log or two. Well it is one from my friend Dick K2UFT, so that's 77 now. -30-

Wednesday, August 10, 2011 9:41 PM - It was just about a perfect summer day today. Cumulus clouds, low humidity, temperature in the low-mid 80's. A nice day to do outside work, and I did quite a bit. I cut my grass, trimmed around the sidewalk and garden, weeded the garden, and fixed up a strip of yard in which I had part of my garden in previous years. When a new gas line was put in, that strip was dug up and I didn't plant anything there this year. Now I'm getting it ready for next year, or perhaps a late lettuce crop this year yet.

We're at only 69 logs for last night's NAQCC sprint, and it's going to take a bit of doing to reach 100 this month. If you were in the sprint, no matter how many or how few QSOs you made, I hope you have sent or will send in your log.

My streak QSO's came very easily this evening. Two CQs led to two QSOs, the first from Gary N2ESE, then from Larry WB9AZQ. After that I worked K5HZ because I needed the H for our August NAQCC Chess challenge.

Now it's time to check my email to see if any more logs came in. Gary promised me in our QSO that he would send his so it's probably there and hope several more as well. Then some more work and off to bed in a couple hours. -30-

Tuesday, August 09, 2011 10:42 PM - It's a sprint evening and I want to get to processing as many logs before bedtime as possible, so I'll keep this short.

Congrats to Carl N5XE who correctly identified the pair of songs I talked about in yesterday's diary entry. I won't list the songs yet so more of you can see if you can come up with the right answer.

It seems every month when our sprint comes up, my local noise level is just a bit worse. I had to really struggle to make 30 QSO's tonight. #30 came in the very last minute. Only the fact that a lot of signals were strong allowed me to make it to 30. I probably missed a lot more who called me because of the QRNN. Yes QRNN which had been used in the past to indicate man-made noise, but I haven't heard it used much lately.

OK, 'nuff said - off to the logs now. -30-

Monday, August 08, 2011 9:48 PM - We seem to be making up for all the rain we didn't get in June and most of July. So far after 1 3/4 inches today, we've got almost 3 inches in August so far. At that pace we could come close to 10 inches for the month, but I don't think that is going to happen.

Despite the rain which came mostly during the night and a heavy TS around 3 PM, I got in a few good walks today, and have just under 10 miles on the pedometer. Of course while walking, I was continuing to test my new MP3 player, and it is still working very good.

I talked about this in the diary probably a couple years ago, and I think I'll rehash it now as a trivia question. I'm sure there is more than one answer depending on how I phrase the question, but I have one specific answer in mind. What country song is a song about an earlier song by the same artist. That's a bit confusing. A few years after the original big hit song came out, the artist recorded another song with a similar title that told about the events of the earlier song. Got that? I'm sure you'll come up with the answer. I know there are other pairs of similar songs too, and I'd like to hear about them. One pair is by Leslie Gore with "It's My Party" and "It's Judy's Turn To Cry". Another slightly different pair that may or not be directly related is the Four Seasons' "Rag Doll" and the group Rag Dolls song "Society Girl".

I think that's enough for this entry. It'll give you music fans something to think about anyway. -30-

Sunday, August 07, 2011 10:03 PM - I left out one contest station in TN in last night's entry. I also didn't work nor hear Kirk K4RO. I never went back to the contest after the entry.

Today was kind of a do nothing day. I guess the big thing was exchanging the MP3 player. That went smoothly, and I think I got a better one in the deal. This one cost he same, but has bigger easier to use controls on it for my ageing eyes and fingers. I gave it an extensive test a few times today and it seems to work perfectly (so far anyway).

I can't really think of much else to say, but I do have a bit of feedback from Paul N0NBD about the turtle I caught the other day. Incidentally I haven't been fishing the past couple days because the town is having its folk festival in the park - or was having it as it is just winding down right now as I write. It's just too distracting having someone walk by every few minutes and asking, "Are they biting?", or "Did you catch anything?", etc.

OK here's what Paul said, "Wow man that was a big turtle. I have caught a few from the ponds at my farm but never that big....I will send a picture if I get a decent fish tomorrow de Paul N0NBD." Well, no picture (yet) so maybe Paul didn't get the big one this weekend, but he will sooner or later as he always does in that lake out there.

Now I've got a few NAQCC membership applications here. Think I'll try to take care of them next. -30-

Saturday, August 06, 2011 10:32 PM - I had fun in the TN QSO Part..... ooops, I mean the NA QSO Party for about 40 minutes this evening. I made 26 QSO's, all on 40 meters. 10 of the QSO's were with TN stations. I think I worked most all the big contesters in TN except K4LTA whom I heard, but didn't work, and W9WI whom I didn't hear. The NAQP is one of my favorite contests, but I just wasn't in the mood for a big effort today. I might go back and make a few more QSO's later, but I doubt it.

Right now I'm a bit disgusted. My MP3 player that I take with me on walks to listen to music died today, and I bought a new one at the local Family Dollar store. It is not working correctly. It plays a number of songs, then just locks up completely until I remove the battery, and then it starts over at the beginning and stops at the same point again. I've got a few more things to try which I'm going to do now, and if they don't work, I guess I'll return it tomorrow for another one or get my money back.

Oh, I've just about completed the updating of my streak report to the 17 year mark. If you're interested, check it out in the QRP section of the web site. I still might add some more recent streak highlights to the list near the end of the report, but otherwise it's pretty much finished. -30-

Friday, August 05, 2011 10:25 PM - It didn't dawn on me until I sat down at the rig this evening getting ready to get my streak QSO's. I was late getting there as I went for a walk to check out the Civil War exhibit at our town's Folk Festival. The exhibit was too busy for me though. I hate lines and also crowds of people, so I passed it up for tonight. Maybe tomorrow or Sunday it won't be so busy, and I'll rethink about going there.

Then when I got home, Bruce was out walking Joe and Joe just wouldn't let me go, jumping up at me, so I hung around with him for a while. Bruce went out, and Nancy was going to give Joe a bath if I'd help her get him into the tub. Well, it turned out that Joe wanted no part of it, and went upstairs and hid under a bed. So we let him win the battle. I was looking forward to it, as I hadn't helped with his bath before, but I'll have to wait till another time now.

Anyway it was now after 0100Z (9PM) and I got my temperature readings and went to the shack. What dawned on me then was that this (5th) is the 17th anniversary of the first day of my streak. So on the 4th, 17 years or 6,209 days are in the books and my QSO(s) on the 5th last evening started me on the 18th year now. In a way that's pretty amazing, but not really as it merely proves that when using CW, even with simple antennas at QRP power levels, you can contact someone somewhere EVERY SINGLE day if you have the time to fire up the rig for a few minutes. Well, some days now and then it takes a little more time than that, but it has never been impossible on any day since August 5, 1994 when as you know, I worked KG9N/C6A to start the streak.

Usually when the streak reaches another 1,000 days or another full year, I update my streak story in the QRP section of the web site. I'll be doing that - maybe not tonight, but soon.

Speaking of streaks, I kept my meager fishing streak alive today at three trips when I caught a little 4 inch minnow to avert a shutout. That's 10 fish this year now, about half what I got in my very slow year last year, and just about equal at this time of year to another slow start I had back in 2000 when I had 11 fish by August 5 that year. I wound up with 102 back in 2000, so I could break 100 this year with some persistence. -30-

Thursday, August 04, 2011 9:47 PM - Feedback from Paul N0NBD as a intro to today's entry, "Good going John, I have caught a few smallmouth bass but the largemouth are more common here. A 15 incher probably fought pretty good. Our wx broke a little today. A storm came through last night and it was MUCH cooler today. I think it was the first below hundred degree day in quite some time. I will be on the water fishing at Buffalo Lake on Saturday morning. Have a good one de Paul N0NBD"

Our weather broke yesterday here as I mentioned, and it was relatively cool (by 2011 standards) again today with a high of 'just' 90 degrees. Smallmouth bass definitely pre-dominate here with well over 90 percent of the bass I catch being smallmouth. The 15 incher was tied for my 6th biggest bass here and gave a decent fight, but not like what I caught today by any means.

Along with 3 more bluegills, I hooked a big snapping turtle (about a 16-17 inch diameter shell), and I thought I was never going to get him landed. He must have been holding on to the rocky bottom for dear life, and I couldn't budge him. The only way I could do anything was to give him some slack then when he left go to try to move, I could reel him in a little bit before he held on again. That must have gone on for 10 minutes, then the last time he let go, I got him moving well enough he couldn't hold on again and I reeled him in. Then he turned back toward the water and got himself wedged under and between a couple rocks. A young man (teenager?) came along just about then, and asked if he could help. He didn't see what I had right away and he was impressed when he saw the size of the turtle. It was a snapping turtle as I said, and when he offered to try to turn over the rocks I told him to be careful. While I was holding my pole and the line, he flipped the rocks over and we encountered a very unhappy turtle. I wasn't about to try to retrieve my hook and sinker, so he pulled out a cigarette lighter before I could get out my knife and burned the line in two, letting the turtle go on his way. That turned out to be the second biggest turtle I've ever caught. I have one listed as 18 inches.

I'm really into fishing now, and probably will be going often now. That's a total of only 9 now, but that's 9 more than I had just a couple weeks and 6 trips ago. HI.

I had a very high local noise level tonight, and didn't hear any DX or anything much else on 20 except the ST0 pile-up which is still huge. I did manage to work a couple stations on 40 meters for the two surviving streaks though - Ron WA7RBC and Jim AE4DT, both of whom I've worked a few times before. That also gave me a few more letters for the August NAQCC Chess Challenge too.

And that's pretty much the story of today except for the usual stuff I won't bore you with further. -30-

Wednesday, August 03, 2011 10:24 PM - This was a good day today. Well, actually every day is a good day. I guess it is only the degree of goodness that varies. Anyway I went fishing for the 5th time this year and had my best trip so far. I caught a nice 15 inch smallmouth bass sandwiched in between a couple of 5 inch bluegills. So the nightcrawlers I got a few nights ago did their job. I didn't get a single hit on my peanut butter bread. I don't know where the carp, carpsuckers, and suckers ARE this year, but they are NOT where I am fishing. There are literally thousands of minnows in the river this year. After I saw them and something chasing them, I decided to put a bobber on my line instead of a sinker, and that's when the action started. I almost caught a couple other fish also, but they didn't quite get hooked well enough. So today kind of peaked my interest in fishing again, and I probably will make time to go more often the rest of the year, especially since it looks like that change in the weather I mentioned yesterday is coming.

Today was different from the past 5 weeks or more. The humidity lingered, but the temperature never got out of the 70's although my 'official' high for the 9PM to 9PM day for which I keep records will show 81 from 9PM last night. Also instead of thunderstorm downpours, we had more of an off and on light rain most of the day. So the weather, it is a'changin. At least for the time being. We could well go back to what we had in July later this month. That is yet to be seen.

My QSO's tonight were a couple of DX ones and a nice rag chew. All 3 provided some letters for our NAQCC August Chess challenge, and I now have over half of the letters completed now. First up tonight was V44KAO, then S52F, both on 20, then W2BPI on 40.

As you know, I never pay any attention whatsoever to the DX spots, so I'm not sure which of the current popular DXpedition stations I heard on 14024 tonight was as he never identified in the brief time I listened. He sure was busy turning over QSO's though. Those pileups spread all over the band are out of my league, although I have broken a few of them in the past, but it takes time to study the pattern and figure out exactly where and when to call. You have to be precise with QRP, while the QRO and gain antenna boys can be off somewhat and still be heard. In fact, a few of them can even be very sloppy in procedure and sending and get worked just because of the super strong signal they put out. I guess some folks have the motto, "Skill is no substitute for power." - HI.

I'm still fine-tuning my streak table on the home page of the web site. Now I've decided for the DX and mW sections to list the number of days I've made either a DX or mW QSO in the current year. The Regular and 2nd sections will still list the number of consecutive days in the existing streaks. I'll try that for a while and see how it works. -30-

Tuesday, August 02, 2011 9:05 PM - Carl N5XE sends some weather stats from Oklahoma for the month of July that made our July here seem cool by comparison. Here's a picture of some of the stats:

pix_diary_20110802_01 (50K)

Those are average mean temperatures. For comparison July here had an average mean of "just" 79.0. Carl says they have had a total of 39 days of 100+ high temperatures and could wind up breaking the all time record of 50 in 1980. Global Warming fans note that about half of the warmest months came many years before GW was even a term.

August is starting out where July left off here. The high for the 1st and 2nd has been 93 and 94, but it looks like there may be a change in the making here over the next several days with a turn to cooler weather. I wouldn't mind that, although for the most part I don't mind and in fact like the heat. It's much better than the cold of winter anyway.

Got my streak QSO's fairly easily this evening including a DX one with OX3LX. I don't work all that many Greenland stations so I enjoyed that one. -30-

Monday, August 01, 2011 8:36 AM - July 2011, a month to remember weatherwise. The figures are in my computer now. Here's a summary of all the records set.

Daily Records:
Maximum - 3 days + 1 tie
Highest Minimum - 3 days + 6 ties
Highest Mean - 7 days + 2 ties
Highest Departure from normal - 7 days + 2 ties

Monthly Records:
*Average Minimum - 65.2
*Average Maximum - 92.8
*Average Mean - 79.0
*Cooling Degree Days - 441
Season Cooling Degree Days through July - 810
*Highest Maximum - 107
*Highest Mean - 90
*Highest Lowest Mean - 71
*Highest Lowest Minimum - 76
*# Days 90 or greater - 25

Those above marked with an asterisk are all-time for any month, not just July.

Quite a collection, and a lot of the records were not just broken, but shattered. If I wasn't pressed for time, I'd add the record that was broken for comparison. Perhaps I'll come back and do that later today, but now I gotta run. -30-

Sunday, July 31, 2011 9:13 PM - And another (VERY WARM) month comes to an end. Now comes August with its increasingly earlier sunsets which increase at a faster rate each day. The biggest change in sunset times comes on the day of the autumnal equinox. The time of sunset can be represented as a sine curve when the time is plotted on the Y axis and the date on the X axis. Then the rate of change of the time is a cosine curve (or a sine curve offset by 365/4 days). That means there is little change around the solstices and rapid change around the equinoxes. Those of you into calculus will understand exactly why this happens. I'm not going to explain further here. Just thought it might be of passing interest why it gets darker earlier quicker in August than it does in July and quicker yet in September.

July continued its heat through the last day with a high of 95 today. I'm guessing the average high this month will be around 92 degrees, maybe even 93. I'll know for sure later tonight or early tomorrow morning whenever I put the data in my weather Excel file.

There wasn't much DX around tonight and I didn't get a DX QSO, but I did get 2 QRP QSO's to continue the main and multi-QSO streaks. I heard a fairly strong IM0P station, but he wasn't hearing me. Also H77REX was strong as usual, but I've worked him too many times already so I just passed him by. So unless I get some DX tomorrow, the latest DX streak will end at 5 days. HI. -30-

Saturday, July 30, 2011 10:01 PM - Well, I got all of my different kinds of QSO's tonight in the IOTA contest - regular, DX, and mW as well. I didn't hear a lot of activity in the contest, and just picked and chose of those I heard to work or try to work. Possible new prefixes (EF6 maybe), new band countries (the new Bonaire on 20?), and stations I've worked a lot to give them a QSO (FM5LD).

I did some more work today on counting my 1,000 MPW QSO's, and I've found 849 so far which is probably pretty much what the final total will be although I still have some individual QSO's to figure out in those countries split by the 5,000 mile distance.

It was another 90 degree day, #23 so far in July, but the humidity was down today so it really didn't feel like a 90 day. It will be interesting to see the averages for July when tomorrow comes to an end. I imagine there will be several records set for individual days, the month of July, and all-time. I know the 107 degree temperature a week ago is one for sure, and I'm guessing the average maximum for July will exceed that of 1988.

Oh I thought of one other first I made in an IOTA contest. Back in the mid 90's I worked my first Asiatic Russia station in an IOTA contest. Oh and I heard New Zealand this evening on 15 meters - ZL3TE. He wasn't too strong, and I didn't work him, but nice to hear the bands supporting that path again. -30-

Friday, July 29, 2011 10:20 PM - I've just been trying to figure out how many 1,000 MPW QSO's I've made in my ham career. Using a globe/great circle map and figuring out which countries are in their entirety more than 5,000 miles away means all my 5 watt (or less power) QSO's with those countries qualify. I have about 400 there. Similarly figuring out the countries more than 1,000 miles away makes all my mW QSO's (930 mW or less) 1,000 MPW QSO's. I have those figured around 250 or so. That makes about 650 1,000 MPW QSO's as a rough first estimation.

Now comes the part that makes more work. The 5,000 mile distance circle falls right in the middle of quite a few countries including some with which I have a lot of QSO's like say Asiatic Russia and Argentina to name a couple off the top of my head. Some QSO's from those countries qualify and some don't. To be accurate, each QSO will have to be examined individually. Similarly with QSO's mainly with the USA and Canada which fall inside and outside the 1,000 mile circle. Fortunately those can be figured via states and provinces with only a few states and provinces being split by the 1,000 mile circle.

So that project is going to take a while to complete, but I would like to do it mainly to solidify my position atop the NAQCC KMPW 100 Honor Roll which lists the number of 1,000 MPW QSO's for members. Right now I'm at 395 as of when I made a partial count shortly after the Honor Roll was established a couple years ago.

Looks like I'm off on another DX streak, although I don't know if I'll officially count it and add it to my streak table. Since missing the 26th, I've now worked DX 4 straight days. Tonight it was a nice little QSO with Emil CO3ET. I had been having trouble working Cuba the past few days, but Emil copied me solidly this evening. Then my old friend Gary N2ESE answered my CQ on 40 meters for my multi-QSO streak.

After the rain last night, I managed to round up 25 nightcrawlers, so when I go fishing I'll have some bait other than peanut butter bread for the fish that don't like the bread. I'll see if I can go tomorrow sometime as it is supposed to be a nice day.

This weekend is also the IOTA contest. I sometimes wind up with some nice QSO's in that contest and have gotten a couple new overall countries there also so I may put in some time in that one. Going from memory, I think it was there that I worked my only ZC station, and also had that still-daylight-here 40 meters QSO with VK6. And the SF is at 112 with an A index of 4 so conditions should be very good. -30-

Thursday, July 28, 2011 6:44 PM - Boy, everything is getting hard anymore. Took quite a while today to just get my 2nd 5 watt QSO, but Bill KG1G came through and answered my 40 meters CQ late in the 2100Z hour.

I received the ARRL Letter early today and in it was an explanation of the 'ditter' on 17M. Some careless ham in CA left his rig on, and his keyboard got pushed up against the dit side of his paddle. Obviously he doesn't visit his shack every day as I and a lot of hams do. He must have been running a lot of power to be heard just about any time of the day here. I haven't had time to read the full article yet but that's the gist of it from my glance at it and also reports from Geoff AE4RV and Geo N1EAV who emailed later and told me about more details from the article. Thanks.

To bring you up to date on my tomatoes, I picked my first two Early Girl tomatoes yesterday to go with 28 or so Siberians I've been picking. My pepper plants are coming nicely with some very healthy looking stems and leaves and quite a few developing peppers. I think the best any peppers have done for me so far. My beans which were started a second time after the first group of seeds I planted turned out to be defective, producing only one plant out of around 15-16 seeds, are coming along nicely already climbing to the top of the poles and now out on the rope extension. It will be a while before I eat any beans from them though.

Fishing stands at 4 trips and only 2 fish caught. I may try tomorrow morning as it is supposed to rain tonight and maybe I can get some nightcrawlers to go along with my peanut butter bread bait. I caught just one crawler a couple nights ago.

As I said last night Mike was here late. He had his telescope with him, but Mother Nature didn't cooperate with clear skies. So we did the next best thing after we solved the computer problem he had. We watched the skies with his Starry Night program and my Voyager program. We watched Comet Hyakutake back in the mid-90's on both programs, and also Halley's Comet in the mid-80's and 1910 on my Voyager program. That 1910 apparation must have really been a spectacular one in real life if it was like what we saw on the computer.

We had another rainy day today. After just about a half inch of rain the first 21 or so days of July, We've now had about 3.5 inches since then with more coming down right now as I type. Looks like the Sun is shining in the west. Think I'll go look out the back window to see if there is a rainbow. -30-

Wednesday, July 27, 2011 11:55 PM - Almost midnight as you see from the time stamp, so I'm going to make this a quick entry. Mike just left a few minutes ago. We worked on his new laptop computer on which he was having trouble loading and running GenLog. I think we figured out it was a problem with 64 vs. 32 bit software on Windows 7. The installation program put GenLog in the root C: drive and I'm guessing perhaps only 64 bit programs can reside there? Older 32 bit programs like GenLog need to be put in the Windows 7 Program Files folder designed for 32 bit programs. All that is just a guess on my part since I still run old reliable Windows XP on my computer and actually working with Mike's laptop was my first exposure to Windows 7 as far as I can recall. So perhaps someone familiar with Windows 7 can confirm my wild guesses.

Just after Mike left, I went to the shack and within a couple minutes worked UT7UJ for my streak QSO. I still need a second QSO in the morning or afternoon for the multi-QSO streak, but that should be easy. And that's all for now folks. -30-

Tuesday, July 26, 2011 9:45 PM - Another streak has ended. I couldn't get a DX QSO on the 26th which would have been day #122. I had some kind of very bad local QRN most of the time I was trying to get some DX. Also the ST0 DXpedition was chewing up a good portion of the prime DX territory on the bands. Plus the few stations I could copy well enough to try just weren't hearing me at all. Anyway it's kind of a relief now not to have the pressure of making a mW and DX QSO each day. I'll still get my mW and DX QSO's, but hey if I don't some days, it doesn't matter now. I don't intend to start those two streaks again. However they will remain in the 'streak' table as I'll explain a bit more in a moment.

I am of course continuing my main streak. It's pretty hard NOT to be able to make any kind of a CW/QRP QSO every day. I'd probably have to just not get on the air at all some day to end that one. Of course there are other things that could happen which we won't discuss here. I'm also going to continue my multi-QSO streak as it is not much harder getting 2 CW/QRP QSO's a day than it is one. Just takes a little extra time.

My 'streak' table will now have 4 entries for each day. All of that is described on the main page of the web site in the 'streak' section so I don't think I re-invent the wheel here. If you're interested, I'm sure you'll look there anyway.

Now without the pressure of the mW/DX streaks, I'm going to allocate my time to doing other things that have been put to some extent on the back burner like fishing, garden work, walking, house cleaning, etc. I guess I actually got started today by trimming the bush in my front yard, something I usually do in May, but kept putting off till today. Oh maybe I'll even be getting my telescope out more now. I actually feel kind of free now to do more of what I want, when I want. It's great. -30-

Monday, July 25, 2011 10:31 PM - Everything was hard today. We finally got a couple good thunderstorms that gave us almost 2 inches of much needed rain. However after each one I went down to the river to see if any carp had come into the storm sewer outflow as they used to do, but didn't see a single one or catch anything else either. It seems like this year is just like last year when the carp didn't seem to show up either.

It was also hard getting a DX QSO this evening. In fact I didn't get one, so I'll have to spend some time in the shack in the morning, afternoon, and/or early evening if the DX streak is to continue. I called several stations this evening with nary a hint of any of them hearing me including a very strong CO6CAC on 30 meters. All the others were not all that strong, so I understand them maybe not hearing me. I did get two QSO's to keep the regular streak and the multi-QSO streak going at least.

The third hard thing was trying to get some nightcrawlers tonight. Apparently the rain had just soaked in the ground too much and too far as I only saw 4 crawlers and only caught one of those.

At least there is not much time left now for anything else to be hard today, and hopefully tomorrow will be a better easier day. -30-

Sunday, July 24, 2011 9:28 PM - Right now I'm on the phone talking to Mike KC2EGL trying to walk him through a computer program. I thought I'd try doing that and writing the diary at the same time to save a little time.

I got my 3 streak QSO's with a little effort this evening. First NAQCC member Dean NW2K answered my 40 meters CQ, then came the second QSO for the multi-QSO streak when I called K6JSS/1, the QRP ARCI 2011 special event station on 20 meters. The DX proved a bit trickier. A lot of the good DX territory on the bands is tied up now with huge pileups which I believe are trying to work the newest DX entity of South Sudan. However after trying for a while to find someone I could work, I came across a strong UA1CE calling CQ. I had to repeat my call several times, but Gene finally got it right and that was my DX QSO foe the 121st straight day now.

And I think with that, I'll say 73 and go and finalize the cross-checking of our NAQCC sprint logs and get the final scores posted. I may not finish though as it's now much later than the time stamp indicates as I went over and visited with Nancy and Joe for a while after I finished with Mike. -30-

Saturday, July 23, 2011 10:49 AM - I thought I'd get caught up on a few things early today since the mad rush I've been talking about has slowed its pace a little so far today.

First let me get to some diary feedback. Carl N5XE writes about the heat in his part of the country, "Hi John, We've really been in the oven here in Oklahoma. 29 days so far this year of temps over 100 degrees. Weather forecast calls for 100+ degrees for each of the next 7 days. The highest I've seen so far this year is 111 degrees. Even in Oklahoma - that's hot! Something even more serious though, is the lack of precipitation. Some areas of our state have received less than 5 inches of rain since October 1, 2010. The heat/drought is taking its toll. Yards are brown, trees losing their leaves, and wildfires beginning to become more numerous. Oklahoma's Governor has issued a burn ban for almost two-thirds of the state. Busy here (I'm a firefighter), so little time for ham radio right now. Stay cool. Take care and CUL, Carl, N5XE."

July 16, 1988 was the day we hit 104 degrees here for our previous high record. We also hit the century mark in 1966 and 1980. Our previous highest daily mean was 87 in July 1995. Our record daily high minimum is 75 in July of 1995. We would have shattered that yesterday also if the thunderstorm hadn't showed up.

Now the thermometer pictures I promised:

Here's the shelter thermometer showing the max of 107 and min of 79 (little red dots added to picture to point them out). The right end of the black indices show the max and min while the left end of the silver column of mercury shows the present which is also 107 at the moment as the silver is right up against the black.
pix_diary_20110723_001 (53K)

The porch thermometer showing 99 here, but later it rose to at least 102.
pix_diary_20110723_002 (58K)

Finally the computemp showing 99 here, but the high for the day was 100 there which came some time after the picture was taken.
pix_diary_20110723_003 (62K)

The difference in the thermometer which is mounted in a facsimile of an official Weather Service shelter is probably due to the presence of a large concrete slab left over from the demolition of an old lumber yard not too far behind it. The slab heats up and the air circulates through the shelter adding a couple degrees that wouldn't be there if it were mounted in an open grassy area as official shelters are. Although in this case with the grass being brown around here, it also heats up as well and probably would have the same effect even with the shelter being surrounded by a grass surface. Also the shelter being smaller than an official shelter may have an effect.

It would have been interesting to place a thermometer on a black asphalt surface to see what that reading would have been. The sun was very bright yesterday till the storms came so I imaging it could easily have been 140 degrees or maybe even more. Wish I'd done it now.

That's it for now. I'll have to look through the past few entries and see if there is anything else that needs catching up on. -30-

Friday, July 22, 2011 10:59 PM - A wild hectic record setting memorable day to sum up in a nutshell.

Still trying to keep up with all the NAQCC business. There has really been a flood of it on top of the normal monthly sprint results rush the past few days.

We hit 107 degrees today breaking by 3 degrees the highest temperature I've seen here in my some 52 years of keeping weather records. With a low of 72 and the high of 107 that's a mean of 89.5 or 90 degrees. I think that's a record also. We might have had the record for the highest low temperature also as it got down only to 79 degrees during the night, but some severe thunderstorms moved through early this evening and dropped that low down to the low of 72. Otherwise the mean would have been 93 degrees. Anyway it was hot. I was going to just make my entry tonight the word "HOT" in big letters and show pictures of my thermometer in my shelter at 107 degrees, my porch thermometer at 100 degrees and my computemp at 99 degrees, but I don't have time to process the pictures now.

All the above plus a couple more things - going over to see how Nancy and Joe were doing in the storms and staying for about an hour, then coming home to find a phone message from Mike KC2EGL wanting to know if I wanted to go to the big Pittsburgh Mills Mall north of Pittsburgh - caused the end of my mW streak. NOT because mW doesn't work by any means, but just I never had the time to get on to try for the QSO. Anyway I'm glad it's over in a way because it was becoming time-consuming on a few days now and then when there wasn't much activity on the bands. Now I'm going to modify my streak tables on the main page of the web site in the next couple days. I have an idea what I'm going to do with it, but I'm going to let it be a surprise.

Now it's back to work clearing up some more computer things. It never seems to end - thank goodness - I bore easily. -30-

Thursday, July 21, 2011 10:39 PM - A hectic hot day today. We had a high of 103 which I believe is the second highest temperature I've seen since my records started in 1959/60. I think it was 104 in July of 1988. When it's less hectic, I'm going to check on that. Anyway believe me, it was (is) hot. Still in the upper 80's as we roll toward midnight.

It seems this month in addition to the sprint logs, there is a lot of other NAQCC club business coming at me at the same time. It's hard to keep up. We've got 87 logs so far, and my email notification just went off, so maybe that's another one or two in. It looks pretty good that we'll make 100 logs for the 16th straight month. We'll see.

Got all streaks except the mW one covered this evening. The DX was a bit out of the ordinary. Couldn't find much of anything on 20 and 30 except FG5FR whom I could have worked, but I've worked him too many times already. Then I went to 17 and right there was KH6MB and as expected with Hawaii, I worked him easily. Maybe I should have tried with mW as I have worked him with mW before, but I didn't.

I think I owe you some pictures and some thoughts about the heat, but that will have to wait till I get caught up with club business, hopefully in the next couple days. -30-

Wednesday, July 20, 2011 10:44 PM - Just finished my stint in the sprint about 15 minutes ago, so not going to write too much tonight as I want to get at least some scores posted on the NAQCC web site. It was kind of an average night for me. Started off slow, had a good run of stations in the 0130Z half hour, then a slow ending. I wound up with 32 QSO's in 20 multipliers. Not a bad multiplier total for just 32 QSO's. Usually I have between 15-18 at most with that kind of QSO total.

Right after the sprint I thought I'd try for a DX or mW QSO for my streaks as I didn't get either one in the sprint. Well, I got both with one QSO with mW on 30 meters with H77REX, so all four streaks are taken care of, and tomorrow I can do two things I want to do. Of course process the sprint logs is one. I also think I'm going to break down and get an air conditioner for one room of my house, probably my bedroom/shack. I'm yielding to my age. Used to be I could stand it as hot as could be thrown at me, but I notice a little lowering of tolerance toward extreme heat as I get older. Or maybe it's just cause it was hazy, 99 degrees, and humid today. Anyway maybe I'll talk more about that later as I have a couple more ideas about heat and ageing. Now better get to the sprint scores. -30-

Tuesday, July 19, 2011 8:41 PM - Geoff AE4RV also hears the "ditter". VE3FUJ says he hasn't voted on the poll, but is going to. That in a nutshell covers the diary feedback for today. I'm on the phone right now, and as soon as the call ends, I'm going out for a walk.

The streaks were all covered quickly with a mW QSO with Walt K3ASW on 40. He was running 2 watts. Then I worked DF1IAQ Jan for the DX QSO on 20 meters. Those 2 QSO's covered the 4 streaks by 0026Z. More tomorrow or maybe the day after since tomorrow evening is our NAQCC sprint. I've got some pictures of my flowers and tomatoes to share. CU then. -30-

Monday, July 18, 2011 10:07 PM - Does anyone else hear the "ditter" around 18085.5 kHz? There has been a steady stream of dots every time I've tuned across there, no matter what time of day. It's not a steady strength signal so I don't think it's anything local, but if it's not, then it must be a very strong signal. I don't have time to do any research on it, but if you have and found out anything, I'd like to know. It's very annoying.

Another 3 of 4 streaks night. No mW QSO once again. Say, this would be a neat time to end the mW streak. It's at a very nice number to remember - 444 days. However I probably will try to extend that sometime tomorrow morning or afternoon.

We actually had some water falling from the sky here today. I almost forgot what it was called - rain - since it's been so few and far between for any kind of precipitation here this month. And yet another 90 degree day today. I think that's #15 this month so far.

Have you voted in my new poll yet? It was posted on the 15th and when I looked at the results early today I saw only 4 votes registered. That's unusually low and I wonder if it is working OK, or is everyone too busy trying to keep cool to be voting? -30-

Monday, July 18, 2011 8:13 AM - I'm still getting feedback about the QSLing comments I made a few days ago. So far everyone is in agreement with my comments.

My friend Tim KD8GZ made the best statement yet in a guestbook entry. Let me quote it again here. "If a ham simply doesn't want QSL cards and won't reply with his/her QSL...that's fine. Just, please: TELL us! (on your call's QRZ.com listing). Unless it's for a special award, I only QSL first-time QSOs as well...unless it's requested."

ABSOLUTELY! I would rather take the 44 cents plus cost of the envelope and my card and throw the money in our Allegheny River than waste it sending the card if it is not going to be acknowledged. It's only common courtesy (but then that is diminishing in every human activity these days) to either reply to a QSL request OR as Tim says, let us know via QRZ.com that it won't be acknowledged. Then I won't waste my money sending a card. I thank those folks who do let us know their QSL situation on QRZ.com. There aren't many, but they do help in saving me (and others) money.

Dick K1IEE says, "Hello John, Thanks for the comments on QSL card situation. It really is sad, I agree it can be very expensive but so is everything else, its the return that is discouraging. I have given up on electronic QSL's. Send green stamps only when I really would like that DX confirmation and the QRZ bio indicates some degree of good faith on a return. Think in the last 2 years I have done that 3 times with no return yet. So now its pretty much a situation of if I get a card I will return no SASE required. DX if they ask ME for a card I will send one via the bureau, I don't ask anymore. State side QSL managers always make it happen. I ask a local Ham friend who is very active and he said he does not QSL and has no cards. 73 Dick K1IEE"

I wonder if Dick's friend is one of the few who do state on QRZ.com they don't QSL. I hope so. If not, I hope Dick encourages him to do so.

Although it is pretty much covered in the QSL section of my web site, I'd like to state my QSL policy here. It's as follows:

1. I answer EVERY card I receive here - period. NO SASE or any other financial compensation needed. All cards without any SASE are sent at the regular post card rate with no envelope. All cards received via the ARRL QSL Bureau are answered via the Bureau. If you ever requested a card from me, and didn't receive one in return it's because your card or mine got lost in the mail somewhere. Cards via the bureau may take a long time to get my response because of the cost of sending outgoing cards via the bureau. I save them up until I have exactly a multiple of 1/2 pound of them to get the cheapest rate. That sometimes takes a while to get even just one 1/2 pound, especially with the poor conditions of the past few years.

2. If a station I work is an overall new country, I will send a QSL with whatever it takes to get that QSL - IRC's, GS's, SASE, stamps, etc.

3. If a station is a new band-country or an overall new prefix, I'll send a QSL via the bureau. If it's stated on QRZ.com the station doesn't use the bureau, but only accepts direct cards, I won't send a QSL.

4. For new band-states, I'll send a QSL with an SASE unless stated on QRZ the station does not QSL.

5. If a station is a FISTS member and uses the FISTS bureau, I'll send a card via that method if I need a card from him or if he requests a card from me.

6. ALL of my 75,000 QSO's or so since 1963 are on the ARRL Logbook of the World (LotW) for those who want a QSO with me confirmed. I update the LotW at the end of each month.

7. ALL of my 50,000+ QRP QSO's since 1992 are on eQSL. This is also updated at the end of the month.

I think that pretty much covers my QSL situation here. For more info you can see the QSL section of the web site. The stats there need updated which I hope to do today sometime since we are into this QSL discussion.

Just a couple comments about LotW and eQSL before I close this entry.

I think these services are wonderful for what they do, but they are definitely not the same as a regular QSL card received via mail. I hope regular cards never go completely out of style. Even a card printed from eQSL just ain't the same.

Both services have the following shortcomings in my opinion:

1. Location info may not be accurate on their verifications. That is for the most part the fault of the ham, not the service. The ham needs to do whatever is necessary to ensure the location is correct. I won't mention calls, nor even use the right states, but one ham I know has residences in let's say FL and CO, but submits all his QSO's to LotW and eQSL as his FL location. So if I need a CO verification from him, I won't get it. Conversely I may get a verification from a state that I never worked if the location is not correct.

2. The same goes for call letters. Those who change calls are not always careful enough to submit QSO's using the correct call. That is a big waste of time to have to check my log at the date and time listed on the card to see if I worked that station then or worked him under his old (or different) call. This problem is confined only to eQSL.

3. Portable operation is a problem. Some stations include the /8, /2, etc. in their uploads to LotW and eQSL. If my upload doesn't show the /8, /2, etc. the QSO's won't match. Conversely if I use the / and the other station doesn't, I won't get a match. I think the services could fix this bug by doing matches on the base call whether or not there is a / involved.

4. Some stations send the same QSO's, especially to LotW over and over again instead of using the date range feature or doing as I do, and only send one month's QSO's at the end of a month. I don't know how many times I've had to check the same station over and over again in my log only to find I already have the QSO marked as veried in the LotW because he uploaded it before (and keeps on doing so each time he makes an upload). eQSL is much better in this regard and I only get a few such repeats there. I'm guessing, but I think that's because someone deleted their entries and then uploaded them again for whatever reason.

I think that pretty much covers the electronic services, or at least the two main ones, and the only ones I use. QRZ.com has some kind of service also which I don't (intentionally) use, and I heard of another one recently whose name I can't recall.

Now I think I'll go (barring distractions) to my QSL page and do some updating there. -30-

Sunday, July 17, 2011 10:00 PM - I see the SF is 104 today. That's the first time over 100 since back on June 17, just one month ago. I did notice a bit more activity on 17 this evening, probably as a result.

I completed my streak QSO's quickly tonight working DA0HSR on 20 at 0004Z and AF4PD answered my mW CQ at 0019Z on 40 meters. So those two QSO's extend the 4 streaks yet another day.

We're in the midst of a continuing hot dry streak here. We are still under 1/2 inch of rain total for July. In fact it's right around 1/3 of an inch actually. So far we've only had 3 days where the maximum temperature was below 90 degrees. It has been cooling off during the night so far. That generally happens when it is real dry. I remember back in 1988, the average daily temperature range for July was almost 40 degreed. It would get up to 95 or higher (it hit 104 one day) during the day, then cool off at night to the low 60's or even into the 50's. This year is similar although the daily range is not quite as great, as far as I know without actually checking. It will be interesting to see the totals and averages when the month ends in a couple weeks if it continues this way, and it looks like it will at least through next Saturday. -30-

Saturday, July 16, 2011 9:46 PM - No mW QSO this evening, but the other 3 streaks go on. Also my regular streak QSO with KI4DBK completed my July NAQCC challenge as I needed 2 "I's" to complete all the words. That was on 40 meters, then a little later I got UX2KA on 20 meters after trying a couple other DX stations with no luck.

I promised some QSLing feedback from Brion VE3FUJ so here goes, "Hi John: I agree with You, Qsl'ing is in a sad state of affair, I still send out Paper Qsl card, However I pick and choose. I like to limit it to first time contacts, but I do make exceptions. I send Card to hams who ask for SASE only I want a Card from them. (The high cost of mailing ). I've given up on Electronic QSL's,----- too little imagination there. Sometimes I do get an unsolicited SASE with a dollar bill enclosed, I make that a top Priority to get a card off with a thank you for the donation to the mail Fund. And if I desire a Card from a contact I will send a SASE and a Dollar bill for the stamp if it is negotiable in the Country or an IRC. It doesn't happen often, I usually don't bother. I usually wait to get a Card first, then I answer. To many times I didn't get a return Card. I can Sympathize with the reasoning behind the SASE requirement. Some People are just stuck in sparsely populated areas, and don't need YOUR Card. ------ That don't bother me anymore. I wont fault a Guy for keeping his mailing cost down. I'd do the same likely. To give you an idea, From me to you its $ 1.16 plus card and envelope so in round figures it $ 1.65 a shot. Since I came back to Ham Radio in Aug. 2006 I've mailed out about 325 Card. A cost of a small Rig. 73 Brion. -30-"

Well said, and Brion's policy pretty much follows what I do here nowadays. -30-

Friday, July 15, 2011 9:43 PM - The streaks go on, and easily. Tonight it was 9A2EU for the regular and DX streaks. Took but a single call to work Zlatko. Then I heard NAQCC member Merlin KD0V calling CQ on 30 and worked him easily with mW for the mW and multi-QSO streaks.

Other than that, not much else to say today. I do have some diary feedback from Brion VE3FUJ about QSLing, but I'm going to hold off on that till tomorrow's entry. -30-

Thursday, July 14, 2011 5:49 PM - Did you feel a slight tremor in the Earth today just before 1700Z? Something Earth-shaking took place then. I actually finally got to go fishing this year!!!

I made up some peanut-butter bread, gathered up my equipment, and headed to the river. I baited up my old bait casting rod and reel with the bread and cast into the river at 1650Z. My spinning reel and rod had a little lure on it from the last time I used it last year. I never do all that well with lures, especially in the middle of the day, and especially not at the place I was fishing. However I was too lazy to change over to a hook for the bread, so I decided to try the lure a bit. Wouldn't you know it? The very first cast and after the first few turns of the handle I got a hit. Nothing to write home about, but I caught a little 6 inch bass for my first fish of 2011 at 1651Z. I didn't get a single other bite or hit after that for the hour I stayed there, but at least it's a start for the year. Hopefully I'll top my woeful year last year when I only got 22 fish total.

I said I'd talk about QSLing. Well, I'm cooled off from what I was a couple days ago when working on my buro mailing, but I'd still like to make some comments about the sad state of QSLing these days. It's discouraging to write out a DX QSL, and then when checking to see if the station has a manager, etc. on QRZ, to find that he only accepts QSL's direct with an IRC or a GS or 2 GS's. I refuse to send the QSL in that case as it is just too expensive. I'll only go to that extent if it is a new overall entity that I need verified and that station is the only one I'm likely to work from that entity. Otherwise all DX QSL's go only via buro, so I'll miss out on some stations who don't use the buro system, but I don't care anymore.

It's also discouraging when you see on QRZ (or any other route source) that the station doesn't use paper QSL's any longer, but only eQSL or LotW. I (and many other hams) still enjoy sending and receiving paper QSL's (in addition to LotW and eQSL).

Another discouraging thing along the same lines is the very low percentage of return nowadays when sending a card to a non-DX station, that is my sending a card to another USA station, for example. It used to be that you would simply drop a QSL in the mail to the ham you worked after you got his address in the QSO or from the old (paper) Callbook which you bought from a vendor. You were pretty sure that the other ham would send you his card as soon as he received yours (if not sooner). Now even if you send a card with a prepared return card and an SASE, you're not certain of receiving anything in return even though all the other ham has to do is check his log (oh, but then, we're not required to keep logs now, are we), sign the reply card, put it in the SASE and drop it in the mail box.

I can understand the reluctance to QSL nowadays with the exorbitant cost of sending cards, and the blame is shared by the post office for that. What the USA needs is a domestic QSL buro similar to what is in effect now for DX QSLing. There was an ill-fated attempt to do that some years ago when there was a USA QSL buro in existence for a few months. The story of that failure is documented elsewhere and I'm not going to re-hash it here. However I see no reason why the ARRL can't implement such a domestic QSL buro for the USA. I'd even be willing to pay a couple extra bucks each year for my ARRL membership to cover the cost. -30-

Wednesday, July 13, 2011 10:56 PM - It seems ever since I talked about giving up a streak or two, it has been a piece of cake to get the streak QSO's. Tonight was no exception. I got home from our computer club meeting about 0040 or so, got my weather readings and headed to the shack figuring I'd at best get my main streak QSO this evening. I started out on 20 to see if there was any DX there. I heard a couple DX stations and was intrigued by one who was sending a call with about the longest suffix I ever heard. I listened for a bit and pulled it out of a little QSB and QRN. It was E76BARDF, some sort of special call which I haven't researched yet to see just what it is. Let me pause in writing a minute and see what I can find. OK here's what it is, "In the period 10th - 20th July a special call sign E76BARDF (QSL via Bureau or E71EZC) will be in use. E76BARDF is special call sign that is assigned to signify the 6th Balkan Championship in Amateur Radio Direction Finding that will be organized in Zenica 15th - 17th July 2011." Well, I had to wait through a couple other stations, but he was worked easily for my regular (and DX) streak QSO.

So all I really need now is a mW QSO. Last night if you recall (or read below), I got a mW QSO easily by calling CQ on 20 meters up around 14060. So I tried that again, but when tuning for an answer with my RIT, I heard what I thought was N5UKL/QRP calling CQ. I wasn't sure of the call as I didn't have him quite tuned in and there was a bit of QSB. Anyway I answered him with mW power, and was a bit shocked when he came back with 'K3WWP DE F5UKL'. So another French station with mW power like F6GCP (above). We wound up with a solid 9 minute rag chew. He was running 5 watts to a 4 element yagi, and of course I was at 930 mW to my attic 20 meter dipole.

That took care of all 4 streaks quickly, so I hung around a bit looking for some more DX. I heard a OO7J which I would have liked to have gotten for a new prefix, but he disappeared after making one QSO. I tuned around some more and found and worked OK6DJ right through someone tuning up almost zero beat.

So I'm having a tough time ending the streaks instead of having a tough time continuing them now. HI.

I said I'd talk about QSLing in this entry, but I'm going to postpone that another day now as it's getting late. -30-

Tuesday, July 12, 2011 10:09 PM - Then nights like this come along and I wonder why the heck am I talking about ending streaks, they're so easy. Anyway it didn't look easy for the DX streak for the 12th. It was hot and humid, so I thought I had been outside enough for the day and thought I'd try for my DX QSO to keep all 4 streaks going for another day. It took quite a bit of listening till I found XE1ZW booming in on 20 meters. I had worked him just 5 days ago, but again like FM5LD the day before, I thought I'd go ahead and work him since he wasn't getting any answers to his CQ's. So that completed the set of streaks for the 12th just before 2300Z.

I had a snack and fooled around on the computer until 0000Z, and then went to the shack. Just a couple minutes after that I saw my neighbor Nancy pull up in her car, and I could tell she had a bunch of groceries. Neither of her sons were home so I went out and helped her take the stuff in. It was also time for a Joe walk, so we took him out for a walk, then we all had some ice cream. Nancy and I had an ice cream sandwich and Joe had a dish of vanilla ice cream. I visited a while longer then came over here and got my 9 o'clock weather readings. Incidentally it's been in the 90's every day this month save two so far. With only about a quarter inch of rain, that combination means we have some very dry crunchy grass here. Anyway back on track. After getting the weather info, I went back to the shack to continue my streaks quest. I wasn't going to put in all that much effort though, beyond getting my main streak QSO. The first QSO took a little while to get, but after I guess 5-10 minutes of looking around and calling CQ, Mike AA4MC answered me and we got into a rather long rag chew. After we finished, Mark N0OKS called me. So the main and multi-QSO streaks were taken care of. There still wasn't much in the way of DX around. However as soon as Mark and I finished I went to 30 to find a strong CQ from Boby OM5MZ. I worked him easily after a repeat or two of my call. 3 streaks down and one to go. 40 was very noisy, and 30 wasn't far behind so I thought I'd try a CQ on 20. As soon as I went there I heard a strong CQ from N3CZ. I called him with mW, but another station also called and he won. So I went up the band a bit and called some mW CQ's. It wasn't long before I got an answer from Vinton WA4LIR. We had a nice long chat with solid copy, and that was another day added to all 4 streaks. Still easy days like that are becoming more and more few and far between, so I am still considering dropping probably the mW streak, at least.

You seem to agree with my thoughts and decision as these three comments indicate.

Paul N0NBD, "Hi John, I think your dedication has been second to none and when one endeavor encroaches on other activities a person has to look at it and say..... " I'd rather be fishing"..... I will still ride along with you either way de Paul N0NBD."

Geo N1EAV, "Hi John Been awhile since I have a sent any mail to you. As usual very busy here with work etc. Hope all is well your way. I follow your diary just about everyday and enjoy your various musings. Thought I would throw my 2 cents into your streak situation. Personally, I don't think you have much more to prove as to the efficiency of cw with simple wire antennas to anybody. Just looking through your website proves to me what can be done. All people have to do is try it for themselves. Go out there and enjoy the weather and the fun of summer.....Radio is a hobby that should be enjoyed when one has the time for it. When you feel you have to sit there and wait for a qso, even though you would rather be doing something else....well, you should probably be doing something else. It has become work and not pleasure. Hey, take care and enjoy the day. 73, geo n1eav."

Bob KB0TUA, "John, What you write about ending your streaks to allow for time to enjoy life a little more is certainly understandable. Please do not feel as though you are somehow letting the rest of us down because you desire to enjoy a little bit of what life has to offer, as long as we are able to do so.
Like you, in addition to ham radio, I also enjoy fishing, astronomy and gardening, but find that my life schedule has pushed these enjoyable pursuits to the background in trying to balance necessary things with recreation.
It is totally amazing to me that you have been able to continue your (5 watt) QRP streak in the first place, as I remember days when operating with 75 watts that I was unable to make even one QSO in a day. Admittedly my equipment was not what is available today and my schedule, at the time, limited my activity somewhat.
Your dedication to ham radio and QRP is known the world over, and has served to encourage so many to get into QRP with simple wire antennas. It has given hope to so many hams who now live in restricted communities or apartment buildings where makeshift or hidden antennas (or excuses for antennas) are the best they can hope for.
Your dedication to CW as the main form of communication has inspired many to get back into CW, or for some newer ones, to take it up as a challenge that will be rewarded many times over.
Keep up the good work and mark the mw and DX QSO streaks as another set of milestones in your quest to encourage the rest of the ham radio community in CW and QRP with simple wire antennas. Certainly we don't expect you to give up mw or DX QSO's and we continually look forward to hearing your reports.
Hang in there. Your friend, Bob Gates KB0TUA.

Many thanks for those thoughts and comments, my friends. You've eased my mind about ending a streak or two now.

I was going to talk about QSLing today vs. years ago after spending several hours today preparing a buro mailing, but I think this is pretty long now. I'll save that for tomorrow. I probably will do the entry early in the day since tomorrow evening is our computer club meeting. -30-

Monday, July 11, 2011 9:32 PM - While sitting in my shack watching a beautiful sunset, I pretty much came to the conclusion that it's time to end either the mW or DX streak or maybe both, and revert to just the main streak. I would have loved to have been outside taking pictures of that sunset, but I felt enslaved to my rig to get those streak QSO's. I'm also missing a lot of other activities in life because of the added streaks. It wasn't this way with just the single QRP streak. That was easy to do, and took very little time away from other things. On the majority the days getting all the streaks extended is very easy, but it seems those few days when it is not are days when I would really like to be doing other things. We've had some beautiful summer days here when I'd love to be outside more than I am. In the winter I don't mind being tied to the rig no matter how long it takes to get the streak QSO's. In fact though, in winter it is much easier to get the QSO's simply because there is more activity on the ham bands. When the nice weather came this year, I think a lot of hams deserted the bands as they have sounded very empty at times. That is what really makes things hard. If there is a lot of activity as in winter, it is easy to work someone, be it DX or be it with mW power. When the activity is lacking, and there are few stations to choose from, it is harder to find someone not engaged in a long QSO, or someone who is not way down in the (summertime) QRN and QSB. That says nothing at all about the efficiency of QRP CW. It is always efficient, but if there is no one available to work, well obviously getting a QSO is going to be hard even if propagation is as good as it ever gets.

That's a long paragraph to explain that my giving up a streak or two has absolutely nothing to do with any failing of CW or QRP at all. It's just that a decrease in activity on the bands increases the amount of time I must spend to get the QSO's, and I'm just not willing to sacrifice that time because I've already proved my point that CW, whether it be working DX or making QSO's with a tiny amount of milliwatt power works and works well.

I think this is my plan for now. I'm going to try to take the mW streak to 450 days and end there. I'll try to keep the DX streak going as long as conditions permit. Right now we're having some geomagnetic storms that are making working DX rather hard without spending a lot of time searching for a workable DX station. So that streak may be ended very soon, mainly by propagation conditions. Also by the fact that I don't like to work the same DX station on the same band over and over again. I recall back in the early 2000's that is what ended one of my DX streaks. I could have easily worked K4LTA/J3 on 30 meters to continue the streak, but I had just had a 30 meter QSO with Bill a couple days earlier and he was running stations when I hear him, and I didn't want to perhaps deprive someone else of a J3 QSO who really needed one while I didn't.

I may decide to continue the multiple QSO streak as it is just as easy on virtually every day to get 2 QRP QSO's as it is to get 1 without spending a lot of time doing it. I'm not sure of that one yet.

Of course the main QRP CW QSO per day streak will continue until something over which I have absolutely no control brings it to an end.

That's my plan, and I'm going to stick to it. -30-

Sunday, July 10, 2011 9:49 PM - Let's have a little diary feedback. Paul N0NBD, "Hello John, Paul here still riding along. It has been terrible hot here for a while but I have managed a few early morning trips to Buffalo lake for fishing. It is beautiful out there watching the sun come up above the trees... the fishing has been good but no huge ones. Have a good one and will look fer U on the air. de N0NBD

Still haven't wet my lines yet this year, but still hoping to do so when time permits.

I guess that's it. I thought I had another bit of feedback, but I must have used it already.

A tough night for the streaks, even the main QSO took a bit of doing, but Bob N9HAL came back to my call for that QSO. I couldn't get a mW QSO once again, despite some CQ's and calling a few stations. For the DX I finally resorted to working FM5LD on 30 meters. I didn't want to do it, as it hadn't been long since I worked him on 30. However he was calling a lot of unanswered CQ's, so I don't think I deprived anyone of the chance to work him. I also could have worked CO6RD, but it was only 3 days since I worked him. FM5LD was longer ago than that.

Not much else to report today. I did get in some good walks and I'm close to 10 miles for today. I may just walk around the house a bit later to cross that figure. I haven't reached 10 much of late. Ange is back from vacation, so the pressure of keeping 4 gardens going in the hot dry weather is now off. Thank goodness. Now if I could just do something about the pressure of keeping 4 streaks going, I could really relax then. -30-

Saturday, July 09, 2011 9:50 PM - I guess if you read yesterday's entry you figured out I meant the IARU contest, not the NAQP. Anyway I did get my streak QSO's easily in the IARU test this evening even though I only had a few minutes to get in it. N7TT with mW and YU8HQ with 5 watts took care of all 4 streaks within 4 minutes. I may play a little more in the contest later.

This was the last garden watering day for Ange's vacation, and I'm glad that's over. It was a hot job this evening with the temp in the upper 80's.

Other than that I also took care of Joe for a while today while Nancy and Bruce were away. I took him over here for about an hour, walked him a couple times, and gave him some treats.

And that's it for this entry. I'm tired. -30-

Friday, July 08, 2011 9:52 PM - A nice relaxing day for a change. Without any pressure, I had fun DXing this afternoon. Worked some nice prefixes, at least a couple of which are new. SF7WT was a very fine op, and was very interested in my QRP setup. It's nice when someone takes the time and effort to dig out my QRP signals. I know it's not easy all the time. However he said it was nice to have to do a little work to copy someone for a change. Perhaps it does get boring at times for some DX stations to just work one big signal after another, exchange 599's and go on to next big signal in the queue.

I also worked a couple of nice special prefixes, OL2011VP whom I worked before, and LZ910PNO which is a new prefix as was the SF7. Before I worked those 3, I also worked DD2ML which may or may not be a new prefix. I haven't checked yet.

I also got quite a few new letters out of those calls for our NAQCC July alphabet challenge. Now I only need 7 more letters and I'll have all 92 logged. When I get there though I may go back and replace any W/VE calls with DX calls for an all-DX challenge.

The streaks worked out good this evening. First it was Bill NV4T, a NAQCC member, who answered my CQ for the regular streak QSO. We had a nice chat. Turns out he also raises tomatoes. He has two plants in pots and just got his first ripe tomato this week. BTW I picked my 12th ripe Siberian tomato today, and that's pretty close to average for this date over the past 10 years, although some of those years I didn't have the early Siberians. So I'm actually below average if you take that into consideration.

Back to the streaks. As easy as the DX came this afternoon, it was hard this evening till I found EA4ZK/8. Of course with my pipeline to the Canary Islands vicinity, I got him with a single call. Although I knew I could easily get a mW QSO in the NAQP tomorrow afternoon, I thought I'd go ahead and try to get my mW QSO out of the way this evening. Then if I decided to put in a good effort in the NAQP, I could do so without any thoughts of having to get a mW QSO along the way. Well, after only a few minutes of CQ's, Jake WA2MDF in VT answered me and we chatted for about 10 minutes. So all four streaks are taken care of for the 9th now.

Other than DXing, I also took 3 nice walks. It was fairly cool today with temps in the 70's and also we actually got some rain along the way. Other than that I spent quite a bit of time with Joe, mainly sitting on the porch which he loves to do when the weather is like it was today. This evening, I pulled some grass and weeds from the cracks in the bricks. I find that relaxing and rewarding when you see how nice the bricks look without all the vegetation.

Oh, one other thing I did today was to uninstall my Avast anti-virus and install Microsoft Security Essentials. It's been getting a lot of rave reviews lately, even from some Microsoft-bashers who are jealous of the company's success. I had used it before, but had a little trouble with it slowing down my computer at times. This is a new version released on June 29, and so far I haven't seen the problem at all. It may occur though because it was not a problem with MSE itself, but something in my computer setup here. It was kind of unique to me, as I never heard of anyone else experiencing the same thing that I did. So we'll see. -30-

Thursday, July 07, 2011 9:23 PM - Whew! I'm tired after watering 4 gardens this evening. I'm getting too old for that kind of stuff. I'm retiring. Next year I'll only help with one of Ange's gardens and my own little backyard garden. That's it!

All that watering has also made some pressure on getting my streak QSO's if I don't get them all in the 00Z hour. Today, like with Brion the other day, a good friend found my mW CQ just past 2200Z to give me my mW QSO for the day. Thanks Geoff AE4RV - like Brion, you're a streak-saver.

Tonight two DX QSO's took care of the 4 streaks. I worked 4O3A with a single call on 20 meters at 5 watts, then a little later CO6RD on 30 meters with my 930 mW. So no pressure tomorrow, and no watering either. Gee, I won't know how to handle that. I might, just maybe, even get to go fishing for the first time this year - who knows?

And with that, I'm outta here for some R&R of some kind. -30-

Wednesday, July 06, 2011 9:55 PM - It will be interesting to see which streak comes to an end first - mW or DX. Tonight the DX was a piece of cake while a few days ago it looked to every intent and purpose it was finished. I worked Bill XE1ZW on 20 meters then one minute later worked Chris F8DGY with just a single call on 20. Then I found some rare DX on 30 with a big pile up. I listened for a while but he never did identify himself till finally I thought I caught him sending RP/--- which would be Kazakhstan I guess, but that didn't make sense because he was too strong for that. Then I heard him clearly and it was FP/VA2WA. Well I knew I had a chance to break a pile up to St Pierre et Miquelon, so I jumped in the fray, and you know it didn't take too long to work him. He's a great op, and once he got the K3W, he stuck with me till he got me through the QRM. I'm not sure that's a new band country or not, but every now and then it's a thrill to break a big pile up with my QRP and simple wire antennas and a little skill.

However the mW QSO has eluded me so far, and it will probably have to come in between garden watering and other chores in the morning or afternoon. I won't just give up on it though, and I will get it.

I was to my - gee how many is it now - cookout this afternoon. Tom had a delayed 4th of July cookout since his wife was off work today, and he invited me down. This was a little different as the main course was not the usual hot dogs or hamburgers, but salmon steaks. Very good and a nice change of pace. Good side dishes also - salad, chips, french fries, eclairs.

96 degrees today tying the hottest day of the year. I don't know how many days I have logged with a high of 96, but it's a lot. That seems to be some kind of a limiting figure on most days, and I don't have all that many days when the high was greater than that. -30-

Tuesday, July 05, 2011 6:36 PM - Let's do a mish-mash of things in this entry.

First of all, to paraphrase a song by Sonny and Cher, "And the streaks go on, yes, the streaks go on." It is so wonderful that there are many great CW operators in ham radio. One of them to whom I say, "Thank you very very very much" today is Zoran YT9M. It really looked like the DX streak was going to end. The only DX station I was hearing was a weak PJ4 with a huge pileup as the 'new' Bonaire is still very popular, especially in EU. I tried a few times to break the pile, but no go. So I kept looking. There was nothing on any band higher than 20 so it would have to be 20 or 30 for the QSO. Time was running out as I had to water Ange's garden with the help of a friend at 2300Z and it was now about 2215Z. 45 minutes to go and no DX in sight. Wait, who's that? It's YT9M working someone, asking for his QTH. Whoever he was working took what seemed to be forever to send whatever he was sending. I had to concentrate on trying to work Zoran, so like in the line from Casablance, I had to "wait, and wait, and wait....". Finally Zoran came back on and said 73 to whomever and dit dit. I immediately send my call once, and like the great op he is, Zoran responded immediately and saved my DX streak for another day - #101 now. Whew!!

The fireworks show last night was pretty good. There never is much new in any fireworks show and often it's like you've seen one, you've seen them all. However the view from Tom's friend's hilltop location was a great panorama of a good portion of the area. Not only was it possible to see the main fireworks show, but also many other secondary shows as well. It was interesting to see how the secondary shows all seemed to pause during the main show to give it center stage, then they picked up again after the main show was over. One of Tom's sons said it was like a sports event where the main fireworks display was the half-time spectacular show.

A very hot day today. Probably in the mid-90's. The thermometer on my porch I'm looking at now shows just about 90 degrees just before 7 PM. And or course very dry as well as it seems to be every time when I'm in charge of watering the gardens. Speaking of gardens, I picked 9 tomatoes today and had a couple in my salad. That's 11 this year which is well below average for the date.

And finally before I head off to my watering chores, here's some more feedback from Brion VE3FUJ about sloppy sending, etc. that we discussed a few diary entries ago, "Hi agn John: One of your comment about the elderly, jolted my Memory. After a CQ DE I have to conscientiously make a space or I invariably, or my hand does, put in an AN or something of that nature, before My call. Also I have trouble with the # 6 one dot too many. I sometimes have to leave extra space between letters, after 55 years of speaking English I still stumble over the spelling of some words. BTW I never get offended by criticism, I am a very hard Guy to offend, I'm as thick skinned as they come, as they say words are only that --- words. However Gossip and Rumors can offend me, even if it not directed at me. 73 Brion -30-"

As always Brion makes some good points. And with that I close, put my gardening shoes on and head out into the heat. Sigh. -30-

Monday, July 04, 2011 7:06 PM - Looks like I'll have to do some finagling to get my streak QSO's for the 5th. Tom WY3H is picking me up at 0000Z and we're going to see the Ford City Heritage Days fireworks display and to have a late cookout. So I'll either have to try to get the QSO's when I get home or in the morning or afternoon. And I was planning to have pretty much of a 'do nothing' day tomorrow and maybe even get in my first fishing of the year. I watered Ange's home gardens this morning so they and his garden near here should be OK till Wednesday or maybe even Thursday depending on the weather. It just seems sometimes I never get a break from anything with time to do some things I want to get done. However MOST of the things I do to occupy my time I really enjoy doing, so I can't complain. For instance I love doing all the NAQCC work. Of course I love walking Joe and visiting with him. Also helping Joe's "family" in whatever way I can.

Nancy had me over for a cookout today with her two sons and of course Joe got in the act too. That plus the second cookout later tonight, a big pizza yesterday with Mike and Don, and the left over pizza this morning means I probably should skip food tomorrow, but I know that's not going to happen. HI.

Well, I've got to get a few things out of the way now before Tom comes. -30-

Sunday, July 03, 2011 9:03 PM - It was a great day at Community Park today. By far the best we've done on one our 'parkpeditions'. 28 QSO's all together. The most distant being the state of WA. I don't know our exact totals because I don't have Mike's or Don's log here, but some of the states worked were WI, IL, KY, AL MN, WA, FL, IN, and VE3. We had a little glitch or we might have done even better. The KX-1 just stopped transmitting for no apparent reason, and then after we all three took our looks at it and testing this and that, it just started working again just as mysteriously. All three of us being off the air for several minutes seemed to put a stop to our momentum, and the last hour of the three went very slowly. I don't think any of us made any QSO's that hour. We even got to the point near the end where we went off from our listed frequencies and chased (unsuccessfully) some DX. Still it was a great day and I hated to see it come to an end. I'm looking forward to the next one already, whenever that may be.

My current DX streak is now at 100 days after working H77REX again this evening. He was never signing his call, so I decided to work him anyway and find out who it was later. Had I known it was him, I probably wouldn't have tried to work him again so soon. But I'll take it for now. Maybe just see if I can get someone else tomorrow morning or afternoon as well, although it will be a busy day tomorrow for me with garden watering, a cookout, and a fireworks display.

Got to get caught up on some things now, so I'll close here. -30-

Saturday, July 02, 2011 9:28 PM - I got my streak QSO's out of the way easily tonight and that's good because tomorrow will be a busy one, mostly because of our portable operation at Community Park which I mentioned in yesterday's diary entry.

I worked OM5DP with almost just a single call. I had to repeat the 'P' once, but otherwise a quick solid QSO for both the DX and regular streak QSO. The mW was a bit harder. I tried some CQ's and called a couple stations with no response at all. Then I heard John K4BAI in the YV contest and figured here's a 'piece of cake' QSO as John is an old friend and one of the best CW ops in the world. I was right and we greeeted each other by name as we always do except in the very busiest fastest contests. I also got a 'great signal' comment from John which I enjoyed getting for my 930 mW signal. John was 20-30 over S9 here.

Oh I didn't get my mW QSO last evening, and had to get it today. That was easy also. Just a couple minutes of CQ's on what otherwise was a pretty much dead 20 meters netted an answer from Arn K0ZK up in Maine. We had a solid QSO for a few minutes.

I also got on a bit more this afternoon to try to get some more letters for our NAQCC July challenge. I made 2 QSO's and now just starting the 3rd of July, I'm approaching the half-way mark of the challenge. If I could use the RAC QSO's and the QSO with John tonight, which I can't as contest QSO's can't be used as that makes these alphabet challenges just too too easy, I'd probably be close to being done with the challenge.

Don't forget to look for N3AQC tomorrow. We'll be on from 1900-2200Z around 7040, 10106, 14060, and 18085. Check the 30 and 17 meter frequencies on the half hour. -30-

Friday, July 01, 2011 10:55 PM - Did Manitoba secede from Canada? Well, I guess not, because I did hear one MB stn S&Ping in the RAC test. But that was it. I worked all the other provinces required for our NAQCC WAVE award, but still need a Manitoba QSO since the starting date for the award QSO's. Maybe I can get it in the IARU contest next weekend. Come to think of it, I haven't heard VE4VV for some time now. I used to work him in a lot of contests. I worked the provinces in the first half hour of the test and spent the rest of the time just looking for a VE4. I didn't go for any kind of score.

Not much more to talk about tonight except to say once again it's a bit late and close to bed time.

Oh, perhaps I should mention again that I'll be operating portable with the NAQCC club call N3AQC on Sunday the 3rd along with Mike KC2EGL and Don K3RLL. Details are in the NAQCC newsletter and we'll be sending a reminder late Saturday or early Sunday on the NAQCC mail list. Hope you can work one of us Sunday between 1900 and 2200Z. -30-

Thursday, June 30, 2011 10:39 PM - It's getting late here. I was just over at the neighbor's watching some TV and visiting/playing with Joe. My QSO's came easily tonite with the RAC contest going on. I've been trying to work as many provinces as I can, plus I worked NR1X for my mW QSO in the test. The DX came from HC2SL on 20 meters. I've got to get Manitoba now to have all the main VE provinces worked. Think I'll maybe go look for a VE4 now. -30-

Wednesday, June 29, 2011 9:22 PM - An easy streak evening for a change - and an unusual one. The DX came just 5 minutes into the new day when I easily worked UT7UJ on 17 meters. The bands were good this evening and more activity than usual. I even heard a N1 station on 15 meters working a Chinese station. I thought I might have heard a slight trace of the Chinese, but I'm not really sure. Still that's a good sign. Also there were a couple Asiatic Russian stations around as well, but I couldn't work them through the competition. Anyway with the DX (and regular) streaks in hand, I went to 30 and called CQ with mW power for a couple minutes, then shifted to 40 where I got a pretty quick answer from NAQCC member N9ZI. We had a short but solid 12 minute QSO. So with all four streaks in hand now, I thought since it was still early, I'd look for a third QSO so I could have a separate DX and regular QSO in the chart. Well at first glance it may not look like it but there are really 3 QSO's there. You see, I worked UT7UJ again on 30 meters this time. 2 QSO's same station, different bands within 29 minutes. That hasn't happened for a while now outside of contests. I have done it with DXpedition stations several times over the years, but not often with just regular DX QSO's.

We had one of those perfect summer days today - sunny, breezy, cool, not humid. So I got in a couple of good long walks plus one with Joe. I also did some yard and garden work. I think if we could order our weather, today was the kind of weather I'd order regularly. Of course we need the rainy days too. Especially next week when Ange is away and I have to water his gardens. So do a rain dance for me, or whatever you do to make it rain here. -30-

Wednesday, June 29, 2011 10:02 AM - Let's have some diary feedback, and then some QSO stats.

My 'streak-saver' Brion VE3FUJ has a couple of feedbacks in the queue here. "Hi John: I hear the same sloppy fists, There just is not a polite way of telling them. I also think they will get offended if the received a tape recording of their sending. Be that as it may. I some times broach the subject in a QSO, but only as to what I do once in a while, it sometimes shorten the QSO. I for one don't answer them, unless they answer my CQ. Must be Polite. One of the local Ham goes absolutely bonkers when the suject is broached at a breakfast gathering. " Bugs and Paddles should never have been Invented" his words. Qso'ed one Guy the other night, he was using a sideswiper, only one giveaway in 17 mins of QSO. I have a setup where I just push a Button and Voila, both sides are recorded. That's how I check on my own sending. Its a small Boom-box I got at a Garage sale for $2 a couple of years ago. Everyone ought to have one. Thought you might like to hear my Opinion on the Matter. Brion VE3FUJ"

Yes, it's a shame that some people are so hostile to getting constructive criticism. As a result it's a shame that folks have to be reluctant to make such constructive criticism. It would be so nice if folks would want to be told when they are doing something wrong and also how they can correct it. Of course then if they would follow up on it. It would be a much better world. Also I wonder how many people have ever listened to their own sending at other times than when they are actually sending something. I'm sure a lot would be surprised to hear just how they sound. As for bugs and paddles, heck you don't need them to have a sloppy fist. I hear them with straight keys also. Maybe not the excessive dits, but certainly the character, letter, and word spacing errors. Finally I should add that such comments apply only to those who are capable of sending better than they do. Some folks, especially we older ones can't always completely control how our fingers reply to signals from our brains.

And second from Brion about our QSO and the streaks, "Good morning John: I was pleased that I was able to help out. You mustn't think of giving up this easily, that is classified as negative thinking. Hang in there. 72/73 Brion"

Thanks for the encouragement. That's another thing we all need from time to time, and in this case we are more open to accepting it than any constructive criticism.

Now some stats. I already have more QSO's this year than all of last year - 1326 vs. 1218. I've gotten my first 6 meters QSO's since 2008. 91 10 meters QSO's ties 91 back in 2008 as the most since 2004 when I had 135. 11 12 meters QSO's the first 12 meters QSO's since 2004 and the most since 14 in 2002. 104 15 meters QSO's the most since 241 in 2005. 48 17 meters QSO's the most since 85 in 2000. Yes, the conditions are better overall this year than they have been in a few years now. That shows up even better when you consider DX QSO's.

Here are my DX total QSO's for the past several years since the last sunspot maximum:

2001: 1,874
2002: 1,981
2003: 689
2004: 699
2005: 450
2006: 278
2007: 259
2008: 135
2009: 195
2010: 138
2011: 451

I'll probably wind up with my best total this year since 2002. And I'm closing in on 100 straight days with at least one DX QSO. The only time I've done better was 154 days back in 2001.

So as I've been saying, now is the time to be chasing DX if that is your wont in ham radio. Especially if you're a young ham and the dire predictions of the Sun going into hibernation after this current cycle come true. -30-

Tuesday, June 28, 2011 10:22 PM - This (28th) was a tough day for streaks. I was on the verge of either having two of them broken or just ending them myself as they were taking up too much time keeping me from enjoying the outside summer things I like so much.

The bands are just so empty these days. I've only been hearing a handful of stations on all the normally open bands combined. Virtually all of that meager selection are either involved in long rag chews or very weak.

That's what I encountered today in the 4 or five different times I checked out the bands. Finally I sat down at 2200Z and decided I was either going to continue the streaks or have them end and not really care all that much if they did. Then I'd have time for fishing, more walking, gardening, or just being outside. This beautiful summer weather isn't going to last forever.

Anyway it took an hour, and at 2301Z I finally got a DX station to hear me. I had tried a few who had no inkling I was calling them or I kept losing to the big QRO/Beam stations. I didn't like to do it, as I'd worked him a few times before on 30 meters, but I did call FM5LD on 30 and got him with a single call. So that extended the DX streak.

Now I concentrated on calling CQ with mW, and finally after another half hour or so, my good friend up in Canada, Brion VE3FUJ answered my CQ. As I told him when I answered him, "Thanks Brion, you're a streak-saver...." and he was as that extended my mW streak and kept all four streaks intact.

However I think if there are many more days like that, I'm seriously going to consider dropping either the mW or DX streaks or maybe both, and just keep the big main streak and perhaps the multi-QSO streak also. Time will tell.

Now tonight was a different story. My regular QSO came from W4RFT (NAQCC member) on 30 meters. Roger answered my CQ there. After we chatted some 20 minutes, I went to 20 meters and found a very strong KD4NUL calling CQ. I switched to mW and got him easily and he copied me solidly. Three streaks taken care of - now for some DX. I had again called a few stations with no results, but found OK1KTI calling CQ on 20, and after repeating my call a couple times, my DX QSO was in the log and now I have the rest of the day off for a change. -30-

Monday, June 27, 2011 9:47 PM - A tough night tonight. Two 5 watt USA QSO's, but no mW nor DX QSO. A lot of DX around, but either not hearing me, or involved in rag chewing. I should have tried one more mW CQ. As soon as I went to 5 watts, I got an answer and a 599 report. Probably would have been answered with mW as well. Oh well, I'll just have to get those QSO's in the morning or afternoon, I guess.

If anyone has a shortage of dits for your bug or keyer, you can get a supply this evening on the bands. I hear three stations using bugs with the dit speed set way to high, and they were sending a few extra dits with every S, H, V, 4, 5, 6, etc. Very sloppy. I wonder if they ever listen to their own sending. I should have recorded them and sent them a copy to hear how poor it sounds. There was also a true LID QRMing a DX station on 30 meters with a S9+++ carrier exactly zero beat with the DX. Just a poor night all around on the ham bands. I guess it must be balancing out the great weekend. -30-

Sunday, June 26, 2011 10:38 PM - Conditions continued good today for the second half of FD. Not quite as good as yesterday though. Openings on 10 today were pretty much localized unlike yesterday when I was hearing most of the USA and Canada. I did manage to fine a SD station and worked him with mW so I now need only NE for the NAQCC 'lower 48' mW WAS award. No real short skip on 10 today so no chance of getting MD or DE like there was yesterday. I wound up with 82 QSO's in 31 states on 10 meters. When I pretty much ran out of stations on 10, hearing the same ones over and over again, I made some QSO's on 15, 20, and 40 and wound up with an overall total of 119 QSO's in 36 states + ON QC. I was a little surprised at my state totals. I felt I had worked more than that, but I was wrong.

Now I'm looking forward to the next big tests - IARU in July and NAQP in August. Maybe then I'll get those states I've been looking for. I should at least get NE in the NAQP, I would think. MD and DE on 10 may be another story. I would need conditions like yesterday and some MD and DE stations to be active on 10 this time.

I picked my first ripe tomatoes at last today. That's almost a month behind what I'd been getting the past few years. Now I need to decide if I'll have them in a salad or in a B(L)T sandwich.

Still haven't done any fishing this year. The river is down now, but I've just not been in the mood or been too busy with other things. Maybe tomorrow - or maybe not. Stay tuned to find out. -30-

Saturday, June 25, 2011 9:05 PM - I don't know how to start this entry. It could be any of the following:
1. Wow was that fun!
2. 10 meters, we missed you - welcome back!
3. Does mW power to a dipole work on 6 meters?
4. Can't remember the last time I've enjoyed a FD so much. Usually don't care for them.
5. Will it be the same tomorrow as today?
6. Yeah, but where were MD and DE?
7. Yeah, but where were SD and NE?
8. Well, I needn't have worried about getting my DX QSO.

Ten meters was open to everywhere in the 48 states today - at the same time. I'd work across the country to CA (even did it once accidentally with my 930 mW), then work someone just across PA a minute later. I've got 60 10 meter QSO's in my log which is still in my shack computer right now so I can't say just how many states were contained in those 60 QSO's, but I'd guess at least 25.

But despite the distance being just right to work MD and DE which would complete my 10 meters WAS, I listened and listened but didn't hear a single station from those states despite hearing SE PA, South NJ, VA - all around there. I guess there just weren't any stations from those states on 10 meters or perhaps it was a tiny area that didn't benefit from the otherwise wide-open propagation. I can't remember the last time I've heard such a huge area coming in at the same time with very strong signals to boot.

I imagine it was a combination of different propagation types that included sporadic E. I actually noticed the same thing last night although the amount of activity in FD wasn't there then, of course. There was good short skip on 20, 17, 15 last night, and 6 meters was open then also. I've been hesitant to get on 6 meters since I have a neighbor who gets TVI even when I run just 5 watts. So today in FD with 6 being open, I thought I'd give it a try with mW power. Bingo, mW and my attic dipole work well on 6. I didn't stay there long because I was enjoying 10 so much, but I did work MA and MN easily for my first 6 meter QSO's in a few years now, and my first ever with mW power. The CA mW QSO on 10 meters came when I came back from 6 and forgot to switch back to 5 watts.

One of my goals in this FD was to work SD and NE with mW power. I've worked them before, but not after the starting date for our NAQCC mW 'Lower 48' WAS award. So I need those two states at mW to get the award.

I hope tomorrow will bring the same propagation conditions as today. However I'm not sure when they started today as I didn't really get on until a couple hours after FD started, and if they didn't start till late, then with FD ending fairly early tomorrow, I may not be able to enjoy things as much as today.

Remember I was worried about getting my DX QSO with FD filling up the bands. Well, I needn't have worried as I said in one of the multiple-choice openings to this entry. At 2358Z I tuned the WARC bands and heard only one strong DX station, a YV8 on 17 meters, however when the clock turned to 0000Z he had a big pileup so I left him and checked 30 meters to find a strong OK7GU just finishing a QSO. I called and got his attention, and he was good enough to hang with me through several repeats of my call till he got it right. So the DX QSO was in the books at 0002Z. Then just after our QSO, I heard him say he was going QRT. I just made it in time.

It's days like this that increase the enjoyment of ham radio many times over. A big contest with great conditions equals true excitement on the bands. Also this year, it seemed all the FD setups had some really good CW operators. Some years it has seemed like CW is only an afterthought at many setups and they don't put a really good op there. That can make it frustrating, but I wasn't frustrated this year. I worked most of the stations I called easily, and there were only a couple I couldn't work at all. -30-

Friday, June 24, 2011 9:51 PM - A busy, enjoyable day as usual when Mike KC2EGL visits. We started the day setting up his tent for Field Day. Then we went to Radio Shack to pick up a couple parts to make a cable for Mike's shack. Then our favorite thing - eating - which we did at the Ponderosa buffet. Back home again to make up the cable. Then we took care of checking to be sure we were caught up with our NAQCC prize giveaways, wrote a promo for our portable operation July 3 for the NAQCC newsletter, took a walk around town, and just visited till Mike headed back up North to Brookville.

I wanted to be sure to get my DX QSO this evening since tomorrow the bands will be full of FD operations. It took a while, but after about a half hour I found a strong DX signal who wasn't rag chewing as were several others I heard. I called OH8KTN on 20 meters and after a couple repeats of my call, the DX QSO was in the log. Although I knew I could get them tomorrow in FD, I also thought I'd get my mW and regular QSO's this evening. I did, thanks to K6ETM on 40 meters, and a mW QSO with Key K7MOA/4 on 17 meters. It was a long time since Key and I worked, and we had a nice rag chew and got caught up a bit on what we'd been doing since our last QSO.

And that brings me to this point where I'm typing in this info. Now I'm going to post this, do a few things around the house here, and get to bed. -30-

Thursday, June 23, 2011 9:30 PM - I thought for sure the mW streak was going to end today. I just could not get anyone to answer my CQ's, and any station I called gave no sign of hearing me at all. I imagine a lot of that is due to the widespread QRN from the widespread thunderstorms around the country. Finally though as the day was winding down with only about 75 minutes left, Bob N1TGI in Wolcott, CT answered my CQ on 40 meters.

The 24th turned out to be much easier. First I worked special event station W7F on 20M. Tried him with mW, but again no sign of being heard. Went to 5 watts and got him with a single call. I'm beginning to think I need to check out my RF attenuator and see if the resistors may have changed value and I'm actually running less than 930 mW. Or it could just be the QRN I mentioned in the above paragraph. I did get my mW QSO fairly easily on 40 meters as Ariel NY4G answered my CQ after some 10 minutes or so. Yes, that's easy compared to lately. There wasn't much to be heard in the way of DX anywhere. I tried a weak V44KAO with no luck, but when I found IS0IGV on 20 meters, Gianni answered my first call and copied me solidly. So it took just 37 minutes to get all 4 streaks extended this evening.

That's good because Mike is coming down tomorrow to set up for FD with the local club. I help him do that but that's the extent of my action with the local club. The only time they have any interest at all in CW is when Mike operates CW on FD. They love the extra points that gives the club. Most of the rest of the year they seemingly just ridicule the mode. So I'll have nothing to do with that.

Mike and I will probably get into some other things as well. I know for sure we will do our monthly catching up on our NAQCC prizes to make sure everything is up to date.

Also later tonight and tomorrow morning, I've got to get our NAQCC newsletter finished and posted. So had I not gotten my QSO's tonight, it might have been a bit hard tomorrow. I guess Saturday and Sunday will be easy with FD, except for the DX which may prove difficult unless I find someone on the WARC bands. Or maybe a KP4, KP2, KL7, KH6, etc. in FD itself. But I guess I'll have my usual 0000Z hour on Saturday since FD doesn't start till the afternoon. Then Sunday it ends early enough so I can get my DX in the closing hours of the day. -30-

Wednesday, June 22, 2011 9:59 PM - I had a really delightful day today. Tom WY3H had his two granddaughters visiting today and he invited me over for a cookout they were having. The burgers and dogs were delicious along with beans, potato salad, and cake. However the real delight were the grandkids - Hana is 6 and Haley is 4. Tom said Hana was very quiet, and when Tom introduced me she didn't have anything to say. I got a little hello wave from Haley. It didn't take long to break the ice though, and we had a good time playing bean bag toss, and blowing bubbles. Little girls at those ages are a real delight. I said to Tom it's almost a shame they have to grow up. A little while after the meal, Tom, his wife JoAnne, sons Ethan and Ariel, and Hana and Haley went swimming to nearby Crooked Creek State Park and took me along. I didn't swim but it was fun just watching the girls having fun in the water. I wish the day could have gone on longer than it did, but after the swimming it was 9 o'clock and time for the girls to get to bed and me to get home.

When I did get home, I went almost right to the shack to see how many streaks I could extend. First up it was TI2KWN on 20 meters to extend the DX and regular streaks, then WA7RBC on 40 for the multi-QSO streak. No mW QSO yet though so that's for either later tonight or in the morning or afternoon.

Time now to check to see how many more mW sprint logs came in while I was away. We already have our second best turnout for on of our special mW sprints with 36 logs, but 1st place is far away yet as we had one mW sprint with 63 logs. I'm very pleased with the turnout as the bands were very noisy all over the country plus a couple other clubs were also holding sprints at pretty much the same time frame. -30-

Tuesday, June 21, 2011 11:17 PM - I thought maybe I'd have trouble getting my DX QSO tonight because of the NAQCC mW sprint giving me only a few minutes to try to find a DX station before the sprint started. However a single call to G0TZD and the DX streak is at 88 days now. That QSO was much easier than any of the mere 5 mW QSO's I made in the sprint. That has to be a real low point in my NAQCC sprint history. Either no one was hearing my CQ's or I wasn't hearing the answers to the CQ's. Anyway there sure were a lot of stations in the sprint from looking at the logs in so far - and I just wasn't hearing most of them. The band sounded dead when tuning around so I just mostly called CQ for the 120 minutes or so. Kind of discouraging, but that's the way it goes sometimes. -30-

Monday, June 20, 2011 9:15 PM - Finally! I saw a starting-to-ripen Siberian tomato today. I also have some very small tomatoes starting on my Early Girl plants. So I guess things are progressing albeit slowly.

My roses have done very nicely this year. The first 'crop' really produced a lot of beautiful flowers. I pruned back the bushes today removing the dead flowers. I also noticed some buds starting to pop up on my daylillies.

I had a couple nice walks with Joe today. He was a well-behaved dog today, and didn't get in any trouble licking the ground or barking at other dogs. Actually most of the time he is well-behaved, but sometimes the long ingrained wolf/dog ancestry behavior does pop through. So he's not absolutely perfect, but by far the best dog I've ever been acquainted with. Being with him is near the top of my daily highlights every day.

My streak QSO's came pretty easily tonight. Two of the hardest of the four being mW and DX. Tonight the DX came easily working P43E on 20 meters. I had to wait through a few other stations, but other than that it was a piece of cake. With that taking care of the DX and regular streaks, I thought I'd just try some mW CQ's to get a mW QSO which would take care of the two remaining streaks - mW and multiple QSO. Well after about 5 minutes my friend Geoff AE4RV answered my mW CQ on 40 meters, and all 4 streaks are extended another day.

Other than the above, I finished all the processing of our NAQCC sprint logs today, so everything is up to date now ready for our NAQCC mW sprint tomorrow evening. That one is easier though since we don't cross-check logs for our mW or 160M sprints, just our regular monthly sprint. We wound up with 122 logs for our second best total. I wonder what tomorrow's sprint will bring. A couple other clubs also have sprints around the same time, so that will be a good test of our NAQCC sprint popularity to see how many participants we draw. -30-

Sunday, June 19, 2011 10:05 PM - It's been a while since I called so many DX stations with no sign at all of being heard. And they were strong here too. I finally did get PV8ADI for my DX streak QSO, but even that was a struggle. Seems like there was one-way skip to just about anywhere outside the USA this evening. Anyway the four streaks are in the books for the 20th, so I won't have to try for anything tomorrow which is good because I've again got a lot of catching up on things to do. Right now I'm off to see how much of the final cross-checking of logs from our NAQCC sprint I can get done before I run out of steam for the night. I'm pretty well along the way. About all that is needed now is the actual cross-check after correcting all errors like wrong calls, NAQCC number, state, points, etc. Next my program matches up all QSO's in which both participants sent in their log and indicates those that don't have a match. The whole process is really fascinating and that is what keeps it from being boring.

I particularly enjoy the Sherlock Holmes aspect there is to it, trying to figure out just how the errors were made. One easy one is why so many QSO's show 1 point for a member QSO when it should be 2 for example. That's mostly because the error-making person uses an old GenLog data file that doesn't have the latest members listed. Most of the 1 vs. 2 point errors are from QSO's with newer members so that one is a dead giveaway. Just one more example before I go back to work now. Often a station will operate portable from a different state than that listed in the GenLog data file, and I often find a log will contain the member's home state rather than the portable one indicating the person believed what GenLog spit out rather than actually copying what was sent. Well, back to cross-checking now. -30-

Saturday, June 18, 2011 7:30 PM - The last couple of evenings have had the same pattern as far as my streaks go. One mW DX QSO to cover all three streaks, then another 5W QSO to cover the multiple QSO's streak. I wonder what tonight will bring. I'll find out in about a half hour or so.

I promised a garden update, but there is really not much to update. I'm cutting way back this year and only growing 5 Siberian tomato plants, 5 Early Girls, 9 pepper plants, and some Kentucky Wonder beans. I may add some bush beans later this month. So far the Siberians are still in their holding pattern at least 3 weeks behind schedule for the first ripe tomato. I have no idea why. The Early Girls are getting flowers on them and soon should have their first tiny tomatoes. Perhaps they'll catch and surpass the Siberians this year.

As far as Joe goes, not a lot to update there either. We still have our walks together and some play time. He's been coming over to my door quite a bit lately when coming back from a walk, so he's been spending some time here in my house.

Now let's see what diary feedback I have here. My Friend from Norton, OH Tim KD8GZ emailed a couple days ago. I worked Joe AB8AV from Norton a few days before that, and had asked him if he knew Tim. Seems they are good friends as these excerpts from Tim's email show, "Hi John....My local ham friend Joe Conte (AB8AV) & you had a recent QSO....a few days ago. Joe called me to tell me you'd asked if he knew me (he does). Thanks for the mention to Joe.
Back in the early Spring of 2006, I'd been out of ham radio for nearly 20 years, when I saw Joe and his handheld in the Norton Arby's. I didn't know Joe, but I was curious if he was a ham (or was it a police scanner), so I walked up and introduced myself to Joe....we became friends, and he helped rekindle my interest in ham radio.
About 2 months afterwards I went to Amateur Electronics Supply in Cleveland and bought the cheapest new ham rig I could find...a new Icom IC-718 and Astron power supply. (I'd sold my old Swan 350 and amp...so, an old Alinco 2M HT was the only ham radio gear I'd owned during my absense from the hobby).
Joe's 99% CW (1% 2M ssb). He helped me put up the antenna I now use. He & I get together a number of times a year for coffee and to chat about ham radio. He lives on the other side of our little town, Norton.
I am also 99% CW...and about 80-90% of the time I'm 5w QRP. My "QRO" is a big 30 watts output...though it's becomming less and less often I turn the power beyond 5 watts.
Last weekend I had a nice QSO on 20M with a guy north of Seattle....late in the afternoon locally EDT. He gave me a 539....he was about that here in greater Akron. What a fun rush....the other side of the country with only 5 watts. It never gets old, John...and that's not even DX.
While we'd all like better band conditions, I do know this: there's a lot of fun to be had with CW QRP....to me it's the purest form of our wonderful hobby: ham radio!
It does concern me that the only time there seems to be much activity on the CW bands is during contests. Then, the bands are so jammed up...I just give up and turn off the rig with wall to wall QRM (to each his/her own, I know). Just plain regular, every day operating can be so much fun...regardless of band conditions. Wish more people would get on the air more often (myself included).
Hope to visit you in Kittanning again before winter is back upon us. Will e-mail you in advance to make sure you're not busy."

Well, the whole content of the email was good, so I posted just about all of it. Tim was over here in Kittanning last year to visit with me and Tom WY3H. I hope he can make it again this summer. He makes some good points about CW. Where are all the hams who operate contests at non-contest times? I cover the best of both worlds myself as you probably know. I love contesting and I also love regular operating - be it rag chewing or DXing.

Just for the record, within the past week I ordered a new batch of QSL cards from Dennis, VE7DK. I hadn't been in touch with him for a while as I haven't been sending as many QSL cards lately and didn't need to order any for a few years now. But Dennis is still in business as usual. Check out the QSLing page on my web site if you are in need of some QSL's. Dennis will do a great job for you. The service is great and the prices reasonable. I changed the design a bit this time and will have to post the new design on the web page when I get a chance. -30-

Friday, June 17, 2011 6:04 PM - Are sunspot cycles as we know them about to end? Are we going to enter into Maunder Minimum II? Intriguing questions that may have "yes" answers based on some scientific analyses. Take a read of this article from the Sky and Telescope web site to see what I mean. Kind of scary for us DXers, but a relief for those in the satellite and space exploration industries if true. http://www.skyandtelescope.com/community/skyblog/newsblog/123844859.html

I think that's enough to digest for today. Tomorrow I'll try to have some diary feedback and perhaps an update on Joe and my garden. -30-

Thursday, June 16, 2011 10:04 PM - I think I'm caught up on just about everything now for the time being. Well, except for one thing. I've got to change the countdown timer up above here since I now do have my second longest DX streak at 83 days. It's a long way to go for the longest DX streak, and I don't know if I'll use that or not. That would be 71 more days to tie the 154 day DX streak I had back in 2000 or 2001. I can't think of anything else to count down to though, so I will go with the 154 day DX streak which will happen on August 27 if all goes well. If I think of something else that happens sooner than that, I'll change it. Or if the DX streak should end before then, I'll have to come up with something else or just drop the countdown altogether.

For the second night in a row, my DX streak QSO came from EG8LP. Last night on 30 meters - tonight on 20 meters. Tonight's QSO came with mW so the QSO covered three streaks. Then I worked AE4GM on 40 to cover the multi-QSO streak.

The new poll is up if you haven't noticed and voted yet. So take a look if you want to.

We're at 114 logs for the June NAQCC sprint so far. That's 15 months in a row now at 100+ logs. With almost 3 days left for logs to come in, we might approach our record of 135 or at least wind up with the #2 or #3 total. It's a lot of work processing the logs, but I feel any contest or sprint worth the name should require full logs to be submitted and cross-checked. It seems our NAQCC members agree with that as I don't think there are any other similar sprints that get as big a response as we do. I'm pretty sure the very popular Spartan Sprints never had 15 in a row 100+ logs sprints in all the years they've been around now.

I'm doing my laundry now, and the washer just stopped so I'm QRT here to put the clothes in the dryer. -30-

Wednesday, June 15, 2011 9:23 PM - This has been a very busy data processing day, and it's still far from finished, although I'm about finished if you know what I mean. HI. Let me list some of the things done and/or still needing doing. Processing of 104 logs so far from last night's sprint. Doing my every-five-day check of the FCC database for changes in NAQCC member info. Getting the 43 QSO's I made in the sprint into my computer log and web site log. Signing up around 10 new NAQCC members. Coming up with a new poll question (not done yet - I'm late on that one). Balancing a checking account. And probably some more I've forgotten.

Besides all the data processing, some work in Ange's and my gardens. Taking Joe for a walk and playing with him for a while. Going for another walk myself. Some grocery shopping. Of course getting my daily QSO's this evening. I got 3 of the 4 streaks in hand, but still need a mW QSO later tonight or in the morning or most probably late afternoon.

My neighbor Bruce has been wanting to get back to observing some satellites. There are a couple good ISS passes and two Iridiums coming up tonight. My gosh, I did all that today? Looks like I must have been busy, doesn't it? HI. -30-

Tuesday, June 14, 2011 4:17 PM - I'm going to write this early because I'll be in the NAQCC sprint this evening and then processing logs after it ends. Then after I write this, I still have to try to get that elusive mW QSO for today.

Let me give you the feedback first, then I'll add my comments at the end.

Paul N0NBD was the first in with this: "Hello John, The Hermits were not exactly my "cup of tea" so to speak but googling found some good reading. United is mentioned in the lyrics "Its nice to be out in the morning". Is that the one? Have a good one and keep up the good stories and thoughts"

Next up was Glenn K3SWZ, "Hi John, Re the Soccer question..... "Glory, Glory Man United"..... I asked my son, who sells Soccer equipment and he never heard of Herman's Hermits !! It is an age thing, hi..... He is 34 and has played soccer since he could walk..... Played in high school and club, then for East Stroudsburg Univ. in college.. He played on 3 PSAC championship teams, while at ESU.... He also had the privilege to go on two summer trips, while in high school to PY and G land for two weeks each, to play.... I am sitting here typing in a shirt that says "City Islanders" which is the Harrisburg pro team.... I guess we like Soccer, hi... BTW -- I look forward to reading your diary each day..... 73"

Finally Bob N2SU, "Hi John, You're right about the situation of the shooutout in the 1978 playoff game. The Cosmos needed Alberto to score or they would have been eliminated. Jack Brand stopped the next Minnesota shooter and Beckenbauer beat Tino Lettieri for the winner, sending 60,000 Cosmos fans (myself included) home happy. I was a 20-year-old college student at the time. Although Carlos Alberto was a defender, he scored the fourth goal (and a great one at that) in Brazil's 4-1 win over Italy in the 1970 World Cup final in Mexico CIty. Sounds like the Herman's Hermits song you're referring to goes back to the days of George Best in the 60s. Many of us still remember the old NASL. I was at all the big games involving the Cosmos in the late 70s. The Meadowlands is just ten minutes from where I live. 73"

Paul got the song right. Glenn mentions Glory Glory Man United which is somewhat of a theme song for the club. I don't know that Herman's Hermits ever recorded the song although I've not actually checked their entire discography to be sure. However the song does have a connection to Herman's Hermits. It was written by Frank Renshaw who was a member of the Hermits in the 60's and 70's. Thanks Bob for clearing up my memory of the Alberto goal. Oh, and yes, defenders do score goals in football. It's not all that rare a thing by any means. Alberto scored 20 goals in League play - 8 for the Cosmos, and an additional 3 for the Brazil national team including the one mentioned by Bob in the 1970 World Cup.

Let's get to the lyrics of the Hermits' song, "It's Nice To Be Out In The Morning." Here is the pertinent stanza as I hear it.

United's ground where the champions score
a hundred goals and the reds fans roar
for Bobby Charlton, Best, and more
It's a most fantastic day
when they play.

I'm not positive about the word "more." I thought different things for it, but "more" seems to be the best fit since it rhymes with "score" and "roar." I had though at one time perhaps it was "Moore" for Bobby Moore, but he never played for United as far as I know. Best of course refers to Georgie Best. If you search for lyrics to the song, you'll find many different interpretations of the words, but I think mine is probably the closest. Any further comments? -30-

Monday, June 13, 2011 9:21 PM - Once again very little activity on the bands this evening. They're akin to Ghost Towns. Soon we'll be calling them Ghost Bands if the trend continues. When the activity is there, it is a piece of cake to get my streak QSO's. When it's not, it is frustrating and time consuming. The amount of activity is the main determining factor in getting the QSO's. QRP and QRPp using CW will work under any conditions except perhaps a TOTAl communications blackout. It is not going to be propagation or QRP/CW not working that is going to end my streak someday. It is going to be a lack of activity on the bands.

The DX QSO came easily at 0005Z thanks to Paul F2YT on 30 meters. After that it was really rough. Calling CQ yielded nothing, and tuning around didn't turn up anyone who wasn't already in a QSO nor anyone strong calling CQ. And there weren't many of either of those anywhere.

Finally after about an hour, I finally did get an answer to my CQ from John N8ZYA in WV on 40 meters. So that still leaves a mW QSO to get later tonight or in the morning or afternoon.

One consolation is that propagation conditions were good this evening, and hopefully will be the same tomorrow evening when there should be more activity because of our NAQCC sprint. I'll be there for sure and hope to see you there also. -30-

Sunday, June 12, 2011 9:31 PM - Surprisingly I got some feedback on the soccer/football info. I'll share that with you in a day or two here in the diary. Thanks to those who sent the comments.

Today was a good sports day with Jeff Gordon winning at Pocono/Long Pond for his 84th career victory which definitely ties him with Darrell Waltrip on the all time list for 4th place. It may or may not tie him with Bobby Allison for third place overall. You see, there is some controversy over how many wins Allison had. Officially he had 84 according to NASCAR, but some believe one other race he won should also be counted as a Grand National/Winston Cup win which would make 85 wins. So let's hope Gordon wins two more races soon so he can have undisputed 3rd place in all time victories. It may be a moot point in a few years anyway as if Jimmy Johnson stays healthy and motivated, he should surpass Gordon in career wins some day. You never know though in the world of auto racing. You don't have to look any further back than Ayrton Senna in Formula One. I will always believe had he not been killed in a race, he would be the all time F1 race winner.

And on a similar note, how many home runs would Ralph Kiner have hit had he not had his back problems. Mike KC2EGL and I figured if he had kept his pace of his first 5 or 6 years, and played for 20 years at that pace, he'd have somewhere around 925 or so. Even if you double his 10 year total of 369, that's near the all time record at 738. Also his career was delayed in starting as he served in the Navy from 1943 until his release in 1945. But as with Senna, that's all speculation now.

All four streaks were extended this evening with a little effort. DX being the hardest. With the SF down in the 80's, not a lot of strong DX was heard. I guess about the best was PV8DX on 20 meters, but I couldn't work him. Finally somehow I did work G3RWF on 30 meters despite him being very rough copy here. I think he was copying me better than I copied him. Then for the milliwatt streak, I easily worked AF4LB on 40 meters. The regular QSO was KC9UHZ on 40 who was also QRP.

So I'm free during the day tomorrow. I'll be helping Ange plant some peppers among whatever else turns up. We planted 4 rows today, and I put 8 plants in my back yard. -30-

Saturday, June 11, 2011 10:15 PM - Are you interested in Soccer or Football as it's known most everywhere else outside the USA? I love the game although I haven't had much time to really follow it lately. Plus not having television limits what I can see. The MLS used to televise a lot of matches on the MLS web site for free, but now they charge for the privilege. The ESPN Internet channel ESPN-3 does televise a lot of European socc.... excuse me, football, and I do watch some Premier League or Bundesliga matches from time to time, but that ties up the computer and with so much to get done, losing 2 hours to watch a match just uses up too much time.

I think I talked about this in the diary a couple years ago, but I used to love to watch or listen to the old NASL soccer matches. The Cosmos was my favorite team with Giorgio Chinaglia, Carlos Alberto, and a bunch of other foreign players from around the world. Another team I liked was the Detroit Express. One reason I liked those two teams was that I could listen to all their matches on radio. I also liked the Express because of Trevor Francis, one of the greatest players to compete in the NASL along with all the Cosmos superstars. Francis' career in the NASL was a short one mainly because of contractual 'problems' with the English Football league. In England he was the first player to command a 1 million pound transfer fee when he went to Nottingham Forest from Birmingham City. Forest was not keen on letting their million pound baby play in the states although they did agree for a while. Anyway Francis' NASL career lasted just 33 games in which he scored 36 goals and 18 assists.

There are a couple of games I remember, although some of the details now escape my ageing brain. One was a 10-0 pounding the Express put on (I believe) the San Jose Earthquakes. I think Francis scored something like 7 of the 10 goals (again if memory serves).

The other game involves the Cosmos in a shootout with another team whom I can't recall now. The shootout came down to Carlos Alberto needing to put the ball in the net for the Cosmos to win. The game was just about as even a match as you could ever wish for, and it stayed that way until the very end. Each of the pairs of shootout shooters would match what the other did. If one put it in the net, invariably the other one would also. The same with the misses. Finally the player Alberto was matched with missed, and if he made his shot, the Cosmos would win. Well, he did to end a really great game. I remember it was so exciting listening to it on the radio, I had to pace around my Pittsburgh apartment to relieve the tension.

After writing the above paragraph, I decided to do an Internet search to try to refresh my memory on some details. I found one match against the Minnesota Kicks in which Alberto tied the shootout with his shot, but Franz Beckenbauer scored the winning shot. I'm not sure if that is the same match or not. Anyway Alberto who was basically a defender and not a scorer did contribute to an exciting shootout win one way or other. More and more as I think and write, I believe this is the match. I think one of the Kicks made a shot and the other 4 missed. All the previous Cosmos shots were missed leaving the shootout at 1-0 with the Kicks leading and Alberto coming up needing to make the shot to continue the shootout. If he missed, the Kicks would have won. I'm going to look into this some more, but not right now.

I really got sidetracked. I started out intending to ask a simple trivia question. What song mentions what is probably the best football team in the World today? Well, that may be debatable, but at least one of the greatest teams - Manchester United. They did lose the Champion's Cup to Barcelona a couple weeks ago. OK, back on track. The song mentions United and three of its all-time star players - Charlton, Best, and Moore. It's a very tough question as the song is not one of the big hits by the group who performed it. I'll tell you the group to maybe make it a bit easier - Herman's Hermits.

I'm willing to bet no one can come up with the answer unless you perhaps examine the lyrics of all of the Herman's Hermits' songs, and that's a lot. -30-

Friday, June 10, 2011 9:50 PM - Once again the streaks are completed without having to worry about them in the morning or afternoon. And once again 2 QSO's will suffice for all 4 streaks since a mW DX QSO is included. KB6NU provided the main streak QSO on 40 meters, but after that it was rough for a while until I QRT to take my temperature readings and then returned to the shack. Right away I heard a strong C6AKQ calling CQ on 20, so I flipped the switch to insert the RF attenuator for 930 mW output and worked him easily on the first call.

So that was good, but I'd trade those QSO's for what I didn't work - ST2AR on 20 which would have been a new overall entity and KL7J on 17 which had I worked him with 930 mW would have completed my mW WAS. But I just couldn't break the big pileups of QRO callers that both stations had. I probably could have gotten KL7J with 5 watts, but there was no point in doing that.

Still I may fool around tomorrow in the WWSA contest just for fun if I don't get involved in any other projects. There might be some good DX there for the working.

I wonder if C6AKQ might be a new band country. I doubt it, but I'm going to check anyway. Nope. -30-

Thursday, June 09, 2011 6:27 PM - Still more encouragement to continue with the diary:

"Good evening John, I was reading your diary entry today, and wanted to ask you to not be discouraged over less participation at the moment. I think many are enjoying the outdoors especially after the long, cold and dreary winter. I check in with several SSB nets and call a CW net on Wednesday. QNI's have been slow recently, and feel this is slow for the above reasons. Also, they are on 80 and 75 meters, which have been quite noisy. School is recently out for those with children and grandchildren, and we all like to be with them. Many are what I call "lurkers" who listen (and read) without comment. I read your diary nearly each day, and appreciate your efforts. So, never be discouraged!! I for one among many , would be sad if you were to stop your work. I just wanted to let you know. vy 73, Jerry WB0T dit dit"

Thanks Jerry. I appreciate it.

One of the things I like about working Russian stations is that you can always tell what area of Russia you are working by the pattern of the call sign. If there is a "1A" contained in the call such as RU1A, you immediately know that's the St. Petersburg Oblast, for example. Or if you work a station with an 8, 9, or 0 in the call, that's Asiatic Russia, and the letter after the number again determines the Oblast.

Well, it's getting a bit more complicated and in time, Russia may become like the USA and you will have no idea where the station you are working is located from the call sign. Here's something taken from the ARRL letter today with a simplification(?) table by me at the end:

"- Russian prefixes with the numeral 2 are no longer limited to Kaliningradsk. Stations with RA2 and UA2-UI2 (with F and K as the first letter in the suffix) are in Kaliningradsk; otherwise, these prefixes will used in European Russia.

- Stations with the following prefixes are in European Russia: R1, RA1-RZ1 (except RI1 as noted below), R2, RB2-RZ2, R3-R7, RA3-RZ7, UA1 and UA3-UI7. Also, stations with the prefixes R8, R9, RA8-RZ9 and UA8-UI9 (with F, S, T, W or X as the first letter in the suffix) are in European Russia.

- Except for those listed above, all stations with 8, 9 and 0 as the numeral are in Asiatic Russia.

- Russian Antarctic stations use temporary call signs in the series RI1ANA-RI1ANZ and RI00ANT to RI99ANT.

- Franz Jozef Land stations use temporary call signs RI1F, RI1FJ and RI1FJA-RI1FJZ.

- Malyj Visotskij island stations use temporary call signs RI1M, RI1MV and RI1MVA-RI1MVZ."

My interpration of the above (* indicates additional letters in the call):


European Russia:
RA1-RZ1 (except as noted below)
R8F*, S*, T*, W*, X*
R9F*, S*, T*, W*, X*
RA8-RZ9F*, S*, T*, W*, X*

Asiatic Russia:
All other 8, 9, 0 calls

Russian Antarctic Stations:

Franz Josef Land:

Malyv Visotskij:

Hopefully the changes will still permit determining location from the call, but at this point, I don't know.

It sure was tough getting my mW QSO today. Once again the bands were almost devoid of signals every time I checked or those that I did hear were too weak to even bother trying. I did try 4O3A on 20 quite a few times. That's a super contest station and I should have been able to work it, but.... Finally I did something I don't like to do, but time was running out and he was having very few answers to his CQ's, so despite hating to work DX stations repeatedly on the same band, I tried VP5/W5CW on 17 meters and after a few tries, I got him to extend the mW streak. -30-

Wednesday, June 08, 2011 9:19 PM - At our computer club picnic in the park this evening someone mentioned hearing on the news there might be a chance for an aurora borealis display this evening. Well that immediately triggered the thought in my mind that my DX streak might be in trouble. However when I got home, QSO's with DF1IAQ on 20 and PY2WC on 30 with a single call to each soon allayed that fear. So all the streaks save for the mW have been taken care of already. I'll tend to that one in the morning or afternoon if not later tonight.

Another of my regular diary readers chimed in tonight urging me to not think of discontinuing these diary entries. That's Paul N0NBD who I think has been riding along here in the diary train since it left the station several years ago. Thanks Paul. -30-

Wednesday, June 08, 2011 8:24 AM - Any thoughts of discontinuing the diary were immediately dispelled by this email received this morning:

"John - Just read your Tuesday, June 7 diary entry. I've been following your streak every evening since I joined NAQCC (#5462) in March. Your diary has been my incentive to get on the HF bands. I passed the General in May and hope to nail the Extra in July. Then I can settle down and drill CW for the rest of the summer - well, for the rest of my life. Your writing captures the adventure of qrp cw and beautifully proves the elegance of 5 watts in a world where big amps and tall towers rule. The African proverb to speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far, could well apply to qrp. Your light fist and your brilliant array have certainly taken you to the far shores. CW ain't easy. Wow, understatement. I've been a ham for four months and I can't hear more than a few words in a transmission. There are times when I can understand why one of those big black knobby boxes, a studio mic and an amp and a beam would be appealing. I guess in this new world where so many of us have become invisible in the noise, there are days when we'd just like to flip a switch and feel some power. But I know the sound of three more words than I knew in February. And that's a powerful feeling. At my rate I may be able to key something intelligible before the tomatoes are ripe. I just know when I get there the satisfaction will be sublime - I can feel it in your writing every night - and I know you can't buy that kind of fulfillment. Please keep writing. Dick Coffey KD0NZX"

Thanks Dick. I need encouragement like that every once in a while.

And here's a story that has made the rounds over the years. I think it was sent to me by Tom N4KG. There are a few different calls and email addresses on it and I'm not sure which are other forwarded addresses, etc. Anyway here's the story:

"Back when the telegraph was the fastest method of long-distance communication, a young man applied for a job as a Morse Code operator. Answering an ad in the newspaper, he went to the office address that was listed. When he arrived, he entered a large, busy office filled with noise and clatter, including the sound of the telegraph in the background. A sign on the receptionist's counter instructed job applicants to fill out a form and wait until they were summoned to enter the inner office.
The young man filled out his form and sat down with the seven other applicants in the waiting area. After a few minutes, the young man stood up, crossed the room to the door of the inner office, and walked right in. Naturally the other applicants perked up, wondering what was going on. They muttered among themselves that they hadn't heard any summons yet.
They assumed that the young man who went into the office made a mistake and would be disqualified. Within a few minutes, however, the employer escorted the young man out of the office and said to the other applicants, "Gentlemen, thank you very much for coming, but the job has just been filled." The other applicants began grumbling to each other, and one spoke up saying, "Wait a minute, I don't understand. He was the last to come in, and we never even got a chance to be interviewed. Yet he got the job. That's not fair!"
The employer said, "I'm sorry, but the last several minutes while you've been sitting here, the telegraph has been ticking out the following message in Morse Code: 'If you understand this message, then come right in. The job is yours." None of you heard it or understood it. This young man did. The job is his."

Always pay attention to what is going on around you is the moral, I guess. -30-

Tuesday, June 07, 2011 9:28 PM - The way the number of hits on my web site is diminishing lately, I wonder if it is becoming a waste of time writing these diary entries. The hits do usually drop off each year from a peak around January to a low around June, so hopefully this is just that annual drop-off showing up in my stats, and not a losing of interest in CW and QRP among hams.

The streak QSO's came easily tonight despite DX being few and far between on the bands. Just after 0000Z I heard a strong CQ from John AK4KP on 30 meters and answered him with mW. We had a nice 20 minute rag chew with him copying me solidly all the way. After that I looked for DX in vain for a while till after about 10 minutes I found VP5/W4OX on 17 and worked him with a single call. That technically completed all four streaks, but I always like to get a third QSO so I can list someone differently for the regular, mW, and DX streaks. So I called CQ on 30 and after a couple calls got an answer from AA9IK and we had a 17 minute rag chew. -30-

Monday, June 06, 2011 8:25 AM - This is kind of a catching up day, so I'm doing just that. I've been asked about the RF attenuator I use to get my power down from 5 watts to 930 mW. Here's a diagram of it. It's really very simple. The values shown give an attenuation of around 7.3 dB. I forget the exact dB figure but it computed out to reduce 5 watts to 930 mW when I figured it out when building it a couple years ago or so. The input and output impedance compute to just about 50 ohms. Of course an antenna in the neighborhood of 50 ohms can replace the tuner shown in the diagram. In fact I have switching set up to feed the attenuator either to the tuner or to my antennas. Also a switch to bypass the attenuator when I run 5 watts. Those are straightforward and I didn't think it necessary to show in the diagram. If you want other attenuation values, do a Bing Internet search for 't rf attenuator' and you'll turn up a lot of sources, some overly simplified and some overly technical, but you should also find one to suit your purpose. PA1B has a great web site devoted to attenuators. Bing PA1B to find his site. I used junkbox resistors for mine and made the required values by hooking resistors in parallel or series and don't know the resultant power ratings, but if you use individual resistors as shown, 5 watts will definitely suffice. Now here's the diagram, then on to other matters.
pix_diary_20110606_001 (23K)

Later I'll also add the diagram to my homebrewing section in the web site.

One thing I hate is answering an email with a long detailed explanation only to find the email bounces. If you email someone, be sure a reply to your email will get to its destination. Make sure the one you send it to is not going to be affected by a spam filter. Be sure your email box is not full. Be sure you typed your return email correctly. And anything else you can think of to be sure you'll get a reply if you expect one. I'm not going to mention specifics, but I wasted about 15 minutes writing an email reply a little while ago just to have it bounce back to me.

I did talk about the hamfest yesterday. Here's a picture of me and Mike manning the table. Thanks to John KB3SVJ for taking the picture. We'll have more info about the hamfest in this weekend's NAQCC newsletter.
pix_144_hamfest_001 (103K)

If I run across any more catching up stuff, I'll append this entry or take care of it in tomorrow's entry. -30-

Sunday, June 05, 2011 9:11 PM - This was a very successful and enjoyable day for many reasons. It's always nice to spend time with Mike KC2EGL. I was the guilty party who converted him to a CW operator, and now I may be guilty of another 'conversion'. I may have gotten him addicted to the computer game of Bricks. I've talked about that game in a couple past entries in the diary, but if you don't remember and/or want to know more about it, just do a Bing search for "Bricks Rottler". Rottler being the name of the German who designed the game.

Moving along quickly now as I have a lot to do before bed time tonight. It was a great hamfest with Mike, Tom WY3H, and John KB3SVJ helping out with and manning our NAQCC table. We had many NAQCC members visit the table and chat with us. Then we added 9 more new NAQCC members. It was a delight to welcome each one into the club, but I have to talk about one especially. Kip WA3EYL was a frequent check-in to our CW County Hunters net way back in the late 1960's, and since then I hadn't had any contact with him since until he walked up and introduced himself at the table saying to me that we had worked many years ago. As soon as he gave his call I recognized and remembered it. That brought back a lot of memories. He lived in New Kensington back then and he and Ted WA3ERF were regulars on the net. Now he lives about 20 miles from here in Vandergrift. He doesn't have email but in the NAQCC welcome letter I sent via regular mail I said I hope he can visit here to chat about those great days back in the 1960's at greater length than we were able to today.

It was a beautiful weather day as well with mostly sunny skies and a high near 90, but without the high humidity.

Oh, we did set up Mike's KX-1 and our portable inverted V antenna at the hamfest, and actually did make some QSO's this time as we were able to set up the antenna in a clear space behind the building in which we had our table. With about 2.5 watts of power we made 6 QSO's, 2 on 30, and 4 on 20. The 20 meters QSO's included 1 each from Puerto Rico and Martinique. We also worked a couple Naval vessels in a special event weekend of ship activities. So that was a lot of fun.

And this evening the streak QSO's came easily - EA6UN for DX, XE2S for mW, and VA3KMZ for an additional regular QSO. I received an email from VA3KMZ just after the QSO saying that was only his 2nd ever CW QSO and 1st 'successful' one. That really made me feel good to know that another ham is taking up CW.

So now it's time to get back to getting caught up on a couple things. -30-

Saturday, June 04, 2011 9:24 PM - I decided to start yet another streak today. QSO by a guest operator. Mike KC2EGL worked ZP6CW on 17 meters from my station this evening. Mike is here to stay overnight so we can get an early start to the Butler hamfest in the morning. Listen in on the QRP frequencies on 20 and 40 meters for N3AQC. We are going to attempt to operate from the hamfest. Of course we'd prefer to see you in person at the hamfest, but if you can't be there, at least maybe we can talk to you on the air if our setup pans out.

Mike says, "It was an honor and a pleasure to be able to operate portable from John's shack and for giving me the opportunity to make my first DX QSO on 17 meters."

My 3 streak QSO's came easily tonight. The regular and mW QSO's thanks to K4AB and W4HOD in the Alabama QSO party. Then FG5FR for the DX QSO on 17 meters.

I'll close now as Mike and I need to do some last minute things to prepare for the hamfest. -30-

Friday, June 03, 2011 4:32 PM - Boy, it's nice when you tune across the bands looking for that elusive mW QSO and hear one of the truly great ops world-wide looking for QSO's. That happened a couple days ago when I heard and worked Slatko S57DX on 17 meters. Incidentally I sent him an email thanking him for the QSO as follows: "Hello Slavko, Thank you for the 17 meter QSO on 1-June-2011. I was running only 930 mW to a vertical 15 meter dipole. I have made at least one QSO using mW power each day since May 1, 2010 or 397 straight days now. Today was very rough and I appreciate you staying with me to complete the QSO." Slavko replied with "Hi John, I confirm our contact on 17M CW two days ago. I can tell you your signal was very very weak but workable with some difficulties. Good luck with QRP! See you on bands! 73 Slavko S57DX"

Well, it happened again today. The bands were just about totally dead during three separate checks I made. Only 1 or 2 signals total were heard on 40 through 17 meters, and nothing on the bands higher than that. Then around 2025Z, I tried again, and ran across one of the really great ops in the world, ON4UN. I'm sure many of you are familiar with him and his great operating skills and activities. He was just winding up a QSO with a W9 station and mentioned that conditions were not very good. Still I knew if I got the chance to try him, I could get him even with mW. Well, he signed off and as soon as I heard the final dit dit and was sure he was done, I sent K3WWP, and he came back with K3?. As with Slatko a couple days ago, it took several repeats of my call before John got it complete, but despite the poor conditions, we made the QSO. He gave me a 559 QSB, and he was 579 QSB. So yes QRPp does work even under poor conditions if the mode is CW and there is a good op at the other end.

I think those two QSO's show that CW should still be a solid part of ham radio, as it can get the job done as long as there are ops who are skilled in its use. CW could come in very handy in an emergency situation as it has done many times in the past. I'm certain that I could not have made those two QSO's at that power level using any other mode. -30-

Thursday, June 02, 2011 10:10 PM - Mike and I had a great sky viewing session last night. We were out for about 4 hours from 9:30P till 1:30P. We probably observed some 100 objects all told including stars, open clusters, globular clusters, spiral galaxies, elliptical galaxies, irregular galaxies, diffuse nebulae, planetary nebulae, and asterisms. The sky wasn't perfectly clear as there were some cirrus clouds, but it was clear enough for some great viewing. And even the moon cooperated by being new.

In constrast to the great viewing last night, the bands tonight were not cooperative. I just couldn't get a DX QSO despite calling several fairly strong DX stations. Nor a mW QSO despite calling a couple quite strong stations. So I'll have to spend some time on the bands in the morning and/or afternoon. Hope it doesn't take long as it's going to be another beautiful weather day like today with temps in the 70's, sunny skies, and low humidity.

I promised some pictures in this entry, so I'll have to pause now to get them ready. Of course you won't notice the pause. HI.

Here's a picture of Joe taken this evening. There's a little too much contrast because of the bright sunshine on Joe. I did equalize it somewhat to come up with this:
pix_diary_20110602 (64K)

One of my three red rose bushes:
pix_diary_20110602_02 (127K)

Another of the red rose bushes:
pix_diary_20110602_03 (68K)

One of my yellow rose bushes:
pix_diary_20110602_04 (74K)

Finally the VERY SLOW developing Siberian tomatoes. It took five months plus to get just this far? Sure not like previous years for whatever reason:
pix_diary_20110602_05 (89K)


Wednesday, June 01, 2011 6:07 PM - Mike is coming down for a sky viewing session this evening so I thought I'd get this written a bit early. We had what looked like a series of 3 cold fronts come through today. They actually were more like humidity fronts since the temperature was still quite high in the upper 80's. They lowered the humidity quite a bit and really cleared out the skies. There still is just a bit of haze left over, but it looks like it will be a really clear night. We're supposed to have a low of 52 which is another indication of just how clear the skies will be since it's in the mid-upper 80's right now so that's quite a drop which doesn't happen unless the skies are really clear.

It was another struggle to get my mW QSO today. Not because mW doesn't work nor because propagation was not good. The bands again were just pretty devoid of activity. I called CQ's with no sign of any answer. I called one WB2 station on 40 and a DJ6 on 20 with no sign they heard me at all. Finally I heard the really great op S57DX on 17 meters. I called him a few times with no answer, but then he sent something like MWM? which I figured must have been me. After that he stuck with me through many repeats of my call till we completed the QSO. It's nice to have ops like that in the world who don't mind working hard to help someone make a QSO. There are some these days who seemingly won't work anyone unless the signal is 20-30 DB over S9. Of course with the ageing population of ham ops, a lot of folks do have hearing that isn't as sharp as it once was. I don't fault those people at all, but some can hear, but just are too lazy to make the effort.

I was surprised today when I put my May weather readings into the computer. May turned out to be some 4 degrees above normal, and we set a couple daily high temperature records the last two days of the month. We also set a record for the highest daily average temperature for any day in May since my records started back in 1959. The mean was 82 on the 30th with our low of 67 and high of 96.

I didn't check to see by how much, but we also have set a record for the most rainfall in the first 5 months of any year with some 22 inches so far, about 6 inches above normal.

I just a few minutes ago took some pictures of my tomatoes and roses. I'll share those with you hopefully in tomorrow's entry. -30-

Tuesday, May 31, 2011 9:56 PM - I don't know, the older I get, the more the heat seems to bother me. I was really dragging today in our second straight 96 degree day. Spent most of the day sitting in front of the computer with a fan blowing on me.

Or it could be just like other years where the first couple of hot days bother me, then I adapt to it after that. I hope the second alternative is the true one this year.

It seems that the DX streak is the easiest to maintain. Once again I got an easy QSO from PT2ZHA on 17 meters. Then a 5 watt regular QSO with WB3AAI on 40 meters. I didn't even try for my mW QSO yet. That will come hopefully in the morning or afternoon.

The higher bands were virtually devoid of activity in the 0000Z hour from 30 meters on up. The only exception being the PT2 station and one other unID station on 17 meters. I don't know where everyone was. The bands are in good shape propagation-wise, but are just not being occupied. Perhaps it's too hot for ham radio for a lot of folks?

Oh, before I go, I wanted to share this info about the situation in Japan from my friend Kenji with his permission. He only asks the following: "You can quote the following message. I would appreciate that you will kindly state that the opinions expressed in the message are solely personal. (Lots of different views, especially on the ongoing nuclear incident, are in Japan now, and I myself do not live in the affected areas (JA7 and JA1))."

Now with that preamble here is what Kenji had to say.

"Hello John: I read your stories on DXing; it looks like the propagation is back on HF. Congratulations on the One-day WAC on 15-MAY-2011.

I've been away from ham radio for quite a while since September 2010, especially after the 11-MAR-2011 Earthquake/Tsunami which severely hit Tohoku (JA7) and Northern Kanto (JA1) regions. My mother Kiyoko is living in near NRT airport, though she was safe and I visited her place on April. I also went to Tokyo for cleaning up my old house (where JJ1BDX first started operation) on May. The city light was totally dimmed to reduce electricity consumption, but the people in Tokyo were all alive and well.

Life in Kansai (JA3) is normal - though the supply chain of goods in Japan has been damaged. For example I had to import flashlights from the USA via amazon.com.

Unfortunately I haven't really heard an impressive news on the amateur radio, especially about the emergency health-and-welfare traffics. The foundation of civil defense activities in Japan has been nil for the past 65 years, and the situation won't be changed rapidly.

The crippled nuclear reactors in Fukushima won't be settled in months. People in Japan are fearing radioactive fallouts, though in JA3 no increase of radioactive emissions were measured. Lots of thoughts are coming into my mind every day. My mother (who survived WWII) tells me we're still living in much better condition than what she experienced after 1945. Maybe she's correct. But that's not enough to maintain our hope for living. For me and my wife Kyoto we will be able to endure, tolerate, or even accept what will happen. But for younger generations including those who have small kids, I tell them getting out of this crippled nation is surely an option and I won't call them cowards.

A good news is that ham friends around me are still active on their professional activities and also on HF. Many of them are helping the damaged regions and that's surely a real hope for our nation.

Excuse me for a non-conclusive email, but have a good weekend.

Regards, Kenji Rikitake, JJ1BDX(/3)

P.S. I want to write that I thank all Americans including you to have sent USS Ronald Reagan (near Korea on March 2011) and USN 7th Fleet squadrons from the very first moment of the disasters; the recovery of Sendai airport in JA7 and other wiped-out areas would not have been completed so fast without the help of US Armed Forces. We all appreciate the USN Operation Tomodachi (Tomodachi means "friends" in Japanese) and are very much impressed by how effectively US Armed Forces cleaned up the damaged areas."

I found that first-hand narrative on the situation in Japan very informative and a good addition to what was and is being heard on the various news media around the world. Thanks Kenji for sending it and allowing me to use it here in the diary. I'm just sorry I didn't get around to posting it a little sooner. However perhaps the delay is a good thing as it will help a little bit to keep the Japanese situation in the minds of people. -30-

Monday, May 30, 2011 9:11 PM - I hope you all had a great Memorial Day and spent some time in some way paying tribute to all the wonderful men and women in our armed services who have given their lives to help keep the USA the greatest and most free country in the world. Also to those who have been injured doing so and to those who are serving in that capacity today.

Although I did miss our Memorial Day parade because they apparently changed the traditional time to an hour earlier this year, I did keep up my tradition of flying the flag - the one that draped my father's coffin just over 47 years ago.

Well, it doesn't get any quicker getting a DX QSO than it did tonight. I turned on the rig about a minute before 0000Z and tuned across 20 meters to find a strong EA3GHZ just ending a QSO and then calling CQ. His K at the end of the CQ came exactly as my station clock changed from 2359 to 0000 and a single call from me netted my DX QSO. I never expected that. After that I tuned around a little more and noticed a lot of very strong signals on 40-20 meters. Not much on 17 though. I then thought I'd get all the streak QSO's out of the way from the MI QRP contest. I worked K3HX with mW, then AE8M with mW. That makes the 3 QSO's that cover the four streaks, but I didn't want to have K3HX be my mW QSO two nights in a row as I also worked him with mW in the Hootowl sprint last night. I went and called CQ on 30 meters, and got an answer from W3HBM up in Maine. I chatted with him a bit, then I wanted to take a walk before it got dark. It was too blamed hot earlier in the day at a high of 96 degrees. So I went for the walk, and just got home a few minutes ago, got my temperature readings and now am writing this. -30-

Sunday, May 29, 2011 9:23 PM - My, that was easy. Getting my streak QSO's for the 30th, I mean. I knew with the Hootowl Sprint, the regular and mW QSO's would be a snap and they were. I was really worried about the DX QSO though. With the ionospheric storms the past couple days and coming right at the end of the CQ WPX contest, I didn't expect to get my DX QSO at all this evening and maybe not even during the day tomorrow. However a quick tune across 30 and 20 produced nothing, but 17 had ZP6CW who seemed like he was just getting on the air. At least there was no competition for that somewhat rare country, and he answered my first response to his CQ. So that's that for another day. Now let's talk about the CQ WPX contest a bit.

Once again I lost most of the morning. Everyone was away next door so I spent quite a bit of time with Joe. I took him for his early morning walk, then we just kind of hung around together. I did take time to eat my brunch and plant the 4 tomato plants I bought yesterday, but most of the time till around 1 PM or so was spent enjoyably with Joe.

I got in the WPX contest around 1730Z or so, and there wasn't much going on. The geomagnetic storm was still raging pretty strongly. I had a lot of trouble working anyone with mW. Well, DX anyway. I could have worked a lot of USA stations with mW, I'm sure. However I pretty much was passing up the USA stations unless they had a prefix I thought I might need, or if they were a good contesting friend. Then I'd work them with 5 watts. Oh, one interesting thing last night. Remember all the trouble I had working 6W/RK4FF on 20 meters. I never did get him in fact, and only worked 6W/RK4FG. However last night in the contest I worked 6W/RK4FF very easily on 40 meters. I also got a nice prefix in OG73X. I don't see anything special noted for the call in QRZ although it is listed there.

I got on again in the 2000Z hour and 15 meters was quite good then. I worked stations like CQ3A, ED8A (with mW), new prefix WQ6X, G6PZ, and NP4Z. Nothing really that rare, but fun nonetheless. Incidentally, the lack of UA, UR, LY, YL, and ES stations was noteworthy and says something about band conditions as there are generally a lot of stations from those countries heard here, but not this weekend. When I QRT at 2039, I had 58 QSO's, and wasn't sure if I was going to get on again or not. However I did, and this time I got on and decided to work whomever I was hearing well. In the last hour and 45 minutes, I added 47 more QSO's, mostly USA stations. That made my total for the test 105 QSO's and 86 prefix multipliers. Not bad for my minimal effort for most of the contest.

One disappointment was not being able to work A73A which would have been an overall new country. He was never all that strong. No big pileup to contend with, but he just wasn't hearing me at all. I never even got a question mark from him. That was the only new country I heard in the contest.

It's funny, but it seems most years, this WPX contest is plagued by a geomagnetic storm or some kind of propagation quirk.

I'm not sure how I made out with new prefixes, band countries, etc. I know for sure I have 4 new prefixes. I don't think there are any new band countries. Possibly 1 or 2 mW new band countries, but I'm not even sure of that without checking. I did only make about 8 mW QSO's all told. -30-

Saturday, May 28, 2011 7:29 PM - I never did get into the WPX test till mid-afternoon and conditions were not very good then. About all I was hearing at any strength were the big USA contest stations on 20 and the same on 15 plus a few SA stations.

I was busy the first half of the day helping neighbor Nancy with some things. Started out delivering some items for a Relay for Life race coming up in June. That turned out to be a little mixed-up thing. Just as we were getting ready to go, someone called and said more items were on the way. Well those items turned out too big for the car, so Nancy had to call and have everything picked up instead by someone who had a van. Poor Joe was wondering what all the confusion was. HI. Then just about that time Bruce came home from some shopping, and took Joe out for a walk. Next on the agenda was a shopping trip with Nancy. She had to go to Wal-Mart and I was going along to buy some tomato plants (Early-Girls). As usual we wound up going to 3 or 4 different places so that took a while. Then she had to go get some rhubarb from a friend, and she might have to pick it herself so I said I was going along to help her. Well, we got that done, and then I visited with Joe for a while, and he ate his dinner. For some reason, he seems to eat his dog food a little better when I'm there.

Anyway back to the WPX. I got in it again around 2200-2300Z and conditions were a little better. I still was having trouble working stations except for the very strong ones. I didn't even bother trying my 930 mW. I kind of picked and chose who I worked including contesting friends, prefixes I thought I might need, and some countries I like to work. I'm going back at 0000Z to get my streak QSO's for the 29th at least, if not more. Then maybe I'll be able to get on in the morning or early afternoon to see what the bands are like. I may even try 40 if I wake up in the middle of the night to see if I can get some Oceania stations. I did work KH6MB and WH7M in Hawaii on 20 meters so far from that continent. I think Asia will give me a WAC for the weekend if I can catch a Japanese or Asiatic Russian or something else. -30-

Friday, May 27, 2011 9:24 PM - I believe it was Mark Twain who said about the New England weather, "If you don't like it, just wait 5 minutes and it will change" or something like that. It was that kind of day here in Western PA. Sunny one minute, a shower the next, windy, then calm, humid then dry, and so on. Overall it was cooler than the past few days with a high of only 76. However by Monday and Tuesday we are supposed to be in the 90's with some dry weather for a change.

I spent a good deal of the morning putting the finishing touches on our NAQCC newsletter then posting it to the web site. I spent some time with Joe and later we went for our afternoon walk. Nothing much out of the ordinary the rest of the day.

I was kind of looking forward to the CQ WPX contest starting at 00Z this evening, but when I got on, I mostly just listened for some new prefixes or new band or mW countries. Despite the solar flux getting back up to 90 today, conditions weren't all that great. Most of the stations had their usual start of contest big pileups so I didn't really work all that much. I worked 3 stations with mW power - VE9DX, E73M, and CR6K, and a couple others including SX1L which may be a new prefix for me. Maybe I'll be more into it tomorrow. Hopefully 15 and 10 may be open in the morning and afternoon. -30-

Thursday, May 26, 2011 11:58 AM - Thought I'd write this early in the day today since I just finished my mW QSO for the day, and also while the events of yesterday were still fresh in my mind. The mW QSO came pretty easy. Several CQ's on 40 meters brought a response from NAQCC/FISTS member Rick N8MFN. He gave me a 599 report while he was some 20 over S9 with his 20 watts. I also added a second DX QSO for the day before that to keep the multi-QSO streak going. That was PJ4/K4IQJ on 17 meters warming up for a multi-multi effort with K4BAI, etc. in the upcoming CQ WPX test. Hmmm, I wonder if the new Bonaire entity is new for me on 17 meters. Just a minute.... Nope, I only need it on 160, 30, 20, and 12. Probably will never get it on 160, but I'll have to check 30 and 12 today and tomorrow and 20 in the CQ WPX test Saturday and Sunday.

Mike and I had a great day for our portable operation yesterday. Before that we did our usual NAQCC work checking out all the club prizes, etc. We stopped off at Subway to get our lunch which we ate at the park. We got to try out our new PVC antenna mast with the inverted vee antennas. We still need to do some fine tuning, but they worked well. Propagation conditions weren't all that good on the bands plus 40 was plagued by storm QRN from all the widespread storms around the country. There were no storms for us though. Just a beautiful blue sky with a few small cumulus clouds. The temperature was just about right in the mid 70's. We managed to make 9 QSO's in about 2.5 hours or so. 8 of them came on 20 meters and one lonely one on 40 meters. 30 meters was a bust. I think Mike tried a couple other bands with his K2 also. I was using the KX1 and only had 80, 40, 30, and 20 to play with and of course 80 wasn't even worth trying in mid-day.

After we came home we were pleased by the flock of emails we got about our outing, and we are planning to do it again (maybe July 3) with more advance notice. You can see more about our operation including pictures and future plans in the NAQCC newsletter on the NAQCC web site. The newest newsletter will be posted sometime tomorrow.

I still needed my mW QSO so Mike and I went to the shack to see if I could get it. It took a lot of listening around to even find anyone to try. There were a couple Cyprus stations on 20 meters but they were weak and had pileups, so I didn't even bother to try. I was going to try the one with 5 watts but he QRT before I got the chance. Finally we found a strong DX station on 17 meters. It turned out to be VP5/W5CW and I worked him after 4 or 5 tries.

Then we killed some time till Mike left for the club meeting. While he was gone I got one QSO for the 26th - EA2VE on 20 meters. Mike picked up a pizza on the way back here, and we ate that. We made a mistake though and ordered extra cheese on it. Well the cheese must have been a quarter inch thick which we thought was a bit much. Next time no extra cheese from that pizza parlor.

Next we waited for it to get dark for some star gazing. It was a race to see which would come first - darkness or clouds. Well, unfortunately the clouds one, so no star gazing. We did set up Mike's new scope though and looked at some distant hills with it.

We took a look at the radar and satellite images on the Internet to see if perhaps a break in the clouds might be coming. We discovered instead a nasty looking line of thunderstorms approaching. We watched the movement of the storms for quite a while as they were nearly parallel to the route Mike would be taking back to Brookville. It was interesting to see the lower end of the line of storms pass just north of Kittanning. Almost like someone took a huge pair of scissors and cut off the bottom part of the line so it would miss Kittanning. The red (severe) portion of the radar image must have passed just about 2 miles or so north of Kittanning. All we got here were some fairly strong wind gusts and a few drops of rain. We waited till the line got east of Route 28, and then Mike headed on home. The end of a very good day. -30-

Wednesday, May 25, 2011 11:27 PM - A long and busy day with Mike KC2EGL, and it's late now. Mike just left a few minutes ago. So I think I'll save my comments on the day till tomorrow's diary entry. -30-

Tuesday, May 24, 2011 9:13 PM - It continues to be tough to get my mW QSO in the evenings. I don't know why. I do know the bands seem more empty than usual. Probably because of the nice late spring weather and the later sunsets. Folks are stretching their outdoor time well into the evenings now and not getting on the air till later. Perhaps I should try something like the 02 or 03Z hours instead of the 00Z hour.

At least I have been able to work some mW DX in late afternoons to keep the mW streak going. Today it was OM5DP with a very easy QSO on 20 meters. It's interesting how good the DX is even with the SF down in the low 80's now.

Tomorrow Mike KC2EGL will be visiting. So I'll have to find some time to squeeze in a mW QSO before he comes, or after he goes to the local ham club meeting in the evening. Or maybe while he's here even. We'll see. -30-

Monday, May 23, 2011 6:35 PM - I thought my mW streak was going to come to an end today. I tried 2 or 3 times in late morning, early afternoon, and late afternoon, but didn't have any luck. Activity on the bands was very low and any stations I did hear were weak and if I called them, there was no indication they were hearing me. My own CQ's also went unanswered on 40, 30, and 20. Finally at 2215Z, I tuned on 20 meters, heard E74IW booming in, called him, got an answer on the first call although I had to correct him from K3WWW to K3WWP. So the mW streak lives.

In addition to the empty bands, I didn't have all that much time to try. Early this morning we had to take Joe to the vet for a booster shot to the shot he got 3 weeks ago. We had to wait forever there. I waited outside with Joe while Bruce waited inside till they were ready for Joe. It turned out the long wait was because they had the sad task of putting two dogs to sleep. I saw a 'body bag' being carried out to a van while Joe and I were waiting about a hundred feet away. That apparently was one of the two. That was sad to see. But anyway Joe got his shot and a little checkup. Other than being a couple pounds overweight, he's doing very well.

I also took a couple walks and did a little shopping. One other task I did was to fix Ange's garden gate which got broken sometime this spring or late winter.

So now about another hour and it will be time to go for the streak QSO's for another day. Maybe I'll get all 3 quickly this time and not have to worry in the morning or afternoon. -30-

Sunday, May 22, 2011 9:25 PM - It seems to be getting a bit harder to get my mW QSO in the evenings again. Once again it will have to wait till the morning or afternoon. The DX came pretty easily although Dima RX3AGD had some trouble getting the last letter of my call and needed several repeats. Not surprising as none of the DX signals here were really all that strong. Dima and a JW8HGA were the strongest, and the JW8 just wasn't hearing me at all. Kind of like the 6W situation I described last entry. Unusual as I can usually work the Scandinavian area of EU easily on 20 meters late in the day.

I hope you all had a good time at Dayton and have arrived home safely or will do so soon. Now maybe the bands will be a bit busier than they were over the weekend, and the visits to my web site will pick up again.

I'm looking forward to the Butler PA hamfest on June 5. Also to my monthly visit from Mike KC2EGL which will be this Wednesday. Weather permitting, we may do a couple things, both of which DO depend on the weather. We may do a portable operation from the Kittanning Community Park in the late morning or early afternoon. I'll have more about that in the diary if it looks like the weather will cooperate. We also hope to have a star viewing Wednesday night either at the park or my back yard.

Unfortunately the weather forecast for the week is a broken record with a 40-60 percent chance of showers/thundershowers each day at least through Saturday. It sure would be nice to get a stretch of good weather some time soon, but I don't see that happening according to the consensus of the 4 forecast services I regularly monitor.

Oh hey, I finally noticed a small green tomato on one of my 4 Siberian plants today. That should have showed up about 6 weeks ago though. Now I'm wondering if I'll even get a ripe tomato this year by the end of June. -30-

Saturday, May 21, 2011 9:31 PM - Finally! I got the 6W station on 20 meters. I don't need Senegal on 20, but it just irked me that he was booming in several times with a minimal or no pile-up, and I was operating the proper split frequency, but he still never answered me until tonight. I noticed instead of RK4FF it was RK4FG operating tonight, so maybe that had something to do with it. I also worked 3 other DX stations this evening. They were in the EA contest. And my mW QSO came from my friend Gary K1YAN on 30 meters. So I'm all set for another day in the streak business. HI.

I did some checking and back from 11/23/1999 through 7/16/2000 when I worked DX every day but one (2/12/2000), the solar flux was well above 100. In fact in a quick check, the lowest SF I see in that period is 126 on 1/28/2000. The past couple days in the current DX streak the SF has been at 84. Still the DX is coming pretty easily even that low.

A beautiful May day today. Mostly sunny and in the low 80's - just what a May day should be here in Kittanning, not those cloudy, rainy, cool days we've had almost all month until today. However it looks like we're going back into the rain regime now for the next several days once again. Maybe we'll have a great late Fall to make up for the very poor Spring so far.

Hard to believe that in previous years, I was very close to picking my first ripe tomato around this date, but this year I don't even have any tiny green ones on my plants for whatever reason. Probably the extremely cloudy weather we've had most of the past few months now.

We just received our 98th log for our NAQCC sprint, so all we need now is two more to hit the century mark for yet another month. I'm fairly optimistic we will make it, but if not, we know it was Dayton that kept us from doing it, and that's a good reason anyway. -30-

Friday, May 20, 2011 9:44 PM - I know my friend Gary N2ESE reads my diary, and I need his email address. So Gary, if you see this please contact me via email. Or if any other reader has his email address, I'd appreciate getting it from you. Thanks.

Wow, a large portion of the ham population must be in Dayton. The bands are emptier than usual tonight, the visitors to my web site today are (so far) the lowest they've been in quite a while, and log submissions for our NAQCC sprint came to a screeching halt this morning.

It's a long way off to the 2012 Dayton Hamvention, and a lot could change by then, but Tom WY3H and I are talking about perhaps setting up a NAQCC presence there. Tom and I will definitely be at the Butler Pa Hamvention on June 5 with a NAQCC table there. So if you can, it would be nice to see you there.

I got all but my mW QSO this evening. The DX was a bit rough, but I finally got UT5XS on 30 meters after trying several other stations with no success. Coincidentally Tom WY3H mentioned to me in a phone call last night that he had worked a UT5 station whose suffix he couldn't remember, but his name was Hank. Well UT5XS's name is Hank, so I guess Hank now has worked all Kittanning CW hams. HI. My other QSO this evening was with Alan NN0D in MO. That's a nice call to send on CW - nice rhythm. Is that how you spell rhythm? HI. I can never remember.

Another nice weather day today. High of 70 and mostly cloudy with only a trace of rain. Nice walking weather, so I got out again for a couple nice walks plus the Joe walk. Tomorrow is supposed to be even nicer with sunshine and a high in the upper 70's. -30-

Thursday, May 19, 2011 9:42 PM - It's interesting how many days really go by fast, and when you look back on them, you can't really remember accomplishing that much. I have a lot of those. I was thinking today was kind of like that, but when I look back, I guess I did get some things done. Mainly it was processing logs from our NAQCC sprint last night. I've got 79 done now and have perhaps a dozen more sitting in my email box to take care of after I finish this diary entry.

We actually only had a little rain today so I got in a couple walks between the little showers. Plus of course taking Joe out for our regular afternoon walk. I also, as I do every day, visited with Joe, Nancy, and Bruce.

Then because I didn't get them last night, I had to get my mW and DX QSO's for the 19th. The mW was a cinch and as easy as it gets. I called CQ once on 40 meters and got answered by KD8HES in MI. The DX was a bit harder and took 2 or 3 sessions to get it. After earlier unsuccessful tries, and then almost forgetting about it, I finally at 2246Z heard CO6RD on 20 meters and worked him after a couple calls. That was a repeat QSO from not too many days ago, and I don't like to do that, but.....

Oh, and I also helped Ange work in the garden for about an hour or so cleaning up and getting ready for some more planting to add to the peas and beans we planted about a week ago. So as I said, I guess I did do quite a bit today.

The streak QSO's came easy for the 20th this evening. First EI0CZ for DX, then K1IQI for mW, and KC8QMF for the regular QSO although one of the other QSO's could have counted for that also, but as I've said I kind of like to get 3 separate QSO's for the three streaks.

Well, now it's off to process what logs are waiting for me. -30-

Wednesday, May 18, 2011 11:27 PM - Looks like I'll have to get my DX and mW streak QSO's in the morning or afternoon. I tried for DX before the sprint with no luck. Then no luck with mW in the sprint. I could have gotten the mW, but I was doing pretty good and didn't want to slow myself down trying for the mW QSO.

It was a pretty active sprint. I thought maybe travel to Dayton would slow it down a bit, but I think and hope I was wrong. We'll see. We have 38 logs in the first 45 minutes after the sprint. -30-

Tuesday, May 17, 2011 10:12 PM - The DX streak almost came to an end today. It was a very busy day with a lot going on. It was our town's annual clean-up day when you put out on the curb all the things you accumulated over the past year (and before) that they won't take on the regular weekly garbage pick-up days. It was also primary election day here in Pennsylvania. Then of course as I do about every day, it's a trip to the grocery store to pick up this or that which I'm out of or running low on.

Then I had to help Bruce with some computer work which took quite a while. Not long after that it was time for Joe's afternoon walk. I always visit with him and Nancy after we come in from the walk. By this time that's used up a good part of the day until late afternoon.

On election day, our local Subway shop gives a good deal to those who show proof they voted. Today they sold a sub at regular price and a second one for just $0.11. So for my regular mid-late afternoon meal, I just had a light snack. Then when Bruce got home from work, he, Nancy and I were going to get our subs. Finally while waiting for Bruce to get home, I got my DX QSO from Tibor OM3SEM on 20 meters. I've worked him a few times before and it's always a pretty good bet when I hear him, I can work him. That was true again today as it only took a single call for him to come back to me. So the DX streak goes on.

This evening the DX QSO for the 18th was much easier and came more quickly. Frank OZ1GML came back to my answer to his CQ right away on 20 meters. It turned out he was running 500 watts and a beam (I think a 3 element one if I recall correctly). The mW QSO took a bit more doing. Before trying for it, I thought I'd get a second 5 watt QSO to extend the multi-QSO streak. That came from Dick K5TF in GA who answered my CQ. Next it took a while to get the mW QSO, but I answered ND1I Dutch's CQ and we had a 10 minute QSO, after which Walt KB3LGO tail-ended for a second mW QSO.

Tomorrow evening for the 19th should be easy. Hopefully I'll get the DX QSO between 0000 and 0030Z, then the other streak QSO's in our NAQCC Sprint. 40 was good this evening as was 20. I sure hope both are the same tomorrow night for our sprint. We may not get our 100 logs this month since I figure a lot of folks will be traveling to Dayton tomorrow. Of course they can always get in the sprint portable from there. I know a couple who will be doing just that, or at least they said they would try. -30-

Monday, May 16, 2011 10:01 PM - After the big DX feast over the weekend, there weren't even any little table scraps left this evening. So I guess I'll be chasing DX in the morning or afternoon to try to keep the streak going. The only DX station I heard this evening who wasn't way down in the noise was 6W/RK4FF on 20 meters, and everyone in the world must need Senegal on 20. I tried for about 15 minutes, and never even came close to being found in the pile-up. -30-

Sunday, May 15, 2011 4:40 PM - I'm adding to what I wrote earlier today to tell you about something I accomplished today that I haven't done in several years now. I got a WAC (Worked All Continents) in a single day today. Let me review.

At 0009Z it was EU from 9A5W 20M. I also worked 25 other EU stations, the last RU3ZX at 1631Z.
At 0016Z it was AS from RJ9J 20M. I also worked 5 other AS stations, the last RC9O at 0113Z.
At 0039Z it was AF from CN8YR 20M. The only AF I worked.
At 1626Z it was OC from AH6V 17M. The only OC.
At 2007Z it was SA from PV8DX 12M. The only SA.
At 2014Z it was NA (at last) from KA2KDJ 40M. The only NA.

So doing the math, that's WAC in 19 hours and 1 minute. Nowhere near my record of 5 hours 22 minutes on November 30, 1997, but still a very satisfying accomplishment, and one that shows just how great the bands are these days for working DX. I believe my last one day WAC was back in 2000 at the peak of the last sunspot cycle. So with us still nowhere near the peak of the new cycle, DX is still there for the taking NOW! Come on in and join the fun. I've proved you don't need a KW and beam on a hilltop to work DX. Just 5 watts (or less) to a hunk of wire in a valley location will suffice. It will be a little harder, but in the end much more satisfying and rewarding.

Now here's what I wrote earlier today. Oh oh, I just noticed something. My second longest DX streak is not 54 days, but 81 days, so I've got quite a way to go before the current 50 day streak moves into second place. I guess in my haste with all the work I have to do here with the NAQCC and my own web site, I looked at the 154 day #1 DX streak and somehow transposed the 54 portion of that number. At any rate, I've adjusted the countdown timer above to reflect my error.

It's still early in the day, but I wanted to make note of that before I forgot it. If anything out of the ordinary happens the rest of the day, and I don't really expect it, I'll update this entry later today. -30-

Saturday, May 14, 2011 10:06 PM - Hey now, that was an hour and 45 minutes of pure enjoyment. Working the CQM contest this evening, I mean. I started off getting my mW QSO from 9A5W on 20 meters. Then I worked 30 more DX stations so it was hard to decide which ones to put in my streak tables. I thought I'd put one from each of the two 'rarest' countries I worked - CN8YR from Morocco and UQ50P from Kazakhstan. All contacts were on 20 meters which was really hot this evening despite the SF going even lower down to 91 today. Countries I worked in the contest including the aforementioned ones were Croatia, Finland, Asiatic Russia, Italy, Slovenia, Romania, Kazakhstan, European Russia, Morocco, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Czech Republic, Germany, France, Serbia. I probably should have tried more with my mW, but I didn't. All except 9A5W were worked with 5 watts. Most QSO's were fairly easy ones, but some did require repeats to get my call or number right.

We had another pretty nice day today despite predictions of heavy rain. All we got was .01 inches, and the sun even came out quite a bit. Right now there are some rumbles of thunder as I'm typing, but the radar looks like the real storms are going to bypass us to the northwest as they are moving mostly in a SSW to NNE direction.

Not much more news for the diary. I logged the CQM contacts on paper, so now I have to transfer them manually to my Access log and my web site log. Whew! I should have used GenLog to log the contest, but I didn't realize I was going to stay in it so long, but I couldn't resist the really good conditions on 20. -30-

Friday, May 13, 2011 9:27 PM - My last 7 QSO's have been with stations outside the USA now - as well as 9 of the last 10. DX is getting easier and easier to work even with the SF down to 92 today. I firmly believe that folks depend too much on the SF, A, and K figures and let them decide their operating habits. The lack of DX during sunspot minimums is not due entirely to poor conditions. A large contributing factor is folks believing conditions are worse than they actually are, and not even bothering to check or get on the bands. There were great DX signals on 17 meters this afternoon, and I worked IK3VUT pretty easily there with my 930 mW. This evening it was yet another special event DX station in LZ11RF on 20 meters, then OK2KJU on 20 meters, and finally my mW QSO was with VE1FO/P on IOTA NA-127 Brier Is., NS also on 20 meters.

Actually I almost missed out on getting my mW QSO for the 13th. I just about forgot I still needed it until late in the afternoon. My neighbor took me on my monthly shopping trip up to the mall and between what she needed and what I needed the trip took a couple hours. Before that I was busy finalizing and posting our latest NAQCC Newsletter. So time almost got away from me before getting the QSO, but I still got it with over 3 hours to spare.

I'm all set for the 14th now, of course. Hopefully if nothing else comes up and I remember, I'll get into the FISTS Spring Sprint tomorrow afternoon. I've missed quite a few of them for one reason or other and I like to support FISTS activities as much as possible since they and the NAQCC are my two favorite clubs, and really the only two in which I participate since both promote CW operation as I do myself. -30-

Thursday, May 12, 2011 8:32 PM - We've got some thunderstorms moving through the area now so I'm going to make this a quick entry and maybe shut down the computer till the storms pass.

Surprisingly (to me) I got 3 of the streaks extended easily so far. I'll have to wait till morning for the mW QSO though - probably.

I worked FG5FR on 30 meters right after my friend Jim W1PID worked him. It was an easy QSO. I really didn't want to work him because we've had many QSO's before, but it was a WARC band QSO towards our May NAQCC WARC bands challenge, and also with the tstorms around I wanted to book at least one easy QSO just in case.

Then I looked around for another DX QSO to complete the multi-QSO day which would leave only the aforementioned mW QSO to go. I found yet another special event foreign station in EO66JM, called him once with no answer. Then he called CQ again and I got him that time. I haven't looked to see what that SE call is for, but the 66 leads me to believe it has something to do with the end of WW II 66 years ago in 1945. That's it for now. More tomorrow.

Just have to add this note. I punched the EO66JM call into the Bing search engine, and it is amazing how many 'spotting' type hits I got. Does everyone but me depend on Internet spotting to find their DX for them? That's like shooting fish in a barrel. Give me the old fashioned way of DXing. Tuning around the bands till you hear a DX station. I've said this before, but I can only recall two times I ever used any kind of spotting to work DX. One was V51AS in Namibia. I was on the Internet with Dave VA3RJ and he mentioned the spot and asked me if I wanted to try to work him. I said yes just for fun and went to the shack and did work him. I believe there was one other time also, maybe a VK0 station on Macquarie Island. But that's it. All my other 13,000 or so DX QSO's have come from tuning the bands - period. Oh and incidentally that chatting with Dave on the Internet was the only time I've ever done Internet chat. He and I did it a few times, and that was it for me - period again.

Oh, the EO66JM call is as I guessed, 66 years since "THE VICTORY IN THE GREAT PATRIOTIC WAR" as they put it. -30-

Wednesday, May 11, 2011 9:23 PM - I just realized tonight that I'm having much more fun and getting more satisfaction from trying to keep 4 streaks going instead of just 1 as I did for so many years or two since I started the mW streak in May 2010. Adding a DX streak and a multi-QSO streak has made it more challenging now, and I like challenges. Anything that comes too easy just doesn't satisfy as much as something you have to work a little harder to achieve. Living a life of luxury with everything handed to you on a silver platter just doesn't appeal to me at all, and it's not really the way life should be lived.

Tonight was my computer club meeting night so I knew it might be a bit harder getting the 4 streaks extended this evening, but I was going to try anyway. Fortunately I did get home a bit earlier than expected and got on the bands around 0025Z. I thought I'd go for DX first and if I got a DX station, that would take care of 2 of the streaks right there. As I did a few nights ago I heard what was obviously a DX station working other stations although he wasn't identifying himself. I decided to work him first then find out who it was afterwards, so I did. Well it turned out to be H77REX whom I had worked 10 days ago on the same band - 20 meters. I hate to do that as I've mentioned previously, but..... Now I thought I'll go for a second QSO of any kind to extend the multi-QSO streak. It turned out to be a bit rough. No answers to my CQ's, so I thought I'll look for another DX station. I found F2QJ quite strong on 20 meters, and worked him, finding out in the process why he was so strong. He was running 400 watts. He copied me pretty well on his vertical antenna and we exchanged info for about 6 minutes. Three streaks down and the mW streak to go. I went to 40 and called CQ. It didn't take too long till W4OGZ answered me, so another day is complete for all 4 streaks. That's a good feeling, and continues to prove how well CW works for yet another day. It's hard to believe some folks still think you need QRO to make QSO's. Oh well, that's their problem, not mine.

Oh and incidentally the SF today was down to 94. Mr. Sun better kick things up a notch or it may start getting harder to get the DX QSO if the SF keeps dropping. Harder but not impossible. It may just take a bit longer is what I should have said. -30-

Tuesday, May 10, 2011 9:05 PM - Three days in a row without any rain. A new record - well, at least since April 1st and maybe a few days before than in March. Anyway it's been a long time since we've had even such a modest dry spell. With a high in the upper 70's, what more can you ask for? If I was to be picky about it, I could have done with a little more sunshine. We did have quite a bit of cloudiness today even without any precipitation.

I really didn't expect to get all my streaks done this evening after listening to the bands about 10 minutes before 0000Z when they all sounded really blah. However when the day changed at 0000Z once again I did get all my QSO's taken care of pretty quickly and had all 4 streaks extended another day by 0034Z. I figured with the poor conditions I'd get the main 5 watt streak QSO first. That came from WB2LQF who answered my CQ on 40 meters after about 7 minutes of calling. Next I thought I'd see if I could find some DX somewhere. It wasn't easy, but I did locate CE2/VE7SV on 17 meters. However a few nights ago I tried him several times and he never heard me at all. However tonight just a couple calls to him netted my DX QSO. I'll have to check to see if Chile on 17 is a new band country. I don't think so, but let me see. Nope I worked XQ3IDY several years ago. Now I'm sure I'll probably have to wait till morning or afternoon for my mW QSO as there just weren't any real strong stations anywhere.... but wait here is W3GOE calling CQ on 30 meters and he's over S9. I answer his CQ and we have a solid copy 2 rounds with my mW power. Since that completed my criteria for a mW QSO, I then QRO to 5 watts and we continued with a very nice visit. Probably could have done the same with my 930 mW as well since the path between here and his QTH in IL was so solid. Oh, and he was also using an attic antenna although not the same as my attic random wire - his was a loop antenna in his attic. Ain't it wonderful the things you can do with CW, and you don't need to run QRO like some folks and some clubs think you have to do to make contacts.

Incidentally the SF today was 98 - the first time under 100 since 92 on March 20. The lowest it's been in my DX streak so far. -30-

Monday, May 09, 2011 10:00 PM - In contrast to the past couple evenings, it was rough getting QSO's this evening for whatever reason. Took a while to just get a regular 5 watt QSO till WA7RBC answered my CQ at 0027 on 40 meters. Then I decided I'd try for a DX QSO, and that was rough also. In the first place I didn't hear any real strong DX stations except for a couple I'd worked recently like OM5OA and the ever-present CO8LY. There was a strong DM2 station on 17 meters, but he kept working one station after another, never hearing me at all. I guess he had a big pileup, although I don't know why. Finally I found EI9FBB on 30 meters pretty strong, and had to only wait through a QSO or 2 to have him come back to me, first as K3WIP, then he got it correct after I sent K3WWP 2 more times. So that leaves a mW QSO to get in the morning or afternoon.

We had another beautiful day today with bright sunshine and a high in the mid-70's. So I did some work in the back yard cleaning out my garden patch and doing a little fence mending. I also took a couple pretty good walks along with a walk with Joe. After the walk, Joe, Nancy, and I sat on the porch for a while enjoying the nice weather. Looks like it is going to be just as nice the next two days for sure and maybe a third one before we slip back into our normal 2011 rainy weather again for the coming weekend and first part of next week.

I took a close look at my tomatoes today and I still don't have anything beyond some flowers on them. I must be at leas a month behind previous years and I don't really know why unless it was a severe lack of sunshine while they were developing. -30-

Sunday, May 08, 2011 8:16 PM - I think that's a new record in extending my 4 streaks. Done at 0012Z. Think I'll go back to the shack and chase some more DX after I update the diary, my streak table, and propagation page since I got done so early and don't really have much else to do.

First came PV8ADI at 0003Z on 20 meters. Then 9A4KW with my 930mW on 20 meters 6 minutes later. Actually that completed the 4 streaks right there, but I thought I'd get an extra QSO just to have 3 different ones listed instead of 2. So I heard W3UA in NH who apparently thinks the NE QP is still going past its closing time and is calling CQ so I figured what the heck, I'll work him anyway and I did.

I had a great time last evening making 10 QSO's from 0000 to 0110Z. 8 of them being DX in the ARI and CQM contests plus two more DX special event stations - HF40HS honoring a Nobel Peace Prize winner from Poland, and Nigel G3TXS using the royal wedding prefix GR3TXS.

Ham radio is really becoming more and more fun each day just like back around 1999-2001 or so. Thank you, Mr. Sun.-30-

Saturday, May 07, 2011 1:51 PM - This has certainly been the year of the foreign special event stations or maybe it's just that I am working more of them since I'm very active in DXing again this year. Anyway, I thought I'd just make a list here of the ones I've worked and the event they are celebrating.

HG2011N - President of Council of European Union
DK150RB - 150th birthday of Robert Bosch (inventor of the spark plug)
OL1911VP - 100 years of football club FC Viktoria Plzen
LY21A - 21st anniversary of Lithuanian independence restoration
UQ50L - 50th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin space flight
OL2011VP - 100 years of football club FC Viktoria Plzen
VQ51V -
4A0IARU - IARU's 86nd anniversary
UQ50P - 50th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin space flight
OM2011IIHF - Ice hockey world championships
GB6MD - International Marconi day
H77REX - 350th anniversary of the foundation of the mosquito nation
IR1ITA - 150 years of Italy unification
LZ2011KM - St. Cyril and Methodius day (creators of Cyrillic alphabet)
MR0CCE - The royal wedding of Prince William and Catherine

I can't find anything special about VQ51V. Also there are probably others I've worked. I just glanced through my log and picked out the 'strange' looking calls. -30-

Friday, May 06, 2011 9:20 PM - Getting the DX was the easy part this evening. Although I did miss out on a couple of stations I would have liked to work. 5T0JL who was easily strong enough to work, but I just couldn't break the pileup. And another station who seemed to be a very poor op. He'd call CQ saying UP 1, and had a large pileup 1 kHz up, but seemingly wasn't hearing anyone and kept calling CQ. He did answer someone once in a great while, but mostly was missing those calling him. So at least I wasn't alone in not working him.

The stations I did get were OV1CDX in Denmark, and 8P6AW in Barbados, both on 30 meters to extend the regular, DX, and multi-QSO streaks. I still need a mW QSO for the 7th though. I should be able to easily and quickly get that in one of the many contests this weekend.

Guess what? It rained again today. That's 5 of 6 days in May now we've had measurable rain now to go with the 22 or so in April. I think all that cloudy weather with a lack of sunshine is what has really slowed down my tomatoes this year. All I have on the plants are some flowers while in other years at this time I'd have some fairly well started tomatoes on the plants. Oh well, maybe I'll have some by mid-June anyway. -30-

Thursday, May 05, 2011 4:12 PM - It took some work to extend the mW and DX streaks today, but I did it. Strangely enough, my mW QSO came from Maine on 17 meters and I was solid copy up there on somewhat short skip for that band. Thanks to Bill W1KX, a great op. The DX QSO was a bit harder and took a lot of looking. There wasn't much DX to be heard, and the stations I did hear were either weak or someone I had worked recently. As you know it's not my policy to work a DX station on a band where I just worked him recently. Finally I came across a station on 15 meters from an area I can work easily for whatever reason. I'm speaking of Hawaii. So I got an easy QSO with KH7Y who gave me a 579 report. While I was writing him in my paper log in the shack I was listening to him and the next station he worked was an N4 and he gave him only a 419 RST. Hard to explain unless the N4 was running QRPpppp. HI Or from the ease with which I work Hawaii, it could be I just have a good path from here to there.

I promised some diary feedback today. I wanted to post this because it says what my web site is all about, and why it (and the NAQCC for that matter) is here. "Hello, my name is Bob Dyer. My station call sign is WB5EAT. I have just recently become interested in CW and I wanted to convey to you that your webpage is one of the most informative that I have come across. Thank you for sharing all of this important information so that a beginner like myself will have some of the important tools to progress in this craft."

You're certainly welcome Bob. I'm glad my web site is serving its purpose. I hope (in fact I KNOW) it has encouraged many hams in the use of CW and is a counter to those trying to get rid of this wonderful mode. -30-

Wednesday, May 04, 2011 11:25 PM - I certainly got my multi-QSO streak extended this evening. I felt like a rare DX station. Every time I signed with someone, someone else tail-ended me. I had 5 QSO's in a row without having to bother calling CQ in between. First of all WB8EJN Tom in MO answered my CQ, then the tail-enders were N2ESE Gary in NJ, WA3OTC Chuck in PA, K8QI Barry in FL, and N1QLL Jerry in ME. That kept me busy for 68 minutes in a row. I never did get a chance to try for my mW or DX streaks QSO. That will come tomorrow. No complaints though as all 5 QSO's were very enjoyable ones.

I just got finished checking my Prefixes worked. Every once in a while I like to go through my records to check for typos, omissions, etc. I did find a couple typos in the Prefix field in my Access log. One I had was N3B instead of N3, and another I had CUB instead of CU8. I also found about 20 prefixes I had worked but not marked off in my prefix check list. A lot of them were longer non-standard prefixes like XE83, HG04, HA40... just to name a few.

It was another gloomy rainy day (broken record) here. May continued just where April ended. We've had measurable rain each day in May so far. It looks like more of the same for the next several days also.

I've got some diary feedback here, but I'm going to wait till tomorrow's entry to get to it if I don't forget. It's pretty late now after my QSO marathon and prefix checking. -30-

Tuesday, May 03, 2011 9:09 PM - Another quick 1-2-3 punch tonight took care of the 4 streaks in 23 minutes. First it was KG4CUY Tom in AL on 30 meters using mW. 3 mins after our QSO ended I easily got E77AW Josip in Bosnia on 30 meters which completed all 4 streaks. However I also got N2JJF Denis in NJ on 40 meters to have 3 separate QSO's for the streaks.

Other than that not a lot going on today. It was a continuation of our gloomy, cool rainy weather more like March than May. Joe is back to his usual self after the couple off days. -30-

Monday, May 02, 2011 9:41 PM - The 4 streaks were all extended by 0029Z this evening. First came FM5BH at 0025Z on 30 meters for the regular and DX streaks. Then KJ4OBI at 0029Z with mW power for the mW and multi-QSO streaks. Later I also worked K6JSS/1 and N2JPR in the 00Z hour as well.

Other than that it was a busy day. I had to take care of my start of the month financial business first thing this morning. Then we had to take Joe to the vet. He somehow hurt his leg or paw and was limping around and it got worse till he just laid down last night and wouldn't move at all. However he seemed to perk up this morning just before we went off to the vet, and by the time we got to the vet, he was hardly limping at all. I said to Bruce and the vet it's like when you take your car to the shop because it's making some kind of abnormal noise and when you get there it is quiet as can be. Anyway the vet checked Joe over thoroughly and tested him for this and that and said it appeared to be no more than a sprain. It was almost time for Joe's annual shots, so that was taken care of also. Ever since this morning Joe has improved steadily and he's pretty much his usual self this evening. Bruce and I are wondering if perhaps he had some kind of 24 hour bug that coincided with the sprain also.

I also planted my tomatoes out this afternoon. It doesn't look like I'll have my ripe tomato in May this year though. They only have a few flowers on them, and possibly a couple of the flowers were successfully pollinated and have a tiny tomato starting. I just don't know why they are so slow. It almost seems like they do worse the earlier they are started. I think next year I'll stagger the startings and see if I can figure something out. -30-

Sunday, May 01, 2011 3:24 PM - It wasn't all that easy, but the DX streak goes another day. I'm 2/3 of the way to my second longest DX streak now at 36 days going for 54. I couldn't hear but a couple DX stations today. EA3NT didn't hear me at all back in the 1600Z hour, but I did manage to catch ON4IA just a little bit ago at 1913Z on 20 meters. It took a lot of repeats for Luc to get the last letter in my call, but we made it.

We had our wettest April here since I started keeping records back in 1959. We had measureable rain on 22 of the 30 days for a total of about 6 3/4 inches. There were also a couple other days with a trace of rain so some rain actually fell on all but 6 days last month. It was 3.8 degrees above normal with the minimum at 5.7 and the maximum at +2.1. We tied the record of least number of days with the minimum at or below 32 degrees with 4.

Now May is starting out with a rainy day and the next few days are predicted to be rainy also. -30-

Saturday, April 30, 2011 10:03 PM - Naturally the regular and mW QSO's cam easy tonight with the FL QSO Party in progress. However DX was another story. The only really strong DX station I heard at all was PT2ZHA on 20 meters, and since I worked him on 20 just a couple weeks ago, I didn't want to work him again. I tried a couple of the other weak DX stations I heard with no success. So if it comes, the DX QSO will have to do so in the morning or afternoon.

Now I want to clear up a few items. First of all, an era comes to an end on September 5. That will be the last day WWV and WWVH broadcast the solar weather at 18 and 45 minutes respectively past each hour. I remember before the Internet listening in to get that info regularly, and then I'd miss it for one reason or other, and have to wait another hour before I had another chance to get it. Of course nowadays with the Internet, there is much more info about the solar weather than the average person or even ham is interested in there for the taking every second of every minute of every hour.... Presumably that is why they are discontinuing the broadcasts on WWV and WWVH.

Thanks to Tim K6ACF and Geoff AE4RV for their emails of congrats on the 1 year of mW QSO's. Also to Geo N1EAV who commented on my activity a few nights ago as follows, "Hi John, Was reading your diary entry from last night at work this morning. We must have been following the same route on the radio last night. I also worked VP9KF. I heard YT9M, but didn't try to work him. Went to 30 meters and heard the big pileup from FJ/OH2YL but decided to qsy. Worked SM6DLY, and had a nice 20 minute qso with him. Was nice to work some dx and actually have a chat for awhile. Not much else to report on this end. The bulbs are all blooming at work and the trees and grass are starting to kick in. Nice to see after a long winter. And of course I'm following the Sox and the Bruins. My dog is also liking the spring weather and we have been taking many walks. Hope all is well with you. Enjoy the day." -30-

Friday, April 29, 2011 9:32 PM - Time to use the countdown timer above for something else. The mW streak reached 1 year or 365 days just under an hour ago. A QSO with WA6VWW in Alabama did the trick and also extended all 4 streaks another day. First was KH7XS whom I worked on 20 meters thinking maybe it was Hawaii, but not really as he was too strong. Turns out he was portable or mobile in Florida. My DX QSO was special event station GB6MD on 30 meters.

Now that the mW streak has reached the one year mark I have to do some serious thinking about whether or not to try to keep it going or quit here. OK, that's enough thinking - the streak is going on.

Let's take a statistical look at the mW streak here in the diary.

Days - 365
QSO's - 573
DX QSO's - 124
Countries - 52
Continents - All 6
By Continent:
AF - 7
AS - 2
EU - 51
NA - 488
OC - 3
SA - 17
States - 35
CQ Zones - 15
Contest QSO's - 172
Non-contest QSO's - 401
By Band:
160 - 16
80 - 138
40 - 269
30 - 30
20 - 54
17 - 11
15 - 45
12 - 3
10 - 7
From my CQ's - 277
From a tailend call - 13
DX from a single call - 16

Just a couple notes. The main object of the streak was to get the mW QSO each day. I really didn't concentrate on States, Countries, or Zones. The only thing I really wanted was to work all 6 continents and I did that. Had I gone for WAS, DXCC, and/or WAZ, I'm sure my totals there would be higher.

Now what can I count down to next? Hmmmm. -30-

Thursday, April 28, 2011 9:30 PM - An easy night tonight. I got my DX first when I worked, are you ready for this - OM2011IIHF on 20 meters. If these call signs get any longer, I'll have to expand the field in my Access log to accomodate them. Then I worked DF3VM on 30 meters which I'm counting as the regular QSO. After that WA1JHV with mW on 40 meters completed all 4 streaks for the 29th.

It's good because tomorrow I'll be helping take Joe to the groomers to get him a good hair cut for the upcoming warm weather. Also I'll be helping Ange dig up the last couple fig trees. All but 3 have been resurrected for the year now, and hopefully those will be up by this time tomorrow. -30-

Wednesday, April 27, 2011 10:34 PM - My first QSO at 0009Z tonight could have taken care of all but the multiple QSO streak. It was a regular QSO, a DX QSO, and a mW QSO all rolled into one when I worked OM3SEM with mW power on 20 meters. Then I got 3 other QSO's which completed the 4th streak. For now, I'm counting the OM3SEM QSO for both the mW and DX streaks, but I'll probably try to get a separate mW or DX QSO tomorrow.

Other than that, not much else to talk about today except to mention the streak QSO's I didn't get last nite. I did get OM5OA for my DX QSO in the 1600Z hour. I still had trouble getting my mW to click though, and it took quite a bit of trying in a couple sessions before I finally got N4ZMP on 20 meters in the 2100Z hour. It's interesting to note how some days it's very easy, and other days just about equally as hard to extend the 4 streaks. -30-

Tuesday, April 26, 2011 10:00 PM - Well, this was one of those nights when things just didn't work out. I got an easy QSO with S59N on 20 meters just after getting on the bands, then it went downhill from there. A few minutes later I got an answer to my mW CQ from W3QF, but he wasn't there after I sent my info and turned it back to him. So that wasn't a QSO. I thought I'd try to get another DX QSO to get my second QSO to continue the multiple QSO streak. But the stations I called just weren't hearing me. I got a K3? from a RU9 station, but no further. UA9LT tried and tried but just couldn't pull my call through. I called a few other DX stations with no luck. So I'll have to get the mW QSO tomorrow morning or afternoon. Anyway the S59N QSO continues the regular streak and the DX streak although it is only one QSO and doesn't continue the multiple QSO streak.

I got a nice little gift from Tom WY3H today. It's a slate roofing tile with a drawing of a key on it and my call letters in Morse Code. I took a picture of it, and I'm going to try to set it up and post it here now.

pix_diary_20110426_01 (53K)

And here's a bonus picture. The tulips in my back yard which appropriately came to full bloom on Easter Sunday.

pix_diary_20110426_02 (80K)


Monday, April 25, 2011 9:36 PM - 79, 6109, 361, 31. Know what those numbers are? They're the very latest number of days in my 4 streaks. 79 straight days with 2 or more QSO's. 6,109 straight days with at least one QSO. 361 straight days with a mW QSO. 31 straight days with a DX QSO. Of course all QSO's are CW, QRP or QRPp, and using simple wire antennas. That info is mostly for those new to my web site and diary. For those same folks, the purpose of the streaks, besides being a lot of enjoyment for me, is to show the ham radio world that CW is still a very viable mode and extremely efficient. So efficient that it is easy to make different kinds of QSO's EACH and EVERY day, even with such low power levels and minimal antennas. The total number of QSO's in the 6,109 days is about 52,500. I've worked each of the 50 states many times over. The least worked state is Wyoming and I still have at least 52 QSO's with that state. I've worked 210 DX entities. I've worked all continents many times over with Oceania having the lowest total of QSO's around 175 or so. About the only thing that continues to elude me is finishing working all CQ Zones for the WAZ award. Southeast Asia has proven to be and continues to be a thorn in my side. I still need zones 22 24 26 28. Hopefully this new sunspot cycle will permit me to work them. I'll also have to be more active in the very early morning hours which seems to be the best here for that part of the world. I did come close to working Indonesia then and I also hear India and Thailand then.

After reading the above, I hope you'll realize just how wonderful a mode CW is. If you're reading, and haven't been on CW before or haven't been on in a long time, think about giving it a try again. I guarantee it will work, and work well for you, and you'll enjoy it and feel more like a true amateur radio operator than with all those other modes, especially the ones where the computer does all the work for you.

I didn't plan to climb up on this soapbox tonight, but you know how I feel about CW and every once in a while I like to preach about it.

Anyway tonight it took exactly an hour to get my streak QSO's. First came VP9KF on 20 meters. I couldn't quite get him with mW. He got K3 a couple times, but couldn't get the rest of the call. So I went to 5 watts and got him easily that way. A few minutes later to make it a multiple QSO evening (day), I easily worked Zoran YT9M on 20 with 5 watts. It was a bit harder getting the mW QSO. Took over a half hour of intermittent CQing till Mike KE2EH answered right at 0100Z. I did spend some of the time listening to FJ/OH2YL working a huge widely spread out pileup on 30 meters. Thought I'd try to break the pile even though I don't need FJ on 30. But I never could pin down just where she was listening in the pile, and I didn't feel like just randomly picking a spot and sending my call over and over after each of her QSO's finished. She was strong enough to work easily without the pile, but.... If I hear her on a band I need FJ on, I'll try harder to get her. -30-

Sunday, April 24, 2011 9:27 PM - I hope you all had a nice Easter. I had a quiet one here with nothing special going on. The weather was nice so I took a couple good walks. I also had my daily visit with the next door neighbors.

I got my 3 streak QSO's in the 00Z hour again this evening which of course extended the 4th streak as well. I looked for the DX QSO first, but didn't find much at all in the way of DX this evening, so I next tried for a mW QSO. That came easily with just a few CQ's before my friend Bill K1EV answered. I hadn't talke with him for quite some time and it was good to touch bases again with him. Next I thought I'd get a 5 watt QSO for a second QSO of the day. That didn't take long either. Gregg WB8LZG answered my CQ after just a minute or so of calling. Gregg is one of our more active NAQCC members, and Bill is also an active member. OK, two down and still the DX QSO to go. I looked and looked but no luck. I heard some weak DX on 14005 working a huge spread out pileup. I didn't even listen long enough to see who it was. I also heard a Bulgarian station on 30 who was very strong. Only he is one station I've never been able to work. For whatever reason, he never hears me at all. I've never gotten so much as a ? out of him. I called once just to see if tonight would be any different. It wasn't, so I went looking elsewhere. Finally I came across a quick DX type exchange between WA4FNG and someone. After FNG signed, the DX station turned out to be 9A4W whom I immediately called and got a K3?. A couple more times sending my call resulted in my DX QSO of the day. So another day is booked full in the streaks. -30-

Saturday, April 23, 2011 11:15 PM - I got into another enjoyable Monopoly game this evening (see last Tuesday's diary entry) which went well into the 0100Z hour, so I didn't get on the bands till nearly 0200Z. I figured I'd probably get my main streak QSO at best. However after chasing DX for a while, I worked 8P9AA on 30 meters easily beating a good size pileup on my first call. He was operating split so I set up just over 1 kHz higher to call him and presto, got my DX QSO which also can serve as my main streak QSO, so two down and two streaks to go. About 20 minutes later after a lot of unanswered mW CQ's, I found KA4KSB with a very strong QSO and worked him easily for my mW QSO and that also was my second QSO extending my multi-QSO streak another day. After my required 2 rounds of mW power to make it a mW QSO, I upped pwr to 5 watts and we had a 36 minute rag chew about various topics.

Oh, and I also had a great Easter dinner one day early at my neighbors. It sure is nice to have wonderful neighbors like they are. They are just like my family.

And now it's pretty late, but before I go I wish each and everyone of you reading this a very happy and blessed Easter. -30-

Friday, April 22, 2011 9:25 PM - And then some nights it's so easy. I had my DX QSO by 0002Z which also could count for my regular QSO, and my mW QSO by 0006Z. So 6 minutes took care of all 4 streaks this evening - oh that includes the multi-QSO streak in case you wonder what the 4th one is. I talked about that last night in the diary.

I thought I'd go for the DX QSO first and headed to 20 meters. I almost immediately found TF3Y who was just ending a QSO. When he did finish I called and got him easily, and we exchanged signal reports. I don't have all that many Iceland QSO's in my log, so I'm always happy to work that country again. That was only my 10th QRP QSO with Iceland.

Next I'll go for my mW QSO. I found K4JJW calling CQ on 30 meters and he was quite strong so I answered him with my 930mW and we had a good QSO till some tuner gave us trouble.

After we signed, I thought I'd look for some more DX. I found another island nation in 5B/US7IDX and worked him. I had to wait through a few QSO's before he got to me. Since I have my country totals up in Access, let's see how many Cyprus QRP QSO's I have. I know it's more than Iceland since I work 5B in contests often. Yep, that was #30 with Cyprus.

I was having so much fun, mostly on 20 meters, I decided to stay around a while longer and hunt some more DX. Most of what I heard now were stations I worked recently, and it's my policy not to work things I don't really need as I may deprive someone else of something they DO need. So I passed up YN7SU and IK2DAD for example.

After a while I found UQ50P. I thought that sounded familiar, but it was UQ50L I worked a couple weeks ago, so I set out to work UQ50P for another Yuri Gagarin anniversary special event station. Plus as I've mentioned, I always enjoy working new stations from countries like Kazakhstan. This time I had to wait through more QSO than with the cyprus station, but finally he came back with K3? and after a couple repeats it was K3WWP 599 and I had my 15th QRP QSO with Kazakhstan. That surprises me. I didn't think I had that many. I would have guessed about a half dozen.

So I finished with 4 QSO's this evening, three of them rather nice DX countries that I don't work all that often. Not like Germany with 1,166, Italy 667, England 654, etc. I was just curious to see the next couple most worked countries. Turns out they are Hungary 600, Czech Republic 573, France 548, Slovenia 534, European Russia 400. Japan with 173 and Asiatic Russia with 121 are the top Asian countries. Canary Islands tops the African list with 127 followed by Madeira with 62. Oceania is Hawaii with 112 followed by Australia with 19. And not to leave out the Americas - North America after USA and Canada is Puerto Rico with 246 and Mexico with 179. South America is Aruba with 226 and Argentina with 186. -30-

Thursday, April 21, 2011 8:48 PM - Two QSO's took care of the three streaks tonight for the 22nd. My friend John KQ1P answered my CQ on 30 meters for the regular streak QSO. Before that I spent about 25 minutes trying to get my DX QSO, but like last night, just couldn't work any DX. However after the QSO with John, I went to 20 and got WP3A with mW with just a single call for my DX and mW streaks. That's 27 days for the DX streak now, half way to my second best streak of 54 days, so I guess maybe it's not as much out of the question as I thought, but it is definitely the hardest of the 3 streaks and often takes the most time of the three. Oh and Puerto Rico is a new mW 20M band-country for 33 on that band now.

Earlier today I worked OH3XR on 17 for the DX QSO for the 21st, but it wasn't all that great a QSO. He had my call as K3WWJ, and he wasn't all that strong and in the QRN so I don't know if he corrected it or not. So I tried later on to get another DX QSO and worked 4A0IARU on 20 meters for a nice special event call. Also I beat a small pileup to get him which was satisfying.

I've gone quite a while now with at least 2 QSO's per day, and I'm going to add a 4th streak to the streak table. I'll put the number of days in parentheses after the date that I've worked at least 2 different stations. In fact, I'm going to figure that right now. Be back.... OK, the 22nd of April is day 75 in a row with multiple QSO's. Last day for just a single QSO was February 6.

Ham radio is definitely getting to be more fun again for me with improving conditions. Ooops, it's now 9 o'clock, so I'm off to get my temperature readings. It was a sunny day today for a change, but windy and cold. I doubt we made it much above 50 degrees unless there was a long enough gap when the sun was out and the winds died down. -30-

Wednesday, April 20, 2011 10:06 PM - Unlike the last several nights in a row, I didn't get all three streaks updated tonight. The DX QSO will have to wait till morning or afternoon. I did get a mW QSO which I'm counting for both the mW and regular streaks. I tried a lot of DX stations with no success. The strong ones had pileups, some were rag chewing forever, a couple others I just worked recently, some just plain didn't hear me, and so on. Sometimes working DX is very easy, sometimes it's not. Tonight was a NOT night. I should have time tomorrow to work someone though as I don't have any big things planned that I know of.

Right now I just got a phone call from my second cousin and she wants to ask me some computer questions, so I'm going to close this entry for tonight. -30-

Tuesday, April 19, 2011 9:49 PM - My normal schedule got thrown off a bit tonight by a pleasant experience. One of Nancy's twin grandkids came to the door just after I got back from a walk and asked if I wanted to come over and play Monopoly, and I did. That turned into an enjoyable couple of hours with me, Bruce, Jeffery and Jennette, and their dad Jeff playing. I hadn't played Monopoly for at least a few years now. So it was about 0110Z when I got on the air after getting my temperature readings.

I figured I'd probably have to get my DX and mW QSO's in the morning so I went after a regular 5 watt QSO first, and it came easily as Henry KF4VWZ answered my 3rd or 4th CQ. I figured since that came so quickly, I'd try for the mW QSO and tuned around a bit looking for a station calling CQ. I quickly found K6JSS/4 on 30 meters. He had some trouble copying me, but we did make the QSO to extend the mW streak. Now for a DX QSO. I was sure that would have to wait as I only heard one weak LZ station I didn't even bother calling. Then I came back to 40 and thought I'd check the low end of the band for some Caribbean station. Well, I found VP5/W5CW, and after checking to be sure I hadn't worked him on 40 before, I got him with a single call. Strangely enough, I had my 10 meter dipole connected instead of the 40 meters random wire. Didn't make any difference though as he was very strong here and copied my first call on the 10 meters sloping dipole. When conditions are with you, antennas don't really matter all that much.

So despite a rather blah day otherwise with dark clouds and rain, I had a good evening with the Monopoly game and on the bands. -30-

Monday, April 18, 2011 9:41 PM - I got 4 interesting QSO's in the 00Z hour which took care of my 3 streaks yet another time. First it was 8P9NX with 930mW on 30 meters. Nothing unusual except I broke quite a sizable pile-up to get him. I don't know why the pile-up was there, but it sounded like a busy bee hive in the background when I called him. He sent K3? and I jumped right in and got him. I don't know if it was another K3 or me, but if it was someone else he suffered from the old saying, "you snooze, you lose".

Next it was a 2-way QRP QSO with WM1L on 40 meters. We had a nice 18 minute QSO despite copy being a bit on the rough side. Right after we signed, I nearly had my ears blown off by a tail-end call from W8PC. Turns out he was running a KW and a 2 element beam. One of the very few times I saw 50 DB over S9 on the TS-480SAT. He gave me a 599 both with 5 watts and 930mW when I reduced power.

The last QSO has an interesting story behind it. I worked P4/WA2CAM on 30 meters. That's Fred - a good friend from back in 1995-96. We had many QSO's mainly on 160 meters, then kind of lost touch with each other with just one QSO each in 2002 and 2005. At the time we had our QSO's in 95/96, Eric KB3BFQ was just getting into ham radio, and he was often in my shack when Fred and I talked. Fred took quite an interest in Eric's progress and would always ask about how he was doing. So it was a joy to work Fred again this evening. I wish we could have had a longer QSO, but conditions were not all that conducive to rag chewing. We did chat for a few minutes though. -30-

Sunday, April 17, 2011 6:23 PM - I received the recording of my 930 mW sigs in France as I worked F6GCP on April 15 on 17M. You can click the link above to hear it if you wish. My sigs come out of the left channel and Pat's out of the right channel as I listen to it here. It's a MP3 file so should play on just about any player you may have. Please read Pat's email here first:

"Hi John, I had a look after our QSO in your web page! Congratulations for such QSO and Challenge. Sorry for bad CW typing at initial message, right on the keyer, left hand on the keyboard to run the software for recording, and only one brain in the middle... I can perform both at the same time The file is 6Mb, so should be OK by email... So if you ear me on 12M, try to call me as well with 930mw. 73 Good dx Pat"

I just wanted to let you know why Pat's sending sounds a bit choppy in the recording. Otherwise he's always got a great fist.

I've got about an hour and a half left before 0000Z rolls around. I think the MM contest runs till that time so I'm going to try to get a few more QSO's. Maybe I'll get an Oceania QSO to complete a weekend WAC. -30-

Saturday, April 16, 2011 10:10 PM - As Spock would say, "Fascinating!" Well, without the exclamation point since he was a no-emotion Vulcan. Anyway that word describes the hour and a half I put in on the bands this evening. I figured I'd easily get my DX QSO in the MM contest, then my mW and regular QSO's in the MI and/or ON QSO Parties. It turned out quite a bit different.

I first went to 20 meters and tried for a combo mW/DX QSO with CX1AA, but he didn't copy my mW sigs, so I worked him with 5 watts for my DX QSO. I tried a couple more MM contest stations with mW, but no luck. Then I did get CO6RD easily with my 930mW. So that takes care of all 3 streaks since I can also use CX1AA or CO6RD for my regular streak QSO. However, I didn't have anything else to do so I decided to hang around the bands a while and make some more QSO's. There were a couple of good prefixes I heard in the MM contest and I went after them. Before that though, I worked PT2ZHA whom I worked last night and he invited me to try to work him in the MM contest, so I did. Then I worked 4T4T in Peru. That may be a new prefix as may be L33M whom I worked next.

I then thought I'd go to 40 to see if I could work some of my MI and ON friends in their QSO parties. However I stopped along the way at 30 for a quick check and found my friend Gary K1YAN calling CQ. I answered him and we had a 15 minute visit. Then instead of going on to 40, I went back to 20 for some more DXing. I knew it was in fine shape and it always proves interesting around that time of evening (00-02Z) when it seems to be open to a good part of the world and QRP works well getting to those parts. Tonight was no exception.

I've mentioned before that I can easily work into Asiatic Russia and surroundings on 20 in that time period. Again I can use the phrase, "tonight was no exception." I almost, but not quite, worked RK0AB with my mW power. As soon as I went to 5 watts though, it was an easy QSO. He was in the MM contest. I heard JT5DX in the YU contest, but I couldn't remember if that was an 'everyone work everyone' or 'everyone work YU stations' contest, so I didn't answer him and a little later when I found it was 'everyone work everyone', he was gone. I'm glad I worked him a couple weeks ago, or I'd really be upset. Next I heard UN9GD in the YU test and worked him easily with just a single call. Now I wish I'd tried him with mW, but I didn't. He got even stronger later, and I bet I could have gotten him with the mW. Still it's always a thrill to work Kazakhstan or any of those former Soviet republics in Asia. I also heard another UN station just working regular QSO's, but he didn't hear me at all, and in fact he was having problems hearing other stations also.

Another feature of 20 meters is working the Scandinavian countries at seemingly odd hours. I found OH5Z in the MM contest and decided to try him with mW. It was a bit of a rough QSO, but we made it. That may be a new mW band country. Let me see... Nope, I have OH8X on 20.

I wish they wouldn't use the VQ prefix in VP5-land. HI. I always get that peak of excitement when I hear VQ and immediately think of Indian Ocean stations. Well, there was VQ51V tonight, but he didn't fool me. As soon as I heard the 5 after the VQ then I knew it was just a VP5 station. And it didn't take that long since he had his code speed in high gear. I quickly worked him at his speed, and went on my way.

Next up it was a QSO with Anatoly UA9CK in Karpinsk. He wasn't in any contest and we exchanged rig, WX, etc. info for a few minutes. Maybe the longest QSO I've had with Asiatic Russia. They usually don't go beyond RST, QTH, Name at most. He was using 500 watts to a 7 element yagi. I gave him an honest 589 report which was about average for his fluttery signal. I always wonder how they can copy a fluttery QRP signal, or maybe the QRP signals don't flutter. Maybe the flutter comes from high power somehow. Anybody know? He gave me a 539 report with my 5 watts.

If you're keeping track, that's SA - CX1AA+, NA - CO6RD+, AS - RK0AB+, EU - OH5Z for 4 continents. Only two more for an evening WAC. I came close, but no cigar, as the next QSO was AO8WDR in the Canary Islands in Africa. But I never did get an Oceania station to complete the sweep.

After that I finished with PX2W for another MM QSO. Not a bad evening with 13 QSO's, 12 of them DX from 5 continents. Times like that really make ham radio exciting for me. Sometimes I must admit it does get a bit blase, but then along come these times to re-kindle the excitement.

I haven't received my recording from F6GCP yet. However Paul N0NBD said he'd enjoy hearing the older recordings of my signal from different places if I can find them and get time to get them posted. So I'll work on that over the next several days as time permits.

Whew, that was a long entry - almost as long as one of my contest stories. -30-

Friday, April 15, 2011 7:13 PM - It took a while to get my mW streak QSO for the 15th, but when I did, it was an interesting one. I worked Pat F6GCP on 17 meters, and he was interested enough in my 930mW to make a recording of my signal in France. He is going to send me the recording, probably by email, and when I get it, I'll post a link to it here in the diary. I thought he said he was running 500 watts in our QSO, but in a follow up email confirming what he said in the QSO about the recording, he said he was running 800 watts. Either way, that's "some dB difference! HI" as he said in the email. I've gotten recordings of my 5 watts signal from EU in the past, but this will be the first one from my 930 mW signal. I'm looking forward to hearing it. Now that I have the extra web site space available on the NAQCC web site, I might dig up some of those old recordings and post them if anyone expresses any interest in hearing them. Let me know. -30-

Thursday, April 14, 2011 10:27 PM - Where does the time go, anyway? Here it is 10:30 and it seems like the day just started. Let me think back and try to figure out just what I did all day.

Since I didn't get my mW nor DX QSO last night, that was the top priority project for today. I accomplished both, getting K4ENC on 30M with mW power in the 14Z hour. No DX to be found then other than one station who was in a never ending rag chew. So I quit till later. Came back in the 20Z hour and didn't hear much, or at least didn't hear anything all that strong. However despite that, I tried a couple of the somewhat weak stations and managed to snag two of them. A nice prefix first of all in OL2011VP on 17M, then about a half hour later OM3SEM on 17M. Hey, there's an S in that call, so that knocked off two more S's in the NAQCC April challenge. Now I need only 2 S's (one station with an S) to complete the challenge. Stay tuned for that.

I also spent quite a bit of time with Joe today, just about a couple hours in fact. His 'daddy' Bruce was helping his brother with some work, and Nancy was busy so Joe looked kind of lonely. It was nice out, so we went out and sat on the porch for quite a while. In fact till Bruce came home. Then later in the day, I took Joe for our usual afternoon walk.

Speaking of walks, I went for two long ones today. I see on my pedometer a total of 11.19 miles, a good deal of which was from the long walks. It was just about ideal walking weather with sunshine and temps in the low to mid 60's.

I also processed more NAQCC sprint logs and signed up a bunch of new members also. We have a total of 98 logs in now, so we should go over 100 for the 13th month in a row. Also we crossed the 5,500 member mark today as the club continues its nice growth rate. The membership is really a staggering number when you consider we have a smaller base to draw from than most other clubs. Our club only appeals to those who have an interest in CW AND QRP. Other CW clubs also draw the QRO CW ops who wouldn't use QRP if they were paid to. And other QRP clubs have members only interested in voice or other digital modes and they wouldn't use CW if paid to. So in that light, 5,500+ members is remarkable.

And right now I'm doing my washing and the washer just quit, so I'm going to pause in writing to transfer the clothes to the dryer so I can get that done before it gets too late. Back in a few minutes.

OK, now where was I. Oh, my QSO's for today (UTC) the 15th. I thought I'd try to get a 5W DX QSO first which could count for both the main and DX streaks QSO. I didn't find any strong DX again, so I tried some mW and 5W CQ's with no results from either. Finally I went back to hunting DX and found ON5SY strong on 30M. I worked him, but had to repeat my call several times. Oh hey, he has an S in his call, so that gave me a main and DX streak QSO and finished my NAQCC April challenge. I fooled around a while longer trying for a mW QSO, but never got one. That will have to wait till the morning or afternoon, I guess. I did work another DX station on 30M though - FS/F5JSD with 5 watts. I couldn't get him to hear me at 930mW, but it was easy at 5 watts.

Gee, I guess I did do a lot of things today including the usual eating of meals, etc. No wonder the day went so fast. -30-

Wednesday, April 13, 2011 10:43 PM - Not time for a real entry today. With the computer work this afternoon and our computer club meeting this evening, right now I've got to get a lot of our NAQCC sprint results processed in the hour or so left before bed time. I didn't even have time to get my mW or DX streak QSO's this evening, so that's something else to get done tomorrow. I did get my main streak QSO from W3EEK/4 in FL, so at least that streak is taken care of. I tried calling a couple Asiatic Russians on 20 meters with no luck. I also tried CO8LY on 30 with no result. Maybe he's tired of working me. HI. We've had a good many QSO's over the years. -30-

Tuesday, April 12, 2011 8:06 PM - "Son of Sometimes it's so easy". I had no need to worry about getting my DX QSO for the 13th. As soon as the time turned over to 0000Z, I worked FM/F6ARC on 20 meters with just a single call. Should have done it with mW, but I used 5 watts since it sounded like he had a small pile-up and I wanted to work him as quickly as possible. So this 18 day DX streak is now my 3rd best, but FAR behind the # 2 streak of 54 days. I'm only 1/3 of the way to that one, and I'm pretty sure I probably won't make it. Not even sure if I'll try unless conditions stay as good as they've been the last 18 days.

Just 20 minutes now till our NAQCC Sprint where I'll get my mW streak QSO, I'm sure. So I've got to cut this short for now. Maybe in tomorrow's entry I'll tell you about some problems I had with my computer that gave me some worrisome times last night and this morning. -30-

Monday, April 11, 2011 10:18 PM - Sometimes it's so easy. Tonight I had all 3 streaks extended by 0017Z. I worked KD0V with mW on 20 and FG5FR on 17. In a couple combinations those 2 QSO's could be used for all 3 streaks. But I went on to get two more QSO's anyway. V44KAO and N1IMW. I was looking for someone with an S in their call to help me get the last 4 S's I need for our April NAQCC Challenge. I did hear a couple stations, but they were working another station, and I didn't wait around. I'm not much for tailending anyone anyway. I'll only do it as a last resort unless it happens to be a good ham friend I'd like to work.

It may be rough to get my DX for the 13th as that is the night of our sprint and then later during the day I have a couple tasks to do for our local computer club. So I'll have to try for the DX in the 0000-0030Z time frame or else on Wednesday morning. I would like to get some DX that day as that would be day #18 in the latest DX streak, putting it in 3rd place all alone among my DX streaks. Right now it's tied with another 17 day streak. -30-

Sunday, April 10, 2011 9:33 PM - Well, I didn't quite make it tonite. Only got a 5 watt and DX QSO in the 00Z hour. Had to wait till 0103Z for the mW QSO, which turned out to also be a DX QSO. First I worked the QRP ARCI 50th anniversary special station K6JSS. This time /8 from MichIgan and my good friend Ken WA8REI was the op. Next I looked and looked for some workable DX. There was a strong Brazilian on 20 meters, but he was rag chewing forever. A couple other stations were too weak to even try. Finally I found IK2DAD calling CQ on 30 meters. Not all that strong, but I figured he was workable, and I got him almost right away. I did have to repeat my call a couple times till he got the second W in my call OK. After that he copied me solidly. That was at 0024Z, then a drought until I found FM5LD strong on 20 meters calling CQ. I got him easily with a single call and 1 repeat with my 930mW. So that's 8 days in a row now I've gotten all 3 streak QSO's mostly in the 00Z hour with two spillovers into the 01Z hour.

Just one more day now in the DX streak and I'll tie my 3rd longest DX streak of 17 days. See a few entries down the page for a listing of my DX streaks.

Otherwise we had our first 80 degree day of 2011 today as the high was 82 degrees, and I put in over 9 miles walking, virtually all of it out in the beautiful weather. I also spent about an hour or so working in the back yard pruning my roses, cleaning out the last (or close to the last) few leaves, and pulling weeds out of my vegetable beds so they don't use up the nutrients there and so they'll be ready for planting before too long now. I'm not going to plant as much this year as I can only eat so much and most of the neighbors either have their own garden or get veggies from their relatives.

I also just hung out on the porch for about 45 minutes with Joe while he was home alone this morning. That's about the first nice porch session we've had since last fall now, I believe.

So all in all it was a very good day here. -30-

Saturday, April 09, 2011 9:45 PM - When I got up from my chair at the rig in my shack at about 0100Z, I thought to myself, "That was a great hour." It was. I figured getting my streak QSO's would consist of working 1 or 2 stations in the GA QSO Party, then going looking for some DX somewhere. Mike KC2EGL was here earlier in the day, and we got on the air a bit, and it was rough making QSO's then, but I figured it would be better in the evening. Not so. It was a struggle getting any of the GA stations to hear me until W4I finally heard me and we made a QSO with some difficulty. OK, that was my main and mW streak QSO. Now where am I going to find some DX? I tried 30 and didn't hear anything except the 9L5MS station with his still huge pileups spread across a few kHz of the band. Then I went to 20 and heard some Asiatic Russians in a CG contest. I didn't know what that was, nor the exchange, so I listened for a while and heard the Russians working USA stations so I could work them. Then I figured out it was the ITU zone they used in the exchange. OK, now I can go after them. It turned out I worked 4 of the 5 that I heard very easily. The 5th one was having trouble copying everyone he was working. I did manage to get a ? and AGN from him, but no further. After getting R0/UT5IA in zone 23 and RO9O, UA9OG and RC9O from zone 31 in the log, I thought I'd check 30M again, and as soon as I landed there, KP2/K1ZE was calling CQ so I worked him with mW power easily. Oh, the Asiatic Russians were with 5 watts although I probably could have worked at least 1 or 2 of the them with mW.

I still get a thrill when I work into Asiatic Russia, and I think I always will just like I will with some other areas that seem 'exotic' to me like oh say, Cape Verde, the lesser populated African countries and Pacific Islands plus a few others.

Speaking of exotic or rare, I got my QSL from K5D Desecheo Island in the mail today. That's 204 DX entities confirmed with QSL card now. That was in a buro mailing which also contained a QSL from TO3T in Martinique. I looked at it, and it had a QSO with me on 160 meters verified. I knew that was wrong since I've only ever worked K, VE, and VP9 on 160 meters. I did a bit of Sherlock Holmes work and found out that the card also listed QSO's with the home stations of the TO3T operators, so 3 of the 5 QSO's on the card were void. The 160 meter one and two others. Still two others were good and gave me a new prefix in TO3.

I mentioned Mike was here. We had another nice visit/work session. We updated our NAQCC Prizes info, worked on our portable antennas getting ready for some portable operation this summer and for our NAQCC Seventh Anniversary celebration in October. Mike is going to upgrade his telescope and go from a Newtonian to a Schmidt-Cassegrain similar to what I have. We talked a lot about that, and came up with a couple ideas that he is going to incorporate like a 'dew guard' and a motorized focuser which will help in his observing.

Of course we went out to eat, and I had what I believe is the biggest hamburger I ever had - a triple decker 3/4 pounder from Wendy's, a huge container of french fries, and a super large sprite. Whew! I'm still full from that.

The next visit Mike hopes to have his new scope and we'll give it a trial run and compare it to my 25 year old scope. Gee, is it really that old? Time really flies. I can still remember how thrilling it was to observe with it the first few times I used it. -30-

Friday, April 08, 2011 9:20 PM - Yet another night when I extended the three streaks in the 00Z hour.

I started off to get my regular streak QSO by calling CQ on 40M. In a few minutes WE2R answered me and we had a nice chat. I also got my last 2 R's for the NAQCC April Challenge. You can use a letter twice in the words in case you're not familiar with our challenges. Then I went in search of either my mW or DX or both QSO's. I called WA2FCF on 30M with no response. I wanted to get his C for the challenge.

Nothing else workable on 30 so I went to 20M. After tuning around a bit, I heard the fluttery sound typical of an Asian station. It's strange, but I can generally work Asians no matter how fluttery they are. That's especially true of Asiatic Russians. If they are stronger with very little flutter, it's even easier. That's how I got my mW Asian QSO's last month in the Russian DX contest. However this time, the station I heard turned out to be UQ50L (that's fifty in the call). I wasn't sure offhand just where that was, but I called him and got a response right away. We exchanged 599's and then I figured that was probably Kazakhstan since I knew they had the UN and UP prefixes and Ukraine starts with UR. And looking it up just now on QRZ.net I see it is indeed Kazakhstan, and the station is celebrating the 50th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin's space flight. Neat. I'm definitely going to try to get that QSL. The operation must have just started not long ago since I see only 445 lookups for the call on QRZ. Gagarin was launched into his historic flight from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan which I'm sure is why the special call is based in that country.

I worked UQ50L with 5 watts as I really wanted the special prefix. A little later I heard UA9U and answered him also with 5 watts. We went beyond the 599 exchange and had a short little chat, something that doesn't happen often with Asiatic Russian stations with my QRP power. His name was Leo. So two nice Asian QSO's in the log and in addition, I used the U and L in the challenge.

Still no mW QSO though, so I went back to the search for that. I heard WA2FCF calling CQ again, this time on 40 and this time he came back to my call at mW power and we had a 14 minute QSO. Plus I crossed off two C's from the challenge words. Now I need 8 S's to finish up, so I guess I've got to work some Swede's this weekend. HI

I've got the countdown timer set again. This round I'm counting down to the approximate time I get a mW QSO on April 30 to reach 365 days in the mW streak, hopefully - if something doesn't stop it before then.

Well, now off to update my streaks table and propagation info. -30-

Thursday, April 07, 2011 9:36 PM - Once again it was easy to get all three of my streaks extended in the 00Z hour. With the DX streak at 13 days now, that is a tie for my 4th longest DX streak. However I really shouldn't have worked the station I did because I make it a policy not to repeat QSO's with a DX station on the same band if I can help it. However the station I worked this evening was not ID'ing in between QSO's and after about a dozen or so QSO's that way, I decided to jump in and after a few more unID QSO's, he worked me. Then the next station who worked him after me asked him for his call, and it turned out to be V44KAI whom I worked just a few days ago on the same band. Oh well....

I also worked a couple stations earlier this evening as I was looking for letters for our NAQCC April challenge. I'm down to 12 letters needed now, I think. I left my little challenge chart upstairs in the shack, I think I noted I have 65 of the 77 letters now, but I'm not sure.

It was a nice warm day today. Well in the upper 60's which compared to lately IS warm. Nice day to do some more cleaning up work in the back yard which I did. Also took a nice walk, and another one with Joe for our usual afternoon walk.

I finally got my Microsoft Office 2010 registered and activated after somewhat of a snafu with TigerDirect in ordering a product key card from them. That came today with just 9 days to spare before the 60 day trial ran out. So now that's taken care of and I can continue to use MS Office without any worries. Now I'm going ahead and convert all my old Office 97 documents to the 2007/2010 format, and eventually get rid of the old faithful Office 97. It worked beautifully for those many years with no problem. If it wasn't for all the wonderful new features in 2010, I probably would still stick with 97.

Gosh, I need to update my countdown timer. Right now it's resting. I'll think of something to count down to and get it back up in the next day or two. -30-

Wednesday, April 06, 2011 7:16 PM - I think I'll write this a little early this evening, not for any particular reason. I do want to address a couple emails I got.

Greg K3ANG asked about the RF attenuator I use to drop my 5 watts output from the TS-480SAT down to 930 mW. He asked if I bought or built it. Well, it's homebrew - made from a general design of attenuators as found in the ARRL Handbooks and other circuit design books. The odd figure of 930 mW comes from the fact I built it with resistors I had on hand here.

There's also design info on the Internet about building attenuators, but not a lot of it, and even with the wonderful Bing search engine, it can be a bit hard to find. However there is one excellent source of info on NAQCC member PA1B's web site at http://a29.veron.nl/pa1b.htm. There's a downloadable Excel spreadsheet there that does all the calculating for you and tells you how many common value resistors you need to satisfy the power and resistance requirements.

I asked for comments on the new layout of my streaks table, and Bob KB0TUA kindly wrote and said he thought the table as now presented gives much more useful info on my streak QSO's. That's what I was shooting for, so according to Bob, I've succeeded.

It looks like we are getting some nice warm weather coming again. Ever since the first day of astronomical spring around March 21, it turned cold again here after some very warm days just before that. I keep kidding that Phil only promised 6 weeks of early spring weather and he was pretty much on the money, but when the 6 weeks ended just before March 21, his prediction ran out, and winter returned again. But this weekend and early next week, I'm seeing predictions of temps in the low and possibly mid 70's. We'll see.

I neglected to mention it a couple days ago but Sunday April 3 was the 48th anniversary of the day I received my Novice license as KN3WWP. So now I've been getting used to saying "... 48 years as a ham" in my QSO's.

And for those of you who ask about my tomatoes and about Joe: I noticed a few days ago the first tiny buds showing up on at least one of my tomato plants. I have yet to check to see how that development compares to previous years. I get the feeling they are a bit slower this year, but I have to check to be sure. I also planted 3 pepper seeds about a month ago just to see what would happen with them and maybe get some early peppers this year. Two seeds never sprouted, and the one that did just today is starting to show its first true leaves after the two seed leaves just sat there forever.

Joe is doing just fine. I probably spend an hour to an hour and a half with him each day, and I think he enjoys my visits. On weekdays, I take him for the afternoon walk while Bruce is working. That's always enjoyable. We think he is starting to show his age just a little bit now, but still in very good shape and still quite lively at around 7-8 years old now. No one is sure of the exact age because of the somewhat roundabout way he came to be gotten. But that's a close estimate.

One other topic is astronomy. It's very discouraging how very few truly clear nights there are here in Western Pennsylvania. There has to be fewer than 50 truly clear enough for good astronomy. Mike KC2EGL and I were going to take another crack at a Messier Marathon early this month, but that has pretty much slipped away now as it has been cloudy and continues to be cloudy plus the Moon is now getting brighter each day as New Moon was on the 3rd.

That covers a lot of things tonight. Now I'm off to get a snack then to the shack to continue my streak(s) and get some more practice filling out my new streaks table. -30-

Tuesday, April 05, 2011 10:58 PM - Just a few sentences to wrap up the NCAA BB tournament. I don't think UConn deserved to win, but Butler definitely deserved to lose. That 41 points by Butler is the lowest in a final game since 1949 when Oklahoma A&M scored 36 before a shot clock came into play. Even North Carolina with their four corners slow-down offense managed to score more points than that most times. The 53 for a "winning" team was the lowest since Kentucky scored 46 also in 1949. There were lower scoring performances recently, but not in a final game. I think the announcers said Butler's shooting percentage was the lowest since 1941. Just an abysmal performance by the offense of Butler. Butler played good enough defense to have won the game easily. They just could not get the ball through the hoop on offense. It wasn't all due to UConn's defense either. A large percentage of the shots were easy ones with no hindrance of any kind from UConn. It's like I think it was the old St. Louis Hawks' announcers said when the Hawks had a bad shooting night, "Someone's put a lid on the basket". Well, Butler's basket not only had a lid on it, but that lid was solidly locked in place. I just wonder if Butler feels worse this year than last, or was that 2 point loss last year more heartbreaking. Anyway I feel sorry for them in both instances. Hey, they finished 2nd in the whole tournament for 2 years in a row though. No other team can say that, and they should be proud of that accomplishment. Still it always seems the Super Bowl loser, the World Series loser, the Stanley Cup loser, and so on always gets the label of a loser, although they beat every other team in a game, series, or tournament except one. 'Nuff said.

I revamped my streaks table on the main page of the web site this evening. Take a look and let me know what you think. -30-

Monday, April 04, 2011 9:15 PM - This will be short as it's just about tip-off time. My DX streak is now at 10 days as I worked HI8A on 30M (with mW). The other streaks are all taken care of also for the 5th. So tomorrow I may get on just to try to get some more letters for the NAQCC April Gardening challenge. Go Butler! -30-

Sunday, April 03, 2011 6:35 PM - Well, Kentucky did come out of the locker room fired up and made it an interesting game in the second half, but UConn held on to win and advance to meet Butler in the final Monday evening. The total seed number of 11 (8-Butler and 3-UConn) is the highest ever for the final game in a tournament. If Butler wins, that will be the second time a #8 seed went all the way. The last time was in 1985, the first year the tournament went to 64 teams when #8 Villanova beat #1 Georgetown 66-64 in a really great game. Along the way Villanova beat the following seed numbers to get to the final: 9-Dayton, 1-Michigan, 5-Maryland, 2-North Carolina, 2-Memphis St. How's that for an impressive run? Yes, all those teams they beat were the powerhouse teams of that era and deserved their ranking.

Another of my favorite years was 1974. There weren't really seed numbers then, but on the way to the championship, North Carolina State (with the 'inventors' of the Ally Oop play, 5'4" or so guard Monty Towe and 7'+ center David Thompson) beat the following teams on the way to the championship: Providence, Pittsburgh, UCLA, and Marquette for the championship. Again all those teams were the powerhouse teams of that era. A couple have faded since then though while Pitt and UCLA still remain up there. And Marquette may be coming back again.

Let's go through one other year I enjoyed when NC State did it again. In 1983 there was a 52 team field with a play-in round of 4 games and the #1, 2, 3, and 4 seeds getting a bye in the first round. NC State went through the following seeds to win the championship: 11-Pepperdine in double OT by 2 points, 3-UNLV by 1 point, 10-Utah in an easy 19 point win, 1-Virginia with Ralph Sampson by 1 point, 4-Georgia by 7 points, and 1-Houston for the championship by 2 points. Of course before the tournament even started most basketball 'experts' picked Houston - the Phi Slama Jama team, so called because of their prolific use of the slam dunk with players like Hakeem Olajuwon - to easily win it all if they could get by another slam dunking team, Louisville. Well, they did that, but NC State had other ideas about the final game. Of course the ending of that game is well known to anyone who has any interest at all in college basketball history. The final second missed shot air ball by Dereck Whittenburg which was caught and dunked by Lorenzo Charles. Dereck later claiming it wasn't a shot at all, but a pass. The late coach Jim Valvano running around the court looking for someone to hug and celebrate with. Fantastic stuff that makes the NCAA BB Tournament the greatest of all sporting events in my opinion.

Whew, I didn't intend to write that much, but I get fired up when talking about the tournament. I'm just sad now it's about to come to an end for another year. If Butler wins, you can count on this year taking its place right up there with 1974, 1983, and 1985 among a few other 'fantastic finish' years.

I was going to feature my DX streaks in this entry, and think I will still do it. I worked VP5/W5CW with mW power on 17 meters today to bring to 8 days in a row now I've worked some DX. I also worked probably my first every YL from Romania today - Tina YO3FRI on 20 meters. That was with 5 watts. She wasn't all that strong and I wanted to be sure to get the QSO so I didn't even try mW.

Anyway that 8 day streak now is tied for 16th place among my DX streaks as shown here with the ranking, number of days, and a list of the days. Note the one missed day (2/12/00) between the first two streaks. If I'd gotten someone that day, it would have been one streak of 236 days, but a major geomagnetic storm prevented me from getting any DX on the 12th. I might possibly have worked J3/K4LTA on 30 meters that day, but I had already worked him on that band a few days earlier and didn't want to be selfish and deprive someone else of the opportunity to work him.
1. 154: 2/13/00-7/15/00

2. 81: 11/23/99-2/11/00

3. 17: 1/16/95-2/1/95

4. 13: 11/16/00-11/28/00
4. 13: 2/13/01-2/25/01

6. 12: 7/28/99-8/8/99

7. 11: 4/10/98-4/20/98
7. 11: 6/13/99-6/23/99

9. 10: 10/30/98-11/8/98
9. 10: 8/19/00-8/28/00
9. 10: 12/15/01-12/24/01

12. 9: 9/24/94-10/2/94
12. 9: 7/8/98-7/15/98
12. 9: 10/30/00-11/7/00
12. 9: 1/13/01-1/21/01

16. 8: 10/15/00-10/22/00
16: 8: current
So if I can keep going for a few more days, it will be easy to reach the top 5 and maybe even get #3. I think if I can find the time to get on each day, it won't be all that hard if conditions hold up. -30-

Saturday, April 02, 2011 10:05 PM - Right now, it looks like Butler vs. UConn in Monday night's final. UConn is up by 10 at halftime, but that could change if Kentucky comes out of the locker room more fired up than when they went it. Butler took a lead over VCU with about 12 minutes left to play and never looked back although VCU did close it down a few times. It was a bit closer than the final score of 70-62 would indicate. So Butler gets another shot at the championship that barely eluded them last year when Duke beat them by 2 points in the closing seconds.

I got busy with various things today and almost let my newly started DX streak slip away. Actually I was pretty confident I could get a quick Polish contact in the Poland DX contest just about any time. However when I finally did get on around 2300Z, nary a Polish station was to be heard here. However I easily worked Emil E71A on 20 meters with 39 minutes left to spare in April 2 UTC.

With several other contests going, I again figured my QSO for the 3rd would be easy. It was, I worked my friend Frank KB3AAG who was in the QRP ARCI contest for my mW QSO. Then I wanted to see if I could get some letters for the April NAQCC challenge. Contest/sprint QSO's no longer can be used for our challenges. So I called CQ and got answered by W3IU not far from here in Gibsonia, PA. The W, I, and U were useful in the challenge too. So now all I need for the 3rd is a DX QSO to continue that streak. I took a quick check to see how many days in a row I've made 2 or more QSO's now. I believe until I check further, that back on February 6, I only made one QSO, but ever since then, it's been two or more. -30-

Friday, April 01, 2011 5:58 PM - It looked for a while like my mW streak might come to an end today. The bands were almost completely empty for a good part of the day. I tried a lot of CQ's with no answers. The couple DX stations I found and called, I couldn't get past getting a ? from them. Finally late this afternoon, Jurek EA6UN heard and answered my call on 20 meters. Jurek is a excellent op, and several of our NAQCC 1000 miles per watt awards have featured him at the other end of the 1000MPW QSO. That's 6 days in a row now for some DX worked. I think my 3rd longest streak of working DX is only around 18 or 19 days, so maybe I'll shoot for that. I don't know if my top DX streak of 154 days is catchable at this time or not. If I had a lot of time to devote to chasing DX each and every day, it probably would be a snap, but I don't.

I love this quote from a NAQCC membership application describing the Source where they found out about the NAQCC. KD0NZX said, "Got my license to practice CW; discovered K3WWP and QRP. That's what I want to do. This is where I want to be." Isn't that great! That is what makes all my effort in promoting CW and QRP worthwhile, and helps to keep me going. -30-

Thursday, March 31, 2011 9:22 PM - I sometimes get strange thoughts when I'm out walking. On a walk today I was reading some signs at quite a distance, and realized that I was reading words and not reading letters and converting them to words. I think if I had to read individual letters and then put them into words, I probably couldn't have done it, at least considering the size of the letters and the appreciable distance I was from them. Of course when I was very young and learning to read, I read C A T and then realized it was saying CAT to me. At some point I learned to see the word CAT and not the letters C A T. Once over that hurdle, my reading speed took a quantum leap. Flash back to today. There are still some words that I need to analyze letter by letter to see what they mean, but those are only a tiny percentage of all the words in my vocabulary. Well over 99 percent of the time, I read words, not letters.

On a little detour now before I relate this all to ham radio. When you take a seeing test at the eye doctor's office, that chart you read from doesn't have words on it, but random letters (well more or less random) or it has those letter E's with the three 'prongs' facing up, down, left, or right. Why? Because that is the only way to truly test how well you can see. As I said in the opening paragraph, it's much easier to read whole words than individual letters.

Much of this relates to copying Morse code. There is a point at which you should start copying words instead of individual letters. At that point your copying speed will also take a quantum leap. At high speeds, it is much easier to copy words than letters. In fact it perhaps becomes almost impossible to copy individual letters past a certain speed. I venture to say that barring a few exceptionally talented individuals, everyone's copying speed will be lower (much lower?) when copying random letters than when copying words.

The bottom line? If you want to become a very good CW operator, put down the pencil (except for taking notes on something you want to comment on when it's your turn), start copying by ear without writing everything down. That way you will be learning to copy words, not letters, and I'm certain you will find your copying speed increasing steadily.

Not much action on the bands tonight. I didn't get my mW QSO yet, and actually had somewhat of a time getting my 5 watt QSO until EA3GHZ finally responded to my call on 20 meters. So looks like I'll be spending time on the bands in the morning or afternoon looking for the mW QSO. Again I'm considering ending the mW streak when it reaches one full year on April 30, but I probably won't. -30-

Wednesday, March 30, 2011 9:21 PM - Sometimes I get upset with myself when I'm chasing DX. All too often for one reason or another which I'll get into, I use 5 watts and then when the QSO comes easily, I wish I'd used my 930mW instead.

Tonight on 30 meters, I heard a station working several stations in a row without signing his call. From the strength of his signal, I figured he was probably some Caribbean country I'd worked before, so I went to 5 watts just to get him for my daily streak QSO. Or possibly he was some rare country with a pileup I wasn't hearing, and I thought I'd better use 5 watts to try to beat any possible pileup in case he was rare, and the suspected pileup would get bigger. Anyway a single call got a response from him. He gave me my report (standard 599), and I sent TU 599 CALL? He replied with a TU and sent his call 3 or 4 times. Turned out it was Ukraine - UT4UGT. Darn it, I'm pretty sure with the ease of the QSO that I could have gotten him with 930mW for possibly a new overall mW country. I'll have to look in a minute to see if it would have been.

A few minutes later, I found V44KAI just starting to call CQ, and did work him pretty easily with 930mW. That was also on 30 meters. I've also got to check to see if that's a new mW country overall or a new band-country. Back in a minute with the results.

Ukraine would have been a new band-country, but I have worked UR4WWT on 20 meters with mW. V44KAI is neither a new band-country nor an overall country.

Anyway, I'm having a ball with DX, and it should only get better as the Sun becomes more and more awake. -30-

Tuesday, March 29, 2011 10:02 PM - Sometimes it's so easy. 1 call to a station at 0005Z added another day to my main and mW streaks and gave me another DX day this year. The station? PJ4/W9NJY on 15 meters. Then as icing on the cake, I worked him again on 17 meters 22 minutes later again with a single call. Both QSO's gave me a new mW band country. The 17 meters QSO was a new over-all band country. Nothing exotic about Bonaire, but it's nice to fill in the band-coutries with this new entity that began life back on 10-10-10 as the Netherlands Antilles governments were re-arranged on that date.

Earlier in the day I worked SE2T on 20 for a new prefix. Also VP5/W5CW on 12 meters for another new mW band-country. I'm just having a great time on the newly-livened-up higher bands of late. As I said a few days ago, it's almost like going back in time to the last sunspot maximum. I hope you're sharing my excitement and getting some good DX of your own. -30-

Monday, March 28, 2011 5:05 PM - I think maybe I should turn my mW streak into a mW DX streak. The last couple days it has been easier getting a DX QSO with mW than a domestic QSO. I seemingly have called endless CQ's mostly on 40 meters with no answer, then gone to 17 meters and worked a DX station fairly easily there. Today it was IK2CIO. I'll have to see if that's a new mW band-country. Hold on a momemt. Yes it is. That's 10 mW countries on 17 meters now. I want to check one other thing now. I want to see how many DX QSO's I have this year so far. 207 which is the most since 2007 and we're not even 3 months into this year yet. I'd say the Sun has definitely awakened now, so take advantage and go get that DX. If I can do it with 930 mW and simple wire antennas here in a valley, you can do it too wherever you are unless you live in a cave or an all metal shielded building.

Let's see a couple other things. 9 DX QSO's on 12M is the most on that band since 2001. 7 DX QSO's on 10M is the most since 2005. 53 on 15M ties last year and is the best since 2005 before that. 14 on 17M is the most since 2000. Interestingly enough, 18 on 80M is the most since 2004. That last one has not much to do with the Sun, but mostly with my concentrating on 80M DX more lately.

I have 638 QSO's so far this year. If I do the same the last 3/4 of the year, that will project out to about 2600 QSO's which would be the most since 2002. So all around the numbers look like things are going quite well and again confirm that the Sun is awake again. -30-

Sunday, March 27, 2011 9:03 PM - The tournament continues to be a collection of upsets and nerve-wracking excitement. Of the four games to decide who continues on to the Final Four, three were upsets, at least according to the seed numbers. Now for the first time since going to 64 seeded teams in 1985, there won't be a #1 or #2 seed in the Final Four. For only the second time, there will not be a #1 in the Final Four (2006 was the other time). The total seed numbers of the Final Four is 26. That's 4 more than it has ever been before (22 in 2000). The lowest the total seed numbers of the championship game can be is 11 if Butler plays Connecticut. That will break the old record of 9 back in 1985. If VCU plays Kentucky it would be 15. And don't write VCU out, although the VCU/Butler game could be the best game among a collection of other great games. With my limited knowledge of BB, I'd have to rate that game a toss-up. I don't rate or pick games though, I just enjoy watching them. One thing I would bet on though is that no one - period - anywhere could have picked (before the tournament started) Butler to be playing VCU for one of the spots in the final.

I think the 4 Elite 8 games this year had to be one of the few times when all 4 games were real nail biters going into the last couple minutes. Kentucky and VCU did pull away in the last minute or two for decent margins of 7 and 10 points, but until then the games were up for grabs. I thought it amazing VCU led Kansas by 18 points at one time, and even more amazing they didn't fold when Kansas pulled to within 2 points, but turned it around and pulled away again themselves. Great game, as was Butler/Florida which needed overtime to decide it. Heck, so were Kentucky/NC and Conn/Ariz. Usually in those Elite 8 games, there may be a couple exciting ones while the other ones come close to being called blowouts, but not this year.

Fortunately my nerves have almost a week to recover now before the two Final Four games on Saturday. I don't know who to root for in the Butler/VCU game. I admire Butler for what they did last year, and I think it would be nice to see them back in the final again, and perhaps win it this time. But then I have great respect for what VCU and their coach have done this year, coming from being a 'they shouldn't even be in the field' team according to many, to playing for a spot in the final. Those folks who criticized them and the selection committee really put a chip on their shoulder that fired them up in each of the 5 games they've played and won so far. Great stuff.

Well, this is a ham radio site, not ESPN, so let's talk a bit of ham radio now. The high bands had some good DX today again. Not much of it, but what there was, was strong. I tried EW8A with mW on 17 meters, but couldn't get him to hear me. However going to 5 watts produced an immediate QSO. I'm thinking more and more that I could be running less than 930mW. It's certain I'm not running more than that. I'll have to put an RF meter between the attenuator and antenna switching/tuning unit some day instead of relying of precise resistance measurements of the attenuator and computing the DB loss from that, and then the output power from the DB loss.

Later on, I did get my mW QSO on 17 meters, when I easily worked CT1IUA for a new mW band-country to boot. No mW QSO this evening, so perhaps another mW DX QSO during the day tomorrow. -30-

Saturday, March 26, 2011 8:58 PM - I don't know how many more of these close BB games I can take. Wasn't that Butler-Florida game something! And right now Connecticut-Arizona is a one-point game with 6 minutes left. Whew. If there is another more exciting sports championship game, series, or tournament, I don't know what it could be. Perhaps the World Cup in soccer might be close.

I probably should have written this entry before the game(s) as I remember having some things I wanted to write about, but the excitement of the games has kind of pushed them somewhere in the back of my mind now.

Oh, I did want to mention the second games last night. There were two more thrillers in KY-Ohio St. and VCU-Florida St. Didn't I say watch out for VCU? That chip they have on their shoulder from folks saying they didn't belong in the tournament has really spurred them on, but the road to the Final Four for them may be closed tomorrow by Kansas. But you never know. Kansas hasn't really been challenged in any of their games so far while VCU has, and that could be a factor in favor of VCU. Also it's nice to see two all-time great BB programs facing off in the other game tomorrow in KY-NC. Two very storied BB schools with a flock of championships between them. Oh-oh, I see Connecticut is pulling away from Arizona a bit now with a 7 point lead and under 3 to go.

My QSO tonight was with long-time contesting friend Bill K4LTA. It's always nice to chat with contesters outside of contests. Although like Bill said in our QSO, you don't often hear a lot of contesters on the bands except in contests and you can't chat then. HI. I'll have to get my mW QSO in the morning or afternoon. I tried to get OZ1GML on 30 meters with mW, but couldn't. Then I switched to 5 watts and worked Frank easily at that power, so again proof the attenuator is really attenuating. HI. Think I'll watch the finish of the UConn-Ariz game now.

Friday, March 25, 2011 9:33 PM - This was kind of a relaxing slow paced day. About the only busy time was finishing up the NAQCC newsletter and posting it while I was doing my washing this morning. The two folks did come through with the last minute info.

After that and some breakfast, I went next door for my daily morning visit to see Joe, Nancy, and Bruce. Bruce was going to take a run up to the mall and asked if I needed to go up there. I thought of a couple things I could get so we went up there. We discussed the BB playoffs. Since Bruce worked in Indiana for many years, he is interested in the Butler team, and I've kind of gotten to like them also after their magical run to the final game last year and almost beating Duke in that game, losing by only 2 points at the very end of the game. This year, they are on another run as you probably know, knocking off #1 seed Pitt, and then last night beating Wisconsin. They tried hard to lose the game, it looked like. They went into a delay game to run time off the clock way too early in the second half, and Wisconsin cut a 20 point Butler lead down to just a couple points. Then Butler did another puzzling thing. When inbounding the ball they threw it to a player in the corner instead of the middle of the court allowing Wisconsin to easily trap the Butler player forcing a turnover. I hope they think about those two things before they play Florida tomorrow, or they will not make a repeat trip to the final four this year.

When I got home, I did a little cleaning here before taking Joe for his afternoon walk. Then Nancy took me, Bruce, and her other son Jeff out for a fish dinner. That was enjoyable and relaxing for sure.

Home again and a little computer work before I saw Bruce taking Joe out again and went out and walked with them, watched some TV over there and visited till 8 o'clock when I came over to get my streak QSO. I killed two birds with one stone, getting an easy mW QSO with Joe K2JT to continue both streaks another day.

That pretty much takes the day up to where I'm writing this diary. About the only other thing was getting my weather readings a little while ago.

I didn't watch either of first two games this evening, but they were both more or less blowouts with North Carolina and Kansas on the winning end over Marquette and Richmond respectively. I'm interested in seeing what happens with the #10 Florida St. vs. #11 VCU matchup which will be starting shortly. VCU has looked very good so far in their games, and I think they could well get the mild upset over Florida St., but.... That's why they play the games and don't go by what people think. If VCU does win, they'd have to go against Kansas to make it to the final four, and that would be tough. -30-

Thursday, March 24, 2011 9:05 PM - Just about time to catch the end of the first 2 Sweet Sixteen games, so I'm going to just have a brief entry here tonight.

I spent a lot of time today finalizing the NAQCC newsletter for posting tomorrow. Still have to hear from a couple of folks with their columns for it. Hopefully they wont come in too last minute.

Two easy QSO's this evening for my streak(s). Also got one in the 2300Z hour as a second one for the 24th. I think I've had at least two QSO's a day almost every day this year so far. I'll have to check on that for sure. I'm pretty sure I did miss at least one or two days when I only had one QSO.

Well, I see the games are in the final minutes and somewhat close so I'm off to watch them now. -30-

Wednesday, March 23, 2011 6:49 PM - It occurs to me that there may be someone reading this diary who has no idea what I mean by the "Keynote" mention in the last two entries. However if you are reading the diary, I would hope that you are a member of the biggest and best by far CW club in the World - FISTS. If you are not a member, you should be, and you may list me as your sponsor when you fill in an application to join. The FISTS web site is the place for more information.

The Keynote is the wonderful magazine of the FISTS club, chock full of good info about CW published about 10 times per year. As a side note, last year was a disastrous one for FISTS when a fire destroyed the FISTS headquarters building and set the club back in some ways. However everything is back up and running at full strength now and FISTS will now continue its growth as The #1 CW Club.

I've been a member since November of 1995 and have been a Keynote columnist since late summer or early fall of 1996. My column deals with QRP/CW (well, what else? HI). I've produced some 85 columns in that time, and enjoyed writing every one. I've been rewarded by having many hams re-discover or find out for the first time all about the joy of CW because of my columns. Many have told me that they are now realizing that CW at QRP levels is the way to go in ham radio either because they live in an area that is 'hostile' to high power operation or simply because they enjoy the challenge of making contacts at power levels that aren't high enough to light a night light bulb.

FISTS has always worked very closely with our own NAQCC in the promotion of CW from the very first moments that the NAQCC was conceived in late 2004. There has never been any bad blood between our two clubs, and we freely promote each other's activities. The head of FISTS, Nancy WZ8C and I have become good friends in the 15-16 years I've been a member although we've never met in person. She allows me free rein to promote the NAQCC in my columns.

I am just extremely proud to be a FISTS member (and a NAQCC member as well, of course). Those two clubs are the only ones in which I am at all active. Being active in just two clubs means I can devote my full efforts to those clubs, and I do my best to do so.

I wandered off track as I often do when I talk about a subject I enjoy, so let me get back on track and explain what I more or less stated in the opening sentence that I was going to do.

When the Keynote underwent a change of format a little over a year ago, and Nancy decided to put photographs of members on the cover of the magazine, I was honored to be one of the first few members to whom she offered a cover spot. My good friend Mike KC2EGL took some photos of me, and I sent them to Nancy. Not long after that, the aforementioned fire occured, and publication of the Keynote went into a 'semi-hiatus' for some months. When production resumed, my picture was used for the cover of issue #1 for 2011. Here's what I've been talking about and thanking folks for their comments about.

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Normally I don't care at all about pictures of myself, but I think Mike did an excellent job with this one, and I actually like it.

There is also a multi-page article (my column actually) about the time my streak reached 15 years. It tells how the streak got started, my thoughts on the streak, my answers to questions about the streak from those of you who read my diary, etc. Now some of you know all about the above info, and have even read the streak interview elsewhere. But as I said, there may be some who are not FISTS members, and are just new to my web site and diary. I owe it to them to explain my comments the past couple entries. I hate it when someone says or writes something that they think is common knowledge and never explain it. I try not to do that.

OK, for those of you who made it this far, just a note on band conditions. If you're a DX chaser, you definitely should be checking 17-10 meters daily now as they have come alive over the past several weeks. Today in the brief time I had to get on the air to get my mW QSO for the mW streak, I found LY21A calling CQ on 17 meters and easily worked him with my 930mW for a nice special prefix and a new mW band-country. -30-

Tuesday, March 22, 2011 9:26 PM - Comments on the Keynote are still coming in, and again I thank you. One nice side effect is that the article is drawing in some new NAQCC members. That is more rewarding than anything else.

Not really much to talk about today. In fact I'm sitting here with writer's block at the moment. I'm sitting here with my camera next to me, and my tomatoes about a couple feet to the left of me, so I think I'll just let them show off a bit.
pix_diary_20110322 (93K)
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I don't think they are doing as well as last year or other years. I'll have to go into my pictures file and do some comparing, but not right now. -30-

Monday, March 21, 2011 8:58 PM - First of all, thanks for all the nice comments on the latest FISTS Keynote. They are appreciated.

It's always nice to run into an old friend on the bands you haven't worked for a while and know that things are still going well with them. That happened this evening when I turned on the rig, tuned a couple kHz and there was Darron WA5TCZ calling CQ on 20 meters. We hadn't worked in about 3 years or so, and it was nice to chat again. 20 was really in super shape. He was 20-30 over S9 with his 40 watts and beam at 60', and he gave me a 569 with my 930mW and attic dipole. Later in the QSO after my requisite two rounds that make it a mW QSO I upped power to 5 watts and he said I was 20 over down there in Louisiana. It's always nice to confirm that my RF attenuator is really attenuating. Sometimes I wonder about that when it is so easy working stations, even DX like the Asians I worked over the weekend, with the attenuator in the circuit. Actually going from 5W down to 930mW is really only a little over a 7DB reduction in power which is just over an S-unit, so maybe I'm really running lower than 930mW output.

I didn't have time to chase any DX today. Oh I did try for the special XE3MAYA/A station for a bit on 20 meters, but the pileups were overwhelming, and I didn't try too long to break them. A good portion of the day I spent finalizing the cross-checking of our NAQCC sprint logs and posting the final results on the NAQCC web site.

I also spent about an hour or so with Joe this afternoon who was 'home alone' for a while. It was a beauty of a day with temperatures in the 70's (just about to go check to see how warm it did get - I saw 72 on my Computemp which is usually a couple degrees cooler than in my backyard thermometer shelter) so Joe and I just hung out on the porch for quite a while.

OK, I'm going to get my temperature readings now and I'll let you know just how warm it did get. Wow, it hit 76. Didn't feel quite that warm, but it was breezy so that made a difference with the 'wind chill' effect, I guess. -30-

Sunday, March 20, 2011 8:14 PM - This has been a really great weekend. The first half I told you about last night, but there's more. I worked another mW Asia QSO when I got R0QA on 20 meters. I also got OH8X, PS2T on 20 with my mW power. One 'bad' happening was when I worked JT5DX on 20 meters. I got too excited at wanting to work Mongolia even though I had worked it before that I switched to 5 watts after trying just a couple times with mW. Then shortly after that he got stronger and I'm wishing I'd stuck with mW and maybe gotten him that way. Oh well.. se la vie. It's still exciting to work what I consider to be one of the world's really exotic countries. And it's a CQ zone (23) pretty much all to itself to boot. It was a new band country and zone too since my previous Mongolian QSO's were on 15 and 17. I also worked a few stations in the VA QSO party to get my mW QSO's for the 20th and 21st, but didn't do a serious effort like I did last weekend in the WI QSO Party.

Then of course besides ham radio, there's basketball. As usual the tournament turns up some very exciting games (and a few 'dull' blowouts also) plus the Cinderella stories which I think are the highlight of the tournament. The best and weirdest game of all so far has to be the Butler (8) vs. Pitt (1) game last night. I've watched and enjoyed basketball since the 60's if not earlier and I can't recall seeing a similar ending. If you missed it, briefly here's what happened. With Pitt leading by 1 point with about 10 seconds left to go, Butler takes the ball to the hoop and scores to go up by 1 with just a couple seconds left. OK, nothing out of the ordinary so far - just another exciting buzzer beater - right? Wrong, Pitt takes the ball down the court to try to get their return buzzer beater. However a Butler player commits a foul that never ever should have been and Pitt goes to the line for two shots to tie or win the game. Well they make the first free throw to tie, but miss the second. Now the bizarreness continues. Butler rebounds and as they try to either throw a long pass down the court for a last (split) second shot or just run out the clock and go to OT, Pitt fouls the Butler player with something like 0.8 seconds left. Butler goes to the line, makes the first free throw to go up by 1 point, misses the second free throw knowing that if they make it, the clock stops and Pitt has a chance, albeit it a miniscule one, to make a long inbounds pass and score. With the miss, although Pitt rebounded, the clock ran out before they got off a shot. They did get off the shot, but after the buzzer and the darn thing almost went in, at that. Whew. Did you ever see anything like that. I sure didn't.

Even with all the ham radio and basketball excitement, I think one of the neatest things was being able to sit out on the porch swing late last night with Bruce with Joe sitting between us. We used to like to do that a lot last year, but this is the first time we've been able to now since last fall some time.

Now with the NAQCC sprint log submission deadline passed, I've got to get the cross checking done. I may try to finish that tonight or maybe just wait till tomorrow.

And I've got one other thing to do, and that's think up something else to count down to. You've probably noticed (like Geo N1EAV) that it's now counting up instead of down since astronomical spring arrived about an hour and 20 minutes ago as I write here. That will have to wait though as I want to also watch some more basketball now -30-

Saturday, March 19, 2011 6:15 PM - ADDENDUM. The great day here continues. The bands are just fabulous and I seem to find myself in the right place at the right time. Beyond what I worked and mentioned below, I have more to report. Had a nice rag chew with WL7CKX in Willow, Alaska on 17 meters. That was with 5 watts, not mW. All the rest I'm going to mention are with my 930mW. Worked KE0A in the North Dakota QSO Party for state #49 with mW power. Now, had the WL7 station been stronger and I would have used mW and worked him, well..... Yes, KL7 is the last state I need, but hey, I'll get it some day with mW too. That's not all. Worked CT8/SM6C on 20 meters. Nothing new, but my 11th mW country today. GM2V on 20 for #12 today and a new band country for a total of 30 on 20 now. Finally the icing on the cake came just a few minutes ago. RW0CWA on 20 for #13 today, #31 on 20, a new overall mW country, #62, AND Asia completes my mW WAC!!! You should see the shaky handwriting in my paper log from my excitement today. Yes boys and girls, mW power, simple wire antennas, and CW do combine to work and work well!

I went up to the shack to get my mW QSO a couple hours ago and wound up getting 11 of them, not just 1, from 9 countries - OM LY GA SP DL S5 9A YU E7, all on 15 meters. That was fun, and not all that hard. Only a couple of the QSO's required repeats of my call or info. Not all that much different from what it would have been with me running 5 watts instead of 930mW. That's 195 DX QSO's this year which ties 2009 as the most in a year since 2007, and the year is just starting. The Sun has definitely awakened. That's 33 countries on 15 meters with mW now and 61 overall mW countries as SN7Q, S53EO, and YT9X were overall new ones. HG7T and E74EBL were new on 15 meters. -30-

Friday, March 18, 2011 9:04 PM - Beautiful day today and I spent a lot of time outside. Didn't even watch much basketball. From the looks of the scores, there weren't many close games today. I think I did see one 2 point game. So I think I'll cut this short and check out the evening games - the first games of the 4 doubleheaders should be just ending now or winding down. -30-

Thursday, March 17, 2011 8:43 PM - Buzzer beaters, sprint logs, beautiful weather, upsets, mW QSO.... I need to clone myself on days like this. Weren't those some really great games today? We're going to have a #12 or #13 seed in the Sweet Sixteen for sure as 12 Richmond beat 5 Vanderbilt in a down to the wire game that took about 5 minutes to play the last several seconds with all the time-outs for strategy sessions. 13 Morehead St. beat 4 Louisville by 1 point in another nail-biter. So 12 plays 13 for a spot in the Sweet Sixteen on Saturday. On and on it goes as it does every year in the most exciting finale to any sport, college, amateur, or pro, in my opinion.

As I speak with my new email message sound ringing out, we're at 99 logs for last night's NAQCC sprint. So that signal may be that #100 is arriving. Let me look. Yep W5TVW's log is #100 so we did it for the 12th month in a row now.

Speaking of that, I've got to get back to working on the logs and checking the BB games. -30-

Wednesday, March 16, 2011 1:49 PM - I have been seriously infected by the DX bug again. The bands are definitely back for DXing after their long nap. Even with just 930mW, working DX is a snap lately. I added one new overall mW country in Belarus - EW8O, and two new mW band-countries in Antigua - V25WY and Hawaii - KH6MB, all on 17 meters in just the past hour. Oh, and all came on my first call to them, although I did have to repeat my call letters once. I think I'll make it my goal this year to reach 100 countries (entities) with mW by the end of the year. Let's see what I have right now. Belarus makes 58, so 42 to go. Not unreasonable unless the Sun snoozes again.

Also getting ready to deal with another infection. The NAQCC Sprint bug. Our sprint is this evening. I'm just hoping and praying I don't have the terrible noise I had for the February sprint. The bands just now are the quietest I've heard them in a good while. If that continues through our sprint, I'll have a ball and a great score. Otherwise I'll be lucky to get a couple dozen QSO's at most. I'll just have to wait and see. -30-

Tuesday, March 15, 2011 10:40 PM - Where does the time go. It seems like I just get out of bed in the morning and here it is closing in on time to go back to bed. Looking back on the day it seems like I really accomplished very little. Let me see if I can think of just what did go on besides my usual every day routine things.

Of course the most recent comes to mind easily. That was watching the first of the First Four games in the NCAA BB Tournament. (Hmmm, got to change the countdown above again) A very good game it was too. AR Little Rock controlled the the game from start till there were only a couple minutes left, then two of their star starters fouled out, and NC Asheville awakened and tied up the game, forcing overtime and they (Asheville) went ahead and won. Just a preview of the many exciting games coming up.

I also did some more modifying of our NAQCC web site preparing for a lot of new CW learning info to be provided by Ron K5DUZ over the next several days or so.

Took Joe for a nice walk this afternoon, and earlier convinced him to eat his dog food. He sometimes doesn't want to eat it until I 'jump start' him by letting him lick a bit of it off my finger. Then once started he acts like he was starving (which he definitely never is, believe me - HI) and goes right through it.

Got on the bands for a short time on a couple occasions. Around noon to get my mW QSO which I got with just 2 CQ's. W9ELG answered my second one and we chatted for about a quarter hour or so. He mentioned he was using an old R-71A receiver. I used to use one of them and after our QSO just for the heck of it, I went up to the attic and got it out, hooked it up, and listened to it for a while. It still works good after years of inactivity.

I went to the bank to check to see if a check cleared. There's a sentence with one word that has two entirely different meanings. Later I went back downtown to pay a couple bills.

Gee, I guess I did accomplish a lot today after all. Now I'm going to get back to that second game. Bye. -30-

Monday, March 14, 2011 9:36 PM - A lot of computer work today. Processed around 10 new NAQCC members. Updated several of the NAQCC web site pages. Just too many things to bore you with a list here.

One thing to take note of though is this. There is a new poll posted on my web site. I hope you'll check it out and cast your vote. The new PHP poll is working out well so far.

No mW QSO this evening, but had a nice 5 watt rag chew on 40M with Doug K8EXB. 40 is staying in good shape much longer in the evenings now as the Sun sets later and later.

I didn't get a chance to try for any DX today, but I'm going to try tomorrow. Maybe my mW QSO can be a DX QSO as it was a couple times of late. -30-

Sunday, March 13, 2011 10:07 PM - I did it. I made a big effort in the WI QSO Party today. Probably the biggest effort in a state QSO party in several years now except for a PA QSO Party with our special NAQCC call N3A a couple years ago. Let's see how many hours I put in of the 7 hours available. My first QSO came at 2055Z and the last as the contest ended at 0100Z. I took a break for my evening snack of about a half hour or so. That means I put in just about half of the 7 hours or 3.5 hours. Perhaps not as strong an effort as it could have been, but I was active just about every one of the 210 minutes or so either working someone, calling someone or listening to find someone I hadn't yet worked. It all added up to 95 QSO's in 42 of WI's 72 counties. Nowhere near my 2004 effort of 143 QSO's in 59 counties, but at least I found out I still have retained my state QSO party skills and tricks. HI. I worked just about everyone I heard on 20, 40, and 80 meters. The QSO's in most all cases came quite easily, surprisingly so when working the mobiles. I was even breaking some pretty big pileups to get a few of the mobiles. Really a tremendous amount of fun, and I'm kind of looking forward to the next big contest now, be it a state QSO party, DX contest, QRP contest, etc. Of course the very next thing will be our NAQCC sprint this coming Wednesday evening. I just hope my noise level is down from the 10-20 over S9 last sprint. Otherwise I won't have a very good score for the second month in a row. Ya gotta hear 'em ta work 'em, and I couldn't last month.

Well, I've got the 95 QSO's to transfer to my main computer log plus a couple mW DX QSO's on 15 from this afternoon. I worked 9A4WY and YN7SU with my 930mW - Nicaragua was a new overall mW country - Croatia a new band country for mW. Also some 5 NAQCC membership applications to process and a few other things. That's the problem with serious contesting. You quickly get behind in things. HI. -30-

Saturday, March 12, 2011 8:37 PM - Don't forget to turn your clocks ahead one hour tonight unless you're in one of the few areas that doesn't observe Daylight Savings Time - or as I like to call it, Daylight Shifting Time. Really all you're doing is shifting an hour of daylight from the morning to the evening. You're not really saving it anywhere. I just finished doing my clocks here, and I wonder which one I will have forgotten. There's usually one somewhere. HI Of course the computer clocks do their own thing and I'm sure they won't forget.

The last full day of standard time was a great one weather-wise. Partly cloudy with a high in the upper 50's. Great walking weather, and I've got - let's see - 8.54 miles on the pedometer. That includes a nice 3 mile walk on our rails to trails walking path today. They have a measured mile on there that I use to check the accuracy of my pedometer. I guess after not getting in those good long walks over the winter, my pace must have shortened just a tad as the measured mile showed 1.05 miles both ways. Still that's pretty accurate.

I got on the bands a bit today. Not much heard in the way of DX so I thought I'd try a CQ on a dead sounding 30 meters just for fun. Once again it proved what I always say - the bands are hardly ever dead (propagation-wise). It is just that no one is bothering to call CQ. It took but a couple minutes for W3HBM up in Maine to answer my CQ and we had a solid rag chew for some 22 minutes before I had to QRT. We could have gone on longer. Band conditions were good, and it just needed my CQ to call attention to that fact.

I always enjoy fooling around with new software, and especially enjoy photo editing software. I found a new free program today, and played with it quite a bit. As with every piece of software I try, I find some features that I think could be done in a better way. The only difference in 'good' and 'bad' software in my opinion is how few or how many of those features I find. I found very few in the program I tried today. It's called Photo Pos Pro. It used to be commercial software, but the authors have now made it freeware, at least in virtually every reference on their web site and in other places. I did see one place where it is trial software, but I think that reference was from some old documentation that came out while it was a commercial program. At least I haven't seen anything telling me I have X number of day in my trial. -30-

Friday, March 11, 2011 8:48 PM - I'm really getting into DX again. I spent a good part of today reorganizing my DX records into a more easily trackable form via an Excel 2010 spreadsheet. I will be able to print it out and have it handy in the shack to check immediately to see if I have a certain country or not.

In doing so, I found a couple discrepancies in my records. I had a couple of the CIS countries in EU when they should have been in AS. Also my total of countries verified on a couple band were off by 1 or 2. Just little things. No big change in any of my totals.

I also noticed that already this year I have more DX QSO's than in all of 2008 and 2010 and I'm only 18 behind my 2009 total. 2006 and 2007 are also within easy reach in a month or two. This is the first year since 2004 that I've had DX QSO's on all bands from 80 through 10 meters. I mentioned this earlier, but I've had my first DX QSO's on 12 meters this year since 2004.

I added a couple QSO's today working E73W on 20 meters for my mW QSO of the day, and P40D on 30 this evening just for the fun of it.

My mW QSO this evening (for the 12th) was easy as AF1L answered my CQ quickly. I noticed 80 was pretty empty, so I thought I'd just see if 930mW could attract someone tuning across the band, and it did. Another case of conditions being good, but just no one around except for a few folks. -30-

Thursday, March 10, 2011 5:51 PM - DX returned today. I made 3 QSO's. VP9/AA1AC on 17 meters. A nice prefix worked in OL1911VP on 20 meters. Then had a nice rag chew with Chris F6FTB on 17 meters.

It was a nice mild day in between two areas of rain. I had a long walk out to Ace hardware to get a couple batteries that were sold out at stores right in town here. I haven't measured it, but I guess it's something like a 3.5-3.75 mile round trip there. That's probably the longest single walk I've had in a while, but as the weather gets better and better, that will change and I'll get out there for some more longer ones.

Other than that, let's see what else I did today. I pretty much finished up our NAQCC newsletter for posting tomorrow. Still might get a couple last minute items for that though. Of course I took Joe for his afternoon walk which I do just about every weekday while his "daddy" Bruce is working. That's pretty much it. -30-

Wednesday, March 09, 2011 9:40 PM - Just got back from our monthly computer club meeting a little while ago, so not much to say in the diary tonight. I missed working DX today. The high bands have gone quiet again. Has to be because of the stormy ionosphere as I said before. Well at least I got two of the last 5 letters I need to complete our March NAQCC challenge, so all I need now are two QSO's with stations with a T in their call to finish it off now. Maybe I'll try to get them tomorrow. I'll need to get my mW QSO then also. I did get a 5 watt QSO with WB3DEL in (you guessed it) Delaware a few minutes ago to keep the big streak rolling along. He was also using an attic antenna but running 100 watts. -30-

Tuesday, March 08, 2011 8:36 PM - It seems that the video clip from the Tonight Show gets re-discovered every so often. I'm talking about the one dealing with Morse Code vs. Text Messaging. It's been a good many years now since the bit was done on the show, and it is interesting to watch even if you've seen it several times before. He didn't include his call, but it was a James Ferree who pointed it out this time. Probably with all the web space I have thanks to the NAQCC web site, I should post it here with a permanent link to it probably in the CW section of the web site. I may just do that. James attached a copy to his email and I also have a copy somewhere on my hard drive or maybe I even have one on my web site somewhere. HI I do forget things more and more now. Anyway for the time being, here is a link to a site that features it - http://www.coolestone.com/media/787/Text_Messaging_Vs_Morse_Code__-_Jay_Leno/.

DX on the higher bands wasn't quite as good today, but it was still there. The solar activity now is strong enough it's starting to create some storminess in the ionosphere which is probably what hurt signals today. Still I worked HA5AGS on 12M in the 1300Z hour, and ZF2LC and 8P6DR later on in the day. I will be checking some time each day as long as the SF stays high in hopes of getting 4 more new ones on 12 to reach 100 there. I think I have most of the real common countries so getting the last 4 will take some listening. Those of you who know me know I don't care at all for packet or Internet spotting. I search out my DX by listening on the bands as it was done in the old days. Much more fun and rewarding that way.

Another nice weather day today and I finished cleaning up the leaves in the back yard. Can't wait now till it's time to start gardening out there now. I might stick in some lettuce seeds and onion sets before too long now if I decide to grow those crops this year. Right now I'm kind of waiting on the gas company to fix up the back yard. The put in a new pipeline last year and said they would re-sod, level the area, etc. this spring. -30-

Monday, March 07, 2011 11:59 PM - Not really, that's a fudged time. It's really past midnight. Just home a little while ago from an aborted Messier Marathon attempt - thanks to a thin cloud cover that moved in obscuring all but the brighter stars and certainly most of the Messier objects. Mike KC2EGL and I are disappointed, but we learned some things for our next attempt. First dress just a little bit warmer - it gets cold out there mostly just standing around. Thick gloves do not work well with telescopes, but something is needed to keep the fingers warm. Start setting up early if you have a Newtonian reflector with counterweights and other accessories that do take time to set up. If it's a GoTo scope, you may need even more time because of the alignment process involved.

We did observe some things before the clouds shut us down. We saw 20 Messier objects, then when they became obscured we observed some double stars, other stars including the belt stars of Orion, and the planet Saturn with a couple of its moons.

Mike was here most of the day and before it became dark we took care of some NAQCC Prizes business. We also played a lot with his Starry Night Pro version and my Voyager 4.5 planetarium programs. We also took Joe for a walk to the joy of two middle-school girls on their way home from school who found him just adorable. Of course Joe appreciated the attention. And then (you know what's coming) we ate (gourmet pizzas from Vocelli's). -30-

Sunday, March 06, 2011 1:26 PM - The bands are alive with the sound of DX! I hope you listened to me last night and checked out the high bands for DX. It was there in abundance. 12 meters sounded exactly like 20 meters did at the height of the ARRL DX Contest a couple weeks ago, maybe even better since I think the signals were stronger today. Fantastic. I made my first 12 meter QSO's since 2004. My first ever 12 meter EU QSO came on 11/5/1997 when I worked SV1BOH in Greece - ironically today in the re-awakening of 12 meters for me, my first QSO was with SV1CQN in Greece.

Before that today I worked G3RXP and DK150RB on 15 meters. The German station was a nice new prefix. Then I went to 12 to get the aforementioned SV1 station. That was followed by EI6IZ for my first ever Ireland on 12 - entity #96 on 12 meters. Can't wait to get those last 4 to reach 100 now which will give me 100 or more on 40 through 10. Next came CO8LY (at 930mW), GW3YDX (broke a huge pileup on my first call. Didn't even hear him come back to me at first because of the pile, but he repeated and we made the QSO), GM3YTS (at 930mW), I0JX, detoured to 10 meters for EA2LU (had a nice little chat with Jorge), and back to 12 for F6GCP. I did regret missing a Z35T station which would have been #97 on 12 meters.

Sure was a lot of fun, and has really ignited my interest in DX again. I just hope the Sun keeps up the good work in firing up the high bands.

I also got 18 more letters for our NAQCC March challenge, and just need 12 more now to complete it. If the DX continues, that should be easy.

Well, now I've got to get all the QSO's in my computer log and my logs page on the web site. -30-

Saturday, March 05, 2011 8:05 PM - I found the bands interesting this evening, then I found out probably why they were that way.

Last night in talking to Gary, he said he got the first of his daily 2 QSO's on 20 meters, so I thought I'd check on 20 this evening when I went to the shack at 0000Z to try for my QSO(s). To my surprise there were several very strong signals across the band. Except for a couple, I'm not sure where they were from. One I know was FL, and the station I worked (KG5SX) was from MS. It sounded like 20 meters in summer, not early March. 40 meters also had a lot of good strong signals while 80 was rather empty and noisy.

Then just now in getting the SF and A index numbers for my propagation page, I see the SF was 135 today, and the A index just 5. A great combination for good conditions on the higher bands that linger past darkness for a while. I'm looking forward to seeing what the high bands are like during the day tomorrow. They could be quite good if the numbers are similar plus being a Sunday there should be more activity in general. -30-

Friday, March 04, 2011 8:20 PM - My mW QSO for the 4th came on 20 meters. Except for the DX contest, that is only the first or second time 20 has been the mW QSO band. I worked K5NQ in New Orleans who was running 4 watts down there. I guess the mW QSO for the 5th will also come during the afternoon as I didn't have any luck getting a QSO this evening on 80 even with 5 watts except for Gary N2ESE who found my lonesome CQ's and gave me a call. Always nice to visit with Gary.

A decent weather day again until this evening when some light rain arrived. Most of the day was sunny and mild with temps in the upper 40's or so. I started doing some clean-up in the back yard picking up two large bag-fulls of leaves. Still a lot to be done out there though. No hurry though. But it is nice to see things looking better out the kitchen window again.

Also a good day for walking and I took a couple medium length walks today and am close to my average of 7 miles for the day. -30-

Thursday, March 03, 2011 7:39 PM - 80 meters seems to have slipped back to its old ways tonight. Tuning across the band revealed only a couple stations. There was some activity on 40 and 30, but so far I haven't gotten my QSO for the day, and may have to wait till the morning or afternoon to do it. Or I may try later this evening and see if things are any better.

I haven't talked about my tomatoes lately. I compared how they look today to what last year's crop looked like at about the same day. There wasn't a lot of difference to be seen so they are progressing well, I guess. I did transplant a couple of them into bigger pots today so they should like that. I've got one more small pot with 3 plants in it. I'm going to split them up into separate bigger pots also.

I also started a few pepper seeds today. I had been wanting to do that much earlier, but just never did get around to it.

It was a fairly decent day today. Nice and mostly sunny, but a bit chilly with a high only in the 30's. Still I took a few walks, and it is great to be getting outside regularly again. -30-

Wednesday, March 02, 2011 9:55 PM - Not much activity on 17 this afternoon, but I did get EA4BQ/EA8 with a single call. That gave me a bunch of letters for the NAQCC March challenge. With that and a couple other QSO's, I now have 37 of the 70 letters already crossed off.

It was a nice looking day today, but the temperature peaked in the 40's in the morning and then fell the rest of the day as a dry cold front came through. A still breeze made it feel even a bit colder.

Those of you who don't follow college basketball that closely, but may still be curious, could be wondering about the 'First Four' in the countdown above. Actually although I know about it, it is still a little confusing to me. Basically they are going to have 4 games on Tuesday and Wednesday the first week of the tournament to determine the last 4 entrants into the field of 64 teams for the tournament. 2 of the games will feature teams that were ranked just outside the allocated number of positions in the tournament. I guess that means the teams ranked 63, 64, 65, and 66 will play to be the 63rd and 64th teams in the tournament. The other 2 games are even more confusing. They say those games will feature the 4 lowest ranked at-large candidates for the tournament. The two winners will get the last 2 at-large berths. Whew. If you understand it any better and can explain it better, let me know. It looks like the tournament selection committee are trying to get some heat off themselves by letting the last few berths be filled by playing games instead of arbitrary decisions on their part. Of course 4 extra games also means X amount of dollars more too. I'm sure in this age of money seemingly being the bottom line to everything, that was a consideration also. Because of that reason, I look to see the tournament expand to 96 or maybe even 128 teams in the not too distant future. Still all in all, I find it the most intriguing off all playoff systems - college, amateur, or pro, and will continue to follow it each March (and April when expansion comes). -30-

Tuesday, March 01, 2011 8:30 PM - Another evening with quick to get QSO's. Both the 5W and mW ones turned into nice rag chews, thanks to Skip N2EI and Jerry WB2CAK respectively.

I see the SF today is back over 100 again at 111 with some minor geomagnetic storming. That's probably why I didn't hear much when I checked 17 a couple times today. I was hoping to pick up a couple DX QSO's as they usually provide some different letters for our March NAQCC Challenge. So far with 4 QSO's in the log this month I have 26 of the required 70 letters to complete the challenge.

It was a nice weather day again on the first day of spring. Started out a bit cold down in the 20's but got up to the mid 40's by afternoon. I took several walks today and right now am just under 8 miles for the day. Also had my usual nice walk with Joe this afternoon. He seems to like temperatures in the 45-55 degree range a lot, so we walked a little further than usual today.

Well as I said last night, I've got to fix up my countdown above as it no longer applies. Maybe by the time you read this though, I'll have something else up there, and the last sentence will no longer apply. HI -30-

Monday, February 28, 2011 8:08 PM - I guess I need to find something else to count down to now that Spring is here in just a couple more hours. Wow, I never thought we'd make it on some of those cold snowy days in December and January. Mr. Phil knew what he was talking about though as February was pretty decent this year, especially compared to last year when we had way too much snow, ice, and cold.

Maybe I'll see when the first game of the NCAA Basketball Tournament tips off and have a March Madness countdown for each round. That's the only sporting event I really follow closely any more. I do check into the other sports now and then, but March Madness pretty much has my undivided attention. I especially like the early rounds and the 'Cinderella' stories. How about Butler last year? Wow. They weren't all that low a seed at #5, but to make it within 3 points of winning the championship. That was a great run. I wonder who the big story will be this year. I can't wait to get things going.

The QSO's came easy again this evening with YN7SU on 30M and a nice mW visit with NAQCC member John N9RLO. As a bonus, they gave me 15 letters to start off our NAQCC March 'Time' challenge. -30-

Sunday, February 27, 2011 8:48 PM - This was a good day today. I got my H to finish the second mastering of our NAQCC Groundhog challenge when I worked HC2/KF6ZWD on 17 meters.

The weather was good with the temperature around 50 degrees with the Sun peeking through the clouds at times. I took a good walk by myself and later with Joe.

I got my streak QSO's fairly easily tonight. In fact the 5 watt QSO came without me calling or answering a CQ. Turns out both Gary N2ESE and I were QRL? on the same frequency at the same time. Then later I got my mW QSO in the NCQP working N4CW. Then I hung around a few minutes and worked 7 more NC stations with 5 watts.

Jeff Gordon finally won another NASCAR race after 66 winless races. That ties him with Cale Yarborough at 83 wins now for 6th place all time. Next up Darrell Waltrip with 84 and Bobby Allison with 85. There's a bit of a dispute about Bobby's totals. Some say he has 84, others 85. The disputed race was at Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, NC on Aug 6, 1971. The race featured a mixture of Grand National (the 1971 equivalent of NASCAR's Winston Cup and Sprint Cup series of later years) and Grand American cars. Bobby drove a Ford Mustang which was a Grand American entry, and well it gets more complicated. Let's see if there is an Internet article to save me some writing here. Yes, for more info go to http://www.nascar.com/2010/news/opinion/01/07/rhouston.ballison.85.victories/index.html. In my opinion, he should be credited with the win and have 85.

So all in all, everything worked out well today for a change. -30-

Saturday, February 26, 2011 7:59 PM - I've been having trouble with my guestbook lately. Some folks have been attempting to post their spam messages in it. Of course since I preview all guestbook submissions before posting them on the web site, their crap never does get posted. However it is very annoying to have to delete 3 or 4 attempted entries a day, so I've eliminated the guestbook form. I hate to make it harder on anyone trying to submit a legitimate entry, but that's the way it is when a small group of idiots derive pleasure from ruining good things. We see more and more of that in our society these days.

There is still a way to submit a guestbook entry though. I have it set up in a different way now. I'm not going to explain it here because not everyone is interested. Those who are can see it in action by just clicking the Sign Guestbook link over there to the left. If you do, don't expect anything spectacular or innovative, just back to basics.

I added a mW band country today when I worked DL8WEM on 17 meters. I haven't done much mW work on 17 or 12, so there's a lot to be had out there yet on those bands. I might have added a couple more today as 17 was really hot and hopping with DX this afternoon. However I was more interested in getting that last letter 'H' to complete my second round of the NAQCC February challenge. I heard a KH6, but he quickly faded out, and HI8A was rag chewing and I got tired of waiting for him to finish so I tuned around and when I went back, he was gone. Still almost two full days though so I think I'll get my H. Now if I could do it in contests, it would be easy with the UBA and MS QSO Party on this weekend, but we can't count contest/sprint QSO's toward challenges any longer, as that was pretty much removing the 'challenge' from our challenges.

In checking my eQSL's just after writing the above, I found one there from S53F. He's the mystery S5 station I worked at the very end of the ARRL DX Contest as mentioned in my contest story. So that's appropriate since we talked about mysteries yesterday here in the diary. That's one that definitely has been solved. -30-

Friday, February 25, 2011 9:05 PM - Only one letter (H) to go now to complete our NAQCC February Groundhog challenge for a second time this month. If I can't get a single letter in 3 days, I don't really deserve it. HI. Still it does get rough when you're down to needing a single letter sometimes.

My streak QSO(s) came easily this evening. Just 1 CQ netted an answer from Jim W4QO for a 5 watt QSO, then I went down to 930 mW and just about 3 minutes of CQing at that level netted W1UU. That was an interesting QSO as Pete said he was using the new skimmer software and it found my signal on the band. I don't really know that much about skimmer, and don't have any desire to learn more about it, but I was impressed that it could pick out my signal at such a low power level. Pete gave me only a 339 RST, but was copying most of what I sent.

Ah, sweet mysteries of life. Nothing like a good mystery to get some brain exercise. You long-time diary readers will remember the turkey sausage mystery. If you don't and you care enough to bother, go to my diary archives and look at the entries around August of 2008. Well, I've got another one now. Every time I wash my sweat pants, after they come out of the dryer, the pockets are turned inside out despite the fact they are always turned right side in when they go in the dryer. I don't even have a clue as to why that happens. And actually I haven't noted whether they get that way in the dryer, or maybe it's in the washer. Next time I'll check and see. With the sausage, I did offer a couple ideas and you came up with a couple also. Any ideas on this one? Anyone else experience the same thing? -30-

Thursday, February 24, 2011 8:24 PM - Another day with a DX QSO - F5GCP on 17 meters - which makes 5 of the last 6 days I've worked DX. Along with my contesting interest, it seems my interest in working DX is returning as well. Or maybe it's just me trying to get the last few letters in my second go-around in the NAQCC Groundhog challenge. I'm down to 5 letters needed now, so when I get those we'll see.

Other than that a pretty ho-hum day with nothing out of the ordinary happening. In a way those are good, but they can also tend to be boring at times. -30-

Wednesday, February 23, 2011 8:46 PM - Trying to do a second running of our NAQCC Groundhog challenge this month has led me to be a bit more active the past few days. I need 7 more letters now to complete the challenge a second time. I got some letters from 3 DX stations I worked. I think that's the most DX I've worked in one day in a non-contest situation for a good long time now. I got the ever-present CO8LY on 17, CT9/DJ6QT and 8P6DR on 30.

The bands are definitely picking up, even 80 meters. It was easy getting my mW QSO there this evening when W1AAF from ME answered my CQ after just a minute or two of calling. Actually the mW QSO was easier than getting a 5 watt QSO tonight. -30-

Tuesday, February 22, 2011 9:28 PM - This was a good day. Mike KC2EGL came down for our 'monthly' visit. We had a lot of different small projects scheduled and got them all accomplished pretty much without a hitch. He brought his K2 as I wanted to see how it would handle my local QRN here. In running it side by side with my 480, there really wasn't a lot of difference. But then we didn't have time to fool with all of the 144 different filter settings on the K2. While we were testing, we ran across PJ2/W9VA on 17 meters, and it dawned on me that Curacao on 17 would be a new band country for me, so I called and got him on a single call.

We also wanted to compare some astronomy software - Voyager vs. Starry Nights. Like with the rigs there wasn't a whole lot of an overall difference. His SN had some features my V didn't have and vice-versa. I was trying to determine if I wanted to wait till I get a new computer to use Starry Nights (it won't run on my current set-up because of some issue with the video display card) or to buy Voyager. I now have the 'trial' version of Voyager. I've pretty much decided to just go ahead and purchase Voyager, but I'm still doing a little thinking about it.

Then we took care of some NAQCC prizes. Mike is our Prize Manager. We're now pretty much caught up on distributing prizes now. So if you're a NAQCC member and a prize winner to boot, your prize should be arriving shortly if you haven't received it before.

We also did a little work on the feedlines for our portable antennas, getting ready for some portable operations when the weather gets better.

Oh, Mike also took a picture of me at the rig to update the home page of my web site. Maybe you noticed it as you came here to the diary. Nothing like a picture to let you know how old looking you are getting. HI.

And as a regular reader of the diary (if you are), you know we had to indulge in our favorite pasttime - visiting one of the local eating establishments. This time, as it often is, it was Ponderosa and their lunch buffet.

Finally we did some planning for a Messier Marathon we may attempt next month. If you know what I'm talking about, you are dismissed now and don't need to read the rest of the entry. OK, now for those of you remaining... Back in the 18th century, Charles Messier from approximately 1758 to 1782 attempted to immortalize himself by discovering comets which are named after their discoverer. In hunting for the comets he came across many objects in the sky that resembled comets, but turned out to be other objects like star clusters, nebula, or galaxies. To keep from being fooled by them again, he made a catalog of these objects. There were just over 100 of the objects in his original catalog with a few objects being added later to bring the total to 110. I'll leave the exact details of those additions for your further research if you want to know the story.

Anyway it is a good challenge for those beginning in astronomy to find the 110 'Messier objects'. All but a few are very easy for even very simple equipment. In my personal case, I found a galaxy, #74 on the list to be my hardest one, and had to wait till I got my 8 inch scope to finally complete the list over a period of several years.

Sometime ago, I don't know just when the idea got started, someone decided it would be interesting to try to observe all 110 objects in a single night's viewing. Because of the way the objects are spread in the sky, it turns out that March is the best month for doing this because the Sun is in an area of the sky where none of the objects are too close to it. Some have to be observed as soon after sunset as possible before they set themselves. Then at the other end, some must be observed as soon as they rise in the morning before the sky gets too bright. One in particular, a galaxy M30 in Capricorn is often the downfall for many who try the marathon. You need a view of the Eastern horizon that is free of any hills, trees, or other objects that can delay the appearance of M30. Otherwise when it is in an area it can be seen, it may be too light.

When I first told Mike about the Marathon, he decided just about immediately he'd like to try it, so we may give it a try this year if weather permits. The actual best time to do it is in the middle of March, but this year the full moon occurs around that time which washes out the fainter objects in its vicinity. So this year considering the moon, the best time to try is at the beginning of March or April when the moon is 'new' and we'll take our shot then. -30-

Monday, February 21, 2011 1:57 PM - I've written the contest story and it will serve as my diary entry today. Go to the Contesting section, the Contest Stories page and scroll to the bottom for the 2011 ARRL DX story link. -30-

Sunday, February 20, 2011 10:51 PM - Gee, it was a lot easier working them than putting all the info in my records. I'm talking about band countries. I haven't even gotten around to checking prefixes yet. Let's see. Overall three new entities - West Kiribati, Bonaire, Curacao. Band countries - 16 new ones, 6 on 80, 5 on 40, 1 on 20, 2 on 15, 2 on 10.

By far my best DX contest in a few years now. 62 of the 145 or so QSO's were with my 930mW which has prompted me to revise the mW DX page in the Awards section. Now I have a table there similar to the main DX page that shows all the mW band countries worked.

I'll get around to posting the contest story I promised in a few days. I would like to write it now while it's fresh in my mind, but too many other things to do also. So I better QRT here and get to them. -30-

Saturday, February 19, 2011 7:45 PM - I'm continuing to have fun in the ARRL DX test and coming up with a few nice catches including I believe, 3 overall new countries (entities) and some new prefixes and a few new band countries. Conditions have been good with the higher bands open nicely. Oh not like they were at the last sunspot peak, but better than the past few years, I think.

I've mostly been chasing stations with my 930 mW unless something comes on that I really want and can't get them with mW. Then I go to 5 watts.

I've been assured that my RF attenuator is really working. After several attempts with no indication I'm being heard at all, I switch out the attenuator and make the QSO right away. If anything, perhaps I'm getting even more attenuation than I think and may be putting out somewhat less than 930 mW. I may do some measuring after the contest.

A lot of what I'm saying is going to be in a report I'm writing on the contest to post with my other contest stories here on the web site, so I'll just stop now to keep from repeating myself too much. To find out more about the contest, you'll have to read the report. I'll tell you when I get it written and posted. -30-

Friday, February 18, 2011 9:05 PM - I had fun in the ARRL DX test this evening. It was strange. The first hour it was easy to work stations as the pileups weren't all that big, but after 0100 it became really hard as the pileups really increased and I couldn't break most of them.

Still the desire was there so I may put in some more hours later tonight to see what 40 and 80 have to offer. I did work VP9 on 80 with a single call. I got my mW QSO by working C6APG on 40M with my 930 mW. I've got 4 continents worked so far - NA, SA, EU, AF. Wonder if I'll get a weekend WAC? Haven't done that in a while. With the Sun waking up the past few days and energizing the ionosphere, it could be possible to have some good openings on 10 and 15 this weekend, maybe even over to Asia from here. I guess I'm a bit more excited about a DX test than I've been in a few years now. If I can just maintain that excitement....

I got perhaps a little over-excited when I heard VQ5D on 40M. I couldn't figure out what that was. It was too strong to be anything really exotic, but I stuck with him for about 5 minutes or so till I worked him, just to be sure I didn't miss out on something. Well as soon as I entered the QSO into GenLog, I felt kind of dumb and a little disappointed. It was just a new prefix for VP5 Turks and Caicos. I should have thought of that. I guess my absence from serious DXing for quite a while now is the reason I didn't. Anyway it's a good excuse. HI -30-

Thursday, February 17, 2011 8:23 PM - I haven't said much about it, but the Sun seems to be awakening with a vengeance. The SF has been in the hundred teens the past few days, there was a solar flare that produced an auroral display, and a CME expected to impact the Earth. All of that has improved propagation, but there is still not that much activity on the higher bands above 20 meters. At least not in the short time I've had to listen. I guess as word gets around and people get adventurous and try 17-6 meters, that may liven things up a bit.

I'm surprised how good 80 meters has been lately. I don't know if that's connected with the solar activity or not. I've easily made my mW QSO quickly on 80 the past week or two now. Tonight it came at 0001Z. Can't get much quicker than that. Then I had two very solid rag chews with 5 watts after that. All in all I was continually in QSO for just over an hour.

I'm continuing to really like MS Office 2010. Had a bit of a tricky time today getting Outlook 2010 set up, but a couple of searches for info on the Microsoft web site quickly told me what I was doing wrong, and now it works beautifully just like Excel, Word, Access, etc. A really awesome product. -30-

Wednesday, February 16, 2011 7:02 PM - I'm just waiting for my neighbor to come over and look up some things on the Internet. So thought I'd write a quick entry while I'm waiting.

I installed a trial copy of Microsoft Office 2010 today. What a fabulous program. Smooth as silk to use, and very quick. It puts OpenOffice to shame as far as I'm concerned. So far all of my old Office 97 files converted over perfectly to the new 2010 formats. And it looks like it co-exists very well with Office 97 if I need to use 97 for anything. I'm definitely going to bite the bullet and purchase it. It's going to be worth every penny of the price.

I actually worked some DX today in between working with Office 2010. I caught both C6AKQ and ZF2LC very easily on 30 meters with my 930 mW signal. I'll have to see if perhaps those are new mW countries for me. I doubt it, but I'm not positive. Might as well just look right now. QRX. I was right, they're not. Oh well, it was fun anyway. Now I'm wondering if I'll be up for the ARRL DX contest this weekend or not. I'd love to put in a big effort, but sometimes I just don't feel like it. Maybe I'll just play with mW in the contest unless I hear something I really need. It would be great to get KL7 on 80M to complete my 80M QRP WAS, or about equally unlikely to get MD and DE on 10M to complete my QRP WAS on that band. -30-

Tuesday, February 15, 2011 8:49 PM - I hope you've noticed the new poll is up for Feb 15 to Mar 14, and have voted. I haven't checked the results since this morning when I and someone else were the only two votes.

I fixed up my antenna tuner/switcher as I mentioned, and now it's a piece of cake to switch antennas on receive and to switch from 5W to 930mW on all antennas. I should have done that a long time ago.

I went to the shack around noon today needing a U to finish my NAQCC February Groundhog challenge, called CQ, got an answer from KU4WE. Sometimes things work out well. Now since the month is only about half over, I'm going to start over again from the beginning and see if I can master the challenge a second time this month. -30-

Monday, February 14, 2011 11:52 AM - I've got at least 3 topics I want to talk about today. First, old Phil must be pretty proud of himself this year. Except for a couple days since he made his prediction, it has been a little closer to spring weather than to winter. If it weren't for the fact that our s**w got packed down to ice a few weeks ago, probably most of it would be gone by now. Temperatures got into the upper 40's yesterday and the low 50's overnight. Today they are falling a bit, but after a cold night tonight they will rebound quickly and perhaps approach 60 by Friday. I think one of my favorite sites in nature, rivalling rainbows, beautiful cloud formations, first robins of spring and the like, is watching water running down the streets from melting s**w. It makes everything just come alive again. Perhaps it's sad living somewhere that has no s**w or someplace that has a year-round s**w cover, and not being able to enjoy the s**w melt of spring. Having the evil s**w and seeing it go away makes us appreciate the beauty of spring and summer all that much more.

My Microsoft Office 97 is getting a bit long in the tooth, and I'm thinking of updating to MS Office 2010 although it is quite expensive. Anyway I thought just for a kick, I'd give OpenOffice a try. That lasted all of a few days. After several crashes, finding it could not do some things that I could do easily in Office 97, watching it run at grass-growing speed, I uninstalled it this morning. For now I'll stick with Office 97. I downloaded a trial of Office 2010, and I'm going to see if it will run alongside Office 97 when I get some time to experiment.

I'm also going to experiment with my antenna switching setup a bit. I think I've figured out an easy way to switch my RF attenuator in and out easily on all bands from 160-6 meters rather than just 160-30 as it is now. Also I want to use just one of the two antenna outputs on the TS-480SAT because pressing in and holding the small button to switch antenna outputs is not all that convenient. If I use just one output and do all the switching in my tuner, I can more easily switch antennas for xmt and rcv. I often find that if my random wire is noisy on some band, I can switch to one of my high band dipoles to get a better S/N ratio and be able to copy solidly. If I change the switching to the tuner, I can also do that in our NAQCC sprints or other contests. It's just too slow switching ant outputs on the rig, then also selecting which dipole to use. I may work on that after I finish this diary entry.

Finally I got an email from my friend Ivin W9ILF whom I hadn't heard from in a while. Seems he's gotten into DX chasing, and said he found my propagation section interesting. He asked for a little more detailed explanation on what to look for in the SF, A, and K numbers for good DX conditions. Well, first of all, to put it very simply good DX comes when the SF is as high as possible and the A and K indices as low as possible. However there are other factors that enter into the equation. First of all and most importantly, the actual propagation conditions or the conditions that get RF from here to there can be at their most ideal situation, yet if no one is on the air, or if everyone is listening and not transmitting, there will be no DX worked - period. Don't just look at the numbers and say this can't be a good day and not even bother getting on the air. OR - don't look at the numbers and say this should be a great day, turn on the rig and tune around and hear nothing and QRT. Someone has to start the ball rolling by sending out some exploratory CQ's.

There are also many other factors that can affect propagation that don't show up in the basic SF, A, and K numbers. A whole encyclopedia could be written about propagation and still there are factors that are not understood. So the bottom line is the best thing to do is just get on the bands, listen around, AND call CQ. That is the only way you can find out exactly what propagation is like at the moment. That may be over-simplified but it's pretty much what I do, and it's brought me around 210 DX entities worked - of course with CW, QRP, and simple wire antennas. Of late with the NAQCC work I do, my on-air time is limited or I could have even more, I'm sure. -30-

Sunday, February 13, 2011 11:46 PM - As you see from the time stamp, it's almost the witching hour. I've been totally absorbed the past couple hours in wrapping up the cross-checking of logs and finalizing the results of our NAQCC February sprint. Now it's just about time to wrap things up for the night and get to bed, so I'll not have much to say in this entry.

I do want to say that once again it was a piece of cake getting my mW QSO on 80 meters this evening. I had a very long FB QSO using 5 watts with WA2SPQ who said I was just his second QSO after returning to CW after many years, I believe he said 20, but I can't remember for sure now. Anyway that was a real joy, as always, to run into someone rediscovering the pleasure of operating CW on the ham bands. I hope I did my best by QRS for him and encouraging him. The speed was slow, but he still had a very good easy to copy fist.

Then just as we ended I tuned up the band slightly and heard K1IQI calling CQ, so I switched in the RF attenuator, called him and got my mW QSO in the log for Valentine's Day. And that wraps up this entry. Still a couple things to get done before bed. -30-

Saturday, February 12, 2011 6:58 PM - Well, I guess technically I saw Sirius in the daytime today. According to the program SunGraph which gives very accurate sunrise and sunset times for any place in the world when you input your exact latitude and longitude, the Sun set here in Kittanning at 5:48:49 PM. I saw Sirius at 5:40 PM with binoculars just to the upper right of its rising point on the eastern hills here. I caught a glimpse of it with the naked eye at 5:56 PM, just about 7 minutes after sunset. The sky was not a perfectly clear blue sky either. Oh, clear enough, but not that crystal clear we get after getting a shot of Canadian air after a cold front passes. There were some clouds in the west so I couldn't tell if the sun was still hitting the eastern hills or not, but certainly the glow from the bright sky around the setting sun was still illuminating the houses on the hills. Quite exciting. -30-

Friday, February 11, 2011 9:39 PM - I was on the air quite a bit today, probably the most time in quite a while now. Since I didn't get my mW QSO last evening, I had to get it today which I did, working K1PUG on 40 meters which also gave me 2 U's and 2 G's for our NAQCC February Groundhog names challenge. That took me down to just needing 5 more letters to complete all the names. So I thought I'd hang around for a while to see what I could come up with. I listened to 20 and 17 both of which sounded in good shape with some EU DX signals heard fairly strong. Then I heard the QRP ARCI special event station K6JSS on 14.060 and worked it. Back to 40 meters for some CQing. There I worked NAQCC member Keith KB8FE. After that QSO, I QRT till this evening.

It started out rough with no answers to my 5 watt CQ's for quite some time till VE2KRM answered me and we had a nice solid QSO. OK, got the 5 watt QSO, so I'll try for the mW one now. That came quickly with W8CPG answering me in just a minute or two. Anothe solid QSO. Bruce and I had worked before and talked about a restaurant here in town. I had forgotten all about that, but that one mention triggered my memory and I remembered the previous QSO quite some time ago. Funny how one little thing can trigger a whole memory episode that laid buried in the mind for so long. Oh, hey, let's see. VE2KRM has an R and W8CPG has a G. Those are two of the letters I need for the challenge. So now I'm down to just needing 1 R and 1 U to finish the challenge. Think I'll try a few more CQ's before I QRT for the evening. I got an answer from another NAQCC member and good friend Dick K1IEE. No R or U, but as always a nice visit with Dick.

So maybe tomorrow I'll finish up the challenge. Maybe Jim N0UR will answer my CQ somewhere. HI. -30-

Thursday, February 10, 2011 9:45 AM - I've got a couple backlogged diary comments. Let me get caught up on them for today's entry.

Back on January 28 I mentioned in the diary about someone asking if I had a QSL from his late uncle. I did, and sent it to him. I received a reply and want to share an excerpt from it, "John, THANK YOU!! What a surprise I had when I opened your letter Saturday and saw the QSL from my uncle that he sent to you back in 1995. This is the only card I've been able to find, and I think I'll end my search here. It has everything I was hoping for written on the QSL. I specifically wanted to verify that he had the Swan 500 (I had a vague memory that was what it was but not sure). It was also a confirmation of a CW contact, his favorite mode. Again, I know you went to no small amount of effort to search this card out and I really appreciate it. All the best and 73, [W5CYF]"

No matter how little a thing that you do for someone seems to you, it can mean a whole lot more to the one you do it for. And it really wasn't all that much work since my QSL card collection is indexed so I can find a card in a matter of seconds. The only thing is the drawers where I keep them are getting a bit tightly packed now and I may need to add another drawer to spread them out a bit.

Dan KF8R emailed, "John, I agree with you about Churchill and Reagan,I remember Churchill saying never give up,never give up and I use that alot in my life and thinking, also President Reagan I believe was the greatest President in my lifetime of 56 years.Thanks for bringing them too memory again...Dan/KF8R". Me too.

Paul N0NBD, "Hello John, I went last night and saw your slide show. I didn't get around to writing till tonight after I looked at a few more. They look very nice. The BIG storm came through here and left 12-15 inches on the level and 4 ft drifts.. Me and my crew have spent 2 days outside scraping the nasty stuff away... If I am not mistaken on CNN this morning they said Phil did not see his shadow so It should be an early spring..... Their weatherman said Staten Island Chuck usually says " WO! what's up I was sleeping in my box..... We will see. de Paul N0NBD". Yes, Phil predicted an early spring, and so far with the exception of it being a bit on the cold side, he was right so far. No major storms here and none forecast in the near future. A lot of s**w melt going on, etc.

Glenn K3SWZ sent some awesome pictures of the ice storm that hit Eastern PA around the 2nd of February. They are huge and I don't have time to re-size them for the diary, but I was glad to see what we missed here in the western part of the state. Thanks Glenn.

Geo N1EAV send a great slide show of how things were 56 years ago. Things like a picture of an old A&P grocery store with the caption, "I'll tell you one thing, if things keep going the way they are, it's going to be impossible to buy a week's groceries for $10.00." -or- "Did you hear the post office is thinking about charging 7 cents just to mail a letter." Probably a couple dozen more pictures and comments. Great stuff there. Thanks Geo. Oh, got to share one more, "Did you see where some baseball player just signed a contract for $50,000 a year just to play ball? It wouldn't surprise me if someday they'll be making more than the President." Yeah, and now it won't be long before they'll be making more than the GNP of the USA. And it's all sports, not just baseball these days.

Geo N1EAV and Dan KF8R also commented on the WPE entry and my new slide shows for my pictures. Thanks.

There, I'm caught up now and looking forward to more diary feedback. -30-

Wednesday, February 09, 2011 10:18 PM - What a difference a day makes. Tonight when I got on 80 after coming home from my computer club meeting I found it in great shape with a noise level of just S8. Last night for our NAQCC sprint it was S9+10-30 for the whole two hours. I think if the noise was switched I might have come close to 60 QSO's in the sprint. As it was, I struggled to make the 22 I did make. I was concerned that last night's noise was going to be a constant thing, but at least it apparently comes and goes, whatever it is. So maybe in March, I'll get my shot at 60 QSO's. And then with the switch to DST and the later sunsets, 40 should be good here also.

At least we went over the 100 mark in logs for our NAQCC sprint again for the 11th month in a row, so that was a consolation to my poor performance.

Tonight I got WA0ITP for my 5 watt QSO. He was running 2 watts from a hotel room in Branson, MO. With the good conditions, I thought I'd try for the mW QSO also, and it came quickly thanks to Frank NF8M who answered my CQ after just a couple minutes or less. -30-

Tuesday, February 08, 2011 7:05 PM - I saw Sirius rise not too long after sunset this evening. It was pretty easy, and I know the exact spot on the horizon where it rises, and I'm wondering just how easy it will be as sunset and its rising time get closer and closer together. I kind of doubt it will be possible to see it before sunset, but who knows.

This is the evening of our NAQCC sprint, so I've got to get some things done before that. After the sprint I hope to be processing a lot of logs, hopefully on our way to another 100+ logs performance. -30-

Monday, February 07, 2011 8:36 PM - It seems 80 is definitely getting better for mW QSO's. For yet another night, I got my mW QSO pretty easily on 80M when K2VN answered my CQ after just a few minutes of calling.

It was a rainy day today which melted still more of our s**w cover. However it looks like it will be replenished overnight tonight with one source predicting 2-5 inches of the ugly stuff. However we have been missing the storms quite a bit this winter. Hopefully that will continue, then next week looks really nice with no mention of the s word and temps in the mid to upper 40's and perhaps even into the 50's. I sure hope that one is on the money. -30-

Sunday, February 06, 2011 9:27 AM - Were I to be asked, "Who is your most admired and respected public figure of all time?", I could not answer with just one name. I would have to give you two persons between whom I could not decide.

One is Winston Churchill who had a profound influence on keeping the world safe from tyranny, especially from the National Socialist Party of Germany and its evil leader Adolph Hitler. Churchill was a great orator and the content of his speeches are still so applicable today. It was sad to see how the British people treated him after he did so much for them. I could write a lot more here about him, but I want to get to my other most-admired person since this is a special day for him - actually for his memory.

Happy Birthday Ronald Reagan! Were he alive, he would be celebrating his 100th birthday today. All of what I said about Churchill also applies to Reagan, only some names have been changed. The tyranny he saved us from was that of the Communist Parties of Eastern Europe and especially the Soviet Union and their various leaders. Once he told Gorbachev to tear down that wall referring to the Berlin wall erected to keep the Communist slaves of East Germany from escaping to freedom in West Germany, that started a domino effect leading to the unification of Germany and the overthrow of the evil Communist governments in many East European countries and ultimately the Soviet Union itself.

That is perhaps his most well known legacy, but I think one other thing (among many) that needs mentioning is his taking an inflation rate which rose to around 11 percent because of the policies of the Carter administration and not only reducing it, but actually turning it into a DEFLATION rate - something the country has not had for very many times in its history. Yes, because of his policies in reducing business taxes among other things, we got to the point where we actually were paying LESS for consumer goods and services. As an important side effect, those same policies also reduced the TRUE unemployment rate since businesses were able to use the money saved in taxes to create jobs instead.

Like Churchill however, he was also maligned by a portion of the American people who never seem to know when they have it good.

Those are my heroes. I wonder if someone like them will arise today and do a similar job. Heaven knows, the world today needs someone like them. -30-

Saturday, February 05, 2011 8:15 PM - Kind of a non-descript day today with nothing really interesting to talk about here in the diary. We did escape another ice storm this morning, and so far have missed the s**w that was to follow it.

Punxsutawney Phil may have been on to something. A couple of the top long range forecasters say that after this coming week winds down, we should be in a tranquil period for a while. But this week is going to be a cold one with temps getting down near zero a couple of mornings.

Today actually turned into another mild (by February standards) one with some more s**w melt going on. We're pretty much down to the hard core packed down s**w and ice now which will take a while longer to melt.

I got my streak QSO(s) early tonight working WA3I in the DE QSO Party with my 930 mW shortly after 0000Z. -30-

Friday, February 04, 2011 7:47 PM - I now have all of the SkyDrive pictures converted over to the new slideshow format. Incidentally if you want to view a picture a little longer than the display time, just hit the pause button or hit the back button over and over till you get your fill. The pause button puts a 'play' button in the center of the picture so the back button may be a better alternative if you're looking to see some detail near the center of the picture. Each time you hit back you get 4 or 5 more seconds of viewing time.

I got my 202nd DX entity verified today in the form of a card from PJ6A for the new entity of Saba/St. Eustatius. I wish I'd had time to get the other new entities that came into being 10/10/10, but they may show up in the ARRL DX test coming up and I can get them there. I do plan to be active in that one as it, the CQWW DX, and our NAQCC sprints are my current favorite contests and the ones I will devote time to no matter what.

I woke up at 5:30 this morning and knowing it was clear, I went to my back window to see if Venus was up yet. Well, it was just rising looking like it was a bright streetlight on top of the hill to my east. I took a couple pictures of it, and I'm going to get around to checking them out right now. I'll be back in a minute, and if they came out good, I'll post one here.

pix_diary_20110204 (36K)

Unfortunately the hills and the sky were just about the same darkness level and no amount of adjusting the picture got the hill/sky line to show up, but that's Venus at top center of the picture. Quite an impressive sight. You can see how cold a morning it was (probably in the upper single digits) by the smoke/steam rising from the buildings.

Coincidentally this evening I knew it was about time for Sirius to rise just before 6PM so I went and checked and with my binoculars I saw it just coming through the trees at the top of the same hill as Venus but a little further to the north. -30-

Thursday, February 03, 2011 8:22 PM - I'm coming down the homestretch in converting my pictures to the new slideshow format. I must say without any insinuation of bragging that the new format is really great and such a great improvement over the SkyDrive slideshows. It's really nothing I did other that find this great slideshow producer program. It does most all of the work. I just have to change a few filenames or folder names here and there and upload to the server.

All that remains now in switching everything from SkyDrive is my QSL card pictures. I'm dividing them up by continents to keep the show from being too long if I showed all 200+ countries' cards in one show. I've got Africa done now, and may do a couple more tonight yet. They should all be done by this weekend.

What a beautiful day it was today. Unless I missed a couple little ones, I don't think there was a cloud in the sky from sunrise to sunset. My tomatoes got a full dose of sunshine in the kitchen window, and the first non-seed leaves are coming along really nicely. When doing the slideshows, I looked at some of the tomato pictures from 2009 and this year is very close the that year's progress. The 2009 ones really took off the first couple weeks of February. I'll have to see if this year's follow suit. -30-

Wednesday, February 02, 2011 9:14 AM - Thanks to Dan KF8R and Geo N1EAV for checking out the new slideshows. Although I didn't plan it that way, both said that with the current massive winter storm that is fortunately in its last stages now, it was a good choice to debut the slideshows with one about the beautiful spring scenes from Kittanning. It was just a random choice on my part, but I'm glad it helped cheer some folks up.

Encouraged by that, I posted some more and now have 9 shows available via the slideshow link above. I hope to add some 8 more soon. Then that will have transferred all the current pictures from SkyDrive. Since the new slideshows are so easy to create and easy to view, I may be encouraged to add still more after that.

I mentioned the storm, and once again as has happened so many times the past few years, it seems our 'invisible shields' were up. Not only did we not get any ice last night, but we got about a half inch of relatively warm (35 or so degrees) rain and temps that melted part of our snow cover. It even cleared up a bit this morning. Probably long enough for Punxsutawney Phil to see his shadow and predict 6 more weeks of winter. What with doing the slideshows and now having to go out and pay some bills, I won't know till later what Phil did. -30-

Tuesday, February 01, 2011 6:47 PM - The first two punches from the storms were not too bad. Nothing from the first one, and just a trace of icing from the second one most of which has now melted with temperatures in the mid 30's most all day so far. Punch number three tonight may be the worst of the three though. Predictions vary from less than a tenth of an inch of ice up to a half inch. Of course you know which one I'm rooting for. If we do get the half inch or more though, you may not see any diary updates or anything else Internet-wise from me if we should lose power because of the ice.

If you look at the links at the top of this page, you'll notice SkyDrive pictures has been replaced by Slideshows. I'm using a different method of presenting my pictures now. I think you'll like it much better as it is just a straightforward slideshow without all the bells and whistles. I've only got one posted so far, and I'd appreciate you taking a look at it and giving my your comments. If they're favorable, and I'm sure they will be, I'll convert more slideshows over to the new format. -30-

Monday, January 31, 2011 8:25 PM - If you live anywhere in the Eastern half of the USA, you're probably doing what I'm doing. Wondering what the massive winter storm is going to do. There are literally some kind of winter weather warnings up over most of the Eastern USA except for Florida and a bit more of the Southeast. For here, it's more a 1-2-3 punch. One storm down in the Gulf states now, but it is predicted to go mostly out to sea. One coming in from the Midwest expected to bring mostly s**w overnight tonight. Punch #3 is the biggie then. It's out around NM/TX now and expected to tap some Gulf moisture and head up to meet the cold air here and produce 4 kinds of precipitation - s**w, rain, sleet, and freezing rain depending on where you are, the temperature there, and the track of the storm. That one's due tomorrow night. It seems every time we get some kind of ice storm around here, it occurs at night for some reason.

My QSO's came easily tonight. 1 CQ at 5 watts at 0002Z brought a reply from Gary N2ESE. After we signed after a half hour or so, I went to my 930 mW and after a couple minutes of CQing, Ron K3MIY answered me from about 40 miles north of here in Clarion, PA. We had a solid 15 minute QSO before he had to QRT for a net. So I'm all set now till tomorrow evening as far as my streaks go.

I did a little catching up on my web site the past couple days. I altered my links pages a bit by getting rid of the green and blue balls that indicated whether (blue) or not (green) the linked site had a link back to my site. I also updated my stats for 2010 in the QRP section of the site. It's amazing how fast time moves along and things get to the point of needing updating. Sometimes I don't even catch them, so if you see anything that looks out of date, don't hesitate to let me know.

Oh, I also removed all email addresses from my 2009 guestbook archives. I try to do that each year since email addresses seem to change so often, I figure only keeping the ones from the current year seems like a good idea. -30-

Sunday, January 30, 2011 9:00 AM - We've been doing a lot of reminiscing the past few entries. Let's continue that today in a moment after a couple other things.

It's been very easy getting my mW QSO the past two days. I just used the CQ 160M contest. Yes, mW power does work on 160M. In each case just a single call got me my QSO. Virtually any of the real strong stations in the contest could hear my mW signal with their great receiving setups they have. In contrast it was harder making QSO's with 5 watts on 160 in our NAQCC sprint because many of our members, myself included of course, don't have the super great antenna systems the big contesters do.

Larry W2LJ (NAQCC #0035), who has his own web site diary (although he calls it by that other term I won't mention here) emails about the WPE entry, "Hank Bennett !!!! His SWL books and articles were very instrumental in getting me involved as an SWL and eventually an Amateur Radio op. Those were the good old days! Thanks for the very fond memories. That seemed to be the road just about everyone took to eventually get their Novice ticket. Too bad that's not really available anymore. Yeah, you can still SWL; but the biggest mistake the FCC ever made was to take the Novice ticket away, at least in my opinion. BTW, I guess we're getting all the sn%w here in NJ, this winter. I'm attaching a photo of my house for your perusal. 73 de Larry W2LJ"

You can see the snow picture(s) on Larry's diary. Do a Bing search for 'Larry W2LJ' to get there.

Those who remember Red Skelton think of him as just a daffy comedian, and that was the impression he tried to convey (successfully) on his radio shows and later his TV shows. However like most of the daffy comedians - Stan Laurel of Oliver and Hardy and Lou Costello of Abbott and Costello to name just two others - Red was a very intelligent person and a true patriot who loved his country. One of his greatest 'skits' dealt with the Pledge of Allegiance. He dissected it word by word originally on radio and later on television (1969). What he said about it rings true more than ever today. If you're not familiar with the skit, watch it here now and see what I mean. If that link doesn't work, click here to hear the radio version as a .wma file. -30-

Saturday, January 29, 2011 9:59 AM - Remember the old TV series 'Connections' hosted by James Burke? It showed the evolution of common everyday products from seemingly at first glance unrelated incidents. Burke put the whole evolutionary history into one connected story usually with a surprise ending that showed what he was leading up to.

I used that as a preamble to my entry because oftentimes when I'm doing something it will lead to something unrelated that I may not have found or remembered otherwise.

In my work in maintaining the NAQCC member database, I deal with updates regularly like call changes, addresses, and the like. Today K4EQ asked me to add his site URL to the database which I did. After doing so I always check the link to be sure it works and doesn't contain any objectionable material.

When I looked at K4EQ's site, it looked very nice, but something caught my eye and led me off on a tangent. The story is not as involved nor maybe even as interesting as one of James Burke's, but the end result may be of interest to many of you.

What I saw was a page on his site devoted to the old Popular Electronics magazine and its WPE program. Some of you will know immediately what I'm talking about. Others will say, "What the heck is that?"

Well back in the 50's and 60's, Pop'tronics as it was popularly known issued certificates to short wave listeners that contained a unique identifier in the form of WPE3XX where the 3 corresponded to the ham radio call area and XX was a sequence of letters from AA-ZZ. All 676 possible combinations for each call area were quickly used up and they had to go to three-letter suffixes from AAA-ZZZ.

I don't remember now, but the info in some links I'll give later states that you had to send in a certain number of QSL's to qualify for the issuance of a 'call'. There was also an award program connected with the WPE program for hearing so many states or countries, and perhaps others as well.

It was a fascinating era, and although I never did much in the way of using my call, I did do a lot of SWLing in those days when SWL was so much different from and better than today. Then you were pretty sure if you heard a Chinese station, the transmitter was in China. Now with the vast network of relay stations each broadcaster seems to have, you can't be sure a lot of the time just where the signal is coming from. But I diverge.

My call was WPE3FMD which amazingly I recalled from memory as soon as I saw the WPE info on K4EQ's site. That sent me off on another 'connection' to find my WPE certificate. After looking in some places where I thought it might be, I then decided to take the obvious route and look for a folder called SWL. Naturally I found one, and it was right there. Never overlook the obvious.

Here's an image of the certificate which you can click should you be interested in a larger view.

pix_diary_20110129_01 (189K)

That's enough from me as I don't want to re-invent the wheel. Much of what I could say from here on is contained in the links below if you wish to explore and reminisce further about WPE's.

K4EQ's site - Several links on this page to other sites.

Bing search - A wealth of links to WPE and Popular Electronics sites.


Friday, January 28, 2011 8:06 PM - Let's talk a bit about QSL cards today. I told you about working the fellow who I replaced when he left WPIT and I started working in his spot. Well, I received his QSL card today and that will be a special one for me.

Also today I received an email from a ham asking if I had a QSL card from his late uncle. He looked up the call in my on-line log search and saw I had worked him back in 1995. Turns out I did, and I'm sending the card to him so he'll have a memento of his late uncle.

That's the second time that's happened where someone was looking for a QSL card for a memento of a departed ham relative. I don't recall the details of the first one now.

It has worked in reverse also. A couple times I was sent back my QSL that I had sent to a ham many years ago who became a silent key. A relative thought I'd like to have the card back. I thought that was very nice of them.

A couple of my cards have also turned up in post card collections being sold on Ebay. I don't use any on-line shopping here, but a ham friend told me about seeing my cards there.

It is very interesting what a small piece of paper or cardboard can carry with it in the form of information, sentiment, desireability, and so forth.

It's something that will not carry over into the electronic means of QSLing in use today. While systems like the ARRL LotW and eQSL are very efficient, time and money saving, and convenient to use, they will never replace actual physical QSL cards in many ways. Even though you can print out cards from the eQSL service, it's still not the same.

It's a shame that the post office's incessant rate increases are pricing actual QSL cards out of reach of many hams, especially older hams who constitute the majority of true hams these days - the ones who would like to send QSL's if they could afford it.

Wouldn't it be nice if the ARRL would start up a domestic QSL buro similar to the DX buro they now operate. That would bring the cost of sending cards back into reach of many more hams. It's wonderful that FISTS runs such a buro, but even with their large membership, they represent only a tiny portion of the world's ham population. -30-

Thursday, January 27, 2011 9:14 PM - Too much noise + too little antenna = poor score in 160M sprint = just 12 QSO's in 9 SPC's. That's about half of what I got in the January 2010 NAQCC 160M sprint. Not much more to say about that.

80 meters was REALLY dead this evening. When I first got on I tuned from 3560 down to about 3520 and didn't hear a single strong signal. I did manage to get my 5 watt QSO though by answering Barry VA3AGZ who came on a little later when the band perked up a bit. We had a solid 12 minute QSO. The mW QSO will again have to come on 40 meters in the morning or afternoon. If tradition holds, it won't be too hard to get as 40 has been good in the daytime for mW work. Hey, just as I was about to upload this, I got a NAQCC membership application from VA3AGZ. Neat.

I guess there's not much more to say. The tomatoes are definitely coming along and the first non-seed leaves are clearly visible on a few of them now. The weather has been decent the past few days with virtually no new s**w and mild (for late January) temperatures. Most long range outlooks don't show that trend changing too much through at least mid-February. Hope they're right. -30-

Wednesday, January 26, 2011 6:52 PM - As I get ready for our NAQCC 160M sprint and the log processing afterward, I'll let my visitors who sent comments make my diary entry for today.

A couple days ago Brion VE3FUJ sent, "Hi John: Just to let you know, no snow today but 14" on the ground, Temp at 5pm was -24C and at net time still dropping -24.7C I think it may add to your day. Brion"

Brion likes snow and cold, so I won't say I hope it is better today (meaning to my way of thinking warmer and less s**w). Here it actually was both on yesterday and today. Nice to see the s**w going away and nice to see the latest big storm skirt us to the south and east. Just a few flu**ies here today with temps in the mid-upper 30's.

Dick K1IEE, one of our staunchest NAQCC supporters (as well as Brion) sends this, "Hi John Just wanted to share some information about my QRP operating. I operate 100% QRP and CW. I make QSO'S and never say I am QRP or give my power unless asked or the other station is QRP and we exchange info as 2XQRP contacts. It was very interesting to read about the stats on calling CQ and contacts because when I am on the air I am 100% S∧P. Think I do spend many more hours just tuning the bands but it seems to work for me. Only in the sprints do I feel S∧P is very limited to getting high QSO numbers. Also the many QRP operating tips you provide are very helpful. Like calling the stronger signal stations. I will however call a weak signal if they ID they are QRP. Enjoy the diary thanks John. 73 Dick K1IEE" -30-

Tuesday, January 25, 2011 9:07 PM - I don't subscribe to any mail lists or reflectors except our NAQCC list and the FISTS list. So I appreciate it when someone like my friend Don K3RLL points out something like this that was posted by my friend Paul N8XMS.

"I subscribe to the daily digest version of the list so I'm probably a little bit late in offering my 2-cents worth on this topic...
I operate 100% QRP and frequently QRPp. I often call CQ and almost never sign /qrp. I have plenty of success with this. So far this month I've had 45 QSOs and 16 have been at QRPp from 900 mW down to 100 mW.
K3WWP has a streak of over 6000 consecutive days going with a QRP QSO, and a separate streak of almost 300 days with a QRPp QSO. If you look at the statistics on his web page, almost all of his contacts are started with his CQ, and I know that he never identifies himself with /qrp.
About the only time in recent months that I have identified myself as QRP was when trying to break a pileup where it seemed like the operator was giving a special break to QRP ops. At one point he heard a partial call with /qrp on the end of it and came back with ?/qrp?. I then added /qrp to my callsign and worked him a few minutes later.
I agree with an earlier comment that calling CQ makes a lot of sense for someone that is crystal controlled - let the VFO person come to you.
BTW, no fancy antenna here. Just a very old Cushcraft R7 trap vertical that really needs to be replaced. My favorite QRP band is 40-meters but I also like 30 and 20. Now and then I try the other bands as well. Recently I've even made a few QRP contacts on 80-meters with my R7 vertical. It's absolutely not supposed to work on 80 and I get a perfect 1:1 SWR on that band which indicates that the losses are huge! I would guess that 5 watts out to the R7 on 80 meters is more like 10 or 20 mW to a resonant antenna. For me the fun of QRP is "doing the most with the least."
With the many other fine comments that have already been made my 2-cents worth is probably more like 0.9-cents so in a way even this posting is QRPp!
73, Paul - N8XMS"

Paul makes some very good points, or perhaps I should say reinforces some very good points about QRP that have been made by others over the years including myself.

I look on signing /QRP as begging - an effort to make others feel sorry for me and drop a nickel in my tin cup or work me just because they don't think with my 'advertised' QRP I'll ever make any QSO's. Also it wastes time, especially in contests or DX work, and with the three extra letters and the slant bar to figure out, only makes copying a signal in QSB, QRN, QRM all the more confusing.

Anyway, I'm not a QRP operator and don't have to advertise myself as such. I'm a normal (well - HI) everyday ham radio operator who happens to be running 5 watts, 930 mW, etc. instead of 50 watts, 100 watts, etc. That's my situation in a nutshell.

As for calling CQ, it definitely works for QRP signals. Oh a 5 watt CQ may not attract the attention a 100 watt CQ does when tuning across the bands quickly, but it attracts enough attention to make QSO's regularly.

Let me take a few moments here to analyze my 2010 QSO's and see what percentage came from my CQ.

I had 1218 QSO's all told last year. 344 with my 930 mW and 874 with 5 watts (including a couple 2-3 watt QSO's with other rigs). Let's divide them up now.

                         930mW    5w    Tot
From my CQ                 217   609    826
A sked                       2     3      5
Tailended me                11    22     33
Called other station     (114) (240)  (354)
Called other stn regular    47    73    120
Called other stn in test    67   167    234
 total                     344   874   1218
So of the 1218 total QSO's, 68% came in response to my CQ. Take away the times I called the other station in a test (234 times) gives a total of 984 QSO's of which 826 or 84% came in response to my CQ.

I think that is pretty strong evidence that calling CQ at QRP or QRPp levels does work, and works very well, in fact. -30-

Monday, January 24, 2011 9:09 PM - We had a few clouds move in overnight so it didn't get quite as cold as I expected last night. Still -7 is nothing to sneeze at - or maybe it is if you go out unprotected.

Got my mW QSO this evening for a change, so I don't have to worry about it tomorrow. After I got my 5 watt QSO with Gary N2ESE, I thought I'd try a few minutes of mW CQ's, and that was all it took before Scott KB0KFX answered. Scott is one of our newer NAQCC members and we also worked in the NAQCC sprint a few nights ago.

Other than that not a lot of news here. Just continuing to count down the days till the nice weather returns again. What a welcome sight it will be when all the s**w is melted and things start to turn from brown to green again. It's encouraging to sit here and look at my tomato plants coming along nicely. About 9 of the 12 seeds I planted sprouted, so I'm going to have to select the heartiest in each pot or try to split them apart into separate pots when they get big enough. Right now, I can just barely see the first non-seed leaves starting to form. -30-

Sunday, January 23, 2011 9:04 PM - Well, if it stays clear and calm, we should go well below zero tonight. It's already down to 6 degrees right now a little past 9 PM. That -6 yesterday was the coldest since a -13 on January 17, 2009 so it wasn't as long as I thought it was. But that and a -7 the day before were the coldest days since -9 back in January 2004. I wouldn't be surprised to see -10 tomorrow morning though.

We had another good NAQCC QRS Net this evening. Tom WY3H had 12 stations on the net, and I felt that everyone who checked in really appreciated the code practice.

In other NAQCC info, we wound up with 107 logs from 182 participants in last Wednesday evening's sprint. That keeps our 100+ logs streak going at 10 months and counting now. -30-

Saturday, January 22, 2011 9:53 PM - It was rough this evening even getting my 5 watt QSO. Just after 0000Z I called CQ for about 30 minutes with not even a sign of an answer. So I quit, then went back about 0110Z and strangely got an answer to my very first CQ then from Bob KB3ENU.

As usual of late, the mW QSO will have to come in the morning or afternoon on 40M. An exception was last night when I got my mW QSO on 80 meters from Jim W1FMR in NH shortly after my 5 watt QSO.

Thanks to Mike KC2EGL who commented saying he enjoyed my story of W4IIC and the telegraph info.

Chuck W8LQ pointed out the telegraph story was in Sky and Telescope magazine. Yes, that was the first place I saw it, but I wanted to find something on the Internet so Tom could read about it since he doesn't get S&T. Chuck also wondered if we have another such flare some day if I could use the voltage induced in my antenna as the power source to power my rig for my mW QSO. HI.

We had our coldest morning in a while now, maybe a few years or so. I'll have to check. It was -6 this morning for our low temp. -30-

Friday, January 21, 2011 2:41 PM - I'm writing this early while things are fresh in my mind. They frequently don't stay fresh for long as I get older. HI.

I got on the air around 10 AM today for my mW QSO, and it wasn't long till Gene N5GW in TN answered my CQ. Gene is a NAQCC member and we worked in the sprint Wednesday evening. At the end of our QSO, I was tail-ended by Charlie W4IIC, also in TN. Charlie gave me my RST, his QTH and name, then said something that really surprised me. He said paraphrasing him, "I'm the fellow you replaced at WPIT back in 1969."

I said, "WOW, it's a small world." and we went on to have a nice 25 minute QSO talking about our days at WPIT way back then. I didn't really know Charlie (or Chuck as he went by then) all that well back then as he had just left to go to Channel 11 in Pittsburgh which is why they needed a new engineer (me) at the time. We did have a few 'eyeball QSO's' so to speak though. Incidentally Channel 11 (WPXI now) had the call WIIC back then which is why Charlie got the vanity call W4IIC a short time ago. He moved to TN a couple years ago. You never know who you are going to run into on the ham bands.

After our QSO, Tom WY3H tail-ended Charlie. I didn't listen to thier QSO as I was getting hungry and needed something to eat. However later in the day just a few minutes ago I called Tom as I wanted to tell him about Charlie. Well anyway Tom said they had talked about me and he knew the story. Tom and I talked a while on the phone, and somehow got to the subject of sunspots which led to me mentioning the giant solar flare in the 1850's. I had heard that it was so strong that land line telegraph operators used the current induced in the telegraph wires to operate their equipment. I did a Bing search for more info about it, and found this paragraph:

"During the auroral display on Thursday night in Boston some curious phenomena were witnessed in connection with the telegraph wires. The following conversation, says the Boston Traveler, between the Boston and Portland operators on the American telegraph line, will give an idea of the effect of the Aurora Borealis, on the working of the telegraph wires: Boston operator, (to Portland operator)--"Please cut off your battery entirely from the line for fifteen minutes." Portland operator-"Will do so. It is now disconnected." Boston-"Mine is disconnected, and we are working with the auroral current. How do you receive my writing?" Portland-Better than with our batteries on. -Current comes and goes gradually." Boston-"My current is very strong at times, and we can work better without the batteries, as the Aurora seems to neutralize and augment our batteries alternately, making current too strong at times for our relay magnets. Suppose we work without batteries while we are affected by this trouble." Portland-"Very well. Shall I go ahead with business?" Boston-"Yes. Go ahead." The wire was then worked for about two hours without the usual batteries, on the auroral current, working better than with the batteries connected. The current varied, increasing and decreasing alternately, but by graduating the adjustment to the current, a sufficiently steady effect was obtained to work the line very well. This is the first instance on record of more than a word or two having been transmitted with the auroral current. The usual effects of the electric storm were manifested, such as reversing the poles of the batteries, etc...[The Daily Chronicle and Sentinel, Augusta, Georgia, Thursday AM, September 8, 1859]."

That's an excerpt from a (big) article on the Internet at:
http://www.solarstorms.org/SS1859.html if you want to read more. It's pretty fascinating reading although being excerpts from newspapers of the time, somewhat repetitive. So it's been an interesting day here so far.

We're still a few logs short of 100 for the sprint, so if you participated and haven't done so yet, I hope you'll submit your report so we can reach our benchmark again this month. Thanks. -30-

Thursday, January 20, 2011 8:46 PM - I've been busy all day processing logs from our sprint last night. We're almost at our coveted 100 log mark now. Also it was the day for our every-5-day check of the FCC database for NAQCC member updates. Plus work on my own web site, and a lot of other things including getting my mW QSO which took a while this afternoon. The bottom line? I'm not going to have much of a diary entry right now. In fact that's it. More tomorrow when the hectic pace should have slowed down. -30-

Wednesday, January 19, 2011 7:23 PM - I'm trying to get a lot of stuff out of the way before our NAQCC sprint this evening so I can start posting scores as soon after it ends as possible without having a lot of other things get in the way. I sure hope I'll be busy as a beaver handling a ton of sprint reports tonight so we can be on our way to another 100+ logs sprint as the past 9 now have been. If you're reading this and have never tried one of our sprints, consider this my personal invitation to do so. You won't be disappointed whether you are a veteran contester or a complete novice at contesting. Our sprints are for all classes of sprinters. The novices can operate at slow speed and be almost certain that the veterans will slow down for them. Oh there may be one or two who won't but don't be discouraged by them. They'll just lose a QSO by not slowing down for you.

It was another somewhat of a struggle to get my mW QSO this afternoon, but I did and the streak goes on. In just 101 days now, the mW streak will have its first birthday if I make it that far.

Another somewhat warm day today with the temp hovering in the mid to upper 30's just about all day until starting to cool down after the sun set. That led to some more s**w melting and more bare ground appearing. What a beautiful sight.

Well, I promised a picture of the orrery Mike and I built from a kit on Monday, so here goes.
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Left to right that's Eris, Uranus, Neptune, Ceres, Earth, Pluto, Mercury and Venus together in front of the Sun a little to the right, Jupiter, Mars, and Saturn. Earth out through Pluto have their bigger moons with them, and Earth's Moon actually revolves around the Earth.

It's mesmerizing watching it in motion. One speed setting is 36.5 seconds for one Earth revolution which makes a scale of 0.1 second equal to one day. The gear train which extends from right under the Sun down to the base is awesome. Thinking about the work that went into designing it really overwhelms the mind. No, that's not Betelguese, Antares, Aldebaran, or some other red giant star in the background. It's just the base of one of my lamps. -30-

Tuesday, January 18, 2011 8:13 PM - I got to do one of my favorite things today. I watched a lot of our s**w melt away under upper 40's temperatures. Nice to see a lot of bare ground starting to show up.

Well, tomorrow night is our first NAQCC Sprint of the new year. I'm wondering if we'll continue our streak of 100+ logs performances. It was encouraging to get 63 logs for our special mW sprint the end of December. Conditions were rotten, it was a holiday week, and we still set a record for most logs for a special sprint (mW or 160M). Our 160M sprint comes up a week from tomorrow. In addition to our regular sprint tomorrow evening, it will also be interesting to see how many logs we get for the 160M sprint. I think without checking our record for a 160M sprint is something like 44 or so.

I'm going to put off for another day the pitures of Mike's orrery. Didn't get a chance to look them over today. Too busy watching our s**w go away, I guess. HI Oh and also trying to get my mW QSO. It wasn't easy today and didn't come till the 2200Z hour when I worked Carroll W4PCA in TN on 40M. I fear the mW streak may end before too much longer. Not because of conditions, but mostly because of lack of activity on the bands. 40 was pretty much devoid of CW signals a couple of times I checked today. -30-

Monday, January 17, 2011 9:29 PM - Since, as I mentioned, Mike KC2EGL was coming to visit today for one of our projects, I wanted to get my mW QSO before he came so I got on 40M in the 1300Z hour and after several CQ's, got an answer from Al KO7X out in WY. As far as distance goes, that's one of my better mW QSO's of late.

Not long after that Mike showed up and we got to work right away on the project. This time it was building an orrery. If you're not familiar with the term, it's a mechanized model of the solar system. It took us about 9 hours to build it with a couple time outs thrown in for a meal and to take Joe for a walk. We took a lot of pictures during the assembly, and when I get them all sorted out, I'll post one or two of the best ones here in the diary.

When Mike left, I went to get my QSO for the new day. Turned out it was a 5 watt QSO with Jon KI4UUZ in TN and the mW one will again wait till the morning or afternoon.

Jerry WB0T added his voice to the reports on the new poll with a strong positive comment about it. Still nothing negative, so I guess I have a good thing going now, and as I said, it sure is nice not to have to look at the ads from my previous 'free' poll provider.

I again revamped my QSO-A-Day table on the main page of the site. Now instead of giving details about my first QSO of the day, I give the details about the mW QSO be it the first one or not. If the first one is a 5 watt QSO, I list only the call and save the details till I get the mW one. I hope that's clear. If not, see the table and you'll see what I mean. I'm doing that because more folks seem interested in the mW QSO. They want to know what band, what QTH, etc. -30-

Sunday, January 16, 2011 8:48 PM - Thanks again to Paul N0NBD who also took the NAQCC web site poll and reported it worked well for him. Thanks to Dan KF8R who took my web site poll and reported it worked well. I appreciate those comments. Still no negative reports, and that's good. Maybe I'm learning this PHP stuff. HI.

No mW QSO this evening from well over half an hour of CQing. I did get an easy 5 watter for the big streak though. I was hoping to get the mW out of the way tonight since Mike KC2EGL is visiting tomorrow and I didn't want to have to interrupt work on our projects to get my QSO.

Tomatoes are coming along fine. I promised a picture, so here it is. This was just taken a couple minutes ago. You can plainly see 4 of the 6 there are clearly out of their seed pods.
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Here's another picture. Obviously not of tomato plants. Those are two European Trees that grow to 8-15 feet tall according to the label sticking in the pots. Nancy got them in a Christmas basket with some other plants and gave them to me to see what I could do with them. At least they are not cactus plants so they have a fair chance of surviving. I just have no luck with cactus.
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Saturday, January 15, 2011 8:40 PM - Well, as of the time of writing this, I've had 21 folks take the new poll. One (Paul N0NBD) took time to email me and tell me it worked fine for him. No one else wrote, so I have to guess no one had any trouble with it. The same poll system is on the NAQCC web site, and it's had 59 votes with no one saying anything at all about it, so again I have to guess that one is working also. Thanks Paul for being one out of 80 to send any comments.

I got my 5 watt QSO this evening, but it took a while unlike the last couple evenings. The mW will have to wait till tomorrow morning or afternoon. My QSO this evening was with a FISTS member Bill WA2BCZ. I also heard someone else calling CQ FISTS, so hopefully Nancy's plea in the latest Keynote for FISTS to get on the air again like they have in the past may be starting to work. It would be a real delight to hear a high level of FISTS activity once again. After all FISTS is THE best club in the world for promoting CW activity on the bands, bar none (even our own NAQCC, I have to be honest and say).

I got a buro mailing from the ARRL today and got a couple of new prefixes verified and got a new band country verified. You'd never guess what it was, so I'll tell you. Canada on 12 meters. I had never gotten VE veried on 12 before today. Thanks to VY0TA for the QSL. That was also my first CQ Zone 2 verie on 12 meters. -30-

Friday, January 14, 2011 8:33 PM - Another easy time of getting my QSOs this evening. I decided to get my 5 watt QSO for the big streak, and probably wait till the morning to get my my mW QSO. Well, the 5 watter came quickly after just a couple minutes of calling CQ. Jerry NX2Y answered the CQ around 3546 kHz. Since that was so easy, I thought I'd try for my mW QSO also. I called CQ for about 10 minutes around 3559 when Tony K1VUV in MD answered my CQ for a solid 12 minute QSO. So both streaks have been extended for another day already and I don't have to get on during the day tomorrow unless I feel like getting a couple extra QSOs if I have time.

My new poll I talked about is now up and waiting for your vote. I need to know how it works for you. My testing here showed it to work fine, but it needs checking in other environments, browswers, operating systems, etc. Be sure to let me know if you experience any problems with it and include what browser, operating system, etc. was involved. Since all the work is done on the server, it should work fine under any conditions, but you never can tell. -30-

Thursday, January 13, 2011 7:44 PM - I think my QSO this evening was the easiest since back in November except maybe for the NAQP QSO a week ago. I turned on the rig about 0001Z, heard NG9Y calling CQ, answered him, and had my mW QSO in the log. It was so easy I decided to hang around a bit and try to get another QSO or two which I did. Let's hope that is the start of something good.

It wasn't that easy earlier today when I had to get my QSO for the 13th since I didn't get on after the computer club meeting last night. I called CQ at 5 watts for quite a while before getting an answer from NP2G, not in the Virgin Is., but in PA. Then another 15 minutes after that QSO trying for my mW QSO. Finally I answered KA9DVX/4 on 20 meters and had a brief QSO. I wasn't really satisfied with that one since copy was so poor after 1 round, so later in the afternoon I tried for another one and my mW CQ was answered by WB9AZQ and we had a nice solid 10 minute QSO.

My tomatoes are coming along good so far. Three of them have clearly escaped their seed pods so far and another couple are working at it. I'll try to post a picture in a day or two since a lot of you make comments on them.

Tomorrow is the day for posting a new poll, and as I mentioned, I'll be trying a new poll system for that one which I think you'll like as it has none of the annoying advertising my current poll provider has. I've tried the system with a test poll on the NAQCC site, and it seems to work well. The question won't be all that exciting or new however as basically this will more or less just be a test of the system to see if any bugs pop up. I'm still new at working with the PHP language. Right now, I'm going to give it a few last minute checks to get ready for its debut tomorrow evening. -30-

Wednesday, January 12, 2011 9:17 PM - Computer Club meeting tonight, so I'm going to wait till the morning to get my streak QSO(s). It was an interesting meeting. I and another member gave a demo of the genealogy program Legacy, and all the members present seemed interested and asked some good questions. Sometimes that doesn't happen and you feel like you just wasted your time giving a demo at all.

I just revamped my daily QSO table a bit. Since my 5 watt and mW QSO's are generally different these days (although obviously they can be one and the same since a 930 mW QSO counts as both a QRPp and QRP QSO), I now include the call of the mW QSO alongside the day number of the mW streak.

Other than that, not much else to talk about today. These are pretty much the wasted mid-winter days when nothing much happens other than hoping for spring to come.

I did get on the air around noon for a while to get my mW QSO and just to kill some time as well.

Now I'll just fool around on the computer for a while, watch a Little Rascals film, and listen to a Fibber McGee and Molly episode. Sure is nice we can have these old favorites available because the current trash on television is just a waste of time with no entertainment value at all. I guess about the only thing worthwhile watching these days is Jeopardy. At least you get some brain exercise watching it. -30-

Tuesday, January 11, 2011 8:14 PM - A s**wy day today. We picked up a couple inched of the ugly white stuff. Could have been worse, but it's still very depressing. Days like this, I don't really feel like doing much of anything, and that's pretty much what I did do today.

It was a big of a struggle getting my mW QSO today on 40, but finally W2QID answered my CQ. Although he wasn't QRP, he also was using an attic antenna like me. His was a dipole.

It was also rough getting a 5 watt QSO tonight on 80M. What few signals were on 80 were quite strong, so conditions were good. It's just the old deal of a lack of much activity that made getting the QSO rough. Finally Dave W0CH in MO answered my CQ. -30-

Monday, January 10, 2011 6:11 PM - I've got a new pattern for my streaks now. I'll get the 5 watt QSO in the evenings on 80 meters usually in the 0000 or 0100Z hour around 3558-3562 kHz, then get the mW QSO usually in the 1600 or 1700Z hour around 7038-7043 kHz. That way, I think overall I spend less time getting them that if I try for the mW QSO on 80 meters. At least the way conditions are now, that seems to be working well. It doesn't take too long to get either QSO. Of course I could also just wait and the mW QSO in the daytime would count for both streaks. However I like to continue the big streak as soon as possible after the new day starts just in case.

I've now got a 4th tomato sprouting. Unfortunately it looks like all but the first one may be solidly encased in their seed coats yet. Hopefully they'll break out OK.

When I change my poll on the 14th, I'll be debuting a new poll system using PHP. I'll have more control over it that way, and you (and I) won't have to put up with the advertising from my current poll provider. It will just be a plain vanilla page with only the poll and its results on it.

Looks like we're really into winter here now. We'll probably have some snow cover for the next month or so as the cold pattern seems to be firmly set. Sure looks bleak outdoors. No wonder some animals hibernate in winter.

Brion VE3FUJ sent his congrats on the 6,000 day streak a couple days ago. Thanks Brion. -30-

Sunday, January 09, 2011 8:37 PM - Tomato sighting! I guess they heard me talking about them. I noticed 3 sprouts late last night. I don't know how that one got so close to the edge of the pot. Unlike last year when the first to sprout became seedbound, you can see the first this year has both its seed leaves wide open with no seed covering to be seen.
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Other than that, it was a pretty uneventful Sunday here. I did get on the air this afternoon a bit, even though I got my mW QSO last evening. It was nice to have fellow NAQCC member and officer Paul N8XMS answer my CQ. He was running mW power so I gave him one of his January NAQCC challenge QSO's.

I'm going to be adding a picture of my shack with the TS-480SAT in the picture. I noticed in browsing around my site, I didn't have one there. Just the old TS-570D was shown on the operating table. -30-

Saturday, January 08, 2011 1:26 PM - With 7 mW QSO's in the log, I set out today to finish up my January NAQCC mW challenge early. 1 of the 7 doesn't count for the challenge because it was a contest QSO, so I needed 4 mW QSO's to make it to 10 and master the challenge. I started out on 40M and it didn't take too long till Joe WA2EJT answered my CQ. After our 15 minute QSO, I was tail-ended by Chuck W8OEY, a NAQCC member who said he'd been wanting to work me for some time now. 2 down and 2 to go now. I wasn't having much luck on 40 so I decided to see what was on 30. Immediately I found old friend Wink WA8KOQ there, and we renewed acquaintences since it had been a while since we worked. Now only one more QSO to go. It did not come easily. No one was answering my 30M CQ's, so I went back to 40 and after a half hour since signing with Wink, I was about ready to give it up when Tom WB9KFH answered my CQ and we had a great 22 minute QSO.

So not only did I extend my mW streak another day, but finished the NAQCC mW challenge as well this morning/afternoon.

What do running the NAQCC and walking Joe have in common? Let's see the best way to answer that. First of all, I truly enjoy doing both, but there's a little more. My neighbors constantly thank me for helping out with Joe. I am constantly thanked by NAQCC members for something like, "all the work you do for the NAQCC and promoting CW". Now it's always nice to be thanked, and I believe above all in being polite in every way. However, it's kind of like thanking a duck for swimming. I'm only doing something that I enjoy doing and something that comes more or less naturally. However I do want to say You're Welcome to everyone. I try to answer all personally, but in case I missed you, it's not because I don't appreciate the thanks, it's just that the sheer volume makes it easy to overlook someone now and then. -30-

Friday, January 07, 2011 9:31 PM - My first QSO of the next 1,000 days (6001-7000) was a special one. I worked K6JSS/1. In case you don't know that is the club call for the QRP ARCI. That club is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, and many different ops will be using that call throughout the year. I was offered the chance to be one of them, but I just have too many other committments to really give it my best effort which I would want to do, so I turned it down. Anyway congratulations to the QRP ARCI on their Golden Anniversary. We hope to have a news item about the anniversary in our next NAQCC Newsletter. The person in charge of the event has promised to send me an item before our publication date of January 15.

Gee, I wonder if the NAQCC will survive long enough to make it to its 50th anniversary. Being strictly a CW club may be a strike against it depending on what the future of CW holds. The QRP ARCI could well go on for another 50 years since they also cater to voice and other digital modes which unfortunately seem to be the way ham radio is going, agree with it or not, like it or not. As long as I'm connected with the NAQCC, it will never be for anything but Morse Code - CW.

And now for something completely different to use the Monty Python segue. Let's post a couple diary comments emails.

From Bob KB0TUA, "John, Terrific. Another real milestone in your QRP advocating career. Keep the torch burning. Absolutely glued to your comments every day. Keep it up. Bob Gates KB0TUA"

Thanks Bob, the torch will never go out if I have anything to say about it.

And also from Tim KJ6HQT, "Hi John, It's been about a month since I stopped by your site. Thanks for the great Nascar information (go Jimmie!). Gordon's stats are amazing, especially considering his dry spell of late. I hope 2011 brings him a quick win. I think it will break the dam and he will again be winning his share.
Also, thanks for sharing the 1960 world series... the year I was born, so I missed that series. I grew up a Mets fan, so it had a happy ending with the defeat of the Yankees. Hi.
Good luck with QSO #6,000! We are all rooting for you! 73, Tim KJ6HQT"

I'm sure Tim meant DAY #6,000 which of course it is. The QSO's in the streak number over 50,000. And this follow-up from Tim.

From Tim KJ6HQT, "CONGRATULATIONS ON 6,000!!!! 73, Tim - KJ6HQT"

Thanks Tim. I certainly hope that Gordon can get back on the winning track (no pun intended). Maybe the crew chief shuffle at Hendrick Motorsports will help out for 2011. I would like to see Jeff pass up Bobby Allison (85 wins), Darrell Waltrip (84), and Cale Yarborough (83). Not that I dislike those drivers. Actually I've liked all three of them over the years. Of course, Jeff is at 82 now. I think it will be a real stretch for him to catch David Pearson (105), and of course unless they change the rules a great deal, Richard Petty (200) is not going to be caught by anyone, ever. It would be nice to see Jeff wind up in 3rd place behind Pearson and Petty. That is until Jimmie catches and passes Jeff. At Jimmie's age and success rate, it's pretty sure that will happen unless (God forbid) some disaster befalls Jimmie. At 53 wins in 9 years (1st win at Fontana, CA on April 28, 2002), it's just a matter of a very few years before he is in the 80's in wins. Speaking of first wins, did you know that Petty, Pearson, and Gordon all got their first wins at Charlotte?

Well, he didn't make it last night, but Tom WY3H did get into my log for day 6000 today on 40M for my mW QSO of the day.

Incidentally with my new style on-line log, I can now update it every day very easily except perhaps when I make a slew of QSO's in a contest. That's another nice feature of PHP and MySQL programming.

One final thing. Still no sign of any sprouting of my tomato seeds. It's been about 9 days now. If they don't start sprouting soon, I may just plant some more as a precaution.

Well, I guess I'm talked (typed) out for another diary entry. CU TMW. -30-

Thursday, January 06, 2011 10:00 PM - Only one thing to talk about in the diary today. What am I going to do with that countdown up there next?

No, no, that's not it. It's day #6,000 of the streak, and I want to talk about my experience on 80M.

I started calling CQ at 0001Z, and almost immediately was answered by Dick K1IEE up in ME. While I consider all whom I work friends, some of the folks I worked tonight are more well known friends or friends for a longer time than others. Dick and I have worked 22 times, both in rag chews and in our NAQCC net and sprints. So it was nice to have him as my first QSO for day 6K.

After Dick and I finished up, another friend from ME answered my CQ after a few minutes. It was John KQ1P. We've worked 26 times, rag chews and in our NAQCC sprints. Nice to have NAQCC members as the first 2 6K day QSO's.

It was interesting to notice the difference in signal strength in the two stations from ME. Dick was peaking 20 over while John was pretty much down in the mud going from 449 to almost nil.

Next up after a couple CQs was a very old friend from the 1960's. Chuck W8LQ in WI was W2WOE back then. From May 22, 1964 to present we've had 12 QSO's as W2WOE and 14 times as W8LQ. Also countless times via email as well. Chuck is a regular diary reader.

Next was Mark AF4LV in SC. I've only worked Mark once before back in '08.

A couple more CQs brought an answer from Dan KF8R in OH. Dan and I have had 4 nice rag chew QSO's in the past year or so.

Of course Gary N2ESE in NJ was one of the QSO's. Gary and I as you know, work each other quite often. I made it a point to work him when his streak reached 4 years, and he wanted to return the favor by working me on day 6K. Starting with Gary, he and the next 2 QSO's came as tail-enders.

After Gary and I finished it was another friend from the 60's - Ken WA8REI in MI. You may remember a couple years ago we had a special anniversary QSO 40 years to the day after our first QSO. We've worked 41 times over the years.

Another tail-ender was Jim W4QO in GA. Jim is a NAQCC member as were most of the hams I worked tonight. We've worked 3 times.

The final QSO for this evening was with Don W2JEK in NJ. Don and I have had a multitude of QSO's, mostly in contests/sprints since we first worked in 1993. Actually the count is 72 QSO's.

A very enjoyable evening all told. Thanks to all who offered their congratulations. Also an apology to anyone who called that I didn't hear. The noise here was pretty bad tonight and I'm pretty sure I did miss a couple stations. -30-

Wednesday, January 05, 2011 7:55 PM - Well, one day to go for 6,000. I'll get on 80M around 3558-3561 about 23 hours from now at 0000Z and call CQ with 5 watts and see what happens. Tom WY3H said he'd like to be the first QSO on day 6,000, so that may happen.

My mW QSO for the 5th came easily this afternoon just after noon on 40M when WM8E Bill in WV answered my CQ after just a few minutes. He was running QRO 2 watts. HI The respective electric companies didn't profit much from our QSO, to be sure.

I'm trying to go through my web site and update little things here and there that I haven't checked for a while. Like removing one stats counter credit on my Credits page, and finally adding a picture of the TS480SAT on the Station Pictures page. Perhaps I'll find more as I slowly get to go through it. Or perhaps you know of something somewhere that should be updated. If so, let me know.

Right now my neighbor wants to come over and use my computer to look up a couple things, so that's it for this entry. Tune in tomorrow night to see who was the first station (and any others) worked on day 6,000. -30-

Tuesday, January 04, 2011 8:33 PM - Some memorable days coming up for me. When I get my mW QSO today (5th), that will be 250 days for my mW streak. Probably that will be on 40M sometime during the day tomorrow. Of the 4 days so far this year, 3 of the mW QSO's have been on 40 roughly around the 11 to 13 hour EST. 80 just doesn't seem to be working well for mW as I mentioned yesterday.

When I get my 5W or mW QSO on the 7th, that will be day # 6,000 in that streak. I don't really think about it much, but just now as I'm typing this, it strikes me that is a very long time to do the same thing every day (well besides, eating, sleeping, etc., I mean). In August, if it is still going, that will be a full 17 years of days.

I don't know the exact date now, but it's just about 2 years since Joe came to live next door and became an important part of my life. January 12, 2009 is the first mention of Joe in my diary. It's funny, but I can't remember the exact first time Joe and I met. I remember the first time I saw him, but I don't think we really had any contact that time. When I went over next door, he was jumping up on Bruce's son's lap.

I still remember how I dreaded it when Nancy told me Bruce was bringing 'the dog' to stay with her. I did not have any good thoughts about having to help take care of him, especially walking him. Well, all that changed in a few milliseconds when it became clear this was not your normal everyday run-of-the-mill dog, but a very special loving little dog. Bruce only stayed a few days that first time before he went back to Indiana, and then I was basically the dog-walker since Nancy was still recovering from her knee replacement. Joe was a little uncomfortable in his new surroundings, and it took a few days for him to get into the routine of the walks. Well heck, it took me a few days too. HI. I'd never walked a dog before in my life. To make it even a little more difficult, it was January and the weather was typical cold snowy January variety. But we adapted quickly, and the walks became a very enjoyable part of my life, and continue to be so to this day. I almost hate the days when I don't get my turn at walking him when Bruce has his days off from work. I still visit him every day though, and we spend some time together.

I gave Joe a chew toy in the shape of a heart for Christmas, and he really seems to like it as one of the favorites of his dozen or so toys. Nancy took a picture of me giving him the toy on Christmas. It's a film type picture, and when she gets it developed, I'll see how it turned out and if it was good, I'll try to copy it with my digital camera and post it here in the diary.

I've revamped my Diary archives, and although I can't really picture anyone wanting to look through the old entries, they are now available in .html form including most of the original pictures via the diary archive link at the top of this page.

Well, time now to get my temperature readings. It's so nice not to have to walk through any s**w to get them. Except for maybe the remnants of a snowman or where the s**w was plowed, there just isn't any around. Wouldn't it be nice if it stayed that way until late March, then have a token 1 or 2 inch s**wfall that lasts less than a day. Yeah, dream on. That's not going to happen. -30-

Monday, January 03, 2011 8:53 PM - I've been looking at a lot of our NAQCC members' web sites lately, pruning out the 404's, etc. I notice several are blog (ughh, that word) formats, and a large percentage do not do updates daily. So I'm kind of proud that I have never missed a day updating my diary (better word) here since I started it, what is it now, 4? 5? years ago. I don't have pearls of wisdom every day (maybe never?), but I do take time to devote to it each and every day. You'll never come here and not find a new entry each day. Sometimes they are quite late, almost midnite (or even past a couple times), but they are here.

One of my regular diary commenters Paul, N0NBD emailed, "I finally remembered you mentioning your log book look up... It works like gangbusters. I hope to find you on your 6000 day mark... I will be looking for you...QRPppppp hi hi I would like to know how RF you were getting out for the net. Have a good one"

I'm glad Paul tried out the log search and commented on it. I wish more of you would do so, as well as trying out my new guestbook system so I know if they work and what you think of them. I have gotten a couple sporadic guestbook entries, so that does work, but I wonder if it works every time. Also I'm curious about the log search feature also.

I'm seriously thinking of bringing my mW streak to an end at some appropriate time. It's just become too time-consuming of late. It was pretty easy getting a mW QSO from May when I started through November, but since around the first of December (and I don't know why) it has become very hard, especially on 80 in the evening. It's not too hard on 40 in the daytime, but with all the other work involving the NAQCC plus maintaining this house all by myself, I don't often get that much time to get on 40 in the daytime.

It's still pretty easy to get the 5 watt QSO, and I have no intention of voluntarily ending that streak which will hit 6,000 days in just 3 more days now. -30-

Sunday, January 02, 2011 8:57 PM - We had a really good net tonight. Tom was the NCS and he wound up with 15 check-ins. There were others trying to check-in also, but they were weak and all calling at once. So it looks like the net is catching on more and more each week.

When I checked in the net, I wondered why Tom here in town gave me a 339 report. I didn't think anything more about it cause sometimes he will kid me and give a report like that. However a little later I noticed I had my tuner switch in the 40M position instead of 80M where it should have been. With the RF attenuator in the circuit, a mistake in the switch like that doesn't show up in the SWR meter on the rig. So I didn't get a clue from that. Finally I glanced at the tuner and saw the switch on 40M. So I wonder what power I was actually getting into the antenna. Was that a QRPpppp QSO? -30-

Saturday, January 01, 2011 8:37 PM - Not a whole lot to say this first day of the new year. It's been a very busy one as I stated it would be yesterday. But I'm well along on my way to completing all the pertinent tasks. I'm tired though, and going to cut this short. I'll catch up on my comments tomorrow. -30-