K3WWP's Ham Radio Activities

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Wednesday, December 31, 2014 7:59 PM - Happy New Year everyone. It already is the new year in much of the world as I type this, but there are still 4 hours left in 2014 here at this moment.

I did not start out the DX streak very well in the new year, but hopefully I'll get some DX in the morning or afternoon. I only heard a couple weak DX stations who didn't hear my call at all. I did get a SKN QSO for the big streak however when I worked Jim WT2W on 80 meters at 0023Z. So that streak is at 7,455 days now.

I suppose this would be a good time to do a wrapup of 2014, but there's really not a lot to say about the year out of the ordinary. Of course one thing is working some DX every day in 2014. I'm happy with that to be sure, and maybe I'll try to do it again this year, but it does involve some stress at times, and I can do without that. Maybe I'll take it to March 1st so I'll have 730 days or two full years of DX, then think about hanging it up. I really don't know.

Of course another highlight of the year was retiring as NAQCC Vice President in mid-October. That got rid of a lot of stress in addition to giving me much more free time to pursue other things.

It was an off-year for fishing with only a couple dozen fish caught in a like number of trips. Hopefully 2015 will provide numbers more like normal when I average over 100 fish. Of those I hope a lot will be carp.

Another interest, gardening took an off-year as well. It wasn't just me, but a lot of gardens around here didn't produce all that well. Perhaps the very long hard 2013-2014 winter had something to do with that. Also a very wet early summer followed by a dry late summer and early fall probably contributed. I did get enough tomatoes, beans, peas, and peppers to keep me going fairly well, but they ran out much earlier in the fall than usual.

It was a good year for walking, and I continued my overall average rate of around 7+ miles per day. I didn't go for any super long walks in 2014, but did maintain that average.

It was another enjoyable year with my neighbor's dog Roscoe. He is a real joy, and I take him for his last walk of just about every single day.

I guess that pretty much sums up the year, but I'd be remiss if I didn't mention some really good times with my fellow hams in this area - Don K3RLL, Tom WB3FAE, and Mike KC2EGL. In fact Mike closed out the year with about a 7 hour visit today as we went to the Pittsburgh Mills where we had lunch at Chili's, did a bit of shopping, came home and just visited for a while and played some computer hidden object games.

During the year, the four of us had good times at hamfests, the Skyview Swap Shop, an operation from the sub Requin, and of course our various parkpeditions. I look forward to more of those activities in 2015. In fact the first get together with Mike will come in just about 3 weeks or so when we get together during his 10 day or so vacation. Who knows what we will get into then? HI -30-

Tuesday, December 30, 2014 7:25 PM - I went up to the shack this evening at 0000Z with the intention of staying there until I got a DX QSO to complete 365 days of DX in 2014. No matter how long it took, I was going to stay there until the bitter end. If it was a bitter end this evening, then I'd fire up the rig as soon as I woke up in the morning and continue the chase. More about that in a moment, but I really got a brief scare this afternoon.

When I was preparing my application for the NAQCC FULL YEAR QSO-A-Day award, sorting out my Access log with the help of Excel, I found only 362 days with a DX QSO. Of course one day was Dec 31st which hadn't happened yet, but what of the other two. I carefully counted each month, and found no entry for July 16. There was only one QSO that day and it was with a USA station. Hmmmm, off to the shack and my paper log. Shuffling through the pages nervously, I found July 16 with two QSOs, the USA one and ZY14RR. I had not transferred the ZY QSO to my computer log. That sometimes happens if I don't get my DX QSO in the evening. I log the USA QSO from the evening, then when I get the DX QSO in the morning or afternoon, I neglect to put it in the computer. Usually I catch it pretty quickly, but not this time. That takes care of July 16, but what about the other day. I continued counting each month and found nothing for October 20th. Again a search of my paper logs showed ZD8X worked on the 20th. However, I had mistakenly entered the QSO as being on the 21st. Blame it on old age, I guess. OK, so the mysteries are cleared up and I'm breathing again.

Back to this evening. As you can tell from the time stamp of this entry, I didn't have to wait in the shack the whole evening, nor even very long at all. After trying CN8KD a couple times with no luck, I found EA8/IK1PMR and tried him. No luck there either, but then his signal came up, and after he worked a Croatian station I called again and got him with a single call that time. Whew! Sigh of relief!

That was at 0013Z. I immediately came downstairs and got off my award application to our NAQCC Awards Manager John KK1X, then wrote this diary entry which I am going to end now wishing all of you a Happy New Year in 2015. Don't forget to set some kind of challenge for yourself next year and work at mastering it. -30-

Monday, December 29, 2014 7:31 PM - I've talked about my Hawaii pipeline, but I haven't said much about another pipeline I seem to have. It's the Scandinavian pipeline whereby I can pretty much easily work Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and particuarly Finland no matter how weak and/or fluttery sigs may be from that part of the world. Of the bands, 20 meters seems to be the best for this pipeline. Tonight after unsuccessfully chasing S01WS for a few minutes I went looking for some other DX and found a weak OF9X, gave a call and after a couple repeats, I had my DX QSO. That's 364 days down, and one to go to complete a sweep of 2014 with DX QSOs.

Getting a DX QSO every day this year has been a challenge, and I absolutely love challenges of any kind at all. I think challenges are very important in improving oneself, no matter if it's a physical or mental challenge. When I'm walking and I see someone ahead of me walking at a good pace, I challenge myself to catch up to them. Fishing is another good challenge. I try to catch a slightly bigger carp than I've caught before, and other such challenges as that when I'm at the river. The list of challenges is endless, and that's good because a life without challenges would be a very dull one indeed. Fortunately ham radio has many challenges such as working all states, working 100 countries, etc. And when you master those challenges, you can challenge yourself to do it again with lower power or try to work smaller divisions such as counties, oblasts, and the like. One of my favorite activities are our monthly NAQCC challenges. I think they are really interesting and sometimes tricky to master. I could go on talking about challenges forever, but I want to switch tracks now.

This has been a December virtually free of that white stuff sn%w, with only 0.1 inch measured at Pittsburgh. I thought I'd try an analog forecast for January something like this:

In doing a little analog weather predicting, it looks pretty good for January. Analog forecasting boils down to considering the results for one period of time, say a month, and then seeing how closely the weather for the following month is related.

For example I'm considering the amount of sn%w that falls in December, and how it relates to the amount in January.

We had very little sn%w in December this year - only about 0.1 inches. If we look at other Decembers that had 2 inches or less, and see how January related to them, we have the following:

The Pittsburgh records over the past 130 years or so show 19 Decembers with 2 inches or less. Of those 19, the following January had less than 8 inches of sn%w (a not too bad total around here) 13 times or 68.4 percent. So based on that analog forecast, there's a 68 percent chance of a decent January this year.

Of course it could also be like 1965-66 when December had only 1.8 inches, but January had 24.6 inches. So only time will tell. -30-

Sunday, December 28, 2014 8:01 PM - Today was de-decorating day. I took down all the Christmas trim and stowed it away till next December. Now the next big event is making it through the two worst months of the year till spring comes along and brings everything back to life again. I can't wait.

Coincidentally the arrival of spring also will be within one day of my DX streak reaching 730 days or two solid years if I make it. It was rough this evening and I was close to giving up and waiting till morning for my DX. Then I found NP4G on 20 meters for a pretty easy QSO to extend the streak. -30-

Saturday, December 27, 2014 7:33 PM - The DX streak made it past the dreaded 666 days mark today. #667 was ES1TU on 17 meters at 1438Z. I didn't even have to rely on the RAC contest. It's a good thing because I didn't hear a whole lot of activity in the contest compared to usual. Some of the big contest stations were giving out some very low numbers in their exchange too. So except for W0DLE last evening, I didn't make any QSOs in the contest.

This evening #668 came about in a slightly strange way. I tried calling KP4VP on 30 with no success, and he was the only strong DX signal I heard till I came across PX2A calling the IH contest on 20 meters. What the heck is that, I wondered. Something I could enter or not? I came downstairs to the computer here and looked it up. I found it was something called the Iron Ham contest and all could enter. So I went back to the shack, called PX2A, got a WWP?, sent my call again and we exchanged info (CQ Zone) for the QSO and another day in the DX streak. Dare I say it? Only 3 days now and I'll have worked some DX every day in 2014. Then two more months and the streak will be at two years or 730 days. Wonder if I'll make it with the sunspots on the decline overall now, although they have been good the past couple months now.

Otherwise a beautiful day today with mostly sunny skies and a high of let's see...58. So I took in a couple nice walks, and may do another short one now as it's still 47 degrees now. -30-

Friday, December 26, 2014 8:57 PM - Not a whole lot to say the day after Christmas. It was a beautiful weather day though with sunshine (I had to stop and think of the word it's been so long) and a high right around 50. Not a trace of the ugly white stuff to be seen anywhere, and none predicted at least for the next several days. Let's hope that outlook doesn't change.

No DX this evening, but with the RAC contest in full swing through tomorrow evening, surely I'll be able to work some DX in the morning or afternoon. I'd hate to have the DX streak end at 666 days, that's for sure. I did hear V5/DL3DXX workable again this evening, but I wasn't going to work him yet again. Too bad he was on the same band (30). -30-

Thursday, December 25, 2014 7:39 PM - Yes, December 25. I hope your Christmas was as good as mine or even better if possible. I'll talk a bit about it after I document my DX QSO for day #666, yes 666 (chills). I thought maybe that number would be a jinx for me, but it wasn't. Actually I got one of my quickest DX QSOs in a while, just a couple minutes after I turned the rig on. I heard an unID station calling CQ in DX style and saw a station working him up one according to the peak on the PX3. I set up for split, set the transmit frequency on the spot where the worked station was, answered the DX QSO, got a WP?, sent my call again and got the QSO. Now all I needed to know was who I worked. Ooops, it was V5/DL3DXX again. Had I known, I wouldn't have tried since I worked him on the same band (30) the evening before last. I never work stations that close together, but hey, he didn't ID, and I didn't want to miss out on something I might have needed. Anyway #666 is in the books now, and I can move on.

As for the earlier part of my Christmas day, it started out quiet. I was just waiting for 12:30 or 1:00 to come for dinner over at Nancy's. However, about 11:00 Denny (Bowser) my neighbor on the other side came over to ask me to dinner. I said I had another dinner to go to shortly, but I'd come over at least to visit for a while. I had presents for the four grandkids, so I distributed them right away. Then I got talked into (didn't take much) having some food. I took a small plateful, and said that was more like an appetizer for my next meal. After I finished and visited a while, I said it was time now to go fill the other half of my stomach. I left and went over to Nancy's for a second good meal within a couple hours or less. Her sons Bruce and Jeff were there, and of course Roscoe. We all visited for a while, and then I came back home and watched the 1951 version of Scrooge with Alistair Sim as Scrooge. That and the 1938 Reginald Owen version are my two favorites of the very many versions made either under the name of Scrooge or A Christmas Carol. As that movie was drawing to an end, Mike KC2EGL showed up for our annual Christmas Day visit. We think that's the fifth year in a row of that tradition now. I said I'd check in my diary archives to be sure, and I'm going to do that right now (pause). Well the first mention of a Christmas visit was in the 2009 diary, so this is the sixth year of our tradition now. Time sure does fly.

Anyway to keep it brief, I'll just say that we had a good visit getting into various topics of discussion like who was the cast of the original Seven in The Magnificent Seven to name but one topic. After that we got in his car for our annual tour of Kittanning and surroundings checking out the various Christmas lights. We generally pick out a couple as our favorites. This year we agree we probably saw more lights, but maybe fewer houses were decorated (or only with minimal decorations). That means that the houses that were decorated had more numbers of lights. Also they seemed to be in bunches more so than usual this year. We'd drive for a couple blocks and see nothing, then maybe a block or so where virtually all the houses were lit up. After we got home, Mike had to leave to head North and get ready for another work day tomorrow. -30-

Wednesday, December 24, 2014 7:21 PM -

pix_diary_20131223_001 (74K)
For unto us a child is born,
unto us a son is given:
and the government shall be upon his shoulder:
and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counseller,
The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014 7:27 PM - My string continues of getting DX for the DX streak in the evening. It's been a while now since I failed to get my DX in the evening. Let's see....well, not that long. On Dec 16 I had to wait till morning to get PJ2/WI9WI. Anyway back to this evening. When I worked my DX, that brought the DX streak to 664 days. I hope day 666 isn't a jinx on Friday. Back on track. Tonight it was V5/DL3DXX. I had heard him earlier on 30, but my furnace and its attendant noise came on, and I had trouble copying him, so I figured I better not call him as I'd have trouble knowing if he came back to me and if he got my call right. OK, so I'll try later. I went searching for a W1AW station to at least keep the big streak going. I found W1AW/0 in IA on 40 meters and had to wait through a couple other stations before I got him. Oh, there's the furnace shutting off. Back to 30. Now V5/DL3DXX is in the clear above my now reduced noise. I call and get WW?, send K3WWP and the QSO is in the books. I don't have all that many Namibia contacts. Let's see....this is # 6, of which 3 are on 30, so no new band country tonight. Two on 20 and one on 15 round out my meager count of Namibia contacts. All in Swakopmund which I believe is the capital. Nope, I should have known that Windhoek is the capital. I did know that at one time, but age is catching up on me and my memory. Swakopmund is right on the Atlantic coast which helps to explain why all my contacts are from there, even though Windhoek has about 7 times the population of Swakopmund.

Hey, look at this list of my DX streak QSOs the past 6 days

12/19 - W1AW/KH6 (OC)
12/20 - XE2I (NA)
12/21 - 9A7V (EU)
12/22 - LU1FAM (SA)
12/23 - 8J2VE (AS)
12/24 - V5/DL3DXX (AF)

A Worked All Continents, and to boot I also worked Antarctica (RI1ANR) on the 22nd for the seventh continent. I didn't realize that till I was putting tonight's QSO in my streak table on the main web page.

However, overall the bands didn't seem as good as the past couple evenings. I did hear RA0TU on 20, but he didn't hear me. Only a few weak signals on 15 through 10, not even worth waiting to identify. -30-

Monday, December 22, 2014 7:45 PM - Good bands again this evening. Only a couple weak unID sigs on 12 and 10, but 20-15 had a lot of JA stations, mostly working other stations like P4/DL6RAI who was reeling off one JA after another. There weren't any JAs calling CQ themselves save for one whom I worked - 8J2VE on 17 meters. It wasn't easy, but he seemed determined to get me, and I appreciate that. I bet I had to send my call 20 times before he got it OK. That came at 0011Z so with time left, I toured the bands, but didn't find anything else interesting to work nor did I get any answers to my CQs on 40 and 80. Then I did run into K0EU calling CQ USA FOR WAS on 17 meters, so I gave him PA. I'm not sure what kind of WAS it was for - regular, 17M, something special? Anyway I hope PA helped.

Finally the sun was out this morning and I got another marking on my sun wall chart mentioned yesterday and described several days ago in the diary (Dec 15). That was the first reading possible in 15 days, and the error was still about 0.7 inches as mentioned in the original info. I find if I factor in that 0.7 inch error, the readings and predictions average out to an error of 0.0 inches. So I'll adjust the wall chart accordingly and see how it tracks till late February when the spot no longer strikes the chart, but the floor in front of the chart and I rejoice because winter is just about over then. -30-

Sunday, December 21, 2014 9:47 PM - Hey, when I went out to get my weather readings at 9PM, guess what? I actually saw, what are they called now, oh yes, stars. It's been a while. There was Sirius, Procyon, Rigel, Betelguese, Alnitak, Alnilam, Mintaka, and so on. For the last ten days now, save one, my brief weather description in my weather log has been 'overcast'. The one other day? Light showers. So it's very nice to have some clear skies. Hopefully it will be clear in the morning so I can finally get another spot on the sun chart I described a few entries ago. It's supposed to be in the mid-upper 50s down the road a couple days, although with rain, but that's better than you know what this time of year.

I'm still doing some fine tuning work on the web site. Today among other things, I made some of the non-table charts that use the 'pre' tag for formatting have a little larger bold font which I think makes them not only look better, but stand out more - kind of like this:
this is the old look
this is the new look
The bands were still quite hot this evening with openings all the way up through 10 meters. As usual not a lot of activity though. I did manage to (with a struggle) work RI1ANR on 17 meters. He had my call so many different ways, I lost count. I think the final version he had was the correct one, although I wasn't copying him much better than he was copying me. Just in case though I got another more solid DX QSO with LU1FAM on 15 meters. -30-

Saturday, December 20, 2014 8:01 PM - It didn't take long to get my DX QSO this evening. I worked 9A7V in the Croatian contest on 40M. It took a couple repeats, but I got him. That's day # 661 in the DX streak now. Then I worked W1AW/4 in GA on 20M with a single call just because he was there and was booming in.

Not a lot going on today. I did some more work on my web site, especially working on the non-ham links in my Links section.

Tomorrow is an important day. That's the day when the Sun has reached its lowest point in the sky and starts 'moving' north again a little each day until June 21. -30-

Friday, December 19, 2014 8:20 PM - I was sitting at the key during a QSO this evening reflecting on just how wonderful it is to be able to actually see what is going on across the band at one moment. I wonder just how many more QSOs I could have in my log had this wonderful panadapter technology been availabe my whole ham career. Also how many more countries (entities) I could have worked. I know there have been very many times when I would ignore the higher bands because it was too much of a task to laboriously scan across them listening for a signal. Doing that, you can easily miss signals as you tune across them in between a dot and a dash or in between words. The band sounds dead when it really isn't. With a panadapter, all that's needed is a flip of the band switch and a quick glance at the display to know if there is any activity on a band.

Speaking of activity, there wasn't a lot of it on the higher bands this evening despite the SF being 216 which should keep the bands open well after dark. The lack of activity is just that - no one takes advantage of these good openings because they don't know enough about propagation or don't even check to see what the figures are. All it takes is a glance at my (or any) propagation page to see what the SF and A indices are. If the SF number is high and the A index low, expect the high bands to be open accordingly and get on to take advantage of the situation. We are probably past the activity peak of cycle 24 now and things will only get worse over the next few years. In fact if the pundits are correct, we may not even see another activity peak for a good long while. I don't put a lot of faith in those outlooks, but who knows?

As we continue to segue from topic to topic, speaking of propagation, I remodeled my propagation page a bit today to make it look (in my opinion) a little bit better. It's nice to be able to have time to do these web site tweaks now that I don't have to always be conscious of doing this or that for the NAQCC. Not that I minded doing the NAQCC work, but it did rob me of a lot of times for other things in my life which I am now slowly getting back to. I was just telling a friend today that I hope to get in a lot more fishing next year than I've done lately.

Segue # 3, speaking of friends, it was nice to get a phone call today from Tom WY3H down in Georgia whom as you know I'm sure, is also retired from the NAQCC. He is doing good down there, and I'm sure I'll envy him this January and February as we suffer from cold and s$#w up here. They get some nasty weather down there, but by no means whatsoever as much of it as we do up here in PA.

Let's see, can't come up with a segue this time, so I'll just go back to talking about this evening on the bands. As always, my first objective when I hit the airwaves is to get my main streak QSO, and if it happens to be DX then I've also added to the DX streak. If not, then my second objective is to get the DX QSO. This evening N8MR helped me achieve objective #1, then it took a while till I found XE2I on 20 meters and achieved objective #2. Once #2 is complete, and done quickly enough, it's time to either look for some special station (W1AW/#, etc.) or some new DX, prefix, maybe band state, and the like. If I don't find any of that and haven't wasted too much time doing so, then I'll head for 40 or 80 meters to just call CQ to see who answers me. -30-

Thursday, December 18, 2014 8:00 PM - Version 1 of my DX QSO: My KH6 pipeline is working good tonight. I worked W1AW/KH6 easily on 15M. I called once and he got WWP, then I repeated my call and we had our QSO. Nothing out of the ordinary as I regularly easily work KH6 on the high bands with no effort.

Version 2 of my DX QSO: After the QSO I went to 40M to call CQ for a rag chew since I got the DX out of the way so quickly. Wait a minute, what's this? The power indicator on the KX3 is barely moving. Oh, I'm still running 900 mW from the NAQCC mW sprint. The power is not a per-band setting so I must have worked KH6 with 900 mW. I checked to be sure and now I guess a newer and bigger pipeline must have been installed between here and KH6. Wow! I've done it before, but never quite that easy.

Version 3 of my DX QSO: After making a couple more QSOs and getting on the computer to write this entry and update my propagation page, I see the SF today was 213 and the A index 5. OK so I shouldn't be quite so excited about getting KH6 with 900 mW in that case. Had I realized what was going on, I probably could have worked him with much less power under those circumstances.

The high SF kept short skip on 20M well after dark, and I heard K3WW in eastern PA giving out ARRL Centennial event QSOs. I thought about calling him, but didn't. So back to calling CQ on 40 when someone sends K3WW. Must be someone who started sending my call, but didn't finish. So I sent a question mark. K3WW again, and I realize it's Chas answering my CQ. Must have finished on 20 meters. Although I've worked Chas many times in contests or other events, I think this may have been our first 'rag chew' style QSO. We chatted for a while about my QRP, the Centennial event, etc. After we finished, I got a tail end call from Ted W8UE, and after we chatted for 13 minutes, I thought just for fun, I'd look for W1AW/3 in MD on 80. I found him, and after listening a bit to see if he was split or simplex, I called him simplex and got him on the first try.

Many times over the years, I've looked at the navigation panel at the left side of my web pages and wasn't really happy with it. However with all my NAQCC work, I just never got around to doing anything about it. However now that I'm retired, today I did something about it. I think I simplified it and hopefully made it easier to deal with and easier to navigate around my site. It took a few hours since I had to deal with a lot of pages and figured it would take just as long to automate the process, so I did it mostly manually with a system that developed as time went by accelerating the process. So I think all the many pages have now been changed over to the new system.

Something else that took time today was dealing with results from last night's mW sprint. It seems that Ki VA3PEN who takes care of the results page wasn't getting all the logs like I was. So we had to work together to make sure everyone got counted. Hopefully the problem is fixed now. We'll see when he sends me the next page update later this evening. -30-

Wednesday, December 17, 2014 7:38 PM - Conditions sounded pretty good again this evening, with strong signals although not a lot of them, particularly DX ones. I did hear E90WF on 40, but no response from him. Also W1AW/KH6 on 20 with a huge pileup. I could have easily gotten him in the clear if my Hawaiian pipeline was working but not through (literally as everyone I heard him work was west of here between me and him) that pileup. Also a strong DX stn on 15 but calling CQ JA so I didn't even stay to see who it was. Maybe P40CX again? 6Y5WJ was strong on 30, but I've worked him so many times..... Finally though I did snag LU7YS on 30 meters to keep the DX streak going. Later this evening it's our NAQCC mW sprint. I think I'll get one QSO (if I can) and then quit rather than try to dig mW signals out of my local noise. At least that way I'll have participated and keep my record of never having missed one of our sprints intact. -30-

Tuesday, December 16, 2014 8:41 PM - I thought the bands sounded above average this evening, and after getting my DX quickly in the form of 6Y6N on 30M, then working W1AW/3 in MD on 40M and listening around some more, I checked the propagation numbers for my propagation page and found the SF had jumped all the way to 185 today without any significant ionospheric disturbances.

Speaking of W1AW/3, I was listening on 80M and calling with no sucess. The point being I was listening, and suddenly W1AW started calling for DX only, so I stopped calling immediately. However several other W/VE stations kept right on blindly calling. It almost made me ashamed to be a member of the ham radio fraternity. But I guess that is to be expected with the extreme easing of the requirements to become a ham these days.

I actually heard all three W1AW states quickly this evening, but only managed the one 40M QSO with MD. I couldn't get GA, and KH6 was too weak with too big a pileup to even try. It doesn't really matter though because as you know, I got all 50 states the first time around. This time I'm just working them for fun if I can, to pass some time.

Earlier today in the 1400Z hour I easily worked Jim WI9WI in Curacao for my DX QSO, and as he often does, he took a moment to ask if I was QRP. He gave me a 539, but as I was listening to him a bit after I worked him on 12M and again this evening on 30, he was giving out quite a few 539 reports, so I was not in a tiny minority. HI. -30-

Monday, December 15, 2014 7:59 PM - Another evening with no DX, so it's off to the shack in the morning. There was a strong P40CX on 17, but he seemed only interested in working Japan, so after calling a few times, I gave up on him. I did work W2B on 30M for the regular streak.

Somebody mentioned "sun" today and I couldn't figure out what they were talking about, then it dawned on me they meant that bright object that used to grace the blue skies and make days cheery. It had been so long, I had forgotten. Maybe if I live long enough, I'll get a chance to see it again.

This has been one of the gloomiest months in recent memory (mine at least). I had hoped to follow the sun as it "moved" south until December 21, then "moved" back north again via the method shown on this .pdf file. Anyway to make my point about the gloom, since I created the setup in early November, the sun has only made its appearance at that time of day perhaps 5 or 6 times. Sigh! I hope to get at least several clear days or enough to check the accuracy of my computations before the sun is too high to work with the system. -30-

Sunday, December 14, 2014 2:11 PM - A good day in the 10M contest again. It's so much fun getting into these big high speed, quick exchange contests. It really gets the adrenalin flowing. I wish they happened more often. Or maybe what they say about too much of a good thing would kick in. Who knows.

Anyway I was doing some thinking about a typical contest exchange. Let's pick one from my log and analyze it a bit. Here we go after I hear my friend Franki OQ5M - no, that's a bad example of what I'm getting at as we always add greeting to the exchange. Let's do PA5WT whom I picked at random. When I hear him, I send my call and it goes like this:

K3WWP (sent by me)
K3WWP 599851 (by him)
TU 599PA (by me)
TU (by him)

That's the total QSO - period. 27 characters including 2 spaces. Now assuming the ideal with no pauses between the four exchanges, that's 5.4 words figuring 5 characters per word. At a speed of 25 WPM that means about 4.6 exchanges or QSO's can be fit in one minute, not counting the CQs by PA5WT. If he calls CQ once every 3 QSOs, that (depending on the style of CQ) would probably make it 3.5 to 4 exchanges per minute or a rate of 210-240 per hour.

If the speed is 30 WPM, that makes 5.6 exchanges per minute, or with the CQs around maybe 4 to 4.5 per minute or 240-270 per hour. And if that rate could be kept up for a solid 48 hours which is virtually impossible, that would be 48x240 or 11,520 QSOs. Now I don't know what the record is for QSOs in a 48 hour contest, but I'm sure it's quite a bit lower than that. In contests where numbers are part of the exchange, I've worked stations giving out numbers in the 4,000s as best as I can recall.

Of course then you have the multi-band, multi-op setups which is a whole 'nother story I won't go into here. I just think it is very impressive what the big contesters can do.

I always try to do my very best not to slow them down. I send only the bare minimum of info as in the exchange above. I send it as quickly as possible coming back without any pauses between exchanges. I send using as perfect code as possible. If conditions get to the point where my QRP is not making it all that well and I am asked for too many repeats, I'll simply QRT or perhaps move to another band. I have too much respect for the top notch contesters to hurt their efforts in any way.

It's a shame how some folks will send more info than needed, or send the info so sloppily. Everyone who enters a big contest should train themselves to be as good as they can so as not to slow things down.

It's interesting (funny?) how some folks will seemingly be zipping right along using a computer, but when they have to ask for a repeat of something, they revert to a keyer, bug, or even straight key and be sloppy when doing so.

Just continuing with these random thoughts. Although I understand why they do it, and would do it myself were I at the key of a big contest station, it is frustating to hear stations run off 4,5, maybe up to 10 or more QSOs in a row without identifying themselves. Likewise, although it really doesn't happen much in contesting, calling CQ several times before identifying is frustrating and slows things down. Unfortunately that does happen a lot in general operating. If I feel someone calls an extraordinay number of CQs with no ID, I will simply move on.

Another thing is the use of QRL. First of all it needs a question mark at the end when asking if a frequency is in use. QRL?, not QRL. Secondly either give a person the chance to respond, or don't wait to long before doing something. We often hear (especially in contests) a QRL? followed by a few milliseconds for a response before they start using the frequency. Outside of contests, a QRL? is often followed by an eternity of silence, then even repeated with another eternity. In my opinion, a wait of 3-5 seconds for a response is just about right. If no one responds after that time, go ahead and use the frequency.

Well, that's enough for today. I'll get down off the soapbox and get something to eat now. Then maybe get back in the 10M contest again to see if I can get some Asian or Oceania stations. -30-

Saturday, December 13, 2014 6:50 PM - Conditions weren't as good today as some previous 10M contests near the peak of the last sunspot cycle, BUT they weren't all that bad either. Europe was very easy to work for a couple hours this morning till conditions started to change around 1630Z. I took a break at that time for a few hours since I wasn't going for score, but just having fun. I hadn't planned to work many W/VE stations, but when I came back on just past 2000Z, W/VE stations plus a few Caribbean stations were pretty much all to be had, so I did work quite a few. There were a couple KH6s in the mix also, but my pipeline to HI was a little clogged and I couldn't work them (yet). I have only 83 QSOs now, and I'll check again in a couple minutes when I get on to get my streak QSO(s), but if it is like last night, 10 will be pretty much closed down now, except for the big KW/beam stations in good locations, and I'm far from that. I'll probably have to wait till the morning and take advantage of a few hours of good conditions to Europe and then maybe work some more W/VE stations later in the day. -30-

Friday, December 12, 2014 6:51 PM - In the very unlikely event that 10M proves to be great this evening and I get involved in the contest, I thought I'd just write the entry now because there really isn't a lot to talk about. It was a very quiet day here, and I can't even think of anything out of the ordinary that I did.

I cleaned up some old files on my computer. I never did get on the bands since I got my DX last evening. Hopefully they will be good for the 10M contest this weekend. I also mailed one of our NAQCC prizes to the winner this afternoon since the weather was fairly good. Cloudy with temperature in the mid-30s and none of that ugly stuff around.

Well, off to the shack now. -30-

Thursday, December 11, 2014 7:26 PM - You know, it's no wonder W1AW/7 in MT is so easy to work. My best guess is that two great contest ops who moved to MT from elsewhere plus one MT native (as far as I know) are doing a lot of the operating. I know for sure Matt K7BG (formerly AA7BG from a good many years ago) is one of the ops because we've shared brief Christmas greetings when I worked W1AW/7 on 20 last night and 40 just a little while before typing this. I also worked W1AW/7 easily on 80 last night with but a single call. The other two op suspects, although I'm not sure, would be WJ9B and N9RV whom I work often in contests. I forget just where they resided before moving to MT. I guess that's the hot (not wx-wise) spot for contesting now. I remember when it was NM a few years ago when some big contesters migrated there. I can only recall WB0O and K0EVZ now, both of whom came from ND. Now that's understandable to move from ND elsewhere if you hate cold weather, but to MT? I guess contesting is more important than wx.

For the first time in a few days I got my DX in the evening. It was TG9GJG on 30 a little after working W1AW/7 this evening to extend the DX streak to 652 days now. Unless 10 meters shuts down, the next two days should be a cinch with the 10M contest underway. This morning I easily worked OE3KAB there and heard other signals at pretty good levels although I didn't take time to try to work anyone else. -30-

Wednesday, December 10, 2014 10:51 AM - OK, now here's the more info I promised in my VERY late entry last night. Once again conditions were horrible for the sprint, and I had to struggle to make my goal of 20 QSOs. I actually made 23 because copy was so rough that I wasn't sure of a couple of the QSOs. 20 meters was pretty much dead except for W5ASP who didn't hear me at all. 40 meters wasn't much better although my very first CQ there netted a QSO with Dick K1IEE, and I managed a couple more QSOs before giving up on 40 and heading to 80. It wasn't a whole lot better with a solid S8-S9 noise level. I figure if I had a penny for each noise pulse that assaulted my ears, I'd have enough money to buy some great property in a quiet location and experience some noiseless contesting. I envy those folks who do have such quiet locations and routinely run up twice the number of QSOs I have to struggle to make. Even operating from the Community Park here in Kittanning is a whole lot better with almost S0 or S1 at worst noise levels and copying even the weakest signals is a piece of cake. Speaking of cake, I'm getting hungry so let me finish this and get something to eat.

My DX QSO this morning came easier than any of the sprint QSOs when it took a single call to work IT9/LY5W on 10 meters. I didn't take time to explore the bands after I got the QSO, but a quick glance showed them to be pretty good. Hopefully they will remain so for the 10 meters contest.

Our computer club Christmas party is this evening, so once again I'll have to get my DX streak QSO tomorrow in the morning or early afternoon. -30-

Tuesday, December 09, 2014 11:59 PM - Well, the time stamp lies. It's actually well past midnight. I got involved in the sprint and a couple other things and didn't get to the diary till now. I'll have more to say in tomorrow's entry. -30-

Monday, December 08, 2014 8:44 PM - I didn't really need any,but I got some incentive for entering the ARRL 10M Contest this coming weekend. I received my certificate for last year's performance in that contest. See my contest page here for a picture of the certificate.

As you know, since retiring as NAQCC VP, I've been working on my web site, trying to get caught up with all the updates that should have been made, but haven't been because of my time-consuming NAQCC work. Well, today I delved into my 'Find a QSL Route' page. Whew! Things have really changed there and I must apologize to all who have tried using it, and getting a lot of 'page not found' or other error messages. Things have really changed a lot in the QSL address servers field over the past several years as I explain on the completely revamped page here.

I've got my little pink slip out here in front of me reminding me to get a DX QSO in the morning or afternoon to keep the streak alive. I had a long rag chew with my old friend Ernie VE3OU starting at 0000Z, and by the time I got to looking for DX, there wasn't any to be found other than PV8ADI. Despite being well over S9 here, he didn't copy me at all, and in fact, had trouble copying several stations he did manage to work. He must live in a very noisy location down there in Brazil. Oh well, I have the time tomorrow to search for and hopefully find a DX station to work. Or maybe I'll just go back to the shack this evening and give a try. -30-

Sunday, December 07, 2014 7:46 PM- Yes, December 7, a day that will be remebered for one sad national event, one sad personal event, and one good event.

Of course the big sad event occurred 73 years ago when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and precipitated the entry of the USA into World War II, and along with Great Britain under the leadership of Winston Churchill, they ultimately defeated Japan and Germany. This is not a history lesson and I'm not going to dwell any deeper and list all the countries actually involved, so let's move on.

It was three years ago today that I lost a very good 'friend':

pix_diary_20141207_001 (71K)

Yes, my neighbor's dog Joe passed away three years ago this morning. I still miss him, although my neighbors now have Roscoe, and although he is no Joe, he is pretty special in his own way. I always think of Joe being a more mature 'adult' type dog, while Roscoe is more like a little 'child' type.

One more thing needs noting, and it's a good thing. This is the day each year when we have the earliest sunset around 40 degrees north latitude. Actually the sunset is pretty much the same a day or two before and after the 7th, but I like to honor it on the 7th each year. From now on the sun will set a little later each day and those long dark evenings will get shorter and shorter. It's hardly noticeable now, but the rate of change accelerates through March 21 at the vernal equinox.

Since I both got my DX streak QSO last evening and completed the NAQCC European December challenge late yesterday afternoon, I didn't have much incentive to get on the bands during the day today, so I didn't. This evening I used a little patience to get my DX QSO. For some reason J6/K9AW was very popular on 30M. I didn't think St. Lucia was all that rare, but he did have a pileup, so I looked around elsewhere. I didn't find anything so I went back to 30 and J6/K9AW was still there, but sans pileup, so I worked him easily to reach day 648 in the DX streak. -30-

Saturday, December 06, 2014 1:39 PM - I kind of like writing these diary entries in the morning or early afternoon, and may do it more often.

Once again conditions were very good this morning and as I've been saying, retiring from the NAQCC VP job has freed up my time to take advantage of the morning air time. I worked about a half dozen DX stations this morning and in the process finished up the NAQCC 'USA' December Marconi Challenge and got down to needing only a half dozen letters to finish the companion European Chapter Christmas Tree Challenge.

Very little amazes me about success with QRP/CW/simple wire antennas, but one thing does make me wonder a bit. I wonder why it is so easy to work DX stations when I can barely hear them here and I know they are running much more power than I am and with much better antennas. The prime suspect is that they have superbly quiet locations and their bigger antennas can copy my 'peanut whistle' signals easily albeit I'm only a legitimate S2 or S3 at best. It would be intersting if everyone would give an honest signal strength report instead of the standard 599 or 559. I think some ops only use those two and nothing lower or in-between. I do (very) occasionally get an S2 to S4 report, but most all the time it's 599 even if it took me a dozen repeats of my call for them to get it right. Or if they did have trouble, then a lot of ops will give the other standard 559 report. I know when we operate at the Kittanning Community park, it is so quiet there, I can honestly give out 509 reports at times. Some stations don't budge the S meter, but are solid copy nonetheless. So a quiet location definitely does help.

Conversely, a noisy location such as I have here at home can give a false impression of just how strong a signal I'm hearing really is. With the noise masking signals and in addition reducing receive gain, a signal that is a 339 or 449 for me at home might be a good 569-589 or so at the park, for example. So I'm not really working someone all that weak. It just seems that way because of my always present, very strong local noise.

Perhaps I could have a lot more DX QSOs than I have because over the years I shied away from even trying those 'weak' signals. I've finally learned that it is worth a try to see if they hear me or not. A lot of times they do (to my surprise).

Just a side note before I talk a bit about my DX totals here. If you have multiple antennas and are able to switch among them seamlessly, often times you'll find that switching antennas on receive can pop a signal right out of the noise compared to listening on the same antenna on which you are transmitting. I often find when working on, say 40M, switching back and forth between my random wire for transmitting and, say my 15M vertical dipole for receiving, will give me perfect copy even though trying to transmit on the 15M dipole would give me a very high SWR. It all has to do with the signal to noise ratio. Some antenna combinations will pull the signal up while driving the noise down. Give it a try if you already don't know this trick, and I'm sure many do know and use it.

I'm getting close to 20,000 DX QRP/CW QSOs now, and I keep checking the exact totals every few days now. In my check today I decided to also include my DX QSOs made back in the 60s, 70s, and 80s with various powers from 5 to 60W in addition to those of 5 watts or less. That total is over 20,000 at 20,225 as of today. But the QSOs with 5W or less are now hmmmmm, 20,051. I thought it was 19,909 after the CQWW DX contest. Oh wait, 19,909 was the streak total. I had quite a few before the streak started. Let me summarize more clearly here and straighten myself out in the process.

Overall DX QSOs all powers up to 60W output - 20,225
Overall DX QSOs powers at 5W or less output - 20,051
Streak DX QSOs powers at 5W or less output - 19,933

So I missed noting when I hit 20,000 with QRP. Let's give credit now as I skip back through the log. It was IR4M in the CQWW DX Contest on November 30, 2014 at 2018Z on 20M.

OK, now that's straight. Now I'll be on the lookout for #20,000 in the streak, probably in the upcoming ARRL 10M Contest. -30-

Friday, December 05, 2014 11:16 AM - I received the following from Jock N1JI and thought I'd share it with you. "Hi John, I've contacted you before, but I wanted to email you again to thank you for all the excellent information on your website. I wasn't really interested in working the CQ WW DX contest this past weekend, but I remembered what you said about the opportunity for a QRP station to work some good DX near the end of a contest. Last night around 5:00 PM I turned on the rig and managed to work three new countries in about 20 minutes. I was especially happy to work JH5RXS -- 6900 miles and my first QSO with Japan.
I disassembled my tiny shack two days ago in preparation for my new KX3, so the only rig available to use was my Ten Tec R4020. It continues to amaze me what can be done with QRP and a minimal setup! I never succeeded in working Japan before, even with 100 watts, but your tip about catching stations near the end of a contest did the trick for me. I'm attaching a photo of the little station I used last night; Note that the paddles are made out of three paper-clips. I have better paddles, but that's the only set I have that's wired to use with the R4020.
By the way, my KX3 kit with optional roofing filters and ATU arrived about ten minutes ago (It will be taking the place of my 30-year-old Ten Tec Corsair). Your site also had a lot to do with the decision to upgrade my station.
Thanks, again, and 73. I enjoy reading your diary and hope to make into your logbook one day.
Jock, N1JI"

I love it when the info on my web site encourages others to experience the joy I receive from our wonderful hobby. I can just imagine Jock's thrill in working his first JA station. I still remember mine, and it's almost 20 years ago now. Oh, and here's Jock's picture he sent:

pix_diary_20141205_001 (475K)

With my new found freedom, I again got on the bands this morning instead of devoting my time to NAQCC work. They didn't seem quite as good as yesterday, but I still managed to gather some letters for the NAQCC challenges with a new band country thrown in the mix also. I never worked San Marino on 15 meters before, although I have worked it on all other bands between and including 20 through 10 meters. So the hole is now filled. Also I got a nice prefix from 9A14YOTA. I'll have to look and see what that special event call is for.

I think I'll check now and see if the print shop is open today, and do some other outside things before it starts raining if it hasn't already. It doesn't look like it as a gaze out the window, but I'll check the radar also to see if it may be close. -30-

Thursday, December 04, 2014 2:57 PM - I slept in a little bit today. I find myself doing that a little more now since I retired and no longer have all my NAQCC duties. I guess it's called relaxing more now.

Anyway as soon as I did get up around 1430Z, I headed for the shack with the intention of working some European stations to start work on the December NAQCC European Chapter challenge. My intentions came to fruition and I'm nearing the halfway completion point of the challenge already now. I also used some of the letters for the 'USA' challenge and now I only need 17 more to complete it. So it was a good morning.

I'm out of QSL cards now, and I hoped to get some printed up at the local print shop. However when I walked there (1/2 block or so), I found a sign in the window that they had a fire at another of their offices in a nearby town and were working to get that taken care of. They would only be manning the Kittanning office irregularly for a while. So no QSLs, and I've got a small bunch of DX QSLs needing answering. Oh well, that will only add a few days to the time it takes to get cards dispersed via the buros anyway.

I then cleaned up the leaves in my back yard, cellar stairway, and cellar window wells. I don't have any trees (except for the evergreen), but I sure get a lot of leaves from the neighbors' trees.

A trip to Subway for their special $2 meatball sub, which I just finished, brings me to the point of writing this diary entry. -30-

Wednesday, December 03, 2014 9:16 PM - I thought I wasn't going to get my DX this evening, but just before I was ready to shut down, I ran across PJ4LS on 30 meters and worked him fairly easily with a couple repeats. He gave an honest 449 report compared to the standard 599 reports given out even when a station has to repeat his call several times. So the DX streak is now at 644 days. I hope I can make 27 more days then I'll have a full calendar year of DX. Then on to February 28 for two years completed.

I also got on this afternoon for a while to hunt some letters for the NAQCC December 'Marconi' challenge. Between the afternoon and evening, I added 13 letters to stand at 54 down and 21 to go. I'm still shut out for the European Chapter challenge though. No European QSOs yet this month. I'll have to forsake some other things and get on the bands in morning and early afternoon if I expect to master that one this month.

Still tying up a few loose ends on my NAQCC retirement. Finished a couple of those today. Sure feels great to have virtually no NAQCC work to tie me down now.

Today was tree-trimming day. Here are a couple pictures of the result:

pix_diary_20141203_001 (54K)

pix_diary_20141203_002 (64K)


Tuesday, December 02, 2014 5:05 PM - As I said a few entries ago, the 0000Z hour is probably not going to provide much to write about, so I'll do my diary entry early again today. I just got off the bands a couple minutes ago. Conditions were good and I got quite a few letters for the NAQCC December challenge. First I called CQ on 17 meters and got a quick answer from Frank K5PHB. After we chatted for about a quarter hour, I moved on up to 12 meters and to my surprise I saw a handful of signals on the PX3. In checking them out, the first one was J6/K9AW whom I worked easily. Then I thought, darn I should have tried him with mW. I didn't have my cheat sheet with me to know if I needed J6 at mW power or not. Well, strangely enough the next signal I checked was J6/DL7VOG. Aha, I'm going for him with 900 mW in case. I got him easily, but when I came downstairs and looked at the cheat sheet, I saw I already had J6 in the mW list. Oh well, it's another DX QSO and gave me letters I needed anyway. I'm nearing 20,000 QRP DX QSOs now. I think it was 19,909 after the contest ended - if I remember correctly. One more QSO to talk about. It's sad how clueless some hams are these days. W1AW/3 in DE was on 40 meters and when I listened to him to see if he was simplex or split, he sent CQ DE W1AW/3 DN DN. Well instead of a big pileup DOWN 1, folks were calling on his frequency or UP 1, so I set up DOWN 1 and got him easily with only a couple other stations to compete against.

In addition to finishing my contest log work this morning and getting my Cabrillo log submitted to CQ, I also finished my contest story if you are interested. It's in my CONTESTING section via the Contest Stories page.

Other than the above not much else happening. I was going to trim my window and tree today, but I decided to do that tomorrow instead. It was just too gloomy a day today with light rain and overcast skies. Fortunately the sleet, freezing rain, and s$%w didn't materialize as predicted - just rain. Right now it's 36 so looks like we've escaped this time around. -30-

Monday, December 01, 2014 7:52 PM - The downside to making a lot of QSOs in a contest is the 'paperwork' involveed afterward. Computers have made it a lot easier, but it still takes time to process the info nonetheless.

It doesn't help when the contest coincides with the end of month/first of month normal work. Of course that happened this time around so I have had a very busy day. To summarize, I started of closing out the NAQCC sprint info which took perhaps an hour or so. After that it was the EOM/FOM financial work. That was interrupted by a call from Bruce for some computer help. That made for a good break, and even better was the fact I was able to solve both his problems after some thought. After then finishing the financial work, I went to the post office and bank to mail a check and replenish my coffers for the month of December. Some other odds and ends including getting my gas meter reading for the month brought me to the point of logging some eQSL and LotW info - mostly from the contest QSOs. Getting the garbage out for pickup tomorrow was also on the list. And of course the meals also took time. Finally a little while ago it was up to the shack where I quickly worked W1AW/KP4 on 15, EA3DBM on 30, and W2KEZ on 40 for my streak QSOs and some letters for the NAQCC challenge. Whew! Now after posting this and a couple other pages it's back to working on my logs. -30-

Sunday, November 30, 2014 7:44 PM - Again today the bands were very good (too good?). Fierce competition all the way to the end made it rough sledding. Just a couple notes, and the rest of the story will be in my contest writeup when I finish it either tonight or tomorrow.

I took a break in the middle today for a late Thanksgiving meal at my neighbors, the Bowsers. That was very nice. Overall in the contest I got two overall new countries - 3B8MU last night and AH0K early this evening. I got 17 new mW countries for a total of 90 now. 381 QSOs, 77 countries, 213 multipliers. All my QSOs were DX. Had I worked W/VE stations I could easily have made it to 500 and possibly 600 QSOs as there was certainly an overabundance of W/VE ops in the contest.

OK, now I've got a lot of things to get caught up one including the end/first of month things, so I'm off the keyboard now. -30-

Saturday, November 29, 2014 7:34 PM - The bands have been really good in the contest so far. Maybe too good. I mean there is just so much to choose from, it's hard to decide just how to attack. Kind of like the kid in the candy store with only a dime (dollar these days probably) to spend.

Anyway I'm going to write one of my contest stories so I'm not going to say a lot about it here in the diary, but refer you to the story when it is done.

I will say one of my goals was to add to my mW countries worked list. I'm coming along good with that. I added PJ2 ES OH0 LA GW LX FY OX 4O ZD8 JA CE HC all with 900 mW today to bring my mW total to 86 now. I haven't been going for score - just working DX only, no W/VE stations. I'm not really chasing multipliers either. Just picking and choosing what to work. The first day provided only 200 QSOs that way. I'll probably do the same tomorrow and maybe wind up with 350-400 total QSOs. 40 and 80 haven't been too good to me so far. Well, I'm going into story mode right here and I said I wouldn't, so I'll just close now. -30-

Friday, November 28, 2014 6:54 PM - I'm not sure how big an effort I'm going to put into the CQWW DX test, so I thought I'd write the diary entry now in case I get really involved in it.

Really not much to write about except for one thing. I got a QSL buro mailing today of 24 cards. Most were from folks wanting my QSL for whatever reason. However they did verify 11 previously unverified prefixes so that made it worthwhile. No new band countries though. No matter what though, it's alway a thrill to get a buro mailing. Now I need to get a batch of QSLs printed up to answer them and for whatever else I want to get verified.

Well, off to the shack now to see what develops. -30-

Thursday, November 27, 2014 7:36 PM - I hope all who read this and celebrate Thanksgiving had a good day today. Mine was completely quiet. I just stayed at home and my meal was a Turkey TV dinner.

This evening I did something I haven't done for a while. First off, I got my DX QSO very quickly and easily via a single call to PJ2/WA4PGM on 20M getting ready for the CQWW DX contest. After I worked him I got to thinking I haven't worked any mW DX lately. I just never think of it. If I would think of it and do it, I'd easily have a mW DXCC now. Anyway, I had heard YN2CC booming in after I worked the PJ2 station and thought here's a sure mW DX QSO. So I turned the power down to 900 mW and got him on the first call. That was a new mW band-country but not a new overall mW country. Then with the power still down, I heard HR2/N6AA and thought I'd try him. I kept getting beat out, but finally after around 8 or so QSOs, he came back with K3WWP 599, and this time it was a new overall mW country to make my total 73 countries now.

As I sat there and as I sit here now, I'm thinking it might be interesting to try to get some, if not all of the 27 countries I need for mW DXCC in the CQWW DX contest this weekend. I'm not really interested in getting a big score this year, so that might be the thing to do. Conditions, barring a solar eruption, should be good enough for mW to work well this weekend. I'll just have to wait and see. I think I will make a list of the countries I do have so I'll know who to try hard to work and who I can pass by. Could be a fun weekend. -30-

Wednesday, November 26, 2014 10:54 AM - Well, Mike got called in to work today. As he said in the email, he is not a happy camper. However, he will come down after work this evening to have a pizza and build his PX3. I'm sure there will be no time left for him to be a diary ghost writer, so I'll just get today's entry done now.

Since he wasn't coming and I didn't have anything else pressing to do, I decided to go hunting. No, not that kind of hunting. Hunting for that elusive 6 for the NAQCC European Chapter challenge. So after updating a couple computer programs, I headed to the shack, turned on the KX3/PX3 and searched, and searched, and sear......

There's F6HKA, but he's S&P so can't call him. There's F6EAK, ditto. Well, there's GA8VL. I think I need the GA8 prefix, so I'll call him. OK, got him on the first call so at least I know my sigs are making it to Europe easily if I do find the 6.

What's this? Sounds like a 6, but the call is kind of run together, so I'm not sure. Yes, after listening a few times, it's 9A6R, but he's not all that strong. I've got to try, though. I may not find another 6. OK, didn't get him that time. When he finishes that QSO, I'll try again. He didn't seem to be copying the station he's working very well - that's not good. OK, here we go again. Nope, lost out again. Third time's the charm? OK, got a K3? - repeat - K3W? - repeat - K3WW? - repeat 3 more times - finally K3WWP TU 599. FINALLY!!!

So now I've completed all but one of the European Chapter challenges since they started in June 2012. I missed the combo Dec 2012/Jan 2013 one for whatever reason. And folks still say QRP and simple wire antennas in a somewhat poor location doesn't work? I guess they never tried it. Oh well, I don't care. I know it works and I'm enjoying it to the fullest, especially with our NAQCC QRP activities like these alphabet challenges. What makes them even more challenging and thus enjoyable is that contest/sprint QSOs can't be used for any of the NAQCC challenges. With contests allowed, it would be no challenge at all.

Well, now to find something to do today waiting for Mike. Nothing outside because that ugly s#o$ is falling. Not hard, and shouldn't be much, but still it's not a good sight looking out my window right now. Maybe I'll do some more work on the k3wwp.com server files. -30-

Tuesday, November 25, 2014 8:04 PM - Since I now have more time on my hands after retiring as NAQCC VP, I'm getting back to doing some much needed work on my own web site here. The first big project has been getting all the files transferred to my k3wwp.com server. That is pretty much done as of today. However there are still some glitches to be worked out due to also keeping my Windstream server site as a mirror. Also I need to carefully read all the pages and update things here and there. You know (I sound like an athlete here), there are a lot of pages on my site I have not read nor even looked at for several years now, and a cursory glance at them while uploading to k3wwp.com shows me I need to do a lot of little updates. That will be done. Meantime should you happen to explore things on the k3wwp.com server and see anything at all that doesn't look or sound right, let me know.

I never did get on the bands today. I was waiting for a call from a handyman about coming to clean out my gutters. I figured as soon as I would go to the shack and get in a QSO, that's when he would call. So I just did a lot of computer work where I'm right next to the phone. Thus I still need that 6 to finish the NAQCC European Chapter challenge. Maybe tomorrow when Mike will be here and we do some DXing after working on his PX3, I'll luck across an F6, ON6, SM6, etc. and finally finish the challenge.

Anyway since Mike is coming, I thought I would try to get a quick DX QSO this evening even though we probably will be chasing DX sometime tomorrow. So when I heard 6Y5WJ on 30, I worked him even though we have had many QSOs over the past couple years or so. I wonder if I lived in Jamaica, I'd be on the air as much as he is. HI.

OK, the last couple visits now Mike hasn't had time to write the diary entry. Maybe tomorrow evening. -30-

Monday, November 24, 2014 6:02 PM - There probably won't be anything exciting happen on the bands at 0000Z later, so I'll write the diary entry now.

Last night I wasn't sure of my DX QSO because a member of another club (not the NAQCC or FISTS) started calling LONG CQs right on top of CO0SS. I wasn't sure if he got my call right or not, but I did log him fully intending to get a better DX QSO this morning or afternoon. Well, I did. I worked HB9DAX then a PF7 station. I forget the suffix and my log is upstairs right now. Anyway I worked the PF7 because it sounded like a new prefix. I haven't checked yet. After that I went looking again for that elusive 6 to finish the European Chapter challenge. I heard a couple F6 stations, but they were S&P so I couldn't work them. Then a VERY weak ON6SA whom I just barely copied so I didn't even pursue him. I called once just in case with no indication he heard me at all.

We had a high of 71 today which could be a record for the date. Another thing I haven't checked yet. HI. Anyway I decided to put up my outdoor Christmas lights and wreath so I wouldn't have to do it in freezing weather. I also cleared out the corner for my Christmas tree and brought down the ornaments from the attic. I left the tree itself up there for now. I'll probably put it up the first part of next week.

In addition to being warm, it was also VERY windy today. I just got back from a walk, and there are literally 100s of small branches blown down. I didn't see any real big ones though where I walked. I wouldn't be surprised if there were some huge ones or maybe even a whole tree down somewhere in town. Actually I'm hearing sirens blowing right now as I type, so maybe that's the reason. I didn't even put my garbage can out as I figured it might get blown over since it was pretty light this week. It's still pretty windy and the temperature is starting to fall - down to 60 degrees now. -30-

Sunday, November 23, 2014 4:42 PM - "Good morning Mr. Shannon. You're mission today, if you decide to accept it, is to get on the ham bands and finish the NAQCC European Chapter challenge by contacting stations in European countries with call signs that contain the following letters and numbers - M K 6 8 F O. As always, the secretary will disavow any knowledge of your actions. Good luck John. This message will self-destruct in 5 seconds."

I was greeted with that this morning, and thought I had better get to it while the high bands were open to Europe. When I turned on the KX3/PX3, the bands looked in pretty good shape. Another thing going for me was the warm temperatures (high of 67) which meant my furnace wouldn't be coming on with its associated QRNN as much as expected this time of year.

Before long I ran across Lars SM5CAK and got him with a single call. We chatted a couple minutes, and that gave me the M(s) I needed, leaving me 7 letters and numbers to finish up. A few minutes later I found and had a quick QSO with German special event station DK40BOSCH. From that jumble I got the O(s) and the K bringing my needs down to 4. Now I needed 2 Fs, an 8 and a 6. It took a while looking for some French stations which I never did find, to run across and work Rudy IK4VFD. That left an 8 and a 6. It took a good half hour to find Gerry DK8IT and work him for the 8. We had a nice 6 minute chat with solid copy both ways.

So now I need to find a 6 to complete my mission and the challenge. Along the way I heard and worked GA5CX on 10, and then 2 minutes later on 12. I wasn't sure if GA5 was a new prefix or not so I did work it when I heard it. I heard F6HKA but he was calling CQ another club I don't belong to so I couldn't answer him. I heard F6FTI, but he was S&P, so I couldn't get him. There were a couple others with a 6 in their call, but they were also S&P or QRT when I found them. Then along came ON6MH calling CQ. I answered him, but the band was just going out at the time and he was only about 449 here and although trying valiantly, he just couldn't get my call complete on the dying band. So I failed the mission today unless I get a 6 this evening, but still a week to finish the challenge. If I can't get a 6 in that time, I don't deserve to master the challenge.

Oh and I also worked W1AW/4 and W1AW/5 on different bands just because they were there. That's 6 bands for FL this time around.

I also uploaded more pages to my k3wwp.com site, but still a lot to go yet. -30-

Saturday, November 22, 2014 7:27 PM - It was easy getting my DX QSO this morning. The LZ DX contest provided me with 9A7DX on 15M for a quick QSO. Conditions were good, but I wasn't into contesting so after I got the QSO, I QRT.

This evening was just as easy as I worked VP2ERJ at 0004Z. Then one of those work them now, find out who later. After I worked ?? on 10111 at 0017, I had to wait through 6 more QSOs before I found out I worked J79FC. I wish DX (or any) stations would go no more than maybe 2 or 3 QSOs without giving their ID. This guy must have gone at least 10 or 12 because he also worked a few other stations without an ID before I worked him. I figure it's best to always work them anyway just in case they could be something rare and/or needed.

I started loading part of my web site on the server provided to me by WA4FAT. If you want to, check out k3wwp.com, but don't expect to find more than the pages in my home section there. I think eventually I will make that my main home and keep windstream also as a mirror. I'm impressed by the extremely rapid uploading to k3wwp.com, and the same fast speed in displaying my pages. Not that windstream is slow by any means either, but I think k3wwp.com is a tad faster. You can judge that if you want. -30-

Friday, November 21, 2014 7:37 PM - I got my DX QSO(s) this morning in the 1500Z hour when I worked XE2I and then PA3CNI. PA3CNI gave me a couple more letters for the European Chapter challenge so I need 9 now to finish up. I also worked W1AW/4 in FL on a couple other bands just because they were there. Both on a single call. On 10 it was Bob N4BP as the OP who greeted me by name and then IDed himself. A few other times, W1AW ops call me by name but don't say who they are and I won't slow them up by taking time to ask.

This evening it's the same old story. No DX to be found, or at least nothing strong enough to even copy their calls well. However PA3CNI this morning was only about 459 or so, but he got me easily. Perhaps he was QRP also. Anyway, I'll probably have to wait till morning again to continue the DX streak.

I've been playing quite a bit with the Windows 10 Tech Preview and liking it more and more. I've also started to send some feedback to Microsoft about it. That's what they want - a lot of user input so I'll try to give what I can. I've been installing some programs and trying them out on 10, and they install and run very well so far. There was one that wouldn't run on the 10 architecture, but that was only one.

Time now to have my mid-evening snack, so I'll close here. -30-

Thursday, November 20, 2014 7:49 PM - A little discouraging news today. Mike and I had hoped to operate from the sub USS Requin the day before Thanksgiving as we've done the past couple years now, but the sub schedule has changed this year and it won't be available on that day. So it could be until next year sometime before we can do another subpedition.

I actually got on the air during the day today. After preparing the logs from our sprint last night for cross-checking, I had some time free so I fired up (that's kind of an outdated term as regards today's equipment, but...) the KX3/PX3 and looked around for some European stations that had letters I needed for the NAQCC European Chapter challenge. There wasn't a lot of activity as I think I got there just as the bands were closing for the day, but I did find and work DL1DGS and S59AA. Those calls gave me enough additional letters/numbers to leave me with just 12 needed now to finish the challenge.

Speaking of the sprint, conditions were horrible. I thought it was just my local noise here, but comments from around the country save for a few locations, mainly down south, commented on the horrible conditions there as well. I did manage to eke out my 20 QSOs, but it was rough, and without 80 meters providing 19 of the 20, it would have been impossible. 20 was totally dead, and 40 not far behind. Still our wonderful members stuck it out and we are already over the 100 logs submitted mark not yet 24 hours after the sprint ended.

Conditions were pretty much the same this evening, and all I was able to work was W1AW/4 in FL on both 30 and 40. 30 took a single call while 40 took a single call but needed a repeat. The only DX I heard was XE2I and I wasn't going to work him again tonight as I did last night. So hopefully tomorrow morning will provide the DX QSO to keep the streak going. Or maybe I'll try again later this evening.

Back in August as you may recall, Mike and I operated N3AQC (the NAQCC club call) in the NJQRP Skeeter Hunt and came in second overall in the contest. Today our certificates came in the mail from Larry W2LJ. Thanks Larry. Here's what they look like:

pix_diary_20141120_001 (90K)


Wednesday, November 19, 2014 10:22 AM - I'm cleaning out some old emails and found a couple of diary comment emails that 'fell through the cracks', so I'm going to take care of them here along with a couple other things I overlooked in yesterday's entry.

First of all as to yesterday - I wanted to include that a very good friend of mine, Andy also helped out with the weather records while I was away at school or work. He took time many nights to come to my house to get the readings. He also was a big help with other things around the house. Although he unfortunately passed away at the early age of 46 over 12 years ago now, I still wanted to be sure he got a mention here.

Yesterday was the last of my garden vegetables. I had a final tomato/cucumber salad to finish them off. I think this is the earliest ever I've exhausted my garden harvest. It just wasn't that great a year for gardening here.

Now let's get to those emails. First from Mark WU7F, "John, Congratulations on the retirement! I am glad that "Lady Luck" stepped in and you didn't have to "retire" your DX streak. Best of luck, and I hope the fish are biting! 72, Mark - WU7F".

Well, like gardening, it wasn't a great fishing year either. Only about two dozen caught in a like number of trips. The Lady Luck reference was to my catching the ZD8 station on a night when all the high latitude DX paths were pretty much shut down.

Now this from a long time diary reader and friend Alan KB7MBI. He's the one who coined the phrase "antenna victory garden" to describe my antenna setup which is definitely far from an "antenna farm". In fact as I recall, Alan has been around my web site pretty much since its inception so long ago. Anyway he emailed, "JOHN I was chatting with a few hams about down-sizing in both amount of equipment and size of the radios too...maybe a used K2 or Ten Tec SCOUT I grew concerned that on bad propagation days contacts would be sparse if at all. When I get off on one of these tangents I always seem to remember K3WWP. YOUR SITE AND YOUR ACCOMPLISHMENTS MANAGE TO GET ME TO REFOCUS ON WHAT CAN TRULY BE ACCOMPLISHED WITH 5 WATTS OR LESS AND BASIC EQUIPMENT REGARDLESS OF BAND CONDITIONS Just wanted to let you know that you and your website are greatly appreciated.
Best to you John
Woodinville, WA
You are invaluable my friend!"

I'm not sure if that slipped through the cracks or if I have just put off posting it because it is somewhat embarrassing. Be that as it may, the comments are really appreciated. Things like that are what fuels this web site and keeps it burning. Thanks. -30-

Tuesday, November 18, 2014 08:05 PM - On this date (Nov 18) 55 years ago in 1959 the temperature here dropped to 9 degrees, the earliest in the season it has been that cold. That event helped solidify my lifelong interest in meteorology. The interest got started earlier that year when as a school project I kept track of the daily temperature from January 12 through May 24. During that period we had some events that stirred the interest a bit. We had one of our top five worst floods around January 21 which was brought on by a rapid thaw from near 60 degree temperatures. That and some other events planted the seed, but the germination was interrupted. When summer came as a 14 year old, the record keeping stopped, giving away to other teen-age activities. With school back in session in September, the interest returned, prompted by some very warm weather near the end of September. From the 23rd through the 30th, the highs were 92 88 90 89 83 89 89 87. My records weren't consistent during the end of 1959 for whatever reason. Probably school work for one thing. However on January 1, 1960 I began keeping daily weather records, mainly minimum/maximum temperatures, then precipitation records as of a couple years later beginning January 1, 1962. With the help of my mother and aunts when I was away at school, the records have continued unbroken.

Incidentally that 9 degrees 55 years ago today is still the 3rd coldest November day in my string of records. We had two other days subsequently when it dropped to 8 degrees. We could come close tomorrow morning. However we would need the skies to clear and the wind to drop to do so and that doesn't look like it will happen. But if it does.... well, it's 19 degrees right now so it wouldn't have too far to go.

OK, back to ham radio now. As usual I went to the shack at 0000Z. I tuned the KX3/PX3 to 20 meters hoping maybe for some strong DX, but all I saw on the PX3 were two strong peaks near where W1AW/# usually operates. The first peak was W1AW/4 in FL. A single call with a couple repeats to correct K3JWP to K3WWP got me that QSO. The other peak was W1AW/5 in AR. Took a clean single call to log him. So with the big streak solidified I went back to hunting DX. I found one DX station but he wasn't DX. Huh? It was NP4IW/W6 in CA. That was pretty much it except for a weak HC2AO on 30 and an even weaker EG8ARC on 20. After listening and looking around for some stronger DX and not finding any, I went back to HC2AO. He was working a couple other stations, but having trouble copying them, so I pretty much decided it would be useless for me to call him. After looking around a bit more, I went back to HC2AO once more and darned if I didn't get him cleanly with a single call. So the streak goes on at 629 days now. -30-

Monday, November 17, 2014 07:41 PM - After the rather dire weather forecasts for today, it actually turned out to be a good day. Practically nothing but rain instead of the forecast s%$w. There were a few flakes thrown in, but nothing to get upset about. We do have to deal with some well below normal cold temps the next couple days, but then it moderates as the week progresses.

Also a good day (evening) on the bands. Of course I got on as usual at 0000Z to look for my DX QSO. The KX3 was set on 30 meters so I explored the peaks on the PX3 there and found LU7YS calling CQ. My track record with Argentina isn't all that good on some bands including 30, but I tried anyway, and after several repeats, I had my DX streak QSO in the log. The call also gave me 1 U and 2 Ss toward the 8 letters I needed to complete the NAQCC November Thanksgiving challenge. So with my DX QSO quickly taken care of, I decided to try to finish the challenge - I needed 3 Ms and 2 more Ss to do so. I quickly found K2MMO and worked him on 30 taking me down to the 2 Ss. I figured that would be my hang-up this month - there always is some sort of hang-up when I get down to needing a couple letters. However a quick tour of 40 meters turned up a CQ from VE3USP and that was it after I worked him. Now I've got to submit my results and then tomorrow maybe get to work on the European Chapter challenge. I still need 16 letters/numbers for that one and Europe QSOs have been hard to come by on the high bands lately. I think I'll have to hit the 14-1600Z hours maybe. When you think about it, with the early sunsets now, the sun sets of course in Europe around 5 PM their local time (depending on latitude naturally) which is 11 AM to Noon or so our time so the high bands close pretty early now. -30-

Sunday, November 16, 2014 11:41 AM - Regular diary readers know I love dealing with statistics. In fact, I think that is one reason for my interest in meteorology and ham radio, among others. They give a constant stream of stats that can be analyzed.

Today I decided to analyze my current DX streak which stands now at 626 days. I came up with the following, all of which exclude W/VE QSOs:

Total QSOs - 3,163 or an average of 5.1 per day.

Countries worked - 137.

By continent:
Europe - 54
North America - 39
South America - 17
Africa - 11
Asia - 9
Oceania - 6
Antarctica - 1

Most often worked countries (more than 100 QSOs):
Germany - 334
Italy - 152
Poland - 137
France - 121
Spain - 113
Hungary - 112
Slovenia - 110

Best country by continent:
Germany - 334
Cuba - 69
Brazil - 47
Asiatic Russia - 43
Hawaii - 36
Canary Islands - 29

Countries with only one QSO:
Ceuta and Melilla
Ivory Coast
Juan Fernandez Island
Sable Island
South Sudan

During the streak, I worked 836 new DX stations, and 1,256 of the 3,163 QSOs were first or second time QSOs with the station. That's 39.7% which shows it's not a matter of working the same DX stations over and over again. Now there were some stations I have worked many times over the years. I had my 75th QSO with PJ2T during the streak. Others with whom I made my 50th or higher QSO include in no particular order: 9A7A P40W HG6N HG1S OM7M DK3GI NP4Z. -30-

Saturday, November 15, 2014 08:31 PM - Ditto the last few evenings. Conditions poor, but I'm still eking out a DX QSO. Last night after I wrote the entry, I worked Karl S52AW on 40 meters. This evening after passing on P4/KG9N and HT5T whom I've either worked recently or too many times, I did work someone I've worked a lot, but he was CQing without any answers, so I did call him - V44KAI and kept the DX streak going.

Other than that, not a lot going on today out of the ordinary. I helped Ange bury the last of the fig trees for this year. It sure is nice not having those three monster trees to bury the past couple years now. Saves a lot of time and effort. I also paid a couple mid-month bills. Then I played with the latest build of the Windows 10 preview build which I installed last night. The latest build seems more responsive and faster, and I used it for quite a while today. -30-

Friday, November 14, 2014 07:30 PM - No DX this evening. I could have worked V44KAI on 30, but I've worked him so many times...... So it's probably tomorrow morning or afternoon for the DX streak QSO. I did work one DX station this afternoon - EA7AJR on 12 meters for some NAQCC European Chapter challenge letters. There wasn't a whole lot of DX around in the 1800Z hour when I was listening.

Now I'm off to post a new poll question about logging. Take a look and vote if it's at least 30 minutes past the time stamp on this diary entry. -30-

Thursday, November 13, 2014 08:29 PM - Once again it was 40 meters to the rescue this evening. The bands from 30 on up showed virtually nothing in the way of DX except a German portable in St. Lucia and I couldn't break his pileup. However I found Joska HA9RT calling CQ on 40 meters and got him on the first call with a couple repeats. That also gave me enough letters to make it almost to halfway in the NAQCC European Chapter challenge. 22 down and 24 to go now, so maybe I will make it to completion. Just noticed after posting this that I've now worked Joska on all bands from 40 through 10.

Other than that, it was a typical dreary November day. There were even a few *n$% flakes around. Hmmm, my new HTML editor Komodo doesn't like that word, even with the symbols. I had to juggle them a bit to satisfy it. -30-

Wednesday, November 12, 2014 09:12 PM - Tonight was our computer club meeting. We had a good meeting discussing genealogy and old maps on the Internet. Of course that meant I wouldn't be able to get on the bands at my usual 0000Z time, and I figured this might be the time I'd have to wait till morning or afternoon to even get my regular QSO, let alone a DX QSO since the bands seem to really die down starting around 0000Z, and I wouldn't be getting on until 0200Z at the earliest. At first it seemed like I would be right as a quick look with the panadapter showed virtually nothing all the way from 30 through 10 meters. However there was some activity on 40 meters, and I quickly found PV8ADI calling CQ. He usually has a difficult time working me for whatever reason, but tonight he stuck with me through several repeats and finally got all my call right. So the DX streak still goes on at 623 days now.

I also worked some DX this afternoon - Europe in fact (LY7Z and IT9/LY5W) which gave me a few letters and numbers for the NAQCC European challenge. I think with folks starting to get set up for the CQWW DX contest the end of the month, that may give me a better shot at completing the challenge along with our NAQCC NA challenge as well. -30-

Tuesday, November 11, 2014 07:57 PM - Of course today was a good day with Mike visiting. After a bit of NAQCC prizes and computer work, we headed down to the Pittsburgh Mills where we had 4 or 5 stops to make. First it was off to Dick's where Mike got some work gloves, then a stop at a Kitchen supply place to look for a spam slicer. I have one here that I use to slice my turkey spam into uniform slices, and Mike who is also a fan of turkey spam, has been looking for one like mine. The one I have came from my cousin's estate, and I have no idea where she got it. We didn't find anything close to it, but Mike did find one unit that might do the trick. On the way out of the Mills itself, we made a brief stop at a Toys R Us where Mike picked up a Christmas gift for someone.

After we got out of the Mills, it was off to PetSmart. I wanted to see what they had in the way of dog sweaters/jackets/coats for Roscoe since Nancy and Bruce are going to get him a new 'keep warmer' of some kind for the coming winter. We had also stopped at another pet place inside the Mills for the same reason. After that, it was off to Best Buy to get a 4GB memory module to upgrade my laptop from 4 to 8 GB. I also got a 32GB flash drive that was on sale for 15 bucks. Next over to Appleby's for a great lunch. Mike had a big burger and fries. I had a big platter of fish and chips.

Home again to install my memory. It was a little tricky getting it seated in the socket in the rather cramped space, but after one failure, we got it going in good shape. Then up to the shack for our usual dose of ham radio. We both caught W100AW on 30 meters. That's the first time I've even heard W100AW this year as far as I can recall, let alone work it. Then it was W1AW/7 and W1AW/0. A chase of 7X3FG proved fruitless as he wasn't turning stations over very fast, and after only a few QSOs, he had drawn a big pileup that Mike just couldn't beat. I didn't try, since for Mike it would have been an overall new country, and I had worked it 4 or 5 times before although I still do need it verified.

Some Hidden Object computer game playing, then off to Ponderosa for their dinner buffet. That was it for the day as Mike then headed home to get prepared for another work day tomorrow.

Shortly after he left, I went to the shack to get my streak QSO(s). As it has been the past several evenings now, it wasn't easy, but I again eked out a DX QSO in XE2I on 20 meters for day # 622 in the DX streak.

I almost forgot a couple pictures that I took today and wanted to show you of my crazy roses who refuse to believe it's almost mid-November.

red roses  pink rose

On the left, my oldest rose bush which has been around since I was a kid. On the right, the most beautiful perfect pink rose ever produced by this bush which is well over 20 years old now, I'm sure. -30-

Monday, November 10, 2014 08:54 PM - Today was a house-cleaning day. I got a lot accomplished, and won't bore you with the details. I also cut my hair today. It was getting pretty shaggy. I think I've mentioned this before, but I haven't been in a barber shop since around 1972. Wow, that's 42 years ago and a whole bunch of money saved along the way.

It took a bit of time again this evening, but I eked out a DX QSO to keep the streak going. It was an easy QSO - just took time to find someone. That someone was FY5FY on 30 meters at 0039Z. -30-

Sunday, November 09, 2014 08:41 PM - As stated on my main page, my streak started on August 5, 1994 when I worked Chuck KG9N/C6A. Now 7,402 days later my streak QSO came from Chuck again as P4/KG9N. It wasn't easy this time as there was quite a bit of competition, but after he worked through the competition it was a simple matter of working him easily. That was also day # 620 for the current DX streak. I like to work crossword puzzles and there are several words that seemingly are used in a large percentage of crossword puzzles but not in everyday life. One is 'epee'. Now when is the last time you used that in normal conversation? OK, maybe if your prime hobby is fencing. Another one is eke or eked. It's used more than epee, but still not very often. Anyway to get to the point, eke applies very well to my DX QSOs so far this month. I have had to really eke them out to keep the streak going. -30-

Saturday, November 08, 2014 07:15 PM - I did get on the bands a bit this afternoon, but conditions weren't all that good. There were a few stations in the OK/OM contest livening up the bands a little bit, but not a lot else going on. The W1AW stations were there, but without very big pileups as usual. I easily got W1AW/7 in WA on 20 (single call) and on 17 (almost a single call, but a couple repeats needed). Then to try to get some letters for the NAQCC challenges, I called CQ on 40 and was answered by Paul K4SPO. I needed the S and Ps.

I figured the OK/OM contest would provide my DX streak QSO this evening on 40 and I was right, working OL4A at 0007Z. I had to wait through 2 other stations, but then it was an easy no repeat QSO.

Other than that I continued my cleaning out of old data CDs and also some other non-computer, non-ham stuff. I think this may be the first day since the age of the dinosaurs that I didn't have one single NAQCC piece of business to take care of. What a great feeling.

I'm also thinking of expanding the memory in my laptop from 4 to 8 GB, so I looked into that today. Included in the looking into was the laptop itself. I know exactly where the extra 4 GB module will go after seeing the socket first-hand. Now all I need do is get the module. Maybe on Tuesday when I think Mike and I are going to the Pittsburgh Mills where there is a Best Buy. Hopefully if I get that done, the Windows 10 technical preview will run faster inside the VMware Player virtual machine. It certainly drags with only being able to allocate around 2 GB to Windows 10, leaving not much more than 1 GB for the VM, and the rest of the 3.6 GB or so to other host Windows 8.1 services and programs.

So far no one expressed any interest in the old version of my web site I posted, so I probably won't post any more of it, and just enjoy perusing it myself to bring back memories from 2003 - pre-NAQCC days. -30-

Friday, November 07, 2014 08:07 PM - Europe! Yes, finally worked Europe in the evening again. HA3NU on 30 meters. Only my 3rd Europe this month, and in looking at my log, it's no wonder. Except for the 1st of the month, all my operating has been in the 0000Z hour and except for 30 meters, there hasn't been much Europe around to work. Before I got Lacy, I first worked W1AW/7 in WA on 15 meters. The higher bands have been good to WC USA in that 0000Z hour lately.

I mentioned finding a complete set of old web site files from mid-November 2003. It was interesting looking at them. I've now posted the main page for you to see if you are interested. If you go there, don't click on any of the links on the page as you should only get a 'page not found' message since the main page is the only one I've uploaded so far. I may add some other pages if any interest is expressed by you in seeing some of them. Here's the link to the page: http://k3wwp.com/oldsite/. -30-

Thursday, November 06, 2014 08:26 PM - As I have mentioned the past couple days, I've been cleaning out a lot of old CD/DVD data files no longer needed. I came across something neat today. A complete backup of all (I believe) my web site files from about 10+ years ago according to file dates mostly in January 2004. It was really neat to not only see how the site looked back then, but to see my streak totals, DX totals, etc. from a decade ago. I'm going to try to post some (if not all) of the files on my k3wwp.com server in case you might like to peruse some history also.

Doing things like that is just one of the many benefits of not having the burden of NAQCC work hanging around my neck. It's great to be much more free now with my time. I hope to catch up on a lot of things that have been put off also for a decade now. Just realized that the files above are from before the NAQCC was even thought of - at least by me. I don't know if Tom had the club in mind that early in 2004 or not. I know the club name wasn't in his mind because that wasn't decided upon till after we started the club.

For the 5th of 7 days (UTC) so far this month, my DX station has come from the Caribbean or Central America. Tonight it was CO8TW, and I had to call several times before he heard me well enough to get my call. No matter, that's still another day added to the streak and puts me within 54 days of my next streak goal of a full calendar year of DX QSOs. It might be rough though. But if the evenings get too rough, I always have the mornings and afternoons now with my added free time. -30-

Wednesday, November 05, 2014 08:58 PM - The hard part of maintaining my DX streak which reached 616 days this evening (which incidentally is the number of the cub scout pack I belonged to in some distant past age) is more and more becoming not working the DX, but finding the DX to work. Once found, it's fairly easy to work most of the time. But finding it seems to be taking longer and longer. For example tonight it took me almost a half hour to find any workable DX, and then but a couple calls to actually work it. Who? HI3TEJ in the Dominican Republic. I did listen for a little while this afternoon, but didn't hear much besides the CWT test and W1AW/7 on a couple bands. Nothing in the way of DX.

Today I continued cleaning out some old data CDs. I've really trimmed off a lot of fat the past couple days. I guess I trashed some 3 dozen or so CDs that had things on them I will never need or use again. I also did a little walking to the bank and to the store, but I only have a little under 5 miles for the day (so far). -30-

Tuesday, November 04, 2014 08:25 PM - After voting this morning, I spent a good deal of the day shared between walking in the 60+ degree temperatures and cleaning out some old data CDs. Of course on one walk I stopped in at Subway to get my 14 cent sub for casting my vote. I was thinking of going fishing at one point, but it was way too windy. That's the trouble with warm days in fall, winter, and early spring. The warmth is most of the time accompanied by strong winds that create havoc blowing fishing poles around, etc.

Although conditions were again poor this evening, I got a quick DX QSO from HT5T. I hadn't worked him for a couple months now, so I had no qualms about working him tonight on 30 meters. So tomorrow will be free unless I decide to just see what is going on with the bands during daytime. Other than about 15 minutes on October 31 and a few minutes on November 1st, I haven't been on the air during the day for some time now. I will have to work on the NAQCC challenges, and the evening does not seem a productive time for that. -30-

Monday, November 03, 2014 07:41 PM - A busy day today with not a whole lot accomplished. I'm sure you've all had those kind of days and know what I mean so I won't go into detail. I did accomplish one major thing though. I got all our NAQCC prizes in the mail early this morning so all our winners should be receiving them in two or three days now.

I also helped Ange in the garden for a while. It's always sad to be cleaning up a garden in the fall. It's much more enjoyable planting things in the spring. I also went shopping a couple times, once with Nancy. So I was outside a lot today. The weather was a little on the chilly side but far from being uncomfortable, especially while in the sun or walking.

As usual of late, not much in the way of DX in the 0000Z hour. Right at 0000Z, CN8KD was strong on 30 - he could hear, but not copy me. So it was off to the hunt. That resulted in a QSO with W1AW/KP2 on 20 meters for the DX streak along with a few letters for the November NAQCC Thanksgiving challenge. I'll have to get on during the day more to work on the challenges. Maybe after I vote tomorrow morning I can check the bands. However it is supposed to be in the 60s tomorrow for one of the last times this year, so maybe some fishing is in order instead of ham radio. -30-

Sunday, November 02, 2014 07:51 PM - As usual when Mike and I get together, it's a good day and today was no exception. We started out with breakfast/brunch at Ponderosa. Then a little side trip to WalMart to pick up a couple things. Mike found another place closer to home where he might be able to get his work gloves, so we didn't go to Pittsburgh Mills as I mentioned yesterday. Instead when we got home we killed time till the prize drawings by playing a hidden object game on the computer.

When it was almost time for the drawings, we set up for that and everything went smoothly. We let an Excel program pick the winners at random, then we updated the prize page with the winner's call and picture of his prize and uploaded it to the web site. We did that eleven times, ten for the October sprint prizes and once for the Honor Nancy Month prize. Then it was time for a surprise for Mike. We got him an engraved bezel for his KX3 as a retirement (as NAQCC prize manager) gift similar to the one I got for my retirement (as NAQCC VP) a couple months ago. He installed the bezel, we took a picture of it and added it to the prize drawing page.

If you'd like to see the prize drawing page click here.

When the drawings were over, we labelled the prize packages which are now ready for me to take to the PO tomorrow morning. Then we updated the firmware in Mike's KX3 so its innards now are updated along with its new face with the bezel. A quick check of the bands which didn't show much except for a lot of SS activity. Finally before Mike had to head north with a work day and associated early rising time ahead, we closed out the visit with a couple pizzas - one pepperoni and one mushroom.

After Mike left, it wasn't too long before 0000Z came and it was time to get my streak(s) QSO. It was odd with the time change to be doing it at 7PM instead of 8PM, but I'll have to get used to that till March now. There wasn't a lot to be had. I tried CP4BT without any luck on 30, then found CO3ET just down the band from him, and worked him easily for DX day # 613 now.

Right now I'm doing my Monday morning wash Sunday evening so I'll have the morning free to take the prizes to the PO and do some other things then. -30-

Saturday, November 01, 2014 08:44 PM - The Ukrainian Contest made getting a DX QSO easy this morning in the 1300Z hour. I had a lot of other things to do so I got the one QSO, then QRT. This evening with the regular bands in chaos from the SS contest, I hunted my DX on the WARC bands and lucked across HB9LCW calling CQ with no takers. I called and got him after a couple repeats. So now I'm set till tomorrow evening.

Tomorrow will be busy fun day with Mike visiting. After brunch at Ponderosa, we're going to the Pittsburgh Mills mall so he can get some work gloves. We'll probably look around at a couple other stores also. One may be BestBuy, always a good place to browse. Then I'd like to go to a pet store and scout out a winter jacket for Roscoe while we're close to one. Nancy wants to get Roscoe a new coat, so at least I can see what they have there so she'll have some idea of what she wants to get.

We can't spend a lot of time at the Mills though, as we have to be back here to do the NAQCC 10th Anniversary prize drawings. The 'almost live' web cast of the drawings is scheduled for 3PM EST (yes eSt - don't forget to turn your clocks back tonight - I've done mine already) or 2000Z. Hope you'll tune in, especially if you are one of the drawing entrants.

Maybe I can get Mike to be a diary ghost writer tomorrow evening - a ghost writer would be appropriate with Halloween just a couple days before. -30-

Friday, October 31, 2014 12:07 PM - Back in the early 2000s when I had what I thought then were some very long DX streaks going (81 days, 154 days), I made a lot of the QSOs in the local morning hours of say 1400-1800Z or so. In my current streak which just reached 610 days, I would say not too great a percentage came in that 1400-1800Z time frame. Without counting, I'm sure that a much larger percentage came in the 0000-0200Z time frame. Maybe I'll figure that out some day. Shouldn't be hard nor take long with my MS Access log.

Lately however, that 0000-0200Z frame has become disappointing, and I think if the streak is to continue a lot longer, I may have to go back to the morning hours. I can do that now with the lesser amount of NAQCC work to do. Today conditions were really great in the morning and I just worked DM200TSV on 15, EO90WF and UF2F on 10 meters, all new prefixes. I could have worked a lot more, but I thought I'd better save them for tomorrow when the November NAQCC challenges get underway because you know I'd hate to work someone today, then find I could really use their letters and numbers tomorrow.

While I was typing this, I got a call from my friend Tom WY3H now living down in GA as you probably know. Our call got interrupted by him getting another call, and he's going to call back here when he finishes that call. He's doing well down there, and sounds in very good spirits as we talked. He's also been getting on the high bands during the day so when skip is short, maybe we'll cross paths.

With that I'll close. Being the last of the month, there are a lot of things that need doing, and they won't get done if I don't get to them. -30-

Thursday, October 30, 2014 09:11 PM - I don't know how much longer my DX streak is going to last. It seems to be getting rougher to work DX each evening now. Perhaps it is better in the day. I'll find out tomorrow because I'll have to get on in the morning or afternoon to keep the streak alive. I heard and could have worked PJ7/K5WE and W1AW/KP2 on 30 meters, but as you know I don't like to 'hog' DX stations and work them on the same band within a few days. Now I could have worked W1AW/KP2 on 20, but he was just not hearing me at all. So I settled on keeping the big streak alive and called CQ on 40 where I was answered by Randy N1SP. Oh, last night it was PV8ADI on 40 meters a couple hours after I wrote the diary entry. -30-

Wednesday, October 29, 2014 08:56 PM - Unless I get some DX later tonight, my streak will have to wait till morning or afternoon to be added to. Only a couple DX stations heard this evening, and I couldn't break either big pileup. I did work W3MWR to at least keep the big streak going. -30-

Tuesday, October 28, 2014 08:22 PM - The solar flux is dropping like an elevator with a broken cable. From 217 a couple days ago to 167 today - a 50 point drop. Conditions in the evening remain about the same though. Not much high latitude DX heard. A strong ZD8 on 30M about the best signal besides the DX I worked. For the fourth night in a row, the Caribbean Sea provided my DX Streak QSO. Tonight it was W1AW/KP2 on 30 meters at 0012Z after working W1AW/7 in WY at 0000Z on 20 and then at 0004Z on 17. I haven't really been paying much attention to the W1AW tour since getting my last state a month or so ago. I didn't even know W1AW was in the Virgin Islands this week. I just happened across them. But then that's how I get 99.99% of my DX. I only recall a couple times I had pre-knowledge of who I was going to work. It's more fun not knowing. Just like fishing. I don't think I'd like fishing in a well stocked small pond with a lot of starving fish.

Speaking of fishing, I didn't go today. It was just too windy. I was outside quite a bit though enjoying perhaps the last 80 degree day of the year. Yes, it nudged 80 degrees today and in fact it is still 71 right now and it was 75 several minutes ago before some light rain blew in. Now just like the solar flux, the temperature is going to take a plunge and be in the upper 20s by the weekend.

Still having fun playing with Windows 10. Honestly except for being slow which may be a hardware problem on my part, I haven't found anything yet that didn't work well or that I didn't like. There are some features that aren't working yet, but that's to be expected from a very-pre beta release of software. -30-

Monday, October 27, 2014 08:54 PM - The ionosphere continues disturbed for another day. Thank goodness for the PJ#/ stations which have provided my easy DX QSOs the past three evenings now to keep the DX streak going. This evening it was PJ2/DL8OBQ in an easy QSO on 30 meters. Otherwise there hasn't been a lot of DX to be found here. I did hear HC5AI and YV5EN on 20 meters. I got a K? from HC5AI, but no further. I'd really like to work him too because his dad, the original holder of the call was one of (if not THE) first Ecuador stations I worked many years ago. Let me pause my typing to check on that. Well, the first 5 watt QRP Ecuador anyway in September 1994. I did work HC1GC with 50 watts or so back in 1968. I worked the original HC5AI six times, the last in 1999.

Not a lot more to talk about. I did go fishing for a little while today, but didn't get any bites. I may try again tomorrow at a different place. Other than that, some walking and playing with Windows 10 occupied most of my time. -30-

Sunday, October 26, 2014 10:05 PM - Another quick DX QSO this evening with the same station on a different band - PJ7/K5WE tonight on 40 meters. Other than that I didn't get on the bands today. I don't think they were very good anyway from the propagation reports.

At least the weather reports are good, and I'm taking advantage of that - over 15 miles walking yesterday and almost 9 today (so far). I'm thinking of going fishing the next couple days as my friend Tom WB3FAE can't make it for a parkpedition.

Still learning things about my virtual machine and Windows 10 on my laptop. I found out how to speed things up a bit, and that helps. It seems to run quite well with the things I've been trying, mostly Internet Explorer so far. -30-

Saturday, October 25, 2014 08:23 PM - Even though I now have over 200 JA QSOs, it's still a thrill working Japan, along with other Asian countries I've talked about before. Perhaps because it took so very long to work my very first Asian station. That was way back on July 5, 1994, over thirty-one years after I became a ham. The station? 4Z4DX on 30 meters at 0208Z. What a thrill that was to finally complete my WAC. My first Asiatic Russian and second overall Asian station came 1 year and 25 days later on July 30, 1995 when I worked RW0A on 20 meters in the (I believe) IOTA contest. I got four more Asian QSOs with Asiatic Russia in the next year or so for a total of just 6 Asian QSOs up to November 24, 1996 when I finally worked my first Japanese - JA3ZOH on 20 meters in the CQWW DX contest. That too was quite a thrill. My second JA came about an hour later when I worked JH0ZHQ. By the time 1997 came to an end I still had only 16 Asian QSOs logged.

Then with the sunspot cycle approaching its peak in 1998, Asians became much easier to work and my total Asians are as follows:
1998 - 47
1999 - 77
2000 - 97
2001 - 37
2002 - 65
2003 through 2010 - 28 (sunspot minimum + other factors)
2011 - 28
2012 - 40
2013 - 58
2014 - 36 (so far)

That's a total of 532 Asian QSOs, of course all QRP/CW/simple antennas. Not an awful lot compared to NA and EU, but about the same as AF and more than OC as shown here:
NA - 48,164
EU - 13,380
SA - 1,505
AF - 570
AS - 532
OC - 260

That's only counting QSOs since I became active again in 1993 as 100% QRP/CW/simple antennas. So that kind of explains why AS (and AF/OC) are still somewhat of a thrill to work.

All of that as a preamble (pre-ramble?) to saying my DX QSO last evening was with Shin JA1NUT on 15 meters. That's our second QSO and Shin both times showed a great interest in my QRP work as he visits my web site from time to time.

Tonight it was a proverbial piece of cake getting my DX QSO. I could have worked XE1RK easily but I've worked him a lot and passed on him for the time being. Then I found PJ7/K5WE whom I haven't worked very often and not at all recently and got him on the first call at 0003Z. So that's 605 days for the DX streak now.

Otherwise today in addition to almost 14 miles of walking in great weather, I became a Technical Previewer of the next edition of Windows - Windows 10 when I installed the TP version in a VMware Player virtual machine on my laptop. I haven't played with it much, but I do like to look of the start page which you could say is a cross between Windows 7 and Windows 8. I like both of those versions, so 10 being a hybrid of both should be even better than both 7 and 8. There's still a long way to go though before the final release version is ready for market, and I hope that maybe I can find some little feature that I think can be improved on and submit it to Microsoft to consider. Right now, it runs rather slowly, but I think that's mainly due to the hardware on my laptop which isn't all that robust since I only bought it as a second computer to the main Windows 7 machine. Maybe someday when I get more familiar with virtual machines and Windows 10, I'll try it on the Windows 7 machine, but not yet as I don't completely trust my limited knowledge so far. BTW I could not get it to work at all with Oracle's VirtualBox software, but the VMware Player installation went very smoothly if slowly. -30-

Friday, October 24, 2014 07:15 PM - My DX came easy this morning. I worked CO2CCA and S59N on 15, then grabbed UZ5DX on 10 for a new prefix. Conditions were really good in the 1300Z hour. I hadn't listened much at all in that hour for some time now. However with the big reduction in NAQCC work since my retirement, I've had more time to explore the bands at different hours of the day. Previously I would devote the 1300-1500 time frame to NAQCC work and then brunch, so there are very few recent QSOs in my log from that 2 hour period.

Today was a very nice day - more like late September than late October. I took advantage and spent quite a bit of time outside. I almost went fishing, but it was a bit breezy so I decided I'd pass it up for today since there are several more nice days in a row coming. In fact if Tom WB3FAE can get a day off work Monday or Tuesday, we are going to put on one of our parkpeditions. Stay tuned for updates.

Still about 35 minutes now before my 0000Z band check. I wonder what I'll find. I didn't get on later this afternoon as I had been doing. However if this morning is any indication, the bands may be good this evening. We'll see. -30-

Thursday, October 23, 2014 05:51 PM - As you see from the time stamp, it's 5:51 PM and I've just been reminded of another disadvantage (besides ham radio) of living in a valley. The partial solar eclipse was scheduled to start at 5:46 PM. I had my pinhole projector all ready and was easily seeing the large sunspot group on the projected image with no magnification. However then Solar System Geometry or whatever you want to call it stepped in. Almost precisely at 5:46 PM, the sun set. So I missed it. There wasn't enough time to walk to another part of town where the sun might still be above the horizon. Mis-planning on my part. I kept looking for a chart of eclipse times on the Internet and found some conflicting and erroneous times which were saying the eclipse started earlier than 5:46 PM, but that was at other locations. I never did find an accurate chart of the times until it was too late. The next time, whenever that is, I will do some more advance planning. You can count on that. Now I will go stand in the corner for a while and pout.

At least seeing the large sunspot made it a little worthwhile. So that's what messed up conditions the past couple days. Or in some cases enhanced them, depending..... Oh, I got my DX QSO later last evening when I worked YV5IUA on 30 meters in the 0200Z hour. He was booming in, and it was an easy QSO. I wonder what this evening will bring now. -30-

Wednesday, October 22, 2014 09:40 PM - You would think with a SF of 216 and an A index of 14 that conditions would be very good, but they certainly weren't today, at least during the 3 or 4 times I checked. Sometimes the ionosphere just gets too energized and you wind up with radio blackouts or at least very stormy conditions.

The best I could do today was easily work W1AW/7 in NV on 20M and W1AW/8 in WV on 40M. I didn't really need them as I got the 50 states the first time around with W1AW as you know. I just thought since there wasn't much else around, I'd work them. I didn't even hear any DX except for a strong PJ2. I didn't work him this afternoon though, hoping I could find him tonight for my DX streak QSO. I didn't. So tomorrow it will be do or die for the streak. At least I don't have much scheduled for tomorrow, so I'll have a lot of time to search. -30-

Tuesday, October 21, 2014 07:26 PM - I wanted to get my DX QSO quickly last evening, and I did, but it was a bit embarrassing. I found this station on 20 meters who made 4 or 5 QSOs in a row without any ID. I thought I'd better not wait and work him first if I could, then find out who it was. I called, and got something like K3?, then WWP? after I called again. Then he put it together for K3WWP 599. I sent TU 599, and then waited to see who I worked. Turned out it was JT1AA/5 again in a repeat QSO on the same band just two evenings before. And almost as easy as then when it took but a single call. I hate doing repeat QSOs like that, but I didn't want him to get away in case it was someone rare that I needed. In those cases, I call first, then find out who it was I worked. That was a memorable day in the DX streak too - day # 600 in a row I've worked some DX. Yes, QRP/CW/simple antennas does work!

I got on for a little while this afternoon, but DX was pretty non-existant at the time. So I called CQ FISTS on 20 for a while and worked N1CUU and KG0YR. Nice to see FISTS activity increasing again.

One other thing I just did today was to get my Silver certificate for those seven Spanish Football special event stations I worked last month. Here it is:

Silver Football Certificate

Now a mid-evening snack, then to the shack at 0000Z to see what I can find. -30-

Monday, October 20, 2014 07:45 PM - I thought for sure my DX streak might end today. There was just no DX to be found and the WWV report showed ionospheric disturbances most of the day. You could sure tell that by the lack of good European signals. Even OH6NVC whom I worked a few days ago with his KW and big beam and S9++ signal was only about S5 at best today. He and an even weaker French station were the only Europeans I heard in a couple different sessions. Yes, the high latitude path to Europe was pretty much shot when I listened.

However, then dear Lady Luck stepped in. I tuned all the bands and wound up on 10 meters. Ooops, there's a big peak on the panadapter. Probably a USA station as there were a lot of very strong USA signals on all the high bands. I'll check anyway. Hey, it's ZD8X and that's a good low latitude path. He faded a bit after I first heard him, but when I called, he stuck with me till he got my call right after several repeats. So the DX streak is alive and we..... OK, maybe alive and pretty good if conditions remain like this the next few days.

Luck is another important ingredient in doing something like a DX streak. Sometimes after skill, knowlegde, propagation, activity, and other such ingredients are exhausted, luck is needed badly. That happened today. Now in a couple minutes its another day and another search for a DX QSO. Maybe it will be a quick one tonight. That would be nice. -30-

Sunday, October 19, 2014 11:43 PM - Closing in on midnight (and my retirement as NAQCC VP so bye bye to the counter that was above). I've been busy finishing the cross-checking of our sprint logs, then over to Nancy's for Roscoe's last walk of the day. So this will be short. I got an ILQP QSO for the streak. The DX will have to come in the morning or afternoon. Conditions have been good with the SF in the 170s, so that shouldn't be hard. Hope I didn't jinx things by saying that. HI. -30-

Saturday, October 18, 2014 08:21 PM - Whenever Mike and I get together for a DX session on the bands, we always make fun of those people who say that QRP doesn't work - something like this. After working JA1NUT, VK6HQ, ZS4TX and the like we say, "It's a shame that QRP doesn't work." Well, Mike wasn't here this evening, but I echoed that statement anyway. I worked JT1AA/5 with but a single call on 20 meters although he was only about an S5 or maybe S6 at best here with somewhat of a flutter. I think that was my easiest Mongolian QSO among the half dozen or so that I have. Geez, I wonder what I could catch if QRP DID work? The moon, Venus, Jupiter? It just annoys me so much to hear folks put QRP down. They've probably never even tried it themselves.

I usually say this when I've worked Mongolia, so you regular diary readers can skip down a bit. I've always been fascinated working that part of the world - Asiatic Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, and especially Mongolia. I don't know what the ham population there is, but it has to be pretty low and thus harder to work than other countries in that area. Of course Japan is not in that exact area, but close and it has the most licensed hams in the world. Thus it is easy to work, and I've done it over 200 times (yes, with QRP, you doubters). Also Asiatic Russia is very easy to work with its rather high ham population. So rarity is one reason I enjoy working it. Also though, I've been fascinated with the country itself since I watched the movie Destination Gobi with Richard Widmark. If you've never seen the movie, in addition to Mongolia, it deals with weather stations and of course that's another interest of mine.

Other than the Mongolian QSO and one in the NYQP, I didn't make any other QSOs all day. I thought about the WAG contest, but never seemed to get in the mood for a contest. My neighbor (at about 15 miles) Tom WB3FAE said the bands, especially 12 meters were good this morning. So maybe I'll check them in the morning.

I helped Ange this morning to start getting his garden cleaned up for the winter. We picked just about all the peppers except for a couple little ones which we left to see if they would develop any more (unlikely). As you know if you are a regular reader here, he hurt his elbow and then foot early in the year, so he didn't plant much beyond the peppers and a few cucumber and zucchini plants. Of course the fig trees are still around. -30-

Friday, October 17, 2014 09:05 PM - Another DXless evening. CN8KD was pretty strong on 30 as was RK0UT on 20, but KD wasn't hearing me and UT was too busy. Anyway I feel pretty safe with the WAG contest up later today and Sunday. If I can't get a DX QSO in that contest, I deserve to have the DX streak end.

I did work one of our NAQCC special event stations this evening for my regular streak QSO - N4A/KU4GW. So that streak is safe.

Not a lot more to talk about tonight. It was a quiet day with some walking to the tune of 10.1 miles and a little ham radio this afternoon. I worked IQ1CN who was booming in on 20 meters in the 2100Z hour. Had a nice chat with him. -30-

Thursday, October 16, 2014 08:44 PM - I think the bands tried to make things up to me today for the lousy conditions they gave me for our NAQCC sprint a couple evenings ago. I had a great time both this afternoon and evening.

This afternoon I finished the NAQCC European challenge when I got the 6 from DR60INN which may also have been a new prefix. Then I had 2 QSOs with Japan on 10 meters. One with JQ2IQW was a bit rough, but I had a short chat type QSO with Suke JM7OLW who was an honest 599 here with none of the flutter associated with signals from JA most times.

Buoyed up by that I decided to take a N3A stint from 2300-2400Z, and it was quite successful with 10 QSOs, almost as good a rate as Mike and I had from the park back on Monday.

Then it was an easy DX QSO at 0010 with Joska HA9RT on 30 meters to keep the DX streak going at 596 days. I'd hate to lose it now with 600 so close at hand. I've pretty much decided to just keep going after 600 and like the big streak, just wait till something beyond my control brings it to an end. -30-

Wednesday, October 15, 2014 09:29 PM - Wouldn't you know it. Today my noise was back down to the level it has been the past few weeks now. Not complaining, but why wasn't it that way last night for the sprint.

I worked 4 DX stations this morning/afternoon including a nice prefix (new?) in LZ1000TS (LZ one thousand TS). Then this evening another nice Bulgarian prefix from LZ1375IKA. Funny thing - I called IKA several times on one frequency without him sending even a ?, then he changed frequency and I got him fairly easily with a few repeats. I also got W1AW/4 before that to satisfy the big streak in case I had to wait for the DX.

The DX stations today got me down to needing only a 6 to finish the NAQCC European Chapter challenge. I'll have to look for that tomorrow.

I did a little more work on my PX3 stand today. I put a back support on it so I don't have to hold it now when I push buttons. I'll try to get a picture for tomorrow's entry.

Right now I've got a batch of new NAQCC member applications to take care of, plus a couple more sprint logs. -30-

Tuesday, October 14, 2014 11:48 PM - It's late, so just a brief entry. My noise returned with a vengeance today. So it was rough getting my goal of 20 QSOs in the NAQCC sprint this evening. Took almost the full two hours and I got 22 because I wasn't sure of two of the QSOs. No DX this evening. That will have to be taken care of in the morning or afternoon.

OK, time to get ready for bed and do a couple little chores first. -30-

Monday, October 13, 2014 07:48 PM - Well, the weather cooperated to a certain extent today and we (Mike and I) were able to set up at Community Park for our N3A parkpedition. It was a grey day for the most part although the sun did come out at times. Generally this is what we saw in the sky though:

park skies

We took our antennas, laptops, KX3s, and paddles up to the park and got set up shortly after our scheduled 1400Z start time. The action commenced immediately. My first CQ on 20 netted a response from K4ARQ followed by a mini-pileup of 5 other stations which was cleared quickly. Then the action slowed down a bit but remained steady for the next 3 1/2 hours. We chatted a bit with the stations we worked rather than just giving out TU 599 type QSOs or we might have made even more QSOs than we did. How many? I made 39 on 20 meters and Mike made 37 on 40 meters. It was nice to have a steady stream of action for both of us for a change. Usually one band or the other will be stubborn and produce few QSOs. Not today.

Here are a couple pictures of the ops at work followed by a picture of my setup and a picture of the "CW Crow sitting on a streetlight post". I could swear the crow was cawing in Morse code. I know I picked out several letters he was making with the pattern of his cawing, although it wasn't completely scary as he (she?) didn't send any recognizible words. HI.

Mike John

John's setupCW Crow

It did rain a bit, and I had to move from one table to another to avoid the blown-in moisture, but it didn't bother us at all besides that.

All too soon our laptops gave us the signal that they were running low on battery power, and since activity also had slowed, we decided to just tear down around 1730Z and call it a day (and go get something to eat, of course).

After we got home from eating, we did some computer work, chased a bit of DX while showing Mike my PX3, and worked on some NAQCC prizes. Following that, back to the shack for my DX streak QSO provided by P40JR on 30 meters with a single call. I had heard him on 17 earlier, but didn't want to work him there since we had a QSO on that band just a couple days ago. 30 meters was a new band for us though. Then Mike had to head home for another work day coming up tomorrow following the Columbus Day holiday today. -30-

Sunday, October 12, 2014 09:15 PM - A lot of walking today. I am surprised to see 12.11 miles on the pedometer at the moment. I knew I walked a lot, but I didn't think it was that much. The weather was great - sunny and a high of 70.

Tomorrow Mike will be visiting and we hope to put N3A on the air from the Community Park for the NAQCC 10th Anniversary celebration. The weather may throw a monkey wrench into the works though. It is supposed to rain in the morning and early afternoon which is basically when we wanted to operate (1400-1900Z). If the rain does interfere, we plan to operate from my home here. We won't have the additional altitude at the park and it will be much noisier here than at the park, but we'll give it a shot if that's the only choice we have.

Because of our activities tomorrow, I wanted to be sure to get my DX QSO this evening for the streak. I did, working XE2FNC on 21025 at 0004Z. Then since that was out of the way. I thought I'd try some CQs. I called CQ on 17 meters and surprisingly got an answer from W7LXN out in AZ. we chatted about 12 minutes till the path deteriorated and we lost each other. Then I went and checked out 40 meters and found and worked two of our NAQCC special event calls - N9A and N2A. -30-

Saturday, October 11, 2014 09:23 PM - Today was a complete contrast to yesterday. It was very un-busy today. I did pass the time, but not in any unusual ways worth writing about. I did get out for a couple good walks as the weather was fair with a high in the mid 60s and no rain. On the first walk I took a few fall foliage pictures, but most everything is still green with an exception here and there. I haven't really looked at the pictures yet beyond glancing at them. Let's see if there is at least one to show you what I mean.

fall foliage

That's one tree within our block here that always goes through a nice cycle of color changes. You'll notice all the surrounding trees are still green, even the ones on the distant hill in the background. I don't know if the long winter, wet spring and early summer, followed by a very dry late August, September, and early October have had or will have an effect on the colors. I guess we'll know within a couple weeks.

It didn't take long this morning to get my DX QSO and it was a very nice one. I worked 2SZ - yes that's correct. That's the special commemorative call in Great Britain to honor and remember the first Great Britain to New Zealand QSO 90 years ago between then 2SZ in Great Britain and 4AA in New Zealand. I felt kind of a thrill working a station with a call in the format that most if not all early amateur radio stations used way back when. Those must have been really exciting days in radio. If you've never read the ARRL book "Two Hundred Meters and Down", you should make it a point to do so. It's a great chronicle of those early days. If you find that interesting and want to then delve into the early days of broadcast radio, there is an excellent book about the history of WLW in Cincinnati. While trying to remember the title through a Bing search, I came across this web site that has a lot of the content of the book right here. Imagine a 500 kW transmitter that required circualtion from a 75 foot square pond of water to keep it running cool. That was WLW in the early days of broadcasting. If that whets your appetite for more, read the book or the web page. Being in broadcasting, I found it fascinating. -30-

Friday, October 10, 2014 10:02 PM - This could be a very long entry as I did a lot of things today, but don't worry, I'll condense it.

Last night Nancy told me she and Bruce were going shopping up to the malls in the morning if I wanted to go along. I did need some things up there so I said yes.

Then this morning while waiting for them, I did some updating on the NAQCC web site preparing for my retirement. I made a lot of changes especially on the sprint pages mentioning my cutting back on sprint work after my retirement, and making it easier for those helpers who do the sprint pages, and will continue to do so when I retire.

Then it was time to head for the hills. We made stops at WalMart where I got some new shoes, a WWVB clock, and some Turkey spam, then at Dollar General and Family Dollar. Nancy got some things at those stores, but I didn't need anything there.

When we got home after a couple hours, I had a late brunch then played with my clock a bit. I don't know if I can get a strong enough noise-free signal from WWVB to set it or not. So far it hasn't happened, but the signal should be stronger after midnight, so I'll see what happened overnight when I get up tomorrow. Then it was off for a walk with the new shoes. I really like Dr. Scholl's shoes. I can transition from an old pair to a new pair without any initial discomfort at all which I notice in other brands of shoes.

Home again from the walk, I thought since it was a very comfortable day - not too warm nor too cold - I'd clean up my garden. I took down my bean plants which had stopped producing - both the climbing and bush varieties. I pulled all but two tomato plants since they still had some tomatoes on them that looked like they could ripen. If they don't then I'll pick them and let them ripen inside as I do with the late ones every year. I left 3 or 4 pepper plants that still had some nice size peppers on them. Then I cut back my daylillies. Actually just one of the four since I had done the other three earlier. So the back yard looks a little bare now. Sure will be nice when spring rolls around again and I can be planting once more. But that's a long way off.

Following that, Nancy's other son Jeff came over and asked if Nancy and I were going out to eat. She had mentioned that to Jeff and me yesterday, but didn't say anything about it today, so I said yes, I could go if she still wanted to go. So the three of us went out to Ponderosa where I, as usual, stuffed myself beyond belief. This was their weekly Friday fish buffet, and I love seafood. So I filled up on fish, clams, shrimp, and the like. They also have had hushpuppies the last couple Fridays I've been there, and I just love them. It's now some 5 hours later, and I haven't even had the very slightest hunger pang. That gives you an idea of how much I ate.

Last night I had an idea of an alternate mounting for my PX3, and after the huge meal I threw together a little stand that places it right above the KX3. A picture is worth a thousand words and is a lot easier on the fingers, so here are 2,000 words about the stand.

px3 stand 1

px3 stand 2

It really is nice to have both the PX3 and KX3 displays right together like that. That's my new WWVB clock at left in the pictures.

No DX tonight, but I did work K7DCG for the regular streak. Hopefully some DX in the morning or afternoon will continue the DX streak. -30-

Thursday, October 09, 2014 09:12 PM - A very quick DX QSO this evening extended the streak(s) - P40JR on 17 meters at 0002Z. Then I worked W1AW/4 on 40 meters followed by a couple rag chews with Paul N8XMS (our new NAQCC President) and Rick KC4KNN. Contrasted to that, the bands were rather poor again this afternoon. I think it may be rough finishing the NAQCC European Chapter challenge this month unless I find a time when conditions are better to Europe. Perhaps around 1500-1700Z. If I get a chance, I'll see what that time frame offers tomorrow.

Outside of that not a lot going on today. I'm still taking care of NAQCC things getting ready for my retirement in (see above countdown). I'm also doing some little updating of things on my web site here as more time is becoming available to do so. -30-

Wednesday, October 08, 2014 06:09 PM - I'm sitting here waiting to head to the Library for our computer club meeting and thought I might as well write the diary entry.

I hope everyone got a chance to see the lunar eclipse early this morning. There were a lot of clouds here but I at least got a glimpse just before mid-eclipse. Supposedly it was a fairly vivid reddish eclipse from what I've heard, but I didn't notice that here. It looked pretty gray to me with the southern part darker than the northern part. That difference in brightness was due to the moon passing near the north edge of the umbra. The lack of color could have been due to the clouds here plus it was not far from setting when I saw it. That kind of reminds me when I was a kid, I made observations of a couple eclipses that were published in Sky and Telescope. My, that was a long long time ago. HI. I remember my mom and I staying up till the wee hours of the morning for one of them. I'd kind of like to look up those S&T reports, but I've got almost a 60 year collection of S&T magazines here and it would take forever. Maybe after my NAQCC retirement I can do it.

The bands didn't sound very good this afternoon. OH6NVC who was over S9 a couple days ago when I worked him was only about S3 or maybe S4 at best today. Other than that, I can't recall hearing any other European stations. Oh wait, I think there was one weak PA station. Just to work someone since I was in the shack, I got W1AW/4 in VA easily on 30 meters.

Tonight may be especially rough since with the computer meeting, I probably won't get on until after 0100Z so my streak(s) QSO might have to wait till the morning or afternoon.

Well, time to get going now. -30-

Tuesday, October 07, 2014 08:46 PM - It was a very frustrating afternoon on the ham bands. I don't know how many European stations I heard that contained letters/numbers for the NAQCC European challenge, but I just could not work a single one of them. The closest I came was getting K3 P? from ES1TU. He never could finish my call though, and I gave up. The other stations either didn't hear me at all, or they had answered someone else's CQ so I couldn't even try tailending them since the CQer had the frequency. I don't know just where in Russia the UE16M- stations are, but it is somewhere that blocks my signals. I don't know how many times I've tried working them (I think there are at least 2 of them - MM and MT), without so much as getting a ? or QRZ? from them. Today UE16MT was fairly strong, but with the same results. Hopefully tomorrow will be better. Oh, and the Europeans without the needed letters/numbers were quite strong and workable, but I didn't try working them.

I had some fun this evening that made up for the afternoon a little. I worked W1AW/KL7 on a single call and was the very next to last station he worked for his weeklong stint at 2359Z. Then I got W1AW/4 in VA on my very first call on 80 meters at 0007Z. I also got an easy and quick DX streak QSO when I worked CO2CCA on 20 meters at 0011Z. I was just thinking as I was noting the number of days in the DX streak that I'll hit 600 days (assuming....) on October 21, the day after I officially retire as NAQCC VP. So that will be a couple big days in a row.

Speaking of retiring, the transition of all my work over to our new NAQCC President/Manager Paul N8XMS is going wonderfully. A lot of the work is now transferred and it looks like I'll be totally free by the end of the year if not sooner. Well except for the couple things I'm keeping like log cross-checking for our sprints and being the head (if there is one) of the NAQCC WPA Chapter. I can't wait. Then I'll be able to pursue other activities that have kind of taken a back seat to the NAQCC work. -30-

Monday, October 06, 2014 08:31 PM - It was a nice day today after a couple cold days, so I went fishing. The fish didn't show up though. I tried two different spots and got nary a single bite. Still it was nice to be out in the fresh fairly mild air for a while.

The bands were pretty good this afternoon compared to last evening. I had a nice chat with Mika OH6NVC who is a county hunter and needs Armstrong Co. He is going to send me a QSL with a SASE. Not often I get that from a DX station. Incidentally he was running a KW into a 6 over 6 stacked array and certainly sounded like it. He was just about the only signal on 15 at the time and he was well over S9. Gave me a 579. I guess that array really boosted my RF when it got to Finland. Normally it's usually the not so honest 599 that everyone gets. Or a 559 which means I can barely hear you, but I'll give you an S5 anyway. I figure when I get 589, 579, or 569, those are pretty honest reports.

After that I heard KH7Y and thought I'd see how my Hawaii pipeline was working. One station beat me out, but on the second try I got him with one repeat of my call. So the pipeline was working. I really can't figure that one out. I can generally work Hawaii even though I can barely hear the station. KH7Y today was pretty strong though.

This evening, the DX came quickly at 0009Z when I worked S50R on 30 meters. It wasn't the easiest QSO, but he stuck with me for a half dozen or so repeats and got it right at the end. That also gave me the S and R I needed for the NAQCC European challenge, leaving me with 10 letters/numbers now to complete it. -30-

Sunday, October 05, 2014 09:23 PM - Wow, that was rough tonight. Took a solid hour plus 5 minutes to finally get a QSO of any kind. Many unanswered CQs. Many called stations not hearing me. Other stations strong, but just worked within the past few days on the same bands. However, finally I made it, and it was DX to boot. I got a very weak HH2/PY3SB on 17 meters on my first call. Actually I had to listen to him several times after we worked to be sure of his call.

Things were much better during the day. I worked GB2NZ, a special call commemorating the first Great Britain to New Zealand (hence the call sign) QSO 90 years ago in October 1924. A lot of interesting historical info on the Internet. If you're interested start at the QRZ.com entry for GB2NZ and go from there. I also worked SJ2014ECC to get some more letters/numbers for the NAQCC European chapter challenge. Then it was Rey CO6RD for the R to finish the NAQCC NA challenge. That's the fastest finish for a challenge in a few months now, I believe.

This was our first really cold day of the season today. The high was just 54, and inside the house, the temperature got down in the low 60s. So I decided it was time to start running up the gas bill against my will and start the furnace. I cleaned out the registers, set the thermostat gradually up from its summer setting of 60 to 64 to 70 and warmed up the house pretty quickly, then backed it down to 66 or 67 where I'll leave it for a while now.

I only went out once today to go and pick up a loaf of bread and some cans of soup on sale at the grocery store. It wasn't all that bad, but it was breezy which added (subtracted?) to the wind chill.

Finally I promised a couple days ago a better picture of the PX3 display, so here goes. You'll see a rather empty 20 meters and get an idea of my local noise level always present here, right then averaging about S5 on 20, but its higher on the lower bands and a little bit lower on the higher bands.
px3 display


Saturday, October 04, 2014 08:51 PM - Reason # (ooops, I lost count) to like the PX3 - I now have more room to write on the desk without the laptop panadapter sitting there.

The bands were pretty good this afternoon. I could have worked a lot more stations than I did, but I was mainly trying to finish the NAQCC NA challenge and was selective in working stations. I did get things down to now needing only 2 Rs to finish up. I also passed the halfway mark on the way to finishing the NAQCC European challenge with a couple of European stations I worked.

This evening the bands continued good, but everyone was involved in contesting, chasing DX, or chasing W1AW so it was hard to make any QSOs. I finally worked N2UU in the NJQP to keep the big streak going. Then I spent a half hour looking for a workable DX station. I was hearing many JAs, but all chasing something else. Finally I ran across 4A1LM on 17 meters all by himself calling CQ. He wasn't strong, but I got him after a couple repeats of my call. So the DX streak rolls on at 584 days now.

Tomorrow I hope to chase down those final Rs and get along further with the European challenge as well. Too cold to do much outdoors with temps in the 50s after a low in the 30s overnight tonight. So a good day to be on the bands if conditions are good. And it won't take long to tell if they are good with the PX3. -30-

Friday, October 03, 2014 05:55 PM - I'm waiting for some rain to stop so I can go to the store so I thought I'd write my diary entry while I'm waiting. Looks like according to the radar, it's almost stopped.

I went fishing before the rain today. I tried a different spot and it turned out not so good. A couple nibbles, but no fish. Should have stuck with the regular spot, I guess. This is our last warm day in the great past two weeks of wonderful fall weather, so I don't know how much more fishing there will be this year, but I'm sure there will be some as I see on the long range outlook several days in the 60s and a few even in the low 70s, but no upper 70s/low 80s like the past couple weeks.

I did some NAQCC work today. We're getting well along with my retirement and transitioning the bulk of the work over to Paul N8XMS. He's now doing some HTML editing and uploading pages to the NAQCC web site. That's really about the final hurdle in the transition.

After I got home from fishing, I did a few odds and ends, then got on the air to play with my new toy, the PX3. I'm growing to learn more about it and to like it even more. The biggest thing I learned today is that a lot of the settings are band-specific. So I can customize each band differently if so needed. The noise blanker and display averaging really help to clean up the jumping in the display - something I couldn't do with HDSDR.

I also made a few QSOs along the way. I narrowed our main NAQCC challenge down to needing just 2 Is and 4 Rs to complete it. The European challenge is going a bit more slowly as conditions to Europe are somewhat up and down lately. However I did get a new European band-country today when I worked MW0EDX on 17 meters. That means I now have all the British Isles entities - G GD GI GJ GM GU GW - worked on all bands from 30 through 10. On 40 I still need GJ and GU. On 80 I need GD GJ and GU.

One other nice thing about the PX3 is the freedom to get on the bands at any time with a panadapter. If I wake up in the middle of the night and want to check the bands I can do so quickly with the PX3. No need to set up the laptop anymore. -30-

Thursday, October 02, 2014 07:38 PM - It was an absolutely GREAT day today on the parkpedition with Don. I'm only sorry we couldn't have done more of them this year. I went into that in earlier diary entries and won't repeat it here.

First of all the day was absolutely beautiful:
parkpedition 1

The first order of business of course was setting up antennas and rigs. Don and I commented that antenna pictures never seem to show up well against a tree (or pretty much any other) background, and these pictures prove it. First my K3RLL jumper dipole. Give yourself the title "Eagle Eye" if you can see the two halves of the dipole, the cord used to raise it, and especially the coax feedline:
parkpedition 2

And the same with Don's antenna shown here:
parkpedition 3

My rig setup here with Laptop/GenLog logging program (nice to log with a computer), Bencher paddle, headphones, KX3, 7aH battery. The paper is there for nothing more than to cover up some foul language some previous occupants wrote on the table:
parkpedition 4

And Don's setup with headphones, battery, PFR3, logbook, and mini-paddle:
parkpedition 5

Then of course it is down to the purpose of being there - making QSOs as Don and I are doing in the following pictures:
parkpedition 6

parkpedition 7

It was a pretty busy day. Things started right off the bat for Don on 40 meters. It was slow at first for me on 20 meters with a lot of activity (chasing DX?) around the frequency of 14061 that we intended to operate. It quieted down finally and then I wound up as busy as Don the rest of our session. I made 16 QSOs on 20 and Don made 19 (all on 40, I think). Just for fun I chased a bit of DX also and worked 9A2N on 15 meters after we were pretty much done with our main operation.

We've both send out email picture QSLs to all those we worked for whom we could find a good email address. I think that covered all but about 5 QSOs

I only hope that circumstances give us more opportunities to do parkpeditions next year among me, Don, Mike, and Tom. I really enjoy them. Don was showing me a LiPo battery today that is much lighter than a gel cell and is just as powerful while being a lot lighter. If I can compile a lighter portable operation kit, perhaps I can hike to the park by myself if no one else with a car is available. We'll see what comes of that.

After we came back here, I showed Don the PX3 panadapter. He seemed very impressed with it. I know for sure I am. Even if it didn't perform well (which it certainly does), just not having to lug the laptop around and set up HDSDR each operating session makes the PX3 worth having. However it is much better than the HDSDR. I thought the only disadvantage of the PX3 might be the smaller display vs. the HDSDR computer display, but I think if anything the smaller (and brighter) PX3 display is easier on the eyes. Just to mention a couple other things I've particularly liked so far - the fact that the display can show a 'cursor' for both the transmit and receive frequencies when operating split or using the RIT. Because of that, I easily worked W1AW/KL7 again today by placing the one cursor (receive) on W1AW and the other one (transmit) on the station he was working. If the station being worked is strong enough to show up on the panadapter, that's easier than listening with the split phones. I also like the averaging of the display scan which cuts down on the display jumping with noise. That was a little annoying on HDSDR, but it's much better with the PX3. Also the PX3 has a noise blanker that helps cut down on display noise independent of the noise blanker in the KX3. The bottom line is that I'm sure now that the KX3/PX3 combo makes for the best possible QRP station in the world. And probably a darn good QRO setup also if one likes QRO and uses the amp for the KX3.

Just came down from the shack after getting my DX QSO and a couple other QSOs for the NAQCC challenges, and now it's time to get my temperature. So I'll close here. -30-

Wednesday, October 01, 2014 06:10 PM - I figured if I got involved in a project, my PX3 would come in the middle of it. So I tried that. I went fishing (2 suckers and 1 drum) figuring it might come while I was at the river. Nope, that didn't work, but I had a good time fishing in the great weather.

When I got home I thought I'd trim the bush in my front yard. I didn't do it in the spring thinking I'd wait till fall to do it this year. Well, that worked, when the mailman (lady) came I heard her set something like a box on the porch, then she said there was a package there for me. I looked and that was it. I finished the bush, then set the box on my card table as seen here:
px3 box

It was so light, I wondered if there was anything in it. There was, but not much as seen here:
px3 parts

That's my homebrew wrist grounding strap in the upper left corner and my extremely useful multi-tool at center right.

I was going to document in pictures the assembly, but the batteries in my camera gave out and I didn't have any charged replacements so....

After finishing it, and buying some new batteries, we move now to a picture of it in my shack, followed by some comments on the assembly. I'll try to get a better picture of the neat screen display and post it later.
px3 in shack

For a kit with so few parts, it did have its difficult moments. The tiny parts especially the bolts, washers, and spacers were more suited to a young person than an old man like me. After a struggle I did get the 4 spacers mounted and things went smoothly until time to install the power supply pc board. It took almost a Herculean effort to get the 40 pin plug and socket to mate properly. I had to use so much force I was afraid of breaking something. Finally it gave in and seated properly. Everything else was straightforward with those two exceptions. I guess it took about an hour to very carefully assemble it.

Then it was up to the shack to plug it in. I held my breath when I pushed the PWR button for fear I did damage something, but it came right on and worked perfectly. Now all I need to do is to thoroughly study all its bells and whistles and learn how to update its firmware. So far I like it very much and made a few QSOs while testing it out. -30-

Tuesday, September 30, 2014 08:47 PM - Ain't life (and ham radio) funny, good, and interesting at times. Today was one of those times.

I'll start with this evening and work backward. Remember how I sweated getting W1AW/KL7 earlier in the year? I sure do. Well tonight I went to the shack at 0000Z as usual with the purpose of getting 1 - my regular streak QSO and 2 - my DX streak QSO. Of course a lot of times 1 and 2 come together if the first QSO is DX. I knew, this being Tuesday evening that W1AW would be active from two different states - which ones I didn't know because I don't worry about it now that I have my W1AW WAS in the bag with all 50 states worked. Anyway I found W1AW/6 in CA, and thought I'd grab a quick QSO before a pileup developed. Nope, too late and I figured hey, I'm here mainly to get my DX QSO while the bands are still awake for the evening. I decided to see just how many bands were still open, and it turned out when I got to 12 meters, there was W1AW/KL7 fairly strong. I quickly set up the KX3 for split, called once and got him with no repeats at 0006Z. If I recall without looking, the first time around for KL7 it took me 5 days to find and work him and it was a good (but questionable in my mind at the time) QSO. This time around the first call and a solid QSO. While logging him, I was listening to him and he was working station after station so I must have beaten a pileup although I couldn't hear any pile.

Of course KL7 counts as a different entity from the mainland USA, and I count it that way as a DX QSO. So both streaks were fulfilled for the day. However there are two new NAQCC alphabet challenges now underway for October so I filled in the letters from W1AW/KL7 and went looking for some European stations so I could use the letters/numbers for both the challenges. I found 3Z50AYP on 30 meters. Hmmm, not only DX, European, full of letters/numbers, but a nice new prefix as well. It took a while to get him and I did have to repeat my call a couple times before he got it right, but I landed him. Then it was my French friend F8DGY calling CQ on 30. I had a few minutes chat with Chris. While chatting, I looked up our past QSOs, and Chris just might be the European station I've worked on the most different bands. We've worked on 40, now 30, 20, 17, 15, and 10. Missing only 80 and 12 of the likely bands we might work on. I don't count 160 as I've never worked Europe there. I guess we could make it on 60 if Chris works that band.

Oh, and then I found W1AW/6 again on 20 meters, and bingo - got him with a single call just like KL7 earlier. So a lot of fun on the bands this evening.

Before I continue working back through today, I'll pause here to say the parkpedition is definitely on for Thursday, Oct. 2. Don K3RLL will head down here around 10 AM (1400Z) and we'll try to get set up as soon after 1430Z as possible. We'll be using 7041, 10117, and 14061 with our NAQCC club call N3AQC. I'll have any final details in the diary tomorrow night and I'll be sending an announcement on our NAQCC email list sometime tomorrow.

Another pause now to get my temperature readings, then I'll be back to continue the story of today.

OK, back now. Late this morning I went fishing, continuing to enjoy this fabulous streak of weather we have been having. I had bought a new dozen nightcrawlers yesterday and made some fresh peanut butter bread this morning to try to appease the appetite of the fish. It worked pretty good, although mostly they liked the nightcrawlers. I caught my first bluegill of the year, a bass, and a sucker in a little over an hour. It rained a bit while I was there, but not even enough to dampen down the dust. After I was done, I started up the river bank, slipped on some loose gravel, put my right hand down to steady myself, and bent my right thumb backwards pretty good. I immediately though about sending CW with a bum thumb. However, there wasn't any serious damage and it works perfectly normally although it is a bit sore around the base joint.

Of course it being the last of the month, besides the above, I wanted to get as much of the EOM/FOM stuff done as possible today in case the PX3 should happen to arrive tomorrow. I wish they had sent me a tracking number so I could track the progress from CA to here, but they didn't. I only know it is Priority mail which is pretty fast. -30-

Monday, September 29, 2014 08:18 PM - Not much to talk about today except for one very exciting thing. My PX3 has been shipped to me from Elecraft via Priority mail, so I expect to get it maybe Wednesday or Thursday. Can't wait.

Other than that it was pretty much a normal day. Laundry and helping Ange water his garden, some walking and shopping, and that was about it. I did take time in the midst of that to get my DX QSO from Niko S53A on 15 meters. The high bands were all good today, but I didn't explore them much after I found and worked Niko.

This evening it only took a minute to get my DX streak QSO. I worked Josh 6Y5WJ on a new band - 15 meters. That was good because I want to get started on my end of month work the rest of the evening. Things like uploading my September QSOs to LotW and eQSL, making out some checks for some bills, etc. -30-

Sunday, September 28, 2014 07:18 PM - Today was a good day that more than made up for the bad day a couple days ago. I'll just highlight a few things rather that compiling a long list of the good things.

I got my DX QSO easily when I worked another of the EG stations. Then I added W1AW/5 on yet another band. That was all in the 1500Z hour. After that I helped next door neighbor Bruce solve a couple of computer problems. I always enjoy helping folks out with anything and it is even more enjoyable when things work out as they did with those problems.

Then I picked 120+ chestnuts to divide equally with Ange. Other fruits/vegetables didn't do so well this year, but the chestnut tree really produced.

Next up on the agenda was going fishing on yet another beautiful weather day. The fish apparently liked it too, and had a good appetite. Just a couple minutes after wetting my lines, I got a 13 inch bass. Not long after that it was a 9 inch perch. I think perch are a very pretty fish. This one was especially brightly colored. Those were the first bass and first perch this year. But the big prize was yet to come. About 5 minutes after the perch while I was re-baiting my one pole, the other pole was almost taken in the river. I grabbed it and immediately knew I had my first carp of the year on the line. Now to land him. It took about a good five minute struggle, but I won. So my carp streak continues. I've caught at least one every year since I started fishing again in 1992. If I get one more this year, it will be at least two each year.

I had a good all fresh vegetables salad for my meal after I got home from fishing. Tomato, zucchini, cucumber, beans, and pepper. Boy was that good.

One other good thing to mention. The Steelers lost today. I have never been a Steeler fan for several reasons dating way back to my childhood. Confession coming up. I always resented my dad listening to the Steelers on Sunday afternoon instead of spending time with me. Then I resented the NFL mixing the Steelers in with my AFL teams (I loved the AFL in those days, especially the Oilers, then the Dolphins and Raiders) to form the AFC. I didn't mind the Browns and Colts since they came originally from other leagues like the AAFC, but putting the Steelers, a long time NFL team in the AFC just didn't seem right. Of course then there was the Inaccurate Deception as Mike calls it that allowed (illegally, I still believe) the Steelers (or as Mike and I call them, the Squealers) to defeat my Raiders in the playoffs. So I enjoy a Steeler loss as much as a Raider win. Good thing too because there may be more Steeler losses this year than Raider wins. -30-

Saturday, September 27, 2014 07:52 PM - Remember I was moaning about the difficulty of working new band-states? Well, I actually worked one today. My first ID on 12 meters thanks to W1AW/7. I wish 12 had been open more this year then maybe I could have gotten some more new states from W1AW. Of course there are still 3 more months to go and several 12 meters states I need will be among those activated by W1AW. It only needs for conditions and timing for me to get some more new 12 meters states.

Other than that, I did get my DX today although it took a lot of patience. I searched and searched for someone strong enough to work. I almost made it with OK1TN, but he couldn't quite get my call completed. The final P kept throwing him, and finally he said SRI, maybe later. Then not too long after that, I found SP8HZZ booming in, and got him on the first try. If you just have patience, I think eventually DX can be found pretty much no matter what the conditions are. I also worked W1AW/5 in NM on 12 and 10 meters. All of that was around the 1600Z hour this afternoon.

Now it's time to get my streak QSO(s) for the 28th. With the TX QP going on, the regular streak QSO will be a piece of cake if I choose to use the TXQP for it. I don't know about the DX QSO, but I'll find out shortly because I'm off to the shack right now. -30-

Friday, September 26, 2014 09:11 PM - This excerpt from an email sums up today very well:

Dear Elecraft Customer,
Your PX3-K order will be available to ship in the next 5-7 business days.
Attached is a copy of your order.

Finally! It looks like I'll have my PX3 up and running before too long now. I can't wait.

And with that good news that arrived just before starting to write this diary entry, I've almost forgotten what I was going to write about in the excitement. HI.

It was also a good day otherwise for the most part. The weather again was beautiful. Generally mid-September to mid/late-October does provide some of the best weather of the year around here albeit a bit on the cool side. About the only thing that ruins it can be the visit from a tropical storm. Several years ago we had our 1st and 2nd (at that time) heaviest one day rainfalls from tropical storms Floyd and Ivan. Over 3 inches from Floyd and just under 6 inches from Ivan about two weeks later. Nothing like that this year though. I was just glancing at the rainfall numbers here and noticed we haven't even totalled .25 inches in the past two plus weeks. The next several days look to be dry and mild also.

So of course that meant fishing today again. I got two suckers (12 and 15.5 inches) to bring my 2014 total to 14 fish. I may make it to 20 yet or even 23 which would mean this wouldn't be my worst fishing year since I started again in 1992. Still no carp though. I saw a beauty swimming by ignoring my bait today. He looked to be about 28 inches.

No DX this evening, so some time tomorrow will be spent on the bands trying to keep the DX streak alive. It was even rough getting a regular streak QSO this evening, but I did catch W1AW/5 in NM on a different band to keep the big streak alive.

Other than that my neighbor took me for dinner at Ponderosa for helping him with some computer work. I really enjoyed the Friday fish buffet. -30-

Thursday, September 25, 2014 7:22 PM - It wasn't too hard getting my DX QSO today. Just took a few minutes to find Rey CO6RD and work him. And he was running QRP also. Having other things to do, I didn't really look around the bands much at all. I did hear a new EG station, but he wasn't hearing me. It's too late now to make it to 10 anyway, so I'll settle for the Silver Diploma for working 5 of the EG stations.

The weather was beautiful again today, so I went fishing once more. Only got one real good bite besides a lot of little nibbles, but that netted me a 12 inch sucker for fish #12 this year which incidentally is 101 less than my yearly average as of September 25.

I also got in a couple good walks, helped Ange water his garden, watered mine and picked a few vegetable. Now I'm just waiting for 0000Z to come so I can go and get my streak QSO and hopefully my DX streak QSO as well. Tomorrow will be another nice day as will the next several in fact, and I intend to take advantage of them all. -30-

Wednesday, September 24, 2014 9:19 PM - Did you ever have one of those days when nothing seems to go right? I'm sure you have. I had one of mine today.

I guess it started with an email from Don K3RLL saying he wouldn't be able to do our parkpedition tomorrow. So that has been postponed to some future date. I was really looking forward to it. If it wasn't for the long steep hill going up to the park, I could throw things in my backpack and hike up there. I'm getting too old for that though. I'm certainly not going to buy a car just to be able to get up there easily.

Then the flapper valve on my toilet broke, and I had to walk 1.3 miles to Ace Hardware to get a replacement. At least the weather was nice for the walk, and it was something I could easily fix myself without paying an arm and a leg to some repairman.

I almost decided not to go fishing, but the weather was so nice, I dismissed that thought, and headed to the river. As expected on a day like this, the place where I wanted to fish was occupied by a couple other fisherman, so I found an alternate spot. Again as expected, only a couple tiny nibbles the whole time I was there.

Then this evening, I found the bands in pretty poor shape except for 40. I did get my regular streak QSO there from VE3MG. The only DX I heard were HT5T whom I've already worked too many times, and UI8U who was booming in and I could have easily worked him, but I did just work him a few days ago on the same band, and you know my policy on that. So some time tomorrow I'll have to spend looking for some DX to keep the DX streak going another day.

At least it's nice to get all the bad luck taken care of on one day. Hopefully the next few days at least will be good luck ones. -30-

Tuesday, September 23, 2014 9:07 PM - Lot's available to talk about tonight. Wonder how much I'll remember. Old age plays havoc on one's memory. HI.

I'd like to start with a QSO from last evening - a rather strange one. After I got my DX QSO from Z37M, I tuned around some more just to see what was available. Of course TY1AA was there with his usual huge pileup. He's been strong enough for me to work several times, but I just get impatient after a few times trying to break the pileup and give up. Also there was JT1AA/5. He was quite weak, but as I've mentioned in the diary, I've always liked Mongolia ever since watching the Richard Widmark movie "Destination Gobi." It's a fascinating country in many respects. Anyway I do have a good path to that part of the world for whatever reason although I can't seem to go a bit further and work China. So I thought I'd try to work him. There wasn't much competition, and after a few calls I did get a K3?, but then the confusion started. He sent K3 with various combinations of letters, and I wasn't sure if it was me or not. When he didn't seem to get a response from any of the K3 combos, I'd send my call again and the same thing was repeated a couple more times. Finally I decided to give up, but just as I started to tune away, he sent out of the blue more or less, K3WWP TU and started calling CQ again. I guess he was maybe recording me on some sort of digital recorder and finally heard my call clear enough. So I now have my fifth Mongolian QSO from 3 different stations. I still have the Mongolian banknote that came with my QSL from the first QSO with JT1DA. What was it now? 10 Tugruks or something like that.

While tuning around and looking at the panadapter display this evening, an analogy came to mind. Walking down the street and seeing all the bugs around the streetlights is pretty much what the bands look like in a way. You see the DX or other desireable stations like W1AW/# as the streetlight and the stations in the pileups as the bugs around the light.

Did I mention panadapter? Yes. Well, Elecraft has started shipping the kits according to someone on the Elecraft reflector. He got his email shipping notice and tracking number, so hopefully I'll be getting mine in the next few days followed by the PX3 itself a couple days after that. Can't wait.

Back to this evening. It seems that at first W1AW/7 in ID was much more popular than W1AW/5 in NM. ID had a big pileup in the first minutes while I worked NM easily at 0004Z. However NM soon caught up and both had big pileups. I heard several NM stations, but I think only the one ID. I don't need either one, so it doesn't really matter. I just thought I'd grab NM for my regular streak QSO since it looked (and was) so easy.

My DX QSO was a bit different. About the only DX I heard besides TY1AA again was CO2CCA, and strangely enough he had somewhat of a pileup. So I looked around some more and finding nothing I went back to CO2CCA who was now sans pileup and much stronger. I worked him easily for DX day #573 in a row.

It was another beautiful late September day - a 'keeper' if we could. So I put in over 10 miles walking and enjoying the weather. I also went fishing and caught two 17 inch catfish - it's the Year of the Cat with apologies to Al Stewart as far as my fishing goes this year. There were also several carp swimming around totally ignoring my peanut butter bread that the catfish were loving. I'll probably try again tomorrow to get at least one carp for this year.

It still looks like Thursday for our parkpedition (Don K3RLL and me) as the weather is to be sunny and in the low 70s much like today with a slightly higher temperature. More late details in tomorrow's diary entry and on the NAQCC email list. -30-

Monday, September 22, 2014 7:52 PM - I was able to get on the bands a couple times today. Around 1600Z there wasn't much good to say about them. However later in the afternoon in the 2000Z hour, they were pretty good all the way up through 10 meters. I worked RK3ER easily on 12, then G4RRA on 10. After that I got a nice new prefix when I worked GH3IT on 17. That's the first ever GH prefix any number that I've worked. So those three DX stations kept the DX streak alive and well. Now in a few minutes, I'll be trying to extend the streak even further along with the big main streak.

I really love working new prefixes. After 1,083 band-countries worked, new ones come slowly as do band-states (418 worked) and band-zones with 233 worked. However there seems to always be some new prefix available for working. Plus it's fascinating keeping track of all the different combinations of which I have 2.697 worked overall and 7,821 band-prefixes. Also keeping track of our NAQCC alphabet challenges is also very appealing to me.

Well off to the shack now. Hope I get a quick DX QSO so I won't have to worry about it tomorrow and can enjoy this great late September weather we're having. It was a bit chilly today, and if it doesn't warm up as it is supposed to the next few days, our parkpedition on Thursday may be in jeopardy. Not only because it will be too cold for Don K3RLL who is spoiled now after spending most of his time in FL now, but because it will be too cold for PA born, raised, and lived here all his life - Me. -30-

Sunday, September 21, 2014 8:52 PM - This will be short since I want to try to finish the cross-checking of our NAQCC sprint logs this evening so I can get that out of the way and enjoy the nice weather week coming up.

Conditions were pretty good this afternoon, but not so good this evening. No workable DX this evening, so I'll have to put in some of my time tomorrow morning or afternoon in the shack. I did work DM50PCK this afternoon for a possible new prefix.

OK, now off to get my weather readings, then back to cross-checking. -30-

Saturday, September 20, 2014 8:53 PM - A busy day today. Computer/NAQCC work most of the morning, getting ready for our NAQCC 10th Anniversary celebration next month. Fishing this afternoon. I didn't catch anything, but it was nice sitting out in the warm (~80 degrees) weather. Also a young boy about 11-12 years old or so stopped by and visited for a while. He likes to fish also and we had a nice conversation. Nice to see there are still some good kids around in this day and age.

Some yard work occupied more time. After my usual early supper, I got on the bands. They were pretty good and filled with the Salmon Run and SAC contests. I went back and forth deciding whether to enter or not. Finally I was hearing some nice prefixes in the SAC contest that I thought might be new, so I got in that contest and made 26 QSOs. I haven't checked the prefixes yet. I'll do that right now. SG5W, SC0N (the one that really got me started in the test since I was certain it was new - had trouble working him and had to go back to him several times before we clicked), LJ6KC, SA8C, LI3C, and OU4O were all new.

After I kind of worked the band dry, or at least wasn't hearing any stations I hadn't already worked, I quit and made a late shopping run for some groceries. Back home again and time for my streak QSO(s). DX wasn't so good in the 0000Z hour so I got W4IX in the SC QSO party for my regular streak. I did hear a couple SAC stations on 20, but they were rather weak and a bit fluttery. After failing once with OH8X, I tried him again a little later and that time it was a pretty easy QSO to keep the DX streak going at 570 days.

Time now to end this and go get my weather readings. Oh, still no new news on the PX3. -30-

Friday, September 19, 2014 9:29 PM - After a cold snap which caused Don and I to cancel our parkpedition earlier this week, it has warmed up nicely again. We're shooting for next Thursday, the 25th for the parkpedition now. Anyway it was nice enough to again go fishing today, and I had my best day of the year so far which really isn't saying much since just about anything is better than the early part of this year. I got 2 catfish 20 and 18 inches and an 18 inch carpsucker. All three put up a pretty good fight, and for an instant each time I was thinking carp when they hit, but as soon as I played them for a few seconds, I knew better. I did see some carp again though. They seem to be around when I'm there, but so far I haven't caught one. If I don't get one this year, that will end a 22 year streak of catching at least three. That's a total of 400 carp in those 22 years. The last few years have been slim pickings though - 9 14 3 7 7 5. Best was 57 back in 2005. Man that was a fun year.

Before I go on, let's see if there is any update on my PX3. Nope, nothing since the posting on the 17th that says email shipping notices for the kits will start in 3-5 days. Maybe it's good I have to wait a bit, because the PX3s shipped so far have had a few bugs that needed correcting with a firmware update.

Nothing much on the bands when I checked this afternoon. I heard a couple EG stations on the same band on which I already worked them. At least I have the silver diploma pretty much in hand since I worked EG8COR in a solid QSO last night. I'll again pause to see if he has uploaded his log yet. YES! I'm in his log so that makes the silver diploma a sure thing. On October 15, they will be making them available on line. For those who don't know what all the fuss I'm making about EG stations is all about, check here.

It took a while to find my DX QSO this evening. First I had a phone call which got me started looking a little late, then I ran into a good ham friend I haven't worked in a couple years - Ernie VE3OU and we chatted for over a half hour. By then DX conditions had deteriorated even further that when I started. But finally, to keep the pressure off tomorrow morning/afternoon, I found and easily worked Jean FG8NY on 30 meters at 0115Z.

In case you may be wondering about our NAQCC sprint results, as of now with a couple days left to check in, we have 113 logs submitted, and we're approaching 2,000 QSOs for me to cross-check. Some really great conditions this month for a change really pepped things up for the sprint. -30-

Thursday, September 18, 2014 4:11 PM - Can you see I'm anxious to retire from the countdown above? I love the everyday work when it goes exactly as planned. I hate the little picky things that come up. I love cross-checking logs (and will continue to do that after I retire). I hate when logs arrive in some strange formats. I figure it takes about as long to process one log with formatting errors than it does to process ten logs with perfect formatting. I love interacting with our members most all of the time. It is annoying to get questions that already have clear answers on the NAQCC web site. I appreciate the many positive comments that come in about the NAQCC. I won't add to that one. In fact I'll just stop right here with this paragraph. There will be more about my retirement in the next couple months.

It was easy to get my DX QSO today around Noon or so when I worked DL1DGS, Serge easily on 15 meters. 15 was pretty hot and pretty active then. There was also activity on 12 and 10 as well, but mostly stations I've worked before. I would have liked to have gotten 4U20B for a new prefix. When I first heard him, he was just starting up, but it didn't take too long for the big pileup to develop after he was spotted, so I didn't get him. Also no EG stations heard either. That last EG station I worked was for some other special event, NOT the football one, so I still have only 4 toward the silver diploma.

More updating on the PX3 also. Now I notice on the shipping status page that Elecraft is apparently shipping the factory assembled PX3s first, then they will get to my and other folks kit versions. As of 9/17 they say email shipping notices will go out to kit purchasers in the next 3-5 days. SIGH. Somebody mentioned it as a Christmas present. Maybe it will turn out to be just that. At least I still have the HDSDR panadapter, but it is annoying to have to keep carrying my laptop to the shack every time I get on the air. -30-

Wednesday, September 17, 2014 11:58 PM - Busy evening and almost bedtime, but I'll at least put something here in the diary. I did my 'get to 20 QSOs, then QRT' routine in our NAQCC sprint again this evening. Took but 65 minutes to make it to 20 this evening. That's the best time in the three sprints in which I've done this now. No DX this evening, so the streak will have to wait till the morning or afternoon to get extended another day. That's it for now. -30-

Tuesday, September 16, 2014 9:10 PM - I had a nice rag chew, mostly about Elecraft, with N2BZD this evening, and while we were chatting, I was checking a couple things on the Internet on the laptop.

Before I get to that, just a note that my DX streak QSO came easily this evening at 0006Z with OM5XX, a good op whom I've worked before a couple times. I didn't get on in my favorite 2000-2200Z period today, but instead it was the 1800Z hour just to check and see what things are like in that hour these days. Conditions were good today with activity on all bands up through 10 meters. 15 was particularly good. I could have worked a lot of DX, but I was mainly looking for the EG stations and just generally observing the band conditions. I did work DO5DTC because I thought that might be a new prefix. In fact, let's see..... Yes, it is new. Now I have 4, 5, and 6 from the DO block of prefixes. I also worked DL3ASM just because he was on 12 meters and I haven't worked a lot of stations on that band lately. Back to this evening, I also worked W1AW/1 in CT with a single call on 30 meters, then noticed I was still on my 20 meters antenna. HI Well, I always say antennas ain't rocket science. I don't know what the SWR was but a glance showed it was 'pegging' the SWR meter on the KX3. Good thing I wasn't running a KW.

OK, on the Internet now. I checked the PX3 shipping status again, and noticed I was in error in my last check (wishful thinking, I guess). As of September 5, they were shipping orders from 4/4/14, NOT 4/14/14 as I think I said. Also shipping resumed today, not tomorrow after their inventory. I notified a couple friends about the PX3 and they had this to say. Mike KC2EGL said, "The excitement is just like the arrival of our KX3's respectively." Sure is, and I'm sure Mike will be ordering a PX3 soon also. Paul N8XMS had this to say, "You're like a kid waiting for Christmas - except you already know what your gift is!" Again right on the money.

Otherwise on the Internet I was checking the EG on-line logs, and I found that QSO I wasn't sure about a couple days ago was indeed logged correctly. So 4 of the 5 QSOs I have so far are definitely good. The 5th was with a station who hasn't uploaded his logs for checking yet, so I'll have to wait to see about that one. If it's good, then I have enough for the Silver Diploma, but I want Gold which requires 10 QSOs by September 29th so I'll be looking each day till then. -30-

Monday, September 15, 2014 8:46 PM - A bit of a busy day here today. First I had some mid-month bills to pay. When I got home it was laundry time. Then my brunch, after which I went fishing for a while, but got nary a single bite. My nightcrawler escaped unscathed all the time he was in the water. I did see either one or two big carp. It was (they were) chasing something floating on top of the water. I think I may go back tomorrow with some peanut butter bread and see if they are still around. They sure didn't want my nightcrawler.

When I got home from fishing, it was time to eat again. Then I thought I'd check the bands and see if perhaps I could find some more EG stations. I did find one, but once again I'm not positive he had my call right. Some noise wiped out the last two letters when he sent my call. I sent it twice again, and he said CFM, so I hope he did have it right.

I heard a couple more EG stations, but they were ones I already worked. So I kept looking around. The bands were very good in the aftermath of the solar flares over the weekend, perhaps because of the flares. I was hearing stations all the way up to 10 meters. Sigs on 12 and 10 weren't very strong except for CO8LY on 12. Not long after the EG station (EG8HRA), I worked another Spanish special call station, AN07DX. Then more tuning around turned up HB0/DL2SBY. Since I don't work Liechtenstein much (20 QSOs), I worked him and it was an easy QSO. That was followed by another seldom worked country, Algeria (7 QSOs) and 7X4AN whom I have worked before but can never get a QSL card from him. Maybe I'll try again for one this time.

Another thing I did today was to download and install the PX3 Utility program. Then I downloaded the latest firmware so all I need now is for my PX3 to arrive. I think they are shipping orders up to 4/14/14 as of now. My order was sent 4/28/14 so hopefully it won't be too long now.

The bands were good again this evening and I think everyone knew it because it seemed any DX I heard had a pileup. I finally did find one station not too busy - TF3JB and worked him for my DX day #565 in a row. -30-

Sunday, September 14, 2014 6:43 PM - As I said a couple entries ago, sometimes a solar flare will be beneficial to the ionosphere and improve band conditions instead of making them unusable. That seems to be what happened this time. I got on in the 2100Z hour today and found good activity all the way up through 10 meters. In fact I didn't mention it, but yesterday I even heard some activity on six meters.

I was mostly looking for EG stations today as I needed one more to qualify for the silver diploma. Well, I did work one, but I'm not sure he logged me correctly. He sent K3WWW 599. I sent just my call twice without an RST and he said tnx 73. So did he correct my call or not. Fortunately I can check the EG on-line logs and find out. If not, I'll just work him again or work another different one. I think it may be more difficult than I first thought to get 10 EG stations for the gold diploma. There just hasn't been much activity, and what there is seems to be only from those 4 (5?) I already worked.

Otherwise today I chased a V5 station with no success. Had it been an overall new country, I would have tried harder, but it only would have been a new band country since I have Namibia on other bands.

I did work a country I haven't worked all that much though when I worked TK5MH on 17 meters. When I first found him, he was working simplex and it was hard to hear him or beat those whom he was working. Then he went split UP 1 and that frequency was occupied (or nearly so) by another station. So I gave up on him, but came back later and called. I got a K3?, sent my call two times, and had my QSO. Never give up.

I also got a nice new(?) prefix in TM36CDXC. Well, let me check and see if it is indeed new. Yes, I have TM 100, 28, 29, 34, 35, 50, 77, and now 36 as France has a lot of special event TM calls.

When I went to kitchen one time today a glance out the window showed a great cloud formation, so I went and got my camera and took this picture:

pix_diary_20140914_001 (40K)


Saturday, September 13, 2014 11:56 AM - Whew! The DX streak lives - barely - thanks to a great op in Belarus - Mik EW8O. Generally if I can hear Mik, I can work him even if he is weak as he was today - about S5 or so. I've worked him in the past using mW power here. I wish I had as good a location as he apparently has over there. It must be something like conditions at Community park here - very quiet with good reception. Even wihout good reception, signals almost at S0 can be copied fairly easily there. That's a noise level some 6 to 7 S units lower than here at home.

The solar flare didn't produce the dramatic effect on the ham bands that some said it would, and conditions haven't really been all that bad the past 24 hours or so. So unless another stronger flare develops, things should get back to normal by tomorrow or Monday.

Now that I've gotten my diary entry written and my DX QSO in the log, I can goof off the rest of the day. It's a good walking day, so maybe I'll take a couple long walks. Maybe go fishing. I don't know yet. -30-

Friday, September 12, 2014 9:12 PM - Conditions weren't all that bad from the solar flares this afternoon. Signals from Europe were decent although not a lot of them. I did get one more Spanish football station when I worked EG7SFC on 20 meters. This evening though the only strong DX station I heard was AO8BWC on 20 whom I just worked there last evening. I debated with myself if I should work him just to keep the DX streak safe especially since most all his CQs were going unanswered, but I didn't. I'll take a chance that I'll find some DX tomorrow morning or afternoon.

I did work W1AW/5 in TX on a new band - 30 meters for my regular streak QSO, so that streak is safe.

Here's a picture of the power distribution system I mentioned yesterday in the diary. Nothing fancy, special, or innovative, but it didn't cost me one red cent as everything came from my junk box. Right now the KX3 and the K2 are hooked up, and there are spare places for the PX3 when it comes and a couple extras after that.
pix_diary_20140912_001 (56K)

It looks like next week, Don K3RLL and I will be doing a parkpedition probably either Tuesday or Thursday. I'll promo it here in the diary and on our NAQCC email list when details are final. It will be good to get out to the park again. We haven't done a regular parkpedition yet this year, just the Skeeter Hunt back in August. -30-

Thursday, September 11, 2014 9:21 PM - Remember how I said the band was full of EG stations a couple days ago, and I said I was going for the nice award for working so many of them. I thought it would be easy. However, they have disappeared the last two days now. Maybe they are on those other modes, you know phoney, digitalis, etc. If so, they better get back to true ham radio - CW.

The bands weren't too good this afternoon. I wasn't going to get on since I finished the NAQCC European Chapter challenge, but I thought I'd look for the aforementioned EG stations. All I wound up working was LX/PA1AW on 17 meters.

I got an email from the Sky and Telescope email list saying to watch for auroras tonight, so I thought I'd better be sure to get my DX streak QSO this evening before the solar flare which they say is directed straight at the earth messes up the bands. I didn't think I was going to make it. The only two strong stations I heard - AO8BWC and LX/PA3EWP - were not hearing me at all. However a little later I did get AO8BWC as conditions must have improved. So the streak is safe from the solar flare. If it does really mess up the bands at least I'll have until late Saturday afternoon or early evening to work some DX to keep the streak going. The bands should clear up enough by then. Anyway that's all speculation. Sometimes solar flares actually improve propagation on certain bands. We'll see.

Folks are starting to receive their PX3s according to the Elecraft mail list, so it may not be much longer now before I get mine. In anticipation I have the minimal tool kit needed to assemble it ready to go. I've also added a mini power distribution system to my shack to make the 13.8 volts from my power supply more ready available for additional pieces of gear, namely the PX3 when it arrives.

I forgot to mention yesterday I went fishing and got a nice 18 inch catfish who put up a nice battle, almost like a carp at times. I thought at first maybe it was a small carp, but soon realized it wasn't from the way he fought. So that's five fish for the year now. Better than a shutout, and still possibly a couple more months of good fishing weather. With my resigning as NAQCC VP and FISTS QRP columnist, I'll have time to take advantage of more fishing opportunities before winter arrives. Then look out fish next year. I hope to make up for this year. -30-

Wednesday, September 10, 2014 9:12 PM - Now that was simple. I got home from the computer club about 0050Z and figured I had little chance of getting my DX streak QSO this evening, and I might even have a little trouble getting my regular streak QSO. But as I am a lot, I was wrong. My regular streak QSO came quickly at 0052Z from one of the Rte. 66 stations, W6B. Then the search was on for some DX. I found an SX7 station fairly strong, but he wasn't hearing me at all. So a bit more searching led me to F6FZG whom I worked easily at 0100Z. Hey, notice the call is a European station and it has a 6 in it. Those of you who have followed the diary the past few days know what that means. Right - that finished the NAQCC European Chapter challenge for September and now all three September challenges are finished. So now I'm off to submit my report to Matt and Ton. -30-

Tuesday, September 09, 2014 7:35 PM - Well, my W1AW WAS is official. I see my ME QSO in the LotW now. That means all 50 states are not only worked, but verified in the LotW.

I had a good time chasing DX on the bands today. Conditions were good and activity plentiful. I only worked 6 stations, but could have worked more. I was mainly looking for my 6 and U to finish the NAQCC European Chapter challenge. I found and worked the U from UR7GO, but just couldn't find a workable 6. I found a very weak IZ6 who only said sri too weak, an F6 who QRT just as I found him, and an EI6 chasing an OD5 station. Maybe tomorrow will be better. I did find a bunch of EG stations and worked them. Then I looked on QRZ to see what that was all about. It's a special event that started today. The calls represent Spanish football teams and there are awards for working so many. I'm going to go for the Gold Diploma for working 10 of them. I got three today and have until September 29 to get seven more.

Well, time now for an evening snack, then time for my streak QSO after that.

Just one final thing, I've decided to retire from my job as Keynote QRP Columnist. Two retirements in one year. How about that. More about that as the days go by. -30-

Monday, September 08, 2014 9:09 PM - Another beautiful late summer day, so I took advantage and went fishing. It was deja vu of my last trip a week or so ago. I again caught two suckers just about the same size also - 14 and 13 inches.

I also helped Ange water his garden and watered mine after that. Of course the first thing today was laundry which is every Monday morning here. A couple of walks and ham radio filled out the day along with the every day little things that need doing but are not worth talking about.

I got on the bands in my latest favorite time slot of 2000-2200Z looking for that 6 and U from some European stations to finish the NAQCC European Chapter challenge. No luck with that, but I did add two new prefixes to my total by working AM01XT and EG5SDC, both on 20 meters. I did hear OZ4NU which would have given me the U, but I couldn't get him. He was very weak here and kept answering other stations. I have worked him before and even chatted with him a bit if I recall correctly, but conditions just weren't favorable for Denmark today. Then this evening DX streak day 558 went into the books easily when I worked XE2I on 17 after looking around a few minutes unsuccessfully for European stations. I followed that up with a nice visit with KD8CVS on 40 meters.

To close out this entry, here's a picture from the Butler (Unionville) hamfest yesterday.

pix_diary_20140908_001 (60K)

L-R: Bruce AA3LX, Tom WB3FAE, Me, Mike KC2EGL. The picture was taken by Bob WC3O. All 5 NAQCC members. -30-

Sunday, September 07, 2014 9:19 PM - It may sound like a broken record when I say this, but it's true every time Mike and I get together. We had a great day today from early beginning to sad ending.

Mike arrived just at 8AM, and as soon as I finished taking care of a couple of things on my computer, we headed to Ponderosa for their great Sunday breakfast/brunch. After stuffing ourselves as usual, we headed to the Unionville Fire Hall for the BCARA swap meet. We weren't really interested in swapping anything, but merely to fellowship with fellow NAQCC members as well as other hams. It's always a small friendly event, and it was no exception this year. Tom WB3FAE showed up and hung out with us as we roamed around. We never did run into our other club member whom we hoped to meet there. We did visit with members of the local FAWA club who are always there every year, as well as with Bob WC3O and other Skyview members. It's always special fun visiting with Bob as his enthusiasm for CW equals ours in every way. After a couple hours of visiting, we decided to head home for a couple other projects.

Back home we took care of some NAQCC prize business which didn't take long because there wasn't much to do. Then we thought we'd try out one of the prizes for our October sprint drawing. I won't say what it was as the prizes for that drawing are being kept a secret until the drawing, but I will say it is good that we did try it out as it didn't seem to be working properly. Now our club manager Paul N8XMS will have time to find out about the problem and get a replacement if necessary.

Way back in March we ordered two Lil Squall tuna tin type transceivers from QRPme. With a delay in shipping and then Mike's work overload, today was the first time we had a chance to build them. However, the first step in building is checking the parts as usual, and that put the brakes on building. There were several wrong/missing parts in the kits, so we put the parts away again, and contacted QRPme about the problem. So that's where that project stands now.

Next it was a little work on the computer, then off to Vocelli's for two meatball subs. We brought them home, ate them, then headed to my shack. We had checked the bands earlier and found them wanting, but now it was that good 2000-2200Z period I've been talking about, and they were indeed good now. I only worked a couple DX stations that had letters/numbers I needed for our NAQCC challenges, but Mike worked (I guess) around a half dozen or so DX stations. After working the stations and exchanging our usual quips about it being a shame that QRP doesn't work, it was back to the computer.

As I think you know from the diary, Mike and I are both kind of hooked on the hidden object type of computer games, so Mike played one that I had previously finished. It was about a Time Machine. He made it all the way through it in a couple hours or so. After that we talked some football about the 98 point Texas A&M Commerce performance yesterday in which they ran up 986 yards of offense, and had three runners go over 100 yards and three receivers go over 100 yards. As things do, that led to talking about the Georgia Tech 222-0 game over Cumberland back in 1916 and other 100+ point games. We also remisnisced about the Miami Dolphins undefeated season in 1972 and their narrow escape against not so good that year Buffalo Bills whom they beat only by 24-23 en route to the perfect season. Also the playoff game against Pittsburgh in which they needed a fake punt by Larry Seiple to keep the victory streak going. I think you get the jist of the football conversation without me giving more such examples. All too soon, 8PM came and Mike had to head home as he has to get up at 5AM for work.

I went up to the shack to get my DX streak QSO which came at 0011Z from P43E. By coincidence, the P and E finished off our main NAQCC challenge, leaving me only the European Chapter challenge to finish this month. I need a 6 and a U to polish that one off. I'll try to do that tomorrow. -30-

Saturday, September 06, 2014 4:09 PM - To paraphrase my most idolized statesman of all time Winston Churchill (who said "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few"), almost never in ham radio was so much owed to one ham for one QSO. Let's see... when I worked ZG2FK on 17 meters this afternoon, that gave me the final letters 'G' and number '2' for our NAQCC challenges, it was a new prefix toward the WPX award (ZG2), a new prefix toward our NAQCC Alpha Prefix award (ZG), and to top it all off a new band country (Gibraltar on 17 meters). That's quite a bit from one QSO. The call threw me at first, but the Z_2FK immediately reminded me of ZB2FK whom I've worked a couple times before. I figured maybe Gibraltar had obtained a new prefix. Well, it turns out the ZG prefix is in use as follows: "The Special Prefix ZG2 / ZG3 is only authorised by the GRA (Gibraltar Regulatory Authority) once a year in September. You will only be able to work ZG2FK during National Day week. From the 4th TO 11th Sept. Nat. Day being 10th September." So I lucked out with that one since as I often say, I don't pay attention to spots or announcements of special operations, but simply tune the bands looking for (more or less) unusual things. Only after I actually work something unusual will I check the Internet to find out just what it was I worked. I think that's how the Internet and ham radio should work together. The Internet shouldn't be a crutch for those who for whatever reason don't like tuning the dial of their rig. End of soapbox.

I also worked an old friend WA8KOQ today. I haven't worked Wink in some time now. Unfortunately conditions cut our contact short. It did give me the final Qs for the challenges though. Next it was ZG2FK followed by OZ1SDB/P whose S finished the Nancy challenge for me. Next HA0NAR who gave me a couple Rs and a 12 meters QSO with K7HP. Nice to work a USA station on 12 meters. I mostly only work DX on that band. It also added a couple Ps to the challenges.

So my challenge totals are now 166 gotten and 11 needed. I need 4 for the European challenge and 7 for the main challenge. Can you tell that I really love our NAQCC challenges? HI What a great way to spend time on the ham bands adding to the amount of CW activity while looking for those letters and numbers.

Tomorrow Mike and I are off to the Butler (actually Unionville fire hall) swap meet. We'll meet Tom WB3FAE there and hopefully meet another WPA NAQCC member Dick K3VYY as well. As usual, if you are in the area and want to stop by and say hello, you are hereby invited to do so. No formal NAQCC setup - we're just going there to have fun, meet folks, and maybe pick up a bargain. Mike and I plan to get there sometime between 10 and 10:30 wearing our NAQCC WPA Chapter blue hats. This is usually a small but well organized friendly event. -30-

Friday, September 05, 2014 6:39 PM - Great conditions this late afternoon/early evening and finally people are realizing it. Activity much higher today than previous days. I got on just after 2015Z and the bands weren't all that good just then, but they came alive like someone turned on a switch not long after that. First I worked W1AW/7 easily on 20 meters while passing time waiting to see if DX would show up or not. Then when the switch was turned on, I had a ball working S59N, S58MU, TK5MH, LZ32MP, DF9ZV, G3ZRJ (nice rag chew), IZ4ZZB, and LU7HF. That covered all bands from 20 through 12 meters - 12 was LU7HF.

That's the most DX I've worked in one session (outside of contests) in a good long while now as far as I can remember. In the process I got a multitude of letters/numbers for the NAQCC challenges. Let's see in yesterday's entry I had gotten 122 and needed 55. Today the totals are 159 and 18 so I'm not far from completion. I only need a Q and S to finish the Nancy challenge and 2 6 E(2) U to finish the European Chapter challenge. Eleven to finish the main challenge. Maybe another good session tomorrow will finish up at least one or two of them, if not all. However as you get down to the last few letters it becomes harder to find the remaining ones.

Other than the ham activity, I did some more outside work cleaning up a bit in the garden and taking some grass out from between the bricks. It was a hot day with a high of 90, but there was a nice breeze blowing between the houses where I was working.

Elecraft says the PX3s are now shipping, so it may not be long before mine will come. I updated the KX3 firmware today in preparation, but there is one more update needed to make something better when working with the PX3. It's in beta right now, I believe, but I will definitely get it before hooking up the PX3 when it comes. Shouldn't take but an hour or two to assemble it from looking at the manual on line.

Oh, I updated the picture on the main page of the web site with my picture from 2014 (taken during the Skeeter Hunt August 10) in anticipation of the 18th anniversary of starting the web site on September 8, 1996. Wow, has it been that long I've been doing this? Won't be long till the 20th anniversary like my streak. Of course the 19th year will start next Tuesday, and I'll have to update the banner at the top of my pages to reflect that. -30-

Thursday, September 04, 2014 9:22 PM - I feel so good on days when I do a lot of physical labor. I would make a horrible couch potato. Today, even though it was hot, I cut my grass and edged the lawn among other things I'll mention after I get up on the soapbox here, then get back down.

If man can go to the moon and do many other such marvelous things, why can't he come up with a weed eater that works 100% right. Hey, I'd settle for 75% even. My weed eater, and others I've owned previously, fails to automatically feed out the line after maybe the first month or so of use. Then I have to stop, pull the line out manually if I'm lucky enough to have enough sticking out to pull - otherwise, I have to take the line cover off and dig into the reel to find the line, pull it out, reinstall the cover and wonder how long it will be before I have to do it all over again. Today was particularly frustrating. I don't think I got more than two minutes of trimming in between fixes. SIGH!!!!.

After the cutting was finally done, Denny and I replaced some rogue grass in my front yard. Ange called it African grass. It grows many times faster than any other grass variety and that one spot made my lawn look something like a Mohawk haircut. I think the new grass we planted today will be more in the mainstream of grasses.

I also did some work in the garden tying up some tomato plants. Tomatoes seemed strange this year. My Siberian ones produced once and then died off. The early girls also gave one decent crop, but now there are hardly any small tomatoes nor all that many flowers for continuing production. The beans are producing wonderfully as are the peppers and the peas pretty good. Ange's meager garden this year is also not doing all that well as far as his zucchinis and cucumbers. His peppers are slow but coming along well.

Later in the day, I helped Denny work on his weed eaters. His stopped running and he got a old second one like it which wouldn't start. We thought we could combine the two into one good one, but didn't have any luck as it seemed both actually had terminal problems.

With all that, I'm just trying to remember if I got in any good walks today. I have 4 miles on the pedometer but a lot of that came from my first walk of each day which I do inside the house for about 1 1/3 miles just after I get up. The rest came from just walking around a little here and there while working.

Amongst all that, I got on the bands and had a good time again in the 2000-2100Z hours. I did get a DX QSO last night when I worked 9A4A so no pressure there, but I did want to work on the three NAQCC challenges going on this month. I started with a nice rag chew on 17 meters (which was the hot band today) with Georg DK7LX. Then I worked AO8BWC and OM5RM, both also on 17. Those stations plus N9ZXL this evening gave me a bunch of letters/numbers for the challenges so I now have 122 letters/numbers and need 55 to complete all three. Oh, and I worked AO8BWC on a different band (20) this evening for my DX streak QSO for day 554. -30-

Wednesday, September 03, 2014 7:34 PM - I'm kind of glad I didn't get my DX streak QSO last evening. That "made" me get on the air this afternoon and have a lot of fun. First I took care of the streak as my top priority by working CO2IR on 17 meters. Not much else going on at that time though (1700Z) so I QRT, but came back later on at 2100Z and had a lot of fun chasing letters and numbers for our three NAQCC challenges this month. I went over the 50% mark in two of the three. Here are the totals (worked/needed) - regular challenge 44/42 - Nancy WZ8C challenge 32/18 - European challenge 15/26.

I also worked a couple overall new prefixes along the way - AM01CBX and 5E7R. Conditions were quite good at that time of day as they have been for the past few weeks now. I may have to just give up trying for my DX streak QSO in the evening and go for it in that hour instead. However if that hour turns out to be no good, then I only have a couple more hours to get the DX or it's so long DX streak. So I better continue to try in the evening and save the 2100Z hour as a backup.

Oh, I also worked MW0EDX on 30 meters at 2131Z. I can't recall working Europe that early on 30 too many times, but of course my curiousity is now aroused, and I'm going to delve into my MS Access log and find out. It won't take but a minute or two with such a versatile log database..... OK, I simply filtered the band on 30, the continent on Europe and sorted the results on time. The results? My earliest Europe was at 1952Z on 2/6/2013 PA4VHF. The only 1900Z hour QSO. One in the 2000Z hour - YO9HP at 2048Z on 3/9/2010. Nine came in the 2100Z hour or ten counting today's QSO. That's out of 312 European QSOs on 30 meters.

Hmmmm... now I wonder about 40. All I need do is change the band filter from 30 to 40..... That yields 647 European QSOs on 40 meters. Latest came at 1124Z when I worked 8S2F on 11/30/2003. Earliest was TF3WW at 2021Z on 4/21/1995. Continental Europe was OK5W at 2145Z on 11/28/2009. Well, I found that interesting. I hope maybe you did too.

What? 80 meters. OK - 46 European QSOs between 0048Z (YO3APJ) and 0718Z (GM4YXI). That's it for now. Now about time to go see if I can get that DX QSO this evening or not. -30-

Tuesday, September 02, 2014 11:59 PM - OK, despite the (faked) time stamp it is now well after midnight. I got caught up with the NAQCC/FISTS Honoring Nancy sprint and a couple other things and am just now getting to updating my web site for Tuesday evening. Very briefly, the sprint was quite a success despite very poor conditions. I worked W1AW/4 in TN for my regular streak QSO plus the sprint QSOs, of course. My DX streak will have to wait till later today. That's it for now. More in Wednesday's entry. -30-

Monday, September 01, 2014 8:53 PM - Remember Yogi Berra's famous line, "deja vu all over again"? Well, I kind of felt like that tonight. Last night I worked W1AW/1 in ME on 30 - tonight I worked W1AW/1 in ME on 20. Last night I worked YW5D on 20 - tonight I worked YW5D on 30. So although I was very glad they kept my streaks going another day, I can't use any letters or numbers from their calls for our NAQCC challenges. Actually I'm really very glad to keep the DX streak going. It was a struggle until I finally worked YW5D at 0047Z. Before that, I tried several times to work AO8BWC without being able to beat his pileup. I also tried HC5AI. I've been hearing him a few times the past few days, and I wonder if it is the same HC5AI who was my first QRP Ecuador QSO back in 1994. Oh, I see now. I just looked on QRZ, and Alfo HC5AI from 1994 was the father of the current holder of HC5AI. That makes me want to work him even more now. I also heard V44KAI on 30, and could have worked him, but I just worked him a couple days ago on 30, and I don't repeat DX QSOs that close together if I can help it. Now had it been a new band like YW5D was, that's another story.

Tomorrow evening is our joint FISTS/NAQCC sprint honoring the late FISTS leader Nancy WZ8C. I hope there will be a big turnout for that. I'll certainly be there to honor my late friend. See the NAQCC web site for more details and join in.

It was kind of a humid showery day here today so I didn't get out much except for a pretty good walk this evening after it cooled off a bit. Now it's time to go get my weather readings. Incidentally August turned out to be just about normal as far as temperatures go, but we had about an inch and half more precipitation than normal. If you believe AccuWeather, September looks to be about the same - normal temps and above normal precip. -30-

Sunday, August 31, 2014 9:08 PM - Kind of a nondescript day today with really nothing out of the ordinary to talk about. In anticipation of the arrival of the PX3 late this week or early next week, I did gather up the few tools needed to assemble it, and I will set up a ground wrist strap before it arrives since the two boards in the unit are subject to ESD, and after waiting this long, I don't want to have to wait still longer for a replacement board or two.

The DX streak got off to an easy start for its 19th month tonight when I easily worked YW5D on 20 meters. Then I got an insurance W1AW/1 QSO for ME just in case. Then a QSO with W3JAR closed out my activity this evening. Those 3 QSOs got me off to a start on the NAQCC Nancy Kott special challenge and our regular challenge also. Nothing for the European Chapter challenge yet though. Maybe tomorrow afternoon I can get started on that one. -30-

Saturday, August 30, 2014 5:39 PM - After my harping about not using spotting, advance info, etc., today I came across something via the Elecraft reflector I will be following. I won't use spotting, but I will follow the announcements about the upcoming Navassa Island activation within the next 18 months. That's the only entity on the NA continent that I have not yet worked. For more information check this out.

More good news via the Elecraft reflector yesterday also. They will start shipping the PX3 panadapter late this week (guess that meant Aug 29/30) and continue next week (Sep 2-5). I'll be keeping a corner of my eye on the front window watching for a UPS truck. I've thoroughly gone through the assembly manual and it looks like maybe a two hour project at the very most, perhaps even just a one hour project although I will be very careful and deliberate in the assembly as I was with the KX3. That's for sure.

I haven't been on the bands yet today so I don't know what they are like. I just hope they will be good when 0000Z comes so I can get the streak(s) taken care of. -30-

Friday, August 29, 2014 8:49 PM - The past two evenings now I've gotten my DX QSO quickly as the bands seem to be picking up a little bit, especially this evening. There were a lot of strong signals on all bands up through 17 meters. Last evening it was AM08BLV and tonight V44KAI. Conditions are still not all that good to Europe except in that 2000-2100Z time slot, and they are not all that good even then. It may be rough mastering the NAQCC European Chapter challenge in September, but I'll certainly try.

It was another beautiful day today, perhaps a bit warmer than yesterday. Still nice to be outside. I got involved in a couple projects here and didn't go fishing, but I did get in some nice walks, and worked in the garden a while. This morning I watered Ange's garden as he is away this weekend. Then I finally got around to painting a plant stand which I had been putting off for some time now. It sure looks a lot better now.

Now it's just about time for my weather readings, so I'll cut this short. -30-

Thursday, August 28, 2014 4:27 PM - This turned out to be a more interesting day than usual. First of all I thought it might be the first day since February 28, 2013 on which I failed to work a DX station. Conditions last night were abominable, and that's being kind. First of all I was late getting to the rig because I was enjoying a front porch visit with my neighbor Denny. Remember when such visits used to be almost a nightly thing before all the electronic media took over? Nowadays it's a rare thing as everyone lives their virtual lives on TV, computer, smart phone, etc. Anyway the visit lasted until 0030Z or so, and when I got to the rig I could tell conditions were not up to par. There was no DX to be heard, and not many other signals either. About the only strong signals were from the W1AW operations. It took me just over an hour to make any QSO at all. Finally I found N9ODY on 80 meters calling CQ and worked him for about 20 minutes to keep the main streak rolling. However conditions had continued to worsen, and I never did work any DX. I gave up for the night.

Today conditions weren't any better. There was hardly a signal to be heard on any band the first time I checked. I figured I'd try later in the day in that 2000-2200Z period which seems to be the best time these days to find and work DX.

Meanwhile, I had other things in mind. It was the most gorgeous day of many such days this summer, AND the river was down and pretty clear so.... Yes, you're right, I decided to go fishing. First I went for a walk to check out the fishing spots, then bought some nightcrawlers on the way home. I packed up my gear and headed back to the river. For quite a while, other than seeing what I think was a bass and carp swimming around a weed bed, nothing happened. I noticed some bubbles rising to the surface and reeled in and re-cast toward that spot. Still nothing, so after a while I decided to reel in again. When I picked up the pole it felt like I had a snag, but no, it was a fish who hooked himself and gave no indication he was there. I figured it must be a carpsucker as they often do that. When I saw it though, it was a sucker who measured 14 inches when I landed him. My first fish of 2014 finally. Then about 10 minutes later a cyclist stopped to ask how I was doing. I said I had caught a sucker. Just then my pole bounced and I hooked a second sucker just a tad shorter than the first one. So for the first time since May 8 I went fishing and caught my first two fish of the year. That also re-instilled the desire to get in some more fishing now. I'll probably wind up going tomorrow again.

Oh, back to DX. Almost forgot. I did get on in the 2000Z hour and it did not look at all promising again. I kept cycling between 20 and 17 meters looking for something - anything. N4BP on 20 was about the only strong signal I heard. Then I did see a weak signal on 17 on the panadapter and when I tuned it in, it was 9Y4/AI5P. That encouraged me, because he is a great op, and I figured even if he was weak (actually about a 449) and I was weak there also, he might just pull me through. After he worked a couple other stations, I called and he came back with K3WWP 559. I gave him a generous 569 and the DX streak has gone on for another day. I hope it is easier this evening for day #547 so I'll have the whole day free tomorrow for fishing, etc. as it looks like another beauty coming up. -30-

Wednesday, August 27, 2014 9:26 AM - This must be one of my earliest (in the day) diary entries, but I want to assess my assessment from yesterday's entry.

I was definitely correct in stating the pileups for ME would be awesome. Perhaps the 0000Z hour had some of the biggest pileups I've heard (seen) for any state operation so far. I guess a lot of folks wanted to say they were one of the first to complete the W1AW WAS. The pileups started just about immediately when the first CQ went out, then increased to "HUGE" in just a couple minutes and stayed that way for at least an hour when I shut down.

I said my only chance to get ME last night would be if I caught them immediately before they were found and spotted. However there wasn't enough time for that. And it was the same on 40 through 17 at least. So I noticed another strong peak on the panadapter and checked it out. It was W1AW/7 in AZ. A single call got me a QSO with them at 0001Z. I was maybe the first to work them. They were still simplex when I found and worked them anyway and I didn't hear any other stations calling. It took a while for their pileups to develop, but they did and they were big although nowhere near those for ME.

So far my assessment was right on. However I screwed it up this morning. I said I was pretty sure I wouldn't get ME until the second or third day. Wrong! I got it fairly easily this morning at 1305Z on 40M shortly after I got out of bed. The op even said nice QRP signal so it was someone who knows me or my reputation since as you know, I NEVER sign /QRP.

So now I'm elated that I got my W1AW WAS. However there is also a bit of a let down since the quest is over now. I'll have to find some other goal to work toward. Oh, I will get an insurance ME QSO even though this QSO was perfectly solid. The op could have a computer crash or something else freaky could happen.

In looking back over the 50 states, KL7 was definitely the hardest for me. It didn't come until day 6. I'm surprised to see NY took until day 5. I don't remember why now. The first two came late also since I wasn't really aware of nor prepared for what was going on. As you know my ham radio operating consists of getting on the air and seeing what is there. I don't get any advance info of special operations, DX spots, or anything like that. I just found the W1AW operations by 'accident' when tuning around the bands. THEN I checked to see what was going on, and the rest is now history. Those first week stations came on day 4 (NC) and day 7 (WV). After that with a few exceptions most states came on day one, many in the first hour as well. By days as follows:
Day Number
1 - 32 hour 1 (SC DE TX FL MI KY TN VT IA MA ND NJ NH CT CO AL AR MT IL MD) later in the day (OK GA WI ID AZ OH NM OR VA MS RI ME)
3 - 3 (UT NE WA)
4 - 1 (NC)
5 - 1 (NY)
6 - 1 (AK)
7 - 1 (WV)

It sure was a lot of fun. It would be nice to have something similar to do next year. Of course we have our monthly NAQCC challenges which are equally enjoyable. And the everyday chase of new DX entities, new prefixes, new band states, and so on. Speaking of band states, I'll have to see if I can get some second time around W1AW states that I need on 17 and 12 meters to help completing WAS on those bands. Maybe even get KL7 on 80 meters to finish 80 or MD and DE to finish 10 meters. Maybe even some of the 8 I need on 160.

Before I close a bit of diary feedback from Gust ON6KE who emailed in part, "....In yesterdays article you wrote "Many use spotting which I NEVER use for W1AW nor anything else."
I think that elaborating on this will be of interest to many. Your DXCC and WAZ (same for the milliwatt stuff) scores are impressive. I think it would be great especially for the newer hams to learn that there IS an alternative to keeping an eye on a DX cluster all day then after an interesting spot each and every time having to enter a dogfight.
There's plenty a DX around that doesn't get spotted (immediately), it can only improve their DX scores and the pleasure in having worked some sometimes elusive DX!...."

I think that's an excellent suggestion, and when time permits, I'm going to do it. -30-

Tuesday, August 26, 2014 7:43 PM - In 17 minutes as I type I will join a HUGE horde of hams trying to work W1AW/1 in ME to complete their 2014 W1AW WAS. I'd like to honestly assess my chances of getting ME this evening. Basically I'd rate my chances as slim and none, and as a friend from my WPIT days used to add - and Slim just left town.

It takes two things to get through a pileup - skill and luck. However skill can be offset by some factors. I know I have the skill to break what will be a huge pileup, BUT a lot of other hams do also and they have some things I don't have. Many (most?) have a much stronger signal than my minimal QRP. Many use spotting which I NEVER use for W1AW nor anything else.

So my only chance is a slim one (if he didn't leave already). I need to find W1AW immediately at 0000Z and work them as I did with VT earlier in the year when I may have been the very first to work them at all or at least in the top 3 or so depending on the other bands. Once that opportunity is missed and W1AW gets spotted, forget it.

I would guess after some thought that I probably won't get ME until the second or more likely third day of operation when things slow down. We'll have to wait and see how close my assessment turns out to be. If I'm wrong and I do get them tonight, I certainly will be back here to rejoice with a diary update. Of course if I do get them, I also have to get my DX QSO for that streak afterwards. -30-

Monday, August 25, 2014 6:04 PM - I said yesterday I was curious about QSOs via CQ over the years. It took me but a few minutes with my MS Access log to come up with the totals below. They are not completely accurate because I sometimes forget to note in my paper log whether or not a QSO came from my CQ or not. Also the same in contests. I know most of my contacts in contests (with the exception of some contests like our NAQCC Sprints where I call CQ most of the time, the PA QSO Party where I CQ a lot, etc.) virtually all my contacts are from S&P operating, but I also neglect to mark many contest QSOs one way or the other. So with that info in mind here we go:

160      96        0          58               38
80     3308        0        1786             1522
60        8        0         N/A                8
40     4436       13        1949             2487
30     1157       41         N/A             1157
20      408        8         229              179
17       68        5         N/A               68
15      132       23          58               74
12       20        9         N/A               20
10       78       46          23               55
6         4        0           0                4
Total  9715      145        4103             5612

I must admit I don't know really what it means other than to give some information about my personal operating style on the various bands. In looking at it now, I think I should have included my total QSOs on each band. That would have given an idea of the percentage of QSOs per band that came from CQs. Maybe I'll refine that later, but not right now.

Of course those are all QRP/CW/simple wire antenna QSOs as are virtually all QSOs mentioned on my web site. There might be a couple mentioned here and there from back in the 60s when I did run more than 5 watts output up to perhaps 50 or 60 watts.

A couple things surprised me. First about the high totals on 80 and 40 for CQ CONTEST QSOs. The vast majority of those are from our 118 NAQCC Sprints. Next I didn't realize I had that many 17M QSOs from CQs. I'm surprised my second best band for DX QSOs via CQs is 30 meters, and it is only a few behind #1 10 meters. I would never have guessed that. I would say that is simply because of propagation on 30 and the fact I call CQ there a lot. Sort of the law of averages. HI. I hope at least a couple of you found it interesting.

I worked TM50JEM this afternoon. Again the bands were good for DX in that 2100Z hour. Hope the DX continues good past 0000Z this evening so I can get the streak QSO early. Maybe, just maybe, I can go fishing tomorrow then without a DX QSO to worry about. Oh, and tomorrow evening begins the chase for ME - state #50 from W1AW. I figure unless I catch them just starting up, I will have to wait a day or two for my turn as there should be tremendous pileups from many stations trying to finish up their WAS as I am. I hope there is a big turnout of operators from ME to spread the activity out among the bands and thin the pileups a bit. Propagation to ME for me should be good on all bands from 80 through 17 with a shot at 15 also. Of course depending on the time of day/night. -30-

Sunday, August 24, 2014 9:18 PM - I know that some of you mentioned to me that you were anxious to see how "The Great Antenna Experiment" turned out today so...,.

We arrived at Skyview just about the exact minute we said we would. We were walking up to the radio room at 8:59AM, and by 9:20 we had become familiar with the setup and got our KX3s attached to the antenna farm shown here (the radio room is in the building at bottom center of the picture):

pix_diary_20140824_001 (45K)

I'm going to condense this somewhat from the version that will be in the September NAQCC newsletter. First here is a picture of our operating team (L-R) Mike KC2EGL, Tom WB3FAE, ME, Don K3RLL.

pix_diary_20140824_002 (45K)

I hooked my KX3 up to the 80/40 trap dipole at 50 feet knowing that the KX3 would match the antenna on any band with its built-in tuner. I wanted to check several bands without having to switch antennas so I let the other antennas to the other three. More about their exploits in the newsletter article. I'll stick to my story here.

The very first CQ I made was answered by Gary K1YAN up in MA. That was on 30 meters. I was impressed by the signal strength and clarity produced in the KX3 by the Skyview antennas. Almost no background noise and the signals just popped out of nowhere as the bands were tuned. It almost seemed like the antenna/rig were not working until a signal reached the passband - then look out ears. HI. I stayed on 30 for a bit and made one other QSO with Alan W4MQC/0 in CO. Somewhat long distance for 30 at that time of day but that high dipole and low noise made it good copy. Well, except for the QRM in the room with a couple conversations going on behind me. It was great having so many visitors in the room being exposed to QRP/CW and the NAQCC. There was a lot of interest expressed in not only that but especially in the KX3s. Those who had them sang their praises just as we do. Those who didn't, expressed interest in getting one.

I next moved on to 40 meters and worked WA8ULB in WV who said we were 20DB over down there. That was followed by AC8AP and KF8R in OH. Then I took a little break with Mike while Tom and Don took over our rigs. When I returned, I again went band exploring. I wanted to see how the dipole worked on 15 meters. The band was pretty busy compared to what I usually hear here at home at the same time of day. I heard my friend Chris F8DGY calling CQ, and answered him. He heard me immediately. Maybe too immediately because all I got out was K as I started to send K3WWP, not N3AQC which is the call we were using. I realized my mistake and also that I hadn't hit the ATU button on the KX3 to match the antenna and the SWR was high. But still he came back with K? after which I started to send N3A.... but still hadn't tuned the antenna. Again I got a N3? from Chris. Finally I got to tap the ATU button and sent N3AQC. He replied and we had a nice very solid chat for about 10 minutes or so. I could tell from his replies to my comments that he was getting solid copy. I think that QSO more than any others drilled home just how much superior those big high antennas were to my little antenna victory garden at home. AND I wasn't even using the big gain antennas, but just the high dipole. Hopefully the next time we visit I can use the quad and the 5 element beam antennas they have. This time the quad had just been installed and the rotator wasn't working, but Mike and Don did make several QSOs using it. We never did figure out just how to hook up the beam antenna, but that's another story.

After my venture on 15 meters I came back to 40 because we were now in the hour we promised NAQCC members we would hang out around the QRP frequencies and listen for them. One of the QSOs in that time period was with W8FB Bob (NAQCC 2832) who was using a flex radio and was kind enough to email me a screen dump of the panadapter showing N3AQC to be the strongest signal on the band at the time. Take a look:

pix_diary_20140824_003 (36K)

That was another thing that impressed me about just how well the Skyview antennas worked compared to mine. When I ran out of member QSOs on 40, I decided to try some DX on 17 which also tuned 1:1 on the dipole with the KX3 tuner. There I worked RU3ZL and UX1HW, took a break for some of the great food Skyview serves at their gatherings, then returned to find Tom had gotten some DX on 17 also. Neither of us could break the tremendous pileup generated by HB0/HB9LCW though. When I took over again I added QSOs with OK1FTC and V44KAI.

That pretty much closed out our operating time and we packed up and got ready to head home, but not after a long chat with our Skyview friend Bob WC3O who was the one who first invited us to operate at Skyview. He told us we were welcome to visit Skyview any Tuesday evening when they hold their club meetings and also for the 2015 August hamfest/swap shop. Although we probably will not be able to make those Tuesday evenings, we do think by next August we will be more familiar with with the Skyview setup and will be even more versatile in our operating and able to do even more antenna experimenting. We sincerely thank Bob, Tom W3TLN who emailed info on the antennas to familiarize us with what we would be using, and all the many Skyview members who helped us out with this and that along the way.

When we got home, Mike and I started our report for the NAQCC Newsletter, then decided we needed to do something completely different from ham radio for a while and did another of our favorite things - no, not eating, you're getting ahead of the story as we were still full from the great Skyview food which incidentally Bob is also in charge of - we played a hidden object game on the computer until it was time for Mike to head north for another long busy work week.

After he left, I did grab a sandwich and took a walk in the nice cool evening weather. Then up to the shack at 0000Z for my streak QSOs. The bands were actually good this evening also and my QSOs came almost as easily as they did at Skyview. At 0001 I got HF2014VB easily to immediately extend the streaks another day. Then I heard KH6LC in the HI QSO party on 15 and decide to check my Hawaii pipeline which didn't seem to be working the previous evening. It was back and I worked him easily. Then I thought I'd try some 17 meter CQs since the band sounded good but somewhat empty. Surprisingly I got an answer rather quickly from XE2AAW. Maybe tomorrow out of curiousity I'm going to check how successful my CQs are on each band or at least how many QSOs on each band have come from my CQs. I can easily do that with my MS Access log, but I'm a bit tired to do it tonight and anyway I want to get the pictures inserted in the entry above here before I forget. Oh, after that I had a great QSO with W3TOP who was (and is) also in the broadcasting industry. He's from around DC and guess what station he worked for? I did. -30-

Saturday, August 23, 2014 8:33 PM - Just sitting here waiting for Mike to arrive, so I'll get my diary entry done now instead of waiting for him to guest (ghost?) write it.

Of course tomorrow is the big (antenna) day at the Skyview hamfest. We'll be getting up early to head down there. Both Earth and Space weather look good. Sunny and 82 - Quiet and 132/5.

Took 11 minutes to get my DX QSO this evening when I worked LY2J after waiting and waiting for a couple other stations to finish their rag chews or pileups. Then a bit after that I worked AI5P again, this time as 9Y4/AI5P. I don't work Trinidad too often so I thought I'd get another one in the log. A bit about AI5P in a moment, but first I want to see just how many Trinidad QSOs I do have. Oh, I've got 49. I didn't think I had nearly that many. Maybe it's just been a while since I worked one. Let's see. No, I had two in both 2012 and 2013, but all of the rest were in 2007 and earlier, so they have been scarce the past 7 years or so.

Now about AI5P. I noticed this the other night when I logged him from Grenada as J3/AI5P. Now this is my seventh QSO with him, from seven DIFFERENT countries - Anguilla, England, St. Paul Is., St. Pierre et Miquelon, Guadeloupe, Grenada, and now Trinidad. I don't know if I've worked anyone else from that many or more countries. That will take a bit longer to figure out and I don't have the time right now. I'm running through my mind just how to do it though, and it may not be all that hard with Access and Excel to help.

Almost time now to get my weather. It's a bit cooler this evening than the past few evenings. My house heated up pretty good the past few days, so I've got the windows open now to cool it back down. I think only a couple times this summer has the house really warmed up since it's been such a cool summer. -30-

Friday, August 22, 2014 8:23 PM - The best 0000Z hour DX in several days now. Just took a few seconds past 0000Z to bag my DX QSO in the form of Zoran YT9M who was booming in at a real 599. Then a little later I worked what may be a new prefix in SJ2014ECC. I know I worked SC2014ECC several days ago. Well, let's just see if the SJ is new. Just take a second with my Microsoft Access logbook. Nope, I have it worked and veried in eQSL and LotW. Oh well. Speaking of prefixes I did some cross checking of them today and found 8 that I had in my log, but not in my prefix list. All special calls with more than one number in the call. I have everything from 0A0 through ZZ9 in my prefix list and just need to check them off when I work them, then verie them. However it would be impossible to put all the possible prefixes with more than one digit in a file that way (the file would be too big for any hard drive since the possibilities are definitely infinite) so I just add them to the file when I work them. I also found I had put one full call in the prefix field in my databse instead of just the prefix, so I lost one there.

Another thing I cross-check from time to time is band and frequency. I once in a great while put the wrong band in the band field after logging the frequency. Of course I could add some sort of error checking when I enter the data, but that would just make things more complicated. It's much easier to just do a query of the database now and then since that only takes a few seconds. Anyway I found 3 errors in the bands today.

Since I was working in the database, I thought I'd see just what percentage of my QSOs this year have been DX. Of 1,724 QSOs, 1,136 have been DX for a percentage of 65.9, just under 2 out every 3 QSOs. That tops my previous best year, 2013 with 61.0 percent. I guess that pretty much shows what my interest in ham radio is these days. HI.

It was a bit warm and humid today, but still nice enough for a good walk and a lot of yard work in between a couple of little showers. I was going to go for another walk just now, but the radar shows another little shower heading toward us. Maybe even a TS as I thought I heard a weak rumble of thunder just a couple minutes ago. -30-

Thursday, August 21, 2014 5:09 PM - 'Tis said, "Everything comes to those who wait." I sure had to wait a long time to get my DX QSO today. It was interesting watching the changing propagation patterns on the bands while waiting. I knew propagation to Europe had been picking up in the 2000Z hour, so after an unsuccessful check of the bands earlier in the day - around 1800Z or so if I recall correctly - I waited till 2000Z to try again. At first there was nothing there but for some USA stations. Then as propagation changed, I heard F5MUX coming in weakly, then he picked up a bit to S6 or so. I tried calling with no luck. Then he faded out again. S57AW was pretty strong, but he was chasing something else (W1AW maybe), so I couldn't even try him. Likewise with an IK1 station. It was getting more and more frustrating. OK, there's an SP7 station about S6 calling CQ. I tried him a few times but he always answered someone else. Of course I was watching the panadapter and tuning to the peaks when a new one appeared. I was also having some noise peaks about every 15 kHz. Does someone still use an outdated TV around here? Suddenly exactly on one of the noise peaks came a big peak just above the noise. I tuned him in and it was an OE station, but the noise at first wiped out the rest of his call. Finally he cleared the noise. It was OE3XMA. I called and got him with but that single call. Whew! And the DX streak goes on yet another day. Too many more days like this though, and I'll just voluntarily end it.

Now I'm gathering up some things I'll be taking to Skyview on Sunday. I'm getting more and more anxious to get there as the time draws closer. I hope that those of you readers who work me on the air more or less regularly will try to work me on Sunday and if you can, let me know the difference in signal strength with their antennas as described in the diary yesterday versus my minimal antenna victory garden here at home. I'll probably be using the NAQCC club call of N3AQC and will be operating around the QRP frequencies some of the time. But I'll also probably be chasing DX some of the time too. It will basically just be one big experiment, and time will be shared with Mike, Don, and Tom. At least Mike. I haven't heard definitely from Don or Tom that they are going, although they were interested. -30-

Wednesday, August 20, 2014 5:40 PM - I'm getting some company this evening so I thought I'd get the diary entry written early today.

I finally finished the NAQCC European Chapter challenge today. Europe seems to be good now in the 2000Z hour so I made it a point to get on today in the hour and it worked. First I worked UW7LL for the 7, then went searching for that final letter - R. After some time and several stations without an R, I found OE/DJ7PR and waited while he worked a couple other mini-rag chew type QSOs, then it was my turn to work Leo and finish the challenge. Since the European Chapter challenges started in June 2012, I've mastered every one save for the Dec 2012/Jan 2013 Guglielmo Marconi one (some challenges lasted two months back then). I don't really know why I missed that one. I guess I was just too busy with other things around Christmas and New Years, etc.

I received this from Skyview member Tom W3TLN with detailed info on the Skyview antenna farm we'll be using on Sunday:

pix_diary_20140820_001 (110K)

Pretty impressive, isn't it. Wonder how my KX3 will like it? I'll probably have to switch out the preamp and switch in the attenuator while it's hooked to that collection of wire and tubing. We've pretty much decided we'll be using the NAQCC club call of N3AQC while we're on the air there.

Otherwise my garden is continuing to produce. I had another garden salad today, and have some bush beans, pole beans, and peas which I may use for a snack this evening. -30-

Tuesday, August 19, 2014 9:22 PM - I got on the bands at four different times today. The first two times showed very little activity on any band. The third time in the 2000Z hour was much better. There were even European stations coming through. So of course I looked for the 7, N, and R needed to finish the NAQCC European challenge. I found and worked F5NTV and now only need 7 and R to master the challenge. Not finding any more Europeans having what I needed, I decided to check my Hawaii Pipeline when I heard KH7Y. The pipeline is not clogged. It took only a single call to log him. It always amazes me somewhat how easy it is to work Hawaii here. I've said this often times before, but even if I can barely hear the Hawaii station, I generally work him very easily, a lot of times with a single call. The only exception is if he has a huge pileup in some contest. Even then, I sometimes break the pileup if it's not too big.

The fourth time I got on was for my streak QSO(s) in the 0000Z hour. The QSO came easily from 6Y5WJ on 20 meters. That was at 0003Z. Not finding any European stations at all, I then thought I'd have fun trying to work the new (actually second time around) states from W1AW. ND was a piece of cake. I got him I think it was on my second or third call on 20 meters. OH was a bit harder, but I got him on 80 meters after a dozen or so calls. I enjoy the challenge of working those W1AW stations. They are almost like working rare DX with their big pileups and they make good practice breaking those pileups.

Another great summer day today. I got in my usual walking and also helped Ange in his garden for a little while. Then late in the afternoon or early evening, I thoroughly weeded about two thirds of my garden. I'll finish that maybe tomorrow if it doesn't rain.

Looking forward to and making final arrangements for the Skyview hamfest Sunday. That's going to be fun, not only hopefully meeting some of our NAQCC members, but hooking my KX3 up to the Skyview antenna farm. -30-

Monday, August 18, 2014 8:58 PM - Another quick DX QSO this evening from Zlatko 9A2EU at 0003Z on 20 meters. He was about the only European strong enough to work. I did try a UR8 station earlier with no luck. I got a P? from him, but no further. I could have used that R too - for the NAQCC European Chapter challenge. Even with only needing 7, N, and R it might be tough finishing off that challenge this month.

Another nice day today. I got in three good walks along with cutting my back yard grass. I also picked some vegetables - tomatoes (both Siberian and Early Girl), bush beans, climbing beans, a pepper, and some peas. The garden has been slow this year, but is picking up a bit now.

I was watching Penn State weather on the Internet last night (Weather World) and Fred Gadomski pointed out something interesting. The period from mid-July to mid-August this year was the third coldest since they started keeping weather records at Penn State. I forget the year now, but I think it was in the mid-1880s. It certainly has been chilly. I'd have to look to be sure, but I don't think we had any 90 degree days in that period here and quite a few nights with lows in the 50s and even some 40s. I'm sure that has contributed to the slowness of the garden, especially the tomatoes who love those warm nights in the 70s. On the other hand, my peas are really thriving. The vegetation looks like climbing beans as they are up about 3 feet or so. I've never seen peas that tall before. Just about an average amount of peas though. -30-

Sunday, August 17, 2014 8:24 PM - One week from today I get to see what QRP/CW is like when feeding a huge antenna farm. That will be at the Skyview hamfest/swap meet near New Kensington, PA. I'll probably find it is just too easy working stations and will be glad to get back to my simple wire antennas (victory garden) here. But it will have been nice to have had the experience. I'll understand more when other QRP stations beat me to some DX or score better in a contest. I'll find that antennas have a lot to do with QRP success. However I'm not complaining at all as I think I do pretty well here with my situation.

Anyway enough of that. This evening I found a few DX stations, but they weren't all that strong. Well a couple were but they were engaged in rag chewing and I didn't feel like waiting them out for a QSO. That was mainly on 20 and 17. So finally I thought I'd try 30 and see what was there. After a bit of looking, I found S50O and called when he finished with whoever he was working. I thought it may have been my friend and fellow NAQCC member Dick K1IEE but I'm not sure. Nevertheless it took but a couple calls to log S50O and put DX day #536 in the log. Earlier in the day I went looking for those last letters/number for the NAQCC European Chapter challenge. I heard HA9RT which would have given me the R, but I've worked Joska so many times, I just didn't want to work him again. I know a lot of stations love working DX and I hate to possibly deprive them of a station just because I worked him for the umpteenth time. Now had it maybe have been HA7NR and I had worked him many times, then I would have gone for him because his call contained the 7, N, and R I need to finish the challenge.

I have pretty much finished transferring my diary archive files to my new k3wwp.com address. I'm still lacking a couple of pictures from the early days of the diary because they weren't on the other server either. I may have them somewhere in the archives here on my computer. I'll look when I get time. I kind of like the idea now of having my own personalized domain name. I never really thought much about it when I didn't have it, nor cared too much about getting one, but now, well.... I'm kind of looking forward to getting my whole web site on there and yet still keeping my site here on Windstream as a mirror site. I definitely won't just up and change completely because a few years ago when Windstream became the new name for Alltel and they changed all their URLs, I lost a lot of visitors among those who had Alltel firmly lodged in their brains, favorites, links, etc. I'm sure it's the same way with the current Windstream address so I definitely will keep it also even if (when) I put the site on k3wwp.com. -30-

Saturday, August 16, 2014 9:06 PM - A Russian District Contest gave my my DX fix this evening when I worked UA5C whom I often work in contests. There were also several Asiatic Russian stations around, but not too strong and I didn't bother trying to work them after my DX streak was secure. Earlier in the day I looked for some European stations for the NAQCC European Chapter challenge, but didn't hear a single station at that time.

In addition to the new server space I mentioned last entry, I now have a new domain name to play with - k3wwp.com. Right now I'm only using it for my Diary Archives which you can check out via the link above. I may eventually set up my site on the new server using that domain name and keep this Windstream site as a mirror site. Both the server space and domain name are courtesy of Bill WA4FAT. Regular diary readers may remember the write-up here about the 50th anniversary QSO we had on May 30 this year. Or you can check that out via the Diary Archive link above also. -30-

Friday, August 15, 2014 8:31 PM - Two calls, two DX QSOs in 5 minutes. That was easy and I got a nice prefix in OL150FIRE which also gave me two Rs for the NAQCC European Chapter challenge leaving me needing a 7, N, and R to finish it off now. The other DX was T42R on 15 meters. The OL station was on 20 meters. The Solar Flux seems to be heading upward again. It looks like from the animated graphic on my propagation page there is another nice sunspot group rotating onto the face of the sun. So hopefully the next few days will be good for DX like the last couple have been.

I'm moving some of my archived web site info like the diary archives to another server over the next few days. The change should be seamless and the main parts of the web site won't change at all except maybe for my logs page. I'll report any changes here in the diary as they come about.

A beautiful day today, and I took advantage of it piling up almost 9 miles on the pedometer. One time I walked down to Subway and got a foot long tuna sub which they have on sale on Fridays for 5 dollars. I also checked out the river with the hopes of going fishing, but once again it was up and muddy. I think even if it is still that way next week, I'm going fishing anyway if the weather is as nice as it was today. -30-

Thursday, August 14, 2014 9:13 PM - Tonight I'll just give you a sneak preview of the (unfinished as of now) story of our USS Requin subpedition today.

On August 14, the WPA Chapter had one of its USS Requin subpeditions. As you may know, the Requin is moored near the Carnegie Science Center across from the point in downtown Pittsburgh, PA which is about 40 miles from the QTH of John K3WWP in Kittanning, PA.

The other three members of the operating team arrived at John's almost simultaneously around 10 minutes of 8AM. The members being Mike KC2EGL, Don K3RLL, and Tom WB3FAE. After chatting together for about a half hour, Mike who was outside talking with Tom rang John's phone for him and Don to come out. Don and I figured it must be time to leave so we did go out.

The four of us jumped in the car and headed off to Pittsburgh about 8:35AM. Along the way Mike and I played the alphabet game finding all the letters of the alphabet from billboards, license plates, traffic signs, etc. Tom and Don sat in the back seat wondering what the two crazy guys up front were doing.

We arrived at the Science Center parking lot around 9:35AM, got parked, gathered our gear from the trunk and headed off to the sub. After waiting around 10 minutes, Art WA3BKD who is in charge of the radio room as well as other aspects of the sub showed up to greet us. Art is a great guy with a sense of humor like ours. When we asked him for permission to come aboard, he said NO.

After we introduced Don and Tom and chatted a bit, Art took us all to the radio room where we got set up to operate. Since this was Don and Tom's first visit to the Requin, Art gave them a thorough tour of the sub leaving Mike and me to do the operating.

As soon as Mike called his first CQ, he was greeted by a huge pile up like we on some rare DX island somewhere. That was unusual because on our subpeditions it generally takes a while for the activity to build up. This time everyone seemed to be at the ready waiting for us. He and I worked through the pileup and continued working stations for about an hour and a half or so until Tom and Don returned from their tour. We all brought our own lunches. Don was the first to eat his and he did so in the mess hall of the sub. Later Mike and I took our lunches out to the Science Center picnic area. We did some people watching before heading back inside the vessel.

Upon returning to the radio room, Tom took his break accompanied by Don. He also ate in the mess hall. After our lunches, we all returned to operating, but by now activity had slowed down somewhat from the earlier frantic pace. We continued operating switching between 20 and 40 meters with a brief interlude on 30 meters for one QSO there.

One of the pleasures of the event was interacting with the public. There were at least a couple hundred visitors who passed by the radio room, many of whom showed an interest in what we were doing. Some were surprised there were actual human beings in the radio room, and actually operating. All who passed by were very friendly and had some very good questions to ask. Many were surprised that we were using CW. A lot mentioned Morse Code indicating they did know something about it.

To be finished later for the NAQCC September newsletter due out September 8. Here's a picture of the operating team we'll insert in the story somewhere.

pix_diary_20140814_001 (53K)

L-R: Don K3RLL, Mike KC2EGL, John K3WWP, Tom WB3FAE.

Here at home this evening, the DX streak QSO came easily when I worked SC2014ECC on 20 meters. Mike then worked the station also, followed by both of us easily working OX3YY on 20 meters. Then I worked S58MU to get the U for my NAQCC European Chapter challenge effort. I also used the 1 from the SC station to bring my needed letters/numbers down to just a few now. -30-

Wednesday, August 13, 2014 9:09 PM - Whew, I made it. I wanted to be sure to get my DX QSO this evening since tomorrow it is off to Pittsburgh to operate from the submarine Requin. I didn't know how much of the day that would take up. So I looked and looked this evening after I got home around 0035Z from the computer club meeting. I only heard one weak DX station on 30M - OA1F. Nothing better on 20, 17, or 15. I tried but couldn't get him. So I thought well, maybe there is something on 40 in the way of DX. I had already gotten my regular streak QSO there a little earlier. This time I tuned down to the low end of 40 and found a strong Brazilian who fortunately had the "patience of Job". Thank you PR7AA for sticking with me till you got my call right after what must have been around 15 repeats. That's what makes a great operator. Now I can relax a little more tomorrow on the Requin subpedition.

We hope to leave early and start the operation around the time the Requin opens for "business" which is 10 AM EDT or 1400Z. We'll operate only one band at a time probably alternating between 7041 and 14061 depending on how conditions are. We'll probably use the Requin's call of NY3EC as we did the last time we were there. Who is we? Tom WB3FAE and Don K3RLL who will be making their first trip to the Requin. Also Mike KC2EGL and me who are 'veterans' of Requin operations. I think I've made four or five trips there - two with Tom WY3H and the others with Mike. Looks like a nice weather day too. The last time we had to shut down for a while due to a severe electrical storm that hit the area. That shouldn't happen tomorrow and if all goes well and the activity stays hot, we'll stay as long as we can to try to work all who want a Requin QSO and QSL.

Now I've got to do some work on our sprint results from last night so I'll close here. -30-

Tuesday, August 12, 2014 8:10 PM - Conditions this afternoon around 2000Z were pretty good. Good enough for me to finish up the NAQCC challenge thanks to K7DCG and the C in his call. Then I worked S51WO and got 4 letters/numbers from his call for the NAQCC European Chapter challenge, leaving me 9 to go to master it.

This evening the streak QSO came easily at 0004Z when I worked AM08BLV on 20 meters. Now I'm just killing a bit of time before our NAQCC sprint gets underway. Unless conditions are fabulous and my local noise down (both very unlikely) I'll just try to get 20 QSOs and QRT like I did last month. It's just too hard on me to sit there and fight the noise for a full two hours trying to pull weak signals out of that noise. Maybe some day I'll try to get together with the power company and see if something can be done about this noise. So far I just haven't felt like getting into the hassle I know it probably will be. -30-

Monday, August 11, 2014 8:46 PM - DX seems to be getting rarer than hen's teeth the past couple days. Other than in the WAE contest I probably haven't heard a half dozen DX stations over the weekend and today. Fortunately I worked two of them - G3HGE on 17 this afternoon and TG9ADM on 17 this evening to add two more days to the DX streak. The TG9ADM call also gave me the last D for the NAQCC challenge leaving me with two Cs needed to finish it off. The NAQCC European challenge is another story. I still need a dozen or so letters/numbers to finish it. That may be rough to do if conditions stay as they are or get worse (shudder!).

That sure was fun working the Skeeter Hunt with Mike yesterday. Now some more things coming up this week include our NAQCC sprint tomorrow evening, the computer club meeting on Wednesday evening, and our Requin subpedition on Thursday. Whew. Looks like Friday will be a day of rest then. HI. -30-

Sunday, August 10, 2014 9:10 PM - A fun day today with Mike KC2EGL, and a busy one, but then don't the two always go together? Mike arrived around 9:30A or so when I was in the middle of playing a hidden object game on the computer. I finished the chapter with a bit of help from Mike. Then we went to Ponderosa for Sunday brunch. A quick stop at WalMart on the way home. Then we played some computer games for a while till it was time to head to the Community Park for the Skeeter Hunt.

Our regular pavilion was occupied when we got there, and it looked like they were set up to stay a while, so we went to the secondary pavilion which is kind of weatherbeaten and unused as shown here. It makes a good operation position though and has a bit more elevation than the other one.

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After we unpacked and were setting up, one fellow from a softball game wandered over to see what we were up to. We explained that we were ham radio operators and he didn't know what we were talking about. Mike asked him his age and he said 34. I kidded him saying what had he been doing those 34 years. He laughed, then Mike explained ham radio to him briefly.

We got our antennas up fairly easily. We both used the K3RLL jumper dipoles this time. I took some pictures of them, but antenna pictures don't show up well against a background of trees so I won't waste space here showing them. I'll just describe them a bit. As the name implies they are dipoles cut for 40M (mine) or 80M (Mike's) with jumper clips along the way to shorten them to use on the higher bands. I set mine for 20 and Mike took 40. The center of mine was only up about 12 feet or so. Mike's somewhat higher. They both tuned beautifully to 1:1 with the KX3 built-in antenna tuner through the coax feedline.

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We started operating just about at 1700Z when the Skeeter Hunt started. Conditions were nothing like last year when we had a stream of QSOs coming at us pretty steadily. This year it was work and wait, work and wait. Most of my 20M QSOs were from W0 land and in looking at Mike's log, I saw he was working mostly up and down the east coast. Could be because our dipoles were at right angles. One surprise was working our fellow NAQCC WPA Chapter member Don K3RLL in New Bethlehem, PA about 20 miles away. That was on 20M and we figure it must have been ground wave from his hill to ours. We were both about S3 to S4 but with very steady signals as expected from ground wave. Mike and I both struggled along making the occasional QSO in between the long waits. It did get better as the afternoon wore on. I tried to work stations in the WAE contest since the Skeeter Hunt rules allowed that and even counted DX QSOs as 3 points vs. 2 for those domestic stations with a Skeeter #, and 1 point for other non-Skeeter domestic stations.

It was rough working the DX though vs. last year when I was easily working Europeans before and after the Skeeter Hunt. This year most of the time I wasn't being heard at all, or if I was heard, I had to do a lot of repeating. Oddly a couple of my most distant QSOs with LY9Y and OK2RZ were bang bang no repeats needed QSOs. Mike's computer battery gave out about a half hour before the end of the Hunt, and he shut down with 20 QSOs. I had 25, and I said I would like to make it a total of 50 if we could, so despite being a bit frustrated with the slow pace of the Hunt, I stuck it out for 5 more QSO so we could have 50. Actually when Mike recounted, he had 21, so we had a total of 51 which was 18 less than last year.

Back home again where we figured the score, got our logs together, and downloaded pictures we took. With 14 DX QSOs, 30 Skeeter QSOs, 7 other QSOs, 31 SPCs, a 4x bonus for homebuilt gear (our KX3s), and spelling the word SKEETER from letters in the calls we worked for a 100 point bonus we wound up with a preliminary score of 14,052 which was roughly 3,500 better than last year because of the DX QSOs and more SPCs (31 vs. 23). So we were pleased with the effort, and it was a nice day to be out in the field. Sunny and warm, but with nature's air conditioning breezes making it very comfortable.

Then a la Monty Python, it was time for something completely different. Mike purchased a toy motorized riding tricycle for lack of a better name as a birthday present for (I believe) his fiance's granddaughter. It was in kit form and we spent a good bit of time getting it to look like this.

pix_diary_20140810_004 (35K)

Then it was back to Ponderosa for their dinner buffet, back home for my streak QSO (W1AW/2), after which it was time for Mike to head up north again and for me to write this diary entry. No DX tonight, so that will have to come tomorrow morning or afternoon, I guess. -30-

Saturday, August 09, 2014 8:13 PM - As expected, a quick QSO in the WAE contest took care of the streaks at 0001Z when I worked DD2ML easily. I didn't bother working anyone else in the WAE contest as it is by far, not one of my favorite contests. It's a very hard contest for the minimal QRP op like me. Why? I must depend as in all DX contests on S&P operation because CQs just don't do the job. That means that a good deal of the time when I find a station, he is in the middle of a string of QTCs and then I wonder should I wait him out or go looking for someone else who is looking for a QSO, not handling QTCs. It can be quite frustrating, so I usually pretty much always skip the WAE test.

Tomorrow there will be another kind of contest in which I can successfully call CQ. I'm talking about the NJQRP Skeeter Hunt. Mike KC2EGL and I will do that one portable from the virtually QRN-free Kittanning Community Park. We'll probably stick to 40 and 20 around 7041 and 14061 when we call CQ or stay around that area on the bands anyway, and only stray far from it when we do some S&P work. We'll try to do the full 4 hours of the contest. Before and after, we may chase some DX in the WAE contest just for the fun of it. I worked quite a few DX stations last year in the WAE which again coincided with the Skeeter Hunt.

Yet another nice day today, although I got busy with this and that inside and didn't get out much to enjoy it except for a walk/shopping trip this evening. On the walk I did check out the river and it's down now to good fishing level. If it stays there, maybe I can finally get in some fishing next week. It will be a busy week though with our NAQCC sprint, our computer club meeting, and a trip to Pittsburgh to operate from the Requin. Whew! -30-

Friday, August 08, 2014 7:04 PM - What a difference a day makes. Remember Wednesday evening I couldn't work any DX if my life depended on it? Well, last evening I grabbed 4 DX QSOs easily in 17 minutes from three continents, then added a QSO with KB3FTE. Those five QSOs gave me a bunch of letters for the NAQCC challenges. I now need only 2 Cs and 1 D to finish the NA version and 13 letters/numbers to finish the European Chapter challenge. If I had been able to work RN1A today, I'd be down to 7 letters/numbers for the European challenge. However despite being strong here, he just wasn't hearing me at all. Usually the Russians are good at digging out my QRP signals, but not that one. Maybe he lives in a noisy location.

I wonder what this evening will bring. The WAE contest is this weekend starting at 0000Z this evening, so getting a DX QSO should be easy (fingers crossed), if not this evening then during the day tomorrow for sure. Of course the WAE is the full weekend, so Sunday should be easy also. But one can never tell for sure. Anyway I've got about 45 minutes to kill before 0000Z rolls around. Think I'll go out and pick off the dead daylilly flowers, then maybe take a short walk. The daylillies are just about through for the season, but they gave a very colorful display for the past month or so. I'm sure there were well over 1,000-2,000 flowers total, maybe a lot more. I know several nights I picked off over 100 dead flowers. -30-

Thursday, August 07, 2014 7:48 PM - Last night was a strange night on the bands. I heard all of two DX stations in an hour of listening - 9K2MU and 4Z1TL, of course both from the same general area of the world. The 9K2 was quite strong, but he QRT after working two stations before I ever had a chance to work him. The 4Z1 was pretty weak and BUSY. I didn't think Israel was that rare or maybe it was the 4Z1 prefix? Anyway after that, I gave some serious thought to voluntarily ending the DX streak. After all it would end on a nice number to remember - 524 which is my birthday. I did work W1AW in both NJ and VT for the regular streak. Those were easy QSOs.

Anyway, I dug out my little note with QSO on it and put it in front of the computer in case I did decide to go for a DX QSO during the day today. After considerable thought, I decided I would, because if I did end the streak voluntarily, sometime down the line I'd regret it. I got on around 11:30AM or so and found the bands a little better than last night, but still not all that active. fortunately I found Mike F5IN, one of France's better ops and usually an easy QSO for me. I have worked him many times, and had there been other stations around, I probably would have passed him by because I don't like to keep working the same station over and over again unless of course it is in contests. There wasn't anybody else, so I called Mike and after a couple of tries and a couple repeats of my call, day #525 was in the DX streak log.

Now in about 5 minutes I head to the shack to try to stretch both streaks yet another day.

Not much else to talk about except the usual. It was a nice weather day again and I got in a couple good walks - one the longest I've taken in a while now. Temperatures in the mid 70s are conducive to walking as far as I am concerned, and that's what it was when I took the long walk.

Well, time to close, upload this page and go QSO hunting. -30-

Wednesday, August 06, 2014 9:53 AM - Some more diary feedback to take care of, so I'll do another early entry today. First it was rough last night, but I finally worked EW8CY to keep the DX and regular streaks going. He was a very considerate operator and took the time to dig my signal out of the not so great conditions.

Ron AA1TL emails, "John, Congrats on your 20 year accomplishment. I don't think many hams would have the dedication that you have....I don't! Also, keep up your blog, I look forward to reading it every day. You started me on QRP, just bought a KX3. Ron, AA1IL."

Hmmmm, wonder if I can get a commission from Elecraft for all the KX3 business I'm sending their way. HI Seriously, I'm delighted that my site and the streak in particular is leading so many hams to believe in and use CW/QRP.

Tom WY3H emailed me with all the info about his new QTH down in Calhoun, GA. It's good to know he is getting settled in well down there.

Brion VE3FUJ emails, "Congratulations on 20 yr achievement. Brion VE3FUJ."

Geo N1EAV emails about my wx entry, "Hey John... Gee, twice in one week. There is a website called Weather Underground which hosts personal weather stations and records the data etc. I have one set up here at work. It records the basics....temperature, rainfall, wind speed and direction, etc. Saw one listed at Grace Baptist Church in Kittanning. Wind gust yesterday was 25mph. They show what they are using for a weather station but not how high the anemometer is. Think officially it should be at 33 feet. Check it out. there are others listed for Kittanning as well but don't know how close they are to your house. You can check out mine if you like as well. It's Barretts Mill Historic District listed in Concord, Ma. 73, geo n1eav."
And followed up with, "Just an addition to the previous email. Another good site is intellicast weather. They have a listing of local personal weather stations right on the front page. When you click on them they go right to the current weather and from there you can click on the previous records from yesterday or whenever. Hope the info was helpful. geo n1eav."

As I emailed Geo, Grace Baptist is really not in Kittanning, but in West Kittanning, and their records are different from mine here because they are up on a hill about 1.5 miles from my location down here in the river valley. I'm sure the gusts that came through here were much greater than 25mph. Winds at that speed don't even faze my recycle bin. Gusts can be very localized due to terrain such as funnelling effects around and between buildings and the like.

Anyway thanks Geo for the info. I appreciate it and always good to hear from you.

I have my own little .html page for the weather info that I designed a few years ago. It contains 36 weather maps of radars, precipitation, barometric pressure, jet stream, forecast maps, etc. plus the local NWS forecast and graphic data and info from the Weather Channel, AccuWeather, Intellicast, and the WC local radar which goes right down to city block level and is pretty accurate there. I wanted Geo to see it, so I uploaded it to my site. If you'd also be interested, click here to see it.

Just as I was posting this, I got a further reply from Geo N1EAV that goes like this, "The link works just fine. Thanks. I agree that the weather from location to location can be quite different. There are four stations including mine within a 2 mile radius of each other and our readings are always different from each other. Stations aren't always able to set up to the standards that the NWS puts forth, and that can make readings inaccurate. But generally the readings give you a fair indication exact to that location and you can see the differences in weather. It's interesting to see on the radar which station is getting rain and which isn't when the precipitation goes by etc. I'd have to agree with you on the 25mph gust. It's not going to blow a recycling bin into a fence and break it. Weather watching is a fun hobby. I enjoy it and keep records as you do. The weather really affects what I do day to day with all the gardens and lawns here at work. I read the weather models especially in winter to get an idea when the storms are coming. Don't always trust the weather people on tv.....hihi geo n1eav." -30-

Tuesday, August 05, 2014 5:42 PM - I think the reason I like both ham radio and meteorology is because they are similar in many ways. Propagation can be every bit as unpredictable as the weather, yet some things are similar in both. Sometimes you can predict with exact certainty what is going to happen. For example with the panadapter one glance at the screen shows there is definitely going to be a station where that peak is once you tune to it. Of course assuming he doesn't QRT before you spin the dial there. Likewise you can glance at the weather radar and see precisely what is going to happen in the next several minutes or more. Of course if the feature doesn't die out or intensify before it arrives.

Let's have a little quiz now about weather and weather radar. Take a look at this image, especially noting the red arrow which is pointing pretty much right at Kittanning. Notice the thin line running roughly SW-NE approaching Kittanning which shows up better in the second picture which is an animated gif covering several radar frames. What is it?

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I'll leave a few blank lines here if you want to think about it before I tell you what was happening.

When I saw that on the radar, I immediately thought to myself, aha a ---- ----- is about to hit us. I glanced out my window and saw my neighbor's telephone wire (upper left in the picture below) shaking crazily, saw a red protective newspaper cover the paperboy uses to protect the paper on wet days fly by in a big hurry like it was very late for something, then heard something heavier moving very rapidly along between the houses. I got up and looked out to get a better view and saw this.

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That's my recycling bin (empty but still fairly heavy) lying against my back yard gate which it hit with enough force to break the bottom bar of the gate. That's my neighbor's (Nancy) garbage can lid lying in her back yard. If it wasn't for the fact we anchor our garbage cans to the side of the front porches, the cans would have been back there also. The newspaper cover? It's way over past the next street somewhere where you see the yellow brick house.

Then looking out the front window I saw this.

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Those are the Bowsers' containers of yard waste for pickup tomorrow. They were all standing up neatly, then blew out in the street. I didn't get a picture till they gathered them up and replaced them (lying down to prevent further blowing around, I guess).

All of that due to a phenomenon known as (among other things) a gust front, straight line wind, outflow boundary, etc. Of all radar signatures, I think it is one of the clearest and easiest to identify. It generally sets up as a very narrow area of pretty heavy turbulence a few miles ahead of a cold front. In this case, the cold front being the large area of green and yellow to the NW of Kittanning behind the gust front. If the front develops into a curved line with heavy rain, that is when a tornado can develop. This one, as you see was nowhere near that stage although there was a little bowing out of the line to our SW ahead of some strong thunderstorms as shown on the animated image.

It'a always interesting to experience such weather phenomenon as long as they don't do any serious damage. It would be interesting to know what the peak wind gusts were, but I don't have an anemometer. -30-

Monday, August 04, 2014 5:04 PM - I promised some feedback from readers today, so in a moment, here we go.

First though, I have updated and revised my streak story to reflect the new landmark of 20 years. If you're so inclined, check it out here.

Tim K6ACF emails, "Hi John, Congratulations on your first 20 years of QRP contacts! I hope to be around to congratulate you on the next 20 years! 73, Tim - K6ACF."

Geo N1EAV emails, "Hi John Thought it was a good time to drop a note and say hello, as it's been awhile since I last wrote. Been busy as usual here at work. We were part of a local garden tour this year so have spent a lot of time preparing for that to peak everything at just the right time. It turned out to be very successful and we had over 1000 visitors. Want to congratulate you on the continuance of your streak and reaching 20 years with it. I think it's quite a feat not just for the promotion of cw and simple wire antennas, but the time and dedication it takes to get on the air everyday. I find it hard to get on the air once a week sometimes with all the other stuff that fills our lives. Kudos to you John. Just to reaffirm that simple wire antennas at qrp levels do work. My current antenna because of where my shack is located at this time is just a simple 30 foot piece of wire strung around the window frame to an ldg tuner with a fifteen foot counterpoise wire connected to the tuner ground... Not efficient, but I make plenty of qso's with it. Both stateside and dx on forty meters and up. My rig is the yaesu ft-817. John, take care , and enjoy the rest of the summer. 73, Geo n1eav."

Dave KB1WOD emails, "Hi John, Was wondering if you done any parkpeditions this year? Also haven't heard much about fishing. I enjoy your diary very much. Please keep it up! Dave KB1WOD.

Well Dave, it seems like everything is late this year after that much too long hard winter we had. No parkpeditions yet, but we will be doing the Skeeter Hunt on August 10 from the park using N3AQC. Then a Requin subpedition on August 14th. Then we'll be operating from the Skyview Radio Club during their hamfest or swap meet on the 24th. Hopefully some regular parkpeditions thrown in there in the next couple months also depending on the schedules of Mike KC2EGL and Don K3RLL. They serve as my transportation in addition to being co-ops. Fishing late also. I went a few times in April, but it seems since then everytime the river clears up and gets down to good fishing level, the rains come again and ruin it. Maybe I can sneak in some trips this month along with September and October before the cold weather comes. You didn't ask about the garden, but it's been late also - VERY late. I just picked my first tomato a couple days ago versus the usual first tomato time in late May or early June. My bush beans and peas came a few weeks ago, so they weren't too bad. My peppers are coming nicely and I had a tomato/pepper salad the past couple days now. Hopefully next winter won't be so bad and all things will get back to normal in 2015.

Mike N4VBV emails, "John, Interesting story on page 63 of the August QST. An Italian airship crashed on the arctic ice in 1928; survivors rescued due to 5w signal by radioman using simple emergency antenna. Believe it was also CW, since it was 1928, and the article mentioned "coded" transmissions. 73, Mike, N4VBV."

Haven't checked that out yet, but I will. Thanks Mike.

And I believe that gets us caught up on the diary comments. Thanks to all for your emails. -30-

Sunday, August 03, 2014 8:42 PM - This entry is dedicated to all those who say things like 'You need high power, big antennas, and a great location to be able to make ham radio contacts', or 'Life is too short for QRP', or 'CW is dead' and other such remarks denigrating QRP/CW.

Well, if your statements are true, then how is it that I just finished 20 years or 7,305 consective days of making QSOs (62,434 QSOs, of which 19,268 were DX) without missing a single day using CW, QRP, simple wire antennas in my attic or mounted on the side of my house from a river valley location with horizons ranging from about 2 to 10 degrees in height? Huh? Gee, must be something fundamentally wrong with your statements, I would say.

OK, enough of that. I say it because that is the bottom line of my streak. I haven't done it for personal glory. I must admit it has been very satisfying setting the goal of a QSO a day, and carrying it this far. But mainly it serves to prove that QRP/CW/simple antennas DO WORK, and work pretty darn well. I know a lot of you diary readers have taken it to heart, tried it yourself, and found I've been right on target all along. I'm glad that you are now able to enjoy ham radio in a situation similar to mine wheras before you didn't think you could do it. That in itself makes the streak worthwhile.

Lest you think I'm done now, you're wrong. I intend to keep going with the streak until something beyond my control brings it to an end. I think reaching 25 years (a quarter century) would be great, or maybe 10,000 days. Whatever is in the cards, I'll accept.

Who was it who helped me complete the 20 years tonight? Well, the bands again were good, but not much activity especially from 'DX land'. I was determined that it be a DX QSO that helped me make it, so I looked around and found one strong station that acted like he was DX, but never did give his call or even his name, and then QRT after making several QSOs without ever doing so. He signed with 161 so he was a member of FOC, but his way of making contacts sure didn't sound like a first class op to me. Again enough of that. I looked some more and found Mike F5PLC whom I've worked a few times before. I called him, but he answered someone else (K4TP, I think) and they chatted a bit, after which I called again and got WWP? I sent my call agn and we chatted for a few minutes. I didn't realize it, but I must have been excited because my sending got just a bit sloppy and I made about a half dozen errors whereas I can usually go for a full QSO with only one or two at most. So with the 20 years now in the log, I went after some more letters for the NAQCC challenges. I called CQ on 30 and got answered by Gary VE1OMI. I can probably count on my fingers the number of times I've had a CQ answered by someone in NS. In fact, I need the thumbs also because this was the tenth time it happened plus one contest QSO. The thumbs count for two times back in the 60s. Eight came during the streak.

So within the next couple days I hope to update my streak page in the QRP section of the web site. Those of you new to my web site and the diary can find out how the streak started and how it has continued for so long. Included there are some sub-streaks as well such as my current 522 day DX streak plus what I consider some highlights and milestones of the streak. It sure has been a lot of fun, and to be honest it hasn't really been all that hard to get at least one CW/QRP QSO every day. I can only recall a couple days when we had some SERIOUS geomagnetic ionospheric storming that I did get a bit worried, but even those days didn't come anywhere near to a failure or even a last minute or last hour QSO to stay alive.

If you want to do something challenging and satisfying, why not give a streak a try. Our NAQCC has nice certificates for various length streaks starting at 30 days and going up to a full year. Check them out on the NAQCC web site at http://naqcc.info/

Tomorrow here in the diary I'll have some feedback about fishing, parkpeditions, and gardening among possibly some other things as well. -30-

Saturday, August 02, 2014 8:58 PM - Tomorrow (Aug 4 UTC) is the big day. That finishes off 20 full years of making at least one CW/QRP/simple wire antenna QSO each and every one of the 7,305 days involved. After saying that, I sure better get a QSO tomorrow evening. HI. Tonight it was HI3/OE3GEA whot brought the streak to 1 day short of 20 years and also brought the DX streak to 521 days now. Hard to believe it has been that long since I've gone without a DX QSO and even harder to believe it has been twenty years since I've had a 'QSOless' day. Whew!

Unusual weather while I was on the air tonight. There was a pretty nice pink sunset and at the same time some pretty heavy rain and thunder. That's what happens when you are right on the edge of an area of storms and rain at just the right time. A pretty rare combination especially living in a valley as I do. I suppose out on the great plains such a combination is not as rare since the visible horizon is so much further away than here. I would say most of our horizon here is within 2 miles or so. I think the rain is letting up now just as it is time to go out and get my weather records for the day. -30-

Friday, August 01, 2014 8:46 PM - As my KX3 does from time to time, it fantasizes that it's a KW rig, and tonight was one of those times. A very easy QSO with AM03GHZ at 0000Z, and I tried him several times a few nights ago and he didn't hear me at all. Then I went to 30 meters to get some QSOs for our NAQCC challenge. I called CQ and was greeted by a small pileup. I worked one of the stations, and then another one tailended me after that QSO. Next I went to 20 to look around and found W1AW/0 in SD and thought I'd try him. My first call netted a K5WW? and not being absolutely sure that was me I waited for his next CQ and that time he answered my first call correctly. The K5WW? was probably me, but I NEVER reply to anything like that unless I'm absolutely positive it is me being referred to. I hear far too many stations respond to a partial call question when they don't have anything resembling their call in the partial call.

Other than that, I did some more work outside today and went for a few walks including my first one which was my monthly banking run early this morning. Then I just picked off some dead daylillies and some dead roses a few minutes ago. These summer days are great when they aren't too hot nor too wet, and that described today although it did get up to 88. The humidity was low and there was a breeze.

I also helped Nancy with some house cleaning for an hour or so this afternoon. So I was pretty busy all day if you include my regular computer work in there. Now it's time to go out again and get my weather readings. Oh, it turned out last night when I compiled my July weather records that it was 0.5 degrees below normal with about 150% of our normal precipitation. Four days over one inch of rain tied a record for July and each of those four days was a daily precipitation record. So to sum up, it was a slightly cool, very wet month this year. -30-

Thursday, July 31, 2014 9:04 PM - Three days now till my main streak hits 20 years or 7,305 days. The streak and the DX streak were both extended this evening about as quickly as possible. A single call to HB9DAX took care of both at a few seconds past 0000Z. Conditions were good this evening, but still not a lot of activity. I don't really understand it. You'd think folks would want to take advantage of these good propagation days because we don't know how long they are going to last or recur before the sun slips into its next sunspot minimum. It should be like folks taking advantage of the last warm days of summer to enjoy the beach, fishing, and other outdoor activities before the cooler days of fall and the cold days of winter come along.

That QSO plus one with N1WST got me off to a good start on both NAQCC August challenges. It's nice to have two alphabet challenges to work on again, and that will definitely increase my on-air activity.

It was a nice summer day today. A bit warmer than the past few days, but still not all that warm. So I did some more outside work getting the grass and weeds out of my brick sidewalks. Also I did some walking and shopping. Mostly today I worked on getting my last of the month/first of the month things taken care of. Except for a trip to the bank in the morning and putting my weather records in the computer, I think I have everything taken care of. I'll probably get to the weather records after I finish this site update. I can do everything except the midnight reading tonight, then get that later. -30-

Wednesday, July 30, 2014 8:42 PM - I had a call from Tom WY3H a little while ago. He is now settled in down in Georgia after an event filled moving trip. It was a very interesting story and he said it is posted on his Facebook page. Now I don't use Facebook at all here and have no desire to, so I can't tell you how to get there, but if you know and can get there, it makes for an interesting story. Kind of sounded like he was Joe Btfsplk from the Li'l Abner cartoons by Al Capp. He sounded happy about the whole thing though, and I think the move may turn out to be good for him. In addition to telling me about the moving experience, he also wanted to try a sked on 30 and/or 40 meters. Unfortunately other than perhaps hearing a '3H' very weakly in the noise on 30, I didn't hear him calling me at all. We'll have to try again some day. The bands weren't in as good a shape as last night although the SF and A numbers were better. Propagation is not rocket science.

I did finish out another month of DX QSOs though which makes 16 straight months I've worked some DX each day or 518 straight days. Tonight it was EJ0PL in an easy QSO on 17 meters. One call, one repeat, solid exchange of info. I also heard W1AW/0 in SD very strong on 20 and tried briefly to work him, but couldn't break the pile-up. Had I needed SD, I would have tried harder and longer.

Another cool day today with some rain showers. In fact I'm hearing some thunder right now although I don't see much of anything on the radar except a tiny little area from which a storm might be developing. Guess I'll go out and get my weather readings before it hits. -30-

Tuesday, July 29, 2014 8:34 PM - Well, I'm in a new rut now. A quick DX QSO followed by a W1AW QSO. Three evenings in a row for that now. Tonight's suspects were AM08BLV and W1AW/4 in KY. I also 'worked' 3E2000PC on 12 meters, but he had me as K3WWW so I didn't log him.

Yes, I said 12 meters. What I 'predicted' a few days ago about the higher bands opening up in response to the rising solar flux is happening. 17 meters was full of signals. 15 meters had an abundance including some short skip (W1AW in KY). 12 meters had just the one station, but that's more than it's had lately. So once again I say, give the high bands a try in the next few days before the current sunspot group rotates out of view and the SF probably goes back below 100 again. We don't know now if the current sunspot group will survive another rotation. It is weaker than it was last time around.

A beautiful day today and I was outside quite a bit. Early today I was out talking with Bruce waiting for Ange to come to work on the garden. Then I helped him for a while. After some lunch, I cleaned some grass (and mostly clover) out from between the sidewalk bricks. Later in the afternoon I cut my grass and edged the back yard and garden with the weed eater. Finally a walk and shopping trip this evening.

In looking at the river, It has cleared up from the muddy state it was in last evening and strangely hasn't risen in response to the heavy rain we had. So possibly if the weather is again good tomorrow and I'm in the mood, perhaps a trip to the river with fishing pole is in store. That will be the first time since April, I believe. -30-

Monday, July 28, 2014 9:05 PM - Tonight was pretty much like last night. At least on the bands. The only thing is the DX QSO came a little quicker in the form of E72NATO on 20M at 0001Z. Then I went searching to get a backup W1AW/1 RI QSO just in case the first one didn't work out. Strange things do happen. I think it was Paul N8XMS who told me one of the logs from one of the first state operations got lost or wiped out somehow. So it doesn't hurt to get a state on 2 or 3 bands at least as insurance. Anyway so far I do have a couple QSOs that aren't in the LotW, but I did have backups for those states at the time. I think those may have actually been QSOs with K3WW, and the timing seemed right and QRN/QSB made copy of W1AW difficult at the time. Anyway I'm virtually certain that when I upload my July log to LotW, I'll wind up with 49 states verified there. Then it will be all up to Maine to finish things off.

The propagation figures are in with the SF still rising, but not as fast as it did the last rotation so my outlook of another peak of 200 or so may not come to pass, but still the bands are gradually getting a little better each evening. Activity is still down though despite the improved conditions.

A little explanation of "At least on the bands." The bands were the same, but the weather sure wasn't. Not long after I wrote the entry last night, the rain started again and we got about 1.35 inches in not much more than an hour. Thats PI inches of rain total the past 2+ days - 3.14 inches. Now tonight it's still cloudy, but the rain is over and it feels like mid-fall instead of mid-summer with a 9PM temperature of just 62 degrees and strong breezes making it feel even colder.

It's been confirmed and barring any last minute changes, the WPA chapter of the NAQCC will be operating from the submarine USS Requin in Pittsburgh in the form of Mike KC2EGL, Don K3RLL, Tom WB3FAE and me. That will be on August 14 probably starting around 10AM or so. Full details will be in the August NAQCC newsletter with a reminder being sent about the subpedition to our NAQCC email list the day of or day before. -30-

Sunday, July 27, 2014 9:12 PM - If you take a look at my propagation chart, you'll see that this sun rotation is tracking very closely the last rotation in Solar Flux numbers. If it continues to do so, we may see another brief period of 200+ SF around August 3-5 or so. Keep that in mind and try to reserve some air time those days, just in case it does happen. Maybe we'll even see an opening on Six meters again.

Meanwhile the bands are already starting to pick up. There was a lot more strong DX tonight on 20 and 17 and I worked Gena UA9MA fairly easily on 20M not long after 0000Z. Then I mostly just listened for about a half hour or so, trying SF2014ECC without luck and working W1AW/9 on a new band - 30M.

We had some very heavy rain today totalling 1.65 inches from several 'cloudbursts' that included some nice lightning displays. I guess lightning displays are 'nice' as long as they don't strike too close to home nor do any damage to speak of where they do strike. I never did get a chance to go out for a walk nor get out much further than my back yard to pick off the dead daylilly flowers and straighten up a couple pepper plants that the storms knocked over. At least I shouldn't have to water the garden for several days now. The same with helping Ange water his garden. -30-

Saturday, July 26, 2014 9:29 PM - The bands were a little different this evening. DX signals were stronger, BUT suffered from rapid QSB. A station would be 599 when I called, then when they came back (always to someone else, it seemed), they might be as low as an S3. I called several different European stations in the IOTA contest with no answer. So I went to 40 and worked a USA station in the contest for the big streak. Finally I found a DX station that seemed immune to the QSB and stayed at a pretty constant S7-8. After waiting through a few other stations working him, it was finally my turn and I put day 514 of the DX streak in my log. Oh, who was it? LZ5R who got me after just one repeat and copied my number with no repeat necessary.

It may continue to get a little better over the next few day as the SF today was 117, the highest it has been since July 13 - two weeks ago. AND it looks like on the 360 degree view of the Sun on my propagation page that the very active region that raised the SF about 3 weeks ago to over 200 is about to rotate into view again. Let's hope it fires up the bands as it did the last rotation, AND that folks know it, and get on those bands which didn't seem to happen as much as it should have the last round. -30-

Friday, July 25, 2014 9:01 PM - Well, another re-run this evening but with a slightly different ending. No workable DX to be found so I went after W1AW/9 on 40M for my regular streak QSO and got him with a single call. Then as usual back to the search for DX. I was kind of waiting for that one strong signal to show up as it has now for the past 5 evenings or so, but it didn't happen. So I went after one weak station. I wasn't even sure of his call because of QSB and QRN, but I called and got a K3?. I sent my call twice and he came back with K3WWP 559. I gave him a generous 579, and then we traded names successfully. His was Marek. I still wasn't sure of his call beyond OK1MV. There was something after that, but each time he got to that point in his call, either QSB or QRN or both interfered. Finally after I listened a half dozen or so more times, I got it. It was OK1MV/P. Maybe getting ready for the IOTA contest this weekend. I thought the contest might have to be my saviour for the DX streak when it looked like I wasn't going to get my DX for day 513 this evening. It still may have to be for day 514 on Sunday. I might get in the contest anyway as I often find some new band country or new prefix in that one. I've even gotten a couple of new overall countries from it.

Paul N8MXS, our NAQCC manager and I have been following each other's progress toward our W1AW WAS awards. He still needs a couple make up states plus ME. I only need ME to wind up. Anyway he posed an interesting statement in his email today about me probably making WAS in a single contest some time. That turned my mind to working. I couldn't quite remember if I had or if I had just come close and missed by one state. So I researched it and found I did get a WAS in the 1999 ARRL SS contest and missed a clean sweep of all ARRL sections by 5 NNY, VI, BC, QC, and MB. Then I was curious about how close I have come to a DXCC in a contest and had to research that as well. My closest was 93 countries in the 2011 CQWW DX contest.

Well, the river is finally down to good fishing level, and perhaps if the expected rain this weekend doesn't raise it again, I might get a chance to go early next week. That is, if I still remember how to fish. HI. This is by far the latest in the season I've gone without catching a fish since I started to fish again in the early 90s.

I took a couple good walks today as it was sunny and in the upper 70s. Actually the high was 82 but most of the time it was in the 70s. It was pretty chilly for July early this morning at 50 degrees. Most of the daily low records for July are in the middle 40s with a range of 40 to 51. In fact I see that 50 reading breaks the old record of 51 for the 25th of July. That 40 record came in the strange year of 1988 when the month was very dry with mostly clear skies. That led to very wide ranges of temperature each day. Only a couple low reading including the 40 and a lot (11) of all time daily high records ranging up to 104 degrees which stood as our all time high temperature until we high 107 in 2011. The mean daily range of temperature in July 1988 was 30.5 degrees or 6.5 degrees above the normal of 24.0 degrees. -30-

Thursday, July 24, 2014 9:04 PM - A nice day again today. I helped Ange water his garden, then weeded and watered mine later in the day. Only went for one walk. Should have done a couple more.

Conditions pretty much the same again this evening on the bands. No DX to be found at first so I worked KB4MNG to keep the big streak going as I approach the 20 year mark in about 10 days now. Then I searched and found ZF1DX, but I just couldn't seem to work him. Apparently he has a very directional beam as most of the folks he was working were deep into Europe and some Asiatic Russians. Finally though after about a half hour of on/off trying, I got him. Even the W1AW stations weren't all that strong tonight like last night. Well, except for W1AW/1 in RI who was pretty good again on 20 meters. -30-

Wednesday, July 23, 2014 8:11 PM - Let me tell you, it just don't get any easier. At 2359, I heard W1AW/1 booming in and got him easily. At 0003, I heard W1AW/9 and after realizing I turned off split and turned it back on, I got him with a single call and a couple repeats. That's 49 states down and Maine to go the end of August. All except these latest two are verified in the LotW, and both were solid QSOs, so I have no worries about them. OK, then at 0006, I found the one strong DX station (interesting how each of the past four nights, I've heard only one strong DX station) in MJ0IKL and worked him after about 4 other stations. So that's 511 days now for DX.

Other than that it was a changeable day. Hot and humid till early to mid afternoon with a high of 88 and humidity in the 70s. Then Canada sent us some cold air and the temperature has dropped steadily since then down to a current 71 degrees. The humidity is still high at 73%, but that will take longer to drop since there was so much moisture in the air.

I went for a walk a little while ago and it felt really nice so I decided to do a bit of shopping while I was out. Right now I've got the house open to cool it down to prepare for the next hot spell whenever it comes. The inside temp dropped from 79 to 74 now.

I was kind of expecting a visit from Mike this evening as it's a fourth Wednesday which is the local ham club meeting night and he usually drops in after the meeting. However I haven't heard from him in a couple weeks now. Wonder if he's been kidnapped by aliens? HI -30-

Tuesday, July 22, 2014 9:09 PM - One of our warmer days this year with a high of 92 and pretty humid. Fortunately my house hasn't really warmed up all that much yet. I don't think it's been in the 80s inside yet this year or if so, only for a couple days here and there. My big project today was going to the library (air-conditioned) to do some work on our computer club computer. Most of the time was taken up with an upgrade from 8.1 to '8.1 Update' as it is called. Another member was there with me and while the upgrade was going on, we got a couple lessons ready for our August club meeting.

Then just a little while ago, I picked off the dead daylillies from my plants. It's amazing how they work. Each flower only lasts one day, then they are 'magically' replaced by a whole new bunch of flowers for the next day. I must pick off at least 100 dead flowers each day during their peak season which is happening right now.

Before that I took a trip to the store. Seems like there is always something to get every day since I have to walk to the store, so I can't really stock up all that much like I could when I was driving.

Right before that, working backwards, I got on the air to see what the W1AW situation was. As expected, huge unruly pileups right now, so outside of just a couple calls, I didn't hang around to work them. I'll do that later in the week. Like the past couple nights, it took a while to find some workable DX, yet for the third night in a row, I finally found a strong easily workable DX station. Tonight it was EI/SP3CW whom I got after waiting through 3 other stations. That's 510 days of DX now. -30-

Monday, July 21, 2014 8:48 PM - The day is different, the story the same, the times and calls different. Tonight it was a QSO with KE4QZB to keep the main streak going since there was no workable DX to be found. After that QSO, I searched, and searched, and se.... for a DX QSO since tomorrow I would be busy a good part of the day. Finally I found a very strong OE3XMA on 20 meters and worked him with one call and one repeat. So the DX streak is still going at 509 days now, but it's getting rough. The SF is creeping back up now and is at 90 today so that may help things if it keeps going up. Actually I think a lot of folks must just look at the SF and A index and if it doesn't look good, they don't bother getting on the air. There have been some very strong DX signals the past few days with the SF in the 80s, BUT not very many of them - few and far between as the saying goes. -30-

Sunday, July 20, 2014 9:06 PM - I'll make thie brief as I want to try to finish the cross-checking of our NAQCC sprint logs tonight. Once again it was hard to find any DX at all so I solidified my main streak with a 40 meter QSO from Nick KA3SJK early in the 0000Z hour, then searched, and searched, and se.... for some DX so I wouldn't have to look during the day tomorrow. Finally I found IZ4ZZB who was pretty strong on 17 meters. It took a few calls to get his attention, but once started it was a solid QSO for about 5 minutes and the DX streak continues with the SF still in the 80s. -30-

Saturday, July 19, 2014 8:28 PM - Here's my soapbox comments from the NAQCC European Chapter July challenge, "FINALLY!! It took a LONG time to find and work that final letter "U". Did all Ukrainians, Russians, and Serbs go on a two week break. It took almost that long to get the final letter after getting all the others fairly quickly early in the month. Thanks UA1CE for helping me finish up another great NAQCC European Chapter challenge at last. This may be a record for the latest in a month for me to finish one. But hey, I did finish and that is what counts. Now I'm looking forward to the Formula 1 challenge in August although my favorite driver Sebastian Vettel is not having a very good year thus far. Thanks to all for the contacts, not only UA1CE. This is the first challenge in which I've used a station from Albania."

I'm glad that is out of the way now. I always say antennas are not rocket science. Now I don't think propagation is either. The last two evenings with the solar flux down in the 80s and the sun spotless, I've worked DX just as easy as when the solar flux was in the 200s and the sun looked like a teenager with severe acne. I got AM03NO right as the clock turned 0000Z, then went looking for the "U" mentioned above and found UA1CE at 0009Z. I had to wait through a couple other stations to get him and had to repeat my call a couple times until he said ONLY K3? KN which shut up the QRM from the non K3 stations. I always admire and congratulate DXers who do that whether it is me they are trying to work or someone else. So I'm now a week past the 500 day mark for the DX streak. I could have also worked several other DX stations this evening, but I quit after getting UA1CE.

Next immediate goals are to get RI and IN from W1AW for states #48 and #49. They will be activated Wednesday at 0000Z. Also to make it to 20 years for my main streak which will happen in just a couple weeks now. Then the NAQCC August challenges also. There is always something to keep my interest high in this great hobby. Oh, and I can't forget the NAQP in August plus a possible operation from the sub USS Requin, and an operation from the Skyview hamfest near the end of August in which I (plus Mike, Don, and Tom) get to operate QRP from a HUGE antenna farm just to see what it is like. Then into September with the special Honor Nancy WZ8C FISTS/NAQCC sprint. It just goes on and on. -30-

Friday, July 18, 2014 7:00 PM - ADDENDUM at 8:45PM - What? Me? Worry? I found out there was no need to. At 0001Z I worked JH0INP on 15M. It wasn't a solid QSO, but he definitely got my call right. Then it was CR5W and EW8DJ on 20M, both easy ones. So you can work DX despite what I say in the earlier part of this entry here.

Tom W3TLN pointed out some discouraging news today. For the first time since August 14, 2011, the sunspot number was at zero as the sun cleaned up all its 'blemishes'. See here for more info. That does not bode well for continuing my DX streak although as in 2011, the zero count is probably just an isolated incident and the sunspots will pick up again. In fact as I mentioned in an earlier entry, in looking at the 360 degree animated image of the sun on my Propagation page, I see still a lot of spots on what is the side of the sun facing away from earth right now. If they last, they will start to rotate onto the side facing the earth in a couple days now. In looking back at the other numbers for August 14, 2011, I see the SF was 88 and the A index was 8. That's close to today's reading which is 89/4. Looking at my log for that date, it looks like it was a weekend with some sort of DX contest (WAE I would guess), and I did work 10 European stations, so even without spots on the sun, DX is still possible. Since this is a weekend coming up, let me see if there are any DX contests to help me get my DX on Saturday and Sunday. Nope, I don't see any contests that could be of any help. I'll just have to rough it out, I guess.

We made it to 100 logs for our NAQCC sprint once again despite widespread complaints of poor conditions from many parts of the country. We stand at 102 right now with still a couple days of reporting time left. -30-

Thursday, July 17, 2014 8:15 PM - I did what I said and went for 20 QSOs in the sprint, then hung it up. That was a lot better than fighting my local QRN for a full two hours. However it did take an hour and 38 minutes to make it to 20 so I didn't really save all that much time away from the noise. I'm pretty sure I'm going to make that SOP for our sprints for a while. Maybe if the local noise gets fixed or goes away I'll go back to a full effort again.

The bands were poor again this evening so I went for and worked W1AW/4 in SC for my big streak QSO. Then I found Rey CO6RD on 30 meters and got him with a single call for my DX streak QSO. I have a feeling though that the DX streak days are numbered and it won't be long before it just takes too much time to find and work a DX station. If you look at my propagation page, you'll see the current face of the Sun looks fairly devoid of spots. But if you look at the 360 degree view of the Sun at the bottom of the page, it looks like the sunspots that gave us the SF over 200 several days ago will rotate back into view hopefully with the same results.

I also checked the bands in late afternoon and found the same conditions then.

A nice cool summer day today so I took a couple good walks and did some yard work also. Supposed to be the same tomorrow although a few degrees warmer. -30-

Wednesday, July 16, 2014 5:01 PM - I came very close to giving up the DX streak today. I just couldn't find anyone who was workable. Either they were very very weak so that I probably couldn't even copy well enough to hear if it was me they were answering - or - the stronger stations were all chasing something else (W1AW?) and not looking for answers themselves. I was wasting a lot of good time and was just about to pronounce an end to the DX streak at 502 days, when along came one more (not very good) chance. ZY14RR was calling CQ on 15 meters, not very strong plus as I mentioned in a previous entry he seemed to have a lot of trouble hearing me at all several times. Well, this time I called and got him on the first try to extend the streak yet another day. I'm thinking of another goal now if it doesn't prove too time consuming. I'd like to continue at least long enough to get a DX QSO on each day in 2014. We'll see.

Continuing on the DX theme, I received the following from the NAQCC European Chapter today:

pix_diary_20140716_001 (51K)

As I was with the 2013 version of this challenge, I was the first one to apply for and receive the certificate. I think the map on the certificate is a great idea. There are (as of now) 19 European entities I haven't worked in 2014. Most are too small to show up on the map except for Andorra (never have worked an Andorran station in 51 years of hamming), Liechtenstein, Vatican City, San Marino, and Turkey.

Still looking for a single U to complete the July European Chapter challenge. Conditions to Europe have been very poor in addition to European activity being low the past several days now.

Tonight is our monthly NAQCC sprint. I'm not really in a contesting mood right now, but I will participate. Maybe I'll shoot for a goal like 20 QSOs, then QRT or something like that rather than putting in the full two hours as usual. -30-

Tuesday, July 15, 2014 9:11 PM - No DX tonight. I only heard SF2014ECC very weak on 20 meters, and couldn't get him. Didn't hear a single other DX station.

Some strange W1AW happennings tonight. According to the schedule only SC is supposed to be active this week, and I did hear them on 30 and 40 but didn't try hard to work them since I got them the first time around. However I also heard W1AW/1 in RI which is not supposed to be activated until the week of the 23rd according to the schedule on the ARRL web site. Worst of all both SC and RI were on the same frequency of 7030 for a while, both listening up 1. What a mess that was. After I got a QSO with K4GDR to keep at least my big streak going, I went back looking for RI, but they had disappeared. Perhaps the op realized his mistake(?) and QRT. I need to really follow that since RI is one of the three states I need for my W1AW WAS along with ME and IN.

Otherwise this was a computer day. I went to the library for a couple hours to do some updating and virus removal from our computer club computer. I made out pretty well, but it still needs a little more work. That's what comes from having a computer that is only used once a month for a couple hours at our monthly meetings. Then when I got home, I helped Bruce with a few things on his computer.

Also I got my package of QSLs mailed off to the ARRL for $6.85 postage. Still that plus the $12.00 fee plus the cost of paper and ink to print the cards beats by a large margin sending DX QSLs direct. It's too bad that all hams don't use or have access to bureau mailings. Unless it's a brand new overall entity, I refuse to mail DX cards direct.

And finally I harvested my first crops from my garden today. I picked a dozen bush beans and about 10 peas. I didn't realize the peas were ready till I saw them while picking the beans. I thought I noticed one of my tomatoes getting a little lighter green in color meaning it's on the road to ripening, so maybe before the end of July, I'll have some garden tomatoes also. There are some peppers about ready for picking and a ton of buds and flowers on my pole beans. So after a slow late start, things are picking up in the garden. -30-

Monday, July 14, 2014 8:57 PM - A bit of a struggle, but I extended the DX streak another day. Like last night, the bands were not all that great. DX was there, but weak and with a lot of QSB. Finally after a few calls, HT5T came back to me. The times I've worked him before it usually took but a single call, so the bands are in the doldrums right now, at least for me.

I got a surprise when I checked my garden this evening. I have several bush beans ready for picking. They seemed to have come along in just the past 3 or 4 days as I didn't notice any then. So they beat my tomatoes this year. My peppers are coming along nicely though and it depends on how big I want them to get before picking just when I enjoy the first one. The pole beans are getting a lot of buds and flowers, but I didn't see any small beans yet although it's hard to tell with them and their thich foliage.

Something else that burst into activity the past few days were my daylillies. Picture to follow showing them, my little yellow plastic bird, my sundial, and my garden cherubs.

Alongside that picture is a picture of the final stage of my buro QSLs packed in a homemade box I made from a cut down shoebox. All the cards are enclosed along with the fee and proof of ARRL membership. Now a trip to the post office tomorrow will put an end to a hectic 6 days of playing with QSL cards.

pix_diary_20140714_001 (108K)pix_diary_20140714_002 (40K)

Oh, my new poll is posted. After this past week I thought a good question would be how many QSOs you have verified with QSL cards. I have somewhere around 10,000 here. -30-

Sunday, July 13, 2014 8:57 PM - A busy day with a lot accomplished that I'll tell you about as soon as I take care of my 9PM weather readings. Didn't know it was that close to 9 when I started. Back in a moment.

1.45 inches of rain today, and I believe about an inch of that must have come in a very heavy 10-15 minute TS we had earlier this evening.

First of all, I updated my DX streak report to 500 days and I won't repeat the info here, but simply refer you to this page for the data if you're interested. I found it interesting to see how many of the days I got that DX QSO in the 0000Z hour.

When I first checked the bands this evening, I got the impression they were telling me '500 days is enough, give it up' as I only heard one very weak DX station in HB9DAX on 20 meters. With nothing on 20 through 10 meters, I then went to 30 and found and quickly worked HK1MW there for day #501. So I guess the streak will go on as I thought it would.

Meanwhile here is the last remnant of the massive QSL mailing from the buro 4 days ago:

pix_diary_20140713_003 (30K)

Yes, all cards have been printed, filled out, sorted, and ready to be mailed to the ARRL outgoing QSL buro. I lucked out and the weight is just under 1 pound, so that's $12 instead of more. I was shooting for mailing them on Thursday, but looks like it will be before that.

I also filed all the incoming cards today which involved altering my storage method a bit as shown here:

pix_diary_20140713_001 (39K)pix_diary_20140713_002 (36K)

Since all drawers were filled up as shown in the left picture, I converted the storage in the last drawer as shown in the right picture. Then I shifted cards down in the drawers to make room for the new cards as needed. That bottom drawer is for cards from the 1960s and 1970s so it won't be changed barring a very late QSL card. HI.

So now I'm ready for a quiet day tomorrow, but I'm sure something else will pop up by then. -30-

Saturday, July 12, 2014 9:21 PM -

pix_diary_20140712_001 (13K)

Yes, the DX streak is at 500 days as of working TM0HQ plus a dozen or so more DX stations in the IARU contest. You know, I think it is much more satisfying and rewarding working toward a goal sometimes than actually achieving the goal. Of course this is an open ended goal of sorts. 500 days is just a number and I intend to keep on working some DX each day as long as I can. Just like my main streak which is now nearing the 20 year mark. I'll keep going on past the 20 year mark until something unforseen brings it to an end.

I do think I've proved a point with the DX streak, be it 500 days or whatever number. YOU can work DX also if you wish to do so despite your local conditions. As you know I have a very minimal setup here which has been and is fully documented on these pages. If I can work DX every day for 500 straight days, then you can also - period. Well, maybe unless you live in an underground cave with no acces for any outdoor antennas or some ridiculous extreme like that. You DO NOT need to run more than five watts nor have huge high outdoor antennas nor live on a hilltop. All you need is something similar to what I have here to be able to do it. I will not stand for any excuses. I know DX does not appeal to everyone, but if you would like to work DX and think you can't because of your situation, I say you're dead wrong. Just get on the air and DO IT.

When I get a chance, I'm going to come up with some stats about the 500 days and post it on my DX Streak page here on the web site. I'm curious to know just how many DX QSOs were involved, how many countries, QSOs per band, and the like. It will be easy when I get a little time with my Microsoft Access log which can spit out just about any statistic I can think of with a bit of SQL programming on my part.

Back to the IARU contest for a bit. After I got the streak QSO from TM0HQ, I noticed that the QSO might have started a few seconds before 0000Z. I'm not sure, but I thought I'd get an insurance QSO just in case. Then I got a bit interested in the contest and thought I'd see how many HQ stations I could work. So I concentrated on them only, but also worked a couple of contest friends I heard along the way. I think I got 13 HQ stations plus 3 other stations. Part of my log is in the shack computer yet so I'm not sure.

Speaking of goals, I'm getting close to another goal of getting all my buro QSLs that came in the other day taken care of. I printed up enough cards today using some photo paper that came with the ink cartridges for the printer. I probably have accumulated near 100 sheets of it as I always buy the cartridges in packages that contain the free photo paper. So all cards are now printed and filled out. Also all the correct QSL routes have been found and noted on the cards. Some info was given right on the cards which helped a lot. Others I had to look up on QRZ.com. I also added in another small bunch of cards I had been accumulating over the past year or so to send to the buro. So now a few tasks remain. I have to sort the outgoing cards by the countries of the stations the cards go to, which with QSL managers are often different from that in which the station operated.

Then I have to sort the incoming cards by country of operation and file them into my QSL collection. I probably have 9-10 thousand cards in a metal cabinet. I sort them by country, then by the number in the call, then by the suffix such as for Poland - SP1AOB, SP1AX, SP2XV, HF2ZZ, SO3A, SQ3ABC, and so on. Special calls like SN2012SA go at the end sorted similarly. My cabinet drawers are pretty tightly packed right now, so I'll probably have to adjust things a bit to squeeze in all these new cards.

Of course then I have to get the outgoing cards packed up and shipped off to the ARRL outgoing QSL buro. So still a lot of work ahead, but it will be nice to get caught up on my QSLs. Oh, but wait, I also have some new ones to write yet for the special prefixes, etc. I've worked recently. So it, like my streaks, never really ends, I guess. But it's a lot of fun along the way so I don't mind. -30-

Friday, July 11, 2014 8:24 PM - I'm sitting here in the midst of let's see.....8 piles of QSL cards, but I'm making headway. I wanted to get some cards printed today, but the local print shop was unexpectedly closed the two times I stopped by with no signs saying what was going on. So I decided I'd print my own cards which would probably be cheaper anyway. So I took the sample (here) I was going to take to the print shop, fed some 8 1/2 by 11 card stock into the printer and printed six sheets (24 cards) at a time, filled out that many, and did another batch.

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I filled out cards for about 100 QSOs so far, and have around 90 to go. Using my Microsoft Access log it was easy to write a query to feed me the data for the cards, and all I had to do was write it in. Took less than a minute for each card except for those that confirmed multiple QSOs. Right now I'm paused in the middle of the Bulgarian Saints stations QSLs.

I don't have enough card stock to finish all the cards I need so I'll have to try to get some more tomorrow and also get a black ink cartridge for my printer. I think they may have both at our local Rite Aid.

Well, tomorrow (Sunday) will be the big day. I'll hit 500 days in my DX streak. I feel very confident about it since the WRTC will be going on then. This evening for day 499 I worked what seemed to be a station warming up for the Championships - HG5DX, then I heard and worked a special event station - E72NATO. I still need a U to finish the NAQCC European Chapter challenge. Just can't find any Russian U stations or any Ukrainian or Serbia U stations for some reason. I'll make it though.

I did master the NAQCC 'North American' July WARC/VHF bands challenge though when I made my first six meter QSO in a long while with K2DSW. This last burst of solar energy really opened up the bands all the way at least to six meters. Not a lot of folks took advantage of it though except for maybe six meters. The stations I were hearing were working one station after another. My little 1 watt which I use on six meters just wasn't making it except for the K2 station in Iowa. There were some strong CA signals heard here also. Now the solar flux is back down in the 160s and dropping fast. Maybe that big sunspot group that provided all the excitement will survive a rotation and be back again in August around the first week or so. I hope. -30-

Thursday, July 10, 2014 9:30 AM - How about another early entry with some feedback and a progress report on my work with the 221 buro cards that came yesterday.

First this from Glenn K3SWZ, "Hi John, According to the report that just came out, you won the 2014 ARRL CW DX Contest -- Atlantic Division -- QRP... Outstanding!!! Hopefully there will be a nice plaque in the mail soon..... Check out the ARRL web site under "contest results" 73 de Glenn, K3SWZ."

Thanks Glenn. That's neat. I thought maybe I'd win PA, but not the entire Atlantic Division. I see I came close to the top 10 Single OP QRP USA also - I think I was #11 in a quick glance at the overall QRP scores. And I was #5 in the Northeast Region. I'm pleased.

Now on to the cards. After weeding out a few cards that beloged to someone else (W3WW, etc.) and some for N3AQC and our N#A special event calls, I was left with 215 that belonged to K3WWP. I logged all the QSOs from those cards in my Microsoft Access log and found they verified 274 QSOs (many single cards verified more than one QSO). There was one SWL report from France (I believe. No QTH on the card, but the SWL call started with an F and some of the info was in French).

As I logged, I separated the cards basically into two stacks, one from those who replied to my card and one from those wanting my card. I haven't counted, but the latter group looks to be about twice the size of the former which means I probably have some 130-140 cards to write. That means I need to get some more cards designed and printed.

After logging all the confirmed QSOs, I used Access and Excel to sort by prefix from the cards and found 177 different prefixes confirmed. Of those, 77 were never verified before by card.

Next up a check of band countries. I didn't count the overall total yet. I'll do that in a minute, but of the total, I found 31 new band countries that were never before verified by card, although a lot had been confirmed by the LotW. 15 were the beautiful cards from the Bulgarian Saints stations. Many cards were beautiful and contained a lot of info on them. I wish I had time to read it all. Maybe some day. OK, the total was 149 different band countries from 60 different countries. All QSOs confirmed were DX except for two from Canada.

So that brings us up to date on the huge QSL task. Again remember to be sure you have envelopes on hand at your QSL incoming buro to avoid what I'm going through right now. However it is a very enjoyable task although time-consuming. Also I'm just thinking of how my late mom used to enjoy looking at my QSL cards. She would have really enjoyed this batch.

Now before brunch, I'm going to update my DXCC and WPX pages with the new totals. Oh, and maybe check for any new band-zones. I haven't done that yet. I guess all I really need to do for that is check the 31 new band countries since they would be the only source of new band zones. -30-

Wednesday, July 09, 2014 2:32 PM - I'm writing this now in the middle of the day because the next few days have just been planned out for me. First of all the computer club this evening. That's not the big thing though. I just got a massive mailing from the QSL Buro containing 221 cards all of which must be sorted, logged, and cards written for those wanting my card for whatever reason. Whew!!!

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I think I mentioned in the diary a few weeks ago about realizing I hadn't received any Buro mailings for quite a while. I then checked and found my envelopes at the Buro had run out so I sent off 20 envelopes, seven of which came back in the mail today with an average of about 32 cards per envelope.

So take my advice if you chase DX and don't have any envelopes at your incoming Buro, get some to them and keep tabs on them to be sure you never run out like I did and face this massive task I now have. -30-

Tuesday, July 08, 2014 8:58 PM - The bands were kind of strange today. Some very good signals here and there up through 12 meters, but not many of them. This afternoon, I easily worked ZY14RR with a single call after trying him I don't know how many other times to get that ZY14 prefix. Then an easy QSO with EI3KG. However calling a few other stations netted me nothing, not even a ? except from one of the Bulgarian Saints stations who just couldn't complete my call.

This evening the bands seemed even worse when I first got on a little after 0000Z. There was no DX that I could work, so I went to 30, called CQ and got Gary K1YAN for my main streak QSO. After we chatted for a quarter hour or so, I went DXing again. I had an iffy QSO with Z37HWX which had I been satisfied with would have been my DX QSO and I would have shut down. However I wasn't satisfied, and wanted to get a more solid QSO. Well, I did, after finding a good station and losing out on my first call to him to an EX station, I called again and he came right back with a snappy K3WWP.... It was TA3AX, and that was exciting since I haven't worked all that many Turkish stations over the years. Let's see.... this was only my 11th QSO with that country. One of them oddly enough came in response to my CQ on 30M on 12/29/2000 at 2139Z. That was TA3D.

That leaves just 4 nervous days now to reach 500 days of DX here. I sure would hate to come so close and not make it, but it could happen. Then I'm only 26 days from 20 solid years of my main streak. I'm not so nervous about that one as it's almost impossible not to make some kind of QSO every day. I hope I haven't jinxed myself by saying that now.

Well it's just past 9PM so I better end this and go get my weather data for the day. We spent the day dodging thunderstorms. Our deflection shields were up and the storms split us to the north and south leaving us with probably less than a tenth of an inch of rain.

Tomorrow it's up early to help Bruce take Roscoe to the groomers. He's been feeling the heat and I'm sure he'll enjoy having short hair now for the remainder of summer. Then tomorrow evening it's my computer club. So a busy day tomorrow. -30-

Monday, July 07, 2014 8:29 PM - Conditions didn't seem quite as good this evening as last evening, but I did get a quick DX QSO in AM04ZK to keep the streak going as I close in on 500 days of DX. This afternoon was somewhat better and I narrowed down the NAQCC European Chapter challenge to needing a 7 and a U to complete it. I also added a couple more WARC band QSOs to the NAQCC North American challenge. -30-

Sunday, July 06, 2014 9:11 PM - Question: When was the last time the solar flux was as high as it was today - 201? I'll write my entry, then check my records and give an answer at the end.

I didn't have a lot of time to explore the bands today because a few hours were spent helping Tom WY3H take down his big antenna as I mentioned yesterday. It went pretty smoothly - much more so than when we put it up last year. Tom then treated us helpers to some pizza. A lot of good memories ran through my mind when I was there today. I did have a lot of good times with Tom. I could write a whole dozen pages or so here, but I won't. I'll just mention only one. A few years ago when I was helping Tom put up another antenna, I had to climb the big hill on his property to fasten one end of the antenna. Tom had two big dogs at that time - Lil and Whizzer and when I went up the hill Lil went with me and I got a kick out of how she acted. She would run around up there but every few minutes or so she would come back to me as if she was checking up to see if I was OK. Sadly both dogs are gone now, succumbing to old age. Other things come to mind like Tom and JoAnne always inviting me over for holiday meals if I didn't have any other plans. Also we watched some good movies together. And I'm going on and on, aren't I? I have to mention what I think was my first ever portable operation when Tom and I did a Hoot Owl Sprint from atop one of the hills on his property. The last portable operation was last year's field day when with the help of the antenna we took down today, we racked up 352 QSOs in not all that many hours of operation. That was a great antenna.

Moving on now. As expected with a SF of 201, the bands were really hot. Even 6 meters had several stations on it, although I didn't work any of them. This evening I worked 3 Polish stations in search of letters/numbers for the NAQCC European Chapter challenge, then AH6V on 15 meters just because I enjoy working Hawaii. Earlier in the day I got OF3ERTC, W1AW/9, and K2K in NH. Again I was picking and choosing who to work or I could have had a lot more QSOs as activity was pretty high on all the high bands except 10 which only had a few stations on it. 12 was the most packed I've seen it in a good while. With my WARC bands QSOs today, I now have 13 toward the 20 needed for the NAQCC North American challenge. All on 17 and 12 meters. Man what a great time to be a ham radio operator. I hope these conditions last for a while yet. They should because there are several sunspot groups still to rotate onto the center of the Sun.

Answer: It looks like it wasn't all that long since the last SF over 200. From Jan 4 through Jan 7 this year the SF was 215 218 204 237. -30-

Saturday, July 05, 2014 9:18 PM - WOW! - Band conditions in a word. With a Solar Flux of 193 and A index of 4, the bands acted just like they should with those figures this evening. Still not a lot of folks seemed to be aware of the good conditions or they just ignored them for whatever reason. There wasn't a lot of activity, although more than the past couple nights. Great signals on all bands from 20 through 10 meters. I was picking and choosing who I worked or I could have had a lot more than the six QSOs I did make - 1 on 17, 2 on 15, and 3 on 12. An amazing QSO on 12 meters - K2ADK in Saranac Lake, NY. Yes that's how short skip was on 12 meters. That's the first continental USA QSO I've had on 12 meters since 10/22/2012, almost two years and 71 12M QSOs ago. All the rest in between have been DX.

My first QSO was a great one for the NAQCC European Chapter challenge - DR50RRDXA. I got a bunch of letters and numbers from that one to move toward the 2/3 completion point of the challenge. With the 17 and 12 meters QSOs I am just short of halfway toward the NAQCC North American challenge of 20 WARC band QSOs. I have nine.

Now if we can just get more folks to get on the high bands while these conditions last, it will really be a ton of fun. How about it?

Tomorrow I'll be going over to Tom's (WY3H) to help him take down his antennas preparing for his move to GA which should now take place on July 13th if all goes according to plan.

It was a good day today besides ham radio also. Great weather again. Early this morning I helped Ange water his garden. I got in a couple of walks. And I just took some nice sunset pictures after my stint on the ham bands was over. Let's see if I can find a couple nice ones to post here. I haven't been posting many pictures in the diary of late and you say you enjoy seeing them.

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And here are a couple more of Mike and me at our front porch FD setup last weekend. Wow, has it been a week already since FD. Where does the time go, and why does it speed up when one gets older?

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Friday, July 04, 2014 9:06 PM - It looks like folks are waking up and discovering the good conditions on the bands finally. The bands from 20 through 15 were really hot this evening well past sunset here. I got my first four European QSOs of the month - RA6MQ EI4II IZ4ZZB and IY1GMS. The first 3 on 17M and the last on 15M. In the process, I gathered 18 of the 42 letters/numbers needed to master the July NAQCC European Chapter challenge. Also the 3 17M QSOs gave me a total of 5 WARC band QSOs toward the NAQCC North American challenge. There were also many other strong European signals but some were in the YV contest and others had no letters or numbers I needed so I didn't try to work them. Now having said all that, the bands still were not very good today until this evening. I checked earlier in the day and they were pretty dead. And hey, where did the W1AW stations go. I haven't heard them at all the past two evenings. Doesn't matter since I don't need WI or UT, having got them the first time around, but still....

The weather today was the kind you would like to order for every day if you could. Partly cloudy skies with crystal clear, low humidity air. Some pretty strong breezes with temperatures in the upper 70s. Another nice day to work outside which I did, doing some weeding, watering my garden, etc. -30-

Thursday, July 03, 2014 9:03 PM - You would think with a SF of 178 and A index of 6 with no significant ionospheric storminess that the bands would be alive with DX. That wasn't the case today though. I was hard pressed to find any workable DX at all in three separate sessions on the bands. I guess about the strongest DX I heard all day was PY22MC on 30M this evening, and he QRT just after I found him. Other than that I had a hard earned QSO with YV1KK this afternoon on 12M and another one for my streak this evening with XE2ST on 20M. I think the bands may indeed have been pretty good, but just not much activity from the DX world. I will try to check again tomorrow a couple times. I still haven't worked any European stations this month for the NAQCC European Chapter challenge and the 12M QSO was my first WARC band QSO for the 'USA' challenge.

It was cooler today and much less humid so I took the opportunity to pretty much completely weed my garden and get some stakes up for my tomato plants. My Siberian plants have some small tomatoes on them, but I would say it will be at least two or three weeks before I have any ripe ones. I should have started them much earlier than I did. My pepper plants are doing well with some small peppers on the bigger plants. -30-

Wednesday, July 02, 2014 8:46 PM - The bands didn't sound too good for DX this evening so I thought I'd get a regular QSO to keep the big streak going. I found W1AW/9 on 20M operating simplex, called once and got my QSO. Then I found ZB2FK on 17 and EV1R on 20, but never got as much as a ? out of either one. So I looked some more and found HK1N on 17. I got him on just a single call with one repeat. So the DX streak is now at 490 days.

The big highlight in ham radio for me today though wasn't on the air. I checked my LotW matches from the ARRL as I do a couple times each month, and found a match from W1AW/KL7. I didn't say anything at the time I worked them, but I wasn't 100% sure of the QSO as QRN knocked out the final letter of my call and I wasn't sure it was a P or not, but it was and I now have all but the latest two states veried on the LotW. Those two gave me a few solid QSOs each so I'm not worried about them being verified. Now it's sit and wait till the last three states are activated in late July and late August. It's been a lot of fun and I hate to see it coming to an end. I think maybe now I'll see if I can work the repeat states on additional bands to the ones on which I worked them the first go around. It would be nice to see 12M open up the second half of the year as I need about half the states overall on that band and the W1AW tour would be an easy way to get them IF the band opens up. I also need a few on 17M that I can perhaps try for.

A very hot hazy humid day today and I didn't do a lot besides sit at the computer with the fan blowing on me. There was a humidity front come through today though and the humidity dropped late this afternoon and the surrounding hills here became crystal clear as the haze dissipated. It got nice enough for me to cut the grass in my back yard which I just finished a few minutes ago.

A final note. In checking the SF and A index to update my propagation page I see the SF today was at 169 so tomorrow might be a good day for DX if everyone wakes up and realizes the bands will be in good shape. If something else doesn't come up, I may try to make a sizable dent in the July NAQCC European Chapter challenge if the European stations show up on the higher bands. -30-

Tuesday, July 01, 2014 9:02 PM - Mike and I didn't have a lot of time together today but we made the most of it. He had to do some shopping for some things for the local radio club, and I 'tagged along' and found a couple of things to buy for myself. I got one of those little fluttery butterflies for my garden just because I always liked the one the neighbors have. I also got a pack of 50 DVDs since I was completely out of them.

Then when we got back here we got our Field Day report off to the ARRL, then got in the Canada Day contest. There wasn't a whole lot of activity. I added 13 to my 15 from last night, and Mike worked most of the ones I worked plus a couple that I had already worked last night. It was nice to work a bit of DX in the contest like F5IN, PA0VAJ, and UA1CE. All too soon Mike had to head north for a meeting up in Brookville this evening.

After I helped Ange a bit in his garden and had my supper, I got back in the Canada Day contest and added 9 more QSOs for a total of 37. Not all that bad for the little time I spent.

Then this evening I set out to get my DX QSO plus maybe work W1AW from WI and UT. I have worked those two states before on the first part of the W1AW tour so that wasn't too high a priority. Good thing too, because the pileups built very quickly. So I went looking for the DX and after striking out with a couple stations, I managed to work PR77AR although he wasn't all that strong and Brazil is not one of my easiest countries to work. Anyway that leaves me with 11 more days to reach 500 days of DX. The solar flux is building back up again and was in the 150s today so barring any major geomagnetic storms that bodes well for my DX streak, and hopefully for the NAQCC European chapter challenge as well. -30-

Monday, June 30, 2014 10:12 PM - Another busy day today getting caught up on things that didn't get done because of the FD weekend. Also it being the last of the month, I had my usual end of the month things to get done. I'm a bit tired now, but I think I got it all done except putting my June weather data in the computer which I might do a little later tonight or tomorrow morning.

Hopefully it will be tonight because that will free up tomorrow for that follow up visit from Mike I mentioned. He'll be coming here about 10 AM which will give me an hour to get my first of the month financial 'stuff' done.

Of course this is Canada Day and hence the RAC Canada Day contest. I used it to get my streak QSOs and continued on for a while to the tune of around 16 or so QSOs. Mike and I hope to get in some 'tag team' work in the contest tomorrow after we get some other things taken care of. I remember the RAC contests back in the 90s when there was very little activity and with a decent effort I could wind up in the top ten or even top five overall USA scores. Now they have grown to be very popular contests with an abundance and more of activity. It's nice that they have caught on so well even though I don't have a chance of a top ten listing anymore with my QRP and simple wire antennas. -30-

Sunday, June 29, 2014 8:48 PM - Another great day today as are all days that Mike and I hang out together. We got up early (for me) and had the Ponderosa Sunday Brunch meal which is becoming a tradition with us since the food is so great and filling with a busy day coming up.

It was busy as we resumed our FD operation from my front porch. When we got home from Ponderosa, it only took several minutes to get all set up again and we were off and running. We set our goal for the end of the day to be at 300 total QSOs. Last year we had 352 from the QTH of Tom WY3H with two extra operators there, so with poorer conditions this year thrown in the mix also, we thought 300 was a reasonable although challenging goal. The QSB was horrific today. Stations would send the first letter of their call at S9+ and by the time the last letter came, it would often be inaudible. So it was a struggle at times to pull the QSOs in out of the QSB. The bottom line is we came close, but didn't quite make our goal. We wound up with 288 QSOs from (I believe) 41 states, some VEs, C6, KP2, KP4. We're going to put together our report when we get together again on Tuesday to do that plus some other things.

Once again we were both impressed with our KX3s. They performed perfectly with our 'makeshift' antennas. I was amazed how easy it was to make QSOs on 20 meters with my random wire plus its extension to reach down to my front porch. When conditions were steady it only took a single call with no repeats to log a QSO whether it be short skip to W1, W2, W4 or long skip to W6 and W7. The only thing I couldn't work for whatever reason were a couple European stations from Russia and Hungary.

After FD ended at 1800Z it took less than a half hour to return things to the state that you couldn't tell we had done a FD operation. Then we had a pre-planned phone call with Paul N8XMS, NAQCC Manager to discuss prizes for some upcoming NAQCC activities and some other matters. Then (as you already know, I'm sure) it was time to eat. I had half my Subway sub from yesterday and Mike had some left over pizza. Next up we played a hidden object game on the computer before Mike had to head back up north.

He said when he got up there that they had had some heavy rain, but here we only had a very slight mist just as we were taking down our FD setup. So the weather was good for the entire weekend although a bit hot and muggy in the afternoons with the temperature nudging 90 degrees. A couple of fans on the porch kept it bearable though.

Tonight the poor conditions continued and I thought I might not get my DX QSO. I did though. I first worked YT2ISM but wasn't positive he had the last letter of my call correct because of the QRN and QSB here. So a little later I worked ZY14PB for a sure solid QSO. That makes the last 16 months that I've made a DX QSO every single day now and the 500 consecutive day mark is drawing near. -30-

Saturday, June 28, 2014 11:17 PM - Diary entry for June 28 - Book 1, Chapter 1. Just to let you know it may be long.

About the first thing we did yesterday when Mike arrived was to try to see if his tent would fit in the back yard. It didn't, so we had to adopt plan B which was to set up and operate from the front porch of my house. After that we had our usual which was chicken sandwiches, fries, and Frosties from Wendy's. The rest was mentioned yesterday in the diary, so let's seque to today.

Up around 9 o'clock and off to Ponderosa's breakfast. After stuffing ourselves we came back home and started setting up for field day. The most involved thing was setting up antennas. Mike used his jumper dipole with the center fastened at my attic window and the ends slanted down in an inverted Vee configuration. With the jumpers set at 40 meters, the KX3 tuned up just fine on all appropriate bands. Next we set up my antenna which consisted of adding enough wire to the end of my random wire to reach down to the porch. The extra wire didn't bother the KX3 at all and it tuned the wire just like always.

That left us with about an hour and a half before the start of FD so we played a hidden object game on the computer to pass the time.

Approximately 20 minutes before the start, we went to Subway and got a couple subs to eat later in the day.

At 1800Z with the neighbor's lawnmower running in the background, the fun began. Mike had 40 and I had 20. Both bands didn't seem all that active, but we did make the QSOs. We continued doing so for the next 9 hours with a couple short breaks here and there to eat our subs and later to top that off with a Vocelli's pizza. We shut down at 11 PM and are both sitting here now collaborating on this diary entry.

In the midst of the FD QSOs I managed a DX QSO to keep the DX streak alive and well. -30-

Friday, June 27, 2014 11:50 PM - Mike and I got absorbed in playing a computer hidden object game after doing some preliminary FD setup, having chicken sandwiches at Wendy's, chasing some DX, and taking a long walk. So this is just a statement explaining why the diary is so late. We'll have more details in tomorrow's entry. -30-

Thursday, June 26, 2014 8:55 PM - Mike and I had a good time last night albeit only for a short time. We had an anchovy and mushroom pizza which we ate out on my porch since the weather was so nice. Then we made up a check list for our FD operation this weekend. After that up to my shack to chase some W1AW QSOs. Mike worked W1AW/9 on 20, 30, and 40 I believe, then got W1AW/3 on 80 meters. After he left I 'stole' a W1AW/9 QSO. As I was listening, the op suddenly said UP 1 to 2, so it struck me to try UP 1.5 and lo and behold I got him on the first or second try.

Tonight I got my goals in steps. I wasn't hearing any DX stations nor any W1AW stations, but I did find W7F and worked that special event call for my main streak QSO. Then in hunting some DX, I heard W1AW/9 pretty strong on 17 meters. Again listening carefully, he requested folks to spread out as signals were weak. I had been set right on +1, but then bumped up to about +1.15 or so and got him on my very next call. That makes 5 bands for W1AW/9 in IL now 80 40 30 20 17. Then a bit more tuning and I found about the only strong DX station at all, and he was quite strong. It was F5MUX on 17 and I worked him easily for the DX streak. Finally I had a rag chew type QSO with AC2CM on 40 meters. I almost forgot the procedure for rag chew QSOs after all my DX chasing and W1AW chasing, etc. HI -30-

Wednesday, June 25, 2014 7:30 PM - Mike's stopping by for a short visit this evening for a pizza and some planning for our FD operation this weekend. He probably won't have time to do any ghost writing so I'll just get my diary entry out of the way now.

I had a little spare time this afternoon so I thought I'd check the bands. There wasn't a whole lot of action, but I easily worked W1AW/9 on two new bands - 40 and 20 just because they were there and not getting a whole lot of replies.

Before that I helped Tom WY3H via land line to get a panadapter up and running with his KX3. We came up a little short when I visited in person several days ago, but today everything is working perfectly so he should be all set to go when he gets his move to GA (or TN) completed in a couple weeks or so.

After yet another rainy day, it looks like maybe, just maybe a couple of dry days Thursday and Friday are in the works. I haven't actually totalled up our rainfall this month, but a glance at the figures leads me to guess it may be around 7 inches or about twice normal. The ground is absolutely saturated which could lead to trouble if we get any really heavy rain in the next week or so. Right now it's sunny and breezy with a temperature in the low-mid 70s. Sure feels and looks good.

To close here's a picture of my AcuRite remote weather unit at 6:03PM this evening. Sevens are wild. I think that's the first time I've seen 7 of the 8 bigger digits all the same. I don't think I've ever seen all 8 the same. Now if the pressure had been 29.77.....
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Tuesday, June 24, 2014 9:03 PM - I had hoped to get the W1AW states in one of my 'sneak in before the pile builds' operations, but right at 0000Z we had a heavy thunderstrom move through plus I got a phone call at 2359Z. So that delayed me just enough to find all the W1AW/9 and /3 ops with big pileups already a couple minutes into the hour. OK, next order of business is getting my DX QSO. KP2/K3TEJ had been booming in on 20 when I checked earlier and at 0004Z he was still strong so I worked him. Then I decided to try to break the W1AW pileups, but I was unsuccessful for quite a while until the W1AW/9 pile on 30 diminished and after figuring out where he was listening, I got him with a bit of difficulty, but a solid QSO. I had been chasing W1AW/3 on 80M where he was booming in, but couldn't break the pileup. However just 4 minutes after getting W1AW/9 (at 0047Z), I found the W1AW/3 pile also diminished somewhat and it was the same as the /9 QSO - a bit difficult but solid. So after 51 minutes this round, I have the two new states, and now stand at 47/47 which according to simple first grade math means 3 more to go for my W1AW WAS. It's going to take a while though as the next new states won't be up until the week of 7/23 (IN RI), and as I've said a couple times before, everyone has to wait on ME until the week of August 27.

Just noticed when logging the above QSOs that I've worked W1AW on their WAS tour on each band from 80 through 10 meters. Nothing on 160 or 6 (yet?).

Other than that not a lot to talk about today. I did fix up my computer so I could listen with headphones to the new Pileup Trainer program I mentioned. That made it a little easier since I am used to using headphones for all my ham radio operations except perhaps when Mike or someone is here with me. Then I use the speaker so we both can hear. Although when we have a serious 'tag team' effort or something like that going, we'll use a Y splitter so we can both use headphones. With the headphones I cracked the 180 QSOs/hour barrier a couple times and was up well over 200 at times during the run.

I also added a little extension to my random wire in preparation for when Mike and I do Field Day this weekend from my back yard. I figure I'll just feed the KX3 to the other end of the random wire which should work well. Mike will hang some kind of antenna from a nearby tree in a neighbor's yard. Should be interesting.

Oh, since I wrote yesterday's entry early, I didn't get to mention a very nice special event station I worked later in the day. It was simply EF6 with no suffix. I didn't know what it was when I worked the station because as you well know, I'm not one to check to see what is on where beforehand via spots or other information. When I did check after the QSO, I found out it was in honor of the new King of Spain - Felipe VI who had the throne turned over to him on June 19 by his father Juan Carlos who 'abdicated'. I thought it was a Balearic Island station when I worked it, but no, the F6 stood for Felipe 6 and was in Spain itself. -30-

Monday, June 23, 2014 9:45 AM - Sometimes when I get ideas, diary feedback, or other info early in a day, I like to write the diary entry then so my old brain doesn't forget when the normal diary time in the evening rolls around. Today is such a day.

First of all I got this info from Glenn K3SWZ: "....Glad you got your KL7 QSO!! I have been pulling for you... That has been a tough one for sure, for all, I think.... Not many spots at all this past week....." Well as regular diary followers know, I NEVER use spotting of any kind in my efforts with one minor exception which I'll reiterate a little later. So I wasn't aware whether there was less operating time from KL7 or if I just wasn't hearing it here. Looks like the former was the case which is too bad because I'm sure not only those chasing the W1AW WAS as I am doing, but those who were looking for KL7 to complete a WAS period were counting on W1AW/KL7 to accomplish their goals.

On the other hand, W1AW/7 in MT seems to me to be one of the most active operations. I think every time I've turned on the KX3 the past few days I've heard W1AW/7 on at least 2 or 3 bands, often more. I've worked them easily on 5 bands here (40 30 20 17 15) mostly while looking around for KL7.

The exception to spotting? If I work some DX and because of sloppy sending, QSB, QRN, or he went QRT before I could hear his call again to be sure, then (but ONLY THEN) will I check spots to confirm the call. I believe in the old fashioned way of DXing - just get on the bands and look for it. Of course I have conceded to the use of a panadapter to aid in the tuning, but only to save time in scanning a band. I still have to check each blip on the panadapter to hear who it is causing the blip. I'll never use anything like Skimmer which visually identifies each blip.

Also today and last night I received some interesting and rewarding email from Jock N1JI, who lives in a similar situation to mine. He says he's been inspired by my results here on an even smaller lot than his. He worked KL7 about a half hour after I did. Anyway the point in mentioning this is to say that it is rewarding to me when the true purpose of my web site comes through. That is encouraging by example others in a similar situation to know that they too can do what I've done here. Thanks Jock.

Well, let's see now what I can do for the rest of the day. Right now my laundry is in the dryer and should be done in a few minutes. Although some showers are predicted today, it looks sunny out there at the moment. So maybe some walking. The river is down somewhat, but still a little muddy, or at least was yesterday so a slight possibility of some fishing. Who knows? -30-

Sunday, June 22, 2014 8:28 PM - Three birds, er goals with one stone, er call. At 0003Z I sent a single call in reply to W1AW/KL7 and got my streak QSO, my DX streak QSO, and W1AW state 45 of 45 in the log. Whew, what a relief. That's the first time I've gone till the 6th day to get a W1AW state. Now with IL MD IN RI and ME left for WAS, it looks a lot brighter than it did just an hour or so ago.

Another nice day today at the start of astronomical summer. I took a couple of nice walks and did some weeding in my back yard and garden. The river is slowly going down, so if we don't get any more heavy rain upstream, perhaps my itinerary in a few days will include fishing, if I still remember how. HI -30-

Saturday, June 21, 2014 8:36 PM - The fourth day now with no W1AW/KL7 QSO. I can't even see any light at the end of the tunnel. Today I only heard KL7 briefly and weakly on 17 meters late this afternoon, and I checked all likely bands at several different times. The bands were busy with various DX stations, the AA contest, and W1AW/7, but only a very few of the signals were very strong. And my noise was about as low as it ever gets here, not even moving the S meter on the higher bands. I had some difficulty getting my DX QSO this evening. I tried some of the Asiatic Russians in the AA test, but never got more than a K3?. I did sort of work an AM08 station, but didn't log it because he never confirmed having my call right. Finally after a couple repeats I did get a solid QSO with AM03NN on 20M. So now I need 21 more days to hit 500 days in the DX streak. If conditions continue to deteriorate it's going to be tough.

Otherwise a nice weather day for walking and doing some gardening. Ange brought me some pea seeds to replace the plants that either never sprouted or got eaten by bugs or birds before they had any chance to develop. They are in a wire cage now, so at least that will stop the birds.

I've developed some deeper respect now for those who operate DXpeditions after downloading and using a program called Pileup Runner. It puts the operator in the DXpedition operator's seat and let's him (me) work the pileup. The parameters for the pileup are variable and can be made as rough or as easy as possible. Tuning in the stations in the pileup is via mouse clicking on a panadapter waterfall display. It's very neat how it works with stations in the pileup behaving very much like actual stations in an actual pileup. I've only played it a few times so far and I can get up to a 180/hr rate in bursts, but have trouble maintaining that rate for a full 10 or 15 minute session. I usually end up with only 120-140 or so. Hopefully I can improve with more practice. A long time ago some prominent DXer told me after I said there wasn't much difference between chasing DX with QRP and QRO that there certainly was. He said the amount of stations attracted by a KW station can be simply awesome. Well, that's the way it is with Pileup Runner, believe me. -30-

Friday, June 20, 2014 8:46 PM - Still no W1AW/KL7 QSO. It's looking more and more like I'll have to wait for the second activation of KL7 later this year unless conditions improve dramatically over the next 3-4 days. I have not heard much activity from KL7 so either conditions are really that bad or there is just not as much actiivity from KL7 as there should be. I hear MT all over the bands just about all the time. I've worked it on 4 diffferent bands so far. The few times I have heard KL7 something happened each time to prevent a QSO. The first time when sigs were the strongest I got there just a few minutes before that shift was up. The second time when I had him pretty much to myself, I forgot to change my power up from the 900 mW setting for the mW sprint the night before. When I noticed and did raise it, the pileup had become huge. Today I just couldn't break the pileup at all, and to make it worse, there was some DX using the freq W1AW was listening to.

At least my DX streak continues unbroken after working DQ60WAE at 0000Z this evening. Then a little later I got one of the Brazil World Cup stations, ZX14MG. They have been almost as rough to work as KL7.

A pretty nice day today after several rainy days, so I got a chance to work in my garden a bit, cut the grass, and dig some invasive weeds out of the lawn. -30-

Thursday, June 19, 2014 9:18 PM - I spent several hours with Tom WY3H today in kind of a going away get together before he moves down to GA in a couple weeks or so. We had some good pizza, and also did some ham radio and computer work. I got him set up with the Elecraft KX3 Utility computer program so he can update the KX3 firmware, program the KX3 memories, etc. I also installed the HDSDR panadapter. That took quite a bit of doing and it still has a couple bugs in the setup that I couldn't figure out. However the basic panadapter works just fine for seeing what's on a band at a glance and exploring the blips to see who is causing them. It was a good time and a sad time all at the same time. Once he moves down to GA there's not too much of a chance of us getting together in person again, although who knows - it could happen.

This evening I was having trouble working anyone till it finally dawned on my aging brain that I never raised the power from the 900 mW setting for last night's sprint. When I did go back to 5 watts, I worked OH4MDY for my DX, then my 3rd band (20M) for W1AW/7 in MT. This time I'm sure it was Matt K7BG cause after he greeted me with Good Work John or something like that, I sent Matt? and he said yes. That only took a single call. I also chased KL7 for a while, and had it been with 5 watts instead of 900 mW, I might have got him because there wasn't much competition yet. After I did realize the power mistake, the pileup had gotten built. So KL7 might just be my Achilles heel this first time around for WAS. Still 5 days left though. -30-

Wednesday, June 18, 2014 9:26 PM - I guess there couldn't have been a worse evening to have a NAQCC mW sprint. Severe thunderstorms plus high local man-made QRN plus generally poor propagation equals one of my worst NAQCC sprints ever with only 4 QSOs in 3 SPCs in the 25 minutes I put in before throwing in the towel.

To add to the woes, I still haven't gotten W1AW/KL7 yet. There were some good signals late this afternoon on 15 meters, but just as I was getting into rhythm, he vanished - I guess he quit since it was right on the top of an hour. He never said anything about going QRT though - just disappeared. I'll try the same band and time tomorrow if I get the chance. Still 6 days left to track him down. I may need all of them.

At least the DX streak continues. Day #476 was added thanks to OZ/OK1JAX and HK1ANP. Neither was an easy QSO, but a QSO nonetheless.

It's pouring rain again as I type. This has really been a wet late spring here. The river still hasn't had a chance to get down to good fishing level, and the gardens may be getting too much water this year. Things are growing very slowly. I finally did get a couple blossoms on my Siberian tomatoes a few days ago, but that's about all to report. -30-

Tuesday, June 17, 2014 9:08 PM - In the jungle it is often the aged lion who makes the first strike on and kill of some prey before the pack or pride descends on the prey after the aged lion has had his fill. Although the aged lion is no longer as fast nor as strong as his younger counterparts, he has the experience to know exactly where, when, and how to go for the kill, be it a wildebeest, impala, buffalo, zebra, or whatever.

With that preamble, I'll just say I got W1AW/7 in MT with a single strike... er call on 18086 at 0001Z before the pride... er pileup descended. I think the op may have been my contesting friend Matt K7BG as he called me by name, and unlike the op on 15M who was calling everyone by name, I was the only one in the time I was listening to the 17M op to be greeted by name. KL7 may take a bit more skill and a little luck thrown in. I heard KL7 on a couple bands, but fairly weak and very fluttery and with a big pileup already. I might have gotten them on 20 had there been no competition from the younger stronger lions, er the hams with higher power and bigger antennas. The signals from KL7 were nowhere near as strong as they are when I easily work that state in contests. Now KH6 I can work easily when I barely can hear them, but KL7 needs for the most part to be fairly strong without much flutter for me to work them. However I have almost a full week to find a good band and time to get them. If not this time around, then the second week later in the year when conditions might be better. Now after all that having been said, I'll probably get on later tonight or tomorrow and easily work them. HI.

Anyway, MT is tied with ND for 2nd quickest state behind #1 VT. Then at 0003 I grabbed HT5T with a single call for my DX streak QSO. -30-

Monday, June 16, 2014 9:16 PM - In the last day or so, the world has lost two icons from different fields of endeavor. Tony Gwynn was one of the premiere hitters of all time in baseball for the San Diego Padres. His lifetime batting average of .338 is (I believe) second highest in the era in which he played. He was also great in the field as well with something like 5 golden glove awards. Although there are many others who were good and whom I won't name here, I always thought that Gwynn and Rod Carew were right at the top as far as natural hitters go.

Pop music also lost one of its greatest DJs especially among those who built their career around Top 40, Top 20, Top 10, etc. music lists. I'm speaking of Casey Kasem. He was 82 years old.

Back to ham radio now. The bands seemed a little better this evening than they have been of late. You know my trials at first in getting W1AW/5 in AR. Well tonight I found them on 15 meters, and got them with but a single call in a small pileup. I've also had trouble working the Brazil World Cup special event calls, but tonight it only took a couple calls to get PY22XB. Last but not least, I finally got that final R to finish our NAQCC "USA" challenge when my CQ on 40 was answered by W3MWR. -30-

Sunday, June 15, 2014 11:43 PM - After I got my DX QSO this evening from LZ1WR for day #473, I decided to try to finish the log cross-checking from our NAQCC sprint which I did. Thus it's now late as you see from the time stamp on this entry, so I'm not going to add any more now, but instead get ready for bed. -30-

Saturday, June 14, 2014 8:35 PM - Finally finished the NAQCC European Chapter challenge last night when I worked J48TSL for that last letter - T. I also got a couple Rs from CO2IR to come within one final R of completing the NAQCC "USA" challenge. I heard some stations with Rs in their call, but all except one were in the WWSA contest. The other one was VK2IR on 15 meters. He was a long winded rag chewer though, and I didn't feel like waiting him out as he was pretty weak anyway and might not have heard me. Maybe tomorrow I can get the R although the bands have been pretty dead during the daytime hours here of late. Anyway it sure is a lot of fun working on our NAQCC challenges. I'm surprised we don't have more members participating in them.

Just about a perfect summer day here - warm and dry with low humidity. Great walking weather. I took three good walks today along with doing some shopping. I also worked in the yard for a while. The perfectly clear sky would be good for star gazing tonight except for the day or so past full moon. If it wasn't such an effort setting up the scope, I might even give it a try. But with those two strikes against me, I'll probably pass this time around. I really can't even remember the last time I had the scope out. Guess I'm just getting too old to make the effort. -30-

Friday, June 13, 2014 12:31 PM - As I mentioned a couple entries ago, my links here on the web site had not been checked in quite a while, and I was going to try to get them checked and updated as time permitted. While working on them today, I found one bad link was to the site of WA5FQV. In researching and looking for a new updated link, I found that WA5FQV had become a SK in March. Sad but not unusual except for the fact that Don and I were very good ham friends as Novice teenagers back in the 1960s. We had many QSOs - a lot of which would start after midnight and go into the 1 AM hour. Don lived in Dallas, and there were several teenage hams in his neighborhood, and I would also work them sometimes, but most of the QSOs were with Don. In fact, if I did my UTC conversion correctly back then, one QSO went until 3:34AM my local EDT time. Then looking at our QSOs when we upgraded to General, I see one QSO went until 4:05AM. Actually we only had a total of 12 QSOs, but became very good friends in those 12 (very long) QSOs. I was still a raw Novice when Don and I had our first few QSOs and it was still a thrill to be able to communicate all the way to Texas via ham radio!

It's sad to know that Don is gone now. It's too bad we never really continued to communicate after 1964, but life got in the way for both of us. I did hear from Don via email a few years ago when he found my web site, and we exchanged some memories of those early days of hamming. Too bad we never got the idea, as WA4FAT and I did, of trying for a 50th anniversary QSO which would have been on May 18 of 2013. Rest in peace my friend! -30-

Thursday, June 12, 2014 9:24 PM - Finishing the NAQCC challenges this month is similar to running a strong Marathon for 26 miles, then having to crawl on hands and knees the last 385 yards. It's seemingly taking forever to get those last few letters after almost finishing them the first few days of the month. I'm down now to needing 3 Rs for the "USA" challenge and 4 Ts for the European challenge. I probably could have the "USA" one done but I'm trying to do it with all DX stations and of course the European one must be done with European stations. I did get EA6UN this evening not only for my DX streak QSO but for the last couple Ns for the challenges. The bands have really been 'the pits' during the daytime hours with very few stations being heard on any of the bands, almost none of it being DX.

For the second night in a row we had some very awesome storm clouds come through here. I wish I had been able to get some pictures of them, but I didn't have my camera with me either time. However here's a link to our local paper's story of the storm with a picture. I'm not sure exactly where the picture was taken, but according to the description, Rayburn Township is not very far from here. http://triblive.com/news/armstrong/6272481-74/weather-meteorologist-tornado

Here in town last night, we had a heavy downpour and some awesome lightning displays, but no damage to speak of. One major lightning strike was within 1000 feet of here as the time between the light and sound was only part of a second. Tonight while I was in my shack looking out the window, I saw very heavy rain pass just to our north while we had only light sprinkles right here. When someone mentions they had rain and I didn't or vice versa, I always remind them that there has to be an edge to the rain and tonight the edge was just north of my house.

Despite the poor conditions for our sprint this week we are standing right now around 110 logs already less than 48 hours after the sprint ended. I'm hoping we can hit 120 or 125 for this month and make up for the squeaker last month when we barely made 100 at the last minute and wound up with 101. -30-

Wednesday, June 11, 2014 7:51 PM - Just got home from a computer club picnic cut short by some severe weather that moved in. There was even a tornado warning for a corner of Armstrong County. Some overzealous official came and told us about the warning and suggested we close up the picnic and go home. Not having a weather radar available and with the sky looking very threatening, we thought that might not be a bad idea. Anyway we got to enjoy the picnic food before all that happened.

Now just about time to go try to work some DX. Last night before the sprint I got W1AW/5 in AR just 3 minutes after he started up before the huge pile developed. I already have MN, the other W1AW state this week although I did give them a QSO this afternoon as they seemed to be short of QSOs. I also got C6ATT for my DX before the sprint and got Carlos CO8CML in the sprint. Conditions were not all that good but I managed to eke out 31 QSOs in 20 sections which may be good enough for a top 10 score although scores are not really all that important in our sprints. Participation is what our sprints feed on. We already have 94 logs in from the sprint with a few more days left to check in. -30-

Tuesday, June 10, 2014 7:48 PM - It seems old age takes away one's sense of keeping up with things. I found a couple of things today that I used to do regularly, but now it's been a long time since I did or even thought about doing. One was checking and updating links on my web site. I ran Xenu link checker today and found way too many bad links. It's going to take a while to get them all fixed up, but I hope to do it.

Secondly, I found I'd not been keeping up on sending envelopes to the DX incoming bureau. Every now and then I'd think about it, but never check on it further. Now it's been a couple years since I've gotten a bureau mailing and I find my supply of envelopes had been exhausted. So I bought a couple dozen envelopes today and am in the process of preparing them to be sent to the bureau. I wonder what kind of landslide of cards I should expect with all the DX I've been working of late. Not so much things that I need, but those DX stations who want my card for whatever. Of course with the proliferation of LotW QSLs these days it won't be as much as in the pre-LotW days, but.....

Our sprint is coming up shortly and before that starts I want to try to get my DX streak QSO and also W1AW/5 in AR. I worked a couple of FISTS today for FISTS Tuesday. It's nice to see FISTS activity picking up again, albeit slowly.

OK, off to the shack now. -30-

Monday, June 09, 2014 8:56 PM - I was thinking while sitting at the rig tonight looking for some DX to work. About what? Thinking my DX streak would not be at 467 straight days without my panadapter. Many days, this evening included it would just take too much time to have to laboriously tune through each band listening for signals. I'm sure I would have given up much sooner if I had to do that a lot. However with the panadapter, I can easily check the activity on each band in less than a minute, then go back to the active bands and tune in each peak that I see to find out who it is. Sight is definitely quicker than sound. Oh I guess you could have a very wide band tuner with which you could listen to all the signals on a band at one time, That would give you a quick idea of whether the band was open or not. However the precision in finding specific signals that way would be nothing at all like the visual mode with a panadapter.

Thanks to the panadapter, I quickly found a lot of signals on 17 meters, and in tuning them in and checking them out starting with the strong ones, it didn't take long to find one of the stronger ones was IK5VLP whom I then easily worked for another day added to the streak.

I didn't have as much success looking for letters N R T to finish off the June NAQCC challenges. It seemed every time I found a station with those letters in the call, they were very weak and not hearing me at all, they were working someone else who had the frequency, I kept losing out to some other station when calling them, it was someone I already worked this month and used their letters already, or someone whom I've just worked so often, I didn't feel like working them again (and again and again.....). I've got a lot of time to get the remaining few letters so I'm not worried. -30-

Sunday, June 08, 2014 8:40 PM - Mike made one of those whirlwind visits this evening after another errand here in the area. Just before he got here, I worked DQ60WAE, then after he arrived, he worked him also. The bands weren't all that good and whatever we were hearing was mostly weak. We did hear EA9EU on 20M. Mike didn't think he had Ceuta and Melilla, so he tried for quite a while but no luck. We could barely copy him here so it wasn't that surprising not to work him.

After that, we went to Wendy's for a chicken sandwich, potato and a drink (Frosty for me, and I can still drink or eat one with a straw). Home again where we watched a video of solo goals by possibly the best soccer player in the world today, Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona. A couple computer bowling games then back to the shack.

I quickly got my DX QSO of the day when I worked OE3WMA and Mike followed suit. Then I tried and succeeded in finding W1AW both in LA and AL for Mike to work. He got both virtually with a single try. I had already gotten them, so I didn't bother trying them tonight.

It being a work day tomorrow, Mike then had to head home without even enough time to be a ghost writer tonight. Still a great little visit. -30-

Saturday, June 07, 2014 9:09 PM - For quite a while tonight I didn't think I was going to get my DX QSO, but then I wound up with a dandy - ZA/ON4CCV. I had been trying him earlier, but so was everyone else it seems. I was even hearing big contest stations working him. I guess Albania is still somewhat rare although nothing like it once was. I recall (I think correctly) one big DXer W9KNI who wrote a book called "The Complete DXer" telling in the book the trials he went through to finally get Albania as the last country for his 'worked them all' accomplishment. I've worked Albania 7 times now, but tonight is the first time in about 10 1/2 years. The 7 QSOs have come from 6 different calls - ZA1B, ZA1A, ZA1AJ, ZA1MH, ZA1M, and now ZA/ON4CCV. Oh, I also worked S57AW tonight, but those two stations plus one G3 I didn't work were the only fairly strong DX signals I heard even with a few DX contests going on.

I was logging some eQSLs into my log database today and got curious as to just how many eQSLs I have now and from how many different countries. Here are some stats for not only eQSL, but LotW and cards as well. The stats only include my QRP QSOs mainly from 1992 to present and don't include QSOs from the 60s through the 80s.

Percent veried

Just basic stats easy to compile with my Microsoft Access Log, but interesting nonetheless. LotW with its 26.1 percent of QSOs verified is impressive. Even more impressive is its 177 countries vs. just 136 from eQSL.

If you'd like to know how different countries rank in veries, let's look at those countries from which I have 300 or more QSOs. Here they are followed by QSOs, LotW QSLs, percentage:

Czech Republic72820628.3
European Russia54812122.1
Slovak Republic312289.0
United States41804931322.3

Took a lot longer to type that into the tables here than it did for Access/Excel to pop out the figures. So I think that's all I'll present here tonight. Maybe more later. If I'd had to guess, I don't think I'd have put Spain at #1 in returns, nor Poland at #2. Also surprising how low the return is from the Slovak Republic and Serbia. Otherwise except perhaps for Hungary at 17.8 percent, all the other countries are in pretty much the same range of 20-40 percent. -30-

Friday, June 06, 2014 8:28 PM - Some discouraging speculation in the ARRL Propagation Bulletin today. The so-called "experts" are saying that we are coming to the end of the second peak of sunspot cycle 24 and we are heading toward a pretty much spotless sun by the time we reach 2016. If true it looks like the good openings on 12 and 10 meters are probably not going to return any time soon, at least on a regular basis. Also openings will not be as good or as frequent on 20, 17, and 15 also. Projecting further into the future, predictions for cycle 25 have it being even poorer than 24 was. It makes for interesting reading anyway. If you subscribe to the bulletin, give it a good read. If not you can get it on the ARRL web site.

Despite the dire predictions, at least for the time being 20 and 17 were better tonight than they have been the past few days. My DX QSO for day 464 came just a couple seconds after 0000Z when I got LZ2KSB/P with a single quick call. Then a little later I worked EA1NE. There were more I could have worked, but I was only looking for stations with the letters I need to finish the June NAQCC challenges. I'm down to just a handful of letters for both now.

Today was another beautiful day - great for working outside. This morning I helped Ange plant some zucchini and cucumbers in his garden. Actually I planted them because he had a double barrel injury a few weeks ago. A bum tendon in his elbow and a broken small bone in his foot. So he won't have much of a garden this year. Just the fig trees, the zucchini and cucumbers I planted today, and some peppers to be planted next week sometime.

I also did a lot of work cleaning up my back yard and removing grass and weeds from between my brick walks. I also went for a walk and did some shopping along the way. -30-

Thursday, June 05, 2014 6:17 PM - Kind of a slow day here so I thought I'd write my diary entry a bit early. I think LA has been one of the hardest states so far from W1AW. It seems to me that they only operate one band at a time or maybe it's just that only one band at a time has conditions favorable for hearing them. Also some of the operating practices when I do hear them are not all that great. They operate simplex a lot, it seems, and the calling stations obliterate W1AW so it's hard to tell who they are working. However, I bagged them this afternoon on 15M. It wasn't easy, took several repeats of my call, but I'm now 42/42 in states activated so far. BTW the op this afternoon, whoever it was, was really top notch and had excellent control of his pileup. He stuck with one station as long as it took to get that station in his log correctly. Of course all states are with QRP/CW and my simple wire antennas. And no watching spots or any kind of schedules to see when and where they are operating. Just getting on and tuning the bands looking for them. Like in the old days.

Just looking back through my W1AW states QSOs, I see this is the longest it has taken to work a state since back in early April when I had trouble working my own state of PA and didn't get it until the second day at 1956Z vs. getting LA the second day at 1653Z today.

The eight states remaining now are AR AK MT IL MD IN RI and finally ME in the week of August 27. As I said earlier AK may be tricky depending on conditions. The rest should be easy (knock on wood). I hope N9RV and my friend Matt K7BG are the ops from MT. I can always easily work them.

While looking for LA today, I was also checking DX for letters and numbers for our NAQCC challenges. I didn't hear all that much as DX conditions seem down now compared to what they were as recently as a couple weeks ago when DX was plentiful during the daytime hours. If they keep declining, it may be tricky to make it to 500 days with my DX streak, but I'll be trying.

I planted my 3 Early Girl tomatoes I bought yesterday. I also did a lot of weeding among my other tomatoes, beans, peppers, and peas. A very nice day today reminiscent of those great summer days we all enjoyed as youngsters. Now if I could just knock some years off my age. HI -30-

Wednesday, June 04, 2014 8:54 PM - W1AW/5 in LA is proving quite elusive. I haven't even heard them much and the couple times I have heard them, I couldn't beat the huge pileups. On the other hand I worked W1AW/4 in AL on two more bands today - each time with but a single call. Looks like I'll have to redouble my efforts to get LA tomorrow.

Otherwise despite not hearing all that much DX, I did work IS0IGV to push the DX streak to 462 days now.

In non-ham matters, Nancy took me up to the mall today for some shopping. I mainly wanted to get a couple Early Girl tomato plants which I did. I'll probably plant them out tomorrow. They're not very big. I guess all tomatoes are kind of slow this year.

I also got my grass mowed before it started to rain. Vegetables may not be growing well, but the grass sure is. It could probably use cutting every 5 or 6 days or so this spring. -30-

Tuesday, June 03, 2014 9:05 PM - Finally got everything caught up here for a change. So now there will probably be a slew of other things coming up to do. But for now it's peaceful.

W1AW state #41 is in the books as I got AL fairly easily on 30 meters thanks to the split frequency reception on the KX3. And I made the contact with my new Centennial Key. LA was too busy tonight and not operating split so I'll have to wait on #42, but I'll get it before time runs out next Tuesday, I'm sure.

Otherwise I worked on getting letters and numbers for our NAQCC June challenges. I hit the jackpot with OH4MDY this afternoon. I think it was 15 letters/numbers I got from just that one QSO. I'm well past halfway with our 'USA' challenge and nearing halfway on the European Chapter challenge.

Some pretty good weather today for my walk to the bank, and I also took a couple other plain walks during the day. A bit on the humid side, but it felt good as I remembered those miserable winter days.

Tomorrow I hope to get up to WalMart to get a couple more tomato plants - Early Girls plus a couple other things I can't get here in downtown. -30-

Monday, June 02, 2014 9:21 PM - A busy day today but I got caught up with everything except a trip to the bank which I am ready for and will make early in the morning.

In between all the work, I did get in a couple short walks and checked the bands once but to no avail. I did get the bezel mounted on my KX3 as shown here.

pix_diary_20140602_001 (55K)

I also rigged up an adapter to connect the 1/4" plug on the centennial key to a 1/8" plug which the KX3 requires. Then I got my first three QSOs this evening after 0000Z - CO0SS, OE8SKQ, and WA8REI. The key has almost as good a feel as my Begali, but then Begali keys are the best on the planet so no shame in being close, but not matching them. I hope tomorrow night I can work W1AW with the new key. That will add a little thrill to the QSOs. I'm not sure what the new states are. Let me look. Oh yes, I did know, but forgot. AL and LA, almost neighbor states down south. If I get them, that will be 41 and 42.

OK, enough for now. I'm kind of tired after the busy day and going to take it easy for a while if I can remember what taking it easy is. HI

Sunday, June 01, 2014 9:52 PM - I'm in the midst of an extremely busy period with the Butler hamfest coinciding with my normal end of month/first of month activities. I'm just taking time out in the midst to write my diary report.

The hamfest was great in every way. Of course any time spent with Mike KC2EGL is great. I've said this before, but it's almost like we're twins who were separated at birth. Only he's 18 years younger (lucky fellow), so that can't be.

We got up in the middle of the night (well 7:30AM which is early for me) and stopped at Sheetz to get a breakfast and lunch sandwich. Then it was off to Butler, and according to plan(?), we took the usual wrong turn and had a tour of the area around Butler before we got to the Farm Show Grounds and the hamfest. Before setting up our table, I got a surprise (sort of) when Mike presented me an ARRL Centennial Key on behalf of the NAQCC as a retirement (as NAQCC VP) present. Also an etched bezel for my KX3 with my NAQCC number and call on it. When I first got the ARRL email showing the key picture, I told Mike I'd sure love to have one, but I couldn't afford it. So Mike and NAQCC manager Paul N8XMS put their heads together and decided they would ask our NAQCC members for donations to get me one a la the way it was done for the KX3 presented to Tom WY3H. Well I somehow had the feeling they were going to get me the key. You know how you know some things without actually knowing them. So even though they did their best in keeping it a secret from me, I wasn't totally surprised with the gift, but that didn't lessen my enthusiasm and gratitude for getting it. I'm a bit rushed as I said, but I'll take a moment to share a picture of it here.

pix_diary_20140601_001 (58K)

Beautiful, isn't it. And engraved with my call and a serial number to boot. Thanks Mike, Paul, and all the NAQCC members for that and the bezel which I will try to picture here after I find time to get it installed on the KX3.

Next we set up to operate from the hamfest, and wound up working EA8TL, F5IN, and RA2FF plus several NAQCC members. We didn't get to spend as much time operating as we could because we were so busy fellowshipping in person with members attending the hamfest, especially Scotty KG3W and Tom WB3FAE who also helped Mike and me take care of manning the NAQCC table.

All too soon the hamfest was over, and we headed home. Both of us tired from the busy day. We wrote up the hamfest and our May activities for the WPA Chapter news in the upcoming June NAQCC newsletter, then just took it easy and played some computer games including a pretty good flight simulator - YSFlight. Again all too soon Mike had to head north with a work day coming up tomorrow.

I went to the shack and with some difficulty got my DX QSOs in the form of HT5T on 17 meters, and 9A2EU on 20 meters. DX conditions weren't all that great, but then they don't have to be to work DX with QRP/CW although it may be a bit harder than when the sunspots are high and the ionosphere quiet.

Now back to getting caught up on things like uploading my logs for May to LotW and eQSL, getting my May weather data in the computer, and so on. -30-

Saturday, May 31, 2014 11:13 PM - Good evening everyone. I, Mike KC2EGL shall be guest writing for John tonight. Our day started around 20:00Z when I arrived at John's place. We finalized our preparation for the Breezeshooters Hamfeast tomorrow in Butler Pa. We will be operating from the event on 40,30,and 20M. John posted a link on the NAQCC webpage. We hope to be on the air no later than 13:00Z. We also started our preparation for field day at the end of June. We will be operating from Johns backyard this year. I have a nice sized tent that will fit both of us comfortably. More details to follow.

We enjoyed a late dinner at Wendy's. As you know eating is one of our favorite pastime's. We followed that up with chasing some dx. John's streaks have been extended for yet another day. John has a horible noise interfering with his reception on the ham bands. We took a little walk using one of his transitor radios as a signal finder. After walking around for ten minutes we found the source. There is a light pole directly across the street from Johns house with a transformer at the top. Both of us think said transformer is ready to give up the ghost. John will be notifying the electric company of the issue and that he will be notifying the FCC of the problem. It is not only interfering with reception on the ham bands but it is also interfering with reception on the AM broadcast bands. So it would be of the eletric company's best interest to fix the problem. I ran into a simular problem a few years ago. A transformer that was over a half a mile away was causing issues with reception on the ham bands and creating havoc on all broadcast stations both AM and FM. I called the electric company and notified a local FM radio station of the problem. When the electric company blew off my call the radio station called them and told them the FCC was being notified as they spoke. Two hours later there was a crew replacing the transformer. Ironically it gave up its ghost just as they arrived to replace it. Funny how electric companies think they can ignore FCC violations when someone who they believe doesn't know what they are talking about complains. They do not like a well informed customer.

Well it is getting late so I need to cut this short. We have to get up early tomorrow so we can get to the ham fest at a decent time. Until next time. CU on the radio. de Mike KC2EGL. -30-

Friday, May 30, 2014 8:43 PM - Since the 50th anniversary QSO with WA4FAT last night, I've been thinking a lot about CW now vs. CW then. I think it was much better back then. But for me personally, it is still as good in most ways. I don't use all these modern aids like spotting, announcing schedules on web sites, having computers decode CW for you, and on and on. I still pretty much do it the same way as it was done back then. I simply get on the air, tune the bands to find someone I'd like to work, and try to work them. Or if I want to be surprised by who I work, I call CQ. That's pretty much my mode of operation. I guess possibly the real difference between then and now is that today's equipment is more sophisticated and performs much better. Otherwise tonight I could be sitting in my shack pretty much as I did 50 years ago. Some of you will say yes, but you use a panadapter now. True, but that is merely a way to save time while tuning the bands. After all, at my age, time is more precious and any way that I can save some of it helps.

Let's just look at how I went about it tonight. I went up to my shack a couple minutes before 0000Z and set up my panadapter (it will be nice when I get my dedicated panadapter sometime in July - even more time saving then as I can just turn it on along with the KX3). I checked 20, 17, and 15 meters and a brief glance told me that 17 and 15 were probably worthless in trying to work anyone. So I went back to 20, noticed a tall peak on the panadapter screen, tuned to it with the KX3, found out it was LZ1555WNS, gave a call and after he worked someone else I called again and worked him easily. Then I checked out a couple other peaks on the panadapter, found one to be W1AW/0 in MO not getting an answer, so I quickly set up for split and worked him before the pileup came along. He called me by name, but he didn't say who the op there was. I know a lot of ops in MO so could have been anyone - probably one of our NAQCC members.

That's it. Take out the panadapter and it's no different from being back in 1964. It will always be the same way for me. CW is about ham radio, not ham radio and computers. Computers do have a place such as finding information about where to mail a QSL card. Even finding out more about the ham you worked is OK in my books. It's just I don't think they should be an aid in actually making QSOs.

I can count on my fingers the times I've worked someone via an email sked (including the special one with Bill last night). Just about all the time it's someone wanting to work me for my county or something like that. I do recall one time I asked for a sked to get my 49th state (ID) on 80 meters. Also one time I worked V51AS when someone told me he was spotted on such and such a frequency and we wanted to know if I could work him.

OK, one more exception. I do use spotting if it's one of those occasions where I work someone sending very sloppily, coming in and out of the QRN, or going forever without IDing (I generally work those folks first in case it's something rare, then figure out who it was later). I'll check the spots to confirm who it was I worked.

Other than the few exceptions, 2014 is just the same as 1964 for me. -30-

Thursday, May 29, 2014 8:30 PM - I (and another ham) just did something that probably hasn't been done many times if at all. Bill WA4FAT and I first worked each other on 40 meters around 7.04 MHz on May 30, 1964 at 0011Z. Fifty years to the minute later we had a 50th anniversary QSO - May 30, 2014 at 0011Z on 7.041 MHz. I'm personally awed by it, and Bill is also. I'm pretty much speechless (writeless?) about it right now. I guess maybe it will sink in a bit more as time goes on.

Otherwise just before our QSO I got a solid insurance QSO from W1AW/7 in WY. I was virtually certain of last night's QSO, but tonight I'm 100% certain and feel better about it. With only 10 more states to go now, I want to be sure QSOs with those ten are 100% certain ones as with the previous 40 states.

I also grabbed a quick DX QSO for day 456 with HT5T before our anniversary QSO. So everything is taken care of for today now. The next big event here is the Butler hamfest on Sunday. Mike and I will be setting up a table for the NAQCC and also putting our club call N3AQC on the air from the hamfest. Hours will be from about 9AM to 2PM and we'll be skipping around from 7041 to 10116 to 14061 as conditions warrant. I guess we can call it a 'hamfestpedition'. -30-

Wednesday, May 28, 2014 11:38 PM - The frustration continued today, then ended this evening. I tried a couple times during the day unsuccessfully to work W1AW in MO and WY. Then this evening after I got my DX streak QSO at 0002Z, I found and worked W1AW/7 in WY on 17 meters. It wasn't too easy, but then didn't really take all that long either. Then some more frustration with MO, before Mike stopped by for a visit. We had a pizza, then went to the shack for some DX and maybe W1AW QSOs. I found MO on 30 meters, and this time after several minutes, made the connection. Mike then worked MO also after a couple minutes. So now that's 40/40 W1AW states and the light is becoming visible at the end of the tunnel for that W1AW WAS. Wonder how many folks will make it using QRP/CW/simple wire antennas?

After that Mike worked a YV station then we chased WY on 30M for a bit without any luck. So we quit the shack and played some computer games before Mike had to head north again. -30-

Tuesday, May 27, 2014 11:21 PM - I'm late tonight because I wanted to get as much of the NAQCC Sprint log cross-checking done this evening. So I'll just put a couple notes here.

I finally made a FISTS QSO on a FISTS Tuesday today. W5VYN answered my CQ FISTS and we had a nice chat. Hopefully FISTS activity will pick up again and reach what it was a few years ago. I certainly will try to do my part when I get time to get on the air.

My DX QSO came quickly when I worked DA0CA on 20 meters. No luck with W1AW in MO or WY though. MO had a serious multi-band effort going with some of the biggest pile-ups I've heard yet for the W1AW operations on each band they were on - at least from 40 through 12 which is where I heard them. I only heard WY weakly on 10 meters. MO should be easy, but I may have to work a bit to get WY if activity is like it was this evening. -30-

Monday, May 26, 2014 8:17 PM - I got my DX tonight at 0000Z, but I wasn't 100% positive OH4MDY had my call right as QRN bursts came at the same point in my call each time he sent it. I think it was right, but for insurance I also worked UT5XS at 0002Z and I'm positive he got my call right. Conditions seemed pretty good although those two plus an HT and XE were about the only DX I heard.

Today was a busy day with laundry followed by going the the Memorial Day parade and riverfront ceremony. I hope you all did something likewise to honor our Veterans, living and deceased. I also flew my flag as usual on patriotic holidays. The flag is 50 years old this year, having been the one draped on my dad's coffin when he died in 1964. Here's a picture:

pix_diary_20140526_001 (86K)

I also got caught up on some emails and watered my backyard garden. It was a nice warm day with a high on my remote thermometer showing a high of 86 degrees and it's still 77 degrees now. So I took a couple good walks in addition to my trek to the riverfront ceremony. -30-

Sunday, May 25, 2014 9:13 PM - Conditions this morning were about the same as yesterday morning for the CQ WPX contest. That is very poor. Almost no European DX on 20 and 15. Only a couple stations at all on 10 meters. Then conditions didn't pick up quite as good in the afternoon as they did yesterday. I had problems working a lot of the stations I usually work easily. Plus I had to repeat my QSO number an inordinately large number of times. I didn't quite reach my goal of 200 QSO, getting 195 of which only about 4 were not DX. I did get my weekend WAC when I worked KH7Y this afternoon. It's interesting to think how long it took me to finally work Asia to complete my original WAC back in the mid 90s compared to how easily it is to get a WAC nowadays. Experience I guess? I haven't analyzed my log yet to see how many countries I worked now how many new prefixes. I did work 147 different prefixes overall and I know at least a handful are new ones like DM800, DM50, SN150, TM77 and some other shorter ones also.

You know though, even with the sub-par conditions, contesting is still one of the most thrilling aspects of ham radio. It's great to work all those great operators with the lightning fast CW exchanges. Bang bang, and you have a QSO in the log in just a few seconds. I'm not sure what the rates of some of the big contesters are, but it's over 100 per hour for the whole 48 hours. In fact a few stations were giving out numbers in the 5,000s and 6,000s. P33W gave out number 7,034 a couple hours before the end of the contest. Of course many operations are multi-band, multi op, but even a good single-op station with a good operator can surpass that 100 per hour rate easily. You need the high power and big antenna farms to do so though. I'd love someday to run my QRP from a big contest station setup. That would be a lot of fun.

Well enough about that. I think I'll analyze my log a bit now and get a few other things caught up after my stint in the contest.

Of course the DX streak was easy to maintain with the contest. Then just after the contest this evening I had a short QSO with UA3AGW on 20 meters to make it 450 days now. -30-

Saturday, May 24, 2014 10:07 PM - The meteor shower was a real dud last night. It was cloudy here everytime I checked between 1:30 AM and 5 AM or so. But then this morning I found I didn't really miss anything. Most reports in say only a very few meteors per hour were seen - nowhere near the predcitions by some of a major shower, even a storm.

The CQ WPX was pretty much a dud this morning also. I thought I'd get on and find DX all over 15 and 10 meters, but there was almost nothing heard so I went about some other things. I helped Ange weed his garden, and planted some more beans and peas in my backyard garden. Then I did go back to the WPX late this afternoon and the bands were much better. Strictly working DX but for one new USA prefix and a couple Canadians, I'm up to 140 QSOs as I'm typing this entry. Let's see, I need Oceania for a weekend WAC. Only heard one Hawaii station. Not much from Asia, but I did get a couple Cyprus stations and one Israeli. The surprise was the ease of working South America. I got most SA stations with but a single call. Usually SA is harder than that for whatever reason.

I don't think I'll bother trying 40 and 80 tonight. Just wait till tomorrow and see what 20, 15, and maybe 10 hold in store. -30-

Friday, May 23, 2014 9:42 PM - Of course with the CQ WPX contest going on, my DX QSO came easily - 27 of them in fact. I always treat the CQ WPX as a DX contest for the most part, and pass on working W/VE stations. Sometimes when the DX slows down on Sunday, I do work the W/VEs, but that's about it.

Not much going on today. I processed a few more logs. I don't know if we'll make it to 100 or not this month. We're needing 13 more as of right now and they've slowed down to a trickle today already.

Right now it's cloudy here, and if it doesn't clear up soon, I guess I'll miss out on the possible great meteor shower predicted to peak around 3AM EDT tonight. I will give it a try though, as it could be a once in a lifetime event if some predictions are correct. -30-

Thursday, May 22, 2014 8:29 PM - Yet another quick DX QSO on bands that were pretty devoid of DX. Without the panadapter, it would have taken much longer to explore the vast wasteland of empty band space this evening. As it was though, it didn't take long to find and work a station with the ability to see activity on a wide segement of a band all at once without having to painstakingly tune all the way across each band. I worked HP0CC on 17 meters at 0005Z for DX day # 447.

Other than that a good deal of time today spent processing logs from last night's NAQCC sprint - getting them ready for the cross-checking process Sunday night. I think we have 76 logs in right now, a slower pace than last month when, if memory serves, we had our 100 just about 24 hours after the April sprint. 40 meters was the pits last night pretty much everywhere so that may have kept participation down for those without multi-band capability. I had my personal best on 20 meters with 28 QSOs there - probably double my previous best on that band. Then only 13 more on 40 and 1 on 80.

I also took time to put out my last 3 tomato and last 3 pepper plants. Right now I'm just about two months behind in the plants. Probably because I started them just about two months later than usual. But I'll at least have some home-grown vegetables albeit later in the year. -30-

Wednesday, May 21, 2014 8:09 PM - I thought I'd write this before our NAQCC sprint this evening, then I can start processing logs right after it ends. I got a quick DX QSO when I worked YT1HA easily at 0001Z on 20 meters. The band seemed pretty good so maybe I can pick up some QSOs in the sprint there before going down to 40 and possibly 80 meters later.

It was a nice day today with a high near 80 and the predicted rain passed us by to the north and south. Tomorrow should be pretty much the same.

Incidentally for those of you reading this and possibly going to be in the sprint, Tom will be there using his brand new KX3. Hopefully he'll get a lot of QSOs. -30-

Tuesday, May 20, 2014 9:40 AM - I'm going to try to start putting ideas in the diary as they come to me during the day. Otherwise I forget a lot of things I'd like to say here. Then I'll post the compilation as usual late in the evening.

Here's the first of those - some feedback from John K8LJG, "John, I sure enjoy your daily journal notes. It is a must each Evening before I turn in. I hope you will take a lot of pictures at the retirement of Tom ?! Hope to catch you on the bands. 73 John K8LJG"

I received that a couple days ago, and forgot about posting it. I'm sure John saw the picture last night and the promise of more in the June NAQCC newsletter.

That was so easy this evening it was almost disappointing. I mean working LZ2014KM at 0000Z for my DX streak, then W1AW/0 in CO for W1AW state #38 at 0008Z (beat maybe the biggest pileup yet in getting one of those states), then since that was so easy I thought I'd go after NY and maybe have more of a battle. But it took but a single call on 40 meters to get NY at 0015Z. Maybe 5 watts is just too much power. Maybe I should start doing things more with 1 watt or less. HI.

A true disappointment today. I finally got a chance to get on the air for a FISTS Tuesday, but I called CQ for maybe a half hour on 20, 30, and 40 meters with not a single reply nor even hearing any other FISTS. Very sad! I'd love to see the #1 CW club in the World get back to its previous prominence. I remember the .058 frequencies used to be so active with FISTS you couldn't get within a few kHz of them. -30-

Monday, May 19, 2014 8:58 PM - The highlight of today was working Tom WY3H for his first QSO on his new KX3. Here's a picture of Tom when we gave him his KX3 yesterday. There will be more pictures and possibly even a video or two in the NAQCC June newsletter out around June 7.

pix_diary_20140519_001 (46K)

A couple of quick DX QSOs this evening made it 444 days for the DX streak now. Perhaps newcomers to the diary wonder about the DX streak. It's just what it says - working at least one DX (non-W/VE) station each and every day with CW/QRP/simple wire antennas. My current streak began on March 1, 2013. I've not missed a single day since then. My goal is to make it to 500 days which if I figure correctly will come on July 14. This evening it was HC1HW on 17 meters and XP3A on 12 meters adding another day to the streak. -30-

Sunday, May 18, 2014 9:53 PM - A very busy day comprising 4 main events which I'll briefly summarize here.

First of all brunch at Ponderosa - absolutely wonderful, but I won't waste bandwidth providing details.

Second a trip to the local club's repeater site where Mike and another member made some changes to the setup. I was along just for the ride on that one.

Third the big event of the day - presenting Tom with his brand new KX3 as a retirement gift from the NAQCC club members. You had to be there to really appreciate that. It was very moving. We did get a couple movies of the presentation, but they will have to be worked on a bit before we can use them. There were also a couple still pictures. I might be able to post those here in the diary sometime this week. Unfortunately because Tom will be moving from PA to TN by the end of the month, his shack was not in shape to set up and put the KX3 on the air as planned today. Still the presentation will always be a great memory for me.

Fourth Mike, Tom, and I plus Tom's wife and sons went to the local club's weiner roast. That was also enjoyable.

When Mike and I got back here, in the short time he had before he had to leave, we did one of our favorite things and went to my shack to chase DX. Mike hadn't worked SD from W1AW yet, so when I found them on 20 I tried to get an insurance QSO and let Mike get them for the first time. The SD operation was much more efficient tonight, but still we couldn't break the pileup. So we went searching for the DX and found W1AW again, this time on 15 meters. I set up to work them, and just before I sent my call, I laughed and Mike wondered what I laughed at. Well I laughed because the pile seemed just as strong on 15. However after I threw my call in the pile the first time, W1AW came back with K3WWP 599 SD, and I had my QSO. Mike's turn now, and he broke the pile just as easily. I said this ham radio stuff can be strange at times. When I heard that pile, I thought we'd never break it once, let alone twice in a couple minutes. After that I added QSOs from Poland and Norway. Mike also got those plus EA6UN whom I had just worked a couple nights ago and didn't want to work again so soon.

Now I'm alone and the house is quiet again as Mike departed a few minutes ago to head home for bed and an early rising for work tomorrow.

That wraps up a really great day. -30-

Saturday, May 17, 2014 8:44 PM - I'll write this while I'm awaiting Mike's arrival with a pizza. I thought he was coming here right after work, but I guess I misunderstood. He emailed a while ago and said he'd be heading out about 8:30PM. So I guess no ghost-writing tonight as it will be pretty late when he gets here and we have our pizza, check the bands, etc.

The bands were pretty good this evening. I rather quickly worked 3 DX stations DA0CA at 0002, EM90WF at 0013, and YL2014W at 0019Z. I hate to say this, but what I've heard of the W1AW/0 SD operation has not been all that great. I'm glad I managed a QSO on 17 meters a couple nights ago. I haven't heard much of them since then except on 30 meters, and the op there seems to not know what he is doing at times. Tonight he is clearly stating UP at the end of each call, but then working stations on his own frequency. The pile on his freq is pretty much wiping him out quite a bit of the time. Nuff said.

It won't be long now till we get to give Tom his gift. I'm really looking forward to that tomorrow. I can't wait to see what he thinks of his surprise.

We had some hail here this evening about an hour and a half ago. I got some pictures of it, and maybe I'll post them tomorrow. Nothing major, but a decent coating here and there of 'less than pea-sized' hail. We very seldom get hail here, so it was an unusual event. -30-

Friday, May 16, 2014 8:51 PM - There are some countries for one reason or other I get a thrill out of working even though I may already have many QSOs with that country. One is Mongolia largely because of learning about it from the Richard Widmark movie, "Destination Gobi". Another in that same general area of the world is Kazakhstan, I guess because of hearing stories at a young ago about Samarkand and its location on the old Spice Routes. It's also one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world primarily because of that location. OK, geography buffs, I know Samarkand is actually in Uzbekistan, not Kazakhstan, but it's that same part of the world, and Uzbekistan is seemingly not as amateur radio conscious as is Kazakhstan. At least not as far as my activity shows. I have 20 QSOs with Kazakhstan, but none yet with Uzbekistan. Oh, and in my SWL days, one station I particularly enjoyed listening to was Radio Taskhent which also is in Uzbekistan, but right on the border of Kazakhstan.

Anyway with that preamble, I'll now say that I made 3 DX QSOs this evening as the bands were in good shape. First was R8MC, followed by OM5XX, then my Kazakhstan QSO with UN9L in the UN DX Contest. Got him on just a single call and no need to repeat my contest exchange either even though he was not really all that strong. I seem to have a good path to that part of the world, especially on 20 meters. So maybe someday I will get Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan. I've actually only ever heard maybe one station from each of those countries. I have worked Kyrgyzstan. -30-

Thursday, May 15, 2014 9:08 PM - The W1AW/0 operation on 30 meters this evening was a real mess with stations having no idea what UP means calling on top of W1AW. Other stations answering UP, but constantly just sending, not listening. Whoever it was operating W1AW was having a real problem making QSOs, turning them over very slowly. So after a couple tries, I just gave up since I have them already from last night's QSO on 17.

My DX came quickly although it was one of those I didn't know who I worked right away. I heard something like PSE USA K at the end of a call and knew it had to be a DX station, so I called and after repeating my call twice, I made the QSO, then found out it was IZ4BEZ I had worked to make the DX streak 440 days now. So it looks like July 14 (Bastille Day) if my math is right, will be 500 days if nothing goes wrong between now and then.

Since the DX came so quick, I thought I'd try some CQs on 40, and I'm glad I did, as my old frien Ken WA8REI answered and we had as usual, a nice chat. He was operating from a parking lot in Fairborn, OH as he waits to attend Dayton.

I had a somewhat unusual experience on the bands this afternoon. 17 meters was in good shape so I thought I'd try some CQs to see if I could raise anyone. I got an answer to the very first CQ from KU4NE in AL. I don't know if I've ever gotten such a quick response to a CQ on that band.

Other than that, I played with my newly upgraded to Windows 8.1 laptop. 8.1 really has a lot of nice features that 8 didn't have although 8 was darn good also. I upgraded some drivers today from HP, and they seemed to make it even slightly better and faster. Computers are so much fun. Too bad they didn't have them when I was a youngster. Can you imagine the knowledge today's youngsters will have because of computers. That is if they apply themselves and don't ruin their lives in other ways.

Mike's going to visit again this weekend. Well part of it anyway, arriving Saturday evening and staying until Sunday evening. He has to go visit the local repeater to change some settings on it. I know next to nothing about repeaters, and have never used nor even seen one. That just doesn't interest me. But I will go along with Mike at least for the ride. HI. Then the big event of the weekend will be presenting a gift to our retiring NAQCC President Tom WY3H. That will be Sunday afternoon. It was going to be at the Butler hamfest on June 1, but the best laid plans, etc. So Tom does know he's getting a gift now. It was to be a total surprise. He still has no idea what the gift is though, and don't you think I'm going to spill the beans here in case he happens to read this. I will have a report in the diary after the presentation though. -30-

Wednesday, May 14, 2014 9:57 PM - Time for a new poll, but it's late and I'm tired, so that will come tomorrow.

DX Streak: Yes. SD: Yes. As soon as I got home from our computer club meeting, I hit 20 meters and found and worked LY10O - the second XX##X format call today as I worked OS17M earlier in the afteroon. Then it took about 20 minutes to find and work W1AW/0 in SD on 17 meters.

The out of the ordinary thing today was going with Nancy to the house of a friend of hers where we picked a lot of rhubarb. Oh, and of course the computer club this evening doesn't happen every day either. HI. -30-

Tuesday, May 13, 2014 9:14 PM - DX Streak: Yes. SD: No. Jurek EA6UN provided an easy DX QSO although it took till 0020Z to find and work him. Not a lot of DX around tonight. SD will have to wait. I just missed getting it before the hungry horde descended upon it. A huge pile on both 30 and 40. With Dayton coming up, I figure the piles will diminish a bit in a couple days and it will be easy then.

Not much else ham radio wise today. Another computer club member and I went to the Library to do some work on our new club Windows 8.1 laptop for a couple hours. And I also played around with my laptop newly upgraded to Windows 8.1. I thought 8 was great, but 8.1 is one up on 8 with some changed and updated features. And the panadapter worked perfectly this evening without that little startup glitch I experienced last night. -30-

Monday, May 12, 2014 9:10 PM - One big project today. I decided to finally upgrade my laptop from Windows 8 to 8.1. It was an agonizingly slow project, taking about 3 hour from start to finish. Despite the slowness, it went perfectly smooth as silk with not even a single tiny glitch of any kind. I guess I shouldn't be surprised at that since I've been dealing with Microsoft for oh I guess over 25 years now with nary a problem along the way attributed to Microsoft. I have had some problems here and there, but they can be attributed to some faulty third-party non-Microsoft programs.

After the upgrade, I did a spot check of my apps and programs, and all seem to work just fine, some even a little better than with Windows 8. I did have one anxious moment with HDSDR and its panadapter. It didn't work at first, but after I restarted and reconnected it a couple times, it worked - and the display is cleaner now than with Windows 8.

Another thing I'm noting is that the 'new' Windows 8.1 Store seems to have a lot more apps. Or maybe I just hadn't noticed them all before. There are so many available, that could have happened. Anyway I just installed a few new apps providing Classic Adventure, Mystery, Comedy, Western movies and another with Classic TV Shows. Those will be great if I ever get time to watch. Sure beats the fare on contemporary TV channels - by a long shot.

OK, back to ham radio now. The bands seem to have picked up this evening. Noise was down and signals up. I easily worked Milan OK1KW for my DX QSO at 0005Z and heard many more DX stations with good signals that I could have worked, but I wanted to get back to playing with the laptop and 8.1 again, so I made one more QSO (USA), then QRT. -30-

Sunday, May 11, 2014 8:55 PM - Not a whole lot going on today. I guess about the only thing out of the usual daily routing was getting about half my pepper and tomato plants in the ground. Not even a sign of a flower or bud on the tomato plants yet. So it does seem to make it necessary to get them started in late December or very early January to get a ripe tomato before June. I'll be lucky to make it before July this year after the big delay to near the end of February in planting the seeds.

A nice warm sunny day for all the Mothers on their day. At least around here. I went for a couple pretty long walks today to enjoy the warmth.

Conditions not so good this evening despite the favorable SF, A, and K numbers. They should have been a lot better. I had to resort to working Rey CO6RD again for my DX streak QSO.

Time now to get my 9PM temperature readings, so I'll close for now. -30-

Saturday, May 10, 2014 8:44 PM - I was very disappointed this afternoon when I got in the FISTS Nancy Kott Memorial Sprint. There seemed to be very little activity to honor this wonderful lady who did so much to promote CW in her too short a lifetime. I'm hoping the lack of activity was due to poor band conditions and not to FISTS members ignoring Nancy's memory. However the few (4) stations I worked had pretty strong signals. I'm afraid the current FISTS leadership has a lot of work cut out for themselves if FISTS is to come back to being what it was a few years ago. I hope our NAQCC Nancy Kott Memorial activities in September promote more activity than I heard today.

The popular CQ-M contest was also on today so maybe that siphoned off some of the FISTS activity. I would have loved to have been active in that one, but I felt I owed it to Nancy to be in the FISTS sprint instead. I did get in the CQ-M at 0000Z this evening and thought I'd just fool around in it to get my DX streak QSO and then work as many more DX stations as I could. Well, that didn't pan out as the band (20) seemed good, but only to certain parts of Europe. A couple Serbian stations were booming in at S9 or better, but other stations from other areas just weren't cutting it. So after working the two Serbians, a Swiss, a German, and a Ukrainian, I called it quits. -30-

Friday, May 09, 2014 8:19 PM - My first DX QSO this evening was one of those 'not quite sure' QSOs. The station I worked was a bit sloppy in his sending and also in and out of my local noise, so I went ahead and logged him, but then went and got an insurance QSO. I always like to cover all possibilities like that and get that 'for sure' good QSO for insurance. That was CX6VM on 30 meters with a solid QSO on my first call to him. Just a bit more about insurance QSOs. When I worked W1AW/KH6 a few weeks ago, I wasn't sure about that QSO, so I worked him again. It was a good thing too, because the first QSO was not confirmed in the LotW while the insurance one was.

A second warm day in a row today with higher humidity today. I already heard a couple complaints from the same folks who were complaining about the long cold winter. Human nature is so strange, yet predictable.

I don't know if you're familiar with Ponderosa and their free buffet or not. When you purchase 7 buffets, the 8th one is free. That promotion is supposedly ending soon, so Nancy and I both having a free one coming, decided we'd better use up our card today while it was still possible to do so. We had a good meal, then did some shopping while we were up in the mall since there is a long gas-wasting detour while work is done on our local bridge. I got myself a new pair of shoes. The pair I replaced today had 1,364 miles walking on them. That's a little below my long range average for a pair, but not too bad. I notice in looking at my stats that the shoes from when I started tracking my walking mileage back in 2004/2005 seem to last longer than the current ones. I guess that's part of a downward trend across the entire economy of lesser quality things being produced each year. -30-

Thursday, May 08, 2014 8:19 PM - I came close to blowing my DX streak today. When I got up, I took my usual 1 mile or so walk and did my necessary computer work. While I was doing that, Denny asked if I wanted to try fishing again. I said sure just as soon as I get something to eat. Well we spent about 3 hours total fishing at 3 different spots without ever getting a single bite. I don't know what's wrong with the fish this year. I said to Denny that I wonder if our long hard winter had anything to do with it. Of the 23 years I've been fishing since getting started up again in the early 90s, only 7 other times have I gone this far into a year without catching something. Usually I average just over 3 fish caught by this time, so maybe it really isn't so bad this year - at least yet.

Anyway, I had forgotten about getting my DX QSO until I started my late afternoon meal. Then while it was cooking, I sat down at the computer and saw my bright pink 'sticky' note with QSO written on it sitting prominently in front of my keyboard and remembered I needed my DX QSO for the day. After I ate, I went right to the shack and found the bands in very poor shape. About the only DX strong enough to work was a DL station, but he was involved in an endless rag chew with someone. I noted his frequency and went looking elsewhere with no luck. Every time I returned to the DL station, he was still in the same rag chew QSO. So I kept looking and finally found and worked V25M on 12M, and to top it off, that was a new band country giving me 112 now on 12M and giving me V2 on all bands from 80 through 10 except for 60. Whew!

Tonight started out the same as last night with poor conditions and virtually no DX. I heard, but couldn't work OM3SEM on 30M. Then I did find and work LU7HN on 30M. He was booming in here as the strongest DX station I've heard the past few days. So the DX streak goes on for a couple more days at 435 now.

This was our warmest day of the year so far with a high in the mid-upper 80s, and it's the first day I've been able to go shirtless. I'm still sitting here shirtless and very comfortable as it's now 78 degrees and opening doors and windows has brought some of that warmth inside, although it's hard to move the heavier and denser cold air out. -30-

Wednesday, May 07, 2014 7:44 PM - With the shuffling in the W1AW WAS schedule documented in last night's revised diary entry, I'll now not have a new state to get until May 14 when SD is activated. Then after that only one new state the week of May 21 when CO will be the 38th state activated for the first time.

I also don't have any NAQCC challenges to work on until June because I completed the European Chapter challenge today when I worked S51WO and OZ4UN to get the last 1s, 4s, and Ns. The QSO with Paul OZ4UN was a nice rag chew. I like it when DX stations take time to rag chew with a QRP stations. Don't get me wrong - I also appreciate the TU 599 QSOs as well. Those folks are doing their best to pass out their country, zone, prefix, etc. to as many hams as quickly as possible. I always let the DX station dictate the type of QSO. If it's TU 599, I do the same. If he gives OP, QTH, I do the same. If he goes on to give his rig, wx, etc., I do the same.

I did a little gardening today. I planted my climbing bean seeds. Hopefully the weather will stay warm now and they will sprout before long. I just remembered while typing here that I didn't soak the seeds overnight as I usually do with bean seeds. Hope that doesn't delay the sprouting.

Well, it's almost 0000Z now, and only one goal for tonight - to get my DX streak QSO or failing that, at least to keep my big streak going. -30-

Tuesday, May 06, 2014 8:41 PM - I set out at 0000Z with four goals in mind:
1. Get W1AW/0 in NE
2. Get W1AW/7 in UT
3. Get my DX streak QSO
4. Get some of the last 8 letters/numbers I need to complete the NAQCC European Chapter May challenge.

It turned out this way:
3. Worked CE2/CX1EK at 0000Z
1. Worked W1AW/0 at 0002Z before the pile developed
4. Worked E71A to get two 1s for the challenge.
2. Never heard a peep from W1AW/7 nor heard any pileup that may have been connected with them.

CORRECTION: After I wrote the above, Glenn K3SWZ and Carl N5XE emailed and informed me that UT has been delayed until the week of July 2. Also I hadn't noticed that NE is the first repeated state so my actual figures remain at 36/36 until the next pair of new states are activated on May 14, but it's still more complicated because there will only be one state activated that week - SD. Stay tuned, it will all become clear soon, I hope. I guess I expected too much for the ARRL to do it simply and have the 50 states done the first 25 weeks of the year, and then repeated the second 25 weeks of the year. But that would be neat and make sense, and most things are not done that way any longer. Poor ME, the last state, doesn't get its first activation until the week of August 27th - the 35th week. SIGH! Off my soapbox now. Let's see, that means I have 33 of the 36 worked verified in the LotW - I think. Maybe it will make more sense in the morning.

I'LL LEAVE THIS PARAGRAPH HERE WHICH PROMPTED THE CORRECTED ONE ABOVE: I hope UT is not going to be as scarce as NV was - or maybe I just have a black hole for signals from that area. I don't think that is the case as I easily work those states in contests. Must be something else, but still almost seven full days to connect, so no panic button pushing yet. So as of now, that's 37/38 worked and 33 of 37 veried in the LotW. The four unveried are those from right at the end of April/beginning of May plus tonight's catch.

Speaking of catch, Denny and I went fishing again today, and unlike my prediction last night, we still didn't catch anything nor even have more that a few weak nibbles. Still it was a beautiful day which eases the frustration of not catching anything. It's just nice to sit in the warm sun after our long dreadful winter and early spring. I also went for a couple walks and have just over 6 miles on the pedometer. I'll probably add another mile walking around here in the house a little later to maintain my 7+ miles/day average. -30-

Monday, May 05, 2014 9:30 PM - Pretty much a carbon copy day of yesterday with one exception. I helped Denny fix an outdoor faucet, then when that was done we went fishing to the same spot we went to a few days ago. This time we moved up one step - we got some bites compared to the last time when we got none. So we figure the next time we go, we'll advance one more step and actually catch a fish or two.

I never got on the bands during the day, but this evening they were pretty poor again. I did manage to catch XE2I for my DX QSO. Besides that, I only heard a couple other DX signals with any strength whatsoever. One was SX5LA whom I tried to work, but he wasn't hearing me. -30-

Sunday, May 04, 2014 8:33 PM - Kind of a ho-hum day today with nothing different or exciting happening. The weather was decent, but cool and breezy for May. I did get in a couple walks though. The bands were also ho-hum today and this evening also. I didn't find any new letters/numbers for the NAQCC European Chapter challenge either time I was on. The only station I worked was RP69MC this evening to continue the DX streak. Hopefully conditions will be a little better tomorrow.

Have you noticed there is not much activity from W1AW/7, or is it just me here? I need NV on both 17 and 12 meters, but haven't heard a sign of them on either band no matter what time of day I listen. Actually there hasn't been much of anything on 12M the past few days, but a lot of activity on 17 including the Western USA. -30-

Saturday, May 03, 2014 8:50 PM - Pretty good conditions again today. My DX QSO came quickly at 0006Z when I worked IQ6AN in the ARI contest. This afternoon I worked E73Y and OV5O to add some letters to the NAQCC European Chapter challenge. Now I'm down to needing four 1s, two 4s, and two Ns to finish it up. Maybe I'll find an ON4 station tomorrow to take care of the 4s and Ns. Then I'll be left with those pesky 1s which held me up last month also.

I heard a fairly strong VU station this afternoon, and had one chance to get him, but someone beat me out, then a pileup developed. That's the second or third VU I've heard the past couple months, so maybe someday I will finally add VU to my country total along with a new CQ zone.

Those of you who are long time diary followers will understand the following. Others may not. We unearthed Ange's fig trees this morning after an extended winter's sleep. Ange's arm is in a sling so a friend of his and I had to do most of the work. There won't be much of a garden this year, but the fig trees needed to be dug up. If you're curious as to what that's all about, look at the garden pictures via my OneDrive site above. Go to Gardening > My Friend Ange's Garden > Fig Tree Burial. Of course look at the pictures in reverse order to see the unearthing we did today. HI -30-

Friday, May 02, 2014 8:26 PM - The SF took a good jump today and the ionosphere quieted down making for good DX conditions. 20 was hot to Europe past 0000Z this evening which it hasn't been for several days now. I easily got my DX streak QSO from 9A7R at 0003Z to make it 429 days in a row. Then I grabbed AM8RC because I wasn't sure whether or not I have the AM8 prefix. I think chasing prefixes is a great activity since there is almost always some new ones coming along much faster than countries, states, or zones.

Of course working on our NAQCC challenges is another great activity. Although I already completed our regular May challenge, I'm still working on the NAQCC European Chapter challenge. I picked up another batch of letters and numbers this afternoon as Europe was good again on 15 and 17 in late afternoon.

You know, I've got to start taking notes. I had what I thought was an interesting topic for tonight's diary early this morning, but it's completely gone from my aging mind now.

It was another pretty decent day today, although a bit chilly in just the mid-upper 50s. I took a couple pretty long walks to be at about 7.5 miles for the day. Also I mowed my grass for the first time this evening. It was really getting long after the fairly cool wet month of April. -30-

Thursday, May 01, 2014 8:20 PM - As Jack Lord used to say on Hawaii 5-O, "Book em, Dano", I said tonight at 0001Z as I booked W1AW/7 in NV on 20M with just two calls. I imagine he was just starting a shift at 0000Z and the huge pileup had yet to develop. So I continue perfect with the W1AW states at 36/36 worked and 32/32 verified in the LotW. The last 4 haven't uploaded logs to LotW yet, but they were all solid QSOs.

Other than that it was an interesting day on the bands. I looked for W1AW/7 for about an hour and a half this afternoon and didn't even hear them once except perhaps when I caught a very weak 'NV' on one band or another. However 15 was superb to Europe in the 2000Z hour into the 2100Z hour so I concentrated on working on the NAQCC European Chapter challenge and also our regular challenge which I'll talk about in a moment. The signals from Europe were very strong and mostly pretty steady thus being easy to work. The best 15M opening to Europe I've heard in quite a while especially that late in the afternoon. Also 17M was pretty good also, especially later in the time period I mentioned.

This evening in addition to getting W1AW/7 so quickly, my DX came pretty quick also when I worked SP8HZZ at 0007Z on 20M and get this, he was giving honest reports (not all 599s) and I got a 599 PLUS. I can count on the fingers of one hand the times I've gotten a 599+ report from any DX stations. So the bands are definitely back from the doldrums of last evening.

As for the regular (as opposed to European Chapter) NAQCC challenge. It was to make 10 QSOs using something homebrew (rig, ant, accessory, etc.). I got my 10 QSOs last evening and today easily and finished the 'challenge' at 2121Z today when I worked F5PLC.

It was a pretty nice day today despite some early showers. I got my first of the month financial stuff done by 10AM. A little later I played with Roscoe and visited with Nancy for a while. Playing some computer games and the regular meals, etc. filled out the rest of the time along with one fairly long walk early this evening. -30-

Wednesday, April 30, 2014 9:07 PM - Conditions were deplorable this evening and yet - and yet I still got my DX QSO plus a couple other QSOs. Yes, QRP/CW/Simple wire antennas again proved themselves this evening for the umteenth (or is that umpteenth?) time. I heard virtually nothing from 30 through 10 meters as I tuned around at the start of the 0000Z hour. Finally I heard and easily worked HT5T on 20 meters and gave a sigh of relief. End of part one of tonight's story.

So far this week (W1AW style week from Wed-Tue) NV has been my Achilles heel. I just haven't been able to work them. In fact I haven't even found them at all strong yet except on 40M around Midnight and then I couldn't get through the massive wall of QRO stations between here and there. There are still almost 6 full days to go though, so hopefully the PA-NV connection will click sometime in those 6 days. End of part two.

Now CT has been another story. It took just a few minutes past their starting time last evening to log them easily on 30 meters. Tonight it was even easier. I logged them on both 40 and 80 with but a single call each time thanks to some savvy and a great rig. Another part done.

The final part of this entry is a commentary on the W1AW operations. Kind of like the words from Charles Dickens in 'A Tale of Two Cities' which go something like this, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times". That is a good overall description of the operations. I've heard the best of operating practices where the W1AW station clearly indicates he is operating split and never goes more than a couple QSOs without an ID. I've heard the W1AW station switch from simplex to split and the entire pile follows suit as crisply as possible. I've heard entire piles quiet down when W1AW sent (for example) K3W? to stand by for the K3W station so W1AW could work him. Things like that really make one feel proud to be a ham radio operator.

HOWEVER, there are also the worst of times. I wonder what some unlearned (to use a fairly kind term, I could use worse) folks think the word UP means when W1AW sends W1AW/3 UP. Do they think he is operating from somewhere that has a prefix of 3UP (that should be China)? Or is it something else? They certainly have no clue that it means W1AW is listening up a bit (usually around 1 kHz) in frequency. They simply continue to go on calling right on top of W1AW making life difficult for everyone. Also don't they know what their own call sign is? I hear X4XXX (to use a non-existant call to not offend anyone) keep calling even when W1AW clearly sends something like K3W? K3W? KN. Even translating to another language, I dont see any X or 4 in K3W. At times I have heard the W1AW op confuse things too when he says UP, but then takes calls on his own frequency.

I could go on both ways, but I won't. I'll just sum up by saying overall the W1AW stations and those working them are doing an excellent job despite those few who try their best (worst?) to mess things up. -30-

Tuesday, April 29, 2014 3:35 PM - I thought I'd write this early today since I got such an interesting email question about a topic that may be of interest to others along with the writer. David K8RXB wrote in part, "....2. What percentage (rough guess is fine) of your DX contacts are in the 25khz band sections reserved for Extra Class license holders?...."

I replied to him as follows:
Thanks for the intriguing questions, especially the one about DX QSOs per band segment. I never did figure that out before, but it was very easy to do with the wonderful Microsoft Access database program that I use for my ham radio log. (However there is one limitation) First one thing that prevents me from giving you exact figures. For virtually all my contest logging, I don't log the exact frequency, but instead log 3500 for 80M, 7000 for 40M, and so on. So anything logged as the low band edge could actually have taken place anywhere in the entire CW portion of a band. Having said that, here are figures for the four bands that have the Extra Class only segments.
Total: 159
3500: 130
3501-3525: 16
>3525: 13

Total: 1,473
7000: 976
7001-7025: 325
>7025: 172

Total: 5,691
14000: 3,349
14001-14025: 1,369
>14025: 973

Total: 5,165
21000: 3,512
21001-21025: 829
>21025: 824
I think that may be self-explanatory, but if not:
Total is my total DX QSOs on that band.
Next the number of those logged as the low edge of that band.
Then those definitely in the Extra Class segment of that band.
Finally those definitely above the Extra Class segment of that band.

I hope he as well as you found that interesting and informative.

Tonight the chase is on for two new W1AW states. If all goes well, I hope to make CT and NV states #35 and 36 from W1AW so far this year. And I hope to do it in the first hour as I've done several times so far. If not, there's a whole 7 days to bag them, and should that somehow fail, CT and NV will be activated again the second half of the year. Then after (or before) those two objectives, I'll be going for another day in the DX streak. I notice the SF took a slight upturn again, so that's encouraging. -30-

Monday, April 28, 2014 8:58 PM - An eventful day today. Early this morning I sent in my order for the new Elecraft PX3 Panadapter which is designed to be used with the KX3. I will have a bit of a wait though as shipping won't be starting until mid-June or so. And they say orders sent now will probably be targeted for mid-July. Anyway I still have my HDSDR Panadapter to use till then. It will be nice to have a dedicated Panadapter though, and free up the computer to do other things in the shack without burdening it down with HDSDR.

Then after that and some brunch, Denny and I went fishing to start off my 2014 fishing season. No fish, but at least it felt good to get out to the river or actually in the mouth of a local creek where it flows into the river. We saw some nice carp swimming around, but they weren't hungry. We figure they were more interested in spawning than eating as this time of spring is when carp spawn.

I struggled to get my DX QSO this evening as solar activity continues to slowly drop off. Sure hope it is going to come back up again and this is not the end of the current peak. Anyway I only heard a couple of DX stations that were decently above my noise level (which was pretty low tonight), but neither one heard me well enough to make a QSO. R3GO on 30 came closest, but couldn't finish things off. So I was all set to have to wait till morning or afternoon to continue the streak, but I thought I'd take one final look/listen and I found Chris F6EAZ about S7 on 30M and worked him easily for day #425 now.

I got some nice feedback on my pictures I posted here yesterday as follows:

From Mike AH6WA - "Really enjoying your flower pictures. Here in Hawaii there are always glorious plants of some kind, but seeing the contrasts where you are is quite dramatic. Where I live on the windward side of Oahu there is much wind-driven rain, but really not much about which to complain. I could take photos of the numerous waterfalls after a hard rain, but would rather take pictures of non-rain mountains.
Had to take my antennas down to have the house fumigated for termites. Just got the vertical back up and only working 10M.
Keep up the inspirational work. 73"

Thanks Mike -30-

Sunday, April 27, 2014 9:16 PM - It took 3 QSOs before I was sure of my DX streak continuing. First I worked VM5CW on 17 meters, but he was much too strong to be an Australian station. More about that in a moment. Next I worked ED5BY on 30 meters, but he was having trouble getting my call right, then when I thought he did get it right and sent a report, a noise burst blotted out part of my call so I still wasn't sure he had it right although he did not ask for any more repeats and said TU and went on his way. Still not satisfied I looked further and found and worked ZF2DX on 20 meters - this time perfect copy both ways. So that makes 424 straight days of DX now.

As for VM5CW, there is a special Venezuelan Morse station with the call 4M5CW. The signal strength, band, and time would be perfect for Venezuela. Apparently he was omitting a dot in the 4. I'm 100% certain he was sending V. I even listened for a few minutes to be sure, and it was a V every time. Then I did something I never otherwise do - I checked the spots on the Internet, and there were a couple for VM5CW, but also some for 4M5CW. So I'm logging it as 4M5CW.

Another beautiful sunny spring day today, good for walking. Let's see what I have on the pedometer - 9.50 miles. I also took some pictures of the beautiful spring foliage. My dad always liked the spring foliage much better than the fall foliage, since the spring foliage was a precursor to the beautiful late spring and summer weather that was coming. On the other hand, the fall foliage, although beautiful in itself was the presage of that dreadful late fall and winter weather. Dad had a wonderful point with which I agree more and more as I get older. I've got some time, so let me find a post a couple of those pictures.

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Top is an update of my tulips in the back yard. You can see 11 open now with one ready to open up fully - probably tomorrow.

Middle is one of the trees behind a local dentist's office.

Bottom is a tree near our local Windstream Phone and Internet buildings. -30-

Saturday, April 26, 2014 9:05 PM - Yet another quick DX QSO, this time from HC5WC on 20M at 0004Z. Other than that, I wasn't on the bands today at all. It was another very nice spring day. Good for outdoor activities like walking and working in the yard.

I haven't posted any pictures in a while so since there is not a lot to talk about, I'll do that now. First of all my tomato and pepper plants as of a couple days ago.

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Those are the tomatoes on the right, and peppers on the left. In looking back at pictures from previous years, it looks like the tomatoes are about two months behind this year. That's because of the long depressing winter that kept me from having any interest in starting them till late February or early March. So no ripe tomatoes in May this year barring a miracle.

And here are the tulips that I separated and replanted last fall. They look even better today than in this picture for a couple days ago. Of the 18 bulbs I separated, 17 sprouted, but it looks like only 12 will have flowers this year.

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Friday, April 25, 2014 10:00 PM - An easy DX QSO this evening at 0002Z in the form of a short chat with Damir 9A3VV on 20M. First time I've worked him. He was interested in my QRP setup. I always follow the DX station's lead in the exchange of info. If the DX gives just a RST, I do the same. If he gives rig and weather as Damir did, then I'll do the same. I think that's a common courtesy we should extend to all DX stations, as well as to those who are trying to work the DX. It's frustrating listening to some rare DX and have the station working him give what seems to be his life history while dozens or even hundreds are waiting to work that rare DX B4 conditions change or he goes QRT. After that I tuned around a while and didn't find a lot of action despite my noise level being low this evening. I was impressed by CE2/CX1EK on 10 meters. He was just booming in here as the only station heard on 10. I already worked him twice on 10 recently so I didn't try to get him tonight although it probably would have been easy.

Other than that another quiet day here. It was mild but rainy so not much in the way of walking. I guess mostly just playing computer games passed most of the time. -30-

Thursday, April 24, 2014 9:31 PM - Mike and I didn't have much of a chance to do much last night since the meeting lasted long and he had to get home and to bed to get up early today for work. We chatted a bit, listened to the bands for a while, and played a game of computer bowling. That was about it.

The bands were again quite poor this evening, but I did manage to work about the only DX station I heard - HT5T on 17M at 0002Z to continue the streak. Then I had a couple rag chews on 40 with W9KMF and Tom WY3H to close out my operating time.

Other than that, not much to talk about today. Just another ordinary day here. -30-

Wednesday, April 23, 2014 6:01 PM - I'm going to write this early this evening because Mike is coming for a short visit after the local ham radio club meeting. He has to work tomorrow so he probably won't be here long enough to be my 'ghost writer' for the diary. However if we do anything really out of the ordinary, I'll mention it in tomorrow's entry.

I got my QSL in the mail today for my three QSOs with TX6G. That prompted me to check my QSL pictures here on the site, and I found I hadn't uploaded the past 7 new countries. So I did that, and that in turn prompted me to update my pictures in general. I have now gone back to the pictures on Microsoft's OneDrive (formerly SkyDrive) and got rid of the slideshows I had previously gone to before. OneDrive now has a better slideshow feature than the program I was using to produce them. So you'll see a new link to pictures/slideshows near the top of this page.

I easily got my DX QSO this afternoon after getting busy this morning with various things and nearly forgetting about it. I worked special event call DQ0HARZ from Germany on 15 meters. So the DX streak still continues. Can you imagine how upset I would have been with myself had I forgotten it? Whew!

Well, a few more things to do now before Mike comes and before I get my streak QSO(s), whichever comes first. -30-

Tuesday, April 22, 2014 8:51 PM - A tremendous turnout for the new W1AW states of NJ and NH this evening. NJ seemed to be covering every band. At least I think I heard them on 40 through 12. The pileups for NH seemed bigger than those for NJ. As a result, I first worked NJ on 40M at 0009Z with a single call - whoever the op was, he/she asked if I was QRP to which I replied yes. I just couldn't break the NH pileups though. I went looking for DX for a while, and found NJ on 30 almost begging for answers, so I obliged and worked NJ on 30 again with a single call at 0019Z. More unsuccessful DX hunting, then I found NH on 40M and I didn't see much of a pileup then, so I called and got NH on the second try at 0036Z. More DX hunting (unsuccessful), then there was NH on 30, so I added another W1AW QSO easily on a couple calls at 0047Z. So I got both states twice on different bands. The DX will wait till morning or afternoon, I guess.

I'm curious to know how often I got both W1AW states in the first hour, and I'm going to look that up and report back here in a few minutes with the answer.

Of the 34 states so far, 23 came on the first day. Of those 23, 13 came in the first hour. The quickest to get both states was 0000Z for VT and 0004Z for IA on March 26. The latest was the first week when I didn't get the second state of WV until day 7 (last day) at 0205Z. The reason for that was I just wasn't really all that aware of or interested in what was going on. Now 15 of the last 16 have come on the first day with the other one on the second day. Interesting to one who loves statistics as I do. Probably many other couldn't possibly care less. HI. -30-

Monday, April 21, 2014 9:08 PM - Once again tonight DX was very poor although a little better than last night. I was hearing more signals tonight and they were maybe an S unit stronger, but still almost unworkable. Especially the European stations. I did work 9L1A in Sierra Leone on 20M, but it was not an easy QSO. Just barely good enough to continue the DX streak at 418 days now.

Earlier today it was very easy to get my DX QSO that I couldn't get last night. I had barely turned on the rig and the panadapter when I found S53A calling CQ and worked Niko easily with a single call. That was on 15 meters.

Other than that, I again spent some time with Roscoe while Bruce and Nancy were out. I cleaned the front porch and the chairs for the front porch. Amazing how much dirt accumulates, isn't it? A couple walks and the usual eating, etc. filled out the rest of the day.

Oh, I also re-located the temperature probe for my Computemp. I hadn't really used it for well over a year other than to glance at now and then. It was pretty badly affected by sunlight and also some RF. I think the new location will help. So I'll have 2 Acurite remote units, my old mercury maximum/minimum thermometer, and now the Computemp again. It's interesting to see the variations in them even though they are all within about a 40 foot radius circle. -30-

Sunday, April 20, 2014 9:27 PM - No DX this evening. So I've got my little note here in front of the computer to remind me I need to work some DX in the morning or afternoon. I did keep the big streak going on it's day # 7,200 though when Alan AC8AP answered my CQ on 40 meters.

I had a good Easter day today. I spent some time with Roscoe while Bruce and Nancy were away. We had a nice long walk and then sat on the porch for quite a while after that. Later in the day it was over to the neighbors on the other side of my house, the Bowsers, for a wonderful Easter Dinner meal. I'm really still stuffed some 4+ hours later. -30-

Saturday, April 19, 2014 8:46 PM - Once again another great day to be outside. I think I took 3 (or was it 4) walks today - AND without a jacket or sweater.

In between walks, I did some work on the computer. I made up a couple of check sheets for my prefixes and WAS so I can tell at a glance if I need a prefix or band state without even pressing a keyboard key. I found out immediately tonight when I worked US1GCU in the MM contest for my DX streak QSO that US1 was a new prefix. I also worked CX2DK in the MM test and VE3ZF in the ONQP. The bands were pretty horrible though - a far cry from the great conditions last evening. But even so, the DX is still there for the taking. -30-

Friday, April 18, 2014 8:45 PM - That was fun with one exception. I mean working the bands tonight. Conditions were really good, and I quickly logged 4 DX stations and an insurance QSO with W1AW/0 in ND. The DX was TM29UFT, HT5T, 4Z1DZ, and 4Z5MU. The exception was not being able to get 4Z5AD on 40M. That would have finally completed my 40M WAC. I just can't seem to work Asia on that band, but I will someday. Maybe even later tonight or tomorrow night as the Holyland contest continues.

Otherwise it was a nice walking day again today. It's just so nice to have the great weather back again after that dreadful winter. Hopefully as soon as the river goes down, I can get my fishing season started too.

I also pruned back my rosebushes. They are starting to get their new year's growth on them. However a couple of them don't look too good after the way too long harsh winter. Hopefully a few warm days will bring them round. -30-

Thursday, April 17, 2014 8:17 PM - It was a take it easy day today as I predicted last night. I took 3 walks, did a bit of shopping, and played some computer games as my main three activities.

This evening it was a quick DX QSO at 0002Z to continue the streaks. LU1FAM on 17 meters. Quite a few of my DX streak QSOs of late have been from the Caribbean, Central America, and South America. Europe hasn't been all that strong in the evenings lately, and I have only heard a couple Asian stations. The conditions just aren't matching the good propagation numbers (high SF and low A). But still, DX is DX no matter where it is from outside W/VE. -30-

Wednesday, April 16, 2014 9:36 PM - It seems I'm a bit late with a lot of things the past week or so. The same with my new poll question. It's a day late, but now posted on the main site page for you to look at and vote in.

I got my insurance W1AW/5 MS QSO this afternoon. This time no doubt about it. Our NAQCC club manager Paul N8XMS and I have been kind of keeping track of each other's effort in working the W1AW states. I heard him being worked this afternoon as I was waiting in line, and I finally got my QSO about 20 stations after he did. So that's a solid 32/32 now. I think I may have miscounted before and said 32/32 earlier, but that's definitely right now.

This evening I couldn't find any DX for a while, so I insured my main streak by calling CQ on 40. I got an answer from a newcomer to CW who didn't really sound like one - Brent VA3YG. He said in the QSO I was only his fifth QSO on CW, then later I got an email followup from him. He again said it was his fifth CW QSO from calling or answering CQs. He did have a practice partner he made skeds with to learn and improve his CW. He said he visited my web site, and if he returns, I hope he reads this. I do plan to answer his email also.

DX? Oh yes, after our QSO, I did find a strong KP4MS on 30 meters for DX day # 413 now. So if I don't fail, that would place day # 500 somewhere in the middle of July. Then I'll have another decision to quit or keep going. I had kind of been thinking about making it to 500, then quitting, but it has been so easy I may decide to keep going at least until the sun loses its blemishes and things get harder, whenever that may be.

I also got some other things done around the house today, along with paying my second half of the month bills. So right now I'm pretty well caught up on things, and maybe tomorrow will be a 'fooling around, taking it easy' day. Naw, I'm sure something will turn up - it always does just when I do think I'm caught up. -30-

Tuesday, April 15, 2014 9:00 PM - I may have gotten the two new W1AW states (ND MS) within the first four minutes this evening. I have to qualify it with 'may' because I'm not positive of the MS QSO. He was working simplex and of course folks don't use common sense enough to know when to call and not to call. Anyway at 0004Z on 20 meters MS came back with 3W?, then K3WW* 599 MS. I couldn't copy the *, but I sent K3WWP K3WWP TU 599 PA and MS returned with a perfectly timed TU and moved on. I'll count it for now, but will work MS again just to be sure.

Now ND I'm positive. He was simplex on 30 meters when I called at 0001Z and got WWP?, I sent K3WWP again and he came back with K3WWP 599 ND. Oh, and in my band jumping to find them, I wound up with my 20M dipole on 30 meters when I worked ND. As I've repeatedly said, ham antennas are not rocket science.

Other than that, the trip with Roscoe to the groomers went well. He now is all ready for the warmer weather with his fur coat pretty much gone. Then back again on July 9 to get him cut back for the two warmest months of July and August. Maybe I'll get a before/after picture to show the big difference. I know Bruce took some before pictures yesterday.

Speaking of pictures, I did post a scan of my ARRL DX certificate on my Contesting page if you're at all interested. -30-

Monday, April 14, 2014 9:22 PM - As is sung in the Chad and Jeremy song "Summer Song" and mentioned countless times elsewhere, "All good things must end some day". I though sure my DX streak was going to end today. I got busy with a few projects and didn't have time to get on the air. When I did, I found the bands in pitiful condition. However I kept tuning around on 20 through 10 and finally found a strong SV2CQB on 15. A couple calls later, my streak kept going.

This evening it was pretty much the same story, except it ended tonight when I worked Jorge EA8TL on 20 meters for day # 411. Double whew!!

That was really a great weekend with Mike as are all of our get togethers, whether a full weekend or a couple hours. I think I got almost a big a thrill out of him getting his first CW JA QSOs as he did. We have to say CW because before he was converted and saved, he was a (shhhh!) phone operator and did work JAs then with that mode and QRO power. With QRP/CW though, those three stations JR4OLM JS3CTQ and JH4UYB were the first three. I also heard them earlier (6AM) on 40 meters, but couldn't get as much as a ? out of them on that band so although Mike got his JAs, I still need AS on 40 for WAC on that band.

Tomorrow it's up early to help take Roscoe to the groomers for his warm weather haircut. Then some helping Bruce with his computer. After we then pick up Roscoe, I hope to get in some activity in FISTS Tuesday. I've had to miss the last two of them.

I haven't mentioned my tomatoes and peppers lately. They are all coming along, but are far behind the past several years when I started them early and some years already had tomatoes starting at this time of year. My tulips in the back yard are coming nicely with several of them having buds on them. Also there is some growth starting on my rose bushes. So I guess despite a cold 36 or so hours coming up, spring is really here.

It looks to be cloudy tonight for the total lunar eclipse, but I'll check every so often anyway. It seems every short term astronomical happening is plagued by bad weather in this part of the country.

I got another nice certificate today for the 2013 ARRL DX contest. I'll probably scan it and post it on my contesting page when I get a chance. -30-

Sunday, April 13, 2014 8:42 PM - This was a very busy and rewarding day. It started out with my first three QSO's from Japan via CW. If the rest of the weekend was uneventful the morning operating would have made up for it. John worked all three of the JA stations as well. We had a productive day operating in the Georgia QSO Party. John logged 73 and I logged 71 from Ga. We mixed in some other DX and W1AW anniversary staions just for the fun of it. Unfortunatley the conditions were not good enough for a productive run in the Yuri Gagarian anniversary event. I think we only logged 2 or 3 for the great Yuri Gagarin. And of course we had our usual meal run's. Breakfast at Ponderosa and dinner from Vocelli's. We had Vocelli's subs for dinner. They were quite tasty. And to top it all off we got in a brisk 2.8 mile walk. Now it is almost time for me to head North. These operating weeknds seem to fly by. Seems like I just arrived and I have been here since Friday afternoon. Like the saying goes. Time flies when you are having fun.

Until next time de Mike KC2EGL -30-

Saturday, April 12, 2014 11:53 PM - Good eveing everyone. Yes it is Johns favorite fill in guest writer. It was a very relaxing start to the day. The morning consisted of a few games on the computer followed by breakfast at Pondersoa. Upon our return to Johns QTH we set up our operating position for the weekends operating activities. Our plan was to operate the Japan DX contest, Georgia QSO Party, New Mexico QSO Party, and the Yuri Gagarain anniversary contest. So far the Japan DX is a bust. We heard a few working stations from Japan but did not hear any from Japan. The New Mexico QSO Party so far is a bust. We have one station in the log for the Yuri Gagarain contest. Last year I logged 12 stations for the same contest. The Georgia QSO Party picked up late in the evening. So the days operating has not been a total bust.

In between operating stints we took a dinner break. We had a Vocellis southwest steak pizza. It was very tasty. We also got in a brisk paced 1.6 mile walk around town today. All in all it was a very good day. I can not recall ever having a bad day hanging out with John. Until next time de Mike KC2EGL -30-

Friday, April 11, 2014 11:29 PM - What a busy day. It all started when I arrived at Johns QTH for a weekend visit around 18:00Z. First order of business was lunch. Being that it is Friday during lent we did the fish thing for lunch (and dinner) at Wendy's. We followed that up with a couple of games on Johns computer. He has a decent selection of games from bowling to mini golf, billiards (which was very frustrating) to some mystery games where you have to find hidden objects that go along with the plot of a story. We pretty much did nothing but play games during the afternoon.

Around 22:30Z we headed out to the Kittanning TWP Firehall for their fish dinner. We were quite impressed. They had a great selection buffet style for $11.00 all you can eat. Both of us over did it. I may not have to eat for another day or so. Hi-Hi!!!!

When we returned to John's place we hit the airwaves to hunt some DX. Both of us logged a station from Mexico. There were a few other DX stations out there but they had some very large and very wide pileup's. I also worked W1AW/4 (VA) and W1AW/1 (MA). The Virginia station was very easy to work. The Massachusetts station took a while to log. He had one of those rude pileups where someone would be calling during his exchange with another station and a station that was calling on his calling frequency when he should have been up 2. We worked on updating the NAQCC prize page and worked on the NAQCC quarterly sprint drawing.

John was in the middle of a bowling game when his neighbor Nancy called to see how he was doing. When John finished his game we went next door for a visit. Nancys dog Roscoe still doesn't like me. He just barks and runs like a mad dog when ever I go visit. After our visit with Nancy and Roscoe it was my turn for a bowling game. Video bowling games are much easier on the arm but are much harder than real bowling. Go figure. I also submitted applications for my NAQCC WAS and DXCC. Just to let you know that applying for those awards proves beyond a reasonable doubt that QRP is D E A D, DEAD!!!! Hi-Hi!!!!!! I love to 'shove' it in the face of the doubters when they say 'QRP does not work. You need to crank up the power in order to log plenty of DX.'. If they would only give it a try. They would prove themselves wrong.

On that note I am going QRT for the night. Until next time DE Mike KC2EGL. -30-

Thursday, April 10, 2014 9:06 PM - Almost a perfect day today. 72 degrees, sunny, but a bit too breezy. Close enough though for 3 good walks for just under 10 miles for the day. Ain't it nice not to have to hibernate any longer. Those last 4 months have been tough this year. Much too long a winter. In addition to walking I also did some work on my back yard fence with the help of Denny.

Kind of a strange QSO for my DX this evening. I say strange simply because not a lot of my streak QSOs have been with Brazil. I think SA is harder to work here sometimes than EU AF and AS for whatever reason. Maybe the radiation pattern of my random wire and dipoles. The random wire has so many twists and turns it (I counted 21 once), there's no way you can predict its radiation pattern. The flat top inverted V 20M dipole would also be hard to predict as with the 10M sloping dipole. The 15M vertical dipole should be omni-directional, but its mounted right on the side of my house and who knows what my house wiring, other antennas, etc. do to the pattern. The QSO was with PY5UB on 20 to stretch the DX streak to 407 days now. Then I went to 40 and worked K4QZB and old friend Ken WA8REI.

Other than that, I spent some time on log cross-checking from our NAQCC sprint.

Tomorrow morning I plan to visit a friend in a nursing home, then a little later Mike arrives for a weekend stay. Looking forward to that. -30-

Wednesday, April 09, 2014 9:18 PM - Some spring cleaning, NAQCC sprint log processing, a couple medium length walks helped pass the early part of the day. Then this evening it was our monthly computer club meeting which went quite well setting up our new HP Windows 8.1 Laptop. Back home from the meeting - got my weather readings, and headed to the shack.

A couple of surprises on the air from two very quick QSOs. Only took a couple minutes to get my streak QSOs. First it was W1AW/4 on 30 meters. Big surprise when I got greeted by name from W1AW. Haven't heard that happen much in all my W1AW QSOs and listening to others working them. However this time it was my friend Riley K4ORD at the key with a personal greeting. After that off to 20 looking for DX. Heard an unID DX station just finishing with a QSO. Had an idea from the strength and slight flutter it might be an Asiatic Russian. It was - Gena UA9MA whom I just worked a couple nights ago also on 20. Had I known beforehand, I wouldn't have called him as I don't like to work DX stations so close in time and on the same band. But anyway my streaks are alive and I don't have to worry about them for anoter 22+ hours again. -30-

Tuesday, April 08, 2014 11:14 PM - A hectic evening as described in my NAQCC Sprint Soapbox which I'll copy here as my diary entry for tonight.

SOAPBOX: Wow, a hectic evening. First chasing W1AW in their two new states. I got MA at 0008Z, then chased VA fruitlessly until the time of the sprint. Got started a little late in the sprint and couldn't do anything on 20 for about 10 minutes, so I switched to 40 and after a slow start there, it picked up pretty good to the tune of 23 QSOs in the first hour. Then back to 20 for a couple QSOs and new SPCs in MO and FL. To 80 after that, but I was pretty much alone there so back to 40 till 0216Z. Now 80 has come alive with 11 QSOs in the last 14 minutes. After the sprint back to W1AW. Got them easily in VA on 80. OK, let's continue the frantic pace and get my DX streak QSO. Took a while, but finally got UA1CE on 20M for day #405 in a row with a DX QSO. Whew! Thanks to all for the QSOs. My noise was very bad, but I think I only missed one of you.

That makes 32/32 states from W1AW, so now I can maybe try to work W1AW/KP4 sometime during the coming week. Maybe Mike and I can get it this weekend. He's spending the weekend as I think I mentioned in an earlier diary entry. -30-

Monday, April 07, 2014 8:40 PM - My noise level was down again tonight. Seems it gets quiet when it rains. Wonder if it is a bad power ground somewhere that improves when the ground gets wet. Anyway I hope it stays this way for our NAQCC sprint tomorrow night, and also to perhaps get the two new W1AW states before the sprint. Let's see which ones are up next now. Two close-in states this time - MA and VA. I guess it will be 30 or 40 meters for those two with a chance at 20 meters if short skip there.

Having become a dog-fancier since getting acquainted with Joe and now Roscoe, I love this story sent to me by Brion VE3FUJ. Thanks Brion.

"Police in Warwickshire, England, opened a garden shed and found a whimpering, cowering dog. The dog had been locked in the shed and abandoned. It was dirty and malnourished, and had quite clearly been abused.

In an act of kindness, the police took the dog, which was a female greyhound, to the Nuneaton Warwickshire Wildlife Sanctuary, which is run by a man named Geoff Grewcock, and known as a haven for animals abandoned, orphaned, or otherwise in need.

Geoff and the other sanctuary staff went to work with two aims: to restore the dog to full health, and to win her trust. It took several weeks, but eventually both goals were achieved. They named her Jasmine, and they started to think about finding her an adoptive home.

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Jasmine, however, had other ideas. No one quite remembers how it came about, but Jasmine started welcoming all animal arrivals at the sanctuary.. It would not matter if it were a puppy, a fox cub, a rabbit or any other lost or hurting animal. Jasmine would just peer into the box or cage and, when and where possible, deliver a welcoming lick.

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Geoff relates one of the early incidents. "We had two puppies that had been abandoned by a nearby railway line. One was a Lakeland Terrier cross and another was a Jack Russell Doberman cross. They were tiny when they arrived at the center, and Jasmine approached them and grabbed one by the scruff of the neck in her mouth and put him on the settee. Then she fetched the other one and sat down with them, cuddling them."

"But she is like that with all of our animals, even the rabbits. She takes all the stress out of them, and it helps them to not only feel close to her, but to settle into their new surroundings. She has done the same with the fox and badger cubs, she licks the rabbits and guinea pigs, and even lets the birds perch on the bridge of her nose."

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Jasmine, the timid, abused, deserted waif, became the animal sanctuary's resident surrogate mother, a role for which she might have been born. The list of orphaned and abandoned youngsters she has cared for comprises five fox cubs, four badger cubs, fifteen chicks, eight guinea pigs, two stray puppies and fifteen rabbits - and one roe deer fawn. Tiny Bramble, eleven weeks old, was found semi-conscious in a field. Upon arrival at the sanctuary, Jasmine cuddled up to her to keep her warm, and then went into the full foster-mum role. Jasmine, the greyhound, showers Bramble, the roe deer, with affection and makes sure nothing is matted.

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"They are inseparable," says Geoff. "Bramble walks between her legs, and they keep kissing each other. They walk together round the sanctuary. It's a real treat to see them."
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Jasmine will continue to care for Bramble until she is old enough to be returned to woodland life. When that happens, Jasmine will not be lonely. She will be too busy showering love and affection on the next orphan or victim of abuse.
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Pictured from the left are: "Toby," a stray Lakeland dog; "Bramble," orphaned roe deer; "Buster, " a stray Jack Russell; a dumped rabbit; "Sky," an injured barn owl; and "Jasmine," with a mother's heart doing best what a caring mother would do...and such is the order of God's Creation...."

Great story, eh? -30-

Sunday, April 06, 2014 9:27 PM - One of the things that makes DX so fascinating is its relative unpredictability. The bands were pretty poor this evening plus my noise was back at its high level again. I kept searching and searching for some DX to work, but found only weak stations which were so buried in my noise I didn't even try calling them for fear I wouldn't know if they came back to me or not.

I kind of gave up on getting my DX QSO this evening, figuring I'd have to wait till morning or afternoon to keep the streak going. So I concentrated on keeping the big overall streak going by calling CQ on 40. I got an answer from Jim W3CKU and we had a very nice 30 minute rag chew punctuated in the middle by having to QSY to avoid QRM from stations working W1AW/3. Jim is 89 years old with a great bug fist and a delight to converse with. So I enjoyed that QSO very much.

When we finished, I thought I'd try once more for DX, and found a fluttery station on 20M who was pretty strong. I thought at first it was HA9MA, but when he signed with the station he was working, I heard him correctly as UA9MA. When he sent dit dit, I called and got him with that first call. Once again the PA to Asiatic Russia 20M path paid off as it seems to do so often especially in the 0000Z hour this time of year through spring and summer mostly, but other times of year as well now and then. -30-

Saturday, April 05, 2014 7:33 PM - I never did get in the SP Contest today, but I did get my "1" to finish the NAQCC European Chapter April challenge. I didn't think I was going to make it. I tried the only station I found with a 1 in the call, PA1CC, and tried him several times with no indication he was hearing me at all. So I looked around for someone else and finding no one, went back to PA1CC and tried again. This time we made contact and now I have 25 more days in April with no challenge to work on. Maybe I should try to do them a second time through?

Other than that, I did some research on some music from the 60s today. I love music from that era (and the mid 70s as well). It certainly is a lot better than the so-called music of today, in my opinion. Specifically I was looking up some info on one of my favorite girl groups from that era, the Rag Dolls. They only had 2 medium sized hits, Dusty and Society Girl. However the lead singer Jean Thomas, as I found out today, was involved with her brother Don in a ton of music from that era, as songwriter, backup singer, and more. She also had several good singles which I heard for the first time today. I was thinking as I was listening how great it would have been to have had the Internet as a research tool back then. I could have found out a multitude of info about my favorite artists beyond the little tidbits learned from listening to DJs or occasionally reading a fan magazine - but they were expensive for a poor teenager so I never did gain that much knowledge about music back then. Also I had too many other interests at the time to devote it all to music. Now I am finding out a lot of info from that era as well as hearing a lot of music (good music) that was relegated to the B side of 45s or to albums. Like the fan magazines, those things were not in my budget, and the only way I really could listen to music was on the radio.

Just now thinking back, I remember how I envied those kids who could name just about any song that was ever recorded and tell many things about the artists. They had the money and the access to the music and the info which I didn't have until later in life.

Ah well, it's good to be able to reminisce now about those days and continue to find more and more good info and music as well.

Time now to go get my streak QSO. Should be easy to grab a Polish station for a quick DX QSO as 20 should still be good to that part of Europe.

Oh, BTW I forgot to mention that one of the DX stations I worked yesterday was RS80KEDR remembering the 80th birthday of Yuri Gagarin. As a long-time space buff, that was a very meaningful QSO. -30-

Friday, April 04, 2014 7:39 PM - Some days there's too little to talk about in the diary. Some days there's too much. Today is a too much day, so I'll try to condense it somewhat.

First of all, I want to post the reply from Bill WA4FAT that I talked about. Here's a scan of the QSL I sent to him nearly 50 years ago followed by his email comments.

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"Hi John
You have no idea how excited I was to bump into you last night on 40 CW, almost exactly 50 years to the day after our initial contact back in 1964. And for you to still have my QSL card from half a century ago was mind boggling to say the least. Who in the world can find something they tucked away so long ago?!
And as I drifted off to sleep last night, replaying our QSO in my mind and imagining what my life was like back in 1964 as an Innocent fresh-faced young boy soon to enter 10th grade, a thought struck me like a punch. I remembered also saving QSL cards from that time period, meticulously alphabetizing them and storing them in a clunky metal cabinet. Could that old card folder have survived all these years? Could it have moved with me as I left for college, and then the Navy, and through not one but two marriages? Was there any chance I might still have those early cards somewhere in the labyrinth of my basement? As if by divine guidance, my sleuthing this morning led me straight to a dim, remote corner of our basement, and there on its side, nestled between a stack of retired dog bowls and assorted kitchenware, I spotted my old QSL case. With nervous anticipation I placed this archive of the past on my office floor, slide open the drawer, and flipped to the Ws, as the cards had been sorted by the suffix of each callsign. One by one I gently liberated each card, likely exposing them to the light of day for the first time in many decades. K5 WTA was near the end of the pile, Jake in Melbourne, Arkansas, followed by WA6WTD, Dennis in Costa Mesa, CA running a Globe Chief 90A and an HQ-110 receiver. Breathlessly I continued to look. Up next was WN4WUN, Paul in Louisville, KY whose card showed his rig as a DX-20, HQ-110 and dipole, and then K7WUR, Carol in Lander, Wyoming. She had a really fancy rig for the times, a 700W Swan 500C. I was losing myself in these amazing 5 by 7 time capsules ... there's W8WUT, Avis in Three Rivers, Michigan with a DX-60 and SX-1oo receiver ... and WA6WVK, Rob in Palm Springs, WA4WVW in Bristol, TN ... K4WVX who was mobile and confirming half a dozen different Florida counties ... and then K3WWP!
Holding your card in my hand was hypnotic and magical to say the least. In a split second I was transported to a chair at my old Salvation Army desk in a bedroom lit only by the glow of the twin dials of a National NC-183 receiver. And I was a 15 year-old kid again, still unaware of the travails life had to offer, or of the progeny I would father, or the meandering path that would bring me to this moment.
And here I sit at the very same desk that saw countless hours of DXing, contesting and rag chewing. The same desk that held the arms of a young boy as he rattled away on his Vibroplex Speedkey and listened across time and space to the lure of the unknown. And suddenly time doesn't seem nearly as important as the flood of memories that inundate me now ... and for that I thank you from the bottom of my heart!
Your QSL is on its way!
73/Bill - WA4FAT"

I've also mailed my QSO to Bill. We're already making plans to have a 50th anniversary QSO on the actual date of May 30 this year. Possibly even the exact minute or so since 0011Z (or GMT as it was known then) would be a good time for a 40M PA-AL QSO. More on that as time draws near.

Otherwise another good day on the ham bands. I was determined to finish up both NAQCC challenges, but missed it by an eyelash (or by a "1"). First of all it was a finish to the Paul Revere challenge when I worked OZ0JX to get the final 2 Os. Just before that, F5NBX gave me a B for both challenges. So then all that was left was a 1 for the European Chapter challenge which I still haven't gotten. I wasn't happy with the Paul Revere challenge. Just about all the letters were from DX stations and I wanted to make it ALL the letters. I juggled things around a bit and wound up needing two Ws to replace the ones I got from W1AW/7. So a couple hours later I got back on the air and worked UR5WCQ to "re-complete" the Paul Revere challenge. Now it's just about 0000Z so I'm going to pause in my typing and go get my daily streak QSO(s) hopefully including a call from Europe with a 1 in it. Be back a little later to finish this off.

I'm back still needing that 1. LZ1-- was booming in, but I always have trouble working him and it was so again tonight. He either is old and hard of hearing, has a high noise level, poor receiving equipment, or something else. I've called him many times over the years, and have worked him a few times, but the majority of the times he just plain doesn't hear me, or mutters (can you mutter on CW?) something like 'too weak'. Other that a couple other 1 stations from Europe who were working other DX, I just didn't find anyone to complete the challenge. It has really become a challenge now, and I'll probably work at it tomorrow until I get it or run from the shack screaming.

At least I did get my DX QSO to keep the streak going. I worked XE2I on 20 meters to take care of that.

This weekend is the Polish DX contest. If you look at my contesting page you'll see a picture of the certificate I got from last April's SP DX Contest for 1st place in NORTH AMERICA Category: SO AB MIXED QRP. MIXED because there was no CW category, in case you're wondering. No I didn't use that other mode. HI. I don't know how much of an effort I'll put in this year. Last year Mike was here and we 'tag teamed' the contest. I don't know if he sent in his log or not. If he did, he should have gotten 2nd place, I think. -30-

Thursday, April 03, 2014 8:42 PM - The numbers for today are 30/30, 400, and 52. No, I won't make you figure them out.

30/30 - I worked W1AW/3 on 7040 at 1956 today. Must have caught him just getting started on a stint. He was still simplex and I got him with either 1 or 2 calls - I forget which now. That makes 30 states worked of the 30 states activated by W1AW so far this year. Oh and for good measure I worked W1AW/7 again, this time on 20 meters since he was simplex and not getting any answers when I heard him.

400 - The number of days in my DX streak when I worked F6EAZ on 14026 at 0011Z this evening. Although DX was not all that good this evening, it was good again this afternoon although I didn't have as much time to get on the air as I did yesterday. I did work enough to come still closer to finishing our NAQCC April challenges. I need 6 letters for the Paul Revere challenge and 1,8,N,O for the European Inventors challenge. Maybe tomorrow which is supposed to be a rainy day, I'll have more time to get on the air.

52 - When I got on the air at 0000Z this evening I began my 52nd year as a ham radio operator, having completed 51 years yesterday. My the changes that have occurred in that time, not only in ham radio, but many other aspects of life. Who except the most acute visionary could have foretold back in 1963 that I would be sitting here typing something into a device called a computer and distributing what I typed to a potential world-wide audience within seconds of finishing it. Or that I would be using a ham radio rig that I could hold easily in the palm of my hand which performs dozens times better that what I was using back then. Or negatively that it would cost 33 cents to send a QSL card which could be sent then for 4 cents. The list of changes is endless, but I'll leave it at that for now. -30-

Wednesday, April 02, 2014 9:25 PM - I spent more time on the air today than I have in a long time (except for contesting - I mean regular operating). I had some goals in mind - work both W1AW states, collect as many letters as possible for our NAQCC April Paul Revere challenge, and collect as many letters/numbers for the NAQCC European Chapter Inventors challenge.

That made 4 goals in all and I accomplished 3 of them. Let's talk about W1AW first. It took a lot of work to get Oregon. But with 90% KX3 and 10% savvy from me, I broke their huge pileup finally on 15 meters. The pileups seem to grow with each set of new states as perhaps more people are learning about or becoming interested in the event. I wonder if my own state of PA is going to be my nemesis. Even with the KX3 and a good deal of savvy in how to break pileups, I've been unsuccessful so far. Of course I don't have as many bands available as with most other states because of the distance to those running W1AW here in PA. That is one strike against me right there. Two of the W1AW PA ops are among the best contesters in the world and can turn QSOs over very rapidly which should thin out those needing them after a couple days or so and give a minimal QRPer like me a better chance. It will probably have to be 80/40 or perhaps 30 meters for the QSO with an outside chance at 20 meters. The ops? Oh yes, Chas K3WW and Bud AA3B among perhaps others as well.

Otherwise I did collect a bunch of letters and numbers from LZ60KSP, LZ2HR, TK4LS, UY6IM, OE3XMA, CT7AEQ, HI3/N3SY, CO6RD, W1AW/7, US0GA, CE2/CX1EK, SV1CQN, Z35T, and VP2EC, my DX QSO for April 3rd. My totals for the Paul Revere challenge are now 75 of 83 letters, and the European challenge 38/48 so not many more to go. Perhaps another good day tomorrow will allow me to finish one or maybe even both if I have a lot of time to be on the air as I did today despite doing several other things.

What things? Oh, helping Bruce with his new computer which is his first one ever so he's got a lot to learn, but is getting it quickly with a bit of help from this 35 year computing veteran. I'm still learning things helping him too, especially with Windows 8.1 with which this is my first experience although I've used 8 for about 4 months now. Then this evening I helped Nancy do some yard cleaning gathering up and disposing of the leaves that gathered late last fall and winter.

Speaking of winter, in putting my March weather records in the computer, I found that Jan, Feb, and Mar were all between 4 and 5 degrees below normal, and with December around 2 below normal, that makes for our coldest winter in quite a few years now. The worst part was that except for a mild week in mid-Jan, it was consistently cold all winter which kept the dreaded s#$w around much too long. There are still a couple patches here and there that remain because of being packed down and freezing several times over.

Speaking of April 3, today/tomorrow is the 51st anniversary of receiving my KN3WWP ticket from the FCC. Where does the time go.

I received an interesting email from WA4FAT (see last nights diary entry below) today, and I'm going to ask his permission to post it here in the diary as it makes for very interesting reading. -30-

Tuesday, April 01, 2014 9:02 PM - First a QSL card image.

pix_diary_20140401_001 (59K)

Note the date May 30, 1964, nearly 50 years ago. Tonight after unsuccessfully trying to work W1AW/3 and a DX station, I heard WA4FAT calling CQ on 40 meters and the call rang a bell. I answered his CQ and after the first round, I dug into my QSL collection and pulled out the card pictured above. I told Bill I was holding his card from nearly 50 years ago, and we chatted about it for a while, and agreed to swap cards again for tonight's QSO.

No W1AW QSOs tonight. I heard both PA and OR, but tremendous pileups on both and I didn't feel like waiting through them. I'll try again after the piles dwindle or I get lucky and find them just starting up somewhere. I also thought I wasn't going to get any DX tonight as I wasn't even hearing any. Then LU7YZ showed up pretty strong on 20M and I worked him. Then I worked ZF2DX on 30M as insurance, so to speak. The three QSOs mentioned gave me a bunch of letters for our NAQCC April challenge and I'm nearing the halfway mark already.

I spent time today getting my first of the month chores done - going to the bank, etc. Then I helped out my neighbors on both sides of my house with some things. Also I did some shopping and walking to bask in the 77 degree weather - no foolin'. It was that warm today and is still 67 past 9PM. Sure feels good. If this keeps up, I'll have to open up my windows and put the screens in my doors.

Unfortunately all the above plus other things kept me too busy today to get on the air for FISTS Tuesday. Never even got to listen. I hope it went well. -30-

Monday, March 31, 2014 11:40 PM - Another quick entry tonight. I got all my end of month financial stuff done, and after that it was pretty late. And after my nightly visit with Nancy and Roscoe, it was even later. Now it's closing in on midnight and I've got my midnight snack in the microwave.

So I'll just remind you that today/tomorrow is FISTS Tuesday in which the club is just trying to get more FISTS activity on the bands. I'm hoping to get on tomorrow sometime and find the .058 frequencies full of activity. We'll see if that pans out. I sure hope it does.

This evening I got a good start on the NAQCC April challenges with 4 DX stations from 3 continents providing quite a few letters and numbers.

Well, the microwave is calling, so I'm outta here. -30-

Sunday, March 30, 2014 8:58 PM - Just finished finalizing our March NAQCC Sprint results, and my brain needs a rest now. So I'll make this a quick entry, get my weather readings, check on March Madness, then relax for a while.

My QSO came pretty quick this evening when I worked GS0NWM on 20M at 0011Z which makes it 13 complete months in a row of working DX each day. -30-

Saturday, March 29, 2014 8:50 PM - A good evening on the bands. I set up at 0000Z, found TX6G almost begging for QSOs on 15 meters, and worked him easily for a new band-country. So since that was so quick and my streaks were secured for another day, I went exploring to see what else I could find. I found TX6G on 12 meters, much stronger than on 15 meters. So I thought I might as well try for another new band-country. But this time it was a little harder. He was working simplex, and the pile-up was continuous if not all that big. I patiently waited, sending my call each time he finished a QSO. Finally after 15+ minutes and I don't have any idea how many calls, he sent K3?, then K3W? after I repeated my call. I sent my call twice more and got the delightful K3WWP 599. I sent my exchange and added another band country.

Oddly and pleasantly enough, my local noise was again down as it has been a few times this past month now. Seems to be that way when it rains as it was doing this evening. Maybe a bad power pole ground somewhere?

Other than that, a rather quiet day. Before the rain started, I did a little shopping and some more cleaning up in the back yard. It was a nice day to be outside until the rain did start, and hasn't stopped. At least it's not s#@w, although we might get a little of that overnight, but it won't last now that the warmer spring weather is here. -30-

Friday, March 28, 2014 8:35 PM - A busy, but enjoyable day today. This morning I went with Bruce to pick up his computer at Best Buy where he had some work done on it.

Then with some free time this afternoon, I looked over my web site and updated some outdated material. It's amazing how time flies and things change especially since I've been so busy with NAQCC matters the past 9 plus years now. Hopefully I'll be able to keep things on the site more up to date now since my work load with the NAQCC is winding down as I near retirement as NAQCC VP.

I'd like your help in updating the site. If you find anything that seems to be out of date, let me know and I'll take care of it and give you credit for notifying me.

Then later this afternoon, I got on the bands and found them wide open to anywhere in the world. I first worked KH2L on 12M. He was absolutely booming in and continued strong for all of the over one hour I was on the bands. It only took a single call with one repeat to work him. Next a few minutes later, it was JA7BXS also on 12M. He was weaker, but copied me solidly. Hmmmm, that's OC and AS - wonder if I could work a WAC since those are the two hardest out of the way already. I got XE3WMA on 10M for NA a few minutes later. Halfway there. Oh, here's PA2M calling CQ on 10M. Kind of late in the day for EU on 10, but I worked him easily. However from then on I just couldn't find any workable stations from AF or SA to complete the WAC. I heard stations from there, but they were either too weak or they were working other DX themselves. So I added a couple more EU stations LZ73TRC and EI9KC then went QRT.

This evening it was a different story. The bands were much poorer than earlier in the day and I struggled for 28 minutes until finally I worked EC4DEX for DX streak day # 394.

Now time to check on March Madness. Looks like #2 Michigan and #7 Connecticut will advance. Perhaps the best game of all comes later when Kentucky plays Louisville in an hour or so. I might watch that one. -30-

Thursday, March 27, 2014 7:55 PM - I thought I'd start this entry a bit early, then go get my daily QSO and finish the entry after that. I did want to say that TX6G from Austral Islands was definitely a new overall country (entity) for me which makes 219 now and the first new one in a long time now. I believe since 5T0JL back on August 28 last year.

OK, off to get my QSO now. Be back shortly, I hope.

It's a half hour later now. I got my DX QSO quickly at 0004Z working Pance Z33Z on 20M. That was so quick I thought I'd try for a rag chew on 40 and worked Lou KC2KME for about 15 minutes or so.

Now I'm off to find out what is going on in March Madness. Dayton is 10 up on Stanford at the half while Wisconsin is having their way with Baylor so far - up by 13 at the half. The Dayton game is on CBS so I can watch it free on the Internet and may just do that. Then Florida/UCLA follows on CBS. I'd love to see UCLA upset Florida as I've always been a UCLA basketball fan. It may be tough though. Florida blew away Pitt who in turn had blown away Colorado. You never can tell in March Madness though. The only thing certain is that nothing is certain in a tournament like that. -30-

Wednesday, March 26, 2014 9:50 PM - Mike stopped by for a quick 'hit and run' visit this evening after the local ham club meeting here in town. Actually it was long enough to get a few things done, but not long enough for our usual repast of pizza or sub. He brought me good luck on the bands. Shortly after he arrived I worked TX6G for what may be a new overall country for me. I have yet to look into that. Unfortunately Mike couldn't follow suit and work him. Methinks I lucked out and fit myself timewise into a pause in the pile up.

We also played a computer bowling game for a little while and ordered a 'Lil Squall' tuna tin type transceiver to build on our next get together in mid April.

I mentioned a couple entries ago I was having trouble uploading to and viewing our NAQCC web site. Well tonight everything suddenly started working again either because of an email trouble report I sent to GoDaddy or coincidence. -30-

Tuesday, March 25, 2014 9:30 PM - Well I have nothing to do for a week now. HI I think I was the first to work W1AW/1 in VT at 0000Z (at least on 20M). Then I got W1AW/0 in IA 9 minutes later on 30M. Never did get W1AW/KH2 last week though. Glad it wasn't an overall new one that I missed, and I'm still on track at 28/28 toward my goal of a W1AW WAS.

There wasn't much DX to be heard here but I did work HI3/N3SY at 0015Z on 20M to keep the streak alive. Then since I got all the main objectives out of the way quickly, I decided to try a CQ on 40M and worked NG2D for a short rag chew till my phone rang and I had to QRT. -30-

Monday, March 24, 2014 8:23 PM - Should you be a NAQCC member reading this and looking for the Final Results from last week's sprint, I've been having trouble uploading them to the GoDaddy server. Hopefully the problem will be fixed shortly, whatever it is.

My local noise seems back in full force again the past couple days. Still I did manage a couple DX QSOs today although I could just hear the stations in the noise. I worked MJ/K8PT this afternoon and OM5XX on 20 this evening for day # 390 in the DX streak. -30-

Sunday, March 23, 2014 8:23 PM - I want to get to the cross-checking of our NAQCC sprint logs and also get caught up on March Madness, so this will be a very brief entry.

First I counted and I planted 18 tulip bulbs after splitting them last fall. Of those, 17 have sprouted. Hopefully the remaining one will come along also.

Not much time on the air today, but I did get my DX streak QSO easily this evening from EA3GHW on 20 meters. So if I make it for 11 more days that will be 400 DX days in a row.

OK, off to work on the logs now. I'd like to get them done this evening. -30-

Saturday, March 22, 2014 9:25 PM - Sometime around October 21 last fall, I separated my tulip bulbs and found somewhere between 14 and 18 of them. I said 14 in my diary entry, but I think there were more. I say that because I looked out today and there are around 16 or so little tulip plants just breaking the surface. I'm going to count more closely tomorrow and take a picture as well. I can't wait to see now how that part of my yard looks when they all grow and bloom.

Not a lot to talk about today. I followed March Madness although most of the games weren't until very late afternoon or this evening. Our closest school Pitt lost to Florida after blowing away Colorado on Thursday. I haven't checked the scores this evening for an hour or so. Let me look now. I see #11 seed Dayton continues to knock off some storied programs. First it was Ohio State, now Syracuse today. They'll have a chance at another as they'll now face the winner of Kansas-Stanford, two more well-known BB programs. No other upsets in the games that are finished so far today.

Other than the above, I got on the bands a couple times mainly looking for TX6G and W1AW/KH2. I didn't hear the first at all, and only weak signals from Guam. I heard N1TX/KL7 almost begging for answers on 12 meters so I worked him with a single call to let him know at least he was getting out. Heard him again this evening and he is very popular now. For my DX streak QSO, I worked I8GMG on 20M. It wasn't too easy a QSO, but he did get all my info in good order. I heard a WAC easily this evening with ZL2IO, an EA8, several JAs, a couple of PYs, many NA stations, and the I8 I worked plus a few others from EU.

Oh, I also worked on our sprint logs a bit today polishing them for the final cross-checking tomorrow evening or Monday morning. 122 logs provided some 2,100+ QSOs for me to work with so far. We're hoping for more to come in before tomorrow evening's deadline. -30-

Friday, March 21, 2014 9:11 PM - For the second day in a row, I added a rag chew QSO with a Japanese ham to my log. This evening it was Shin JA1NUT again on 10M which has been really hot the past few days. The JA signals have NO flutter to them as they seem to have most of the time. Just a clear signal with some little QSB. Shin told me he visits and likes my web site and asked me what setup I was using tonight. He also told me that my way of doing CW was real ham radio. It's still a thrill to actually chat with someone from a faraway country like Japan. The TU 599 QSOs are nice too, but actually chatting adds to the excitement.

Before I worked Shin, my daily DX QSO was with Jose EA1NE on 20 meters. Then W1AW/5 was going begging for answers on 10 meters so I worked him even though I had already logged him on 40 meters earlier.

Also earlier in the day I worked Art WB4MNK from the NAQCC FL Chapter parkpedition on 20 meters. Oh and also throughout the day I unsuccessfully chased TX6G. The problem was I couldn't hear the stations he was working so I didn't know exactly how far up to place my call. He was definitely strong enough to work had I been able to get set up right. Seemed like all those he was working were in my skip zone or just too weak to hear here.

Other activities today included watching some March Madness games and otherwise following the scores. A lot of upsets and overtime games this round so far. I guess the real shocker would have to be Mercer beating Duke. Also although they didn't win or come too close, the 16 seeds bothered the 1 seeds somewhat this year. Right now after my ham radio session, I'm going to get caught up on the tournament. -30-

Thursday, March 20, 2014 9:36 PM - Good conditions on the bands again today. I got on a few times looking for and trying to work W1AW/KH2 with no success. Too much competition. However I did have a couple good QSOs. I worked WL7E on 10 meters. I think he had the strongest signal I ever heard from Alaska. A true 599+. Then a couple minutes later, also on 10, I had a several minute rag chew with Suke JM7OLW. Although I've had well over 100 JA QSOs, only a very few went past a brief exchange of info. Today's JA QSO, along with one other a couple years ago with a call I forget now were probably my longest ones ever. That was around 2100Z, and when I got on later at 0000Z to get my streak(s) QSO, JA was still good on 10 meters. I didn't work any because they were mainly chasing other DX stations themselves. So I went to 20 meters and worked RA6AN to extend the DX streak to 386 days now. I'd still like to get W1AW/KH2 though, and maybe I will when the pileups dwindle down.

Otherwise today, I helped Bruce take Roscoe to the vet for his yearly checkup which he passed with flying colors except for being a couple pounds overweight. I also did a lot of preliminary work with the logs from last night's NAQCC sprint preparing for the cross-check when they are all in. We're at 98 logs already less than 24 hours after the sprint ended. So we should zoom past the 100 log mark once again. -30-

Wednesday, March 19, 2014 7:15 PM - I thought I'd check for W1AW/5 just before I went to bed last night around 12:30AM, and I'm glad I did. I found them (even without the panadapter hooked up) on 40 meters, gave a call, got a WWP?, sent K3WWP, got a K3WWP 599 NM, and now have 26 of 26 states logged. I heard W1AW/KH2 strong this afternoon on 15, but the pileup was so huge, I didn't even try calling. If they stay as strong during the coming week, I should be able to get them when the pileups shrink.

Tonight is our monthly NAQCC Sprint which is why I'm writing this a little earlier than usual. I'm not really in a contesting mood, but when I was listening for W1AW/KH2 this afternoon I noticed my noise level was down quite a bit. If it is still quiet tonight, my contesting mood may pick up. We'll see.

Another nice day before the rain started late this afternoon, so I did some more clean-up work in the yard. As I said yesterday, it sure is nice to get out and work again after our dreadful winter.

I got the following email from Bob KA2Q and asked for his permission to post it here. He said yes and hopes it will motivate another ham.

"Had to send you an email and thank you for all you do for NAQCC and for ham radio.
Been a ham for a lot of years but now enjoying it more than ever. I don't receive as well as other people and am always on the look out to improve my shack and antenna. I have a few improvements to make this spring if it ever warms up. I have a KX3 and an EFHW antenna to use for portable opps. Got the KX3 late last year and had a ball until it got to cold for these old bones.
I remembered reading about your antenna and your QRP QSO's. Found your web page and photos last week. You have motivated me for years, recalling your accomplishments when things weren't going well for me in Ham Radio.
I will make a presentation at our club meeting to share you with new people that need to see how simple this hobby could be. One of the things on my bucket list is to shake your hand, look you in the eye and say Thank You. For now this is going to have to do. I would like to suggest, if I may, keep sharing the simple things we could do to make better QSO's in the newsletter. You have a wealth of knowledge that needs to get out there, so generations of Hams to be, will benefit from your experience.
I had a great Ham Radio morning today, QSO'd with 9A2AJ on 28.057 that would never have happened without you. I'll be back tonight and tomorrow. Agn Thank You, Bob KA2Q"

That's what this web site is all about, and why I put so much time and effort into it, as well as into the NAQCC. -30-

Tuesday, March 18, 2014 8:38 PM - It is so great to have good weather here again. My spirits are lifted considerably now that the s#$w and cold are pretty much out of the way. I did my first outside work of the season this afternoon. I fixed my downspout from my gutter where it enters the disperser. The frost had heaved it around quite a bit. Then I removed the leaves from my tulip bed so the soil could be heated by the sun which is now quite high in the sky and has considerable heating power. Next up I cleaned the leaves from around my sump pump in the cellar stairway. I also repaired a brace and screen around it that had rotted away during the winter. It sure felt good to be working outside again even though it wasn't all that warm - about 50 or so. Even warmer times are on the way - thank goodness.

I accomplished 2/3 of my goals this evening. Actually I thought I had the third one in hand. I found W1AW/5 (NM) just starting with a QRL? on 17 meters and he was strong. However I lost out to two other stations who were also there, and then he was spotted and the vultures descended. So NM will be put off until tomorrow or later. TN was another story. I found him on 30 meters, called once and I am now half way to my W1AW WAS with 25 of 26 states activated worked so far. No sign of W1AW/KH2 anywhere. Next up it was searching for my DX streak QSO. I found J8/LY2IJ on 12 meters and worked him after 2 or 3 other stations. So it was a good evening and a good day here. Hope yours was the same. -30-

Monday, March 17, 2014 8:44 PM - The bands sounded rather poor this evening, so I grabbed a quick QSO with W1AW/7 on 30 meters (new band) to get my main streak QSO out of the way. Then I spent a fruitless half-hour searching for some DX. I heard a couple of fairly strong signals, but they were in long rag chews, and then were gone when I came back later to see if they were still there. All of the few other DX signals were weak and down in my strong noise so I probably wouldn't have been able to hear them if they came back to me, so I didn't try. That means it's the morning or afternoon if my DX streak is going to continue. That will be only the third or fourth time this month I didn't get a DX QSO in the 0000Z hour.

It was another nice although chilly day today. I went on a couple shopping trips and another general walk. It's so nice to be able to get out again without having to plod through s#$w to get anywhere. Only a few left over junkpiles now where it was plowed pretty deep. This might be the first year in some time now when we can still see s#$w somewhere in April. -30-

Sunday, March 16, 2014 8:46 PM - A busy day today again. Web site work for my site and the NAQCC site took up most of the morning. I did get my new poll posted today. It's a simple yes/no poll this month.

Then this afternoon I cut my hair. I've mentioned this before, but not recently. I haven't been in a barber shop since late 1972. I've cut my own hair ever since then and saved a bunch of money and a lot of time along the way in those 41 plus years.

Of course this is 'Selection Sunday' so I had to get ready for my favorite sporting event of them all - March Madness. I've got my brackets all set up in Microsoft Excel. All that needs doing now is to plug in the scores from the games. No more typing other than the scores as I have it set up to automatically advance the winning team to the next round.

Finally this evening, of course it was QSO time when 0000Z rolled around. Tonight it took but 4 minutes to get my DX QSO when I worked FG/F6ARC with a single call on 30 meters. Then I hung around for a while and got another 'Block Party' QSO for our NAQCC March challenge.

Now here I am typing and after I finish it will be out to get my temperature for the day. It was a bit colder today with a high only of 32 on my remote thermometer here. None of that ugly white stuff though. Actually I went downtown for a bit of shopping amidst the other things described above. It was nice to walk on bare pavement and grass even if it was a bit cold. -30-

Saturday, March 15, 2014 8:45 PM - It took a bit longer to get my DX QSO this evening as I was fooling around with the N1MM Logger trying to get it set up for the Russian DX contest. For some reason which I still have to figure out, it kept logging the RST as 59 instead of 599 even though I was pretty sure I had it set for CW. I guess since I am new to it, I still have things to learn even though it worked perfectly in the ARRL DX contest last month. Oh well, things like that are what keep life from being boring.

Anyway I finally did work SK3W at 0017Z on 40 in the contest to add another day to the DX streak. Right now it's almost time to get my temperature, then I'm going to work on N1MM again and see if I can figure out what I'm doing wrong. -30-

Friday, March 14, 2014 9:30 PM - A busy and eventful day today. My next door neighbor Bruce entered the computer world today. We went down to Best Buy this morning and he bought a computer, printer, mouse, and other accessories. Then I helped him get it set up this afternoon. I enjoyed doing all of that.

It was a nice day again with a high of 61, completing two peaks and one valley of our temperature ride of the past 3 days - from 70 to 6 to 61. A lot better than 21 years ago at this time when the superstorm blizzard struck the east coast. We had about 2 feet of s#$w here, but it was March and it was all melted in just a few days since there was no ice, but just all fresh s#$w.

Because of the busy day, I haven't had a chance to update my poll. I'll do that tomorrow in between some more computer learning work with Bruce.

I kept up the pattern this evening. My DX QSO came at 0003Z making it 0000 0001 0002 0003 the past 4 days now. Tonight it was EI3KG on 17 meters with a single call. Then I added 9L1A on 30 meters a little later. Seems I can only work Sierra Leone on 30 for whatever reason. That must be 4 or 5 QSOs all on 30 and none on any other band. Anyway for anyone counting along, that's 380 consecutive days of DX now.

Oh, my tribute to Nancy WZ8C is now posted in the latest NAQCC newsletter should you want to take a look at it. Go to here, then click Newsletter, then Current. It's a .pdf file. -30-

Thursday, March 13, 2014 8:20 PM - Welcome to the Kittanning weather roller coaster. From 70 degrees on Tuesday afternoon to about 8 degrees this morning then back up to 56 predicted for tomorrow. Hopefully the 8 degrees was winter's swan song as far as cold temperatures go. Generally the first half of March is the last time of the season we drop into the single digits.

I never did go to the computer club meeting last evening. It looked just too slippery with the rain that fell all day freezing on the sidewalks then being covered with a light dusting of s#$w. So I got my DX QSO at 0001Z when I worked Gena UA9MA on 20 meters last night. Tonight took a bit longer. At 0002Z I worked another of the Bulgarian saints stations LZ1246SIT on 20 meters. So the last 5 days my DX QSO has come at 0000, 1514, 0000, 0001, and 0002Z. That 1514 was an abberation caused by poor evening conditions and high local noise. I also worked AL4Q again on his tour of different South American prefixes. Tonight it was HK2/AL4Q. I wasn't sure if I needed HK2 or not, so I worked him anyway and will check now to see if it was new. AS Yes indeed, HK2 is a new prefix which leaves HK8 and HK9 to complete the block of ten HK prefixes for me.

As I've mentioned, this winter has been a very depressing one with the overabundance of s#$w and that has kind of sapped my desire to do things. February was particularly bad. I think I only got out for 3 or 4 medium length walks all month and that was it. A real case of cabin fever along with the depression. As a result I was very late in getting my tomatoes and peppers started. Even later in talking about it here in the diary. I did plant them I think maybe the day after President's Day last month. On top of everything else they were slow in sprouting so no tomatoes in May this year barring a miracle. One problem was I couldn't find any Siberian tomato seeds from either 2012 or 2013 and had to go back to ones from 2011. So far only one has sprouted and it is just starting to get its first real leaves. Another one did sprout, but it seems to be seedbound. The peppers on the other hand sprouted much better. They are on the right hand side of the picture here, while the Siberians are on the left.

pix_diary_20140313_001 (114K)

I hope that the weather is going to turn for the better now and I'll have more desire to do various things. I'm already looking forward to the college basketball March Madness which gets underway this Sunday with the seeding of the teams. -30-

Wednesday, March 12, 2014 5:37 PM - I thought I'd write this early today because there is a computer club meeting this evening which I may attend. I say may because we had rain most of the day with falling temperatures which just now hit 30 degrees, and if the coating of rain freezes it may be pretty slippery and I don't feel like falling. We didn't get any true freezing rain as it went directly from rain to s@#w as the temperature neared 32 degrees a while ago.

Anyway I logged both the W1AW states today - AZ first, then OH. AZ took a bit of doing on 15 meters as I had to wait through perhaps 15-20 stations before I got a WP?, then completed the QSO with a solid K3WWP 599 AZ from W1AW. Had I gotten there a minute or so earlier, I might have gotten him on the first try because when I found him, he was still working simplex, then the crowd increased and he went split, listening up 3. I thought maybe I'd be the first one to catch his announcement and switch as I've done in the past with a few stations, but some strong Europeans got set up as quickly as I did, and I had to wait through them. On the other hand, a single call to W1AW/8 on 40 meters netted the QSO. That's 24 down and 26 to go now. So far all the ones I worked through February have been confirmed via the LotW. Hopefully when I upload my March QSOs to LotW, all those will be confirmed also. I see no reason why not as all have been solid QSOs so far in March.

Also today I worked some interesting stations and prefixes. First nothing new in RK3ER but I worked Alex because he was so strong on 10 meters. I had worked him 3 times before. Next I found LY10NATO whom I assume had something to do with NATO. I'll take a look right now on QRZ and see. Yes honoring Lithuania's 10 years of membership in NATO. Then a few minutes later I found and worked YL2014S. Let's see what that call was for. Well it says, "The Latvian capital Riga officially is unveiled as the European Capital of Culture Year. Special callsign YL2014S will be on the air from March 1st to November 30th, 2014."

I really enjoy chasing prefixes. Getting new entities has become hard after 218, but the new prefixes are still easy to work and seem to be increasing all the time on the bands. I now have 2,627 of them worked and counting. -30-

Tuesday, March 11, 2014 8:54 PM - With the bands in good shape and not being so selective in whom I work after completing the NAQCC European Chapter challenge, I just got on for a while today and had fun working whomever I pleased. European Russia was good on 10 meters so I worked RZ3FW and RW7M. I added Belarus on 12 meters from EU7A. Earlier on 12 it was HA8QZ. So it was easy extending the DX streak another day after not getting anyone last evening.

Speaking of the streak, I finally finished the story of the first year (365 days) of the streak and it is now posted in the QRP section on the DX Streaks page.

This evening for the third time in the past few days, I got my DX QSO just at the stroke of a new UTC day at 0000Z. This time it was R7CA on 20 meters as European Russia was still good this evening, but down on 20 meters now. After that it was a fruitless chase of W1AW/8 and W1AW/7. I found them on several different bands as they seem to have a full bore multi-op setup going. However there was seemingly an endless stream of big 100-1000 watt stations also chasing them and pretty much wiping out my minimal QRP signals. Still almost a full week to get them though - so I'm pretty certain I will. They were strong enough for me to easily work them this evening if the competition wasn't so plentiful and strong.

Time now to get my weather readings. This may have been our first 70 degree day of the year. The high shows as 69 on my remote unit, but it may have hit 70 on my official outdoor thermometer. I'll know in a few minutes.

Just a brief weather note before I go. Back in 1986 on March 8 the low was -3. Then just about 55 hours later on March 10 it was 75 degrees - a swing of 78 degrees in just over two days. Now we may come close to the reverse of that. If it was 70 today and the prediction of a low near 5 above Thursday morning comes true, that would be 65 degrees in a couple days. We'll see. -30-

Monday, March 10, 2014 9:05 PM - Conditions were not all that good this evening. I missed getting a DX QSO in the 0000Z hour for the first time in a while now. So I'll have to do that in the morning or afternoon. I did work two NAQCC members though (AA4MC, K4JPN) for our March NAQCC 'Block Party' challenge.

Conditions were on the other hand, good this morning and afternoon. Good enough for me to work R7NW for the last two Ns and YL2SM for the last Y in the NAQCC March European Chapter challenge. After almost failing to complete the challenge last month I was more serious this month finishing it in about 9 1/2 days.

This was the warmest day so far this year with a high of 59 degrees and it did a major job of s#$w melting. Even where the stuff was piled up, melted and froze shrank a good deal today. It was fabulous. I went for two pretty good walks, the second one without even needing a jacket. -30-

Sunday, March 09, 2014 8:19 PM - It's been just over a year now since I started using my panadapter. Each day I come to appreciate it more and more. It just makes tuning the band so much quicker and easier. It's nothing like spotting or even the Skimmer. It merely shows me by a peak on the computer screen just where a signal is. If I'm tuned to say 14007 and I see a peak in the display further up the band, I simply spin the dial to that spot and see who it is making the peak. I don't have to tune up the band listening to each frequency as it passes by on the dial to see if anyone is there. Even then I could tune right over a station while he is in a pause between words. That's the fault of aural tuning versus tuning with a visual aid like the panadapter. It's impossible to do so, but I wish I could compute the time I've saved in the past year because of the panadapter. Even when calling CQ, a simple glance at the computer screen shows if anyone is answering me outside the aural passband of the KX3. No more laboriously tuning up and down with the RIT after each and every CQ. Now I only use the RIT if I do see someone calling off-frequency on the panadapter. That control must feel really neglected since I started using the panadapter. That with the KX3 makes just about the ideal QRP/CW station.

My noise that was missing yesterday came back today, but still at a somewhat reduced level from normal. So I had a lot of fun exploring the bands. I came close to finishing the NAQCC European Chapter challenge needing now just two Ns and one Y to complete it. I heard YN5SU but obviously he's not it Europe, so I'll have to find a Belgian (ONxxxx) and a Lithuanian (LYxxxx) station, among other possibilities to finish it off. Maybe tomorrow although I may be busy helping Bruce buy and set up a computer for himself. Even so, there are still 22 days left this month, and if I can't finish in that time, I don't deserve it.

Along the way, I also picked up some new prefixes in SF2014ECC, LZ136LO, and GP0STH. I was also noting that on the 9th, I made QSOs on 7 different bands - 80, 30, 20, 17, 15, 12, and 10 meters. I thought of trying to make it 9 bands, but didn't get around to it.

This evening once again my streak and DX streak QSO came in the 0000Z minute as I easily snatched VP2MXI on 17 meters. After that I looked around for some European stations but didn't hear any. Oddly 9K2MU was quite strong on 20 meters with a decent sized pileup. I tried to get him a couple times, but didn't pursue it any further since he obviously is not in Europe anyway. I also heard EA8/DL1VOA very strong on 30, and could have worked him easily, but didn't try since he is in Africa.

I did some work on the web site today. Now all 99 of my FISTS Keynote QRP columns are available here on the web site for anyone to read. I hope to be writing #100 as soon as FISTS gets reorganized following the passing of Nancy WZ8C. I wrote a tribute to her for the upcoming NAQCC newsletter, and a few days after that gets posted, I may present it here in the diary or have a link to it rather than writing a separate tribute for here. It was very hard writing one, and I don't think I'm up to writing a second one since I treasured my friendship with Nancy so much and miss our all too infrequent contacts. I wish we could have had more communications over the years. I especially regret not having ever met her in person.

A pretty good day today after a dusting of s#$w last night that is now just a bad memory. It wasn't all that warm but it was sunny and that took care of not only the dusting but some stuff that's been hanging around way too long as well. I see a high of just 41 today. However tomorrow it's supposedly into the mid 50s and the next day near 60. That should help clean things up even more. -30-

Saturday, March 08, 2014 8:00 PM - Miracle of miracles. I turned on the radio today and found an absence of any local noise. It sounded like I was at the Community Park. The S Meter wasn't even moving save for when I tuned in a signal. It sure was nice, but I'm sure it won't continue. I sure would like to know what was turned off today and where.

I got on to search for some letters and numbers for the NAQCC European Chapter challenge. I worked ER1LW on 12 to get two 1s, but that was about it. There was a lot of DX around on all bands through 10, but none with anything that would help with the challenge. I did work IC8TEM on 10 because I thought I might need the IC8 prefix.

Then continued miracle of miracles. When I got on at 0000Z this evening, my noise was still virtually absent. It was kicking the S Meter slightly, but nowhere near the usual S7 to S9 level. My furnace is still a noisemaker though, and is more noticeable now with the other noise (whatever) at a minimum. Still I can live with that if the other noise stays away. Just turn the furnace down when I operate so it doesn't come on. With spring now here, that can more easily be done with little chance of it getting too cold. Anyway my DX QSO came easily when I worked YN5SU on 30 meters.

Tonight comes another affirmation that spring is really here when we go to the misnamed Daylight Savings Time. It really should be called Daylight Shifting Time since there really is no savings involved. It is merely a shifting by one hour of the time frame when it is daylight. I always like the old Indian saying describing DST as being similar to making a blanket longer by cutting a foot off one end and sewing it on the other end. Psychologically though it is wonderful to have more daylight hours in the time frame we label as evening. -30-

Friday, March 07, 2014 7:36 PM - A beautiful spring day today. Sunny with temperatures in the mid 50s. Boy, did the s#$w take a well-deserved beating today. I went for a walk with my coat on and wound up sweating a bit. Sure felt good. Made up for a lot of miserable days the past few months. Then later in the afternoon Bruce and Nancy took me for supper at Ponderosa - a seafood buffet. I was wise that time and didn't wear the coat.

It was kind of hard finding a QSO this evening as my noise was soaring at new heights. Finally I found Zoli HA4FF on 20 meters and worked him easily. No letters for the NAQCC European Chapter challenge, but good for my main streak day 7,156 and DX streak day 373. -30-

Thursday, March 06, 2014 8:23 PM - An 8 minute QSO with Jose EA3JJ served as my streak QSO, my DX QSO, and as a source of a couple letter Es for the NAQCC European Chapter challenge. After that, I worked Ray KC8KBD who was only my 3rd USA QSO this month excluding the W1AW/# stations. I almost forgot how to do a regular domestic QSO. HI.

I haven't talked much about the weather of late, but except for that brief s#$w on the 2nd, it does really seem that spring did arrive on March 1st as it should have. It's still a little below normal temperature wise, but not that much. With at least some sunshine each day, the s#$w is receding quite a bit. Actually the melt is good. It melts during the day, then stops during the colder temps of night. That way, the threat of flooding is reduced considerably. It is nice to see more and more bare ground after that grueling winter we had. -30-

Wednesday, March 05, 2014 3:02 PM - At times I get asked for some secrets to working stations with QRP. I had a QSO today that illustrates one of the several important 'tricks' for lack of a better word. That is to LISTEN LISTEN LISTEN to the station you are trying to work. I got on this afternoon with the specific intent of finding and working W1AW/7 in ID. Since I didn't find them right away, I instead worked a few European stations on 10 meters - SG0U F6ARS DL6KR - to gather letters for the NAQCC European Chapter challenge. But as I often do in my writing, I digress, so let me get back to the point. I eventually did find a rather weak W1AW/7 on 20 meters with a pretty good sized pileup. I listened for a while trying to find out exactly what his pattern was. I mean was he listening up (yes)? How far (I never was sure)? But then in my listening I heard him say QSY 14037. He currently was on 14030. So I quickly tuned the KX3 up to 14037 and waited for him to show up there. When he did he sent CQ DE W1AW/7 UP3. I quickly tuned VFO B up to 14040 and gave a call. He came back with K3J which from the timing I was sure was me so I sent K3WWP twice and got my QSO to make it 20/20 for W1AW states. Why was it so easy when he was not at all strong and I'm sure I wasn't either. Probably because many folks were too busy calling to catch his QSY message and then too slow to catch on to the UP3 after he did QSY. The result - I had him pretty much to myself.

Now from the joy of getting W1AW to the deep sadness of some more info about Nancy WZ8C's passing. Here's an email from her widower Tim about the latest situation and some more info.

"In Memory of Nancy Kott, WZ8C
From Tim Lange, Nancy's OM

My wife Nancy passed away Sunday March 2, 2014. She endured many years of medical challenges and is now resting peacefully. She is leaving a empty spot in my heart as I'm sure it is the same for all of you. Thank you for the outpouring of sympathy that I have already received. She has touched so many people around the world.

I am enclosing a link to her brief obit. There are no services planned at this time. She is being cremated at this time per her wishes.

I realize my contact list is not up to date today. Please forward this message to anyone that might like to know (and copy to me so I can update my list).

Tim Lange



(NOTE from K3WWP - The URL in the link above is very long. If it doesn't work for you here is the link directly to the Funeral home - http://www.hillfh.com) followed by a copy of the obituary there.

"In Memory of
Nancy Anne Kott
October 27, 1955 - March 2, 2014

KOTT, NANCY age 58 of Metamora, MI., died Sunday, March 2, 2014 at the University of Michigan Hospital, Ann Arbor. Memorial Services will be announced at a later date. Nancy was born October 27, 1955 in Hamtramck, MI., to parents Kenneth and Irene (Keller) Kott. She was head of the North American Branch of the Preservation of Morse Code (FISTS). Nancy worked for the U.S. Census Bureau and the Center for Disease Control. Surviving are husband Tim Lange; parents Kenneth and Irene Kott; sister-in-law Diane Kott and many other relatives. She was preceded in death by her brother Paul Kott. Arrangements by the Hill Funeral Home, 11723 S. Saginaw St, Grand Blanc, MI.
Condolences may be left on-line at www.hillfh.com"

I am still not ready to write my tribute to you Nancy, but may you rest in peace, and thank you for all you have done for CW through FISTS, the greatest CW club of them all - K3WWP. -30-

Tuesday, March 04, 2014 7:46 PM - I know that many of you who read my diary are FISTS members, and you probably already know that Nancy WZ8C passed away earlier this week. I intend to write an entry about her here in the diary and also for the NAQCC newsletter since she and I and FISTS and NAQCC have always been very close. Right now though it's just too sad for me to write anything yet.

I got perhaps my quickest streak QSO ever this evening. OK1CF was calling CQ just before 0000Z then just exactly at 0000Z his CQ ended and I sent my call and bingo, I had my streak QSO, DX streak QSO, and as a bonus a few more letters/numbers for the NAQCC European challenge.

Then I went on a hunt for W1AW in the new states of KY and ID. I found KY easily on 40M, set the KX3 for split operation with the headphones on split channel listening and found the station W1AW was working. I sent my call, got a K3W?, repeated my call twice and now have 19 of the 20 activated states in my log. I didn't get ID though. I thought I heard them very weak on 30. Anyway there was a pile chasing something and I thought I heard 'ID' weakly from the station they were chasing. Still just one hour less than a full week to get them, so I should make it 20 for 20 before the week is out. -30-

Monday, March 03, 2014 7:56 PM - The DX streak goes on. 369 days and counting. I got on this afternoon to look for some European stations for the NAQCC European Chapter challenge, and as a side issue to work some DX for another day. I took care of the second part first when I worked 4Z5AD which of course is Asia. Then I did get UA3KW to get some letters (A W) from his call. I want to digress a moment here and say that I really envy some of those DX stations and the fabulous receiving setups they must have. Neither 4Z5AD nor UA3KW were all that strong here and actually not solid copy with my noise level. However they copied my QRP signals very easily. I guess their noise levels at their home locations must be like it is here at our Kittanning Community Park. The noise level there as I have mentioned is really an S0 and it's possible to copy signals there that don't even move the KX3 S meter. To have a situation like that all the time must really be great. It is getting to be less and less fun coping with my local noise level of S6 at best to S9+ at worst. I feel bad when I can't copy my fellow QRPers all that well. End of digression.

This evening my streak, DX streak, European Chapter station, and a rag chew all came at once from Svein LA5FHA who took the time to chat for a while. He was running a KW making for easy copy here and his high 5 element beam pulled in my QRP signals well there. It was a bit surprising to hear a S9 signal from Europe so late on 20M, but then with spring here now, that situation will get better and better. Chatting with Svein also made me feel better about our winter weather here. Our winter was nothing compared to that in Norway. There is still around a meter of s#$w on the ground there. Here a great deal of ours is gone. Even with our high in just the mid 20s, the bright sunshine continued the s#$w melt today.

With the bright sunshine making for such a nice day, Nancy and I went on a major grocery shopping trip to the mall stores today. I was afraid I bought so much frozen food, I might have to 'rent' out space in her big freezer. However I got out my shoehorn and packed it all into the freezer compartment of my refrigerator quite easily. I will have to use some up though before I can buy any more.

I also went for a walk late this afternoon as the s#$w is pretty much gone from our town hiking trail. -30-

Sunday, March 02, 2014 8:16 PM - Well, we were blessed, or lucked out - whatever you believe and only got about an inch of the dreaded white stuff today, and it was even warm enough that a little of it melted off soon after falling. Whew! Those dire predictions by various weather services were scary, but the storm moved just far enough south to give us the break here. I feel sorry for those in the main path of the storm.

The DX streak is now at 367 days, and I guess will be continuing. Nothing for the 3rd yet, but I will try to get some in the morning or afternoon. I never did hit the bands today in the morning or afternoon, so I don't know how conditions were. They weren't too bad this evening although I didn't hear much, if any DX - mostly just strong W/VE stations. -30-

Saturday, March 01, 2014 6:37 PM - The first day of spring acted like it. It was almost 50 degrees and that sure looked and felt good. Unfortunately we're going back into the depressing days of winter weather for the next few days now before spring weather settles in for good later this week. Too depressing to even think about, so let's move on.

The DX streak is going to continue - at least long enough to finish up the NAQCC European Chapter March challenge. Day 366 today featured a Polish and German station as the high bands up through 10 were good this early afternoon. I also got a second QSO with W1AW/7 on 15 meters just in case the first one on 20 a couple days ago wasn't any good. My noise acted up then and I wasn't 100 percent sure he had my call correct. No doubt today though. So I'm now a solid 18/18 in W1AW states for sure. The first 16 are even confirmed in the LotW.

Almost time now to head for the shack. Think I'll take a bit of a walk around the house first as I've been sitting most of the day getting caught up on a lot of computer work. One of the things was putting the February weather in the computer. Turns out it was a cold month averaging 4.9 degrees below normal. I'm glad I don't keep s@#wfall records. That could really be depressing. -30-

Friday, February 28, 2014 8:12 PM - I worked on my 'Year of DX' report today, but it's not yet ready for posting. I had a lot of fun examining the statistics, and I hope you will find them interesting. I still haven't decided to continue the DX streak or not. I didn't work any DX (nor even heard any) this evening, so the decision will be postponed till tomorrow whatever it will be. I may try to continue it at a relaxed pace without the urgency I put on it as I approached closer and closer to the 365 day mark.

I did get a 'block party' QSO with K9OSC for the NAQCC March challenge and for my main streak this evening. Tomorrow if conditions are good to EU I hope to get started on the NAQCC European Chapter challenge featuring the top Olympic medal-winning countries from the recent Olympics.

Tomorrow is the first day of long-awaited meteorological spring, although someone forgot to tell those in actual charge of the weather. A big s#$w is predicted for Sunday/Monday followed by a cold 3 or 4 days. Oh well, at least March s#$ws are not that bad as they seldom overstay what little welcome they get (not from me) and are gone in a few days. Even the two feet or so from the blizzard of March '93 was gone in less than a week.

It was decent out today although a bit cold. I was able to walk downtown a couple times on bare sidewalks to stock up on some groceries. Tomorrow I may go down and get my first of the month banking and some more shopping done. -30-

Thursday, February 27, 2014 12:24 PM - (UPDATE at 7:22 PM) As mentioned in the last paragraph in this entry, I had two objectives for today/tomorrow. I achieved both between 0000Z and 0012Z. I worked W1AW/7 for WA at 0001Z on 20M. Then it was D44CF at 0012Z on 20M for consecutive DX day #365. I believe I am now going to write a new page for the web site about the "Year of DX".

I'm cleaning out some emails today, and I have some diary feedback ones to get caught up on, so here goes.

From Arnold VE7IDK, "Just wanted to let you know that I greatly appreciated your site and write-up on QRP. My name is Arnd, but I go by Arnold, and I love QRP. I have the Yeasu FT-897 & FT-817, planning on getting the Super Antenna for some mountain top operating. In the past I have used wire antenna's make from blasting wire, that seem to work very well. I guess the whole thing is about fun, by the way I do know Steve with the goats, just love his Youtube videos. In closing, once again, thanks for the website, and keep on hamming."

From Gene AA8MI, "Hi John, In October last year, I returned to DX chasing with QRP/CW and simple wire antennas. I earned ARRL's DXCC (100 confirmed CW) using QRP CW and SWAs back in 2001, but had done very little DXing as such since then. By gosh and by golly I had gotten 16 more confirmed over the years before getting serious again about chasing DX last October. Now I am up to 132 confirmed. I am writing you about this because I want you to know that YOU are the INSPIRATION for my return to DX chasing with QRP and SWAs. Some months back you wrote (in your FISTS column, I think) that you had worked 215+ DXCC entities during your streak of at least one QSO per day. That remark is what brought me back to my favorite QRP pursuit: DX chasing. I don't think I will ever come close to your 215+ but I want to get that sticker for 150 confirmed CW mode from ARRL for my DXCC certificate. Who knows? Maybe I will get close to 200 someday! If you are interested, check out my QRZ.COM biography where I give you credit for being that inspiration. Thanks for all you do, and have done, to promote QRP among us amateurs!! 73/72 Gene AA8MI naqcc #5703"

That's what my efforts are all about - to convince hams that they don't need a KW, beam, and mountain-top QTH to succeed IF they use CW and QRP. I believe my examples shown here on the web site prove that.

Gene's email prompted me to check my countries in some detail. I told him not to give up on 200 as it is not too hard to get there, but after that, they do tend to slow down because most after that need to be gotten by fighting pile-ups of KW/beam stations. Also spotting makes it very difficult unless you catch them as they are just starting up. Many folks monitor the spots 24/7 and as soon as they see something they need it's off to the shack to join in the frenzy. Well, enough about that.

Just to show how new ones do slow down, here are the dates by 50s of my 218 current QRP/CW countries.

1 - USA W1DC 1/3/1964
2 - Canada VE3DMU 9/6/1964 (First two came in the 'old days' when I fooled around with 5 watts or less)
3 - Cuba CO2EJ 2/27/1993 (Now we're in my 'modern' era)
50 - Czech Republic OK1EV 7/5/1994 (Starting in the 'modern' era that's about 16 months to 50)
100 - Finland OH2LLZ 2/25/1995 (About 8 months for the second 50 as my DX interest grew)
150 - Cape Verde D44BC 11/25/1998 (57 months from 100-150 as they get harder)
200 - Dodecanese Is. J45RW 7/27/2002 (44 months tnx to the sunspot peak years)
218 - Mauritania 5T0JL 8/28/2013 (11 years and a month because of declining sunspots and rarity)

Perhaps my total of new ones by year will tell even more:

I'll lump in USA and Canada into 1993 instead of separating 1964.
1993 - 6
1994 - 81
1995 - 29
1996 - 7
1997 - 10
1998 - 19
1999 - 16
2000 - 23
2001 - 4
2002 - 7
2003 - 1
2004 - 0
2005 - 1
2006 - 0
2007 - 1
2008 - 1
2009 - 1
2010 - 3
2011 - 2
2012 - 2
2013 - 4
2014 - 0 (yet)

Interesting to see how a combination of high sunspot numbers and availability of ones not yet worked affect the totals. With many still available, even the low sunspot years provided a lot of new ones (1993-1995), then a decline in available ones and continuing low sunspots led to lowered totals (1996-1997). Next along came the sunspot peak (1998-2000) and even with declining available ones, the totals were good. But that was followed by a real drought during the prolonged sunspot minimum (2001-2009) with only 16 total new ones. A slight pickup occured in the current sunspot maximum (2010-present) even though by now new ones available had declined considerably with for the most part only rare ones left to work.

I hope you found that interesting. I certainly did as I was compiling the stats. Along the way I thought I lost a country as my first run showed up as 217 worked instead of 218. However I found I had missed Tuvalu for whatever reason.

Now I have two immediate objectives for the next day or so. Getting my DX for the 28th to complete 365 consecutive days and working W1AW/7 in WA to make it 18/18 in W1AW states. -30-

Wednesday, February 26, 2014 7:28 PM - I went chasing W1AW this afternoon, but didn't have any luck. I did hear W1AW/7 in WA on 10M, but pretty weak with a big pileup. I tried for a while, but soon gave up.

This evening Mike dropped by on his way to the local ham radio club meeting. I'm not a member of the club because they have very little interest in CW. Anyway after he left for the meeting shortly before 0000Z I went to my shack with 4 objectives in mind - get my streak QSO, get my DX streak QSO, work W1AW/0 in KS and W1AW/7. At 0001Z I had the first two objectives done by working CO8LY on 12M. Just before that I heard W1AW/0 on 12M also, but he QRT promptly at 0000Z. He didn't say so, but I thought maybe he was going to QSY to another band or perhaps yield to another operator. Whatever, I searched the bands and found W1AW/0 on 20M. He worked a W0 station. When he finished I called with no result, then immediately repeated my call and got that wonderful response K3WWP 599 KS. So that was objective #3 taken care of by 0005Z. Never did find W1AW/7 this evening though, so that will have to wait till later tonight or maybe tomorrow.

Mike should be returning shortly now, so I'll close. We're going to Subway for a meal, then spend a couple hours together doing who knows what. -30-

Tuesday, February 25, 2014 12:31 PM - I thought I'd write this entry early today to express some joy as we come to the end of a rather joyless month. Of course the weather has been the main reason for the lack of joy. However I was becoming concerned as the end of the month neared about possibly not completing our NAQCC challenges for the first time in quite a while. Things changed this morning as I fired up the rig and the panadapter to find conditions good with quite a lot of activity on 15, 12, and 10 meters. I went to work looking for stations with needed letters in their calls. First off I found Mike F5IN whom I've worked a couple dozen times, mostly in contests. I needed an N for the European challenge and worked him with a single call. That took me down to 8 letters needed and in turn I got the following: 1 P from OK1FPG on 12; 4 As from Villy OZ1AAR along with a nice rag chew on 15; 1 A from 9A3IH on 10. Now it came down to needing 1 T to finish off the European challenge and 3 Ts (I thought) to finish the main NAQCC challenge. I soon found ES1TU and waited through a couple other QSOs he made, then it was my turn. That wound up the European challenge and gave me 2 of the 3 (I thought) needed Ts for the main challenge. However when I checked my challenge sheet I found I also had only needed 1 T to finish it. So with the ES1TU QSO, both challenges were finished, and I came here to the computer to send off my reports.

That was a good way to finish off the month with two more opportunities to make the finish even better. If I work a DX station the last three days of the month, that will make my DX streak 365 consecutive days. Then if I can get the next two W1AW states (WA KS) which will be activated beginning at 0000Z this evening, that will make 18 of 18 W1AW states worked so far this year.

Oh and also as February ends, meteorological spring begins which is also a welcome event. -30-

Monday, February 24, 2014 7:43 PM - I don't really know why conditions are so poor these past several days. The SF is as high as it was earlier in the month when conditions were great. The ionosphere is a bit stormier now than then, but not all that bad. I got on a couple times during the day looking for some European stations to finish up my NAQCC European Chapter challenge, but only heard a couple of weak signals from there. I tried calling EA3DD to get the A, but he was quite weak, and didn't hear me at all. I usually can work him even if he is a bit weak, but not today.

At least my streak QSO came quick and easy this evening. Took but two calls at 0002Z to C6ANM to log him and bring the DX streak to 362 days, with 3 to go for my goal.

The weather turned a bit colder today, but the sun is now high enough in the sky to melt the s#$w even if the air temperature is at or a little below freezing. -30-

Sunday, February 23, 2014 8:14 PM - Conditions were better this evening, but it was still difficult working DX. Sometimes I get on the air, and log a DX station with my first call. Tonight I probably made a few dozen calls to a handful of DX stations without even being heard. Finally I did catch EA8ZS to extend the streak to 361 days. That was on 20 meters. Even 15 was open after 0000Z tonight. I worked W1AW/4 for a new band. I also heard only my second or third Philippines station ever, but too weak to even bother trying to work him.

The telecast of the Olympics closing ceremonies is coming up shortly, so I'm going to close this quickly, get a couple other things done and head next door to watch with Nancy (and Roscoe). -30-

Saturday, February 22, 2014 7:38 PM - It seems that ever since the ARRL DX Test ended, the bands have been just horrible. Last night at one point I didn't see a single peak on 80M on the panadapter from 3500 to at least 3580. Tonight was a real struggle to get any kind of QSO. Of course I was selective in calling stations looking for DX or a station with a needed challenge letter in the call. I chased three different VP9/**** stations on two different bands for about a half hour before finally hooking up with VP9/G3ZAY on 20M to bring the needed days for the DX streak down to five for the 365 day mark. Tomorrow I hope to be able to put in some time on the bands to work on finishing the NAQCC challenges. If the high bands are open to Europe, I may be able to do it. Otherwise, it is going to be a struggle to make it this month.

Weatherwise, another beautiful day. Hey, I even saw my first robin late this afternoon. He was sitting atop a telephone pole kind of surveying the situation maybe wondering if he came back to town too soon or not. Despite getting rid of tons more s#$w today in low-50s degree weather, there is still a lot around. I estimate about 85 percent of my back yard is devoid of s@#w after today, and it's still 40 degrees now, so the melt should continue a while longer.

It was nice enough again to walk downtown to Family Dollar to pick up some needed items. It felt good out there despite a breeze that made it feel a bit cooler than the actual temperature. I think after one more Arctic blast the end of this coming week, we may be over the hump with more and more nice days. -30-

Friday, February 21, 2014 6:52 PM - What a great day today. We had four ingredients that contributed to a blitzkrieg on the remaining s#$w, reducing it much further. An early morning rain kicked things off. Then the rest of the day a mixture of warmth in the upper 40s, wind to circulate the warmth down to the s#$w level, and later in the day, some nice sunshine. Some folks don't understand how wind contributes, so I'll explain briefly for them. With no wind, the air stays in layers with the coldest air at the surface. So even if it is above freezing a few feet above ground, that cold layer at ground level protects the evil s#$w. When the wind blows it helps to mix the layers raising the cold air and lowering the warm air so there is more of homogenous mix of temperatures from the ground up. Anyway it was so nice, I finally broke out of my 'cabin' here and walked downtown for some needing banking and mailing. Sure felt good. Problem is, we're going back in the deep freeze later next week. However most of the heavy s#$w cover should be gone before them and it doesn't look now like any major s#$w storms will accompany the cold.

Time now to go get my streak QSO(s), and I'll come back and report on the results.

The streaks continue. I grabbed W1AW/4 on 30 just for insurance. Then I got my DX QSO in the form of CO6RD on 20. While in the shack it was nice to look out the window and see only a thin layer of s#$w left on my porch roof in places. There was probably around 10-12 inches on the whole roof there just a few days ago. -30-

Thursday, February 20, 2014 8:07 PM - We've had two great days in a row here. The s#$w has really taken a beating as temperatures have been in the neighborhood of 50 degrees both days. A well deserved beating after the beating it has given us for just about a solid month now. What a delight it is to just sit and watch the s#$w melt. Not to mention seeing the huge collection of icicles disappear from my gutters. There's still a lot left of the ground, but two more supposedly mild days will knock that back further. Not to mention some rain thrown in as well.

As great as the weather has been the bands have been equally bad. The ionosphere is pretty disturbed right now and the bands show it. I thought I'd get on during the day the past couple days to try to finish off my NAQCC challenges, but there was almost nary a European station to be heard anywhere the times I was on. If things don't pick up soon, I may miss completing the challenges, especially the European one, in quite some time now. At least the DX streak has made it through the period of bad conditions. Last night it was PJ2/W9NJY and tonight VP9/G7VJR on 30 meters. That leaves but 7 more days to make my goal of a year (365 days) with a DX QSO. -30-

Wednesday, February 19, 2014 7:51 PM - Just eight days to go now for my DX streak to reach one full year of 365 days. Thanks to YN2NC earlier today and PJ2/W9NJY this evening for the latest two days. Both came quickly and easily despite the very poor conditions as a result of an A index of 47, the highest I've seen in quite a while now.

And that's it, except to refer you to the story of my ARRL DX contest here which I wrote this morning if you're interested. -30-

Tuesday, February 18, 2014 8:36 PM - That didn't take long. At 0014 I had both of the W1AW states in my log - FL on 17M and MI on 80M. So I've got a week off now of searching for W1AW. No DX this evening though, so again that will have to come in the morning or afternoon as it did today. I worked a couple of Italians in the 14Z hour - IK4VFD and I1YRL. The first on 10M, second on 15M. There wasn't a lot of DX around, but at least I added another day to the DX streak, leaving 10 now to make it to my goal of 365 days.

Fortunately our s#$w storm fizzled out last night. Instead of 4-6 inches, we got perhaps just a bit over 1. Then later today it got up to 41 degrees and it was a delight to see the s#$w melting. That pleasant view should continue the next few days now with 40+ degree temperatures. -30-

Monday, February 17, 2014 9:25 PM - Mike and I had another good day today. He left a little early to beat the s#$w storm coming later this evening. So I'll give a brief summary of what we did today.

When he got here, I first gave him his copy of the certificate we both earned in the Skeeter Sprint last summer. Then we took care of some NAQCC prizes that we will be awarding in our NAQCC 10th Anniversary sprint in October. Next off to the shack to work some DX. The bands were rather empty today, but we did manage some DX and Mike worked the W1AW/6 and W1AW/9 stations in two sessions separated by a visit to Ponderosa for a mid-day meal. I don't remember all that Mike worked. Most were stations I didn't need so I didn't work them except for JW/DL5CW whom we both worked. He also worked Z35LC on 12M for one that I remember. I think he also got J38XX. Then we had a pizza from Vocelli's this evening following a visit with Nancy and Bruce. To close out the day we watched another episode of the British comedy Doctor In The House. All is all a full and enjoyable day once more.

Now I'm going over to watch some more Olympics with Nancy. -30-

Sunday, February 16, 2014 8:27 PM - Fun, fun, fun! Love those big DX contests! I fell a little short of my goal, but still had a ton of fun. I wound up with 480 QSOs from 76 countries. A total of 191 band-countries. I'm not going to say much more about the contest as I plan to write one of my contest stories about it.

I did find out that N1MM is a great contest logging program. Easy to learn and easy to use. I'll probably be using it for most of my contesting from now on, although I may still use GenLog for our NAQCC sprints unless N1MM has a template for them. Having learned it just before the contest, I still have a lot to learn about the extended features it has.

Tomorrow Mike is visiting. I'm looking forward to that as we haven't gotten together for around a month now. Maybe he'll be a ghost-writer of the diary tomorrow evening. HI. -30-

Saturday, February 15, 2014 8:47 PM - Conditions this morning were great again, but they kind of deteriorated by mid-late afternoon. Ten meters was the star early in the day. It just never wanted to quit. Signals would drop off a bit, but then bounce right back solid quickly. I don't have a breakdown by bands right now but I may have gotten somewhere around 90 QSOs on ten meters. 15 was next best, then 20 and 40. 80 showed nothing at all last night around midnight. I had hoped to make it to 300 QSOs on day one, but fell short with 282. Then I only added 11 more after 0000Z this evening. Far short of what I did last evening even considering there naturally were a lot of stations I already worked. I'm hoping for a good morning and afternoon tomorrow. If that happens, I hope to hit 500 QSOs, but it will be a stretch as that Dupe! shows up all to often on N1MM. HI

Not much else to say now. I think I may write a story about the contest to add to my contest stories collection. Just about time to get my weather readings, then I think I'll head next door for a break and watch the Olympics for a while. Maybe I'll try 40 and 80 again around midnight or so. -30-

Friday, February 14, 2014 9:08 PM - The ARRL gave a party and a lot of folks were late arriving. At least that's what the ARRL DX contest seemed like tonight. I started off at 0000Z and for quite a while I could work just about anyone I called. A lot of the first hour usual heavy competition didn't seem to be there. 20 and 15 were both working just great and continued that way until I took a break at 0200Z. However the usual party goers showed up about 45 minutes into the first hour and the competition became its usual fierce self.

I started off immediately working EA6FO easily on 20 at 0001Z. I'm not going to list everyone I worked, but I am going to list 6 stations including EA6FO, and you can figure where I'm going with this. At 0009Z it was CN2AA on 20. Next listed station TI5W at 0011Z. Do you have a clue now? HK1NA came in the next minute. Then I went to 15 for a while and worked KH6MB at 0025Z. The last of the six came a minute later in the form of RT0C. Get the picture? WAC in 26 minutes. However after studying my log, I can narrow that down to an even quicker WAC. I see a WAC in 6 QSOs in a row between 0025 and 0034 - KH6MB RT0C NP2N CS2C CR3L P40W. Nine minutes may be my quickest ever WAC. More research needed, but not now.

That sure was an enjoyable first couple hours of contesting. The first hour being the most fun with around 30 QSOs for one of the best starts I've probably had in a big DX contest. I wonder what conditions will be like during the day tomorrow and Sunday. I wonder if 10 will open up good. I know it will have activity as it always does in big contests, but I wonder just how much. I did have problems working Japan this evening though. Only one of several JAs I called heard me at all, and the QSO took a bit of repeating to complete.

This was my first time using the N1MM contest program. It seems that GenLog somehow conflicts with my panadapter, so today I thought I'd download, install, and learn N1MM. It gets along perfectly with the panadapter, and was not hard to learn at all. I'll probably be using it in most of my contesting from now on, since having the panadapter as a sidekick really makes scanning the bands a lot easier.

Now I'm going to watch some Olympics as Nancy just called and invited me over. Maybe later tonight I'll give 40 and 80 a try. 40 was good already. I ran off about 8 or so QSOs there so far. -30-

Thursday, February 13, 2014 8:38 PM - I spent quite a bit of time today processing NAQCC sprint logs. We're up to 106 so far this month, and the more initial preparation I can get done, the less time it takes for the cross-checking Sunday evening or Monday morning. The weather is too miserable to go outside anyway so that helped pass the time and ease the cabin fever.

Then I took some time out this afternoon to go hunting W1AW/6. The hunt was successful as I found them on 15M and it took but a single call to get them in the log. So that's now 14/14 in W1AW states. Let's see what two states are next starting on the 19th. MI and FL, both of which should be easy. Actually all 14 so far have been easy. Oh and I might add, as most of you already know, I never use any kind of spotting to find out where they (or anyone else) are operating. I just get on the air, tune in the peaks I see on the panadapter to see who is who, and go from there. I think spotting has really ruined some aspects of ham radio, but I'm not going to dwell on that here.

This evening another quick DX QSO as has been par for the past several days now. Tonight it was FG/DJ2BC on 30 meters presumably setting up for the ARRL DX test this weekend. Hey, that means my DX streak is a virtual lock to extend two more days now. HI. That will be 353 days down and 12 to go to reach my goal.

Well, a few more little things to do, then over to Nancy's to watch some more olympics. -30-

Wednesday, February 12, 2014 9:26 PM - I got home from a computer club meeting a little while ago, took my weather readings, and headed to the shack where I just about immediately worked J38XX on 20 meters. Then a few minutes later added V26M while looking for W1AW/6 whom I never did find. I also looked this afternoon and did find him, but couldn't break the pileup which for a while sounded like a little smaller version of the FT5ZM pileups. I did work CE2/CX1EK for an unusual combo call sign and then CN2PM with a single call. Yes, DX conditions are good currently.

Oh, I did get W1AW/9 last night just before our NAQCC sprint, but once again for the sprint my local noise was almost intolerable. I had to struggle to get 34 QSOs despite good propagation conditions.

The computer club meeting went well. I gave a demonstration on Windows 8 and for once I think everyone was interested. Usually whoever is doing the demonstration gets interrupted by folks tallking or butting in to ask questions that should have waited till after the demo. However that didn't happen tonight, and I think everyone learned something about Windows 8. Perhaps even some who didn't like the O/S had their minds changed tonight when I showed all the great 8 features.

A few more things to do, then I think I'll go over and watch some Olympics with Nancy. -30-

Tuesday, February 11, 2014 7:46 PM - I heard both of the new W1AW states (CA WI) already, but so did a lot of other folks and I didn't feel like sitting there trying to get them since shortly I'll be sitting at the key for two hours in our NAQCC sprint. Both were very strong and I'm sure I won't have any trouble getting them before their tour of duty ends next Tuesday.

I did get my DX QSO quickly once again working CO6RD on 30 meters with but a single call. So the 365 day mark creeps another day closer now.

Well, I have some things to get done before the sprint so I better get to them. -30-

Monday, February 10, 2014 7:46 PM - Well, it's down to 17 days now, both till spring and 365 days of DX depending on counting local time days or UTC days. I'm starting to wonder now if I do make it to 365 days with the DX streak, do I want to continue beyond that or not. I'll have to give that some thought between now and then.

At least the next couple weeks should provide some easy DX with the stations setting up for the ARRL DX test, then the test itself, followed by those who linger at their contest locations giving out extra QSOs. Tonight for example I worked KP2/W1UJ on 30 meters whom I'm sure is in the Virgin Islands for the contest. Incidentally I used the U in his call for the NAQCC challenge and now need only three Ts to finish that up. The NAQCC European Chapter challenge is going a bit slower. I still need around ten letters/numbers to finish up that one. I just haven't been getting on in the mornings when EU is coming through good and strong. -30-

Sunday, February 09, 2014 7:58 PM - Can spring be coming soon? Well, maybe not weather-wise, but maybe propagation-wise. I had a solid QSO with RA0AY in Achinsk, Asiatic Russia on 20M this evening. That's something that rarely happens in winter. In fact I got curious and did some research.

I have 174 QSOs with Asiatic Russia. 120 of those are on 20 meters. Of those 120, NONE came in December or January. Then I filtered down a bit further to only non-contest QSOs, of which there were 50 on 20 meters. By months they are distributed as follows:

Jan - 0
Feb - 3
Mar - 5
Apr - 15
May - 6
Jun - 2
Jul - 1
Aug - 6
Sep - 10
Oct - 1
Nov - 2
Dec - 0

A graph of those figures would show that close to the Vernal and Autumnal Equinox are the best times for me to work Asiatic Russia on 20 meters. Of the three February QSOs, tonight's was the earliest in that month.

So with that QSO, my DX streak is extended to 347 days. I also worked a bit of DX this afternoon in the form of YL2BJ and got the final B for the NAQCC European Chapter challenge as a result.

Another thing of interest this evening was trying to work LZ1JL on 30M. He tried and tried to copy me, then finally said there was just too much echo on my signals. I think that's the first time I've ever been told my signals had an echo to them. I thought that was just for QRO signals.

A bit of diary feedback. A few entries ago I mentioned K3LWP, and Glenn K3SWZ emailed this, "Hi John, K3LWP was from Harrisburg and went SK over 10 years ago and he never operated HF... Took his own life!! Sad time... He would be in his late 60's today... 73 de Glenn, K3SWZ"

Indeed, that is sad. -30-

Saturday, February 08, 2014 7:28 PM - Another rather quick DX QSO this evening although I had to call ZZ80PE several times before he got to me. That was on 30 meters which had a lot of good DX (and non-DX) signals on it this evening. I also got two Es from that call for the NAQCC challengs leaving only four needed to finish it off. I had hoped to get some EU DX during the day for the NAQCC European Chapter challenge, but I got involved in some other things like doing my Federal and State taxes and never did get on the air till this evening. -30-

Friday, February 07, 2014 7:23 PM - DX day #345 got taken care of quickly with a QSO from ZF2DS on 20M. Took but a single call at 0007Z. It's nice to see springtime conditions creeping slowly onto the bands as they (especially the higher ones) are staying open later and later now. I even heard a couple (weak) signals on 12 meters in the 0000Z hour this evening.

I haven't gotten on during the daylight hours the past couple days, but I think I will try tomorrow and see if I can get some more letters/numbers toward the NAQCC challenges.

Right now, if I'm right, I think the Olympics opening ceremony is coming on, and I'm going over to watch it with Nancy. -30-

Thursday, February 06, 2014 5:12 PM - I'm waiting for a big download, so I thought I'd put the time to use and write my diary entry for today. Or at least the first part of it. I may add more later if events warrant which probably won't happen.

As the Northern Hemisphere of the Earth tilts more and more towards the sun, the heating power of the sun shows a noticeable increase. I noticed a really good s#$w melt from my roof today even though the air temperature was only around 30. Also some tentative good news for this weekend. It looks like there won't be another major storm, but only some light s#$w. Most of the worst will be out in the Atlantic Ocean. Let's hope that outlook is an accurate one.

There was no doubt today. I got a solid K3WWP 599 HI from W1AW/KH6 around 2100Z on 15 meters. Found him and worked him right after two or three other stations. He got my call right away with no repeats. So that's 12 for 12 now with W1AW states. Up next starting on the 12th CA and WI.

My download just finished. Or at least one of the two I had going, so I'll close for now and upload this diary entry. -30-

Wednesday, February 05, 2014 8:26 PM - There is one (and probably only one) good thing about s#$w. It's better than freezing rain. We lucked out and missed the freezing rain that really crippled parts of central and eastern PA. I heard early this morning that some 400,000 homes were without power and the storm was still venting its fury then. We got only s#$w here - about 7 inches worth. Some of that melted as the temperature went up to the mid 30s in the wake of the storm. There is still entirely too much around though, and I'll have to look at the ugly stuff for a while as it is supposed to be quite cold for the next week or maybe 10 days now. Bah, Humbug!

Did he or didn't he? I'm talking about KH6LC who was operating W1AW/KH6 today. I'm sure I worked him, but I'm not sure if he logged me correctly. The last time he sent 'my' call, he sent K3LWP. There is no K3LWP listed in the FCC records, so it had to be me he worked. Perhaps he just forgot to make that final correction to my call. I do that occasionally in the heat of contests and fail to correct a call. Anyway, I'm going to work him again (if I can) to be sure.

Now the story with GA is different. I 'stole' a QSO with W1AW/4 in GA this afternoon. Found him working simplex on 20 meters and noticed his pileup was growing. I couldn't break it, but I just figured he was going to switch to split any moment now. So I set up the KX3 for split, but called him once more in simplex with no luck. Then right on cue he did go split. I punched the split button, and was the second station he worked split. No doubt this time as he clearly (and strongly) sent K3WWP 599 GA. So that's 11 and maybe 12 of the 12 states activated so far in the W1AW/ARRL centennial celebration.

Of course W1AW/KH6 would have been my streak QSO, both regular and DX, but since I wasn't positive about the QSO, I easily worked HC2AO on 30 meters to extend the streaks.

Oh and also late this afternoon, I heard N1HEL calling CQ on 17 meters. Since I needed the letters N E and L for the NAQCC challenge, I called him, and we wound up having a nice rag chew talking about QRP, Elecraft, a comparison of our weather (he was in California), and some other things. -30-

Tuesday, February 04, 2014 7:58 PM - Several goals accomplished today including getting both streaks updated through Feb 5 (UTC) as we await the big s#$w/rain/sleet/freezing rain storm overnight tonight. Hope we make it through OK. If you don't see a diary entry here tomorrow evening it will have something to do with the storm.

The bands were alive with DX early this morning. I worked DL1DGS HK1MK OM3EY RN22YY SC2014ECC ZF35LC HA8DM. This evening KA2KGP and XE1RZL. In the process I added 30 letters to our NAQCC challenge and 17 letters/numbers to the NAQCC European Chapter challenge. Now I need only 10 and 12 respectively to finish up. Also some nice prefixes in the bunch. About the only goal I didn't accomplish was to work W1AW in their two new states. I heard W1AW/4 GA weakly on 20 with a big pile so didn't even try to work him. -30-

Monday, February 03, 2014 8:10 PM - I heard something unusual on the bands tonight. W1AW/0 going begging for calls on 30 meters. So I worked them for my streak QSO since my previous W1AW/0 - MN QSO was on 17 meters. Only a few DX stations heard this evening. One sloppy sending poor operator, one station I'd already worked too many times, and another with a pile-up I couldn't break. So I've just put out my little note by the computer here to remind me to get my DX QSO in the morning or afternoon.

Looks like another nasty s#$w storm coming Tuesday night. Maybe mixed with sleet and rain. At least quite a bit of the ground is bare now so it's not like we'll be adding more to what is already there. So that's one bright spot.

If you recall, Mike KC2EGL and I did a multi-op setup with the NAQCC club call N3AQC for the NJQRP Skeeter Hunt last summer. Well, today we got rewarded for our effort with this:

pix_diary_20140203_001 (75K)


Sunday, February 02, 2014 10:54 PM - It's kind of late as I write this, so I'm going to make it brief. I was watching the last part of the Super Bowl with Bruce and Nancy. The magnitude of the victory was a real shock - even more so when you look at the stats of the game which were pretty close except for turnovers.

It was another warmish day today and we lost some more s#$w (good riddance). It's good to be seeing green in my yards again.

The bands seemed in good shape this evening with more than the usual number of good strong signals on 80 through 30. Tomorrow should be good with a SF of 190 and A index of 4. I might do some work on the NAQCC European Chapter challenge if other things don't get in the way. I got my DX QSO for the day already from J79JG on 30 meters making it 340 days in a row now. With stations getting ready for the ARRL DX test, working DX should be fairly easy the next couple weeks now barring disaster of some kind. So it looks fairly good for making it to 365 days. -30-

Saturday, February 01, 2014 6:54 PM - Another pretty nice day today that got rid of some more of the ugly s#$w. Temperature peaked at 44 degrees and is now 37. In looking at the January weather figures, it was a month of extremes. There were 7 days with a low of zero or below. Nine days is the record in my data since 1959. In January 1977, February 1979, and December 1989. The month averaged nearly 5 degrees below normal. Had it not been for the lovely week or so long warm spell in the middle of the month, things could have been a lot worse.

Just a couple minutes now till time to go try to get my streak QSOs. I had fun on 12 meters today working on the NAQCC European Chapter challenge. I got about a third of all the letters and numbers needed when I worked OH4MDY, IK0FUX, and IK3VUT, all on 12 meters. I was thinking it might be fun to try to master the challenge with just 12 meters QSOs. I don't know if I'll do it or not though.

Well, it's 2359Z now, so I'm off to the shack. -30-

Friday, January 31, 2014 7:45 PM - What a lovely day today. Temperatures in the low 40s causing an absolutely gorgeous s#$w melt. My roof is now almost 100% green again instead of an ugly white. I loved watching drops of water falling from my gutters and awnings. Such sights really cheer up the heart.

It was so nice that Nancy, Bruce, Jeff, and I went out for a nice fish buffet dinner at Ponderosa. We'd been wanting to do that for some time now, but the ugly weather prohibited it.

I finally heard FT5ZM tonight instead of only hearing the pileup working him. The pileup was still many kHz wide, and I didn't feel like trying to figure out where to call, but had I hit a clear spot I'm sure I could have worked him as he was fairly strong on 30 meters.

Instead I settled for a regular QSO, opting to try for my DX QSO in the morning or afternoon. I worked N7GBH Tom in NJ on 80 meters and had a nice chat. -30-

Thursday, January 30, 2014 6:47 PM - I thought I'd write my diary entry a bit early tonight. The bitter cold weather has broken here. After a low of -5 this morning, it rose to the low-mid 30s by afternoon. Updating the low for yesterday - it was -14 on my outdoor min/max thermometer so that tied for the eighth coldest reading I've seen since I started taking observations way back in 1959. It also looks like January's mean temperature is going to be the greatest negative departure from normal in a good long string of months now. More on that after I get all the January data in.

As you see from the time stamp, it's about 10 minutes till I head to the shack to add another day to my streaks. Meanwhile this afternoon I was doing something else in my shack and had the laptop there so I decided to fire up the rig and look for W1AW/0. First I found W1AW/5 - didn't need them - then not long after I found W1AW/0 on 17 meters and after they worked someone else, I got them to complete all 10 activated states so far. Next up GA and HI. The op for HI is KH6LC whom I work regularly so hopefully it won't be a problem. Georgia should be very easy.

I just finished up getting my sheets ready for the NAQCC February challenges. It'll be great to be working on challenges again as the last half of January didn't provide all that much to work for other than our sprints and of course chasing the W1AW stations. And naturally getting my streak QSOs which should go without saying. HI. -30-

Wednesday, January 29, 2014 7:47 PM - Thirteen below this morning ties the record for the latest in winter it's been that cold since my record keeping started in 1959. It was -14 on January 29, 1963. The -13 is from my remote unit. It may be a degree colder or warmer when I get my 'official' readings outside at 9:00 PM. If the low is actually -13, then it ties for the 11th coldest day in my records as shown here:
-21 1/20/94
-20 1/22/85
-18 1/22/94
-18 1/17/82
-17 1/21/84
-16 1/24/63
-15 1/21/85
-14 1/22/84
-14 1/29/63
-14 12/24/89
-13 1/18/09
-13 1/13/77

If it was -12 then it ties for the 13th coldest: if -14 the 8th coldest. At any rate it was cold to be sure.

Back to ham radio now. Once again as with two days ago, my QSO came quickly with ZF2BJ, but this time on 17 meters. I found W1AW/0 in MN, but just as I found him, he signed and said QSY, but not QSY to where. I looked around and didn't find him again anywhere. Maybe he went to some other non-K3WWP mode. As easy as it is to work MN, if I find him again and he doesn't leave, it should be easy to get him. -30-

Tuesday, January 28, 2014 8:47 PM - A quick double dip this evening added to the streaks. First I found the higher bands were open after 0000Z up through 15 meters. So I thought I'd look for W1AW/# from their two new states, MN and TX. I found them on 17 from TX. They were having some log (I believe) problems and told everyone to wait. I guess most of the pile didn't, but I did and it paid off with an easy QSO when they started up again. I heard MN also, but weak with a big pile so I'll put them off till tomorrow or the next day. Then I went looking for DX. Found CN8KD in Morocco on 30, but they went QRT just after I found them. Then YN9SU turned up on 30 and I got him with but a single call for DX day 335 now.

I got another weather related email from my friend Bob K9OSC who says: "Hi John: Just wanted to make you feel a little better about the weather. I know you have an aversion to the snow and cold (don't we all). I understand that you folks have had some weather lately, but in comparison I would be glad to trade...ha.
Up here this is the temperature lineup:
Tonight: -22F
Tues. High : -2F
Tues. Night: -9F
Wed. High: 23F
Wed. Night: 8F
Thu. High: 9F
Thu. Night: -9F
Today we started at -17F in Fridley and our high was -6F. We had snow on Friday evening and again on Saturday evening. Winds yesterday were at 40 mph gusts for most of the late afternoon and during the night. We have more than 19 inches of snow on the ground and the piles or snow are getting high enough that I have to arc the snow blower discharge high to get over them. We are so below our norms here that we hardly know what they should be...ha.
At least the one salvation is that band conditions have not been all that bad the past several days. I read some comical comments on the Elecraft Reflector regarding the Ascension Island station you referred to in your Journal. The pileup was huge and when I looked at it on my P3 scope I could hardly believe what I saw. Just a huge arc of stations up to 10 KHz. wide all calling, but not in unison. I headed up the 40 meter band and had a 50 minute QRP QSO with a fellow in Iowa. Just a great time. I sure hope that all of us can see some warmer weather one of these days. It sure would be nice, wouldn't it. Take care. 72, Bob - K9OSC"

I think the huge pileups I've been hearing are for the FT5ZM Amsterdam Island dxpedition although I did hear a ZD8 station this evening with a small pileup.

Our temperature here today was -9F with a high of 12 so the temperatures are not all that far different except for the -22 and -17 there. Also the s#$w is much worse there. We have probably 5-6 inches here which is still 5-6 inches too much. Can't wait to see the green grass again, hopefully in a week or two. -30-

Monday, January 27, 2014 7:16 PM - Now that was quick. Turned on the rig and the panadapter, took a quick glance at 15, 17, and 20, found nothing there. Then I glanced at 30, saw a strong peak near the right edge of the panadapter, tuned in, found it was ZF2BJ calling CQ, sent my call once, got a 589, sent a 599 and my main and DX streaks continued for one more day. Shut down, and came here to write this.

Earlier in the day it was pretty much the same story with LZ1375PRB on 15 meters.

Got a nice email from a fellow winter-hater that I'll share with you now. Dave W0CH emails, "Hi John: Like you, I am a winter hater. But the one ray of hope that I look forward to each year is the date when the world starts to warm up. Today is that day! According to the weather site, on January 27th, the mean temperature is one degree higher than the lowest for the year. Here's the data for your QTH: http://www.weather.com/weather/climatology/daily/16201?climoMonth=1 I realize that it has little bearing on the actual weather outside my door, (it's 18F here as I write this) but I feel better knowing that we have turned the corner and are headed in the right direction! I seldom miss your daily diary reports. Thank you for keeping us all informed on your activities! 73, Dave Bixler W0CH Seneca, MO"

Thanks Dave. That is a very smoothed curve of average temperatures, and if you look at a less smoothed curve, the average temperature does start to go up here, but then there is another drop back of one degree or so early in February before the true warm-up starts. It really depends on how many consecutive days are averaged to get the normals. I'm not sure how many the weather channel uses for their charts. Maybe someday in the diary I'll provide some concrete figures to show the different daily normals based on different number of days averaged.

Nonetheless, that is encouraging news, and you can also note from the same table that the sunset is now 40 minutes later than its earliest around December 7th of 4:50PM. Today it's 5:30PM. Also by observing the sunlight on my kitchen wall, you can notice it is getting higher in the sky each day now and thus gaining some heating power as well. There are all kind of encouraging signs that pop up just about every day that point toward the ending of this dreadful season. -30-

Sunday, January 26, 2014 8:12 PM - I've heard some big wide pileups in my 50 years of hamming, but tonight's takes the cake. The FT5 station has taken over virtually all of the CW territory on 40 and 20 meters. Kind of like playing Russian Roulette trying to work them. You give your dial a spin and shoot off your call hoping you'll connect. I guess it's not totally like RR, since in that case I guess you don't want to connect. HI.

So instead of trying to find a space to work someone and not wanting to enter the game of RR, I found W1AW/5 on 30 and worked them for my streak QSO since I previously worked them on 17M and it wasn't a dupe QSO.

Tomorrow I'll go DX hunting in the late morning/early afternoon and hopefully will find someone for DX day 333. -30-

Saturday, January 25, 2014 7:13 PM - Well, that didn't take long this evening. Worked W1AW/2 on 40 meters for state #8 from W1AW so far. Haven't missed any. Of course that extended the regular streak. Then a couple minutes later, I worked TM1T in the REF contest on 40M to extend the DX streak to 332 days. Now I can hibernate tomorrow, and it's a good day for that. We got socked today with about 5 inches of the ugly stuff that falls during the miserable winter months. Tonight we'll get a preview of what Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday will be. It will be around zero tonight. Then after it hits the 20s tomorrow, that's the last we'll see of anything out of the low teens till Friday. Miserable!!! and very depressing to say the least. -30-

Friday, January 24, 2014 8:23 PM - My DX this morning came easily from S57AW. Took a single call to get Bob in my log for DX day 330. You know it's somewhat fitting that if I do make it to a full year - 365 days - then day 365 will come on the last day of the worst season of the year. That will make a fitting welcome to the first day of spring the following day, as if that wonderful day needed any other kind of welcome.

This evening I used the 160M contest for a quick streak QSO working K8MFO. I heard only one DX station - XE1/VE7BDI whom I just worked two evenings ago, so I didn't try for him, opting instead to wait till the morning or afternoon. With the SF in the 130s and a quiet ionosphere plus it being a weekend it should be easy to get some DX. -30-

Thursday, January 23, 2014 9:06 PM - Nine degrees as I type this with a very cold several days coming up. It just gets more and more depressing. I didn't even feel much like getting into our NAQCC 160M sprint tonight so I just put in a token appearance making two quick QSOs and shutting down. No DX this evening so again it will have to come in the morning or afternoon if the streak is to go on to day #330. -30-

Wednesday, January 22, 2014 7:15 PM - A day of extremes in DX today. I thought sure my DX streak was at an end today. I got on several times this morning and afternoon to find the bands pretty much devoid of any DX strong enough to override my typical high local noise level. There was one - FM5WD - but everyone in the world seems to still need Martinique and I just couldn't get through the pileup to get him. It was looking more and more hopeless. Finally after the fourth or fifth session, I heard a not too strong OE/DJ7PR on 20M and gave a call not expecting a reply, but he came back on the first call and I breathed a sigh of relief as the streak was extended another day now and getting closer to my goal of 365 days.

By contrast this evening, I fired up the rig and the panadapter at 0000Z and had my DX QSO at 0001Z when I worked XE1/VE7BDI. It wasn't as solid as the OE QSO and I had to repeat my call a couple times, but it wound up a solid QSO for DX day 329.

Oh also earlier today I snagged my 7th W1AW/# state easily working W1AW/5 in OK. I couldn't find W1AW/2 in NY though - the other state in the pair this 7 day period. But I will get it. If I don't, there will be a second shot at NY later in the year. I usually don't have much interest in such special event stations, especially the 1X1 calls, but I find it a lot of fun to chase the really meaningful W1AW stations. After all they are celebrating something really important in ham radio - the 100th anniversary of the ARRL. I'm definitely going to try my best to get all 50 states. -30-

Tuesday, January 21, 2014 9:07 PM - Thanks to Mike for writing the diary entry yesterday. We had a really great day together as usual. It's rare to have two folks who have such a wide spectrum of similar interests as we do.

While we were checking the bands and chasing DX, I managed to finish up both NAQCC Challenges along the way when I finally found a couple stations with Rs and 7s in their calls and easily worked them.

Today early this morning (1422Z) I worked my first Russian in a while now when I got RU3ZL on 15 meters. So add yet another day to the DX streak. Other than that, I didn't get on the bands any more until this evening instead doing some work around the house as well as getting things ready for our NAQCC 160M sprint this Thursday evening.

We're in for a cold remainder of the week spilling over into next week as well. Not many days getting out of the teens, but thank goodness it looks like there won't be much s#$w along with the cold. If that comes to pass, it won't be so unbearable. -30-

Monday, January 20, 2014 7:12 PM - Good evening everyone. Today John is taking the day off from his diary. If you are a regular reader of his diary you know who this is. The day started out around 14:30Z when I arrived at Johns QTH. We caught up on a few happenings since my last visit Christmas night. After our little chat we headed up to his shack to check on the DX and special event station hunting. I worked the W1AW/0 on 15 and 20M and W1AW/3 on 30M. We also mixed in a little DX. In between checking out the bands we did some minor repair work on the controller for my Schmidt/Cass telescope. The display panel had worked its way loose so I attemepted to re-seat it with some rubber cement. I will find out if it has set proplerly when I get home. I am not up to hauling that wonderful beast around just yet. I have had my left leg in a Cam Walker Air Boot since just before Christmas. I had a walking accident while delivering mail and suffered a nasty bone bruise on the inside of the left ankle and a tear in a tendon on the outside of the ankle. Since I am restricted to carrying less than 10 pounds trying to haul a 60 pound telescope around is out of the questtion.

We took a lunch break around 17:30Z at Wendy's. By far one of the best of the burger chains. After that John needed to make a Walmart run. We followed that up by heading back to his shack for some more air time. Just prior to me writing this we watched a episode of 'Doctor In The House'. A very funny British Comedy from the early 1970's. We also took a picture of the two of us sporting our new NAQCC WPA Chapter hats. They look quite nice.

pix_diary_20140120_001 (56K)

Since I am on limited duty at work I will have to head back home much earlier than I normally do. So until next time 73 Mike KC2EGL -30-

Sunday, January 19, 2014 9:30 PM - I managed to work the Get Well Michael Schumacher station DM45SCHUMI with a single call this morning on 15 meters. That QSO also spurred me to get back into following Formula 1 again. I spent quite a bit of time today getting caught up on what happened on that circuit in 2013. I got pretty well involved back in 2012, but didn't renew the interest in 2013 until today. I see that Sebastian Vettel who was a favorite of mine in 2012 won 13 races last year - the last nine of them in a row. Now at a very young age of around 27 or so, he already has 39 F1 victories, just two behind my all-time idol Ayrton Senna. As you probably know, Ayrton was killed in a race near the peak of his racing career and undoubtedly would have many more than 41 victories had fate been kinder. For one thing, I don't think Michael Schumacher would have the 91 wins he does have and Senna might be ahead of Alain Prost also. But that's all what if? I would say Vettel (barring accident) should shoot past Senna early this year and possibly pass Prost later in the year.

I also found something else interesting about F1 today. Starting this year, a driver can pick a number that he keeps for his total career. Although Vetter picked #5, he'll be sporting #1 for this year as the 2013 champion.

This evening for my streak I worked KC2QKU. Hopefully my DX will come in the morning or afternoon when Mike KC2EGL is here and we both engage in some 'tag team' DXing. -30-

Saturday, January 18, 2014 8:04 PM - Yet one more special event station to mention. I worked W4V on 80 this evening. It's in honor of two of the country's greatest Generals - Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. Two brilliant strategists who of course fought for the Confederate States of America in the Civil War.

I got involved in some house cleaning and other things today and never did get on the bands till this evening. That leaves me until 2100Z Sunday to try to catch DM45SCHUMI which I would really like to do. At any rate I will have to work some DX in the morning or afternoon to keep the DX streak going. -30-

Friday, January 17, 2014 7:21 PM - This is certainly a great month for special event stations. I just heard a new one a few minutes ago on 80M - DM45SCHUMI - a get well Michael Schumacher station. Those of you who follow Formula One auto racing will know what that is all about. In case you don't, Michael suffered severe head injuries in a skiing accident on December 29 and has been in an induced coma since then. The station is to be active on all bands this weekend so I will certainly try to work them. I called several times this evening on 80M with no sign of being heard at all.

Then of course there is the W1AW WAS marathon in which W1AW/# will be activated from all 50 states - 2 different states each 7 days which means each state will be activated twice during the 100th anniversary year of the ARRL. So far they have been in 6 states and I've worked all 6. Here is a link to the full 2014 operating schedule for the W1AW/# stations. I certainly will be trying to get my W1AW WAS, and it shouldn't be all that hard as the ones operating the stations are top notch CW operators, many if not most are great contest operators with great station setups.

The ARRL also has many other special operations planned not only this month, but throughout the year. Just check the ARRL web site for full details.

Another operation is from Sweden celebrating the town of Umea as European Capital of Culture 2014. Callsigns are in the form of S*2014ECC where the * represents 9 different letters - B C D E F G H I J. I've gotten the SJ call so far.

DX was quite good again this morning and in addition to adding the non-DX W1AW/0 station from NE to my log, I also worked YT9M for the official streak QSO of day #323 and HA0NAR to get a couple more of those elusive Rs for the NAQCC challenges.

I also easily got a DX QSO for day 324 this evening from HC6/AL4Q. It looks like Gus is on a special event kick of his own activating different South American prefixes. That's the third different one I've gotten from him now. That was on 30 meters.

I think this weekend, or maybe Monday when Mike KC2EGL visits, I'm going to definitely try for the Michael Schumacher station plus trying to finish up our NAQCC challenges. The next W1AW states (NY and OK) won't be active till Wednesday the 22nd. Well, the Schumacher station will only be active Saturday and part of Sunday. -30-

Thursday, January 16, 2014 9:43 PM - Continued good conditions on all the high bands in the Noon EST time frame. I heard PD1DX calling CQ on 10M, but before I had a chance to try him, he disappeared. However tuning down to 20M a little later, there he was calling CQ there and I worked him easily after he worked two other stations. That made day # 322 in the DX streak.

This evening I had a nice rag chew with Ed AB8DF. We talked quite a bit about our DXploits and it was interesting to note the similarities in our situations. We both have trouble working SE Asia, but can easily work VK/ZL and JA. Then as an insurance QSO I again worked W1AW/3 in DE. I wasn't completely positive about our first QSO a couple evenings ago. Still need to work W1AW/0 in NE to complete all six states activated so far. Didn't even hear them this evening.

I think my cold is finally winding down. I'm pretty much just a little hoarse right now which is usually the last stage in my 4 or 5 day run of a cold. -30-

Wednesday, January 15, 2014 10:59 PM - Yet another set of horrid conditions for our NAQCC sprint this evening. That's about 4 or 5 in a row now. I did manage 27 QSOs through the QRN, QSB, not to mention not feeling well because of my cold.

Right now I'm going to update my web pages and my computer log, then head to bed early again as I did last night.

Oh, my DX streak QSO came easily this morning on 17 meters when I worked Sam S51WO. -30-

Tuesday, January 14, 2014 9:33 PM - I didn't get much sleep last night because of my cold. I got my DX QSO this morning the old fashioned way - sans panadapter. Just tuned around and found IK4VFD and worked him fairly easily on 15 meters. This evening, it was another W1AW QSO - this time /3 from DE for state #7. Also heard them in NE, but couldn't break the pileup.

Tomorrow evening is our NAQCC sprint. I sure hope conditions are better than recently and for our last couple sprints. If my cold is still bothering me, I may just make a token appearance in the sprint and quit early. -30-

Monday, January 13, 2014 9:17 PM - Each year in this horrible season we call winter, I seem to come down with one cold. It's happening today, and I'm a bit on the miserable side. Hopefully it will be short term. Most of the time it is.

I never did get on the bands today until this evening. They were pretty poor in the 0000Z hour, but I did get KB3ENU for my streak QSO. I've got my little note with the word QSO on it laid out here by to computer to remind me I need a DX QSO in the morning or afternoon. I'd hate to lose the streak now within 45 or so days of a full year.

Right now I'm getting things ready for our NAQCC sprint this Wednesday evening. Hopefully conditions then will be better than this evening. -30-

Sunday, January 12, 2014 7:21 PM - Fun on the bands this morning. No contests of interest to me, but the DX conditions were really good so I easily got my DX QSO for day 318 from OE9MDI on 17 meters. Then I went to 15 and worked S59N, OK1HFP, SJ2014ECC, and EI4II. Those calls added some letters and numbers to my NAQCC challenges, but I still need some elusive Rs to finish up. That letter is often a real hang up to our NAQCC alphabet challenges for me for whatever reason.

Although I got my DX QSO for day 319 already this evening, I think I'll see if I can find some more DX in the morning and get those elusive letters for the NAQCC challenges. Who did I work this evening? Oh, that was HK7AAG on 30 meters at 0010Z.

Another great day today as far as the weather goes. Only in the mid-30s, but no s#$w nor any rain either. I took another good walk today. I went down to check on the river to see if any of the ice from upstream had broken loose and was floating downstream. I didn't see any although the river was up a ways from normal. There was some flooding upstream from ice jams. We don't have to worry about river flooding here unless we get something of Noah proportions as we are a good ways above river level and the river has never made it up this far, even in the worst flood back on March 26, 1913 before the flood control dams were built along the Allegheny River. -30-

Saturday, January 11, 2014 8:25 PM - A couple pictures to honor this glorious day.

pix_diary_20140111_001 (56K)
pix_diary_20140111_002 (82K)

Top shows my Acurite remote weather station. Note particulary the date, time, and outdoor temperature. Need I say more. It's just wonderful and I took advantage of it with a fairly long outdoor walk - the first one in quite a while now. The bottom picture shows the view out my back window at about the same time. Isn't it lovely to not see any s#$w in the picture.

Because of the walk and getting involved in some other things, I never did get in the NAQP except for my streak QSO this evening. I might get in it for an hour or so later, but probably not. I will have to get on tomorrow morning or afternoon for my DX QSO.

Right now I'm on the phone with my cousin, so I'm going to close this entry for now. -30-

Friday, January 10, 2014 8:38 PM - My worries about the DX streak again came to naught today. Thanks to a patient Frenchman F6CVM, I put a DX QSO in my log for the 316th straight day when I worked him on 15 meters. Then this evening it was a quick entry with HC4/AL4Q on 30 meters for day # 317. So tomorrow I don't have to worry, and maybe I'll get in one of my favorite contests, the NAQP. Not much else happening this weekend.

Supposed to be a rainy day tomorrow with warm (for mid-Jan) temps in the 40s. We got rid of a lot of unwanted s#$w today, and hopefully most all will be gone by this time tomorrow evening. Sure will be nice. -30-

Thursday, January 09, 2014 7:33 PM - My fears of losing my DX streak were quickly allayed this morning when I easily worked DL2MDU on 17 meters. However conditions are predicted to be pretty bad again tomorrow. Maybe I'll try to get some DX on 40 or 30 later this evening. The only DX I heard in the 0000Z hour was a weak CE2AWW on 17 meters. However once again W1AW came to the rescue for my big streak this evening. This time I worked them on 20 meters as W1AW/7 from UT. I think I've now worked all the states they've operated from so far - NC, SC, WV, and UT. I've only briefly glanced at the operation info on the ARRL web site and didn't see an operations schedule there yet. Anyway they are providing some excitement in an otherwise dull month. That, the NAQP this weekend, our NAQCC sprints, and our NAQCC challenges about the only activities of interest to me this month. I haven't collected any letters or numbers for our challenges the past couple days now, but I'll get back to that soon again. I only need a handful to complete the challenges so unless the bands collapse completely, I should make it easily.

It continues to 'warm' up here after we got out of the deep freeze. It was in the mid-30s today with some nice sunshine that promoted some lovely s#$w melt where the ground was in the sun like my back yard. There's no greater sight in winter than a good s#$w melt. Well, as long as it doesn't promote any flooding. -30-

Wednesday, January 08, 2014 8:16 PM - I was just looking at the space weather prediction for tomorrow and my DX streak may be in jeopardy. Take a look at my propagation page to see what I mean.

No problem today getting a DX QSO. I worked Luca again - IK3VUT on a different band from my last QSO with him a few days ago. Today 17, then 15. I don't mind as much working stations so close together if it is on different bands although I still try to avoid it if I can. Just for the record, my working W1AW 3 times in the past few days is different, since each QSO was from a different state and they encourage folks to try to get a W1AW WAS if possible.

Other than that we're having a heat wave here today and this evening at 22 degrees most of the late afternoon and early evening, although a glance at my remote reading thermometer just now shows 21 degrees. The temperature rose most of the day after bottoming out at 2 degrees around midnight or a little thereafter.

I did get out today for some shopping, and to help Nancy with hers as well. Actually I didn't really need much, but when she said she was going, I thought I'd go along anyway just to make sure she got along OK. It's still quite slippery in spots where the s#$w melted and then froze with our up and down temps of the past few days. We ranged from 45 to -9 in about a day and a half or less just for one example. -30-

Tuesday, January 07, 2014 7:49 PM - Temperature down, solar flux up. We had our first day with highs only in the single digits since 1994. The high today on my remote reading weather station was just 7 degrees with a low of -7 degrees. Right now it's 4 above, 8 degrees better than last night at diary time.

The solar flux meanwhile continues to hang in there above 200 with a reading today of 237, but with some ionospheric storming and radio blackouts. Still I easily got my DX in the form of DL4UNY in the 1600Z hour on 15 meters.

Tonight it was another W1AW/# QSO. This time it was /4 from SC on 40 meters. Good to have them available for my daily QSO during these deplorable evening conditions of late.

Speaking of W1AW and the ARRL, I got my paper copy of the January QST today, and although I already read the article in there that gives the NAQCC a good mention, it was good to see it again today 'down on paper' compared to the digital Internet edition. It certainly drew a lot of new members into the NAQCC. Thanks go to Skip N2EI for writing it.

Well, the college bowl season is over now (at last) and the champion has been crowned. If you live in an isolated cave somewhere and don't know, Florida State beat Auburn for the championship. Bruce and I entered a contest to pick winners for the 35 (yes - 35) bowl games this year. He beat me by one game 22 to 21. However although it didn't come in to play as I (for certain) didn't win the contest and neither probably did Bruce, I was very happy with my tie breaker pick. The tie breaker was the total points scored in the championship game without going over the actual retail pri..... (oh no, that's The Price Is Right - I mean without going over the) total points scored. I picked 63 points figuring a 35-28 score, and came just two points under the actual 34-31 65 point total. -30-

Monday, January 06, 2014 10:48 PM - BRRRRRRRRR!!!!!!!! -4F as I type this, heading to who knows where by morning. Best guesses among 4 different weather services range from -8 to -13. At least no s#$w storm with it, just a few fl#%ries. Remember Merle Haggard's song "If We Make It Through December"? Well, we're singing "If we make it through the seventh, everything's gonna be all right I know. Gonna be in some warmer temps.....". Supposed to be in the mid 40s by the weekend, but not much above zero all day tomorrow.

Worked DL3ASM, IZ8EYP, and YT1AD this morning to add to my letters/numbers for the NAQCC European Challenge and to the letters for our regular challenge. That brought the DX streak to 312 days now. This evening after trying unsuccessfully to work W1AW/8 for about 15 minutes, then taking Roscoe our for a (very quick) walk, I came back to the rig and got W1AW/8 with a single call.

Correction: A couple days ago in response to a guess on my football trivia question, I said the team was the Seattle Seahawks. Well I mis-spoke - it was the San Diego Chargers. Wrong end of the West Coast. This cold weather is no good for the brain. I'm still not publishing the full answer here in the diary, since I only got a single guess. If you do happen to be curious about the answer, send me an email. I did email Geo N1EAV with the correct answer today. -30-

Sunday, January 05, 2014 7:57 PM - Conditions were good today, both propagation and weather wise. I would say propagation wasn't as good as it should have been with a SF over 200 (218 today) and no real ionospheric storming. However it was good, and perhaps it was just a lack of activity that made the bands look not that good. Hardly anything on 10 meters. 17, 15, and 12 had good DX signals, but not that many. I made 5 DX QSOs in the 1500Z hour - 4 on 15 and 1 on 17. I had to work in-between my furnace QRN on 15 or I could have made more there, I'm sure. I did take a good bite out of the NAQCC challenges with the 5 DX QSOs. I'm well over half-finished on both of them now. It's strange with the high SF that the high bands aren't staying open longer in the evenings. Only heard CE2AWW in the way of DX after 0000Z and that was on 20 meters. Didn't try to work him since I work him quite often. I'll have to get DX for day 312 in the morning or afternoon. I did work Bill WB8AJR on 80 for the main streak QSO this evening.

Right now the temperature is 42 degrees - a far cry from what it will be Tuesday morning when it is supposed to bottom out near 10 below and only recover to the low single digits above during the day on Tuesday. Thankfully though after the cold snap, a nice recovery is in store with well above normal temperatures in the 6-10 day outlook. Can't wait for that. At least not much of the ugly white stuff is in the outlook. That's a blessing if it pans out. -30-

Saturday, January 04, 2014 7:48 PM - I just looked at the Solar Flux reading for today and had to look twice to see if my eyes were deceiving me. They weren't. It was 215. Let me consult my records and see the last time it was that high. October 31, 2003 it was 249, so that's just a couple months over 10 years ago. Tomorrow might be a good day to get on the high bands. I was only on briefly today to get my DX QSO who turned out to be PA3FQA on 17 meters.

Tonight once again the bands were pretty empty except for a wide pileup chasing a V5 (Namibia) station on 30 meters. I thought about trying to work him, but I already have Namibia on 30 and I didn't feel like battling the pileup, so I didn't. I did work WA3TD for my streak QSO on 80 meters. -30-

Friday, January 03, 2014 8:05 PM - Each year as I get older I get more and more depressed about winter. Right now the temperature is 8 degrees and there is an coating of the ugly white stuff on the ground. It could be a lot worse and may well be before winter is over in 56 days, but it is really pretty darn miserable right now. It's a struggle to even do things like writing these diary entries. I'm sure you've noticed they have been very short most days of late. That is why.

I had to even struggle to get up the will to get on for my DX QSO earlier today, but I did and I worked SV2CQB on 12 meters. He is one station I can usually count on to copy me no matter what the conditions are. He must have a really great receiving location in Greece. He was barely above my noise level here, yet he got K3W? from my first call, and after a couple repeats, had it correct and I had my QSO.

This evening, the bands were again pretty poor after the past couple good evenings. I got no answers to my CQs nor could I find any DX to work. However I did luck across W1AW/4 on 30M and snagged the 100th Anniversary of the ARRL operation with but a single call despite what apparently was a decent pileup. The operation was from NC. -30-

Thursday, January 02, 2014 8:08 PM - A very depressing day with light s@#w just about all day. The saving grace was 'light' as it totalled only about two inches so far, but it is still coming down. At least we're over 1/3 of the way through this horrible season. 57 days to go till spring.

Conditions slipped backwards a bit from last night. I only heard a couple weak DX stations and couldn't work them. So I've got my little note here to remind me to get a DX QSO in the morning or afternoon. I did work Tom KA2KGP for my main streak QSO this evening.

I'm disappointed that only one person took a stab at my football trivia question I posed here in the diary a few evenings ago. I think I'll not bother to announce the answer here and just email my one respondent the correct answer. -30-

Wednesday, January 01, 2014 8:52 PM - Happy New Year to everyone. Hope you had a good day today. All your favorite college teams won. You had a great meal. Some good fellowship with friends and family. Any other good things that happened to you.

It seems the bands are getting a bit better in the evenings. I even heard some DX on 12 meters this evening. My first QSO came on 40 though from Bill KC4ZA in VA. Then I got my DX QSO on 17 meters when I worked CE2AWW. Both gave me some more letters towards the January NAQCC challenge.

Other than that I got a lot of my change of month and change of year things done, and they are pretty much complete now except for a trip to the bank in the morning. May have to trudge through some s#$w though, as unfortunately we are expecting some. I'm rooting for the AccuWeather outlook for January though. They are calling for a cold period early next week, then a recovery with pretty moderate temperatures and little s#$w the rest of the month. However that is just an outlook, so we'll have to wait to see what happens. -30-