K3WWP's Ham Radio Activities

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Thursday, December 31, 2015 9:26 PM - Just a simple wish that 2016 will be your best year ever. -30-

Wednesday, December 30, 2015 9:26 PM - I made time to get on the bands today in the 14-15Z hours and it paid off. I easily got my DX streak QSO from Chris F8DGY. Chris is a great op and always interested in my QRP. Although he wasn't very strong here, he copied me solidly for our few minutes QSO. Then I thought I'd shoot for some letters for the NAQCC European Chapter challenge. I knew I wasn't going to complete all the words, but I wanted to complete at least a few to get credit for participating. I succeeded and if I juggle calls I think I will have at least three complete words. Thanks to PI25COM (new prefix to boot), HA3FTA (another great op who is easy to work with QRP), and CT7AEQ.

No such luck this evening. I was busy with some other things and didn't really get on till later around 0140Z. I didn't hear any DX at all, so I went to 80 and called CQ. I was answered by my friend Bob K2YGM and we chatted for a while. That kept the big streak going and hopefully the morning will again provide the DX QSO.

The 80 meter QSO gave me a chance to give the 80 meter receiving loop a good try and it was a bit disappointing. For whatever reason yet to be determined, the loop seems to have a cardioid pattern instead of a figure 8. I'll have to look into that, although the cardioid pattern may serve just as well with a little tweaking. My AM BCB loop has a near perfect figure 8 with deep nulls. I don't know why the difference unless I'm getting leaking from my other antennas skewing the 80 meters loop pattern. -30-

Tuesday, December 29, 2015 9:03 PM - Late last night I heard from Eric KB3BFQ. Those who follow the diary or the web site know all about him so I won't go into that here. I just want to say that he put his antenna back up and wants to be active on the bands again after a hiatus of several years. We tried to have a QSO this morning, but the noise was too high at both our locations and the 40 or so miles path between us was not good enough to bring our signals out of the noise. He uses a 20 year old QRP+ rig which is showing its age, so I am going to loan him my Kenwood TS-570D until he gets a new rig of his own. We'll finalize the arrangements soon after he gets home from a trip over the weekend.

Let's jump ahead now to the evening. Get this. I didn't get a QSO with KB3BFQ today, but my streak QSO this evening was with K3BFQ. How about that for a coincidence?

Otherwise today after our failed sked, I got my DX streak QSO from Lacy HA3NU on 17 meters for a new band QSO for us. Then after a break for brunch and some other things, I thought I'd try to get the last 2 Os to complete the NAQCC December challenge. It didn't take long to find and work WB2KAO to accomplish that.

Some other radio things today. I got the TS-570D cleaned up, and got its manuals together for Eric when he gets a chance to come and pick it up. Then this evening I tried for my DX QSO, but that didn't pan out so it's DX chasing tomorrow morning. I did get my AM BCB loop antenna wired into my antenna switch so I don't have to keep changing the plug on the KX3. Also when I finish the 80/160 loop, I can just switch it in also. -30-

Monday, December 28, 2015 9:48 PM - Another rainy day although not as warm. It's only 40 right now and that is as warm(?) as it has been all day. At least it looks like we dodged the frozen precipitation once again and that's good.

When I was looking for my DX QSO (or a regular QSO) for the streak this evening, a friend of mine showed up at my door. It was someone I hadn't seen for at least a year now. It wound up being a pleasant two hour visit. After he left and I got my weather readings and walked Roscoe, I headed back to the shack. Activity was down quite a bit, and the only strong DX I heard was PV8ADI. As you probably know, most of the time, despite him being very strong and with no competition, he doesn't hear me at all. That was true tonight also, so the DX will have to wait till morning or afternoon now. I did get my regular streak QSO from Ken N8LZN in Ohio. Coincidentally that also gave me 4 Ns for the NAQCC challenge meaning I now only need 2 Os to complete it.

I've got a few chores to get caught up on before bedtime, so I'll close for now. -30-

Sunday, December 27, 2015 8:24 PM - A quiet Sunday after Christmas with not much at all going on. It was a showery day - fortunately rain, not that other stuff. Yet another day with a high in the 60s as it hit 64 degrees this morning before a cold front came through and cooled it off down to 41 right now.

I got my DX QSO easily this evening from Eric NP3A. The N in his call left me needing 4 Ns and 2 Os to complete our NAQCC December challenge, so maybe I'll make it. -30-

Saturday, December 26, 2015 8:43 PM - Do you know how hard it is to keep from gaining weight over the Christmas holiday, and then how much harder it is to lose that weight and get back to normal. If you're fairly normal at least, then you do know. Man, folks keep giving you that great food, and it is so hard to ration it out to yourself as you should. You just keep eating and by the time it is gone into your body in the form of those several extra pounds, then the real work starts. Limiting yourself to below normal portions of food for the next several days in hopes of getting the weight back to normal. I just weighed myself as I do at least every couple days and right now I need to get rid of about 6 pounds of extra holiday food to see normal again. The weather is not cooperating either. Just about solid rain or rain showers the next several days so no long outdoor walks to help.

Enough of that. My DX came quickly this evening when I worked V44KAI on 40 meters to exchage New Years wishes. -30-

Friday, December 25, 2015 9:25 PM - It was a wonderful Christmas day today. The Bowsers next door invited me to go with them to their daughter Sara's home for Christmas dinner. We left about 11:30AM and all had a great time. The food was great and it was real joy watching the kids open their presents. Even without that, it was just nice to fellowhip with everyone there. Let me count. I think there were 15 of us there,

The time passed too quickly and Denny took me home around 3:30PM or so. When I got home, Mike was sitting on the porch waiting for me for our 7th annual Christmas Day/Evening visit. After I got things straightened out like putting away some cookies from Sara and a couple boxes of candy from her parents, Mike and I went for a walk. He hadn't eaten, so he got a sandwich from Sheetz. Then we checked our pedometers on a measured mile on our Rails to Trails. Mine was my old one and Mike had just gotten a new one a couple days ago. Both were off a bit, but not all that much. His has a built in learning curve which will analyze his activity and adjust accordingly.

When we got home from our walk, it was time for our drive around Kittanning, West Kittanning, Applewold, Ford City, Ford Cliff, and Manorville to check out the Christmas lights. We both thought there were more lights this year than the last couple years. A good sign for America. There were a lot of very nice displays, but only a few that made us say "Wow".

Back home again, and up to my shack to try to get my DX streak QSO. There was very little to be had, but after a half hour or more, I found and worked Jose KP4JFR on 30 meters for day # 1,031 in the DX streak. After that, it was time for Mike to head home as tomorrow is a work day for him. Me, I don't have to worry about such things. HI. -30-

Thursday, December 24, 2015 8:48 PM -

pix_diary_20151224_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.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015 7:58 PM - It was rough, even this morning, to get my DX QSO. I must have called at least a half dozen stations with no indication they were hearing me at all except for one who never got past WP? Finally though, I made it by working EI90IARU on 17 meters at 1545. There was quite a bit of DX on 40 this evening, but I didn't even get as much as a WP? from any of them. I might have been able to work CO90IARU, but I've worked him three times in the past several days now. Had he not been busy, I might have gotten him, but I didn't want to take away from anyone who really needed him. So once again I guess the DX will come in the morning if it comes at all.

Wouldn't it be nice for AM BCB DXers if all stations did something like Radio Reloj in Cuba. They send RR in Morse every so often. That plus the background ticks makes it easy to pull them out of the QRM. I logged my second one this evening. This one was on 860.

Another day in the 60s with a high of 62 as this unbelievable but wonderful weather continues. It still looks like it will hang around another week or so also. Not in the 60s each day, but at least above 50. And Accu Weather's outlook for January shows no day with a low below 20. However looking that far ahead can't be relied upon for complete accuracy by any means.

Well, just one day more before Christmas is here again. Where does the time go? It should be a good Christmas evening (not eve) for the annual drive that Mike and I take around the vicinity of Kittanning checking out the Christmas displays. It's been a great month so far for walking around town looking at the closer lights. I've done so just about every evening so far because the weather has been so great. -30-

Tuesday, December 22, 2015 8:36 PM - It looks like we are going to have a Southern Hemisphere Christmas this year, and that is fine with me. It was in the low to mid 60s today and the next couple days are predicted in the 60s, then just a bit cooler in the upper 50s for Christmas day. I love it.

No DX this evening. I didn't even hear any. So tomorrow it will be a chasing DX day till I get someone - if I do. That would be a lousy Christmas present to have the streak come to an end. I did work K9UCX to keep the regular big streak going. That was on 40 meters.

I did some more work on my little 80M receiving loop today and checked it out a bit this evening. It definitely lowers the noise level and I'm able to null the noise down a couple more S units by rotating it. However the signals are also down. I'm going to have to do some more work on it. For some signals, the S/N ratio was better and I could bring them further out of the noise by rotating the loop. -30-

Monday, December 21, 2015 8:34 PM - Thanks to Mike for giving me a day off from diary writing. Yes indeed, we did (as always) have a good time yesterday as he described.

Conditions were really terrible last night and I even had trouble getting my regular streak QSO, and never did get any DX. However that was remedied this morning when I worked Chris DL2MDU on 17 meters just before 1500Z.

Tonight was entirely different. The bands were quite good and my DX was 'landed' at 0001Z thanks to CO90IARU on a new band 40 meters this time. With that taken care of quickly, I thought I'd rag chew a bit so I called CQ on 40 meters and Mike AB9AY answered me and we chatted for almost 20 minutes. Mike is a fairly new FISTS member with a number a little below 16000.

After that I worked a bit on my little 80 meters receiving loop. I think it may help a lot with my strong noise on that band. With it just kind of clip leaded together without a good mount, I could still get a good null on the noise. It still needs a lot of tweaking which I may do tomorrow if I don't get involved in something else.

After a couple cold days, we made it to the low 50s today with some rain showers. I'm just noticing that after dropping into the mid 40s a little while ago, it's back up to 48 right now. That sure is fabulous weather for the day of the winter solstice. Best of all it looks like it may continue the rest of this year and perhaps into the first couple days of the new year as well. That would really be wonderful. -30-

Sunday, December 20, 2015 6:31 PM - It has been a while since John has had a ghost writer for his diary. He asked if I would do the honor. Our original plan for today was a trip down to the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum in Washington County Pa. Last night I went to their website to double check their schedule. Lucky that I did. We would have made the trip in vain. Last weekend was the end of their season. They will reopen in March. So we came up with an alternative plan.

43 years ago I built a Manger. Over time it came into some disrepair. And was in need of a good cleaning (as shown here).
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So John and I set out to the Pittsburgh Mills for some supplies at Lowes. Found out from one of the associates at Lowes that you can use plain distilled vinegar as a cleaning agent to clean stained wood. It dries quickly and will not pull up the stain from your wood project.

After Lowes we stopped at Petsmart. John needed to pickup something for his neighbor Bruce. When we finished at Petsmart it was time for lunch. So off to Applebee's we went. We made three more stops in the Mills before heading back to Johns QTH.

Shortly after we started our clean and repair project yours truly knocked the bottle of vinegar and shattered it all over Johns basement floor. So after a quick clean up we took a walk to the local market for another bottle (this time plastic) of vinegar. Things were going too smooth today for our luck. Hi-Hi!!! (here's the finished product)
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After our repair project we did some AM broadcast band DX. John constructed a loop antenna for such DX'ing. We followed that up with some searching for DX on 30 and 40 meters without any luck.

As usual John and I had a great day together. In ten minutes John will be heading up to continue his streaks and I will be heading North to my QTH. John is counting up with his QSO a day and I am counting down my work days until I can enjoy the Christmas holiday. I have three days left. For 8 1/2 hours a day five days a week I do not enjoy the festive season. Not because I am a Scrooge. But because of the crazy questions I get from people who should know better. So in three work days I will really enjoy the season.

Until next time de Mike KC2EGL. CU on the radio (thanks to Charles Osgood).-30-

Saturday, December 19, 2015 8:15 PM - Another day pretty much like yesterday. I could probably just repeat yesterday's entry here. Only a couple words and the cartoon story would need changing.

Another contest QSO with KP2Q was my DX contact for the streak. After that, I QRT.

Tomorrow should be different. Mike is coming for a visit and we're going to Pittsburgh to take in the Trolley Museum there and who knows what else. It's supposed to be a sunny but cool day with a high of only around 40 which is still better than the past couple days. Late last evening we got a surprise s#%w squall which dumped about 1/2 inch of the ugly stuff. Fortunately most all of it melted today so that wasn't too bad.

Hey, have you noticed something? It's staying lighter a little bit longer in the evenings now. Yes, the earliest sunset is now about two weeks in the past now, and it's setting a few minutes later now. Of course the sunrise is still getting later each day (until around January 4), and the combination of the two means that Monday or Tuesday will have the least total amount of daylight. Also on Tuesday or Wednesday, the sun begins its trek back north again. Or actually the tilt of the Earth's axis in relation to the sun is bringing it back north to be a bit more accurate without being too technical. We winter haters keep track of any sign whatsoever like that. -30-

Friday, December 18, 2015 8:16 PM - Not a lot going on today. I played with Windows 10 quite a bit. The more I use it as the main O/S on my laptop, the more I like it. To be honest, I was getting discouraged with some things about it while I had it running in the virtual machine, but now all those things are working just fine. It basically was a problem with a computer running within a computer that is not a top of the line model. I only bought the laptop a couple years ago to have a 'toy' to fool around with. I never imagined I'd want to use it as much as I do. Had I thought of that, I would have bought a better machine and then I'm sure Windows 10 would have run much better in the virtual machine (Virtual Box).

This was the coldest day we've had so far this season. It never got out of the 30's. Let's see, my remote unit shows a high of just 37. We even saw a few very light s#$w flurries this afternoon. Everything melted as soon as it hit the ground. One of the daily comics I read (Tiger) mentioned that. Hugo says to Punkinhead, "The s#$w is melting as soon as it hits the ground." Punkinhead in his infinite wisdom replies, "Maybe it's hitting it too hard."

I eked out another DX QSO this evening to keep the streak alive at 1,024 days when I worked WP4L. Actually it was a rather easy solid QSO with Alberto once I found him and waited through him working a few other stations. So I probably shouldn't have said 'eked out' in referring to it. -30-

Thursday, December 17, 2015 8:21 PM - A fairly quick DX QSO this evening in TO2EE at 0018Z. TO2 is a new prefix for me and completes the TO block from 1 through 0 now. The country was St. Barthelemy.

I played quite a bit with Windows 10 today and tweaked a couple settings more to my liking. Windows 10 is quite customizable, but I found I like it pretty much the way it comes from Microsoft. One thing I did have to fix was to activate the home icon on the Edge browser. I guess the default is not to have such a button. Other than that, I had to do a bit of tweaking to reactivate my Homegroup network. That's pretty much all I did to it. Everything else was just fine with the natural exception of rearranging the start screen. Of course that's somthing that everyone will alter to their liking depending on what programs they use.

It was a good day to be inside doing things like that as it rained pretty much all day. However it started to clear just at sunset thus providing this beautiful post-rain sunset.
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Wednesday, December 16, 2015 8:17 PM - In sharp contrast to the past few nights, it took some work to get my DX this evening. After finding nothing the first 10 minutes, I got my regular streak QSO via a rag chew with Bob NR8M on 80 meters. Then back to hunting DX. No luck with YW90IARU after several unheard calls. Then I found CO90IARU on 30 and debated with myself if I should work him so soon again on the same band. While I was debating, he was getting no answers to his CQs, so I figured I wouldn't be depriving anyone of a QSO if I did work him again after just 3 days, so I called and after a couple repeats, had my DX QSO yet another day.

Yesterday I upgraded my laptop to Windows 10 and got some WOW moments. It works much better as the main O/S than it did in the Virtual Box virtual machine. Cortana nows responds virtually immediately to my voice input in contrast to taking forever or not answering at all in the VM. I really like it although I will stick to Windows 7 on my main computer for a while yet. What I really liked about the upgrade was that all the programs I had on the laptop stayed intact and about 98 percent of the upgrade was automatic with no intervention needed on my part. Actually I guess it was closer to 100 percent after I think about it while writing this.

More about Windows 10 later, but now it's almost time for our NAQCC mW sprint. I probably will just get 1 QSO and quit rather than fighting to copy QRPp signals through my local noise. -30-

Tuesday, December 15, 2015 7:43 PM - For the third night in a row, my DX QSO came between 0002 and 0006Z. All from the Caribbean area, but DX nevertheless. Tonight it was KP2Q on a different band - 30 meters. Tomorrow is a NAQCC European Chapter activity day, so I may get on during the daytime and see if I can work some European stations. So far in December, I've only worked a couple mainly because the higher bands are pretty much closed after 0000Z, leaving only 40 meters open to Europe, and not every night. 30 is usually good to Europe in the evening, but not lately.

So to get a radio fix in the evenings lately, once I get my DX QSO, I head for the AM BCB to try to log some new stations there. It also has its ups and downs, even with the 50KW stations. Sometimes they are barely heard, other times they just about destroy your eardrums.

It was a bit on the chilly side today compared to the 60 degree days of late. The high shows 54 on my remote unit, but I think that was last night at midnight. I don't think it got out of the upper 40s during the day, and it's still 46 as I write. -30-

Monday, December 14, 2015 8:04 PM - Sometime after posting this diary entry, I'll be posting my new poll. Since I've recently gotten re-interested in "DXing" the AM BCB, the poll involves what kind of stations other than ham radio you like to "DX". Should be interesting to see the results.

Once again it's October in December. The high the past few days now has been flirting with or going over 60. It was 68 a couple days ago. Today my remote unit next to me here shows a high of 60 and it's still 59 right now well into the evening darkness. It's great to walk around outside with just a very light jacket or sweater, or even shirtsleeves. Of course it won't, but wouldn't it be nice if this continued in January and February, then warmed up even more when spring comes on March 1st.

Speaking of that, I'm going to activate my spring countdown above. 14 days are already gone in winter in our march (pun intended) toward spring in March.

A quick DX QSO this evening for day # 1,020 in the DX streak. It took a few calls to get PJ2/NT6X and a couple repeats when it was my turn to get his attention. That was on 30 meters. -30-

Sunday, December 13, 2015 8:51 PM - I just finished the log cross-checking for our NAQCC sprint. Unfortunately it went pretty fast tonight. Unfortunate? Yes, because we didn't have as many logs (105) as usual (120+) probably because of the very poor conditions everywhere except for a few lucky folks living in a "white hole". Seriously the only ones who did well were those who live in a low noise area with a good high antenna system. The rest of us had a very rough time. For me, I've entered all 134 of our sprints and this one had to have had the worst conditions (QRN + poor propagation) of all of them.

I never did bother with the 10 meters contest this weekend other than to use it yesterday (Saturday) for my DX streak QSO. I just wasn't in a contesting mood mainly because although the band was open, signals were down and I figured I'd have to be doing a lot of repeating which I hate to do because it slows down those who are going for the big scores.

Tonight I worked CO90IARU for my DX. It was rough because when I worked him, someone jumped right on top of him and I could just barely tell he was working me. I wonder what it is that folks don't understand about UP. The CO station was saying UP after just about every time he gave an ID so it wasn't his fault.

I also did some more AM BCB DX today and am up to 78 stations logged now including several that would be new if I were going to combine my 25+ years old listing with what I'm logging now. As I've mentioned, the band has changed a lot in those years. In doing a little Internet research, it looks like a lot of the EU powerhouse stations have ceased operation now, probably in favor of Internet streaming? -30-

Saturday, December 12, 2015 8:28 PM - I checked 10 this morning to decide if I wanted to do a 10 meters effort or not. All signals were pretty well down, so I decided against it. However maybe I should have reconsidered after I worked IQ2CJ with a single call for my DX streak QSO. Maybe tomorrow. I already have my DX streak QSO for the 13th. I worked S53A on 40 meters. It wasn't easy but Niko persisted and got me in his log.

I worked a bit more on my AM BCB DX loop today. Mainly I added a few turns so I could cover the 530-1700 kHz range with a single little 365 pf variable cap. I guessed just right and that range exactly fits with hardly any extra space at the ends.

In listening the past several days now, I note there are a lot more ethnic (non-English) stations on the band. Also a lot more political and sports talk programming. Finally a rather big increase in the number of religious broadcasters.

It's interesting that I can go upstairs and forget what I went up for, but in tuning the AM dial, as soon as I hit a certain frequency, I can remember what I used to hear there. Like on 680 WPTF, 1420 WCED, just to name a couple of many.

That memory thing applies to ham calls as well. I worked Jon W8TY this evening and recalled not only that we worked a few times on 160 meters a few years ago, but that we also worked way back in the 60s when he was WA8ELT, or was it WN8ELT. Let me look at my Access log. First QSO was on 5/23/1963 when he was WN8ELT. Then 7 QSOs from 5/23/1964 (hmmm, just exactly one year later) through 12/4/1973 (7 QSOs) when he was WA8ELT. Finally when he was W8TY 7 QSOs from 1995 through tonight. -30-

Friday, December 11, 2015 8:07 PM - Another DXless evening (so far anyway). Even the usually strong Latin American stations were just barely peeking out of my S5 noise level. There were a few EU signals on 40 also at about the same strength. Hopefully conditions will be good enough during the daytime the next couple days to open up 10 meters for some contest QSOs to keep the DX streak going.

Over the years since I've done any serious AM BCB DX, formats have changed, call letters have changed, but one thing hasn't changed. You can still count on a station (no matter how strong) to fade out just when they are about to ID.

One thing has changed for the better. If you do get a clue (call, location, format, etc.), there are a lot of Internet sources to confirm what you heard. One very good one is The Canada/US AM Station Info Search Page. It's kind of the QRZ equivalent for the AM BCB. It's only for Canada/US though. When I start logging the foreign stations, I'm sure I'll find a source for that also via the Bing search engine.

Right now, I've got to check a station on 1290 in London, ON and a NYC gospel station on 1190. I do remember a London station from many years back (CJOE?), and I think there was a WLIX on 1190. Hey, let me look right now and check. I was close - the NYC station is WLIB. London is CJBK though. -30-

Thursday, December 10, 2015 8:03 PM - For the first time in a few days now, the bands were pretty good this evening. Europe was coming in strong on 40 meters, but everyone seemed to be chasing them and I couldn't work any. I probably could have without all the competition. So I went to 30 meters and easily worked Jorge CO3JR.

Earlier in the day in the 14 and 15Z hours, conditions weren't all that great. There were signals up through 12, but the DX was weak and only the W/VE stations were strong. However I finally did work Andrew GM0UDL after trying several other stations several times.

While doing that, I got to thinking that at this stage in the streak, it is becoming more of a challenge and in turn more rewarding when I do work the DX. I have to admit that it wasn't really all that hard for a very high percentage of the 1,000 days - at least for the first 950 or so. Then it did start to gradually become a little harder, but I made it. Now I'm wondering how long the streak can go on. Since it is more of a challenge now, and I love challenges, I do have more determination to keep going.

We finally have gotten that warmer (less cold?) weather they have been predicting with highs in the upper 50s the past couple days. Now they are predicting mid-60s for Sunday. We'll see. -30-

Wednesday, December 09, 2015 9:39 PM - Computer club this evening so I didn't get on till after 0200Z. Only DX was a very slow sending weak Cuban on 40. He answered someone else and started a rag chew type QSO. I didn't feel like waiting around, so my DX will have to come in the morning or afternoon if not later tonight.

I did get KP2Q late last night to cover the 9th for the DX streak. Conditions were very poor last night for our sprint. Only 5 QSOs in what I believe to be the worst ever conditions for any of our 134 sprints.

I'm getting some flashbacks from my old AM BC DX days as I listen now. It's good to hear the old stations like WOR, WABC, WGN, etc. who haven't changed calls. Like seeing old friends again whom you haven't seen in a long time. I had forgotten how much QSB there can be on the AM band especially using a small 17" box loop like I have now. I may have to modify my old big 4 foot loop from its current LW configuration to the AM band and see how that works.

Oh, my regular streak QSO this evening was a special event station W7P. I'm just looking it up on the 1x1 search engine and I see it is honoring the discovery of Pluto. The station is licensed to Flagstaff, AZ. That was on 40 meters so skip is long on that band tonight as it was last night. -30-

Tuesday, December 08, 2015 8:12 PM - I wonder if this will be the day the DX streak ends. Conditions are certainly poor this evening. The only fairly strong DX I've heard are a NP2 and a WP4, but both are chasing other DX stations so no chance to call them. I'll try again after our NAQCC sprint which starts in a few minutes. If I don't get anything then, perhaps during the day tomorrow.

Despite forecasts of sunny days, the past few days have been really gloomy and chilly - typical December weather. I beging to doubt the predictions of temperatures reaching almost 60 this weekend. I hope I'm wrong.

I fooled around some more with my AM BCB DX loop antenna today, and got it closer to a finished stage now. I haven't logged too many stations yet, but they are coming. I've noticed some call changes from when I last logged AM stations. WXYZ is now WXYT and WCFL is now WMVP for a couple examples.

Well, I want to get my weather readings now before the sprint starts. -30-

Monday, December 07, 2015 8:21 PM - As you probably know from visiting my site, I worked in broadcasting for some 24 years at WPIT AM/FM in Pittsburgh. I actually got the job when I sent a request for a QSL card to WPIT and got a letter back saying they were looking for a broadcast engineer. That was a nice coincidence.

I just threw that in as kind of an intro to what I'm going to write a bit about in the diary entry this evening. Before that, just a note that the DX streak is now 1,013 days after working KP4SX on 40 meters this evening. I worked him a few days ago also, but I wasn't sure he had my call right then. Tonight I was sure and he also said nice CU AGN so I guess he had it right then also.

OK, the topic tonight is AM BCB DXing. For several years in the 50s and 60s I did an awful lot of that, and could write a whole book about it, but I won't here. My interest started at a very young age when I was amazed to tune away from station KDKA on 1020 where I used to listen to music and Party Line with Ed and Wendy King regularly and hear WHO in Des Moines, Iowa on 1040. That did it. I was bitten by the AM BCB DX bug although I had no idea what the term DX meant at that time.

My interest in stats was instilled in me even at that young age, and I kept detailed records of all the stations I heard. To move ahead quickly now in outline form. Eventually I built my own AM radio and a large external loop antenna for it. All in all, I logged some 1800-1900 stations from 540 through 1600 kc (kHz). I logged all states but Alaska. Hawaii was KORL 650, but never did get Alaska. I have some 70 countries on the AM BCB, a lot thanks to the 'split' frequency operation in many countries - Germany on 1586, Senegal on 764 (if memory serves, I don't have my log handy right now), France on 1554, BBC on 1205, Albania on 1394, and so on. My homebrew receiver had series connected mechanical filters to provide nearly a square bandpass and with that it was easy to pull in the stations between the USA every 10 kHz frequencies.

Back then, AM BCB DX was much friendlier than it is today. Now with improved equipment, PSA and PSSA authorizations, greater use of networks, and so on, just about all stations operate 24/7. Then there were daytime stations who couldn't operate except between sunrise and sunset. A vast majority of stations had local programming (and hence more frequent IDs). Many 24 hour stations shut down for maintenance Sunday night into Monday morning, opening up frequencies that they normally completely dominated and allowed things like KORL in Honolulu to be heard on 650 instead of WSM Nashville who were down for that Sunday night maintenance.

It's just a whole new ballgame today and has been for the past several years. Still recently my interest received a spark from somewhere and got a bit reignited. In the past week or so, I've experimented with a couple loop antennas feeding into the KX3. As with everything else it does, it makes an excellent AM receiver. Or you can use it in the SSB mode to receive the AM stations for some added selectivity.

I don't know how long I will go with it, but I'm going to start from scratch and see how many stations I can log. As of right now, I have a grand total of three after starting the log just a little while ago.

Back in the old days, I was a member of the NRC and IRCA clubs which were (are still?) devoted to AM BCB DX. I made many friends that way. I forget just how we got acquainted, but one was a teenager with whom I discussed the hobby thoroughly while working at WPIT. He wrote a column in the NRC newsletter. Sadly he suffered a brain tumor and passed away at just 18 years of age. Another was the son of the owner of a local candy company. He was into not only AM BCB DX, but TV and FM as well. He was one of the first to experiment with TV reception via satellite. We communicated for many years, but we eventually lost track of each other. I think if he is still living, he now resides somewhere in Latin America.

Well, that only scratches the surface of my other radio interests. I also got into FM, SW, and TV DXing as well as LW DX, mainly aeronautical beacon stations. A lot of great memories over the 70 years I've been on the planet. -30-

Sunday, December 06, 2015 10:11 AM - The DX came easily this morning thanks to Voy SP7HKK on 15 meters, so the DX streak is secure.

I thought I'd address an email from Carl N5XE in this entry. He wrote, "I was looking at your Christmas tree pictures on your website. Behind the big tree in the corner, there is a painting of what appears to be an indian and a canoe. I am curious what the picture is, and how long you have had it? It is hard to tell exactly what is on the picture because of its size.
When I was a small child, my grandmother had a calendar that had a similar print on it. There was an indian brave and an indian woman, along with a canoe, and a HUGE bear standing on the bank, threatening the couple. As a kid, I was scared of that big bear in the picture - hi......."

The picture is one of those 'paint by number' pictures that I did - must be 60 years ago now when I was around 10 years old. It's one of several I did at that time along with the 'string art' popular then. Here are images of two each of the two types.
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pix_diary_20151206_001 (31K) pix_diary_20151206_002 (16K)

Those sure were a lot of fun to do, and passed a lot of time for a youngster. OK, I have to say this, "Ahh, those were the good old days."

Now that the diary entry is complete for today, I can get to a lot of other things that need doing. Thanks to Carl for asking about the picture. Things like that are why I feel free to mention many other things besides ham radio in the diary. My readers have an infinite number of other interests besides ham radio, and I like to cater to them also. -30-

Saturday, December 05, 2015 7:43 PM - I guess the DX streak will have to wait till the morning or afternoon. The bands are especially poor this evening. I did hear YU65GMN on 30, but very weak and unworkable for me. Also I heard HH2/N5JR on 30, but I just worked him there last evening, so I didn't try but I probably could have gotten him.

I listened this afternoon in the 1800Z hour and worked EA8DQ with a single call on 17, then I finally hooked up with YW90IARU on 15 after chasing him on other bands the past few days. So I got a new prefix and also a lot of letters for the NAQCC December Fessenden Challenge. So hopefully the bands will be good at that same time again tomorrow for some DX.

I did keep the big streak going by working KE8Y on 80 meters, so that one is secure. -30-

Friday, December 04, 2015 8:31 PM - Kind of another nothing day today. It took a while to get my DX QSO this evening. I called and called HH2/N5JR on 30M with no success until finally when QSB brought signals up a bit, I got him with a couple repeats. -30-

Thursday, December 03, 2015 8:42 PM - A very quick somewhat unusual DX QSO this evening. I worked CE2MVF on 30M at 0002Z. It was easy which is a bit unusual for lower SA on 30 and 40 lately. Maybe propagation to that area is changing for me.

After that, I did a little very preliminary experimenting with a receiving loop antenna for 80 (and 160) to try to lessen my QRN problems on those bands, especially 80. I didn't really do enough testing to get any solid results, but the S/N ratio seemed better with the loop although overall signal strength was down quite a bit. I'll do more later as time permits.

Otherwise it was a quiet day compared to the past few. I mailed a QSL card to someone who requested a Requin card, and did some shopping while I was out. Then I updated some stats and made a few corrections to my computer log. Things like logging Horry county, SC as Horr6 and a few other little typos like that. It's so easy to check things like that with my Microsoft Access/Excel log. I also found only two new USA counties worked since my last check 6 months ago. -30-

Wednesday, December 02, 2015 5:34 PM - I wrote my contest story today, but I want to wait to post it to see if I can get some more comparison stats from Tom WB3FAE. In fact I've got to email him and ask him for them. I better pause here and do that before I forget. OK, that's done.

I promised some Christmas decorations pictures, so here goes.

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Pretty much the same traditional setup as I have every year. In the last picture, the Santa was made by my dad many years ago. He found a nice picture of Santa, mounted it on a piece of masonite and cut it out with his jigsaw. The angels are from a cub scout project also many years ago. The small tree was given to me by Nancy about 4-5 years ago. -30-

Tuesday, December 01, 2015 8:38 PM - It wasn't easy (understatement), but day # 1,007 is in the books. I even had trouble finding a regular QSO, let alone some DX. Finally I got a very difficult QSO with Paco EA8AF on 40 meters. He actually answered my first call, but as K3WW. Then it went downhill, and after a couple minutes and many repeats of my call, he went from K3WW to K3WWE and finally to K3WWP. Not surprising really as he was only about an S5 or so here. There was a very strong YW90IARU on 30, but everyone in the world seemed to want to work him and I couldn't get my call in edgewise.

One of several reasons I like contests is that it gives me a lot of data to analyze. I did some of that today after I finished up my end of month / first of month chores. Here are my totals by continent in the CQWW DX test:

AF - 17
AS - 3
EU - 137
NA - 61
OC - 7
SA - 29

There will be more stats in the contest story, but as I was doing the stats today, I got to wondering just who in each country I've worked the most often. Some I knew off the top of my head like HG1S in Hungary and 9A1A in Croatia, but others surprised me like EA5FV in Spain. Here are the top 16 countries (excluding W/VE) that I've worked the most often and the ham from that country with whom I've had the most QSOs and the number of QSOs with him.

FRG - DK3GI 52
ITA - IR4M IR2C 32
ENG - G4BUO 45
HUN - HG1S 64
SLV - S58A 49
CZE - OK1RF 34
FRA - F5IN 48
CRO - 9A1A 62
EUR - RU1A 49
SPA - EA5FV 22
YUG - YZ9A 19
FIN - OH1F 31
BLG - ON4UN 21
SLO - OM7M 51

Stuff like that fascinates me.

I also found a new band-country in VK on 15 meters. Surprised I never worked VK on 15 before. Also six new prefixes - OP6 (actually the day after the contest) LW3 LB1 OG7 ES7 J60.

Well, the first day of meteorological winter is over with and only 90 more to go. Yes, we get an extra day of winter this time around with February 29 next year. Today was gloomy, rainy, but mild and no s#$w.

As I do around the 1st of December each year, I do my Christmas decorating and today was no exception. It is not the same experience as it was years ago when my mom, dad, and two aunts were living, but I like to carry on the tradition as they would have done. Each year the setup is pretty much the same as it was way back then harking to my traditionalism and aversion to change. I guess that accounts for my love of CW as well. I took some pictures of the tree and window, and I'll post them tomorrow in the diary. Right now it's time to go get my weather readings - another tradition that goes back around 56 years now. -30-

Monday, November 30, 2015 7:24 PM - OK, I have about 10 hours of work to squeeze into the next 5 hours so this will be a quick entry. I went through my log for the CQWW DX test today with a fine tooth comb and came up with these revised totals:

QSOs: 254
Mults: 191
Score: 133,127

Then I submitted my log and got it right the first time. I usually mess up something in the Cabrillo header, but not this time.

The DX streak is now 1,006 days after working VP5/W5CW a few minutes ago. I didn't like to work him the same band I did a week or so ago, but with a busy evening and a busy day coming up, I wanted to secure the streak as quickly as I could.

I got on today a bit to try to finish the November NAQCC European Chapter challenge, but fell short by a couple letters. Just not enough time as today was busy also.

OK, that's it. I think I'll upload my November log to LoTW and eQSL next. -30-

Sunday, November 29, 2015 7:44 PM - The post-mortem on the contest is being prepared right now and I'll post it here as I go along. Figures are preliminary and may need slight adjustment as I check the log further.

QSOs: 254
Mults: 189 (GenLog) - I count 185 (IT9 may account for that)
Score: 131,166
Entities (Countries): 76
Continents: All 6 (took near the end to get the WAC with a couple JAs and a UA9)
80M: 0
40M: 58
20M: 63
15M: 127
10M: 6
Zones: 23 (of 40)
I probably will write a contest story about this one. If so there will be more stats there.

Just a few comments here. Best QSO was probably VK2IA, at least the most distant. Not as easy to work JA and UA9 as it usually is. The Hawaii pipeline is still open and running, but may be slightly plugged up, especially to KH6LC. QSOs with him were a bit harder but KH6J and KH7M were easy. It still amazes me how OH LA SM OH0 are so easily worked despite being weak and fluttery. They're easier to work than S9++ signals in other parts of EU. That was also noted by my friend Tom WB3FAE in this contest. He's about 20 miles from here. It was fun exchanging emails with him throughout the contest. I haven't heard a final tally from him, but we kind of see-sawed back and forth and I think wound up pretty close in the end. Things heard I would have liked to have worked - 2 China stations, the 9H6 prefix, C4W on 40 to complete 40M WAC, and a few others that don't come to mind right now.

I still have a couple other chores to do now, namely get my (DX) QSO for the 30th, and close out the NAQCC sprint results, so I'll say 73 here. -30-

Saturday, November 28, 2015 5:00 PM - Although there is a lot of activity, working stations hasn't proven to be that easy for my minimal QRP. I've called a lot of stations who aren't hearing me at all. Right now at about 22 hours into the contest, I've only gotten 105 QSOs in (rough count) 52 countries. The bands are very up and down and I have to catch stations on the upswing (in most cases) to work them. Still it is strange as always. I can call stations who are well over S9 and have them not hear me at all even though there is no competition. Then other stations who are rather weak I can work easily even through a modest pileup. It all has to do with propagation favoring a certain path at the moment.

I'm pretty sure if things don't pick up, I'll just set a goal at 200 QSOs (all DX - I don't work W/VE in this contest since I don't go for score) and see if I can make it. Should conditions really pick up for the second day, I might up that goal.

I don't think I've worked any new prefixes and I know no new band entities. I did hear a 9H6 which would have been a new prefix, but no luck working him. Best (worst) of all was hearing RC9O on 40 early last night, but not working him. That would have finally given me a 40 meters WAC. Maybe later tonight. I did wake up early this morning, but was still too tired to turn on the rig to look for other Asians on 40 and went back to sleep. -30-

Friday, November 27, 2015 10:04 PM - So CW is dead, is it. Anyone who thinks that should listen to 40 meters right now. I don't think in my 52 years of hamming, I've ever heard any CW band as crowded. I'm not sure just how the analogy might work, but it makes me think of W.C. Fields saying something like the theater was so crowded you couldn't clap sideways, you had to clap up and down. That would be better with a video of Fields, but maybe you get the picture. Or maybe you could say it's like rush hour on a normal work day in a big city that is also hosting a football game, baseball game, some awards ceremony, etc. on that same day.

It was not easy making QSOs amongst all that high power competition. I only have 17 QSOs so far, and most of those are on 20 where it is not quite so crowded. I wasn't really in a contesting mood this weekend, but I got in the mood not long after starting despite the crowds. I just hope the high bands are good tomorrow morning, afternoon and early evening.

Conditions were unusual in a couple other ways as well. My normally sound pipeline to certain areas of the world just wasn't working this evening. Normally I can work KH6LC and other KH6 stations easily with just one or two calls, but not tonight. The same with northwest Africa and adjacent islands like CU EA8 CT3. Not even a question mark from any of them.

Then 20 was a bit unusual after the first hour or so. Virtually no activity below 14030, but quite a bit between 14030 and 14060.

I also lost about an hour's operating time when my neighbor called me for some help. I didn't mind that because it is more important to help someone than to contact a bunch of DX stations. Still all of the above helped (hindered) me from getting off to much of a good start.

At least I got some DX for another day, and will surely do so again the second day of the contest.

Otherwise today was perhaps a record setting warm day with a high of 68 so I took advantage and put up my outside Christmas lights, cleaned some windows, and brought my tree down from the attic along with the ornaments but I haven't decorated it yet. I'll probably do that on Monday. -30-

Thursday, November 26, 2015 7:39 PM -
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Yes, and I hope you had as much to be thankful for today as the very happy turkey. I certainly did after the past couple days. First reaching the 1,000 day mark in my DX streak Tuesday evening local time. Second having a great day with Mike on Wednesday with our subpedition to the USS Requin and just hanging out the rest of the day after that. Third having my great neighbors Nancy, Bruce, and Jeff inviting me along for Thanksgiving dinner at Ponderosa. Of course also getting the great feedback on the 1,000 days from you, my faithful diary readers. There are a lot more things also, but I won't delve into them here.

I guess I could add being thankful for two more days of DX making it 1,002 now after working HA3FTA last evening on 40 meters and C6AUM this evening on 30.

Well, you're probably all too full to even do much reading this evening, so I'll close the entry now after saying thanks to each and every diary reader for all you've done over the years, whatever it may have been from simply reading the diary regularly all the way through becoming good friends through correspondence relating to diary content. -30-

Wednesday, November 25, 2015 6:21 PM - It seems there is either too little or too much to write about here in the diary. Today is definitely a too much day with my 1,000 day DX streak and our subpedition to the Requin to be written about.

First of all, I was delighted to receive several congratulatory messages on the streak, and here is a list of those who sent messages one way or the other. Sincere thanks to each and every one listed.

K4WLW, N8XMS, K6ACF, W0CH, KB3BFQ, N1JI, KB3CT, K8LJG, W2LJ, N1ABS, K7TPD, KB3SVN, KC2EGL, WB3FAE, Fort Armstrong Wireless Association.

I want to single out one special message. Click here to hear it in a new window.

KB3BFQ has been a good friend of mine since around 1990 when he lived next door. He was about 13 at that time and he and his two sisters, about age 11 and 10 became kind of my proxy children so to speak although they had their own happy home with two great parents. I spent a lot of time with those kids and could write quite a long story about the good times we had. Anyway they all have their own lives now and their own homes so I don't get to see them all that much. As you may know Eric was the one who really got me back into ham radio after I'd been off the air for several years, and then a couple years later he got his own license. So it was a real pleasure to receive his CW congratulatory message.

You know (he said, speaking like an athlete being interviewed - what would they do without that phrase?) there are times in life that you hate to see things come to an end and wish that they could go on forever. I feel that way right now about the streak and the Requin operation. Even though the streak is going to go on, it doesn't feel the same as it did when striving to complete the 1,000 days. Also we have an open invite to come and operate the Requin station anytime we want, but right now the latest operation is over with.

As I said I would, I went ahead and updated my DX streak page (QRP - DX Streaks via the top menu) to 1,000 days with what I think are some pertinent comments about how easy it is to work DX with QRP/CW and quite a few stats about the streak. I may add a little to it, but essentially it is complete up to the 1,000 day point now. So I won't say more about the streak here in this diary entry since anything more can be found in the streak story.

Let's move on now to a somewhat condensed version of the Requin operation. Mike and I left around 8:30AM and unlike previous trips, traffic was virtually non-existent, even in Pittsburgh itself. So we arrived a little before 9:30, gathered our gear and headed for about a 1-2 block walk from parking lot to the sub. We beat Art WA3BKD who is in charge of many aspects of the sub, especially the radio room. After a few minutes a host and hostess came out and let us in to the sub and said we could go and set up.

Of course, we know the routine by heart now and found our way there and started getting ready to go. Art walked in a few minutes later and we chatted for a while as we were finishing setting up. Once that was done, we started operating on 40 meters with Mike at the key for about an hour, then it was my turn for the next hour or so. Here are two pictures of us hard(?) at work.
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As always it was a delight to interact with visitors to the sub and explain whatever needed to be explained about radio aboard the sub. Sometimes it was hard doing that and operating at the same time, but we managed quite well. After the time on 40 meters, we went to 30 and 20, but didn't find as much activity there. So we finished up on 40 meters.

In all, we made 30 QSOs - 2 on 30, 4 on 20, and 24 on 40. We worked the following 14 states in no particular order: NJ PA NY IN GA NC VA FL TX AR OH MD TN MS.

There were a couple disappointments, but otherwise it was a totally enjoyable experience. The Requin has been undergoing some painting and other work since September, and the painters wanted to take advantage of the great weather today, so the sub was closed to visitors and us about 3 hours early at 1:30PM EST. Another disappoinment, to put it mildly, was one station repeatedly calling us even though we gave him a perfectly good QSO the first time he called. I imagine that scared away others who wanted to work us.

Here now is a picture of the sub with its almost complete new paint job.
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After that we headed back home with stops in the Pittsburgh Mills for some shopping and of course eating. -30-

Tuesday, November 24, 2015 7:11 PM -

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Yes, 1,000 consecutive days (Mar 1, 2013 - Nov 25, 2015) of QRP/CW/simple wire antennas DX is in the books thanks to a 40 meters QSO with PJ2/KB7Q at 0002Z November 25, 2015. That made for a brief bit of exhiliration followed by now what do I do next. HI Maybe three years? That will happen on February 29, 2016. 2,000 days? No, not with a sunspot minimum coming up. That will take too much time although I'm certain it could be done. Concentrate more on the NAQCC challenges? I've been putting them in the background of the DX streak. I'll find something to do.

I must say today was a nervous day, but the final pitch was a strike. HI I could hardly bear waiting till 0000Z rolled around. I desperately wanted to get the QSO this evening since as I said, tomorrow I'll be going to Pittsburgh with Mike KC2EGL to operate from the USS Requin submarine.

I don't really have much more to say about the streak right now, but I will update the DX streak report to 1,000 days over the next few days as the sub, Thanksgiving, CQWW DX, etc. permit. It will be a busy next few days.

Just a bit more about the subpedition. We hope to get there as it opens to the public around 10A EST (1500Z) and start operating as soon as we get set up. We'll try to stick around the QRP frequencies, i.e. 7041, 10117, 14061, and the higher bands if they are open. I believe we can only operate one band at a time, so keep checking back and forth if you want to try to work us. We'll be using the sub call of NY3EC and maybe the NAQCC call N3AQC also. We'll be using Mike's KX3 at 5 watts. Hope to work you. -30-

Monday, November 23, 2015 7:05 PM - How about this analogy? It's the bottom of the ninth. Twenty-six batters in a row have been retired. The 27th batter has an 0 and 1 count. Here comes the pitch. It's a strike. Now just one pitch for the goal of a lifetime - a perfect game.

Analogy now. For 998 straight days, I've worked at least one DX (non-W/VE) station. This evening I'm trying for that second strike or 999 straight days. I fire up the rig, and look at 40 meters. The DX is there, but so are big pileups chasing it. Wonder what is on 30. First look at the PX3 shows nothing but a couple local noise peaks. Wait, there's one strong peak. Oh, it's gone. Now it's back. Who is it? PJ2/K2PLF - is he operating simplex or split. He doesn't say up, so I call him on frequency and get a K3?. A second call yields K3W?. A third and fourth call yields ONLY K3W as apparently other stations are calling on top of me. I guess they shut up now as the next call yields K3WWP 599, and now I need one more strike for the perfect game or one QSO tomorrow evening for 1,000 days of DX of course with QRP/CW/simple wire antennas. BIG WHEW!.

I really do need to get it tomorrow evening if I can since Mike and I (and maybe Tom) are going to Pittsburgh on Wednesday to operate from the sub USS Requin and I don't know how much time I'll have to look for DX during the day Wednesday unless I can work some from the Requin. It would be QRP/CW/simple wire antennas there so I guess I could count it.

I'll have more info on the subpedition in tomorrow's diary entry. I'll also send a promo email on our NAQCC email list with more details.

OK, I'm still shaking a bit from the excitement, stress, etc. of getting the QSO for 999 days, so I'll close here. -30-

Sunday, November 22, 2015 8:10 PM - OK, it's down to two days now. It wasn't easy tonight, but after about an hour of looking and calling unsuccessfully, I hooked up with KP4AW on 40 meters for day #998.

I'm going to keep this short tonight since I want to get to and finish up cross-checking of our NAQCC sprint logs. We wound up with 121 logs providing some 1600 QSOs to check. Plus I'm also doing my laundry at the same time so the next couple hours will be busy ones, but then I can take it easy tomorrow. -30-

Saturday, November 21, 2015 7:14 PM - Seems like right now I have but one aim in life and that is getting to that 1,000 days of DX. I'll be kind of glad when I make it in three more days (if I do). I think I'll continue as long as I can, but without the pressure I'm putting on myself at this stage.

Late last night just before 0600Z I worked S56X on 40 meters. It was strange. I called him several times without any indication he was hearing me, so I gave up and looked elsewhere. Not finding anyone else, I went back to S56X and got him solidly with but a single call.

I also checked the bands this morning just to see what they were like. I heard stations on all bands up through 10 meters and there is another decent sized sunspot group just rotating into view so that may bode well for the next three days. Perhaps even through the CQWW DX test next weekend. Looking at my propagation chart, I see we did have an elevated solar flux about this same time one solar rotation ago. So fingers crossed. Oh, I did work GM3WUX this morning on 17 meters to get some letters for the NAQCC European Chapter challenge. I'm only half way through it now though so I may not finish it off unless I really work at it which I haven't been doing so far this month.

Speaking of challenges, I just finished our NAQCC "USA" Thanksgiving challenge and at the same time extended the DX streak another day when I worked HT7C on 30 meters at 0005Z. He was kind of down in the noise and I didn't hear him send my call all that well, but he is a great and considerate op who always works to get calls right. Since he didn't question my call, I'm guessing he did get it right. Just to be sure though, I worked KP4SX on 40 meters a few minutes later and I'm 100% sure of that one.

Now, I'm going to get my challenge report ready and email it to our NAQCC challenge manager.

Before I do that, just a note that I'm continuing to work on the CQ Field award. I've now found QSOs in 80 different fields. -30-

Friday, November 20, 2015 8:11 PM - One solid hour (minus a few minutes for a QSO with Kurt KA2DAS) was spent examining peaks on the PX3 looking for DX. Nary a single workable DX station was found. There were some that would have been workable but they were in pileups chasing other DX. So if nothing happens later tonight, my day has been planned out for me tomorrow. The fact that the next two days are weekend days may help. In fact, let me see if there are any DX contests that might help. Well, the LZ DX contest might help. I can usually work LZ quite well. Also it's everyone work everyone which is a further big help. So the streak may be safe.

Otherwise I got a very nice email from Clark N1BCG I'd like to share with you with his permission. It goes as follows:

"Congratulations on a *magnificent* website! I've been a amateur and professional radio operator for decades and recently became interested again in CW, which was required both times I took the test (1981 & 2006). I came across your website and am forwarding the link to some friends I'm trying to recruit to join me. It works well that we'd all be slow as molasses and I'm looking forward to demonstrating the power of QRP vs what's required for phone.

Of particular interest is the section on your site where you outline proper procedures, which I discovered only after a memorable event. I was testing a newly built QRP rig when I heard a CQ at a friendly rate I could copy. He called and called and called, and not thinking I'd be heard due to a random wire strewn across a desk, lampshade, and up to a door, I sent his call followed by mine just to see how it sounded on sidetone.

He answered back. I froze like a deer in headlights, stunned and convinced I was mistaking someone else's call for mine, and missed everything that followed. Now what? I had no idea what to say so I turned the rig off, completely embarrassed, and sent him an email apologizing profusely.

Your "CW Procedures page" brought things together with great examples of what to expect and how to respond...thanks! I'm now looking forward to applying these techniques the next time I press down on a key. Of course, my having a tribute callsign (drop the "N") is a hugely motivating factor toward CW use and proficiency...

Clark n1BCG"

Clark followed up with this:

"Sure, you may share the story. Please include the addendum that the op I emailed wrote back, and as it turned out, was a new ham and thrilled to not only get the report but to also have someone to set up a sched with that would be ok with slow code and building proficiency.

Frankly I can't think of a more ideal ending to that story and it represents the essence of ham radio."

What more can I say than "Amen!". -30-

Thursday, November 19, 2015 7:57 PM - OK, slightly bigger WHEW! tonight. The DX came (as I surmised it might during one of the last 6 days) from Dave VP5/W5CW on 40 meters at 0001Z leaving 5 days to go now.

I also worked Marty N9SE for a nice rag chew which coincidentally gave me two Ns for the NAQCC challenge, leaving me with three letters to go to finish it. Maybe I'll finish that with the same QSO or at least on the same date as the 1,000 day DX streak is realized.

I mentioned in my NAQCC sprint soapbox last night that I'd have some pictures to show what my noise was like during the sprint. Or at least from tonight about the same time as the sprint. The noise was maybe one S unit lower tonight, but you get the picture of what I deal with on 80, 40, 30, and 20 on a typical evening.
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As you can plainly see it varies - S8 (S9 last night) on 80, S5 on 40, S4-5 on 30, and S4 on 20. Not a pretty sight and hard on the ears even with the wonderful receiver in the KX3.

Actually this noise is so bad, it even pretty much drowns out my usual furnace noise on those bands. I'm not sure if that is good or bad. HI. I think someday I'm going to shut down everything in this house that runs off the AC mains or battery and see if the noise is in house or from some other house(s) in the row of houses here. See this picture (from Bing maps) with an arrow pointing to my house.
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I live in the upper (right) half of that double house. As you can see there are a lot of other houses in the area in addition to the 3 double houses right in the row where I live. A lot of potential QRN for sure. -30-

Wednesday, November 18, 2015 7:24 PM - Whew! And that whew is going to get louder each of the next six days (I hope). It comes after getting my DX streak QSO during these less than good conditions in the evenings. I don't know what it is like in the mornings or afternoons because I haven't been finding time to check during those time frames. Let's see, my last QSOs that weren't in the evening happened 5 days ago on the 13th when I worked 4Z5AD and DK1AX. I haven't even listened during the day since then.

Tonight wasn't too bad. It took 19 minutes to find and work WP4L on 40 meters for a short but solid QSO. So that gives me another free day tomorrow.

A few weeks ago at the Butler hamfest I bought a book by the RSGB called the RSGB Prefix Guide. It turned out to be a lot more than just a Prefix Guide. It has info on IOTA, DXCC, ITU Zones, and more as well. Those of you who know me know that is just the kind of thing I would be interested in with my passion for lists and stats. Anyway today I found in the book something called the CQ Field Award. Not being a subscriber to CQ for many years now, I wasn't aware of it till now. Basically it is based on Grid Squares. Anyone interested in DX or especially VHF work knows of what I speak. The most familiar is the maidenhead grid system. Of that, the most familiar are the two letter two number squares such as mine which is FN00 - those squares are 1 degree latitude by 2 degrees longitude. Then it can be divided further to two letters (upper case), two numbers, two letters (lower case) such as FN00ft - 2.5 minutes latitude by 5 minutes longitude in that case. Now if you strip away the numbers and small letters you have squares that are 10 degrees latitude by 20 degrees longitude. The earth is divided into 324 squares that way labeled AA through RR with AA being the South Pole or 90 degrees South and RR being the North Pole or 90 degrees North. Got that? OK, let's move on to the award now.

The CQ Magazine award is for working 50 such squares with endorsements in increments of 50 to 150, 25 between 150 and 300, then a final endorsement for all 324 squares. I started looking through my log today to see how many I have worked. Some countries fit in just one square and are easy to figure out. Others occupy several squares, for example the USA with 11, Asiatic Russia with 27, Antarctica with 48. Those take more research with a good grid map or the listings in QRZ. So far I've found 60 that I've worked and probably will wind up with 80 or 90, maybe more after finishing the research into locations. I don't have the exact figure at hand, but some such squares are called wet squares occupying only empty ocean territory. You need to work some Maritime Mobiles to get them. Let's close as we opened with a Whew! after going through all that.

And a final reminder that tonight at 0130Z is our monthly NAQCC sprint. With the bands not sounding too good, I'll probably just get my 20 QSOs (if I can) and quit. -30-

Tuesday, November 17, 2015 8:02 PM - Where DOES the time GO? It seems like only yesterday I was wondering if I could work DX for the next 600 (450, 325, etc.) days to make it to 1,000. Now all of a sudden here it is only 7 days from the 1,000 mark after working FM/DL7VOG this evening on 40 at 0012Z. I also heard Dave W5CW portable VP5 so hopefully I can work him on a couple bands for a couple of the 7 days. He is usually an easy QSO. I imagine there will be more stations setting up and testing for the upcoming CQWW DX contest on the 28/29th which should provide a source for some DX even with the current poor conditions (at least in the evening - I haven't had much time to get on during the day).

Today was leaf raking day among other things. I helped Ange rake them in the garden, then he helped me rake around my house and also mulch my garden beds for the winter. -30-

Monday, November 16, 2015 8:07 PM - I switch back and forth among favorite sports and TV shows for my entertainment. Right now I'm watching a lot of pro bowling on the Internet. Just as I started this entry, an analogy between bowling and my DX streak came to mind. If reaching 1,000 days is equivalent to a 300 game in bowling, I certainly hope I don't leave a ringing 10 pin on the last ball for a 299 game - or to put it in ham radio terms, get to 999 days and then miss that last one. Whew, what a disappointment that would be.

Not to worry tonight though. I couldn't get the DX streak QSO much quicker. I worked HI8V in the 0000 minute on 30 meters, leaving 8 days to go now.

Another thought about the streak came to mind a little while ago. Anyone hearing about it must think that fellow must be on the air many hours each day to accomplish that. Tain't so at all. Except for contests, I only spend 30-60 minutes on the air each day, often less than that. Another point to show that QRP/CW does work, and work well. That's the main purpose of the streak, other than it being a lot of fun - to show the uninformed that they don't need QRO, a big antenna farm, and a lot of air time to work DX regularly.

When you have days like today, you don't even have the time to get on the air all that much. I started off doing my laundry. Then helped Ange bury the final two fig trees. Next up a visit to Ponderosa courtesy of Bruce and Nancy. In between all of that the rest of the usual everyday chores that a person living alone in a big house must get done. -30-

Sunday, November 15, 2015 8:32 PM - And then there were nine. That coincidentally applies to two things at the moment. The number of days till my DX streak reaches 1,000 days and the number of letters I need to finish the November NAQCC challenge.

I started off the evening not finding any DX except PJ4/OH2BAD on 30 and I didn't want to work him on the same band two evenings in a row. So I went to 80 which is where I've found it very easy to get a QSO for my regular streak lately. NS3X answered my CQ and explained something weird as he put it. He was looking up QNF and landed on my web site. As he was there he heard and answered my CQ. Now what are the odds of that? Anyway we had a great rag chew. The main topic was Tarentum, PA. He used to live there till he moved to MD 28 years ago. Of course it is only about 20 miles from here and is where Mike and I went on Veterans Day. I told Mark that if he hasn't been back to Tarentum for a while, to expect a lot of changes especially the fairly new big Pittsburgh Mills Mall just a couple miles from Tarentum.

After our 35 minute QSO I went looking for DX again and found V44KAI on 40 meters. Took but a single call and a correction from WWW to WWP to get him in the log for day # 991. So now no worries for another 22 hours or so.

Otherwise today was a nice weather day, and I helped Ange bury some fig trees. He's got a couple more left for tomorrow, and I got roped into helping again although another friend of his will do the heavy work because the two that are left are bigger ones and I'm getting too old to be doing stuff like that. I made a deal and said I would help a little if he would help me rake up my leaves.

I also went for a walk shortly before sunset to check out the river. It has come up again, but with a couple nice days coming up, I may just try for what may be the last fishing session of the year till spring comes along. -30-

Saturday, November 14, 2015 7:41 PM - I had a somewhat unusual experience last night after I wrote the diary entry. I went back to the bands about an hour or so later and found PJ4/OH2BAD on 30 meters working split with a small pileup. I called unsuccessfully a few times, then got a WWP?. I sent my call a couple more times, and then a couple more, but never heard anything more from him. He was pretty strong so I don't think the band changed that quickly. It was like his power source just quit or something along those lines. I listened for 5 or more minutes and he never did come back to anyone. Often when Mike and I are working DX, someone will leave like that before we even get a chance to call and we kid that we scared them away. I guess I really scared OH2BAD. HI. That was another one of those "I'd hate to see the DX streak end like this" moments. Not to worry though, I did work 8P9NX on 30 about another hour after that.

OK, so now a question. Whom did I work tonight for my DX? I'm sure you all got that right away. Of course it was PJ4/OH2BAD on 30 meters, and this time it was a successfully finished solid QSO.

Now it's down to 10 days to reach 1,000 days of DX. Day # 1,000 will come the day before Thanksgiving if I make it that far. That's the day that Mike and I hope to operate from the USS Requin submarine in Pittsburgh. The Requin has been undergoing repairs since September 14, and may or may not be ready for radio work according to Art WA3BKD who runs the radio room along with a lot of other things on the sub. He says he'll know for sure by the 23rd or 24th and will let us know. If it is ready and we do go, day #1,000 may be interesting especially if I don't get any DX the evening before in my usual 0000Z hour. Stay tuned, it's getting exciting now. -30-

Friday, November 13, 2015 7:57 PM - Each day it seems to be harder and harder to get that DX QSO, especially in the evenings. Tonight the only band that had any activity at all was 40 meters and I guess every other DX chaser found the upper bands dead also and all went to 40. At least every DX station that showed up on 40 seemed to almost immediately gather a big pileup that I had no luck in breaking. I might have gotten VP2ECC, but I just worked him a couple days ago and by the time I decided I'd try anyway, it was too late and he had a big pileup then. So either later tonight or the morning or afternoon will be the time for my DX if I am to get it. I worked a couple DX stations around 9:30AM today - 4Z5AD and DK1AX on 10 and 15 respectively, and there were quite a few others available I probably could have worked. I only worked them because I wasn't sure KP4CPC had my call right last night. He called me K3RWP, and never did correct it although he said QSL after I repeated it several times. I wasn't positive about 4Z5AD either as he was quite weak and I lost my call in the noise. But the DK1AX QSO was a solid one with no doubt.

I also had trouble even getting a regular QSO this evening till Fred WB8CMU - QRP in Canton OH answered my CQ. So the big streak lives and I even got a couple letters for the NAQCC challenge from his call.

I'm getting quite a bit of positive feedback about my presentation at the BCARA on Tuesday. Some nice emails, guestbook entries, and the like all saying they found it entertaining and informative. So I feel good about that. I (and Mike and Tom as well) have been invited back to their meetings whenever we wish and also to their Christmas Party next month. Also since conditions didn't permit much of a showing for the KX3, we will perhaps go back with the KX3/PX3 combo in late spring or summer when conditions should be better in the evenings. -30-

Thursday, November 12, 2015 2:12 PM - It was a great Veterans Day with Mike yesterday. Someone asked me what the two of us did. I replied with one word - "ate". That's almost true except that we did other things as well. We started out shortly after Mike arrived to the Pittsburgh Mills for a great meal at Applebee's. I had fish and onion rings and Mike had some kind of steak. Then we did some shopping at Office Max, Michael's, and Best Buy. Mike bought a few things, but I couldn't find exactly what I was looking for and wound up buying nothing. After a couple hours, we came back here.

Other than the meals, we had no real projects planned other than an impromptu one. Elecraft released a firmware update for the PX3 a couple days ago, and I told Mike to bring his down with him, and we'd update both of our units. First however, the bands were in pretty good shape, even up through 10 meters, so we spent a while chasing (and catching) some DX. Nothing really exotic, but a lot of fun having all bands available for a change of late.

Then we did do the updates to our PX3s. They turned out well, and we now have a lot of new features to play with, although the basic unit stayed pretty much the same.

Let's see, it's been a few hours now since we ate, so..... Off to Ponderosa for their dinner buffet. It was really crowded (as was Applebee's earlier) because of the free meals for veterans. We didn't have long to wait to get seated at either place though compared to some horror stories of lines extending way out into parking lots. Probably about 10-15 minutes at each place at the very most.

Then a stop at WalMart for some more shopping before heading home. This time I did find some things I needed like a new pair of shoes. Mike also got several items.

By the time we got home, it was past 0000Z, almost 0100Z, and Mike and I went up to get my streak(s) QSO. There wasn't much to be heard on 30 or above, but I did find and work VP2ECC on 40 whom I had worked during our afternoon session on 30 meters. Mike worked him also, then it was back to the computer for some hidden object games before Mike had to head on home.

As usual a great day when the two of us get together. Our next 'project' will hopefully be an activation of the ham radio station in the submarine USS Requin in Pittsburgh on the day before Thanksgiving. The Requin has been undergoing some maintenance, and we will have to check to see if it will be available for us on that day.

Before writing the above I just got home from a shopping trip to the Ol' Station Marketplace which is the place for whom I'm designing the web site. I found a couple of bureau envelopes in my mailbox, and I'm going to open them now and see what goodies are in them. -30-

Wednesday, November 11, 2015 9:26 AM - I hope you all will do your bit in honoring our brave veterans, past and present, today in some way. I've got my flag flying on my front porch. It's the one that draped my dad's coffin 51 years ago. He was a WWII veteran.

The DX streak lives. Because of the presentation last night, getting home late, and the dead bands, I had to wait till this morning to get my DX. Mike is coming back again, and we're going to Applebee's for lunch and who knows what else after that. So I wanted to get the DX as soon as possible. A few minutes after I got up, I went to the shack and noticed a lot of activity. It took a couple minutes to sort it out and find and work Jose KP4JFR. So 14 days to go to 1,000 now.

OK, I promised some info about the presentation. I'll start with these two pictures. On the left is the meeting room - empty now because we all got so absorbed in the presentation that we forgot about pictures till it was over and just about everyone had left. The large screen is where I showed the info from my web site as described below. On the right are the Three Stoog..... er I mean me, Mike KC2EGL, and Tom WB3FAE. I really appreciated them accompanying me at the presentation.
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As I mentioned, I really am nervous about speaking before a group, but all 25 or so club members were so friendly and interested, all the nervousness vanished even before I spoke my first word. I didn't really know most of the members except for Bruce AA3LX whom I see every year at the Breezeshooters Hamfest in June and Rick N3VKM whom I met at the BCARA hamfest along with a couple others whom I've met briefly at hamfests. Rick is the one who invited me to do the presentation. I want to publicly thank Rick, Bruce, all the BCARA members, Mike who drove me there and provided moral support along with Tom WB3FAE. I felt a lot better having Mike and Tom with me. It made a difference.

When we arrived, we were greeted in the parking lot by John K3HPS who led us to the meeting room in the church. Once there I started setting up the KX3/PX3 with which we would close out the presentation. However I found that the power cable was missing for the KX3 and we had to use the cable for the PX3 for it and would be unable to show off the PX3. When we got home, I found the cable on the floor next to my computer desk. I apparently dropped it while packing. I mention that only because it is really the only negative thing in the whole presentation. Everything else was on a total positive upbeat. Next up, Rick helped me hook up the laptop to their TV. That went well with the HDMI cable I borrowed from my neighbor Bruce. So I was now already virtually relaxed and ready to go.

The club had to take care of the business portion of the meeting first which took about 10 minutes or so. I was pleased that they opened the meeting with the Pledge of Allegiance. After the business was taken care of, Rick officially introduced me and I walked to the front of the room, and set up the laptop so I could look at it while facing the crowd. Now I was totally relaxed and began the presentation.

I started off by describing my station and showing pictures of my antennas. After the pictures I told them about Alan KB7MBI referring to my antennas as an "Antenna Victory Garden" rather than an "Antenna Farm". Apparently most of the folks there knew about victory gardens as they laughed at that. I answered a couple questions about the antennas and my location. Most were familiar with Kittanning and when I said I lived right in the heart of town, they knew about me being down in the valley in that case. One said that I probably had a lot of noise in that situation, and as you know, he was right.

As I had planned the presentation in five steps with the first being a station and location description, up next was step two in which I described what can be done with such a simple setup as mine. I showed the various tables on the site showing my progress in the various awards. Then moved on to the streak(s). That drew a lot of interest as well as the award info. A couple more questions including one about all the award and streak QSOs being done with QRP. I answered that everything was done with the station as described.

The third part of the presentation was telling and showing how anyone can do what I have done no matter how simple a setup they may have. I showed my CW tips, DXing tips, and QSLing tips. I didn't go into detail but only mentioned a couple of things. I mentioned one of my pet peeves - folks sending way too many CQs before identifying their call once which often forces someone to lose concentration and miss the call. Then having to listen through the endless CQs a second or third time. Folks agreed about that as well as agreeing my 3X2 CQ pattern was a good way to do it. One member brought up another thing about DX stations never identifying themselves. I said that was another pet peeve and that in that case I work them, then figure out who they were. Should they QRT before identifying, I said I then use spotting (and only then) to try to figure it out. QSLing brought some discussion including using "Green Stamps", LoTW, and so forth. Looking up addresses was another topic that brought discussion. I mentioned that I generally use the bureau for my DX QSLs unless it is something special like an overall new country, etc. in which case I'll go direct with a couple GSs.

On next to part four where I asked Mike to talk about his 'conversion' from phone/QRO to CW/QRP followed by Tom converting from QRO to QRP. They both did an excellent job of reinforcing what I said about CW/QRP/simple wire antennas. I thank them here.

The last part of the presentation with Mike's demo of the KX3 while I 'tore down' the computer setup fell short of the mark, but there was nothing we could do about it. Because band conditions were so poor, we couldn't make any contacts and only heard one rag chew type QSO on 80 and one on 40. Some commented they were impressed with the sound quality of the small KX3 speaker as we listened to the QSOs. Some more thanks to Rick here who took the time and effort before the meeting to set up a temporary antenna in the church parking lot in the damp drizzly weather. Too bad band conditions didn't cooperate to make his efforts worthwhile.

I was pleased to have many members come up to me after the presentation and telling me how much they enjoyed it and found it interesting. That made it completely worthwhile.

On the way home, Mike and I played our alphabet game which was a little more difficult in the dark. We also somehow got into talking about AM BC Band stations, probably because we were listening to WABC, and I referred to Cousin Brucie and the jingles played by various stations. When we got home, we spent maybe a half hour or so just talking about various stations and listening to some old jingles on the Internet. I mentioned my AM BC Band DXing and was reminiscing about the unique sharing system of WBAP in Fort Worth and WFAA in Dallas whereby they would swap frequencies regularly as often as several times a day between 820 (50KW) and 570 (5KW). When I brought up that info from memory, I then looked it up on the Internet and learned quite a bit more about the swapping.

By then it was pretty late and Mike headed north and I did a couple things, and headed off to bed. -30-

Tuesday, November 10, 2015 11:37 PM - As you see from the time stamp, it's approaching midnight so I'm not going to have a long entry. Tomorrow, I'll talk about my presentation at the BCARA meeting. I'll just say now that as I said in yesterday's entry, I did wind up having an absolute blast there in front of a great group of hams - I guess around 25 or so. Also tomorrow, I'll have to get my streak QSOs. The bands seem absolutely dead right now, and I didn't get a chance to make a QSO at the presentation as they were not much better then. OK, got to shut up and get ready for bed now. -30-

Monday, November 09, 2015 8:07 PM - With a busy day coming up tomorrow going out to lunch, getting ready for my presentation tomorrow evening, and the presentation itself, I did something tonight I don't really like to do. I worked the same DX station on the same band as two nights ago. With only 15 days left to 1,000 now, I'm liable to do that more often to insure reaching the 1,000 mark. I'd really hate to come so close and lose it now. Oh the station was VP2MXP on 30 meters.

I did a little fishing today, but got shut out. Although it was around 60, there was a cool breeze blowing and it got pretty chilly at the river so I didn't stay all that long.

I also took a couple walks around town and did a bit of shopping along the way.

Right now my focus is on the presentation tomorrow evening. I'm not much for speaking in front of crowds, and I must admit I'll be glad when it is over. But you know, when it is over, I'll realize that I actually enjoyed it. HI That's the way these things always go.

I wanted to mention this before, but my 'sun spot on the wall' I talked about a few days ago (see this .pdf file if you're curious) is really working fine this year. Of four measurements taken so far, the average between predicted and actual 'spots' is only .066 inches (a tad more than 1/16"), well within measuring errors. One was within .011 inches. It will be interesting to see how the rest of the season goes until the spot drops off the wall early in February as the sun gets higher in the sky. -30-

Sunday, November 08, 2015 7:34 PM - And then there were 16 - days that is until the DX streak reaches 1,000 days. I must say I'll be glad when I reach that point. As I get closer and closer, it is becoming more and more of an obsession with me. I wasn't even thinking about the SS this weekend till I took a look at 20 meters this evening. The DX QSO came quickly at 0003Z with YV4YC on 30 meters. Took just one call and a repeat for him to get the last letter (P) in my call and another day was in the books.

I'm not superstitious, but I feel a little hesitant about making the following statement for fear of jinxing myself. I think the last 16 days may not be all that hard with folks preparing for the CQWW DX contest at the end of the month. At least I hope that is so.

I guess the SS is the reason my number of web site visitors took a rather big dip yesterday and today. I know a lot of you who visit are into contesting and especially the SS. Personally the SS is not one of my favorites and never really has been. I have done quite well in a few of them, but lately I've rather ignored them just awaiting the CQWW DX later in the month for my big November contest effort. I guess I'm hooked on DX. -30-

Saturday, November 07, 2015 7:16 PM - Kind of a nothing day today. I don't even remember anything noteworthy that happened or that I did. The weather returned to early November style today with gray overcast skies and a high of just 57 - 25 degrees colder than just two days ago. I still got in some walking to the tune of 8+ miles so far. No fishing though.

Oh, I did some work on the web site I'm designing for a local shop here in town. I think I mentioned that several entries ago. Also a bit more prep work for my QRP/CW presentation at the Butler County ARA Tuesday evening.

Right now I'm installing the latest preview build of Windows 10 on my laptop. I wanted to keep an eye on that, so I hoped for, and got a quick DX QSO at 0003Z, working another Montserrat station - this time VP2MXP which makes three different ones now. I think I've heard one other one also, but I can't recall for sure now. -30-

Friday, November 06, 2015 8:30 PM - Not as warm today with a high of only 70 or so. Still isn't it nice to be able to say that in November? We did have some showers, but I worked around them with some walks and some fishing. The fish were biting good, but they must have been small ones as I just couldn't hook them. To further that guess, only one bite was what I would call a good one. The rest fell under the nibble category. Still it was nice to sit out there in the warm November air.

I did a little prep work for my QRP/CW presentation at the Butler County ARA next Tuesday evening. That should be fun. I hope conditions permit working some DX with the makeshift antenna at the church where they meet.

Conditions were good enough this evening to get my DX streak QSO out of the way in two minutes when I worked VP2MEW on 30 meters at 0002Z. There are several VP2M stations active. I guess getting ready for a big multi-op effort in the CQWW DX test later this month. None of them have been really strong, and I wonder if maybe it will be a QRP or at least low power operation.

80 meters continues good with many signals overriding my steady S7 noise level there. I had another nice rag chew after the DX QSO with Rick VE3MG - solid copy both ways. -30-

Thursday, November 05, 2015 2:41 PM - I just got my insurance DX QSO from VP2MVI on 17 in case S57V had me logged wrong last night. Twenty more days for 1,000 now.

Another warm (hot?) November day today. We peaked briefly at 82, just one degree short of the 83 I talked about in a previous entry. So today is all alone in second place for the warmest November day here. Also the latest in the year reaching 82 degrees.

After I wrote yesterday's entry, I remembered one other warm November day. Back on November 23, 1979, the WPIT chief engineer and I were doing some work on the base of our transmitting tower, and the temperature hit 78 degrees in Kittanning. I don't know what it was at the tower site in Pittsburgh, but it definitely was warm there as well.

Funny how when you get old, you can remember things from long ago better than recent things. When I was looking up the above info in my weather records, I noticed an interesting temperature swing in November last year that I didn't think of till then. On November 11, 2014 it was 74 degrees. Then over the next week or so it dropped all the way to 13 degrees on November 19, then to 10 degrees on the 22nd. Just two days later on the 24th it was back up to 71 degrees with a low of just 49 which made the average 22 degrees above normal for that date. For someone who loves stats, the weather makes a great hobby. -30-

Wednesday, November 04, 2015 8:09 PM - The official high here yesterday was 78. Today it was 79 as I checked the outdoor thermometer when I came home from fishing (no, no fish). Close to the magic 80 mark for November, but not quite. Maybe tomorrow as it should be pretty much like today and yesterday also. Or even Friday as that is the day the cold front arrives and sometimes the temperature reaches an extreme high just before a front with the associated SW winds.

This morning I did some recomputing on my sun spot tracker for the upcoming winter. I'm not going to explain it in detail here, but if you're interested you can explore my diary archives. Let's see, these dates have more info - January 2, 2015 - December 15, 2014 (pretty much a complete explanation in the .pdf file linked to that entry). Anyway after the recomputation the spot today was only off from my prediction by 44.68 - 44.625 = .055 inches or just under 1/16 of an inch well within the accuracy of making the measurement. I hope it's clear tomorrow so I can get a confirming check on the accuracy before I mark all the dates and predictions on the chart.

As usual, conditions were poor for DX this evening. CN40KD (aka CN8KD) was strong on 30 and he most times hears me well, but not tonight. So I went to 80 for a rag chew with Jim AF3Z before resuming my DX search. I found the seemingly always present on 30 meters S57V and worked him yet again. He slurred (if you call it that on CW) my call a bit, but I think he did get it right. I will go for another DX QSO tomorrow just to be sure though. -30-

Tuesday, June November 03, 2015 3:20 PM - Well, it seems like June 3. Way back in 1961, let's see, that's 54 years ago, on November 3, it was red and white (school colors) day in high school. I don't remember it for that though. I remember because it was nearing the second full year of weather record keeping for me. The high that day was 83 degrees which was then and is now the warmest November day around here. There have been three other November days since when it reached 80+, but not 83. It was 80 on November 2, 1982 and 2004 and 81 on November 4, 2003. The reason I mention that is that today we came close to the all time record. Possibly even tied or broke it although that's unlikely because my official thermometer usually tracks within a degree of my remote unit which says the high reached 79 today. I could go out and check now, but I'll wait till 9 PM to do so. If the remote unit was closer to 83, I'd definitely check now out of curiosity.

I got my DX later last night so I was able to fully enjoy this wonderful warm November day. I worked LZ259PA on 40 meters around 0230Z or so. That also gave me several numbers/letters for the NAQCC challenges.

One of the things I did today was go fishing. I had a total of 3 hits, but no catches. Who cares though when you can enjoy 80 degree weather in November. I also have 8 miles walking today so far including a walk to Subway for my free sub for voting.

I really was inside for a while, and one of the things I did was to fabricate a cover for the power pole unit I built and showed here in the diary yesterday. Here's what it now looks like with it's cardboard cover.
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A bit crude, but sufficient since it will only be used a few times a year for portable operations. -30-

Monday, November 02, 2015 8:36 PM - I made the power pole device for which I bought the parts at the hamfest.
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Pretty much like what Mike and I built and described in a couple different diary entries, but with a couple changes. I cleaned and tinned the wire that went into the connector pins which made for easier soldering. As you see I spaced the connectors apart on the rod (made from a coat hanger) with little rubber spacers. That cured the crowding problem I described in an earlier entry. Now I have to figure out how to mount it in a tiny cover of some sort and it will be all ready for use when we go portable somewhere. I can plug my battery into one, the KX3 into another, and the PX3 into the third. First use will probably come next Tuesday when I give a QRP/CW demo at the Butler County ARA.

The bands were not all that good this evening (for me) and I don't have my DX QSO in the log for today (3rd) yet. I did have a nice long 40 minute plus rag chew with Rick KA2PBO on 80 meters. I believe I had more 80 meter QSOs in our NAQCC October sprint than the whole rest of 2015 combined - yes, 42 vs. 20. I have a constant S8 or so noise level on that band so I haven't used it much until I tried it this evening. Then the high bands have been so good, I've been sticking with them. However as sunspots decrease and the conditions on the high bands follow suit, I may have to use 80 more often and just deal with the high noise. -30-

Sunday, November 01, 2015 8:05 PM - A great time was had by all (K3WWP, KC2EGL, WB3FAE) today. It was our first visit to the Washington, PA fall hamfest. Mike and I left just before 8AM and it took a little under an hour and a half to drive down there. It went very smoothly and we didn't get lost like we sometimes (most of the time?) do. Just about the very first person we saw was Bob WC3O standing outside the entrance. Tom arrived about the same time, and despite the very crowded conditions (see first picture below), we hooked up quickly. It was a very nice hamfest and we think it will be on our annual hamfest calendar from now on. I think possibly of all the hamfests we visit, this one had the most vendors and the most things available for purchase. I bought 8 more power pole connectors after being delighted with the ones Mike and I set up as described earlier in the diary. I also bought a very complete ham prefix book by the RSGB. I also purchased a compact folding umbrella when I saw them there. I had one once and lost it somewhere years ago, and never did replace it till today. They are much more convenient to carry around waiting for the rain or after it stops.

We had nice visits with Bob, other Skyview members, a brand new NAQCC member KC3DOF (#8017), and other folks. They had good food there, and surprisingly reasonably priced. Of course you know we had to partake of some of that. We roamed around quite a bit just looking at the items. I enjoyed seeing some of the very old equipment they had there. One item in particular, an AM BC band loop antenna from 1930 since for many years I enjoyed DXing the AM BC Band with a homebrew receiver and homebrew loop antenna.

We left about 1PM or so, Mike and I came back here and did some DXing for a little while before he had to head out for another committment he had. We both worked HP1IBF, and he also worked CO8LY and maybe one other station. I can't remember now.

Before I continue, here are a couple pictures from the hamfest. A 'crowd scene', and the four of us (L-R WC3O KC2EGL K3WWP WB3FAE). We wanted to get KC3DOF in the picture also, but he must have left in the meantime as we couldn't find him.
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Day # 977 of the DX streak came easily when I found and worked XE1XR at 0006Z on 20 meters. I tried a LU station before that with no luck. Then I called CQ on an almost 'dead' 30 meters and got a quick answer and a nice chat with Dan K0FD in MO. If you don't hear anything on a band, try a CQ. You'll often get surprised with an answer. After all, someone has to get things started with that CQ.

Now I'm doing my laundry so as to have a free day tomorrow with the exception of my first (2nd) of the month financial stuff. The weather will be sunny in the 60s, but I don't think there will be any fishing as the river is still pretty high, but I might try anyway. I'll also get in some walks for sure and who knows what else. If the high bands are good to Europe, I'll work on the NAQCC November challenges. I'm about a third of the way done with the "USA" challenge, but haven't even worked any Europeans so far this month for the European challenge. -30-

Saturday, October 31, 2015 8:36 PM - After I wrote yesterday's diary entry early in the morning, I had a great day on the bands. All the high bands from 17 through 10 were open for DX, especially to Europe. Figuring it was a great chance to at least finish a word or two in the NAQCC European Chapter challenge, I decided to hang around on the bands and put off some other things. I didn't think I had a chance to finish the whole challenge since I still needed 30 letters/numbers to make all the words. However, it looked better and better as I was finding and working stations that had 2 or 3 (sometimes more) of the characters I needed. Slowly my total needed went from 30 to 25 to 20 to 15, and when the bands kind of faded away, I had gotten 29 of the 30. One 'C' eluded me. I had tried 9A9C and a couple others, but they just weren't hearing me like the other 13 European stations I worked rather easily. I thought maybe 20 would pick up to Europe later in the day, but it didn't, at least for any strong stations with a 'C' in their call. Nothing last evening either, so I got on again early today determined to get that last 'C'. Today it was DL60DARC who wasn't hearing me at all. I found SM3COP on 12, and although he was weak, I figured I could work him. He's a great op, and we've worked a few times before. However he was in a rag chewing mood, and I got impatient and looked around while he was going on and on. Then I got a phone call I had to answer, and when I got back, he had faded well down into my noise level. I gave up on him and continued to search. Finally I found F5CEL on 17, and although it wasn't an easy QSO with many repeats before he could get my call right, I got my 'C' and mastered the challenge sort of "in the bottom of the ninth". Or in my soapbox, I added for our European friends, like a soccer (football) goal in the last second of extra time. Ton, who handles the European challenges agreed about the goal and added it can be very frustrating when that goal is scored by the opposing team. HI.

So tonight starts two brand new challenges. The European one dealing with active European volcanoes, and the "USA" on our traditional Thanksgiving challenge. No Europeans yet in November, but I do have 10 of the 85 letters for the Thanksgiving challenge thanks to RG0A and AE4QQ. RG0A is another of the great Russian ops. Even though he may be weak and fluttery here, he manages to copy me pretty easily most of the time in the half dozen or so QSOs we've had.

Now it's time to close here and get to a traditional fall task. Turning all my clocks back one hour. It's so much simpler back in spring to turn them ahead one hour, and also much nicer to anticipate the weather coming up back then at that time. -30-

Friday, October 30, 2015 10:07 AM - Some stats today. The 2015 Field Day results were posted a day or so ago on the ARRL web site. Our N3AQC 3AB operation with Mike KC2EGL, Tom WB3FAE, and me fared quite well as shown here in these stats I gathered from the searchable database of results. Unfortunately there was no way (that I could see) to separate results that were from CW-only operations as ours was, of course. If there were, we'd be even higher that way, than we were among mixed operations.

We finished as follows:

Second overall (of 40) in the WPA section. 1st (of 4) in the QRP category (multiplier 5)

19th overall (of 307) in the QRP category (multiplier 5). 8th (of ?) for entries with 3 ops or less.

6th overall (of 19) in the 3AB / QRP category (multiplier 5). 1st (of 4) for entries with 3 ops or less.

I think we did quite well and are satisfied with the results as well as being pleased to demonstrate that QRP can be very effective in emergency like situations, especially when using CW. It definitely was emergency like in our case with flooding rains, lightning, and a tornado touchdown about 20 or so miles away. We did shut down for an hour or so when the lightning got too close for comfort.

A couple of entries ago I mentioned about rag chewing with DX stations and said I'd like to see what the longest QSO with each country was. Well, it was very easy as I surmised with my Microsoft Access database and a little help from Microsoft Excel as follows.

First I filtered the database for only DX QSOs and for non-contest QSOs. That took all of a few seconds and turned up 5,219 QSOs. Then I copied the pertinent fields in the results to Excel and continued on. I sorted by date and eliminated the rows containing QSOs before 1990 to insure all that remained were with 5 watts or less. Thinking back now, I could have just filtered the power field in Access for 5 watts or less. Doing it that way now leaves 5,110 as it did the other way as well.

Next in Excel, I created a column for the end time minus the start time of QSOs. Since the times are actually entered as numbers in my database, the subtraction was off for those QSOs that spanned an hour. For example starting at 1939 and ending at 2018 gave 79 minutes instead of the correct 39 minutes. So in another column, I subtracted 40 (100 - 60) from those results that spanned hours and were thus over 40 for the original answer. Along the way, I found some (about 10 or so) unusual times like -4 minutes. In checking I found I had entered either the start or end time erroneously. Another one had a start time of such and such with the RST instead of end time in the end column. To get on with the story, I fixed those mistakes in my log and continued.

After the QSO lengths were computed, I decided to eliminate those less than 5 minutes to narrow the field a bit. That left 627 QSOs of 5 minutes or more in length. Next I sorted by country (alphabetically) and length (longest to shortest) and filtered to leave only the longest QSO from each country. I found I had 5+ minute QSOs with 76 different countries. I'm not going to list all of those here, but here are the top 10 + ties listed by length with the country, call, band, and length included. All continents but Oceania were represented so I added the longest from OC at the end of the table.
PUE KP4FJT     15  39
CNR EA8/DJ1OT  30  34
JAP 8J2VE      17  27
ALS WL7CDC     10  24
ENG G3RHP      10  21
BON PJ2JW      30  20
DMN HI7V       40  20
HAI N3SIY/HH2  30  20
GRD J37XC      30  18
BAH C6AGH      30  17
BVI VP2V/NY3F  30  17
FRG DL7AI      10  17
PER OA4/KA2OIG 30  17

AUS VK6HQ      30  12
Yes you can rag chew with DX stations using only QRP/CW/simple wire antennas. I think the above info proves that. Of course you do need good conditions to do it plus good ops at the other end who are willing to copy signals less than S9+. It's a big help if the op at the other end has a very quiet location as well. There is a big difference here between my home and the Community Park when we operate portable there. About a constant S5 to S6 noise level at home vs. virtually S0 noise there.

Well, enough for today. Off to get a couple projects taken care of after brunch, then hopefully I can check the bands before Bruce, Nancy, Jeff, and I head off to Ponderosa for the Friday seafood dinner buffet. I can taste it now, so I better have a very light brunch now. -30-

Thursday, October 29, 2015 7:34 PM - A cold, blustery day today. The temperature wasn't too bad in the mid to upper 50s, but the wind made it feel a lot colder. The heavy rain yesterday really raised the river. If I were sitting where I fished the other day, I would be completely under water. So I guess no fishing for a while now. If it does drop though, there are some nice looking days in the mid 60s coming up next week starting Tuesday.

I did get in some cold walks, and just got home from watching our town's Halloween parade, something I've done every year for several years now. I think the parade was a bit larger tonight than it has been. I only took a couple pictures as with my simple digital camera and not using flash so as not to disturb the marchers, they usually don't turn out all that well. Here's one I took of a pumpkin float that I thought was quite nice and clever.
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It's coming up on 0000Z now, so I'll cut this short and head for the shack. But first, Tom WB3FAE has been having success on 12 meters the past couple of days. I've just got to stop getting involved in so many things and check those high bands during the day. I've got a few things scheduled for tomorrow so I don't know if that will be the day or not. -30-

Wednesday, October 28, 2015 9:03 PM - Every once in a while it is drummed into us what a great hobby is this ham radio. Although it is obvious every day that it is that great hobby, some days are a little more special than others. This evening I felt was special. I was really down because not only could I not work any DX, but couldn't even get a 'regular' rag style QSO. I thought there was a remote possibility that both my streaks might come to an end, although of course the day was far from over and if I didn't get anyone this evening, surely the morning or afternoon would provide something.

It turns out I didn't have to wait till morning. I went searching for a W/VE station calling CQ on 40. OK, here's one here about S8 calling CQ, but wait, the call starts with a C - oh, it's CO8RRM. I probably won't be able to get him since it seems there is still a lot of natural QRN in the Caribbean at this time of year even though it is dying off up here. I'll try anyway. OK, I got a QRZ? Could be me. I sent my call a couple more times and he came back with A3WWP. Hmmm, he seems talkative giving me my RST, his full QTH (Baracoa) and name (Rafael). He turned it back to me and I sent CO8RRM DE K3 K3WWP. Then I gave him the same RST, QTH, and name. I always mimic what the DX sends, be it an RST only, the full info, or anything in between. I turned it back to him and he now had my call correct and we continued on chatting about our rigs, weather, age, years in ham radio, and so on for about a dozen minutes. His English is a lot better than some W/VE ops and his CW procedure is tops. It's so nice to have QSOs like that with DX stations, and yes it can be done with QRP and simple antennas. He was running 50 watts to a dipole and copied me solidly all the way. He's 47 years old and been a ham for about 10 years. I wish we could have exchanged temperatures. I liked his 30C, and he thought my 15C sounded nice.

Some day when I have nothing else to do, I'd like to look through my log and see what the longest QSO I've had with each DX country might be. It wouldn't be all that hard to do with my Microsoft Access log and a little help from Microsoft Excel.

It was a rainy day today, but I still got involved in a lot of other things and never did get on the bands as I thought I might. Maybe someday I'll see what goes on the bands in the morning or afternoon again. -30-

Tuesday, October 27, 2015 8:39 PM - If it rains as predicted tomorrow, maybe I'll get on the bands in the afternoon and see if I can at least finish part of the NAQCC European Chapter challenge to get a participation point for the month. It's just been too nice to get tied down at the radio when you consider the nice days are numbered for this year until next spring. They need to be taken advantage of by being outdoors walking, fishing, cleaning up yards and gardens, and so forth.

I took advantage today by walking over 10 miles, helping Ange clean up his garden, and fishing. Fishing was good, and I caught another carp, number 10 for the year. This one was 28.5 inches and a very nice looking specimen unlike the one yesterday. He also put up a much better fight, probably around 8 minutes or so. That makes 32 fish for the year, leaving this year alone as my fifth worse one, and that is where it will finish unless I catch 53 more the rest of the year. That is not going to happen.

A quick DX QSO this evening added a day to the DX streak. At 0004Z, I connected with T47GDXC on 40 meters. He had me as K3WW at first, but after a couple repeats, he got it right.

This coming Sunday, Mike and I (and maybe Tom?) are heading down to Washington, PA for what sounds like a very big hamfest there. We've never gone there before. In fact we (or at least I) never even knew of it before until I got an email promoing it a couple weeks ago. That should be a lot of fun. Hopefully we'll meet some NAQCC members there. We're only visiting, not setting up a table or anything like that. Kind of like what we do at the fall Butler hamfest each year. Just visit and enjoy ourselves - maybe even find a good bargain along the way. -30-

Monday, October 26, 2015 9:09 PM - I didn't really like doing it, but I resorted to working Milan S57V again for my DX QSO. He's been my DX streak QSO three times this month now and all on the same band. It's odd how he and S58N boom in seemingly every evening on 30 meters and there are no other strong European stations being heard and really not even any weak ones save for a couple now and then like G3UJE last evening. Oh and S58MU joins the mix now and then also. Some quirk of propagation? Or is everyone else in Europe asleep at that hour which really isn't all that late over there? Whatever. This close to a thousand days of DX, I'll take whatever is available to reach that mark. Maybe when the weather turns bad which it hasn't really done yet, I'll get on more in the afternoon which is when working Europe is easiest now.

With the weather continuing nice, I'll get out and enjoy walking and fishing during the afternoons. Today it was both. I caught my 31st fish this year which ties now for only my fourth worst year. It was also my 9th carp of the year which is my best carp year since I got 14 in 2009. Maybe I'll approach that if the weather holds. The carp today was 25 inches and a pretty sad looking specimen - very dirty and somewhat slimy like a carpsucker, but definitely a carp. Usually they are a quite clean fish. I was even a bit hesitant to touch the one today, but I did to extract the hook.

I took many fall foliage pictures on my walks today. The trees are just starting to go through the peak color stage now with many turned, but many to come also. I liken taking foliage pictures to taking rainbow or sunset pictures. There is a certain time frame for all three, and if you want the good pictures, you have to be aware of that timing. -30-

Sunday, October 25, 2015 8:36 PM - I didn't need the pink note today for the 25th and won't need it for the 26th. I worked Mike F5IN late last night on 40, and the QSO this evening came quickly from Brian G3UJE on 30 meters. It wasn't an easy one, but Brian stuck with me till he got my call right. He had some flutter on his signal similar to a lot of stations last night. Tonight though, all but Brian were flutter-free. One month from today, it will be 1,000 days for the DX streak if it isn't broken before then.

I got a lot of NAQCC work done today. I finished up a couple feature articles for upcoming NAQCC newsletters, wrote our WPA Chapter news for the November newsletter, and closed out the sprint scores and stats for the October sprint.

Right now, I'm doing my laundry so I won't have to do it in the morning. In fact I don't have much at all planned for tomorrow. It's supposed to be a nice day so I will probably get in a lot of walking and maybe some fishing. -30-

Saturday, October 24, 2015 9:05 PM - Out comes the pink note with QSO on it to remind me I didn't get my DX this evening. Conditions were horrible. The only strong DX I heard was HP1RN on 30 and I just worked him there two days ago. I hope I don't wind up wishing I'd worked him anyway. The propagation numbers do not relate to conditions this evening. They're not that bad, so maybe tomorrow conditions and numbers will match up better.

Last night was not that good either, but the DX QSO was. I worked JT1AA/5 again. I always mention I like to work Mongolia and give some reasons why I do, so I won't do that again tonight. I still remember my first Mongolian QSO though - JT1DA who included a 10(? - forget the exact amount now, and am not going to go look) Tugruk bank note with his QSL.

Today started off with me cleaning the bean plants out of Ange's garden. He got some poison ivy or oak, and asked me if I wanted to do it myself today or wait a few days. I said today since it was warm, and I told him to stay away as if poison ivy or oak is 'contagious', I didn't want to get it. That took about an hour to do.

After that, I just mostly waited around for our NAQCC Anniversary Prize Drawing. This year for the first time, I wasn't involved in the drawing, except as a spectator for the 'almost live' web cast. It was nice to watch and not work. Paul N8XMS and Noz AD7TN did a very nice job with it. Immediately after it was over, I printed up the labels for the prize packages which I will mail Tuesday morning after Paul checks to be sure all the winner's QRZ addresses are correct. If not, then I'll have to print a new label. I don't forsee that happening though. We've only had one prize returned over the years and that was from Wales, because the fellow didn't want his exact correct address on QRZ for whatever reason.

It showered off and on today and I didn't get in any walks outside, just a couple inside, and I'm going to walk inside some more after I finish my web site updates here. -30-

Friday, October 23, 2015 10:02 AM - OK, the camera batteries recharged overnight and I took a couple more fill-in pictures of my power pole project this morning, so here goes with the picture story I promised.

As I said, with the dovetail connectors on the plugs (L), it was possible to accidentally engage the dovetails when inserting them into the interlocking strip and then being hard to disengage them. Also having the dovetail connectors pushed the plugs apart when inserted into the strip as shown here (R).
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I thought that removing the dovetail connector from one side would solve the problem. I found the plastic very tough, and after trying to slice it off with a knife or filing it off with a file and failing, it turned out the best way to do it was to rub it off with a piece of #40 emery cloth laid flat on my desk (L). That did the trick as shown here (R). Of course there would be other ways of doing it as well, such as with a Dremel grinder, etc.
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After re-installing the plugs in the strip, they now align much better as you see here without pushing on their neighbors and no accidentally interlocking the dovetails. It might even be better to remove the female half of the dovetail connectors as well, but I'm satisfied as is.
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Now I've got a few more projects I might get to today since that is done, and my DX QSO was taken care of last night. Probably going fishing will be one of them as it's another nice day albeit a bit cooler than the past couple days. I may also work on a mock-up of the web site for the variety store that I talked about yesterday. Or do some preliminary work on one of our year-end NAQCC awards. Ain't it great to have things to do rather than sit around doing nothing being bored stiff. Yes, life is great if you make it that way. -30-

Thursday, October 22, 2015 9:05 PM - A fairly quick, very easy DX QSO this evening with HP1RN on 30 meters. So with some time on my hands, I did something I had been thinking about for several days now. In the entry for September 28, I described how Mike and I rigged up power pole connectors for our stations. Since then I found one drawback. When I remove one connector to replace it with another - say I switch from my regular power supply to battery, sometimes the dovetails interlock and they are very hard to get apart again. Also the dovetails on the side of the plugs push adjacent plugs apart if the dovetails are not engaged. So I decided to file or sand off the dovetail protrusions from one side of the plug. The plastic turned out to be very tough, and I found the best way to do the job was using #40 emery cloth laid on a flat surface with the connector rubbed over it. The bottom line is it worked and I no longer have to contend with unintentionally joined dovetail connections nor plugs pushing on adjacent plugs. I took some pictures, but my camera batteries died in the middle of the project, and I didn't have another charged pair ready. So I'll finish the pictures and try to get them posted tomorrow to more clearly describe the process.

I went fishing today but got shut out. Also a little shopping at a variety store about a block away. It's a converted railroad station called Ol' Station Marketplace. I've gotten to know the owner quite well, and we were talking about a web site for the store which I said I'd help her design up to a point. Those things plus some walking and computer game playing filled up my day. Now it's out to get the temperature readings. -30-

Wednesday, October 21, 2015 9:47 PM - Mike came down for a kind of impromptu visit this evening. We started off with a visit to Ponderosa (suprise) for their dinner buffet. I'm glad we chose them. It seemed their always good variety of food was even better than usual this evening. I'm also glad I kind of fasted in expectation after Mike said he was coming down. I had a really built up appetite.

When we came back here, it was right to the shack since it was just past 0000Z. The two Slovenians I've worked on 30 in the past week or so were still there booming in. I let Mike work S57V, then I looked for something else to work since I had just worked him 7 days ago, and didn't want to work him again on the same band so soon. However I did relent since I wanted to secure the DX streak because I do have a somewhat busy day planned for tomorrow. After I worked him, Mike worked the other Slovenian and also 8P9AL. I passed on them figuring I would 'ration' them out in case I needed to work them for the streak sometime in the next few days. I'm at the point now with 34 days to go for 1,000 in the DX streak, I want to do whatever it takes to make it, and still not violate some of my rules like not working the same station too often, and so forth. The S5 station made it five days in a row for working Europe and 7 of the past 8. Nice to be working Europe again pretty easily.

A 72 degree day was ideal for fishing and walking. The fish showed up today too. I caught two 13.5 inch suckers (or the same one twice?). The second one just about took my pole in the river with him. I didn't have the drag set quite loose enough. I can't recall a sucker hitting that hard. My first reaction before I grabbed the pole was it must be a carp, but I knew it wasn't as soon as I felt it. So the two suckers made it 29 fish for the year now. That's tied for the fourth worst year now since 1992. Three more and I'll have the fifth worst year all alone now. I plan on going tomorrow and Friday at least, and next week looks pretty good also as far as weather goes. -30-

Tuesday, October 20, 2015 8:36 PM - A nice day with a lot of sun and a high around 70 so a lot of outside things today. Fishing was a shutout, but that didn't really matter as I enjoyed sitting out in the nice weather. I did get a couple bites and had one small fish on, but he quickly threw the hook.

Home then to help Ange trim some branches off a chestnut tree. A bit rougher than we thought, but we got it done in a couple hours.

A trip to the PO to mail a NAQCC prize plus a couple shopping trips and a couple just plain walks added up to let's see....10.8 miles so far.

The bands were good again this evening, and a QSO with Feri HA3FTA on 40 took care of the DX streak quickly after a struggle with a XQ6 station on 30. I couldn't get his call, and he couldn't get mine so that was a non-QSO. A CQ a little later on 40 netted a QSO with NAQCC member Jerry NF5U.

That in a nutshell is my day today (so far). -30-

Monday, October 19, 2015 10:04 AM - Since it looks like most of my DX from now on will not be coming in the normal 0000Z hour, I've decided to add another column to my streak table on the home page. It will be for my DX QSO of the day whether it is a QSO from the main streak or a separate one gotten later in the day. My main objective is to keep the main streak going, so if DX looks unlikely in the 0000Z hour, I will solidify that streak with a W/VE QSO and try for the DX later that evening or the following morning/afternoon. Hope I don't jinx the DX streak by so doing. HI

Looks like a nice sunny day today although only predicted to get into the mid 50s or so after frost this morning. I've left one Siberian tomato plant in my garden and I covered it last night. We're supposed to have temperatures in the 60s starting tomorrow and continuing the rest of the month into the early part of November so I want to see if I can coax a couple more tomatoes out of the plant.

If the prediction of the 60s temperatures turns out accurate, I also will try to coax some more fish into my fishing log for the year. I'd like this year to turn out a bit better than the third worst year. I should pass a couple more years with just a few more fish. We'll see.

Right now I'm doing my laundry and it should be ready to take out of the dryer in a few minutes so I'll close this with one more thing.

I did get my DX QSO today from EI90IARU on 17 meters which of late seems to be the best daytime DX band for the time being anyway. So 37 days from 1,000 now. The QSO also gave me 7 letters/numbers for the NAQCC European Chapter challenge this month. -30-

Sunday, October 18, 2015 7:18 PM - Just sitting here killing time till 0000Z comes when I go to get my streak(s) QSO and also do the final phase of NAQCC Sprint log cross-checking. So I thought I'd get my diary entry written while waiting.

I did get my DX QSO last night in the WAG contest at 0232Z on 40 when I worked Stefan DL1IAO. I can just about with certainty count on his great 'ears' picking up my minimal QRP signal. That was the 49th time I've worked him over the years.

I was thinking that perhaps the 42 QSOs on 80 in our NAQCC sprint was my best single band total in any of our sprints, but I checked a little while ago and it wasn't. I stopped checking after finding 52 80 meter QSOs in our January 2011 sprint.

Long-time diary readers may remember the microwave sausage mystery of a few years ago. Now I've noticed something peculiar again about microwaving things. I've always cooked chestnuts in the microwave by punching a small X in both sides with a pointed knife and microwaving them for 34 seconds which I established as just about the optimum time years ago. Well just out of curiosity because a friend of mine said he microwaves them for a minute, I decided to gradually increase the time here to see if there is any difference. As soon as I went to 35 seconds last night and 36 tonight, I noticed the little X widened into a crack in the shell making it easy to 'peel' them. That happened in 6 of the 8 I microwaved.

That's the little kid still left in me. I enjoy finding out more about everything in life whether it only bores other people or not. It's one thing that keeps folks from growing old if they continue to learn things even though those things are extremely far from earth-shaking. -30-

Saturday, October 17, 2015 8:27 PM - I thought the WAG contest would provide me a quick German contact on 40 meters this evening, but not so. I only heard 3 Germans and all were so weak I couldn't have been able to tell if they came back to me or not should they miraculously even hear me. So another DXless evening unless the Europe path is better later this evening on 40. If not then possibly tomorrow morning before the WAG contest ends.

I did hear a couple JAs on 15, but they likewise were very weak. I did solidify the big streak easily though right at 0000Z when I worked W1AW/6 on 17 meters. I don't know what they are doing out in California and actually don't really care as long as I worked them for the streak.

Another day without much to talk about. It was a cold windy cloudy day. It just barely made it to 50 but felt a lot colder with the breeze. The only other thing of note was getting another new build in the Windows 10 Insider Preview program. The new build seems to have speeded things up inside the VM in which I am running the previews.

Oh, I did get our final stats from the N3A parkpedition on Monday. We made 87 QSOs from 31 states. We worked one DX station and one other N#A call. Four VE provinces. QSOs by band: 40 - 31, 30 - 39, 20 - 17. We are very pleased with those results considering the band conditions of late. -30-

Friday, October 16, 2015 9:26 AM - Last night I talked about a couple aspects of my DX streak. There is another one also. I'm finding that as conditions worsen, I get more satisfaction when I have to pull out all the stops to get my DX QSO. Even after 52+ years of ham radio and the last 23 or so years really chasing DX, there are still little nuances about the chase that I learn. I guess there is always something to learn about the quirks of propagation. What bands are best at the moment and most likely to provide a DX QSO? Is it worthwhile to keep trying that station, or give up and look for someone else? Those things, among others, do not have any definite specific answers and are something that must be learned through experience. You have to develop a feel for such things. Kind of a sixth sense that only comes from hours upon hours of getting on the bands and getting to know them like the back of your hand.

Another thing is to never rely completely on any kind of propagation predictions. Too many folks glance at some prediction that says conditions are poor and don't even bother to get on the bands. Thus we have open bands, but no one there to take advantage of them. Also you can't assume that such and such a band will not be open at such and such a time. The old adage (joke?) about the word assume definitely applies here. Often a band WILL be open at a time it is not supposed to be and to those who do get on and explore, it can sometimes bring some choice DX.

In the olden days of yore before band scanners, panadapters, and the like, it was very time consuming to have to manually scan the bands to see if there was any activity on them. Nowadays with my Elecraft PX3 panadapter, it takes but a few seconds to see if a band has any activity. Well, actually more like a couple minutes to be sure since there could only be a few stations on and the first glance caught all of them in a pause or when the other stations in the QSOs were transmitting but unable to be heard (or seen). I can't say often enough how much countless time my PX3 has saved since I got it. To give proper credit also to its predecessor, the computer panadapter HDSDR performed the same service. No one with a panadapter has any excuse for not exploring the bands since it takes so little time.

I got great satisfaction early this morning (1311Z) when I extended my DX streak to 960 days by working IK7JWY on a band that should have been dead or nearly so at that time - 15 meters. Also IK7JWY shouldn't have been strong enough to work with my QRP and dipole, but after a few failed tries and a couple repeats when he did hear me, I had my DX QSO for today. So now I can relax the rest of the day and tend to some other things.

My cousin is coming for a visit this morning. He is the last surviving relative in the same generation as I am. Then later I'll be working with Bruce next door on a couple things. Those plus other daily chores that won't be interrupted by a search for DX. A bit chilly for fishing, so I probably will skip that. I'm looking at a couple of nice days in the 60s next week to try to improve on my 2015 fish total.

Might as well ramble on a bit more here. We're at 121 logs received for our NAQCC sprint so far. I thought there would be more by now with all the nice prizes involved for our 11th anniversary. If you happened to be in the sprint and only made a few QSOs, or even one, you are still eligible for the prize drawing. So get your log in before the Sunday deadline at 2400Z. Think I'll do a little preliminary log cross-checking now while I await my cousin's arrival. -30-

Thursday, October 15, 2015 8:45 PM - The closer my DX streak gets to 1,000 days, the more I want it. However the closer it gets, the worse conditions are becoming. I think this evening is the worst yet in the streak. Also things don't seem a lot better in the morning or afternoon either. I checked today a few times and there was very very little DX to be heard. I did hear and work S57V on 30 meters in the 2100Z hour, but that was it. I only worked him as insurance against the uncertain PR7AR QSO from last night. I also worked HT7C last night later, but he had me as K4WWP, and he was so weak, I wasn't sure he finally corrected it or not. At least the S57V one is a solid correct QSO. Perhaps I shouldn't have worked HT7C last night as he was the only DX station I heard this evening, and I might have been able to work him, but I didn't want to do it two days in a row on the same band. Of course if he did log me as K4WWP.....hmmmmm.

At least I worked N4A (K4BAI OP) this evening to keep the big streak alive. Now I need 6 more N#A calls and I'll have all ten. I'm not really trying too hard to get them though. If I do, fine. If not, fine.

Today was a sad day. I took down my garden except for one Siberian tomato plant. It started kind of a second life a couple weeks ago, and I want to just see if I can maybe nurse a tomato or two from it yet. I'll have to cover it this weekend as frost is predicted. I also helped Ange pick just about all his vegetables today.

Other than that, not much else happening out of the ordinary every day routine here. -30-

Wednesday, October 14, 2015 8:51 PM - A lot of good things the past couple days here. I've already told you about the parkpedition fun. Since I retired as VP of the NAQCC, I've become eligible for the prize drawings, etc. I was pleased to win my choice of paddle handles, key poker chips, and earrings. Well, the earrings weren't even considered, and I had a poker chip that I mounted on my old J38 key. So that left paddle handles. I could have chosen ones for my ARRL Centennial paddle, but I didn't want to modify that one. Nor did I want to modify my Begali paddle. So I thought I'd go for the Bencher handles. It would be a bit rougher modifying them since the original ones are riveted on instead of bolted. However with my metal working and wood working skills I decided to tackle it and it came out well. I'm going to write up the procedure as an article in the November NAQCC newsletter, but I want to show you how nice the Bencher looks right here in a moment. First in case you are not a NAQCC member (why not?), the items I mentioned are crafted by master wood worker Gregg WB8LZG and donated to the club as prizes. You can see them on the NAQCC site on the Prizes page. OK, here's the Bencher.
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The wood variety is Tulip wood according to Gregg. I think it looks beautiful.

Another good thing was the sprint last night. 20 and 40 were busts totally here. I only made 1 QSO on 40 and after 15 minutes passed, I decided to cast my fate to 80 meters. What a great move! In the next 90 minutes I made 42 QSOs, probably my best ever 80 meters effort in one of our sprints. For the past 15 months or so, I've just been going to 20 QSOs and then shutting down. Last night was so good though, I abandoned that tactic and breezed past 20 and shot for 40. I think 50 would have been possible, but I had to QRT a bit early so I could help Nancy walk Roscoe. Also some S&P would have helped, but I got all 42 via CQs and hated to abandon my spot on the band, so I stuck with the CQs.

This evening I worked N5A. So I have three of our 10 special event calls for our NAQCC Anniversary Week in the log now along with N8A and N9A from the sprint. I'll probably try to put in a couple more hours operating N3A before the week ends. It was a lot of fun doing so at the park as I already described.

I got kind of an iffy DX QSO this evening. Worked PR7AR, but although he did QSL my info, he never did send my call correctly so I'm not sure if he had it right or not. So I'll count it, but go for a better one sometime later today (UTC). -30-

Tuesday, October 13, 2015 10:19 AM - Another early entry covering the wrap-up from the parkpedition. Well, almost as I still don't have the final stats on number of QSOs, states, etc.

Mike arrived shortly before 9 AM and we chatted about various things for about an hour before we did the final packing of gear and headed to the Community Park. I was debating on whether to wear a jacket or not and finally (wisely) decided to do so. Although it was a perfectly clear sunny day with the high 77 here at home, up on the hill under the pavillion roof with a strong breeze blowing all day it was rather chilly.

Tom arrived shortly after we did, and we got right to setting up. I finished first with help from Tom in putting up the mast (which he supplied - thanks) for my antenna. Here is my antenna and me at the operating position working 30 meters.
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Next I did what I could to help Tom with his setup, and here is his antenna which doesn't really show up too well against the bright sky with the jet contrail, and Tom operating on 20 meters.
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While Tom and I were setting up, Mike had just about finished his setup and his antenna along with Mike operating 40 meters are the next pictures.
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It was a really great time with the friendly banter among the three of us. The QSOs came pretty rapidly although there were lapses here and there. If the rough count of 86 QSOs is right, that's 86/5 or 17 QSOs per hour or one every 3+ minutes which is quite good considering the conditions which were decent on 30 and 40, but down a bit on normally very good 20.

When we publish this story and pictures in the November NAQCC newsletter, I'll ask Mike and Tom if they want to add their comments to it. For right now in the diary, here are my comments.

While every QSO was enjoyable and most were with NAQCC members, I want to single out a couple. It was nice to touch base again with KO5Q down in GA. We have worked several times from my home using K3WWP. Another old friend whom I haven't worked in about 4 years answered the N3A CQ, and when I gave my own call, we had a 10 or so minute rag chew getting caught up on what we've been doing of late. That was George K1PQS. It was a delight to hear his call when he answered the CQ. One ham with whom our friendship started way back in the days of the County Hunters Net in the mid-1960s answered the call and another 10 minute rag chew ensued mostly talking about our contesting plans for the upcoming active contest season. That was Vic K9UIY. There were a few others whom I hadn't worked for a while as well. To mention a couple, that would be Ed W1GUE and Rick AA4W.

The 5 hours sure went by quickly with the constant activity except for the brief break each of us took for a snack to keep our energy up. Thanks to Mike and Tom for everything.

Oh, and just to show how nice a day it was, here's a panoramic picture Mike took. I hoped it would show all our antennas as clearly as they looked to the naked eye, but it doesn't. From left to right, the antennas are Mike's, Tom's, and mine.
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Monday, October 12, 2015 8:49 PM - A long, busy, bit tiring, but very fun day today. Of course the main event was our parkpedition putting N3A on the air for the 11th anniversary of the NAQCC. A great time was had by all three participants, me, Mike, and Tom. A successful time also. It was our best Columbus Day outing yet in the 5 or so that we have done. The final stats have yet to be compiled but we had something like 86 QSOs from 26 states, 3 provinces and a couple DX countries. Both 40 and 30 meters were in very good shape. 20 was not all that good. We got a lot of 599 reports and a lot of the signals we were hearing and working were legit 599 signals also. I worked 30 and it was strange. A lot of quick QSB but the signals were so strong it didn't matter much. After being in medium to somewhat long skip most of the time, it suddenly went short around 1930 and I worked nearby states MD, PA, NY, NJ, and VA. I've got a few pictures here but they need editing so maybe I'll wait till tomorrow to post them.

All three of us used our KX3 rigs which performed admirably as always. Mike and I used our jumper dipoles and Tom had kind of a random wire. I'm not sure exactly what it is called. The weather was beautiful - sunny and in the low 70s or so, but very windy and it was blowing our antennas around, but they held up. We all logged on paper and the wind was blowing (or trying to blow) our logs away, We had to weight them down. As Mike said near the end and I think he was right - this is the first time on a Columbus day outing that we stayed for the full scheduled time. We could have kept going also, but we quit when our scheduled 5 hours were up. It went by so fast it seemed like only a couple hours.

More in tomorrow's (or the day after) entry about the parkpedition and other things. -30-

Sunday, October 11, 2015 10:26 AM - An early entry today since I have a lot to do including among other things getting ready for our N3A parkpedition tomorrow and getting ready for our NAQCC sprint in a couple days.

I got one thing out of the way quickly for which I am glad. My DX QSO I couldn't get last night came in just a couple minutes today, thanks largely to the ability to scan the bands quickly with my PX3 panadapter. I just can't say enough about how much it helps out by saving so much time. I looked quickly at 20M and only saw one signal poking barely out of the noise. Then on to 17M where I immediately saw a big peak that almost as quickly went away. However it came back in a very short several seconds and I tuned to the frequency. It was a DX station from the style of operation, but who? After a QSO or two, he identified as ZF1DX. I called, lost out to a VE3 station, called when he finished with the VE, and got him solidly for DX day # 955 - 45 more to go for my goal.

Here's a scan of the Skeeter Hunt certificate that Mike, Tom, and I earned back in August.
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OK, now off to brunch before I move on to my chores. -30-

Saturday, October 10, 2015 9:02 PM - Here we go again. The bands have reverted back to what they were a couple days ago. Virtually no DX heard this evening save for a couple very weak CE stations. So the QSO note comes out in front of the computer again to remind me to try for that DX QSO in the morning or afternoon if not later tonight.

I did keep the big streak going by working WK7S in the AZ QP on 20 meters. The west coast USA was coming through good - about the only area I can say that about.

I'm looking forward to Monday when Mike, Tom, and I put N3A on the air from the Community Park for our NAQCC 11th anniversary celebration which lasts the whole week with N1A, N2A, N3A...... N9A, N0A being very active. I hope you'll work some of the SE stations along the way and earn a handsome certificate and QSL card.

I'll have some more specific info about our Monday parkpedition in tomorrow's diary entry and we'll also send the info via our NAQCC email list. It looks like just about a perfect weather day - sunny with temperatures in the low 70s. Couldn't order anything better than that. -30-

Friday, October 09, 2015 9:01 PM - Well, for the past couple evenings it's been back to some pretty easy and quick DX QSOs even though conditions continue to be not all that good. Last night it was KP4CPC at 0012Z and tonight CO3ET at 0007Z. While I was copying a rag chew with WG9K after I got my DX QSO, I looked back through my log and most all of my DX has been from the Caribbean this month with few exceptions. I see of 15 DX QSOs this month, 9 of which were from the Caribbean, 4 from Europe, 1 pirate from who knows where, and FW5JJ way out in Oceania. Yes, as the sunspots decrease, conditions do change. I would say without checking (yet?) that the majority of the DX QSOs in my streak were from Europe. OK, so I had to check. Here we go.

AF - 153
AN - 3
AS - 139
EU - 3,452
NA - 726
OC - 72
SA - 319

That confirms what I thought about my 4,864 DX QSOs during my DX streak and confirms that conditions are changing as I surmised.

OK, enough of that. I did do other things today. We had one of those nice rains. I'll get to why I say nice after I describe it. It was one of those frontal rains that come through, do their business, then leave. This one dumped a half inch in something like 45 minutes around Noon. Nice? Yes, that's the kind of rain, kind of timing that sets up a trip to the river to see if the carp come in to examine the storm sewer outlets. At first I went to the one by the bridge which is usually good. However after a couple of bites just after I got there, nothing happened for the next half hour or so. I decided to move on to one further down the river at the lower end of our town amphitheater. Oh yes, they were definitely there. I could see them swimming around. To make the story short, I wound up catching three of them. It took a while to get the first one, and I thought maybe they weren't hungry for my peanut butter bread. But then I got a 25 inch one, followed by a 30.5 inch one who put up a great 10-12 minute fight before giving in, and closed out with a 25.5 inch one who wasn't all that much of a fighter despite being near the optimum fighting size as I have described before. That was the first time I've caught 3 carp in a trip since August 28, 2009 when I caught six. So that made it a fun day here. -30-

Thursday, October 08, 2015 3:32 PM - There are several ways that I could open up this entry. Maybe I'll just give a couple samples.

If the DX streak lasts long enough to hit 1,000 days, day # 952 will go down as one of the really rough days.

Did you hear a loud groan of frustration around 1920Z today followed at 1926Z by a big sigh of relief?

Did you hear that loud shout of joy at 1926Z today?

OK so maybe it is possible to work DX every day no matter what the conditions are. It only depends on how much time you have to get it done on the more difficult days.

OK, that will suffice. Several times today, just about every hour in fact, I got on the air looking for that DX QSO. Each time until the 1900Z hour the bands were pretty much dead with no DX heard. I think the only time I heard any DX before was in the 1800Z hour when I heard a fairly strong HG3ITU, but he couldn't hear me at all. In fact he was having trouble working most of the USA stations calling him. He needed a lot of repeats - only the European stations seemed to be easy for him. I couldn't even hear the other European stations he was working.

Let's move on to the 1900Z hour. Now there were some DX stations coming through, but not all that strong, and one of them had a huge pileup. I searched for someone I thought I could work. I tried a couple weak stations like EA8TL for one, with no success. That was mostly on 20 meters. Now though, 17 was opening up also. I found CO2IR and called him. He answered someone, but I couldn't hear for the QRN who it was. Turned out it was me as he repeated K3WWP 5NN. I answered TU 5NN. He sent again K3WWP 5NN. I repeated TU 5NN. This went on a couple more times until I lost him, not being sure if he ever copied my report or not. Boy, I would hate to have the streak end this way with an uncertain QSO. I noted it in pencil in my log and went looking for someone else. Not finding anyone else I went back to CO2IR thinking I'd try him again to be sure I was logged. I answered him a few times but lost out to other stations. I could barely hear him, but finally I called and he answered K3WWP 5NN. I sent TU 5NN. He came back with K3WWP 73. WHEW!!! The streak goes on. Oh, and to boot, I got four letters from his call for the NAQCC October challenge.

I had less luck fishing. When I got to the river, the spot from which I like to fish because I have success there was taken, and I was relegated to another spot that hasn't been very good at all this year. It wasn't today also. I quit after 45 minutes with nary a single bite or nibble. Maybe tomorrow will be better for both DX and fishing. -30-

Wednesday, October 07, 2015 8:54 PM - A solar flux of 81 and A index of 77 does not bode well for my DX streak. In fact I had a lot of trouble getting a regular streak QSO till I went to 80 meters and found special event station N8F whom I worked fairly easily.

I remember from my AM BC DX days when there were times (not very often) when Caribbean and Latin American stations were about the only things being heard. Even the 50KW clear stations in the USA and Canada were wiped out. That was a long time ago, but I recall one time vividly hearing a station from Trinidad on 730kHz almost like it was a local. I'll have to dig into my BCB DX records and see if I can find more about that particular evening. It will be interesting to see what the solar flux and A index was then.

40 meters sounded pretty much like that tonight. ZF1DX was about the strongest signal on the band and there were very few (read "a couple") USA stations being heard. Everyone and his brother must have been trying to work the ZF station. I couldn't get a dit in edgewise. I also heard YV5IUA weakly and PV8ADI was pretty strong but he either hears me on the first call or not at all. Tonight was a not at all. The bands above 40 meters were almost totally devoid of signals. I did hear one of the QRQ stations who hang out on 10123, but that was about it.

So it looks like my day tomorrow has been planned out. Sit at the rig looking for DX. I do have some other things I want to do or need to do, but that will take priority. Maybe I'll run into CO8LY or one of the other very active stations down that way. I doubt I'll have a chance at Europe. Maybe Africa since it is a lower latitude path. It will be interesting, and hopefully won't wind up frustrating.

I almost forgot in the frustration of the poor bands about something good that did happen today. I caught two suckers to make my fish total 24 for the year, so now this year won't be any worse than my third worst fishing year. There is time left to move up a couple more notches also. Way back in 1993 I had 29 and in 2013 it was 31. After that 68 in 2011 looks unreachable. My best year, you ask. 274 in 2002. That was the year when I caught 222 bass. Mostly in a couple month period from mid-August to mid-October. I hadn't seen anything like that before nor haven't seen the likes of it since. I could go with my minnow net and bucket, catch 30 or so minnows, head to this one spot and catch around 10 or more bass each time. That was fun. Almost made me forget about carp that year. In fact 13 carp was my lowest yearly total between 1999 and 2007. -30-

Tuesday, October 06, 2015 9:13 PM - Last night was another 'later in the evening' DX QSO when I worked V44KAI at 0101Z, actually just out of the 0000Z hour. Tonight the bands again seemed devoid of DX except for a LU station on 30 whom I couldn't work. So as per usual, I solidified the big streak with a CQ on 40 that yielded a response from Marino N1PVP. After that it was back to looking for DX. I found HI3TEJ on 30 and got him with a single call. So the DX streak lives at 951 days. The 1,000 day mark is steadily drawing closer. I've pretty much decided if I make it that far, I am going to stop there and only chase DX for the fun of chasing it, and for the NAQCC challenges. Of course, I could change my mind if conditions improve between now and then and the DX comes easier than it has a few days of late.

Although I don't have a counter on my web site any longer, I do keep track of the number of visitors. I find it interesting that as shown in this graph, the number has stayed pretty constant over the past 15 years or so despite the great increase in the number of various ham radio sites in that time. I appreciate you visiting my site and making the effort in maintaining it worthwhile. I'll continue to do it as long as I can and as long as the number of visitors remains high enough to continue making it worthwhile.
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Series 1 (green) is the long term daily average. Series 2 (blue) is a seven day running average. Series 3 (red) is a thirty day running average.

Another fine October day today, so I went fishing again, but the fish broke the date. I only got a couple nibbles in the hour and ten minutes I was there. But it didn't matter as it was nice to just sit there enjoying the mid-70s temperatures under partly cloudy skies. I also took a couple long walks and am near to another 10 mile day. I may walk in the house to make it over 10 miles.

Some cleaning up in the back yard also took place today. I picked some beans, tomatoes, and peppers. Then I pulled all my daylilly leaves to prepare them for their long winter's rest to get rejuvenated for next summer.

That pretty much sums up the day. Nothing really planned for tomorrow so it will probably be a repeat of today with walking, fishing, cleaning up outside and so forth. -30-

Monday, October 05, 2015 8:23 PM - Another DX shutout in the 0000Z hour, so I'll try again later tonight and if not then, it's tomorrow morning or afternoon. Last night I worked VP2MLJ in the 0200Z hour easily with a single call. So that's a few times lately that trying a little later in the evening has been more successful than the 0000Z hour.

Other than that, today was a very good day. First of all, it was sunny, and that hasn't happened for several days now. It's amazing how sunshine can brighten up the spirits. Of course with that kind of weather, it was off to the river for some fishing after the laundry and a couple other things were taken care of. I figured with the river being muddy and the docks taken out for the winter, I wouldn't get anything. It seems the carp like hanging out around and under the docks, but maybe my observation is wrong. Anyway it didn't take long till I got a solid hit on my peanut butter bread, but when I jerked, I only felt a slight tug, then nothing. I wondered if that would be my only chance and I blew it. Nope, a couple minutes later I got that typical carp bite of grabbing the bait and heading for the other side of the river. He took a good deal of line off my reel before I persuaded him to turn. Then the fight was on. It took me around 10-12 minutes to land him of which 8 or so were just getting him close enough to get a look at him. From the fight, I figured he must be one of the 26 inch bunch, but he looked a little bigger when I saw him. I thought maybe 28. Finally when I got him up on shore and measured him, I had to do it twice to be sure. He turned out to be 31.5 inches, but somewhat slim and not as bulky as the 30+ inch ones usually are. That's why he put up such a good fight. He was limber enough to use his size plus put on some moves of a little smaller carp. That was a lot of fun. After that though, it was only a few nibbles probably from some suckers.

Later in the afternoon, I thought I'd see what was on the bands and check out my newly charged gel cell to see if it was ready for our Columbus Day parkpedition with the NAQCC special event call N3A. It was ready and there was some activity on the bands, although not really a lot. I wound up on 15 meters and found a signal there about S4 or S5 at best. He dropped into the noise a bit and all I got was the end of his call "JJ". I knew he was DX though from his operating style and split frequency operation. I listened a bit more and finally got FW5JJ. Hmmm, Wallis and Futuna, but he's so weak I doubt he'll ever hear me. I called anyway and after just a couple calls he came back with a call and 599. I didn't catch the call, but then he repeated and you know what? It was me K3WWP 599. I sent TU 599, but he didn't get it and sent K3WWP 599 again. I responded again with TU 599 and got a K3WWP TU and a new band country - the fourth band on which I've worked FW now. So two good things to remember today. -30-

Sunday, October 04, 2015 9:24 PM - Mike and I had a fun, interesting, and useful time today cleaning the corrector lens on his 9.5 inch telescope. We should have taken some pictures along the way, but we didn't. The most time-consuming part of the project was preparing the various solutions needed to properly clean the lens. No, actually the most time-consuming was a couple weeks ago gathering all the ingredients and equipment we needed to prepare the solutions.

Anyway, taking the lens off the scope went fairly easily. Then the actual cleaning was easy as well, and the cleaning solution did an excellent job of making the lens look almost "factory fresh" when we were done. Re-installing the lens was a little tricky because of having to put 7 tiny spacers around the lens between it and the scope frame. At first they kept falling out until we figured out to seat the lens, then use tweezers to fit in the spacers. Unfortunately we didn't get to try it out because Mike had to leave fairly early for work tomorrow and it got partly cloudy anyway. Plus we didn't have the dew zapper which was still in Brookville and we didn't want to recreate the problem again by not using it.

After Mike took his scope and the collection of cleaning paraphenalia and headed north, I went to my shack in search of my streak QSO(s). I got the regular streak one from KC9TEK/M, but didn't find any workable DX at all except Alex HC2AO whom I have already worked a zillion times... well 14 times, 6 of which were on 30 where I heard him, and I hate to keep working the same DX station over and over again on the same band(s). So my pink reminder note is out to remind me to go for the DX later tonight or tomorrow morning/afternoon. -30-

Saturday, October 03, 2015 8:33 PM - A quick DX QSO this evening, thank goodness. Now I don't have to worry about it tomorrow when Mike KC2EGL visits again for some telescope work. Last night I tried to work VP2MAC many times with no luck. Tonight I got him after three or four other stations. Last night I worked Mike F5IN on 40 for my DX. Mike is very easy to work. I've worked him 46 times now, 39 of them in various contests going back to 1994.

I also had another "interesting" QSO last night before I worked Mike. It was TX3T on 40 meters. Of course that was very suspicious since well over half the path to Chesterfield Is. was in daylight at the time. However freaky things do happen, so I wanted to work him just in case it was one of the freaky things even though as a friend at work at WPIT used to say, "the chances are slim and none, and Slim just left town" that it really was the DXpedition. It wasn't as I was not in the on-line log along with the two 6 area stations he worked before me. I'm curious to know just where the pirate was located. The signals were quite weak with a lot of QSB here, yet he worked the 6 stations easily. Perhaps somewhere on the west coast? Anyone have any ideas?

A quite chilly day today which was good for walking. I had my first solid one hour fast paced walk in a while now earlier this evening. I have just over 9 miles total today. I walked by the river and it has dropped quite a bit after the heavy rain a few days ago, but it's still a bit muddy. I think by Monday it will be good for fishing again and it is supposed to be mostly sunny all week, so guess what I'll be doing a lot of this coming week. -30-

Friday, October 02, 2015 10:02 AM - An early diary entry today as I have some things to take care of during the day today plus Bruce and Nancy are taking me to Ponderosa for dinner.

First here's a picture of a big pileup on 20 meters that I broke - NOT. I didn't even try nor do I know who they were chasing. I did hear the chasee very weakly, but didn't hear any ID from them.
pix_diary_20151002_001 (41K)

I did however get my DX QSO for day 946 from John ON4UN with a single call. That gave me some more letters/numbers for the NAQCC challenges. If I get time, I'll try to check the bands later to see if Europe is coming through like it was the past couple days. Right now, John is the only strong DX signal on any band. I did hear a few other very weak ones. Not surprising if you know John's setup that he would be the only strong signal.

It's interesting at the halfway point of my current poll to see the definite confirmation that hams are balanced. All but one of the 29 non-ham interests are getting votes. The missing one? Participating in sports. I guess with the ageing ham population, that is not surprising. Walking is getting votes though, so at least you (we) are getting that needed exercise even though our football, baseball, etc. days may be past us now.

If you haven't voted in the poll yet, I hope you will add your vote to make the poll more meaningful. Just click the link above or here. Thanks. -30-

Thursday, October 01, 2015 9:15 PM - Once again no DX in the 00Z hour. That's three in a row now. However the past two nights, I've gotten my DX a little later in the evening. Maybe that will happen again tonight. If not, conditions have been good in the afternoons the past couple days. Today I got HB0/DL5YM easily through a pile-up, followed by LZ130SAK. Those two calls got me off to a good start on the October NAQCC challenges.

It was kind of a gloomy day today although we did get some peeks of sunshine that we hadn't gotten the past few days now. And NO rain today. Things have dried out pretty well now as we prepare for a possible encounter with Joaquin, although the projected track has been pushed a little further east out to sea in each of the latest updates after an original projection of a track right through PA. So we'll wait and see. -30-

Wednesday, September 30, 2015 9:12 PM - We wound up with 4.59 inches of rain the past two days. That brought the river up and made it very muddy. So probably no fishing for a week or so. I also got the most water in my basement in several years, maybe going back to 2006 when we had that almost 6 inches of rain I mentioned in the last diary entry. Still not all that much - about a half inch in a couple low spots, if that much. Back in 2006 it was more like a foot.

No DX tonight, so the little pink slip reminder is out. If the bands tomorrow are like they were today, a DX QSO should be a cinch. In the 1700-1800Z hours today, Europe was very good on 20, 17, and even 15 meters. I mostly just listened, but I did work SM3NXS with a single call on 17 meters. Hopefully it will be the same tomorrow so I can get off to a good start on the NAQCC October challenges along with getting the DX streak QSO. Or maybe I'll get it later tonight as I did last night when I worked T48G at 0148Z.

I got most of my end of the month, first of the month things done today. I'll have to make my banking run tomorrow morning. Also I have to get my September weather readings into the computer plus flip a couple calendar pages to October. Then I'll be all ready for the new month. I think I'll get to the weather now after I finish my web site updating. -30-

Tuesday, September 29, 2015 8:55 PM - No DX this evening, but I did work KI4VH to keep the big streak going. I have my little "QSO" note (picture several diary entries back) out to remind me to try for that DX in the morning or afternoon if not later tonight.

A strange happening today labeled as quite a coincidence. The batteries in both my main computer mouse and my laptop mouse both died within a couple hours of each other. I've never seen anything close to that before.

Another unusual thing today was the amount of rain. I haven't checked officially yet which I will do in a couple minutes, but a quick glance at the rain gauge when I was fixing my sump pump hose earlier this evening looked like around 4 inches which would be the third highest daily total in my 55 years of keeping weather records. Think I'll go check now and see how close my glance was...... It was in the neighborhood but a couple of streets away as the saying goes. 3.74 inches will go in the books for today (I keep my readings on a 9PM to 9PM local day - a carryover from my younger go to bed early days - HI). I still think that is third highest behind a couple of almost 6 inch days from Hurrican Ivan on September 17, 2004 (5.69 inches) and a training thunderstorm on June 25, 2006 (5.57 inches). Yes, those are the only two days with a greater total rainfall than today. -30-

Monday, September 28, 2015 7:21 PM - First a couple comments, then the power pole story. A big disappointment with the eclipse last night. After some tantalizing views of the first third or so of the partial stage of the eclipse, a solid cloud cover with some light rain moved in and ended the show. All the more disappointing because the next comparable eclipse in this area won't be until Jan 20/21, 2019, over 3 years to wait.

As I wished, I did get my DX QSO quickly last night, working CE2MVF on 30 meters just after the clock turned to 0000Z, so all was set for watching the eclipse, but....

Mike arrived yesterday just after 9 AM for our power pole project. For those of you who are not familiar with power poles, briefly they are a very clever way of distributing power to various pieces of equipment. They do not have male and female connectors as such, but simply plug into each other using two pairs of connectors - red for positive and black for negative.
pix_diary_20150928_000 (57K)

I think this construction article will make it a little clearer. If not, there is a lot of info on the Internet that can be found via a Bing search.

After some chatting, Mike and I got started on the project. The first thing was preparing some short pieces of #14 solid wire. I had some old house wiring that contained 2 conductors of just that size wire as shown here.
pix_diary_20150928_001 (58K)

We stripped off the outer and inner insulation and cut off four 12 inch lengths of wire. After cleaning off the very old wires, we then cut them into 2 inch lengths which gave us 24 pieces, a few more than what we needed for the project. Here's the pile of them:
pix_diary_20150928_002 (7K)

The next step was to solder the wires to the little connectors that slip into the power pole casings. This can also be done using crimp connections, but we chose solder rather than buying a somewhat expensive specialty crimping tool. If soldering, it is necessary to be careful the solder does not flow onto the contacts or the outside of the little barrel that holds the wire. The easiest way to do that is to stand the wire up, pop on the connector and heat it, feeding the solder in from the bottom and letting it wick up into the barrel. We did that using a couple holes in a board as you see here:
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After a while whe had a collection of wires with the attached connectors as shown in this picture:
pix_diary_20150928_004 (12K)

Now the connectors were pushed into the housings until they snapped over a little retaining clip. This proved to be a little difficult at times and it took a bit of effort to get some of them to seat correctly - not so much with the stiff #14 wire but later when we put the mating connectors on the end of the various power cables for the KX3, PX3, etc. Those wires were softer and would bend as we pushed. Finally we had to resort to using a small tool to bypass the wire and press directly on the connector to seat it. Anyway we wound up with six red and six black connected together with 12 connectors and wires installed:
pix_diary_20150928_005 (12K)

Next the unit was mounted on a printed circuit board. First the board was divided into two sides, one positive, one negative, by using a Dremel tool to remove a narrow strip of copper from the middle of the board. Then a tricky moment inserting the twelve wires into twelve holes drilled in the board. It actually went pretty well and quickly, and we had this strange looking unit below. Left before soldering and right after soldering the wires to the board.
pix_diary_20150928_006 (38K)  pix_diary_20150928_007 (55K)

We "neated up" the solder connections and trimmed off the excess wire after the picture was taken, and we next mounted the unit inside a Radio Shack project box using spacers after soldering the input wires to the board. The spacers were sized to let the connectors project through the lid of the box. Those steps are shown in these final pictures:
pix_diary_20150928_008 (40K)  pix_diary_20150928_009 (23K)

That description above was for Mike' distribution unit. After that, as mentioned above, we put the mating connectors on the end of each of his cables from his gear, and that finished the description of Mike's part of the project.

Similar to the first five pictures above, along with Mike, I made a unit with four red and four black connectors. We also hooked up the connectors to my power supply, KX3, PX3, and K2. One for each of the four connectors. I wound up mounting mine differently though as I thought the project box was a bit big for my setup. So I'll use the box for something else someday. Mike had to leave early to run an errand. After he left, I put in a lot of thought as to just how I would mount mine and came up with the following. Instead of the circuit board, I simply connected all 4 positive and 4 negative connectors together by bending and soldering the two inch wires. Then I used some pieces of wood from my wood junk box to attach the unit firmly to the underside of the shelf on which my gear resides. The connector housings have a hole through them for pins that lock them together. I simply passed a wire straight through all 4 holes and through two pieces of wood at the side of the unit, fastened those pieces to a small wood board which I then mounted to the shelf. Here's a picture with two connecters hooked up and two empty slots with the mating connectors dangling loose to maybe show better just how things go together.
pix_diary_20150928_010 (45K)

All in all a very enjoyable project day. Of course with a break in the middle for a visit to Ponderosa for our lunch - can't forget that.

Now speaking of food, I need a mid-evening snack, then off to the shack for my daily streak QSO(s) -30-

Sunday, September 27, 2015 7:42 PM - Skies permitting, I'll be watching the lunar eclipse before long, so a quick diary entry will have to suffice despite there being a lot to talk about.

Mike visited today, and we spent most of the day setting up a power pole terminal for our shacks. More about that plus pictures in tomorrow's entry.

As I knew it would, my 10 mile plus walking days ended today after seven straight days. I did get in one moderate walk after Mike left early this evening, but I'm still at only 6.30 miles and I know it's too late now to reach 10. I don't mind though, as the great day with Mike more than made up for that.

OK, just about time now to head to the shack to try to get my DX QSO. I hope it is another quick one as the moon will be rising shortly and will either be in the very early stage of the eclipse or it will be starting very soon. Right now though there are a lot of clouds. Time will tell what I will be able to see here. -30-

Saturday, September 26, 2015 7:45 PM - I thought I'd write the first part of the diary before 0000Z, then finish it afterwards with (hopefully) my success in getting a DX QSO.

I did have success fishing today. Just about as soon as I threw in, I caught a sucker. Then a couple more within another 12 minutes. I added another one later for a total of four. However the main fun was a 30.5 inch carp. He was a pretty good fighter for his size and it took about the same amount of time to land him as the 26 inch one a couple days ago. The difference being he did not have the moves of the 26 inch one. It was mainly just him pulling on the line using his bulk. It was more me trying to keep him from breaking the line or bending the hook rather than dealing with some fancy moves. The way I got him was strange. I didn't see any bites, so I picked up the pole to reel in and check the bait. When I felt some resistance, I thought I had a snag, but a second later he started moving and I knew I had a carp on the line. Either he hit the bait just as I picked up the pole or he hooked himself and was just sitting there. Carpsuckers do that a lot. They hook themselves, then patiently(?) wait to be reeled in and released. Carp on the other hand almost never do that. I can't specifically remember another one I caught that way, but there probably were a couple. Generally they just pick up the bait and get a head of steam on and head toward the other side of the river.

So that gets me up to 21 fish this year, and barring disaster, I should pass three other years to make this only my fourth worse year.

Time now to check the bands.

Well, it took about as long to get my DX QSO as it did the first sucker today. At 0000Z, WP4L Alberto was in my log. That's good because now I don't have to worry about getting my DX tomorrow while Mike is visiting. We can concentrate on our projects. I'll tell you about those tomorrow night. -30-

Friday, September 25, 2015 9:15 PM - Wouldn't you know it. With the lunar eclipse coming up Sunday night, the forecast is for cloudy skies - one of the very few cloudy nights we've been having of late. Things could change by then, so all we can do is hope for the best.

Hoping for the best helped with fishing today. I caught 3 suckers. I think that's the first trip this year that I've caught 3 fish. Let's see..... Yes, the best previously in this poor fishing year was two. I'm up to 16 for the year now - seven short of my 2014 total, so maybe this won't be my worst year.

Hoping also helped with a quick DX QSO from Carlos KP4CPC at 0001Z. 60 days to go for 1,000 now. I'm debating whether or not to possibly jinx myself by putting a countdown to day 1,000 at the top of the diary. I'll decide in a couple days.

One streak I'm pretty sure will end Sunday if not tomorrow, is my streak of walking over 10 miles per day. Today was the 6th day in a row over 10. I'm sure of Sunday because Mike will be visiting and we'll be busy with some projects probably most of the day. That will be more fun than walking 10 miles anyway. -30-

Thursday, September 24, 2015 8:44 PM - Yet another quick DX QSO at 0002Z with T48G this time. If my math is correct, two months from today will be 1,000 days for the DX streak IF I make it that far. As I get closer and closer, I'll be trying harder and harder if necessary as I think it would be neat to have 1,000 days of DX with CW/QRP/simple wire antennas. More importantly, it shows those who are in similar situations to mine that they too can enjoy working DX if that is their wont.

I'm expecting a call from my friend Tom WY3H down in GA in a few minutes. We haven't touched base for a while now, and it will be good to talk again. So I've got to finish this entry, update a couple other pages, and get my weather readings so I'll be ready for the call.

Another nice weather day, and I headed to the river with my rod and reel and some peanut butter bread. For most of the time, something was just taking the bait with some hardly noticeable bites. I'm not sure what, but it was frustrating. Finally the frustration ended and turned to joy when I got a familiar carp bite and the battle was on. This wound up being a 26 inch one, and as I've said before, that seems to be the optimum size for a good fighting carp. He lived up to that billing and provided me with an enjoyable maybe 7 or 8 minute battle before I got him up on shore and measured him. I didn't really need the measurement though as he did prove to be 26 inches. I'll hopefully be going back tomorrow to see what happens then. Well, that's it for now. -30-

Wednesday, September 23, 2015 8:37 PM - The bands seemed pretty good this evening. At least better than they have been for a while at this time of evening. I actually worked Europe for the first time in a while - since ON4UN back on September 18. Who? Karel OK1CF on 30 meters. Karel is a top notch operator and one of those who will stick with you till he gets things right. I needed that because I must have had to send my call around 15 times before he could get it right.

Then although I didn't need it, I felt like breaking a pileup for a change. Haven't done that for a while either. That was J3/DH5FS on 30 meters. I had to wait through only about 6 other stations before I got him. Another thing I haven't done for a while was get some answers to my CQs. I had been getting my DX quickly, then calling CQ on 40 or 30 with most of them going unanswered. Tonight after a few CQs, N3XN in AR answered me on 40 meters.

Yet another nice September day, and for the 4th day in a row, I topped the 10 mile mark in walking. I also got in about an hour of fishing, but I guess the fish didn't like the nice weather as they weren't hungry. I saw a few carp swimming around in front of me, but they had no interest in my peanut butter bread. Probably wanted something different. I'll have to bring a menu and selection of bait the next time I go. -30-

Tuesday, September 22, 2015 8:43 PM - Yet another quick DX QSO thanks mainly to the panadapter. Without the panadapter, I probably would not have checked 17 meters or if I did, I might have tuned right across XE1XR as he was pausing in his CQs. As it is, with the panadapter, I immediately noticed the signal peak near 18.080, checked it out and found David calling CQ and worked him easily for DX day # 937.

Just like yesterday, not much to report so I think I'll do some statistics. Yesterday I got an email from Tom WB3FAE saying he had worked a European Russian on 30 meters. That set me thinking that although I can work Europe easily on 30, the deeper into Europe the stations are, the harder they are to work. I just gave some rough quick totals to Tom about that, and now I'm going to check a bit further. First of all, I have 350 total European QSOs on 30 meters (of course all with CW/QRP/simple wire antenna).

Now I'm looking at my globe that I modified by placing the axis on Kittanning so I can easily tell at a glance the great circle distance to anywhere on Earth. What I see is a bit different from what I expected. Not only is it distance that makes the countries harder to work, but the further north the signal path is, the harder they are to work. At least going by the number of QSOs from each country. The analysis may be a little more complex than I thought at first.

First of all, filtering my Access database log to Europe and 30 meters shows as I said 350 QSOs. Next I sort by country abbreviation and now have my log in the form I need to work with.

Next looking at the globe the majority area of these countries are roughly more than 4,500 miles distant and have the indicated number of QSOs:

Albania          -   1
Belarus          -   3
Bulgaria         -  12
Crete            -   1
Dodecanese Is.   -   1
European Russia  -   3
Greece           -   7
Moldova          -   1
Romania          -   6
Turkey           -   1
Ukraine          -  14
It's a very old globe that doesn't show all the current countries such as those formed by the split up of Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia so I'm omitting those for now lacking time to delve further into newer maps and mentally converting them to my globe.

As a contrast here are a few of the closer countries:

Belgium          -   5
Denmark          -   7
England          -  10
Finland          -   2
France           -  30
Germany          -  13
Hungary          -  19
Ireland          -   3
Italy            -  25
Luxembourg       -   3
Netherlands      -   4
Norway           -   1
Poland           -   7
Portugal         -   5
Spain            -  15
Sweden           -   3
Switzerland      -  13
I also omitted some countries there.

And after doing all that, I'm not sure if I proved my theorem or not because there are other factors like ham population and the directionality of my random wire on 30 that enter in. But very roughly I think it does show that the more distant and / or most northerly countries are the harder to work for me on 30 meters.

At least it was fun doing it and shows how easy it is to manipulate a log in the Access database format. -30-

Monday, September 21, 2015 9:07 PM - I thought I better resort to working HT7C again for my DX QSO this evening since I have some things planned for tomorrow and don't know if I would have time to search for DX during the day.

There was not much happening today except some usual chores and the like. I did go fishing but didn't catch anything, just enjoyed the perfect September weather. I also passed the 10 mile mark in walking today. -30-

Sunday, September 20, 2015 8:05 PM - For the third evening in a row now, a quick DX QSO (0000Z T47GDXC) and I believe that's a new prefix - yes, I checked and it is. I'm glad, because now I should be able to finish the sprint log cross-checking easily this evening. I'm going to get to that right now, in fact. -30-

Saturday, September 19, 2015 8:45 PM - From one extreme to the other. A couple days ago, it took until the 1600Z hour to get my DX streak QSO. The past two evenings it's been 0003Z (PX8Z 30m) and 0001Z (XE719SEP 30m). And to boot, both are new prefixes for me. That leaves 66 more days now for the DX streak to reach 1,000 days. Wonder if I'll make it? Time will tell, as they say.

Not a lot more to talk about today. We had some needed rain this evening after a nice late summer day. Note how I go by astronomical dates for the end of summer vs. meteorological dates for the end of winter. I hate to see summer end, but love to see winter end.

The power pole connectors that Mike and I ordered arrived at his place and we'll be getting together on the 27th to assemble our pp units. That will be fun as I'm kind of into a building stage right now. -30-

Friday, September 18, 2015 7:26 PM - I was full of energy today and got a lot accomplished around the house, but I'm not going to dwell on that here. Instead I want to talk about the parallel between chasing DX and fishing.

Of course as I mentioned in last night's entry, I would have to get my DX QSO this morning or afternoon if the streak was to continue. Well, not long after I got up, I checked the bands and didn't find anything in the way of DX that was remotely workable. I checked again in another hour and they were a little better, but nothing was easy to work. I did try a few stations with no results. They were only S2-3 at best so I really wasn't surprised they weren't hearing me. John ON4UN was a bit stronger but he also didn't hear me. That was a little surprising with the great receiving setup he has. Another hour later and pretty much the same thing. Weak stations who weren't hearing me. Now it was getting to the point where I had to decide between keeping on trying or take some time off to go fishing. Catching the carp yesterday piqued my fishing interest.

A few more minutes on the band and the DX issue was settled. I again tried ON4UN and this time he did copy me and copy me well for a brief chat. So with the DX streak secure, I was 'free' to go fishing. I made up a new batch of peanut butter bread and headed to the river. As I did yesterday, I again saw a couple carp swimming around and got a bit excited. However when I threw in, after one quick aborted solid bite, all I was getting were just little nibbles. As carp often do play around a lot before taking off with the bait, I patiently waited, but nothing happened. I reeled in and my bait was gone. That happened over and over again for quite a while, just like waiting for some strong DX to show up. Finally I figured maybe it wasn't the carp who were biting, but something else. I decided to give a try on the nibbles, just like with the weak DX stations. As soon as I felt a slight tick on the line, I jerked and bingo, I had something hooked. I knew it wasn't a carp. I thought maybe a sucker or a carpsucker. After a minute or so I could see what was on my line. It was either a very small carp or a carpsucker. Then I saw the slime on the line and knew for certain it was a carpsucker. As if that wasn't enough, when I landed him, he started flopping around like they do. I measured him at 17.5 inches and gave him his freedom. I equate catching him to 'landing' ON4UN. Very different but also alike in many ways. I continued to fish a bit more, and the next tick I got on the line yielded a 13 inch sucker. I guess I should have given up on the carp idea sooner and maybe I could have caught a few more suckers or carpsuckers. However after the sucker, the biting stopped so I packed up and headed home. That's only a dozen fish this year so far, but if this keeps up I may pass my total of 23 from last year to keep this from being my worst year. -30-

Thursday, September 17, 2015 9:22 PM - A few things to talk about this evening. One of them is not what DX I worked. It looks like the DX will have to wait till the morning or afternoon. Nothing strong enough to work was heard this evening. I did work N8DUS to keep the big streak going yet another day. Hopefully the DX streak will continue during the day. The bands were good this afternoon with several DX stations heard, although I didn't try to work any of them, so tomorrow afternoon may be the time for some DX.

I went fishing today and actually caught something for a change. I watched at least 4 carp swimming around in front of me taunting me for about an hour. They would swim right over where my bait was and only at best give a couple quick jabs at without getting hooked. One did bite like he should and took off with the hook in his mouth, but the hook bent and he got away almost immediately. So I put on a stronger hook, and continued on. Finally another one grabbed the bait and ran with it. I hooked him and the battle began in earnest. He was a good fighter and I figured probably a 26 inch one. I've found among the over 400 carp I've caught, it is the 26 inch ones that give the best battle. 27 and 28 are not bad either. Bigger than that and they usually just use their bulk and don't move all that fast. Kind of like reeling in a log almost. Now, I have had some over 30 inches that were good fighters, but I'm just talking about averages. Under 26, and they are just not as strong in general, although some 25 and 24 ones are good fighters. Today's was a 24 and it took around 6-7 minutes to land him. I'd like to catch him again when he reaches 26 inches and see what he is like then.

I mentioned my homebrew project, a key junction box yesterday. I finished it today and have some comments and pictures to go with it. First of all, I'm noticing as I get older, it gets harder and harder to do homebrew work. The eyes are not as good as they used to be, and a magnifier is often needed to see things clearly. Then the fingers are not as nimble as they used to be, and it is harder to work with smaller parts. And it seems as if to mock both eyes and fingers, parts do get smaller and smaller as time goes by.

Anyway I did manage to gather up some 1/8 inch jacks and plugs from the junk box and from Radio Shack when Mike and I stopped there a few days ago. I had an old aluminum mini-box from a long time ago and fortunately it was from a similar project and had holes already drilled in it to hold the 6 jacks. What I planned was to have two rows of three jacks each, one row for each of the two key inputs on the KX3. The one row would be for paddles which required a tip and shell connection for the internal keyer. The other would be for my bug and straight key which require only a tip connection. One jack in each row would go out to the KX3 key 1 and key 2 inputs. The other two jacks in each row would accept a plug from the keys.

After mounting the jacks in the box and putting all the tips and shells in parallel in each row, it looked like this from the back on the left with a front view on the right.

pix_diary_20150917_001 (33K)pix_diary_20150917_002 (32K)

I should have done a before and after picture here because the wires still look a little jumbled, but you should have seen it before. HI

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Even though it was only a very minimal project, it felt good to build something. I haven't done a lot of building like that lately, except for the projects with Mike that have been documented here in the diary.

Now a little bit more work on the sprint results. We again hit 100 logs less than 24 hours after the sprint. Funny thing was the 100th log was from my friend and fellow WPA Chapter member Tom WB3FAE. -30-

Wednesday, September 16, 2015 9:43 PM - I did a little homebrewing today. I built myself a key junction box to aid in cleaning up a jumble of wires from my 4 keys on my desk that I alternate among. I just finished the NAQCC sprint and I have work to do with it so I'll tell more about the box with some pictures tomorrow (if I don't forget - HI).

The bands were great for the sprint, but not for DX. I made my 20 sprint QSOs in near record time of 50 minutes, but outside the sprint I couldn't get the DX stations to hear me. Finally just after I left the sprint, I easily worked C6ASL on 30 meters. It was Randy K5SL on vacation there. we chatted briefly and I told him I envy him. HI.

Well, off now to do some sprint processing. -30-

Tuesday, September 15, 2015 9:10 PM - Not a lot going on today. Just about normal September weather with temp around 80 for a high with clear skies. Nice walking weather. I was thinking about fishing, but someone was at my favorite spot so I passed on that. I helped Ange pick some beans and watered my garden. Other than that, I can't think of much else.

A quick DX QSO at 0005Z, just a couple minutes after I turned on the rig. XE1XR on 20 meters took but a single call to log. Then I had a nice rag chew with one of our NAQCC members WD4E on 40 meters. -30-

Monday, September 14, 2015 8:26 PM - We've been talking about the ham being balanced lately. I decided to see how that balance shows up with my new poll just posted. There is a list of 29 different non-ham activities for you to choose from. You can choose as many as you are actually interested in. It will be interesting to see how this poll turns out and whether hams are really balanced or not. When I tested the poll, I found 19 of the 29 cater to my interests. 29 is close to the limit of answers my poll provider allows. That's why the odd total.

As Mike said in my diary last night, I would have some additional thoughts on the Unionville hamfest and a picture (or two). First I really enjoyed meeting several of the BCARA members, especially Rick N3VKM who is the one who contacted me about doing a QRP/CW demo at the November BCARA meeting. We discussed that a bit, and I found out that we should be able to erect an antenna of sorts at the church where they hold their meetings. It was also nice to visit with members of our local Armstrong County club. Since I'm not a member, that's about the only time I get to see them. Then of course there was Bob WC3O from Skyview. We always mention him, but I don't think we've ever had him in one of our pictures. I mentioned that to Mike yesterday and we remedied that as you see here:

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From L to R it's me, Tom WB3FAE, Bob WC3O, Mike KC2EGL.

Another good friend from BCARA I'd like to mention is Bruce AA3LX. He mans a booth at the club and is sometimes busy, but we always find time to chat for a while. He usually winds up giving me some little (or not so little somtimes) gift from the table that I am interested in. This year it was the following comic book. We were trying to find a copyright date on it, but couldn't till I read it in bed last night. I noticed right on the front cover in fine print the year 1986.

pix_diary_20150914_001 (117K)

I had no idea what to expect on the bands tonight as I never checked them today nor looked at any propagation figures (I usually don't do that anyway). There was a lot of activity on 40 which was where the KX3 was tuned when I fired it up at 0000Z. I was more interested in finding my DX QSO so I didn't check 40 at all, but went instead to 30. One domestic station was all I heard there, and I figured it would be one of those rough nights again. I figured 20 would be dead also, and it almost was. I heard one W7 station, then noticed a peak on the PX3 right next to one of my local noise peaks. I checked it out and the signal was fluttery. I figured probably Asia and I was right - JT1AA/5 in Mongolia. Knowing AA is an excellent op, I figured I'd have a chance to get him. A couple calls went unanswered, then he worked someone else. Next another unanswered call, but he did send a question mark. I sent my call twice again and he came back with K3WWP 599 and I sent TU 599 73, and the DX streak goes on at 929 days now. -30-

Sunday, September 13, 2015 7:34 PM - Since it was a very busy day today John is taking the evening off. I shall be filling in as his ghost writer this evening.

The day started out around 12:15Z when I arrived at Johns QTH. Our plan for the day was to attend the BCARA annual hamfest at the Unionville VFD. This is the fourth year we have attended this quaint little hamfest. It is the only one where we get to roam around and enjoy the event without setting up a station. We met Tom WB3FAE shortly after we arrived. We visited with some friends we only get to see from time to time.

We departed the hamfest around 15:15Z and headed back towards Kittanning. We stopped at Radio Shack to pick up two project boxes for a homebrew power pole distribution box project. Then it was back to Johns QTH to reassemble my Orion power supply. The gel cell battery gave up the ghost so to speak around a month ago. We moved on to doing some research on power pole connectors. We found a video showing how to assemble our project followed by ordering a batch of 30A power pole connectors.

Then we needed a break for dinner at our new favorite eatery, Clarks Landing. Great food in mass quantity. After dinner we put together a list for a scavenger hunt. The corrector lens on my telescope is in need of a cleaning. During our last stargazing session I was not able to connect my dew zapper to keep the dew from accumulating on the corrector lens. The dew was so awful that night that it collected on the inside of the corrector lens (I have a Schmidt Cass 9.25" telescope). SO it needs a good cleaning. John found a cleaning process published by an astronomy club in Arkansas. They have a detailed process to clean the optics of your telescope. They also have a very particular list of items you will need to get the job done properly. You wold not believe how tough it is to find all eight items in one place. We are here to tell you that it is impossible. One item is available by mail order only since we did not feel like driving all over Pittsburgh looking for it. The rest of the items we found by searching a local Rite Aid drugstore and Walmart. Everything we need to clean my scope is here at Johns QTH except for my scope. This will be a project for a day with low humidity. The instructions say that a humidity level above 65% will cause streaking on the item being cleaned. We shall keep an eye out on the WX report to see when will be the best time for this task.

Then it was time for a bit of relaxing with a hidden object game. Shortly I will be heading North to my QTH because tomorrow is the beginning of my work week. Lucky John doesn't have to worry about such things anymore.

Until next time de Mike KC2EGL 73.

P.S. John will have a photo from the hamfest and some thoughts on it tomorrow. -30-

Saturday, September 12, 2015 8:11 PM - What a difference a couple days can make in the weather. Our high today was a mid-October-like 64 when just a couple days ago it was a mid-July-like 95.

Yesterday not only did I receive my Centennial Points Challenge Award from the ARRL, but I also learned that the Skeeter Hunt group effort by Mike KC2EGL, Tom WB3FAE, and me took first place overall for the NAQCC WPA Chapter's entry of N3AQC. You can see the results via a link here where you can also read the soapbox comments including some great pictures from many of the participants.

The bands were sure busy this evening but not with anything I was really interested in, so I figured it would be rough getting even my regular streak QSO, let alone the DX one. As usual, I was wrong. I figured the best bet would be 17 (nope, dead), 30 (nope, almost dead), the low end of 40 below all the test activity (yes, that worked). A fairly easy QSO with Niko S53A resulted at 0007Z. Niko is a great op. This is the 19th time we've worked going back to September 30, 1994 when he was probably one of the first Slovenian QSOs for me. Let's see. Yes, that QSO was only number 8 with Slovenia. I remember it took a while to get the first few in the log. I could hear them well, but not vice-versa. I finally did hook up with S50A on 40 meters on May 28, 1994 probably in the WPX contest for my first ever S5 QSO. That was back when I was just about a little over a year into my current period of activity which started in early 1993. That was even before the streak. Now in contrast, I have 802 Slovenian QSOs in the log. That's the 5th most worked DX (non-W/VE) country behind Germany, Italy, England, and Hungary.

Tomorrow should be a great day when Mike visits. We have a lot of things planned. I don't know how many we'll get to. We'll definitely attend the Unionville hamfest I mentioned in an earlier entry. I'll (or maybe Mike will) let you know how much we accomplish in tomorrow's diary entry. -30-

Friday, September 11, 2015 10:53 AM - Perhaps I shouldn't be so pessimistic about the DX streak continuing. With the Boulder K index at 6 this morning and propagation predicted as 'poor' on all the HF bands, I still very easily got my DX QSO with a single call to P40ER on 17 meters at 1437Z. Apparently I should believe myself when I say that DX can be worked with QRP/CW just about any time except some brief periods now and then. Mostly when DX activity is at a low ebb rather than because of poor conditions. Incidentally I was even hearing Europe weakly with the 'poor' conditions. I also heard Bob WC3O (I'm guessing) working DX (4X among others) from Skyview (K3MJW). He was about S8 to S9 here.

After a dozen or so straight 90+ degree days here, it's only in the 60s today with a high in the mid 70s predicted. So now that I've gotten my DX out of the way, I think I may get in some fishing after I have my brunch.

Our plans for the Unionville (near Butler, PA) hamfest are set now. Mike and I will be leaving here between 8 and 8:30 and will be meeting Tom there. Don can't make it due to other committments. If you're in the area drop by and look for three characters wearing NAQCC gear. We're not setting up anything, just roaming around looking for bargains and greeting folks. Info is at http://www.w3udx.org/swapfest.htm

I just noticed a typo above and thought since I wanted to correct it, I'd add this picture to the entry.

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Thursday, September 10, 2015 8:48 PM - Well, will this be the day. When the DX streak ends, I mean. Conditions are worse than any previous day I've said the same thing. I only heard WP4EHK and HC2AO, both rather weak, and neither hearing me at all. At least the big main streak continued quickly. After not hearing any workable DX, I went to 40 and called CQ to keep that streak going. I got a quick answer from Jim AD4XX. We had a brief chat, then he had to heed his wife's call for some help and QRT. But at least the big streak continues. Thanks Jim.

So now I've dug out my old worn little note as shown here to remind me I didn't get my DX QSO for the day yet.

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And while I'm doing pictures, here's one of the closing stage of a beautiful sunset this evening. I grabbed my camera as I went out for a walk since it looked like a great sunset coming up. Unfortunately the path on which I was walking didn't have all that great a view of the western horizon except in a couple spots, so I missed the better stages of the show.

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Wednesday, September 09, 2015 8:18 PM - It seems the bands are getting worse and worse, yet the DX streak goes on thanks to HT7C on 30 meters. 76 days to go now for 1,000, but I wouldn't bet a lot of money (or even a little) on me making it if conditions continue to decline. I'm sure if I could be active 24/7 it would be easy, but as you know from my past couple diary entries, I'm 'balanced' and not willing to ignore my other interests just to continue my DX streak. When (or before) it becomes too time consuming, I'll just let it go. I think I've made my point over and over again already - it is possible to work DX with QRP/CW/simple wire antennas most any day you want to.

I'm looking forward to another visit from Mike (and hopefully Don and Tom also) on Sunday as we go to a hamfest near Butler, PA. This is a smaller one than the Breezeshooters Butler hamfest in June. However it is a very nice hamfest for getting together with friends and sometimes finding some good bargains as well.

After the hamfest, we have some projects planned as time permits. We will put a new battery in his power supply for sure. Also do some studying on how to clean the correction lens in his scope which seems to have developed some dirt of sorts on the inner surface. Also we are going to equip our shacks with some power pole connectors, and we'll do some planning on that to see just what we need. They have a nice power pole setup at Skyview and we have been impressed with the looks and ease of use of it. Of course we'll also work in a pizza or Ponderosa buffet or some kind of good food somewhere. -30-

Tuesday, September 08, 2015 8:21 PM - First of all, thanks to John VE2BHE for emailing me and reminding me of the source of "The Ham Radio Operator Is Balanced." It's from The Amateur's Code written by Paul M. Segal. It appeared in the first pages of The Radio Amateur's Handbook issued by the ARRL. In the 39th Edition (1962), it was on page 8. I think that gives a pretty good inkling of just how important it is that hams are more than just ham radio operators and have a diversity of interests they enjoy and love to talk about.

Speaking of that, I've been reminded that I haven't talked much about my gardening in the diary lately, so I'll take care of that right now. As I've mentioned, I have been taking care of Ange's garden while he was away in Italy. That went very well, but I'm glad he's back home now to reduce me to an assistant rather than pretty much chief gardener.

As far as my garden, it's been somewhat of an off year. It's my theory that the heavy rains very early in the growing season prevented the plants from developing a very good root system. Then later when somewhat of a drought came along, they weren't able to gather what little water there was in the soil. My Siberian tomatoes did pretty well and gave me a good many tomatoes. However recently in trying to gather some seeds for the future, I came across a couple of them that had no seeds at all in them. There are still some left though, and I hope they will provide some seeds so I can continue to have my very early in the season tomatoes as I have for a good many years now.

My other tomatoes (Celebrity?) produced very few tomatoes so far, but they were very delicious and just the right size for sandwiches. My speckled butter beans have been very slow to produce and the foliage is very scraggly, so I may not get many more beans from them. I have gathered seeds from them for next year though.

My peas produced nicely, and I've started a second crop of them which are just starting to sprout now. The real winners this year are the peppers. They are producing a lot more than I can handle and they are turning red very early and taste delicious. I picked one particularly big and red one today to get seeds from for next year.

My roses really did about the worst I can remember. In fact I lost one bush and think I may lose a second one. I'm not really sure what happened with them. My oldest bush did produce fairly well, along with my somewhat newer yellow bush, but still below par. I think next year I am going to have to work on my soil and perhaps transplant the roses to a new area of the yard.

Finally the daylillies were great as usual this year. In the peak of their season in July, I was deadheading around 130 per day for a good many days in a row.

You know, I realized today that in listing my other hobbies, I neglected astronomy. That's one of my oldest hobbies. I got interested in it way back before I was 10 years old.

As far as ham radio today, it was as quick as it can be for getting a DX QSO. Just a few seconds past 0000Z I worked P40ER on 17 meters with but a single call. That's 3 evenings in a row now for getting my DX on 17 meters. Europe is getting harder and harder to work as the sunspots decline. In glancing my latest paper log page in front of me, I see only IF9/IT9PPG and SV2/RW3AL representing Europe. The rest of the DX is from Mexico and South America. That goal of 1,000 days plus even finishing the European Chapter challenges the next few months is looking to be difficult, but I'll keep plugging away. Hey, at least I'm fortunate to have so many other hobbies to fall back on when band conditions get worse and worse. -30-

Monday, September 07, 2015 8:27 PM - I was thinking (oh-oh) today about ham radio and life in general. Somewhere, I don't remember just when or where, it has been said that the ham radio operator is balanced. That means that ham radio does not occupy his entire life 24/7. It means he indulges in other activities besides ham radio. I firmly believe that is true not only of ham radio, but of other activities as well. To me it would be very boring and unrewarding to devote my entire life to one hobby or activity. That is why I am interested in so many different facets of life and the activities, hobbies, etc. that are available. I only wish I had more time to get involved in even more of them than I do.

As diary readers know, some (to mention a few) of my main activities are walking, fishing, gardening, and computers. There are many others I dabble in also like model railroads, woodworking, watching instructional films on TV and the Internet, listening to music (mostly 50s-70s oldies), following most all sports, some more than others. I enjoy fixing (or trying to fix) just about anything that is broken or not working right. Let's not forget dogs which came into my life only a few years ago with the neighbor's dogs Joe, and now Roscoe. They are such a joy to be around, taking them for walks, and being a recipient of their loving ways. I could go on and on, but I won't. I think I've made my point.

Having so many activities means deeper and better friendships. I think it would get boring getting together with Mike KC2EGL, if ALL we did was ham radio even though we both enjoy it very much. Mike is much like I am in that he is interested in a variety of things. Things that we can share and enjoy together. I mention Mike as an example, but I have other friends who are similar. Just as a brief example, a couple days ago, I enjoyed chatting with Don K3RLL about the early days of computing up through the latest Windows 10 O/S.

It's great when I get into a QSO that goes beyond exhanging RST, QTH, Name, rig, and WX. Not to knock that type of QSO, but I'm just saying it's great to spend a half hour or so rag chewing about some other topic(s). That way you really get to know someone. That's the premise behind our NAQCC Friendship Club which is more than an exchanging membership numbers award. We encourage finding out more about those we work on the air.

Remember ham radio is only a small facet of our lives if we are a balanced person. One more example is my enjoying getting emails about some non-ham items mentioned here in the diary. There are a lot of those and I may not mention them all in the diary, but I do appreciate and try to answer each and every one of them.

Almost forgot to mention my DX streak QSO this evening. It took a bit of time to find and work Alex HC2AO. I've worked him a lot, but he was the only one I found that was easy to work. I tried some J6 station on 17M, but he wasn't hearing me at all for whatever reason. So 78 days to go now to reach my goal of 1,000 straight DX days.

One thing about having so many different interests, you tend to forget some things about some of them, but that's no reason to give up on them, and just concentrate on one or two interests. With that little preamble, I can say I had almost forgotten that September 8 is the anniversary of my web site. It's 19 years old as of tomorrow (local time), and starting it's twentieth year of promoting CW/QRP operation. Wow, where does the time go? I guess the next job is to update the banner at the top of this and other web site pages to reflect that the web site IS now in its 20th year. -30-

Sunday, September 06, 2015 8:23 PM - A warm humid day today, yet I got in a couple good long walks and don't feel any worse for the wear (or however that saying goes). That and some computer gaming along with a couple band checks seem to have used up the day since I'm here typing away at the diary entry already. I'm also doing my laundry so I won't have to do it in the morning.

I got my DX QSO out of the way quickly this evening with a single call to YV4YC on 17 meters as he finished up a QSO with a W6 station. That was at 0004Z. That's when I decided to do the laundry since that was taken care of so quickly. -30-

Saturday, September 05, 2015 9:22 PM - I think the longer my DX streak goes, how do I put this... it seems less impressive to me. I guess that's sort of what I mean. No matter the conditions, there always seems to be some DX, somewhere to work. It takes some really really poor conditions to get to the point where there is no DX available. Now that may come to pass when we get down to the bottom of this current sunspot cycle in a few months or a couple of years, whichever it takes to get there. But right now with the very helpful assistance from my PX3 panadapter and what is perhaps the best QRP/CW rig in the world now - the KX3 - it is easy to scan the bands quickly and then to work whatever DX may be found.

Let's take this evening for example. When I scanned the bands at first, I only found a VP5 portable station who was not hearing my calls, nor hearing other stations very well either. So figuring if I wait a while, someone else would show up from some DX location somewhere in the world whom I could work. I went to 40 and called CQ and wound up with two great rag chews, one with a new acquaintance Terry K0IEO in Ohio and an old friend Tom KA2KGP in NY. That took the best part of an hour, and it was now past 0100Z, and I thought I'd make another scan for DX. None of the PX3 peaks on 20 or 17 turned out to be DX. One on 15 was a CE station I could barely hear under my rather quiet S3 noise. I didn't even try him. Off to 30 now and at first all the peaks were not DX stations, but then a small peak turned out to be some call starting with an S. After I listened a couple times, it turned out to be SV2/RW3AL around S5 at best. What the heck, I'll try him, I have nothing to lose. I forget exactly what he sent, but it was part of my call, then after a couple more repeats, he got K2WWP and gave me a 339 RST. I sent K3 K3 K3WWP and a 569, and he came back with my correct call and the DX streak is now 920 days. Those Russian ops are among the greatest in the world and they stick with you till they get things right. That segues into my next story.

Don K3RLL came for a visit today and at one point in our conversation we said the exact same thing about Russian ops. It was great to See Don again for the first time since late summer of 2014 at Skyview. Seems one thing or another kept postponing the visit this year. We didn't do anything special. Mostly we discussed computer matters. Both of us have been into computing since the days of the abacus and clay tablets. Well, maybe not quite that long, but at least 40 years. He worked with mainframe computers and moved on to home computers. I moved from programmable calculators into home computers. We also took time out to go to Subway where we both had tuna subs with a free cookie. Hopefully before he heads south again, we can get in a parkpedition sometime in September. Or we may get together at the Unionville (near Butler) hamfest next Sunday.

Now let's go back to last evening again. After I posted my diary and did some other things including getting my DX QSO from P40PX (whom I heard strong again this evening and could have worked, but it was on the same band so I didn't), needing just one QRPp QSO nagged me, and I went back to the shack around 0115Z or so to look for it. I found one strong station in WK0B and gave him a call with 900 mW, but no luck. After tuning some more and trying a few CQs, I again heard WK0B, and this time we connected for my QRPp QSO # 10 to complete the NAQCC September challenge.

Oh, and the SV2 QSO this evening gave me three more letters for the European Chapter challenge #2 word, MOVISTAR. So I'm just past the half way mark to completing that challenge now. All in all, a great day. -30-

Friday, September 04, 2015 7:02 PM - Quite a few things going on today. Ange got home yesterday and came over to check out the garden. I got a good grade on the care I gave it the past month while he was overseas. We picked a lot of figs, peppers, and beans. The rain the past couple days took care of the watering so it should be OK in that regard until Monday or Tuesday.

I did some shopping. I seem to do that just about every day. Seems there is always something to get especially since I don't drive and have to carry all I get by hand.

I got on the bands a few times working on the NAQCC challenges. I now need only one more QRPp QSO for that challenge and I got a second letter for the second word in the other challenge. The bands weren't all that good, but not all that bad either.

Last night after my first QSO, my long time friend Ken WA8REI called me, and we had a nice visit. One thing that came up was that it has been almost 10 years since our 40th anniversary QSO - where does the time go. Anyway on August 25, 2016 we hope to have a 50th anniversary QSO like WA4FAT and I had last year.

We had a pretty heavy thunderstorm about an hour ago. Almost constant rumbles of thunder for an hour or so although not all that much rain. Sounded like a war zone here. I didn't see all that much lightning with the storm, but then I'm not near a window in the back of the house when I'm at the computer or in my shack, and that was where the storm was situated so I could have missed a lot.

I heard from my friend Don K3RLL up in New Bethlehem. He's going to visit sometime this weekend. I'm looking forward to seeing him again. He's been busy up there this summer along with not feeling well after some surgery. Anyway it will be good to get together before he heads back south for the late fall, winter, and early spring. -30-

Thursday, September 03, 2015 7:11 PM - A little more challenge progress today going back to last evening when I worked F8DGY and HT7C with 900 mW to get me to 7 QRPp QSOs of the 10 I need for the challenge. The QSO with my friend Chris F8DGY was a short chat and he copied me solidly all the way with his 3 element beam. Then this afternoon a little while ago I had a nice 18 minute rag chew with Bob K9IL on 30 meters for QRPp QSO # 8. He was up to 15 over with his 100 watts and I was S8 down in TN on my 900 mW.

Also with F8DGY last evening and IK2CIO this afternoon I completed the first word of the European Chapter challenge - SKY. Then with EG7SDC on 30 meters I started the second word - MOVISTAR. Those not familiar with the sport, may wonder what those words represent. They are cycling teams (along with ASTANA - word 3) who finished 1-2-3 in the Tour de France this year. Not being a cycling fan myself, I wouldn't have known. I'm sure Mike who is very much into cycling would know though.

So now about 40 minutes to a new day and a new search for a streak QSO. By the way, F8DGY last evening gave me a 4 for 1 QSO - regular streak, DX streak, NAQCC "American" challenge, NAQCC European Chapter challenge. Talk about a real bargain. HI -30-

Wednesday, September 02, 2015 6:17 PM - I made some progress on the NAQCC challenges today. You know, these challenges are so much fun and so.... well, challenging, I just don't understand why more folks don't participate in them. If you've never tried one, why not give it a try. You just may become hooked and find a new way to encourage yourself to get on the air with CW more often.

I got the first letter S for the European Chapter challenge by working Paul SP2GWH easily on 20 meters at 2141Z. Now to get the K and Y so I can move on to the next word. As for the "American" challenge of making 10 QRPp QSOs during the month, I'm halfway there after working K5P, ON4UN, V44KAI, and OX3XR today adding to K5G whom I worked last evening. All were with 900 milliwatts here. All were over 1,000 miles distant so all were 1000MPW QSOs to run my total such QSOs to around 1,980 now. I guess QRP (and QRPp) really does (do) work.

I really should do more QRPp work. I've been stuck at 90 QRPp countries for some time now. I thought maybe Greenland was a new one when I worked Peter, but it wasn't - not even a new QRPp band country as I previously have worked OX3OA on 17 meters. Oh well, there are a lot more I haven't worked. All I need to do is get down to it. -30-

Tuesday, September 01, 2015 8:57 PM - I haven't gotten off to a very quick start in the September NAQCC challenges. I've only made one QRPp QSO for the "American" QRPp challenge when I worked K5G with 900 mW, still leaving 9 more to go. At least with the one QSO, I will get my participation point to keep my streak alive of never missing a challenge. I would like to fully master it though, and will give it a try. After all, still 29 days to go. Nil in the European challenge so far. You've got to work letters to make the word "SKY" before moving on to two other words the next of which must then be finished before going on to the third one. I did hear a couple stations with a Y and or S in their calls, and almost worked YO8OU on 30M, but he sent my call as K3WP and never did correct it, so I didn't log him since I wasn't sure he eventually got it right or not.

We're getting a late summer surge of heat and humidity here which was pretty much absent in July and August except for a few days. It was 92 today and right now it's 76 with 74% humidity. At least the house hasn't caught up yet and it's still pretty nice inside. Actually it really didn't feel that bad outside today. I took a couple walks to pay some bills and do some shopping, and also worked in my back yard for a while without sweating much at all. -30-

Monday, August 31, 2015 7:01 PM - When Mike and I drive to a hamfest, eating place, etc., we generally always play the alphabet game. That's looking for all the letters of the alphabet on billboards, road signs, license plates, and anywhere else there are letters to be seen. It's always quite easy to get most of the alphabet, but often times we wonder if the letter Q has been outlawed. Other hard ones are J, X, Z. In addition to the alphabet game yesterday, we were talking about our favorite songs. Actually I was doing most of the talking since I'm currently in the process of trying to figure out my favorite 100 songs of all time. I made a rule that I can only take one song from any particular group to make it a bit easier(?). If I could take more, groups like The Association, Beach Boys, Lovin' Spoonful, just to name a very few would take up a good portion of the list. Every time a new song would pop into my mind I'd blurt it out. I don't think it is going to be possible to narrow it down to just 100 without a lot of work, but we'll see.

I wrote up the Skyview experience for the NAQCC newsletter, and am just about to send it off to Paul for publication. I'm also posting it here pretty much just as it will appear in the newsletter.

"For the second year in a row, we (John K3WWP, Mike KC2EGL, Tom WB3FAE) had a great time at the Skyview Radio Society Swap and Shop. As we did last year with the addition of Don K3RLL who wasn't feeling well this year and couldn't make it, we set up a QRP demonstration for Skyview members and visitors to the S&S. We weren't too optimistic about our success since propagation conditions had been the pits (and that's being kind) for the past several days due to some ionospheric storminess. However today showed almost a 180 degree reversal and gave us some really great conditions.

Mike and I arrived at Skyview shortly before 9AM. Tom was already there, and the three of us set up our KX3s in the Skyview radio room. I (K3WWP) took 40 meters and also did a bit of 30 as well as chasing some DX on 17. Mike pretty much stuck to 20 the whole time. Tom was interested in DX and he took 15 with some action on 10 as well. The antennas were an 80/40 dipole at an estimated 60' or so. A tri-band beam and a 5-band quad at around the same estimated height. Of course the KX3s didn't care what they were connected to and gave us a 1:1 SWR for anything we asked them to do.

Combining our three results we worked the following countries and states during our 4 hours or so of activity:

SM UA1 UR PJ4 XE CT F UA2 SP I CU CE PY KP4 - 14 countries.


Thanks to all the NAQCC members we worked. N4KGL (3610) K4RHG (6292) K0FNR (6852) NP3K (7358) KA4WJB (7508) KA5TJS (4512) AF5BA (7957) K4GXV (3068) KG5U (0264) N5XE (3811) N5URL (2178) K1IEE (3966) KD2JC (0857) W3BBO (1001) N8ZYA (2279) K8LJG (0308) AA3EJ (0704) W4DUK (0617) K3ZGA (7915) K1AVE (1039) KG9DW (7510) WB8E (5069) N9SE (7425) N3CU (6492) N6EV (2247) - 25 members.

We made a total of 55 QSOs on 6 bands.

All in all a good showing and quite a bit better than last year for a couple reasons. We were more familiar with the set up this year and also last year not all the antennas were functional. I would say conditions were about the same both years. Conditions in the radio room became a little rough at times with all the folks wandering in and out. We enjoyed meeting, talking with them and finding some that were very interested in what we were doing. However it did distract a bit from our operating and we apologize if we missed copying any of you.

I think you can tell from this picture of the three ops that we were having a very good time operating. So good in fact, we never did more than a few minutes of wandering around the S&S and eating.

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In case you don't recognize the faces, that's (L-R) Tom, John, and Mike. Our KX3s look a bit dwarfed in front of the big Skyview rigs and amps, but they certainly did the job in showing how well QRP works with CW.

We didn't get a picture of the antenna farm this year, but here's one from last year which is substantially the same set up as this year:

pix_diary_20150831_002 (44K)

We want to publicly thank all the members for giving us honest signal reports so our comparison between the big antenna farm at Skyview and our own small antennas at home was more meaningful. One strange thing was my (K3WWP) getting a 229 report from Indiana, then just seven minutes later getting a 599 + 10 db report again from Indiana. Most all our reports were very good, even from the DX stations. More meaningful was the DX stations for the most part copying us very easily when we took time to chat a bit beyond the standard exchange of signal reports. Antennas and a good location do make a difference although none of us can complain about the results we get at our home locations.

Speaking of home, when Mike and I did get to my home after a stop for chow (Tom went home by himself), we set up my station right away so we could compare results more closely even though a couple hours had elapsed. We found conditions were very good and it wasn't just the big antenna farm that made the difference. We worked a few DX stations including a couple we had worked at Skyview earlier in the day.

All in all a very enjoyable experience, and we have been invited back to do it again next year. We will look forward to that very much." -30-

Sunday, August 30, 2015 8:13 PM - Is it possible to have TOO MUCH fun? I don't think so, because if so, I would have had it today. As Mike said when he left a few minutes ago, anytime we get together it is a fun day, and I echo that statement. However, I think today was even more fun than usual (if possible). It was great to have Tom WB3FAE with us also. We missed Don K3RLL though. He wasn't feeling well and couldn't make it.

I'm not going to chronicle completely here our operation at Skyview since I'll be writing that up probably tomorrow for the NAQCC newsletter. When I write that, I'll include it in a future diary entry. I'll just give a brief (?) outline here. Shortly after Mike arrived a little past 8AM, we headed to Skyview and made it without getting even the slightest bit lost. Tom was already there, and the three of us set up. I took 40, Mike 20, and Tom cleaned up with 15. He also did a bit of 10, and I briefly got on 30 and also worked some DX on 17. A rough estimate is that we made over 50 QSOs in something like a dozen countries and maybe 15-20 states. That was surprising with the very poor conditions the past few days. That changed completely today and conditions were great. I wondered if they really did change or was it the huge antennas at Skyview.

After about 4 1/2 hours of operating and fellowshipping with Skyview visitors, we tore down, thanked the Skyview officials for having us with special thanks to Bob WC3O. We have an invitation to do it again next year.

Back home again after Mike and I stopped at Ponderosa for a buffet dinner, we checked the bands and they were indeed in good shape. It wasn't just the big antenna farm. We worked several DX stations here, and then chatted for a while about various things including plans for our next get together which will include working on Mike's scope and battery power pack, making up some Anderson Power Pole connectors for our shacks and when we visit Skyview, and assorted other things.

Mike left just about at 0000Z, and I headed to the shack hopefully to find good conditions and a quick DX streak QSO. My hopes were realized and I worked IW2JWD on 20. It wasn't an easy QSO, but it was complete. The first European in the 0000Z hour for quite a spell now. Another indication that we are in a good propagation period again despite an almost spotless sun. At least it seems the ionospheric storming is over for a while anyway.

While at Skyview I managed to finish my NAQCC European Chapter challenge when I worked CT1JOP to get that elusive final J. Now I'm putting the diary pen down and am going to submit my challenge report. -30-

Saturday, August 29, 2015 8:31 PM - I just sent out the following to our NAQCC email list about our Skyview operation tomorrow:

Mike KC2EGL, Tom WB3FAE, and I (John K3WWP) will be visiting the Swap and Shop Meet at the Skyview Radio Society near New Kensington, PA Sunday August 30 tentatively from about 9AM (EDT) to 1PM (EDT).

Included in our visit will be an activation of the NAQCC club call N3AQC using the huge antenna farm at the Skyview "clubhouse". We'll be very interested in getting signal reports from you to get some idea of how that antenna "farm" compares with our own simple wire antenna "victory gardens" at our home locations.

Currently the ionosphere is winding down from some major storminess that has really messed up propagation. Probably the only bands available will be 40, 30, and 20 so we'll stick around 7041, 10117, and 14061 for the most part with an occasional check of 17 and 15 just in case they might be open. We'll also be straying around other frequencies on 20 trying to get some DX reports.

Also we will be taking time out to wander around looking for bargains, but at least two of us will be in the radio room at all times per a request from Skyview officers.

If you're in the area, you might want to drop by and say hello. Info on the Swap and Shop can be found at http://skyviewradio.net/2015%20Skyview%20S&S%20flyer.pdf If the link doesn't work, do a Bing search for Skyview Radio Society.

Hope to work you tomorrow.

Indeed we do hope to rack up some QSOs tomorrow despite the propagation of late. It is supposed to improve a bit for tomorrow and it actually was a bit better today and this evening than the past few days. I got a quick DX QSO from Carlos, KP4CPC on 40 meters at 0003Z so I can relax at Skyview tomorrow and not be concerned about the DX streak. I also worked my second Hurricane Katrina memorial station QSO K5Z to go with K5B worked earlier. -30-

Friday, August 28, 2015 8:39 PM - Well, last night was easy with another QSO with Rick on a new band for us - 30 meters. I mean PJ2/AI5P - a new band for us from that country. Anyway it took just 2 minutes on the 28th to continue the streak vs. 1,314 minutes on the 27th. Tonight it was 33 minutes, and before that it sure looked like the streak was in jeopardy another day. However at 0033 I worked HI3TEJ on 30 meters despite him being just barely above my S4 noise level. He's another great op. To show how bad conditions currently are, he is usually at least S8-S9 on 30 meters when I hear him.

I decided not to waste the time writing the streak obituary yesterday, and I just converted it into a 910 day report on the streak to replace the 730 day one that was there (QRP section - DX Streaks).

Also I added a bit to the main QRP page today - a table of power vs. db/S-units. It makes a handy quick reference or may prove of interest to those not familiar with the relationship between power and db/S-units.

Oh, I checked the bands a couple times this afternoon in hopes there might be an opening to Europe so I could look for that last letter J to complete the NAQCC August European Chapter challenge. I didn't hear anything from Europe nor much else from anywhere for that matter.

I also started to get ready for Skyview on Sunday, packing my paddle, battery, log sheets, and PL-259 to BNC antenna connector. The rest will wait till Sunday morning. We plan to leave for Skyview around 8 AM which should give us 3-4 hours operating time plus time to roam around the Swap and Shop area, eat (of course), etc. I'll try to have a bit more info in tomorrow's diary entry. -30-

Thursday, August 27, 2015 5:59 PM - After assessing the bands, propagation info, etc. this morning, I went ahead and wrote the obituary for my DX streak, kind of hoping if I did that, something would happen just to negate all the time I spent doing so.

It sure didn't look like that was going to work. Every time I checked the bands, they were pretty much as dead as the proverbial doornail. What the heck is a doornail? That continued until late afternoon. Even the USA stations were weak, probably S7 at the very best, and that was from stations I know and I'm pretty sure they run QRO and beams. About the best DX station I heard was HC2AO and he was only S4 at best. Still he is a great op so I did try him a few times with no luck. PV8ADI showed up briefly on 20, but he has a hard time hearing me at the best of times. No sign of him hearing even a peep from me today.

Along about that time it popped into my mind that last night I did have an almost QSO with a LU station on 30 meters (LU7YZ if memory isn't failing me, and it could be). He did verify the contact, but never did send my call correctly so I didn't log him. That really galled me, and now somewhere about 2130Z I became determined to take every shot possible so as not to have the streak end on a 'maybe' QSO. I was going to stay on the bands till 2359Z and go down swinging if I couldn't work anyone in that time.

I heard another very good op, Rick AI5P portable in Curacao on 17 meters. Even though he was S2-S4 with an occasional peak at S5, I figured he might be my best chance, although every time I called, there was either no sign of him hearing me, or he worked someone else. I got encouraged by the fact that a couple of the stations he worked were QRP, although probably with a much better setup than mine. Hoping he was going to stay on 17 on that frequency, I jumped back and forth several times to see if anyone stronger was lurking anywhere. No luck. Now Rick's signal got a bit stronger at a fairly steady S5, but still no luck.... until "K3WWP 559 559 BK" came back to me from him. I gave him a generous 569 and the DX streak goes on at 910 days. In a side note, that's the 9th country from where I have worked Rick - VP2E, G, CY9, FP, FG, J3, 9Y, PJ4, and now PJ2.

I honestly don't know how many more of these kind of days I want to put in though. I think if not for the busted? LU QSO, I probably would have just given it up around that 2130Z time today. The next day like this, I may just update the obituary I wrote today, and give it up.

About 100 minutes now till the ordeal (I hope it's not an ordeal tonight) begins again. -30-

Wednesday, August 26, 2015 9:16 PM - Well, let's see..... 8/20, 6/26, 6/16, 4/29, 4/12, 4/11, 4/5, 3/20, 3/13, 3/3, 2/24, 2/16, 2/13, 2/10, 2/3, 2/2, 1/27, 1/24, 1/22, 1/21, 1/17, 1/15, 1/14, 1/13, 1/9, 1/7, 1/6, 1/2, 1/1. And now it looks like 8/27. Those are the only dates this year (29 of them, maybe 30) I failed to get my DX streak QSO in the first few hours of the UTC day (mostly in the 0000Z hour). Those in January and February were mostly because it was so much easier then to get DX in the 1300-1600Z hour or so I didn't bother in the evening if conditions were the least bit poor.

Tonight conditions were very poor. Also something strange happened. I was working W4USR in NC who was running 500 watts to a delta loop with the apex at 70 feet. Suddenly he went from S9+ down into my S5 noise and didn't come back. Then I went back to 20 meters and CE2AWW who was fairly strong earlier (but not hearing me) now had a lot of flutter on his signal. Kind of like something happened in the ionosphere around 0030-0035Z. Later in tuning around I again heard W4USR and he was back up to S9. CE2AWW apparently signed off as I didn't hear him again. Anyway the bottom line is I didn't work any DX this evening for only the second time since June 26 and have dragged out my little note with the word QSO on it to remind me tomorrow I need a DX QSO for the 27th. If I don't get it, the DX streak ends at 909 days. That's kind of a nice number, and it's not like I got so close to 1,000 and then it ended. That would really be heartbreaking. This wouldn't be so bad.

Just a couple more days now (30th) and we (KC2EGL, K3RLL, WB3FAE and I) get to operate our QRP rigs at the Skyview Swap and Shop using their big antenna farm as we did last year. This year all their antennas will be operational unlike last year when we still had fun with those that were available. We'll send out an announcement on our NAQCC email list with further details the day before the event, and I'll have the details here in Saturday's diary entry. I'm looking forward to that not only for the operating but fellowshipping with the Skyview members as well. They are a great bunch of folks. -30-

Tuesday, August 25, 2015 8:51 PM - After a short respite the past few nights, it was back to the struggle for DX again this evening. It took 42 minutes to find and work KP4CPC to get the DX streak to 909 days. Conditions to Europe this afternoon were again pretty good, but I couldn't find that last J to complete the August European Chapter challenge. I heard a DJ4, but he was S&P like the DJ8 yesterday so I couldn't work him. With that big double sunspot moving on now, unless another one develops, it may be rough getting the J or even working Europe at all before the month ends, but I'll try.

Today was a preview of fall, as far as the weather goes. It barely made it into the 70s and with overcast skies and a pretty strong breeze it didn't feel that warm. It was nice for fishing though, and they were biting good today if not easy to catch. I did finally get a 14 inch sucker though. That brought back memories of my fishing days as a kid. 14 inches seemed to be about as big a fish as I was ever going to catch for quite some time, until my dad got me into catching carp. I have a picture of me around somewhere holding a 29 inch carp. I'm going to take a break to get my weather records now, then look for the picture so I can scan it and post it here. My family took LOTS of pictures though, so it may not be easy to find that particular one.

Well, I did find it. I'm not sure just when it was caught. The picture is dated July 1956, but I don't see a 29 inch carp in my fishing log in that time frame. However I didn't keep a complete log back then, so I could have missed it. Actually my log becomes pretty complete around that period so although it wasn't logged, perhaps it spurred me on to keeping a detailed log. That's a long time ago, and hard to remember. Anyway here we go with the picture plus one of me with my dad who is holding the carp. After the pictures, a bit more of the story.

pix_diary_20150825_001 (45K)

You can tell it was a pretty heavy fish from the way I'm struggling to hold it up. I remember we threw the carp in the trunk of the car so we could take it home and get a picture of it. After the picture, we took him back to the river and released him. As far as we knew, he survived the ordeal which really didn't take all that long. Great memories. I'm sorry I didn't have more years to spend with my dad. He died when I was just 18. -30-

Monday, August 24, 2015 6:25 PM - As they were 6 days ago, 20 and 17 were great to Europe again in the 2100Z hour. That allowed me to get two of the last three letters/numbers for the August European challenge leaving me with needing a J to complete the challenge. I heard DJ8BN, but at first he was S&P other stations, then later, much weaker, he was calling CQ, but not hearing me at all. But at least I did get the 4 and 0 from I4EWH and IK0OZD on 17 meters. Hopefully I can get that last letter in the 7 days remaining in the month.

Another nice day today, and I'm just about to go out for a walk. I did walk down to the PO earlier today to mail a NAQCC prize. I also enjoyed the nice weather while watering Ange's garden. Then it was laundry time followed by some house cleaning. So I accomplished quite a bit today as I try to do every day. I'm not much for sitting around doing nothing. -30-

Sunday, August 23, 2015 9:47 AM - What a great night last night! I'm writing this early, but Mike is going to add his thoughts to it later today and I won't post it until then.

Mike arrived around 8:30 after his day at the Dayton (PA) annual fair where the local club displayed ham radio for the fair-goers. Since we would be getting started as soon as he got here, no time for our usual pizza or whatever. He ate at the fair, and I ate here at home.

After we chatted for a few minutes, we gathered up the scope, etc. and headed for the Community Park. It was still somewhat light which aided in getting setup. Just about the time we did get set up the first and second magnitude stars were becoming visible. The first quarter moon was both a hindrance and an aid to us. The park is a very dark site and the moon helped us in getting around and seeing what we were doing. However it did brighten the sky quite a bit and washed out some of the fainter objects.

We hadn't set up the scope in quite some time and had to think a bit about doing the alignment. It's a goto scope so the alignment is semi-automatic. We used the two-star alignment where the scope is first manually pointed at one star, centered in the eyepiece, and entered in the controller. Then the scope is slued with the controller to a second star, centered with the controller, and entered. The first attempt failed for some reason, but the second time worked. We used Antares and Altair for the alignment. When we told the scope to find an object, it was in the field of view, but wasn't centered, usually in the lower left of the field. We didn't take time to do another alignment, but just continued to go with what we had and then use the fine centering on the controller to put the object in the center of the field. Just as I was typing this, Mike emailed and said he now knows why the off-center was happening. There are a couple markings on the scope support that need to be aligned and we didn't do that. Now we know for the next time.

Despite that, the quarter moon, and later on, some severe dewing of the corrector lens of the scope, we still managed just over a half Messier marathon which I'll detail in a bit. Besides the Messier objects, we also observed the moon briefly, double stars Albireo and Mizar, the double cluster in Perseus (NGC 884/869), Saturn (even after many times observing Saturn, we still gave it a WOW!) and a few of its moons, and finally just before closing down, Neptune. Those were the only planets visible during our session which lasted for about 3 hours from 9 PM to just past Midnight. Pluto was up but in very star-crowded Sagittarius and close to the moon, so we didn't even try for it.

The worst problem was the dew as Mike describes below. Many of the brighter objects could be seen through the dew, but some of the fainter ones were washed out till the dew was removed.

I was surprised and pleased how my little 12V 7AH gel cell powered the scope flawlessly for the full time we were there and although it did discharge somewhat, a measurement of the voltage when we got home showed it still at 12.5 volts (under no load). I'm recharging it right now, and actually under load the voltage is a couple volts down, but that didn't affect operation. It worked just the same at Midnight as at 9 PM.

OK, now to the meat of the session. Messier objects. As anyone at all interested in astronomy knows, Charles Messier was an 18th century astronomer who wanted to immortalize himself by discovering comets. It's a practice to name comets after their discoverer, hence Halley's Comet, Comet Shoemaker-Levy and so on. Well, probably unbeknownst to Messier at the time, he later became famous not for the comets (he supposedly did discover 13), but for a list of what he considered annoying objects that looked like comets in his somewhat primitive (compared to today's standards) scope, but weren't. They were star clusters, nebulae, galaxies, and other similar objects. He made a list to help himself and others in their cometary searches. His final list published in 1781 contained 103 objects. Modern research has added 7 objects that were known to have been seen by Messier and/or Pierre Mechain (a friend and assistant) after the "final" version was published to bring today's total to 110.

A modern challenge for astronomers is to observe all 110 objects in a single night called a Messier Marathon. The position of the sun in relation to the objects dictates this can only be done in the month of March. Then the sun only really seriously interferes with one object - M30 in Capricornus which must be observed just when the light of dawn starts to brighten up the sky. It requires a really flat horizon in the direction of that object.

We caught just over half of the objects last night - 58 of 110. There were 8 others that we tried, but because of the moon and/or the dew problem either didn't see or weren't quite sure enough to log.

We observed the following by constellation listed somewhat in order in which they would be setting/rising (number in the constellation/number observed - list of those observed - those missed, if any):

Scorpius (4/4 - 4,6,7,80)
Sagittarius (15/14 - 8,17,18,20,21,22,23,24,25,28,54,69,70,75 - 55)
Serpens (2/2 - 5,16)
Scutum (2/2 - 11,26)
Ophiuchus (7/6 - 9,10,12,14,19,62 - 107)
Hercules (2/2 - 13,92)
Lyra (2/2 - 56,57)
Sagitta (1/1 - 71)
Vulpecula (1/1 - 27)
Capricornus (1/1 - 30)
Aquarius (3/3 - 2,72,73)
Cygnus (2/2 - 29,39)
Pegasus (1/1 - 15)
Andromeda (3/3 - 31,32,110)
Pisces (1/0 - - 74)
Triangulum (1/1 - 33)
Cassiopeia (2/2 - 52,103)
Ursa Major (7/4 - 40,81,82,101 - 97,108,109)
Canes Venatici (5/4 - 3,51,63,94 - 106)
Perseus (2/2 - 34,76)
Draco (1/1 - 102)

Although we did miss some, we still had a great time. It really took me back to my younger days when I did a lot of observing. A couple vivid memories came to mind. My first look through my scope purchased back in 1985 at the Dumbell Nebula and how much clearer it was in the new 8 inch scope compared to my old 4 inch scope. Also finally observing my last of the 110 objects not long after getting the new scope - M74 in Pisces which I consider the most difficult of the 110 to this very day. It was fitting it was one of those we missed last night. It pretty much requires a perfectly clear black sky devoid of any moonlight or light from any other sources like streetlights, etc.

That's my (very long) take on last night. Now here's what Mike has to say following this picture of his scope that we used:

pix_diary_20150823_001 (422K)

Last night was a much anticipated stargazing session. John and I have tried to plan either a full Messier Marathon or a half Messier Marathon over the past few years. Unfortunately either Mother Nature or a surgeons knife (full Marathon in 2013) had foiled our plans. Well last night was almost perfect. Johns gel cell battery was pressed into service due to my power supply buying 'the farm'. A new battery is on its way. We were only able to power up the telescope with John's battery. We were not able to use my dew zapper because we had no way of connecting it to John's battery. After and hour or so we had to wipe the dew off the front of the scope every time we moved to a new object. We viewed 58 Messier objects. Just about every time we moved to a new object I exclaimed "WOW!!" I need to use a new interjection. We also viewed some other objects. All in all it was a great night. We need to make a habit of this. -30-

Saturday, August 22, 2015 8:11 PM - Just sitting here waiting for Mike to arrive for our astronomy session. I got my DX streak taken care of while I was waiting. I worked RG0A on 20 (not the best QSO - I'm not positive he got my call right or not), and then a more solid QSO with S57V on 30 just for insurance. So that's taken care of for day 906, and I don't have to worry about it while we're star gazing.

Another nice day today. There were a few clouds that wandered by, and gave a bit of concern for tonight, but it's very clear right now and also the atmosphere is very clean and virtually haze free.

Unfortunately Tom and Don couldn't make it tonight. We were really hoping that they could get to see some good sights, but that will have to wait till the next time. I think Mike and I will try for a half Messier marathon possibly. If we get a lot of objects, then maybe we can finish off the list in a few months. Then next March we can try for a one night marathon if everything goes right.

OK, I'll close now and get my other couple pages updated before Mike gets here. -30-

Friday, August 21, 2015 9:02 PM - Let me tell you. The routine is getting old very fast. For the past several days now it's been go to the shack at 0000Z, check 17, 20, and 30 for DX. Not finding anything workable, going to 40 (sometimes 30) and calling CQ to rather easily get a regular streak QSO. Then back to the agonizing hunt for DX which takes the good part of the rest of the hour. A few stations are heard, but too weak to hear me at all. Finally finding someone to work after calling several times and repeating my call a few times on top of that. I don't see it getting any better with the sunspots on the downswing. I still would love to make the DX streak last until day # 1,000 is in the books, but the above routine does get very tiring. So maybe I'll just call it quits before 1,000. We'll see.

Today was a beautiful weather day - more like early September than a little past mid-August. So I got around to edging my sidewalks, getting rid of the crabgrass that really has grown in our mini-drought we've had since late July or so.

It was also ideal for fishing except that the fish didn't show up, or if they were there, they weren't hungry at the time. Nary a nibble in an hour, but it was nice sitting under the partly cloudy skies getting alternately warmed by the sun and cooled by the breeze.

Also nice for walking and I have a little under 10 miles on the pedometer right now for today.

I also mapped out an observing plan for our astronomy night tomorrow night. The weather still looks good. The just under first quarter moon may be a bit of an annoyance, but we can work around it. -30-

Thursday, August 20, 2015 6:36 PM - The streak continues. I worked VE7BDI/XE1 this morning to add another day to the DX streak. I thought I'd check other times after that to see if Europe was coming through. It was around 2100-2130Z with a strong IK2CIO and a SV9 station. Conditions were good, but activity wasn't. So I still need 0, 4, and J to finish the European Chapter challenge.

I wonder now what this evening will bring. I'll find out in an hour and half or so, I guess.

It looks like Saturday will be our astronomy night according to Mike. We hope Don and Tom can also accompany us up to Community Park for the viewing session. We still don't have Mike's 12AH battery fixed so we'll see how long my 7AH one will power the scope. The new power pack for the scopes actually seems to be rated at 7AH according to some specs we looked at, so we may be OK for a good long session. Now if only the weather will cooperate. -30-

Wednesday, August 19, 2015 9:05 PM - Will August 20, 2015 and 902 always bring bad memories to K3WWP? Well, barring a miracle or unless conditions tomorrow afternoon are better than today, that date and number may be the day the DX streak ended after 902 straight days of DX. I couldn't even come close to working any DX this evening. I didn't even hear much. One strong LU on 30 engaged in a VERY long rag chew. T46BC who unlike earlier QSOs just never heard me tonight. A CO7 who got murdered by some lids and went QRT before I could get him. That was about it.

I got on this afternoon with high hopes of finding conditions like they were yesterday and maybe finishing the European Chapter challenge, but the bands were totally dead in that same 2100Z hour today.

So right now it's rather discouraging as far as DX goes. By contrast though my big streak added a day VERY easily when K2LNS/VE2 answered my very first CQ as soon as I fired up the rig. We had a solid several minutes QSO. He made me jealous when he said the fishing was great today at his vacation spot in Gouin, Quebec. -30-

Tuesday, August 18, 2015 9:48 AM - Special edition. I often mention our computer club here in the diary. The club (and I) got a nice writeup in our little local free newspaper. If you are interested, take a look here for the on-line version.

I finally caught my remote weather unit with all four readings the same a couple evenings ago:
pix_diary_20150818_001 (59K)

DX conditions to Europe were good in the 2100Z hour today on 20 and 17 meters. I worked 6 European stations in an effort to complete the European Chapter challenge for August. I came close, but still need 0, 4, and J to finish. Maybe tomorrow afternoon?

OK it's now 2356Z and I'm off to the shack to try for my DX streak QSO. If not tonight then maybe that 2100Z hour again tomorrow afternoon. -30-

Monday, August 17, 2015 9:16 PM - You know, when you get old (as I certainly am) there are some days when you feel a LOT older with all the little aches, pains, annoyances, etc., and then there are days when everything is working perfectly and you feel like you are young again. I'm sure you've noticed that if you are old. If you are not, that's what you have to look forward to.

Anyway, today was a young day for me and I took advantage of it. Really nothing out of the ordinary, but the normal tasks went a lot easier and smoother. I started off by doing my laundry. When that finished, I had some brunch - a half a sub from Subway leftover from a couple days ago. Then it was checking on Ange's garden. It looked a bit dry and with a hot day coming up, I decided to water it. Then I knew mine needed watering, so I took care of that followed by some weeding. My daylillies have just about done all their flowering, so I trimmed them back since the leaves were spreading way beyond their allotted space. Then I had to go to the PO to take care of mailing my payments for the second half of the month bills. I also picked up some groceries while I was out. Back home again in time for supper - a couple of chopped steak patties. Then I decided to fool with Mike's power supply to try to figure out why it wasn't charging fully. I had completely discharged it overnight, then put it on the charger when I got up today and found after 6 hours on the charger it maxed out around 9.6 volts when it should be putting out over 12 volts. So I took it apart and found a corroded terminal on the internal gel cell. Fixed that, but it didn't help. Tried two different chargers with both acting the same. Some more testing has just about led me to the conclusion that the gel cell itself is bad. And that pretty much sums up my day so far. Oh, I neglected to say that somewhere in the middle of all the above, I finished the log cross-checking for our NAQCC sprint and posted the adjusted scores for those who want to, to question the changes before we finalize everything next Sunday.

Once again it looked like the DX streak may be coming to an end. If it had, at least 900 days would be an easy to remember number. However once again I squeaked out a DX QSO by working PJ4/AI5P on 40 meters at 0050Z. AI5P is a great op, and it's nice to have ops like that on the bands to be able to dig out my QRP signals when conditions are not the best. It took a few repeats of my call to make the QSO, but day 901 is in the books now, and the struggle to continue is put off for another day once again. -30-

Sunday, August 16, 2015 9:20 PM - A great day today, as are all days when Mike visits. He arrived around 8:45AM and prepared for his bike ride which lasted until around 2:30 if I recall correctly. Shortly after he cleaned up, we headed out to try a new watering hole. I had only been there once myself, so we didn't know much about it except that I enjoyed the first trip very much with their good food and good service. We both ordered their Sabreburger which consists of a hamburger patty, a sausage patty, onions, pickles, lettuce, and some kind of sauce. I got a side order of onion rings, Mike got fries and gravy. For dessert, we both had soft ice cream cones. Fabulous! I think we'll be going back there again on one of his visits.

Back home again to a variety of things including planning for our astronomy outing later in the week, checking the bands for DX (Mike worked a Panama station on 17M), a hidden object game on the computer, and a test of his battery pack after which we came to the conclusion that it is going to have to be replaced. All too soon 9 PM rolled around and he had to head back north again.

While he was playing the computer game, I went up to my shack to get my streak QSO(s). First I solidified the main streak when K2LNS/VE2 answered my CQ. He was also QRP, and the band was not conducive to a long QSO but we did chat a little while. Then it was on to looking for some DX. There was very little to be found, but once again T46BC came to the rescue. Tonight it was 40 meters after working him on 20 and 17 the previous two evenings. So the DX streak has now reached 900 straight days. The next 100 to make it to 1,000 are going to be very hard, I think, with sunspots decreasing rapidly and conditions getting poorer and poorer.

Earlier in the day while Mike was riding, I worked WB5OSD to get the last "O" to complete the August NAQCC challenge. I don't know if I'll complete the European Chapter one or not this month with the poor conditions. -30-

Saturday, August 15, 2015 9:55 AM - Regular diary readers know my penchant for working with stats. In fact, I think that is one reason (among many) for my liking of ham radio. It gives me tons of data to analyze in every way I can think of. The same with my hobby of meteorology.

I got to thinking about my DX QSOs and wondering just how many unique stations I've worked in different countries. I know I work many DX stations over and over again in various contests, but just how many different stations have I worked in Germany, Italy, etc.

Well, with my Microsoft Access log and perhaps with a bit of help from Microsoft Excel, it is very easy to figure out. It was done more quickly than coming up with the idea in the first place. HI

I'll present the data in a few different ways. I'll exclude W/VE from the first tables, then close out with those stats for comparison. I only counted countries with more than 100 total QSOs (of which I have 55) to get a more realistic idea of what I'm presenting.

First the 10 countries with the most unique stations worked:
CTY QSOs Unique Calls
FRG 1798     577
ITA 1021     326
EUR  592     278
ENG  862     267
FRA  778     255
CZE  782     236
SPA  536     209
POL  599     207
HUN  820     179
UKR  323     176
FRG is Germany - a holdover abbreviation from the days of the divided Germany (Federal Republic of Germany). And in both total QSOs and unique stations, it is far out in front as I expected. (EUR-EUropean Russia)

Now let's compare the percentage of QSOs which are from unique calls, i.e. calls/QSOs.
CTY QSOs Unique Calls Percent
ASR 202      120      59.4%
JAP 238      130      54.6%
UKR 323      176      54.5%
ARG 225      108      48.0%
BRZ 251      118      47.0%
EUR 592      278      47.0%
SWE 291      136      46.7%
BLG 345      158      45.8%
BUL 265      121      45.7%
SWI 138       63      45.7%
Asiatic Russia on top is surprising. In fact all the top ten except for BRZ and perhaps JAP are surprising. I work a lot of different stations in those two countries. Bulgaria with all its special Saints and other special event stations is not really a surprise either, come to think of it.

OK, let's turn things upside down and list the countries with the fewest unique calls followed by those with the lowest percentage as described above.
CTY QSOs Unique Calls
MDR 115      25
ALS 106      34
BLZ 116      35
BAR 103      37
COS 127      37
BON 140      38
MRT 108      39
LAT 126      39
IRE 107      40
ROM 104      41
Latvia, Ireland, Romania surprise me. The others are to a large part due to the contest expedition QSOs. Even more telling will be the percentages next. (MDR-MaDeiRa, ALS-ALaSka, BLZ-BeLiZe, MRT-MaRTinique)
CTY QSOs Unique Calls Percent
ARU 292      42       14.4%
VIR 225      45       20.0%
CAY 202      41       20.3%
HAW 198      41       20.7%
SLV 800     172       21.5%
MDR 115      25       21.7%
HUN 820     179       21.8%
SLO 341      82       24.0%
CRO 582     146       25.1%
PUE 316      81       25.6%
I can just about recite from memory the often worked contest stations from each country that contribute to the low percentage of unique calls. But I won't do that here.

As I said, now let's look at the W/VE stats for comparison.
CTY  QSOs Unique Calls Percent
CAN  2805     1267     45.2%
USA 42573    18829     44.2%
They stand # 11 and 12 among the 55 countries with which I've had 100+ QSOs.

And overall totals for the 55 countries
CTY  QSOs Unique Calls Percent
All 63214    26032     41.2%
I found all the above fascinating and I think it does show one thing as a bottom line. A QRP/CW station's QSOs aren't made by simply working the same big powerful stations over and over again. We also work other stations with very simple setups akin to ours.

Finally perhaps an explanation of my country abbreviations is in order. I find most lists of abbreviations have confusing entries and don't use them. For example the IARU official list has Brazil simply as B while there are many countries starting with B. There are many others, but you get the idea. My system also has a few confusing ones, but basically I can tell at a glance without thinking what a country is from my list.

Wherever possible, I use the first 3 letters of the country name in English - FRA-France, POL-Poland and so on. However in cases where countries have the same first three letters, I have to improvise. For example Australia, Austria, Austral Islands. In that case I take the first three letters from the one that comes first alphabetically - AUS for Australia. For others I often take the first three consonants - for Austria I use AST. For Islands I try to use as much as possible the first two letters of the island name followed by I - AUI for Austral Islands. It's not a simple task, but it works for me and my log, and that's all that matters to me. I'm not out to make a list that pleases everyone. Such a thing does not exist anywhere, especially if you limit the abbreviations to just three letters. -30-

Friday, August 14, 2015 8:48 PM - Warmer today than it's been for a while now. The high on my remote unit says 89 degrees. It's now 75. Seems more like August again than September which it has felt like most of the rest of the early part of August.

I made an effort to watch for some Perseid meteors, but it's hard to find them in this light polluted town. Then to top it off some fog developed. All that resulted in only seeing three meteors over two nights. Too bad this isn't the week of Mike's vacation. Maybe we could have gone up to dark community park and seen a lot of meteors. During his vacation next week we are planning on an observing session up there. Hopefully we'll get a clear night for it. Other than the fog a couple nights, we've had quite a few clear nights this month so far. Also Mike will be stopping by on Sunday. He's going on a bike ride that starts in nearby Ford City and stopping here before and after the ride.

There wasn't much DX to be heard tonight, but I did manage to work a rather weak GB2GNL on 20 meters for my streak, then just because he was calling a lot of CQs with no answers, I worked T46BC easily on 17 meters.

I posted my new poll question today. It's a twist on another poll I did earlier about times of the day when folks operate the most. The first time around the answers were in UTC, this time in local time. So I hope you'll cast your vote. I haven't been getting all that many votes in the polls recently for whatever reason. Maybe I'll think about discontinuing them if they don't pick up by the end of the year. -30-

Thursday, August 13, 2015 6:45 PM - Another somewhat early entry this evening for no particular reason. Last night it didn't take long after the computer club meeting to add a day to my DX streak. I found and worked XE1XR easily on 20 meters barely a couple minutes after entering the shack.

I learned (or was it I was reminded) via email yesterday that the ARRL Centennial QSO Party certificates are now available. So I checked my totals on the ARRL site and found I was eligible for the level 2 (of 4) certificate with 5,349 points - more than enough for level 2 (3,000) but not enough for level 3 (7,500). Since I didn't really concentrate on the party at all, I'm pleased with the result and ordered the certificate via regular mail today. That will make a nice complement to the W1AW Centennial WAS plaque I got about a month or so ago. It was expensive at $16, but I don't think I'll be around for the Bicentennial event in 2114 so I went for it.

Also on the ARRL site, I checked to be sure our N3AQC Field Day log and report was received, and it was. I didn't see any entry for the local Fort Armstrong Wireless Assn. though. Maybe we embarrassed them with our QRP/CW results vs. their QRO/mostly SSB results the past couple years?

About an hour now till I head to the shack, so I'll find something to do to kill time. Maybe process a few more sprint logs that just came in to add to the total of 117 already received and prepared for cross-checking. Or maybe something else. Hard to tell with me. HI. -30-

Wednesday, August 12, 2015 3:50 PM - I have a computer club meeting this evening, so I thought I'd write my entry early today. Then when I get home around 0100Z or so, I can concentrate on getting my DX streak QSO. Only five more days till the DX streak hits 900 days if nothing happens before then to end it.

Conditions for the sprint were pretty poor last evening. 20 was just about dead. 40 had a lot of local QRN and QSB. 80 is pretty much unusable with my current local QRN. It took me 93 minutes to get my 20 QSOs, all on 40 meters.

I got to wondering just how that 93 minutes ranks among the past 14 sprints when I've done the "20 and out" routine. Well, the slowest to 20 was 109 minutes in November 2014 - the quickest to 20 was 47 minutes in June 2015. The average for the 14 sprints is 77.7 minutes, so last night was one of the slower ones. In fact it was the fifth slowest. Here are all the times:
 7/17/2014    94
 8/13/2014    81
 9/18/2014    65
10/15/2014    97**
11/20/2014   109
12/10/2014    94***
 1/22/2015    89
 2/11/2015    69
 3/19/2015    58
 4/15/2015    65*
 5/21/2015    61*
 6/10/2015    47
 7/16/2015    66*
 8/12/2015    93
  * - 21 QSOs
 ** - 22 QSOs
*** - 23 QSOs
A couple sprints, I had tailend calls after #20, but the times listed are for getting to #20. -30-

Tuesday, August 11, 2015 8:10 PM - OK, getting close to NAQCC sprint time, so this will be quick.

Thanks again to the PX3 panadapter, a quick DX QSO so I don't have to worry after the sprint or during the day tomorrow. I tuned to 20M, and a quick glance showed only a couple good signals there, and a quick listen showed they weren't DX. So I thought I might as well check 17 meters. The PX3 showed one strong signal there and another quick check showed it to be XE3WMA calling CQ. A couple answers to him netted a DX streak QSO for day # 895.

Now off to get ready for the sprint. I hope I get my 20 QSOs quickly this evening, but 20 didn't seem too good. I don't know about 40 yet. -30-

Monday, August 10, 2015 9:19 PM - To use a common appropriate expression - Go Figure. For almost an hour tonite except for a short QSO with AI4FC for my main streak, I tried and tried to find and work some DX with no luck. Most DX I found was very weak and not hearing me at all. A couple others were fairly strong (S6 or so) but also not hearing me or disappearing before I could work them. Then I heard EA2PA calling CQ about S6 or so on 20, gave a call and got him with that single call, and we had a nice solid chat for several minutes. He was using 100W and just a dipole antenna, so no big beam needed to copy me. Another facet that makes ham radio such a fascinating hobby. So the streaks go on another day.

I got in a lot of little things today. I fixed that bad coax connector I mentioned while I was doing my laundry. I also recharged my gel cell after the Skeeter Hunt yesterday. I did a lot of setting up things for our NAQCC sprint tomorrow evening. Some shopping and other regular tasks filled in other times here and there.

We had 0.9 inches of rain today so that postpones garden watering for a couple days now. Maybe longer as more rain should be here overnight with some left over for tomorrow as well. -30-

Sunday, August 09, 2015 9:15 PM - A great day in the Park with Mike KC2EGL and Tom WB3FAE. Mike came just before 10 AM, and we headed up to Ponderosa expecting them to open at 10:30 AM as they did the last time we were there on a Sunday morning. However now they backed up their opening yet another 30 minutes to 11 AM so we had to kill a half hour which we did by going to Dollar General for a couple items Mike had planned to get after we ate. We also went into Radio Shack looking for a coax barrel connector which they didn't have. Then finally to Shop and Save where we found some of our favorite Spam on sale and stocked up on that. By that time it was just past 11 AM and it was back to Ponderosa where we had our lunch or brunch before heading to the Park.

Up there we met Tom and the three of us got started setting up our antennas. Oh but first a surprise for Tom. Mike and I purchased a personalized bezel for his KX3. We had a devious plot set up to affix it to his rig without him knowing, and it worked. We had planned to have Tom help me set up my antenna and Mike would switch bezels while we were doing that. However an even better situation presented itself. Tom had to walk back to his vehicle (about a 100 yard walk) to get some more parts for his antenna mount. We weren't prepared for that, but when a third opportunity came along and he had to go back again. I quickly said we wanted to get a picture of our three KX3s side by side which Mike could take while we walked to Tom's vehicle. While we were gone, Mike made the switch, and when we got back I kiddingly asked how we were going to tell the three KX3s apart. That's when Tom looked at them all in a row and noticed the bezel. He seemed very pleased with it. Here's a picture of the three before and after the change. It is a bit hard to read the bezels, but they have our calls and NAQCC numbers on them. Mike's and my bezels also had a surprise element to them which has been told in the diary previously.

pix_diary_20150809_001 (51K)

pix_diary_20150809_002 (99K)

I'll try to have some more pictures in tomorrow's entry, but I've got to move along now.

When we did get to setting up my antenna, I found an SWR of over 20:1 with it. After some testing we found a bad connection on the connector going into my KX3. Simply moving the coax fixed it and we put my battery on the coax to keep it from moving further. Tom and Mike got their antennas going and we all three started rolling along. Twenty meters was my band and it was pretty good. Mike had forty meters and it was fair. Unfortunately Tom had fifteen and ten and other than WAE stations, they were pretty devoid of signals.

Still we wound up with a total of 61 QSOs in 30 SPCs, just about in between our 51 and 69 totals from the past couple Skeeter Hunts. The bottom line though is that we all had a great time with some beautiful weather as icing on the cake. Also we got to watch a youth group of sorts playing some football. The youngsters came up with some pretty good plays along the way.

We stayed with the Hunt till its conclusion and then tore down our setups and headed to my house for a couple hours of fellowship chatting about various things.

Tom had to leave first, then Mike a little later around 0000Z. After he left, I set up my station again and got my DX QSO in the form of Jurek EA6UN. A bit of a strange QSO. I called him and he answered and worked another station, and as soon as he was done, called me. So he heard my call and put me on hold for a bit, so to speak. Then I heard and worked VY0M, my first Nunavut station in quite a while and maybe my first on 20 meters. I'll have to check that later.

Tom and Mike didn't want anything to eat (yes, Mike did not want anything - you read correctly), so I took a walk down to Subway and got myself a foot long Tuna sub which I devoured after bringing it home.

Then getting my weather readings brought me to the point of writing this entry. Now on to update my streak table and propagation pages. -30-

Saturday, August 08, 2015 8:38 PM - As I surmised, a quick DX QSO this evening with the WAE contest in effect. I got IR4X at 0000Z on 20 meters with a single call. After that it wasn't so easy though. I had my DX so I thought I'd work on the NAQCC challenges a bit. However a half hour of calling CQ on 30 and then 17 yielded nary a single answer. Oh well, at least the streaks live on another day.

Just about 16 hours now till the Skeeter Hunt up in Community Park. I'm looking forward to that. I've got everything packed up and ready to go - well, except for the rig and a couple other items I always wait till the last minute to pack. Mike and I will be having brunch or lunch at Ponderosa and then we'll meet Tom at the park and get set up to start right at 1700Z. Here's hoping for good band conditions. They seemed pretty good this evening despite not getting any answers to my CQs.

Still another nice day today. I started off watering Ange's garden while he is away, then my own garden after that. Some walks and a little shopping along the way today. Other than that, some house cleaning filled up some more time. That was about it for the day. -30-

Friday, August 07, 2015 8:52 PM - It was just 3 years ago this evening that a 4-6 month old puppy named Roscoe arrived next door. He has brought a lot of joy in those three years. Today he took a trip to the groomer for a hair cut, bath, and toenail trim. It was a pretty uneventful trip as usual. A little uneasy on the way there and relaxed and tired on the way home. Bruce treated us to lunch while Roscoe was getting himself taken care of.

That was pretty much the event of the day with not much else really happening. I did a little work in the backyard and took a couple of walks including some shopping. Seems just about every day there is some grocery shopping that needs doing when you don't drive and can't really store up on a lot of things at once. But I don't mind that at all since I love walking as you diary regulars know well.

Of course with the WAE contest on, my DX QSO was a snap tonight as it will be again tomorrow night. Tonight it was TM5Y who already had 27 QSOs just 7 minutes into the contest. Must be a lot of fun turning QSOs over at that rate. I guess about the best I've ever done in an hour with my QRP/CW simple wire antennas setup would be in the low 60s. A couple times I averaged around 51.5 per hour in the 10 hour NAQPs so I imagine I hit 60 in those once or twice. I think I'll check that after I get my weather readings and if I remember, report here in tomorrow's entry.

Looking forward to the Skeeter Hunt on Sunday. Exchanged several emails today with Mike and Tom about our plans, so we're just about ready to go. Looks like clear and not too hot weather for Sunday which will be great. -30-

Thursday, August 06, 2015 7:56 PM - About 5 minutes to go till streak time. I'm just getting the date/time stamp on here now, and then I'll be back after I see how the streak search goes to flesh out the rest of the entry.

Today was yet another beautiful one and it was cloudy so I went fishing for a little over an hour, but didn't catch anything. I got some bites, but they must have been from some very small fish, as each time after what seemed to be a good bite, they stopped and when I reeled in to check the bait, only a tiny piece was bitten off the nightcrawler. Still it was nice to get down to the river again.

OK, I'm off to the shack now.

Well, it was a quick DX QSO at 0004Z that kept the streaks going. I worked HT7C for a 'new band' QSO after having worked him before on 30 meters. This was on 20 meters.

A few days ago I got an eQSL card from K4WLW for a N3AQC QSO. He was also wanting a K3WWP verie, so tonight I got an answer to my first 30 meters CQ from.... yes, Bill K4WLW so I immediately opened the QSO with "now you have a K3WWP QSO for eQSL/LoTW. It was more than just a brief QSO though, but a nice quarter hour or so visit. Bill is a NAQCC member who also runs a KX3 as I do.

So the streaks go on. I haven't talked much about this, but on Sunday, Mike KC2EGL, Tom WB3FAE, and I will be heading to the Kittanning Community park to participate in the NJQRP Skeeter Hunt as N3AQC, and we'll be giving out Skeeter #1 to all who work us, as Larry W2LJ assigned the NAQCC WPA Chapter that #1 for the hunt. Hopefully conditions will be good and we can have another good showing in the hunt as we've done the past couple years now with 2nd and 6th place overall finishes. No matter how we finish though, it will be a lot of fun just getting together with these two guys again. What a great time we had on Field Day. I still have vivid fond memories of that event. -30-

Wednesday, August 05, 2015 6:15 PM - Let's start this entry by going back to last evening. It was a delight to start off the 22nd year of my streak by working an old friend who has been interested in the streak for a long time now. I'm speaking of Larry W2LJ. We had our first of 63 QSOs back on December 17, 2004 which was about the time he joined the NAQCC as #0035. Actually it would have been a few weeks earlier that he joined with that number. Last night he answered my CQ on 40 meters and although conditions weren't the best, we chatted for quite a while. He was giving a demo of ham radio at an event in his town in NJ.

As we ended our QSO, I was called by Neal W3CUV up in Erie. We've worked a couple times before. He's a friend of Bob W3BBO who has visited here at my house and also comes to the Butler hamfest each year.

Continuing old home week, so to speak, I then went to 20 in search of my DX QSO. There I found another friend (well all hams are really friends) in Chris F6DGY, and we talked for a while. It was solid copy both ways with some QSB, but not enough to deter our conversation.

Moving on to today, it was a busy one. It started with helping Ange pick beans from his garden. Right after that, I did some work on my back steps with help from Denny. Next it was 'deadheading' my daylillies - unfortunately they are just about done producing flowers for this year. I only picked off 13 dead flowers today while just a few weeks ago, it was around 150 or so per day. I would say about another week, and they will all be gone now. Sad to think that is an early portent of fall and winter. Next up, I watered my garden. It has not been a very good year for my vegetables nor my roses. This year produced the fewest roses in a long time, maybe the fewest ever. The vegetables are doing better than that, but still somewhat below par.

A couple good walks and a few other odds and ends bring us to writing this diary entry. It's about 90 minutes now till I go hunting my streak QSO(s) for day 2 of year 22. -30-

Tuesday, August 04, 2015 6:41 PM - Last night when I sat down at 0000Z to get my daily streak QSO(s), I never thought that it was a momentous day until I worked someone and wrote the date 8-4-15 in my log. Then it hit me that the QSO I was making completed 21 years of my main streak or counting days that's 21x365=7,665 plus the 'leap days' in 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012 making a total of 7,670 straight days with at least one QRP CW simple wire antenna QSO. So this morning I updated the streak page in the QRP section of my web site (QRP - QRP Streaks).

So tonight at 0000Z or a little past depending on conditions and activity, I'll be starting out on year # 22. Whew! Who would have thought a little discussion with Eric KB3BFQ about sports streaks in 1994 would have turned into something like this.

Speaking of streaks, our rainless streak ended last night just a few minutes before I went out to get my 9PM weather readings. The rain continued on to give us about 3/10 of an inch until it ended a couple hours later. The day today dawned with a continuation of our dry sunny weather and was another beautiful day throughout. Great for walking. I almost went fishing, but it was pretty hot in the bright sun, so I decided against it. There are no easily accessible shady places to fish. All are out in the direct sun all day. Maybe I'll try tomorrow depending on conditions. -30-

Monday, August 03, 2015 7:54 PM - Day # 13 in a row with no measureable precipitation. I think I will have to log a trace for today though as I did see a few drops on the sidewalk when it got pretty dark this afternoon, but they quickly evaporated as the main rain again split Kittanning to the north and south.

It was as a result another good day for walking and after taking care of some business this morning with a good long walk around town, I took a couple more walks later and now have 10.31 miles on the pedometer.

It's coming up on 0000Z now and time to go and try to get my streak QSO(s). Although they don't really mean all that much the SF and A index look pretty good for today and if conditions follow, hopefully I can get the QSO out of the way quickly and maybe gather some more letters/numbers for the NAQCC challenges. -30-

Sunday, August 02, 2015 9:25 PM - Another nice day today, both weatherwise and on the bands. We did hit 90 degrees again, but as has been the case, the humidity has stayed low. A picturesque sky with the lovely puffy cumulus clouds of a typical summer day. A nice day to be outside, and I was quite a bit. A couple of long walks, weeding my garden, taking grass out of the sidewalk bricks, and taking Roscoe for a walk.

This evening when I got on the bands, it didn't take long to work V44KAI on 30, then a few minutes later it was MI0SRR on 30 followed some time later by S52F on 20. Europe was quite good, but the stations I would have liked to work were either S&P or engaged in long rag chews. Still I did collect a lot of letters/numbers for the NAQCC challenges, especially from MI0SRR who provided 10 each for the "USA" challenge and the European challenge. I'm now just about at the halfway point in both challenges with 42 of 86 in the "USA" one, and 26 of 59 in the European one.

I keep forgetting that some of you reading this might be saying what's he talking about these challenges? Well, the best way to answer that is to just refer you to the NAQCC web site via the link at the top of this page. There you'll find out all you would like to know, and if you're not already a member, perhaps you'll join the club so you too can have fun with the challenges and our other activities.

Finally for this entry, some stats. I've been wondering if my percentage of return from the LoTW is greater from USA/VE stations or DX stations. Before I figured out anything, I had the feeling that DX stations would definitely be the winners. Let's see.

I only used my QSOs from the streak, since I only have 115 LoTW veries from before that time. Here we go.

Not counting tonight, I have the following:

Total streak QSOs - 64,897 (all through 7/31/2015) uploaded to LoTW.
Total LoTW veries - 18,370 or 28.3 percent

Total streak DX QSOs - 21,092
Total LoTW veries - 7,815 or 37.1 percent

Total streak W/VE QSOs - 43,805
Total LoTW veries - 10,555 or 24.1 percent

I was definitely right about DX vs. W/VE, and the margin was a little wider than I expected. So W/VE stations, let's get with the times and use the wonderful LoTW. It's very simple and very clearly explained on the ARRL web site here -30-

Saturday, August 01, 2015 6:35 PM - I was just thinking of this, and thought I'd better record it here before I forget. I was wondering how this fairly dry July stood up against past Julys. I have precipitation records for 54 years here starting in 1962. The July 1963 record is incomplete due to vacations and college previews, so that leaves 53 years. Of the 53, only 16 had less precipitation than this year. The 2015 total was 3.14 inches which is 1.15 inches below the normal of 4.29 inches. The driest July was 1982 with 1.33 inches, the wettest 1992 with 9.90 inches.

Today was another dry one, but I thought I felt a couple lite drops when I was outside working and the skies were full of what looked like rain clouds. I'm not really sure, so if we don't get anything else this evening, I'll put today down as another 0 day, the 11th in a row now.

Today also ended a streak of 6 straight 90 degree days. Fortunately the humidity wasn't very high during the streak, so it wasn't really too unbearable. Right now it's 80 degrees with 40% humidity. I just got back from a pretty long walk. -30-

Friday, July 31, 2015 7:57 PM - I got most of my end of month / first of month chores done quickly and efficiently today. All I really have left is to get the July weather records in my computer, and make a banking run in the morning. Then I can goof off the rest of the day tomorrow.

The weather has really been one extreme or the other this year, especially the last couple months. We had rain on 19 of the 30 days in June, but right now we have a streak going of 10 straight days without a drop of rain and really not much in sight for at least a couple more days. 23 of the 31 July days had only a trace of rain or none at all. It will be interesting to see how it stands up among the dry Julys in the past here.

The bands were pretty good this evening again, and I worked EG2A at 0000Z for the DX streak. Then I started work on the NAQCC August challenges. I was kind of disappointed I didn't master the July European Chapter challenge. I just spent too much of the month enjoying the nice weather. Maybe had it been a rainier month, I would have done better. Now I'm more determined to master both challenges this month, not just one. So far in the "North American" challenge, I have 19 of the 86 letters. In the "European" one, it's 15 of 59.

That pretty much wraps up the last day of July. I think I'll go flip over the calendar pages to August now, and then maybe start on the weather records. -30-

Thursday, July 30, 2015 8:23 PM - This is the weekend of our Fort Armstrong Folk Festival here in Kittanning. I usually don't pay much attention to it, but this evening I went with my neighbor Nancy to listen to the award winning Kittanning Firemen's Band. It was very enjoyable listening to some good music from that collection of great musicians.

I got home just before 0000Z, grabbed a bite to eat and went in search of my DX streak QSO. It didn't take long to get it as I worked OK1CF at 0003Z on 20 meters. A very easy QSO with Karel whom I've worked before a few times.

Tomorrow is yet another busy day following the FOBB on Sunday, the Skyview presentation on Tuesday and the Festival this evening. Tomorrow, being the last day of the month, means it is time for all my end of month / first of month chores which usually take up quite a bit of time. After that, then next week should be a quieter one although Ange will be leaving for Europe on Thursday (I think) for four weeks which means I have to take care of his garden. So do me a favor and do some rain dances so I don't have to water it too often. Just don't overdo it and bring on any flooding. -30-

Wednesday, July 29, 2015 9:13 PM - Good conditions this evening. I heard more strong European stations than I've heard in a while in the 0000Z hour. I worked 9A/S52P right at 0000Z on 20 meters. When I heard the 9A/ I thought it was the same station I worked last night, but it was a different operator tonight - not S55Z. I guess they are leftovers from the IOTA contest on vacation on EU-090.

After that I looked for any Europeans with the letters I need for the NAQCC European Chapter challenge, but didn't find any with the J Q V that I need yet. Looks more and more like I won't complete the challenge this month.

I got an email today wondering if we could do an encore of the QRP/CW presentation at next year's Breezeshooters Hamfest. Well, that's a long ways off, but I imagine it would be possible if everything stays the same till then.

The hottest day of the year so far today, so after I deadheaded my daylillies and watered my garden, I pretty much sat in front of the fan all day to beat the 94 degree high temperature. It could have been worse though, but the humidity wasn't all that high - mostly in the 40s. It's still pretty warm at 80 degrees. I went out for a walk just a few minutes ago, and it still felt that way, too. -30-

Tuesday, July 28, 2015 10:18 PM - I just received some pictures from Bob WC3O of the presentation at Skyview last night, so it's a good time to flesh out this entry as I promised.

Mike (KC2EGL) had to work yesterday, so he had to wait to come here till he was done. We still got to Skyview in plenty of time. In fact we were the 3rd and 4th persons to arrive. We were sorry that Tom WB3FAE couldn't attend because he got a bug and a fever and had to stay home.

The first order of business was to set up for the presentation. I figured I would just use my web site as a source for all the info since I really couldn't add anything else to what is here. They have a projector and a big whiteboard so I could project my laptop images for all to see. I had a bit of trouble with hooking to the projector since I hadn't done so for several years since we used such a setup at our computer club meetings. One of the members knew exactly what to do, so that hurdle was overcome. While members were arriving and chatting, I set up the pages I wanted to use in different folders in IE so they would be ready to use.

After a nice introduction from Bob, and applause from the members, he turned it over to me for the presentation. I planned the presentions in five stages - Showing my location, station, and antennas - Showing what can be done with such a setup - Showing how anyone can do the same with a similar setup - Comments from Mike and Tom (but he couldn't make it as I mentioned) - Finally a 'hands-on' demo of the KX3/PX3 hooked to the club's big antenna farm. Here's a picture of me getting started with the presentation.

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I started off with Bing maps showing my location here, and then went on to pictures of my station with the KX3/PX3, antenna switch, etc. In fact it was the first picture on my Pictures page in the Home section of the web site. After that, it was on to the antenna pictures from my OneDrive site. I sensed a feeling of surprise from the members that the antenna system was so minimal. I used the line, "It's not really an antenna farm, but more of an antenna victory garden". The victory garden analogy came from my friend Alan KB7MBI. I think they got a kick out of the random wire especially seeing all the bends in it. I said at one time, I counted 21 bends. One member asked if I knew just how long it was. I said about 110 feet but squeezed into about 70 feet of space. Here's how the picture of my 6 meter dipole looked on the whiteboard.

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After the 'show and tell' with the pictures, I went on to show some of the pages that give tips on succeeding with QRP/CW. I didn't take the time to read or show all the info there as I did want to get to the KX3/PX3 demo as I sensed several of the members were interested in seeing that. There was great interest in the presentation as I think is amply shown by this picture.

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Although the actual section of comments from Mike kind of got lost in the shuffle, Mike did contribute a lot of helpful comments along the way, which I appreciated very much. One that comes to mind was the story of how I 'converted' him to QRP/CW not long after we met when he (as a postman) delivered a QSL card to my house. He also added some other anecdotes of interest. Thanks Mike.

Now it was off to the radio room, where I hooked up the KX3/PX3 with help from Bob and others. I mentioned it would be nice if I could add to my DX streak from there, but it would have to be with a 'simple wire antenna', not one of their huge beams on big towers. So we hooked up to their 80/40 dipole antenna, but loaded it with the KX3 internal tuner to 20 meters and got the usual KX3 match of 1:1 with virtually anything it is fed into. The PX3 showed a strong peak to which I tuned to find it was Josh 6Y5JW whom I worked several times. I figured he would be an easy catch, and he was. We exchaged brief greetings and my streak QSO was in the log. As I mentioned, there was great interest in the KX3/PX3 and we got several questions about it. One member asked if we found any shortcomings in the setup. Mike and I both said no, except possibly for the audio quality from the speaker which didn't really matter and wasn't all that bad anyway. Another asked about the price of the rig. Mike looked that up on his phone and gave out the info. There were other questions also about the rig that I can't recall right now. Here's a picture of the setup with the old man (me) looking at the PX3 for someone to work. While Mike behind me is explaining something to a member.

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Some more tuning around revealed very little in the way of DX outside of some SA stations which we couldn't seem to raise, possibly because of the orientation of the dipole. Probably had we hooked to one of the beams, they would have been easy QSOs, but we didn't try that as time was moving on. We almost worked 9A/S55Z, but couldn't quite make it past K3WW?. Ironically when I got home and set my station back up, I worked him easily from there.

All in all it was a very enjoyable event. I usually don't enjoy being the center of attention in such an event as the presentation, but I have nothing but good 'vibes' from this one because of the great behaviour and attention shown by all the Skyview members. Thanks very much. Thanks especially to Bob WC3O for the opportunity to do the presentation. I think it may have peaked some interest among the members who told me they were going to study my web site some more and one said he was definitely going to try to get back to CW again. Another said he was going to join the NAQCC.

If any further comments come to mind that I missed here, I'll add them in tomorrow's entry.


I had a real great time giving my QRP/CW demo at the Skyview Radio Society this evening. I'd like to thank all the members for a very warm reception.

I'll have more to say about it when I amend this entry later tonight or more likely in the morning. Right now I'm tired and I have some other things that need doing before bed time. -30-

Monday, July 27, 2015 8:21 PM - A quick solid DX QSO this evening. EA2CNU was booming in, and I answered his CQ, but lost out to a W4 station. As soon as they finished, I called again and got an answer on that first call with no repeats - somewhat of a rarity the past several days. So that's 880 days down and 120 to go for my goal of 1,000 straight DX days. It's going to be rough, but I'm going to try to make it. Tomorrow will be especially rough as I will be doing a presentation on QRP/CW at an area radio club in the evening and won't be able to be on at my usual 0000Z hour unless I get on from the radio club station as part of the presentation. Otherwise I'll have to get my DX during the day on Wednesday. I did listen this afternoon a bit and DX was pretty good in late afternoon. I didn't try to work any, just listened. -30-

Sunday, July 26, 2015 8:34 PM - A good day in the park today. Story and pictures to follow at 11...... No, I mean shortly.

First, the DX streak goes on. Last night it was HT7C at 0004Z on 30 meters. I was thinking of going for the NAQCC 30/30 award this month - 30 QSOs on 30 meters, but I might come up a bit short. I need 11 more in the final 5 days of the month, and not a lot of time to be on the air with a busy week coming up. Then tonight it was RI1PT at 0022Z on 20 meters. Again a Russian who stuck with me through several repeats. Thanks.

The FOBB had its moments, good and bad, in the Community Park today. Initial set up went well. We arrived about 30 minutes before the start and except for a couple of balky golf balls and a couple stubborn trees that slowed down our antenna launchings a bit, we still made it in plenty of time. However after a couple QSOs, we lost our pavilion. The pavilions are first come, first served, and generally that works well so we don't have to pay to reserve one. Today though just minutes into the FOBB, a couple and their kids arrived with a reservation in hand for a birthday celebration. So we had to move to another pavilion and set up all over again. that also went well although we had a couple strange orientations for our antennas due to the arrangements of trees at that pavilion. However with the center of Mike's dipole only 5 feet or so high, it worked well as did my dipole at maybe 10 feet at most. Mike took 40 meters, and I did 20. There wasn't a lot of activity or if there was, we weren't hearing it. I made 15 QSOs and Mike made 14. We both worked almost all the stations we heard on both bands. We both decided we pretty much ran out of stations and called it quits a little over an hour before the end of the contest.

Some pictures now. In order below - 1. Mike operating, 2. Me operating. 3. Mike's antenna. 4. My antenna.

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Saturday, July 25, 2015 6:48 PM - One of the warmest days of the year so far. The temperature only peaked at 90, but with some very clear, only slightly hazy skies, it felt hotter in the sun. Before it got too hot, I took care of watering Ange's garden as he is away for the weekend. Next I deadheaded my daylillies. I picked off around 130 dead flowers, and that was only from overnight last night. It's amazing how prolific daylillies are. Too bad vegetables don't produce that quickly. I sometimes think beans come close as after I watered Ange's garden, I picked what must have been close to 200 beans and he only picked them a couple days ago. I hope my beans produce like that when they get going. I don't know why they are so late this year. So far I only have flowers on them - well, and a couple tiny yet to develop beans.

Otherwise, I am getting a good supply of Siberian tomatoes and peppers for my daily salad. My bigger tomatoes are coming along nicely also and I should be getting some ripe ones in a week or two.

I dug up some parts from my extensive junk box today for the crystal radio project I mentioned. I also charged up my gel cell for tomorrows FOBB parkpedition. I hung my W1AW WAS plaque on the wall, and was going to take a picture of it, but my camera batteries died just as I was snapping it. So I'm charging them now. Both the ones from the camera and a spare set which was also pretty much depleted. So that should be ready for the FOBB tomorrow. There is a slight chance of rain, but that shouldn't deter us, as the park pavillions are covered.

I'm looking forward to tomorrow. Except for FD, this will be the first time out in the field for me this year. I hope we can get in a few more parkpeditions before the weather changes in November or so.

Right now, I'm just passing time till 0000Z comes along and I go for my streak QSO(s). I imagine with the IOTA contest going on, it should be easy to get my DX fix. Hope saying that doesn't jinx things. The IOTA contest has been good to me over the years for getting new countries, new band-countries, and some generally very nice QSOs. One I remember particularly was working VK6DXI back in 2009 (see QSL on my DX page) on 40 meters before the sun had set here. Another was my first ever Asiatic Russian QSO with RW0A back in the 1995 test followed shortly thereafter by my second one from RU0B. I was thinking my only United Kingdom Base on Cyprus QSO with ZC4BS came in the IOTA contest also, but I see the date is June 15 so it couldn't have been. Another new country came from J45RW in the 2002 contest (Dodecanese Is.). I'm sure there were a couple others also that I can't recall off the top of my head right now. So maybe I'll get something interesting tonight. Wonder if the current Cocos Island station will be in the test. I only have one QSO with that country. I guess it is one of the rarest NA countries along with Desecheo, Navassa, and Aves Is. I only have one QSO with those three also. -30-

Friday, July 24, 2015 9:10 PM - Conditions seemed a little better this evening. I heard several European and Middle East stations on 20 and 30. I worked F6BII, II5YOTA, and XM2I. The latter because I thought I might need the XM2 prefix. Let's see. Nope I've got it both worked and verified. I worked a lot of those special Canadian prefixes several years ago.

Not much else happening today to write about. Just the usual stuff. I did get my little portable kit loaded up for our Bumblebee parkpedition on Sunday. I just have to put a final charge on my battery. I better close here now and get to that, or I will forget it. HI. -30-

Thursday, July 23, 2015 9:45 AM - I've got some things lined up for today like fishing, shopping, garden work, etc. So I thought I'd write the diary entry early this morning.

Mike did visit last night to cap off a good day. He had to get up early today though, so he couldn't stay long. We did have our pizza to top off the priorities of the visit. After that we made plans for our Bumblebee outing on Sunday, a visit to a Skyview meeting Tuesday evening, and the Skeeter Hunt in August.

While cleaning out some things in my attic, I came across an old Britannica article about building a crystal radio set. I thought that would be an interesting project for one of Mike's visits. I asked him if he ever build such a set when he was young, and he said no. I did build one many years ago and had fun with it. So that's on one of our future agendas. We also hope to get in some good sky viewing during a week in August when Mike will be on vacation. Perhaps observe the Perseids, although Mike said last night he had the wrong week figured for his vacation so instead of Perseid week of Aug 9, it will be the following week of the 16th which will be past the peak of the Perseids on 12/13 Aug.

Before Mike came, I managed another quick DX QSO when, with some repeats, I worked RG0A on 20 meters. Those Russian ops are great in sticking with someone till the QSO is made, and I appreciate them for that as well as the many ops from other countries who do the same. -30-

Wednesday, July 22, 2015 4:51 PM - A couple of neat things today so far and another coming up later this evening.

For the first time since June 13, the weather, river level and clarity were good enough to go fishing. I went out and checked the river while doing a couple chores downtown. On the way home I bought a dozen nightcrawlers, and when I got home, set up for a walk to the river with my fishing gear. When I got there, and got my line in the water, it looked like it was going to be a shutout trip, but that didn't really matter - it was nice enough to just be sitting there at the river. I did get two isolated hits - one hit wonders, I guess you could call them. Just when I was thinking about giving up and going home though, I finally got a good solid hit and caught an 11 inch sucker. Nothing award winning by any means, but better than a shutout. Also it reinstilled that desire to do more fishing, especially if the weather stays good as it is predicted to do.

After I got home, and did some computer work including getting my fishing (non-fishing?) log up to date, I got up and saw a rather large box on the front porch. I guess I never did hear the mailman. I thought maybe it was my ARRL W1AW WAS plaque, but the box was so light, and there was a return address from Utah on the box. Hmmmm.... very strange. The plaque was the only thing I ordered in recent memory. Maybe it was a gift from someone? Well, no - it was the plaque. Smaller and lighter than I thought it would be, but nevertheless a really desireable thing to have. It made all that time chasing W1AW/# worthwhile. Actually it was worthwhile and a lot of fun even without the plaque. It a 1/4 inch thick piece of plastic in the shape of the continental USA with the pertinent info printed on it. I took a picture of it to post here. It was rather shiny and hard to get a good picture, but here it is. It looks pretty much like the plaque although the real plaque is somewhat clearer and a little less dark.

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Still yet to come? A visit from Mike after he finishes with a meeting here in town. We'll have a pizza and then do who knows what? -30-

Tuesday, July 21, 2015 9:13 PM - I got curious about something this evening as I was getting my DX QSO - which came quickly - HI3TEJ on 30M at 0002Z. I was wondering how many different stations were logged as the first QSO on each of the 874 days. That led to some other stats which I'll present here.

Number of different stations - 604

By band:
80M - 1
40M - 48
30M - 204
20M - 350
17M - 127
15M - 98
12M - 19
10M - 27

By hour:
00Z - 694
01Z - 32
02Z - 13
03Z - 1
04Z - 10
13Z - 7
14Z - 44
15Z - 41
16Z - 11
17Z - 6
18Z - 3
19Z - 5
20Z - 5
21Z - 1
23Z - 1

Number of different countries - 119

Most often worked:
Cuba - 46
Mexico - 34
Italy - 32
Germany - 28
Bulgaria - 27
Spain - 27
Nicaragua - 24
European Russia - 23
France - 23
Hungary - 23
Slovenia - 23
Brazil - 22
Canary Islands - 20
Croatia - 17
Puerto Rico - 17
Asiatic Russia - 16
Virgin Islands - 16
Czech Republic - 15
Dominican Republic - 15
Curacao - 14
Colombia - 13
Poland - 13
Finland - 12
Serbia - 12
Bosnia - 11
England - 11
Ecuador - 10
Macedonia - 10

There were also some 'rare' countries or at least countries I've only ever worked a few times or less:
Austral Islands
Clipperton Island
Sable Island
Western Sahara

I guess that's about it for tonight. I might divide them by continent and present that data later. -30-

Monday, July 20, 2015 9:04 PM - Kind of a ho-hum day today appropriate for what is generally the hottest time of year. We hit 90 again today, but it wasn't too humid. The hills across the river and out back were pretty much crystal clear without that haze that accommpanies high humidity. My remote unit shows the outdoor humidity ranged from 36 to 90 percent. The 90 being the normal high humidity around sunrise. Right now it's 67 percent and I just got back from a walk with no sweat.

I watered my garden today with some added Miracle Gro. It's been hard to feed the plants with the constant rain. I hate to add any water to the already soaking roots. I am getting enough peppers and tomatoes to keep me going day to day with a lot of extra tomatoes.

Another quick DX QSO this evening. I worked Alex HC2AO at 0004Z on 17 meters. Alex is a transplanted Russian and a really great operator. Then I added what I think is a new prefix when I worked LY100DGA on 20 meters. Let's see. Yes, it is new. Wonder what the call is for. The 100th anniversary of the S.Darius and S.Girenas Airfield. I love those European special event calls. They sure beat ours here in the USA. -30-

Sunday, July 19, 2015 10:28 PM - Just finished a couple hours of sprint log cross-checking and I'm a bit punchy right now so this will be short and I'll update my streak table and propagation page a little later.

A quick DX QSO tonight with ZF2EZ whom I think was also QRP, but I'm not sure. Thought I heard him sign /QRP a couple minutes before I worked him. Anyway the DX streak goes on, and I have tomorrow free now. -30-

Saturday, July 18, 2015 8:57 PM - Another quick DX QSO tonight with a story. I think one of the things that makes ham radio such a fascinating hobby is its unpredictableness. I'm sure I would get bored with a big station with which I could work anything I wanted to at any time I wanted to. I suspect that is why folks with the big stations like that generally use them only for contesting or DXing. Using it otherwise might just be too predictable. I personally find it more interesting never knowing what I am going to work with my QRP and simple wire antennas when I get on the air. I like that uncertainty which is why I never use spotting of any kind nor study DX bulletins, etc. to see what is on the air. Just fire up the rig, use the tuning knob is my modus operandi. Of course now I am aided and abetted by the panadapter, but that is only to speed up tuning the bands and nothing else.

How does that tie in with the story of my DX QSO? Just the unpredictableness part actually. A couple nights ago I called DL65DARC at least a dozen times on 17 meters with no indication he was hearing me at all. There wasn't even any competition for him. Tonight I checked the blip I saw on 17 meters, and it turned out to be DL65DARC at virtually the same strength he was a couple nights ago. At first I thought, why bother. But then I decided I would try once and if no luck, just move on. Well, that once was all it took - not even a repeat - to get my QSO at 0001Z. Not only for the streak, but the call provided 6 letters for the NAQCC European Chapter challenge as icing on the cake. Now I need only 11 letters to complete that challenge.

The moral of the story. Don't doubt your QRP, and always try to work that station you hear no matter if you couldn't work him before or if he may be almost down in your s3-s5 noise. Give him at least a few tries before you give up if you don't get him. That's especially true in contests. Often I will call someone several times with no response, tune away for a while, then come back and work them easily with but a single call and no repeats needed. Yes, propagation is strange. -30-

Friday, July 17, 2015 8:42 PM - Despite the poor propagation numbers (97/5) I got one of my quickest DX QSOs in a while this evening. Turned on the KX3 which was set to 30M, saw a blip on the PX3, tuned it in, found it was AC4... and almost tuned out, but for some reason I stuck there and it turned out to be AC4BT/6Y5 whom I worked after a couple repeats, finishing as the clock turned to 0001Z. That's 870 days now for the DX streak. The big streak is closing in on 21 years and will become an adult on August 4th if it continues till then.

After that, I had a good experience. I called CQ on 30, and Gary N2ESE answered me. That's the first time we've hooked up outside a NAQCC sprint in quite some time now. Let's see how long and also let's see if that was our first ever 30 meters QSO. We both think it might have been. Just take a moment to find out via my MS Access log. OK, that was our 175th QSO. Except for a couple 60 meters AND 160 meters QSOs, all of those were on 40 or 80, so this was indeed our first 30 meters QSO. Our first non-sprint QSO since November 10, 2013. It was really great to touch base again. I had been wondering if Gary's 2 QSO per day (QRO) streak was still alive, and he said it is now around 8 years old and going strong. He did have a struggle when Sandy wiped out power in NJ a couple years ago, but he kept going with QRP power and a car battery for the 11 days they had no power.

Another nice weather day here today. I helped Ange with some weeding in his garden early today. I did some walking/shopping although it was a bit warm and humid. Actually that felt kind of good. I also picked some peppers from my garden along with some more tomatoes. That made a nice salad, and then I had some beans from Ange's garden that we picked when we were doing the weeding. I also took Roscoe for a walk to cover for Nancy as she and Bruce were away for a while today. Roscoe and I then sat on the swing for a while till Nancy/Bruce got home and he had to run out to greet them. Now it's time to get my temperature readings. The remote unit says 57 - 84 for the low and high today. That's usually pretty close to the min/max thermometer in the shelter. -30-

Thursday, July 16, 2015 8:33 PM - DX difficult again. I only heard two stations this evening - a French station on 20, and a KP4 on 40. I managed to work the KP4 although it wasn't easy. At least the streak goes yet another day.

Not much else happenning today. It was a nice day, and I thought about going fishing, but that's as far as it got. I did a couple good walks in-between processing logs from last night's NAQCC sprint. We hit 100 logs around 2:30 this afternoon. That's about as quick as I can recall us reaching the 100 mark except maybe for those special anniversary sprints. A couple more just coming in now, so I'll just close here, finish updating the web site and check the logs. -30-

Wednesday, July 15, 2015 8:10 PM - Well, tonight is our monthly NAQCC sprint that starts in about 20 minutes as I type. I wanted to get my DX streak QSO out of the way before that if I could. There was not much to choose from. I heard HZ1DG whom I would dearly liked to have worked, but he was just barely above my noise level at S4 or so. I called a couple times with no expectation of success, and I was right. So I looked elsewhere and found another station not much stronger than that. I didn't get his call at first, but he sounded like DX, so I called him anyway and after several repeats I had F/G0PZA in my log thanks to his patience and skill.

Weatherwise, this was about the nicest day we've had in a good while. Moderate temperatures around 80, low humidity, a light breeze, no rain, and only a few clouds. So I took advantage of it to do quite a bit of walking and some shopping.

Inside I did the monthly updates on three computers - my main one, my laptop, and the computer club laptop. There was also another new build of Windows 10 released today, but I had a bit of trouble with that one, and had to put it off till another day since I wanted to have the laptop free for the sprint. -30-

Tuesday, July 14, 2015 8:57 PM - One of my easier DX streak QSOs this evening. After chasing KP2/VE3OP on 17 for a few minutes with no sign he was hearing me, I gave up and went to 20, found IZ4ZZB and after he worked one other station, I got him easily. Still there is very little DX being heard here in the evenings.

I posted my new poll today. I hope you'll check it out and cast your vote. The turnout was very disappointing last month, and once again I'm wondering if it is worthwhile to post a new poll every month (actually on the 15th of each month) or not.

It was a quiet day here with some showers around, but I got in a couple good walks in the dry periods. Actually we had our rain shields up. A large area of heavy rain was heading right for us but just as it crossed into Armstrong county, the line split and the rain lessened to where we got only a little over 1/10 of an inch.

The latest build (10166) of Windows 10 which I got a couple days ago seems much faster than previous builds. It's still a bit slow inside the Oracle Virtual Box in which I am running it. However today I really explored down into the innards of 10 and found a lot of things that I had thought were missing from 10 vs. 7&8. That really pleased me, because I like to dig into computers a lot deeper than the average user, and I feel it can be done with Windows 10, and done well. Actually I could install 10 as my primary system on the laptop and not use Virtual Box, but I'm going to wait till it is officially released to the public on July 29. Then I'm sure I'll notice an improvement in speed. Then it will be able to access all the RAM in the laptop instead of having to share it with Virtual Box. -30-

Monday, July 13, 2015 9:27 PM - Another productive day here. It started off with the laundry as usual on a Monday morning. After that, some brunch, then off to the PO to mail off a NAQCC prize to our latest drawing winner. I also picked up some ink for my printer and a photo album to hold some more of my QSL cards. When I got home, I printed some pictures for Nancy. While all the above was going on, the latest Windows 10 preview build was being installed on my laptop. That takes about 3 hours or so usually, and today was no exception. I've really enjoyed following along with the building of Microsoft's new operating system. I'm glad I signed up last October. Denny was mowing his grass, so after he finished, I cut mine. He always lets me use his mower for which I am grateful. I gave him some tomatoes from my garden today.

A little later I transferred a DX card from each country confirmed to the new album. Unfortunately, the album holds 208 cards and I have 211 countries confirmed, so I guess I'll buy another one and start a second album. Then I checked the bands, and as usual they had virtually nothing to offer in the way of DX or an "H" for the NAQCC challenge.

I'm afraid my DX streak may be on its last legs. I am hearing very few DX stations now, except for the regulars like EA6UN, YN7SU, CO8LY, etc. whom I have worked so many times I'm ashamed to just keep working them. Also some other stations that I have an easy time working usually are not hearing me at all. Tonight it was F5NBX, normally a one-call catch. After solidifying my big main streak by working K4AOA, I went back to hunting DX, and found a quite weak F6BII on 30 meters. Figuring he would never hear me, I called anyway and got a K3?, then a K3P?, a few more repeats and he got K3WWP and I had my DX QSO for still another day. -30-

Sunday, July 12, 2015 8:54 PM - Keeping the DX streak going seems to be more and more of a chore, but it still lives. I listened this afternoon just to check the bands in a different portion of the day and didn't hear much at all on any of the bands although a CQ on 40 got a quick answer from KB3AAY. Then this evening pretty much the same, although there was one strong DX station on 20 - Jurek EA6UN. I debated about working him since I work him quite a bit, but finally I called him and worked him easily since I couldn't find anyone else. Then I went searching for the elusive 'H' to finish the NAQCC challenge, but no luck in that quest. EA6UN did give me a couple letters for the NAQCC European Chapter challenge along with keeping the DX streak going.

Not much else going on today. I did some more work on our computer club computer, went for a couple walks, listened to some music, etc. -30-

Saturday, July 11, 2015 8:39 PM - Of course, with the IARU contest in full swing this evening, the DX QSO came easily at 0001Z when I worked S50HQ. I wasn't in a contesting mood, so that was the only QSO I made in the contest. Then I went to 30 to try to find the last letter to complete the NAQCC challenge. No luck, but I had a nice chat with Ron KA4EET.

It was yet another nice day for walking and outside work, so I did both, and just came in from sitting on the porch for a while. Looks like another nice day tomorrow, then back to rain again starting tomorrow night.

I also did some work on an old mantle clock. A few years ago, the works gave out after many years and a couple repairs that kept it going for a while. So I took the works from a little alarm clock that had the right parts to fit the original hands from the mantle clock except for the second hand, and mounted that inside the mantle clock case. That worked, but it became somewhat noisy and annoying at times. I did some experimenting and noticed when I turned the clock or tilted it, the noise went away. So I took it apart and rotated the works in relation to the dial, put it back together, and that seems to have done the trick. I have to really listen closely now to hear any noise from the motor. Here's a picture of the clock which has been right on that mantle for as long as I can remember, probably all my life. I seem to recall seeing a date in the 1920s inside it somewhere at some point in time. Looks like I snapped the picture at the exact time the hour and minute hand were aligned. Probably couldn't do that again if I tried. HI

pix_diary_20150711_001 (43K)


Friday, July 10, 2015 9:15 PM - I got my QSLs in the mail to the ARRL bureau today. About 10-11 dollars worth of fees and postage. That's a lot, but still better than sending cards individually, I guess. I also emailed our N3AQC Field Day report to ARRL today. The price on that was much better - FREE.

Sometimes my quest for a DX QSO takes a little curious twist that I don't really understand. Tonight I called a few strong European stations with nary any indication they heard me at all even though there was no competition. One of them was an S9 SP8GWI. I figured no DX this evening so I went hunting for letters for our NAQCC challenge. I wound up now needing a single 'H' to complete the challenge.

Anyway after that, I went DX hunting again. SP8GWI was still there now with a small pileup. I tried anyway, and wouldn't you know it now with the competition I got him easily. I didn't notice much change in his signal strength here, but again I have to think about one-way propagation. My way to him improved during the time I was making those other QSOs?

It was another nice rain-free day today so I did some walking and dug some grass out of the sidewalk bricks. We had a beautiful sunset. I took a couple pictures but I haven't looked at them yet. I'll do that now, and if they look good, I'll post one here.

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Thursday, July 09, 2015 9:43 PM - This was one of those days I accomplished a lot. I mean A LOT. I probably can't even remember it all. HI.

Last night after the computer club meeting, I brought our club computer home to get caught up on all the Windows updates which we missed for a couple months due to our party in June and some other things. Getting the updates done went smoothly although it did take a bit of time. Then I did some clean up of the hard drive using Glary Utilities and Ccleaner. Next up a Malware scan with Malwarebytes Anti-Malware. That found 11 questionable items which I quarantined. After that a THOROUGH virus scan with the wonderful Windows Defender. That ran overnight for about 11-12 hours and found not a thing wrong.

After I made out my DX QSL cards yesterday, I found I had exactly 1/2 pound of them, so it was time to send them off to the bureau. I like to get my money's worth from the somewhat exorbitant fees charged by the ARRL and only send cards when I have exactly 1/2 or 1 pound. This morning I was just starting to sort them when Mike arrived. We chatted a bit then headed to Chicora to pick up Mike's tent which Tom WB3FAE had kindly taken down, dried and packed. On the way back here, we stopped at Wendy's for lunch, then WalMart for some shopping. We both picked up some of our favorite lunch meat - Spam. I got several cans of Turkey Spam, and Mike got a collection of cans of varied kinds.

Back here again and we double checked our Field Day report and I will be sending that off in a couple days. We did a few other things, then Mike played a hidden object computer game till it was time to head north. We had another very rainy day today, but we dodged the raindrops very well along the way, and it even looked like it was dry on Mike's drive home.

I finished off some computer work, then went after my streak QSO. The bands seemed a bit better this evening, but weren't still all that great. I did manage, with several repeats, to work 5B/RW9QA on 20 meters, then had a nice rag chew on 40 with Art VE3MWA, who was running 4 watts on a camping trip near Lake Huron.

To finish out the day before typing this, I finished getting my QSLs packed up and ready to be mailed in the morning. -30-

Wednesday, July 08, 2015 2:52 PM - One of the best things to find in a mailbox is a bureau mailing. I got one today with 23 DX cards. Of the 23, 5 were in response to a card I sent earlier, 18 were from stations desiring a QSL card from me.

There were 3 new band countries confirmed - Z81X 15M, CY0P 30M, J88DR 15M.

Twelve new prefixes confirmed - EF7R, LZ20TRC, AN2A, LZ386SKI, EF6 (special King Felipe VI call with NO suffix), DR60INN, DM20KIDS, DM50PCK, TM29UFT, TM50JEM, AM04ZK, Z81X.

One new band-zone - Z81X (34) 15M.

OK, everything is logged in the appropriate places now. Time to write cards for those 18 hams who want my card, but I think I'll put that off for a while.

When that is done, I have to file all the cards away in my card file cabinet.

It's a lot of work processing a bureau mailing, but a lot of fun and excitement also.

Oh, and I'm getting close to the time to make an outgoing bureau mailing. To save even more money when using the ARRL bureau, I save up my cards till I get exactly a half pound or a pound before I mail them.

Getting the bureau mailing gave me something to make an early diary entry today. Now I don't have to wait till after our computer club meeting this evening. -30-

Tuesday, July 07, 2015 7:42 PM - I took time to explore the bands during the day today for the first time in a while now. In the 2100Z hour, they were very unstable. European sigs would peak at s7, but then drop suddenly to S2 or so. Most of the time it was at the s2 level. I tried a few stations, but the closest I came to a QSO was K3WW? from a PF7 station. We both faded out before he could get the last letter. I see some rough times ahead for my DX streak unless I find a more reliable time of day for DX. I'll try to check some other times over the next couple weeks.

It was kind of a gloomy day today. No rain, but just cloudy and dark most of the time. I weeded my garden this morning and finally got a chance to feed the plants with some Miracle Gro. The ground has been saturated forever it seems until it did dry out a bit today. I did have my first garden tomato salad yesterday, and I have other Siberian tomatoes coming along now. I should be set for a while. My peas are about ready to pick also. The roses are not doing so well this year, but my daylillies are starting to blossom now. -30-

Monday, July 06, 2015 9:12 PM - I got a nice certificate in the mail today from last year's CQWW DX contest. It's on the main page of my Contesting section if you're at all interested in seeing it. I came in 9th in the USA and 12th in NA in the QRP SO AB category. In looking at the 8 who had higher scores, I know (or know of) most of them, and they have better setups and locations than I do, so I'm pleased with my 9th place. I might have gotten a bit higher had I worked the W/VE stations for multipliers, but I always treat the CQWW DX as strictly a DX contest and don't really go for score, just the fun of working DX stations.

It was rough for DX again this evening after last night. There weren't many heard and the one I did work took a bit of an effort on both our parts to complete the QSO. It was OM5XX. I got an honest 339 report from him. He was 569 here. Then I worked a couple more USA stations and gathered some more letters for the NAQCC challenges. I have 70 and need 16 now to complete the USA "Fireworks" challenge.

Not much else happening today. It was a pretty nice day, and I did get in a couple walks and helped Ange do some work in his garden. So I did get out to enjoy the weather for a little while anyway. -30-

Sunday, July 05, 2015 9:06 PM - I had my easiest European QSO in a while tonight. A single call to Feri HA3FTA on 17 led to a solid copy QSO, no repeats needed. I made QSOs on 4 bands in the 0000Z hour - K2J on 20, HA3FTA on 17, NG9D on 30, N8RVE on 40, and KB6NU on 30. Nice to have the bands in better shape again. That helped me with a lot of letters for the NAQCC challenges.

Other than that, not much else to talk about today. I did help Ange with some computer work this evening before getting on the air. Earlier in the day it was mostly walking and computer work/games. -30-

Saturday, July 04, 2015 9:09 PM - I hope you all had a great Fourth and honored our country in some way. As usual I flew my flag here - the one that draped my dad's coffin 51 years ago. I also got that last minute invite to a cookout at my neighbor's - the Bowsers. That was an enjoyable 2 hours, especially chatting with Eric KB3BFQ as well as the others there.

Conditions seemed pretty good this evening, although there wasn't as much activity in the YV contest as I expected. I thought I'd get my DX QSO quickly in that. It didn't work out that way though. First I worked a couple of the colonies stations in GA and SC. In between I was trying to break the pileup working FS/W6IZT for my DX QSO. I couldn't do it then though, but I did go back later and after waiting through a few stations I got my QSO to continue the streak another day.

Right now I'm sitting here in what seems like a battlefield with all the fireworks going off. Kittanning doesn't have an official show, but there sure are enough bootleg fireworks going off. -30-

Friday, July 03, 2015 8:53 PM - Conditions were better this evening for working Europe. I worked UA1CE and SM3KMB, and also EA8BLV from Africa. The QSOs were not too easy to make, but after some repeats, they are in the log and I have a lot more letters for the July NAQCC challenges.

I finished cleaning up around my bush today and also helped Nancy do some clean up in her yard. Still no rain this month, but we are supposed to get some later tonight.

Nothing special planned for the Fourth tomorrow. At least not that I know of yet. HI Maybe one of the neighbors has something in mind and I'll be invited in the morning. But whether or not, that's fine with me. -30-

Thursday, July 02, 2015 8:37 PM - The second rain-free day in a row today so I got in some good walking. Too bad the river is too high for fishing, as this would have been a good day for it. The big project though was trimming the big bush in my front yard. When I got home from one walk, I thought I'd get a start on it by trimming just the one side next to the railing on my steps. Well, one thing led to another and I wound up trimming the whole thing. I still need to clean up the weeds underneath it, and I hope to do that tomorrow which might be our third rain-free day in a row.

The bands, as usual of late, weren't all that good this evening, although I was hearing some DX, mostly weak. I did try calling F5NZY, but he wasn't hearing me at all. I thought I'd forget DX for the time being and get my regular streak QSO. That turned out to be a nice chat with Jim VE3KQN, fellow NAQCC member. After that it was back to DX, and almost immediately I noticed a big peak on 30 on the panadapter, tuned it in, found it was PJ5A, and logged him on one call and one repeat. I'm still confused somewhat about the PJ entity situation since the change on 10-10-10, and I'll have to see if that is a new band-entity. Anyway it extends the DX streak to 855 days which is more important to me right now as I shoot for the 1,000 day mark. -30-

Wednesday, July 01, 2015 9:23 PM - I never did get in the RAC contest today. After all the fun I had in FD, doing a contest alone just didn't seem exciting enough to get me involved.

My DX streak QSO this evening was a nice short rag chew with Milan OK1KW. He's also a FISTS member and we exchanged FISTS numbers, both regular and CC numbers. That also got me started on the July NAQCC challenges.

Earlier in the day, I did my banking and some shopping. It was a pretty nice day. Well, any day without rain around here anymore is a nice day. We had rain on 19 of the 30 days in June totalling about 8 1/2 inches, not far from the record for June around here. Strangely enough, we set a record for the highest average low temperature for the month. All those cloudy nights didn't allow the temperature to drop all that much during the night which explains that.

I picked my first ripe tomato today:

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A couple days ago, my first daylilly flower appeared:

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Remember the sun spot chart back in mid-winter? Well, here's where that spot fell on the first day of astronomical summer on the 21st:

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That's quite a difference caused by the 46 or so degree sun altitude difference between Dec and Jun 21st. -30-

Tuesday, June 30, 2015 8:39 PM - A busy day today that resulted in getting almost all of my end of the month / first of the month chores done. I think all I have left to do are to get my June weather data in the computer and make a trip to the bank in the morning.

While I was doing some of the things today, I was also installing the latest build (10158) of Windows 10 on my laptop. Once again, as with each new build, it operates more smoothly with some great new features suggested by me and others who have been participating in the Insider Program the past several months. Only one month now till the final version will be released FREE to everyone. Then I'll install it as my main laptop operating system instead of running it under Windows 8.1 in a virtual machine (Oracle Virtual Box). That should allow it to run even faster than it does now in Virtual Box.

With everything virtually done, maybe I can play in the Canada Day contest tomorrow. I used it to get my DX streak QSO this evening when I worked G3ORY on 20 meters. -30-

Monday, June 29, 2015 8:47 PM - I wrote up a story about our FD operation, but I'm going to save it for our NAQCC newsletter which comes out in a few days rather than publishing it here. When the newsletter is posted, I'll provide a link to the story here in the diary.

I (and Mike as well) want to thank Tom WB3FAE for being a great host of, and participant in the operation. He certainly made things easy and pleasant for us.

My DX streak continued through the operation, and this evening it reached 852 days when I worked EU6AF pretty easily on 20, although I had to send my call several times before he got it right. After I worked him, it dawned on me that it was a 6 in his call which I needed to finish the NAQCC European chapter challenge. I didn't think I was going to master it this month, but now I have. I've already sent my report across the pond in an email just before working on the diary.

Other than that, it was kind of a wind-down day from the great weekend. Looking back on it now, I'll always remember it as a very enjoyable event. I kind of wish I was back in that tent still pounding out the QSOs. I thought by volunteering for 80, 15 and 10 meters, I could take it easy during the day and then have a couple busy hours during the evening. It didn't turn out that way though, as 15 was great both days, and 10 opened nicely on Sunday. All in all, I wound up with 127 QSOs on 15, 46 on 10, 79 on 80, and 1 on 160 for a total of 253. I missed 10 states - AK DE ID ME MT OR SC VT WV WY. I worked 59 of the 83 ARRL sections. Oh, that reminds me, I have to send my report in for the NAQCC FD challenge, so I'll close now and do that after I get my weather readings. -30-

Sunday, June 28, 2015 5:54 PM - Just back home from a FD weekend in Chicora, PA. Hence no diary entry for the 27th. However, either later tonight or in tomorrow's entry, I'll have a report on our FD activities with pictures. We made 562 QSOs in all states but KL7 and DE. -30-

Friday, June 26, 2015 4:15 PM - I thought I'd write this a bit early today. My DX streak lives another day although it was a struggle. I called a good many weak DX stations with no sign they were hearing me at all except for one K3? and that didn't go any further. However finally on 17 meters, I heard JA7BXS around s4 to s5, and after calling him many times he came back with K3WWP and gave me a 449. Thanks Takar.

Of course earlier in the day we were busy setting up for FD. I even called some DX from there with no luck. We got our tent set up along with the antennas and did some testing to see if we had any interference among the three of us. We didn't notice any. I was hearing Tom on 17 meters but that doesn't matter for FD. I made 3 1/2 QSOs, and Tom made one. I say 1/2 because I got an answer from a VE4 station, but we never completed the first round. So now all we have to worry about is the weather. A LOT of rain predicted for the weekend. I looks like (we hope) the heaviest of it will be over by the time FD starts tomorrow though. -30-

Thursday, June 25, 2015 9:17 PM - Once again I have to ask myself the question, "Is today the day the DX streak ends?" Very poor conditions again this evening. I tried calling a couple weak DX stations, but without any signs they were hearing me at all. The low SF of 102 and high A index of 33 is really wreaking havoc on the bands. Perhaps I'll luck out again later this evening as I did last night when I fairly easily worked Luc I1YRL on 20 meters at 0407Z. If not then, it is going to be rough since a good part of tomorrow will be devoted to setting up for FD. Of course, maybe I can work some DX from the FD setup. If need be, I certainly will try. I'm getting more and more determined to make it to 1,000 days sometime this November. However as I get more determined, propagation conditions get worse and worse.

I did keep the big streak going easily. That one is going to be harder to end. It will take something really major to end it. I worked Don W3RDF on 40 meters. We hadn't worked in many years. Let's see just how long it was. Assuming it was Don way back then, our first QSO was June 28, 1964 - just a couple days short of 51 years ago. Our last QSO before tonight was January 8, 2003. I was right when I said to Don I bet it was over 10 years ago. I don't have my computer log in the shack, so I can't tell right away during a QSO.

Along with propagation, the weather continues poor this summer so far. chilly an wet. Looks like the worst is coming just in time for FD too. The NWS is predicting as much as 3 1/4 inches of rain mainly on Saturday starting just about the same time FD starts. That's still a couple days off though, so things could get better, or (OH NO) worse. We'll see. -30-

Wednesday, June 24, 2015 9:19 PM - I just finished 'posting' my little QSO note by the computer here to remind me that I need to get a DX QSO tomorrow to keep the streak going. I just couldn't find any DX that was workable this evening except EA6UN on 20 whom I just worked last night and didn't want to work again so soon. Also a DJ4WY who was very strong, but he was S&P other DX stations and never called CQ himself. The bands do seem a tad better than last night though, so hopefully sometime before 0000Z tomorrow evening I'll be able to get a DX QSO for day 847. -30-

Tuesday, June 23, 2015 8:52 PM - Every time I go to my shack, I am confident of making a QSO, and over the past couple years now, of making a DX QSO. I think that positive thinking is very helpful. I know there are folks out there who can copy just about anything that is sent their way. It's my job of finding them if I want to keep the streak going. Generally that means finding someone whose signal is at least S8 if possible. Then if there is no competition I will most of the time work them. Now what I've just said applies all but a very few times. For those few times it can be a struggle finding a strong DX station, let alone working one. Tonight was one of those times.

I searched the bands from 30 through 15 for DX and didn't hear any. All the panadapter peaks turned out to be W/VE stations, and there weren't very many of them. I did see/hear CO3ET just barely peeking out of the noise on 30, and called him, but only got a ? if that was even for me. OK, looks like I'm not going to get any DX tonight, so I better solidify the big streak, and I tried many unanswered CQs on 40. Well, I better look for some W/VE station calling CQ. I found AD4YB sending several QRL?s, and wondered if he were going to ever call CQ. Finally he did, and I called and got an answer and a QSO from him. Not the best QSO as the band went away after a somewhat brief first round, but it was a QSO for the streak.

OK, now comes the part that intrigues and impresses me about QRP. I found Jurek EA6UN on 20 meters peeking out of the S4 noise there just like CO3ET on 30. Should I call him or not? Might was well. He worked a couple other stations before he answered me with K3?. Several repeats later and I got a K3WKP? and a 559 report from him. A few more repeats and he logged me correctly. Now how in the world can he copy me when I can barely copy him. Had I not known him and his call, I would probably have had to ask him for several repeats if the situation were reversed. I think it is impressive just how many great ops there are around the world, and how many of them will take the time to pull out the weak signals. I'm sure that living on the Balearic Islands must help Jurek in addition to him being a great op. I would imagine the noise level would be very low there and with a big antenna the S/N ratio would be ideal for copying anything. Actually it must be similar to operating from the Kittanning park on our parkpeditions. I can copy signals there that would be completely lost here at home. Solid copy from someone who doesn't even budge the S meter off it's resting mark.

OK, that was a pretty rambling entry from my just thinking out loud or typing out loud - whatever. There wasn't much else to talk about today anyway. Oh, Bruce next door made his famous chili and invited me for some. I guess that was about the highlight of the day. It did get nice out after being showery most of the day till mid-late afternoon. Then I got in a couple nice walks. Now it's (past) time to get my weather readings, so I'll stop the rambling. -30-

Monday, June 22, 2015 8:48 PM - A quick DX QSO at 0002Z from ZP9SC on 30 meters this evening. Looking at the propagation numbers just before I got on the air worried me. I didn't think I'd get any DX, but then you can't always correlate the numbers with what you hear.

Last night after I wrote the diary entry, I checked the bands again and found HA9PP booming in over S9 on 20 meters and thought I'd try to work him with 800 mW, and I did easily. Wish I'd have set the power lower now.

Not much else to talk about today. I'm still working on reposting a lot of my QSL pictures to OneDrive, and I'm getting down near the end now. I guess about 20 more I want to update. I think I may just work on that now after I get my weather readings. -30-

Sunday, June 21, 2015 9:10 PM - More six meter fun today. A check around 2100Z showed some peaks on the panadapter and I wound up working Ric WO4O in FL (EL98) and K4NO in AL (EM64) - new state (#18). Then later on Dan K1TO in FL (EL87). I now have somewhere around 25-30 grid squares, I think. I also heard some West Coast stations again, but they were in and out so fast, I didn't get a chance to try to work them. That was also true of several other stations here and there. It's tricky making QSOs on six with all the competition plus the rapid QSB, but that's what makes it fun. I wish I had the room to get up a better six meter antenna. What I have now (dipole in the attic) is only good for the stronger openings, and I miss a lot.

The DX streak rolled on tonight to 844 days when I worked 9A7R on 15 meters. I think without the assistance of the panadapter, I might still be listening to find some DX. It sure is great for a quick band scan. -30-

Saturday, June 20, 2015 8:51 PM - Starting yesterday, I'm into another project I've been wanting to do for some time now. I'm updating the QSL card pictures on my Microsoft One Drive storage space. When I first posted the pictures in other places, I never had the space to do a decent job with the cards. Many had beautiful pictures of the country on them, but I only posted the back side with the QSO info on it. Now I'm rescanning them a few at a time and posting both sides of those that are two-sided cards. I think they look much better that way. Take a look via the OneDrive link at the top of this page. Only about a fifth or so have been updated yet, but I hope to get them all done in the next couple weeks or so.

A fairly easy DX QSO this evening from EA8BLV on 17 meters even though he was only about s5-6 here. He copied me well after a couple repeats of my call. The bands were good, but most DX that I heard on 20 were in the AA contest, and of course, not being in Asia myself, I couldn't work them. I only heard one Asian which is a surprise. That was an A6 station who didn't hear me at all.

Six meters seems to be back to its dead ways again, at least to my little attic dipole. I haven't heard a thing there since the last opening I mentioned a few days ago. I will keep checking though. -30-

Friday, June 19, 2015 8:22 PM - An easy DX QSO this evening in contrast to a few of the recent evenings. It was Alex RW5MQ on 17 meters. He wasn't all that strong at S6-S7 with QSB, but he got me with just one repeat of my call. Those Russian ops are among the best in the world and most of them will stick with you until a solid QSO results.

Otherwise today I took care of a couple of things that I had been procrastinating on doing. First I renewed my domain name k3wwp.com for another year. I've been happy with using it along with the increased storage on the server of Cahaba Internet donated by my friend, the owner, Bill WA4FAT.

Then I finally applied for my W1AW Centennial WAS award. Actually I applied for the plaque instead of the certificate. It cost quite a bit more, but I figure it's a once in a lifetime thing so I don't mind spending the extra money. It was nice while filling in the award application (I don't use credit cards at all here, so I couldn't apply on line) to reflect back on the fun it was chasing the W1AW stations and then waiting to be sure I was in their log via the LoTW.

I also did some more grass pulling from the bricks today and now am pretty much finished with that. Then I cut the grass in the back yard.

To reward myself for a job well done, I treated myself to a foot long tuna sub from Subway. Was that good! -30-

Thursday, June 18, 2015 8:43 PM - Strange conditions this evening. Several strong European signals on 20 from S7 to S9+, but I couldn't get as much as a ? out of them when I called. That happens sometimes, not often, and it makes me wonder if there isn't such a thing as one way skip at times. Finally I settled on working YN7SU for the DX streak, but then I was determined to work at least one of the Europeans and at last I did get special event station AO10EURAO with a bit of difficulty. Then I tried 30 and S50O was strong there, but wasn't hearing me although I finally did work him although I'm not sure he got my call correct in the end.

Six was open again last night so I pretty much forsook our NAQCC mW sprint after only 4 QSOs to chase some stations on six. It wasn't as good as the evening before, but I did work three stations and a new state in MO which makes 17 on six now. I didn't hear a thing tonight on six.

I did some more cleaning of grass from the brick sidewalks today. I'm getting close to finishing up now. I also went shopping to a local flea market less than a block from here. I had bought some nice things there in the past, but the lady hadn't been opening up much last year. She has started again this year now every Thursday. Today Nancy went over with me. I bought a dremel clone. I always have wanted one, but didn't feel like paying 50 dollars or more. I got one today for 15 bucks. Also a container of wood screws and a pair of flush cutting pliers to replace an old pair that never worked too well. Everything came to $18. -30-

Wednesday, June 17, 2015 8:04 PM - Same station, same time, different band. Last night it was 17, tonight 30 for VP2MKV at 0000Z.

I checked six meters a few times today, but didn't find any openings. At least for my attic dipole. I suppose those folks with big six meter beams on high towers had openings today (and most days probably). I'll never have that, so I have to take what comes. As I said last night, I probably do miss a lot of openings from just not checking six often enough.

Tonight is our NAQCC mW sprint. I'm not really in a sprinting mood so I may just get in long enough to get a QSO or two so I can continue my record of never having missed a single NAQCC sprint. Or if conditions are really good which they didn't seem to be when I was hunting my DX QSO, I may stick around a while longer. -30-

Tuesday, June 16, 2015 9:26 PM - A lot happening today. It sure was looking like my DX streak was going to end today. Ever since I got up, I checked the bands every 90 minutes or so and each time found them devoid of any DX at all. However, at 1921Z, I finally found and worked 6Y5WJ on 17 meters and the DX streak still exists.

This evening it was extended another day almost immediately. I turned on the rig at 0000Z and the first peak I saw on the panadapter turned out to be VP2MKV on 17 meters. A call and a couple repeats got me another day in the DX streak before the day had a chance to really even get going. What a difference a day makes.

It make a big difference in the weather too. After some rain during the night and some clouds and a shower early today, the skies became only partly cloudy with a lot of sunshine, lower humidity, and NO rain. The extension arm from TS Bill that had been feeding Gulf moisture up here the past few days slipped to the south pretty much below PA.

After I got my DX QSO, the real fun began. I have been trying to remember to check six meters lately because June is the best month for openings on that band. Well, this evening I ran across one. I made 4 QSOs with 4 watts to my attic six meter rotatable dipole. I don't even remember which direction it is aimed right now. Anyway I worked AE5VB EM31, K5WE EM25, N2NL EL97, K7XC EM12. I also heard VP9/WA4PGM but he faded (or QRT) before I even had a chance to call. All four grid squares were new, I believe. I'll have to check later to be sure, but anyway I didn't have them colored in on my grid square map yet. Grid square EM31 looks like it spans LA and TX. If AE4VB is in LA, that would be a new 6 meter state. Let's see what QRZ says. Yes, Boyce, LA so that is 16 states on 6 now. Not all that good, but I'm sure it could be better if I'd check the band more often which I hope to do from now on. -30-

Monday, June 15, 2015 9:19 PM - April 29 is the last day I didn't get a DX station for my DX streak in the 00 or 01Z hours - until tonight. I just couldn't get any of the several DX stations I was hearing to hear me. None were very strong themselves. So it looks more and more like I may have to find a better time of day to work DX or the streak will expire. I have noticed a very slow but steady decline in DX conditions in the 0000-0200Z time period, especially on 20 meters. I'll just have to see what happens. I don't think the big streak is any danger, but the DX streak might be. Even if it ends today though, 837 straight days of working DX with my set up here is not too shabby. Most importantly it shows just how effective CW and QRP can be, even if you live in a situation like mine. So take it from me - YOU CAN work DX pretty much no matter what situation you are in - IF you use CW and even if you are limited to QRP power levels.

I hope that first paragraph is not an obituary for the streak. I will try again later tonight probably, and tomorrow morning/afternoon for sure to have it continue.

Another rainy day today with some dry spells during which I did some more cleaning of grass between the bricks. I didn't get in any walks though, other than around here inside the house.

We've had well over two inches of rain the past few days with more expected overnight tonight. I'm sure glad I had my gutters cleaned out before this rainy period started. -30-

Sunday, June 14, 2015 10:05 PM - We're in the middle of a heavy thunderstorm right now, so I'm going to make this short.

I just finished our sprint log cross-checking a few minutes ago. I was so busy with that, I almost forgot about updating my own web site here and making this diary entry.

My DX QSO came quickly within a couple minutes of going to shack a little past 0000Z. I worked S57V on 17 meters. -30-

Saturday, June 13, 2015 8:53 PM - Fishing, walking, gardening, and of course ham radio today. I caught a turtle and a catfish at the river, and my 6 fish so far equals my best start in the past five years now, so maybe this will be a better year with more time to fish because of not being tied down as much with NAQCC activity. I mean on the 'business' end of the club, not the activity end. I'll always continue to be active in the on air activities of the club.

I got in a couple of nice long walks in addition to the walk to the river for fishing. It wasn't as hot as yesterday, but was still humid enough to work up a sweat even at a normal pace walk.

Checked out my garden and did some weeding. My peas have some nice flowers on them now. Many Siberian tomatoes on the plants although none ripe yet. All the pepper plants are growing fast, but no flowers yet. The beans remain very slow but I did notice some new growth starting today. I planted the remaining bean seeds yesterday. I hope I get enough seeds this year to keep the beans going next year. I really like the Speckled Butter Beans Ron K5DUZ sent me a few years ago and don't want to lose them.

The bands were decent this evening. That's about the best I can say for them. Even with the CQWWSA contest, there wasn't a lot of activity. The contest did give me two DX QSOs for the streak though - LU8YE and RK9QWM. -30-

Friday, June 12, 2015 8:35 PM - Conditions seemed much better tonight, or maybe the Europeans were just staying up later on a Friday night. HI At any rate I got a quick QSO on 17 with EW8W at just one minute past 0000Z. Then I looked around for some 6s or an N to get closer to finishing the NAQCC European Chapter challenge. I heard several Europeans with good signals, but none had a 6 or an N in their calls till I found and worked SP5INQ, leaving me needing to work two stations with a 6 in their call to complete the challenge.

Not much else happenning out of the ordinary today. It was hot with a high of 93, but I did get in one good walk around noon. No fishing though as the only easy places to get to have no shade. Later in the day we had what seemed to be another gust front, although I didn't notice anything on the radar this time. The winds weren't quite as strong as yesterday, but other than that, it acted just about the same right at the start of some heavy but brief rain. -30-

Thursday, June 11, 2015 9:14 PM - This was an interesting day. Well, actually they are all interesting in a different way. The interesting part this particular day was a severe windstorm we had late in the afternoon. I talked about this I guess a couple years ago in the diary. At that time and today, I saw a gust front preceding a severe thunderstorm on the radar, and thought to myself we are going to get blasted by some strong winds shortly. I think I'll postpone my trip to the post office to put some bill payments in the mail. Good choice because the winds were even stronger than I thought they would be. They sailed my plastic recycling bins in between houses into the neighbor's back yard. Then a few minutes later I looked out the back window to see if they had gone any further and noticed a couple of shingles in my back yard right next to my peas. Another foot and they would have wiped out the peas. When the wind let up, I gathered up the bins, and looked to see where the shingles came from. I couldn't see any missing on my roof, and the neighbor in the other half of my house didn't see any missing on his roof. I also didn't see any missing on Nancy's roof on the other side of me. Finally Bruce came along and spied the missing shingles from the roof on the other side of his (Nancy's) house. The wind carried them from the front of that house over the peak of the roof and deposited them some 50 feet away in my back yard.

Later when I did go to make the bill payments and just see if there was any serious damage around town, I ran into the Flag Day ceremony at the Elks. I didn't realize it was going to be 3 days before the actual Flag Day, so I lucked out there as I like to attend every year to honor our country and our flag. So I stayed there for the full hour and got home right at 8 o'clock.

Of course it was right to the shack where I found the same poor conditions as the past few evenings. With no workable DX to be found, I answered K4GRD for my regular streak QSO, then after that spent the next almost 40 minutes trying to find and work DX. It was driven home to me again that when conditions are poor, location is important. My friend Dick K1IEE was working Europe easily while the same stations he worked didn't even hear me. Until that is, finally after he worked 9A4A, I worked Zlat also, but my QSO was much tougher than was Dick's. Must be nice to live in Maine when you want to work Europe under poor conditions. Anyway the DX streak continues at 834 days now. -30-

Wednesday, June 10, 2015 9:09 PM - Just got home a little while ago after stuffing myself at our computer club annual picnic. I found the bands in pretty poor shape and had to struggle to extend my DX streak, but I finally worked Sal I1ULJ/8 on 30 meters in a fairly easy QSO. I had to call a couple times, but then it was solid copy. Last evening I finished up the NAQCC 'USA' Challenge when I worked UY2VM to get the last V and M from his call.

My fishing trip today yielded nothing - yesterday was much better with a 27.5 inch carp. I always love catching carp. They can really put up a good fight. Although we are way behind the Europeans in giving carp the respect they deserve, I think we are catching on somewhat, albeit slowly. -30-

Tuesday, June 09, 2015 10:43 AM - I thought I'd write this early since tonight is our NAQCC sprint, and I'll be busy before it trying to get my DX QSO and afterwards working on processing logs from the sprint. Also because I just received via email the picture from the hamfest I mentioned taken by Bob WC3O and sent by Tom W3TLN. Here it is:
pix_diary_20150609_001 (105K)

That's Tom WB3FAE at left talking about the club with one of our visitors, me and then Mike tending to priorities - eating our snacks. I'm just about to open my big sub.

Now I'm off to...yes, get something to eat, then check the weather and the river level on the Internet and if they both look good, I might go fishing. If not, I'll find something else to do to pass the time. -30-

Monday, June 08, 2015 8:52 PM - One more thought about the hamfest yesterday. I was surprised and humbled by the number of visitors to our NAQCC table who asked me about my streak(s). I didn't know there was so much interest in them. That is encouraging when things get a bit rough which they once in a while do. Fortunately that doesn't happen often. I'm not going to look back through my log now, but I know it's been a good while since I missed getting my streak QSO in the 0000Z hour, both regular and DX if they weren't one and the same. Or at least between 0100 and 0300Z on the occasional evening when I'm out late such as at our computer club meeting.

I'm a bit disappointed in 20 meters the past couple nights. After being simply fabulous last Friday evening with 8 easy DX QSOs, most from Europe, 20 hasn't had much to offer since then in the evening. I don't know why as the propagation numbers look about the same. Perhaps it's just a lack of activity. Anyway the DX streak still continues with YN5SU last night and PT7WM this evening. SU on 17M and WM on 30M. As it gets closer to the 1,000 day mark for the DX streak, I am getting a bit more determined to make it that far, and then I may think about voluntarily ending it if it becomes too hard. Actually it's not all that close - I still need 169 more days, and the Sun is declining in activity. We'll have to see what happens.

Oh, after getting a LoTW confirmation from K1N a couple days ago, I got my regular QSL in the mail today which means I now have all 50 currently active North American DXCC entities worked with 5 watts or less and verified via QSL card. I also have deleted entities KZ5 (Canal Zone - greater than 5 watts from the 1960s) and PJ5 (Sint Maarten, Saba, St. Eustatius - with 5 watts before the Netherlands Antilles breakup) confirmed. Here's a scan of the milestone card:

pix_diary_20150608_001 (107K) pix_diary_20150608_002 (132K)

It's actually a four sided card, but to save bandwidth, I only scanned sides 1 and 4. -30-

Sunday, June 07, 2015 6:38 PM - The entry today is about our experience at the Breezeshooters Hamfest in Butler. We got up between 5:30 and 6:00 AM (YAWN!!) so we could get something to eat and get there early to set up our table and trasmitting equipment which consisted of Mike's KX3, PX3, and jumper dipole along with John's laptop for logging. The antenna was mounted on a field mast provided by the third member of our team, Tom WB3FAE.

Once we were set up, we started operating. 17 meter was really hot and we quickly worked CO8LY, YN5SU, and HI8V. We heard many JA stations, but they were mostly answering CQs from other DX stations. A couple did call CQ, but weren't hearing our answers.

There was a lot of background noise from vendors, LOUDspeaker announcements, and other general noise which made operating a little hectic.

Along the way we signed up four new members, AB3I, W3YJ, KA3JOU, and KB3YIS. All of them were very enthusiastic about CW. We also had many current members drop by our table to visit. They were all very happy to see us as we were to see them. Not all signed our visitors sheet, but those who did are: W3WH, W3IU, AB3RU, K3VYY, KD8RUQ, N8XEE, AA3TG. We also saw W3BBO, WC3O, KQ3Z, AA3LX.

A lot of those folks, members and non-members both, showed great interest in the KX3 and PX3 combination. Many of them were younger in their late 20s and early 30s which is a good sign for the future of CW. Several also inquired about our antenna, and were impressed with it when we showed it to them.

As far as some general info about the hamfest, we all noticed many more tailgate vendors this year than in previous years. It was nice to visit with Bob WC3O and other Skyview Radio Society members as we do every year at the hamfest. Bob took a picture of the three of us at our table. Hopefully he will email a copy and we can present it here in the diary as well as later in the NAQCC Newsletter. Only Tom of our group found anything that he needed from the vendors. He bought some Power Pole connectors, and when Mike and I left for home, he said he was going to look for some wire and other things before he left.

We announced an operating session for our NAQCC members to try to work us between 1500 and 1600Z. It was a bit rough because of the aforementioned noise in the building. Also there was a lot of QSB on the bands. In addition there was a steady carrier right on our announced frequency of 7041 which Tom and I thought might be coming from some equipment somewhere on the hamfest grounds. Despite all of that we did manage to make four QSOs with our members.

After that we went back to chasing some DX, and Tom managed to work OE3DXA on 17 meters. We heard many other countries, but it seems they were not hearing us.

As soon as activity at the hamfest slowed down, we decided to pack up and head for home after an enjoyable day.

Of course in addition to some great food we had at the hamfest, after it was over Mike and I stopped at one of our new-found favorite places - Clark's Landing - for a great meal. -30-

Saturday, June 06, 2015 8:21 PM - Another somewhat busy day today. Bruce and Nancy took me shopping up to the mall where I got some new shoes, a supply of Turkey Spam, three tomato plants, and a new wallet. Then after that, I mowed the grass in the back yard after planting the three tomatoes. It was a second day in a row without a good long walk. Tomorrow will probably be the same since most of the day will be taken up with the Butler hamfest.

Right now after getting my streak QSO from G6YB/P, I'm waiting for Mike to arrive with a pizza. Then we'll fine tune our plans for tomorrow, and who knows what else we'll get into before it's time for bed. The bands are pretty good, but not as good as last night. There's not a lot of activity in the European FD. But we still might try to work some DX. I heard a Guernsey station, but didn't try to work him. I don't know if Mike needs Guernsey or not. -30-

Friday, June 05, 2015 9:19 PM - My, this was a busy day. I can't even remember all I did. HI. I did paint my thermometer shelter and rain gauge support as they were starting to show some wear, paint-wise. I also did a lot of cleaning in the house. Mixed in amongst all else, Mike, Tom, and I exchanged a lot of emails about our plans for the hamfest at Butler on Sunday. I never even had time to go for a walk. I think my back yard was about as far as I got from the house. HI.

I know there were some other things. Oh, I enjoyed watching my gutters perform well after their cleaning the other day. We had a brief heavy downpour of around a half inch in 10 minutes or so, and the water was just pouring out the downspouts as it should do, but hadn't for a while now. It also washed out some of the remaining light residue as well.

The bands were superb this evening, especially 20 and 17. I worked 7 DX stations, 6 from Europe and one from South America. Along the way I knocked off a bunch of letters in the NAQCC June challenges. I now need just 6 to complete the "USA" challenge and 7 for the European Chapter challenge. It should be easy to finish. Hope those aren't 'famous last words' - HI The roughest will be getting four 6s for the EC challenge. Hopefully I'll run into a EA6 and an F6, maybe a DL6 as those are about the most common ways to get those 6s. -30-

Thursday, June 04, 2015 9:03 PM - Another nice day today to be outside. I finished painting my back steps, did a little work in the garden, and took a couple of good walks. Now I just finished taking some nice sunset pictures. I'll see how they turned out and maybe post one. Here's one that turned out pretty good and is representative of the display which lasted 10 minutes or so.

pix_diary_20150604_001 (49K)

Just before the sunset started I got on the air to get my streak QSOs. I worked 2 DX stations, both TU 599 type QSOs from YU4DX on 20 and PY2XAT on 15.

This Sunday is the Breezeshooters Hamfest in Butler, PA. As we do each year Mike KC2EGL and I set up a NAQCC table to introduce folks to the club and sign up some new members. I say Mike and I because we are the fixtures for the past several years now. We've also had Tom WY3H, Don K3RLL, Tom's two sons Ethan W3IRS and Arial KC3AHO, Scotty KG3W, and a couple others help to man the table. Again this year we'll be putting N3AQC on the air from the hamfest. Oh, and the most recent member of our little NAQCC WPA Chapter - Tom WB3FAE - will be helping with the table as well as with our N3AQC Field Day effort later this month.

Mike will be coming down Saturday evening to stay here so we can get an early start (YAWN!!) Sunday morning. So we'll have the evening to see what we can get into. -30-

Wednesday, June 03, 2015 10:28 AM - I checked today and was surprised at the number of new prefixes I worked in the WPX contest. I knew a few were new, but I didn't think there were so many - CU4 EN0 IR3 IY3 J42 OR3 R4 SW9 SZ6 UR2 HG30 9A73 AO90 HB90. And a couple days after the contest DK65.

I think I am going to see which countries have given me the most prefixes. It should be easy to do with my Microsoft Access log and perhaps a bit of help from MS Excel. I would guess Germany would be right up there along with perhaps Italy, Slovenia, Poland, etc. Maybe Bulgaria with all their saints stations prefixes. Of course the USA will top them all, but... I'm really interested in the DX countries.

OK, that didn't take all that long although I did have to review crosstab queries a bit before I succeeded.

Here are the top ten including some surprises (to me anyway):
Country         Total
USA             1391
Canada           135
Germany          111
European Russia   98
Ukraine           87
Italy             84
Spain             60
Japan             58
Brazil            56
Poland            55
I should have thought, but I didn't, that European Russia would have been up there. I'm surprised at Ukraine. I never realized I had that many prefixes from there. The others are pretty logical. The ones I guessed would be there, but weren't are Bulgaria with 45, Slovenia with 37.

There is a slight discrepancy in the figures where S5/UN4L would be counted as the UN4 prefix in Slovenia, but I guess that still does make sense since UN4 is another prefix I worked from Slovenia. Anyway there aren't that many of them and however you figure it, the totals give a good general overall picture of prefixes vs. country.

As you see, I wrote this early in the day since I got involved in working with prefixes from the WPX contest. So that's it for today's entry, except to say thanks to all of you who, for whatever reason, check the diary daily. I appreciate your interest in my doings. -30-

Tuesday, June 02, 2015 8:57 PM - This was a quiet day compared to yesterday. Still pretty much like October in June again and the wind was a little stronger today making it feel even more chilly.

I can't even think of much of anything out of the ordinary that happened today. Just the usual things that happen every day.

I did reserve my free Windows 10 upgrade from Microsoft. It is supposed to be released on July 29, but I suspect that may be delayed a bit as there are still some bugs in the beta version to be worked out. Still as I said, this latest insider preview build is pretty sound.

I guess no one else is going to get the answer to my trivia question besides NAQCC member Bill K4WLW. He knew that the numbers 1,352, 16,821, and 13 had in common that they are part of the lyrics in the song Nashville Cats by the Lovin' Spoonful. Nice work Bill, and he just knew the answer without looking it up. As I said, it would be hard to look up anyway.

The DX streak was extended yet another day when I worked R5WW, Igor on 20 meters. Too bad he didn't have a P at the end of that call. W2WWP remains the only other WWP I've worked over the years and he is now a silent key.

Some folks think that QRP stations only work certain DX stations over and over again. That ain't so. Of the 151 QSOs I made in the CQWPX contest, 29 were worked for the first time. That's about 1 in 5. -30-

Monday, June 01, 2015 9:19 PM - A busy day today starting from the get-go. As soon as I got up, I put my laundry in the washer. Then someone came to clean out my gutters. I found a really great efficient company for doing that after struggling to get someone for quite some time now. They sure got a lot of gunk out of those gutters. Now I can't wait for some rain to see how they work. The trapped water came out in a torrent today. Here in Kittanning we don't have much of a storm sewer system and must drain our gutters into the yard as best we can, so we can really tell when they aren't working right.

After finishing the laundry it was time for a visit to the bank which I do the first of every month to set myself up financially for the coming month. Next I wrote the NAQCC WPA Chapter and my personal news for the June NAQCC newsletter. Then did the final processing of the May sprint statistics and sent them off for the newsletter.

It was kind of like October in June today. The high during the day never got out of the 50s under gray overcast skies. Right now it's 57 which is about the best it has been all day. I did manage to get in a couple walks. I went by the river and it came up a few feet after the rain last evening which was quite heavy and longer lasting upstream.

I got the latest build of the Windows 10 Insider Edition today. It's been interesting to watch the development of the system over the past 8 months now from a very buggy slow debut to today's slick close to release version. I also got a note inviting me to reserve my free copy of Windows 10 when it is released sometime this summer. I think I'll install it on my laptop and just leave Windows 7 on my main computer for now. Then maybe later I'll switch over if the free copy can be installed on more than one computer. I'm glad I joined the insider program - it's been a lot of fun as well as interesting.

Now all that brings us to 0000Z and my effort to continue the streaks. It took 9 minutes to find and work the special event station DK65DARC operated by DJ9MH whom I've worked before. That also gave me a bunch of letters/numbers for the two NAQCC challenges. In fact a total of 19. Along with K1ESE, OM5OA, and SM3NXS whom I worked also this evening, I now have 39 of 85 for the 'Midway' challenge and 29 of 58 for the European Chapter challenge. Not bad for 1 day and a couple hours, but then the letters always come fast the first few QSOs of a month so it will slow down now. -30-

Sunday, May 31, 2015 8:47 PM - Not much time to write the diary entry tonight. With the normal end-of-month, first-of-month things to do along with getting all my CQWPX data processed and the final closing of the NAQCC May sprint, that pretty much wipes out my time here.

As easy as it was to work DX in the WPX test the past couple evenings is how hard it was to work late this afternoon and evening. Of course I had already worked the busiest stations so the pool was depleted of catches today. So I only added 26 more QSOs today for a somewhat meager total of 151. All were DX though, mostly EU as I said. I never did work or even hear Oceania. So no contest WAC this time.

It was interesting to hear 20 meters go from wall-to-wall stations to virtually nil at 0000Z. Just like someone turned off a master switch somewhere. I still managed to work my DX though. It took 37 minutes to find and work YT7AW. I didn't spend all that time looking though. I had a rag chew with WY8Z on 40 to ensure my big streak kept going.

Well time to get my weather info now, then decide which project to tackle after that. We had a deluge today. Ironically I'm currently reading a chapter in a weather book about hurricanes. I think the downpours we had this evening could probably compare to the intensity in in a small hurricane although it only lasted several minutes here (thank goodness). Looks like about an inch in the rain gauge as I look out my window. And about 3/4 of that fell in those several minutes. -30-

Saturday, May 30, 2015 10:11 PM - Well, the bands were poor during the day. I checked every couple hours and they didn't have much to offer in the way of DX. Plenty of USA/VE stations which I'm not working. 15 and 10 were especially poor, then 20 picked up very late in the afternoon and early evening. I worked a few stations then, but didn't really get on till about 2345Z or so. Then 20 was really hot, just like last night. All in all I racked up 75 more stations (all DX, mostly EU) today for a total of 125 (122 on 20M, 3 on 15M). I guess tomorrow if it's not good again during the day, I'll just wait till about 2200Z and get on for the last couple hours.

I think these big contests with the bountiful activity and high speed CW are just about the most fun that can be had on the bands. It's especially fun when you have to copy serial numbers in the exchange. That makes it more challenging. I only had to ask for repeats from two stations. The rest were good copy. I'm impressed with P33A who was giving out numbers above 4500 just a little while ago. I wonder if I will ever be able to give out 4 digit numbers or make over 1,000 QSOs. I doubt it with my current situation. So far the most ever QSOs for me was 633 in an ARRL DX contest in the early 2000s.

Well, I have some things to do before bed, so I'll close here and have more about the contest tomorrow in the diary and perhaps in a contest story. -30-

Friday, May 29, 2015 10:04 PM - I went to the shack at 0000Z with the intention of using the CQWPX contest for an easy DX streak QSO. As expected, I got the QSO in a couple minutes after I had to fool around with my headphones. When I put them on, I couldn't hear anything in the left ear. I jiggled the wire going into the left earpiece and the sound cut in and out. I thought even though I'm not going to be here long, I don't need that annoyance, so I went and got my backup phones I use with my MP3 player. OK, now we're ready to go. There's YT3X whom I get with a single call. Hmmm, that was easy. Think I'll get a few more QSOs. Well the next few were very easy also. It doesn't happen often that stations are so easy to work in the first hour of a major DX contest, so I'm going to take advantage of it. Well, I was knocking off QSOs about every 2 minutes or less, almost unheard of for me at that stage. I had 33 in the first 60 minutes. Perhaps you know, but if not, I always approach the CQWPX contest as strictly a DX contest. I don't work any W/VE stations unless I happen to hear a rare W/VE prefix, so the 33 were all DX QSOs mostly from Europe. I continued on until 0130Z when I took a break to get my weather readings, then went back to the shack. I thought I'd set a goal of 50 QSOs by 0200Z. It had now become a bit harder to work stations, but they still came at a good pace, and I just fell short of the 0200Z goal, but counting the 4 minutes I lost at the start because of the headphones, I did hit 50 within 120 minutes. I don't know if I've ever had that quick a start in a major contest before. If I remember right, I need SA and OC for my contest WAC. I can't recall if I worked SA or not. I don't think so, and I don't have my log right here to check. All 50 QSOs were on 20 meters. The band was as busy as I've ever heard it with peaks from edge to edge on the panadapter. Almost looked like one big wide solid peak. I almost had to narrow the passband to separate the signals. I mean seeing them on the panadapter. The KX3 separated them beautifully as always. I could see signals on the panadapter right next to the station I was working, but couldn't hear them at all in the KX3. In big contests is where the KX3 rcvr really shines.

Well, I'll probably write a contest story about this one, so I won't say more about it here now. I'm still not in a real gung-ho contesting mood so I don't know how seriously I'll take it the rest of the way. It may depend on how easy it is to work stations, and if 15 and 10 are solidly open during the daylight hours. -30-

Thursday, May 28, 2015 8:59 PM - Mike and I had a good time last night mostly eating a pizza and listening to some music on the computer. He gave me a pair of Heil headphones that didn't quite fit him right, pinching his glasses frame into the side of his head. I tried them out on some computer music, and we were both impressed with the frequency response. The cannons in the 1812 overture really got your attention on those phones as one example. Our main 'toy' project didn't turn out so good though. We tried to glue together a broken bubble wand, but couldn't quite get the four glue joints to cooperate.

Today by contrast didn't start out as well. I had someone come to clean out my gutters, but his ladder was a couple feet too short so that didn't get done. Then Denny and I went fishing again, and I didn't get a single bite and there wasn't a mark on my worm after almost two hours. Denny fared better catching a catfish and a perch, and having something bigger on his line that got off before we could see what it was.

It was a little better this afternoon and evening. I got in a couple of nice walks. When I got on the bands this evening, IT9ESW provided my DX streak QSO to push it to 820 straight days now. I guess it is easier to work DX than to catch fish. HI. My current fishing streak only lasted 2 trips, and my all-time record is 55 trips in 2002, followed closely by 50 in 2004. -30-

Wednesday, May 27, 2015 6:33 PM - I'm just sitting here killing time, so I thought I'd kill some of it by writing my diary entry.

Today was a pretty busy day. It started early with me helping Denny fix the door frame on his garage. Actually I didn't really do all that much work, to be honest. He had most of the work done when I got over there. Anyway after we finished and he had to wait for the caulk to dry before he could paint it, I asked if he wanted to go fishing. He suggested going up to where Cowanshannock Creek empties into the Allegheny River. We fished for just under two hours. I caught one 11 inch sucker and Denny caught nothing. The only really good bite we had was the one on which I caught the sucker. Otherwise just a few nibbles here and there.

When we got home, I made a trip to the Post Office to mail one of our NAQCC prizes. Next I checked my garden. The peppers I planted last night are coming along fine after surviving the transplant shock. The Siberian tomatoes are a little bigger now. Finally some of my bean seeds are sprouting. I thought they never would.

A little later, I called up someone about cleaning my gutters. Surprisingly he said he could come tomorrow morning. It will be nice to have them unplugged again.

This evening Mike has a meeting here in the area, so he's going to drop by afterward for a pizza and what he says is a 'toy project'. I'm not sure what that is, but I'm sure it will be interesting. Maybe we'll have time to check the bands for some DX. I'm going to try to get my streak QSO before he gets here.

Let's see if I have any memorable QSOs left to talk about. 7/30/1995 - RW0A was my first ever Asiatic Russian QSO. It was in the IOTA contest that year, and it was kind of a preview of many Asiatic Russian QSOs to follow. It was in the summer. It was on 20 meters. It was in the 0000-0200Z time frame. Of the 199 Asiatic Russian QSOs I have now, 144 are on 20 meters. 103 of those are in the 0000-0200Z time period. However even with all those, I still remember that very first one quite clearly. -30-

Tuesday, May 26, 2015 8:45 PM - Ironically as I've been speaking about memorable QSOs lately, I had one this evening. I worked K7UGA which was activated over the Memorial Day weekend to honor its original owner - Senator and Presidential candidate Barry Goldwater. It's not as memorable as it would be had I worked it when Barry was operating. He was and still is one of my political idols. If memory serves, I did hear Barry on the air, either as K7UGA or K3UIG, but was not able to make contact. The pileups he created were somewhat like those of a rare DX station.

Speaking of DX, my DX streak QSO came quickly this evening about a half hour before the K7UGA QSO when I worked IT9/LY5W who is probably tuning up for the CQWPX contest this weekend.

The past few days when time permits, I've been going through my paper logs checking for QSOs I may not have transferred to my computer log. I think I mentioned that was prompted by getting a QSL from DL4ISX for a QSO not in the computer. When I went and checked my paper log, I found the QSO was there. Since then I've found a handful of other ones that were missing or had the wrong date in the computer. I guess those things happen when you get older and have some 82,000+ QSOs made over the years - and still log on paper in the shack.

Not much else happened today to talk about. I did plant out the last of my pepper plants this evening, and now have no plants left inside. I notice some small tomatoes on my Siberian plants, so maybe by mid-June I'll have some garden tomatoes in my salads.

That's about all I can think of now, and it's time to get my weather readings, so I'll just close here. -30-

Monday, May 25, 2015 9:06 PM - I hope you all had a great Memorial Day, and more importantly did something to honor those who served and are serving to protect our great country. I attended the Memorial Day ceremony at our riverside park amphitheater, and before that the Memorial Day parade accompanied by my neighbor Nancy. Here are some pictures of what we saw at the parade.

pix_diary_20150525_001 (74K) pix_diary_20150525_002 (42K) pix_diary_20150525_003 (66K) pix_diary_20150525_004 (51K) pix_diary_20150525_005 (47K) pix_diary_20150525_006 (55K) pix_diary_20150525_007 (59K)

I don't think they really need captions except for perhaps the last one. That's our award winning Kittanning Firemen's Band. They've won many awards over the years for their performances at various events.

Later in the day, Bruce, Jeff, and Nancy took me out for dinner at Ponderosa as a little belated birthday present and for Memorial Day as well.

Ange also brought me some food from his holiday family get together. Then I had half a sub left over from a Subway visit yesterday. So I think I'll fast for the coming week now. HI.

I said we'd get back to memorable QSOs again, so let's see what's on tap. 6/2/1964 ZL1HY - This one was back from the days when I didn't know how easy it was to work DX and hence didn't really work all that much of it till I started up my hamming again in the 1990s. I was calling CQ on 7020 at 0722Z which would be, let's see, 3:22AM, wouldn't it since DST was in effect at that time. I didn't realize it was that late. Anyway, as with the VK answers to my CQs on 30 meters much later, ZL1HY answered my 40 meter CQ to my surprise and to my thrill after I got over the surprise. Best of all, we wound up having a nice chat lasting about 23 minutes with good copy both ways. I've long forgotten just what we discussed, but it was enjoyable talking to a ham from so far away. At the time, that may have been my most distant QSO and definitely is a memorable one to this very day. To top it off, I got a nice QSL card from Dave several days later.

Back to the present now. My DX QSO came easily again. This time from TF3JB on 17 meters. I think that is a new band QSO although I have worked him a few times before. I was thinking maybe a new band-country also but I have worked Iceland on 17 before. I still need it on 30 and 80 so maybe I'll run into JB on those bands some day. After that a rag chew on 40 with K3BT who was using a hmbw from scratch rig that sounded every bit as good as any Elecraft rig. He's been a ham for 60 years. Then I finished with R120K on 20 meters. -30-

Sunday, May 24, 2015 10:13 PM - I just finished the cross-checking of our NAQCC sprint logs and it's a bit late now, so this will be a short entry. My DX came quickly in the form of KP2M on 15 meters which allowed me to get to the cross-checking quickly and get it finished this evening. So I'll have some more free time tomorrow.

I plan to watch the Memorial Day parade and the ceremonies at our park amphitheater in the morning, then maybe go fishing. I went today and got my season started in earnest with a sucker and a bass, my first two fish of the year.

OK, more tomorrow including another memorable QSO. -30-

Saturday, May 23, 2015 8:32 PM - I finally completed the NAQCC European Chapter May challenge this evening when I worked EI4II for the last Is and EA2NN for the last Ns. Before that it was RA6MQ for the DX streak. RA6MQ and EI4II were just barely audible here, but nonetheless the QSOs were fairly easy. EA2NN was a solid 589 and we had the chance to chat a bit.

After a cold start at 34 degrees, it turned out to be one of those perfect May days with plenty of sunshine and a high in the low to mid 70s. So I was outside a lot walking, helping the landlady next door cut and clean up the grass, cleaning up the grass in my brick walks, all after uncovering my and Ange's garden plants this morning.

I'm thinking about maybe getting my telescope out when it gets dark, but I probably won't. I wish it wasn't so much work setting it up. I'm thinking about perhaps setting up a permanent pedestal in the back yard. Then I can just take the scope out, mount it on the pedestal and start observing with no setting up and aligning the tripod, etc. I don't know if that will even come to pass or not, but it would be nice. -30-

Friday, May 22, 2015 8:33 PM - It looked more like a May day today with a lot of sunshine. Actually enough to set my sundial to solar time. 12:00N solar time happened at just about 1:15PM EDT today when the sun was exactly due south.

About the only thing keeping it from being a great day was the wind. It was howling just about all day. I was thinking of going fishing, but I didn't feel like watching my poles getting blown around and trying to filter out the fish bites from the wind vibrations. Oh, it's not all that hard to do, but it does get tiring after a while. So I just skipped the fishing.

It looks like there is a good chance for frost tonight, so I covered all my pea, tomato, and pepper plants a little while ago.

I led off my DX this evening with another AO150 station - AO150G. I've got to go through and make a list of all those stations I've worked now. It's hard to keep track in my mind when I'm sitting there at the rig. That was on 20, then I went up to 17 and found R120AP. He wasn't very strong, yet I got him with a single call. That gave me a P for the NAQCC European Chapter challenge leaving me needing 2 Es and 2 Ns to finish up now. -30-

Thursday, May 21, 2015 7:25 PM - This has to be one of the gloomiest May days in recent memory with low dark overcast clouds vs. the typical abundant sunshine here usually in May. Looks (and feels) more like mid-November instead of mid-May. A few lite showers didn't help, and the high was only 57 degrees and felt even colder with a breeze and the dampness.

So it was a good day for indoor activities. About all I did outdoors was to mount out my sundial. Hopefully the new surface will get to feel some sun in a day or so. It certainly didn't today, although perhaps I blinked and did miss some sunshine. There wasn't much of it, if any.

I spent quite a bit of time getting the NAQCC sprint logs from last night ready for final cross-checking Sunday evening. We're just one or two short of the magic 100 logs mark right now. Let's see. Well, actually with 93 processed and 9 more waiting, that's over the century mark at 102. Way to go, NAQCC members!

About a half hour to kill now before hitting the bands for that DX QSO to extend the streak another day. Last night it was easy before the sprint with UF5F and AO150N. That UF5 is a new prefix and only the third UF prefix in my log.

I also did some cleaning out of 'junk' in my basement. I figure since I become a septuagenarian this month, that it's time to start getting rid of some things that I haven't used for years and won't be likely to use them again. Maybe I can sell some of it at the upcoming hamfests we'll be attending this year. It's a shame to just throw some things out, which is why I've hung on to them for so long now. HI.

I completed the chronological list of memorable QSOs now, and I want to go back and pick up a few others that came to mind while I was posting those so far. First I want to mention someone who gave me many memorable QSOs back in the 1960s starting March 14, 1964 and continuing until the last one on March 6, 1966 - a total of 28 QSOs. With whom? Sue W9KSE from Cedarburg, Wisconsin. We talked about many different topics, but mainly it was about county hunting. She gets all the credit for introducing me to county hunting which was my main activity in ham radio for several years in the 60s, 70s, and 80s. She told me about the USA-CA award and the booklet they put out for keeping track of the counties. I especially liked (and adopted) her idea of coloring in the counties in the maps in the booklet as they were worked and/or verified. Also she introduced me to POD 26, the Post Office publication that listed every post office in the country and the county in which it was located. I could really make this a much longer entry with all the memories my QSOs with Sue bring back. Just a few more thoughts though. She was also interested in American Morse and we would use that on the air some times. I wasn't all that good at it myself, but we used to be joined in the QSOs by Bob W1AFM (later W1HV) who was very good at it along with Sue. Now let's jump ahead to 1966. Because of my interest in county hunting fostered by Sue, Dave WA8EOH and I started the CW County Hunters Net in May 1966 (the story of which is here on the web site in my County Hunting section). During one of the sessions in which I was the NCS, Bob W1HV checked into the net and gave me some very sad news. Sue had passed away. She was only 31 years old. I could hardly continue my NCS duties after hearing that, and just thinking about it now close to 50 years later almost brings tears to my eyes. -30-

Wednesday, May 20, 2015 7:42:05 PM - Let's get back to memorable QSOs again after a couple days. K1N - 2/9/2015. Navassa Island was the only DX entity in the North American continent I hadn't yet worked, so working K1N was high on my list of priorities especially since this would be the last time this little island would be activated for several years since it is a wildlife refuge protected by the US government. I must confess finally that I actually heard them shortly after the activation started going begging for QSOs, but as you know, I never study operations in advance, but only explore the bands for anything I work. So it didn't dawn on me for a couple days that this was indeed Navassa. After chastising myself, I set out with full deliberation to work them and complete "All North America". It was NOT easy, and failure followed failure until.... One time I heard them work a super strong S9+40 WA8 (or was it WB8 maybe?) station. I could easily see and hear the WA8 in my split phones and panadapter, and I called on the exact same frequency and bingo, I got K3WWP 599 to complete all entities in the North American continent.

Tonight is our NAQCC sprint. I'm not really in a contesting mood, but I will get on long enough to get my quota of 20 QSOs. I've been going with that quota for the past several months now. I started mainly because of my strong local noise that really beat on my ears if I went the full 2 hours. However now the noise is down, but I still like the quota rather than going for a big score, and 20 is just about right for the number of QSOs. I can usually make that in around an hour of operating, and as a side challenge, I like to try to see just how fast I can make it to that figure.

I've just about got my sundial ready to go back outside now. Here's how it looked this morning before the final two coats of polyurethane were applied.
pix_diary_20150520_001 (40K)

At first I wasn't going to add the radial lines, but I decided to do that this morning, and I'm glad I did now.

Well, just about time to get my DX QSO, then get ready for the sprint. -30-

Tuesday, May 19, 2015 6:16 PM - Congrats to Bill K4WLW (ex-N4VHR) for coming up with the answer to my latest trivia question. I'm not going to give away the answer just yet to let other folks work on it.

A busy day today doing a variety of things. I worked on my sundial for a while. Did some weeding in the back yard and pulled some weeds from between the bricks in my walk. I did some shopping, paid some bills, and some other such things that I can't even remember now. HI. Anyway the day passed quickly and I enjoyed all the time outside in the upper 70s sunny weather. These days are the kind that I wish could be bottled and played back over and over again.

As you see from the time stamp, I'm writing this a bit early and still will have to get my DX QSO in a couple hours or so. I don't know what the bands are like other than that the SF has been steadily dropping the past few days. It's still high enough to keep the high bands in good shape though, so I should be able to get some DX. -30-

Monday, May 18, 2015 9:04 PM - Still no comments, guesses, answers to my trivia question, so I'll repeat it again and give one vague clue. What do the numbers 1352, 16821, and 13 have in common? It has something to do with music.

There wasn't a lot of DX again in the 0000Z hour this evening, but I still managed a quick DX QSO from WP4EHK on 15 meters to add another day (# 810) to the DX streak.

I guess my 'apart from the usual' thing today was working on renewing the surface of my sundial. It took a pretty good beating this winter and the paint was in sad shape. So I sanded it down as much as I could after I marked where the hour lines go by drilling a small hole at the end of them so I'll know exactly where to draw the new ones without figuring all the correct angles again. First I've got to give it a couple coats of white paint, then draw the hour lines again with a sharpie marker, and add a couple coats of clear polyurethane to top it off. No hurry to get it done so I'll just do a little each day.

I also replanted some bean seeds as the ones I planted a couple weeks ago haven't done a thing yet. Hopefully these new ones will as I'm looking forward to having the delicious speckled butter beans this summer. My peas are growing nicely, and I've got some tomato flowers on the Siberian tomato plants. All but one of the pepper plants I put out a few days ago are doing good. I saw some rose buds on one of my rose bushes today. The daylillies have developed a nice full foliage preparing for flowering sometime in June. About the only real outside work now other than maintaining the plants is pruning back the bush in my front yard. I'll probably do that later this week as it is supposed to be cool and good for that kind of work. -30-

Sunday, May 17, 2015 9:03 PM - As I've said before any day spent with Mike KC2EGL is a good one. Today was no exception. Of course as I said in yesterday's entry, he was arriving last night. He showed up aound 9:30 or so and we spent most of the time until bedtime on the bands chasing DX. Conditions were really great on 20 and 17 mainly which is where we spent most of the time. Mike worked several stations in the EA contest plus a couple other non-contest stations. I passed on the contest stations and only went for the unusual prefixes or band countries. Mike made around a dozen or so QSOs in mostly all different countries. I worked OZ150ITU/15, SV2CUI, ZL100ANZAC. The ZL was on 17 and was a new band-country in addition to being a new prefix. the bands stayed open until after 0400Z, and we could have worked more, but we had to get up early so we shut down not long after 0400Z.

This morning we got up earlier than planned, especially for me. I usually get up around 9AM, but today it was 8AM. Since it was earlier than planned, we again combed the bands for DX. Again Mike worked a few stations that I passed on, including one Japanese on 17M. The JA sounded almost like he was a local with strong steady flutter-free signals, only one of not very many JAs I've heard over the years that have sounded that good. I worked OV2V for a possible new prefix and RK3ER for a couple Es for the NAQCC European Chapter challenge.

Then it was time for our main purpose of the visit - to head over to Chicora to get together with Tom WB3FAE to plan our NAQCC Field Day setup for the end of June. After we got lost briefly - a not unusual occurrence for us - we arrived and started our planning. It wasn't the best of days and we had to work through some rain showers. We took a lot of measurements and figured out where we would raise our antennas, set up our tent, and so forth. We actually did set up my antenna after all the planning was done with the intention of giving out some N3AQC QSOs to our club members. Unfortunately after only about 10 minutes or so of operating and four QSOs, the skies opened up again and we had to shut down. Since the weather was so iffy, we didn't bother actually setting up our tent and the KX3, computer, etc. were out in the open, and we didn't want them to be getting wet. So that was kind of disappointing not only to us, but probably to our NAQCC members who were waiting to work us.

After we visited for a while, Mike and I headed back to Kittanning and stopped at one of our latest favorite eating places, Clark's Landing. For the first time in I don't know how long, I couldn't finish the huge meal they provided and had to quit at around 90-95 percent. I hate leaving food at a restaurant, but.... It was an Italian Sampler with angel hair pasta, meatballs, lasagna, chicken, bread, and a large salad that was almost a meal in itself. Mike had a chicken fettucini meal, I believe. His wasn't quite as big as mine, and he was able to finish his.

Then we came home and just sat out the rest of the visit - too full to move around much. We played a couple hidden object computer games and then watched some Benny Hill shows on the computer before Mike had to head home to get to bed since tomorrow is a working day for him.

That was shortly after 0000Z, so I headed to the shack to try to get my DX streak QSO. The bands were pretty good, but not as active as last night, so it took a while for me to find and work someone - RA6AN. That QSO gave me a couple Ns for the challenge leaving me with needing 8 letters to finish it now.

And lest I forget as I did the past two entries, here's my memorable QSO. W1AW/1 - 8/27/2014 - Yes, you probably guessed this is the QSO that completed the 2014 Centennial Anniversary WAS from W1AW operating portable from each of the fifty states. This particular QSO was from Maine, the last state to be activated. Although W1AW visited each state at least 2 times, I got all 50 on their first visit. -30-

Saturday, May 16, 2015 9:07 PM - I'm sitting here awaiting Mike's arrival. He'll spend the night, then in the morning we'll head over to Chicora and Tom's (WB3FAE) place to do some planning for our NAQCC Field Day setup from Chicora which is a new location this year. We hope to iron out anything that needs ironing out, and then put N3AQC on the air for a couple hours and get some signal reports.

I mentioned the DL4ISX QSO that wasn't in my computer log. Today I looked back through my paper logs and it was there. I just hadn't transferred it to computer. I thought I'd better check some more of my paper logs and I found three more MIA QSOs which I added to the computer log. Now I plan to eventually check all my paper logs for any more such omissions. I've done October 2014 through April 2015 so far. In addition to missing QSOs, I found a couple wrong dates and times which I've corrected. From now on, I will try to check each page as I complete filling it out. Just another sign of growing old, I guess.

Tonight's DX QSO came quickly at 0001Z from AO150U in the EA contest. Then I added LZ102SIB a few minutes later. Neither helped with the European Chapter challenge.

I finished fine trimming my pine tree today. The major cutback left it a bit shaggy looking but the shape is good and it will fill out again as it has in the past. -30-

Friday, May 15, 2015 8:53 PM - No comments, guesses, answers, etc. to last night's trivia question of what do 1352 and 16821 have in common. There is also a third number that could be included in the group - 13.

A busy interesting day today. My grass had grown like it was on steroids the past 3 or 4 days, so I cut it this morning after Denny was done cutting his. He shares his mower with me when I need it, and I help him out with things when he needs it. That's the way neighbors ought to behave.

After I cut the grass, Denny helped me trim off about 3-4 feet from the top of my pine tree in the back yard. It wasn't nearly as hard as I thought it would be. I've topped it off so many times, almost every year, to keep it from getting out of hand, that the leader of the tree has branched off into many smaller leaders rather than one big one. So it was easy just lopping them off instead of having to saw one big one off.

Then later in the day I applied some fine tuning or trimming to the tree to get it back in traditional pine tree shape albeit with more of a flat top that a pointy one now. It felt good getting in a lot of good physical exercise today. That sure makes one feel much better than sitting around in the shack or at the computer all day. In fact with the nice weather and the outdoor activities I may have a tough time completing the NAQCC European Chapter challenge this month. I did get a couple more letters tonight though when I worked AO150T for my DX streak QSO. That makes an interesting ham radio number for the days in the streak now - 807. Wonder if I'll make it to 1625. HI.

I got a buro mailing today with 24 cards although one of them is for as far as I can tell, a non-existant QSO. It's not in my computer log. I'll have to go through my paper logs to see if I just missed transferring one. Or perhaps the station in question worked someone else with a call close to mine and logged it as my call.

Anyway, I got one new band-country from the batch - Albania on 20 meters. I was surprised I only had Albania veried on 30 and 15 until today. There were also a bunch of new prefixes like OM90SZE, S506SLG, S546EB, LZ37MP, LZ1000TS, DR20CFT, HP500OP, HF2014VB, and AM03NO.

Well, it's a bit past time to get my daily weather readings, so I better close here and get to that. -30-

Thursday, May 14, 2015 7:25 PM - Not a lot to talk about today. I'll sum it up briefly then get to a trivia question and the memorable QSO.

I planted out most of my pepper plants today. I think there were 16 altogether with about 8 more left inside in case any of those don't make it. My peas are coming nicely, as are the tomatoes and my rose bushes.

Other than that I played a lot with Windows 10. It is working great in the different virtual machine - Oracle's VirtualBox. Now I have a much better idea of just how good a system it is going to be when all the preview version bugs are taken care of.

Trivia: What do the two numbers 1,352 and 16,821 have in common? No fair looking them up on Bing although if you do, it may be hard to find anyway.

Memorable QSO: WA4FAT 5/30/2014 - This story is virtually a carbon copy of the WA8REI one a few days ago. So I'll refer you to that. All you need to do is substitute 50 years for 40 years and WA4FAT for WA8REI, and that will do it. Yes, WA4FAT and I had our first QSO back on May 30, 1964 - 50 years before. "Only the call, year, and date have been changed to protect the innoc....." Oh, and the time of day remained the same for both the 1964 and 2014 QSO also - 0011Z. The band as well - 40 meters. I didn't log actual frequencies back in 1964 so I'm not sure if the frequency was the same or not. -30-

Wednesday, May 13, 2015 9:28 PM - This was computer club evening so I didn't get on the air until around 0110Z or so. Still it didn't take long to get my DX QSO as I worked yet another AO150 station, A0150U at 0113Z.

As far as memorable QSOs go, tonight it's WL7E 11/26/2011 - QSOs that complete some goal are always memorable. This QSO with WL7E completed mW WAS for me after trying for some time. This was the CQWW DX contest and one of my goals was to work Alaska with mW power. I tried several times to work another Alaskan (I believe it was KL7RA) with no success, then found WL7E and it was an easy QSO. Now I had my mW WAS completed. -30-

Tuesday, May 12, 2015 9:22 PM - The DX QSOs seem to be coming a little harder as time goes on. There just don't seem to be many DX stations around in the 0000Z hour of late. Those that are around are ones I've either recently worked on the same band or stations that I've worked so many times it's almost embarrassing to work them again and to maybe deprive someone who really needs them of a QSO. Tonight I was relegated to working OM3SEM on 30 meters whom I have worked several times although not recently. It's not a matter of QRP/CW failing to work by any means because when I hear them, I can work them pretty much no matter what propagation conditions are like.

Our 90 degree days streak ended abruptly and solidly today. I'm not sure what the high during the day was because the maximum-minimum thermometers recorded the high at midnight when it was still quite warm. I would guess the high during the day was only in the mid 70s at best. Right now it's 59 and probably going into the 40s overnight. Then tomorrow night there is a slight chance of frost, so I think I'll wait till Friday or so to plant out my pepper plants. No signs of any bean sprouts, but about 3/4 of my pea seeds have sprouted and are almost an inch high now. The tomatoes are doing good. A couple wilted a bit after planting them out, but they have come back now.

Another QSO I remember quite well is tonight's memorable one. VK6DXI 7/26/2009 - While sitting in my shack with the sun beating in the window, I was fooling around in the IOTA contest when I heard VK6DXI calling CQ on 40 meters. Not expecting to even be heard, I called anyway, and after a couple repeats, we exchanged info and I had a half way around the world QSO on 40 meters while the sun had yet to set. Just to be sure, I looked up his email address in QRZ and shot off an email. It was indeed a good QSO, and we exchanged a couple more emails about it. He kind of thought it was probably a long-path QSO which would make it more than halfway around the world if so. The subsequent QSL card is displayed elsewhere on my site. Actually in the DX section. Click DX in the above menu to see it. -30-

Monday, May 11, 2015 9:27 PM - Our fourth 90+ degree day in a row. If this keeps up, I'll have to be checking records for the most consecutive 90 degree days in a row in May.

I had to work AO150O on 30 meters for my DX QSO this evening. I already have the station on 30, but I might wind up being busy tomorrow, so I grabbed what I could tonight. There wasn't much DX heard at all except for the AO150 stations here and there.

My third shutout fishing trip in a row today. Denny and I went to a different place and neither of us got a single bite in about an hour and 40 minutes. We're supposed to get some rain tonight and maybe early tomorrow so maybe I'll check the storm sewer outlets for carp after it stops.

Another very memorable QSO tonight: KH6MB 2/22/2009 - After being stuck at 4 continents on 80 meters (NA,SA,EU,AF) for almost 46 years (not counting the K4HSB/KH6 QSO at 75 watts input mentioned earlier in this series), finally my time came to work KH6 and thus Oceania with 5 watts. As I've mentioned from time to time, I have a pipeline to KH6 on the higher bands, and can work it there quite easily just about anytime I hear it. Well this early morning, I had a pipeline to KH6 on 80 as well. The QSO was very easy, and was followed a few minutes later by a QSO with KH6LC. After the fact I wished I had used QRPp since at that time I still needed Oceania (and Asia) for QRPp WAC. Oh, and I also just missed a third KH6 QSO a few minutes later. Then a few minutes more later, I lowered my power to 930mW and called either MB or LC again just to see if they could hear me. They did, but didn't get my whole call, and I didn't repeat since it would have been a dupe. A couple years later I did work KH7X with QRPp for mW Oceania. Not on 80, but on 15. -30-

Sunday, May 10, 2015 9:02 PM - Our third nice warm day in a row. The remote thermometer says the high was 92. I am just about to go outside and get the 'official' reading. It felt really good today. The humidity was low - in fact right now it's 45% outside and it was down to 29% sometime today. Better get the weather readings now, then I'll finish the entry.

"Officially" it goes down as a high of 91 today. If I could interpolate the analog thermometer, it would probably be 91.4, but I only use whole degrees for my records here.

AO150E on 20 and 8P9EE on 30 were my DX QSOs this evening. I did listen a bit late this afternoon, but there was not much to be heard at all then.

Memorable QSO: WA8REI 8/25/2006 - My first QSO with Ken was on 8/25/1966. Do the math and you'll see the two dates are just exactly 40 years apart. Ken and I had talked about our first QSO earlier in 2006, and came to the mutual conclusion that it would be nice to have a "40th Anniversary" QSO. It indeed was, and exchanging special QSLs added to the 'specialness'. -30-

Saturday, May 09, 2015 9:21 PM - A second 90 degree day in a row today. 91 on both the regular and remote thermometers. Sure is nice to have some decent weather here in Kittanning again after that long winter and early spring.

My day started helping Ange get his garden ready for planting, and actually planting some bean seeds as well. My tomato plants are doing well with the warm weather. Some tiny buds on them, but no way will I have ripe tomatoes in May as I have in past years. I just started them too late this year. I'm guessing probably the middle of June for tomatoes which still is not bad for this area without any greenhouse to help. I might put out some pepper plants next week. They are around 4-5 inches tall now. My bean seeds haven't sprouted yet, but I hope they will soon or I may have to re-sow. Nothing from the pea seeds yet either, but it's only been a few days for them.

I spent a good part of the day playing with virtual machines and Windows 10 on my laptop. The VMWare Player crashed a couple days ago. Nothing to do with any fault of Windows 10. I tried and tried to get it running again to no avail. I uninstalled it, and then tried to re-install, but it kept insisting there was still an old version on my computer and it couldn't install till that old version was uninstalled (which it seemed to be). I searched all through the file structure and the registry to try to find why it thought there was still an old version around. That led nowhere, so finally I gave up on the VMWare Player and thought I'd see if I could get VirtualBox from Oracle running as my VM. I had tried it originally but it wouldn't work because the laptop processor didn't have virtualization activated. At that time, I didn't feel like digging into the BIOS to activate it and went with the VM Player instead which worked well for quite a while actually. Today though, I bit the bullet and dug into the laptop BIOS and enabled virtualization, installed VirtualBox, and set up Windows 10. The latest preview build 10074 looks very nice in the not too much time I had left to play with it. I'll do more playing in the coming days now that I have it set up in VirtualBox which by the way seems to be a better VM than the VMWare Player.

A quick DX QSO again this evening from AO150A on 17 meters. No help with the NAQCC European Chapter challenge though. I'm going to have to make some time to get on the bands at various times to see when the best openings to Europe are and try to get those remaining letters to master the challenge.

Let's see what's up in the string of memorable QSOs now. D4B 2/21/2004 - Similar to the W4HG story of a few days ago, this QSO (several QSOs) was memorable for multi-band working. In the ARRL DX Contest, I worked D4B on 5 contest bands - 80,40,20,15, and 10 meters. All the QSOs were easy ones, and I was especially pleased with the one on 80 meters since my antenna situation on that band is not the greatest for any DX, let alone a fairly distant and somewhat rare country like Cape Verde. Even counting non-DX stations, I don't have all that many 5-band contest QSOs in my log. Maybe some day I'll take time to figure out just how many (few?) there are. -30-

Friday, May 08, 2015 9:17 PM - Our first 90+ degree day of the year today as the mercury hit 92. Yes, the maximum/minimum thermometer still does use mercury. The electrons in the remote unit got excited one degree higher at 93 degrees.

I didn't do a lot today, but I did get the rest of my Siberian tomato plants set out and did a little bit of trimming on the tree in my back yard. Oh, and my tulips gave up the ghost, so I picked the remaining petals and deadheaded them. It's a shame the that tulip flowers don't last longer. There's hardly enough time to appreciate them properly, it seems.

A bit of a strange DX QSO this evening to make the DX streak 800 days. I called RG0A and was treated with silence, but about 10 seconds later just as I was about to tune away, he came back with K3WWP 599. I'm guessing a digital recorder was involved and he had to replay my call a couple times before he got it. What do you think? Anyway another milestone was reached in the streak completing 80% of my goal of a 1,000 day DX streak.

Memorable QSO time now. SU9NC 11/30/2003 - I've mentioned this QSO in the diary recently when I worked my second Egypt station. This one was made from my late cousin's location a few miles from here and was the only new country I had worked away from home. However now with my latest Egypt QSO, I have all my countries now worked from right here at home also. -30-

Thursday, May 07, 2015 8:33 PM - Another beautiful day and another fishing trip and another shutout. Not even a bite again. Soon though, they should start biting. I saw a lot of minnies playing around today and a few bigger fish jumping, so they were there, just not hungry.

I managed to eke out another DX QSO to keep the streak going. There certainly hasn't been a lot to choose from lately and again 17 meters was the saviour this evening. I worked CE2AWW easily there, but he was the only signal I heard on that band.

Memorable QSO time now. I've decided when I get through with the memorable QSOs, I'm going to talk about some memorable hams I've worked, many a lot of times, for which I don't have a specific QSO in mind, yet I feel I should mention them.

TA3D 12/29/2000 - Similar to the VK6HQ situation, I was calling CQ on 30 meters when out of the blue, so to speak, came this answer from TA3D in Turkey. That was only the third time I had worked that country, and the first time ever on 30 meters. Also it was in late afternoon at 4:39PM ET which was somewhat unusual. No long distance phone call this time though. HI. Turkey is still not all that easy for me to work as I only have a total of 11 QSOs with TA stations. I was thinking TA3D became a SK, but I was wrong. It was another Turk I worked, TA3DD who is the SK. While checking that on QRZ, I found this neat world map of call sign prefixes. I'll present it here and then find a permanent place for it, perhaps in my DX section or maybe on the WPX Award page. I wonder how many entities are represented there. Anyone feel like counting? HI Although there is not much space, I think whoever did the design work did a good job. I do see some missing entities where there are a lot of small ones crowded together - ex-Yugoslavia for one example. I'm thinking maybe I can get a larger outline map of each continent, and color in the entities I have worked. that would be neat. Just looking at Africa, I see that I have most of the entities in the northwest part of that continent. Of course North America would be all colored in since I have all NA entities worked. Hmmm, I like the idea more and more as I think about it.

pix_world_map (138K)


Wednesday, May 06, 2015 9:39 PM - A nice day today, so I made time from some other chores to get in some fishing - my first time this year. As with most first times, I didn't catch anything or even have any damage inflicted on my nightcrawler. Actually of 24 'first' fishing trips since I started fishing again in 1992, I caught something on only 9 of them. Still, catch or no, it was nice to sit out in the partly cloudy skies by the river again. Now my fishing appetite is whetted.

Conditions on the bands were deplorable today, to put it kindly. A check this afternoon showed virtually nothing at all on the bands. This evening wasn't a lot better, but I did manage to hook up with HK4CZE to keep the DX streak going at 798 days. It will be nice to reach another hundred marker in a couple days, and have "only" 200 days to go for a thousand. Wonder if I'll make it.

Almost forgot my next installment of my memorable QSOs. Let's see who it is tonight.

One of my more distant ones. VK0MM 4/28/2000 - Some of my ham friends had worked this DXpedition station, and I figured I would never get him. However I woke up in the 6AM ET hour the morning of the 28th, and found him coming through strong. I gave a call on the (wide) split frequency, and it took only a couple calls in all to get him. I guessed where he was listening. I didn't have the panadapter or split phones to help me then. One of my friends, Dave VA3RJ, who had been encouraging me in my attempts to work him and happened to be listening and heard him work me, emailed his congatulations. -30-

Tuesday, May 05, 2015 8:27 PM - Kind of strange conditions this evening. Europe was weak with much QSB on 20 meters, and I couldn't get an answer from anyone across the pond. Then I went to 17 and found S55DX at S9+ and worked him easily for my DX streak QSO and 3 letters for the NAQCC European Chapter challenge. Earlier in the afternoon I worked LY8O on 20 for a couple more letters.

Memorable QSO time now. VQ9IO 11/28/1999 - What made this one memorable other than it being a new country from a part of the world I hadn't ever worked before was the effort the operator put in to be sure he had my call and contest info correct. I know it took more than a couple minutes to complete the QSO, and probably irritated others waiting to work him. However I commend and thank him for sticking with me.

It looks like our plans to have a FD test run with NAQCC call N3AQC has been narrowed down to either Sunday May 17th or 24th. More info here in the diary and on our NAQCC mail list when the details are finalized.

Also I heard from Bob WC3O from the Skyview Radio Society asking if we wanted to repeat our QRP demonstration at their Skyview Swap and Shop like we did last year. I immediately said yes, and as soon as I notified KC2EGL and K3RLL, they said the same thing. So that's something else to look forward to. That will be on August 30. Hopefully Tom WB3FAE will be there this year also. I'm pretty sure he will, but I haven't heard back from him just yet. -30-

Monday, May 04, 2015 8:58 PM - No fishing today. I got involved in some back yard/garden work along with a little work on my cellar door. It was the warmest day of the year so far with a high of 84, warm enough to work up a little sweat on one walk I took. Right now it's still 73 degrees, but some rain just starting.

I think it may be a bit hard mastering the European Chapter challenge this month. After a very fast start, the brakes kicked in the past couple days. I haven't heard a lot of European stations and the few I am hearing don't have the letters that I need. For example this evening for the streak, I worked IZ4ZZB, but there weren't any Zs in the challenge, and I already have all the Is and Bs. I also worked RP70MC, but he is in Asia, not Europe. That's the way it has been going the past couple days.

So let's move on to another memorable QSO now.

KO1C 9/1/1999 - This QSO was memorable not because of any location or band, but because it was the first QSO I ever made with a commercial transceiver - a Kenwood TS570D that I had just purchased the day before via mail order, and it arrived immediately the next day. Up until that point, all my QSOs had been made with various homebrew transmitters and various receivers - SW-500, R100, SPR4, IC71-A, and perhaps a couple more I am forgetting. What a tremendous difference in operating that made. With the homebrew setup, it took perhaps changing a dozen or so controls to change bands and zero beat a station. With the transceiver, it was only one or two controls, and I was ready to work someone. Pre-transceiver I made 42,916 QSOs in 33 years. In the 15 1/2 years since my transceiver age started, I have 42,531 QSOs. Of course other factors enter into those totals, but still it is much easier to make QSOs with a transceiver, and extremely easy now with the Elecraft KX3. I might be over 100,000 QSOs if I'd had a KX3 my whole ham 'career.' HI -30-

Sunday, May 03, 2015 7:02 PM - I forgot to mention a couple things in yesterday's entries. W4HG was (and still is) located in Salisbury, NC. Also I checked Nova Sagitarri yesterday morning and couldn't find it so it apparently has faded down below binocular through slightly hazy skies through a window visibility. Let's see. Yes on May 2 the AAVSO chart shows it at about magnitude 6.25 or slightly dimmer which would make it a stretch for my observing setup here.

I bought some nightcrawlers today in anticipation of going fishing with my neighbor Denny after he got home from work, but he had something else to do. So I think I might head to the river myself tomorrow. I talked to a couple fishermen today and they said the suckers were biting and I noticed they were using nightcrawlers. Maybe I'll get my first fish of the year tomorrow.

Let's close the entry now with another in the series of memorable QSOs in my 52 years of being a ham.

JA3ZOH 11/24/1996 - At one time for quite a long while, and possibly still now, Japan held (holds) the position of having the most ham radio operators in the world, with the United States a distant second. Some sources say that the positions are now reversed with a major decline in the number of hams in Japan. That's beside the point of this story, but it tends to emphasize the fact that despite the large number of Japanese hams, it took me a long time to get my first Japanese QSO. It was late in the afternoon in the CQWW DX contest, when I tuned across 20 meters looking for folks I hadn't worked before. Conditions weren't all that great so I only had 70 QSOs at that point, and I was hearing the same stations over and over again. Then I came across JA3ZOH who was probably around S6 or S7 at the time with just a little flutter on his signals as best as I can recall now. I thought that this may be the best chance I will get to add Japan to my list of worked countries. The sunspot cycle was near a minimum and conditions were just not that good in general, let alone the day of the contest. So I decided to try calling him to see what would happen. I don't remember getting him on the first call, but it seems to me now, almost 20 years later, that it didn't take long to work him. 20 minutes later, I got my second Japan QSO with JH0ZHQ. Despite the difficulty of getting the first Japan after 33 years or so, I now have 237 QSOs with Japan. -30-

Saturday, May 02, 2015 7:30 PM - A short recap of the day, then another memorable QSO story.

I got up very early (for me) today just before 7AM to help Bruce and Nancy take Roscoe to the groomer for his 8AM appointment. After we dropped him off, Bruce took me and his mom Nancy to a new place for breakfast. This was a place that Bruce passes every day on his school bus run, but had never tried eating there. Well, it turned out to have great food and super service. The prices were quite reasonable too. Then while still waiting for a call from the groomer that Roscoe was ready, Bruce took us on his school bus route to show just what he went through with the bus. There are some really challenging roads on that route, to be sure. Then a stop at Family Dollar for some shopping. Just when we finished, the groomer called and we went to get Roscoe. After we got home, the whole morning was pretty much gone.

It was a beautiful May day, so I went for a long walk and did some outdoors work.

I just spent about an hour preparing some upcoming memorable QSO stories. Let's get now to tonight's entry. W4HG 6/12/1996 - 1996 was a good year for memorable QSOs. In the mid-90s I had just begun to use 17 and 12 meters by modifying my Lafayette VFO as I had done previously to get it to work on 30 and 160. Sometime when I would work a station on 10 or 15 meters and conditons were good, I'd ask the station if he could QSY to 12 meters for a new state toward my WAS. It seemed to me and still does that folks who get on 12 are only interested in working DX, and not USA to USA QSOs. That still seems true and I still only have about half the states worked on 12. Anyway to cut to the QSO story now (or QSOs story), I worked Wayne W4HG on 10 meters at 0111Z, and after chatting a bit, I asked if he would try 12 meters with me. So we went to 12 and made an easy contact. After chatting for 5 minutes there, I suggested just for fun, we try 15 meters now. We did successfully, and now the seed was planted to see how many different bands would work for us then. So it was off to 17 meters and another easy QSO there. Then we cut our QSOs to just contacting, exchanging signal reports, and setting a frequency for the next lower band. That worked fine all the way down through 40 meters, but 80 was rough as it was almost the beginning of summer with its associated high noise level on the lower bands. We did make it on 80 though, but decided not to even try 160 meters. I wish we had now although I'm pretty sure it would have failed since 80 was so rough. I think it is interesting to list the RST I got from each band:
10 - 569
12 - 559
15 - 589
17 - 559
20 - 579
30 - 559
40 - 469
80 - 349

My reports to Wayne were about 1 S unit higher each time as he was running higher power. Eight QSOs on eight bands with the same station in 33 minutes from 0111 to 0144Z is something that has probably not been done all that often, especially when one of the stations was running QRP and simple wire antennas. Even more so since it was not something planned in advance, but done more or less on the spur of the moment. I'll always remember it. -30-

Friday, May 01, 2015 8:23 PM - A quick DX QSO this evening thanks to another Bulgarian saints station LZ102SIB. That gave me 4 more letters toward the NAQCC European Chapter challenge as well, making it 25 of 57 gathered now. Conditions and/or activity were nowhere near as good as last evening and that was my only QSO in 20 minutes or so of trying.

Let's turn now to another memorable QSO. VK6HQ 5/10/1996 - If I were ranking QSOs by their 'memorability', this one would be near the top. I was calling a regular CQ (I never call CQ DX or any kind of directional CQ) on 30 meters, and got an answer from a station with a call starting with V. When I heard the V, I immediately thought Canada, but then came the K. VK.....hmmm, must be an Aussie operating portable from somewhere. VK6HQ... with no portable designation. OK, maybe someone fooling around, but no it was John from near Perth, Australia. That's about as far as you can get from Kittanning and still remain on Earth. Oh, there are a couple islands and a couple places in SW Australia that are a bit further, but that's beside the point which is I worked halfway around the world with my QRP and a simple attic random wire. And HE answered MY CQ. Now a la the late Paul Harvey, the rest of the story. We chatted about my QRP setup a bit in a 5 minute or so QSO. After we signed off, my phone rang and I ran downstairs to answer it. Turned out it was John calling LOOONNNGGG distance from Australia. He wanted to know more about my QRP setup. I was kind of shocked and did my best to answer his questions briefly. I am sure that was a very expensive call and I didn't want to make it any longer for him. Now the rest of the rest of the story. On June 19, 1999, I was calling CQ on 30 meters, and.... well you probably know what is coming. Yes, I was again answered by VK6HQ. This time we had a 12 minute rag chew. I can't remember positively now, but it may have been after this QSO and not the first one, that I got the phone call. I have notes on it somewhere, and will have to check. Now on to the rest of..... Well, on June 2, 2006 I was calling CQ on 30 meters and got an answer from VK6AU who it turned out was a new call for John and we had a ten minute rag chew. Yes, as I often say, QRP/CW/simple wire antennas can get the job done just about any time on any band to any part of the world. We'll find out more about that little 'any band' hint in the next installment of my most memorable QSOs. Oh, incidentally in case you wonder, all three QSOs with John took place in the 00Z hour so I'm sure that grey line propagation played a part.

A couple other things worth mentioning today. I planted out three of my Siberian tomato plants since it looks like a very warm week coming up, and hopefully that will help them to get used to being outside and encouraging them to increase their growth rate.

I also fixed a loose railing on my fronch porch steps with the help of my neighbor Denny. So a lot got accomplished on this first day of May.

Oh, and I almost forgot, I received my 100 free QSL cards today. They look even nicer than the scan of the proof I had in my diary a few days ago. -30-

Thursday, April 30, 2015 9:51 PM - As I do on the first of every month (UTC date/time), I jump out of the starting blocks for our NAQCC monthly challenges. This evening was no exception, and I got perhaps my best start ever. Or at least the best finish ever. Our American challenge was simply to make 10 QSOs using a piece of homebrew gear. It took one hour and 40 minutes to finish it using all DX stations. Nine from Europe and one from Asia. The nine European stations also gave me a good start to the European Chapter Challenge with about a quarter of the letters already gathered of the 57 needed altogether.

Of course, this being the last day of the month (local date/time), I had my usual lineup of end of the month chores to get done, and I also got off to a good start with them, and have most finished now except for entering my April weather data into the computer, and going to the post office and bank in the morning to finish out the financial aspect of the chores.

Let's see what my memorable QSO is for tonight. It's K3KLC in Maryland on February 15, 1995. Why is a Maryland QSO memorable. Because it was my first ever QSO on 160 meters. I modified my old Lafayette VFO so it would oscillate in the 160 meters band as I had done with it in the early 80s to get it to work on the then new 30 meters band. It was a special feeling making a QSO on 160 meters since in a way that part of the spectrum is where ham radio got its start so many years ago. It's still somewhat of a thrill to use that band after 3,392 QSOs there. Wow, when I just checked now, I didn't realize I had that many. Let me re-check and see if that is correct. Actually it is, and I see that 3,131 of them have come in the ARRL and CQ 160 meters contests plus some other contests. But I'll always remember the very first one with K3KLC just over 20 years ago now. -30-

Wednesday, April 29, 2015 7:54 PM - Another memorable QSO that I remember very well as if it happened not too long ago rather that some 20 years back.

4Z4DX 7/5/1994 - Although there were other memorable QSOs between 1963 and 1994, I will jump ahead now, and add some of those "in-between" QSOs later as they come to mind. 4Z4DX was memorable because it completed WAC for me. I had never worked Asia in the first 31 plus years of being a ham, contrasted to 562 Asian QSOs during the past 20 plus years. So at the time working Asia was a dream come true and a very exciting moment for me. It was on 30 meters at 0208Z and I got a 579 report which usually means an honest report since it wasn't the standard 599 DX report. I gave him a 599 though, as he was quite strong and it was a pretty easy QSO as best as I can recall.

An easy DX QSO this morning for day #790 when I worked CO2CCA at 1322Z not long after getting up. So I didn't have to worry about it the rest of the day. Then this evening I took care of day #791 in three minutes at 0003Z, working 9A2EU on 17 meters.

The weather is slowly getting better and better. Today we had a lot of sunshine with a high in the mid-70s. I walked around town taking some pictures of the spring flowers and blossoms. I think my dad was right when he said he liked the spring colors better than the fall ones. Mainly because spring heralds summer while fall warns that winter is coming. -30-

Tuesday, April 28, 2015 9:04 PM - A little more detailed "memorable QSO" story this entry.

As I state in the opening of the story, this one I still remember like it was yesterday instead of 50 years ago. Here goes.

K4HSB/KH6 - Late night on December 14, 1963 (Hmmm, reminds me of the Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons song although not with the connotation of the song. HI). I remember this QSO like it was yesterday. It was on 80 meters of all places and was my first ever Hawaii and first ever Oceania QSO. It took place at 12:22AM EST, and I was so excited I ran up from my shack in my second floor bedroom to my parent's room on the third floor and wakened them to tell them I just contacted Hawaii. Although they both supported my ham radio hobby to the fullest, I don't think their excitement approached anywhere near mine, especially since my dad had to get up to drive his mail truck in just a few hours. I didn't work Hawaii on 80 meters again until February 22, 2009, over 45 years later when I worked KH6LC and then KH6MB in the ARRL DX contest. Two more memorable QSOs I'll talk about in a later story.

I had been having some issues with my Internet connection the past few days, and finally contacted Windstream today. I have nothing but good things to say about Windstream support. They are absolutely great and head and shoulders above the support from a lot of other organizations. After 3 calls of which the first was aborted by noise from my modem which was the root cause of the problem, the second to Internet support and then a transfer to phone line support, I had a home visit from Windstream and was supplied with a brand new combination modem/router at no charge. The router is a "N" router, much better than my old "G" router, and the performance is much better now. I'm glad I had the trouble now since it led to improved service. Maybe the old modem was just trying to tell me it was time for an upgrade.

No DX this evening (so far). I only heard a couple very weak DX signals from stations who weren't hearing me at all. I did get a question mark from a Spanish station, but he never got even a single letter of my call, if indeed it was me he was hearing. So, I solidified the big main streak with a QSO with KF5HA down in NC, and will probably have to wait till morning or afternoon for the DX streak. -30-

Monday, April 27, 2015 9:23 PM - Just a brief entry in my series of memorable QSOs because I don't really remember a lot about the QSO beyond remembering making it. As I said in my notes when compiling my list of QSOs, VP7ACF - Chet in the Bahamas with their old British style prefix on July 18, 1963. My first ever DX QSO. Perhaps, as with some others of my "memorable" QSOs, I don't have all that clear a recollection of the QSO as much as I remember it for its significance as my first ever DX QSO. There's more of a story behind the next QSO in tomorrow's entry.

A couple of interesting ham radio related incidents today. I received a QSL request with a SASE enclosed which is not all that unusual or interesting normally. However this one was from ES1TU in Estonia. Perhaps the first time I've received a request with an SASE outside W/VE. The envelope has a 'Global Forever' USA stamp on it. First time I've seen one of those.

I don't remember if I mentioned it in the diary or not, but since I am no longer an officer of the NAQCC, I am eligible for club prizes, and I won 100 free QSLs for signing up the most new members the first quarter of 2015. I received the proof of the QSL today via email and it looks like this:

pix_diary_20150427_001 (47K)

I'm looking forward to receiving and using the 100 cards. I like the idea of having my call in Morse Code and also having the logos of the only two clubs I care at all about (NAQCC and FISTS) on the card. Once I receive and use them, I'll decide if I want to order more or continue to go with my own design.

A quick DX QSO and my longest rag chew in a while this evening. The DX was UT5ZC. Considering its location (or perhaps it's because of it), I am a bit surprised how easily I can work Ukraine when I hear it. I remember my very first Ukraine QSO - oh but that's another story for another memorable QSO entry. The rag chew was 33 minutes with Chuck K2IWQ. I thought that was the first time we worked, but I see in my log we worked before nearly 50 years ago on August 18, 1966. Maybe we can have a 50th anniversary QSO next year as WA4FAT and I had last year. -30-

Sunday, April 26, 2015 8:35 PM - This is the first installment of a series on my most memorable QSOs in 52 years as a ham radio operator. Since it is hard to rank them in order of "memorability", I'll list them chronologically as a compromise.

May 9, 1963 - W9RQF. Other than a couple QSOs with KN3WWW and K3HGD here in Kittanning, I was having trouble making contacts starting out as a Novice. I also worked WN9GAR in WI and WN8DOC in MI. However, Frank W9RQF in Chicago was only my 6th QSO overall after one full month of operating. Frank devoted himself to helping out Novices and could regularly be found in the then Novice bands. I don't really remember just what was said in the QSO, but it seemed to be a turnng point in my ham career. Working a General (or whatever class he did have) from "far away" Chicago gave me a confidence boost, and from then on the QSOs came much more often. The second month of operating provided me with 54 QSOs and I rolled on from there. Thank you Frank.

I'll try to do one of these "memorable QSO" stories each day or at least every other day or so. While doing them, I'll probably think of more along the way. I'll add those to the end after I go through the 23 I have now. Doing this brings back a lot of memories from over a half century of ham radio.

My streak QSO again came quickly this evening when I caught Eric NP3A on 15 meters at 0004Z. So with that taken care of, I'm doing my laundry now so I'll have all of tomorrow free to explore the bands, walk, or whatever else comes along. I do have to make a trip to the Post Office to mail a NAQCC prize for one thing. -30-

Saturday, April 25, 2015 8:53 PM - Writing about the history of my DXing in the previous diary entry got me to thinking about something else that has crossed my mind from time to time. I often wonder what my 10 or so most memorable QSOs were, but never get beyond the wondering stage. Now I am going to sit here over the next day or so (figuratively) and without doing any reference work in my log or in my diary, just see which ones occur prominently in my thinking. After I come up with a list, and then research to get the exact dates, times, band, etc., I'll list one per day in the diary until the list is exhausted. Actually I have EditPad Lite open now and am jotting down QSOs as they come to mind and I have 17 already. So we'll see what comes of this project over the next couple weeks or so.

Tonight I got three DX QSOs. First HB9BXE in the Helvetia contest to solidify the DX streak. Then tuning around I heard UX1HW very strong and not getting many answers to his CQs, so I worked him. Then I heard YN/WJ2O on 17 meters and worked him for a couple reasons. I wasn't sure if I have the YN0 prefix yet. Also WJ2O provided one of my first DX QSOs when I returned to the air in 1993. Actually it was the 10th DX QSO then, and he was WJ2O/VP2E for probably my first Anguilla QSO also.

I took some pictures of my tulips today. They are in full blossom today and standing proud after opening up yesterday or the day before:

pix_diary_20150424_001 (103K)


Friday, April 24, 2015 8:54 PM - I often think about how much difficulty I once had (back in the 60s and 70s) working DX compared to how easy it is now even though I am running less power now than back then. At that earlier time, power was defined as INPUT power to the final amplifier of a rig or following amplifier. So I don't really know what my output power was back in that era. My input power was a nominal 75 watts which was the Novice limit then and I continued that through my General and Extra days. Actually I should say I never ran more than that, but I did run lower power at times. My best guess would be that my rig operated at an efficiency of 60-70% with 70 being around the theoretical maximum efficiency of a basic class C amplifier which describes my rig. So with 75 watts as input, the RF output would be 45 to 52.5 watts. Nowadays the power of rigs is defined as OUTPUT power so I am assured that my output power is never more than 5 watts and goes as low at times as a few 10s of milliwatts.

With that prologue defining some things, let's look at some statistics after I pause in typing to go get my 9PM temperature readings.

OK, we had a low of 30 and a high of 55 today with no precipitation. It's now 45 degrees.

From 7/18/1963 when I worked my first DX (VP7ACF - The Bahamas with their old prefix) up until 12/4/1973 when I became inactive due to work for several years, I had only 149 DX QSOs, all but 1 with the input power of 75 watts. I worked VP9AAB with an input of 30 watts.

By years:
1963 - 7
1964 - 26
1965 - 17
1966 - 20
1967 - 22
1968 - 55
1969 - 1
1972 - 1
1973 - 0

Total countries were by rough count - 54 (excluding USA/Canada)

I never did work Asia then, and only worked 16 CQ zones (excluding 3,4,5)

The most memorable QSO was definitely a 23 minute rag chew with Dave ZL1HY on 40 meters 6/2/1964.

Total QSOs in that time - 18,613 so DX was a miniscule 0.8%

My next period of activity came between 6/17/1981 and 9/23/1983 when I made 752 QSOs. During that time I ran a mix of powers ranging from 5 watts output to 75 watts input. Only 21 DX QSOs (2.8%) were added to my total, but the seed was planted and sprouted into the knowledge that I could work DX with low power and simple antennas. The plant started its main growth in September 1981 when with 30 watts input power and an even smaller and less efficient attic random wire than I use now, I worked and chatted briefly with 16 European stations on 40 meters.

Jumping ahead now to 2/27/1993 when I worked my first DX after returning to the air a little earlier that year through the present. My total DX QSOs in that period is 20,907, all but 2 of those coming with 5 watts or less output power. The two exceptions - experimental QSOs with ON5GK on 80 and OM3CDR on 40 at 50 watts trying out my new (then) Kenwood TS-570D. Total QSOs in this latest period are 66,062 which makes my DX percentage a robust 31.6%. Quite an improvement.

Of course you know most of the stats from this period - 223 countries, WAC many times over, 36 of 40 CQ zones, the current streak of working DX each day for 786 straight days now as of today (UTC) 4/25/2015, and so on. So I won't go into them here.

It definitely did take some time for me to develop into a DXer as you can tell from the above. A lot of it had to do with the fact I simply didn't really become all that interested in DX until the 1990s for a couple reasons. Mainly because I was just about completely interested only in county hunting. Not county working as is done nowadays by simply following mobile stations around, but really hunting out stations who resided in the counties. That's all I'll say about that. Also I honestly didn't believe for a long time that it WAS easy to work DX with low power and simple antennas. It took time to learn that.

BTW, my DX this evening came very easily when I worked LZ883PI at 0003Z. I then chased with no luck R175PIT for a while. -30-

Thursday, April 23, 2015 8:15 PM - Back on November 30, 2003 I worked SU9NC in the CQWW DX contest which I operated a couple miles from here at my late cousin's house. That remained my only Egypt QSO until a few minutes ago when I worked SU9VB on 21029 at 0008Z. It's a new band country, and I now have all my 223 countries worked from my own house here. I also worked EA9EU a couple minutes earlier for somewhat rare Ceuta and Melilla, although I do have 22 QSOs from that country.

So an interesting evening to continue the DX streak. I notified Mike KC2EGL and Tom WB3FAE in case they might need Egypt. Hope they get my email and can work them also. The Egypt QSO is from a Russian living or visiting in Egypt.

That was the highlight of an otherwise forgettable day. The cold windy weather continued today and it's just 37 right now. Except for a brief walk with Roscoe and a couple ventures onto the front porch, I stayed inside. My furnace is running right now trying to keep up with the cold. Looks like a couple more days of it as well. Better cold now than back in Jan-Mar though as we know this won't last. -30-

Wednesday, April 22, 2015 8:20 PM - Conditions tonight pretty much like I described in Monday's entry. But I did manage to work MD0CCE either through his pile or during a pause in his pile. I'm not sure which, but it doesn't really matter since I got him.

Mike is dropping by after a meeting here in town with a pepperoni and anchovy pizza, so I wanted to get my QSO in before he came, although we'll probably check the bands after we finish the pizza anyway. But still, the streak is secure for another day.

Late winter is putting on an encore performance today and the next couple days with highs just in the 40s and temperatures in the frost/freeze range overnight. I believe 28 is predicted for either tomorrow morning and/or the following morning. I'm glad I didn't plant out one of my tomato plants to try to give it an early start. I think I'll wait till next week now for that, or maybe later depending.

I gave my washing machine a good workout today, and it is working fine again now. I think with the new coupler, it is even quieter with less vibration than before the coupler broke so maybe it was slowly going bad before it broke. -30-

Tuesday, April 21, 2015 9:05 PM - Kind of a busy day today. My washing machine broke down yesterday, so it was off to the bank this morning to get some money to pay the repairman who was scheduled to show up this afternoon. He did, and it was a quick fix. I surmised it was a broken belt, and I was close. The machine didn't use belts, but had a small coupler which did the same thing - transferring power from the motor to the drum and agitator.

Then after that was over, I helped Ange clean up his garden to get ready for planting next month. That took a couple hours.

So all of that plus the usual everyday chores pretty much brought me to the time for my streak QSO(s). There wasn't much DX at all to be heard, so I concentrated on the regular streak first. I called CQ on 40 and surprisingly, unlike last night, my first CQ tonight netted a QSO with Bob NR8M. After we finished up, I went back searching for DX and found, then easily worked, J79AUS on 30 meters for day #783 in the DX streak. -30-

Monday, April 20, 2015 9:37 PM - A rough night for getting a QSO. This must be International Work DX Night. Every time I heard a DX station, he was immediately piled on by several very strong stations and I couldn't get through at all. Also a lot of times when I heard a CQ DX, it was from a stateside station. So I gave up for a while and called CQ on 40M with no results for 10-15 minutes or so. It was now a little past 9PM (0100Z), so I took a break to get my temperature readings and do a couple other things before going back to the radio. Things were still pretty much the same, but finally I worked HI3/N3SY on 20 meters. He was pretty weak in QSB and I wasn't sure he got the last letter of my call right, and if he didn't, he never corrected it after I sent it a couple more times. So for insurance, I tuned around and found CO8LY on 17 meters for a second DX QSO to keep the streak going.

I knew I better get something this evening because I have a couple things to do tomorrow that may take some time.

Today was a rainy day, but finally cleared up early in the evening, and a little while ago the thin crescent moon and Venus made a nice pairing in the western sky. -30-

Sunday, April 19, 2015 7:38 PM - It's nice to have a day off from writing. Thanks Mike.

Kind of a non-descript day today except for a couple things. Roscoe and Nancy came over for a visit. Of course Roscoe had to examine everything in my house - at least the first floor. Then later in the day Bruce and Nancy took me out for dinner at Ponderosa. That was the third big meal in about 30 hours. I guess I'll have to fast for a few days now.

Mike was talking about the lamp we fixed yesterday. Just to clear up one thing. It is in the shape of a bowling trophy, but it has nothing to do with my bowling prowess - I don't have any. As far as I can recall, my aunt gave me the lamp many years ago, possibly provided by her boss at the time who did delve into making various trophies. You've probably seen it on the pictures of my shack in the station pictures section of the website, but here's a more close-up view of it after our repairs yesterday.

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The Gorilla Glue of Mike's that we used seems to have really made it solid. Hopefully it won't fall again and will remain in good shape for a long time to come.

It's getting close to 0000Z and streak time now. As soon as I get my DX QSO (hopefully quickly), I'll do the finishing stages of cross-checking logs from our NAQCC sprint. Hopefully (again) I'll be able to get that finished tonight. I've got a lot of preliminary work done already, and about all that remains is the actual cross-checking and subsequent adjusting of scores. -30-

Saturday, April 18, 2015 11:18 PM - John is taking the night off from his diary and asked me to fill in again. Our day started when I arrived at John's QTH around 9AM EDT. First order of busisness was to perform 'surgery' on a figurine on Johns lamp in his shack. A while back Johns lamp (which is a bowling trophy) fell off the shelf. The bowling figure broke off at the left leg and right hand where it was attached to a ball. I brought along a container of 'Gorilla Glue' to see if we could mend the ailing bowler. At this moment we think the 'surgery' may have been a success.

We followed up by working some dx in the MM contest. We worked six stations each. After logging some dx we took off for lunch at Ponderosa preceeded by a visit to Radio Shack to purchase an adaptor so we could update the data base in my telescope later on.

After lunch we drove over to Tom WB3FAE's QTH to begin our Field Day Planning. Tom has a very nice location that will give us plenty of space to set up at least three antenna's. We then returned to John's QTH to begin the updating process of my telescopoe. A Clestron 9.25" Schmidt Cass Scope. After two plus hours of trying to get both John's and my laptop to work with the updating process we gave up. John found out that not all USB to Serial adaptors are compatible with all laptop's. We found out that this particular adaptor did not want to play with our HP computers. We took a little walk of roughly two and a half miles before we returned to Radio Shack.

By this time it was time for dinner so we headed over to Clarks Landing for dinner. We should have tried this place before. The food was excellent and the portions were HUGE!!! Then it was back to John's for a episode of 'Are You Being Served?'. One of the funniest British comedies of all time.

Since Mother Nature did not allow us to go stargazing we took it easy the rest of the evening. We did some computer stargazing via Starry Night and Voyager. Two excellet programs to explore the universe with out the need for clear skies.

That pretty much sums up the day. I am about to get ready to load the car and head North. Until next time. See you on the radio (as Charles Osgood used to say as he closed his Sunday morning TV show.).

de Mike KC2EGL, 73 es -30-

Friday, April 17, 2015 8:46 PM - I heard a couple R120 stations today at various times, but they weren't hearing me. I think I know the best time now to try though seems to be late afternoon on 20 meters. I also heard a fairly strong 4X station on 40 meters, but he also did not hear me. I may try again later on 40 for one of the 4X stations in the Holyland contest as that would give me Asia on 40 to complete WAC there.

I did work SP2GWH this afternoon to get a more solid DX QSO for day 778. Then I did extend the DX streak to 779 days this evening when I worked LZ883PI on 30 meters. So I won't have that in the back of my mind tomorrow to bug me while Mike and I are having fun.

We had varied weather today. Rather gloomy, damp, and a little chilly this morning, then the sun came out for late afternoon and it warmed up to 71 degrees. Tomorrow is supposed to be in the 70s and sunny all day. Possibly it will be clear tomorrow night and Mike and I can get in some star-gazing. Other than naked eye and binocular viewing, I don't think either of us has done anything more than that for at least several months. -30-

Thursday, April 16, 2015 8:49 PM - Another rough DX day today. I listened a couple times during the day to see if I could find that last R120 station I need to get the award, but not only did I not hear any of them, but I didn't hear much DX at all except for an HP and a P4 station. This evening was pretty much the same, but I did hear and work S57V on 30 meters. He was weak, a bit sloppy in sending, and I had trouble copying his name. I think it was Milan. With his sending, the QSB, and QRN, I'm not positive he got my call right, but he did get my name and confirmed the (generous) 579 I sent him. So it was me he was working for sure, but I think I'll still try to get a more solid DX QSO in the morning or afternoon.

Mike is going to spend the day on Saturday. We're going to do some astronomy projects, and check out a FD site among other things.

It was a rainy day today, so not much outside stuff except taking Roscoe for his walks. Tomorrow is supposed to be pretty much the same, then Saturday is to be nice and sunny with a high in the 70s. -30-

Wednesday, April 15, 2015 8:30 PM - Happy Tax Day! Hope you're all having fun if you've procrastinated this long. I was fairly late this year, but got them done a couple weeks or so back.

Another fine spring day today so I took in several good walks and did some more lawn clean up. Won't be long now till time to break out the mower. Yesterday I planted some bean seeds, my first outdoor planting so far. I'm thinking of putting out one of the bigger tomato plants in a day or so just to see what happpens. With just one plant, it will be easy to cover and protect it from any possible frost.

The bands were good for last night's sprint. It took 65 minutes to get my 20 QSOs, not quite as fast as last month, but perhaps the second fastest in the months I've been doing the 20 QSOs bit. That is getting to 20, then quitting. We're already well over 100 logs not yet 22 hours after the sprint ended.

The bands seemed down a bit for DX this evening compared to the last couple nights, but still I got my DX quickly in the form of HA8DM on 20 meters at 0004Z even though he was only about a real S5 here. Then I had a nice rag chew with a fairly new ham - Dan W8DWP in MI. -30-

Tuesday, April 14, 2015 6:50 PM - I haven't had many pictures in the diary of late, and you always say you enjoy them. So while I'm awaiting the starting time of our NAQCC sprint in 90 minutes or so, I thought I'd post some pictures.

First my refurbished maximum minimum thermometer in the shelter. Much easier to read now. The old plastic cover had really deteriorated over the years and was more translucent than transparent. Now you can easily see the high of 74, present of 66, and low of 50, even on the small scale picture.

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Next my tulip plants in their bed in the back yard. 17 of 18 look pretty good. The one is a bulb I found in another area in the back yard and used it to replace one that didn't show up at all this year. I don't know if it is going to make it or not. Also if you look closely you can see a couple of them have doubled this year.

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The next two pictures show my Siberian Tomato plants with one pot of pepper plants that sprouted early.

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Finally here are those pepper plants I mentioned that sprouted all at once a few days ago. It's interesting that the plants that sprouted are from two year old seeds while the two empty pots contain year old seeds that are doing nothing.

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Monday, April 13, 2015 8:32 PM - I worked my 5th R120 station tonight - R120RC. I think that qualifies me for a certificate now. Let me check to be sure. No, I need one more yet. Oh well, I should be able to get it. Conditions have definitely returned from the big dip over the weekend. A lot of good signals this evening after 0000Z on 20 through 15 meters.

Our warmest day of the year today with a high of 82 degrees. I opened up the house, getting the screens in the storm windows and got the inside up to 74 degrees, the warmest it has been since probably November or maybe December. Felt great.

After doing nothing for several weeks, many of my pepper seeds have decided to sprout over the past 2 or 3 days and now I must have 15 to 20 of them. Strange.

Well, time to take Roscoe for a walk, so I'll close now. -30-

Sunday, April 12, 2015 11:58 AM - That was easier today, thanks to the Yuri Gagarin contest. Conditions gradually improved from when I first checked around 1330Z until I easily worked S53EO during another check at 1520Z. So now I can take the rest of the day off and enjoy another great weather day. I just returned from a walk, and probably will take a couple more before the day is over. -30-

Saturday, April 11, 2015 4:35 PM - WheW!! Did you hear a big sigh of relief emanating from Kittanning at 2033Z today? Wonder no more - it was me as I worked FS5PL on 21025. Today, day #772 of my DX streak is finally taken care of. I thought for a good part of the day, the streak was at an end at day #771. The bands sounded every time I checked as if we were in the depths of a sunspot minimum. There was just nothing on 17 through 10 AT ALL here. My noise level was way down at s3 so it wasn't the noise masking anything. The only DX I heard all day until I worked FS5PL was a very weak JH4UYB early this morning in the JIDX contest. He was barely an s2 to s3 here and I didn't even try to work him although perhaps I should have as he does have great ears and I have worked him many times before. I figured I'd find someone stronger sometime. Well, I really didn't. Although I gave him a 579, FS5PL was really more like an honest 449, but he heard me after I repeated my call to his 3W? a couple times. He gave me a 559. So today will be a day to remember in the streak no matter how long it continues. Tomorrow may be easier with the Yuri Gagarin contest to help out. I hope so anyway. I don't need another stressful day like today.

Otherwise besides visiting the shack every hour or so, I did some more cleaning up in the backyard, pulling some weeds that have already developed in the warm rainy weather of late and pruning back my rose bushes. It wasn't all that warm with temps in the 50s and a good breeze, but it was nice in sun where I was working.

I also went to a church rummage sale with Nancy. I didn't buy anything, but she treated me to one of their delicious hot dogs and a piece of vegetable pizza for walking over with her.

That pretty much covers today other than some computer work and computer games. Now I can take it easy till 0000Z after I take Roscoe out for a walk in a little while. -30-

Friday, April 10, 2015 9:44 PM - Very poor conditions this evening. I thought not only was I not going to get my DX QSO, but not any QSO at all. Finally after 45 minutes of trying, W8MYU answered my 40M CQ. I still need a DX QSO though, and that will have to wait till morning or afternoon.

Nothing out of the ordinary to talk about today. It was another nice spring day after we shut off the rain this morning. We've had close to a couple inches of rain the past four days now. It was windy after the rain and it didn't feel as warm as the temperature in the 60s would suggest. It was actually hard walking a couple of times with the wind. -30-

Thursday, April 09, 2015 6:26 PM - And then there were none. None, er.. no more letters/numbers to gather in for the April NAQCC challenges, that is. EA5HPX gave me the final E and OZ8X the final 8 to complete the European Chapter challenge today following completion of the NAQCC "American" challenge yesterday. The bands were not all that good, but not so bad either today. My noise was at the unusually low level of S3 to S4 on all the high bands and that let me hear a lot of DX signals that were only s5 or s6. Surprisingly I could work some of the weaker ones also, although others weren't hearing me at all. I tried a few with 8s in their call without any success before finally catching OZ8X.

The weather has been off and on today with periods of rain (heavy rain right now with thunder) and dry periods in between. Think I'll close this now and maybe shut down the computer till the storm passes. -30-

Wednesday, April 08, 2015 2:49 PM - Computer club meeting this evening, so I'll get this written now.

I just finished the NAQCC "American" challenge a little while ago. I did it with all DX stations as follows:
Continent - Number of letters/numbers
Asia           7
Africa         6
Europe        71
North America  2
Now I need to get two 7s, one 8, and one E to finish the European Chapter challenge.

I worked another R120 station today - R120RA. I need one more now to qualify for the minimum award certificate. I really owe a lot of gratitude to the many countries who add interest to DXing with all the special calls they make available. Too bad the United States doesn't use more imagination in their special event call system which provides NO new prefixes at all. Other than the W100AW call last year and the special Bicentennial calls, all I can recall are the bland 1x1 SE calls. I really don't get any excitement from working them like I do with (for example) a R120, HG90, AM590, DM45, etc. prefix call from the respective countries. -30-

Tuesday, April 07, 2015 8:46 PM - The bands were good both this morning/afternoon and evening. I didn't work a lot of DX as I was mainly looking for letters/numbers for the NAQCC challenges or new prefixes. I did work EH90IARU/8 for a new prefix this afternoon and another R120 station this evening. I now have R120 with the following suffixes RB, RL, and RW. I also cleared out all the needed Ns in the challenges when I worked YU1NNN this afternoon. For our "American" challenge I need the following: two Es, two Hs, and one 6. For the European challenge, it's one 4, two 7s, one 8, and five Es. All 127 letters/numbers worked so far in both challenges have come from DX stations. In fact, I've only worked two non-DX stations all month so far.

Another beautiful spring day today with a high of let's see, just 63, but that felt mighty good even with no jacket or sweater. Ain't spring great! Nice to say good riddance to winter every year around this time, give or take a few weeks.

Congrats to Duke and coach Mike Krzyzewski (never could reconcile the spelling and pronunciation of his last name) on winning their fifth NCAA championship. With the win, Coach K breaks a tie with the legendary Adolph Rupp and now has second place all to himself behind another legend, John Wooden and his ten championships including seven in a row from 1967-1973. Duke ties North Carolina and Indiana with five championships and third place behind UCLA's 11 and Kentucky's 8. Oh and Coach K is far out in front with tournament game wins at 88 to second place Dean Smith and Roy Williams at 65 each. -30-

Monday, April 06, 2015 9:02 PM - I forgot all about my 52nd anniversary of getting my first ham (Novice - KN3WWP) ticket last Friday, April 3rd. It just dawned on me in a QSO this evening when I started to say "...been a ham for". That was the first I had thought about it. I guess I must be getting older and more forgetful. HI

Another nice day today although a few lite showers in late afternoon and evening. Still good for walking and running around without a jacket or sweater - even this late in the evening.

A quick DX QSO, actually two, this evening. TF3JB at 0002Z and R120RL at 0006Z. Then the aforementioned rag chew with N9LGP, my first USA rag chew this month, and only my second overall USA QSO. All the rest of the 20 or so QSOs this month have been DX.

I also picked up a few more NAQCC challenge letters to stand at 70 of 86 and 43 of 55 for the "American" and European versions.

Of course tonight it's the NCAA championship game between Wisconsin and Duke. Should Wisconsin win, it would be their first title since 1941 when the tournament (in just its 3rd year) fielded only 8 teams.

It's always said a #16 seed has never beaten a #1 seed in the NCAA Basketball Tournament. Actually that's not really true. It did happen once in 1998 when Harvard beat Stanford - really, it's not a belated April fools joke. The only thing is that it happened in the Women't version of the tournament. Stanford lost two of its top players to injury just days before, and couldn't overcome a determined Harvard team without them, losing by 71-67.

In the men's tournament, the best a #16 seed has done remains taking a #1 seed to overtime before losing. That happened in 1990 when #16 Murray State took #1 Michigan State to overtime before losing by just 4 points, 75-71. The year before (1989), two of the #16 seeds lost by just one point, the only two times a 16-1 match has finished that close. Only 14 times of a possible 124 has the 16-1 margin been in single digits. The two one-pointers? Georgetown 50 Providence 49 and Oklahoma 72 East Tennessee State 71. -30-

Sunday, April 05, 2015 8:25 PM - An easy DX QSO both this morning and this evening to take care of DX streak day #s 766 and 767. Jindra OK2LA on 15 this morning at 1523Z and Karel OK1CF on 30 this evening at 0011Z.

A beautiful day today - really the first day that really felt like spring. Not all that warm at just 65 degrees and a bit breezy, but with the beautiful typical partly cloudy skies of spring, the feel was definitely there. It was nice enough to go for a couple good walks without a jacket, in fact.

My tulips didn't make it fully up for Easter this year, but Easter was a bit early and the long cold winter weather that lasted into spring didn't help. I figure to see flowers in about a week though. I finished cleaning up the leaves around my rose bushes today. In about a week when more growth buds show up, I'll prune them back. My tomato plants are coming along although somewhat slow this year. No luck with the peppers. Of a couple dozen seeds planted, only 3 have sprouted and all in the same container. Strange!

Time to go walk Roscoe now. -30-

Saturday, April 04, 2015 8:25 PM - And then there were three - Duke easily disposed of Michagan St. by 20 points to face the winner of the Kentucky-Wisconsin game (coming up in a few minutes) in the Monday night final for the championship.

The bands were fairly poor for DX this evening. I didn't even hear any strong SP stations on 40 meters in the SP contest. Nothing at all in the way of DX on 20 and above. So I settled on working NA5NN in the MS QSO Party to at least keep the big streak going. Then I'll have to try for my DX in the morning or afternoon if not later tonight.

I never did get to check the bands during the day today with some other things to get done including a nice Easter dinner at the Bowser's next door.

Kind of a brisk day today with temperatures mostly in the 40s with rather strong winds making it feel colder than that despite a bright sun most of the day. -30-

Friday, April 03, 2015 12:17 PM - About the only good thing about the weather today is that it is rain and not s@#w. Very gloomy, rainy, foggy, fairly mild at 55, and a good day to be indoors. I'm just waiting for a pause in the rain to see if Roscoe needs to go out.

I finished my income taxes this morning, then after brunch I headed to the shack for a profitable session. I worked DL2VWR and HG90IARU on 15 and AM590FL on 12. That brought my NAQCC challenge totals to 42 of 55 and 62 of 86.

Now I have to figure out something to pass the time this afternoon. The higher bands are dying out now, and 20 hasn't opened for DX yet. I'm sure I'll find something to do. -30-

Thursday, April 02, 2015 8:53 PM - A quick DX QSO (and a good one) at 0002Z this evening. I had been chasing the special R120 stations the past day or so, and worked R120RB easily this evening. I wasn't aware what they were commemorating since as you know I only use the Internet to find out info about stations after I work them, NOT preparatory to trying to work them. When I looked up R120RB on QRZ.net, I found an interesting story there which I won't take time to repeat here. If you are interested, just look at the R120RB entry on QRZ.

That station and OK1IEC/TI7 gave me quite a few numbers/letters for the NAQCC April challenge. Neither were in Europe though so my European total remains at 31 of 55, but the 'American' total is now 49 of 86. Oh, the R120 station is in Asia. I figured it was either Antarctica or Asia from the flutter on the signal.

Other than that, today consisted of the usual things - shopping, walking Roscoe, helping Nancy with a couple things, and of course eating. HI. Speaking of eating, Mike will be visiting on April 18, and weather permitting we hope to do some stargazing, something neither of us has done for a while, except naked eye and binoculars. I checked Nova Sagittarii this morning and found it to be pretty near its maximum again after dipping down about a magnitude and a half since its first peak. I've checked it five different days now and it is interesting to watch the change in brightness. -30-

Wednesday, April 01, 2015 8:33 PM - I misspoke in yesterday's entry. I meant to say I worked the ARRL CEO portable from Puerto Rico, not the President. It dawned on me later, but I didn't feel like taking time to correct it since it was such a busy day.

At any rate, I am caught up with all the EOM/FOM stuff now, and spent some time today working on the NAQCC April challenges. In our 'American' challenge I have 35 of the 86 letters/numbers, and in the 'European' challenge, even better with 31 of 55 letters/numbers.

For the first time this year, 20 meters was open solidly to Europe in the 0000Z hour - at least for the first 20 minutes or so. I worked 3 European stations easily - OM5XX, OK1AY, and S57S. If that continues, It shouldn't take too long to finish the challenges.

A pretty warm early April day today with a high in the upper 50s. Tomorrow to be even warmer, but with some rain to somewhat spoil things. -30-

Tuesday, March 31, 2015 8:36 PM - I seem to be in one of those situations where 'the hurrier I go, the behinder I get'. So I'm not going to write a long entry tonight so I can get back to my end of the month/beginning of the month processing.

One thing I just finished was updating my WPX totals. EU and NA have a real battle going. I have 1207 prefixes worked from EU, and 1131 from NA. However the verified totals are just about a dead heat. Counting card/LoTW/eQSL, I have 982 different prefixes from EU confirmed and 983 from NA.

My DX to start off April was the ARRL president visiting in Puerto Rico.

OK, back to work now. -30-

Monday, March 30, 2015 8:41 PM - Another quick DX QSO this evening. PJ2/VE7ACN went in the log at 0003Z for DX streak day #761. A little later I tried working SU9VB, but there was a lot of QSB and I don't think he ever did get my call right so I just didn't log him. I have Egypt worked anyway so I'm not going to worry any more about it.

It was kind of a busy day today. A trip to the vet for Roscoe with Bruce took most of the morning. Just a yearly checkup - no problems. Then it was laundry time when I got home. A little shopping, some cleanup in the basement, a few other odds and ends, and presto, the day was gone and it was time to get my QSO and write this report.

No time to do any further analysis of my March Madness stats. Maybe tomorrow. Although I think I may get my Federal and State taxes done tomorrow if I feel like it. This poor boy doesn't have anything complex to tax so it's always simple when I get the urge to do it. HI. -30-

Sunday, March 29, 2015 8:24 PM - The final four looks interesting this year. The big question is whether or not Kentucky goes undefeated. Notre Dame gave them a good battle, losing by only two points. I didn't get to see any but the closing few seconds of Duke's victory today. Kentucky-Wisconsin and Duke-Michigan St. coming up next weekend now. A lot of folks are rooting for a Kentucky-Duke matchup in the final to see which of these perennial March Madness powers would come out on top. I'd like to see that. 7 championships between them since the tournament went to 64 teams in 1985. Wisconsin-Michigan St. on the other hand have only one championship between them, so the underdog rooters will be on their side.

I finished my data processing of seeding vs. finish today, but I have to double check it all and analyze it before I can draw any conclusions, if there are any to be drawn. One thing I note is that only 8 times has a #9 through #16 seed made it to the final four advancing 4 rounds beyond their seeding. Of course conversely never has a #1 seed lost in the round of 64. More to follow in a few days.

I've got to finalize our NAQCC sprint results now, but first just a note that my DX QSO was pretty easy when I worked CT9/UA9CDC on 40 meters. Had to send my call four times, but that produced a solid QSO. -30-

Saturday, March 28, 2015 8:28 PM - To follow up on yesterday's entry, I did go to the shack after posting it, and I did work 3 stations that gave me the letters/numbers I needed to finish my third go-around of the NAQCC European Chapter March challenge. Thanks go to OK1MBZ for two of the three 1s, to EA6UN for the two Ns, and S51WO for the final 1.

So with no real reason to get on the bands today since I don't feel like putting in the effort to go for a fourth go-around, I did some thinking about the NCAA tournament. Specifically what I said about Gonzaga and their seeding vs. results. That led me to wondering if there are some teams who consistently play above or below their seeding position. Since I have the seeding position and the finishing position for all teams for all the years since the NCAA Tournament inception in 1939, all I need to do is put it all together. Actually there really wasn't any formal seeding for many years. Formal seeding numbers started in 1979, but the field didn't expand to 64 teams until 1985, so I decided to start with that year to make the figures more uniform.

I decided to do it like this. First of all the seed numbers are supposed to work like this:
Seeds #9 through #16 are supposed to lose in the round of 64
#5 through #8 lose in the round of 32
#3 and #4 lose in the round of 16
#2 lose in the round of 8
The remaining #1 seeds make it to the Final Four

I didn't break it down any further among the #1 seeds because although the NCAA does rank those 4 as 1,2,3,4, it is not really publicized very openly.

Now let's say a team is seeded 14th and they lose in the round of 64 as they should, they get a zero for that effort. If that 14th seed doesn't lose until the round of 32, they get a +1 since they went one round further than they should have.

Following up on that, let's say a team is seeded 6th and should lose in the round of 32. However they are upset and lose in the round of 64, and thus get a -1 since they exited a round earlier than they should.

What if a team is seeded #1, but lose in the round of 32? They get a -3 since they should have been in the Final Four, but exited three rounds earlier instead.

Once all the games are rated that way, the plus and minus figures are totalled and divided by the number of years the team made the tournament. A high average means the team consistently plays above their seeding, and vice versa. I also total the number of minus numbers, zeroes, and plus numbers which when combined with the average gives a little better idea of the team's performance.

I haven't yet done all the 289 teams who have participated over the years, but here's an example of one team's (Florida St.) stats selected at random:

Year  Seed  Lost in Round  Rating
1988   12        64           0
1989    4        64          -2
1991    7        32           0
1992    3        16           0
1993    3         8           1
1998   12        32           1
2009    5        64          -1
2010    9        64           0
2011   10        16           2
2012    3        32          -1

Total Rating   0
Average Rating 0
Minus Numbers  3
Zeroes         4
Plus Numbers   3
So it turns out that Florida St.'s average performance was just as it should be. Three years they bowed out early, four years finished as seeded, and three years exceeded expectations.

The actual info is in an Excel spreadsheet to allow for easy comparison among teams, not in the format I adopted above. It will be interesting to see if any teams do have a tendency one way or another. So far Illinois looks like an underachiever with 10 games in the minus numbers and only 2 in the plus numbers along with 10 zeroes. That makes their average rating -0.409.

A quick DX QSO this evening with 7X4AN. I've worked him a few times before plus another 7X station and am still awaiting my first Algerian QSL. I guess I'll try again for this QSO. -30-

Friday, March 27, 2015 4:18 PM - Very interesting! I received my Sky & Telescope weekly email today and I learned that my estimate of Nova Sagittarii dimming from one day to the next as I observed it really did happen. If you look at this graph of its light curve and note the magnitudes around 0900Z on the 22nd and 23rd, it looks like it was almost a full magnitude dimmer on the 23rd. That matches well with what I observed.

If you missed it, the graph also clearly shows that it is brightening again, almost up to its peak level around the 22nd. Exciting times. Perhaps we have a dimmer version of Delta Scorpii on our hands. It will be interesting to follow this nova.

I heard enough stations (actually two of them) to complete my NAQCC European Chapter challenge for the third time this month. The trouble is that neither of them heard me calling. Admittedly they were not at all strong, hovering just above my s3-4 noise level. Conditions just seem very slow to recover from the St. Patrick's Day CME. I did notice yesterday that 20 meters was pretty good to Europe in late afternoon, so maybe I'll head off to the shack after I finish and post this entry.

I think Kentucky is serious about winning March Madness this year. They totally wiped out West Virginia last night, exactly doubling their score 78-39. Next up is Notre Dame on Saturday. Notre Dame has had 3 close games so far, winning by just 4, 3, 11 points while Kentucky's margins have been 23, 13, 39. However this is March Madness and anything can happen. Some good games coming up this evening. I think the most interesting one is UCLA vs. Gonzaga. Many folks say UCLA shouldn't even be in the tournament, and that is giving UCLA an incentive to prove them wrong. Then Gonzaga always seems to have a good team the past several years, but stumble along the way despite their high seeding each year. In fact in looking at my spreadsheet, I'm surprised to see they have never made it past the Sweet Sixteen round at least since 1999 when they lost in the Elite Eight. When both schools have something to prove, it usually makes for a good game, but.... -30-

Thursday, March 26, 2015 6:00 PM - A dreary chilly rainy day today. A good day to stay inside. Now I'm not complaining because rain is 1,000+% better than any other form of precipitation especially s#$w. Still a sunny day is even better with temps in the 60s instead of the mid 40s as it was today.

I got my "cover" QSO a little while ago when I worked Andy EA8CN on 20 meters. Even though as I said, KL7 is still considered DX by the ARRL, other organizations, and probably most hams, I feel better about having a QSO that is "more" DX in my streak log which incidentally is now at 756 days.

I had an interesting experience today - helping Nancy give Roscoe a bath getting ready for a vet appointment on Monday for some annual shots, etc. Actually he was quite co-operative and it wasn't as much a task as I thought it would be. I remember a few years ago in a similar situation, Joe ran upstairs and hid when he knew a bath was coming. As I remember now, we never did get his bath that day and had to wait for a couple more days and a better plan. -30-

Wednesday, March 25, 2015 8:39 PM - As I did a couple weeks ago when Mike was here, I worked an Alaskan for my DX this evening - KL7SB in Anchorage. While the ARRL considers KL7 a DX entity, a couple weeks ago I added a 'real' DX QSO that next morning, and probably will do the same tomorrow morning or at least try to.

The bands were definitely not good this evening and other than a couple weak SA stations, the KL7 on 17 meters was the only DX I heard. It's looking more and more like I'm not going to get those last 5 letters/numbers to finish my third go-around of the NAQCC European Chapter March challenge. I listened today for a while and did hear a PA1 station and could have used the '1', but I couldn't get him. Nothing else heard from Europe. -30-

Tuesday, March 24, 2015 8:29 PM - My DX QSO this evening came from a somewhat unusual (for me anyway) call - D44TBO. That's the first 2x3 call I've worked among my 41 Cape Verde QSOs. In fact as far as I can recall, it's the first I've ever heard. Earlier in the day, I listened a bit, and the bands continued very poor following the several days ago now CME and the subsequent low SF numbers since then. Hopefully this is not the first sign of a long slow deep descent into the propagation doldrums of the upcoming solar minimum. I have really grown accustomed to working DX easily and often the past few years now, and would dearly miss it. Let's see a couple stats here.

In 2013 I had 3,622 QSOs, of which 2,209 or 61.0% were DX.

In 2014 it was 2,833, 1,910 67.4% DX.

So far in 2015 it is 742, 641 86.4% DX

Overall in my big streak it's 64,350, 20,715 32.2%

So you can see I've really been enjoying chasing DX of late, and that proves that you too can work DX even if you have a simple setup like my CW/QRP/simple wire antennas one. Still not a believer that you can do it? What more can I say or do. It's up to you to give it a try and prove yourself and your negative beliefs wrong.

Spring continues to gradually establish itself. Most of my tulip plants have breached the surface now and the tallest ones are approaching two inches in height now. This afternoon I cleaned up most of the leaves I left during the winter as a blanket or mulch in my garden beds. In so doing, I found one more tulip that I missed transferring a couple years ago, and under the leaves it was 4-5 inches high (long). My daylilies had started to sprout under the leaves and there are a lot of little green tips sticking up now ready to enjoy the warm sunshine. The leaves and ground were quite warm today when I was working even though the air temperature was only around 50 at best. The heat from the sun is really increasing as the northern hemisphere is tipping more and more toward it. Ain't it great! -30-

Monday, March 23, 2015 8:43 PM - Another kind of ho-hum day today. A couple of nice walks although it is still a bit below normal temperature-wise in the low 40s instead of around 50. Some "spring cleaning" also. A check of the bands around 1630Z showed them to be not so good although I did work LY2PK for my first European in a while now. That call gave me 2 2s and 1 P for my third go-around of the NAQCC European challenge. It doesn't look now like I'll make it through four go-arounds now unless across the pond conditions pick up again in the next few days.

I also got another look at Nova Sagittarii early this morning. It didn't seem quite as bright as yesterday morning, but that may have been due to the atmosphere conditions or because it was earlier today and it was nearer the horizon.

I kind of missed March Madness today, but I'll just have to wait till Thursday now. The first couple rounds went pretty much to average. By that I mean if you total the seed numbers of the remaining 16 teams, you come up with 70 compared to the average of 71.3 for the years 1985-2015. The extremes were 89 in upset-minded 1986 and 49 in 2009. If all seeds went according to play, the total for a sweet sixteen would be 40 so 2009 came fairly close to being perfect. The highest (lowest?) seed still alive is #11 UCLA, a team many said shouldn't have even been invited to the tournament. Only one #1 seed eliminated so far - Villanova who lost to #8 NC State - go Wolfpack.

I had to call a lot of DX stations tonight before I got my DX QSOs from XE1/VE7BDI (a somewhat questionable one) and VP2MPA (good solid QSO). I also wasted about 20 minutes and a hundred calls or so trying to get 9Q0HQ which would have been a new overall one here. I usually don't spend that much time chasing anyone, but he was fairly strong, and I could have gotten him had I been lucky and hit a break in the big pileup which I didn't. -30-

Sunday, March 22, 2015 10:56 AM - I just a little bit ago got off an email to Mike KC2EGL, and I thought the content would make an interesting diary entry and keep me from re-inventing the wheel. HI.

Here goes, "Have you seen the nova in Sagittarius? I caught it around 5:30 this morning. Probably would be naked-eye in a dark area, but had to use binoculars in this light polluted area plus there were some thin clouds also which added to the need for binoculars.

Here's the S&T page with a chart: http://www.skyandtelescope.com/astronomy-news/observing-news/6th-mag-nova-in-sagittarius-still-brightening/?et_mid=735082&rid=246419306

I think that's the first nova I've ever seen as far as I can remember. Unless you count Delta Scorpii which although it brightened considerably a couple years ago, wasn't a true nova since it has stayed bright. I haven't checked lately to see if it has been explained. I would guess maybe it threw off a shell of darker material, but that's only a guess. Maybe I'll look into it today to get the latest in between March Madness.

Favorite games so far Utah over Georgetown (don't like them). Also the NC State victory over Villanova. Been a fan of theirs since the very improbable tournament wins in 1974 (5' 7'' Monty Towe and 6' 4" David Thompson, creators of the alley-oop play, and coach Norm Sloan) and 1983 (Jim Valvano era and the "buzzer beater" Dereck Whittenburg "pass" to Lorenzo Charles [that downed overwhelming favorite Houston]). Great memories. Also the challenge of even following the games back then. At times, I had to go to the Armed Forces radio on shortwave to hear some games. I think that's where I heard the famous Danny Ainge 'coast to coast' dribble and score to win a game [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HXyhmnVwhKY].

Think I'll incorporate the above into my diary entry today. HI" -30-

Saturday, March 21, 2015 9:07 PM - Not a lot to write about this evening. It was a pretty quiet day. A couple walks and March Madness were about it for my activities today.

A contest this evening made for a quick DX QSO with PW2D to keep the streak going another day.

It looks like we might possibly lose a number 1 seed as Villanova is trailing NC State by 9 points with 5 minutes left. I'll have to watch that one after I finish my web site updates. -30-

Friday, March 20, 2015 10:06 PM - I didn't have a lot of time to watch March Madness except for a couple of close finishes including the Louisville game. There seemed, from looking at the scores, to be a lot more nail-biters this year so far. So maybe it was good I didn't get to watch much of it. I get too tense at times especially if one of my favorites is involved in a potential buzzer-beater game. Let's see my Excel spreadsheet brackets. I see seven games so far that were decided by 1 or 2 points. Only a couple blow-outs - Kentucky (of course), Kansas, Arizona, Villanova, Duke, Iowa, all won by 20 or more points. 2 14 seeds and one 11 seed scored upsets so far. I've got a couple more scores to add to my spreadsheet after I finish this diary entry.

It wasn't easy getting my DX this morning, but I managed to snag ZF2UL on 10 meters for day 750 - three quarters of the way to 1,000. This evening things were easier as I worked LU1FAM on 20 and LZ386SKI on 30 meters.

We slipped back into winter again on this alternate first day of spring (astronomical) with a bit of s#$w overnight, but like all good well-behaved March s#$ws it was gone by early afternoon. Wish they were all like that the other winter months.

I spent a good part of today working on our NAQCC sprint logs. Well, actually not all that much time as I've got the cross-checking system down to where it is very efficient now. We have 117 logs so far with almost two days left to submit.

I also finished up patching some floor tiles in my pantry. -30-

Thursday, March 19, 2015 9:13 PM - A busy day today with processing logs from last night's sprint, getting a new build of the Windows 10 Technical Preview, following March Madness, taking a couple long walks, etc. Whew! I also checked the bands briefly a couple times. They didn't have much to offer. The same this evening. I tried calling a couple DX stations, but no luck. Hopefully I can get day 750 of the DX streak in the morning or afternoon. Now back to work on logs and watching March Madness. -30-

Wednesday, March 18, 2015 7:09 PM - How about that A index yesterday - 117 - the highest since November 10, 2004 when it was 181. No wonder signals all sounded so puny yesterday and last evening. I was lucky to get HK4CZE on 20 meters last evening to continue my streak. The preliminary A index for today is 45, so things should be better, but still rough for our NAQCC sprint this evening.

I did listen briefly one time today and there was virtually nothing to be heard from 20 meters up except a couple USA stations on 20.

It was a little cold again today with a high only in the mid-40s and a brisk breeze making it feel even colder. I did notice my tulip bulbs starting to sprout the past couple days, so that's a good sign. Looks like about 8 or so of the 19 or so have popped out of the soil so far. Also there are a good many robins who have ventured into town from the woods, so that's another good sign, not to mention it is hard to find any s#$w or ice now, although why anyone would want to find any at all, I don't know. It's wonderful to see bare lawns, sidewalks, streets, etc. Ahhhhh, lovely. -30-

Tuesday, March 17, 2015 2:29 PM - A couple days ago I said it was about time that I should be starting to get my DX QSO from Europe in the 0000Z hour. Well, last night I did with an easy QSO from E73AW even though he wasn't all that strong, and I think he was copying me easier than I was copying him. Although we never worked before (at least with that call), he commented that I had a good signal for QRP, and I hadn't told him I was running QRP.

It may have been a good thing I did get the QSO last night, because a check of the bands around 1700Z today didn't show much at all in the way of DX except S59AA. I didn't need any of his letters or numbers for the NAQCC European challenge, so I didn't work him. I'll save him for the fourth go-around of the challenge. HI.

The s#$w is pretty much all gone now after yesterday's high of 64 degrees. It still lingers where it was piled up from shoveling or plowing though. That should be gone before too much longer though. We won't lose a lot today because it is only around 40 degrees. Boy, that 40 would have felt hot last month.

When Mike was here Sunday, I noticed he had a Bing Translator program that came bundled with his new computer. I thought it was really neat especially since you could use voice to input text to be translated (hmmm.... wonder if it understands CW). I was amazed in fooling around with it after installing it on my computer by how well it understood what I was saying. I tried a lot of different words and phrases on it, and it scored 100 percent. It even got things like "Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country" and "Antidisestablishmentarianism". I didn't think to try "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" yet, but I will. Just now I checked this site in Wikipedia to see some more long words. When I was young, "Antidisestablishmentarianism" held the undisputed first place as the longest word. Or at least the longest word that was in somewhat common usage as described in the Wikipedia article.

The article also refers to long place-names (towns, cities, etc.) and personal names. That reminded me of the Monty Python Flying Circus skit about a long personal place name. I think it started with something like Gamblepuddy... if memory serves. Let's see if I can find it via a Bing search. I was close - it starts Gambolputty... See here. -30-

Monday, March 16, 2015 2:03 PM - Thanks to Mike for writing yesterday's entry and for a great visit. I'd like to add a bit more about the day. First, here's a picture of our computer setup. Kind of looks like a computer store or a computer workshop, doesn't it.

pix_diary_20150316_001 (112K)

In the foreground is Mike's new computer. To the right, my laptop. In the background Mike's two old laptops.

I feel it is an insult to my intelligence when I see these "Walk, Don't Walk" signs with symbols on them like the palm of a hand, etc. instead of simply the words WALK & WAIT or DON'T WALK. What happened to educating people to read in this country, or to learn English if they are immigrants. My grandparents were proud to learn English when they came to this country. That's true of a lot of older generation folks as well. Anyway Mike and I were making fun of this idiocy as we drove back from Ponderosa. There was an intersection sign for example that said (yes, in words) Butler Rd and Nixon St. I said wouldn't it be better to have a picture of a butler and a picture of President Nixon? We made up pictures for several signs just to show how ridiculous it would be if the country comes totally to that stage. We certainly have lowered our standards in many aspects of life in the USA. As Tom WY3H states referring to ham radio on my CW page on the web site: "Nothing worth doing is easy. The trend in just about everything today, not limited to amateur radio, seems to be 'You have to lower your standards for me because it's too much effort for me to meet them.' And so we go, lower, lower, and lower. Finally it's 'Hey thar, 10-4 gud buddy, watscher 20?" Unfortunately there is a great deal of truth in that statement that applies to much in this country today.

OK, enough of that. Talking about it is not going to change it and we may well sink back to the caveman days instead of going forward.

Although Alaska is considered DX by ARRL (and other ham organizations) even though it is a United States state, I still wanted to work another DX station today for my DX streak. So I found and worked YO3DDZ on 12 meters this morning.

A beautiful day today even though it is cloudy. I just got back from a nice walk through the park. I haven't been able to do that for a while now due to the s@#w. My remote thermometer shows 62 degrees now. -30-

Sunday, March 15, 2015 9:06 PM - Good evening everyone. John has decided to take a night off from his diary. So I shall be filling in. It has been a while since I last filled in for him.

Our day started off shortly after 9AM when I arrived at Johns QTH. We headed out for breakfast around 10:00AM. We had planned on our ususal Ponderosa breakfast only to learn that Corporate Headquarters forced the local franchise to shut down its weekend breakfast buffet. We were advised by the manager that they opened at 10:30AM serving lunch. So we make a Walmart run to pass the time. Both of us picked up a few items followed by returning to Ponderosa.

After we ate our meal we returned to Johns QTH to commence with the activity planned for the day. I recently purchased a new laptop and John graciously assisted me with transfering programs and setting up securtiy software. That took just about the whole afternoon. We did take a break to play a new hidden object game that John found. Afterwards we finished up some small details on my computer and I uploaded some software for a Garmin Virb Elite and a Garmin bicycle computer. Now my new laptop is set up for two of my favorite activities.

We did not forget about dinner. We decided to try a place we have been wanting to try for quite a while. Only to find out they close at 3:00PM on Sundays. So we settled for one of our favorites. A trip to Wendy's.

John continued both streaks with one QSO. He logged KL7QZ in Anchorage, Alaska. The op on the other end of the QSO has been a ham for 60 years but had been away from CW for 50 years. He is just getting back into CW and was very rusty and slow which is very understandable.

Other than that not much happned today. I will be heading home shortly. I am still in the workforce which means I have to be up bright and early to start the week tomorrow morning. So until next time, DE Mike KC2EGL. -30-

Saturday, March 14, 2015 8:46 PM - I hate it when someone gives a party and doesn't invite me. Well, not really because I don't care for parties anyway. It was a good opening line to my comments about the bands tonight. They're full of BERU contesters, and because of something that happened some 239 years ago, I am not welcome to participate in the contest. Puzzled? Or do you know just what I'm talking about? I'll get back to the topic later.

Mike couldn't make it down here tonight, and will be coming in the morning instead. He sent an email about having to take care of some stuff at home tonight "due to the rain and snow melt". So we'll just get a little later start to our activities.

In addition to the BERU, there is also a Louisiana QSO Party this weekend so I used that to work KA5M and get my regular streak QSO. The DX will come tomorrow probably between breakfast at Ponderosa and starting to work on Mike's computer. I did work 3 DX stations in the good 1600Z hour today (OG3077F SM3EVR EA7ATE all on 12M) to reduce my needed letters/numbers to 10 to complete the third go around of the NAQCC March European Chapter challenge. OG3077F is a special call in honor of working all 3,077 USA counties from Finland.

Speaking of s#$w melt, my back yard is now totally cleansed of the ugly miserable stuff, and the front yard is nearing the halfway mark. Back is quicker because that's the southern sunny side of the house and lot.

OK, let's finish up about the BERU contest. Of course that's the British Empire or RSGB Commonwealth Contest and only those countries that were members of the British Empire are eligible to enter. Now had things gone differently in 1776....... -30-

Friday, March 13, 2015 7:37 PM - Another sign of spring today. I was seen working out in my back yard. I removed the leaves and weeds from my tulip bed preparing the way for the breakthrough of the tulip sprouts which should happen within a week or two, I'm guessing. In looking at my diary entries for last March, I see that what I did today, last year I didn't do until March 18. So I'm a few days ahead of schedule this year. Last year the tulips showed up around March 21 or 22. I also put out my cherub or angel statue and cleaned out the cellar stairs. It sure is nice to be able to do things outdoors again. I can't wait to get things in full swing again. My tomato plants are 3-4 inches high sitting in their pots next to me here. I'm not having much luck with the peppers though. I just planted a group of seeds for the third time yesterday. Of the earlier plantings, only two plants sprouted and they were totally seedbound. This time I soaked the seeds for a day to hopefully give them a jump start and soften them a bit also.

I got my DX this morning from RX3AFV and LZ90IARU. I didn't spend much time on the bands today as I wanted to get other things done. Almost time now to hit the shack again to stretch my streak another day. Hopefully it will be a DX QSO to take care of both streaks. With the sun coming further north (well, you know what I mean) and setting later each day, I don't think it will be too much longer before there is good DX on 20M in the 0000Z hour. -30-

Thursday, March 12, 2015 9:07 PM - How many angels can dance on the head of a pin? Remember that? Well, how many stations can chase one rare DX station on one band? An awful lot. Just listen to see what I mean. I think there are actually a couple of rare DX stations causing the pileups. I believe I heard an E3 station causing one. As you know I don't really follow the goings on of DXpeditions beforehand so I really don't know what to expect on the bands. I still enjoy just getting on the air and tuning around to see what is there just like I did way back when I first got into this great hobby. To me, that's much more enjoyable than reading on the Internet what is happening on the bands and planning out my operating schedule from that. Yes indeed, much more enjoyable.

Conditions weren't all that good early today in the 1300Z hour when I was listening a bit, so I did some other things for a couple hours then came back again in the 1600Z hour, and bang, bang, 4 European stations in 7 minutes giving me 12 more letters/numbers for the third go around of the March NAQCC European challenge. Then another half hour or so off, and back again to find conditions had slumped. So it looks like perhaps the 1600Z hour is the peak now, although the 14 and 15Z hours were also good a few days ago.

No DX this evening as everyone seemed to be in the pileups. I did hear and try JT1CO on 17 meters, but he had a fair pileup also, then said QRX ten minutes, and I didn't feel like waiting. So I got my regular streak QSO via a rag chew with George W3MWR on 40 meters and will get my DX in the morning if not later tonight.

Well, just a couple days now till I have a good weekend here. Mike is visiting Saturday evening through Sunday evening, and then it's also March Madness selection Sunday so I'll be getting my brackets ready to follow the tournament. I don't make picks. I just like to follow things. I wonder if Kentucky will make it all the way through the SEC tournament and MM for an undefeated season. That's something that hasn't been done in Men's Division One play since Indiana did it in 1976, almost 40 years ago. They wound up 32-0. 7 other teams before that had perfect seasons including the tournament (the more prestigious at that time NIT for Long Island University in 1939 who went 24-0).

I see there were 4 other teams with undefeated regular seasons who weren't invited to a tournament or were ineligible for tournament play. 16 teams had undefeated teams, but lost a game in the tournament. That happened as recently as last year when Wichita State was 34-0, but lost to Kentucky in the round of 32 and wound up 35-1.

So that will add another item of interest to March Madness this year to see if Kentucky can do something that hasn't been done in almost 40 years.

Well, that is as far as men's division 1 goes. It's a different story with the women who have done it 11 times and as recently as last year when UCONN went 40-0. Interesting to look at the teams who have done it. They include Immaculata College, a small school, but at the top of the class in the women's sport in the early 70s. They were 20-0 in 1973. In 1981 featuring whom I think is the top point guard of all time - Kim Mulkey - Louisiana Tech went 34-0. And now a la Paul Harvey, the rest of the story. In 2012, the Baylor Bears went 40-0 coached by?..... yes, Kim Mulkey and featuring Brittney Griner, whom I think is the top front court player I've seen in the women's sport. Wouldn't that have been something to see Mulkey and Griner playing together on the same team. Oh, and Mulkey is as far as I know, the only person, male or female to have won the tournament as a player, assistant coach, and coach. She was assistant at LA Tech when they won the 1988 championship. I won't go into it here, but Griner also holds several records in the sport including the most blocked shots in a career (women and men).

9 other womens teams were perfect until a loss in the tournament. Also this year's Princeton Tigers are 30-0 entering the tournament. -30-

Wednesday, March 11, 2015 12:24 PM - Hey, my porch roof is green. It's been so long I had forgotten the color, but now that the ugly s#@w has FINALLY melted off, I see the nice green color. Also a lot of green/brown is showing up on the lawns now, but still a ways to go. About 3/4 of my back yard is uncovered now. It's nice to walk out to get my temperature at 9PM now and walk only on grass. Last night was the first time I used my back steps in well over a month now as the ice has finally melted off them. I had been going out through my basement stairway. It is just such a relief to know that it's pretty much all over for another winter now. Welcome to Spring. It's interesting how it did arrive just a couple days past March 1st although it took also a couple extra days to really set in.

Pretty good conditions on the high bands again. I'm off and running on the third go around of the European challenge with 16 letters/numbers down and 30 to go.

This evening is our computer club meeting so I thought I'd get this entry done early today. -30-

Tuesday, March 10, 2015 1:31 PM - I just completed my second go around of the NAQCC European Chapter challenge. Doing them a second time doesn't count for anything, but it was a lot of fun. Now I think I'll see if I can do it a third time this month. My criteria includes not using the same station that I used in a previous go around. Otherwise everything is the same. The first time took about 6 days and 17 hours. This time took just 2 days and 17 hours. It certainly is great to have the bands in such good shape with DX being so easy to work. I've said this before, but I regret not having done more DX chasing in my early days of ham radio. Anyway I'm trying to make up for it now, and having a ball doing it.

My first go around of the challenge is listed on the NAQCC European Chapter web site, and I'm going to list the second go around here. I better explain the challenges for anyone not familiar with them. You're given a list of words and/or numbers, and you have to work stations with those letters/numbers in their call signs to complete the words. A letter/number from a call can be used twice. For example F5IN could be used for 2 each of the F 5 I and N. As in perhaps FANFARE - F5IN xxxx F5IN F5IN xxxx xxxx xxxx - where the xxxx would be stations worked with A R E in their call signs. Anyway here's how I got the challenge words/numbers which were Mediterranean countries and their surface area in sq km.


Sound like fun. Why not join the NAQCC and try the challenges. There's a new one each month. I know many of you who read the diary are already NAQCC members who ARE enjoying all of our club activities.

Not quite as nice a day as yesterday, but still the light rain and clouds with a 45 degree temperature are still miles ahead of what we have been having for much too long now.

Think I'll make up a new worksheet now for my third try at the challenge. -30-

Monday, March 09, 2015 3:06 PM - And they say Mondays are not good days. HA, this one was here. A great s#$w melt going on. I walked downtown and got a big smile on my face every time I'd see rivulets of water running out from the s#$w/ice banks. My remote thermometer shows a high of 56 today. I actually was close to breaking into a sweat when I was walking. I guess I should have worn a lighter jacket. S'wonderful to use a Gershwin song title.

Also a great ham radio today. As it does now and then, my KX3 donned its Superman cape and fantasized it was a KW feeding a big high beam. That's how easy it was working DX today. In only working for my second go-around of the NAQCC European Chapter challenge, I worked eight European stations to garner some 30 letters/numbers from stations I hadn't already worked for the first time around. Included was a very nice solid ragchew with Jindra OK2LA.

Then the mailman delivered the following card:

pix_diary_20150309_001 (90K)

That's country # 210 confirmed via regular QSL card now. One of the quicker returns from an overall new country. It only took 3 days less than a month following the QSO, and I didn't send the card till a few days following the QSO.

Now I think you'll have to admit that wasn't a stereotypical Monday - at least here for me. Wonder what the rest of the day has to offer now. -30-

Sunday, March 08, 2015 8:32 PM - This was a great day today. I got the chance to do one of my favorite things. I watched the s@#w melt. It is so wonderful to see ugly white stuff turn into beautiful running water. Still a long ways to go, but about 25% of my backyard is uncovered now. With temperatures around 50 all week, that percentage should increase rapidly and approach 100% by next weekend. Won't that be great. I finally got a chance to do some shopping downtown today. Still tricky walking in spots though, and I had to be careful.

I finished the NAQCC European Chapter challenge shortly after writing my diary entry yesterday, so both challenges are finished this month now. I'm toying with the idea of trying to master them a second time around, especially the European one, even though there's no credit for doing so. It would give me some satisfaction though after missing the February one.

Tonight it didn't take too long to extend the DX streak. I worked MI0SRR on 30 meters pretty easily at 0015Z. He did have a small pileup but it seemed to diminish after a few minutes and then then I got him. -30-

Saturday, March 07, 2015 9:42 AM - Sometimes even after the tens of thousands of QRP QSOs I've made, I continue to be awed by it at times. Or more accurately, awed by how other folks can copy it so well. I was looking for those final two stations with zeroes in their call to finish the European Chapter challenge, and I found SP90IARU on 12 meters. The thing was that it was in a quiet period from my furnace noise, and my ambient noise was as low as it ever gets here at S3. SP90IARU was right at that S3 level, and I figured it was probably useless to call him, but I tried anyway and got a question mark. I sent my call again and got a K3?, then two more times and got a K3WWP K3WWP 599. I had my QSO. Now if he was S3 here running at least 100 watts and probably a lot more to give out as many SP90IARU QSOs as possible, how strong (weak?) must my signal have been there, yet he copied it pretty easily. I figure it must be like when Mike or Don and I operate from the Community Park here, and the noise level is non-existant. You can literally give an honest 509 report and copy the station solid. You can also hear 'static' from distant thunderstorms coming in via skip. I guess SP90IARU (and many other lucky folks) must have (lack of) noise situations like that all the time. It must be nice.

So because of that, I'm now down to needing one more European station with a call containing a zero to finish the challenge. I think I'll hit as many quiet furnace-off periods as possible today to see if I can get that QSO. With the temperature now at 31 and climbing, the off periods should be getting longer.

We were only down to 10 for a low today after yesterday's record tying (for March) low of -6. And it looks like a week of highs in the 40s and 50s coming up with a chance of maybe even hitting 60. That should increase the s#$w and ice melt quite a bit. -30-

Friday, March 06, 2015 7:25 PM - A quick DX QSO this evening for day # 737. I heard one of the LZ saints stations on 30M just as my furnace noise came on. He was still just about even with the noise so I called and repeated my call twice after he sent K3?. I just managed to hear him send my call correctly and 599, so I sent TU 599, then listened a bit to be sure I had his call correct in the noise. It was LZ386SKI honoring Saint Kiril Ierusalimski. That's the first saint station this year. Maybe I'll try for another of the beautiful certificates for working 5 saint stations this year. The one I got a couple years ago was beautiful and they are free for electronic versions.

Possibly an all-time March record low today. It shows a low of -5 on my remote unit. The lowest in my records since 1959 is -6 following the blizzard of 1993. The outdoor thermometer is often a degree or two colder than that shown on the remote unit, so the possiblity of a tie or an outright break exists when I check later at 9 o'clock. That would be something to set both February and March all-time low records in the same year. We've only gone below zero a very few times in March before. I recall in the record cold month of March 1960 we hit -2 on the 8th, and that record stood for several years till we hit -3 which in turn stood until 1993 and the -6. I was just pleasantly interrrupted in writing this by an invite next door for some tuna casserole with Bruce and Nancy, so despite the time stamp, it's now getting close to 9PM, so I'll just put this on hold till I get the outside temperature and we'll see if we have a new record or not. Well, it's a tie at -6. So no new record. -30-

Thursday, March 05, 2015 12:31 PM - Nearly a 180 degree reversal from yesterday morning. I could work most any DX station I heard including a couple I couldn't get to hear me at all yesterday. As a result I got my letters/numbers needed down to 4 Ss and 4 zeroes after working IZ4ZZB and OK1FTC. Then when my furnace came on, I said, "Well, the Ss will be easy and the zeroes hard", and QRT for a while. A little later in another furnace quiet period, I went back to the shack and grabbed SP6JOE and YV5SSB to finish the NAQCC "American" challenge to prove myself right about the Ss. I still need the zeroes though. Perhaps after I type this, I'll try again for them. Conditions are good today with strong European signals.

It looks like spring weather might be getting on schedule. After a cold night tonight and a cold day tomorrow, temperatures are supposed to climb to around 50 early next week. Then it will be a joy to watch the s#$w and ice melt. We did get a minor melt yesterday with the mild temps and rain, but having the ice mixed in with the s#$w retarded the melt quite a bit. -30-

Wednesday, March 04, 2015 12:18 PM - A rough frustrating morning on the bands. I heard enough stations with the letters/numbers to complete both NAQCC challenges, but I just couldn't seem to work anyone other than I1YRL. Either stations just weren't hearing me at all, were answering other stations, went QRT, were engaged in long rag chews, or my furnace noise came on just as I was about to pounce on someone. So I still need 5 numbers for the European Chapter challenge, and 7 letters for the "American" challenge. Right now the furnace is off, so I'm going back to try some more.

Still no luck. Think I'll give up for today. After all there are still 27 days to finish the challenges. If I can't do it in that time, I don't deserve to finish. -30-

Tuesday, March 03, 2015 8:25 PM - A nasty weather day today, but it could have been a lot worse. Basically we are getting just regular rain, although it is freezing where the ground remains cold. The air temperature was 34/35 most of the day after hitting a low of 12 during the night. I only saw a few s#$w flakes, no sleet or freezing rain. It looks like most of the remainder of the storm will be south of here according to how it looks on the radar at present, but of course that could change.

I added 3 more DX QSOs during the day today for some more letters/numbers for the NAQCC challenges. Then this evening it took about 4 minutes till I got my DX streak QSO working CN8KD on 30 meters at 0004Z. -30-

Monday, March 02, 2015 8:27 PM - No DX this evening, but I did work 4 DX stations this afternoon to get more letters and numbers for the NAQCC challenges. Conditions were not too good in the 14Z hour, but were much better in the 17Z hour. So the streak is put on hold till tomorrow. I have something to do early in the morning, but should be back for the 17Z hour again.

Some sleet, snow, and rain on tap for tomorrow as the weather refuses to believe it is Spring yet. Still the coming weekend when we also go to Daylight Savings time looks like we'll have temperatures in the 40s.

Of course as I say every year, it's not really Daylight Savings time, but Daylight Switching or Daylight Trading Time. We exchange an hour of darkness in the morning for an hour of light in the evening or vice versa depending on which way we're going.

Another misnomer is 'the days are getting longer now'. No they're not. They are still 24 hours (or 23h 56m more approximately). What's getting longer is the period of daylight. -30-

Sunday, March 01, 2015 8:36 PM - We wound up setting a lot of records in February this year. Remember I've been keeping weather records since starting in 1959, so there is a lot of data for February to be broken, and quite a lot was as follows:
Average low temperature: 7.6.
Average mean temperature: 19.7.
Absolute lowest temperature: -16 (20th, 24th).
Coldest so late in season: 
  -16 Feb 24
  -15 Feb 24
  -14 Feb 24 
  -13 Feb 24
  -12 Feb 24
  -11 Feb 24
   -9 Feb 28
Daily mean: 0 (16th)
Number of days 0 or below: 10 (for all months including Jan)
Mean daily temperature range: 24.2
Heating Degree Days: 1262
Daily low: -13 (16th), -2 (19th), -16 (20th), -16 (24th), -9 (28th)
A total of 17 other daily records among the following categories:
Lowest daily maximum: 12 (15th), 13 (16th), 12 (19th)
Lowest daily mean: 5 (15t), 0 (16th), 5 (19th), 2 (20th), 13 (23rd), 8 (24th)
Greatest daily range: 48 (24th), 43 (28th)
Negative departure from normal: -24 (15th), -30, (16th), -25 (19th), -28 (20th), -18 (23rd), -24 (24th)
Brrrr, indeed. Still the weather creators don't know it is spring as we had about 6 inches of the ugly stuff today for our greatest s#$w cover of the year. But it is March and better things are coming, and soon.

I was on the air a lot today and worked 9 DX stations mainly working for the NAQCC challenges. I made a big dent in both challenges and worked at least one new prefix as well in PQ450RIO. Tonight the DX streak continued thanks to a QSO with 8P9NX on 30 meters.

Time now to go out in the ugly stuff to get my temperature readings. -30-

Saturday, February 28, 2015 8:07 PM - Tom WB3FAE and I had a great visit here today. We shared a lot of info on contesting while comparing our results in the recent ARRL DX Contest. Although our operations were separate, I find it interesting to note that we made a total of around 800 QSOs using QRP/CW/ and simple antennas. Our locations are about 19 miles apart as the crow (or RF) flies. We found a lot of similarity in our efforts, but some notable differences also. He worked some countries I didn't, and vice versa. We both had trouble working Brazilian and Cuban stations.

After that, we went to my shack and compared our KX3s. I was having an issue with RIT, and wasn't sure if it was the KX3 or the PX3. Since Tom's KX3 did the same thing hooked to my PX3, I'm sure the issue is with the PX3. Nothing major, just a minor annoyance. After we did that, we did some listening mainly to the UBA contest. I heard a couple European contesting friends, and gave them a QSO, but no big effort.

Next we upgraded the firmware in Tom's KX3. Then played with the Pileup Runner program for a while before he had to head home for some grandkid sitting this evening.

I started off my 3rd year of the DX streak this evening with LU7YS and YU7GMN, both easy 30 meters QSOs. That also gave me a bunch of letters for both NAQCC March challenges. For only the second time I failed to master the European Chapter challenge in February. So I'm going to work doubly hard to get back on track in March. February was tough (it was suggested by someone with the call of K3WWP), and so far in looking at the results, only one person mastered it so far. -30-

Friday, February 27, 2015 8:51 PM - 2 YEARS in the books. I worked CO8LY for the 730th straight day of working at least one DX station. Something to be happy about along with tomorrow being the last day of winter. Really! Looks like there will be a warm-up here starting Sunday after a final journey below zero overnight tonight. It's 8 above right now.

I updated my DX streak page in the QRP section, and I'll let that serve as the rest of my diary entry this evening. -30-

Thursday, February 26, 2015 7:55 PM - I got one of my quickest ever streak QSOs this evening. At just a couple seconds after 0000Z, I called and worked V31AT on 20M. That leaves just one day remaining to make the DX streak 730 days or 2 solid years. With that day being a Saturday, that should help assure a QSO, I hope.

A relatively "warm" day today (comparatively speaking) with a high around 32 degrees. I saw some drops coming off my awning, so it really was above freezing since the awning wasn't in the sun at the time. In fact it was cloudy with light snow at the time.

Mike was a little late coming from the meeting last night, but we had a good time eating our pizza. Then we did some planning for what accessories we'll need for our Lil Squall transceivers when we make them fully operational the next visit. We also did some chatting about the weather and the extreme cold, etc. -30-

Wednesday, February 25, 2015 2:07 PM - We didn't quite make it yesterday. The outside thermometer showed a low of -16 which just tied the record set a few days ago. It also marked the only month of the 669 months going back to when I started keeping records when there were three days having a low of -13 or lower. More records - we have 8 days with lows of zero or below. The record is 9 and we have two more shots at zero or lower Friday and Saturday morning to break the record. A quick figuring of the average low this month shows 7.8 degrees which I believe would make it the second lowest after January 1977 with 6.0. Of course if the predictions for the next 3 days come true, we could approach that, but I don't think even so, we'd quite make it. This is by far the latest in the season for the following temperatures not including previous days this month:
Temp Feb 24, 2015...Previous latest date
     -16............Jan 24, 1963
     -15............Jan 24, 1963
     -14............Jan 29, 1963/2014
     -13............Jan 29, 1963/2014
     -12............Feb 2, 1961
     -11............Feb 16, 1963
Here's what I saw when I came downstairs early on the 24th to look at my remote reading unit:

pix_diary_20150225_001 (63K)

Actually now it looks like we may have a sharp transition from winter to spring right on March 1 as following a below zero Saturday morning the outlook is for it to be in the upper 30s Sunday followed by the 40s the first part of next week. I certainly hope that is true.

Mike is stopping by this evening after a meeting here in town. We'll be having a pizza and seeing what else we can squeeze into a short visit. -30-

Tuesday, February 24, 2015 9:39 AM - I don't know what the outside thermometer read, but my remote reader shows a low of -15 this morning so we could well have broken our all-time February low temperature record for the third time this month. The last time, the remote showed -14 and the outside -16, so it might have been -17 this morning. I won't know till later. I'm not curious enough to venture out there now when it's still only in the single digits even with the sun shining brightly.

Since I'm writing this early and not much to talk about, I need to get caught up on some diary comments so I'll do that after I report the DX streak is alive and well - now just 4 days shy of 2 complete years of daily DX QSOs. I just worked LZ2PT on 15 meters, even with the furnace noise full blast, and other than a PJ2 who was working only Europe as far as I could tell, LZ2PT was the only DX station I heard. I was worried for a bit there, but I needn't have.

OK, let's see what is in the emailbag now. Not specific diary comments, but Daniel HJ4DEI wrote to say he constructed the zero beat indicator in my CW section of the web site. He sent some nice pictures and a short video of it in action. I hope to add that info to the zero beat page soon. Thanks Daniel.

Also not specific diary comments, but Juergen DL4KE sent some comments on my CW Stories page along with a (very) short story which I will probably post.

Here's one from Geo N1EAV that has been sitting here a couple weeks. I can only hope the situation there is better now. Geo emailed, "Hi John Can't take it anymore. Taking a break in my office from moving the nasty white frozen stuff.....AGAIN !!!! Been here at work since yesterday morning. Probably sleep here again tonight when I finish cleaning up the lots.....One more final clean in the morning. We've had about 65 inches in the last sixteen days in this part of Massachusetts. Boston has had more than us so far. They are getting the bulk of this storm. Probably going to be close to another 2 feet or so. I've had about a foot here. Snow is piled so high there is no place to put it. Definitely had enough of this winter. Looking at the weather models, I see two more threats for snow this week, plus some of the coldest weather we have seen in 10 or 11 years , due into the weekend. Hopefully the jet stream will change it's pattern soon and we can see a little of the warmer temperatures that the rest of the country is getting. Until then, we trudge on. I keep a close eye on your spring countdown and know there is light at the end of the tunnel....hihi. Hope your winter is better than mine. 73, geo n1eav"

The s#$wfall up there is as awesome as our bitter cold down here. I must say I'll take the bitter cold any day over that white stuff. We haven't done too badly with s#$w this winter. Not much, but unfortunately with the cold, it refuses to melt and go away.

Garth KF7ATL, new NAQCC member emails to thank me for the CW procedures info in my CW section. Glad it is helpful to you.

And that gets me caught up on emails and closes this entry for today. I'll let you know tomorrow about the temperature record being another new one or not. Maybe at least a tie. Certainly a daily record and a record for so cold so late in the season if not an overall record. -30-

Monday, February 23, 2015 8:30 PM - ENOUGH, ALREADY!! We may just wind up again breaking the February low temperature record tomorrow morning. One source (NWS) is predicting a low of -13 and right now we have crystal clear skies with almost calm winds which leads to rapid radiational cooling. The current temperature on both my remote units is now +2 so there is not all that far to go to make it to -13 and perhaps beyond. It's plain ridiculous. Tomorrow will mark the 15th day in February the low has been 8 degrees or lower and the average low from my AcuRite remote unit so far this month if the predictions for tomorrow are true would be 8.1 degrees. Again, ENOUGH, ALREADY!!

I think spring will arrive in name only this coming Sunday, not weatherwise, although actually it is supposed to be around 40 next Monday. We'll see.

And that's it for the diary entry. If you want more, check out my ARRL DX contest story in the Contesting-Stories area of the web site. -30-

Sunday, February 22, 2015 8:41 PM - I'm pretty beat after the big effort in the contest, so this will be short. I'll have a story about the contest ready in a couple days, so I'll just say now that I wound up 449 QSOs and a lot of fun getting them. -30-

Saturday, February 21, 2015 7:28 PM - Is there anything better in ham radio than the fast paced action of a big DX contest? If so, I don't know of it. I just wish I had more stamina now as I did when I was younger. I get mentally tired and physically tired after sitting at the key for about 4-5 hours at most and need a break of at least a half hour before getting back to the action. Also with the cold weather, it gets chilly sitting still for so long.

Anyway I'm up to 257 QSOs as of this break. I've now set a goal of 400 for the contest. That should be possible if conditions tomorrow are as good as or better than today. Also it may be a bit warmer which should lengthen my furnace "off" cycles. The noise peaks all across 15 meters and really plays havoc with working stations on that band. A lot of signals do override the noise, but I've worked most of the top level signals already and I have to wait to dig out the lower level signals when the furnace is off. I can go to either 10 or 20 when the furnace is on, as the QRN isn't as bad on those bands.

My Hawaii pipeline is definitely open wide for this contest. I must have a dozen KH6 QSOs already. Also it's nice to work Japan a few times. Here's a brief excerpt from my GenLog working file that I got a kick out of as I scanned back over it:

15m   CW  02/21/15  2252  JA7NVF       599  PA     599   JA     38-15m  3  KW  
15m   CW  02/21/15  2255  KH7XX        599  PA     599   KH6            3  KW  
10m   CW  02/21/15  2257  JH7XGN       599  PA     599   JA     31-10m  3  KW  
10m   CW  02/21/15  2259  WH7M         599  PA     599   KH6    32-10m  3  KW  
10m   CW  02/21/15  2330  JA1BPA       599  PA     599   JA             3  KW  
10m   CW  02/21/15  2333  KH6RS        599  PA     599   KH6            3  KW  
10m   CW  02/21/15  2336  KH6LC        599  PA     599   KH6            3  KW  
15m   CW  02/21/15  2345  WH7M         599  PA     599   KH6            3  KW  
15m   CW  02/21/15  2346  RT0C         599  PA     599   UA9    39-15m  3  KW
Nothing but Asia and Oceania for about an hour with one of my half-hour breaks in the middle.

That's about all I have to say about the contest as I plan to write one of my contest stories about it in which I'll go into more detail. -30-

Friday, February 20, 2015 8:53 PM - Wow! 20 meters was as hot for the first couple hours of the ARRL DX test as the weather was cold today. Let's talk about the weather first.

It looks like we broke that short-standing record low for February of -13 set a few days ago. My remote readings both show a low of -14 today, but the official outside thermometer has yet to be checked. I'll do that in a few minutes when it gets to be 9 PM, and have more on that later. Now let's switch to DX.

I wasn't really too interested in the contest. I thought I'd just get a streak QSO, and that would be about it. However when I turned on the rig and saw wall to wall stations on the panadapter on both 40 and 20 meters, I thought I'd give it a bit of a try. I started off with 4O/E77W and S51YI on 40, then thought I better hit 20 before it closes for the night.

Well, so far it hasn't even come close to closing. It's open world-wide. I've already got my contest WAC in the books. I could go up and down 20 working most stations I was hearing pretty easily despite the very crowded conditions. Kind of like on 10 and 15 during the daytime when they are wide open. I wonder how they will be tomorrow. I did get a couple QSOs on 15 this evening already.

OK, time out to get the temperature. Be back in a few minutes.

Actually that was several minutes. I got the chills going out to get the temperature. It is 4 degrees right now and that really chilled me down even though I was only outside a couple minutes. Most of the time waiting for the maximum and minimum indexes to reset in the thermometer. They are reset by gravity, and when the liquid gets this cold, they move down very slowly. Anyway, the February low temperature record during the 57 years of my records is no longer -12 in 1961, nor even -13 four days ago, but is now -16, yes -16. That's not all that far from our January low record of -21 back on January 19, 1994, and it's LATE in February now. In looking at the daily records, I see -18 Jan 17, 1982, the -21, -20 on Jan 21, 1985, and -16 on Jan 24, 1963 as the only days with a record equal to or colder than today. It will be interesting to see how this outbreak compares with that of 1899 I talked about in yesterday's entry. I haven't really checked to see if this is a widespread outbreak like that one, or more of a local one in a smaller area including here.

Now back to DX for a bit before I close. Right now after the first hour and 48 minutes of activity, I have 42 QSOs from at least 31 countries for what may be the fastest start I've ever had in a big DX contest. That's also something I'll have to check. It was interesting to work MM3T on 20 at 0121Z. That's very late for the northern part of Europe on 20 this time of year. I did work Portugal, Spain, and the Balearic Is. in southeast Europe. I also worked OH0X in northern Europe and heard Sweden, European Russia, and Latvia, but couldn't work them.

Finally a brief astronomy note. I braved the cold earlier this evening to go out and check the close conjunction of Venus, Mars, and the Moon. Very lovely. -30-

Thursday, February 19, 2015 7:31 PM - As long-time diary readers know, one of my interests besides Ham Radio is meteorology. I've kept weather records here since 1959 (wow, that's closing in on 60 years - I must be getting old). A couple of days ago, I recorded the all-time February low of -13 in that time span breaking the old record of -12 set way back in 1961. Well, it looks like this new record is not going to stand anywhere near that long if the forecasters are correct. They are predicting tonight's low to be -14, and it's well on the way there at +1 degrees already. That would also be the second coldest February temperature for nearby Pittsburgh. The coldest? A bone-chilling numbing -20 back on February 11, 1899. For those who don't follow the weather as closely as I do, that reading was part of perhaps the coldest widespread outbreak of Arctic air on record. Up until isolated incidents in several places since 1990, that day (or the day before and after actually) was the coldest ever in many states, not only for February, but for all months included. The invasion actually made it all the way through Florida and into Cuba. It hit 29 degrees in Miami and Cuba had a hard frost that damaged many crops. There's a lot of good info about that outbreak on the Internet. Just do a Bing search for February 1899 weather or something like that.

Another easy DX QSO this evening when I worked CT8/OH2PM on 20 meters at 0002Z. I guess getting ready for the ARRL DX test. Speaking of that, I think I'm assured of a DX QSO on Saturday and Sunday which would then leave 6 more days to hit 730 days or two full years of DX QSOs on February 28 barring a major disaster. As I've said before, I don't know if I'll keep going after that or not. Knowing me, I probably will. HI. -30-

Wednesday, February 18, 2015 7:25 PM - It's now 14 degrees, and that's as warm as it will be now until Saturday. The only saving grace to this weather is there is very little s#$w associated with it. Also the cold temperatures preclude any freezing rain. We will have some rain on Sunday followed by another cold snap so the rain will freeze, but only on the surfaces, not on power lines, etc.

An easy DX QSO this evening just 7 minutes into the 0000Z hour. It was 6Y2T down in Jamaica getting ready for the ARRL DX contest this weekend activating Jamaica on the WARC bands. I worked him on 17 with but a single call.

I haven't been on in the mornings for 3 days now, so I don't know how conditions have been then. Hopefully I haven't been missing good European openings for the NAQCC European Chapter challenge. Maybe the next couple days I can get on although with the cold weather, there won't be a lot of off time for my furnace and its noise. -30-

Tuesday, February 17, 2015 2:52 PM - This has been a good day so far. I'll get this entry written early in case things change later in the day. HI.

Although it got down to zero this morning, with bright sunshine the temperature rose into the mid 20s, and felt even less cold in the sun. It was also interesting to see a pretty good s@#w melt off my roof in the sunshine even though the temperature was just in the low single digits at the time. Yes the sun is definitely getting higher in the sky with an associated increase in its heating power. Ain't it great!!. I even took a couple walks outside today.

I also got to printing my QSLs on the card stock I got yesterday, and as a result, got caught up on quite a backlog of cards. One of the walks I mentioned was to the post office to mail, among others, my cards to K1N and S01WS.

Then just a little while ago, in the mail was a certificate for a winning entry in the 2014 ARRL DX Contest for First Place Western Pennsylvania Section Single Operator, QRP - also a Division and Call Area Winner. You can see a scan of it in my Contesting section via the menu link above. That's kind of an incentive to get in the 2015 ARRL DX contest this coming weekend which I would be doing anyway. That's one of my favorite contests. I love the high speed, fast paced action. I once made 633 QSOs in an ARRL DX test in the early 2000s for my best contest ever.

Well, let's see what the rest of the day brings now after I get a bite to eat. -30-

Monday, February 16, 2015 7:58 PM - Mike is just departing for Brookville. With some possible snow on the way, he wanted to get home before that plus he has to get up early tomorrow for work. So he didn't have time to write a diary entry which means I'll have to do it myself.

As usual, we had a good time all day. He arrived around 10:30 or so, and we chatted for a while and watched a couple old TV shows on the Internet. Remember Ernie Kovacks? We watched a couple of his skits as Percy Dovetonsils and another with the Nairobi Trio. Hilarious stuff from the 1950s.

After that it was off to Ponderosa for a lunch buffet. Next up a shopping trip to WalMart where Mike got his fishing license so hopefully we can do some fishing later this year. I picked up a couple things - new shoes, some card stock for printing QSL cards, and I stocked up on my favorite snack meat, Turkey Spam.

Back home again and on to our prime project for the day - finishing our little QRP "Lil Squall" transceivers. It continued to be a bit of a struggle with the somewhat poorly written instruction manual even with our kit building experience. However after a couple hours we did finish them. Here they are:

pix_diary_20150217_001 (46K)

After finishing the build, we took them up to my shack and hooked them up and lo and behold, they actually worked. We heard a lot of signals on 40 meters, and measured the RF output at something around 600 milliwatts. We didn't work anyone though because the bandwidth is very wide and we couldn't figure out exactly where we would be transmitting in relation to the stations we were hearing. Figuring that out will be a project for the next visit.

It was around 0000Z when we put the kits away, so I looked around for my DX QSO and found and worked C6AKQ with a single try on 17 meters. After I worked him, either the band changed or C6AKQ changed beam headings, because he started working a run of JAs before Mike had a chance to get him. At least it wasn't something like Navassa Island, so Mike didn't feel all that bad about it.

That pretty much sums up the day. Now I've got to get that picture of the rigs inserted up above. Of course when you read this, it will be there already. HI.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention that it seems we may have tied the low temperature record for February in my weather records dating back to 1959. It shows a low of 12 below on my remote reading thermometer which ties a record set on Groundhog Day back in 1961, if memory serves. If it is the same or lower on my official outside thermometer, I'll check to be sure of that. -30-

Sunday, February 15, 2015 7:48 PM - A cold day today and a colder night coming up. The high was either 9 or 12 today depending on which remote reading you want to believe. I'll venture out later to get the 'official' reading. Right now it's either 0 or 1. Brrrrrr!! But at least no new ugly white stuff.

No DX this evening so I'll have to try later or in the morning. Weather permitting, Mike will be visiting tomorrow. I don't blame him if he doesn't want to venture out though.

Right now I'm getting my laundry done, and then going to cross-check our sprint logs. Hope to get that all done this evening, so I better get to it. -30-

Saturday, February 14, 2015 8:30 PM - Easy DX this evening. PA6NB and PI4A in the PA contest on 40 meters. That's day 717 for the DX streak, and for the big streak, 7,500 days.

I wonder why it is that many times when a DX or contest station asks for a repeat, the station calling will QRS. 99 times out of 100, it's not the speed that is hampering the DX station from copying, but QSB, QRN, or QRM. Sending slower will not help out in any of those situations. In fact sending faster often helps. In QSB, you can send your whole call in an 'up' time whereas if you send slower, some of your call could wind up in a 'down' time. Oh well, just wondering.

We're turning down the heat for the weekend. Right now it's 7 degrees and some forecasts are saying it won't get above zero all day Sunday and maybe down to 10 below Sunday night/Monday morning. The only encouraging thing is, as I said in a previous entry, that this is the middle of February and not early January so that light at the end of the tunnel is not as far away now. -30-

Friday, February 13, 2015 8:07 PM - It will be nice to see the bands quiet down after this weekend when the RTTY contest and the K1N DXpedition come to an end. It's been very hard finding European stations to work for the NAQCC challenge. They are all seemingly chasing K1N when I do hear any.

I did work E73RO this morning to keep the DX streak alive. He was well over S9 on 10 meters around 1420Z. Later in the afternoon the bands were down, but I managed to work SV2JAO just because he was there on 20.

Then no DX again this evening. I did work Steve K9IS for the big streak though.

A beautiful clear day today. The calm before the storm. Well actually no big storm, but a spell in the deep freeze for the next several days.

Looking forward to a visit from Mike KC2EGL on Presidents Day. Hope we don't get 'colded' out. -30-

Thursday, February 12, 2015 8:35 PM - No exciting DX today - no DX at all, in fact. So DX streak day #715 will have to come tomorrow morning or afternoon - maybe later tonight. Not much at all going on today to talk about. It was one of those days that start out decently 'mild' and then go downhill all day. It was 34 at midnight, and it's now 9 at 8:35 PM. The next 4 days or so we will remain in the deep freeze, maybe not getting out of the single digits on Sunday. Fortunately it's mid February and not early January so the end can't be that far away.

Today I processed a lot of our sprint logs getting them ready for the cross-checking program. We're around 110 logs now with still almost 3 full days for log submissions remaining. Hopefully we'll cross the 120 log mark again as we did last month.

I also worked on some more pages on my web site. Now all my contest stories pages have the full new menu bar at the top so access to any part of the site is available there. I plan to eventually have my CW stories, teens and CW, FISTS columns, etc. pages fixed up the same way. -30-

Wednesday, February 11, 2015 9:54 PM - Never say never, you'll probably be wrong. As in "I'll never work K1N through these pileups." You know I was wrong there. Or how about "I'll never work S01WS, he's never all that strong here." Wrong again. Although he was barely out of my S5 noise about half the time, I only had to wait through a half dozen stations before he came back with a perfectly clear K3WWP 599. So that's another new overall country, #223 now. First time since the CQWW DX test in November that I've worked two new countries within a couple days or so. And it's thanks to our computer club meeting this evening. Huh?

OK, I'll explain. At the meeting, I gave a presentation on the latest upcoming Microsoft operating system, Windows 10. The meeting ran until around 0200Z, and when I got home and took my temperature readings, I thought I'd see what was on the bands. I doubted I'd work any DX, and other than K1N, PV8ADI, and CO8LY, one of whom I had worked a few days ago and didn't need on another band, and two that I work all the time. So I passed them by along with a RU0 who didn't hear me at all. Off to 40 meters to see what a CQ would bring. It brought a QSO with W5UXS/4 near Miami which started strong and then the band changed. So I'll check again for some DX. On 30 meters, I noticed a small peak on the panadapter near the low end of the band. In fact two small peaks separated by a kHz or so, about the width of a DX working split. I tuned down to see who it was. Turned out to be S01WS, and as I described above, it didn't take long to get a sure QSO with him. Had it not been for the computer meeting, I wouldn't have been on the bands at 0230Z when I worked him. Reminds me of the time I worked KL7 on 30 meters because I got on late after playing chess with my neighbor Bruce. That QSO completed 30 meters WAS for me after several years being stuck on 49 states on that band. -30-

Tuesday, February 10, 2015 11:57 AM - YES! I'm definitely in the K1N log. Thanks to Dave VA3RJ for checking and letting me know (and beating me to the punch). When I checked last night, the last QSO time in the log was about 30 minutes before my QSO. I was going to check later today, but now I don't have to, although I probably will just to see it for myself. HI.

As I said in yesterday's entry, I now have all 50 current NA entities worked with QRP/CW/simple wire antennas. Now today in checking, I have 48 of the 50 verified with a card (missing the new Sint Maarten and of course Navassa). I do have Sint Maarten verified in the LotW a couple times. I'll have to try to get a card also.

I almost let my DX streak get away from me today. I forgot I didn't get a DX QSO last evening, but when I went to my shack to look for challenge QSOs, I realized that and worked OK2LA on 10 meters for day # 712 in a row. I didn't find any challenge QSOs though. I might try a couple more times during furnace silent periods. -30-

Monday, February 09, 2015 4:30 PM - I now have worked every country/entity in North America CW/QRP/Simple wire antennas. Finally got K1N a few minutes ago on 20 meters. A good solid QSO. I have had two other very tentative ones - one that didn't show up in their log, and another one I have yet to check. But this one was definite and it was thanks to a WA8 or WB8 station. It was often hard to figure out the frequency K1N was listening to because of the size of the pile plus a lot of QSB. But this 8 station was a zillion over S9 and I set to transmit on his frequency, and after one more QSO, it was me. YES!!! Actually I shouldn't say "finally" because honestly I hadn't really tried all that hard since I didn't think I stood a chance in those awesome pileups. I would guess I probably tried less than an hour total time in all the time they have been there on Navassa.

Only one comment so far about the new look on the web site. Thanks to my old friend Dave VA3RJ who says it is looking great. I've still got some fine tuning left to do, but virtually all the main pages now have the new menu system in force. I like it because it makes updating and adding pages easier plus there's a lot more space for content on a page with only the couple of lines near the top allocated to the menu on each page instead of all the wasted space when the menu was at the left of the pages.

Gosh, I'm so excited about getting K1N, I don't know what to do next here now. First of all, I've got to update my DX pages with Navassa, then I don't know where I'll go from there. -30-

Sunday, February 08, 2015 8:21 PM - I'm sure you noticed what I did today, so I'll not comment on it till tomorrow as it is not quite finished yet.

My DX came on 40 this evening when I worked S53A. He was booming in here. I thought from the strength he was probably a USA station although the MO gave him away as being DX. We've worked before a few times.

Earlier in the day, the bands were still in chaos. I looked a couple time for some European stations for the NAQCC European Chapter challenge, but didn't find any from the needed countries.

Maybe tomorrow things will be a little quieter on the bands. The K1N pileups remaine HUGE and WIDE, so I again probably won't try to make contact unless I happen to find them just starting up on a band before the spotters ruin it. -30-

Saturday, February 07, 2015 7:45 PM - ADDENDUM (again) I'm just logging my LotW verifications, and I got one from AH0K. I wasn't positive about that QSO back in the CQWW DX contest, but now I know it was definitely a good QSO. Whew! That makes 216 entities veried via card and/or LotW.

The bands are really a mess today with my QRN, K1N, a DX test, the FOC contest, etc. Reminds me of the old W.C. Fields line (which really needs the video to be effective) that went like something like this. The theater was so crowded you couldn't clap this way (sideways), you had to clap like this (up and down). Anyway I did manage to work Derek J67ZF on 10104, just a couple kHz below the K1N operation. That made 710 days for the DX streak. Earlier in the day I worked ES5QD just to test how my signal was getting into Europe. Then I looked around in between everything else and managed to find and work F5PCV to the get the F and C for the NAQCC European Chapter challenge. -30-

Friday, February 06, 2015 8:03 PM - ADDENDUM. Well, I guess no one has caught the error. That's unusual. Of course it's Bluebirds, not Blue Skies in the original song made popular by Vera Lynn with her 1942 version. It just dawned on me as I was humming the song here. OK now back to the original entry.

I has a wrong word in last night's entry. It should have been, "There were blue skies over the ugly s#$w cover." Still not a perfect match, but better with that two syllable word instead of the one syllable one (and a more accurate description to boot). We didn't lose much of the ugly cover today either despite the same blue skies again as it only hit 31 degrees.

At least I got to make another mark on my sun chart this morning, and saw my friends, the stars again this evening. I caught Sirius tonight just as it peeked through the trees on the horizon at about 5:49PM EST.

More and more I'll be glad when warm weather comes. I think as my furnace ages, the noise it puts out is increasing. When it's really cold, its cycle of about 5 minutes off and 10 minutes on really cuts into my ham radio time. I think this summer, I'm finally going to try to attack the noise problem one way or another. A shielded cable from the thermostat to the furnace perhaps, along with some other ideas.

During the off periods today I did manage one QSO for the European Chapter challenge. I worked EG5ANT for the A and N in SPAIN. The bands are really rough with my QRN, the K1N DXpedition, the S01WS activity and now this weekend the FOC contest.

At least I got my DX streak QSO this evening for day # 709 when I worked RI1ANR on 30 meters way down there where it is just past mid-summer. Still I wouldn't trade our winter for their summer. HI

In looking at my tomatoes today, I note that 7 of the 16 seeds have sprouted now. That one I pictured here a couple days ago now has two nice seed leaves on it. Still nothing from the pepper seeds yet. -30-

Thursday, February 05, 2015 8:37 PM - I've been listening to a lot of good songs from the 1940s WWII era lately. That music is so great compared to what passes as music today. Anyway one of my favorite songs from that era is "There'll Be Blue Skies Over The White Cliffs Of Dover." That is a good description of today as "There were blue skies over the white s#$w cover." OK, the match is not perfect, but the description is. The sky was a clear blue all day with only a couple clouds here and there. I finally got to mark another spot on my sun chart this morning. It's nice to record the movement of the Earth bringing the sun up higher and higher in the sky with its increased heating power. Even with temperatures mostly in the teens and twenties today, you could see some s#$wmelt going on. A delight to see. It's supposed to be near 40 this weekend with some rain which should improve things even further.

With the clear skies, although it was too bad to take out my telescope, I did a lot of naked eye stargazing out the kitchen window this evening. I knew Sirius would be rising just about the time it got dark enough to catch it, so I kept an eye on the spot on the horizon where I knew it would appear. I didn't quite catch the rising, but did spot it maybe only two or three minutes later just above the trees on the horizon. It was the first star I spotted, then as the sky got darker, Rigel popped into view followed by Betelgeuse. Procyon was there also although I didn't look over for it till a bit later. The Orion belt stars were the next ones spotted. First it was Alnilam, then Alnitak, finally Mintaka. As they came into view, I though the middle one was brightest, then the left, finally the right which is the order listed in the previous sentence. I think I'll check now to see if that is correct. Alnitak is mag. 1.74, Alnilam 1.72, Mintaka 2.23. So I was right although it's almost a toss-up between Alnitak and Alnilam. Some other familiar stars then were noticed like Bellatrix, Saiph, Mirzam, Gomeisa, Castor, Pollux, Wezen, Adhara, and Aludra. Later Jupiter showed up followed by Regulus. It sure was nice to see all those old friends. With the almost always cloudy skies here, a clear night like tonight is really appreciated even though it means radiational cooling is at full speed and it is 8 degrees now headed for zero or below. Finally it was the moon rising as shown here. The picture is blurry because it was too dark for the auto-focus to work well, but you can easily see the bright moon which at that point was shining through a big tree on the horizon.

pix_diary_20150205_001 (17K)

Getting back to ham radio again, I finished the groundhog challenge last night when I worked HH2JR for that final elusive R. So tonight with no chance to work Europe for that challenge, I just went for my DX streak QSO and got it from KP2/AG2J, this time on 40 meters. Then I got my first USA station this month when WA0JLY answered my CQ from Steamboat Springs, CO.

Now it's just 9:00 so I'm going out to get my temperature. -30-

Wednesday, February 04, 2015 10:06 AM - I'm sitting around waiting to go shopping with Nancy and Bruce, and I thought I'd make my diary entry while waiting.

I listened a bit on the bands looking for that letter R for the challenge, but no luck. Most of the bands are occupied by K1N pileups, and they are awesome. I liken working K1N to playing reverse Russian Roulette. Five of the six chambers have bullets in them, and every time you call K1N, you're more than likely to be shot than to make contact. Actually it would be a gun with hundreds of chambers with only one not having a bullet.

I'm not about to sit there and play in those kind of pileups. I think they are the biggest since the breakup of the Netherlands Antilles countries on 10/10/10. This morning the whole of the CW segment on 12 meters was full, and other pileups are 30, 40,... kHz wide. I certainly would like to work them as that is the only North American country I've never worked, but I don't think I'll have much of a chance unless I run across them just starting up on a band or maybe near the end of the operation when hopefully the pileups will have diminished. Miss them this time and it's at least 10 years before it will be activated again. Oh well, it's not going to change my life in any way at all whether or not I work them, but it would be nice.

By contrast, I still need perhaps a half dozen countries in Europe to complete that continent, and they are pretty rare also. I haven't even ever heard some of them like Andorra for example. I'm curious now, and think I'll make a list to see just who and how many there are that I need.

OK, here it is for NA, SA, and EU:
KP1 - Navassa Is.

HK0 - Malpelo
PY0P - St. Peter & St. Paul Rocks
VP8 - Falklands
VP8 - So. Georgia Is.
VP8 - So. Sandwich Is.

1A - SMO Malta
C3 - Andorra
OJ0 - Market Reef
SV1/A - Mt. Athos
I checked my tomatoes and peppers last evening, and found one tomato sprout had appeared as shown here at the red arrow.

pix_diary_20150204_001 (40K)

So that's kind of encouraging help to get through this miserable winter weather. -30-

Tuesday, February 03, 2015 7:40 PM - One of those nice days if you look up at the blue sky and don't look down at the ugly white ground. Still a lot of ice around and not very safe to go out walking, so I didn't. I will brave it and go out and get my temperature at 9PM though as I did last night.

When I go to my shack at 0000Z, I have three objectives in mind:
1. Work someone to keep my big 20+ year streak going.
2. Work a DX station to keep my 700+ day DX streak going. Of course if #2 comes first, that also covers #1.
3. If I still need letters/numbers for our NAQCC alphabet challenges, I then look for them. Or if there is some other kind of challenge instead of an alphabet one, I'll work on that one.

Tonight, #2 came first (HC2AO on 30M) so that covered both #1 and #2. Further looking around did not turn up anything for the challenges, so I QRT.

Now tomorrow morning I'll get on and try to get that final R I now need to complete the Groundhog challenge I discussed in yesterday's entry. I worked HG90IARU for 2 Rs earlier today along with GW3TMP (nice long chat) for the W.

Now as for the European Chapter challenge which briefly is spelling the name of a country from letters in the call signs of stations in that country. When I worked HG90IARU, I got 5 of the 7 letters to spell Hungary, leaving a N and a Y to finish. Then I got to thinking that I didn't recall ever working a Hungarian station with a Y in the call. I was almost right when I probed my log for Hungarian stations. Then I got to wondering about the other nine countries in the challenge, and I did a detailed analysis of my log and came up with the following that shows how many QSOs I've had with each country and how many of each of the required letters were in the call signs of those QSOs. A piece of cake to do with my MS Access log and a little counting help from MS Word:

Germany - 1,733 QSOs
G  160
E   58
R  184
M  268
A  498
N  143
Y  107

Italy - 978 QSOs
I 1113
T  141
A  202
L   87
Y  105

England - 851 QSOs
E   56
N   38
G  755
L   61
A   67
N   38
D   65

Hungary - 789 QSOs
H  843
U   74
N  145
G  325
A  611
R  102
Y   11

France - 766 QSOs
F  627
R   66
A  116
N  117
C  142
E   67

Poland - 570 QSOs
P  375
O   53
L   39
A   81
N  202
D   41

Russia - 559 QSOs
R  493
U  212
S   17
S   17
I   23
A  487

Spain - 493 QSOs
S   31
P   19
A  506
I   20
N   41

Ukraine - 302 QSOs
U  343
K    3
R   75
A   48
I   44
N   11
E   47

Sweden - 280 QSOs
S  289
W   66
E   72
D   24
E   72
N   18
Look at Ukraine as the worst case scenario. Only 3 letter Ks in all the 302 QSOs I've had with that country. There are other cases that are going to be difficult also. I sent the above to the European Chapter folks in charge (Matt and Ton), and they are going to think about the consequnces and maybe modify the challenge a bit. -30-

Monday, February 02, 2015 11:02 AM - We made out pretty good in the storm. It got warm enough so it was mostly rain which kept the s#$w accumulation down and melted some of the existing stuff. The only problem is that now with the cold front coming through a little while ago, everything that was wet by the rain has frozen or is freezing. Another good thing is that it wasn't true freezing rain, but regular rain that is freezing later. That way no power lines, trees, etc. down as the only real ice is on the ground. All in all a good day to stay inside and do ham radio which I did as described here.

Conditions were good on all the high bands and I spent about an hour and a half chasing DX, working on our NAQCC challenges, and picking up a couple nice new prefixes along the way. I often talk about our challenges here in the diary, and I thought today I'd go into a lot more detail so maybe you'll see what fun you are missing if you are not a NAQCC member, or a member who never delved into the challenges. The following applies to our alphabet challenges although we do have other types of challenges as well.

Let's start at the very beginning with apologies to those who already know all this stuff and progress from there. An alphabet challenge consists of a list of words to be made from letters (and sometimes numbers) in the call signs of stations you work. For example, to make JOHN, you could work pJ2t, Oa4ss, wy3H, and vo2Ns. Usually there are around a half dozen or so words (or short phrases) containing around 80-90 letters or so. That varies widely with the European Chapter challenges usually containing fewer letters but including numbers in the mix also. With that said, here's my worksheet for the February Groundhog Challenge with a description following:

pix_diary_20150202_001 (103K)

Across the top of the page is a list of the letters of the alphabet that are included in the words. Most are crossed out in this example since I gathered all of those particular letters. When I get near the end, I put the number of that letter remaining to get. See 4 Hs, 4 Rs, and 1 W remaining here. If I now get 2 Hs, I'll change the 4 to a 2.

Now the heart of the page is the list of words to be gotten written horizontally with room to list the station that gave me that particular letter. See J6/SP7TF for the P in PUNXSUTAWNEY as an example. Since each letter in a call sign can be used twice, you'll also see J6/SP7TF listed for the P in PHIL.

At the right is a countdown of letters worked. See at the top where 0/84 means 0 worked and 84 still needed. Right after that is EA8TL who was the first station worked this month. The hash marks after EA8TL show that I got 8 letters from his call sign. That means 8 worked, leaving 76 to go, hence the 8/76 below the 0/84. Next came J6/SP7TF from whose call I got 7 letters making it 15/69 worked/needed. And so on down the list where I currently stand at 75/9.

Of course, that is only the way I personally keep track of our alphabet challenges. I think it is perhaps the optimum way, but others have other opinions and ways of doing it.

This morning I searched and pounced on 7 DX stations, 5 of whom helped out with letters for the groundhog challenge, and a couple others that helped with the European Chapter Spell the Country Name challenge. What a great way to spend time on the bands. While doing it, I had some thoughts run through my head. I was thinking how much fun it is to just tune the bands and find stations. As many of you know, I NEVER use any kind of spotting when I'm on the bands. I just tune and see what is there. I don't condemn anyone for using spotting if that is their wont - I just don't find it at all rewarding personally. It's kind of like fishing in a small pond that is well-stocked with starving fish. No challenge or effort at all to catch them. Or maybe spotting is like using a telephone to contact someone. You look up their call on a spotting page somewhere just like you look up a name in a phone book to see who you want to work or call.

With that said, I will confess although I've never used true spotting, a couple times ham friends have told me via email that so and so is on such and such a frequency if I'd like to try working him. I don't mind that and appreciate it.

I also thought that although it may not have been mentioned much, that a good way of knowing what chance you have of working someone is to hear how they are working other stations. If they ask for a lot of repeats, even from high power stations, that may not bode well for your chances. However that is not totally tried and true as it could be that you have a good path to the station while others may not. So give it a try anyway. That happened this morning with DL1BUG. He was having all kinds of problems getting even an RST from one station he was working, yet I worked him with ease.

I'm kind of long winded this morning and also getting hungry so I'll close in a bit. First speaking of groundhogs, I wonder how Phil did this morning. I haven't checked yet because it really doesn't matter one way or other. Perhaps at one time, folks did check to see whether the prediction was accurate or not, but now it's just a circus side show and even on the cloudiest day, Phil will "see his shadow". It all depends on what the guardians or whatever they are called decide after doing a lot of research into long-term forecasts. Many years ago in Europe, it was whether or not the sun shone on Candlemas Day, February 2 that somehow got translated into groundhog shadows when Europeans immigrated to the New World. That's only a thumbnail compression of the story. It makes interesting reading in toto on the Internet.

OK, off to lunch now. -30-

Sunday, February 01, 2015 9:17 PM - We're sitting out a mixture of just about every sort of precipitation imaginable. I don't even want to discuss it.

I got off to a great start on the NAQCC February Grounhog challenge. 59 of the 84 letters already in the books thanks to a half dozen stations with long calls worked today. No DX worked this evening though so I'll be chasing DX tomorrow morning, weather permitting. I did work VO2NS for my regular streak QSO though, so the big streak is safe for another day. -30-

Saturday, January 31, 2015 7:42 PM - Here it is February (UTC wise) and although it can be a very nasty weather month, at least it is only 28 days long. Actually 20 meters sounded like it was already well into spring with some Asiatic Russians coming through this evening. One was at least 20 over S9 and if it wasn't for the signature polar flutter, I'd have thought he was just some USA station fooling around. I didn't try to work him because he had a big pileup.

I did get the month started with 3 DX QSOs keeping my streaks going and picking up 23 letters in the February NAQCC groundhog challenge. No European QSOs for the European Chapter 'spell the country' challenge though. Maybe in the morning if the high bands are good.

It was a sunny day today with a high around 30 so I took a grocery run to stock up on food in fear of what tomorrow's storm may bring. Anywhere between 1 and 9 inches of the ugly messy slippery stuff is predicted. You know which end of that range I'm rooting for, but I'm fearing the other end. -30-

Friday, January 30, 2015 6:20 PM - I made it! I worked HF90IARU and DR50RRDXA within a couple minutes on 15 meters around 1700Z to get the zeroes I needed to finish the NAQCC European Chapter challenge. Conditions were pretty good although not as good as I expected from the high SF number. At least that offset the depression over the weather. A couple more inches of the ugly stuff fell during the night and early today. Now it's coming down again, and a bigger storm is headed here for Sunday and Monday. At least we're only a couple days from February now and once we get through that miserable month it will be March with its certain periods of better weather.

The DX streak was locked in easily last night when I worked FG/F6ARC on 30 meters not long after 0000Z. Now in a half hour or so, I'll go for yet another day.

I guess that about covers it for today. I can't wait till we get better weather to cheer me up. Then I'll feel more like talking about things, and getting outside will give me more to talk about. -30-

Thursday, January 29, 2015 6:51 PM - I came a couple steps closer to completing the NAQCC European Chapter challenge today. I got the single 8 I needed from LY8O on 15 meters. Then I chased SN90IARU unsuccessfully for the zero for quite a while on 12 meters, but he was very weak and not hearing me at all. I finally decided to give up on him and go back to 15 meters to see if I could find a zero there. Lo and behold - there was SN90IARU quite strong and it took but a single call to get him on that band. So I'm down to needing 3 more zeroes or two calls with a zero in them or one call with two zeroes since a zero in a call can be used twice for the challenge. With the SF up to 165, the next two days may be good for working Europe, and if I can find the zeroes, I may master the challenge after all.

Right now it's 2355Z so about time to head for the shack to get my streak QSO(s). Hey, with the SF that high there might even be some European sigs on 20 to work. If so, I'll add to the entry here. Otherwise this is it. -30-

Wednesday, January 28, 2015 7:33 PM - Long time diary followers will know what this is. If you don't, I'll explain a little later in the entry.

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700 down and ??? to go. Yes, day #700 of the DX streak is in the books quickly and solidly thanks to a QSO with HK1MK on 30 meters at 0003Z. I guess the next goal is to make it to 730 days on February 28 which would mean two solid years of daily DX. I just love setting goals and trying to master them. It's sad to think of folks who have no goals in life except to live long enough to see the next reality show on TV. I couldn't imagine living like that. Each day I try to have some goal in mind whether it be working some DX, getting a little further along on the NAQCC challenges, walking for so many miles, catching a carp (not in this weather though. HI), or a myriad of other little things. I didn't have any luck with getting those remaining numbers for the European Chapter challenge today and time is running out now with just a little over 3 days left (or is that just under 3 days left? I'm not sure what the time frame is exactly for the challenges). Conditions are decent to Europe in the morning or early afternoon, but finding stations with the right numbers is the hard part. Oh well, at least I made one of the "words" in the challenge and will get my participation point. That's only the second time though that I didn't complete one of the European challenges. The other one was in a January also.

Continuing about goals now. One goal today was achieved as shown in the picture above. That is getting my Siberian tomato seeds planted. I also got my pepper seeds started. The aqua basin contains the peppers with two seeds in each yogurt cup. The same with the tomato seeds in the other basin. Once again this year I didn't get them started as early as I should have, and I probably won't have any ripe tomatoes in May as I've done a few times in the past. However if all goes according to plan and we have a better growing year than last year, I should be enjoying garden tomatoes by mid-June at the latest. Not bad for PA without a greenhouse to help things along.

It looked great outside today if you kept your glance up to the sky and not on the ground. Clear blue skies all day but still rather cold if you weren't directly in the sun and sheltered from the wind. Actually there was a bit of s#$w melt from the sunshine today, and that was pleasant to see.

Finally this from Geo N1EAV who was close to the brunt of the storm up in New England, "Hey John, I was one of those people in that coastal storm. We got about 25 inches from late Monday night into Tuesday night. Snowed over 24 hours. Started at work on Monday at 4:30 am and just got out today at about lunch time. Lots of snow to move around. There were a lot of towns that got over 30 inches...It was very windy at my location about 25 miles nw of Boston , but the coast took the brunt of it as far as wind goes. Another 1-2 inches expected here Friday, and something seems to be cooking for Sunday night/Monday time frame that is more substantial....uuugghhhh Thought we might get away with an easy winter this year, but the pattern has changed bringing the storms up from the gulf. Hope I get to watch the Superbowl instead of spending the time in my tractor plowing snow...Go Pats geo n1eav".

The top total I saw was an even 3 feet - 36 inches at some town in MA whose name I forget now. I know Worcester set an all-time record for a storm. It was just awesome watching storm footage on the Weather channel when I was over at Nancy's. -30-

Tuesday, January 27, 2015 7:18 PM - At last, an easy evening DX QSO thanks to 6Y5JH on 30 meters. I beat a small pile to get him. Earlier in the day I worked S51WO and YL3CW, and now it's just one more day for the DX streak to hit 700 days. Whew! I was wondering if I'd get that close to 700 on some days in January when it wasn't too easy to get a DX QSO.

Other than that, not a lot to talk about. Winter has set in pretty good here, but I did get a chance to walk to the store and stock up on a few things this afternoon. The next bout of nasty weather is due Thursday with Wednesday to be pretty good although cold. -30-

Monday, January 26, 2015 7:33 PM - Same old story of late this evening. No DX, but I did work N2BZD to keep the big streak going. The bands were good throughout the day today as I checked periodically looking for stations needed to finish the NAQCC European Chapter challenge. I did hear a German special event station with a zero in the call, but much too weak to work. Just to check how my signals were getting into Europe, I did work RA2FF in Kaliningrad easily on 15 meters. I could have worked others too, but I didn't. Later in the day I worked a station on 17 meters who was not giving his ID. I found out later by checking the spots it must have been J6/SP7TF as the time and frequency matched and the signal strength and steadiness seemed right for St. Lucia.

It was a depressing day weatherwise with about 4 inches of the ugly white stuff falling. At least we missed the fury of the coastal blizzard. I really feel sorry for those in the brunt of that storm. I remember the blizzard of March 1993. There was one good thing about that one though. It came in March and the 2 feet of s#$w here was all gone in several days. It should take a lot longer for the coast to get rid of the stuff this year coming in late January as it is. -30-

Sunday, January 25, 2015 4:33 PM - Sometimes (many times?) our impressions of things turn out to be very wrong. As I mentioned when talking about the NAQCC European Chapter challenge this month, I thought that the number zero was somewhat rarer than the other numbers in European call letters. Well, I analyzed my 2,505 NON-contest European QSOs today. Very easy to do with Microsoft Access and Excel. I found the numbers in those calls are distributed as follows:
8	162
6	201
7	222
4	273
9	285
0	305
2	398
5	398
3	447
1	451
So zero is right about in the middle of the distribution. Now I counted the zero as being anywhere in the call, but I didn't count how many zeroes there may have been (nor how many 1, 2, 3....) in a single call. I suspect the reason for the higher number of zeroes than I thought is that they show up in a lot of special calls like oh, DL400XYZ, LZ1003YGD, for example, and show up more than once. I'm going back and consider numbers that only show up in the second or third position in a call like G4BUE, OK1DO, for example. A little trickier, but doable with Excel.

I'm back after a few minutes with these figures for the distribution of numbers in the first 3 positions in a call. That knocks zero down quite a bit to more like my impression.
8	142
6	181
0	186
7	193
4	240
9	268
5	354
2	376
1	386
3	408
Using that criteria, zero is the third rarest number. It would be interesting to continue the analysis further considering maybe the distribution of letters as well as calls. However I'm not going to do that now. I'll rest my brain for the cross-checking of our NAQCC Sprint logs sometime after 0000Z this evening.

Oh, I got my DX for today a little later last evening on 40 meters when I worked FM5WD in the REF contest. I checked the bands earlier today looking for the abovementioned European calls with a zero in them, but didn't hear hardly any European signals at all except for a few in the REF contest, and contest QSOs don't count toward NAQCC challenges. That would make it not much of a challenge at all. An hour or less in a busy contest could easily provide all the needed letters and numbers. -30-

Saturday, January 24, 2015 7:32 PM - It's been a while since I didn't get my regular streak QSO in the evening, but that happpened (or didn't happen?) last evening. Conditions weren't all that good, plus Mike and I were involved in various things as he wrote in yesterday's diary entry.

Not to fear though. The REF contest provided my regular and DX streaks QSO as soon as I turned on the rig this morning and worked F5CWU on 15 meters. I didn't hang around after working him except for a brief tour of 17 and 12 looking for European stations with a zero in their calls. I didn't find any and it's looking more and more like I won't finish this month's NAQCC European Chapter challenge.

This evening, conditions again seemed rather poor. Nothing on 20 and higher. Only a couple stations on 30. A RTTY contest on 40. So I went to 80 and after a few CQs, got an answer from K2GTC in NYC. The DX will have to wait till the morning unless I check 40 again later for an REF QSO. -30-

Friday, January 23, 2015 10:08 PM - Tonight John has a guest diary writer. You can have three guesses as to who it is and the first two do not count.

The day started when I arrived at John's QTH around 15:00Z. We finished up on the O scale model railroad project we started on Monday. I will have to take my trolley in for a checkup. It would not reverse direction like it is designed to.

After the model railroad project we took off to Subway for lunch. Upon our return we started what we thought would be a straight forward project building our QRPME Lil Squall 40M transceiver's. Key word here is 'thought'. There are five step's to building the Lil Squall. We are only half way through step three. The instructions were not laid out very well. With the experience that John and I have assembling radio kits, this should have been a leisurely afternoon project. It has turned out to be anything but. It will require another visit to finish out the kit which took up at least eight hours of our day. We did break for dinner at Ponderosa for their Friday fish buffet. During one of the testing phases of working on the kit we checked the bands to see if we could find some DX. All we heard CO8LY in Cuba. John and I have worked him many times over so we passed him by.

After we called it a night with the kit building we took on one of our favorite activities. A hidden object game which we continued from the previous two visits. When we finished our game we found a 'extra' game that gives us the perspective from another character in the game we just completed. We will continue with it the next time I visit.

As I type this out, John is walking laps on the first floor of his house. He obviously did not get enough walking in today. Neither did I. I will have to make up for it tomorrow morning on my indoor cycling trainer which is my Lemond Nevada City road bike connected to a magnetic resistance unit. I will pedal along as I watch a recording of today's stage of the Tour Down Under. It is the first event on the bicycle racing calendar.

All in all it was another very enjoyable day hanging out with John. I will have to figure out when my next visit will be. I plan on visiting at least one more time before our annual President's Day get get together.

Until then 73 de Mike KC2EGL -30-

Thursday, January 22, 2015 10:49 AM - Let's do a bit of cleaning up with a mish-mash of things here today.

First some diary feedback starting with this from Brion VE3FUJ, "HI John: I had a conference with my Wife who was an Ace typist till CTS got the better of her and she had to retire in 95. She tells me that all you have to do to make the written word a bit sarcastic, is to put "Thanks " in between Quotation marks. 72 Brion"

Thanks Brion, that's good to know. Now from Dave W4DUK about trains, "John, I thoroughly enjoyed reading about your love of trains, and your and Mike's servicing and running of his model trains. I, too, love trains, both prototype and model. As a kid, we would visit my great grandma in rural Burnside, PA for a week every summer. A track ran along the edge of her property - New York Central, nearly all coal trains. When I'd hear one approaching, I'd run out by the track and wave to the engineer, who would always wave back. I also remember my O-gauge steam set, and later my HO diesel sets. No model trains now, but I still get a thrill when I'm in town and get stopped at a crossing by Norfolk Southern running coal hoppers, mixed freight, or double stack containers. With your descriptions and photos, thanks for taking me back in my own memories for a moment. 73, Dave W4DUK, Bedford VA"

Ah yes, the good old NS railroad still going (strongly I believe). I sure miss seeing the trains come by here. There is an active railroad around here on the other side of the river. I can still watch trains when I'm fishing. Used to be the Pittsburgh and Shawmut railroad. Now it is the Buffalo and Pittsburgh railroad, I believe.

Conditions were good for the sprint last night or as I put it in my soapbox, "less terrible". My noise was still there at s6-7 on 40 and s9 on 80, but signals frequently popped out of the noise long enough to work so I fairly easily made my quota of 20 QSOs some 30 minutes before the sprint ended. Might have hit 30, but of late, I quit when I reach 20 as the noise gets to be too hard on my old ears. I used my bug for the sprint, and plan to do that from now on for a while.

Conditions continued good this morning and except for the periodic furnace noise, the noise was down quite low for a change. I managed four European QSOs to help out with the January NAQCC European Chapter challenge. I finally completed one of the four 'words' when I worked 3Z90IARU to get two zeroes. It took a while to work him, but I stuck in there as I wanted to at least complete one 'word' to get a participation point. Now I'm left with 5 zeroes and one eight to finish the whole challenge. Yesterday I heard a SN400... something call, but very weak and unworkable. I was hoping he'd be back today stronger, but no such luck. Still 9 days to go, so with conditions like today and some luck, maybe I will finish. We'll see. -30-

Wednesday, January 21, 2015 10:34 AM - That ugly white stuff is falling as I type. Boy, I hate to see that. I just hope there won't be much of it.

I just got my DX QSO a few minutes ago when I worked Mika OH6NVC and had a nice chat. He has 40 cm of the stuff there in Finland. I think that's around 16 inches. Whew! Europe was pretty good on 15 meters today. I heard a few stations from there, but none that had any help with the European Chapter challenge, so I only worked Mika for the streak.

Tonight is our monthly NAQCC sprint. Depending on my local noise, I might just get my goal of 20 QSOs and quit - that is if the noise even permits that many. Or maybe I'll go the full 2 hours if the noise is down and signals are up. -30-

Tuesday, January 20, 2015 7:32 PM - Another fairly good mid-January day today. A bit of s#$w, but nothing really bothersome. Temperatures in the mid-30s. All in all that's not bad here for this time of year. I had a chance to do some shopping and get stocked up a bit in case it does get bad.

I checked the bands at a few various times today to try to find a time and band when European signals are good so I can finish the NAQCC European Chapter challenge. Signals were not all that good at any of the times I checked, so it may be rough to finish the challenge. It may even be rough to continue my DX streak although there were some good DX signals from SA and AF now and then. I don't need it to be EU for the streak.

The big main streak goes on and on easily though. Tonight NW0Q answered my 40 meters CQ. -30-

Monday, January 19, 2015 10:08 PM - Let's get right to the heart of the matter today - model railroading. Were I not into so many other things, I would love to have one of those big model railroad setups like you see at various model railroading exhibits and museums around the country. I have always loved trains - probably one reason being the Pennsylvania Railroad lines ran just about a half block from my house and the passenger station was less than a block away. In addition to the main line there were siding lines that ran even closer to the house on their way to a railroad warehouse behind the passenger station and a brickyard up the line from that. I can remember from a very early age the American Flyer train my dad and I used to play with. That was followed by a Lionel steam engine set and then later a Lionel diesel set. Ah those were the days. Unfortunately I didn't really go further into the hobby once my dad died when I was 18 and then other interests including work took over my life.

That was why I was really excited when Mike said he was going to bring down a couple of his train sets that needed some work after not being used for several years. We spent some 4-5 hours or so cleaning the track and wheels and fixing other little minor things. When we got things running good, we both just sat on the floor like kids enjoying just watching the models going around in circles. Life doesn't get any better. Here are a couple pictures of our experience. First Mike cleaning his portion of the tracks. I was doing the same thing, but we never did get a picture of me at work. Then Mike enjoying watching the HO gauge Alaskan Railways train going that circular route. Again we didn't get me in a picture, but I was just as rapt as Mike watching the train. Finally a picture of the magnificent Lionel steam engine. I think like CW is REAL ham radio, Steam is REAL railroading.

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Altogether we spent about 12+ hours together and did some of our other usual things like checking the bands. Conditions weren't all that great when we were on together. Mike worked HK4CZE and that was about it for both of us.

Of course we had our usual meals. Lunch at Wendy's and a Vocelli pizza for supper. For the first time, my frosty at Wendy's was too thick to enjoy through a straw and I had to use a spoon. Our pizza was a 5 topping for the price of a 1 topping. We had pepperoni, meatballs, avocado, mushrooms, and tomato toppings.

Another usual thing is playing a hidden object game on the computer. We're both pretty much addicted to them. When it became 0000Z, I told Mike I'd go to the shack and see if I could get my DX QSO before he finished that particular HOS. Well, everything clicked and it took me less than a minute to find and work XE2I on 20 meters, and another 30 seconds to log him. Mike still needed to find 4 more hidden objects when I got back downstairs. I think that's the quickest I've gotten my DX streak QSO in ages.

All too soon Mike had to leave, but we're shooting for getting together again this Friday to build our Lil Squeal QRP transceiver kits and do a couple minor finishing touches on one of the train sets. -30-

Sunday, January 18, 2015 7:32 PM - Conditions were pretty good this morning, but I couldn't find any letters/numbers for the NAQCC European Chapter challenge nor any new band entities, prefixes, etc., so I just listened and didn't work anyone.

It was a good wx day again with temperatures in the mid-upper 40s although with some (rain) showers. They were spotty though, and I got a chance to get in a couple walks and a bit of shopping.

This evening I'm doing my laundry as I type this in case Mike will be visiting tomorrow. I haven't heard from him for a while. He was supposed to take a vacation week this week, but I don't know if that came off or not. He will have tomorrow off though.

After I finish this entry and update a couple other pages I'm going to close out our NAQCC 160M sprint results.

I got a quick DX QSO this evening so that's another thing to free up more time tomorrow. I worked EA8DBM on 40 meters with a couple calls. That's day 690 in the DX streak now. Looking forward to 700 and then 730 for the two year mark. Hope I can make it that far, then I'll decide where to go from there if I make it. As I've said, it has been a bit of a stress and time consuming some days of late. However with the sun setting quite a bit later by March 1, conditions in the evening should start improving and I may be able to get those quick DX QSOs I got for much of the streak. -30-

Saturday, January 17, 2015 8:10 PM - It's been about 30 hours since my last entry here since I did yesterday's entry early in the day. Again last night, there was no DX to be had so I worked KE0HG in Iowa for my main streak QSO. Then this morning it was a super quick DX QSO in the Hungarian Contest when I worked HG0R. Too bad it was a contest QSO - I could have used that zero for the NAQCC European Chapter challenge. I did work DL1DGS in a non-contest QSO after that to get the 1 and the L for the challenge. So I'm down to 10 letters/numbers to finish. Actually 9 numbers and one letter (L) to be exact. That includes those 7 zeroes which may be my downfall.

Then this evening another pretty quick DX QSO from the HA contest. I got IK4ZGO with one call and a repeat on 40 meters. He was just booming in here at a solid true S9.

I haven't shared any feedback for a while and I have a couple emails here.

Don W2JEK commenting on my local QRN in the 160M sprint, "Hi John, I read your diary comment about the noise problem. Before building a loop antenna try some of your other antennas for receiving and transmit on the long wire. my shack has an antenna switch next to my key so I can quickly change antennas. My problem here is a plasma tv in our family room that emits S9+ hash. My wife usually watches tv in the evenings. Hope this might help your problem. 73 Don Younger W2JEK."

I thought it was kind of Don to take time to share that info. As I replied to him, "Hi Don, As the saying goes, "Been there, done that". I've been switching antennas on receive for many years now, and in a lot of cases, it makes a world of difference. I think in my situation, it works best on 40 and 30 with diminishing results up and down from there. It's remarkable how a 339 signal on my random wire becomes a 569 signal when received on my 15M vertical, 20M dipole, or one of my other antennas. It seems to be a combination of S/N ratio and polarization that brings the signals up out of the mud. Sometimes my left hand on the antenna switch gets almost as much exercise as my right hand on the key.
However there are times when the method fails completely, and last night [in the 160M sprint] was one of them. No matter what antenna I used to rcv, the S/N ratio never changed. The noise would go down a few S units, but so would the signals along with it.
When I did a lot of AM BC DXing and LW Beacon DXing, I used loops with great effectiveness. Not only could I null out the noise, but also undesired AM stations. In fact at my apartment in Pittsburgh many years ago, I could null out KDKA deep enough to hear WPEO in Peoria, Ill on 1020. The particular loop I'm talking about not only rotated but tilted (an alt-azimuth loop) to get some really deep nulls, particularly on ground wave signals.
I think my current local noise comes from various sources in various directions, so a loop might not be all that effective, but nevertheless I might just give it a try."

John N8ZYA emailed, "Hello John, I'm having a terrible time with the European challenge also. Can't get enough of the zero's..... I'm going to be out of town next week so don't look to complete it. This was the first month I've tried the European challenge. I've got all the words so maybe next month will be better? Good luck on the "zeros" Finished the NA with a bunch of DX stations this month."

And from Brion VE3FUJ, "Reply to your Sat Jan 3rd entry. I'll look it up, if I find one I'll let you know. Happy New Year John. 72 Brion 3011"

If you don't feel like scrolling down to the Jan 3rd entry, he's referring to this statement I made, "Temperature is supposed to climb to 50 or so by morning, then do a turn around and not stop till it is near zero by mid week. Thanks Canada! (is there a symbol for a sarcastic exclamation mark? I need one there for sure)" -30-

Friday, January 16, 2015 1:37 PM - As I suspected, last night's NAQCC 160M sprint would be a virtual washout for me with my ever worsening local QRN. Wonder if building a receiving loop would help? I'll have to think on that. Maybe a project when Mike and I get together next time.

Anyway here'a a picture of what the noise looked like on 160 during the sprint. Doesn't even look like a sprint or contest is going on, but it was there buried under the noise. Even a 100 watt station up the band a bit with a big 160M antenna barely poked above the noise.

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As you see, it's a solid S7 to S9 all across the +/- 20 kHz centered on 1810 kHz. I did make one QSO, and he just barely poked out of the noise long enough to make the QSO. The excellent NR and NB in the KX3 really made that possible. But even that couldn't work enough magic to make any other contacts so I quit after that one. I probably could have made more by waiting on QSB to pop more signals out of the noise, but that's not my idea of fun contesting. Give me a big DX contest where there's always an abundance of stations above my noise, if not on one band, then on another.

Before the sprint, I got my DX QSO from TF3JB. That wasn't all that easy either. Usually Jonas copies me easily, but it took a few repeats to get through that time. -30-

Thursday, January 15, 2015 11:50 AM - We had a very good computer club meeting last night. A lot of times the members just sit around and talk about everything except computing. However last night another member and I taught the members a lot about backups, updates, and file structuring. It was quite rewarding for we two teachers.

This morning I hit the bands around 1445 and within 45 minutes or so I had my DX streak QSO and also finished our NAQCC "USA" challenge. A big help with the challenge was EA6UN - I got 7 letters from his call. Then I got the final Os from HA3OK on 15 meters after waiting and waiting for SM5COP to finish a very long rag chew on 10 meters. Never did work (nor need) him for the challenge. Now the next goal is to finish the European Chapter challenge which may be difficult because of the large number of 0s (zeroes) to get (seven of them). Zero seems not as abundant in European calls as the other nine numbers. Just think of some countries that have virtually no regular calls with a zero in them. Offhand I can think of these countries from which I only have a couple or no prefixes with a zero - CT F EA. There are more also. -30-

Wednesday, January 14, 2015 9:41 AM - Since there is a computer club meeting this evening, I thought I'd write the diary entry for today now. I just worked Gunnar SM4DDE on 15 meters for my DX QSO. He was about the only DX signal I was hearing. He got stronger as the QSO went on and increased my RST from an initial 339 to 559. He was running 800 watts to a 3 element yagi. I thought his call sounded familiar and when I transferred the QSO to my computer log just now, I saw I worked him back in 1981. September 19, 1981 to be exact. That was during a period of 4 days when I had a real ball working DX on 40 meters. I think that was a time when I first truly realized that under the right circumstances, working DX could be very easy. I was using an even poorer version of my attic random wire then and honestly thought I was lucky to be getting QSOs at all, let alone DX. Up until then, I had only logged 150 DX stations even with non-QRP power levels up to 75 watts INPUT power which probably yielded OUTPUT power of 50 watts at most considering the efficiency of vacuum tubes which I used then. Of course my main concern at that time was county hunting as I thought that was something I could succeed at since it only involved working USA stations.

That changed somewhat on September 16, 1981 although I still wasn't much into chasing DX. From the 16th through the 19th I worked the following:

16th - DL9ID DL1GBZ YU3DKS (Yugoslavia) G4GLL
18th - Y22JD (East Germany)
19th - ON5UK F0AHY/FC (Corsica) SM4DDE

All were on 40 meters. My log shows a power of 30 watts INPUT for the QSOs. A T means the station tail-ended me after the previous QSO. The QSOs were in the 04,05, and 06Z hours. I wish I had gotten a QSL from the Y2 station, but I didn't. No chance now for an East Germany QSO/QSL. Also it would have been nice to get a /FC QSL. Of course Corsica is now using the TK prefix.

Still even with that DX burst, I didn't immediately turn into a DXer. That was in the middle of a period from June 1981 (when I returned to the air after being off since December 1973) through September 1983 (when I left the air again until February 1993). The breaks were due for the most part to my work schedule at WPIT. After the DX burst, I still only made 10 DX QSOs through June 1993. I was again off the air from June 1993 through January 1994 due to health problems. At the start of 1994, I still had only 176 DX QSOs.

Although it waxed and waned somewhat, my interest in DX increased steadily from that point on to where I now have (including those 176) 20,385 DX QSOs - all but 174 with QRP power of 5 watts or less. Yes, I learned that using CW and QRP with simple wire antennas, you CAN work DX, and a LOT of it.

To close this entry, I want to update my Japanese Prefectures info. I counted and I've worked 33 of the 47 Prefectures so far. There are about 20 JA QSOs for which I don't have a specific QTH and don't know the Prefecture. Some of them are portable in JA, and others are no longer listed in QRZ. -30-

Tuesday, January 13, 2015 8:43 PM - There wasn't a lot to choose from this morning in the way of DX in the 1500Z hour, but I did manage to keep the DX streak alive by working SP9KR on 12 meters. Took several repeats for Andy to get my call right, but he stuck with me till he did get it.

Then this evening there was no DX to be had so it will be another morning chasing DX tomorrow. I did work Wayne NM3B for the big streak, so that's secure.

While continuing to work on my 1000 MPW QSOs, I got to wondering tonight how many of the 47 Japanese Prefectures I've worked. So I'm starting to work on that also. I'm pretty sure I must have at least half of them worked, probably more, but that's just a guess based on having 228 JA QSOs with quite a few different JA stations.

Almost time now to go out and tread on the ice to get my weather readings. We're in a thaw/freeze mode right now and probably will be that way all week, but at least no new precipitation is in sight through all that time. And look at the countdown. Tomorrow night we reach the halfway point through winter! -30-

Monday, January 12, 2015 8:11 PM - Once again we're back to no DX in the evening. I only heard a couple very weak DX signals, so as with other similar nights, I secured the main streak with a QSO with KK4BMB on 40 meters. The DX will probably have to wait till morning once again.

I was curious today as to just how my DX QSO's were distributed hour-wise in the 683 current days in the streak, so with the help of Microsoft Access and Excel, I found out. First I culled out all the DX QSOs since March 1, 2013 from my Access Log. Then I copied them to Excel, and culled out the FIRST DX QSO of each day. With that to work with, I simply counted the QSOs for each minute. I'm not going to break it down by minutes here other than to say the top 5 minutes were:

0004Z - 47
0003Z - 40
0002Z - 33
0000Z - 31
0001Z - 25

Yes, the first 5 minutes of a day provided 176 of the 683 QSOs which is 25.8%. I think that little stat speaks volumes about the effectiveness of CW/QRP/simple wire antennas.

Now let's look at the hourly totals:

Hour - QSOs - Pct - Cumulative QSOs - Cumulative Pct
0000Z - 540 - 79.1% - 540 - 79.1%
0100Z - 25 - 3.7% - 565 - 82.7%
0200Z - 7 - 1.0% - 572 - 83.7%
0300Z - 1 - 0.1% - 573 - 83.9%
0400Z - 7 - 1.0% - 580 - 84.9%
1300Z - 5 - 0.7% - 585 - 85.7%
1400Z - 32 - 4.7% - 617 - 90.3%
1500Z - 36 - 5.3% - 653 - 95.6%
1600Z - 11 - 1.6% - 664 - 97.2%
17-23Z - 19 - 2.8% - 683 - 100.0%

At a glance that shows that 580 of the 683 (84.9%) came in the evening, and on only 103 days (15.1%) did I have to wait till morning to get my DX. The latest QSO came at 2304Z.

A little more analysis, then I'll hang it up.

By geographic location:

Continent - Number of countries - Number of CQ zones - Number of QSOs:
AF - 10 - 3 - 27
AN - 1 - 2 - 2
AS - 5 - 7 - 22
EU - 41 - 5 - 314
NA - 38 - 6 - 228
OC - 3 - 2 - 8
SA - 16 - 5 - 82
Total - 113 - 29 - 683

The bottom line is I guess DX is there if it is your desire to work it, and you can do it most any time of day on some band or other. I am going to further analyze the data and post it in my DX streak page in the QRP section of the web site. I think I can further emphasize my bottom line if I include all my DX QSOs and the hour in which they were worked. Also an analysis by band perhaps. I don't know when I'll get to that, but I'll mention it here in the diary when it is ready. -30-

Sunday, January 11, 2015 8:16 PM - An easy DX QSO this evening, in contrast to the past several evenings. First I called CQ on 40 and got WB3AVF for my main streak QSO. Then a bit of looking around and I found FM5WD calling CQ on 30 and worked him with a couple repeats. I was alone in working him. There was a big pileup further down the band, and I guess everyone else was busy there. I didn't hear who they were chasing, and as you know, I don't use spotting to find out who is where. So whoever it was will remain a mystery to me.

I'm in pretty good shape for our NAQCC challenges. WB3AVF gave me a couple letters so I only need 17 now, and they are pretty evenly distributed. I mean it's not like I need 10 Rs or anything like that. Four is the most I need of any individual letter, and the ones I need are fairly common letters. Now I might have to do a little more work for the European Chapter challenge. That translates to finding a good time of day when I can get on the air and when there is good propagation to Europe. -30-

Saturday, January 10, 2015 7:20 PM - This winter weather is really getting me down. It seems to affect me more and more each year. I didn't even feel like getting in the NAQP today, and that's one of my favorites. I did use it to get my DX streak QSO from NP4Z, but nothing beyond that at all.

I spent most of my time today doing computer work (or computer play) including helping my neighbor solve some of his computer problems. A lot of the work was continuing to compile my 1000 MPW QSOs. I have all of the countries split by the 5,000 mile radius checked now with the exception of Asiatic Russia and I think I'll see if I can finish that after I finish this diary entry. Let's see.... I'm up to 1,905 such QSOs now among my 65,304 QRP QSOs. -30-

Friday, January 09, 2015 9:12 PM - I had this entry all pieced out in my mind and was going to write it about an hour ago, but I got distracted by a couple other things, then it became 9PM and I had to get my weather readings. In that time, things changed and now I have to re-think what I was going to say. So as to not waste my earlier thoughts, I'll tell you I was going to say this was the first evening in many a moon that not only did I not get a DX QSO, but I didn't get a regular QSO either. I wasn't really all that worried because the NAQP tomorrow will provide an easy QSO or many of them if I so choose.

However after I got the weather readings I thought, "I think I'll just go up to the shack and see if I can get a QSO now then I won't have to worry in the morning or afternoon." Well I did so and worked PV8ADI for both streaks, and the 10th is secured now.

Earlier today in the 1400Z hour I worked I5QNJ and F6CYP for my DX QSOs for the 9th. They plus PV8ADI this evening improved my NAQCC challenges totals to where I need 19 letters for the 'American' challenge and 19 letters and numbers for the European Chapter challenge. So with 21 days left this month, a letter or two a day will do it. -30-

Thursday, January 08, 2015 7:44 PM - This DX streak is getting to be a lot of work lately. I'm trying to remember if last January was as rough as this one has been so far. Once again this evening I couldn't work any DX. I tried XE2I with no success. He was a solid S9 here too. I've worked him in the past and it seems I either get him with a single call or it's a struggle, and I often fail. Perhaps he has a noisy QTH like mine here with the noise worse at times. Anyway it will have to be tomorrow morning for the DX if the streak is to continue.

The regular streak is alive and well. I worked WA2PJF easily on 40 meters. Oh that reminds me, I also tried HK4CZE on 40, but after I called him one time, he vanished.

I spent a lot of the day today working on my 1000 MPW QSO records. There are a handful of countries right on the 5,000 mile radius from my QTH with which I have 200-400 QSOs and unlike countries that are entirely more than 5,000 miles distant where all my QRP QSOs are 1000+ MPW, all those split by the 5,000 mile radius need to have each QSO checked individually.

There are several ways of checking QSOs which I'll list here.

1. Most obvious as I said above all QSOs with all countries entirely more than 5,000 miles distant that I made with 5 watts or less automatically qualify.

2. It's the same way with countries more than 1,000 miles distant worked with 1 watt or less, and so on with various power levels, and with states and provinces as well as countries.

3. For the QSOs not obvious as in steps 1 and 2, they must be checked in QRZ.com or other ways. I do it like this.

    a. If the Geo Source is listed as User Supplied, I take the associated distance figure as accurate.

    b. If the Geo Source is listed as Grid Square (XX##xx), I take the associated distance as accurate if it is some ways above that required for a 1,000 MPW QSO to allow for the size of a grid square and in what part of that square he resides.

    c. If the Geo Source is listed as DXCC or Unknown, that distance is not reliable at all. DXCC merely lists the distance to the center of a DXCC entity and for large countries that could be off by hundreds of miles.

4. If step 3 fails, I try the co-ordinates or grid square (XX##xx) from HamCall or WM7D which I feed into the N9SSA distance calculator.

5. If 1-4 fail, I check the distance from Kittanning to the city or town of the contact from the "Distance Between Cities" web site. As with the Grid Square above, I don't count those that are too close to exactly 1,000 MPW to allow for the size of the cities.

Those five steps allow me to check most all of my QSOs with the exception of portable or mobile operations that don't fall into step 1 or 2 above. Also some other QSOs for which I am not sure of the town or city for one reason or other. Also you have to be careful of countries that have more than one town with the same name to be sure you are using the right one in step 5.

Right now I'm just over 1,800 different 1,000 MPW QSOs with some of the 5,000 mile radius countries not yet completed. I don't think I'll make it to 2,000 with my current QSOs though. I'll have to get some more to reach that number. Anyway with my love of math and statistics, all the above is right up my alley. -30-

Wednesday, January 07, 2015 7:34 PM - When I turned on the rig around 1430Z today I thought my DX streak was going to come to an end. I heard no DX at all - in fact just about no stations at all from 20 through 10 meters. Even when my furnace took its breaks, there was nothing there. However finally I found CO8ZZ on 10 meters and after he worked someone else, I got him to keep the streak going.

Then this evening it was about the same thing. Of course 17 through 10 were dead, but there was also nothing on 20 and only a couple USA stations on 30 meters. Once again a Cuban to the rescue though. I was just thinking earlier today when I was on the air I hadn't heard CO8LY for some time now. Well this evening there he was on 40 meters, and like this morning with ZZ, he worked one other station and then I got him. That was my 39th QSO with him, but the very first on 40 meters.

We lucked out again with the s#$w today. Bands of lake effect stuff to our NE and SW, but we were in the vacant alley in between them. Our shields are working good so far. Hope they hold up all winter.

I'll close now. I'm going to try to catch Sirius rising. Mirzam came up a few minutes ago so Sirius should follow soon. Nice to be able to watch some stars although the clear skies should make for a cold night. It's already down to 8 degrees right now. -30-

Tuesday, January 06, 2015 10:28 AM - Since I just got my DX QSO(s) for the day, I thought I'd write the diary entry now. I had a nice rag chew with Jan SM7NDX on 15, then a little shorter QSO with Josip 9A5AX. That's the first time I ever worked either of them. Conditions were good on 15 and 17, but I didn't hear anything on 10 or 12.

Both QSOs had to be done through my furnace QRN. I've often talked about the QRN, and today I took a picture of what it looks like on the PX3 panadapter on three different bands. As you see below, it is worst on 15, then 17, then 12. The peaks and valleys are very prominent on 15, less on 17, and just about a level 1 or 2 S units above the ambient noise on 12.

pix_diary_20150106_001 (66K)pix_diary_20150106_002 (67K)
pix_diary_20150106_003 (62K)

Fortunately, the SM7 QSO came in one of the valleys in the 15M noise, and with the KX3 NB and NR set as they are, the noise is reduced quite a bit. On the other hand, the 9A5AX QSO was close to one of the noise peaks and copy was much harder. Actually with the gain reduced uniformly by the noise, signals are also included in the reduction so they have to be quite strong to make it out of the noise and show up on the panadapter. You'll note no signals are showing up on the pictures although there were a smattering of signals (without the noise) on both 17 and 15. Just part of ham life living in town with the proliferation of electronic and computer noise increasing more and more every year.

We got perhaps an inch of s#$w overnight. Fortunately I don't have to go out today as I thought, so I can hibernate for a few days till things hopefully get better this weekend. -30-

Monday, January 05, 2015 7:39 PM - It's 45 degrees colder than it was just 36 hours ago, standing right around 15 degrees, but at least still no s%^w on the ground which makes the cold much easier to take. They've also backed off a bit on the s%^wfall prediction over the next few days, so that's another plus.

I didn't even hear a DX station tonight, so I secured the big streak with a QSO with K9IS on 40 meters, and will go for the DX in the morning. It will have to be morning, because I have a computer club project in the afternoon. So I hope for some good DX conditions before noon or so tomorrow. I haven't gotten the WWV predictions yet, so I don't know what to expect.

Not a lot out of the normal routines to talk about today. I did do some more housecleaning which should be included in normal routines, but often isn't. HI -30-

Sunday, January 04, 2015 7:57 PM - It doesn't get any quicker than this since I don't log seconds in my QSO times. I worked HI3LFE on 30 meters at 0000Z for my DX streak QSO this evening. 30 was pretty good, but I heard virtually on any bands higher than 30 this evening. I see there were some geomagnetic storms and radio blackouts today so that's probably part of the explanation.

I spent a good bit of time today working on compiling my 1000 MPW QSOs for the NAQCC KMPW Honor Roll listing. I've come up with 1,375 such QSOs in my logs. There are probably some more there, but I got tired looking and will go with that figure till I update again.

We experienced spring-like weather early this morning when the temperature hit 60 degrees, but it has dropped slowly since then down to 41 degrees as I write now. That's only a start too, with zero predicted by mid-week or so. No major s$%w predicted though, so that's good. Cold without that white stuff is bearable. -30-

Saturday, January 03, 2015 7:11 PM - Quick and easy tonight. HK1MW on 30 meters at 0006Z. Didn't get any NAQCC challenge letters from his call, but the streak is in the books for another day.

We dodged the first ice bullet of the year today. Freezing rain predicted for this morning, but the temperature climbed above freezing before the rain got here. It's now 40 with a break in the rain during which I need to make a quick trip to the store so I'll keep this short. Temperature is supposed to climb to 50 or so by morning, then do a turn around and not stop till it is near zero by mid week. Thanks Canada! (is there a symbol for a sarcastic exclamation mark? I need one there for sure). OK, I'm off now. -30-

Friday, January 02, 2015 8:16 PM - Reguar diary readers will know to what I am referring, others can refer back to the entry for December 15. Here's a picture I took this morning of my sun-tracker:

pix_diary_20150102_001 (33K)

The sunlight spot had moved to the right a bit when the picture was taken. I had already marked the center of the spot when the left edge of the chart made a tangent to the circle. You can see that there are marks there for 12/29 through 1/2. Yes we actually had 5 straight sunny mornings here. On the line down the right side of the chart are the predicted locations of the center of the spot at 5 day intervals. If you look at Dec 31, you'll see the predicted and actual line up nearly perfectly. From now on the spot will accelerate its downward motion as the sun moves higher and higher in the sky each day. It's great to see it moving that way instead of moving up the chart until Dec 21 (note the mark for Dec 7 on the way up when we had a clear morning). Anything to be encouraged about the approach of the end of winter even though there is a long way to go, but we're going in the right direction.

The SF jumped up a bit today, and the bands seemed to respond. There were some signals this evening up through 12 meters although none very strong. I did manage to get my DX QSO instead of having to wait till the morning or afternoon as I've had to do the past couple days now. Even though he was only S6 and almost in my noise level, I worked XE1XR on 17 meters. I had to repeat my call several times, but he got it OK in the end. So that's 674 days now after working SP3GXH and YT5Z this morning for day 673. -30-

Thursday, January 01, 2015 11:04 AM - Are you enjoying the new year? I hope so. Beautiful but cold weather here around 30 degrees. Not a flake of s$%w to be seen. All still green or with a brownish tint. Hopefully my analog forecast of January s$%w or the lack thereof proves correct.

I mentioned going to Chili's with Mike yesterday. I don't believe I've posted a picture of this sign that Mike and I get a kick out of every time we visit there, but Mike took a good picture of it yesterday to post here in the diary so here it is:

pix_diary_20150101_001 (70K)

I got my DX this morning to start off another year of DX. 15 was THE band today as both I and Tom WB3FAE observed. Not much on 12 or 10 and one big pileup on 17 chasing someone too weak to ID here. I worked OH6NVC, DF5WBA, and OH2PM to get a quick start on the January NAQCC challenges and to add another day to the DX streak. I've been involved in some end-of-month/year first-of-month/year projects and haven't had much time for SKN beyond the one QSO last night. Anyway, I have SKN every day of every year anyway so I don't get too excited about one night. Actually it's more like CWN since I don't use a straight key all the time, but mostly a keyer but it's still good old Morse Code sent via the fingers and copied via the brain.

OK, now back to work. Think I'll compile my yearly weather report next. I did December last night and was surprised to find the month averaged 5.0 degrees above normal. I didn't think it was quite that much, but we did have several days in the 50s and one in the 60s. Let's hope January follows suit temperature-wise as well as sn%W-wise from my analog prediction. -30-