K3WWP's Ham Radio Activities

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Saturday, December 31, 2016 8:56AM - Another full year of DX QSOs has just been completed after working PD1DX on 20 meters a few minutes ago. So now I can get started on a lot of end of month and end of year projects. Since I won't be getting on the air again today, I can upload my December log to LoTW and eQSL, compile some stats for my ham activities in 2016, and my December and 2016 weather stats. The last will have to wait till late tonight or tomorrow though. It's going to be a busy couple days.

So I want to take this opportunity to wish all my site visitors a very Happy New Year. I'm sure 2017 is going to be a great year. I'm looking forward to a lot of great things in ham radio among life in general.

OK, now to get started on those EOM/EOY projects. -30-

Friday, December 30, 2016 7:53 PM - I think it's just about time to write off the 0000Z hour for getting my DX streak QSO. Even 40 meters is almost dead here now in that hour. I think the best bet to continue the streak is what I've been doing the past few days. That is, get on the bands, especially 20 meters, as soon as I get up and get dressed a little before 1400Z. 20, and sometimes 17 are pretty good at that hour for DX. However I figure that will also slip away as we get more and more into the sunspot minimum.

At least my regular streak QSO came quickly this evening when AI2T answered my CQ on 80 meters. It was a 2X QRP QSO. He was running 3W from an old HW-8 which he is setting up to use for SKN tomorrow evening. That completes 22 full years of daily QSOs. Then add the partial year of 1994 when I started the streak and that makes 8,185 consecutive days.

Although I will probably make a few SKN QSOs, I don't really get all that excited about the event since I use CW 365 days a year, quite often with a SK.

Well, 1/3 of winter has passed now with only one annoying bad weather day. Actually (knock on wood) the outlook for the next 60 days doesn't look too bad. But we'll have to wait and see as outlooks that far ahead have a very low percentage of correctness. -30-

Thursday, December 29, 2016 6:50 PM - DX day # 1,400 went in the books (log) quickly this morning. Unlike yesterday when it took several checks of the bands to work someone, today's QSO came on my first check just past 1400Z when I found and easily worked OF9X on 20 meters.

In just a few minutes it will be 0000Z and time to try to stretch the streaks another day.

My gardening friend Ange came over today. His dad worked on the railroad, and he enjoys model trains. I mentioned I had an old Lionel set, and he was interested in seeing it. It had been up in the attic for many years of not being used. We pulled out the transformer and 3 of my engines just to see if they still worked. We didn't set up any track, but just clip leaded the power to the engines. Now maybe some day he'll help me set up some track and try it out at that stage.

We had some s#$w during the night, but a high in the low 40s today got rid of virtually all of it, thank goodness. So we're still just about 99.5 percent s#$w free here.

OK, time to head to the shack. -30-

Wednesday, December 28, 2016 7:40 PM - Conditions continue to get more and more dismal. I thought sure the DX streak would end today. As soon as I got up around 1400Z I checked the bands and found only a few very weak European stations, none of which heard me calling at all. After that I checked for 10-15 minutes each hour and found less and less DX. Some that I was hearing had a pretty severe flutter, especially one from eastern Europe - Hungary if memory serves. That went on for almost 5 hours, but finally at 1825Z I found and easily worked David XE1XR on 20 meters. Just one call and a repeat got me the QSO. Big sigh of relief! That's day # 1,399 now. I would like to end on a round number if the streak is going to end. So I'll try hard tomorrow again to reach 1,400.

It was another nice weather day with no s#$w to be seen anywhere. Just bare sidewalks and roads and green grass. Sure looks nice. But of course that is not going to last, I'm sure. In fact there is a winter mix predicted for later tonight. Rain, s#$w, sleet, freezing rain for a list of ingredients. I don't know which ones will be used. No big storm, at least. Just mostly light precipitation, whatever kind it turns out to be. After that, one cool day, but then back in the upper 30s and low 40s again. -30-

Tuesday, December 27, 2016 8:18 PM - As I was sitting in the shack looking for some DX (without any success), I was thinking that this stage in the last sunspot cycle didn't seem as bad as it is this cycle. Then with a little further thought, I realized that I wasn't in the midst of a long DX streak in the previous cycle. So perhaps I just didn't notice it since it was always easy to get a regular QSO back then just as it is now (or has been so far at least.)

Each day now it seems to get a little harder to find and then work some DX. Oh there are still the quick easy DX QSOs now and then, but fewer and farther between as we head into the sunspot minimum depths.

The past couple months, I've been going through a lot of old paper records of various kinds, and getting rid of a lot of them. The past couple days it's been my old paper contest logs. I don't really need them since all the QSOs are in my Microsoft Access database. For sentimental reasons, I am keeping a few of them though. I still have the paper copy of my first ever regular QSOs from back in 1963. Yes, I did copy everything on paper for a while back then. Maybe I'll scan and post one sheet here in the diary just for the heck of it. -30-

Monday, December 26, 2016 7:33 PM - And another Christmas has come and gone. Mine was a good one, and I hope yours was also. It was encouraging to see an increase in the number of Christmas lights when Mike and I went on our annual drive last night. Perhaps our country is going to turn around now and become great again. We'll see.

I'm already thinking about what 2017 is going to bring. Personally I'm hoping to get in more fishing trips for one thing. 2016 was really a downer with only a dozen or so fishing trips and only one fish caught. Two things worked against me this year. The borough has really let the riverbank deteriorate, and as I get older, it's harder for me to negotiate the mess to get to the river.

I also hope we can do more portable parkpeditions in 2017. Our total in 2016 was down from previous years. It seems that life just seems to get in the way with so many things to do and so little time to do them. I'm positive that time does move faster as we get older. Or maybe more realistically it's just that it takes us longer to do things we used to do so fast when we were younger.

DX was pretty good on 80 this evening with at least 3 or 4 good European signals. However too many other folks were chasing them also, and I never once won. Maybe I just didn't have the patience to wait out my turn. Anyway the DX streak is on hold till tomorrow morning or afternoon now. -30-

Sunday, December 25, 2016 4:48 PM - Hope you all had a great Christmas so far. Actually there has been only one negative here the whole weekend. My favorite team's quarterback was injured and is out for the season. After having a superb season so far, the Oakland Raiders lost the main reason for their success when Derrick Carr was hurt. Under Carr, they seemed headed for a shot at the Super Bowl, but now I don't know.

Almost another negative as well. It looked like I might get a real big piece of coal in my stocking when I couldn't find any workable DX this morning. Then it was off to Christmas dinner at my neighbor's. After that enjoyable time eating and watching their young grandchildren opening presents, it was back home and up to the shack for another try at some DX.

There was still not much in the way of DX, but I did hear someone saying Feliz Navidad and thought it might be some Spanish DX or someone working some Spanish DX. One way or the other it turned out to be Luis WP4EHK in QSO so I waited till they finished and called. It took several tries to get my call across correctly, but finally he got it and remembered me from previous QSO(s). So the streak lives another day. I still have this evening here. Mike will be coming and we'll go out for our annual Christmas night drive to check out the Christmas decorations. -30-

Saturday, December 24, 2016 6:00 PM -

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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.

Friday, December 23, 2016 7:06 PM - Time out for the next couple days to devote my diary to the true reason for the season.

This evening from one of my two most admired political figures of all time:

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I received that card as a member of the Reagan Ranch and the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute.

My other most admired political figure? Sir Winston Churchill.

I hope you all have a great Christmas Eve followed by a very Merry Christmas! -30-

Thursday, December 22, 2016 6:28 PM - I find it interesting how a person changes as he ages. I find I have less patience with certain things as I get older. Last night's NAQCC mW Sprint was a good example. It used to be I could stick out the full two hours of a sprint no matter how poor the conditions. Last night however, I simply gave up after less than 15 minutes since I got only one QSO in that time period. I had other things I could do in the next 1 hour 45 minutes that were a lot better than sitting at the rig calling unanswered CQ after unanswered CQ or staring at the PX3 screen looking for stations that weren't there.

To be successful in a mW level sprint under some very very adverse propagation conditions you need these main three things:

1. A very quiet, almost noise-free location since QRPp signals can be covered by noise that doesn't affect stronger signals. Up at Kittanning Community Park would be an ideal place to operate a mW sprint. Most of the time the noise level there is virtually non-existent. Down here in town, the noise is constantly S6 or better by contrast. That's an 0-1 count against me.

2. A good antenna system that can gather the tiny QRPp signal's RF. Preferably something long and high. Not what I have here - a random wire in my attic. The count is now 0-2.

3. Enough patience to wait long periods of time for the weak signals to 'QSB' up out of the noise long enough to work. I used to have that, but it has diminished over the years. Swing and a miss - strike 3, I'm out.

I wonder if my diminishing patience is going to eventually hamper my DX and/or regular streaks. I'm finding it sometimes taking a long time to find a contact, especially a DX one. I have no doubt that barring a complete communications blackout, it is possible to work some DX somewhere, probably even down to the very depths of a sunspot cycle minimum. But without the patience to stick with it, that DX contact might not be found some day. -30-

Wednesday, December 21, 2016 7:33 PM - I've been lucky with the DX streak overall lately. When I do need a quick DX QSO because of a busy day coming up or some other committment later in the evening or during the day, I seem to get it. With our NAQCC mW sprint coming up later this evening, this was a time I wanted a quick QSO, and I got it. I worked a German whom I've worked several times. We even chatted a bit beyond the usual RST 73 type of DX QSOs. He was vacationing down in Aruba this evening when we worked at 0001Z. Can't get much quicker than that.

I'm not really too fired up about the mW sprint. Oh, I will get in it for a while to maintain my participation streak, but I probably won't stay longer than the first hour unless conditions are super great and I have a good QSO rate. Otherwise, I'll quit and go next door to take Roscoe out and visit for a while.

The weather was very nice again with a high in the low 40s and none of that ugly stuff to be seen. Perhaps my dream of a green Christmas will come true. Then Mike and I will have good conditions for our annual Christmas Night drive to check out the Christmas lights. -30-

Tuesday, December 20, 2016 7:27 PM - A couple of thoughts about the DX streak. In 8 days should I make it, the streak will reach 1,400 consecutive days. Over the past year or so when the streak reached a round number of days like that or a number of full months also, I've thought about voluntarily ending it. But then I think that if I do end it, I'll always wonder just how long it could have continued naturally. So when 1,400 days arrives, I'm sure it will continue business as usual. That is, if other circumstances permit. As I always planned with the DX and main streaks, I want to let other factors decide if they end or not. NOT by my choice to end them.

Another thing that I think about more often is how more and more I seem to count on fewer and fewer different DX stations to help continue the streak. I don't really like doing it that way. I'd like to work a new DX station every day. However it seems that as conditions decline toward the sunspot minimum, only the bigger and more active stations seem to roam the bands. The part-time foreign DX-working stations whom I worked a lot near the sunspot maximum don't seem to be getting on as much now. Or perhaps it's just that I'm not hearing those stations with the declining conditions. I don't know.

For a while this morning, I thought maybe I did jinx the streak by what I said last night in the diary. For a long time I only heard a couple weak European stations on 20 who weren't hearing me. Then I checked 17 and saw a lone peak on the PX3. I listened to see who it was. Turned out to be CO6RD who is most all the time a virtual certainty to work. It was no different, and a single call to Rey netted the QSO. That's another example of what I talked about in the preceding paragraph. Rey is one of the ops who is pretty much blind to predicted conditions and gets on the bands anyway.

If you're new to ham radio, you must realize that predicted propagation conditions are not always linked to actual conditions. Just because we are going into a sunspot minimum, that doesn't mean at a certain point some powerful being somewhere throws a switch and turns off the higher HF bands. It's more like there is a lesser chance of working stations on those bands now than back during the sunspot maximum. It's not that it will be impossible to work stations there. The real factor is ham activity. If there are hams who try the upper HF bands whenever possible, there is a chance they will make contacts. I guarantee if no one tries those bands, there will be no contacts made there. Keep that in mind.

I finished my Christmas shopping today (I think). It was a nice day with sunshine and mid-upper 30s temperatures. By December standards that's a very nice day, although I wouldn't say much good about it if it happened in October for example.

For those folks who observe Astronomical Winter, it starts tomorrow and lasts for about 90 days. Isn't it much more on a positive theme to observe Meteorological Winter starting December 1? We folks can say only 70 more days of winter now. That's a much better mental attitude about this horrible season of the year. -30-

Monday, December 19, 2016 8:22 PM - A pretty nice, if chilly, day today. Quite a bit of sunshine with a high of 31.

No DX this evening. I heard a J6, but he was very popular and I didn't feel like waiting out the pile. Earlier today in that good 1400Z hour I worked SP9KR. Hopefully the 1400Z hour will pan out again tomorrow morning. Really we are not far from the SF numbers at a minimum - 73 today vs. the mid-60s or so right around a minimum. So I may be able to keep the DX streak going for some time yet. Now I've probably jinxed it and I won't work any DX at all tomorrow. We'll see. -30-

Sunday, December 18, 2016 7:51 PM - The warm weather settled its way down into the valley here. It started rising around midnight when it went from 34 to 35. I woke up a couple hours later and it was 57 and raining moderately and steady. Quite the interesting weather happening. Of course we know cold air is heavier and sinks, but this was a dramatic demonstration of that fact. As one interested very much in meteorology, I enjoyed witnessing it very much. I didn't go out to get my temperature last night because of the ice. I used my AcuRite remote readings instead. I checked the total precipitation for last night and yesterday this morning and it was around an inch and a half.

Perhaps the best thing of all though was the destructive effect that warm air had on the ice and s#$w. Except for a few small patches here and there, it was pretty much all gone when I got up this morning.

No DX this evening. I did hear HT7AAA on 40M, but I just worked him there a couple days ago. Also VP5/VE7ACN on 80 meters, but he wasn't hearing me. So I just pulled out my little note here to remind me to try for my DX streak QSO in the morning or afternoon. Gary N2ESE provided my regular streak QSO this evening on 80. -30-

Saturday, December 17, 2016 7:47 PM - Well, as you can read, I'm here. We only got a trace of freezing rain overnight. Strange weather today though. The temperature has been virtually steady between 32 and 34 ever since early this morning. It was supposed to warm to the mid-40s, but that never happened (yet). It may still happen though as it's 48 degrees in Butler, PA, about 25 miles west of here. Possibly, the cold has just pooled here in the valley where Kittanning is located. Let me see something. That's definitely it. At three volunteer weather stations in West Kittanning only 1-2 miles from here, the average temperature is 50 degrees. The highest 50.5 is at the station at the greatest elevation, about 500 ft. higher than here. The lowest 49.5 is at a station about 300 ft. higher than here. That's very impressive and interesting. I think we need some wind to stir things up and get some of that warmer air down here in the valley. If we don't, we might just have some freezing rain overnight tonight when the rain does move through. Need I say more about why I hate winter.

My DX came at 0001Z this evening when I worked VP5/VE7ACN, this time on 30 meters. Then a nice rag chew with fellow NAQCC member Bob K9OSC on 80 meters finished out my time in the shack for tonight. -30-

Friday, December 16, 2016 7:27 PM - Just wondering what tonight will bring. Freezing rain in the forecast for overnight and early tomorrow morning. Of course that could bring disastrous power outages. If that happens, you might not see a diary here for the duration.

If I feel up to it, the streak should go on though as I can run the KX3/PX3 off my battery. The streak is secondary though to just keeping warm, eating, and surviving. We'll see what happens, I guess. -30-

Thursday, December 15, 2016 7:32 PM - A bitter cold day today. Although the official high will be 21 last midnight, it really never got above 15 or so all day. I think that may be the coldest December day in a few years now. Let me check. I see only two comparably cold days in a quick go-back to 2008. Both 12/22/08 and 12/22/13 the high was 16 degrees. All other December days those years the high was in the 20s. At least no s@#w today, but Saturday may bring something even worse than s#$w - freezing rain. Hopefully it won't happen, but if you see the diary missing then, it will be due to power outages.

A quick DX QSO this evening from EA8RM on 40 meters at 0006Z. Took a few repeats for him to get my call right, but it ended up a solid QSO. -30-

Wednesday, December 14, 2016 5:16 PM - I overcame my depression last night and did get in the sprint for the full two hours. I made 41 QSOs, the third sprint in a row I've hit the 40 mark. So far with 97 logs in, that's the third highest QSO total.

I've just posted a new poll dealing with New Year's resolutions for 2017. I hope you'll take time to look it over and vote. Just use the link above to do so.

Tonight is our computer club meeting, but I don't know if I'm going or not. It's cold and still slippery from yesterday's s#@w. There probably will only be a couple members there, maybe less. We've only been getting 3 or 4 members attending the past few months. I kind of think the club has outlived its usefullness. Most everyone today gets a computer for a specific task such as email, web browsing, etc. They are not really interested in delving any deeper into the computer or learning the many other things it is useful for. When the club started some 25 years ago, home computers were fairly new and folks were interested in how they work, what they can do, how to write a computer program, and so forth. I used to love to program them using Basic, C, even right down to assembly language, but that's pretty much a thing of the past even for me now. Think I'll just stay home and get my (DX) QSO when 0000Z rolls around, if I can. -30-

Tuesday, December 13, 2016 7:45 PM - Yesterday joyful, today very depressing. Yes, more s@#w fell today - between 1 and 2 inches of the ugly accursed stuff. It's so depressing that right now I don't even feel like getting in our NAQCC sprint a little later this evening. I will though, at least to get credit for participating since I've never missed a single one of our almost 150 regular sprints.

Not much else to say. -30-

Monday, December 12, 2016 8:12 PM - This was a joyful day today usually reserved for later in the season. I enjoyed watching a pretty good s#@w melt as the temperature hit 41 and got rid of a lot of the ugly white blanket laid down yesterday.

A DX-less evening (so far). The main streak got extended a day when I worked old friend Pip WB4FDT on 80 meters. I chased VP5/VE7ACN quite a while on 40, but always lost out to someone else. He was definitely strong enough to work. With 40 being about the only good DX band now in the 0000Z hour, it's like feeding time at the zoo whenever any DX shows up there. If I don't catch them when they first start up, I get gobbled up by the QRO/big antenna stations. Oh well, maybe later tonight or in the morning.

I just finished setting up the GenLog data file and the log cross-checking Excel spreadsheet for our NAQCC sprint tomorrow evening and I have some free time now, so let me pick out some pictures from our Trolley Museum visit yesterday.

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From upper left to lower right, that's:
The two biggest kids with Santa. I think their names were John and Mike something or other.
The front of the Yuletide Express trolley.
Santa and his helpers on the Santa trolley.
A side view of the Yuletide Express.
The front of the Santa trolley.
An RFE poster in one of the trolleys.
A 1948 election poster in a trolley.
A Lionel model train with newer three rail tracks.
Same with older 2 rail tracks.

Mike did a good job of taking the pictures. He also took a very short video. Even though the video is short, the file is big, so I'll have to work on it a bit. I'll post that tomorrow evening. -30-

Sunday, December 11, 2016 7:24 PM - As usual, a great day when Mike and I get together. Mike arrived just as I was walking Roscoe. Roscoe usually barks at Mike for whatever reason (he's a mailman?), and he did so today. So I gave Mike a couple treats to give to Roscoe to see if that would mend things up. It might have a little bit. We'll see.

After we talked for a while and checked the bands (nothing to report - some DX heard but not worked on 20), we headed off to the Trolley museum near Washington, PA. There were quite a few more people there than the last time we visited a few months ago. We checked in with our tickets (electronic), and checked out the Lionel train display they had set up. Then we wandered outside to wait for the start of the trolley ride - The Santa Claus tour. Of course it was designed for normal aged kids and not us old kids at heart, but we had a good time nonetheless, especially watching the young kids. Everyone sang some carols as we rode along.

We then got our pictures taken with Santa Claus. Of course I'll have those pictures here in the diary, probably tomorrow or the next day. Then it was back to the 'station' where we looked at a collection of old trolleys. A different collection from the one we saw the last time. Then another ride on the "Yuletide Express" where the conductor had a good time with the kids (young ones), pretending to see if they were in Santa's book of good kids or the book of bad kids. Not surprisingly all were in the good book.

Back again to the station to check out the Events area for some cookies and anothe model train setup. After that we headed to the Pittsburgh Mills and Applebees where we both had a fish and chips dinner although I had a fish and rings dinner instead. Before that we checked at Best Buy to see if they had a certain printer from HP. They didn't.

So it was on to home where I picked up a little extra money and then we headed to WalMart, and I did get the printer there. It's called the world's smallest three in one printer (scanner, copier) and came back home where I set it up after struggling with the instructions a bit. I wish they would make instructions with words instead of all these fancy icons which are often very confusing. I would have had the setup done much quicker. Anyway, I did finally finish the setup with some help from Mike, and we tested it out successfully just before Mike had to head home since he has to get up early to help handle the Christmas mailing rush. He says it is particularly hectic now with all the on-line shopping and consequent mailing nowadays.

After he left it was just about time to head to the shack. I got another quick DX QSO from a long-time friend and NAQCC member (and former officer), Rick AA4W who was portable in KP2 land. It was great to work him again as we hadn't been in contact for some time now. -30-

Saturday, December 10, 2016 7:43 PM - Some time ago in the diary I mentioned an old card file index I had of my ham radio contacts. Back then in pre-computer days it was a quick way of finding out if you worked someone before. I couldn't find any samples of the cards then, but I came across some I saved when I was going through and throwing out some old ham radio info. They looked like this:
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The file was divided into 26 sections, one for each letter of the alphabet. The key letter was the first letter of the call suffix. K3WWP went in the W section, WN3JAI in the J section, and so forth. Each section contained a card for the second letter of the suffix up to 26 cards per section. Some letter combinations were so common that they required an extra card or two, even after filling up the front and back of the main card. As you see, calls with 'JA' starting the suffix went on the A card in the J section, 'FQ' on the Q card in the F section, and so forth for all other first/second letter combinations in a suffix.

Using the system, it was very quick to check a call. Not as fast as doing it with a computer in 2016, but almost as fast with the cards in 1963. When I transferred all my QSOs to my Microsoft Access database, I got rid of most of the cards, but did keep a dozen or so just as a memory.

I got my wish this evening for a quick DX QSO. Well, the QSO wasn't that quick as I had to repeat my call several times, but it came at 0003Z. Thanks to DL5CF for sticking with me for a couple minutes to get my call from K3WP to K3WWP at last. he was portable in FM land. I've worked him before from Germany and he is a good op.

Early today at 1400Z for my DX streak QSO for the 10th I worked NP3YL (a YL) on 15 meters. I checked 10M to see if there were any contesters I could hear, but the band was dead. A little while ago I worked K4WOP here in PA and he said 10 did open up a bit in the afternoon, but I never did get a chance to check again.

Incidentally I also worked K4WOP last evening when he answered my 160 meters CQ. I haven't had a QSO on that band in ages now. Let me see. That was my first 160M QSO this year, and I only had one in 2015. I just have too much local noise on that band to use it much.

Why was I wishing for a quick DX QSO this evening? Tomorrow Mike is coming and we're going to the trolley museum again for their longer Christmas season ride. They may have to get out their reindeer to pull the trolley as that ugly white s#$w is predicted for tomorrow through Monday. Ughh! -30-

Friday, December 09, 2016 9:18 AM - I forgot to mention a couple of things in yesterday's entry, so I'm writing today's entry early in the day.

First though, I just got my DX streak QSO from GI4DOH on 20 meters at exactly 1400Z. That makes the total now for the streak, 1,380 days. There were several other Europeans on 20 at the time. I called one other with no luck before getting GI4DOH after a couple calls. With the poor evening conditions for DX, I may have to rely on the 1300-1600Z or so period to keep the streak going through the winter.

Speaking of winter, the very first sign of the end of at least one aspect of winter came on the 7th. That's the day of the earliest sunset. It varies a day or two each year and a few seconds also. This year sunset on the 6th was 4:50:13 PM EST, on the 7th 4:50:11, and the 8th 4:50:12. By the 15th, it's 4:51:21, over a full minute later. It's not all that much encouragement, but every little bit helps when dealing with the deadliest season of all. That data is strictly for my QTH. It varies, mainly with latitude, but the date is pretty consistent for all locations along the 40N parallel.

The other thing I wanted to mention was a very nice email I received from KD8RNF. He said how much he enjoys reading my diary. He thinks it is nice that I add all the personal touches to it. Thank you Erik.

I know that other web diaries (or as they are called, blogs - I hate that name) by hams deal strictly with ham radio topics, and that's fine. I think getting to know more about the person behind the call is very important and interesting as well. That's why I deal with other topics as well as ham radio. -30-

Thursday, December 08, 2016 6:47 PM - I thought I'd start the diary entry early, and then finish it a little later. I'm awaiting either 0000Z to head to the shack or a call from next door for a chili dinner, whichever comes first. They'll probably come at the same time, then I'll have to postpone the shack visit.

Winter weather took some practice today with very cold wind chills - probably in the teens and some s#$w flurries. Fortunately so far the s#$w is not sticking save for a few cold spots here and there. More on the way though the next few days.

I'm continuing to throw away a lot of papers. Today I went through some old TV-FM DX info. That was a lot of fun when I had an outdoor TV/FM antenna. I didn't throw away any logging info, just a lot of technical articles like a description of sporadic E skip and the like which can now be found on the Internet if I need it. I also ran into some pictures I took of some TV station ID slides and test patterns on our very old console TV set (B/W) which is no longer around. A lot of good memories. Back in those days I was a member of WTFDA for TV/FM and the NRC and IRCA for AM BCB. Ooops, there's my chili call, I think.

OK, I'm back after 3 bowls of chili and my streak QSO. No DX QSO though. About the only workable DX I heard was VP2VGG and a lot of folks still need the BVI on 40 I guess. I couldn't get through his pileup.

I wonder how strongly, if at all, the 10 meters contest will open up the band this weekend. Probably just to the point where the KX/Beam guys can work each other, but not for us minimal QRP stations. That's pretty much what the story was last year. I see one 10 meters contact last year around this time in December. Yes, that was in the 10 meters contest. So not much hope for this year. Maybe at least I can get a Caribbean QSO or two for my DX streak. -30-

Wednesday, December 07, 2016 8:02 PM - Today was about as nice as it gets in December here. A lot of sunshine, no s#$w to be seen anywhere, and temperatures in the mid-upper 40s. Consequently that really buoyed my spirits and I got a lot done.

Before I talk about what I did, I'd like to pause and remember Joe who passed away 5 years ago today. Regular diary readers know who Joe was. For those who don't, he was my neighbor's dog with whom I became very good friends and helped quite a bit in taking care of him. Here's what he looked like:

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Then it was 4 years and 4 months ago today that Roscoe came to live next door. After Joe, I didn't think I could ever get close to another dog, but it didn't take Roscoe long to win me over. Now we are very good friends also. He's different from Joe, but nonetheless, just as loving. I don't really have as good a picture of Roscoe as that of Joe, but let me see if I can find one so at least you'll know what he looks like.

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That's him several months after he arrived. I'll have to get a more current better picture of him. He's somewhat bigger now, and more brown in color.

Now let's see if I can remember all that I did today. I raked the leaves in my back yard and between the houses. I don't have any trees (no decidious ones anyway - I do have the small pine tree), but I sure get plenty of leaves. I also took in my lawn decorations from the back yard. Some of the leaves I used to mulch my roses and the area where I plant my vegetables.

I also did some shopping downtown since the weather was very nice for walking. Of course also walked Roscoe three times so far today.

I fixed up a power strip for my Christmas lights to replace a couple of extension cords. Oh, and I did some sewing of a pillowcase.

I want to thank Paul N8XMS who read my yesterday's diary entry about Christmas music, and suggested I try Pandora instead of iHeart. I had used Pandora in the past, but didn't really like it. However I tried it again today, and they have a much better setup now. I quickly found a couple Christmas stations that DO play true Christmas music, and have been enjoying that a lot today in between (or while) doing other things.

Same old story on DX this evening as it's been the last several nights now. Things look very dismal, but then I manage to find and work some DX somewhere sooner or later. Tonight I really earned the QSO. I worked CP4BT on 30 meters, but I had to send my call perhaps 15 times before he got it right. I really appreciate him sticking with me. Some DX stations won't do that. Later I heard a strong C5 station on 40 meters whom I could have worked without the big pileup he attracted. I had a brief instance of wondering whether C5 was Andorra or The Gambia, but quickly realized it was The Gambia which I don't need. Had it indeed been C3 Andorra, I'd probably still be at the key now trying to work it since that's the last main country I need in Europe. I still need a couple minor entities like Monk Apollo and SMOM, but I'd love to at least get Andorra. I did hear it when we were at Skyview in August, but couldn't even work it with their big antenna farm in the short time he was there before he QRT. -30-

Tuesday, December 06, 2016 7:27 PM - How about that! 20 meters was open in the 00Z hour this evening. I worked VP5/W5CW at 0001Z and heard a few other stations including CE2AWW. I also heard the German RTTY station on 10100 fairly strong. I haven't heard them in ages. I just checked the propagation numbers and I see there was some geomagnetic storming going on. So that is not always a bad thing. When the sunspots get low a little storminess can activate the higher bands somewhat.

It was a gloomy December day today with no sign of the sun and periods of rain. Of course that's much better than a bright day with that ugly white stuff on the ground.

I've been listening to some Christmas music the past few days on iHeart radio on the Internet along with a couple other streaming stations. It's sad and a shame to hear very few of the traditional Christ oriented songs like Silent Night, O Holy Night, What Child Is This, We Three Kings, and the like. It seems Santa Claus and other secular figures dominate the music now. Well, I have my own collections of Christmas music, and I'll just dig that out and listen to that instead. After all it's CHRISTmas, not SANTAmas. End of soapbox comments. -30-

Monday, December 05, 2016 8:09 PM - You know me and stats. I was just curious to know how my DX streak QSOs were distributed throughout the day this year. That is, in which hour did I get that DX. Well, there are 340 days so far this year. The first DX QSO on each day was distributed as follows (UTC hour):
00 - 238
01 -  11
02 -   9
03 -   6
04 -   3
13 -   3
14 -  28
15 -  19
16 -  10
17 -   1
18 -   2
19 -   2
20 -   2
21 -   5
23 -   1
So there were 73 days (21.5%) where I couldn't get the DX in the evening and had to wait till morning or afternoon. I'm not going to do it now, but I will later. That is, see how this year compares with 2013-2015. I'm guessing with the higher sunspot numbers and the bands consequently being open later in the evenings then, that the percentage of evening QSOs will be higher.

So far, unless I connect later this evening, this will be another day without an evening DX QSO. I chased J6/KI8R and a PJ2 without any luck. I did work AA7G for the big streak though, so that one is secure. -30-

Sunday, December 04, 2016 8:27 PM - Here are the final(?) Christmas pictures for this year. First my window from outside followed by the new (to me) wreath I bought a few days ago. The bell and bow are salvaged from my traditional wreath that finally pretty much gave up the ghost after many years of faithful service.

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A quick DX QSO (J3/VE7ACN 30M) gave me time for some rag chewing and letter gathering (for the NAQCC December challenge). I spent about 45 minutes after getting the DX at 0003Z in three rag chews on 80 meters. I've now passed the halfway mark to mastering the NAQCC challenge this month. -30-

Saturday, December 03, 2016 7:56 PM - I haven't gotten much diary feedback lately. I suppose one reason is I had to dismantle my guestbook, and haven't gotten around to installing another one yet. So little time and so much to do. Anyway I did get two nice emails today which I'll talk about briefly after I present a couple more Christmas pictures.

First here's my tree after I trimmed it today. I cut back a little on the number of ormanents this year. I concentrated on just the bigger ones and the homemade ones from my cub scouting days many years ago. It still looks pretty crowded, so I'm happy with it this way.

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One of the very few things I dislike about Christmas is when a string of lights doesn't work. That happened today and after trying a few unsuccessful shortcuts to find the culprit, I had to go back to the old way of just pull, check, reinsert or replace one by one till the guilty party was found. Of course no matter which end you start at, the bad bulb will be near the opposite end. At least in the process, I got some more order to my spare bulb collection which will make the next time easier.

As always every year, we (I) put a manger scene under the tree which is pretty much the same each year. Here's a picture of that.

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Now to the emails. Paul N0NBD emailed saying he enjoyed seeing the pictures in the previous entry. He also told me a little about the trimming his wife did there which spilled over into his shack. HI.

Then I just heard a few minutes ago from Jack KO2I who said he enjoyed the KX1 building Mike KC2EGL and I had in the NAQCC newsletter a few years ago which was also here in the diary. I'm not sure which version he was referring to. He said it was helpful when he built another Elecraft rig, a K2/100. He also included a draft of an article he wrote about the K2 build for his club's newsletter (Spring Hill ARC). I have yet to read it, but I will a little later.

The bands were their usual bad boys this evening as far as DX goes. I did get K8NY on 80 for the big streak. Then I gave up and went next door to fix a chair for my neighbor. When I came back here, I thought I'd just check the bands again. I'm glad I did. I found KP4JRS just starting up. He sent a couple QRZ?s, then called CQ and he answered my very first call. I was looking him up in QRZ to be sure he was in Puerto Rico (he is), and noticed his sister is NP3YL whom I worked about a month ago. His father is KP4JFR. I think I worked him also. Let me see. Yes, I worked him 3 times. Wonder if there's an award for working the whole family? HI.

So with the DX streak secured, I'll have tomorrow free for whatever comes along. -30-

Friday, December 02, 2016 7:28 PM - Tonight in the diary something I haven't done for a while. Present some pictures for you to peruse. "Peruse" takes me back to my WPIT days. One of my fellow co-workers loved to use that word as in "time to peruse the news" just for one example. I was just thinking about the staff members who were there when I started in 1969. I'm pretty sure most all of them are gone now since they were (except for one) quite a bit older than I was. And I'm no spring chicken myself now. Those were good days. But I'm sidetracking myself.

I was trying to decide if I was going to decorate for Christmas or not this year. I think getting the wreath at the Ol' Station Marketplace yesterday swayed me toward decorating. So today I got things underway after I took care of some one-day delayed first of the month things this morning.

As is so every year, the first thing on the agenda is decorating the window with spray s#$w and stencils. The stencils are from some Glass Wax stencils from too many years ago to count. They are a little beaten up now, but they still work. As you'll see in this picture, there are five stencils - The Christmas star, a harp-playing angel rejoicing at the birth of Christ, "Merry Christmas", the manger scene, and the Magi or wise men. I don't know why there is an extra Magi in the stencil, but...

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Next it was dragging the ornaments and tree down from the attic. Every year now, dragging becomes more and more an apt description as I age. First thing out of the box was the string of lights that you see around the window. Then the tree was set up, but I kind of stopped there for a while and the corner still looks like this as I type.

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The little tree on the entertainment center is the one that my neighbor Nancy gave to me a few Christmases ago. Sadly she is not around for this Christmas, having passed away on November 11 at age 85. The ornament box is under the table. Or ormanent box. Does that use of ormanent remind you of anything? Do you remember "Party Line" with Ed and Wendy King on KDKA many years ago? To kind of differentiate Christmas decorations from other decorations, Ed called them "ormanents".

Wow, this is reminiscent night, I guess. Back to the task at hand. The only other things I took care of tonight were the garland (I guess that's what it's called) strung above the room divider (shown here) and the wreath which I hung outside on the door. I'll get a picture of that some other time.

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The rest of the decorating I hope to do tomorrow or Sunday. Meanwhile here's another item for some reminiscing on my part.

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That desk is one that goes back to my days at WPIT, perhaps even before that to my days at Gateway Tech. It belonged to Mrs. Hay from whom I rented a room starting back in, oh I guess around 1965 or 66. I probably have records of just when it was somewhere here since I virtually never throw anything out. HI. At any rate, she was an elderly lady and eventually went into a nursing home. I stayed on and kind of minded the house until it was time to sell it perhaps a year or so later. I had the choice of buying any of the furniture I wanted to use in my new apartment a couple blocks away. I took some chairs, a bed, the desk, and a few other items. Then when I retired from WPIT in 1993, I brought the furniture here to Kittanning. The desk just stayed in the basement as a storage place for some wire and other equipment.

Now move ahead some 13 years. I got to thinking the desk would make a nice place for my laptop computer. It required some work though after all those years in the basement. The laminate on the fold down desktop had come free over about half of the surface so I had to glue that back on. It needed a good cleaning and waxing along with a few other minor repairs here and there. A few days ago, my neighbor helped me bring it up from the basement and I set it up as you see in the picture. I probably should have done that long ago as it makes for a very nice setup for the laptop instead of an old card table. Actually the table you see in the second picture above.

OK, let me check the above, then I'll talk briefly about the DX streak.

First in looking at the desk picture, I notice a strange pattern on the mirror. It took a minute for me to realize that it was a reflection on the wall of the flash caused by the slightly beveled glass around the mirror edge.

Once again with a busy day tomorrow, thankfully my DX came quickly this evening. I've been chasing J3/VE7ACN a few days now. I don't really need him for anything but the DX streak QSO since I have J3, etc. It kind of became a minor obsession though since he was easily strong enough to work, but just wasn't hearing me. So I kept after him, and it was the same tonight on 30 meters. However when I couldn't work him and couldn't find anyone else workable on 30, I went to 40. I checked a couple of the bigger peaks on the PX3, and one was, yes, that's right - J3/VE7ACN. Stronger now than any other of the times I heard him. I listened to see if he was simplex or split. It was simplex, so I dropped my call on his frequency and after a "WW? and "K3?", he put it all together for a K3WWP 599. Finally! -30-

Thursday, December 01, 2016 7:12:58 PM - Winter kind of came in like the proverbial March lion today. It was in the 30s most of the day after the cold front came through last night. I'm not sure what the high was during the day today since the high registered as 48 at midnight. Then there were strong winds that made it feel even colder. Probably although I don't compute it, I would guess the wind chills were at least down around 20 or maybe lower.

I had to kind of hang around the house today waiting for a man to come and clean my gutters. He finally came around 3:00 or so. Then I went over to the Ol' Station Marketplace and picked up a nice wreath to replace the time-worn one I put on the front door each year. Also a couple other items.

I also went and paid a couple bills as part of my first of the month routines. I still have to finish the routines tomorrow.

Also tomorrow I hope to get my Christmas decorations up. I cleaned out the corner for the tree a little while ago, but that's only the beginning.

Fortunately I got a quick DX QSO this evening. After trying several times to get J3/VE7ACN, I gave up, went down the band a bit and got VP5/W5CW easily with a couple calls. Earlier in the day I worked John K4BAI down in Bonaire. John and I go back to the early 1960s. Even though he was running stations, he took time to wish me Happy Holidays. I always appreciate little things like that. John is a ham that I really admire, and although he is QRO (mainly) and I'm QRP I do my best to emulate his style.

With those two QSOs, the DX streak is now at 1,373 days and counting. I'm looking now at making it to March 1 when spring arrives and my DX streak will reach 4 straight years. -30-

Wednesday, November 30, 2016 7:32 PM - Well, it's December (UTC) - time to play the Merle Haggard song, "If We Make It Through December" everything's going to be all right I know. Well, not really because we've then got to get through two even worse months before we reach spring. 90 days to go. Whew! Wonder if I will make it?.

I did go back to the shack later last night and got not only my regular streak QSO, but it was DX as well - VP5/AA4NC on 30 meters and it was easy after just a call or two. So I had today free to do my end of the month things without worrying about that.

Tonight I got my regular streak QSO, but it wasn't DX - K8PRG on 80 meters. So the DX will have to come later tonight or tomorrow.

I'm getting back into another of my interests again - Sprint Cup racing - It will be interesting to see if Jimmie can pull off an eighth championship to move ahead of Earnhardt (good) and Petty (bad). I wasn't happy when Earnhardt tied Petty, but I'm glad Jimmie tied Earnhardt even thought it also meant tying Petty. Follow that? It's also nice that Tony Stewart has now retired. Never cared for him.

I am sorry that Jeff Gordon didn't quite make it to 100 wins. Maybe Jimmie will do so. Time will tell. He says he thinks he'll be able to drive another 3-5 years now. So that means he'll have to average 4-7 wins per year. Not out of the question.

Actually I think Jimmie's seven championships are more meaningful that Petty/Earnhardt. First competition is much more level now with any number of teams able to win any given race. Also the stupid "playoff" system makes it much harder to win a championship now. One simple blown tire in the playoff races can spell the end of a championship run. I notice that the web site Racing Reference computes the championship for each of the recent "playoff" years according to the old points system. I haven't had time to digest that yet, but I will. I did notice one of Jimmie's championship years, he also would have won using the old points system. That's the only year I've had time to look at yet. -30-

Tuesday, November 29, 2016 8:40 PM - To borrow lyrics from the Bing Crosby song of the same name - It's been a long long time. Since what, you ask. Since I went to the shack at 0000Z and came out an hour and 15 minutes later without a single QSO, DX or otherwise. Conditions are really bad here tonight. Many unanswered CQs and many unanswered calls to other stations' CQs. So I'll have to try later tonight or wait till morning or afternoon.

It's really reminiscent of the depth of the last sunspot minimum. In fact that's probably how far back I'd have to go to find the last time I didn't get a QSO in the evening after 0000Z. And here we are not even at the next sunspot minimum yet.

To make it worse, as I get older, I don't have as much patience to have to try so hard and long to get a QSO. So we'll see what becomes of the streaks from now till the minimum passes, if I make it that far. It's a bit discouraging, but not hopeless by any means. -30-

Monday, November 28, 2016 8:07 PM - Once again the bands seemed pretty down this evening just like they did over the weekend. However I did manage to easily work VE3DZ/KP4 on 40 meters at 0013Z. After he took care of some other callers, I got through easily with a quick K3WWP 599, no repeats needed. Very early (for me) in the day I worked VP2ESM with just a single call on 30M at 1346Z. That reminds me that even earlier Sunday morning in the 0900Z hour I made a few contacts in the CQWW contest. Those have to be among a very few QSOs I ever got in that hour. I was hoping for an Asian on 40M, but no such luck. Also no KL7 on 80M. So those goals will have to wait once again. -30-

Sunday, November 27, 2016 6:20 PM - My poorest showing in a major DX contest in quite some time now. I listed some of the reasons in the previous diary entry. There is one more to add to the list. I lost a lot of time today right when there was a good European opening on 20 meters when I went next door for a Thanksgiving dinner around Noon or so local time here. That was about the only good opening to Europe here the whole contest.

I'm not going to even bother writing a story about this one. Instead I'll just present some stats here.

QSOs - 76 (all DX, I don't work W/VE in the CQWW although that is permitted)
Countries - 42
Continents - all but Asia
QSOs by band and continent
40M - 13
20M - 36
15M - 25
10M - 2
AF - 5
EU - 23
NA - 31
OC - 3
SA - 14
Best hour - 1900Z Sunday - 12
Saturday - 32
Sunday - 44
Number of unanswered calls - A LOT!

I think maybe one more reason for the poor showing. I wonder if many folks thought this was going to be the last good DX contest for a while as we slip toward the sunspot minimum, and they wanted to get in on the action before conditions really go away. It sure seemed like there was an awful lot of activity this year and hence more competition. There were even big pileups in the final hour which is a little unusual.

This and yesterday's entry sum up the contest. If I think of any more comments, I'll add them in a future entry. -30-

Saturday, November 26, 2016 7:17 PM - I'm glad I wasn't really fired up for a big effort in the CQWW DX contest. Had I been, I sure would have been very disappointed by now. Conditions are some of the worst since the last sunspot minimum.

Let's analyze things a bit.

1. Obviously with the solar flux down in the 70s heading for the upcoming (downgoing?) sunspot minimum, the ionosphere is just not propagating signals as well as it did as recently as last year. That especially hurts minimal QRP signals such as mine.

2. With the higher bands out of the picture most of the time except for a few hours around mid-day, that forces a lot of stations down to 20 during a good portion of the day and then to 40 when 20 closes early. The resultant crowding makes breaking through the packs with QRP much harder.

3. I suspect that with poorer conditions, many stations are running higher power than they usually do. Hence stronger QRM on QRP signals.

4. Since this is an everyone work everyone contest, DX with beams don't keep them aimed at the USA as they do for the ARRL DX contest in February. So often the QRP station must try to work the DX off the side of the DX's beam thus losing the receive gain of the DX station.

5. With fewer and weaker openings to EU, AF, AS, OC from the USA, the Caribbean and SA stations bear the brunt of the USA stations calling them, making their pileups larger and harder to break.

Considering all the above, I'm not surprised, nor even disappointed in my results so far. I am disappointed that we are quite far down in the sunspot cycle and have to put up with these things.

Normally (i.e. at higher points in the sunspot cycle), the majority of my QSOs are from Europe in big DX contests. Also the Caribbean/Central American stations are a piece of cake to work along with the northern half of South America. Northwest Africa is very easy to work. I have a pipeline to Hawaii.

This year my QSOs (all 33 so far) are distributed as follows:

Europe - 8 (actually some quite easy). I did not even hear all that many European stations this year.

Caribbean/Central America - 19, and many took some work to log them.

South America - 3, fairly easy, although there were many I couldn't work at all.

Hawaii - 1, easy.

Africa - 2, but many others not hearing me at all.

Of course, that means I have 5/6 of my usual contest WAC. But Asia may not be workable this year. I haven't even heard an Asian yet, although I hear other stations working Asia easily.

Well, there's still tomorrow. Perhaps conditions will flip-flop and be good then, but I'm not holding my breath. -30-

Friday, November 25, 2016 5:43 PM - I'm sitting here trying to decide what I want to do in the CQWW DX Contest. I don't think I'll put in a full all-out effort. I might consider that if it were near the peak of a sunspot cycle, but not falling toward a sunspot minimum as we are doing now. I feel like doing a little more than just using it to get my DX streak QSOs. Maybe look for some new band countries, especially on 80 and 40. 80 should be pretty good at this point of the sunspot cycle. How about trying to finally work Asia on 40 meters to complete WAC on that band. Or try for KL7 on 80 to complete WAS there. There are a lot of different ways to approach these big DX contests which is yet another reason they are at the top of my list of favorite contests. I'll probably wind up doing a MOR (middle of the road) effort getting on when I'm not doing something else at the time. Or maybe set a goal of 100, 200, whatever QSOs and shoot for that. -30-

Thursday, November 24, 2016 7:42 PM - OK, several things to take care of, so let's get to them. First of all, thanks to Geo N1EAV for keeping tabs on me and letting me know early this morning that I didn't have a diary entry for yesterday. Well, I did, but got distracted and forgot to upload it.

I hope you all had a nice Thanksgiving. I did. My neighbor Bruce's brother Jeff invited him and me for dinner. It was just the three of us enjoying a traditional Thanksgiving dinner of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, noodles, and cranberry sauce. That's the way I like things - plain and simple. No fancy foods that no one will eat anyway as Bruce put it.

I mentioned pictures from the subpedition. Let me get them from Mike's email and fix them for inclusion here. Back in a couple minutes.

OK, here we go. First the Requin sitting quietly at rest on the Ohio River near the Science Center on the North shore across from downtown Pittsburgh.
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Here is a wide angle view of the small radio room on the sub. Some of the equipment was in use when the sub was active while some was added later when the ham radio station NY3EC was installed.
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A closer view of our setup using Mike's KX3 and paddle. I added the appropriate circle and line to that Mickey phoney thing.
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And Mike (top) and me (bottom) wearing our NAQCC WPA Chapter hats busy making contacts.
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Back to Thanksgiving evening now. Once again thanks to the folks setting up for the CQWW DX contest, my DX streak QSO came quickly, thanks to TI5/KL9A again (on 20 this evening). Then I went searching for someone with an R in their call to complete the November NAQCC Thanksgiving challenge. I found TK/S53RM on 40 meters, and worked him after 3 or 4 calls. I only have maybe one or two other Corsica QSOs on 40 meters. Then I got off my report on the challenge to our challenge manager Hap K7HAP, and then wrote this entry. So that was my day. A very good one. -30-

Wednesday, November 23, 2016 7:27 PM - Thank goodness, another quick DX QSO this evening at 0018Z from TI5/KL9A on 30 meters. Now I can enjoy Thanksgiving Day without that hanging over me.

Mike and I had a good day today as always when we get together. We left for the Requin a little after 9 AM and arrived there a little after 10 AM only to find out from Art that the sub was closed. However that didn't really matter since Art said we could operate anyway. So we went to the radio room and proceeded to set up. However we had some trouble with the sub's antenna tuner. It was just refusing to work. We puttered around with it for quite a while without any luck. We finally figured we'd take a chance that the tuner was just in bypass mode and tried it on that assumption using the built-in KX3 tuner. Well that worked fine, so apparently the sub's tuner is bypassed or shorted out or something. So we proceeded to operate starting around 10:40AM or so. We continued until 2:00PM and along the way we made 27 QSOs from 15 SPCs. It was strange having the whole sub to ourselves, especially when Art left to go for some kind of meeting. I kidded Mike that we should commandeer the sub and take it for a joyride up the river.

The sub finally did open for visitors around Noon or so when those in charge (not Art) decided that it was warm enough to do so. I won't go into that any further except to say it really wasn't all that cold to begin with. After that we enjoyed chatting with the visitors as we operated. This time a large percentage seemed really interested in what we were doing and asked a lot of good questions which we did our best to answer.

When we left the sub, we headed to the Pittsburgh Mills and in particular Dick's Sporting Goods where I got a pair of new shoes and Mike got some gloves. Then it was off to Best Buy where we got frustrated because we couldn't find anyone to wait on us. I've observed over the years that when you go into any store just to look around, you'll be descended upon by several salespersons. However when you go in search of something which you need help to find, there won't be a salesperson within 20 yards of you, and you are never approached. Ours was the second case, and after waiting a while and even requesting one of the store workers to find someone to help us (that didn't work), we just left. Then it was off to Lowe's to find an item which they didn't have. So that was two strikes, and the next pitch was from Applebees. Well, we got a hit there with a couple of great dinners. I had a shrimp platter and Mike had some kind of steak platter.

Next up, it was off to here where Mike did some work on the foam insert for his carrying case he uses for the KX3, PX3, etc. That being done, it was time for Mike to head home and me to head to the shack. We took some pictures on the sub which Mike will email to me. I'll try to have them in tomorrow's diary entry. -30-

Tuesday, November 22, 2016 8:00 PM - That worked out good. I was hoping for a quick DX streak QSO this evening so I wouldn't be worried about it all morning and afternoon while operating from the Requin and otherwise engaged in projects with Mike KC2EGL. At 0003Z, I called 6Y9X whom if you remember I tried forever to get last evening. Tonight it took but two calls to get him in the log on 30 meters. He may have just been starting a shift since he was simplex and not yet getting many answers to his CQs. Whatever, I got him and am ready for tomorrow now. In fact I probably could have gotten 3 or 4 other DX QSOs as folks are getting tuned up for the CQ WW. But I'll save them for Thursday and Friday. HI.

It apparently will be only Mike and me on the sub as the other folks we invited all had other plans for the day. We'll try to arrive just as the sub opens for business at 10 AM (1500Z), get set up as quickly as possible and put NY3EC on the air. Look for us on or near 7041, 10117, or 14061. We can only operate one of the frequencies at a time so just keep checking back and forth if you'd like to work us. We'll stay until 1900Z or longer if activity warrants.

The trip to the vet for toenail trimming went well with Roscoe. He's always excited and anxious on the way to the vet, then mostly calm and quiet on the way home. Just like he's two different dogs. On the way home he got an ice cream cone from Dairy Queen which he devoured. He used to be hesitant about eating the cone part, but now he goes right through the whole thing. -30-

Monday, November 21, 2016 7:52 PM - Yet another DXless evening. 6Y9X was booming in working the world on 30 meters. I just couldn't get my signal in edgewise in the pile of stations calling him. I don't know how many JAs he worked while I was listening, but it was a lot. Oh well, maybe tomorrow morning or afternoon.

A cold day today. Never got out of the low-mid 30s all day, and the wind made it seem even worse. So except to take Roscoe out and put out the garbage, it was an indoor day for me. Tomorrow I have to go out though as we will take Roscoe to the vet for a toenail trimming. Other than that, except for a short walk downtown to get some vitamins, I think I'll hibernate again. -30-

Sunday, November 20, 2016 8:07 PM - A really depressing weather day today. A coating of that ugly white s#$w made such an ugly scene when I looked out the window this morning. I felt like getting back in bed and sleeping the day away, but..... At least we didn't have it as worse as many places did. Thank goodness, it was bad enough as is. And it's only just past mid-November, too. As I said to the mailman yesterday, maybe if it starts early, it will end early. That would be great.

Enough about that. I want to get this entry done and get started on the log cross-checking from our NAQCC sprint. I want to get that done tonight if I can because I have a busy week coming up. At least I got my DX streak QSO out of the way this evening, thanks to PJ2/K2PLF hearing me on 30 meters. -30-

Saturday, November 19, 2016 7:19 PM - More and more to my amazement, the DX streak keeps on going. Still I think its days are numbered. It was hard getting a QSO in the LZ DX Contest both earlier in the day and this evening. Even the stations I usually work easily weren't hearing me. Finally though at 1510Z I managed to work DL6FBL easily in the contest on 20 meters. Then this evening after trying at least a half dozen stations to no avail in the contest on 40, I went to 30, found a very strong PZ5RA, but he always answered someone else, so I gave up on him and went searching again. Hmmm, there's S57V pretty strong around 10.121. I'll give him a call after his CQ. Bingo, a single call got him easily. Sometimes (maybe most of the time) you just have to be in the right place at the right time to work DX as the sunspot cycle continues to decline.

It's much colder today than yesterday. 73 then, just reversed now - 37. And we had a few s@#w flurries in the early afternoon, but that was it, fortunately just flurries. Still predicting some accumulation tonight and tomorrow though. Brrrr! and Bah Humbug!!! -30-

Friday, November 18, 2016 12:10 PM - After agonizing all morning while looking for DX and not finding any except for those who were chasing other DX, too weak to even bother trying, or engaged in endless rag chews, I gave up for the time being. When I came back just before noon, a single call to Bruno F5NTV netted me my DX streak QSO.

It's almost 70 degrees today, so I think with the DX streak secured, I might go out for a walk now and enjoy what looks like the last nice day for a long time, perhaps until spring. A cold front sweeps in tonight and brings that ugly white s#$w back to Kittanning. Perhaps even a couple inches of the crud. -30-

Thursday, November 17, 2016 12:14 PM - In processing logs from last night's NAQCC sprint, I noticed that I was the first or second QSOs in several logs, so I decided to see just how many. Nine folks had me as their first QSO, and four more as their second. I have no idea what that means, I just found it unusual.

Overall conditions were pretty poor for the sprint. However here in WPA we seemed to have a "white hole" as not only me with 41 QSOs, but Jon AB3RU and Mike KC2EGL posted good scores. So far N5GW down in MS is the only one of some 60 reporting to have more than my 41 QSOs. He had 43.

I hit the track running with 7 QSOs the first 7 minutes, but then gradually slowed down as 80 slowly changed to longer skip. My totals by half hour were 15, 11, 9, 6. All on 80 meters except W4OEP in FL on 40 near the end of the sprint.

A lot of fun. These NAQCC sprints rank up there with the big DX contests as my absolute favorites. If you haven't tried a NAQCC sprint yet, please do so. You don't have to be a member to join in the fun. You really don't have to run QRP, but QRO stations do somewhat create havoc among the QRP signals. -30-

Wednesday, November 16, 2016 7:19 PM - To quote some sportscaster(s) somewhere sometime, "How about that, sports fans?" S53A on 80 meters was my DX streak QSO this evening at 0015Z. I'm not even sure if I have Slovenia on 80 meters before this or not. Let me check. No I don't so I got my first new band country in a long while now. Let me check that. Well, it's almost 5 months ago that I worked D2B on 30 meters for my last new band country. I'm going to have to try for 80 meters DX more often with the sunspots decreasing. I only have 57 (now 58) countries worked on 80 meters with my attic random wire and of course QRP/CW. It would be nice to reach 100 on 80, but I doubt that will happen barring a lot of luck and some good band conditions along with a lot of time invested as well.

Well, just over an hour now till our NAQCC sprint. I've got GenLog all set up on my laptop for logging. I hope conditions are good. I'll probably just go with 80 most of the two hours with perhaps a couple checks on 40 meters. -30-

Tuesday, November 15, 2016 8:16 PM - Tomorrow evening is our monthly NAQCC Sprint. I hope conditions are better than they are this evening. It took a long time to find and work someone. At least it was an old reliable DX station so I don't have to worry about going on the scavenger hunt during the day tomorrow. Today the 1400Z hour came through again when I worked XE1IM. I only worked him once before and that was a few years ago. By contrast tonight's QSO was PV8ADI whom I've worked many times simply because he often is the only strong DX station I am hearing. ZF9CW was strong also, but after not breaking his pileup after 10 minutes I realized it was futile to try any longer.

I just looked at my new poll results and it looks like I may get more votes this time around. Last time I had a 12 meters poll, I only got 19 votes. So far this round I have 7 votes after just one day. I voted for 20-29 states, 3 folks voted for 1-9 states, and 3 said they don't use 12 meters.

Looks like we hit 62 degrees today under mostly sunny skies. I helped Ange with a bit more garden clean up work, burying another fig tree for the winter. Still three left to go. I also raked up some leaves around my house, but there are still more to come down. It's terrible when you don't have any deciduous trees but still have to rake the neighbor's leaves. At least if I have to rake leaves, it would be nice to have a tree on which to mount an antenna. Or maybe not. -30-

Monday, November 14, 2016 6:27 PM - The weather continues very nice for mid-November. As I said yesterday, cold mornings (24 today) and nice afternoons (59). A little less walking today as I was busy with other things like my laundry, getting ready for Wednesday's sprint, and more paper shredding, among the regular daily chores. Still, I'm just under 7 miles and will get at least one more mile here in the house.

My DX streak is becoming more like a scavenger hunt figuring out where and when to look for someone whom I am able to work. The 1400Z hour seems to be a good when, and 20 and 17 a good where. However I called several stations in that frame today with nary a ? from any of them. Finally I did easily hook up with Kurt DF4XX on 20 meters for a solid QSO. He was 579 and gave me a 559.

The next scavenger hunt starts in about 25 minutes when I see what is available on 30 or 40. 20 will probably be dead by then.

I said I was going to start repeating some of my polls that I haven't posted in a while now to see if there is any major change in the responses from the last posting. The first one starts today with how many states you've worked on 12 meters. We've gone through a sunspot peak since the poll was first posted so at least the band was open for a few years in that time. However it still remains mostly a W/VE working DX band and not much W/VE to W/VE work. Anyway it will be interesting to see what the change is, if any. -30-

Sunday, November 13, 2016 7:42 PM - Very poor DX conditions this evening unlike the last few nights. So, no DX QSO yet for the 14th. I did work VA3YG on 80 for the big streak though, so that's secure.

I talked with Art WA3BKD from the sub USS Requin and it looks like we will be activating the sub's radio room the day before Thanksgiving. More details as the time gets closer. That's always a lot of fun, and this day before Thanksgiving is an annual thing now for the past few years.

Not much else going on. I did a lot more shredding today. Amazing how much paperwork can be accumulated over the years if you don't keep up with it and I haven't.

The weather was nice today. Let's see. My remote unit shows a high of 59 which felt just about right the couple times I was out for a walk this afternoon. It looks like the next few days will be nice also. Cold mornings but in the 50s and maybe 60 for highs. I'll take that for November for sure.

I was just looking to see the exact time of the full moon tonight. Didn't find that yet, but there is disagreement over how long it has been since a full moon so close to Earth. I see 3 different figures - 60, 68, and 70 years. OK, Space.com seems to have the most definitive info. Full moon occurs tomorrow morning at 6:15AM EST, and it will be the closest (hence the largest) full moon since 1948. This time around perigee (moon closest to Earth) occurs just 2 hours and 37 minutes before the exact full moon. In January 1912 and January 1930 perigee and full moon were even closer together, hence those full moons were slightly larger than this one. I'm surprised there wasn't more false info about this moon like happened in August of 2003 over the close approach of Mars. Remember how a lot of people thought Mars would look as big as the moon if not even bigger back then. I got a big kick out of that. -30-

Saturday, November 12, 2016 8:22 PM - Not too much going on today. Early this morning, I helped Ange bury a couple of his fig trees. As I do every day, I took Roscoe out for his walks. Then I spent quite a bit of time trying out my new paper shredder and wound up shredding a lot of old personal papers. Now I've got a few bags of confetti lying around here. HI.

For the fourth evening in a row now I've gotten my DX streak QSO in the 00Z or 01Z (computer club meeting evening) hours. Last night I had a short chat with Niko S53A on 40 meters. It's not too often I get to have a chat with DX stations on that band. Niko said they had 40 CM of s#$w over in the Slovenian mountains. I said I don't like snow at all. He said it was stressful on his antennas. I imagine with the 589 solid signal he was putting in here, he must have quite the antenna farm. It's been over 20 years now since we had our first QSO.

Tonight it was another Slovenian at 0012Z on 10.120 - Milan S57V - whom I've also worked several times, most on 30 if I recall correctly without looking which I will do after I close this entry and put the QSO into my computer log. -30-

Friday, November 11, 2016 6:14 PM - I hope you flew your flag, attended a parade, or otherwise showed your support for our servicemen who have served and/or are serving the greatest country in the World, the good old USA as we move ahead now and become still greater.

Mike and I spent the day together having an even more enjoyable time than usual, if that is possible, after the elections. We started out by watching a couple of films about the German WWII code machine Enigma. We both have computer simulations of the Enigma and may just try sending coded email messages to each other some day.

There was one sad part of the day. My neighbor and friend Nancy whom I've talked about here in the diary passed away early this morning after spending about the last 11 months in a personal care home. Mike and I went over to express our sympathies to her sons.

Before we went, we did a bit of research to find out how to disable the touch pad on Mike's laptop. It wasn't completely obvious, but we did figure it out, and he'll take care of it when he gets home.

Next it was off to Applebee's for one of their delicious Veterans Day meals. Mmmmm.

We stopped off at Best Buy after that, and both of us bought a paper shredder. My first one as I need to think about getting rid of a lot of old papers now that I'm getting old(er). Mike had one before which gave up the ghost, and he needed a replacement.

On the way home here, we stopped at the local Belmont Complex (skating, etc.) to get Mike's ice skates sharpened.

Back home again, it was up to the shack for some DX hunting. Since I already had my DX for the day and didn't hear any exotic new DX to work, I let Mike sit at the controls the whole time. He worked Honduras AC8J/HR9 and Bonaire PJ4/N5JR. He also chased the USS Hornet station (NB6GC) in Alameda, CA, but never could get through the pileup.

We also did some planning for our proposed trip to the USS Requin the day before Thanksgiving as well as a trip to the PA Trolley Museum in December for their extended trolley ride.

That closed out our day, and he headed up north again to get to bed and up again for a 7:30AM start of a busy day (mail delivery is always busy following a holiday).

Now I'm just waiting around for 0000Z to come so I can get my streak QSO(s). -30-

Thursday, November 10, 2016 7:35 PM - It took a while to get it, but the DX QSO came easily this evening from old faithful Alex HC2AO on 40 meters when I found him at 0026Z. Took just one repeat for the QSO and Alex said he hoped we could work in the CQWW. I hope so also.

I'm glad I got the QSO this evening, because is visiting tomorrow for Veterans Day. So now I won't have getting the DX QSO in the back of my mind.

Not much else to talk about today. I did finish adding the VE stations to my list of stations whom I've worked on 5 to 8 bands. Now the totals are as follows:

8 bands - 5 stations
7 bands - 10
6 bands - 84
5 bands - 286

A lot of the 5-band stations are contest stations I've worked on 80, 40, 20, 15, 10. Or perhaps 160 in addition to 4 of those 5. -30-

Wednesday, November 09, 2016 8:47 PM - An absolutely great day today. Everything went right, ham radio and otherwise.

In ham radio, I got my DX QSO pretty easily once I found a workable DX station. One call netted me ZF9CW on 20 meters in the 1400Z hour again. That hour is getting to be pretty productive for DX. Then this evening it was PV8ADI on 40 meters. Seemed like he was having trouble with his computer sending, as he kept sending out of context things, but he did get my call right so the QSO was made. So tomorrow I can take it easy as far as trying for DX. I may get on to try to get some more letters for the NAQCC November challenge though. -30-

Tuesday, November 08, 2016 6:32 PM - I'll write my diary entry now while I'm awaiting the coming of 0000Z.

Another unusual happening with my DX QSO today. I was wondering if I was jinxed. I got on the bands early in the 1400Z hour and found 20 and 17 in pretty good shape, but again I wasn't being heard until finally G3HGE heard my call and came back to me. However just then my furnace kicked on and buried Tom in its noise. So I ran (yes ran - I don't do that much any more at 71 years of age) downstairs and turned it off and ran back upstairs only to find Tom calling CQ again. So I answered him once again and this time with no furnace noise, we copied each other solidly for a few minutes. When I said I was running QRP (he was running 400W to a hex beam on a high tower), he said I was really chancing it at that power level with the bands being so flat. I was going to go on and explain about the streak, but I left well enough alone and settled on having a DX QSO in the log for day # 1,349 in a row.

So the streak is becoming more and more of a challenge as the sunspots continue to decline. Just about every day now I wonder if I will make it for one more day or not. Perhaps with the CQWW DX contest coming up in a couple weeks or so, there will be some stations setting up for that and getting on to check their setups. We'll see as time goes by.

Before I close and get ready to head for the shack, I did what I said I was going to do and checked my USA QSOs to see who I've worked on the most different bands. I didn't do VE yet, but for the USA there are the following number of stations:

8 bands - 4 (W1AW/4, W1AW/7, W4HG, WY3H)
7 bands - 7 (K4NO, KB4GID, W1AW/0, W1AW/5, WO4O)
6 bands - 58
5 bands - 173

Unlike the DX stations, some of these have 6 meters figured into the total. I may recompute and eliminate that band later and keep it to just HF like the DX stations. I know WY3H, K4NO, and WO4O have 6 in their totals. The W1AWs, W4HG, and KB4GID don't. I was surprised by the W1AW portable operations. Of course they are not all from the same location, just the same call area. WY3H is Tom who lived in nearby Garretts Run till he moved down south a couple years ago. I'm surprised my former neighbor Eric KB3BFQ is not at least on 5 bands, but it just dawned on me he has a Novice license so is limited to what bands he can use. W1AW/3 and W1AW/9 are among the 58 6-banders. So that's six call areas for them with 6-8 bands worked.

Maybe later tonight or tomorrow I'll do Canada. It's so easy with Microsoft Access and Excel as my ham radio loggers. It only took maybe 10 minutes to do the USA a little bit ago. -30-

Monday, November 07, 2016 8:59 PM - We had a temperature range today of 39 degrees. It went from 32 in the morning to 71 this afternoon. Swings that large are unusual for November. We have had swings up to 45 degrees (Nov 13, 2010), but swings above 40 are not all that common. Only about half (16) the November days have GDR (Greatest Daily Range) records of 40 or more.

I checked out my QSOs with USA possessions and found that 5 bands were the most I've worked any of them on. So the records mentioned in last night's diary entry stand with the addition of around a dozen more stations in the 5 band category.

I guess next I'll do the figuring for W/VE stations. I know of one 8 band station already. Back on June 12, 1996 W4HG and I worked each other on 10 through 80 meters in just 31 minutes from 0111Z through 0142Z. I wish we could have made it on 160 also, but it was so rough on 80 that Wayne didn't think we could have a chance on 160, so we didn't try. Actually we chewed the rag on 10 meters for a while and then I suggested we try 12 meters. I needed NC on 12 at that time, I believe. We didn't QSY to 12 till 0124, and then we just went down the bands for a quick exchange of reports on each one. So actually we were on 8 bands in about 18-19 minutes.

I guess I'm really glad my search for a streak QSO starts an hour earlier local time now. It took 1 hour and 2 minutes this evening to even get a regular QSO with N9KKY. I never did get a DX one. That will be in the morning or afternoon, I guess. However I said that last night also, but I got lucky. I went back to the shack and almost immediately found KP2M in the SS at 0139, and worked him with just a single call, no repeats even in the SS exchange.

I did almost make my DX this evening. J68GD on 40 meters got as far as K3?WP, but just couldn't pull me through the pileup QRM despite doing his best for at least a couple minutes. The lids in the pileup just would not shut up long enough for him to get me. I commend him for trying so hard though. I just hope the streak doesn't end on that note. That would be a harder loss than the Indians in the WS. -30-

Sunday, November 06, 2016 7:18 PM - Hope you all remembered to turn your clocks back last night (well unless you live in an area that doesn't observe Daylight Shifting Time) so you didn't have a strange time-challenged day today.

Notice I said Shifting, not Savings. No daylight is ever saved, only shifted by one hour. That's a pet peeve of my 'always try to be precise' mind. One hour of daylight is shifted from early morning to late evening, no more, no less, no savings.

One effect is that I can now get my streak QSO one hour earlier (local time) in the evenings, then have the rest of the time until midnight free for other things. I'm not sure if that is good or bad. Maybe a little of both.

I did get my regular streak QSO 4 minutes past 7 PM EST or 0004Z this evening. It was another SS QSO with N7NG. Probably actually rarer than a DX QSO since he is in my least worked state, Wyoming. As of the time when my streak reached 22 years back on August 4 of this year, I had 61 QSOs with Wyoming in the streak. Far ahead of (behind) North Dakota with 73, Nebraska 85, Idaho 92, and Nevada with 97. I'm pretty sure that's the first Wyoming since then as well, so it still leads (trails) by a big margin.

My DX streak QSO earlier in the day came from the SS also when I worked NP3A on 15 meters. That made my SS total this year 3 QSOs in 3 SPCs.

Actually 17 meters seemed pretty good in the 1400Z hour today, but I just couldn't get anyone to hear me calling them. There was a lot of QSB on the band with signals going from S7 down into my S4-5 local noise level. Hopefully tomorrow morning (afternoon) will be better so I can continue the DX streak.

I delved into some more statistics today. I've been curious to know which DX stations I've worked on the most different bands. The stats are incomplete as I didn't cull out the USA overseas possessions from the log. I'll do that some day. As of now I have 121 stations I've worked on at least 5 different bands. Although it's been a while since I've worked this station now, HC8N is alone at 8 different bands (80 through 10). There are 4 7-band stations, CO8LY, EA6NB, HA9RT, (all 3 on 40-10), and G4BUE (80-10 except 30). There are 25 6-band stations whom I won't list here, and 91 5-band stations. I'll be interested to see how (if) things change when I factor in KP4, KP2, KH6, KL7 and so on. -30-

Saturday, November 05, 2016 8:42 PM - I kind of figured the SS would get in the way of my DX streak this evening. I was right. 17 was dead. 30 had VP2EGR who QRT before I could decide if I wanted to work him again on 30 or not. There was a weak J68 on 30 who didn't hear me the couple times I tried to call him. So it looks like 17 meters tomorrow morning or afternoon some time. Meanwhile for the big streak I made one SS contact with N4OX on 40 meters.

A couple days ago someone pointed out a couple links in my links pages that weren't working. That prompted me to download Xenu Link Sleuth and check all my links. Surprisingly there weren't all that many bad ones - maybe 15 or so. That Xenu program is really neat if you have a lot of links to check. It can check, oh I would say about 100 links in just a few seconds, and then spit out a complete report on all of them. So gradually I'm getting some changes and updates done on my web site. I've been putting them off for too long now. -30-

Friday, November 04, 2016 8:23 PM - Did you figure out or guess the following correct answers to my trivia question I posed last night?

NFL - 1947 - Detroit Lions
MLB - 1948 - Cleveland Indians
NBA - 1951 - Sacramento Kings (formerly Rochester Royals, Cincinnati Royals, Kansas City (Omaha) Kings
NHL - 1967 - Toronto Maple Leafs, St. Louis Blues (formed in 1967)

It's hard to believe the NBA winner (loser?) since the Kings have had some great players over the years including Oscar Robertson, Jack Twyman, and Jerry Lucas. Also some great coaches including Bill Russell, Bob Cousy, and Cotton Fitzsimmons. And basketball is one sport where one top notch player is pretty much all that is needed to make a good team.

Also the Toronto Maple Leafs was a shock to me with their history. I think overall they have won the Stanley Cup 13 times, second only to the Canadiens who have 24.

Anway I need to pause in my typing to get my weather records. Then I'll wind this entry up after that.

OK, back now. Just like last night, I got a quick DX QSO. Tonight from AD8J/HR9 on 30 meters. I've worked AD8J a lot and I think that helped me get him as I could hear other stations calling along with me, but I won out this time. That was at 0004Z so I thought I'd try to gather some letters for the NAQCC challenge, but you know I could not get any answers at all to my CQs for about a half hour and gave up. Anyway I don't have to fight the SS tomorrow to get my DX, although I probably could have gotten someone on 17. I may have to do that on Sunday if I can't get someone on 30 tomorrow evening. I'm not a great fan of the sweepstakes any more so I won't be getting in it this year. Back in the 1990s I had a couple SS where I did quite well. In 1999 I made 537 QSOs from 74 sections. I think there were 79 sections at that time, so I missed a sweep by 5. I think there was one other year I missed a sweep by just one section, but I can't find the info right now, and don't have time to dig further. Anyway I did finish first in the Atlantic Division QRP for 1999. -30-

Thursday, November 03, 2016 6:50 PM - Congratulations to the Cubs and their fans. It's hard to imagine having a major sports team that hadn't won a championship in 108 years. It just boggles the mind. And what a way to win it. Extra innings in the last game after coming back from a 3-1 games deficit. Awesone. It's fitting it went to extra innings as the two teams were so closely matched. I didn't total it myself, but I read somewhere that both teams scored a total of 27 runs. Let me check that. Yes, that's exactly right. Then there was that rain delay just at the end of 9 innings in game 7. Almost like some higher power wanted folks to pause and perhaps think there should be co-champions this year. That game seven will be a classic for the ages. What an up and down game for David Ross playing his last game before retiring. Allowing two runs to score on a wild pitch, then homering the very next inning. Dexter Fowler being the first player ever to homer as the first batter in a game 7. Just a whole lot of memories after that 108 year wait. Just think, no one alive today was alive then. Oh, maybe a couple folks somewhere in the world, but not very many, for sure.

OK, now this will be a popular trivia question in the coming days. Of the four major sports, MLB, NFL, NHL, NBA, which franchise now holds the record held by the Cubs until last night of the longest time since winning a championship. As far as I can tell from Wikipedia, it's the XXXXXXX XXXXXXX of XXX (sport) who last won in 19XX. Can you fill in the X's. My neighbor Bruce did it without doing any research. He first figured the right league, then shortly got the team on one try, but not the year. I actually didn't really give him time to guess the year or he may have gotten that also. How about you? I know it would take just a couple seconds to find it on the Internet, but without doing any research, do you know or care to guess? The Internet has certainly ruined trivia games since it came into being. You can find it easily there or I'll give the answer tomorrow here in the diary. Want to extend the question a bit? Name the team from each of the four sports with the longest championship drought.

I worked HI3TEJ on a new band today for my Nov 3 DX streak QSO. We never worked on 17 meters before. So that way I didn't feel so bad about working him yet again. I'll find out what tonight will bring in about an hour now. The bands weren't really that great this afternoon, but I found TEJ rather quickly, so didn't check too thoroughly. -30-

Wednesday, November 02, 2016 8:40 PM - Well, my string of 0000Z hour DX QSOs ended at three this evening. I could have worked S01WS and VP2EGR on 40 probably, but S01WS doesn't like repeat QSOs so as to give everyone an equal chance at working his somewhat rare country, and I honor that since I have worked him. Also I just worked VP2EGR on 40 a couple days ago - too soon for a repeat QSO especially since I imagine he is just a visitor to Anguilla and it's somewhat rare also. Apparently the Europeans really need it since when I listen, he is working one European after another. So the morning or afternoon will determine the fate of the DX streak once again.

We may have had another 80 degree November day today. When I was outside earlier today I checked my thermometer and it showed 79. I don't think it got any warmer later, but it could have. It was great being outside today, and I cleaned out Ange's bean and tomato plants for him. I didn't want to wait on him and do it in 30 degree weather which seemingly is what usually happens. I also went for a couple, actually three walks/shopping trips today. I'm just shy of 10 miles on the pedometer.

I did a little more work on making my poll results uniform today. They are pretty good right now. The next step is to arrange them to see which ones could be ready to repeat. I know there are some that I would like to see how the results might change from the last time they were used. I think by the time for a new poll in mid-November, I'll have that done and will start re-using some of them the next few months. I'd still like to hear if you have any ideas for a new poll though. The only requirement is that it has something to do with CW and/or QRP and/or simple antennas.

I haven't had a "Why is it that...." in the diary for ages. One popped into my mind as I was on the air this evening. Why is it that we seem to always say something like, "I've got to QRT now, so I'LL SAY 73..."? I'm guilty too. Why not just say, "I've got to go now, so 73.....". It's not necessary to say that you are going to say it, just say it. There are a lot more similar mis-uses of words also. Probaby a book could be written. Oh well, I just have to express my feelings about such things from time to time. -30-

Tuesday, November 01, 2016 8:39 PM - It seems like there is a temperature anomaly many years on the first few days of November. It was 74 today, well above normal. We've also gotten into the 80s a few times during the first few days of a November. Last year we hit 82 on the fifth with 79 and 78 the two days preceding. Nov 2, 2004 it was 80. Nov 4, 2003 81. There are several other examples. I won't list them all, but I do want to mention one in particular. Back in 1961 not long after I started keeping weather records, our high school's colors day (red and white in Kittanning's case) came on November 3 when everyone wore red and white. It was a good day for that since you could wear summer red and white clothes. The temperature peaked at 83 degrees which is still a November all time high in my 57 or so years of record keeping. Just for comparison, temperatures in the 80s this time of year are 19-24 degrees above normal.

Back to ham radio now. For the third evening in a row now my DX has come quickly in the 0000Z hour which has been a relief. Tonight it was PJ4/K2NG on 40 meters (barely - 7.001 - HI). I caught the end of his CQ unprepared here and while I was setting the split, I didn't hear him nor anyone answering him. I thought maybe he went QRT. I called anyway several seconds later. No response. I thought I'd try once more before I moved on. This time I got K3WWP 599 from him, and another day was secured in the streak. I guess he must have just been setting up a session and I got him before he was spotted. It's always nice when that happens. -30-

Monday, October 31, 2016 8:40 PM - I did something unique in my DX streak this evening. For the third day in a row now, my DX QSO has been with VP2EGR, first on 17, then 40, and tonight on 30. Maybe 20 for tomorrow now? HI. Oh, this QSO was the easiest of the three. First call after I set split correctly, I got K3?, sent my call again, and made the QSO. I guess the angry horde hadn't found him yet. HI. There was another angry horde after PZ5K on 40 earlier. Didn't try but a couple times to break it and didn't.

Before getting VP2EGR I had a nice long chat with fellow NAQCC WPA Chapter member Ken N3CU on 40. Speaking of 40, it seemed in great shape this evening. I haven't seen so many S9 peaks on 40 on the PX3, some going to 10 and 20 over, in quite a few days now. In fact, 17 meters had a couple signals on it in the 0000Z hour. -30-

Sunday, October 30, 2016 8:36 PM - Well, my little pink note that I place in front of my computer screen to remind me I need a (DX) streak QSO can take a rest tomorrow. I worked VP2EGR at 0004Z this evening for day # 1,341 to close out the 44th consecutive month of the DX streak. Oddly enough, or maybe not. I also worked VP2EGR at 1554Z earlier today for day # 1,340. That was on 17 meters and was much harder than this evening's QSO on 40. It took over a half hour of on-off trying then. Tonight I only had to wait through 10 or so other QSOs for a couple minutes.

I'm still working on my poll results pages. I have three more to upgrade, then some fine tuning and that will be done. I'm noticing a couple things as I go through past results. First a lot of the earlier polls were suggested by you, my diary readers. It's been so long I forgot about them, to be honest. So I'll ask you here if you have any ideas for one of my upcoming polls? Let me know via the email link in the above menu.

Also I see I've re-run some polls a couple times, but some of those re-runs took place quite a while ago. I see some that I would like to re-run again to see how the results may change now. Activity in my polls has died down somewhat in recent months. Actually the number of site visitors is down as well. I know a lot of that is due to the great proliferation of ham radio sites on the Internet. After all, there is only so much time to surf the Internet, and that limited time is divided among more and more sites. So an oveall decline in visitors to all such sites is to be expected except for the major sites like QRZ, ARRL, HamCall, and so forth. -30-

Saturday, October 29, 2016 8:43 PM - Yet another helpful use for the panadapter. Back during the previous sunspot minimum, I had to tune the bands to see (hear) just how dead they were. Now a quick glance shows no activity on the higher bands so I don't have to waste time on them. It does pay to check though as there will still be some activity now and then from folks who know the bands never (almost never) are completely dead.

Tonite my QSO was a tale of two extremes. I and my QRP/attic antenna at this end and WA0CRI with a KW to a 3 element beam at 85 feet. I got a 599 from him on 40 and he was peaking at 20 db over S9. I bet he has no trouble working DX just about any time he wants to. That's making it too easy though. I personally would get bored with a setup like that before long. It would be fun for a very short period of time, but that's it.

It was a real struggle to get my DX today. I mean for Saturday as I didn't get any this evening yet for Sunday. I checked the bands about every hour starting in the 1300Z hour, and wasn't hearing anything workable. Finally though I did hear CO6RD on 17, but having worked him on 17 just two days ago, I didn't call him right away. I did give in though after a while and worked him again. He may pass CO8LY soon as the station giving me the most DX streak QSOs if this keeps up. -30-

Friday, October 28, 2016 8:42 PM - As is usual lately, no DX this evening. HK1ANP was pretty strong on 40, but not hearing me. He was the only DX station I heard. I did have an interesting QSO on 80 though. Jeff WR2E answered my CQ. He is one of our 'charter' members of the NAQCC (#91), but I hadn't worked or heard him in a long time now. We chatted about the NAQCC and FISTS. He said he had been QRT for about 10 years and just got back on again about a year ago. He's going to check the NAQCC web site and get his QRP gear back in working order again.

Earlier in the day I worked OQ4U on 15 meters for both my DX streak and for the last letter "U" for the NAQCC October challenge. I also wrapped up our NAQCC WPA Chapter October news for the November newsletter.

A bigger project today was working on my poll results pages here on the web site. They have been very non-uniform in format with several different varieties of table results, pre results, etc. Also they've been sorted in various ways. When I get finished it should be much easier to make sense of the results than it is now. There are also some other changes that need making on the site. While I was VP of the NAQCC some things just didn't get done like they should and finally after getting caught up on some other things in the two years of my 'retirement', I'm going to try to get to them. -30-

Thursday, October 27, 2016 9:00 PM - It goes without saying that when Mike and I get together, it's a good day. But then, I did say it, didn't I? Hmmm. Anyway to reiterate, it was a good day today because Mike and I did get together. He was a bit late this morning because of some business he had to take care of. But when he arrived about a half hour late, the good times began.

As is pretty much the first order of business with our visits, we got caught up on news about sports, ham radio, and so forth. We're both happy with our New York Red Bulls so far this season and hope they do better in the playoffs this year than in past years. We talked about them for quite a while. Then we got some stats from Mike's log for my report on our Columbus Day N3A outing that will be in the November NAQCC newsletter.

In a closely related matter, Paul N8XMS, NAQCC President sent me a report on all our N#A 12th anniversary special event stations. We set a record this year for most number of QSOs by all our 10 stations and some 50 or so ops. The N3A total was the highest of all the 10 stations thanks in part to our 104 QSOs on Columbus Day. All 50 states were worked along with 8 VE provinces and some 24 or so DX entities. A more complete and accurate report will be in the November NAQCC newsletter.

After our gab session ended, we headed out first to turn in some 'expired' SLA batteries that we had hanging around to the local Battery Warehouse. Then it was off to the Pittsburgh Mills and Best Buy. Mike had a couple things to get, and I wanted to see if I could get a new battery for my laptop as it is not holding a charge too long now. Mike got his things, but they didn't have my battery nor could they order one. They did kindly tell me a couple places where I could order one. No urgency, but I will order one sometime before next summer and parkpedition season so I can log on the laptop again.

Next it was over to Applebee's (I know you've been wondering when the food part of the story would come in) for a delicious lunch. Mike got steak, baked potato, broccoli, and french onion soup. I ordered fish and rings (onion rings substituted for chips) with coleslaw. However the waitress brought me chips instead, apologized and came back with onion rings, but said I could have the chips also as a free bonus. So I wound up with a bigger meal than Mike and he finished well before me. I had kidded him about being able to finish all he ordered before work tomorrow. Now he wondered if I was going to finish all I had on my plate. I did, and easily.

After a short stop at Lowe's for a couple things, it was back here again. We went up to the shack to work some DX. I think Mike worked 4 stations - CO6RD, EA8OM, PV8ADI, and PJ2/VE3CX if memory serves. We also heard TL0A on 30 meters, but with a huge pile and he was quite weak so we didn't even try. I have TL worked, but could have used them on 30. Oh well. I was also looking for a station with a "U" in the call to finish the NAQCC challenge. I heard a few of them, but they were among the pileup stations chasing DX so I didn't even have a chance to try them. When we finished in the shack around 5:30, Mike had to head home to get ready for work tomorrow.

I walked Roscoe just after he left, then went and watched the Halloween parade. Nothing really exciting or different this year, but it's nice to do something a little different now and then.

I went to the shack at the usual 0000Z to look for my streak QSO(s). I chased a VP2E for a while, but couldn't break his pileup. So I settled for a W and a VE QSO for the regular streak, postponing my search for DX till the morning or afternoon. Earlier today I got CO6RD on 17 meters before Mike arrived. -30-

Wednesday, October 26, 2016 9:05 PM - I got quite a few little things accomplished today like cutting my hair, cleaning the powder room, a little shopping, and so forth. BTW, I haven't been in a barber shop since back in 1972. I've cut my own hair ever since then. Wonder how much money I've saved that way in all those years. Let's see, that's approximately 12 x 44 = 528 months times oh let's say 6 dollars per cut average = $3,168 dollars. Not bad.

Well I was confused (that happens more and more often as I age) about the Halloween Parade. It wasn't this evening, but tomorrow evening. Tonight was trick or treat night. At least I have Mike's visiting day straight. That's tomorrow. I just emailed and asked him what time he planned to arrive. We'll get the day going around 10:30AM. No specific plans that I know of. We'll just wing it if he doesn't have anything specific in mind.

One thing we'll have to do is hit the bands since I didn't get my DX streak QSO this evening. So hopefully 17 or 20 (maybe 15) will provide something in late morning or early afternoon.

We had our first 32 degree day of the season when it hit that figure early this morning. It only got up to 50 today. However there are a couple of warm (relatively speaking) days coming up in the next several days. I see a couple predictions in the mid to upper 60s. -30-

Tuesday, October 25, 2016 9:05 PM - A pretty nice day today. The high was in the upper 50s, but dropped fast this evening to 43 right now. A low of 28 is predicted for tonight. I don't have to worry though as I cleaned out the last of my garden today. I picked my speckled butter beans. They blend in so well with the leaves, I didn't realize just how many were left on the plants. I stopped counting around 100 and I went pretty far beyond that. I'd guess between 150 and 200. It took quite a while to shell them.

The bands were pretty good this evening despite (because of?) G3 level geomagnetic storms and an A index of 60. I got my DX from HI3TEJ pretty easily on 30. I could hear a couple other stations calling as I was calling, but I won out that time.

I also found another good use for my panadapter. I was calling CQ on 40, and just about to give up, I tuned down the band a bit to check out a peak there. While I was looking, I saw a strong peak start up just where I was calling CQ. Lo and behold it was a somewhat delayed answer to my CQ.

I also narrowed down the NAQCC October challenge to the point where I need a single U to finish it off. Perhaps I'll try for that during the day tomorrow since I don't have to go hunting DX.

Tomorrow evening is our annual Halloween parade here in Kittanning. I've enjoyed checking it out the past several years now. Just something different to do for a change.

Normally Mike would be visiting tomorrow evening for our fourth Wednesday get together, but he has a cycling event to go to. So we'll be getting together on Thursday for lunch. I'm not sure just what hours are planned. I'm just about to email him and ask. -30-

Monday, October 24, 2016 7:08 PM - Just a typical Monday here with not much out of the ordinary to report. Laundry this morning, walking Roscoe, helping Ange in his garden, and so forth.

About the only thing out of the ordinary is getting up and finding my Oakland Raiders are tied for the second most victories so far this NFL season. Only the Patriots have more wins. Also I don't have to worry about anyone tying my 1972 Dolphins perfect season. The Vikings lost and now everyone has at least one loss. With the Raiders good start, I've gotten a little more interested in football this year. After they had the best overall record in the NFL for a good number of years around the 1980s, the past few years have been pretty dismal.

Continuing with some sports comments, I was glad to see the New York Red Bulls clinch the Eastern Division championship in the MSL. Now if only they can conquer their woes they always seem to get in the playoffs, there might even be more to rejoice about this year.

Something else out of the ordinary was working a YL for my DX streak QSO today. NP3YL was booming in on 15 meters after about an hour of not finding any other workable DX. I got her with just a single call. Then I checked QRZ to make sure she actually was in Puerto Rico which she was. So the streak struggles on another day. It's really more rewarding working DX under these poorer conditions although the downside is that it takes considerably longer to do so. Also it shows even more clearly that you can work DX with a simple setup like mine. At the sunspot maximums it is almost too easy to work DX no matter how simple and minimal a station one uses. Now it is more of a challenge to do so. I even hear some stations I know are running QRO with big antennas and good locations having some trouble now working DX. -30-

Sunday, October 23, 2016 9:05 PM - Bruce took me out for breakfast today. He really does too much for me for taking care of Roscoe. I'd be happy to help with Roscoe for nothing, but....

After we got home, I decided I would de-garden my back yard so I picked all the remaining peppers and tomatoes, then removed the pepper and tomato plants. I did leave my speckled butter beans since they have a lot of beans that need to ripen a little more, and I think that may happen. It was a nice day today for late October with the temperature in the low 60s. Great weather for cleaning up the garden. I hate waiting too long and having to do it when the temperature is in the 40s or even worse 30s. Ange is one who waits, and if he waits too long and it gets too cold, I'm going to just say no to helping him clean up his garden.

Next I thought about my DX streak and headed to the shack. It was a pleasure to hear 15 meters open to Europe. It wasn't a great opening and I had to repeat my call at least a dozen times before IQ4BQ could get it correct for his log. But I did work him and got my streak QSO on 15 for the first time in quite a while.

I may have to do the same tomorrow since I didn't get any DX tonight. I did hear a few stations but either they had a big pileup (TA3D), or I just worked them (J6/WB2YQH), or they just weren't hearing me (KP4CPC). I even had a little trouble getting a regular streak QSO, but finally did on 80 meters when N1WSD answered my CQ. -30-

Saturday, October 22, 2016 7:55 PM - This should have been in yesterday's entry, but I didn't think of it. Yesterday, October 21 was the fourth anniversary of using my KX3. My first QSO was at 0134Z 10/21/2012 with Mike KC2EGL. That was an in house QSO - dummy load to dummy load. At 0139Z I worked WK2T in NY. Then at 0202Z my first KX3 DX with DL1A in the WAG contest. All in all I made 30 QSOs on that memorable day.

10,701 QSOs have been made with my KX3. That's not completely accurate because I've also made a good many more with the KX3 operated portable from various places. The 10,701 are the ones in my main Access K3WWP (at home) log. Right now I'm going to the shack to shoot for # 10,702 to keep the streak going. Hopefully it will be DX. Nope, not a single DX station heard. I did get a pretty quick answer to my 80 meters CQ from WZ8J in Ohio though. So the big streak keeps rolling along while the DX streak gets put on hold till tomorrow morning/afternoon. 17 and 20 are continuing to be good for DX a couple hours around noon local time here (1600Z). Today it was an easy QSO with S50R on 17 meters.

OK, I'm looking into my log when I operate N3AQC or N3A right now. I have 1,934 more QSOs probably with my KX3 for a total of 12,636. Now a few, but not many at all came when I used Mike's KX3 on the Requin or perhaps some other place. Anyway my KX3 has provided me with well over 12,000 QSOs in the 4 years and 1 day I've had it now. I wonder how many DX entities it has given me. Well, you regular diary readers know when I say something like that, I've got to go figure it out. So in ham parlance, QRX a couple minutes. OK, that took all of 2 minutes with Access and Excel. I must say WOW!, I'm surprised at the total of 164 different DX entities. I didn't think there were that many. I would have guessed around 130 or so. I wonder if I have a KX3 Worked All States. QRX 2. Nope, I see 48. Now who's missing? Oh, none. I filtered on USA, but I have AK and HI listed as separate entities. Yep, my KX3 has provided me with enough states for a WAS award. In fact my poor memory now reminds me that I think I did apply for and receive the Elecraft WAS award. I'll have to look into that. Boy, getting old really wreaks havoc on the brain. HI

I did get the Elecraft WAS and DX Chasers awards, but that was with the K2. I don't think I ever applied for them for the KX3. I'll have to look further and if I didn't, I may just do so.

OK, enough for tonight. -30-

Friday, October 21, 2016 8:22 PM - Same old story this evening (well last night was an exception) - no DX QSO. I did try a few stations, but aside from a tentative ? from HC2AO, no sign at all I was being heard. I even had to go to 80 for my regular streak QSO with K1SWL in the "BOO" sprint.

A lot of rain overnight and during the day today. There was 1.5 inches in my rain gauge this morning. If we got a little over 0.5 inches the rest of the day, that will be a record for any day in October in my records going back to 1959. Currently the record is 2.04 inches back on October 3, 1986. October is normally the driest of the twelve months here except for the short month of February. Normal precipitation is 2.73 inches for October and 2.58 inches for February. In case anyone wonders, June is the wettest with 4.52 inches.

I have been getting a lot of spam in my guestbook lately. Of course since I screen everything before posting any entries, it never sees the light of day. It is annoying though, and I've discontinued my guestbook for the time being. I'm exploring a .php guestbook that does extensive spam filtering and I may switch over to that after I do some more studying of it. In the meantime if you want to make any comments, use the Email Me link in the above menu.

Oh, our NAQCC Anniversary prize drawing went very well last night. Paul N8XMS did an excellent job with the "almost live" Internet drawings. And we set a record in getting the prizes in the mail. I mailed the 5 books/CDs for which I was responsible in the 1600Z hour today, just about 14 1/2 hours after the drawing was over. The winners should get their prizes Wednesday via the PO's Media Mail. -30-

Thursday, October 20, 2016 8:42 PM - I'll have to hurry this as I need to get my temperature a little before 9, then watch our NAQCC Anniversary prize drawings on the Internet.

First here are the top ten + ties stations who were my DX streak continuing QSOs. I mentioned I'd do that, and I did late last night. With Access/Excel again it was a piece of cake. There's just so much that can be done with an Access database log that can't be done in other logging programs. Enough said. Here's the list.

CO8LY     14
XE1XR     13
EA6UN     11
CO6RD     10
HC2AO     10
HT7AAA    10
PV8ADI    10
S57V      10
EA8TL      9
HA3FTA     9
XE2I       9
Probably anyone who spends a lot of time on the bands is not surprised at CO8LY being at the top. He seems to always be on the bands somewhere. Kind of the DX equivalent of Paul KW7D here in the USA. Actually I don't think there are any real surprises on the list. Some could have even higher totals but I try to refrain from working the same stations over and over again unless time is limited or conditions rough.

Oh, my DX came quickly this evening. I couldn't get him at all last evening, but it only took two tries this evening to get J6/WB2YQH on 40 meters. So now I have the day off until tomorrow evening. HI

OK, now out in the rain to get my weather readings then off to watch the prize drawing. -30-

Wednesday, October 19, 2016 9:00 PM - I think the probability of my DX streak coming to an end in the not too distant future is quite high. So today I analyzed the streak, and I'll get to that in a moment.

Even getting my regular streak QSO was rough this evening. Finally, as he did a couple days ago, Mark W1AAF again answered my CQ on 80 meters to keep that streak going. As for DX, it was DL5YM at 1523Z on 17 meters to make it day 1,329 in a row with a DX QSO. There was a strong J6 station on 40 this evening, but almost 10-15 minutes of trying yielded nothing. A big pile up and the J6 was complaining of QRM. However a couple times I seemed to be in the clear calling and he still wasn't hearing me.

Now let's look at those 1,329 days in a few different ways. First with my Microsoft Access database log and a little help from Microsoft Excel, it was easy to cull out the first DX QSO for each of the 1,329 days, and just as easy to put together the following stats. We'll start with a by band listing, then by continent, by hour of day, by CQ zone, and finally list the top 10 of the 130 different countries worked.

80       1
40     151
30     378
20     466
17     172
15     112
12      21
10      28
AF      54
AN       4
AS      39
EU     559
NA     480
OC       9
SA     184
00    1033
01      48
02      29
03       7
04      14
05       1
13      12
14      72
15      59
16      18
17       7
18       5
19       8
20       7
21       7
23       2
1        6
5       11
6       65
7       78
8      319
9      100
10      22
11      39
12      12
13      11
14     216
15     258
16      42
17       9
18      13
19       1
20      36
21       1
23       6
25       7
29       1
31       7
32       2
33      42
35       7
36       3
38       5
40      10
CUB     74
MEX     65
PUE     47
ITA     46
SPA     44
NIC     43
SLV     42
FRA     42
FRG     38
BRZ     35
I was surprised by a couple of things. I didn't realize Cuba would be the most helpful country in keeping the streak going. I figured Mexico and Puerto Rico would be up there. A little surprised that Italy beat out Germany. Finally a little surprised that Nicagagua and Brazil (especially) made the top 10. Nicaragua made it because of the many QSOs with the HT stations. I'm not sure how Brazil made it up there. Spain had a lot of special event stations that helped.

The zones went as expected with the Caribbean zone 8 on top, followed by the two main European zones, 14 and 15. Northwest African zone 33 did quite well since I often have a pipeline to that area.

The hour of day stats reflect my operating habits more than anything else. Of course I always get on in the 0000Z hour every day to try to get the streaks taken care of quickly. If not then, the morning hours of 1400 and 1500Z come into play.

As far as the bands, naturally 20 is on top. I'm surprised 30 has so many. I knew there would be a lot, but still it is higher than I would have guessed. Despite the great high band openings the first part of the streak, 10 and 12 are quite low mainly because they were pretty much out of the picture in the big 0000Z hour.

Continents line up as expected. I think all 9 OC days came from KH6 stations.

All in all, I found it interesting to do the analysis. Perhaps some time I'll divide the streak into two or three time frames to see how the sunspot cycle affected things. I might wait to do that till the streak comes to an end though.

I just thought of something else I wanted to do. I wanted to see which stations helped out the most, but I forgot that today. Maybe tomorrow or later tonight. -30-

Tuesday, October 18, 2016 8:43 PM - Yet another great weather day. Although the clouds increased with the coming rain expected the next few days, it got into the 80s again. 83 might be near a record for the day. Think I'll take a quick look. No, my record for October 18 came back in that interesting October of 1963 when it was 85 which was 1 of 8 daily records set and still standing in that month. The whole month saw only .29 inches of rain, the driest in all the time I've been keeping precipitation records since 1962. That came on two days of .16 and .13 inches. The average low that month was 40.6 and the high 76.5, a range of 35.9 degrees each day. The great range attributed to the extreme dryness of the air all month. A very interesting month indeed.

Once again I had to drop to 80 to get my streak QSO. I'm glad I did because I ran into Gary N2ESE for a nice long rag chew, the first we've had in quite some time now. Gary also has a streak going. He makes 2 QSOs a day, but with QRO around 75 watts most days. He started back on November 17, 2006 so his streak will be at 10 years about a month from today.

As for DX, none this evening. I did work ON4UN this morning though to keep the DX streak going at 1,328 days now. It will hopefully be the same tomorrow - find someone during the day. If not, well it's been a long fun run. -30-

Monday, October 17, 2016 8:23 PM - Bands without DX are like days without sunshine. Today it was very overcast. Even 40 didn't have much to offer this evening in the way of a domestic QSO. I had to go down to 80 to work W1AAF to keep the big streak going another day.

I did get my daily DX in the 1400Z hour when I worked Rey CO6RD on 17 meters. I may have to depend on that band or 20 meters in the morning or afternoon to keep the DX streak alive. Conditions are really slipping away rapidly as we head to the sunspot minimum. The solar flux which was over 100 just a few days ago is now at 76 today and dropping fast.

The actual weather today was nice again with lots of sun and a high of 81. So like yesterday, I was outside quite a bit walking, shopping, gardening, etc. I took out my bush bean plants today as they had stopped producing. Also it's much better cleaning up the garden when the weather is still bearable rather than freezing which it will be before too long. -30-

Sunday, October 16, 2016 8:45 PM - A nice mid-September day in mid-October. Partly cloudy skies and a high of 81 shows on my remote temperature unit. So I was outside quite a bit walking, shopping, and walking Roscoe. Got to take advantage of these nice days as they will be winding down just like my garden (and Ange's) are winding down. I haven't seen a green tomato turn red for a few days now. My speckled butter beans are not ripening. I haven't seen any new bush beans for several days. About the only thing carrying on like it is still summer are my peppers which are turning red every couple days still.

I did another stint as N3A on 40 meters today and made 8 QSOs in an hour. That's at total of 56 for our NAQCC anniversary week. That's down from my peak of 400+ several years ago. I think that was the year I put N3A in the PA QSO Party and maybe another contest as well. Here are my total N3A QSOs over the years since we started our anniversary celebrations in 2006 for our 2nd anniversary.
2006 - 150
2007 - 388
2008 - 403
2009 -  71
2010 - 105
2011 -  28
2012 - 153
2013 - 188
2014 -  52
2015 -  39
2016 -  56
It will be interesting to see the total QSOs this year for all of our 60 N#A operators. That's the most ops we have had for any celebration. Paul N8XMS will be compiling those totals.

Right now I'm just sitting here waiting for the final sprint scores to be posted by Andy N2CN so I can continue and hopefully complete the log cross checking and score correcting tonight. I tweaked my cross-checking system a bit by creating an Excel program to assist in the score altering. I'm anxious to see how much quicker that will make things. -30-

Saturday, October 15, 2016 4:27 PM - I received my FISTS Perpetual Prefix certificate and endorsement stickers today. Here's a scan of it after I affixed the stickers.
pix_diary_20161015_001 (130K)

Very attractive, isn't it - just like all the FISTS award certificates. What a great club! I'm honored to be a member. If you like CW and aren't a member of FISTS.... Well, you should be, that's all I'll say. FISTS and NAQCC, what a great combo for those who like and use CW on the ham bands.

Hopefully with the WAG contest this weekend, my Sunday DX QSO should be easy. Oh oh, hope I didn't jinx myself now. Last night it was an easy QSO with HI3TEJ on 30. Then right after I worked him, I heard him working my friend Tom WB3FAE, about 20 miles from here. Too close to hear Tom. -30-

Friday, October 14, 2016 7:43 PM - I did a little operating today with our NAQCC Anniversary special event call of N3A. I only made 5 QSOs, but it was fun anyway. In between the QSOs I checked for DX, and there just wasn't any at all on 20 through 12. Yesterday Mike KC2EGL said 10 and 12 were open, but not today unless I was too late in the afternoon (1930-2100Z).

I just finished posting a new poll for Oct 15 through Nov 14. I'm curious to know how interest stacks up in IOTA, SOTA, and USACA these days. There seems to be a lot of interest in SOTA although I'm not one of the interested ones. I do work IOTAs when I hear them. My interest in USACA has really declined over the years since it was my number 1 interest in ham radio many years ago.

I also posted the results for the latest poll about Elecraft rigs. I was impressed by and pleased with the results. No, I have no connection with the company other than as a VERY satisfied customer. -30-

Thursday, October 13, 2016 5:51 PM - I lost a good ham friend recently and would like to honor his memory here:

The NAQCC recently lost one of its "charter" members when Stan K4UK passed away at age 85. Stan joined during our first surge of membership applications back in October 2004. He participated in 36 of our sprints over the years and earned our 30-30 Magnum, USA Alphabet Prefix (#0002) awards, and USA Alphabet Prefix Honor Roll listing (#5). Stan was also very active in FISTS as their QSL buro manager. He earned just about every one of the FISTS awards. I'll remember Stan not for those achievements as much as the many QSOs we had. I see 82 of them in my Access database log. One QSO stands out prominently in my memory. We were talking about the NAQCC, and I asked him if he had any suggestions as to any additional activities or awards we could offer. After thinking very briefly, he suggested, based on my QSO-a-Day streak which was about 10 years old at that time, that the NAQCC offer an award for making QRP CW QSOs every day for various periods of time. Thus was born the NAQCC's QSO-a-Day award. Stan will be sorely missed by me, the NAQCC and FISTS members as well as hamdom as a whole. Rest in peace, my friend." -30-

Wednesday, October 12, 2016 9:08 PM - I thought I was going to start this entry by saying this may be the first time in I don't know how long I've gone to bed without getting my main streak QSO. Almost one solid hour of trying with CQs or calling other stations yielded nothing. VA3YG did get my call right after several tries but then said 73 without even trying to copy anything else so I just plain did not log him.

I tried S53A on 40 meters several times during the hour but always got beat out by someone else. Finally though at 0057Z it was my turn to log Niko. He was the seventh S5 station I worked when I returned to the air in the early 90s. Tonight was the 23rd time we've worked each other. While I'm looking in my log, that's the 851st QSO with Slovenia. Only Germany, Italy, and England have I more QSOs with (outside W/VE).

Just thinking back to those early 90s days, I remember Slovenia was hard for me to work until I finally caught S50A on 40 meters May 28, 1994. I don't know how many times before that I tried to get an S5 station in my log. Then wouldn't you know it, 5 minutes later I worked S57AL for my second S5. Funny how that happens. It has happened other times also. I don't remember the details now, but it developed into a saying something like, "Work 'em once, and then they keep coming."

Earlier in the day it was 9A2AJ Tom on 17 for my DX QSO. Our first 17M QSO and our 17th QSO over all. 17s are wild. HI

Tonight it was supposed to be our computer club meeting, but only I and two others showed up at the library, so we decided to just go back home after about a half hour of chatting about computers. I think our club is in its last days as most months this year we've not had a half dozen members attending. -30-

Tuesday, October 11, 2016 10:39 AM - OK, I promised a report on our parkpedition yesterday, so here goes.

Every year on Columbus Day which "happens" to fall during our NAQCC anniversary week, Mike and I (accompanied the past couple years by Tom WB3FAE) go to the Kittanning Community Park to give out QSOs with our NAQCC special event call N3A.

Mike arrived here about 9:45AM just about the time I was taking that last bite from my breakfast. We chatted for a while, then headed for the park a few minutes past 10AM. On the way up there a black cat crossed our path, and I kiddingly (not being superstitious) suggested that our day was now ruined. We arrived at the park just about exactly at the same time as Tom. We carried our equipment over to the pavillion where we would be operating and started setting up our antennas and rigs.

This year we planned to operate 40, 30, and 20 meters since those bands probably would be the only ones available as sunspots decline. We didn't decide till almost the last minute who would take which band. I wanted Tom and Mike to decide and leave me the leftover band. As we were setting up our antennas, Mike finally picked 40, but then Tom wanted me to choose between 30 and 20. I had thought of taking 30 since I felt lazy and thought it would be the least active of the three bands. Tom was helping me set up my antenna so we set the jumpers for 30 meters. I gave it a brief check to see if it was working as one time in the past I had trouble on 30, but I think that was due to a bad connection in a coax connector. This time it went right to 1:1 as I pressed the ATU button on the KX3. Tom then set up his antenna for 20 meters.

The weather was beautiful as you can see from this picture looking out over one of the ball fields in the park.

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With our rigs and antennas set up, we started operating. Both 40 and 30 turned out to be in great shape, while 20 was not as good. I started off with several unanswered CQs, then a small pileup broke out and I logged 3 QSOs in a couple minutes. After that another batch of no answers for about 10 minutes.

A pause in the commentary now for some pictures of we three operators.

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L-R that's Mike, Tom, and me. Note Tom multitasking eating and operating.

From that point on, activity was slow but steady for Mike and me. Unfortunately 20 was not being that kind to Tom, so he went hunting for and working some DX in addition to calling CQ.

At one point, for some reason, I developed a rather large pileup that lasted about 10 minutes. I was logging on paper and had a little trouble keeping up with the activity. I did put 7 QSOs from the pile in my log in 10 minutes. I might have had more had I been logging via computer.

I always get questions about our antennas when we do a parkpedition. This time with the bright sun shining just right in the perfectly clear blue skies, Mike was able to get some quite good antenna pictures.

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Mike's jumper inverted vee on his orange pole is at left. I'm not sure exactly what to call Tom's antenna - perhaps an inverted L or ef random wire - is in the center. My jumper inverted vee is at right.

We managed to stay the full 5 hours that we had scheduled. It turned out to be our best parkpedition ever (not counting Field Days) with 104 QSOs from at least 30 SPCs. I don't have Tom's totals here at the moment. The 104 QSOs is right, but he may have worked a couple SPCs that Mike and I didn't. I'm sure he worked some DX. When I get a report from him, I'll finalize the SPC total.

It was a great day as usual when we get together. It went by pretty fast, and when 4PM came, we shut down, packed away our gear, and took down the antennas. Tom had to go home to take care of his dog, but Mike and I headed to the Butler Ponderosa and enjoyed as usual, their great buffet dinner. We wanted Tom to join us, but he couldn't.

When Mike and I got home here, I put my station back together again. We tried to find some DX to work, but didn't succeed. We did work N9A, another NAQCC SE station. Then Mike worked him again using N3A for a N#A to N#A QSO.

After that, Mike headed north for home, and another great day drew to a close. -30-

Monday, October 10, 2016 9:27 PM - I have a lot of pictures and a lot of comments about our N3A day in the park today, but I'm too tired to work on them this evening. I asked Mike if he wanted to write a diary entry and he said about the same thing plus he also operated almost full bore for the PA QSO Party Saturday and Sunday. So tune in tomorrow for the goodies. -30-

Sunday, October 09, 2016 8:42 PM - That worked out good. At first it looked like it might be a rough day for the DX streak, but then things turned for the better. I figured being busy with our N3A parkpedition most of the day tomorrow would make it hard to get my DX. Well, I could probably work some DX from the park, but I prefer to do it from here at home. Also I don't like to take time away from giving out N3A QSOs. None of that comes into play though. There was really only one strong DX station from Mexico coming through and he was engaged in a long rag chew. Finally I did find a weak WP3A on 30 meters and after a few calls, he wound up in the log for day # 1320 of DX.

It looks like a real chilly day in the park tomorrow. At least if it is like today with a high of just 62 and strong winds most all day making it feel nowhere near that warm. It was really chilly helping Ange in his garden this morning. Fortunately, although sadly, the gardening season is rapidly coming to an end. The plants really know it also as production has slowed pretty much to a standstill except for the peppers which seem not to mind the chilly temps and shorter amount of sunlight. They are still growing quite well.

I'm looking forward to tomorrow, and I hope the cold doesn't shorten our operating time as it did a few years ago when Mike and I got so cold we had trouble manipulating our keys/paddles and had to shut down early. We'll see what tomorrow brings. The high is supposed to be about the same as today, but sunny vs. mostly cloudy today and diminished winds. Give a listen for us (N3A) around 7041, 10117, 14061 from 1500-2000 weather permitting.

Oh, I did easily update my Alphabet Prefix total today. I found 13 new ones for a total of 620 now. They're getting hard to come by after working most of the common ones. -30-

Saturday, October 08, 2016 8:37 PM - I worked on updating another award today - actually an Honor Roll listing for our NAQCC Suffix Words Award. That's for working stations whose call sign suffix spells out a word like W7CAT K2DOG VE3ARM and so on. The arbiter for just what is a word is the Official Scrabble Player's Dictionary (OSPD). It lists 1,004 three letter words and 101 two letter words. The award is limited to two and three letter words, so something like II2POPE could not be used since the suffix is four letters and only a complete two or three letter suffix can be used.

With my love of statistics, it was a lot of fun using Microsoft Access and Excel to quickly find 684 such calls and send off the list to our NAQCC awards manager John KK1X. My current listing on the Honor Roll has only 387 calls listed. That was back on 10/16/2012, nearly four years ago.

I think next I'll work on updating our Alphabet Prefix Award. Similar to the CQ WPX, but we only count the first two characters of a callsign, be they letter-number, number-letter, or letter-letter. If there are any number-number calls, they don't count since they are very rare. So K3WWP would be K3, same as the CQ definition. However WA3WWP would be just WA, E77AW would be E7, and so on. A station like DJ9IO/HP3 can be used for either DJ or HP, etc. That will be even easier than working with the suffixes since I would just need to split off the first two characters of all calls and organize them. The portables would take a bit more work, but there aren't all that many.

Incidentally the award comes in two basic flavors - USA and Worldwide including USA. The USA award can be completed with 120 such prefixes as follows:
AA-AL - 12
K0-K9, KA-KZ - 36
N0-N9, NA-NZ - 36
W0-W9, WA-WZ - 36
Total - 120

Worldwide possible totals:
Letter Number - 26x10 = 260
Letter Letter - 26x26 = 676
Number Letter - 10x26 - 260
Total - 1196

Unlike the USA though where all 120 are possible (and I've got all 120 worked), there are some combinations that don't exist in the Worldwide prefixes. We have no idea how many of the 1,196 are possible. We're pretty sure any starting with a Q don't exist although that could be wrong. If right, it would eliminate 36 of them. I have 607 worked prior to the updating I am going to do. That's as of 7/22/2014 so I should be able to add maybe a dozen or two although I already do have most of the common ones.

My DX this evening was another of those 0000Z QSOs. The rig came on to 30 meters and there was one big peak on the PX3 which turned out to be AN400M. A couple calls to him and the streak goes on. -30-

Friday, October 07, 2016 7:15 PM - Once again the 1400Z hour came through for me. PA1CC entered my log to keep the DX streak going. There was actually a lot of DX around then on both 20 and 17 meters. Once I worked PA1CC though, I quit and moved on to other things. I took a couple walks, did some shopping, walked Roscoe and sat on the porch swing with him for a while. Then I cooked some collard greens mashed potatoes for my afternoon meal. Right now I'm awaiting 0000Z to see what it will bring on the bands tonight. Also listening to iHeart radio on the Internet. They seem to have a great algorithm for determining what I (or anybody else) likes in the way of music. After they learn your likes for a while, just about all the music they play for me is something I like. My taste is mainly for oldies from the late 50s, 60s, and early 70s. Right now, it's the Rolling Stones with Satisfaction. -30-

Thursday, October 06, 2016 8:32 PM - I am rapidly approaching the point (or may have already reached it) of giving up looking for DX in the evening, and instead using the afternoons for the search. Of late, the times between about 1400Z and 2200Z have been pretty good for DX, while the 0000-0200Z time frame has been pretty much devoid of any DX stronger than S3 or S4 at best. I'll go for my regular streak QSO in the evenings though as it is still easy to work a W/VE station so far.

I did manage another AN400 station in the 1400Z hour today. I hate to see the Cervantes special event come to an end on the 10th. That will make it one notch harder to work DX.

Not much else to talk about for today. Just an ordinary day with some walking, watering my garden, picking some beans and chestnuts, and of course walking Roscoe. Also the past few days since it's cooled off somewhat, Roscoe and I take time to sit on the porch swing after his midday walk. That's a nice relaxing time. -30-

Wednesday, October 05, 2016 7:35 PM - Once again it was an old faithful to the rescue of the DX streak. I worked John ON4UN easily on 20 meters around noon today.

Eric KB3BFQ emailed and said he wouldn't be able to join our parkpedition on Monday. He will try to work us though. The weather outlook continues to look good although a bit on the chilly side with a high in the low 60s at best. For a brief period, the outlook had Matthew coming far enough inland that we might get some showers or at least cloud cover on Monday, but now the outlook has Matthew veering out into the ocean once it grazes FL, GA, SC, and maybe NC. One reason is the approach of a cold front to this area which may give us some showers on Saturday as well as somewhat of a push to Matthew.

I applied for my FISTS Perpetual Prefixes award today. Haven't heard anything back yet. I'm thinking of next working on the FISTS NANFA award if it is still available, and I think it is. Just a matter of checking the FISTS web site.

Well, in 18 minutes as I write this sentence, I'll head to the shack and see what the bands have to offer this evening. It would be nice to get a quick DX QSO, but unless conditions are vastly better than last night, that won't be happening. -30-

Tuesday, October 04, 2016 8:38 PM - Cervantes to the rescue again today. I got AN400M in the log at 1427Z on 20 meters to keep the DX streak going. Might have to call on Miguel again tomorrow as there weren't any DX stations heard this evening.

I finished work on the records for my FISTS Perpetual Prefixes award today. Now I need to give it a final proofread and get it off to the FISTS award manager. I easily exceeded the 400 QSOs with different prefixes for the Basic award, 50 endorsement, 100 endorsement, and 150 endorsement which seems to be as far as it goes. Now I'll find another FISTS award to work on.

Ange's chestnut tree is having a good year. I picked up 191 chestnuts yesterday and added 83 more today. He took the 191 and I took the 83 which are still way too many for me. My neighbors don't like them so I can't even give any away.

It was a nice walking day today and I came close to the 10 mile mark - something I haven't done for a while now although I'm still maintaining my 7+ miles daily average.

A nice clear evening and I spotted Venus low in the SW sky for my first sighting of its current evening apparition. I'm looking forward to spotting it (with the naked eye) in daytime now, something I've always gotten a thrill from since I was a kid back in prehistoric times. -30-

Monday, October 03, 2016 8:36 PM - It seems like it goes from one extreme to the other every other day or so. Either it's an easy quick DX QSO or none at all in the evenings now. Tonight it was the second choice so I guess day # 1,314 in the DX streak will have to wait till morning or afternoon. At least the main streak QSOs remain easy. Hope I don't jinx things now by saying that.

I've been neglecting FISTS activities lately, so today I decided to look into the FISTS awards program and maybe get caught up on some of their awards. The first one that caught my eye, since I'm interested in working prefixes, was the Perpetual Prefix award. The basic requirement is working 25 different prefixes from each number in a call. That is 25 like K1 DL1 CT1 and so on - 25 like LU2 N2 VE2 right on up to 25 with a zero in the call. It shouldn't take long to do with my Microsoft Access/Excel logging system. Then I'll see what else I need to get caught up on. I'd like to earn all the other FISTS awards that I don't already have. I think FISTS is making a comeback now after the troubles of the past few years like the headquarters fire, the passing of Nancy Kott WZ8C, finding a replacement for her marvelous leadership, and some other things. As far as I'm concerned the NAQCC and FISTS are my two CW clubs. I don't have any interest in any others. Joining too many clubs just makes things confusing. For one example, it seems like every one of our NAQCC sprints has one entrant who sends another club's number instead of his/her NAQCC number. No problems like that here since I only have to remember my FISTS # 2002 and my NAQCC # 0002. Couldn't be simpler with the similarity in the numbers. HI.

I'm looking forward to our NAQCC 12th anniversary week next week. Of course it will start for me when Mike and I do our annual Columbus Day activity with special event call N3A. This year Tom WB3FAE and hopefully Eric KB3BFQ will be joining us at the Kittanning Community Park. It will really be nice to be working with Eric again. We haven't really done any ham activities together since the 1990s. -30-

Sunday, October 02, 2016 8:54 PM - The DX is taken care of. I worked HK1ANP pretty easily on 40 meters. We've worked a few times before. I think that's important in my streak as well as in contesting. Recognition, I mean. It is easier to copy and work someone with whom we are familiar rather than someone who has never been worked before. So it's good to get in as many contests as you can if you want to become a really good contester. Or if you embark on a DX streak, work as much DX as you can.

OK, this will be short because my neighbor and I are going to have a pizza in a few minutes and before then I also have to get my 9 PM weather readings. -30-

Saturday, October 01, 2016 8:43 PM - Yet another evening of poor conditions and no coincidentally finding an easy DX QSO as I did last night. So during the day tomorrow I'll be looking for some DX, I guess. I did snag K6Z in the CAQP for my regular streak QSO though.

Today was a busy day that started early for me. I had to get up around 7:30AM vs. my usual 8:45AM or so. That was because Roscoe had an early appointment at the groomers. After that was over it was my first of the month banking. Following that it was some shopping and some other chores.

We had another well above normal monthly temperature in September. It average over 6 degrees above normal. That may make for a record warm summer here. I haven't checked that yet. There weren't any really hot days above 94 or 95, but the temperatures were just consistently above normal with very few cool days thrown in here and there as usually happens. -30-

Friday, September 30, 2016 8:03 PM - It can't get too much quicker. My DX QSO for October 1 came at 0000:15Z, just 15 seconds into the new day, new month. One big signal on 30 meters turned out to be ZF2EZ. I almost called too early before 0000Z. Fortunately I had to move my key and that delayed it enough to make it legit for October 1. So now I have a free Saturday unless I want to work on the NAQCC October challenge. I don't even know what it is. Let's see. It's our annual Halloween alphabet challenge. So I'll have to get my worksheet ready after I do this diary entry and a couple other things. Are there any Z F E Z in it? Shucks, only an E is all I can get from ZF2EZ, or actually 2 Es. Oh well.

Today and tomorrow it's the usual end of month / first of month things plus a trip to the groomer for Roscoe in early morning. So it's probably good I got such a quick DX QSO. Although I'm just about finished with most things except a trip to the bank, turning the page on a couple calendars, and entering my September weather readings into the computer.

When Mike was here, I happened to be listening to iHeart radio on my laptop, and our conversation wound up on the subject of listening to music. I asked Mike if when he was young, he ever thought that some day we'd be listening to music on a computer. He said never and he even remembered in his army training or somewhere using big mainframe computers. Wherever it was, they also had some relatively small personal computers, but everyone thought they were just a passing fad. Wrong!!!

I do remember listening to radio shows and music on our huge console radio when I was young. Sure wish I still had that radio now. I also remember my first transistor radio which was about the size of, oh I don't know what to compare it to, but it was big compared to the tiny ones these days. Probably about a foot wide, 8 inches high and 4 inches deep. I still have it, but the leather case saw better days, and I remounted it in a wooden box. Still works, and works well.

Thinking back some more, I remember all the great DJs from that era (1950s thru 1970s or so) and what a joy it was listening to such amazing talent. Remember Cousin Brucie, Art Roberts, Dick Biondi, Jack Armstrong, to name a couple. And before them, Clark Race, Art Pallan, Bob Tracey(?) from local powerhouse station KDKA. Wow, those were the days.

The current iHeart radio has one advantage over those days though. You can create your own 'station' and tell it in general what kind of music you would like on your 'station' - 60s oldies, pop music, and a whole collection of types. Then as you listen to it, and tell it if you like or dislike a song, it tailors the music even more to your likes. I listened for almost two hours earlier this evening, and there was nary a song played that wasn't one of my favorites. I guess I'm really getting old. I've seen a lot of changes in many things over the years. -30-

Thursday, September 29, 2016 5:08 PM - Mike and I didn't have all that much time together last night because he had to get up early today to work some extra time at the PO. Still, as always, it was a good time. We started with, of course, a pizza with mushrooms, tomatoes, and green peppers. Then it was up to the shack to see what was on the bands. Also we wanted to figure out something about the KX3 memories. While we were doing that, we wound up on 60 meters and heard a loud KD3KO. Since I hadn't made a 60 meters QSO in at least a couple years, I worked him for my streak QSO. Finding no DX at all, we then went to my computer where Mike played a Mahjong game. All too soon then he had to head home.

Mike arrived just about exactly at 0000Z and a strange thought crossed my mind. I wondered if an eyeball QSO would count for a streak QSO. I asked Mike and he wouldn't commit one way or other. I was mostly just kidding but it was intriguing. I guess since light is a part of the electromagnetic spectrum, possibly it should count. But then since it would have to be CW and QRP, would we have to whisper in dits and dahs? Hmmmm.

For an hour and 3 minutes this afternoon, I wasn't sure I had my DX streak QSO or not. I 'worked?' AN400N, or did I? He had my call as K3WUW? at first. Then I thought he sent WWP TU or something like that but I wasn't sure because QSB and QRN struck just as he sent that. So was it a QSO or not. That was on 30 meters, by the way. It was loaded with the AN400 stations. None of them all that strong - maybe S5 at best, but mostly S3 or S4. I tried to get an insurance QSO, but couldn't work any other DX stations as even the non-AN400s weren't that strong.

Move ahead a little under an hour now, and I'm back on the air still looking for an insurance QSO. There was a KP4 station on 20, but his signals were very up and down here, and he never heard me at all. So I went back to 30 meters which was still loaded with the AN400 stations. I found the strongest one around S5 operating split and went after him. I lost out to a few other stations, but finally I got a K3??P from him, sent my call twice again and got my nervously awaited K3WWP 599. And the streak goes on for certain. I'd hate to have had only that questionable QSO with AN400N as the only DX QSO today.

I don't know if they have on line logs or not for the AN400 stations. If so I could check the AN400N one. BTW, 7X3WPL whom I worked a couple evenings ago does have an on line log, and I was there within a few minutes of the QSO. Normally I don't check such things, and I was sure of that QSO, but I happened to see the log when I was checking for QSL info.

OK, about 2 1/2 hours till the DX ordeal starts all over anew. Hope it's a quickie this evening. -30-

Wednesday, September 28, 2016 5:22 PM - Mike is stopping by this evening for our regular 4th Wednesday evening pizza and visit. So I thought I'd write this early today.

I got on the bands in the 1900Z hour and they seem to have recovered somewhat from the blahs of the past few days. I worked 7X3WPL with just two calls on 20 meters. That's one country I've worked but never got verified either with a card or via LoTW. I did work 7X3WPL before a few years ago, but I don't see any record of having sent a QSL card then. Besides these two QSOs with 7X3WPL, I've also worked 7X4AN a number or times. Let's see how many. Eight times, and I think I've sent at least 2 or 3 cards with SAE and return postage, but never got a QSL card. So I guess I'll try again with this latest 7X3WPL QSO. They say on QRZ they answer all cards received if return postage is included. However I don't see just how much postage, if they accept GS or what. -30-

Tuesday, September 27, 2016 9:07 PM - Seems it's one extreme or the other as the saying goes. I'm talking about my DX streak of late. The QSO for the 27th was a struggle, but I did manage to work another of the Cervantes stations AN400G at 1617Z on 20 meters. He was only about S5 here which was the strongest DX I was hearing at the time. It took a few repeats to make the QSO, but he stuck with me for which I am grateful.

Then this evening's DX for the 28th came at 0001Z with only one repeat needed when I worked XE1ZW Bill in Mexico City on 20 meters.

Jody K3JZD of the NAQCC and the Skyview Radio Society emailed me this today:

"Hi John, We are still working on the idea of a Skyview 'Affiliated Club Membership' (or something like that) for the NAQCC Western PA Chapter. Stay tuned - the wheels turn slowly.
The Skyview October Newsletter is now available. You and your Skyview Swap N Shop team are highlighted in this issue. We do not mail it out - you have to go and get it.
But, that is very easy to do.
Just go to http://skyviewradio.net and:
1 - Click on "Newsletter" in the Menu at left side of this main page.
2 - Click on the box that says: 'Q5-er The official Newsletter for the Skyview Radio Society'
You can read it on-line, or you can download the PDF file.
I welcome your comments.
Jody - K3JZD"

My 22 year streak is also mentioned in their newsletter. I personally appreciate that and our NAQCC WPA Chapter members also appreciate the S&S article. -30-

Monday, September 26, 2016 9:06 PM - Speaking of WB3FAE as I was last night in the diary, Tom and I had a QSO this afternoon. He is up in Portland, Maine today. His wife Debbie took a video of Tom as he was working me. I have it here now via email. It's quite large and won't fit on my Windstream site, but it will work on k3wwp.com. So I'm going to put it there via this link. If you want to watch it, you should be able to just close the video window to get back here. Yes, that worked fine on my computer here. It is always good to hear how my signal sounds in various locations. It sounded pretty good up there in Maine.

If nothing else (and some nights there is nothing), my DX streak is teaching me a lot about propagation at various points in a sunspot cycle. It has been interesting to see how propagation outside the USA really declines as the sunspots decline. That isn't really all that apparent as I keep my regular streak going since it is virtually always possible to get an easy USA/VE QSO no matter the stage of the cycle.

No DX this evening, but I worked John ON4UN this afternoon to get the streak to 1,306 days now. Looks like it will be till tomorrow afternoon till I get another shot at some DX now.

Some quite strange conditions on 30 this evening. It was totally dead when I checked between 0000 and 0015Z. Then I tried 40 and 80 for a while with no luck. When I went back to 30, it was hopping with activity. I saw at least 6 or 8 good peaks on the PX3. One was K4HPP whom I worked. Strangely though, after about 10 minutes his signals peaked to 10 over, but then dropped very suddenly to my S4-5 noise level and never came back again. The other signals on 30 did the same thing. So something caused about 15-20 minutes or so of great propagation, then the something left, whatever it was. Strange!

Tomorrow Roscoe goes to the groomer for a trim. That's always an interesting experience and I'm sure it will be tomorrow also.

This could be a very long entry because I did a lot today and I have some things I talked about here that I promised a follow-up on. However I'm going to cut it short because it's about time for Roscoe's last walk of the day. -30-

Sunday, September 25, 2016 7:26 PM - Mike and I had a good stargazing session last night. We were sorry that K3RLL and WB3FAE couldn't accept our invitation to join us. We observed 28 Messier objects plus Mars, Saturn, and double star Mizar. Even though we've seen them all before, they still can elicit a "WOW" from us when seeing them anew. My loudest "WOW" came from M2 in Aquarius. I had forgotten just how bright it is.

While we were there, Mike asked me again about how I compare goto scopes with the ones you have to align on objects yourself with no help from a computer chip. I still think that using a manual scope helps you to get to know the sky much better and everyone should start with such a scope. However I must admit, and did to Mike, that as I get older and less flexible, thus making adjusting a scope harder, that the goto scopes definitely have a place for us old folks. Speaking of old folks, here's a picture of one looking into the scope last night. No, it's not Mike.
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Note the heavy jacket and hat. It was chilly standing out there for a couple hours. Also note the dew zapper (orange band) around the end of the scope. It sure helped keep the corrector lens free of dew. It certainly was dewy with everything except the lens getting somewhat damp as the temperature fell toward the dewpoint.

Mike attempted to use his smart phone to take some pictures at the eyepiece. One of the better ones was this one of Saturn. You can tell it's Saturn by the oval shape. We need a lot more practice taking pictures like that though.
pix_diary_20160925_002 (13K)

It's rolling toward streak time. After (if) I get my streak QSO(s), I'll be closing out our sprint results running my cross-checking program. I hope to finish that tonight. If not, then tomorrow for sure. -30-

Saturday, September 24, 2016 8:07 PM - I'm sitting here awaiting the arrival of Mike KC2EGL. We're going to do some stargazing.

As for the DX, I figured I wouldn't have time for it this evening. However now and then it's a piece of cake. I turned on the KX3/PX3 at 0000Z saw a couple nice peaks on 30, and checked them out. One was I1ULJ/8. I called him, but he didn't hear me and called CQ again. I answered again and we had a nice brief chat for a few minutes. The QSO started at 0001Z. They don't get much quicker than that. Now I have 24 hours off, more or less. At least no worry about the DX streak. HI. -30-

Friday, September 23, 2016 7:29 PM - I came very close to blowing it today. I mean the DX streak. I was sitting here around 2310Z eating a sandwich and all of a sudden it dawned on me that I hadn't gotten my DX QSO for the 23rd yet. So I finished the sandwich and dashed (as fast as a 71 year old can dash) to my shack and listened on 30 and 20 for some DX. I only heard HC5AI and unlike his father who had the same call and copied me well, the son has never heard me at all and that was true again today. Finally I went to 40 in desperation and thanks to Miguel de Cervantes, I worked AN400E, however he initially had me as K2WWP and I wasn't sure he ever corrected it, so I heard AN400A a few kHz lower and got an insurance QSO from him. He did have my call correct after a couple repeats. Whew! So day 1303 of the streak will be memorable if the streak goes on much longer. Without those Cervantes stations, it might be over right now.

If there is a reason (excuse) why I more or less forgot about the streak, it's because I was very busy with processing our sprint logs and finalizing my 1000 MPW QSOs records along with other things.

Now in 25 minutes as I type, it starts all over again for day # 1304. Hope it's not as hectic. -30-

Thursday, September 22, 2016 7:38 PM - I spent most of the morning and early afternoon working on my 1000 MPW QSOs. I've now checked all 87,910 QSOs I've made over 53+ years. I found 2,057 that qualified as 1000 MPW QSOs, 85,626 that were not (including all the QSOs I've made using more than 5 watts output back before 1990), and 227 that I'm not sure of (stations operating /M, /P, etc. for which I have no definite QTH to go by).

There are many ways to determine distances. Perhaps the best and most accurate is User Supplied QTH info in QRZ.com. I find that to be over 99.9% accurate and it even gives the distance from here to there based on my exact location.

Then there is using a modified globe with my QTH at the pivot point and distances marked off in 1,000 mile increments. I wrote an article about making such a globe in an NAQCC newsletter a few years ago. Let me pause here and see if I can find it. Yes, it's here. It's the very last article at the end of the newsletter. Of course, anything over 5,000 miles on the globe at 5 watts or less is definitely a 1000 MPW QSO (all my 241 Japan QSOs for example). Or over 1,000 miles at 1 watt or less, etc. I allow a margin of error though. If a QTH is almost exactly on the 5,000 mile distance, I won't count it without checking another source.

There is also an excellent site that shows distances between cities, but again I allow a margin of error there since some cities sprawl out quite a bit. I'm pretty certain if the distance is 5,200 miles or more, then no matter where the ham lives in that city, it should be over 5,000 miles. The site? Check here.

Similarly you can use the excellent Bing maps to find a city and get its latitude and longitude. Then plug yours and his lat/lon into a distance calculator like the one from N9SSA here.

I have more on this topic, but it's time to head to the shack now, so I'll continue in the next diary entry. -30-

Wednesday, September 21, 2016 8:06 PM - I worked AN400A again today on yet another band - 20 meters. Wish I could find some of the other letters. I've heard a couple, but "A" has been the strongest every time I listen with the others just about at my noise level.

Things worked out nicely tonight. I got my DX within two minutes, working NP2J on 30 meters. Now I can concentrate on our NAQCC sprint coming up in a few minutes without having to think about DX. I do have a couple other things to get done before the sprint starts, so I'll cut this short. -30-

Tuesday, September 20, 2016 8:53 PM - Exactly 23 hours and 59 minutes after working AN400A on 40 meters, I worked him again on 30 meters. Those AN400 stations are to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the death of Miguel de Cervantes, great Spanish writer. Of course best known for writing Don Quixote. You can work enough different suffix letters to spell out his name and get a nice award for it. Look up AN400A on QRZ for links to more info if that interests you.

Whoever is operating AN400A is a really great op. Both nights he was at best S5 here, but copied me after just a few repeats once the pile diminished.

Another beautiful weather day. The kind you wish you could bottle and use whenever you're tired of any nasty weather that comes your way. Wow, I just looked at my remote and it says the high was 90. I didn't think it was that warm. Looks like the humidity was down in the 30s so that made the difference. Anyway it was nice with beautiful clear skies. While I was sitting on the porch with Roscoe, there was just one very tiny little cumulus cloud slowly drifting by.

When I wasn't outside, I was in here continuing to work on my 1000 MPW QSOs. I did make it over 2,000 of them now. With some more tweaking to do, I'm somewhere around 2,040. I had skipped some countries in my totals along the way like West Kiribati to name just one. Since the whole country is over 5,000 miles, any QSO with it at 5 watts or less is definitely a 1000 MPW QSO.

Time now to get my temperature, then take Roscoe out for his last walk, send out a promo for our NAQCC sprint tomorrow evening, and then maybe do some more checking on the 1000 MPW QSOs. -30-

Monday, September 19, 2016 7:16 PM - A busy day today which are the kind of days I like. I often say in the diary I hate being a couch potato sitting around doing nothing. Even if I do sit around I'm always doing something to at least exercise my brain.

My physical exercise today consisted of some walking, trimming my neighbor's front yard bush, and cutting my back yard grass. Of course walking Roscoe also which is an everyday 3 or 4 time thing we both enjoy.

The brain exercise was updating my 1000 MPW QSOs for our NAQCC KMPW Honor Roll. With still some checking left, I've found 1,949 such QSOs. I was hoping to be closer to 2,000, but I don't think I'll make it now. The rough countries are those that are split by a 5,000 mile distance circle. If an entire country is more than 5,000 miles distant, ALL my 5 watt or less QSOs qualify as 1000 MPW QSOs. If an entire country is less than 5,000 miles distant, none of my 5 watt QSOs qualify, although some less than 5 watts may qualify. That involves some figuring for those QSOs. However ALL QSOs from the 5,000 mile split country must be individually checked and that takes time. It's easy when someone supplies their exact latitude and longitude to QRZ. Then the exact distance from here to there is given IF the source is marked USER SUPPLIED. Otherwise QRZ just estimates the distance. For example if a station does not give lat and lon, QRZ simply bases the distance on the geographical center of a country. Or sometimes on grid square. Close but not completely accurate. There are also other Internet sources that list distances from city to city. I count those only if the distance is at least 5100 miles or so. There are also other ways to figure distance that I'm not going to go into here. The bottom line is, as in everything I do, I strive to be as close to 100% accurate as possible.

Another thing that crossed my mind while I was figuring was wondering with how many different countries I have had 1000 MPW QSOs. Turns out to be 154. I think perhaps something like that would make an interesting addition to 1000 MPW QSO awards.

It wasn't a 1000 MPW QSO, but my DX today came in the 1400Z hour as I was doing my laundry when I worked UA2FF easily from Kaliningrad. That was on 17 meters which many days has good DX during local morning and afternoon here. -30-

Sunday, September 18, 2016 7:56 PM - I'm just off to the shack, then I'll return to finish writing this entry.

It was kind of a gloomy day today with rain all around us, but again our shields were up and we only got maybe a tenth of an inch. No storms, just rain showers. Looks like one last line of showers is on the way before we pretty much say goodbye to rain the whole coming week if the outlook is correct.

I hoped to be back with a report of the DX I worked, but I didn't work any. I did have a long rag chew with WA4LJJ in KY until all of a sudden he dropped from a steady 589 down into my noise at S3 or S4 within about 10 seconds and never did come back up. Yes, the bands are acting strangely lately.

I did hear 3 workable DX stations, but two I just worked a couple days ago and another was calling for club members from a club to which I don't belong. Otherwise DX was similar to this picture:
pix_diary_20160918_001 (683K)

Just taking a peek over my noise level, then disappearing. -30-

Saturday, September 17, 2016 8:57 PM - If there were any doubts remaining in my mind about us slipping into poorer band conditions as we move toward a sunspot minimum, they were dispelled this evening. I can normally work Scandinavian stations any time I hear them, especially on 20 meters. Not so this evening. I called a few in the SAC Contest with nary a hint they were hearing me. Even OH8L and SJ2W who are especially good at hearing me gave not even a question mark. So sunspot minimum, here we come.

I did get my DX though thanks to 4A2L on 20 meters. 2 days to go now for the DX streak to hit 1300 days if I can make it. Before that I secured the big streak with a NJQP QSO with AB2N on 40.

A big weekend for contests with at least the SAC, NJQP, WASR, and some Brazilian contest. I hope someday I can get back into a contesting mood and get into contests like these seriously instead of only our NAQCC sprints and the CQWW DX, CQWPX, and ARRL DX contests.

Just a couple other notes before I go out and get my temperature. Our rain shields were up again today and we only got at most a couple hundredths of an inch (so far anyway). The bulk of the rain went to our north and south. In fact there was apparently a confirmed tornado near Slippery Rock, PA which is in the neighborhood of only 40 or so miles to the NW of here.

I played a lot with the Windows AU edition today on my laptop. It sure is very slick. It's nice they added extensions to the Edge browser in this edition. I got a great ad blocker which hopefully will block all those obnoxious intrusive google ads that seem to be everywhere. So far it's doing the job, especially with the few You Tube videos I checked out. -30-

Friday, September 16, 2016 8:53 PM - It took 3 tries to get the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, but it's now up and running on my laptop. I'm convinced I have some hardware problems with that laptop. I get a lot of hardware errors that have nothing to do with Windows or any of my software. They are very intermittent and hard to trace. I suspect it has something to do with my RAM as I can't recall them happening until I added a second RAM stick. Someday I may just get two new RAM sticks and try that. Since it's only a secondary "play with" computer, I don't really worry about it all that much. This Windows 7 unit I'm using right now to type this is my main computer.

A rough DX night tonight. I got tired of trying to get PY22MC to get my call correct, and I don't really know if he ever did. I didn't log him, but instead gave up and worked Ben HT7AAA again to keep the streak going.

It was another nice day today and among a couple of walks and taking care of Roscoe, I picked some figs for Ange. He'll be home from Florida Sunday evening. I was glad I only had to water his garden once during the week he was gone. -30-

Thursday, September 15, 2016 8:47 PM - Midway through September and as usual most every year, September is one of the most beautiful months (along with May). Temperatures still quite warm during the day and not all that cold at night. Very little rain to speak of, although October is usually drier. Today was pretty much a typical September day in this part of the country with a low of 54 and a high of 77. Great walking weather and I took a couple of good walks today enjoying those temperatures. I also watered Ange's garden. He's away for the week. That plus the Roscoe walks and picking some vegetables from my garden kept me outside quite a bit.

Just as I was about to go to my shack for my streak QSOs this evening, my neighbor called me over to share a taco salad. So although I was about 20 minutes late getting to the shack, it still took only about a minute to find and work CP4BT on 30 to cover both streaks. Then a CQ on 40 brought a short rag chew with 88 year old K4BBE down in GA.

There is also something going on in the background the past 3 hours or so now. My laptop is finally getting the Windows 10 Anniversary Update. I was beginning to wonder if it was ever going to be my turn, but it's happening right now as I type. Just went and looked and it's 37 percent complete now. They said it would take a few hours and that was right. Our computer club computer got its upgrade last month so I've been able to see the AU upgrade in action for a little bit and it is even slicker than the original Windows 10. So I guess either later tonight or tomorrow, I know what I'll be playing with. I want to get familiar with all the new features. -30-

Wednesday, September 14, 2016 6:15 PM - I'm just getting ready to head off to my computer club meeting so I thought I'd throw in a quick diary entry before I go.

I just posted a new poll dealing with Elecraft rigs. Hope you'll cast a vote.

I also posted the results from the panadapter poll along with my comments on the outcome. I won't repeat them here as you can access them via the past polls page.

I never did get on the bands today as I've done the past few afternoons. I've been busy with other things like updating both my computers and our computer club computer as well.

Hopefully I can get a quick DX QSO when I get home from the club meeting. If not, I'll have to use the DX spray mentioned in yesterday's diary entry. HI -30-

Tuesday, September 13, 2016 9:11 PM - That's the way I like it - now what song is that from. Oh yeah that's the title of a song by KC and the Sunshine Band from way back when. Late 1975, I guess.

What do I like? Getting my DX Streak QSO in the first couple minutes of a new day. That happened tonight as I worked PJ4/PA3BWK easily on 20 meters at 0002Z. That gave me an hour to play around on the bands and get some rag chewing in. I still love using my Popsicle stick key and use it exclusively in rag chew mode. For chasing DX at higher speeds though, the paddle and keyer makes it easier. I had three rag chews this evening with KD0DK in Iowa, W1AAF in Maine, and N7GBH in New Jersey. Always nice to chat with folks after after a wham bang quick DX QSO.

Oh, last night it was an old 'friend' and great op HC2AO who gave me my DX streak QSO in the 0400Z hour. Generally Alex always copies me when I call. -30-

Oh oh, my secret is out:

pix_diary_20160913_001 (23K)

Yep, that's what I've been using to keep the DX streak going.

Well actually my friend Bob K9OSC sent me that picture along with these comments:
"Hi John: I know from your diary that your daily DX streak has been challenging as of late. I just received information about this exceptionally good station accessory ... thought you might find it handy in the shack! Seriously, it is amazing how well you do with your DX streak. Best of luck. Take care. Bob"

Monday, September 12, 2016 9:07 PM - Those of you familiar with the NAQCC, and I hope that includes everyone who reads my diary, know that we give away some nice prizes in conjunction with our monthly sprints and challenges. Mostly they are small wooden objects made by one of our members, Gregg WB8LZG, who is a master woodworker. They consist of knob covers for K2 and K1 rigs, paddle handles for various types of paddles and/or bugs, poker chip finger pieces for straight keys, and earrings for the YLs. Anyway, I received a pack of new prizes from Gregg today and cataloged and photographed them. One of my last remaining active duties with the club is mailing out the prizes each month, a very simple task that takes very little time. With the PO only about 2-3 blocks from here, I decided it would be a logical idea for me to continue mailing the items. So that and log cross-checking for our sprints is all I have left to do for the NAQCC now after 10 very busy years as VP until I retired 2 years ago next month.

I think you can get a better idea of the prizes here instead of trying to imagine them from my descriptions. Paul N8XMS will be posting the pictures of the new prizes that arrived today probably sometime tomorrow.

This evening DX was pretty much a no-show. The only DX at all that I heard were some stations in a pileup on 30 meters calling I don't know who because I couldn't hear who it was they were calling. Last night I got PV8ADI in the 0200Z hour so I didn't have to get on today for my streak QSO. However I did listen around a bit in the afternoon, and there was DX to be found, mainly on 20 meters with a bit on 17 as well. So perhaps tomorrow afternoon will be DX streak time for me if I don't find someone later tonight. Although it's a lot of work and a lot of time now, it certainly is becoming more of a rewarding challenge to keep the streak going contrasted to last year and the couple years before when it was possible to work DX just about any time I got on the bands. The times, they are a'changing. -30-

Sunday, September 11, 2016 9:01 PM - I hoped to be writing about my day at the BCARA hamfest, but if you read the update to yesterday's diary entry, you know why I'm not.

I got one of my quickest ever streak QSOs tonight. Just as my accurate to the split second atomic clock I got at the Ol' Station Marketplace a few weeks ago hit 0000:00 I called the Rte. 66 SE station W6H and got him. The DX was another story though. I haven't gotten anyone yet. I could have gotten HT7AAA or NP4R on 30 meters easily, but I worked both on that same band just a couple days ago, so I passed them up. Also on 30 there was a TZ4AM and a TO5 station both working split with big pileups I couldn't break. On 20 RA0TU was pretty strong, but I kept losing to some stronger USA station. Then NP4R showed up on 20, but calling CQ Asia, so couldn't call him. That's pretty much how it went with a few other stations as well.

Now contrast that to this afternoon when I worked somewhat rare Albania easily on 20 meters with but a single call. It was ZA/OH1MA who with a few other hams are activating ZA for a while. Included in the group is OH2BH whom anyone familiar with DX knows. Although I have ZA on 4 bands with about a half dozen QSOs, it's one of those countries I get a kick out of working like Mongolia, Pitcairn Island, and a few others. There's a different reason for ZA though. Bob W9KNI, famous DXer, wrote a great book called The Complete DXer. In it he describes his struggle to work Albania which was the last entity he needed to "work 'em all". Of course when he was doing it, the political climate was much different than it is today. While still somewhat rare, ZA is not by any means almost non-existent in ham radio as it was then. Still I get my kicks from working it. -30-

Saturday, September 10, 2016 10:11 AM - Updated at 9:10 PM. It looks like I won't be going to the BCARA hamfest tomorrow after all as I mentioned below in this entry. Mike had an encounter with a deer (doe) on his way home from work and it did some pretty good damage to his Subaru. So we'll both have to miss this one. Mike is perfectly OK though, and that's the good bottom line.

Wow, it's amazing how much capability a human has for forgetting things, especially as the human grows older. I make that general statement from my own personal experience.

I've been going over my old web site pages on the Internet Archive site. I've totally forgotten some things I found there. Like having a mirror site on QSL.net at one time, just to mention one thing. There are many others. The archive site seems to have some slow servers, and it is going to take some time to do my exploring, so I'll put that on hold for a while till I get more time to do it.

Tomorrow, Mike, Tom, and I (and others from our little group?) will be attending the BCARA hamfest in Unionville, PA. See http://w3udx.org/swapfest.htm for more info. If you're in the area, drop by and look for the folks wearing the NAQCC hats and say hello. This is strictly a fun visit. No setup for the NAQCC nor any QRP/CW demo.

I got a little surprise last night after I worked NP4R very easily for My DX streak QSO a couple minutes past 0000Z. I then switched to calling CQ and glanced at my power meter on the KX3. I was still down at 900 mW from earlier in the day, so I made another mW DX QSO unknowingly. -30-

Friday, September 09, 2016 7:24 PM - I'm going to take a day off (already) from my web site history report and instead talk about a couple interesting QSOs I've had since we last got together here in the diary. Last night it didn't take long to work YV5OK for my DX streak QSO. When that happens, I like to fill out the 0000Z hour with some CQs to see whom I can work. I still think it is more exciting calling CQ than answering someone else's CQ because then there is the element of surprise in who you will be working.

I called for a bit on 20 and 30 with no luck so it was off to 40. There I got an answer from this little wisp of a signal. I had to ask for several repeats before I even got a partial call of VE9B??. I then gave my info and turned it over to him. Now it sounded like VE9BIL, but I still wasn't sure and needed a few more repeats to finally get it right. I guess it was kind of a role reversal when some DX station has to get several repeats from me to get my call right. Anyway it turned out to be VE9BEL. About all I could copy was my RST, his province of NB and part (erna) of his name until near the end of the QSO when I'm sure he said he was running only 10 mW, yes that's .01 watts. Since he is about 750 miles away, that's around 75,000 MPW. He is a NAQCC member and with that one QSO, if he was trying for it, he mastered our NAQCC September challenge which is to get enough QRPp QSOs where the MPW totals 5,000 or more. Oh, his name is Bernard.

The other QSO I want to mention is on the same theme. I thought for sure this month's challenge of making QSOs with QRPp power would be rough with the poor conditions on the downslide of the sunspot cycle. I was wrong. I first worked W1IDL and HT7AAA a few days ago for a total around 2,500 MPW. Each day since then I tried to find and work one station that would complete my total of 5,000. Today there were a couple fairly strong Germans on 20 meters. The first one (DJ0LI/P if memory serves) did not even send a question mark in response to my call so I figured it was hopeless and looked around some more. I found DL1REM who was a bit stronger. My first call to him (using 900 mW) garnered a 3? after which I sent my call two more times and got a K3WWP 559. I gave him a 579 and the QSO was complete as was my September challenge. That added about 4,400 MPW to the earlier 2,500 for around 6,900 MPW, well over the required 5,000. I guess conditions aren't as bad as folks make them out to be.

One brief closing statement about my web site history. If you go to http://web.archive.org/web/*/http://www.alltel.net/~johnshan/ - or - http://web.archive.org/web/*/http://home.alltel.net/johnshan/, you can see how the site used to look. Not all the links on the pages there work, and some (most?, all?) pictures don't show up, but at least there is a good representation of how the site used to look going all the way back to 1998 which seems to be the earliest pages they've saved on the Web Archive site. I haven't really looked it over lately, but I plan to do so. That will refresh my memory on some of the points in the history of the site I'm not sure about now. In fact the next paragraph here covers one point.

In copying those URLs I see I forgot to mention there was one other change in my URL over the years. Alltel went from www.alltel...... to home.alltel...... and eliminated the tilde (~) before johnshan. -30-

Thursday, September 08, 2016 6:43 PM - Exactly 20 years ago to the day, My web site was born. Over the next couple of diary entries, I'll dwell a little on the history of the site starting right now.

Those of you who are familiar with my diary and especially my streak know that it was Eric KB3BFQ who helped me come up with the idea of the streak. What you may not know is that he was also instrumental in getting my web site started. In the mid-90s the Internet was just starting to hit its stride among us 'common' folks. Eric and I thought it would be nice to experiment with setting up our own web sites. He pretty much right away knew his site was going to be about hockey which was his favorite sport at the time. I couldn't decide between my favorite sport at the time - Winston Cup Auto Racing - and ham radio. Well, after some thought, ham radio won out. We helped each other out with getting out sites up and running. At first my site was mostly devoted to the history of the CW County Hunters Net which WA8EOH and I started up in May of 1966. The two intial main pages besides an opening 'index' page were the CHN history page and the CH Contest history page. Both pages are still here pretty much just as they were those 20 years ago. I haven't done much with county hunting or the net since that time as for the past 20 years, my favorite activities have been DXing and contesting. While those pages have stayed the same, the rest of the site rapidly evolved and expanded as time went by.

Not long after it started, its main emphasis has been promoting the use of QRP, CW, and simple wire antennas. The primary way of doing this has been and continues to be by showing just what a ham can do using a very simple station like mine. It has worked well that way as I still regularly get communications from other hams saying my site encouraged them to go ahead and get on the air even though they were very restricted in power, antennas, and locations. When they did, they found out that my site was not misrepresenting anything that could be done with QRP, CW, simple antennas, and a valley location to boot. They found out they could do the same things with their setups.

Content aside, my site also evolved in format as well. Basically there have been four versions over the years along with a couple different hosts. It started as a 'plain vanilla' site with simple links to the various pages of which there were not very many then. After that I experimented with 'frames'. Remember them? They are not much used nowadays as other methods of doing what frames could do are doing it better now. Major version three used a 'table' format. Links to various sections and pages were displayed in a narrow table at the left of each page similar to what the NAQCC web site looks like now (since I designed it in the image of my own site). I eventually got to disliking that table taking away some territory of each of my pages and went to version four with the small navigation bar at the top of each of the main pages. I like it this way very much and I think that will be the last of the major versions.

One more thing in this opening chapter of the web site history. I started out with my web site on GeoCities who offered free web site space to anyone who wanted it. On there i had a non-frames version of the site up until around mid 1998 joined by a frames site from early to mid 1998. Then my Internet provider Alltel started offering free web site space to its customers and it looks like from notes here, I set up my web site on there in early 1998 with both a frames and non-frames version till I gave up on frames in mid 2000. Then I had my one main version of the site on Alltel up until early 2009. At that time Alltel in the breakup of the big phone companies became Windstream who became my new ISP and web site host. Although everything stayed the same except the URL change from ....alltel.... to .....windstream....., I suffered a drastic drop in daily visitors and it took a long time to recover from that. Then a couple years ago WA4FAT offered me free web site space on his server and also suggested I should get the k3wwp.com address for the site which I did, but also kept the Windstream server as a backup or mirror.

I'll have more history over the next few diary entries including some links to the Internet Archive where you can see how the site looked at various times during the past 20 years. -30-

Wednesday, September 07, 2016 9:08 PM - As I often try to do in the diary, tonight I'm going to have a little fun, although actually what's contained herein is very truthful and useful. Huh?

K3WWP's recipe for a DX streak:


 1. Lots of patience
 2. One panadapter
 3. A good crisp clean signal
 4. Good keying
 5. Strict use of correct procedure
 6. Knowing who is a good op at the other end
 7. Knowledge of propagation
 8. Knowing when to call and when to listen.
 9. Enough time to get on the bands each and every day
10. Knowing when to persist calling a station and when to give up and move on to someone else
11. Picking a station to call who is using good procedure with a good clean signal (Those who
   take care of such things are likely to be good ops who will dig out a weak QRP signal).
12. Most obvious - CW

Things you don't need:

 1. More than 5 watts output power
 2. A big high gain antenna
 3. A hilltop QTH
 4. Sloppy sending
 5. Poor use of procedure
 6. Calling when you should be listening
 7. Having to manually tune a band and listening to hear who is there
 8. Anything besides CW

Mix the ingredients above thoroughly and persistently every day and you too can have a long
streak of daily DX QSOs. Of course with a KW, beam, and hilltop QTH you can do it so easily
there is no satisfaction in it. Do it the QRP/simple antennas/poor or average QTH way and the
self-satisfaction will be tremendous.

Tonight for my DX QSO I worked S01WS. Let's see how each ingredient applied.
1. S0 is still somewhat rare and I probably would have to wait in line to work him.
2. Of course I saw a peak on the panadapter, listened and it was S01WS.
3. The KX3 always has this.
4. I strive for this every time I get on the air.
5. Ditto the above.
6. I know every time I hear S01WS, there is a good op at the key even though it is a club station.
7. I work that part of the world pretty easily most of the time.
8. Same as my comments to #4.
9. Something I fortunately do have and need more of as conditions slip away to the sunspot minimum.
10. Having worked S01WS before a couple times, I'm pretty sure I can stick with him till I work him, especially since he is working other stations from my part of the world.
11. S01WS definitely qualifies.
12. Well....?

My QSO earlier today with DL2DX would get the same comments as above. He was only 559 here, and gave me a 539 but a solid QSO as was the S01WS one this evening.

I hope all the above at least gives you some food for thought when it comes to trying to work DX. I think working DX is my most favorite aspect of our wonderful hobby. Others may disagree, and that's fine.

Tomorrow September 8 is the 20th anniversary of my starting this web site. I'll take a look back over the years during the next few diary entries. -30-

Tuesday, September 06, 2016 9:02 PM - I looked today to try to find my ham age stats from a couple years ago, but had no luck. Maybe I'm just dreaming I did a summary back then similar to what I did here in the diary yesterday. HI I'll keep looking.

I think about the surest indication of how conditions are slipping away toward the upcoming sunspot minimum is a comparison of working the same DX stations a year or two ago vs. working (or trying to work) them today. That was certainly true of S01WS tonight. He was quite strong on 30 meters and even with no competition I couldn't get him to hear me. When I worked him last year or the year before, it was an easy QSO. I even worked him pretty easily on 40 meters then. That's just one instance for an example. I could cite many other examples.

So tonight (so far) is DXless and I'll have to spend some time tomorrow in between other things trying to keep the DX streak going. As for the regular streak, it took a little longer than usual (0026Z) to keep that one going. It was a very good QSO though with KB4GYT whom I haven't worked in ages. Let's see what ages translates to actually. Well, almost 17 years as our last QSO was on Nov 7, 1999. Both of us have been very active since then. It's just that our RF never crossed. Paul is also an Elecraft fan with a KX3 and a few other Elecraft rigs. -30-

Monday, September 05, 2016 9:06 PM - I guess a couple years ago now, I decided to figure out the average age of the hams I worked. I don't feel like digging back into that now, but I will. I want to compare it to the figures from this year so far from Jan 1 to present.

This year I also noted how many years the ham was licensed if he gave me that info. I have ages for 87 different hams I worked in 2016 and of those, 55 told me how long they have been licensed.

The average age of the 87 is 67.2 years. The oldest is 93 and the youngest is 36. By decades:
30-39 -  1
40-49 -  2
50-59 -  9
60-69 - 38
70-79 - 36
80-89 -  0
90-99 -  1

The average years licensed for the 55 is 45.7 years. The longest is 85 and the shortest is 4. By decades:
 0- 9 -  1
10-19 -  2
20-29 -  6
30-39 -  7
40-49 - 14
50-59 - 19
60-69 -  5
70-79 -  0
80-89 -  1

OK, now we can figure for the 55 at what age they were licensed. The average age licensed is 22.4. The youngest at 8 and the oldest at 59. By decades:
 0- 9 -  1
10-19 - 32
20-29 -  9
30-39 -  6
40-49 -  4
50-59 -  3

OK, that's enough to digest for tonight. I'll have more in future diary entries.

When Mike and I get together to work some DX, when we work something rare or something very easily, we sarcastically say, "It's a real shame QRP doesn't work." Unfortunately that is not sarcasm to some who sincerely do believe you must run QRO to work DX. I say that because tonight I worked HT7AAA on 30 with a single call and I was using only 900 mW. I guess QRPp doesn't work. HI I did it because of our NAQCC mW challenge this month and also because I worked HT7AAA just a week ago at 5 watts and wanted to make it different this evening.

Well about time to walk Roscoe so I've got to wrap up here now. -30-

Sunday, September 04, 2016 9:22 PM - I thought I was going to have to spend tomorrow, Labor Day laboring to get a DX QSO as the bands were in their usual dead state for DX this evening with one exception. KP4VP was on 30 meters, but for the most part quite weak and having trouble copying other stations calling him. I kept coming back to him after getting N4ZZ in the TN QSO Party for my regular streak QSO and tuning around some more for other DX. Finally (well it wasn't all that long) at 0014Z, KP4VP came up in strength and after struggling with my call through a few repeats, I got my K3WWP TU 599 and another day of DX was in the books.

Since it was still early I thought I'd try some CQs before I QRT for the evening. On the very first one, I got an answer from KV4WC down in Blairsville, GA. I didn't know they had one down there, a Blairsville, I mean. I thought we had the only one here in PA. So today was worthwhile - I learned something.

I also learned that my Popsicle key was giving me a couple skipped dots. Took a while to figure out the nuts on the terminals connecting it to the rig had come loose somehow. After tightening them up, it's fine again.

It was a nice day today so I got my grass cut and also helped Ange water his garden. Other than that though, I really wasn't outside all that much except for the usual Roscoe walks. Speaking of that, it's about time for the last one of the day, so I better get going. -30-

Saturday, September 03, 2016 5:09 PM - I was certain that this was the day the DX streak would end. Was I right? Well, last night I heard no DX and was even struggling to get a regular QSO until Gene N5GW answered my CQ on 30 meters. We've had several QSOs before and Gene is a NAQCC member and top notch op always doing well in our NAQCC sprints. That was my only QSO last night.

After taking care of some chores, I hit the bands again around 1530Z and found them pretty much the same as last night except for activity in the CWO contest. I did hear a workable KP4 station on 17 meters, but he QRT before I had a chance to give him a call. Then a very weak PY station on 15 meters was all the activity on that band. So I thought I'd just call CQ down in the Extra portion of 20 meters away from the CWO contest. I got an answer from Angel WA4ZIQ who is 93 years old and a ham for 85 of those years. We had a nice chat. Still no DX though.

Next up I thought I'd at least try to get a mW QSO for our NAQCC September challenge. A few unsuccessful CQs were followed by answering W1IDL's CQ. I was running 900 mW and we had a nice solid copy rag chew. Vin was very interested in my QRPp setup. So I at least will get a participation point in the September challenge for that should I not master the full challenge. Still no DX though, and not much chance of getting any then. So I did some other things.

I returned to the bands again later and they were still the same in the 1900Z hour. I did hear one KP4 station but not only was he not copying anyone well, he didn't sound like he was all that good a CW operator. A PA (Netherlands) station operating from PJ4 was about S5 on 30 meters with a lot of QSB. He was also complaining about QSB at his end. He never heard my calls at all. So once again I quit without a DX streak QSO.

Now we move ahead to 2105Z and I return to the shack figuring maybe sometime in the next three hours, I'll have some luck as early evening type conditions come into play. I turned on the rig and immediately saw a fairly good sized peak on the panadapter around 14015. I tuned there expecting it to be just a USA station from the strength. I was wrong. It was F5MXQ at a solid 579. A couple calls got me a QSO. He had me as W3WWP at first, but corrected it after the first round. Whew! The DX streak goes on.

Otherwise it was a beautiful weather day today. No long walks yet, but I may take one this evening now that the streak is secured. I did walk Roscoe a couple times, and it's just about time for another walk. I also harvested some vegetables from my garden. Here's a picture of my basket.
pix_diary_20160903_001 (92K)

Tomatoes, bush beans, speckled butter beans, peppers, and peas make up the harvest. Sure looks good. I'll be enjoying them in the coming days. Although things started slow in the garden, they've come along nicely now and are providing just enough of a harvest to feed me without having too big a harvest to have to find someone to give the surplus to. That's the way I like it. Not too many folks around here who don't have access to their own vegetables and I don't force things on people who can't use them. -30-

Friday, September 02, 2016 9:52 AM - First I thought I had it, then I wasn't sure, then I was positivie I did have it. I'm speaking of my DX QSO for today. Last evening I heard WP3DX calling CQ on 40. He was quite strong. Maybe a bit too strong for a KP4 station? Anyway I called and got him right away. He gave me my RST and his name, Norbert. He didn't give a QTH, so after I gave my info, I added QTH? He came back and said his QTH was PR, but then he said something about a remote station in Tampa, FL. There was some QSB and QRN at the time he was saying this. I guessed he was in PR, but the station was in FL which would make sense according to the strength and how solid he was copying me. OK, so no DX QSO then since the transmitter location determines the QTH, not the operator location. But wait, there's more. After hanging around the bands some more and having a rag chew with K1LKP and looking for a 'real' DX station without finding one, I brought my paper log to the computer to transcribe my QSO info to my Microsoft Access log. I decided to just check on WP3DX on QRZ.com to see if I could further clarify the situation.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that the transmitter for WP3DX was indeed in or near Ponce, PR. It was the operator, Norbert who was in Tampa, FL. So it was indeed a DX QSO after all and I have the day off today, at least until 0000Z. HI

There is some interesting info and some pictures of the WP3DX station on QRZ.com if you want more info about the situation. Also I'm there in the on-line log on the page.

Maybe one of the more interesting DX QSOs in my DX streak and beyond. -30-

Thursday, September 01, 2016 10:58 AM - I'm just sitting here at the computer after taking care of my first of the month financial stuff. I had a couple guestbook entries to take care of. Also a suggestion of a QRP rig to add to my page of QRP rigs which I took care of. Then I got to thinking that I haven't really done much about the 50th anniversary QSO with Ken WA8REI. To start on that, here are pictures of how Ken and I looked back in 1966. Me on the left and Ken on the right.

pix_diary_20160901_001 (28K)  pix_diary_20160901_002 (34K)

I'm trying to figure out exactly what the equipment is that I have there. My left hand is on my receiver which looks like my Knight Kit R-100 if memory serves. On top of the rx is my power/swr meter. Back of that is a speaker box. To the right of the rx is my old Lafayette VFO. On top of it looks like my W9TO keyer. To the right of the VFO is my homebrew 75W ARRL Handbook transmitter. On the mantle is my clock and to the right of it looks like my grid dip meter. Under the shelf in front of me is my TVI filter. I'm not sure what the chassis on top of the gray cabinet is. It looks similar to the chassis of my homebrew xmtr. Maybe from a previous version of the xmtr??? The gray cabinets themselves are file drawers in which I stored my QSL cards. They are sitting on top of an old (even then) bench. On top of the brown cabinet is an old VOM. My right hand is on my homebrew paddle made from two straight keys which the hand covers up in this picture. I'm wearing a now long gone pair of some kind of headphones.

Still there to this day 50 years later are the chair, desk, shelf, brown cabinet, and in the upper right corner on the mantle is the 'famous' lamp I've talked about often here in the diary. The bench is around somewhere up in my attic as are the VFO, xmtr, grid dip meter, TVI filter, power/SWR meter. Gone are the rx, speaker. I don't remember what happened to the QSL file drawers. Hmmm. Nor that extra chassis.

That was a very enjoyable trip back in time a half century as I studied the old photograph.

Maybe not today, but now I've got to get up some sort of certificate/QSL to send to Ken commemorating our QSO to go along with the one from our 40th anniversary QSO back in 2006. -30-

Wednesday, August 31, 2016 8:43 PM - As I was sitting at the rig tonight looking at the panadapter, I was wondering if I ever mentioned this great feature of it. On a crowded band when you feel like calling CQ, the panadapter makes it very easy to find an empty spot for your CQ. Kind of like a 180 degree reversal from examining an 'empty' band for a signal, I guess. The PX3 and the HDSDR before that have really made operating ham radio a whole lot easier. While I hate using spotting and never do use it except to check on a sloppily sent call sign a couple times a year and I would never use the 'Skimmer', I don't have any qualms about using a panadapter since it is only a time saving way to check a band for activity. It doesn't assist me in any other way than being a visual aid to help aurally tuning a band. Kind of like have many pairs of ears to listen to different parts of a band for another way of putting it.

It sure helped me tonight in getting my DX streak QSO quickly so I could move on to other things. I flipped the band switch to 17 meters after not finding any workable DX on 30 or 20. I immediately saw a big peak near 18071 and tuned there to find, guess who? Good guess. It was CO8LY whom I haven't heard or worked for a while now. I called but lost out to a NA5 station, but the next call got me the QSO for day 1,281 of the DX streak. That's my 51st QSO with CO8LY. In all those QSOs I don't think we've ever exchanged more than RSTs. He is just not a talker. I don't recall him sending much more than that to anyone he works. Nothing wrong with that.

Time now to get my temperature. It was a cool day today not even reaching 80, so that may have killed our chances of having the high temperature average for August 90 or higher. I'll find out later tonight when I put the August data in my weather Excel spreadsheet. My remote unit which I don't count as official shows an average high of 89.1 right now.

Oh, I uploaded my August QSOs to LoTW today, and in doing so, I crossed the 20,000 match mark. That's a percentage of around 20/87 or about 23 percent of my QSOs matched in the LoTW. -30-

Tuesday, August 30, 2016 1:02 PM - On Sunday at Skyview one of the DX hams I worked was Clive GM3POI. I worked Clive many times in the 1990s and early 2000s and thought at the time it had been over 10 years since we worked. In checking later, I see we did work one other time in the past 11 years - in 2012. Clive always used to have a very strong signal from his QTH in the Orkney Islands in Northern Scotland. Anyway after only one previous QSO in the past 11 years, I worked him again this morning on 17 meters for 2 QSOs within 48 hours.

Incidentally also on Sunday at Skyview, I finally heard a station from Andorra although I was unable to work him even with the big Skyview antenna farm. That's the only 'mainline' country in Europe that I've never worked nor even heard till Sunday. Of the 69 current DXCC entities in Europe, besides Andorra I also need 1A, OJ0, SV1/A. I've never heard SV1/A Mt. Athos. I have heard, but not worked 1A SMO Malta and OJ0 Market Reef. It would be nice to get those 4 entities to complete Europe so it could become my second completed continent after North America. Maybe someday lightning will strike. -30-

Monday, August 29, 2016 9:09 PM - For the 17th day this month our high temperature reached 90. Strangely though, most of those highs were either 90 or 91. Nothing near 100. I think the highest was 95 a couple days. The average high of my AcuRite remote unit is 89.4 so far. That may be close to a record for August. I'll know more in a couple days. Actually the next couple days are supposed to be a bit cooler so that average may drop a few tenths of a degree if so.

Another rough non-DX evening so far. I came close with DL1NKS on 30 meters, but he never got beyond K3W? Actually he seemed to not really try that hard and after a couple tries, he just seemingly QRT as I didn't hear him any more. Hope that's not the way the DX streak will end. I noticed today DX was good in late afternoon on 20 and 17 so perhaps at that time tomorrow I can get some DX. -30-

Sunday, August 28, 2016 8:23 PM - Instead of 're-inventing the wheel', most of my entry here will be what I am going to submit for publication in the NAQCC September newsletter. Then some added comments and info at the end.

"On Sunday August 28, it was off to the Skyview Swap and Shop. Mike arrived around 7:15 AM and we started for Skyview around 7:30 AM. The trip there was uneventful by which I mean we didn't get lost anywhere. As soon as we arrived we set up our stations only to find that unlike last year, we were interfering with each other. The other members of our group, WB3FAE, N3CU, K3RLL, and AB3RU arrived in turn and the interference got worse and more confusing. We tried one group of filters from Skyview and that didn't help matters any. Then our saviour Jody K3JZD arrived at the radio room and got us straightened out by hooking in another set of filters and all was well from then on. It was only then that we remembered those were the filters we used last year when we didn't have any trouble.

As with most of our similar activities, it started out pretty busy, and then we got fewer and fewer answers to our CQs. So eventually we wound up looking for and working DX. 17 and 15 were both open in good shape to Europe. Among the six of us we made around 30 QSOs. Some of the states worked were MS NY IL NC MD FL CO NM TX OH NJ KS WA. One VE province - ON. DX was 9A DL G GM UA1 I. One of the German stations and I engaged in a 12 minute rag chew - solid copy both ways. There is a difference in signals when using bigger and higher antennas. In use were a 2 element quad at 60', a multi-band beam near 60', and a 40 meter dipole at probably the same height. We all used our own rigs or switched among them - 2 KX3s, a KX2, and an FT817.

It was a lot of fun after we got the inteference problem taken care of. It was a bit hectic with all the visitors who showed up in the radio room along the way, but very enjoyable chatting with them about CW, QRP, etc. Our session wound down around 2 PM and after chatting with Bob WC3O, Jody K3JZD, and other Skyview members for a whille, we packed up and headed home."

Here's a picture of our group:
pix_diary_20160828_001 (40K)

L-R that's me, Mike KC2EGL, Ken N3CU, Jon AB3RU, an unID Skyview member, and Tom WB3FAE. Don K3RLL left before the picture was taken. Thanks to Bob WC3O for being the photographer.

When we got home, Mike and I spent some 5 more hours together. We analyzed our results today for the above report. Mike ordered an insert for the case in which he carries his KX3, PX3, etc. for portable ops. We watched some Three Stooges videos and listened to a Bickersons episode. Then up to the shack for over a couple hours chasing DX. Mike worked perhaps some 5 or 6 DX stations. Since I already had my DX for the day, I passed on working any until 0000Z came along. I did work K9AJ/VY0 since I wasn't sure if I had VY0 on 20 meters or not. Just checking now, I see I did have it. Then Mike yielded the operating chair and I quickly worked TI5/N3KS on 30 at 0003Z to secure day # 1,278 in the DX streak. Mike worked him a couple minutes later, then it was time for him to head north, as we say. Tomorrow starts another work week for him.

A couple more thoughts on the event. I got a chance to see a KX2 rig (Jon's) in person for the first time. The little brother of the KX3 looks very nice and works very nicely. It's no KX3 by any means, not having several of the KX3 features, but nice nonetheless. I was showing off my Popsicle stick key to several members who visited us in the radio room. They all got a kick out of it, especially Bob WC3O who had to take a picture of it before we left. -30-

Saturday, August 27, 2016 8:22 PM - A strange DX QSO this evening. Being I will be at Skyview tomorrow where I could probably work a DX QSO for sure, I wasn't happy with that thought and wanted to be sure to get someone tonight to cover the streak. I thought perhaps someone in the YO DX contest, but 20 had no activity after 0000Z despite a lot earlier in the day. Only a couple of very weak DX contest stations on 40 meters. So it was off to 30 meters after working SE station K5H on 20 meters for the main streak. Oh, I found CY9C strong on both 20 and 30, but just worked them on those bands the last two evenings. Anyway on 30 I found S57V calling CQ. I tried to make a QSO with him, but despite him saying QSL to my call and report I don't think he had my call right then even after several repeats. I wasn't copying him all that well either. So I looked around 40, 30, and 20 some more with no luck. Winding up back on 30, I again heard S57V a little stronger now. It took but a single call this time to get a K3WWP 599. Earlier I got only a 339. What a difference 10 minutes can make. So the DX streak is OK now and I can just have fun at Skyview tomorrow. As a bonus, the 'S' in S57V finished up the NAQCC August challenge as well.

Looks like we are going to have 6 NAQCC WPA Chapter members at Skyview tomorrow - me, KC2EGL, WB3FAE, K3RLL, AB3RU, N3CU. It would be nice to have 6 bands open but not likely. We'll probably have to share 4 bands - 40 through 17. However it turns out it will be fun for sure playing our QRP on their big antenna farm. The first four listed above have done it before, but I think it will be the first time for AB3RU and N3CU. -30-

Friday, August 26, 2016 9:01 PM - Another quick CY9C QSO was my DX this evening. This time on 20 meters at 0006Z, just about 3 minutes after I got to the shack and turned on the rig.

I was looking back in my diary to August 2006 today to get some info about the 40th anniversary QSO with WA8REI. Wow, hard to believe the diary is over 10 years old now with a new entry every day with only at most a couple of days missed. Anyway here's what I found there:

"WA8REI and I had our 40th anniversary QSO just a little while ago. We couldn't get it done on 40M, but 80M worked out just fine despite high noise levels at both ends. We gabbed for about an hour about the old days, between then and now, and the current times.

It was really wonderful and a bit mind boggling to think about that 1966 QSO so long ago. Neither of us had even the slightest inkling then that we would be having another QSO in the next century.

It was interesting talking about the rigs we used back then. I used a homebrew 75 watt (input) xmtr. QRP was considered 100 or less watts input then, so technically I was QRP even then. Ken used a T-150A transmitter at 130 watts.

For receivers, it was a Knight-Kit R100 for me and an HR-10 for Ken. He used a vertical antenna, and I used a dipole.

Our QSO then was on 7.020 at 1631Z. I gave Ken a 589 report and got a 579 from him. By contrast we both were 599 tonight on 80M although the noise level was 10-20 over S9 at both our locations."

I guess both of us are getting old. HI. And now as of yesterday we made it to 50 years from first to latest QSO. Wonder if we'll make it to 60. I don't even want to say how old I'll be then. Seriously I am gradually starting to feel older and older with all the associated things that come with age.

Anyway here are pictures of the QSLs we exchanged back in 1966:
pix_diary_20160826_001 (56K)

We are going to exchange some special QSLs for this latest QSO as time permits over the next few days. Also Ken is thinking about writing a short article for QST and/or CQ about the QSO. All of that will unfold as time goes by. -30-

Thursday, August 25, 2016 9:07 PM - Several interesting QSOs today. I'll save the best till last. I was calling CQ on 30 late this afternoon and got answered by HK1MW. Not the first time he answered my CQ. He did it a few years ago as well. It's always nice to get a DX station to answer my CQ. Then it was nice to work a personal friend Jon AB3RU. We've gone to hamfests together, operated from the Requin together, but tonight may have been our first on-air rag chew type QSO although we've worked in our NAQCC sprints several times. Let me be sure about that. Yes, our first rag chew QSO as skip was short on 40 tonight. Jon lives near Pittsburgh as did Curt W3QE, my QSO right before Jon's.

Last night when Mike was here, we both worked ZW8I on 40 meters. Then he worked CY9C on 30 while I was out walking Roscoe. I didn't try CY9C since I already had my DX streak QSO and have a few CY9 QSOs on 4 different bands already worked back in the 1990s. However tonight I did need a DX QSO so I worked CY9C after just a couple minutes of trying on 30 meters.

Although those were all interesting QSOs as actually are all my QSOs in one way or another, the best came today at 1631Z. That time is significant. Back on August 25, 1966 WA8REI and I had our first QSO at 1631Z. We wanted to duplicate that as close as possible 50 years later and we came close. The only difference (besides us being 50 years older) was the frequency. Back then 7020 was available to all hams with a General or higher license. That was where we worked in 1966 before incentive licensing came along in 1968 and took 7000-7025 away from General Class hams. Well, Ken never bothered to upgrade and is still a General so we had to settle on 7030 now instead of 7020. However that didn't diminish the excitement and thrill of a 50th anniversary QSO one iota. We talked for over a half hour. A lot about how things have changed in a half century. I'll have more to say about the QSO including some pictures from then and now in an upcoming diary entry. -30-

Wednesday, August 24, 2016 5:32 PM - WINDOW. That's the key word as my DX streak will either continue or come to an end. Just about all the time from March 1, 2013 through the latter part of 2015, the WINDOW was wide open although perhaps the best view through the WINDOW shifted from 40 meters to 15 meters to 30 meters, and so on to the other bands. There was DX available to work just about any time of day. All you had to do was be there, look through the WINDOW and see some DX and work it easily.

However since the latter part of 2015, the WINDOW was not open quite as wide nor was it open as often. The openings gradually got smaller and less frequent from then on also. On many days of late, the WINDOW was open just a crack and only for very little time each day. If you were not at the WINDOW at the right time and place, there was no DX available to work. Of course it was easy to change the view out the window with the band switch. That was not the hard part. It was being there at the right time that was difficult. Some days it took many trips to that WINDOW before arriving at the opportune time. Those trips became more time consuming and started taking away from other activities. It became very discouraging.

Today the WINDOW was just about completely closed for a good part of day starting at 0000Z last evening. CY9C and his associated huge unbreakable (for me) pileup was the only thing being heard here. Well, there was some DX being heard working him, but of course no way for me to get at them. Checks every couple hours or so showed the same closed WINDOW, and I started thinking about ways to write about the end of the DX streak in the diary and in a report on the streak in the QRP section of the web site.

However the WINDOW opened just a crack in the 2000Z hour and some DX, albeit weak, was starting to be heard on 20 meters. The crack was not wide enough for my signals to get out though, and calls to a few stations from F5, TA, and a couple other countries who were S5 or less went totally ignored. Finally the WINDOW opened up just a bit wider around 2030Z and signals got a bit stronger, especially one of the Bulgarian saints stations, LZ1043PMU who was peaking at times to S7. My first call to him went unanswered as did the second one, but then I got a question mark from him. That increased to something like 3WP, and after sending K3WWP 4 or 5 more times, I got that K3WWP 599 599 (yeah, sure I was 599). I sent TU 599 599 and the QSO was in the log and the streak extended one more day.

I keep saying this, and some day I will mean it. It's just taking too much time away from other things now to keep the streak going looking for that little WINDOW opening, and I hope in the back of my mind it will come to an end. I think today was the roughest day yet, but still I made it. There is a lot of fascination in seeing just how deep into the soon to be here sunspot minimum the streak will continue. That may keep my interest strong enough to endure the extra time it takes now and the even more time it will take as the sunspots decline and the solar flux dips into the 60s. -30-

Tuesday, August 23, 2016 8:41 PM - Kind of an interesting day on the bands today. Not really expecting to find any DX, I got on the bands anyway in the 1600Z hour and lo and behold, I got a very easy DX QSO from DL2DX on 17 meters. Just took a single call and we even chatted a bit about the weather after exchanging reports. 17 meters may be the salvation for my DX streak. It seems to open up to Europe around that time of day. Or at least it has the few times I've checked in the past month or so. We'll see. That QSO also finished off all but four letters 'S' in the NAQCC August Challenge. Oh, it gave me the final 'L'.

The next QSO with K3SAV not only gave me two of the four letters 'S' but was quite interesting otherwise. Let me explain about the challenge letters first though. You can use a letter from a call twice, so had I needed them I could have gotten 2 each of K, S, A, and V from K3SAV. K3SAV is a call for the Nuclear Ship Savannah in Baltimore, MD. Since I operate a few times from the USS Requin submarine in Pittsburgh each year, I enjoyed working another ship station. Like NY3EC for the Requin whose maritime call was NYEC, K3SAV represents KSAV, the maritime call for the Savannah. There is a lot more interesting info about the Savannah in their QRZ listing, so you can check there if it interests you.

A little later then I worked AC9DN who told me he had been trying to find and work me for some time after reading the info on my web site a few years ago. Then to close out the day (so far), I worked Dave K2JVB with whom I had an interesting discussion comparing our antenna systems. His a pair of fan dipoles for 40 through 10 and mine of course the mostly indoor 160 through 6 set up described here on the web site.

Once again no DX this evening so maybe tomorrow on 17 in that 1600Z hour if not later on tonight. -30-

Monday, August 22, 2016 9:06 PM - A busy day today with laundry, grass cutting, closing out our August NAQCC Sprint, getting our Skeeter Hunt report ready to submit, and preparing a jumper cable for our trip to Skyview on Sunday. Plus all the other normal everyday things also.

No DX again tonight, so the usual story - try later or in the morning or afternoon. I mentioned to Mike yesterday I kind of wished the DX streak would end, but we both agreed that I probably won't end it voluntarily. It will just have to come to an end naturally. It does consume a lot of time some days, and that's rough on a beautiful day like today when the high is 80 with sunny skies and low humidity. That's when the outdoors beckons. -30-

Sunday, August 21, 2016 9:21 PM - I say this every time Mike and I (and Tom) get together - it was a really great day today. We activated the NAQCC club call of N3AQC in the Skeeter Hunt. It was also a NPOTA activation. Let me explain. The NJ QRP Club offered bonus points to any stations that activated a National Park in the Skeeter Hunt. So we (mostly Tom WB3FAE) did some research and found that the North Country Trail ran through Moraine State Park a little west of Butler PA. The Park is NOT a National Park, but the Trail is considered one. So to activate it Tom found out that we could set up in the park and as long as we were within 100 feet of the trail it would count as NPOTA TR04. He scouted the park and found a spot for us that would qualify.

Today Mike arrived around 9AM and after some chatter about various things, we headed off to Myrt's for breakfast. That was a bad start to the day. Myrt's was so busy there wasn't even a parking place left. Knowing we were on a schedule and don't like waiting anyway, we headed to another place - Kings in West Kittanning and had our breakfast there. Since neither Mike nor I knew exactly where the spot was that Tom picked out, we contacted him and he said to meet him at the Park office. Fine - we knew where that was. We met him and followed him to the spot. Of all our many parkpeditions, Mike thought, and I agreed, that this was just about our smoothest set up ever. There were absolutely no glitches.

When 1700Z arrived we got down to business. I asked Tom what band he wanted and he picked 20 leaving 40 for me. We already planned that Mike would do a non-Skeeter Hunt NPOTA activation on two of the WARC bands - 30 and 17.

Conditions were rough on all bands except for 40 meters. So I lucked out there in choice of (or actually assignment of, since I didn't choose) 40 meters. Although there were some gaps in activity of 10 minutes or more (longest being 17 minutes, I believe), there was pretty much a steady stream of answers to my CQ BZZ N3AQC calls. It was hard to believe I never moved off my chair for the full four hours. Not only that, harder to believe I held one frequency (7041.18) for the full four hours without any challenge at all. I wound up with 52 QSOs in (I believe) 25 SPCs. Unfortunately Tom and Mike did not have as much luck nor good conditions. Tom made 17 QSOs on 20 and Mike only 2 on 30 meters. I think because of that we are going to activate TR04 again in a strictly NPOTA event and publicize the heck out of it, as I put it.

Here's a picture Mike took from our backs showing Tom at left and me at right working our way through some QSOs. The North Country Trail is that gray ribbon in the upper left of the picture just some 50 or so feet in front of us.
pix_diary_20160821_001 (84K)

I'll have more pictures in the NAQCC WPA Chapter report in the NAQCC September newsletter.

After we shut down at 2100Z, Mike and I stopped at Ponderosa in Butler on our way back here. Mike hung around a bit to see if I could get my DX streak QSO, but I didn't so that will have to come later tonight or in the morning or afternoon. We did both work NPOTA station N0AC/M in National Park TR14. -30-

Saturday, August 20, 2016 9:16 PM - Looking forward to activating a National Park in the Skeeter Hunt tomorrow. If you're chasing NPOTA QSOs, look for us at N3AQC in TR04 between 1700 and 2100Z on 40 and 20 meters around the standard QRP frequencies. Also we'll have a non-contest NPOTA activation same time on 30 and maybe 17 meters if its open. I'm eager to see how my new power supply will hold out. I think 4 hours will be just a little slow stroll for it, so to speak.

I had a little problem (well, that's too strong a word, but...) with the supply this morning. I plugged it in to give it a topping off charge for tomorrow, and nothing happened. Took some thought, but I got it figured out and remedied. When I removed the compressor from the unit when I first got it, there were three wires going to it. I didn't know why then and didn't research it at the time. To make the story short, there was a switch in the compressor to keep it from running while the battery was being charged. If the compressor switch was in the on position, the charger was disconnected from the battery. A bit of rewiring took care of that problem, and the battery is now fully charged, although actually it hadn't discharged much at all from its initial charge when I bought it a few days ago.

Did you hear a sigh of relief around 0020Z? That's when I worked T42R for my DX streak QSO. I figured I wouldn't have much time during the day tomorrow to get any DX so I better get it tonight, and I did for day # 1,270 now.

Not much else going on today to speak of. It was a pretty nice day although the humidity did creep up a bit from what it had been for a couple days. I guess that's from the rain coming tonight. I just hope it will get rained out before our parkpedition tomorrow. Oh, if you don't know, TR04 is the North Country Trail which passes through Moraine State Park just west of Butler PA. -30-

Friday, August 19, 2016 8:57 PM - I was on the air about two more hours today and my battery did drop one tenth of a volt down to 12.2, but along the way it fluctuated between 12.3 and 12.2 so I guess that was about 12.25 volts. HI The KX3 meter only reads tenths of a volt. I also cleaned up the front of the battery case and I think I'll put my call sign and perhaps a NAQCC logo on the now empty space where the battery info was.

My cleaning up of the tin snips went very well today. I wish I'd have taken a before picture so I could show off the improvement. There was another rusty pair at the Ol' Station Marketplace. Maybe I can take a picture of that as the before. HI

Otherwise today it was my second half of the month bill paying session. I also did some updating on our computer club computer. It was my turn this month.

DX conditions were not so hot this evening. I tried 5E3A, XE3/NP4G, and I think one other with no sign of being heard. Finally after several tries, I did get T46FY on 30 meters though. So that's most of the days this month I have gotten the DX in the 0000Z hour.

Temperature getting time now. The remote unit shows another 91 degree day today after a cool start of 62. -30-

Thursday, August 18, 2016 9:18 PM - I had forgotten about the menu setting on the KX3 that shows total up time for a session. That would enable me to keep track of just how long I can expect the battery pack to last. Tonight I was on for 52 minutes which probably makes a total around 4 hours that I've been using the battery. The voltage is still the same. It just sits there at 12.3 volts key up and 11.8-12.0 key down. So as I've said, it looks like I have a winner.

It was a very nice day today. The first day in about a week we haven't had some rain. That should give the gardens a chance to dry out a bit before another watering is needed. All my vegetables are producing nicely, not too slow and not too fast, but just right to satisfy one person. I had a bowl of speckled butter beans today and they were delicious. Long time diary readers may remember those are from seeds that Ron K5DUZ sent me a few years ago. Each year I save seeds from the beans for the next year. I haven't heard from Ron in quite some time now. I hope if you happpen to read this, you'll check in and let me know how you're doing. Or if anyone else has any info on Ron, let me know.

I bought an old pair of tin snips from the Ol' Station Marketplace today. Not so much that I needed them, but they were kind of rusty and I had been reading how vinegar is good for cleaning off rust from things and wanted to give it a try. So I took the snips apart and have them soaking in vinegar now. Tomorrow I'll take them out and see what happens. If they turn out good, I'll have a smaller set now to go along with my big tin snips that are really too big for some work. -30-

Wednesday, August 17, 2016 11:30 PM - I'm late in writing this as you see from the time stamp. So I'll just say it was an easy DX QSO tonight from old faithful Jurek EA6UN on 20 meters.

Earlier in the day I bought a new battery for my power supply I've been talking about. It works great so far. It comes on at 12.5 volts, drops to 12.4 briefly, then settles at 12.3 for as long as I played with it today which must be between 2 and 2 1/2 hours. When I transmit it drops to 11.9, but always comes back to 12.3 as soon as the KX3 goes back to receive. Sometimes it even goes to 12.4. So I'm very happy with it so far. The real test will come Sunday in the Skeeter Hunt. -30-

Tuesday, August 16, 2016 6:53 PM - Another hot and humid day today. However I found I didn't mind it. Just like my younger days. I got a lot done including a couple walks downtown for some shopping and mailing one of our NAQCC prizes to the winner. I also trimmed back my daylilies and weeded my garden.

I spent a lot of time checking my battery supply, and then working on it. As it had done previously, it discharged much too rapidly when I checked it with the KX3/PX3. So I tore into it. First I removed the compressor. I had been planning on doing that anyway. That was easy. It was just a separate unit attached to the back of the supply with six screws. There were three wires connecting it to the main part of the unit. I just cut them and taped them up for now. I'll probably get rid of them altogether eventually. Next it was taking apart the two halves of the main unit. Fortunately that went well also as everything was connected only to the front half. I totally removed the jumper cables (the ones meant to jump a car battery) since I wouldn't be needing them. Then I removed the battery itself. It's a big 'un weighing in at a measured 13 pounds on my bathroom scale. Right now I'm charging it with another charger wondering if it could be something wrong with the charging mechanism in the unit and not the battery itself. Little hope of that though.

I'll give it another check when I go back to the shack at 0000Z to get my streak QSOs and see what happens. If it still doesn't work, then it's shopping for a replacement battery. Again fortunately most all of the ones I have found on the Internet are extremely close to the physical size of the one I have so that won't be a problem at all. I'll just have to find the best price. There is a Battery Warehouse here in town so I may just try them first although I suspect their prices will be much higher. We'll see. -30-

Monday, August 15, 2016 9:20 PM - I did some more testing of the battery power supply today. After charging it overnight, it worked pretty good for about an hour with only a voltage drop of a couple tenths of a volt initially to around 11.8 volts. Then it held around 11.7-11.8 volts for that hour, but then suddenly dropped about a half a volt an fluctuated around 11.2-11.3 volts. So back on the charger again until this evening. All the charge lights lit, but the voltage was only around 10.8 volts and dropped to around 10.4 volts. One final overnight charge tonight and tomorrow I'll decide its fate. I'll probably take it apart and get the physical size and other specs on the gel cell and look for a replacement.

It wasn't easy getting even a regular QSO this evening, but finally I did work NR3P on 40 and a little later my DX was KP4BME on 20. That's when I switched back to the battery and did get KB5RCF on 20 for about a 10 minute QSO. The KX3 power output held steady at 5 watts even with the lowering battery voltage. -30-

Sunday, August 14, 2016 7:23 PM - I hooked up my battery power supply (shown here) to my KX3 and PX3 today. As you can see, it has been used, but doesn't really look all that bad.
pix_diary_20160814_001 (95K)

It runs them both just fine, but the voltage drops too quickly. I'll try another full charge, and if that doesn't make any difference, I'll be shopping for a 12V 19Ah gel cell. I already did look for some on the Internet and they are in the $40 dollar neighborhood. So if I have to get one, that plus the 10 bucks I paid for the power supply will still be quite reasonable for something that should run the KX3/PX3 combo for several hours of portable operation.

I hope to get a quick DX QSO this evening, then get right to wrapping up the cross-checking of our NAQCC sprint logs after that. Should only take about 90 minutes or so depending on how many "head scratchers" I run into during the checking. I've already ironed out a couple of them. -30-

Saturday, August 13, 2016 7:35 PM - The heat and humidity (mostly humidity) are really unbearable today. Right now outside it is 86/72 temp/hum and inside 82/72. This old man is noticing it more and more each year. Used to be it couldn't get too hot/humid for me, but not any longer. I think if I make it through this summer, next year I'll think seriously about getting air conditioning.

I'm testing out my newly purchased battery power supply today. I've got the 12 volts going through a 250 ohm power resistor for .048 amps and .576 watts if my Ohm's Law memory is correct. After an initial drop from about 12.9V to 12.45V, it has been stable at that voltage for over 4 hours now. So maybe the internal battery which is a gel cell rated at 12V 19Ah might still be good. Although I'll have to raise the current and power to be sure as 48 milliamps is not much current. I did charge it for about 48 hours before testing today. That's the recommended charge period for a first time charge, and it seemed to take that long to get it fully charged now. Maybe after a couple days of testing at a higher drain to see if it can handle that, if it does, I'll hook it up to the KX3 and see how that works out. I'll have a picture of the unit here in a couple days after I trim my diary back to thirty days on the 15th. I had a lot of pictures from early July taking up a lot of bandwidth on my Windstream site. No problem on the k3wwp.com site with bandwidth, but Windstream still has a limit of 10 MB for free sites as part of my phone service with them.

It's getting close to 0000Z now. Hopefully I can get a quick WAE contact as I did last night in my hot shack. I don't want to have to stay in there too long. -30-

Friday, August 12, 2016 8:28 PM - These are really the dog days of summer. At least according to the weather and the astronomical event that gave them their name. So far this month including today, the average high temperature is 91.5 degrees on my remote AcuRite thermometer. And that's probably true for my mercury max/min thermometer in my shelter also. They generally are well within a degree of each other. They should be because the remote sensor for the AcuRite is in the same shelter. Only the last three days though have we had the warm overnight readings (74, 73, 73). The previous days of the month the low has averaged 65.0 degrees.

What's the astronomical event? Well according to some legends, the ancients believed these days were hotter because the sun and Sirius were pretty much in alignment or at least rose about the same time since the ecliptic is quite a ways north of Sirius. Anyway supposedly the heat from Sirius added to that of the sun. Of course that is not true. In fact it's not positive that the legend is even true. Sirius being in the constellation of Canis Major or the large dog, does have the nickname the dog star, hence the dog days "legend".

One thing that is not a legend is that the WAE contest is this weekend which means an easy DX QSO for my streak both Saturday and Sunday. This evening for Saturday it was TM6M in an easy QSO at 0002Z. He's the only one I worked as I don't feel like contesting this weekend. Also the WAE is not one of my favorite contests because of the QTC rule. -30-

Thursday, August 11, 2016 9:15 PM - We had our first meaningful rain of the month today, if you call .14 inches meaningful. I don't even know if that is enough to lift our drought watch for this area. However, other parts of Armstrong and adjacent counties did get over 2 inches of rain from the same storm. It's like we had our wagons circled in the midst of an Indian attack here as the rain at one point had us pretty much encircled, but we only got a brief burst here. It's been that way a lot lately. Let's hope it continues that way for s#$w this winter.

It's one straight week now I've gotten my DX in the 0000Z hour after working NP3CW on 30 at 0043Z.

I bought myself an automobile battery jumper today which I hope to use as a power supply for my portable operations. I bought it used at our Ol' Station Marketplace for $10, and I'm seeing if it will charge up now. If not, I might have to replace the internal gel cell as we did with Mike's supply a few months ago. -30-

Wednesday, August 10, 2016 8:54 PM - Since this was a computer club meeting night and I wouldn't be getting home till after 0000Z, I thought my DX streak QSO might be a little harder to get this evening. Wrong! It only took about 5 minutes to get EA6/DC2CW on 30 meters after failing to get a DL1 station before that.

We just received log # 101 from last night's NAQCC sprint so we hit the magic mark again. Our NAQCC members are the greatest. In the sprint conditions were unusual here, especially on 40 meters. I only made one QSO from an adjacent state - MD. Skip was rather long and hopping right over NY NJ OH MI WV DE PA. I worked 3 stations from IA, also very unusual. I had to struggle to reach 31 QSOs. 30 is kind of my watermark for my simple setup here. If I make that, I consider it a success. Occasionally I'll top out in the 50s when conditions are really great which isn't that often. I'm glad I don't enter for score, but to have fun - otherwise I'd be really upset some times. HI. -30-

Tuesday, August 09, 2016 8:11 PM - Our NAQCC sprint is coming up shortly so this will be quick. I've gone back and forth today about being in a contest mood. One time I think I'm just going to get so many QSOs then quit. Next time I feel gung ho about going the full two hours and seeing what I can come up with. The final decision will come when I see how conditions are.

For the fifth night in a row, my DX QSO came quickly if not all that easily. I found HP1RN sending QRL? prior to starting a session, and I was the first to work him although it did take several repeats for him to pull out my call correctly. So that's one less thing to think about. -30-

Monday, August 08, 2016 9:06 PM - Let's see... 1, 2, 3, 4. Yes, 4 evenings in a row now I've gotten my DX QSO in the 00Z hour. Maybe conditions aren't as bad as they seem. Tonight it was FY5KE on 30 meters. However I also couldn't get CO6RD on 20 nor HP1RN on 30. They are usually cinch QSOs so that's another factor to think about when analyzing conditions of late.

I did the prelim work for our NAQCC sprint coming up tomorrow evening, so I'm already for that now. I've pretty much got it down to a science as they saying goes. It only takes about a half hour now to get the new GenLog data file ready, get Paul's data file for his logging program, set up the cross-checking program, and compose an updated NAQCC member list for the Internet HamCall QSL lookup site. Just about anything can be optimized and made more efficient by putting a little thought into it. -30-

Sunday, August 07, 2016 9:07 PM - A very quiet day today. Not much to talk about. DX came pretty quickly this evening. I turned on the rig which was set to 30 meters from my DX QSO last evening. I saw one strong peak on the panadapter and figured it was some USA station, but checked it anyway and it turned out to be HK1MW. After losing out to maybe 10 or 12 other stronger stations, it was my turn and day # 1,257 of the DX streak is now secure.

I did do something interesting with my computer Access log today. I listed the first station worked from each country on each band. It was fascinating, but not surprising how the new countries followed the sunspot cycles once the easy ones were out of the way in the first couple years of my starting up again in 1993. Just for a short example, let's look at 20 meters. From 1993 to 1995 I worked 63 countries which we'll call startup ones. Then during the next couple years near a sunspot minimum (1996-1997), I added only 16 more new ones. When the sunspot cycle built up and peaked for the next few years (1998-2004), 74 new countries were added. For the next few years the cycle started to decline again plus I wasn't as active so from 2005-2010 it was 8 new ones. Of course another factor enters in now also. After 161 worked, it's down to the rarer harder to work ones, so even though the sunspot cycle was now up again, from 2011 through the present, only 19 more were added. The stats don't count W/VE stations, and therefore only include 180 of the actual 182 countries I have on 20 meters. -30-

Saturday, August 06, 2016 8:20 PM - I love calling CQ on the ham bands. You never know who is going to answer you. That's why I do it a lot. I'll talk about that more after this bit of business.

I checked with Paul N8XMS about reprinting this news item from the August NAQCC Newsletter, and he gave his permission. So here is what Paul wrote.

K3WWP COMPLETES AN AMAZING 22 YEARS! On August 4, 2016 John, K3WWP, #0002, cofounder and retired Vice-president of the NAQCC, marked 22 years for his QRP CW QSO streak. That's 22 years - 8036 days - of making at least one QRP CW contact every single day! When John started his streak in 1994 President Bill Clinton had been in office for about a year and a half, the World Trade Center was still standing, and most of us were not on the internet. (Netscape Navigator, one of the first popular browsers, wasn't released until the fall of that year.) Think about all that has happened in the world, and in your personal world, over the last 22 years. Now think about making at least one QRP CW QSO each and every day over all of that time - solar minimums and geomagnetic storms, personal business appointments, illness, and neighborhood power outages - letting nothing get in the way! I don't know of anyone else, QRP or even QRO, who claims to even come close to that accomplishment and we certainly extend a big CONGRATULATIONS to John for this. You can learn more about the streak and follow the next 22 years on John's website at http://k3wwp.com/.

Let's see, if I live that long, I'll be 93 when 22 more years have passed. I wouldn't count on the streak lasting that long for sure. Thanks again to Paul for the nice comments on the streak. I think he really put the time frame in context. I would guess that was about the time I had a good (for that era) Internet connection from Alltel. That replaced an earlier setup with a local bank which gave one hour free Internet per day at a speed where you might be able to download a few hundred kB picture in that time. That was later expanded to 2 hours, and shortly thereafter Alltel came along with unlimited service for a reasonable price. That's one memory that came to mind from reading Paul's words. There were a lot more that I won't go into here.

OK, now about calling CQ. I think that is one of the things that makes ham radio so fascinating and exciting. The excitement surfaced again this evening. But first things first. If you call CQ, that element of uncertainty as to if you're going to get answered or not, and if you do then you have no idea where your signals went to draw that response. If you answer other folks CQs, well that's good also, but the uncertainty is pretty much gone then. You know if you're calling another USA station, someone from Germany, maybe Australia, and the like.

I guess you know I'm leading up to something. Yes, tonight with the NAQP going on, I figured unless I listened to countless signals in the contest trying to find a DX station, it was unlikely I would get my DX QSO. So I thought instead I would go to a WARC band and try some CQs to at least keep the regular streak going. A quick check of 17 showed it to be dead, so that left 30 meters. There was some activity there, so I picked out a spot and called CQ. Well, within a few CQs, I noticed a signal a bit higher in frequency on the panadapter and tuned the RIT to it. It was a Mexican station about 459. I wasn't sure if he was calling me or just happened to be there, so I sent QRZ? DE K3WWP K. He was calling me. It was XE3ARV. That was still exciting to me after almost 90,000 QSOs. So my DX came easily for a change. With QRN on both ends and some QSB here also, it wasn't all that solid a QSO, but we did exchange enough info for a loggable QSO. Then as I was typing this, I got an email notification and checked it out. Turned out to be XE3ARV signing my guestbook and thanking me for the QSO. That added a bit more excitement.

OK, you know me and stats. That got me to wondering just how many DX stations have answered my CQ during the streak and also during all my QRP QSOs over the years. I'm going to find out now. It's a piece of cake with my Microsoft Access log with a bit of help from Microsoft Excel. Back in a few minutes......

OK, first step shows 165 such QSOs. Now to filter out those from the early days of my hamming when I did run more than 5 watts. OK, down to 152 now. During the streak there were 18 such QSOs. The 152 QSOs came from 50 countries. The 18 streak QSOs were from 10 countries. Very interesting and it shows that you can work DX by calling CQ with a minimal setup like mine. Of course I've talked about this a few times in the diary, but my most distant CQ answer came from VK6HQ in Perth Australia, close to halfway around the Earth. And he did it on two separate occasions. -30-

Friday, August 05, 2016 4:31 PM - I wonder:

1. Will there be enough activity by the really great ops around the world to keep my DX streak going?

2. Will I have enough patience to spend the much greater amount of time necessary to get a DX QSO as we slip toward the rapidly coming sunspot minimum?

3. Will there be enough DX contests to at least make the DX QSOs on Saturdays and Sundays somewhat easier?

4. Will the special event DX stations provide somewhat easier DX QSOs to keep the streak alive?

5. Will the vacation style DXpeditions to areas like the Caribbean provide easy DX QSOs from time to time?

6. Will folks learn to keep it short when working DX to give everyone more of a chance to work the DX station also?

7. Will continuing the streak require something I cannot provide like a better QTH and/or a better antenna system?

8. Does it really matter if the streak continues or have I already made the point I was trying to make, i.e. it is possible on a very vast number of days to work DX with such a minimal station setup as mine?

There are a lot of things to think about concerning the DX streak as conditions continue to decline. I recall in the last sunspot minimum some QRP (and QRO) friends with a better location than mine were working DX that I wasn't even hearing here. They were either closer to the Atlantic Ocean and hence closer to Europe and Africa than me, or they had a hilltop or even just a flat location compared to my valley location. On top of that, they were able to have high outdoor antennas compared to my mostly "in house" antennas.

I think it will be much more interesting to see just how long the streak can be maintained with the sunspot minimum coming. It actually had become pretty much a 'ho-hum' thing working DX when the solar flux was running well over 100. In fact it was still easy with a SF as low as the upper 80s. Now with it in the lower 70s and soon to be in the mid to upper 60s, it's going to take a lot more skill, luck, time, and patience to keep going.

Along the way though, if it does indeed keep going, my knowledge of propation, which bands to use when, and other such things should increase. That will be a good learning experience. That's what life is all about - learning. Once we stop learning, we might as well just jump right into the grave.

Anyway the streak did go on another day a little while ago. Same station as yesterday, different band. HC2AO - this time on 17 meters. Nice to have a really great op like Alex active on the bands.

To close, I'd like to thank NAQCC President Paul N8XMS for the nice write up he gave to the first 22 years of my main streak in the August NAQCC newsletter. I think I'll see if he'll let me post it here in the diary and/or on my QRP Streaks page. -30-

Thursday, August 04, 2016 9:56 PM - Year # 23 of the streak got off to a start tonight when John KC8JR answered my 40 meters QSO. He said he's only been a ham for about a year now. I'm glad that he is using CW.

Today I updated my streak story (QRP section - QRP Streaks page) to 22 years. I still want to add some streak highlights from the past year near the end of the page, but otherwise the rest of the page is pretty much up to date now.

It was again rough continuing my DX streak today. I needed three QSOs to satisfy me. First I worked XE1ZW who had my call as K3WWR and gave me a 449, but then he just disappeared so I still don't know if he logged me correctly or not. I did not log him. Then it was aggravation. I called F6ARL who sent K3 P?? However a K1--/M station jumped in right on top of me. They rag chewed for a while and I came back later and tried again. This time after several repeats, I think, but am not positive F6ARL had my call correct. Some strong tuner came on top of him just when he was sending my call and I'm not sure if he sent K3WWP or K3WP. I did log him, but still wanted something more positive as I always do when getting a DX streak QSO. There wasn't anything else around then, so I did a couple other things and came back to the shack a couple hours later. I found Alex HC2AO on 20. He was fairly strong. After I lost out to a few other stations, finally he came back with K3WWP John 559 559. I sent my report and now I had my sure streak QSO.

Tonight it was the same thing again as the last couple nights now. Just no DX to be found, at least stronger than my S4 noise level. So another stressful day tomorrow barring something later tonight. I'm not sure I want to keep up the effort to keep the streak going, but as I said before, I'll probably go down swinging. -30-

Wednesday, August 03, 2016 5:39 PM - A lot of time today was spent thinking of a good way to write this diary entry concerning the end of the DX streak. Conditions had to be the poorest overall in a few years. Even stations who are usually "easy works" like V44KAI and F5IN not only were only peaking S5 at best, but listening to them, I could tell they were having trouble working anyone. Even when they did work someone, a few repeats were involved. I think Mike F5IN even gave up as I didn't hear him on for very long. I also heard DK1NO who wasn't more than S4.

One of the ways I though of writing this was to list other streaks, mainly in sports. Then trying to imagine how those individuals or teams felt when their streaks ended. However I decided to open it, I would provide a short analysis of the 1,251 days of the streak - total QSOs, number of countries, and so on. Then say I'd have a more detailed analysis in the diary tomorrow.

However, I can't really decide on just what to say as an obituary for the streak. Maybe this will suffice to just desribe the ways I thought about writing it.

But, wouldn't you know it. I wasted all that time thinking about what to write because I went and ruined it by working David XE1XR at 2135Z, and it was easy. So I'll have to again postpone the streak obituary as I did once before a couple months or so ago. I'm sure now it will come soon though. Conditions are getting more and more deplorable day by day.

Enough of that. How about a picture of version four of the Popsicle key:
pix_diary_20160803_001 (76K)

As I said in a previous entry and you can see here, the base is the big difference. Also the relay contacts were thicker than in the earlier versions, so I had to space the contacts apart further this time - three sticks instead of two. If you look closely at the knob, you can see it was once a tuning knob of some kind cut down to roughly the shape of a regular telegraph key knob. I think of the four, I like this one the best. It seems to have just the right tension and spacing that works well for me. -30-

Tuesday, August 02, 2016 9:10 PM - Well, yet one more night/day when the DX streak looks to be in danger. I only heard three DX stations this evening. Two were very weak, and one of those two (V44KAO) said he was having heavy QRN and was having trouble copying anyone. EA8AF was at best S4 on 40 meters. S01WS was pretty good on both 40 and 30, but a LOT of people still need S0 on those bands as he had some good pileups on both bands. I probably could have worked him, but it might have taken a while had he even heard me, and I don't like to deprive others of a QSO if someone is struggling to copy me. I have him on both those bands anyway. So it will be maybe later tonight, in the morning or afternoon, or the streak will end at 1,251 days.

It was a pretty nice day today. One of those hot, but not too humid ones. Right now in fact, the humidity is only 48 percent and the low was 34% sometime this afternoon. So I did some outside work pulling some grass and weeds from my brick sidewalk. I also helped Ange water his garden and walked Roscoe three times (so far).

I made a version four of my Popsicle stick key over the past couple days. It's pretty much like the others except instead of using a stick platform for a base, I used a piece of MDF (or some kind of processed wood) I had in my wood junk box. That added a little weight and just a little height to the key. I also ran out of regular key type knobs and made one from an old tuning knob of sorts. As I've said many times I love working with wood and if I had the money, room, and time, it would be higher up on my list of hobbies. I was thinking maybe next of carving a key out of a block of wood somehow. Stay tuned to see if that ever materializes.

Back to streaks again. When I work someone tomorrow evening (August 4 UTC), that will complete 22 years of making a QRP/CW/simple wire antenna QSO each and every day. That's 8,036 days - or - 264 months. Whew! Let's see I was only 49 years old when the streak started August 5, 1994. Where does the time go? And why does it go faster when we get older. HI -30-

Monday, August 01, 2016 4:27 PM - Wow, this was a busy day so far. Let's see if I can even remember all I've done so far. I started off doing my first of the month financial work. No, before that I uploaded my July logs to LoTW and eQSL, then took Roscoe for his morning walk. Then the bill paying/banking. After some brunch, or actually around some brunch, I closed out the report on our NAQCC July sprint. Another Roscoe walk started the afternoon. Then I put my July weather records in my computer Excel spreadsheet. July was a warm month, but not record setting overall. It was around 4 degrees above normal, but also about 4 degrees below the record from 2011. There were a few daily records, mostly for high minimum temperature and daily mean temperature. I think that pretty much covers the day except for making up my paper worksheet for our August NAQCC alphabet challenge which deals with words relating to the Pony Express.

Now to honor my promise, info about the FOBB yesterday with Mike. He arrived here a little before 11 AM. He had his breakfast already, so I grabbed a little snack for mine. We set off for the Community Park around 11:30 which gave us well over an hour to get set up for the sprint.

Things started off badly while putting up our antennas. My golf ball launcher got tangled up in the tree I was going to use for the center support of my jumper inverted vee. With Mike's help, I retrieved the golf ball, but did lose some of the string. After repairing the launcher, I managed to toss the golf ball successfully over a branch - not the one I was trying for, but one a little lower. I had enough of that so I just went with the lower branch and got the antenna up successfully. I guess it was up 12-15 feet or so. While I was doing that, I think Mike was having trouble with his antenna mast as well. I'm not sure just what, but it took him longer than usual to get it set up. Anyway here are the antennas. As always ones in trees don't show up that well, but....
pix_diary_20160801_001 (50K)  pix_diary_20160801_002 (22K)

The next order of business was setting up our stations. Mike is using his KX3/PX3 and Begali paddle. I'm using my KX3 and Bencher paddle. He had his monster battery pack, and I my 7Ah Gel Cell. We both logged on paper this time. My Gel Cell lost very little of its charge during the 4 hours, going only from about 12.5 to 12.3 volts. I think it helped keeping the back light off of the screen.
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It was a beautiful day as shown here. There were scattered thunderstorms predicted, but they never materialized. Except for some weak crashes near the end of the four hours, we didn't even hear any storm static. It was warm in the sun, but nice and cool with some nice breezes in our sheltered pavillion.
pix_diary_20160801_005 (57K)

Conditions were very up and down throughout the day. I can speak first hand about 20 meters which was my band, and according to what Mike was saying, 40 must have been pretty much the same. We got out of the blocks fast, but I stumbled after 3 QSOs, while Mike had made it up to 10 already. From then on, there would be brief surges of activity for 5 minutes or so providing about a QSO per minute followed by a drought of maybe as much as 20 minutes at times. In tuning the band during those droughts, I would notice only 2 or 3 signals at most, and they were weak. When conditions were up, stations answering my CQ would really rattle my eardrums. Other times, they were weak whispers. Here we are doing our best to add QSOs to our FOBB logs.
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We persisted for the whole 4 hours. Mike did have a salad, but continued working as he ate. I later took a bit of time off for my sub since my rate wasn't worthwhile eating and operating at the same time. When the curtain fell at 5 PM, we totalled things up and we both wound up with virtually the same results. Mike made 35 QSOs on 40, and I had 34 on 20. A total between us of 22 states plus ON worked. A great amount of enjoyment despite the far from optimum conditions. Looking back to 2015, I see I had only 15 QSOs then in the FOBB. I don't know about Mike. So I more than doubled my total. It was nice working Don K3RLL whom we both worked, somewhat surprisingly on 20 meters since Don is only about 20 miles from here. Ground wave? The goat man wG0AT answered my CQ. Good to work everybody of course, some familiar and some new to me.

When we got back home here, we put together our FOBB report and emailed it off to the ARS. Of our 69 QSOs, almost exactly half (35) were with other BBs. -30-

Sunday, July 31, 2016 8:55 PM - Busy day. Very enjoyable day. Lot's to talk about. Little time to do it right now. Tomorrow I'll have a long report about and pictures of our FOBB efforts today. We got 69 QSOs from 22 states and ON. Not bad considering the poor band conditions.

On the other hand, DX conditions tonight were good, at least on 30M and I snatched XR1T literally withing a few seconds of turning on the rig. Then a couple minutes later I worked CO8ZZ for an insurance QSO. So that's 1,250 days for the DX streak, and that starts the 42nd straight month of daily DX QSOs

OK, lot's to do yet tonight. Tune in tomorrow for 'the rest of the story' a la the late and great Paul Harvey. -30-

Saturday, July 30, 2016 8:31 PM - Thanks to the IOTA contest which I had actually forgotten about, my DX QSO(s) came easily (well, fairly easily) this evening. First it was G5XV who had my call as K3WRR, and never acknowledged the correction after I repeated my call three times before sending the exchange. So I don't know if he logged me correctly or not. I shouldn't have sent my exchange until he got the call right. That's the way it should be done in that kind of case, but.... well, I didn't this time. So after that I got an insurance QSO from EI2KM who definitely got my call right.

August 1 will be day # 1,250 in the DX streak. I've been toying with ending it on that day, but I probably won't. In fact I'll probably never end it voluntarily. I will go down swinging whenever that day comes.

The weather doesn't look all that great for the FOBB sprint tomorrow, but I guess Mike and I will give it a go if it's not all that bad. Tom had told Mike earlier in the month that he wouldn't be able to make it. I didn't get the message. So it will be just Mike and I chasing the bumblebees. Even if we do get stormed out, we'll have a good time doing something. Maybe just do the sprint from my shack. HI -30-

Friday, July 29, 2016 8:41 PM - I guess it's kind of an oxymoron of sorts this evening that describes the bands - poor conditions easy QSO. OK, that's stretching things to try to come up with a clever opening to this entry. However it is true anyway. Conditions were very poor this evening with no strong signals either DX or domestic to be found on any bands. I called 30 minutes of CQs with not a single response on either 40 or 30 which is quite unusual. Before that however I made a quick DX QSO with 5E3A in Morocco. Most all of CQ zone 33 is good territory for me, so even though 5E3A was not all that strong, he was persistent in getting my call right and did what I admire in DX stations. He said K3 only, and then when other stations without a K3 in their call jumped in, he admonished them to listen and he kept it up till he got me. Not only me did he do that for, but a K2 who called after our QSO was finished. Those kind of DX operators are a real credit to ham radio and should be an example for all ham radio operators to try to control communications on the ham bands.

Last night late (0240Z) I managed to work PV8ADI for DX day 1247 so I didn't have to bother during the day today trying to get some DX. Now I have tomorrow free also. Hopefully I'll get a quick DX QSO tomorrow evening also because I'll be busy Sunday with the FOBB sprint up in the Community Park with Mike and Tom.

I'm trying to think if anything else noteworthy happened today. It was actually just a quiet day except that Bruce treated me to breakfast as sort of a treat for all the help I am with Roscoe. I really don't expect anything since I absolutely love taking care of him, but I don't like to turn anything down if someone really wants to treat me. He also gave me some fresh corn and a cantaloupe. The corn was very good and I think I'll have some cantaloupe a little later this evening.

OK, time to get the weather readings now. Looks like a LO-HI of 67-89 on my remote unit here next to the computer. The outside thermometer should be very close since it and the remote sensor are in the same shelter. -30-

Thursday, July 28, 2016 9:14 PM - Each new day now, on average, seems to bring poorer propagation than the day before, at least for working DX. Oh, there are exceptions like last night when DX was good on 30 meters, but overall as the sun settles in for its periodic rest it takes every 11 years on average, the propagation also settles in along with the sun.

As I've said a few times before, I'm sure it's just a matter of time now till my DX streak comes to an end. Perhaps that will happen today. I had no luck this evening with an EA on 20 nor a CM on 40. I wasn't heard at all. There was also a PY station on 20, but only around S3 so I called just once to see if anything freaky would happen. It didn't.

Actually I wouldn't really mind the streak ending as it is getting to the point where I am putting in way too much time on the bands trying to extend it. I think with 1,246 consecutive days of working DX with my minimal QRP setup here, I've made the point I wanted to make which is you CAN work DX just about any time you want to even with a dinky little setup like mine.

It will be nice to go back to just having to get any kind of QSO to keep the big streak rolling on without having to worry about getting a DX station. So we'll see what happens.

As I write that, I'm thinking that in just a week, the big streak will hit the 22 year mark. Yes, August 4 will complete 22 years of making a QRP/CW/simple wire antenna QSO each and every day. That's 8,036 straight days. Whew!

I forgot to mention that when Mike was here last night, I gave him one of my Popsicle stick keys - the version two unit. I hope he'll enjoy using it now and then. I'm using my version three unit every day now and it is kind of strange seeing maybe $1,000 dollars worth of keys sitting on my desk and here I am using one that cost virtually nothing and does the job just as well. -30-

Wednesday, July 27, 2016 11:14 PM - This was a very good day overall. Earlier in the day I thought my DX streak was going to come to an end. I also was a bit worried about Roscoe. Roscoe had a couple of spots on his body, one of which was bleeding a little bit. After a trip to the vet though, it turned out to be nothing to worry about. The vet said it looked like a couple of minor cuts perhaps from the groomer a week or so ago became a little infected. She gave (well, sold) us some spray and prescribed some Benadryl which should take care of everything.

As for the DX, I finally found one of the great DX ops in Mike F5IN whom I've worked many times over the years. He was only about S6 here on 20 meters, but after he worked some other folks, I got in my turn and the streak went on. I think when I have some time, I'm going to list ways that such a streak can be maintained. One of them is to get to know the really good DX ops so that when you hear them you know it's a good bet they can hear and work you if you stick with them.

Tonight it was easier. Mike was here and after we had our pizza, we went to the shack and we both snagged NPOTA station N0AC/M which assured my regular streak. Then it was DL1NKS on 30 meters for a fairly easy QSO after a few tries. Mike also worked him. A little after the fact I realized there was an S in the call so that completed my July NAQCC Alphabet Challenge. Oh, and earlier in the day WD4E on 30 meters was my 30th 30 meters QSO in July for the NAQCC 30-30 Award.

And the good things just kept coming. Mike and I took out my telescope and looked at Mars and Saturn. That was the first time I've had the scope out in probably over a year now. Then to close out Mike's short visit, we watched a couple Little Rascals films.

The days don't often get much better than this one. -30-

Tuesday, July 26, 2016 9:57 PM - It wasn't easy, but another day has been added to the DX streak. I really got worried this morning when XE1RK didn't hear me at all on 20 meters and he was 58/99 here. He was about the only DX I heard and that was the second check of the day. The first showed nothing. Then I came across EA5KM a little further up the band. He was about 55/69 with QSB. I tried him maybe three or four times, but always lost out to someone else. That's OK, as long as he was answering someone, I figured I may be able to wait out the competition and work him. Now if he wasn't answering anyone, me included, that would be cause for worry. However the next time I called him, he came right back with K3WWP 599 (sigh of relief) and I had my DX QSO for another day. Still I think it is just a matter of time when that day will come that ends the DX streak.

Same story this evening. No DX although I did get two more 30 meters QSOs to make it 29 for the month, just one away from another NAQCC 30-30 Award. If I can't get one more QSO in 5 days, I don't really deserve it.

I'm also still looking for the final S to complete the NAQCC July challenge. Another case of if I can't get one S in........ Well, you know the rest. -30-

Monday, July 25, 2016 9:26 PM - Once again it doesn't look all that good for the DX streak. Really only heard two DX stations this evening. One didn't hear me at all, and the other one never got past WW? - that was a DL1 station. I have a few things to do tomorrow so I don't know how much time I'll have to look for DX if I don't find and work someone later tonight, which is possible as 30 is sometimes good for DX around midnight.

Not quite as warm today if you can call 94 that, but it was more humid than the past few days so it was more 'sticky' to say the least. Still decent inside this brick house though if I'm careful to let in the cool at night and keep the warm out during the day.

You know how I love stats, lists, etc. Well yesterday I thought I'd see if I have worked a 'wrong number WAS'. That's working someone from PA with other than a 3 call, for example. Or a NY station with other than a 2 call. I wasn't sure what to do with Alaska and Hawaii so I took someone other than a KL7 or KH6, i.e. an AL9 and a KH7. Turns out I do have such a WAS. A couple states I had to look a bit to find someone but it was easy with my Microsoft Access log. Just filter to the desired state, sort by date and glance back through those I worked to find a wrong number call. Probably could have written a SQL query to make it even quicker but may have taken longer to write the query than to actually do it manually. Better for the brain that way also. HI.

OK, time to go walk Roscoe now. -30-

Sunday, July 24, 2016 9:22 PM - It was quick this evening. XE1XR at 0001Z on 20 meters. Then a few CQs on 30 netted a fox, well W7FOX anyway. That was QSO #27 on 30 meters this month, just 3 shy now of qualifying for the NAQCC 30-30 Award for making 30 QSOs on 30M in a month.

I'm in the midst of cross checking logs for our NAQCC sprint and my brain is a bit fuzzy right now. Or maybe it is the heat. This was our warmest (hottest) day of 2016 so far with a high of 97. That was quickly cooled down to 72 by a thunderstorm late this afternoon. However the humidity went from 20% early today to 89% right now so even though it's cooler, it's very sticky.

OK, back to work on cross-checking now. I just have to correct the scores now and I'll be done for another month. -30-

Saturday, July 23, 2016 9:07 PM - And the DX streak goes on. Keeping the streak going is teaching me a lot about propagation. Much more than the regular streak has. You can get a QSO just about any time, any day without much trouble unless there is some severe geomagnetic storminess going on. However, DX is another story, especially for a minimal QRP operator such as me. If you live on a hill with a high big beam and run a KW, I'm sure that DX is there for the taking 24/7. I must really search the bands, try different bands, try different times of day to find DX that is workable. As sunspots decline, that becomes even more the normal MO. At sunspot maximum, I could work DX just about when and where I wanted. Yes, it was very easy maintaining the streak on 95 percent of the days during the peak sunspot years. Now I'm finding even though I can hear fairly strong DX stations quite often, a lot of the times they do not hear me. That was true this evening with S52ZW who normally hears me easily. Although he was peaking S7, I got nothing in return every time I tried calling him. That was on 20 meters. That's just one example of many failed attempts of late. They are becoming more numerous as we dip further toward the upcoming sunspot minimum.

I opened this entry saying the streak goes on, and it is. Both last night and tonight it was rough, but it got done. Last night I decided to try one more time around 0330Z to see what the bands had to offer. I found R1DX on 30 meters and called him, but three or four times I lost out to another caller. However the next call after those, I got a plain solid with no repeats needed comeback of K3WWP 559 OP VICTOR. I gave him a 579 and he copied my name solidly. Just a matter of being there at the right time on the right band and persisting. I seldom work Russia on 30, but I did last night for only the fourth time, twice now this year.

Tonight along with S52ZW, there were a few others I tried with no luck including F2QJ who used to hear me easily, but no longer with the current overall conditions. Finally as I was about to call it quits, I checked 30 one more time at 0057Z and found a quite weak OA1F. South America is not really all that easy to work for me most of the time for whatever reason. However what did I have to lose? I called him and after several repeats so he could get the ending WP of my call, we exchanged fake 599 reports and day # 1242 of the DX streak is in the books. Honest reports would probably be 449 to him, and maybe 339 at best to me.

Otherwise, it was the warmest day of the year today with a high of 96. However when it was that temperature, the humidity was down around 30 percent, so it didn't feel all that bad.

It was nice to hear from Paul N0NBD today. He emailed a question about my KX3/PX3 mount that I pictured. Also today I finished my Popsicle key construction article for the NAQCC August newsletter and sent it off to Paul N8XMS for publication. -30-

Friday, July 22, 2016 8:39 PM - After about an inch of rain this morning, we wound up with another hot humid day. Didn't quite make 90, at least on my remote unit here which shows a high of 89. At least the rain was welcome. Maybe our brown grass will green up again now.

Last evening I painted my KX3/PX3 homebrew stand black to match the rigs. here's a look at it now. You can compare it to the pictures in its pre-painted stage which are posted here a few days ago.
pix_diary_20160722_001 (41K)

I think it looks nicer this way. Of course looks aren't important. It's performance that counts, and the combo of a KX3 and a PX3 are the class of the lot now for QRP/CW operation.

No DX yet this evening. I may have to resort to morning or afternoon to keep the streak going. I listened a bit today and there was some fairly strong DX late afternoon on 20 meters. I did work N2PH for the big streak though. -30-

Thursday, July 21, 2016 8:54 PM - You know, 30 meters always seems to be a band that offers surprises. I can recall a couple times after calling CQ, I was answered by someone whose call started with a V and I figured OK, some Canadian. Not so - turned out to be VK6HQ from Perth, Australia. Then several years ago, actually December 29, 2000 in late afternoon at 2139Z or 4:39PM EST I had a 30M CQ answered by TA3D. I don't work Turkey all that often with only 11 QSOs including that one. I guess you know I'm leading up to something from tonight.

After chewing the rag with KD5ZLB, and once again working Jurek EA6UN for my DX QSO, I decided to try some CQs on, you guessed it, 30 meters. After just a few, this S9+ signal comes on in response. He sends my call, then DAH DI - I quickly start writing a K, but then there are two more DAHs - a Y. Hmmmm. Of course all that happened in a split second. Anyway turned out to be YV5JDP who gave me a 579 and we had a nice chat for several minutes. Probably the strongest signal I've ever heard from a YV station. It helped that he was running a K3 at 500W to a 2 element yagi, but also propagation had to be very good on top of that. Surprising because the band was virtually dead when I called CQ. Once again proving that someone has to get things started, even if it is only a QRP signal like mine.

Time now to get my weather readings, then if I think of more to say here when I return, I will. HI

Just a couple things. I see today was our warmest day of the year so far with a high of 94. It wasn't all that humid though, so not too bad.

Our sprint last night went well, but for me things kind of died out in the second hour. I had 20 QSOs the first hour, but only 11 the second hour. Several of the usual high scorers seemed to be down this month so I guess it wasn't only me suffering from poor conditions. -30-

Wednesday, July 20, 2016 10:14 AM - SPECIAL entry. I hit the jackpot in the mailbox this morning. First this:
pix_diary_20160720_001 (151K)

Isn't that a beautiful certificate. If you didn't get one this year, put the 13 Colonies Event on your calendar for 2017 and go for it. I especially like the "God Bless America" on it. She certainly needs His blessings in this day and age. I think this one goes on the shack wall somewhere rather than into a picture album.

I also got two buro envelopes. Let me count and see how many cards are there, then I'll close this, post it, and get to sorting and cataloging them. Very interesting. There are 42 cards total and about 90 percent are from the W1AW Centennial stations from 2014. I'm guessing that the ARRL sent out cards for each Centennial QSO so there should be more cards awaiting at the buro since I worked all 50 states. I just noticed also in logging the mailing that I only have one more envelope left at the buro so I better get a new batch in the mail today. Lots to do today. Then there is our NAQCC sprint this evening. Looks like I won't run the risk of boredom today. -30-

Tuesday, July 19, 2016 8:45 PM - Early this morning I helped Ange water his garden. After that a little later, it was taking Roscoe to the groomer for a haircut and a bath. He seems to really feel cooler now which is good with more hot weather on the way the next couple weeks at least.

This evening it was a quick DX QSO with Andy HB9CVQ on 20 meters. Two nights in a row now my DX has come from EU. That sunspot group getting the SF up over 100 has livened up the bands somewhat. It's just a shame that more folks aren't aware of and taking advantage of the good conditions. -30-

Monday, July 18, 2016 7:50 PM - I did some work today on my KX3/PX3 mount. I've been wanting to change it so the PX3 slanted backwards a bit to make it more stable, and to eliminate some reflections on the screen. So I sawed off the PX3 portion of the mount and remounted it with the aid of a couple Popsicle sticks at the desired angle. Seems to work fine. Here's what it looks like now.
pix_diary_20160718_001 (54K)  pix_diary_20160718_002 (49K)

Now in a couple minutes I'm off to the shack to look for some DX. I did get FY5KE later last evening on 30 meters to keep the streak going. Then I'll be back here to finish out this entry maybe with a couple version three Popsicle key pictures.

The DX came easily from DJ9IE on 20 meters just 6 minutes past 0000Z. Then I had a couple of 2X QRP QSOs with WB1GYZ and N5WVR. So the streaks are secure for yet another day.

Here now are two pictures of the version three Popsicle key.
pix_diary_20160718_003 (203K)  pix_diary_20160718_004 (238K)

At left the finished key which shows off the new relay contacts. At right the new base with two Popsicle sticks, one at the knob end with a piece of sandpaper at each end and one at the rear with a piece of sandpaper in the center. That gives somewhat of a stable triangle base to the key. -30-

Sunday, July 17, 2016 9:08 PM - Yet another great day today. Mike arrived around 11:30AM or so, and we made sure we had everything we needed for our setup at the BCARA picnic. Then we headed out there to arrive around 12:30PM to get set up. Amazingly we didn't get even slightly lost on our way there. I believe that's a first for any of our trips anywhere. Setting up went pretty smoothly except for Mike's antenna pole being a bit stubborn at first. Here's a look at what we came up with:
pix_diary_20160717_002 (58K)

That's the not so stealth orange pole right in the middle of the picture with the antenna sloping down in an inverted vee shape to both sides. Right behind the pole is the table at which we set up the KX3/PX3, etc.

Here I am doing two things I love - ham radio and eating. That's a bun on the table awaiting a turkey frank that Tom (WB3FAE) is cooking at the grill in the next picture below.
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pix_diary_20160717_003 (18K)

Just when it was time to start eating, I ran into a streak of QSOs on 40 meters, and had to combine operating and eating. Thanks go to Tom for supplying my food needs at that time.

Considering it was a picnic atmosphere and with one of the club member's dog barking almost constantly, we did quite well through the local QRM. My half hour run on 40 meters garnered 7 QSOs with another added later on 20 meters, then one by Mike (DX - Haiti) on 17 meters.

Since it was basically a picnic with the associated eating involved, our demo didn't draw a lot of attention. However we did get a lot of good feedback and interaction from several of the members which made it all worthwhile. Hopefully we drummed up interest in CW and QRP which was the bottom line of the demo.

Otherwise today, it's another of those evenings when it was not possible to work any DX. I did have a shot at XE1XR early on, but I've worked him often so I went looking for someone else. Finding no one, I went back to look for XR, but he was gone then. Hopefully I don't wind up regretting not working him as soon as I heard him. We'll see. -30-

Saturday, July 16, 2016 7:34 PM - I'll write this entry before going to check the bands for my streak(s) QSO. Hope I'll find them in the same or better shape as last night. They sure didn't have much to offer during the day today. That's disappointing because it means our CW/QRP demo tomorrow at the BCARA picnic might not turn out so well either. We will be at the picnic operating probably from about 1645-1900Z or so. Although we'll be tuning all the bands looking for contacts, we'll try to do quite a bit of calling CQ on 7041 and 10117 or so. Hopefully some of you reading this will try to work us. We'll be using the NAQCC club call of N3AQC.

I finished up version three of the popsicle key today, and so far it seems to be the best of the bunch with the relay contacts and a couple other little modifications. More about that to come.

A nice day today - breezy, not too hot (86) and low humidity so I got some work done in the garden. While there, I picked a tomato and pepper for a salad tomorrow or Monday. I also noticed quite a few beans on both my climbing and bush bean plants. So things are coming along nicely.

Just posted a new poll. Hope you'll take time to vote via the link above.

OK, just about 0000Z now, so off to the shack to see what's up. -30-

Friday, July 15, 2016 9:06 PM - An interesting and unusual day today which made for an overall very enjoyable day. Let me explain. Interesting because of the visit with Don K3RLL. First let's delve into the unusual.

1. Seems like old times. At 0000Z I hit the shack and tuned to 20 meters. About the first peak I checked on the PX3 turned out to be RG0A about 459 or so. Harking back to the days not all that long ago when Asiatic Russia was pretty much a cinch to work on 20 in the evenings, I thought I'd take a shot at RG0A. Somewhat to my surprise he got the WWP, and after I sent K3 a couple times, we completed the QSO. A la Sherlock Holmes I tried to think of why Asiatic Russia would be back on 20 with the sunspots declining. I remembered looking at the sun on my propagation page yesterday or the day before and seeing a large spot rotating into view. And checking just now, I see it is actually a large group of at least 3 spots and has pushed the SF to 102, first time over 100 in a while now. Perhaps its emissions fired up the ionosphere. Looking back, the last AS worked outside of contests was JT1CO on 4/7/2016. Before that the same RG0A way back on 11/1/2015. So it has been somewhat of a drought, and I don't expect it to get any better as sunspots continue to decline. Tonight was just an unusual happening, of which there were others.

2. Since I was on 20, I decided to call CQ there. I noticed a peak on the PX3 almost 1 kHz below my frequency, and in reading the peak which I can do sometimes, it looked like he was sending K3WWP, so I turned the RIT down there and sure enough I was getting a very off frequency answer. Turned out to be a station on Long Island. He was 589 and gave me a 579. We had a solid QSO. Some more deduction caused me to think with skip that short on 20, I bet 17 is open.

3. Deduction correct. Not a lot of activity, but a couple strong signals. I worked one of the stations for a nice new prefix - HD085QRC. Continuing to analyze the short skip on 20, sporadic E came to mind so it was on to 6 meters.

4. There was activity there. Not too strong and I didn't try to work anyone. The stations I heard were from the EM and EN grids. Well, with short skip on 20 and 6 open, that means 10, 12, and 15 should be open too.

5. First I tried 10, and almost to my shock, I got an answer after calling CQ just 3 or 4 times. It was KQ4LA in Norfolk, VA. We had a solid 8 minute 569/569 QSO. So sporadic E was in effect with no doubt. Had more stations followed the path I did, there may be more upper band QSOs in my log. However CQs on 12 and 15 yielded nothing although I'm sure those bands were open.

Quite an interesting evening and I hope it demonstrates how to analyze band conditions when you run into something unusual on one band. Take that and figure what it means to the other bands as I did, and you'll have a lot of fun.

Fun? Yes, that's what Don and I had today. It was great to visit again. I don't get to visit with Don as often as I do with Mike or Tom, mainly because Don winters in Florida usually from October through May, leaving only 3-4 months up here which are taken up by a lot of other things as well as some ham radio.

Anyway Don arrived a little past Noon, and after we discussed the BCARA picnic on Sunday, which unfortunately he won't be able to attend because of church, we headed to Subway and both got tuna subs and a free cookie. Also during our 3 hours or so together we both learned things from each other especially about my smart TV and the PX3 panadapter. I also showed him some of the things I had gotten from the Ol' Station Marketplace like my Dremel clone and my Cold Heat soldering iron. All too soon the visit came to an end as he had to head home to New Bethlehem. Hopefully we can get together a few more times before he heads south again.

Before and after the visit, I also worked on version three of my popsicle key. I'm almost ready to finish it off tomorrow. I'm looking forward to see how the relay contacts compare with the thumbtack contacts. Hopefully I won't get the intermittent results I am getting with the thumbtacks. They work fine for the longest time, then start acting up. When that happens, running an emery board over them seems to 'renew' them for another long period of time. I don't really know what that is all about. -30-

Thursday, July 14, 2016 9:05 PM - Interesting DX this evening. After waiting around to work Jurek EA6UN for the zillionth time and doing so, I went to 30 meters and called CQ. After a few CQs a strong S8 signal answered me. Turned out to be KP3A in Puerto Rico. So I got two DX QSOs this evening. I had a nice 11 minute rag chew with Al KP3A. He was running 30 watts this evening but he said he does a lot of QRP work using a PFR3 rig and also has a lot of magnetic loop antennas. That's the first rag chew with a DX station I've had in a while now. He copied me solidly all the way and gave me a 589 report also.

It was HOT today with a high of 91. Not overly humid though, so it was bearable even though as I get older, it does get harder to bear the heat. Despite the heat, we got Roscoe to the vet this morning for a nail clipping and to pick up some heartworm medicine and some flea/tick preventative. Next Tuesday he goes for a hair cut which should help him to bear the heat better.

After that I did some shopping at the Ol' Station Marketplace and bought some string for my lawn trimmer. Then a bit of grocery shopping. After that it was pretty much sit in front of the fan to keep cool.

I'm not totally satisfied with my popsicle key(s). Especially the thumbtack contacts. They seem to work well for a long time, then act like they are getting dirty, but running a paper between the contacts doesn't show any dirt to speak of. Kind of a mystery. Then they'll work fine again for a long time. So maybe the paper is cleaning off some microscopic dirt although that shouldn't really affect the keying.

At any rate I am going to make a version three using some contacts I salvaged from an old relay and see how that works. I've got the sticks made up and I'll throw together a new frame in the next few days. The contacts are just super glued to the sticks with a wire soldered to them and passed through a hole in the stick. I'll add a knob to one of them.
pix_diary_20160714_001 (23K)

Tomorrow Don K3RLL will be paying a visit for lunch and who knows what else. It will be good to see him again. It's been since last fall that we've gotten together.

Then on Sunday it's the BCARA picnic at which we'll be doing a demo of the KX3/PX3 in addition to enjoying some good food. We are me, Mike, Tom, and Don.

Another thing that needs doing is posting a new poll. I might be a day or so late with that this time around because of all the 'goings on' the past and future few days. -30-

Wednesday, July 13, 2016 12:31 PM - Since our computer club meeting is this evening, to keep from being rushed doing things then, I'll take care of the diary entry now.

I said I'd have a picture of my two popsicle keys today, so...:
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Version two at left. Note the obvious differences. Two has the spacer between the contact sticks. One has solder lugs at the terminals, two has just a washer between wood and nut. One has the wires glued down. What you can't see is that two has somewhat better contacts from more carefully working on the thumbtack heads.

I just was on the bands and they seem pretty dead for real. Even my CQs on 40, 30, and 20 failed to rouse anyone. There were a couple rag chews going on, but that's about all.

I received an email from Glenn K3SWZ this morning listing the 13 Colonies results. I thought the stats were interesting so here they are:
By States:                                              AWARDS 
1.)K2L/SC-13811 (-1840)                 TOP STATE: K2L/SC-13,811
2.)K2J/NC-13645 (+1643)                 TOP QRP: W4QO/K2G/GA-379
3.)K2M/PA-12418 (+2737)                 TOP CLUB: N1FD/K2K/NH-9719
4.)K2G/GA-11375 (+2215)                 TOP CW: AA3B/K2M/PA-5934
5.)K2D/CT-11028 (+1340)                 TOP HF LOW PWR: N3ZV/K2B/VA-6990
6.)K2E/DE-10,889 (+2616)                TOP HF HIGH POWER: N4PN/K2G/GA-4837
7.)K2A/NY-10,677 (+3221)
8.)K2F/MD-9957 (+7)
9.)K2K/NH-9719 (-573)
10)K2H/MA-9499 (+1619)
11)K2I/NJ-9433 (+840)
12)K2B/VA-9146 (-368)
13)K2C/RI-8173 (+19)
****GRAND TOTAL-139,772. (+13,476)****(2015 was 126,296) 
GB13COL-3109 (-1035)
WM3PEN-6471 (+930)
The number in parentheses is the difference from 2015. Not surprising SC was at the top despite being down from last year's total. I seemed to hear them every time I turned on the rig, no matter what band. Surprising to see NJ so far down the list as I heard them very often also. -30-

Tuesday, July 12, 2016 9:14 PM - I finished version two of my popsicle key today. That's the one I built mainly to take pictures of the construction for the NAQCC August newsletter. I did make a couple changes or minor alterations for better terminology. I made sure that the thumbtack contacts were perfectly clean and smooth as version one gave me a bit of trouble with what sounded like dirty contacts. This time after about 3 hours of testing, I only noticed a couple of 'burps' and that was probably from my hand, not the actual contacts.

Also when I mounted the contact sticks, I noticed the contacts were almost touching, so I added a little spacer between the sticks to widen the spacing to that in version one.

While the actual construction pictures will be saved for the NAQCC newsletter, I'll have a picture of both the completed versions in tomorrow's diary entry for comparison.

Again tonight it was a quick DX contact from XE1XR on 20 meters at 0003Z. Then I made a couple rag chews to give the new key a workout.

It was a hot day today with a high of 93, but not too humid so it wasn't all that uncomfortable. Funny as we get older, the heat seems to be more bothersome, at least to me it's that way. Used to be it couldn't get hot enough to bother me at all, but I was younger then. -30-

Monday, July 11, 2016 7:48 PM - For some reason this afternoon, I got curious about how many QSOs I've made with my KX3 since the first one with Mike KC2EGL back on October 21, 2012. Of course it was easy to figure with my Microsoft Access log. I found it interesting that on May 28 this year in the CQWPX contest I passed the 10,000 QSO mark with my wonderful little rig. As of this evening before getting my streak QSO(s), the total stands at 10,301. Now that only includes my QSOs as K3WWP. It has also added many more as N3AQC and NY3EC in the park, on FD, and our subpeditions. Although on the subpeditions, we mostly used Mike's KX3. Without ferretting out those made with Mike's rig (yet), that adds 1,769 to the total for 12,070 QSOs. Perhaps 53 of those were with Mike's rig on the sub.

Anyway I worked some more on my second popsicle key today, and other than that not much else worth talking about. Just about time to head to the shack now hopefully for a quick DX QSO. -30-

Sunday, July 10, 2016 9:08 PM - I got a lot done today. It started off with me working on building a second popsicle key. I'm doing that so I can take blow by blow pictures for an article in the August NAQCC Newsletter. After I got to the point where I needed to wait for some glue to dry, I walked Roscoe and gave him his breakfast.

Somwhere along the line today I watered my garden, but before that since it was cool, I thought I'd trim the bush in my front yard. I thought I'd just do the one side that was encroaching onto my front steps. However wouldn't you know it, I wound up doing the whole thing. It didn't really take that long and it looks so much better now. I usually try to do it in May, but fell behind schedule this year and it was really looking shaggy. I should have taken before and after pictures to illustrate what I mean, but I didn't think of it.

Along about 1PM it was time to walk Roscoe again, and when I finished, Bruce asked if I wanted to go shopping with him. I really didn't need anything, but it was nice to do something different and I did wind up getting a few things like snacks, a new pair of headphones, a hot glue gun, some super glue, and so forth. We went to both Dollar General and Family Dollar. Bruce mainly stocked up on food for Roscoe. With all we got, Roscoe should be set until at least the beginning of fall. They certainly have a lot of varieties of dog food these days. Sometimes I think Roscoe eats better than I do. The shopping trip took a couple hours and we stopped at Dairy Queen on the way home for a large chocolate cone each.

The rest of the day was just some usual little things, eating, and a couple walks.

The bands as usual were not that good this evening, but I did work W3UEC in PA on 30 meters for my regular streak QSO. Once again it was a case of my calling CQ on an almost dead band and getting an answer. Why folks don't try CQs all that much, especially on that band, I don't know. It seems to be open to somewhere most of the time.

Then I got a repeat QSO from PJ2/K3NK on 40 meters for my DX QSO. Compared to a few nights ago, it was easy this time. I got answered right away, but had to repeat my call a couple times to make the QSO. -30-

Saturday, July 09, 2016 8:36 PM - I did quite a bit of writing for the past few entries, so I'll keep this one short. There wasn't much to write about anyway. It was a bit cooler so I did a little outside work cleaning out some weeds from under the bush in front of my house. I also did some shopping and walking.

I spent some time on the air today playing with the new popsicle key and chasing letters for the July NAQCC Challenge. Conditions weren't all that good and except for the IARU contest, there wasn't much activity. In fact 30 was almost empty. However my CQs on that band did net me some QSOs which reinforces the point that if no one takes the initiative and calls CQ, the bands definitely will be dead.

My DX came quickly in the IARU test this evening, working J77HQ on 20 meters. After that I finished my activity for the day with a short rag chew with WB5YUZ in Texas on 30. -30-

Friday, July 08, 2016 9:07 PM - Acting on my suggestion, the NAQCC club call of N3AQC now has a QSL manager to take care of all QSL requests. It's nice when I can just suggest something to our new president Paul N8XMS and let him take care of all the details instead of having to do it myself as I did for ten years. He has done a great job since taking over after my retirement.

Playing with my new popsicle key plus working on the July NAQCC Challenge has gotten me on the air quite a bit more so far this month. I see 20 QSOs in my log for the past 4 days now, or an average of 5 per day.

Even though I wasn't really worried about a DX QSO this evening because of the IARU contest this weekend, I lucked out and found J79IX on 30 meters very weak, but easily workable with just a single repeat of my call. So the streak goes on, and with the contest, Sunday should be easy also (knock on wood). -30-

Thursday, July 07, 2016 4:32 PM - Well, it took quite an effort last night, but I got my 13th colony from K2A in NY. I worked at getting him for about a half hour. At first he either wasn't hearing me at all or answering other stations. He wasn't all that strong here and I figured I probably was not at all strong at his end. Near the end of the half hour though, his signals came up a couple S units. I'm glad I persevered because not too long after he got stronger, I finally got a K3? Hoping it was me this time, I sent my call a couple more times and finally got that K3WWP 599 (yeah!) NY to finish off the 13. Then I made up my report including WM3PEN and sent it off in the mail today for their handsome certificate. I usually don't care that much for certificates except for a special one now and then. Just earning them is good enough for me without needing to have a piece of paper saying I did so. This one was special though, more so because I worked pretty hard to finally qualify. Or actually get all 13 as I think you can get the certificate for just participating and working a few of the 13 colonies.

On the other hand my DX came easily from TG9ADM. He's another op who seems to hear me even if his signals are pretty weak here. Last night he was maybe S5 to S6 at best, but all it took was a single call to get him in the log.

OK, I promised some info about my popsicle key, so here goes. First this picture:
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As you can see, it is made just about completely from popsicle sticks plus a bit of wire, a couple thumbtacks for contacts, two screw terminals for connecting to a rig, and a knob from my junk box that probably came from some old cheap straight key (or maybe a drawer pull?).

It started out with building a platform from 22 sticks glued together. All the sticks are simply glued together - no other fasteners. I'm not going to go into a blow by blow description of building it here. I might do that for next month's NAQCC newsletter if Paul is interested.

The thumbtacks were scraped clean of paint and after a tiny pilot hole was drilled in a stick, they were pushed through the stick with some super glue to hold them firmly in place. Wires were then soldered to the points of the tacks and the knob was added to the top stick. Then they were mounted in a stack of sticks as you can see here:
pix_diary_20160707_002 (50K)

The sticks are just springy enough when held at the ends like that to spring back nicely after making contact so no other kind of springs are necessary. Finally I sawed off the heads of two bolts, drilled two holes in the back stack and super glued the bolts in place for the terminals.

With the rather large base, the key is quite stable and if you have a light touch on a key as I do, it doesn't move around at all. I did put one of those non-slip thin rubber mats under it to make it even more stable. I've been having a lot of fun with it the past couple days now. -30-

Wednesday, July 06, 2016 10:14 AM - OK, here we go with the story of our visit to the trolley museum yesterday.

Mike (KC2EGL) arrived here a little past 9AM and we took off for the museum around 9:30AM. It was an uneventful trip during which we played the alphabet game for the first part. Then noticing a lot of out of state license plates as they passed us on the 4-lane highway, we decided to see how many different states we could see - sort of a WAS on wheels. HI We wound up with somewhere around 20 states plus Ontario. Amazingly for us, we only missed one turn at the very end which was quickly corrected. We arrived at the museum greeted by this entrance (below L). After browsing the gift shop and the small displays in the building, we watched a ten minute movie about trolley history. A longer version of the movie was available in the gift shop and I purchased it. After all of that it was just time for the tour to begin. It was pretty much a private tour as Mike and I were the only ones on that particular tour. That gave us a chance to really interact with the conductor and motorman as we rode on the approximately one mile tour. As you can see in the view out of the front window (R), we had a shower in progress for our ride. That didn't dampen any enthusiasm though.

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It was a spacious trolley as you see here. Note the period advertisements above the windows.
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We stopped in the middle of the tour to see all the trolleys in the main exhibit building. Our trolley we rode is shown here (L) waiting to take us back to the main museum building. The right hand picture gives an idea of the size of the trolley exhibits.
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At left below is an old horse-drawn trolley. At right a newer one, but still quite old.
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Here are two pictures of the trolleys I was very familiar with since I saw them in Pittsburgh all the time when I worked there. I must say I can't recall ever riding one though since they were on routes to places I never needed to go. My commuting was done via buses.
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I'm not sure what era this fares table is from, but it is from a trolley in the Philadelphia area as you can tell from the SEPTA label. Finally a picture of what eventually doomed the trolleys to extinction. It also dealt a severe blow to longer distance rail travel. Sad, as I always enjoyed travelling via train as well as watching them travel here through Kittanning only a few dozen yards from my house.
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All in all as I told the conductor and motorman it was an extremely enjoyable tour. As we arrived back at the main building, we found a group of about a dozen folks awaiting the next tour, so we were lucky to have had our own 'private' tour. After another look around the gift shop, and my purchase of a book about the museum, we headed home again, stopping at the Butler Ponderosa to raid their buffet. HI

At home, we finalized and submitted our NAQCC N3AQC Field Day report. Then went to my shack to examine the bands to see if we could find any DX (we didn't) or any 13 Colonies special event stations. Mike found and worked a couple. I didn't find VA or NY which were the only two I needed for a sweep. (I did find and work VA later that evening.) We closed out the very enjoyable day by watching 4 Our Gang films.

In addition to the VA 13C station I also worked J75KG later that evening to keep the DX streak going.

Sometime in the next couple entries I'll talk about and show pictures of my 'popsicle key'. -30-

Tuesday, July 05, 2016 9:22 PM - A really great day today, but with somewhat of a discouraging ending. First the bad news.

Where is K2A NY hiding out? I worked K2B this evening for colony #12, but I've still only heard K2A in NY briefly since the 13C event started. Hopefully sometime before the event ends tomorrow evening, I can find and work K2A.

Where is all the good DX? Nothing but a couple very weak DX stations heard this evening, so the streak is in jeopardy again. It is getting more and more discouraging. Maybe I was spoiled by how easy it was to work DX the past three years.

Mike and I had a great time at the trolley museum today seeing all the old historical trolleys and even riding one for what I guess was around a mile or so.

I picked up some interesting books, pamphlets, and a video there. We also took some great pictures. I'll distill all that info and present it along with the popsicle key info over the next few days here in the diary. -30-

Monday, July 04, 2016 9:14 PM - I hope you all had a great Fourth. I had a quiet one here, but a busy one. It started out with helping Ange water his garden, then some brunch. After that I cut my hair. I don't know if I've mentioned this before, but I haven't been in a barber shop since 1972. Since then I've cut my own hair. Imagine the money I've saved over the years.

I flew my flag today - the one I've talked about before that covered my dad's coffin 52 years ago. I didn't know if I would fly it or not since there was rain predicted, but although it did rain, it wasn't windy and the flag stayed dry under my porch awning.

Other little things helped pass the time like walking Roscoe, playing some computer games, and the like.

I did have one good ham related project today. Some time ago I started to build a straight key out of popsicle sticks. Then it just sat around as an unfinished project for quite a while. However I did plan it out in my head from time to time during that period, and today I continued the project almost to completion. Still a little tweaking to do, but I did make a QSO with it this evening and it worked nicely. Tomorrow will be a busy day, but hopefully I'll have some pictures of the key in the Wednesday diary entry.

It looks like Mike and I will have a good weather day tomorrow for our visit to the trolley museum. Hopefully I'll have some pictures of that in the diary also. I don't have to worry about my DX QSO since I worked OM5XX on 20 meters this evening. I also worked GA and MD in the 13 colonies event. That makes 10, leaving VA, ME, and DE to have all 13. Still two more days to go, so maybe I'll make it, but if not, no big deal.

Well, time now to walk Roscoe and visit with Bruce for a bit. -30-

Sunday, July 03, 2016 9:05 PM - A rather nice quiet day today with a fitting end right now in a beautiful sunset. Nothing out of the ordinary happened today. Looking forward to Tuesday when Mike and I will be visiting a trolley museum in SW PA. So hopefully the DX QSO will come easily tomorrow evening.

Kind of a strange DX QSO this evening. VP5/W5RF was quite strong, but wasn't hearing me, and I wasn't hearing the stations he was working. I thought maybe he was operating split so I listened up and still couldn't hear anyone he was working. So finally I gave up. However a little later I found him again and this time he did say UP so I called him split and got him fairly easily after sending my call a couple times. I really wish DX stations would say UP more often so we would know for sure they are operating split. Of course if you see (panadapter) or hear a pileup calling UP, then you know, but often conditions are such, like tonight, that it is not possible to hear any of the stations the DX is working and you can't tell if he is working split or not. Anyway, day 1,122 is taken care of for the DX streak.

I just took a couple sunset pictures. Let me see how they turned out, and if they are good, I'll share one here. Well, actually one from last night is nicer. Here it is to close the entry.
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Saturday, July 02, 2016 8:48 PM - I had my first garden salad today - one Siberian tomato and two peppers.
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The tomatoes are over a month late, but I think that's about the earliest I have had peppers. Sure tasted good anyway.

An interesting hodge podge of QSOs this evening. A rather unusual DX QSO in PP5NY on 40. I usually don't work Brazil all that well on 40. I guess with it being winter down there and the QRN probably low helped. Also with the lower sunspots now, 40 (and lower bands) is better now. It was a very easy QSO with only one repeat needed.

Then I added two more colonies in NH (he was QRP) and SC for a total of 8 now. It would be nice to get all 13 but I'm not really going to try all that hard. Also another Fourth related station in WM3PEN was worked.

Another good walking day with partly cloudy skies, a bit breezy, and a high (on my remote) of just 78 degrees. Now it's time to walk out back and get my 9PM weather readings. -30-

Friday, July 01, 2016 8:50 PM - As propagtion conditions decline with the approaching sunspot minimum, it gets harder and harder for my minimal QRP signals to be heard in DX countries. I really hate to make some ops go through so much to make the QSO, but I thank them sincerely when they do hang in there with me. Also I don't blame those who don't hang in.

Two cases in point. IZ4ZZB on 20 copied me (I believe) as K4?, but gave up after only a couple tries. At least the timing seemed to indicate it was me he was hearing although it could have really been a K4. Anyway he never hung in long enough to work me (or the K4).

Second case in point. YV5IUA on 30 started with K3? and progressed through K3WP, K2WAP, K3WMP before he got K3WWP. He never gave up until he was certain he copied me correctly. I must have sent my call at least 12-15 times or so. I thank him very much for that.

It was a beautiful day today with a lot of sun, breeze, and a high of 82 degrees. Good for about 8.5 miles of walking doing my first of month chores or just plain walking. I never did get on the air today since I got my DX QSO from 6Y7R late last night on 30 meters.

In addition to YV5IUA this evening, I also worked a few (5) of the 13 Colonies special event stations - K2C RI, K2D CT, K2M PA, K2H MA, K2I NJ. Strangely all on 20 meters as it was in short skip for whatever reason. All 5 stations were strong and I got three of them with but a single call - a couple through pileups. -30-

Thursday, June 30, 2016 9:24 PM - Yet another of those all too frequent evenings when the question is asked - Will today be the end of the DX streak. Even with the RAC contest in full swing, nary a workable DX station was found. Those that were strong enough to work were engaging in S&P so I couldn't even try them. About the closest I came to making contact was with HP1RIS who was not in the contest. However he couldn't copy beyond WP. So the morning and afternoon will determine the fate of the streak. I did work VE1DT to at least keep the big streak going.

I've got most of my end of month stuff done with only about an hour needed tomorrow morning to finish it off. So at least I'll have a lot of time to look for that elusive DX station.

I did my June LoTW upload today and found that along with the eQSL I got earlier, I now have a LoTW confirmation from D2BE (new prefix and band country). Band countries are getting few and far between now with over 1,100 already worked.

Well, got to run now to walk Roscoe. -30-

Wednesday, June 29, 2016 8:33 PM - The DX streak was handled quickly this evening. I heard a DX type exchange on 14031, and when they finished I threw in my call and got a WW?, then a WWP?, finally K3WWP 559. I gave out a generous 579 and the QSO was over. Now who did I work? After another QSO he identified himself as MD0CCE. So at 0002Z another month of daily DX QSOs went in the books. That's 1,218 days now.

Other than that not much exciting to talk about. I did get the WPA Chapter News about FD and our other June activities ready for the July NAQCC Newsletter. That and my own personal June news as well. Regular daily activities covered the rest of the day.

Oh, I already got an eQSL today for my D2EB QSO of 2 days ago. -30-

Tuesday, June 28, 2016 12:24 PM - OK, it's picture day in the diary. I distilled about 50 pictures down to 13 which will go in the July NAQCC Newsletter. Here in the diary, I'll stick to just my pictures. You can see Tom and Mike in the Newsletter when it comes out next week.

I'm not going to make any attempt to format the presentation in a fancy way. I'll just present the pictures with brief comments on each if necessary.

Here's Mike's tent in which we spent our 18 or so hours operating time.
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This is my setup with the KX3/PX3 on my homebrew stand, laptop with GenLog on it, Bencher paddle, phones, fan, light, and battery.
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My antenna (hard to see the inverted vee wires) by itself and then with me standing next to it to give an idea of its height. I'm 5' 9" tall.
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Finally me churning out QSOs. The picture was taken through the bug netting of the tent.
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It sure was a lot of fun. I hated to see it come to an end Sunday afternoon. Let's look at some of my stats. Again as with the pictures, these are my stats. Tom and Mike's will be in the Newsletter.

Everything here is from 40 meters only.

Total QSOs - 382
States worked - 39 (missed AK AZ HI ID MT NV OR SD UT WA WY)
ARRL Sections - 54
Provinces - 3 (NB ON QC)
Top 5 classes: 2A-75 3A-69 1D-45 1E-32 4A-30
Top 5 hours: 1800-50 2300-35 1900-34 2200-25 0100-24 Average per hour-21.2
Amount of enjoyment - too much to calculate. -30-

Monday, June 27, 2016 8:24 PM - I got a ton of FD pictures from Tom. It's going to take a while to pick and edit them, so I'll put that off here in the diary until I do the same for the NAQCC July newsletter. Probably do that tomorrow or Wednesday.

Not only did I rather quickly (0006Z) extend the DX streak this evening, but it was a new band-country to boot. I thank D2EB for sticking with me for a couple minutes to make the QSO on 10105. He wasn't all that strong here and I'm sure I was even weaker there in Angola.

Other than that, not a lot to write about today. Mostly getting caught up on things after being away for a good part of the weekend.

One thing of note. I remade my straight key/bug connector to the KX3. It had been giving me some trouble lately, so I just made a whole new one today from an old computer HD cable. I described the process in the diary and NAQCC newsletter a couple years ago. Let's see if I can find it in case anyone is interested. OK, it's in the Diary Archives for 2012 - the entry near the top for December 19. -30-

Sunday, June (25 &) 26, 2016 7:04 PM - Yes, for the first time in ages there was no diary entry for yesterday because of a day occupied almost fully with FD.

The three of us (me, Mike, and Tom) had a real ball over the weekend. First rough count shows 614 QSOs bettering our 562 of last year despite not having 10 meters (dead) and having very little on 15 meters (almost dead most of the time). 40 and 20 were the workhorse bands with 80 and 15 adding a small share to the final total. Another rough count shows we lacked NV, KL7, KH6 for a Worked All States.

As was the case last year, Tom and his wife were great hosts and caterers making sure we didn't lack comfort or food. In fact I gained a few pounds over the weekend that I'll have to work off now. So a great big thanks to Tom and Debbie again.

We took a lot of pictures and after they are selected and edited, I'll have some here in the diary and also in the July NAQCC newsletter.

Right now I'm going to cut this short as my brain is tired from some 17-18 hours at the key. -30-

Friday, June 24, 2016 8:58 PM - That big sigh of relief you may have heard at 0046Z this evening was from me after CO6DE answered my call on 40 meters. So that takes care of the first of two very rough days for the DX streak with my participation in FD over the weekend. Hopefully I can get my DX between 1900 and 2400Z Sunday after we wrap up FD.

Yet another busy day today with cutting my grass, working in my and Ange's gardens, getting in some good walking since I will be sitting a lot over the weekend at the FD site.

Time now to get my temperature readings. It was a mid-80s day today with a lot of sunshine. Looks to be the same for FD. Much better than the deluge we endured for 2015 FD. Only problem this year may be a bit of heat as it is supposed to be around 90 on Sunday. -30-

Thursday, June 23, 2016 8:45 PM - Another full busy day. I guess you could call it an in-between day. Mike was here for FD setup and a couple other projects. We had to work in-between some heavy rain showers and also in-between my taking care of Roscoe since Bruce was away most of the day also.

We managed to get everything done though without getting wet and without neglecting Roscoe. Shortly after Mike arrived and I walked Roscoe for the first time and gave him his breakfast, we headed west to Chicora to set up at Tom WB3FAE's big yard behind his house. Actually his mother-in-law's house, but that's another story not for here and now. We first set up Mike's big tent. That went smoothly with no glitches and took maybe 20-30 minutes. Next it was Mike's antenna. He recently bought a new mast for his inverted vee and this was the first time to use it. That setup went smoothly as well with some adjusting of the ends of the vee. So it was on to my antenna. Tom loaned me a mast for my inverted vee, and Mike and I set that up pretty smoothly as well. Just as we finished the rains came. Oh, Tom had to work today so he couldn't help us.

We were going to check out Moraine Park near Butler after our setup, but with the rain and the fact that neither Mike nor I knew much about the park whereas Tom does, we decided to wait till Sunday after FD when Tom could accompany us. We are going to try to activate the park, or actually a trail that runs through the park, as a NPOTA for the Skeeter Hunt in August.

Instead we came back home driving through a heavy rain just about all the way from Chicora to Kittanning. It did stop at Kittanning though. So I took Roscoe out for his second walk. Next we took off down to Best Buy in the Pittsburgh Mills so I could return an item. Mike had to get something at Lowe's which is right next to Best Buy. Again we ran into some heavy rain as we got near the Mills, but after a couple minutes wait in the car till it stopped, we got our business done and headed home. We arrived home just as Bruce and his brother were also arriving. We chatted with Bruce for a while, then basically just fooled around for an hour or two till Mike had to head home since he has to work tomorrow. We tried working some DX especially A45XR and EA6/EI6DX. Actually Mike tried since I didn't really need them. However we just weren't being heard at all by them or a couple other stations.

This evening my DX came fairly easily although it took about a half hour during which I had a rag chew with VE3LFN for my regular streak QSO. I found excellent op Gio IK2DAD on 30 meters, and after a handful of repeats for him to get my call correct, my DX QSO was in the books. Gio has either excellent ears or a great receiving location or probably both since even though he is rather weak (559 tonight), he copies me and most important of all, he sticks with me (or other stations) until he gets me in his log correctly.

So after two busy days in a row, I hope to take it easy tomorrow before FD on Saturday and Sunday. Oh, we didn't get any pictures of setup today because of the weather catching up to us. We hope to get some on Saturday when the weather is supposed to be beautiful (also on Sunday). -30-

Wednesday, June 22, 2016 8:07 PM - This was one of those busy days from getting up this morning till now and beyond. Most of the morning I helped Ange with his garden. Then walking Roscoe a few times. Giving my own garden a good watering. Cleaning up some things around the house, and so on. Now I'm waiting for Mike to arrive with a pizza. Then we'll fool around in the NAQCC mW sprint and make some final plans for setting up our FD station tomorrow. The weather looks a little better for that each time they update the forecast. I just hope they don't regress now. If it goes as planned, most of the rain should be over with in the morning leaving us plenty of time to get set up. After that we're going down to Best Buy for Mike to get something and me to get a refund for something.

I got my wish of a quick DX QSO this evening so I wouldn't have to worry about it during the day tomorrow. I worked OM5XX with a single repeat at 0002Z on 14028 which was the same frequency on which I worked MW0BEW last evening. So that's 1,211 days in the books now for DX. Also just 6 days till I hit 8,000 days for the big main streak.

Maybe Mike will have something to add to the entry. He hasn't ghost-written anything lately. -30-

Tuesday, June 21, 2016 8:32 PM - As I just said in an email to Tom WB3FAE, the UK seems good on 20 this evening. Worked MW0BEW for my DX streak QSO, then heard MD0CCE (but didn't work him - save him for tomorrow evening if condx are the same and he is there - HI) very strong. In contrast 9A1TESLA was very weak from east Europe.

Mike, Tom, and I have been exchanging a ton of emails about FD and our setup day on Thursday. Looks like questionable weather for Thursday, but a nice but pretty warm weekend. It will be just Tom and I on Saturday, then Mike will join us on Sunday. So it may be rough to match or top our 562 QSOs from last year. Especially with the sunspot cycle a few notches further toward the upcoming minimum. We probably won't have much on 10 meters nor a whole lot on 15. 20 and 40 will be the workhorses and 80 depending on how we work the evening schedule and how much QRN there is on that band. Whatever, it will be fun.

Oh, we got our Skeeter Hunt number for the NAQCC stations N3AQC today from Larry W2LJ. It's 76 - that's the spirit! -30-

Monday, June 20, 2016 11:34 AM - I'm getting a bit disenchanted with the DX streak. First with declining propagation conditions it is taking up more and more time to find (especially) and work (not too hard when found) a DX station. Second I'm winding up with a lot of repeat QSOs with the same stations as seemingly more and more DX stations are skipping getting on the bands with the poor conditions. Especially the casual stations who used to get on a lot when sunspots were up and conditions good. Related to those two is the lack of available bands for DX. There's virtually nothing on 15, 12, and 10 unless a big contest is going on, and even then not a lot of activity. That leaves 20 and 17 for DX during the daylight hours and 40 (although noisy now), 30, and 20 (sometimes) in nighttime hours.

However I am pretty sure I will keep at it until I just can't work anyone some day. Today I did work Ralph XE1RK on 20 meters at 1526Z. He was running 1KW to a 7 element beam which he swung in my direction. Even with that he was S8 at best with dips down to S4 or S5. I'm not sure how much gain a 7 element beam has, but remember the gain adds to my 5 watt signal strength as received there. Probably with a lesser antenna, Ralph might not have heard me at all.

Patience and stations like Ralph's are what it is going to take to keep the DX streak going through the beginning, depths, and finish of this sunspot minimum. It will be interesting if my patience holds, to see just how far the streak will last. -30-

Sunday, June 19, 2016 2:37 PM - I said something a while ago either here in the diary or elsewhere akin to, "anything worth having is worth working for." I do firmly believe that and I would much sooner put forth a little effort to achieve something than having it come too easily. It means much more that way. I guess that's one of the big attractions to QRP for me. Anyway, my DX streak QSO today was definitely earned. As it was last night, the only stronger DX stations were those working the AA contest and not being in Asia, it was rough having to pass them by. All the Asian stations were weak - S3 to S4 at best. So it took quite an effort and several periods of checking 20, 17, and 15 during the day before I found XE2HOE on 17 meters. He was decently strong on peaks, but QSB was rough taking him down to S3 and up to S5 or S6. I thought I'd give him a try anyway. The first time I called, I got no sign at all that he heard me. After he called CQ again, I called and got a question mark. I called again repeating my call a couple times and he now got K3?. After sending my call three more times, it was K3WW? and he gave his info and turned it back to me. I came back with my call 4 times and sent my info. He copied me solidly thanking me by name, getting my call correct, and saying something about PA. So it wasn't easy, but day 1,207 is in the books. With each of these rough days, I'm convinced more and more that the streak is not going to last all that much longer. Being busy with Field Day this coming weekend will make Saturday and Sunday rough days. I'll be in Chicora much of the time and may have to get my DX from there. I think the antenna setup there will be better than at home here, so that may help me sneak off to a WARC band and work someone from DX-land. Or maybe work a KH6 in FD. We'll see. -30-

Saturday, June 18, 2016 8:45 PM - Time to ask the question again, "Will this be the end of the DX streak?" Most all the good DX this evening was in the AA contest, so I couldn't work them. Then as for the AS stations themselves, none were strong enough to work, especially with the stream of stations calling them. So I'll have to see what tomorrow morning or afternoon brings. To make matters worse, my local noise seems to be back again although not quite as strong. -30-

Friday, June 17, 2016 8:45 PM - A very nice day today after the rain of yesterday departed. So nice, I even went fishing with my neighbor Denny. We didn't catch anything, but it was nice just sitting outside enjoying the weather.

It was looking like another DXless evening tonight. The AA contest was on, but except for P3X in Cyprus everyone was quite weak. P3X had a constant stream of callers. I couldn't get a dot in edgewise. HI. There was nothing on 17. 15 had a strong PY, but he was in the AA contest so I couldn't work him. 12 and 10 were dead. So after working WB2YRL on 40 for my regular streak QSO, I looked around on 30 and found CP4BT who was not all that strong. SA is not really my best continent especially around or below the equator, but I called anyway and after he worked someone else, I got him with a couple repeats, so the DX streak goes on as well. -30-

Thursday, June 16, 2016 5:39 PM - A lot of things seem to get in the way of a lot of things. One thing that had other things get in the way of it was this email from Van WC5D (ex-K3ZMI). I think I did mention it briefly back near the applicable date of May 2, but I'd like to do more about it now. May 2 was the 50th anniversary of the first ever CW County Hunters Net session. If you've never done so, you can read about how the net got started those many years ago in the CTY HUNTING section of my web site.

I guess Van would be the number three person after me and Dave WA8EOH helping the net to get started and keep going. I think his thoughts presented here are very interesting and a worthwhile addition to the history of the net. So without further ado (as they say).

"My recollections of those 1st days:

Paul W8CXS put out a new county in MI Parks every Saturday morning with plenty of callers for a new county and stimulated Saturday CW county hunting, I think. [meanwhile] John K3WWP and Dave WA8EOH had been discussing a [CW] County Hunting Net operation.

I learned of this in a QSO on 4-18-66 with K3WWP and encouraged that he continue with the plan. I got a postcard in the mail from John that he would call the first net session on May 2, 1966.

In the mean time I'd been monitoring & checking into the traffic handling net for Maryland & Delaware (MDD) with one of the NCS Andy K3JYZ later W3XE.

The big day came on Monday May 2, 1966 on 40M CW 7035. I scurried home from High School and checked into the 1st ever CW County Hunter Net session run by K3WWP at 1854Z and stayed on until 1958Z.

The next 3 days WA8EOH was NCS, along with K3WWP with much later sessions. I think he began about 2300Z. Somewhere in those first 3 days, I volunteered to be NCS for the 1st ever Saturday session for May 7th, 1966 1400Z

So, loosely based on traffic handling, I asked for QNI and just called "CQ County Hunter Net All Welcome". A few check-ins was all. 2nd weekend 1430Z had 16 check-ins and several visitors handed out their counties.

It was a fun summer being NCS on Saturdays, participation grew, until I went off to college.

CW mobile was almost non-existent, so everyone was encouraged to bring stations to the net to give out their county, along with my solicitations with All Welcome.

Amazingly enough, many youngsters and young adults, way back in the 60's and early 70's that were interested in CW county hunting are still around today. Here is a few that come to mind, sorry if I missed you K0DEQ, W9MSE ex-K0WNV, W8WVU, W0GXQ, W3DYA, N9QS, WB2ABD, K8IW ex WA8JDW, K1BV ex K1GUD.

John K3WWP moved on from County Hunting to CW QRP and "The Streak" among other "All CW" activities and remains very active daily. Explore his website.

This "County Hunting" thing has been a thread on & off in my life, I've enjoyed it immensely, co-existing along with many of my other interests.

We have a come a long ways since those humble beginnings!!

73 & GH
USA-CA 1092 All CW #71"

Actually to be completely accurate, that was forwarded to me by Van after he had posted it elsewhere with links to the pertinent CH pages on my site.

Those early CH net years seem like they occurred back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, maybe even on another planet somewhere. Still with all that separation, I can still remember them distinctly as another phase in my life. I never did go on to get all the counties as Van (and many others) did over the years. Of the 3,077 current USA counties, I've worked 2,247 overall including those from the 1960s when I ran more than 5 watts, and 1,894 with QRP power levels.

Some may disagree with me when I say I think the overwhelming abundance of mobile operation for working counties took a lot out of the "hunting" aspect of county hunting. Now it's just a matter of sitting in the net waiting for someone to drive through a county they need. I fondly remember using the callbook, PO publication POD26, and the quick lookup in the callbook to get a city then to the POD26 to see what county that was in. If you got quick enough you could do it all while the fellow was calling CQ, then if it was a new county, give him a call. If not, move on to the next CQ. That is what "hunting" counties was all about. But then, I've always thought that working hard to earn something was a great alternative to more or less having that something handed to you. -30-

Wednesday, June 15, 2016 8:15 PM - That was quick. Worked EA8TL at 0002Z on 14025 for DX day 1,204. So since that went so quickly, I have time now to fill out the headlines from yesterday.

There are two patriotic events I attend every year. Memorial Day and Flag Day. Of course yesterday was Flag Day when we honor the basic symbol or icon of our country, the Stars and Stripes Flag. Each year the Elks Lodge has an hour long service honoring the flag with band music, prayer, and histories of the flag and Flag Day. This year we were blessed with beautiful weather as you can see here:
pix_diary_20160614_002 (88K)
During the service, local boy scouts display our country's flag from different eras starting with the Pine Tree flag and progressing through our current flag which has been in use since Hawaii was admitted as our 50th state. This picture shows the scouts holding the flags while the history of the flag is being told my an Elk member. Unfortunatly with calm wind, the flags didn't unfurl very well.
pix_diary_20160614_001 (100K)
That's our award winning Kittanning Firemen's Band in front of the scouts.

Of course I flew the flag on my porch - the one that draped my dad's coffin back in 1964. I didn't get a chance to get a picture this year, but regular diary readers will have seen it in other pictures from other patriotic holidays.

After the service, I came home and Bruce and I folded my flag in military fashion to be stored away until July Fourth.

Then it was time for our NAQCC sprint. After the past couple months of low noise and good propagation, I had in the back of my mind maybe hitting 60 QSOs. That thought quickly crumbled when I started on 20 meters. I only heard a couple signals and worked both - K4BAI and N5GW. Hearing nothing else there, I went to 40. It was on the strange side. I just wasn't being heard with my CQs at all well. By sheer perseverance I did manage 23 QSOs before giving up and seeing what 80 was like. I was pleasantly surprised. Despite high QRN (from storms, not any local noise), I ran off 11 QSOs there in about 25 minutes. So I wound up far short of the 60 of my fantasies with 36 QSOs - less than both of the past two months.

After I finished the sprint and submitted my log, Bruce called to see if I was done with the contest. He was just about to take his creation of a cherry pizza out of the oven and invited me over. As you know, I never turn down a chance to eat. It was very good and we split it between the two of us with Roscoe getting a bit as well. He turns down a chance to eat even less than I do. HI -30-

Tuesday, June 14, 2016 11:31 PM - As you see from the time stamp, it's late. You can't see it, but I'm tired so despite it being a busy day with a lot to write about, I'm going to keep it short for now and elaborate a bit in tomorrow's entry.

As I do every year on or about June 14, I attended the Elks Flag Day ceremony. Then of course, this was our NAQCC sprint evening. 36 QSOs was down from the past couple months, but a lot of fun. Just after the sprint, Bruce called me over for a cherry pizza. After that it was back to the shack for my DX QSO from 9A6C on 30 meters to keep the streak going. Those are the headlines, more on the 11 o'clo..... I mean in tomorrow's entry. -30-

Monday, June 13, 2016 6:36 PM - I was plagued with mixed feelings all day today. In a way I was hoping the DX streak might come to an end. 1,200 days would be a nice round number that we talked about a couple days ago in the diary. Yet, I hated to just give up without a fight, so I fought - - - and WON. I worked XE1RK on 20 meters at 2124Z. He had to turn his beam this way to get me after hearing only K3, but Ralph is a very good op, and we made it. Before that I would check maybe every 90 minutes all day without hearing a single DX station on any band. Then in that 21Z hour, TA3D showed up on 20 about S5, but I couldn't get him. An SM also showed up, but very weak and rag chewing. Everything else, and there wasn't much, was a USA station. I don't feel like going through many more days like today, but with declining sunspots, there will be many more coming up, I'm sure.

OK, about the subpedition now. I processed our scribbled paper logs and found we had 31 QSOs - 12 on 40, 8 on 30, and 11 on 20. They were from 14 states, the most distant being only TX. Skip was really short on all three bands, especially 20 where we worked things like adjacent states MD and NY. That was a lot better than we did in April as I talked about before. We all had a great time. I think I enjoyed watching Jon AB3RU making QSOs on his first visit to the sub more than making them myself. We had a great time interacting with visitors. I think of all our trips to the Requin, the collection of visitors this time had the most interest as a whole in what we were doing. They asked some great questions and really listened to what we were talking about. I always find it interesting how many folks having no connection with radio whatsover will recognize that we are sending Morse code although 99 percent can't copy it at all.

To close before I go back to fight the bands for some DX, here is a picture of the three of us on the sub:
pix_diary_20160612_001 (139K)

That's left to right, me, Jon AB3RU (or as we call him, the h-less John), and Mike KC2EGL.

Here's a picture of the Requin in all her glory on an absolutely glorious June day:
pix_diary_20160612_002 (222K)

The painters did a great job on the sub. -30-

Sunday, June 12, 2016 7:47 PM - Things went better on the Requin today than they did back in April. Although propagation conditions were not all that great, the antenna worked beautifully on all 3 bands - 40, 30, and 20. The first hour or so we had just about continuous activity, then it slowed down quite a bit, but we wound up with either 31 or 32 QSOs. I don't have the log here with me right now. When I get it, I'll cobble together a summary of our activity.

Since it was John AB3RU's first time on the sub, we let him do the bulk of the operating. He did an admirable job handling some minor pileups we had. It seemed that the folks working us in most cases were copying us better than we were copying them. Some of the signals on 20 when I was operating were mere wisps and very rough copy even though the QRN was almost nil. When I took a break and talked to Art about it, he explained it in his usual humorous way. He said since it was windy, which it was, the signals were being blown away from the antenna. HI.

I'll have some pictures in tomorrow's diary entry and a bit more commentary. Now it's almost time for me to go get my streak QSO(s). -30-

Saturday, June 11, 2016 8:44 PM - Two nights ago it was KP3A, tonight NP3A for the DX streak. Now I can enjoy the Requin operation tomorrow without having the DX streak nagging me in the back of my mind all the time. When you're dealing with numbers of things, for whatever reason the round numbers seem to be more important. DXCC for example with 100 countries or 300, 400, etc. miles for an auto race just as a couple of examples off the top of my head. There are many more. Well, tonight marks 1,200 days for the DX streak. Also I'm closing in on 8,000 days for the regular streak.

With the streak in hand, I'm all set for having an enjoyable time aboard the Requin tomorrow. What I said about times and frequencies in the previous diary entry still stands, so I won't repeat it here. It looks definitely like a beautiful weather day with sunny skies and mid 70s temperatures. Almost makes me feel like doing an outside parkpedition somewhere instead of being inside a submarine. No, not really as the subpeditions are a total joy with us crazy NAQCC WPA Chapter members and equally crazy Art WA3BKD from the submarine thrown in the mix. Hope you get a chance to work us if you wish to. We'll do our best to work as many folks as we can. Previously it's been a bit rough having just a speaker to listen to with the high noise level from sub visitors, but now I've fixed it so we can have both a speaker for visitors to hear what Morse Code is like and headphones for us to copy the weaker signals better. -30-

Friday, June 10, 2016 8:41 PM - It was fun watching "The General" last night. I hadn't seen it in quite a few years. NO, not when it was released in 1926. HI. My neighbor and I are also watching the Our Gang/Little Rascals silent films from the 1920s. I have most of them here except for around a half dozen which are either lost or otherwise not available. I'm still hoping to get them somewhere somehow. I have all the 'mainstream' OG/LR films from the first talkie through the time Hal Roach sold the rights to MGM in 1938.

My DX was a bit unusual this evening. Europe on 17 meters. EA1DR was well over S9 and I worked him easily. Not another Europe to be heard on 17 at that time. In fact the only other DX was CO8LY. I was going to work him till I noticed another big peak on the panadapter and found it to be EA1DR. I think anyone who is serious about working DX should have a panadapter. Especially those of us who NEVER use any spotting networks. It certainly saves a lot of time in hunting (and finding) the DX. It may not make it easier to work the DX, but you can find a lot more DX stations to at least try to work than if you just had to tune the band listening for them.

Barring something totally unforseen, Mike KC2EGL, Jon AB3RU, and I will be operating from the sub Requin on Sunday starting around 10 AM or 1400Z. I think we'll plan on doing 40 meters the first half hour, then 30 minutes on 30 meters, and 30 on 20 meters. Frequencies 7041, 10117, 14061. We'll be using the sub call of NY3EC and IDing who the op is for each QSO. A little more detailed info in our promo on the NAQCC email list tomorrow sometime.

Sunday will also be day # 1,200 for my DX streak. So I'll definitely try to get the DX in the 0000Z hour so I won't have to worry about during the subpedition during the day Sunday. -30-

Thursday, June 09, 2016 9:09 PM - I'm going to watch the Buster Keaton silent movie "The General" with my neighbor in a few minutes, so not much time to write anything.

It looked like another DX shutout this evening. All I was hearing were some wispy signals pretty much down at S4 coming in and out of my S4 noise. However finally after a couple rag chews on 40 with KA9IBS and KA3SJK, I looked around again and tried calling one of those wispy signals and it wound up a bit embarrassing as he was copying my solidly while I had trouble copying him. It was KP3A whom I've worked before. But at least the DX streak goes on and is one day closer to 1,200. -30-

Wednesday, June 08, 2016 9:04 PM - Computer club meeting this evening, so I didn't get home in time for my usual 0000Z start on the bands. However it only took about 5 minutes to get my DX after I arrived home around 0030Z. Now just three more days for 1,200 days of DX.

It was a very chilly day today - nice for walking. I also helped Ange fix his garden gate. Plus walking Roscoe a couple times so far meant a lot of outside activity.

Next event to look forward to is the subpedition to the USS Requin on Sunday. I haven't heard back from Art who said he would contact me if Sunday wasn't OK. So looks like we will be able to do our operation then. It will be me, Mike, and newcomer to our WPA Chapter activities Jon AB3RU. This will be Jon's first trip to the sub. Looks like a nice day with no rain and mid-70s temperatures. Doesn't matter in the sub, of course, but good for travelling and for a break or two out in the Science Center grounds for a snack. More about specific times and frequencies later in the week so you will know where and when to look for us if you would like a QSO with a submarine. -30-

Tuesday, June 07, 2016 7:31 PM -

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Maybe James T. didn't get his daily QSO, but I got mine (DX). It took some searching, but I found HP3/VY2SS on 17 meters this morning and with a single call, put him in my log and added to the DX streak. Rob is a really great op, and although he wasn't much more than an S5 here, he copied me easily with that single call.

I was thinking and I'm sure without the PX3 panadapter tied to the KX3, my DX streak probably would have ended some time ago. The PX3 just saves so much time in checking the bands for activity. Without it, I probably would have lost patience in laboriously tuning across a band listening for signals, and said the heck with it and given up. With the PX3, it takes less than a minute or two to know if it is worthwhile even checking a band. If peaks are spotted on the display, a few seconds more will establish if it is a DX station or not.

So today (7th) is secured. Now in about 15 minutes, it starts all over again. I hope it will be a quick DX QSO. If so, then I can go hunting letters for the NAQCC challenge. I need less than 20 now for completion.

Oh, thanks to Bob K9OSC for the Star Trek cartoon. He thought about my diary entry of yesterday when he saw it, and thought I'd get a kick out of it. I did, especially AFTER I worked HP3/VY2SS. HI -30-

Monday, June 06, 2016 9:08 PM - Looks like another day the DX streak may be in jeopardy. Except for EA8ZS who peaked barely at S6, any other DX heard tonight was about S4 at best. None of it workable. So tune in tomorrow to hear the fate of the DX streak. The big streak marches on toward 8,000 days though, with Gary WN9U helping it on its way this evening.

Not a lot going on today worth talking about after the busy day yesterday. -30-

Sunday, June 05, 2016 7:57 PM - It was the best of times, it was the wor..... No, not really. The hamfest didn't turn out as we hoped it would in one respect. We weren't able to get up a decent antenna. Our table was in a steel frame farm show building with no available space to set up an antenna outdoors due to power lines, parking adjacent to the building, etc. It seems like so far this year, our portable operations have been jinxed. Hopefully that will change. After we got bored not being able to get on the air, we did some practicing with the KX3 in CPO mode sending left-handed. That got old after a while also, and we decided to try a very very makeshift antenna. We ran a wire out the door and along the building's steel wall as shown here:
pix_diary_20160605_001 (132K)

If you look closely that's it coming out of the right of the picture along the wall to a pole about 10 or so feet high. It was about a foot at most from the wall. We were able to tune it with the KX3 to a good SWR from 30 through 15 meters except for 20 which the KX3 did not like at all. One of the very few times the KX3 was fed something it didn't like. Reception was best on 17 meters where we could hear several DX stations. However we were only able to make one quasi-contact. I got a definite answer from KW7D in New Mexico when I called him, but then before we could exchange any info, he simply somehow disappeared. At least we were getting out, but that was about it. We have plans for a better setup next year at Breezeshooters.

Anyway here I am plugging away trying to get that QSO in the log.
pix_diary_20160605_003 (148K)

Actually the failure to make QSOs due to the antenna situation was the only disappointment. Other than that, it was the best of times fellowshipping with other NAQCC club members. I won't list everyone here for fear of leaving someone out. But thanks go to Mike KC2EGL, Tom WB3FAE, and Jon AB3RU for helping to man the NAQCC table. As always it was fun kibitzing with the Skyview Club members whose table was next to ours - especially Bob WC3O. Other regular visitors when we have a NAQCC setup or even when we just visit a hamfest for fun were Bob W3BBO, Bob KC3DOF, and Bruce AA3LX. Oh, it was also nice and a surprise when Ken N3CU showed up. We didn't think he was going to make it due to family matters. I especially enjoyed getting to meet Mike WA8SAN whom I've worked many times in our NAQCC sprints. As I told him, it's always nice to associate a face with a call. That makes a QSO much more meaningful.

Here's a picture of six of the folks mentioned above:
pix_diary_20160605_002 (210K)


The hamfest started to wind down around 1 PM or so, and we joined in the winding down, and were on the road sometime around 1:30 or so. We all went our separate ways, except Mike and I (you know what's coming) stopped at the Butler Ponderosa for their buffet dinner. We both had about 4 platefuls plus desert despite both of us having a decent sized sub earlier at the hamfest.

Then here at home we took care of some business like signing up a new member we recruited at Butler and organizing the pictures shown here in the diary.

Next we tried out a ColdHeat battery soldering iron I bought at the Ol' Station Marketplace on Thursday. We were both very impressed with it, especially since I got it for something like 75 cents. After that it was DXing where Mike worked F/ON6JUN/P and CO8LY. I worked CO8LY and EA5DNO. There wasn't a lot of DX around so we closed out the day with Mike playing a hidden object game on the computer before he headed home.

Then just a little while ago I got my streak QSOs from Jurek EA6UN and Danny N4DT. Danny also has a streak going starting the first of this year. I hope he can continue it as long as he wishes.

Next Sunday it's an encore subpedition from the USS Requin in Pittsburgh. Mike and I asked Jon AB3RU to join us and he was excited about it. With the Requin antenna repaired now, we should have better results than we did in April. More details about that later in the week. -30-

Saturday, June 04, 2016 9:00 PM - Things are looking a little better for the Butler hamfest tomorrow. The NWS just lowered the POP again to 30/60 percent. It had been as high as 80/80 at one time. The only true test comes tomorrow when it is either raining or not. Hopefully not. Whatever, we'll still be there with the NAQCC table starting soon after 8 AM or so.

Easy DX this evening, thank goodness. Now I don't have to worry about that during the hamfest. Thanks to the IARU Region I Field Day I got GU4YOX/P even though he wasn't all that strong. Then a great call for a NAQCC Alphabet Challenge - DL40IPARC was a second DX QSO and provided 11 letters for the challenge. -30-

Friday, June 03, 2016 8:40 PM - A pretty nice day today. Some rain during the night, but partly cloudy and not as hot or humid as the past couple days, although I don't really mind it being hot. Those couple of hot days really gave my garden a boost. the peppers and tomatoes seem to have grown right before my eyes. Also several bean seeds sprouted during those two days.

This evening my DX came from a station I work nearly every year at this time - F/ON6JUN/P who operates D-Day from Normandy in France. Well, in checking, I actually haven't worked him as often as it seemed. Only in 2002, 2012, 2013, and now 2016. Then I had a chat with a ham whom I know in person as of this year - Ken N3CU. He has visited here and also operated with us on the sub Requin back in April.

Speaking of the Requin, it looks like the 19th is no good according to a call I got from Art this evening. So we will go with our alternate date of the 12th. Art will check and let me know in a couple days if that will work.

Almost time for the Breezeshooters hamfest. However the weather still doesn't look all that great for Sunday. Hopefully that may change although 36 hour forecasts are usually pretty much on the money. -30-

Thursday, June 02, 2016 9:05 PM - Looked like another tough DX night, so I locked in the big streak with a nice rag chew on 40 with Jim K4WOP that lasted exactly 30 minutes.

Then it was back to looking for DX. The PX3 showed a peak near the bottom end of 20. Tuning in, I heard a high speed station that sounded like DX. Turned out to be XR0YS. He didn't say anything about UP, so I listened and heard him working a station simplex instead of split. I called and he worked UY5ZZ. I called again, got a K3?, and after two repeats of my call, I had my DX QSO. After that he worked one more station, then the horde seemed to find him and he went split. So I guess I lucked out and found him just starting a shift. That's what it takes sometimes - luck, timing, oh and a PX3 certainly helps. It wasn't a new country, not even a new prefix, but it did extend the DX streak another day. And it's always nice to work the rarer stations anyway.

A fishing trip and a visit to the Ol' Station Marketplace were the 'events' of the day here. No fish, but I got a couple of nice tools including a (hand) jigsaw, a battery powered soldering iron, and a wood block puzzle all for $4.51 cents.

Right now the weather doesn't look all that good for the hamfest Sunday. We'll have get our anti-rain dance going, I guess. Anyway we'll be inside except for setting up and tearing down our antenna. Still I hope it doesn't cancel out roaming around to see what the tailgaters have to offer. That's always a lot of fun. -30-

Wednesday, June 01, 2016 9:13 PM - I'm running a bit late tonight. I just had to evict a spider from my maximum/minimum shelter thermometer.

DX was a bit rough this evening, but I did work my way through a pretty big pileup to work VP2V/K6TOP on 17 meters leaving 10 days to reach 1,200 now. I also ran into my old friend Gary N2ESE for a nice chat on 40 meters. We haven't had a rag chew type QSO for some time now.

It was a very hot day today, but I did get in a couple good walks. No fishing though as I figured the sun beating down on the concrete amphitheater would be a bit much.

Looking forward to Sunday and the Breezeshooters hamfest in Butler, PA. Mike KC2EGL, Tom WB3FAE, Jon AB3RU and I will be manning a NAQCC table there. If you are in the neighborhood, maybe you can stop by and say hello. More info in a couple days. -30-

Tuesday, May 31, 2016 8:06 PM - A somewhat busy day today with the usual end of month things to take care of. However it wasn't all work. I took time out to go fishing and actually caught a fish - a decent size bluegill at 7 inches. Made sitting in the heat (89) worthwhile. I think I might go again tomorrow as the catch plus some other decent bites fired up my interest.

DX was easy this evening and it yielded a nice prefix in EH0P on 20 meters to start another month for the streak. Just 11 days to go now for 1,200 days of DX. It may not be easy though with any more days like the 30th.

Oh, I just noticed it's 18 days to go for 8,000 days in the big streak. So a couple of milestones to look forward to this month plus a little more incentive to get to them. -30-

Monday, May 30, 2016 5:30 PM - As the day wore on, it looked more and more like this would be the first day since February 28, 2013 that I wouldn't find a DX QSO in my log book. Conditions were deplorable and that is being kind. Except when I was at the Memorial Day parade and the Memorial Day ceremony in the park, I checked the bands about every 45 minutes or so and found the same thing. No strong signals except for some W/VE stations and even they were not all that strong. The DX was below the Mendoza Line (always liked that phrase to describe Pirate shortstop Mario Mendoza's batting average). With my noise at s3 to s4, the DX signals were virtually all just being heard in and out of that level. Every once in a great while, a station would peak at maybe S6 briefly, but soon would be gone again. I was sure they wouldn't hear me if I called, and I was right. I never got as much as a question mark from any of the dozen or so weak DX stations I tried. Even XE1XR running a KW and a 7 element beam aimed in this direction barely made it to S8 and like the others, never heard me at all. He was rag chewing though, and I only tried him a couple times. Maybe with patience, I could have eventually gotten him, but I still doubt it. The next best chance came from PZ50X on 17 meters, but his pileup was tremendous and he was mostly working Europeans. Sure looks pretty dismal for the DX streak.

But wait, there is a happy ending that brought a smile to my face. I found P4/N4QS on 15 meters working split and quite strong at S8 to S9. I figured as with PZ50X, he'd have a big pileup. Anyway I set the KX3 for split, waited for him to finish with whom he was working, and gave a call. Miracle of miracles - a solid QSO with that first call, no repeats. WHEW!!! The DX streak lives on at 1,187 days. Many more time-consuming stressful days like today though, and I might just voluntarily end it.

I hope you all had a great Memorial Day and observed it in the proper way by honoring our war dead for their sacrifice and thanked those still living servicemen for the job they are doing of protecting our country from those intending her harm. In addition to the parade and ceremony, I also flew my flag, the one that draped my father's coffin 52 years ago. -30-

Sunday, May 29, 2016 8:22 PM - I'll start this entry with a major understatement. The bands were strange today. Yes sir, they certainly were. I could write a whole book about it, but don't worry, I'll keep it short.

I woke up around 0915Z and thought I'd see if maybe Asia was coming through on 40. It wasn't. There wasn't a whole lot else around either that I hadn't worked or that was too weak to even try. So I settled for working PX2A on 40 and went back to bed.

A quick check in the 1300Z hour showed nothing worthwhile hanging around for. I did hear JH4UYB weakly on 20, but a couple calls to him yielded nothing, not even a question mark. So I shut down and took care of walking Roscoe and giving him his breakfast.

I went back to the shack in the 1400Z hour and found conditions pretty much like yesterday, so I hung around a while and called a few stations that would have been new prefixes, but only landed VC2A. Haven't checked yet to see if that's even new.

Another layoff until 1630Z or so. What do you know? 10 meters is open, but seems like only a couple folks know it. I worked N9CIQ and AA0AW, then tried some CQs and landed VC7G. That was it though, so I went to 15 meters. First station worked there was VC7G. Still my main purpose of working DX was not working at all well so I again shifted tactics and started working anyone who was strong. 12 W/VE stations took me to 1720Z when I again quit.

When I came back at 2000Z, the bands again made somewhat of a reversal and I found I could again work DX, but only selectively. It really made little sense. Some stations booming in were not hearing me at all while I could easily work others who weren't nearly as strong. I worked 8P5A on 10 meters for my last QSO on that band for the contest at 2011Z. Then CU4DX and a bunch of NA/SA DX stations mostly on 15 took me to 2040Z. From then to the end of the contest, I switched between 20 and 15 working DX when I could and also working W/VE stations as well. It was nice to work some contesters I know well but haven't worked in a while during that period. Still during that whole time, it wasn't easy working some stations, but very easy to work others. There was little relationship between workability and signal strength.

It was interesting to note that after being mostly absent from 15 meters earlier in the day, Europe started showing up late on that band. I worked 9A1A easily at 2123Z for the first EU and EA3CX for the last at 2227Z.

One thing I did notice although I didn't really analyze it at all was that a lot of stations were asking for a lot of repeats from the stations they were working, so it apparently wasn't just me who was having difficulty. Seems like it was mostly DX asking for repeats from W/VE stations although that's just a feeling I got. Maybe because I was litening more to the DX stations.

I did wind up with 161 QSOs in the contest. I'm making a rough guess before I total things up that I worked maybe 40 countries. I also got maybe a dozen new prefixes. I'll have to analyze my results later tonight or tomorrow to know better.

I'll also have to get a DX QSO later tonight or tomorrow to keep the DX streak going. I did work N3EMZ for the big streak at 0008Z on 40 meters. -30-

Saturday, May 28, 2016 8:26 PM - A 180 degree reversal of conditions from last night to today. It's like I'm in a Faraday cage today. I'm just not being heard and it's not the competition for the most part. I remember a similar situation back in, I think, the 90s when the WPX contest started with a bang, then died the next day. Instead of trying to work as many stations as I could, I just looked for new prefixes or new band countries and then tried for them until I got them or gave up. I did get things today in addition to those I got last night. To name a couple, 9A703 and EB8 prefixes. Otherwise not much at all. Even those stations I usually work easily either weren't hearing me or I had to repeat call or number a couple times. Just looking at the propagation numbers and they aren't that bad although the SF is down and A index up a bit today from yesterday. Just one of those quirky things I guess. Anyway I'll finish this and update my propagation and index page, then see if I can find anything else good on the bands. -30-

Friday, May 27, 2016 10:36 PM - The warmest day of the year so far with a high of 89. It didn't really seem that hot though except maybe in the direct sun. I helped Ange get his garden ready for planting. That took about an hour or maybe more and it actually felt good.

OK skip ahead now to tonight. I was only going to use the CQWPX contest to get my daily DX QSO, then QRT. Am I ever glad I changed my mind and hung around for about 90 minutes. Take a look at this excerpt from my GenLog file of the contest so far:
15m   CW  05/28/16  0042  WH6R         11   599    599   33     *WH6    3
15m   CW  05/28/16  0043  KH6TU        12   599    599   94     *KH6    3
15m   CW  05/28/16  0044  PP5KR        13   599    599   76     *PP5    3
15m   CW  05/28/16  0047  KH6LC        14   599    599   113            3
15m   CW  05/28/16  0048  PX2A         15   599    599   97     *PX2    3
15m   CW  05/28/16  0051  5W1SA        16   599    599   86     *5W1    3
15m   CW  05/28/16  0102  KH8/KC0W     17   599    599   43     *KH8    3
15m   CW  05/28/16  0106  VK3JA        18   599    599   123    *VK3    3
15m   CW  05/28/16  0111  TI2OW        19   599    599   83     *TI2    2
15m   CW  05/28/16  0118  ZM4G         20   599    599   74     *ZM4    3
Both Samoa (5W1SA) and American Samoa (KH8/KC0W) are overall new countries, bringing my total worked now to 225 (of course all QRP/CW/simple antennas). All 6 of the Oceania QSOs above were pretty easy ones with only a repeat or two to get the job done. About the hardest was KH6LC for whom I had to repeat my number several times. The rest were pretty much bang-bang-logged. I may go back and check 15 again or maybe 20 now as 15 may be dead by this time. I had to take time out to go walk Roscoe and visit with Bruce for a little bit. -30-

Thursday, May 26, 2016 6:47 PM - This may have been our warmest day of the year so far. The high on my remote unit shows 86. If that is the 'official' reading at 9 PM on the regular thermometer and they are usually very close, it will top the previous high of 84 back on April 18. Also the humidity was up a bit although not too high. It really felt good when I was out walking with Roscoe or by myself. I also visited the Ol' Station Marketplace and picked up a nice visor magnifier so now I can magnify things and still keep both hands free for working on small parts. That was only 75 cents. I also got a Raiders of the Lost Ark video cassette for 1 dollar.

It's getting time to get the fans out for the summer. I don't care for air conditioning and am happy with just a fan. Much cheaper also. Bruce got his out today and I helped him fix a broken 'foot' on the fan just a few minutes ago. Now I think I may go for a walk before time comes to pursue the DX streak.

Oh, I also got a package of 19 QSL cards from the buro today and did most of the processing of them except actually filing away the cards. Of the two dozen or so QSOs represented by the cards, only two were QSOs for which I requested a card. The rest all wanted my card for whatever reason. At least they represented some new prefixes and two new band countries. The countries were San Andres Island on 12 and 17 meters. The prefixes were: OF9, W100, 5C5, LZ300, DD5, JA5, LZ259. -30-

Wednesday, May 25, 2016 9:17 PM - Another quick DX QSO when I worked KL7SB/VP9 on 30 meters at 0007Z. Mike arrived shortly after I got on the air, and we headed to Subway after I got my DX QSO. We ate our subs there and came home and had the last of my birthday cake. Then up to the shack where Mike tried to work FM/DL7VOG unsuccessfully. Then it was to the kitchen window where we tried to watch Mars the moment it rose. However there were some high clouds and we didn't notice it until it had already risen for a couple minutes. Right now we're watching an Our Gang episode- Bedtime Worries.

Earlier it was a nice warm day with a high of 85 degrees and I got in a couple of good walks and some shopping. I also took a picture of my sundial early this morning.
pix_diary_20160525_001 (190K)

As you can see by the shadow of the gnomon, the picture was taken shortly after 9AM (EST) which is after 10AM (EDT). Of course sundials aren't exact timekeepers due to the equation of time and a couple other factors. I'm not going to delve into it here. For more info, do a Bing search for "equation of time" or "sundials". -30-

Tuesday, May 24, 2016 8:30 PM - It wasn't too hard getting my DX this evening. In fact I got an extra one to boot. KP3W on 20 and TG9ADM on 30. I don't work Guatemala too often so I gave him a try when I heard him and despite him being only 559, we made a good QSO after just a couple calls. So once again the DX is Central America and the Caribbean.

Not much else to report today. I did finish my sundial and remounted it outside. It restored pretty well. I'll try to have a picture in the diary tomorrow. -30-

Monday, May 23, 2016 9:06 PM - A tough night tonite. Even had trouble getting a regular streak QSO, but finally found and worked WA1KBE on 40 meters. Then continued my search for DX. Before that, I hadn't heard anyone strong enough to break out of my meager S4 noise level. So finally I found and worked old standby HT7AAA on 30 meters. Hated to work him yet again, but I was determined the DX streak wasn't going to come to an end on my birthday, so.....

Not much else going on today out of the ordinary. I did put the first coat of polyurethane on the sundial I'm restoring. Tomorrow I'll add another coat. -30-

Sunday, May 22, 2016 6:09 PM - Thought I'd write this now since at 0000Z I'll be going for my DX QSO, then finalizing our NAQCC May Sprint results, and after that going over to walk Roscoe.

A couple of things taken care of today. I updated Bruce's computer from Windows 8.1 to Windows 10. As usual, just like the half dozen or so such upgrades I've done for myself and other folks, it went just as smooth as silk with not a single glitch. I honestly can't figure out why folks seem to have problems with the upgrade or with other Windows things as well. I've used Microsoft Windows exclusively here on several different computers since around the early 1990s and NEVER have had a single problem with anything due to Windows. I have had a few problems along the way, but each one traced not to Windows, but to some incorrectly designed third party non-Microsoft software.

I also worked a bit more on my sundial today. I decided to restore the original sundial I built with my friend Bill several years ago instead of the replacement one I built a couple years ago. Mainly because Bill is now in a nursing home with probably no chance of ever leaving there. This will help me remember the good times we had together on various projects. We never did get to the last planned one though - a weather vane. Maybe I'll try that myself sometime. -30-

Saturday, May 21, 2016 8:28 PM - Pretty much a washout day in all respects. Chilly and rainy on and off all day today and still at it now. Better things coming early next week though. The sun and 80 degrees are mentioned in the forecast on the same day a couple days in a row.

DX continues rough, but I'm still managing to keep the streak going with DX QSOs in the 0000Z hour. Tonight it was XE3ARV on 30 meters. I heard another Russian on 30, but he wasn't hearing me. There's not all that much difference in propagation from the declining sunspot cycle, but it is there and it is very noticeable to me. I still don't think the DX streak will last all that deeply into the upcoming sunspot minimum. I do think barring some major propagation anomaly, the regular streak will continue as long as I can make it to the key. After all, it went through the previous sunspot minimum without missing a beat. We'll see. -30-

Friday, May 20, 2016 8:37 PM - I took advantage of the nice sunny warm (77) day and went fishing for only the third time this year so far. Got a few decent bites, but no catches. I think they were little fish, maybe sandpike or possibly some small mouth suckers whose mouths weren't big enough to take the hook, yet big enough to take the worm off the hook. Had I stayed longer, I might have tried smaller hooks, but I had to get home to take Roscoe for his walk.

I'm just wondering how many days in a row now my DX QSO has come in the 00Z hour. I'm going to check in a moment. Tonight it was EA8TL on 20 meters at 0005Z. Not as easy as usual with him, but not all that hard. Tried UB7K on 30 with no luck. Would have liked that prefix. Wonder what part of Russia he was in. I'll check that also and report back.

UB7K is in Kerch in Crimea. DX in the 00Z hour goes back until April 26 when I worked EA6NB at 0427Z. So going on a month now. That's still in the evening though. Let's see the last time I didn't get any DX until morning or afternoon. OK, April 11 it took until 1353Z to get my DX from HA3FTA on 17M. So despite the decline in the sunspot cycle, the evening still provides a lot of DX. However a lot of it now is from North, Central, and South America as well as the Caribbean instead of Europe, Africa, Asia as it was when there were more sunspots. Maybe I'll figure how much DX from each continent I worked each month in my DX streak. That may prove interesting, but I'm not going to do it now. -30-

Thursday, May 19, 2016 9:14 PM - Just a short entry tonight. I just got off the phone after a long chat with Tom WY3H. Those of you who read the diary or are NAQCC members (hopefully both) know that Tom moved down to Georgia a couple of years ago, so we don't get to talk that much any longer except in these long phone conversations every now and then.

Then after finishing this and a couple other web site updates, I'll be going over to visit with Bruce and take Roscoe out for his last walk of the day.

So I'll just say that the bands sounded pretty good this evening. ZA/S56X was quite strong on 20 meters, but I couldn't break the pileup during the 5 minutes or so I tried. I didn't try longer since I have Albania on 20 meters and also the ZA0 prefix. Before that at 0001Z I kept the DX streak alive by working HR5/F2JD on 30 meters. -30-

Wednesday, May 18, 2016 8:46 PM - I worked J68GU on a new band (40) quickly (0003Z) for my DX QSO. So with the pressure off, I found CR60P strong on 30 working split with a big pileup and determined I was going to break the pile and work him. I can tell most of the time when I have a chance at a station with a big pileup. If he's at least a certain strength here, I know he should be able to hear me there. Tonight was such a situation. After a few minutes I got a K3W?, but was immediately covered by other callers whether or not their call was close to having a K3W in it. The op at CR60P did not take control as he should, sending K3W? KN KN KN or ONLY K3W?. Thus I lost out on that chance when he worked an interfering W4 instead. That made me even more determined to work him. I kept watching the PX3 to see who he was working and tail ended on that station's frequency. Yes, I said watching, not listening. I didn't use the split cans because I've gotten to the point where I can tell visually who the DX is working most of the time. If I can't see them, I probably wouldn't hear them anyway. I noticed he seemed to be jumping up and down a few hundred Hz picking out stations. I followed as best I could and finally got a WW? from him, repeated my call and got him for that much wanted new prefix. It took about 15 minutes of my time, but the satisfaction and the new prefix made the wait worthwhile.

Of course there were the stations who would call right on his frequency instead of UP. That was by no means the fault of the CR60P op as he sent UP after just about every QSO. Perhaps some folks thought his call was CR60PUP although there was an accurate separation between CR60P and UP. Or perhaps they don't know how to operate split. Or...... who knows? It's very annoying especially if they are strong and override the DX. Anyway the streak lives and I got a new prefix plus some numbers/letters for the May NAQCC European Chapter challenge as well. I'm about 70% done with the challenge, so I may make it this month especially if I put in a little effort to do so. -30-

Tuesday, May 17, 2016 8:37 PM - One of those days that seemed busy, but not really a lot accomplished. HI. I did get in some walking and shopping. Also busy arranging things for our NAQCC WPA Chapter activities in the coming months.

I did have one interesting thing happen. While I was walking Roscoe, a biker on the nearby Rails to Trails turned off and headed up my way. Actually I didn't see him coming because my back was turned the other way and didn't hear him till he got close. He asked me if a certain house was the one that a certain lady who passed away lived in. I showed him the house, then we got to talking and it turned out that he and I played together as kids some 60+ years ago. He lived just up the street from me way back then. We reminisced for about 10 minutes about the old neighbors who are no longer with us, and so on. Wish we could have talked longer, but he seemed in a hurry to be on his way.

After chasing CR60P unsuccessfully (darn, would really have liked that prefix) on 20 meters until he just vanished, I looked around for other DX and found YV5IUA on 30 meters. I waited through perhaps a half dozen other QSOs before it became my turn. So that extended the streak another day. In between I heard another station on 40 with a pileup, but it turned out to be WU1ITU/4 so I passed him by. However after the YV5IUA QSO I thought I'd go back to 40 and try to work him. I did, and it took only a single call as his pileup seemed depleted then. -30-

Monday, May 16, 2016 8:46 PM - Strange conditions on the bands again this evening. Had a very tough time working OK1CF on 30 when I usually work him easily. Took several repeats for him to get my call, but it was finally a good QSO that extended the DX streak another day. Then went to 40 and called CQ - got answered by VA3YG who was S9+ and gave me a 589. Then after our first round, the path just died and he was down in my S4 noise and never came back up. I've had a few QSOs just like that the past few weeks as conditions are very unstable at times.

The usual Monday things here like laundry. I mailed one of our NAQCC prizes while the clothes were in the dryer. I did a little shopping and took a couple walks.

One of my projects lately is re-doing my sundial I built a couple years ago. It was kind of weatherbeaten after being out in all kinds of weather those couple years.

That pretty much covers the day. -30-

Sunday, May 15, 2016 7:50 PM - Mike arrived around noon today and we spent an enjoyable 6 or so hours together. Nothing really ham radio related except a 15 minute or so check of the bands around 1900Z. The reason it was only 15 minutes was the bands were pretty much dead at least as far as DX goes. One weak LZ station was about it, and he was much to weak to work, let alone copy well.

We watched some woodworking videos and also several Our Gang videos. The main project was cutting some ceiling tile so Mike could do some replacement at his home. Then he helped me put some cages around my pepper and tomato plants so I could cover them against frost tonight. I just finished the covering so hopefully they can ride out the frost tonight. A little computer work also filled out some of the time.

What's that? I didn't mention eating. Well, we did with a 12 inch sub apiece from Subway. Oh, and some discussion of our upcoming summer projects also was done. It's going to be a busy summer for us. Hope the weather cooperates.

Well, time now to head to the shack for my streak QSO(s). Hope conditions are better than this afternoon. -30-

Saturday, May 14, 2016 8:34 PM - Australia on 30 meters. Seems to be a good May path between here and there. Let me check my log. Well, actually May and June. Of 4 VK QSOs on 30, three came in may and June. Or to update that actually - of 5 now, 4 came in May and June. This was the first VK3 though. Others were all VK6 from near Perth. Let me see where VK3CWB is located. Mildura in Victoria. So that's what he was sending. I had a burst of QRN here and copied "MIL" but missed the rest. Actually I think he copied me better overall than I copied him. Anyway I'm glad I checked 30 after getting my streak QSO from CT9/DL5AXX in the CQM contest on 20 meters. Always nice to work Australia and New Zealand from that part of the world which is about as far from here as it gets, especially the Perth stations.

Despite those two QSOs though, I was disappointed again in not getting Asia on 40 meters. 5B4AMM in Cyprus just wasn't hearing me at all. Never even got a question mark from him. Maybe later tonight I'll get him or some other Asian (should be some Asiatic Russians in the CQM contest on 40) to get that monkey off my back and finish 40M WAC at last.

Not much else going on worth talking about today. We had showers off and on all day. Never did leave the house except to walk Roscoe in between raindrops.

Mike will be paying a visit tomorrow so that should provide more to write about.

Oh, I did post my new poll question today about portable operation. Hope you'll cast your vote. Also check out the final results from the poll about clubs that just ended. -30-

Friday, May 13, 2016 8:49 PM - Another nice day today with a high in the low 70s and plenty of sunshine so a lot of time was spent outdoors walking and just sitting on the porch trying out the new rocking lawn chair. Also on the swing next door with Roscoe. These are the kind of days we expect in May, not the damp cool rainy ones we've had most of the month so far.

Tonight the DX was the same station, different band. Yes, YU4DX this time on 20 meters which was good to Europe and Africa with many stations taking advantage. Both EA1DR and CT9/DL5AXX were fielding call after call. I couldn't squeeze my call in edgewise to them although YU4DX was very easy. -30-

Thursday, May 12, 2016 8:34 PM - A pretty decent day today. Only one brief shower this afternoon. I got in some nice walks around that shower. We had a high of 84 and the humidity made it seem even warmer. Felt good after all the cool damp weather of late.

I did some shopping at the Ol' Station Marketplace. I picked up a nice rocking lawn chair for my front porch. Also a nice little battery powered vacuum cleaner for cleaning keyboards and the like. Then topped that off with a jigsaw puzzle with a picture of an old railroad. All for $6.36 cents.

30 meters was in great shape to Europe this evening. I pretty easily worked YU4DX and OM3SEM which gave me about 10 or so letters/numbers towards this month's NAQCC European Chapter challenge. And of course extended the DX streak to 1,170 days. -30-

Wednesday, May 11, 2016 5:56 PM - I thought I better get this written early because I'll be going to the computer club shortly. After that it will be right into our NAQCC sprint. Then maybe after it ends, I can get some first stage log cross-checking done before bedtime. Also I'll try to get my DX QSO either right before the sprint or sometime after it. If not, then in the morning or afternoon.

Today was another kind of busy day. I took care of the monthly updating of both of my computers - desktop with Windows 7 and laptop with Windows 10. Also it was my month to update the computer club computer which has Windows 8.1. So I did a variety of updating. When I do the Microsoft updates, I also like to make sure all third-party software gets updated also. I also run virus and malware checks with Windows Defender and Malware Bytes Anti-Malware.

I also took advantage of the time the updates were running to take care of my second half of the month bills a little early since they were all here. -30-

Tuesday, May 10, 2016 8:31 PM - Not much out of the ordinary today after the exciting day yesterday. Band conditions seemed pretty good this evening, but not much heard in the way of DX. I did manage to find and work S57V on 30 meters though. That continued the DX streak at 1,168 days now. As far as the big streak goes, if all goes well, I'll be hitting 8,000 days in that one in 49 days now.

Tomorrow evening will be a busy one with both a computer club meeting and our NAQCC sprint. So maybe I'll have to write my diary entry early tomorrow. -30-

Monday, May 09, 2016 3:09 PM - It got quite a bit of coverage in the regular press, the Internet, magazines, etc., so I'm sure a lot of folks knew about the transit of Mercury today. Just a brief description here should suffice. A transit is a term used when one object passes in front of another object. In this case it was Mercury passing in front of the sun. In Mercury's case, it makes the passage on average just thirteen times each century or about every eight years although the interval varies widely from about 3.5 years to 13 years. Mercury transits occur currently only in the months of May and November. The solar system dynamics of the transits of Mercury are very complex and interesting. An excellent description can be found here for those who want to know more about them.

Although rare, transits of Mercury are nowhere near as rare as those of Venus. The last one visible here was June 6, 2012. Mike KC2EGL and I were fortunate enough to view that one as the clouds parted just long enough to observe it for a few minutes before sunset. Had we missed it, we would never have a chance to see it again since the next one is December 11, 2117, over 100 years in the future. Transits of Venus are separated by this pattern of years - 8 + 105.5 + 8 + 121.5. In other words a pair separated by eight years every 100 plus years.

By contrast, the next two transits of Mercury will be November 11, 2019, then November 13, 2032. Still quite a separation which is why I really wanted to catch today's if possible. It has been very cloudy and rainy during May so far, but each outlook the past several days pointed to a break in that pattern with sunny skies on the 9th. As it drew closer the outlook and finally the forecast continued to point to clear skies at least during the morning of the 9th.

The transit started around 7:15AM EDT with our sunrise above the hills to the east coming around 7:30 or so. I set my alarm for then, but when I awoke and looked out, there was a pretty solid layer of high clouds. I went back to bed and snoozed for about 20 more minutes. A check then showed it was getting a bit brighter so I got up, and set up my scope for viewing at first between houses, then later in my back yard as shown here with the homebrew little projection screen on which the sun image was projected.
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At first and for quite some time thereafter all I was seeing were clouds passing in front of the sun as shown here.
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There were some patches of sky with only a few high thin clouds, but they seemed to be avoiding the area of the sun. It was really becoming discouraging. I promised to email Mike with any info on the transit. As mentioned in yesterday's entry, he was notified almost at the last minute that he had to work today and would miss the transit since his work starts at 7:45AM. The first email I sent said something like "So far, NO good and the satellite views all seem to indicate increasing clouds."

Despite the satellites though, things did seem to change not long after I sent that email, and finally I could see the big sunspot that we spotted yesterday, but still no sign of the smaller Mercury or maybe just a faint spot through the clouds as seen here.
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Number 1 is the sunspot, # 2 Mercury, # 3 just a spot on the telescope eyepiece.

The cloud cover kept varying and I kept running indoors when it got dark, then back out again as it would brighten up. It pretty much continued that way until well after 9AM. Bruce had been very interested in the transit and I was hoping he could see it. However when he got home from his school bus run, it was still quite cloudy, and he only had a short time between runs and another errand. With the outlook still dismal, I decided to take care of walking and feeding Roscoe. While doing that, it got brighter so I would run out and check the scope, find still pretty much nothing, and get back to Roscoe.

Finally the clouds did disperse after Roscoe was taken care of and Bruce left. Previously I had gotten some definite quick views of Mercury, but never could get a good picture since it would disappear so quickly. This time I was able to get a couple fairly good pictures as shown here side by side. The number notation is the same as above.
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Notice how round Mercury is compared to the irregular shape of the sunspot.

All in all a very exciting day for me to finally observe a transit of Mercury and complete the double of Venus and Mercury transits. I had tried for Mercury a couple times before only to lose out to cloudiness or fog for one early morning transit either of Mercury or perhaps that was the Venus transit of 2004 that was fogged out.

My well over 50 year old Celestron 4" telescope still performs well after all those years. You may notice the tape on the tube in the first picture. The scope did suffer a couple of accidents in the past, but even despite that, it works well. As you see, it does have an equatorial mount which can be polar aligned enabling following of objects by rotation around one axis. No motor drive nor goto features as with modern scopes, but in my opinion it's a lot more fun to use that way. You really have to know your way around the sky with a scope like that. Of course if you want to just view a lot of objects in a short time, the new goto scopes are much better for that.

Still about four hours till streak time. I have no idea if the bands have improved from the storminess of yesterday, but I will find out at 0000Z or so. -30-

Sunday, May 08, 2016 8:24 PM - One big disappointment today, but otherwise a good day. The postal union took away Mike's day off tomorrow and forced him to work. So he'll miss the transit of Mercury. That really stinks, and he was very unhappy with the union. It had been arranged about six weeks ago that he would have the day off, but the union called him Thursday night with the bad news. There's a lot more I'd like to say about that, but I won't other than to say I'm glad in all the years I worked, I didn't have to deal with any unions.

Nonetheless Mike and I spent today together, and had a good time. We got a chance to eat at our favorite Ponderosa restaurant. Of course the one here in Kittanning closed a few months ago, but the one in Butler is still open so we went there to partake of the buffet. When we got home, we went to the shack to do some rig checking. I won't go into the details of that right now. Then we went for a 2+ mile walk to "walk off all the food we had at Ponderosa." Then Mike played a hidden object game on the computer. After that, he had to head home to prepare for an unexpected work day tomorrow.

Also while he was here, we checked out his astronomy binoculars with the solar filters which he is leaving here so as he put it, "at least one of us can enjoy the transit." We also checked out the projection screen on my 4 inch telescope to be sure it was working OK. It showed one small sunspot which is probably about the size Mercury will be. So that should work tomorrow.

When we looked at the propagation info this afternoon, it showed some major geomagnetic storming which made me wonder if I would be able to get my DX streak QSO this evening. Well, the bands were pretty dead when I tuned in at 0000Z. I did work special event station K4T on 40 meters for my regular streak QSO. Then I heard HT7AAA on 30 meters, and called him. I wasn't positive he got my call right although the timing was good and I did hear K3 and WP in the exchange. Not being completely happy with that, I continued to search and found PV8ADI booming in on 40 and did work him solidly with a single call. So now I can concentrate on the transit tomorrow without having to worry about getting my DX QSO. -30-

Saturday, May 07, 2016 8:41 PM - A quieter day today compared to yesterday's activities. Basically just a couple things going on. I helped Bruce with some computer work, and helped Ange get his beans planted. Then a little more work on my telescope for Monday's transit of Mercury. That was about it.

Of course with the ARI DX Contest going on, it was easy to get my DX streak QSO this evening right at 0000Z. I listened to IK0YUT from 2359 until 0000, then called as soon as the 0000Z came up on the clock. He wasn't getting any answers so I didn't have any competition and he heard me the first call, but it took a few repeats for him to get my full correct call, then several repeats to get my contest exchange. So that's 1,165 days now for the DX streak. -30-

Friday, May 06, 2016 8:49 PM - A busy day today, and unlike some so called busy days, I actually got a lot accomplished. It started off just after I got up this morning. The first thing was helping Bruce take Roscoe for a haircut, nail trimming, and bath at the groomers. While we waited for the groomer to finish we went to Myrt's for breakfast. I've mentioned Myrt's a couple times before. It's a great little roadside restaurant that serves great breakfasts. They also have lunches, but then close at 3 o'clock.

Then we picked up Roscoe, and Bruce got him an ice cream cone for a treat for being good at the groomers which he always is. I fed Roscoe the cone as Bruce drove us home. I guess that's the first time ever I've served an ice cream cone to a dog. He sure enjoyed it and after a bit of a slow start, he ate all the ice cream down to the bottom of the cone, but didn't eat the cone. We thought maybe he didn't realize the cone was for eating too. HI.

When we got home, it was pretty nice outside, so I planted out my peppers and tomatoes, and gave everything including my roses a good watering. Now I think I may plant some lettuce, bush beans, and peas. I haven't decided for sure yet.

Next up I worked on my little 4 inch telescope getting it ready for the Mercury transit on Monday. I made a projection screen from an old coat hanger. I had one before for the Venus transit (not the one Mike and I saw, but the one before that), but couldn't remember where I had put it.

Then I changed some indoor plants around a bit, since planting out my vegetables freed up a nice little stand on which I put two of my bigger plants.

Not done yet, I replaced the throw rug on which my computer sits. The old one was getting pretty ratty looking. Wouldn't you know it, while looking for the rug, I found my telescope projection screen. So now I have two of them.

It was a bit of a rough evening for ham radio. I heard quite a few stations, but they weren't hearing me. I couldn't even get a regular QSO from my CQs. After about a half hour though, I found TM5FI on 14020 and worked him although he wasn't much more than S5 here. It took only a single call. He was on IOTA EU095. I'm not sure what island that is, but perhaps one with a very low noise level that allowed him to copy me so easily when all the other stations couldn't.

That sums up my day except for getting my temperature readings and taking Roscoe out for his last walk of the day. -30-

Thursday, May 05, 2016 8:34 PM - Not a lot going on today. I visited the Ol' Station Marketplace and bought a couple clamps, a small tool kit, and a video cassette. Then I did a little tweaking of my KX3/PX3 mount I described yesterday. I added a couple of thin felt feet so it would sit a little more steady on my 50 year old homebrew shelf on which my station has rested all those years. It has developed a little bit of a warp, which I fixed with another board, some glue, clamps, and screws. So with that and the feet, the mount is rock steady now. It also will make it nice to go portable this year and to the Butler and Skyview hamfests.

Other than that, just a little shopping, walking Roscoe 3 times with a 4th yet to go, eating, a couple quick check of the bands used up most of the day. The band checks didn't show much in the way of activity around 1600 and 2100Z or so.

This evening showed 20 meters open again to Europe with strong signals from OP0PPY like last night and OE5MSM who was busy ragchewing, then went QRT for a sked on another band. There were also a couple KP4s working each other. So 20 didn't yield anything. I did have a QSO with HT7AAA on 30 meters, but then had a good one on 40. I worked R7AA there. I don't work all that many Russians on 40, especially outside contests. Well, I'm curious now. Let me just check and see. Won't take but a minute with my Microsoft Access log. OK, R7AA tonight was just my 6th Russian on 40 (R7AA, RU1A, RT5Z, RT6A, RW7K, R55CPK) - all but R7AA and R55CPK in contests. It took a few repeats to get the QSO, but as with most all Russians, once they hook onto you, they fight until they land you, to put it in fishing terms. HI.

Speaking of fishing, I've only gone twice so far and am still shut out so far. The river has been high, and the weather not all that great. So far, March has had the best weather this year. April had some nice days, but not consistent. May has been pretty much a rainy month so far. -30-

Wednesday, May 04, 2016 3:25 PM - I finished my new KX3/PX3 support stand today and thought I'd present some pictures here. It didn't cost me a cent as it was made entirely from my wood 'junk box'. In fact I was actually 'rewarded' for making it by the enjoyment I got designing and building it.

Here it is holding the KX3 and PX3 and then just the KX3.
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Here are three different views showing the construction. Note the big gap in the bottom support of the KX3 which is for plugging in my straight key/bug connector to the little jack that was designed for the mini-KX3 paddle which I don't use here. Also note the 25 small holes in a square pattern. That is an opening for the sound from the built in KX3 speaker.
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If anyone by any remote chance would like to duplicate it, I will take the time to draw up a set of plans. Mainy it was just done because of a recent surge in my interest in woodworking. There was one improvement over my previous stand. The KX3 is now a bit more upright and the tuning knob doesn't block the lower right corner of the readout like the previous one did. I may paint it or just leave the wood natural. I haven't decided yet. -30-

Tuesday, May 03, 2016 9:26 PM - I spent over an hour trying to get my DX QSO this evening. Conditions were very borderline. The stations were there, but not quite hearing me well enough to complete a QSO. I wasn't sure about working 4A1DX on 30, so I didn't log him. He sent K3WWP?, I sent R R R, then he sent something sloppy I couldn't copy, and went on to call CQ again. Then I did work PV8ADI later on 40 meters. A very rough night. Very slowly, conditions are slipping toward that upcoming sunspot minimum. Once again I have my doubts as to how long I'll be able to keep the DX streak going. I think I'll have to start exploring the bands during the morning and afternoon hours and see if things might be better then. -30-

Monday, May 02, 2016 8:54 PM - The bands continue to act crazy. I was working Dave WV8DH down in WV, and he went from a solid S9 right down to nothing in just a few seconds and never came back up again. Before we had our QSO, my DX came from HT7AAA on 20 meters with a single call.

We had a really heavy thunderstorm during the night around 5AM. Not a damaging one, just one who wanted to get everyone's attention with an almost constant display of LOUD thunder and a few minutes of VERY heavy rain. I seldom hear rain that heavy. Good thing the whole storm didn't last but about 10-15 minutes at most.

Most of the daytime hours were dry for a change, but there is a lite shower right now which I guess will try to get me wet as I go out to get my temperature reading. Incidentally, April was almost normal as far as temperatures go compared to the wild swings of the past several months now. It was just 0.8 degrees above normal. -30-

Sunday, May 01, 2016 8:14 PM - Fifty years ago tomorrow - May 2, 1966, the first ever session of the CW County Hunters Net was held. As NCS, I called the session to order at 1700Z, and the first QNI one minute later was Irene WA9EZP. Then Dave WA8EOH, the co-founder of the net with me, checked in. Emil WA2JIA followed next. Then Van K3ZMI whom I mentioned a few diary entries ago. Finally WB2MXJ dropped by quickly. I never even got his name. That concluded CW CHN session #1. A very humble beginning to what it has grown to become during the past 50 years. Should you be interested in "the rest of the story" of the CW CHN infant years, just click the CTY HUNTING link in the menu at the top of the page.

That episode of my ham radio history was a very exciting and rewarding one. Unlike other hunters though, I have never completed the quest to work all 3077 USA counties. I left ham radio to pursue a career and was even off the air for several years while doing so. I still keep track of counties worked, but don't actively pursue them via the net, state QSO parties, or other county related activities. I just check someone's county when I work them, and add them to my list if it's a new one. Currently I have 2,246 worked overall including when I ran more than 5 watts back in the 60s and early 70s. At 5 watts or less, I have 1,893 worked.

Back to the present now. Surprisingly my DX QSO came on 17 meters this evening as both 17 and 15 were open past sunset here. I didn't check 12 or 10. Two Chile stations were s8 on 17, and CE2AWW didn't hear me, but CE2MVF got me with just a single repeat of my call. -30-

4/30/2016 8:12 PM - Well, here it is another month, at least right now as of UTC. So my usual end of month, first of month chores started today. I took my gas meter reading. Used a bit more gas than normal because we had quite a few chilly days in April. Either after I finish typing this or tomorrow morning, I'll do all my financial chores. No hurry there as the bank won't be open till Monday. I uploaded all my April QSOs to LoTW and eQSL. I made only 121 QSOs during the month. I'll make up for that in May with the CQWW WPX contest the last weekend of the month. Of course all 5 of my calendars need pages flipped over to May. I'll do that in a little bit. I updated my streak totals on the main page of the web site. Those and some other things are what I do when the months change here.

Not an end of month thing, but this morning I helped Ange resurrect the fig trees for another year. They almost really didn't need buried this winter since it was so mild. But there were a few days that could have done some damage. We also cleaned up a lot of branches and mended a fence post. He has to wait to put out his plants since the garden is so large. I can put mine out earlier because my garden is small enough that I can just cover all the plants should a late frost come along. Still I'll wait another week or so to put out the rest of my peppers and the tomatoes. I did plant the bean seeds as I mentioned in a previous entry.

A quick DX QSO this evening to start another month of the DX streak. It was CO8ZZ on 30 meters with a fairly easy QSO.

OK, now I'll close and go change the calendar pages, etc. -30-

Friday, April 29, 2016 8:13 PM - I hope IK2DAD wasn't confused. I worked him on 30 meters and when we finished Chas K3WW called him and worked him. HI Gio is a good op and as I was telling WB3FAE who worked him last night, I often work him when he is just at or below S4 or S5 here and flirting with my noise. Tonight I had a bit of trouble copying him, but he seemed to copy me OK. I did have to repeat my call once.

I wanted to get a quick DX streak QSO. That's why I tried him, even though it hasn't been too long since we worked on 30 meters. But also because that was my 30th QSO on 30 meters this month. So as I mentioned in the previous entry, that earns me the NAQCC 30-30 award.

It was another dreary day today with light rain or drizzle and a high of, let's see, just 54. Tomorrow might be a bit better at least until late afternoon when more rain should arrive.

My around 50 year old shack chair wound up with a cracked rung today, so I just finished repairs on it. Now it should be good for another 50, even though I won't be. HI.

OK, now to get off my 30-30 application. -30-

Thursday, April 28, 2016 9:04 PM - This was just not a very nice day. Rain most of the day and temperatures in the 40s - BRRRR! More like mid-March than late April.

Another 0000Z DX QSO this evening. I tuned around a bit a couple minutes before 00Z, and just a few seconds after it turned to 0000, I found and worked Rey CO6RD on 20 meters.

I've had quite a few QSOs on 30 meters this month and thought I'd go for another of our NAQCC 30-30 awards which you earn by making 30 QSOs on 30 meters in a calendar month. After working W9RDB this evening on 30, I have 27 this month, so I think I'll go for the 30 the next couple days. Shouldn't be hard to make it.

Mike and I had a good time last night. He arrived and just before we had our pizza, he took a shot at working S01WS, but conditions had changed in the half hour since I worked him, and he was weaker and a little busier, and then he kind of abruptly QRT, perhaps upset with the QRM on his frequency. So Mike didn't get him.

I told Mike to surprise me with the pizza toppings, and it was a pleasant surprise. Onions, tomatoes, sausage, and mushrooms. Mmmmm, I'm getting hungry again just thinking about it. After we finished that, we did some preliminary work on a new NAQCC banner that we are getting made up for use at hamfests, etc. It's the same design as our current one which was made for us by KA2KGP and N2COD several years ago. That one is showing signs of wear after all that time. We'll unveil it at the Breezeshooters Hamfest in Butler, PA on June 5.

That finished, Mike played a hidden object game until he had to head home around 11PM or so. He is off again on Thursdays now, so he could stay later. -30-

Wednesday, April 27, 2016 8:15 PM - Waiting for Mike to arrive for a visit, so may have to pause in this entry or cut it short.

Worked a couple DX stations this evening within 3 minutes. FY5KE on 30 meters. Then S01WS on 40 meters for a new band entity. S01WS was surprisingly easy. A case of him copying me easier than vice versa. Didn't copy well enough to know he came back to me, but then he repeated my call for solid copy here. As Tom WB3FAE and I were saying, I seem to have a good pipeline into northwest Africa as it seems to be easy to work that part of the world. Also I have a couple other pipelines, one to Hawaii, and one to Asiatic Russia. I don't really understand why, but I'll accept them no questions asked. HI. Just wish the Asiatic Russia one would work on 40 instead of just the higher bands so I could finally finish 40M WAC.

Well, guess I'll just close now and wait for Mike. -30-

Tuesday, April 26, 2016 8:40 PM - Another somewhat busy day today. I went to vote this morning. Did some more grass pulling from the bricks. A little more work on the fishing pole holder.

After waiting till the 0400Z hour last night to get my DX, tonight I again got back to the 00Z hour. I tried an EI station on 30, but man was he popular, and not turning over the QSOs all that fast. Seemed to be having trouble pulling stations out of the pileup he developed. I didn't know Ireland was so rare on 30. Then I tried a CE on 20 with no success. Then I settled for my regular streak QSO by having W1AAF answer my 30M CQ. While in QSO with him, I heard CN8KD very weak in the background. I didn't think I'd be able to get him, so after I finished with W1AAF, I looked elsewhere, but then a little later, CN8KD's signal was up nicely, so I tried and worked him. So the DX streak goes on.

I'm looking forward to a visit from Mike tomorrow evening. We'll be having a pizza and then see what else we can get into. -30-

Monday, April 25, 2016 8:53 PM - A busy day today and still getting caught up on a few things, so let's see how fast I can type this.

Spent part of the morning waiting for a repairman to tweak my new refrigerator. The doors weren't closing quite right. He came and they're fixed now.

Stopped by Honey Bear after a walk and bought a dozen nightcrawlers. Then went fishing for about an hour. I improved one notch over the last time I went with Denny. Then not a single bite. Today I at least got a bite. So maybe things will continue to improve and the next time I'll actually catch a fish.

Back home again for my mid-afternoon meal, then decided to plant out half my pepper plants since the weather is so nice and looks to continue that way. I also planted my speckled bean seeds. Then I deadheaded my tulips since the flowers were well past their early peak.

Some walking and shopping, then I worked on my hombrew fishing pole stand again.

Tonight is another nail biter as to whether this will be the day the DX streak ends. Only heard a weak LZ who wasn't hearing me, and then a PY who called a brief CQ, then vanished. So back to the bands later tonight or tomorrow morning or afternoon to try to keep the streak alive. That's the first time in a while now I haven't gotten my DX in the 0000Z hour.

OK, typed that in seven minutes. Now to do the propagation and index pages and then get my temperature readings before going next door to watch some TV with Bruce and take Roscoe for his last walk of the day. -30-

Sunday, April 24, 2016 8:52 PM - Once again it doesn't get any quicker. A single call to 9Y/K2HVN at 0000Z and the DX streak continues at 1,152 days.

A busy day today. First I took Bruce's VCR apart and gave it a good cleaning. The tracking had been skipping all over the place. In a brief check after cleaning, it seems OK now. We'll see further.

Next I pulled some more grass from between the sidewalk bricks. I'm getting it early this year. Last year, I let it go way too long before the first pulling.

Then some work on my homebrew fishing pole holder which had suffered a bit from years of use.

I also got in some walks and shopping. Of course my daily walks with Roscoe also.

I got an interesting email from one of our very early CW County Hunter Net participants and NCS today, Van (then) K3ZMI. I'd like to share it here as the 50th anniversary of our founding of the CW CHN approaches (May 2).

"That is right! CW County Hunters Net turns 50 years on May 2, 2016!

K3WWP - John -co-founder has this link that describes in great detail about the first 2 years of the fledgling CW CH Net:
Link also available at countyhunter.com - go to CW Operators tab and then dropdown menu History.
A 2nd link shows how the CW CH contest was the idea of the other co-founder WA8EOH:

My recollections of those 1st days:
Paul W8CXS put out a new county in MI Parks every Saturday morning with plenty of callers for a new county and stimulated Saturday CW county hunting, I think.
John K3WWP and Dave WA8EOH had been discussing a County Hunting Net operation.
I learned of this in a QSO on 4-18-66 with K3WWP and encouraged that he continue with the plan.
I got a postcard in the mail from John that he would call the first net session on May 2, 1966.
In the mean time I'd been monitoring & checking into the traffic handling net for Maryland & Delaware (MDD) with one of the NCS Andy K3JYZ later W3XE.
The big day came on Monday May 2, 1966 on 40M CW 7035.
I scurried home from High School and checked into the 1st ever CW County Hunter Net session run by K3WWP at 1854Z and stayed on until 1958Z.
The next 3 days WA8EOH was NCS, along with K3WWP with much later sessions. I think he began about 2300Z. Somewhere in those first 3 days, I volunteered to be NCS for the 1st ever Saturday session for May 7th, 1966 1400Z
So, loosely based on traffic handling, I asked for QNI and just called "CQ County Hunter Net All Welcome". A few check-ins was all.
2nd weekend 1430Z had 16 check-ins and several visitors handed out their counties.
It was a fun summer being NCS on Saturdays, participation grew, until I went off to college.
CW mobile was almost non-existent, so everyone was encouraged to bring stations to the net to give out their county, along with my solicitations with All Welcome.
Amazingly enough, many youngsters and young adults, way back in the 60's and early 70's that were interested in CW county hunting are still around today.
Here is a few that come to mind, sorry if I missed you
John K3WWP moved on from County Hunting to CW QRP and "The Streak" among other "All CW" activities and remains very active daily. Explore his website.
This "County Hunting" thing has been a thread on & off in my life, I've enjoyed it immensely, co-existing along with many of my other interests.
We have a come a long ways since those humble beginnings!!
73 & GH
USA-CA 1092 All CW #71"

I'm guessing from the sound of it, the email is a copy of a posting that Van made somewhere.

Like so many other things in the past, it seems hard to believe it has been that long ago that Dave and I started the CW CHN. Dave WA8EOH lives in CA now according to the callbook. I've tried unsuccessfully to get in touch with him a few times over the past several years. I think I'll try again as the 50th anniversay aproaches. -30-

Saturday, April 23, 2016 8:19 PM - Easy and pretty quick DX this evening. TZ4AM on 10.104 listening up 1. Took just a couple calls to get him in the log. First Mali I've worked since 2/18/2001 and only the third overall. One was on 30 also so no new band entity, but my first TZ4 prefix. Others were TZ6.

Took a while to develop, but it turned out to be a pretty nice day by mid afternoon after being a bit chilly, cloudy, and breezy earlier.

I helped Bruce fix up that wooden armchair he bought for a buck a couple days ago. As you know, I love woodworking so I enjoyed that chance to put my woodworking to a useful purpose. Now he's got a good solid sturdy chair to sit on.

Not a whole lot else happened today other than the usual run of the mill things. Looks like it's very clear right now, so I'll have to go see if I can add another day of seeing Mercury. Maybe for the last time before May 9th when Mike and I hope to observe it transiting the sun on that day. Sure hope it is clear then as I think if I remember right, the next Mercury transit isn't until 2019 and I'm not sure if that one is visible from here or not. Looking at Wikipedia, it looks like only the end portion of that one can be seen in the eastern USA. At the very least I hope we'll luck out on the 9th as we did with the transit of Venus in 2012 when the skies cleared up enough for us to get a clear view of it for several minutes. That's something I won't forget as I know I won't see the next Venus transit since it won't happen until the 22nd century - something like 2117. Yes, 2117 and 2125 are the next pair of Venus transits. -30-

Friday, April 22, 2016 8:48 PM - I think I'll make this mostly a picture entry as I haven't posted many pictures of late. First a couple of other things. I made my 2016 fishing debut today as Denny came to the door and asked if I wanted to go fishing. I hesitated at first because I had a couple other things planned, but quickly changed my mind. So as soon as I walked Roscoe we headed to the creek and sat there for an hour and five minutes watching our poles move not one tiny bit. There was a big carp swimming around taunting us, but he apparently wasn't hungry.

Surprise! My DX tonight was from Europe. Outiside of a couple contest QSOs, that was only the fourth European I've worked in April. Not only worked, but had a nice 8 minute chat with Mike OE5MSM with solid copy both ways.

OK, now let's see what I have in the way of pictures. First a couple of key pictures. The NAQCC is getting a new banner made up for our parkpeditions, hamfests, etc. and Mike (KC2EGL) wanted a couple of key pictures for the banner, so I sent him these and might as well show them here. They are my Begali Blade straight key and Begali Magnetic Classic paddle showing a bit of wear and a little dust after a few years of use. Probably should have dusted them off, but I didn't think of it at the time.

pix_diary_20160422_001 (29K)pix_diary_20160422_002 (51K)

And here are some pictures of two small peppers on my plants. I pollinated the flowers with Q tips and a couple of them took so far. I didn't do that great a job of photography though with one hidden by a leaf and an out of focus picture of each.

pix_diary_20160422_003 (24K)pix_diary_20160422_004 (33K)pix_diary_20160422_005 (39K)

Now my tomato plants and a dandelion given to me by a little neighborhood girl about 5 years old. She called it a sunflower. Almost looks like one in a way.

pix_diary_20160422_006 (40K)pix_diary_20160422_007 (22K)

Now my tulips. They didn't quite make it for Easter this year, but look nice nonetheless.

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And that pretty much covers my recent pictures. I haven't been taking as many lately as I used to when the camera was new. I guess I've sort of already taken pictures of all the fixed things around the house and in town. HI. -30-

Thursday, April 21, 2016 8:42 PM - Another not much happening day today. It was a nice walking day. In fact just about perfect in the upper 70s. I went out three times in addition to walking Roscoe three times. I also visited the Ol' Station Marketplace with Bruce. He bought a good solid wood armchair for a buck and I picked up a couple DVD movies for a buck apiece.

As far as ham radio, I only got on briefly for my DX streak this evening. I worked one of the old standby DX stations who seem to be there all the time on one band or another. It was Josh 6Y5WJ, this time on 30 meters.

I am kind of thinking the DX streak may come to an end sometime this year. Today's solar flux was just 77 as we continue to slip toward the next sunspot minimum. As I've often said, if it gets to be too time consuming, then I'll just let the streak come to an end. Not that it will probably become impossible to work DX with a setup like mine. It's just that I won't spend too overly much time searching for and working it. I'm sure than won't happen with the main streak as it is easy to work W/VE stations. I've proved that through the biggest part of two sunspot minimums when I didn't miss a beat despite solar flux bottoming out in the low 60s. And as you know, that never involved making any skeds or checking into nets to keep the streak going. In other words no pre-arranged QSOs of any kind. Oh, I did use contests quite a few times, but those were not pre-arranged QSOs. Oh, and absolutely no use of spotting of any kind. I have just either called CQ or tuned around to find someone else calling CQ. A very few times I may have tailended someone as they were ending a QSO, but that was extremely seldom. I point all that out just to say that you don't have to go to any kind of extremes to regularly make QSOs with your QRP and simple antennas if you use CW.

Oh, we actually saw rain today after over a week of Atacama Desert type dry weather. That was just a little while ago this evening. Just checking my spelling of Atacama and I see this statement in the Wikipedia article - "Evidence suggests that the Atacama may not have had any significant rainfall from 1570 to 1971." I don't know why the cutoff year of 1971. Probably quoted from a book published that year. I've always been fascinated by meteorologically unique places like that. If you share that interest, the Wikipedia Atacama Desert article is very interesting. -30-

Wednesday, April 20, 2016 8:41 PM - The DX streak lives for another day (or two since what I said last night). Later after the diary entry last night I worked Alex HC2AO on 40 meters for day 1,147. Then a few minutes ago it was PV8ADI for day 1,148. Working PV8ADI is usually a strange experience. Either I'm never heard when I call him, or I get him on the first or second try. Tonight it was the latter.

It looks like another streak is coming to an end though. Our rainless streak. It's supposed to rain tomorrow as the omega block that had been providing us with lovely weather for over a week straight is breaking down and is going to allow some of that moisture that has been plaguing Texas and surrounding states to come up this way. We won't get the flooding though, just some showers for maybe an inch or so total the next couple days.

I haven't mentioned my tomatoes or peppers in a few days. The peppers are still growing like crazy with more flowers every couple of days now. My pollinating with Q tips worked with at least one flower as I have a tiny pepper growing now. The tomatoes are coming along also. I think if I look with a magnifier, one plant may finally be getting some tiny buds on it.

About weather checking time now, and I'll also see if I can make it 5 of 6 days to spot Mercury. Clouds are gathering but it was clear to the west when I was looking out the shack window a little while ago. -30-

Tuesday, April 19, 2016 9:04 PM - I got a lot of little things done today, but I'm not going to write about them here. Instead I'll only say that I just saw Mercury for the fourth out of the last five evenings. Probably the most I've ever seen that elusive little planet in any one apparation either morning or evening. Mainly that's due to the stretch of clear dry weather we've had. We haven't seen rain in over a week now. We've only seen a few scattered high clouds the past couple days. Before that just about perfectly clear skies for several days. Just looking at my humidity records from my AcuRite weather station. Each day of the past seven now, the minimum humidity has been 16%. I've never seen it go below 16% in the three years or so since I got the unit, so 16% is as low as it goes, I guess. The highest humidity in that same stretch has been 71% and generally most days get up in the 80s or 90s early each morning. Quite unusual weather, to say the least.

This is another of those "will this be the day my DX streak ends" days. I didn't hear a single DX station this evening, although I did hear others chasing/working DX I couldn't hear at all. So we'll see what happens later tonight, in the morning or afternoon. Hopefully one of those periods will yield a DX QSO. But if not, well all good things must come to an end, or so they say. I still have the regular big streak going thanks to a nice rag chew about gardening with Carl WB0CFF this evening from 0020 to 0049Z.

Just a couple notes about the subpedition and related matters. I received the complete log today from Ken N3CU. We made only 11 QSOs in the horrible conditions in just about 5 hours of steady operating. A note from John N8ZYA of the WVA Chapter said they had similar horrible conditions for their outing today. -30-

Monday, April 18, 2016 8:40 PM - Still another great mid-April day today. A high of let's see...84 again on my remote thermometer and right now it's 69. A few clouds gathered today though and ended the streak of beautiful clear blue skies and maybe my streak of seeing Mercury. I'll check in a few minutes.

It probably will turn cold again though since I put my screens in today to let in some of the warmth. And it might rain next week since my neighbor is on vacation and she says it always rains then.

An easy DX QSO tonight with HT7AAA whom I imagine is the same op as the one who did HT7C last year. Yes, it's YN4SU/TI4SU who is a super great operator. I can virtually be certain he will answer my call even though he may be just at my S4 or S5 noise level here.

I finished the sprint cross-checking of logs today. It's amazing (well not really) that every month someone seems to come up with a new error situation in their log that leaves me scratching my head for a while. I had about a half-dozen really perplexing QSOs this month, but I think I got them figured out correctly. If not, we always give a week after cross-checking for folks to question or appeal changes in their claimed scores. I think we're one of the few contests/sprints that do that. We want everything to be as near to 100% correct as possible.

I hoped to have a bit more news about our results from the sub yesterday, but I'm still awaiting a copy of the log. So instead of that, here are a couple pictures.

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The left picture shows Ken N3CU operating while Tom WB3FAE looks back at the camera. The right picture with downtown Pittsburgh in the background shows (L-R) Tom, me, Mike KC2EGL, and Ken getting ready to head for home hopefully beating the Pirates baseball traffic jam (which we all did).

It was nice to welcome Ken to his first NAQCC WPA Chapter activity. Hopefully he'll be joining us again in the future. -30-

Sunday, April 17, 2016 7:50 PM - The weather was excellent, like June 17 rather than April 17. The company (Mike, Tom, and Ken) was excellent. As always, Art WA3BKD was a gracious host at the Requin. It was great when Mike and had our lunch on one of the picnic tables at the Science Center. After the day was over, a great meal was had at Chili's in the Pittsburgh Mills. Back home Mike worked a couple DX stations which was great.

OK, those were the highlights of our subpedition. Other than those, it wasn't so great though.

When we were setting up to operate, 40 meters just wouldn't tune right with an SWR of 14-15:1. Finally it did get a bit better down to 1.5 to 1 or so, but the KX3 was still balking and wouldn't give us the full 5 watts output. That shouldn't have mattered, but something was wrong as we didn't get any answers on 40 between 1405 and 1430Z. So we then tried 20 which was working a little better, but still QSOs were hard to come by and when we did work someone, QSB took their signals on a roller coaster ride from maybe 569 to uncopyable down in the noise. One time a FL station went from S9+ to nothing in just a couple minutes. Things went like that for a full 5 hours. We wound up with around 10 QSOs or so, none very easy. I don't have the complete log here yet, but I remember QSOs with NM, TX, MO, AZ, FL, OK, and France. Later in the day Art took binoculars and looked up at the Requin's vertical antenna and noticed that one of the clamps did not look right. The Requin had recently been re-painted and he surmised the painters disturbed the antenna which accounted for the poor performance on 40 meters and the sub-optimal performance on the other bands. Hopefully he can work on the antenna and get it fixed for our next trip down there, possibly in June. Also in tuning across the bands, it was apparent that propagation was not very good on top of the antenna problem.

I'll have more to say about the subpedition tomorrow, but now it's time to go get my streak QSO(s) and then close out our NAQCC April sprint results. -30-

Saturday, April 16, 2016 8:43 PM - I just took a look at Mercury for the second evening in a row. If you've never spotted this elusive planet, tonight would be a good night to try if it is as clear where you are as it is here. Just look toward the WNW about 10-15 degrees up in the sky, and there it will be pretty much all alone in that part of the sky. It's around magnitude -0.2 so it's a little brighter than Rigel in Orion which is at 0.13.

I really wanted to get my DX streak QSO this evening, so I could relax on the subpedition to the Requin tomorrow. I did, working PP5KR in the MM contest, then also HC2GRC/P on IOTA SA-034 because I needed the G and R in his call for the NAQCC challenge. Now I need only a single letter 'I' to complete the April challenge. One letter in 15 days shouldn't be that hard to get, especially since it is not that rare in call signs.

Continued beautiful weather today - sunny in the upper 70s. So if you bet I spent a lot of time outside, you can collect your winnings. I took 2 medium walks and one long walk along with doing some shopping. Then in between I continued cleaning up the back yard. It's almost ready now for planting.

I think my pepper plants are aching to get outside. They have two fully opened flowers now and a lot of budding flowers. I've been trying to pollinate them with Q-tips. We'll see how that works out. The tomatoes are also coming along and they are about the same as last year at this stage which means mid to late June probably for the first ripe tomatoes. -30-

Friday, April 15, 2016 8:32 PM - Someone wondered why only three choices in my poll this month. Simple answer. I took the three kinds of clubs relating to the material on my web site - CW and QRP. I came up with CW, CW/QRP, and QRP. Then I took the best (longest established, most members, most active, etc.) club in each category and came up with CW-FISTS, CW/QRP-NAQCC, QRP-QRP ARCI. Too complicated to try to include all CW and/or QRP clubs and would make the poll way too long.

Beautiful day today - sunny and 74 degrees. So a couple of rather long walks were taken, my grass got mowed and edged, and just generally hung around outside a while.

Right now I'm waiting for it to get a tad darker, then going to go out and look for Mercury. This is its best eastern elongation of the year this month.

Heard a couple European stations on 30 this evening, worked one easily - S57V. Didn't try the other. I'll save him for tomorrow's streak QSO - maybe. -30-

Thursday, April 14, 2016 9:07 PM - A busy day today with working on sprint logs, enjoying a beautiful day walking and cleaning up the back yard. Also visiting the Ol' Station Marketplace. I've mentioned that before, but in case you are new here, it's an old railroad station about a block from here that has been converted into what some would perhaps unkindly call a junk shop. Kind of like a large garage or yard sale indoors open once a week (Thursdays) where you are liable to find anything at all at very reasonable prices. I got a Dick Van Dyke DVD, an old clock, a plane (carpentry), and an old Wizard of Oz book, all for 3 dollars. The lady who runs it opens it in April and it is open through December each year. She got a lot of new things in over the three months it was closed. I didn't have a lot of time to look at everything today, but I plan to spend more time next week seeing what I can find. Oh, the old clock was for the innards to replace those from a close to 100 year old mantle clock I have here. It stopped about a year ago, and now today with its new works, it's like finding an old friend again.

My regular streak QSO this evening came from NAQCC president Paul N8XMS who answered my 40M CQ. Then it was CN8KD on 30 for the DX streak, followed by a QSB shortened QSO with old friend VE3OU, and finally NAQCC member NF5U on 40M.

I posted a new poll today also. I hope you'll take time to cast your vote. See the link above.

And I guess that's about it. No time for more ham history, but I hope to get back to it. Actually most of the recent history can be found in the diary and scattered around the web site. Maybe I can just point out where to look for certain phases of my history. -30-

Wednesday, April 13, 2016 10:33 AM - I'm trying to get caught up on some other things so I can start work on cross-checking our sprint logs from last night. Already some 60-70 in the email hopper.

It was a great sprint for me with my lowered local noise level of late. Nice to have S3-4 noise vs. S8-9 now. So I set a goal of 50 QSOs and a secondary goal of 60 before the sprint. I wound up in between those figures at 56 QSOs from 24 SPCs, both my second best figures for one of our NAQCC sprints. Lowered noise sure makes a difference. It was also nice that 54 of the 56 were with NAQCC members. Our membership is certainly growing.

I had a question via email from Dennis N1IMW, and I thought my answer to him might be of interest to others as well. He asked, "Hi John.... I am just catching up in your diary... have you worked any national parks on the air? Dennis. N1imw". I'm guessing he meant have I made any QSOs with other stations operating from national parks, and not have I activated any national parks myself.

I answered as follows: I really am not into parks, SOTA, IOTA, and things like that. My activities consist of, not necessarily in the following order: Chasing DX trying for new band countries or overall new countries and maintaining my DX streak, maintaining my regular streak, chasing new prefixes, working our NAQCC challenges and sprints, participating in FISTS activities, and rag chewing. I also like to operate portable a few times a year with Mike, Don, Tom, and now Ken. We'll be operating portable from the sub Requin this coming Sunday, the 17th. More on that later.

OK, now on to a couple more things, brunch, and then preparing for log cross-checking. -30-

Tuesday, April 12, 2016 8:10 PM - I'm hoping my noise level is low tonight as it has been now for a couple weeks. If so I hope to put in a full two hour effort in our NAQCC sprint. So I'm getting a lot of things out of the way now.

I got my DX QSO from HC1WDT on 20 meters at 0002Z. So the DX streak is taken care of. I've got GenLog set up for the sprint. I'll be getting my temperature readings just before 8:30 tonight. So I guess I'm about ready to go in the sprint. I just hope I don't turn on the rig and find my noise has returned.

More ham history in future entries. -30-

Monday, April 11, 2016 7:23 PM - As I move along in my history of my 53 years in ham radio, I know it will be interesting to me, and I hope to you, to take a look at the various rigs, antennas, and accessories I've used over the years.

I have not kept as good records as I should have, and the following is just a (very) rough draft of what I hope will be a more accurate accounting of my equipment as I dig through more old records. Most of the following is from notes in my computer log that were copied from my paper logs. Here is what I have so far with the dates I am sure of marked with an asterisk.
7/6/1963 - Inverted V 40M antenna
9/1/1999 - Kenwood TS-570D received in mail and first QSO made with KO1C on 40M*.
6/12/2007 - Ten Tec rig from Don
9/23/2007 - Bencher paddle from Mike
10/20/2007 - Homebrew Straight Key used first time in QSO with KP2Z on 30M*.
12/13/2007 - Morse Express key from Geo N1EAV as a Christmas gift
4/14/2008 - First QSO with Mike's TS-480SAT - N4MIO on 40M*. 
4/16/2008 - Mike loaned me his TS-480SAT which I used as my main rig till getting the K2*.
2/16/2009 - Mike's KX-1 built.
8/27/2009 - Received a Vibroplex Lightning Bug from Larry W2LJ as a gift.
9/12/2009 - 1st bug QSO - K1LGQ on 80M*.
12/26/2009 - Winkeyer Christmas present from Mike
8/23/2010 - Begali Blade Key and Magnetic Classic Paddle (from NAQCC presented at Skyview hamfest)*.
9/1/2010 - Tuthill 80M rig from Don
10/10/2011 - Elecraft K2 on loan from Mike. Purchased from him subsequently.
7/23/2012 - Homebrew paddle
8/29/2012 - Altoids homebrew paddle
9/21/2012 - KX-1 from Mike?
10/21/2012 - My Elecraft KX3 used first time - KC2EGL on 80M. 29 other QSOs that day with the KX3*.
Man, that needs a lot of work. A lot of equipment is missing, some dates are very questionable, etc. I don't know if I'll ever get it as accurate as my perfectionist nature will be happy with, but I plan to work on it to flesh it out and correct it. I should be able to get more info from my diary and also the NAQCC newsletters. Those will be what I search next.

Getting close to 0000Z now and time to try for my streak QSO(s). HA3FTA on 17M extended the DX streak this morning. -30-

Sunday, April 10, 2016 9:16 PM - Just a short entry tonight again. Busy day today with still some things left that need doing.

No DX QSO this evening. Heard a couple EU stations on 40, but they were either busy in QSO or didn't hear me when they called CQ. So the little pink note comes out in front of the computer to reming me I need to hit the bands for DX during the day tomorrow if I don't work any later tonight.

I never did get on again last evening nor during the night. Hope I didn't blow a chance for Asia on 40 meters.

OK, got to get going now. -30-

Saturday, April 09, 2016 8:38 PM - It's now 1995 in my ham history. Not a lot to talk about in that year. I did have my first QSOs ever on 12 and 160 meters. My first QSO on 160 was with K3KLC on February 15. I'm surprised at my 160 meters totals for the 1990s. I didn't remember being that active there. However it was pretty much at a sunspot minimum and 160 is always better when the sunspots are not that active. I made the following number of 160 meters QSOs from 1995 through 1998 - 427, 716, 381, 269. Of course a lot of those were in the ARRL and CQ 160 meters contests, but there were a lot of non-contest QSOs as well. My first 17 meters QSO was with NQ9L on June 28. Unlike 160, I had very few 12 meter QSOs for 1995 through 1998 - 7, 4, 6, 30. Pretty much the same cause as my large number on 160. Sunspots - low number good for low bands, not good for high bands. My 12 meters QSOs didn't really increase until the sunspot maximum years. More on that in a future entry. We're dealing mainly with 1995 tonight.

My overall QSO total in 1995 was my second highest since I started up again in 1993 and my third highest overall. 1999 - 5,615, 1966 - 5,542, 1995 - 4,777. I really got into contesting that year and stayed active the next few years entering most every bigger contest that came along, be they DX, state QSO parties, band contests, club contests, whatever.

My DX didn't increase all that much. I only made 444 DX QSOs in 1995 and that stayed pretty much the same through 1997. Again due largely to sunspots. But also still I hadn't reached that point where I had all that much confidence in being a successful DXer with my minimal QRP setup.

I did reach DXCC on February 28, 1995 when I worked my 100th country in Finland from OH2LLZ on 17 meters. Kind of surprising it took that long to work Finland. But then the order of countries worked overall takes me by surprise as I look back at my list worked by date. Some of the countries I worked after #100, I now have a few hundred QSOs with like Asiatic Russia and Japan to mention a couple. Kind of like Maryland for my WAS that I mentioned previously.

Enough history to digest for this entry. More to follow.

An easy DX streak QSO this evening. LY2NK on 40 meters in the Gagarin Cup contest. I also heard a couple weak Asians in the contest on 40. I'd love to work them, but couldn't yet. Maybe later tonight, during the night or around sunrise. The Japan JIDX contest is this weekend also, so maybe I can snag a JA on 40 and finally get the 40M WAC monkey off my back. -30-

Friday, April 08, 2016 8:40 PM - OK, we're into 1993 in my ham history now. At that time another factor entered into the equation. I had some pretty bad back problems - pinched nerve, sciatica. That was pretty painful and kind of killed my newly returned enthusiasm for ham radio. Looking at my log, I see a gap from June 14, 1993 to January 5, 1994 with actually only one QSO in June 1993 and 3 in January 1994. In 1993, I had only 299 QSOs on 4 bands - 20 30 40 80. Then along came February 1994 and a renewal of full ham radio activity.

Eric continued to study for his ham license. He picked up an interest in the contesting aspect of ham radio. I recall he really enjoyed the state QSO parties and would like to follow the mobiles on a road map to try to figure out what county they would be hitting next. We tried the ARRL DX contest in February 1994, and that reinforced my belief that you could work DX with very little power. With Eric in the shack, I made 17 QSOs - not a lot - but better things were coming as far as DX goes. More about DX in a moment.

I've told this story before, but it bears repeating. Both Eric and I were (are) big sports fans, and sports records involve streaks of various kinds - consecutive games played (Lou Gehrig 2,130, broken later by Cal Ripken), consecutive games hitting safely (Joe DiMaggio 56, still unbroken), and so on. As we talked about streaks, Eric and I wondered how a streak could be applied to ham radio. It wound up being how many consecutive days a QSO could be made (using QRP, CW, simple antennas). That was some time after August 5, 1994 because I had to look back in my log to find that August 4, 1994 was the last day I hadn't made a QSO. Well, the rest of the streak is well known history as it is now at 7,919 consecutive days as I write this.

The next big event in 1994 was Eric getting his ham license. I still vividly remember us going to Butler to take the test, and how exciting it was for both of us when he passed. Another image etched in my mind was Eric coming to my front door and holding up his license to the little glass window for me to see. That was in December of 1994, perhaps the 23rd as that is my first QSO with him in my log.

My activity took a big leap in 1994. Briefly 3,359 QSOs, of which 332 were DX. That percentage of DX QSOs would steadily increase over the next several years.

1994 also "featured" my debut on some new (and old) ham bands. My first ever QSO on 10 meters was December 28, 1994 with Eric. Not a debut, but I returned to 15 meters on September 27, 1994 working HI8LC, the first time on that band since 1968. My first ever 17 meters QSO came on April 22, 1994 working HK3DDD. That left only 160, 60, 12, and 6 to be explored. 160 and 12 would come in 1995. And I'll pick up with that in another entry.

A super quick DX QSO this evening at 0000Z when I worked 4A1DX on 20 meters. Of course that's a secondary prefix for Mexico. 40 was unusually quiet. I only saw a very few signals on the panadapter for whatever reason. A few CQs on that band yielded nothing, so I went to 30 where K5FA answered my CQ, and we chatted for several minutes before the band changed and he disappeared. -30-

Thursday, April 07, 2016 9:00 PM - I'm going to take a day off from writing my ham history. I'll pick it up again tomorrow.

It took a little longer to get my DX QSO this evening, but I did make it when I worked 6Y5WJ on 30 meters at 0030Z.

It's looking more and more like someone switched March and April this year. Now there is a prediction of some accumulating s#$w tomorrow night. That's something we had just about none of in March. -30-

Wednesday, April 06, 2016 8:49 PM - I worked one of my favorite countries for my DX streak QSO this evening. Mongolia has always fascinated me for some reason, and the fascination was aided and abetted when I saw the movie Destination Gobi with Richard Widmark. After working JT1CO right at 0000Z on 14025, I now have 10 QSOs with Mongolia. Just after I worked him, he apparently became popular because I checked back following a 40M rag chew with Paul, AA1LL and JT1CO now was working split and had a pretty good pileup. I guess I caught him just starting up as he was simplex then and it took me only sending my call four times to easily work him. He was only about 569 here and gave me a 559. That's a new call from Mongolia adding to JT1DA, JT5DX, and JT1AA whom I worked previously. JT1AA providing half of the 10 JT QSOs. Right after the QSO I got to wondering why I can't work China if Mongolia is so fairly easy, as well as Asiatic Russia. China is a bit further away, but probably the real reason is there isn't much activity from China. However, when you get down to it, Mongolia doesn't have all that much activity either. Who knows? Maybe some day I will get China also. I've only even ever heard it 2 or 3 times. The last time a few days ago when I heard BG9NUD fairly strong, but he was chasing other DX.

I'll pause now to get my temperature readings, and when I come back, a bit more ham history.

I got acquainted with three neighbor kids around 1990 or so, one of whom was Eric who later became KB3BFQ. I've talked about him before in regard to my streak and other things. So I'm not going to dwell on that too much. I just want to say here that when Eric found out about ham radio, he more or less persuaded me to get my station back together again so he could see first hand what it was all about. So with his help, I re-activated my old homebrew transmitter, this time with a 6Y6 final tube that provided 5 or less watts output. That's when I became a 100% true QRPer according to the modern definition of QRP as 5 watts or less output power. At first it was kind of a Rube Goldberg setup that I'm not even going to try to describe here. It worked, and worked well. With Eric in the shack with me, my first QSO in my third period of activity was with K3DQ in MD (ironically my first QSO this time around would be with MD when it took me so long to work it for the first time back in the 60s). That was on 40 meters on February 15, 1993 at 1930Z. By the time February ended, I had 71 QSOs in the log, and I think the bug bit Eric pretty hard, and it wasn't long till he started studying to become a ham. As for me, I had all my enthusiasm back again that waned a bit along the way. Around that time, the radio station I worked at was sold and all the employees released so I retired. That was also just in time for me to be able to take more care of my ageing mother. It also gave me more time to pursue ham radio. And that somewhat sums up the beginning of phase three of my ham 'career'. More to follow. -30-

Tuesday, April 05, 2016 10:15 AM - No problem with the DX streak today. Day 1,032 is in the log, so let's pick up my 53 year ham history.

I started working at WPIT on April 16 (I think), 1969 and that had an immediate effect on the amount of my ham radio activity. Before that date, I had 18,508 QSOs. From that date through December 4, 1973, I made only 103 QSOs. Then I became inactive until my next QSO on June 17, 1981. That started a roughly 2 year period of activity. A quick stroll through my log looks like all the QSOs through November 2, 1982 were on 40 meters. (a later check shows 8 on 80 meters also at the beginning of the period) Then in November, I found out about the new 30 meter band and modified my VFO and xmtr so I could try out this new ham band. There was a tremendous amount of activity there as hams strived to be the first to work WAS, DXCC, etc. on the new band. I came to really love the band, and it remains a favorite to this very day. It was strange at first as there was a 'hole' where no ham activity was allowed. I think it was from 10109 through 10113 or something like that. I accidentally wandered into the hole and was quickly told about it by another ham. I made 243 QSOs there through March 29, 1983. Only 2 were DX, J88CI and F9OQ. But I still wasn't all that much into DX, still believing you needed more than the QRP/simple antennas setup I had to work DX.

Although not on 30 meters, but on 40, my beliefs about DX began to be altered in that early 80s time frame. Especially in September 1981 when I ran off a series of DX contacts using a short wire in my attic and a power INPUT of 12 to 30 watts to my 1625 final amp. The night (0500-0645Z) of September 17 particularly stands out. In that time I worked the European countries of SM, GM, F, G, EA, ON. All solid QSOs and all went past the all too common RST TU type of DX QSOs and included chatting about rig, wx, etc. Still the DX bug had not bitten all that hard and I only made 22 DX QSOs during my activity in the early 80s.

Most of my activity in that period still involved county hunting, rag chewing, and some contesting. Speaking of counties, it just popped into my mind that after many years, I finally worked neighboring county Clarion on 30 meters during that period. Kind of akin to taking so long to work neighboring state Maryland as mentioned in the previous installment of my diary. On September 23, 1983 the second period of ham radio activity came to an end for almost 10 years. I had 19,365 QSOs in my log as of that date.

I'll pick up the next installment and cover part of the period from 1993 to date then. -30-

Monday, April 04, 2016 12:07 PM - It looked for a while as if I was going to postpone my history comments and instead write a post-mortem for my DX streak today. However to paraphrase I forget who it was who said it (Mark Twain?), "The rumors of my demise are greatly exaggerated", rumors of my streak ending ceased when Marin 9A5M came along on 20 meters at 1600Z and very patiently hung with me till I got my DX QSO. It wasn't easy and he wasn't strong but it's just another of many examples that QRP/CW/simple antennas still work. It does take a bit more patience some days, and today took a lot. I checked every several minutes ever since I got up and didn't find anyone I could work. The strongest DX signals I heard were S4-S5 at very best except a couple who were stronger but chasing other DX and I couldn't even try them. Normally I wouldn't even hear them, but whatever my high noise was here seems to have gone away the past 10 days or so. Now it's down to S3-S4. Hope it stays that way.

So let's pick up a "Reader's Digest" version of my ham history after 53 years and 1 day of being a ham. After I got my General and had access to all the bands at that time, I dabbled a bit more into DX, but not very successfully. I completed my WAS after getting those 8 missing states I mentioned in the following order:
SD - K0QBC (9/15/63)
MD - K3JQU (11/10/63)
NM - W5CRF (11/17/63)
ID - W7KXJ (12/7/63)
HI - K4HSB/KH6 (12/14/63)
NV - K7SFN (5/22/64)
UT - K7HAJ (5/29/64)
AK - KL7CVX (6/1/64)
I still vividly remember getting Hawaii. It was on 80 meters at 0522Z which would be 22 minutes past Midnight my local time. I was so excited I ran to my parents bedroom to tell them of the feat. My dad was a mail truck driver who got up around 4-5 AM every day and I'm not sure he or my mother shared my excitement at that time of night.

Being a goal-oriented person, now I had to find something else to pursue besides states. Since I was not successful at DX, probably because I got discouraged and honestly believed you couldn't work DX running just 75 watts (input) with my minimal antennas (boy, did I eventually prove myself wrong), the next logical step seemed to be working USA counties. County hunting was fairly new at the time. I don't even think worked all counties #1 had been issued at that time, certainly not for CW, perhaps for SSB because of the CH net. I really got into that, especially with a lot of help and advice from Sue W9KSE, from whom I actually got most of what I knew about it. She told me of the USA-CA record book, POD 26, and the like. We had many late night QSOs talking about CH and other matters. Unfortunately she became a silent key at the young age of 31.

County hunting became my main interest in ham radio up until the late 60s or early 70s. During that time, I co-founded the CW version of the County Hunters Net with Dave WA8EOH. The story of that can be found in the County Hunting section of my web site, so I'm not going to repeat it here.

In 1969, I started work at WPIT, and that cut back greatly on my ham activity to the point where I became totally inactive starting in the early 70s and continuing into the early 80s.

Just before I became inactive, I became good friends with Dave VE3BMR (now VA3RJ). The two of us had many interests in common and had many LONG rag chew QSOs. I also made many other fast friends via our CW CH Net. I'm not going to list them here for fear I will leave someone out. Unfortunately many of them are now SKs as time took it's toll in the 50 years since we started the net. Hey, it just dawned on me that the net will be 50 years old on May 6 of this year. I'm going to work on something about that.

The next entry will cover the period in the early 80s that I was active again. -30-

Sunday, April 03, 2016 11:32 AM - Fifty three years ago today, I officially became a ham radio operator. As you see below, my license was dated April 3, 1963, but I probably didn't receive it until a few days later as April 8 is when I had my first QSO with the friend who took the Novice test with me, Larry KN3WWW. Anyway April 3 is the day on which I celebrate my anniversary of becoming a ham radio operator.

pix_diary_20160403_002 (71K)

Let's go back before that date now and reminisce on the steps leading up to my becoming a ham. I really don't remember things all that well, and I'm guessing at some things, but it doesn't really matter. It did go something like the following.

I got my first exposure to anything beyond simply "listening to" the radio one night while listening to Party Line with Ed and Wendy King on KDKA. That was a nightly ritual with me from 10 to Midnight. To this day it is the only radio talk show I ever followed regularly. It was great because the callers were totally screened and not even allowed to have their voices on the air. Ed or Wendy would simply paraphrase the content of the caller's message. That kept all the crap off the air that is heard in talk shows these days. Also it was pretty much totally non-controversial and totally informative. I loved it.

One night while listening, I happened to turn the dial a bit off 1020 and wound up on 1040 just in time to hear something like "... this is WHO in Des Moines, Iowa...". Iowa!!! Wow!!! Then I started tuning around some more and heard some more "DX" stations although I had no idea what DX meant at the time. Knowing a tiny bit about radio, I wondered if hooking a wire antenna to the radio would help me get even more stations. Again with my limited knowledge of radio then, I had no idea where to hook the antenna since it did not have any kind of antenna jack. It was just a plain ordinary table radio as shown in this picture taken today, still in the exact same position as it was way back then on the little night stand next to my bed. (I hate change.) The little "BEAT 'EM BUCS" sticker is from the 1960 baseball season when the Pirates eventually won the World Series in dramatic fashion over the Yankees that October:

pix_diary_20160403_001 (54K)

However I wound up connecting the antenna (perhaps to the oscillator section of the tuning capacitor?), it changed the tuning range of the radio and I heard my first SW station, Radio Switzerland International or whatever they were called at the time. Double and Triple WOW now! More fiddling around and tuning around and I heard these two fellows talking to each other like they were on the telephone. One said something like '...this is Red, W3CYG...". Now what is this all about?

My memory fails somewhat at this point, but eventually I wound up finding out about ham radio, probably from my school friend Larry who was a CB op at the time, but was thinking about getting a ham license. I thought that sounded neat. I didn't care for the goings on I was hearing on CB, so never did get interested in that. I found out how to go about getting a ham license, again probably from Larry. I didn't know about Morse Code yet. I still can not remember exactly how I went about learning the code other than that with whatever method, I learned it quickly.

Somewhere along here, my parents had gotten me a short wave receiver, a Hallicrafters SW-500 shown below which allowed me to hear SWBC and ham stations. So perhaps I used that to copy and learn the code, or maybe it was practice with Larry, or both.

pix_diary_20160403_003 (68K)

For accuracy, the picture is not of my unit since I was too lazy to go up to the attic to take a picture of it. However the unit pictured here is exactly the same as mine.

In early 1963, we both decided we were ready to take the Novice tests which consisted of copying (and sending) code at 5 WPM, along with a 20 (I think) question written test on theory and regulations. We contacted the aforementioned W3CYG and made arrangements for him to administer the tests to us. I remember this vividly. As we were preparing for the tests at Red's house he was fooling around sending snippets of code to relax us and get us ready for the test. I don't know if Larry caught this or not, but at one point Red sent "R U READY" or something similar. I said yes, and we got on to the tests. It took maybe a half hour or so, and Red checked our tests and said that it looked like we both passed. He did the paperwork and sent it off to the FCC. That was probably in March 1963 and after a couple weeks we got our licenses. I was KN3WWP and Larry was KN3WWW. I don't know why the gap in the calls. I would think they should have been consecutive. So now we were both ham radio operators.

Again my memory is vague about the events at that time. After all it is 53 years ago now, and I sometimes forget these days what I did yesterday or even earlier today. I know that Larry and I cobbled together a little transmitter for him using perhaps a 6L6 tube and some kind of crystal oscillator since Novices had to use only crystal controlled equipment at that time. I know I used my SW-500 as a receiver. It was as broad as the proverbial barn door as far as selectivity goes even with the regenerative BFO set as sharp as possible. I don't know just what I used as a transmitter at the very start, but it wasn't long before I built one from the ARRL Handbook which used a 6AG7 crystal oscillator and a 1625 amplifier. Perhaps I built that even before my license arrived and used it for my very first QSO. At any rate, the first QSO did come on April 8 as mentioned above. It was with Larry. QSOs were hard to come by for this fresh young Novice. I see only 5 QSOs during April 1963. Of course that was my senior year in high school and April and May were my last two months of high school so I did have other matters to take care of at that time. May however was better with 42 QSOs, all but 6 in the second half of the month. From there on, it got better and better. I had 438 QSOs as a Novice before I upgraded to General in mid-September of 1963.

My "career" as a Novice included the following:

438 QSOs
5 DX Countries - USA (many), Canada (VE3FMA/YL, VE3DTZ, VE3CKC), Puerto Rico (WP4BOJ), Canal Zone (KZ5EHN), Bahamas (VP7ACF)
42 States - All but Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Maryland, Nevada, New Mexico, South Dakota, Utah
Only 1 continent - North America
3 QSOs on 15 - KZ3EHN, WP4BOJ, K3DFZ
435 QSOs on 40 meters.

My time on 15 came to an abrupt end with TVI. Most TVs at that time had an IF around 21 MHz, and as you know, I live in a crowded neighborhood. Need I say more. W3CYG suggested I postpone my DXing till I got my General and could use 20 meters. So that was that, and I headed to Pittsburgh to take the General, passed, and became a General with the arrival of that license on September 14, 1963.

I'll pick up the story in a more condensed version in upcoming diary entries.-30-

Saturday, April 02, 2016 9:25 AM - As regular diary readers know very well, I love statistics, and also trivia about statistics. Virtually all my interests in life have some kind of ties to those things. One is the NCAA Basketball Tournament aka March Madness. The setup of the tournament lends itself very nicely to statistical analysis. I listed some stats a few diary entries ago. In this entry I have three trivia questions. Of course you can look up the answers via a Bing search on the Internet, but it's probably a lot more fun just trying to see how many answers you can come up with from memory. If you're at all interested in college basketball you should come up with at least half that way.

In a side note before the questions, Bruce mentioned to me the other night about a list he saw from (I think) 1997 of the 50 greatest pro basketball players of all time (up to that year) according to a committee of basketball "experts". Well, that set me to thinking. I'd come up with names I thought should have been on the list and check with Bruce. Being a St. Louis Hawks fan in the 50s and 60s up until they moved to Atlanta, the first name I came up with was Bob Pettit who of course was on the list. Over the next few days every so often a name would come to mind. I still haven't looked at the list myself. I love testing my memory and trying to figure out how that committee was thinking. I haven't done so yet, but I may write down all those I've remembered and see how many of the 50 I have or can come up with.

OK, enough of that. On to the questions.

1. Name the six teams that have made 40 or more appearances in the tournament since it began back in 1939. I don't think there are any surprises here. At least the teams who made it. There might be a couple who didn't make it that you think should be there.

2. Name the ten teams that have 5 or more #1 seedings since the field was expanded to 64 teams in 1985. I think a couple may surprise. I'm not sure.

3. Name the ten teams who made 5 or more appearances in the Final Four since the expansion to 64 teams in 1985. One surprised me until I realized their greatness was mostly pre-1985.

OK, that's it. Go to it if you're interested. I'll have the answers sometime after this year's final game on April 4.

In another matter, the DX streak lives. I worked 8P6DR easily on 40 meters last night at 0450Z just before going to bed. -30-

Friday, April 01, 2016 9:15 PM - Just a couple brief comments tonight as I'm running behind after trying almost an hour to work some DX with no success. I did work KC2KWA and W0W for the big streak, but the DX streak is on hold till the morning or afternoon probably. This is the weekend of the Polish DX contest as it's the first weekend in April, so that should help.

For tomorrow's entry, I hope to have some March Madness trivia, then on Sunday, the 53rd anniversary of getting my ham license, I plan on looking back over those 53 years which will probably take up a few entries. So see you then. -30-

Thursday, March 31, 2016 9:08 PM - March came in like a lamb and went out like a lamb here. A high of 66 on the 1st and a high of 70 today. Pretty much all the way in between it was lamb like also. My remote reading thermometer shows an average low of 36.5, a mean of 48.1, and a high of 59.7. Fantastic! I'm not going to check right now if that is a record since I need to put my 'official' readings in the Excel weather spreadsheet later tonight, but I have the feeling if not a record, it will be awful close. Oops, I sneaked a peek. I forgot about 2012 when we had temperatures in the 80s and an average high of 64.7 so we weren't even all that close this year. How quickly we forget.

April is off and running for the DX streak. I worked YV5IUA on 20 meters a little while ago. I also heard an Asiatic Russian on 20, but quite weak. Looks like warm weather conditions are coming to the bands also. That plus a QSO with KC4TZD got me off to a quick start on our April NAQCC alphabet challenge with 13 of the 84 letters logged already.

OK, time to get going. I need to take Roscoe out for his last walk and visit with Bruce for a while. -30-

Wednesday, March 30, 2016 8:37 PM - Well, another month of DX QSOs is complete. Despite only copying him around a (generous) 459 here, I easily worked IK2DAD on 30 meters. I got a 339 from him. Sometimes although I know better, QRP and simple wire antennas continue to astonish me. So now after I update the diary and a couple other pages here, I can upload my March QSOs to LoTW and eQSL since the next time I get on the air it will be April 1.

Speaking of April, our March this year has been more like April as far as temperatures go. It will be interesting to see if this is our warmest March of all time (well all time here which goes back to 1959 for my records) when I put my March readings into my Excel spreadsheet tomorrow night.

Another 70 degree day today on my remote thermometer anyway which usually tracks the 'official' thermometer pretty closely. I took advantage and got in a couple nice middle sized walks. It's great to see the trees starting to leaf or blossom out as the case may be. Some really pretty colors around. I should have taken my camera today, but I didn't. -30-

Tuesday, March 29, 2016 6:58 PM - OK, I promised some March Madness stats in this diary entry, so here goes.

I got to wondering just how the various seeds made out over the years since the tournament went to 64 teams beginning in 1985. Specifically how the various seeds played through to the final game and to the Final Four.

I have (in a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet) the brackets for all the tournaments going back to the very beginning in 1939 when there were only 8 teams and two rounds before the final game (which incidentally was won by Oregon over Ohio State 46-33). So it isn't hard to figure out a lot of different stats when the mood strikes to do so.

Here are the seeds and the number of times that seed played in the final game with the times they won it all in parentheses:
 1 - 29 (19)
 2 - 12 (4)
 3 -  9 (4)
 4 -  3 (1)
 5 -  3 (0)
 6 -  2 (1)
 7 -  1 (1)
 8 -  3 (1)
The 8 winner? Villanova in 1985, the first year of 64 teams.

Matchups in the final game are as follows:
1/2 - 7
1/1 - 6
2/3 - 5
1/4 - 3
1/5 - 3
1/6 - 2
1/3 - 1
1/8 - 1
3/3 - 1
3/8 - 1
7/8 - 1
The 7/8 matchup was in 2014 when 7 Connecticut beat 8 Kentucky 60-54

Now the seeds and the number of times getting to the Final Four:
 1 - 52
 2 - 28
 3 - 14
 4 - 13
 5 -  6
 6 -  3
 7 -  2
 8 -  5
 9 -  1
10 -  1
11 -  3
10 Syracuse this year is the only 10 to make it. The three 11s VCU 2011, George Mason 2006, and LSU 1986.

What somewhat high seed has the roughest time advancing? I would say 9 because a 9 always plays a 1 in the second game if they get past their 8 opponent in the first round and will continue to do so until a 16 wins a tournament game over a 1 in the opening round. So far 128 16s have tried and failed. Murray State took Michigan State to overtime back in 1990 before losing by 4 points. That's the high water mark for a 16 seed so far.

Hope you found that interesting, and here are some final stats from this year. The first round was a record setter for upsets. There were 13 upsets tying the record in 2001, and a total of the advancing seeds was 215 beating 209 back in 2001. Things got straightened out in the second round with only 3 upsets, and a total of 66 vs. the record of 89 in 1986 (I guess the committee was still learning seeding 64 teams in only the second year there were that many teams. HI). The third round featured no upsets, and a total of 22 vs. 40 in 2000 and 1990.

To put those last stats in perspective, if all goes as seeded, the seed totals are:
Teams - seed total
64         544
32         144
16          40
 8          12
 4           4
 2           2
 1           1
OK, enough for tonight. Almost time now after all that to go get my streak QSO(s). -30-

Monday, March 28, 2016 10:31 PM - I got involved in a couple things this evening - a couple rag chews, walking Roscoe, visiting with Bruce, etc., so it's kind of late now. I was going to present some interesting (at least to me) stats about March Madness and the seedings, but I'm going to postpone that till tomorrow's entry.

It was a breezy chilly day today with some light rain and temperatures in the mid 40s. Not bad, but we got spoiled now with all the 60+ degree days this month and normal temperatures now feel more like a normal winter instead of almost a month into spring.

A quick DX QSO this evening for a change. After chasing unsuccessfully a TZ4 station for a while, I settled on working XE1XR on 20 meters at 0009Z. Had I not worked Mali before, I probably would have worked harder at getting the TZ station. Oh, last night I worked Western Sahara for the second time (S01WS), but it wasn't even a new band-country. I worked S01WS in February 2015 and had their QSL in March 2015. But at least that gave me my DX streak QSO last night when there wasn't much else available. -30-

Sunday, March 27, 2016 12:18 PM - HAPPY EASTER! I thought I'd write early today since it will be a busy evening with dinner at my neighbors, March Madness, closing out our NAQCC March Sprint results, and of course going for my streak QSO(s). Speaking of that, the DX streak lives. I just worked Tony EA7ATE easily on 17 meters for day 1,123. I think 17 is going to be the band of choice for a while now as it seems to be pretty well open for DX most mornings or early afternoon. I imagine 20 will get better in the evenings as it usually does during mid-spring through early fall. Overall though as I keep saying, the propagation conditions should continue to decline for working DX as we slowly fall toward the next sunspot minimum. It will be really interesting to see just how long I can keep the DX streak alive without spending an inordinately large amount of time doing so.

Here's the response to the 'good old days' commentary I mentioned yesterday.

"Hi John,

Your diary entry of 3/25 really struck a chord with me since I have been having similar thoughts. I was 14 in 1961 when the postman brought me my first license and the call KN8RXB, and yes many local and distant hams were also quite young at that time. Now, I QSO many in their 70s, 80s, or 90s. I am quite worried about the future of CW, and I applaud your efforts to keep our mode alive. I guess only time will tell if we can survive.

On a happier note, I went to a ham swap meet last Saturday and returned with a 1966 Vibroplex Original - my first bug. I have it slowed down to about 14-15 wpm, but it still sings. It sits on my desk near my Begali Spark (yes, a totally unnecessary purchase, but I do love it) and my Chinese K-5.

Finally, you may be interested to know that I have converted to the European style of sending with my straight keys, with the key at the edge of the desk and my arm in free space. I really enjoy this change after so many years with my arm resting on the desk top, and find it less tiring.

Dave Chase K8RXB
Holland, Michigan" -30-

Saturday, March 26, 2016 9:06 PM - I got an interesting reply to my 'good old days' commentary last evening. I'll share that tomorrow. Right now I'm waiting for Mike to drop by. He was to be here at 8:00P, but had to work late. When he arrives, he'll have a pizza with him, and we'll share that, then see what we can get into.

Poor conditions again this evening. I chased 6Y5JH for quite a while, but he just was not hearing me at all. He was about s6 to s7 here so I'm surprised he didn't hear me. I guess he had his (as Mike and I call it) S9 filter on that only lets through signals at S9 or better. Or the QRN was very high in Jamaica tonight.

The only other DX I heard were DX stations chasing other DX whom I wasn't hearing at all. Some fair sized pileups around the bands tonight.

At least I got my regular streak QSO from KT4P in VA on 40M. The DX will come later or during the day tomorrow if it comes at all. -30-

Friday, March 25, 2016 8:36 PM - Will today be the day? Except for a very brief appearance by a PJ7 station, I did not hear a single DX station this evening. I can only hope for a DX QSO later tonight or during the day tomorrow if the DX streak is to continue. Perhaps there is a DX contest tomorrow. I'll check now. Nope, I thought this was the weekend of the CQWW WPX SSB Contest and I was right. That one usually dominates the weekend with no other contests to speak of. So I'll have to wing it some other way or the streak will end at 1,121 days. We'll see.

Meanwhile the big main streak continues thanks to AK9A Bob on 40 meters who was also QRP. That streak is at 7,905 days now.

In just a week now on Apr 3 I will celebrate my 53rd anniversary of being a ham. Whew! Where does the time go and why does it go faster and faster? A couple nights ago I was talking to another ham who had been licensed 58 years and we both commented on how much ham radio has changed over those many years. Perhaps the biggest change is in the number of young CW operators. In the 60s although I don't have exact statistics to prove it, I'm sure the vast majority of CW QSOs were with other teenagers and some in their early 20s. It was great to see so many new hams on CW and I was fortunate to be one of them. Now and then it was a real thrill to work someone with a 1x2 call as back then you knew such a call belonged to someone who had been around the bands for many years perhaps even since near the beginnings of radio. Even a 1x3 call starting with a W meant you were working a veteran op. Nowadays you have no idea from the call letters not only if you are working a real veteran or a newcomer, but you can't tell from the call for sure just what call area he is living in. A W8 is just as likely to be from FL or CA as from the real W8 states of MI OH WV. Back then you could tell a ham he had a good fist and be sure that fist was from a straight key, bug, or maybe a fairly new-fangled keyer, probably a W9TO design. Now with the advent of computer keying, it doesn't mean anything when you say a good fist. Perhaps it should be you have good fingers (on the keyboard).

Back then CW had a lot more dedicated space on the ham bands, and heavy use was made of that space well into the night. The bands, especially on weekend nights or during the summer months when there was no school, were almost as active in the wee hours of the night/morning as during the evening hours. Also there was a lot more activity during the daylight hours as well. Nowadays the CW op has to put up with other modes invading "his' CW territory to the point of a lot of it being unusable for CW. Also the activity tends to take place only during certain times of the day, usually evenings and maybe early morning.

Was it better back then? I don't know overall, but looking back and thinking it over, I would say it was definitely different. Better in some ways, worse in some ways perhaps. What do you think? -30-

Thursday, March 24, 2016 9:05 PM - After I said it was getting easy working DX in the evenings again, it has turned 180 degrees and the last two nights have been difficult, but I made it. Tonight after about an hour (with a rag chew with K8JPM in between) I finally worked Darko 9A3YT for the DX streak. That was on 40 meters. There were quite a few European stations there, but Darko was the only one who heard me.

I think this was our warmest day of the year so far with a high of 76. Sure felt good to get out there sans coat/jacket/sweater. Some rain right now, but still 67 degrees. Looks like after the rain from a cold front gets through with a cooling off, it will warm up again for Easter and beyond.

It looks very much like our WPA chapter of the NAQCC will be active from the submarine USS Requin in Pittsburgh again on April 17. Mike KC2EGL, Tom WB3FAE, Ken N3CU and I will be doing the operating. This will be Ken's first time. More as the date draws closer. -30-

Wednesday, March 23, 2016 10:52 PM - I got my new refrigerator this afternoon. That's one of the things we take for granted and don't miss them until we have to do without for a couple days. After letting it stabilize for a few hours, I returned the food from Bruce's freezer just about a couple hours ago. So now I can grab a snack whenever I feel like it again. HI.

It was a real 'tooth pulling' event getting my DX (or any) QSO this evening. One of those times when I feel someone has built a big Faraday cage around my house. No answers to my CQs, no answers from the stations I called, nothing. Finally I did work old faithful Mike F5IN on 40, but it wasn't all that easy. If he were a lesser op, I'd probably still be looking for my QSO.

Well, it's late now and time to finish this and update a couple other pages. Oh, I added a new contest award picture to my contesting page. First place QRP WPA and First place Atlantic Division in the 2015 ARRL DX Contest. -30-

Tuesday, March 22, 2016 8:48 PM - A couple of main projects today surrounded by the usual daily routine.

My neighbor up the street a couple houses had some old shelving out with his trash, and I made sure he didn't want it (I know, it's obvious, but I like to ask before taking anything). I didn't know at the time what I was going to do with it, but it soon dawned on me that it would look a lot better supporting my new TV than what I had there. So it was off to the so called workshop for some sawing and drilling. I came up with something that looks a lot better now. Almost looks like the little shelf extension is an actual part of the entertainment center rather than an obvious add-on. Pictures at 11.... er maybe tomorrow in the diary.

I also cleaned up the corner for the new refrigerator which will arrive tomorrow morning if all goes according to plan. Now the corner looks so good, I'll have to clean the rest of the kitchen to match. HI.

A quick DX QSO this evening again. P40AUA on 30 meters at 0002Z. Just thinking back, it is turning out to be easy to work DX again after a bit of a tough time in December and January. Of course we are still in a sunspot cycle decline and as we move down further it should become gradually more difficult again. Although with the SF in the 80s now, it's still easy. However that should bottom out in the 60s in the minimum. Then will be the rough times, although generally the lower bands perk up a bit at the minimum. Summing up - those are all generalities and I'm really not sure just how the DX streak will go on since I never had a DX streak during low solar activity times. The regular streak has survived a couple minimums, but that's a different story.

Now with that very rambling paragraph, I'm going to close now and go get my temperature readings. Another beautiful day around 60 with ample sunshine today. Good walking weather for sure. -30-

Monday, March 21, 2016 7:12 PM - This was kind of a busy day today. Yesterday my refrigerator stopped working, or actually became intermittent in its working. The freezer compartment would take wild swings in temperature from around zero to the mid 30s. Being as it is 27 years old, I figured it would be better to just get a new one rather than invest in repairs that might or might not be possible. So last night Bruce let me put my food in his freezer, and he said he'd take me to Sears in the morning to get a new one. It just so happens he had the same problem around Christmas and had to get a new one himself. I liked what he got, and decided to go for the same one. So I got some money out of the bank and we went to Sears and I ordered it. It will be delivered Wednesday morning which I thought was pretty good since Bruce had to wait around 5 days when they delivered his.

When that was taken care of, I got back to the cross-checking of our NAQCC sprint logs which the refrigerator interrupted last evening. At the same time I was doing that, I did my usual Monday morning (now afternoon) laundry.

Lately I've been systematically doing some spring cleaning. Oh by the way happy spring to those of you who celebrate astronomical spring instead of meteorological spring which started back on March 1. If you're unsure of just where West is in your situation, you can go out and watch the sun set this evening and that place where it sets will be well within a degree of West.

Anyway I did some more cleaning today. It's really amazing how much dirt can accumulate so quickly especially in those nooks and crannies that don't get a regular weekly cleaning.

That pretty much takes us up to the current time as I wait for 0000Z to get my streak QSO(s).

It seemed odd to be without basketball today for the first time in a week. March Madness is on hold now till Thursday evening. Can't wait. Although honestly my interest dwindles as the tournament goes one. My favorite round is the opening round when 64 teams playing 32 games really offers a lot to watch in two days. Then the Sweet Sixteen weekend is pretty good also although the games are more spread out and at times there is only one to follow. Then it's more downhill from there. The interest shifts from just following a whole bunch of action to seeing if the surviving Cinderella teams will stay alive. The weekend just past eliminated a lot of them like Hawaii (13), Wichita State (11), Yale (12), Northern Iowa (11) who pretty much gave the game away to Texas A&M in one of the sloppiest endings to a game I think I've ever seen, VCU (10), Stephen F. Austin (14) lost by just one point to Notre Dame, AR Little Rock (12), Middle Tennessee State (15). Wow, that's a lot. Now only Gonzaga (11), Syracuse (10) remain of the double digit seeds. -30-

Sunday, March 20, 2016 7:04 PM - Just waiting for 0000Z to come so I can get my streak QSO, then do the NAQCC Sprint log cross-checking. Hope to finish both quickly, then watch some basketball.

I noticed a large surge in site visitors today and was wondering why till my friend Don K3RLL told me my site was posted on QRP-L. I didn't know because I never read mail lists, reflectors, social media sites, etc. here.

I think I missed a good finish today. I see Notre Dame beat Stephen F. Austin by a single point after ND was up by a pretty good margin most of the game causing me to not check the ending. I see Oklahoma is up by 7 points over VCU with 5 minutes to go. I better check on that one. Syracuse by 4 over upset minded Middle Tenn. State at the half. Might be a good one also. -30-

Saturday, March 19, 2016 8:52 PM - Today was a spring-cleaning watching basketball day. I also watched a Chronicles of Narnia movie on my new TV.

Only a couple games this afternoon - nothing surprising or really exciting. A little later the Indiana-Kentucky (rivalry) matchup proved a bit more exciting, going down to the last minute for a decision. Of the three games going now, Butler-Virginia is the most exciting. Butler is hanging tough against #1 Virginia. Remember the back to back trips Butler made to the final game a couple years ago? Is it to much to ask for it to happen again?

An easy DX QSO in the Russian contest this evening. I'm glad it's an everyone work everyone contest as I didn't hear any Russian stations, but did work NP3A on 40. Well, weather reading time, then back to basketball to watch the end of the Butler game. -30-

Friday, March 18, 2016 9:06 PM - Another great day on the courts. I don't know for sure without some research of my records, but some are saying today's upset of Michigan State by Middle Tennessee State is the biggest upset of all time in the tournaments. Of course no number 16 seed ever beat a number 1 seed, but there have been other 15s beating 2s over the years as was today's upset. Back to that in a moment. Number 13 Hawaii had a fairly easy time upseting #4 California by 11 points. Two exciting last few seconds finishes also featured - Iowa over Temple and Wisconsin over Pittsburgh.

Including today, there have been 8 times a 15 seed beat a 2 seed. All then lost in the next round except for Florida Gulf Coast who then beat a 7 seed in the second round in 2013. In 1997 Coppin State almost won a second game losing to Texas by 1 point in the second round.

Since we're on this, the closest a 16 seed ever came to winning was in 1990 when Murray State took Michigan State to overtime before losing by 4 points.

OK, got to hurry now and get back to the games, walking Roscoe, etc. Bands tonight were pretty poor. No strong DX heard and it even took a while to get a regular non-DX QSO from WO1W on 40 meters. So the DX will probably have to wait till the morning or afternoon. Maybe there is a DX contest on. Let's see before I QRT here. Yes, the Russian DX test from 1200Z to 1200Z Sat/Sun, so that may help. -30-

Thursday, March 17, 2016 9:01 PM - You can have your World Series, Super Bowl, Stanley Cup, NBA Championship. Give me March Madness anytime. I saw two great finishes already today. Yale over Baylor and AR Little Rock over Purdue, and there are many more to come before the championship is decided on April 4. BTW both Yale an AR Little Rock are 12 seeds. There is just something magic about that 12th seeding. There have been 48 times a 12 has beaten a 5 (or higher) seed. Mostly a 5, but some have advanced further. Too complicated to delve into here and now, but you get the gist of it.

I had a great time in our NAQCC sprint last night for a change. My noise was down to S4-5 and I ran off 30 QSOs in the 57 minutes I had to play in the sprint. Wish I could have stayed longer but I had to walk Roscoe and do a couple other things for my neighbor. It took a little while tonight to get my DX but finally snagged KP4CPC on 40 meters to continue the streak.

Time now to check the weather readings. Another nice, albeit windy day today with a high in the low 60s. -30-

Wednesday, March 16, 2016 10:37 AM - Today I want to talk about QSLs. As a ham who has been active since 1963 and one who enjoys collecting 'paper' QSLs, it is very discouraging to see to what depths the art of QSLing via 'paper' has sunk.

It used to be I sent my card direct (for a few cents) to W/VE stations and within a week, I would get a reply to a large majority of those cards. Simple as that. It was not even that expensive to do so with DX stations and a majority of them would reply no questions asked. With large DXpeditions, it was a courtesy to enclose a SAE and IRC since they had to handle so many cards. It was very economical to also use the ARRL outgoing buro. Getting a reply took somewhat longer that way, but again the vast majority of cards were answered sooner or later.

What a difference some 50 years later. Sending a plain card almost guarantees you won't get an answer. Oh, there are still hams who will answer all cards received (I'm proud to be one of them) no questions asked nor fee demanded. In many cases, it's not really the ham's fault, but due to economics. I think it was 4 cents to send a post card (QSL card) when I became a ham in 1963. Nowadays due mainly to political factors which I won't delve into here, it costs (I believe - hard to keep up with rate increases) 30 cents to send a post card or QSL, a 650% increase if my math is correct. No wonder hams can't afford the (now) luxury of sending QSL cards.

It's the same with foreign postage and ARRL bureau fees as well. Inflation!! The ARRL bureau definitely beats sending individual DX cards, but costs so much nowadays that I and probably others have to wait till they get exactly 1/2, 1, etc. pound of cards to get the most for their money when they send those cards to the bureau.

Oh, inflation has also affected the cost of printing QSLs. I find the cheapest way is to do it myself as the cost of card stock and printer ink is much less than what card shops charge.

Now primarily because of the cost factor, the whole method of QSLing has changed. Let me go through an example where I would like a card from a DX station for a new prefix.

First of course I check to see if I have that prefix verified already. I don't need a second or third card verifying the same prefix. That only costs more money for nothing.

Next I look to see if I have already sent a bureau card to that station or another with the same prefix within the past 2-3 years or so. If so, I'll hold off on sending another since the previous request may still be in the works.

Now if I do need the prefix and haven't already requested a card, it is necessary to look to see if the station does actually use QSL cards. QRZ.com is a pretty good source of that info. If the info indicates that the station is one who does, AND who uses the bureau, I prepare a card and add it to the stack I'm saving for the next bureau mailing. If the station specifically indicates he only collects electronic cards or will only accept cards direct, I'll pass him by and put an XX into a field in my Access log that indicates how I send out my cards. The XX means no use sending a card via bureau to this person.

Now if I do need a card to confirm a new overall entity or even a band-entity, I will do whatever the station requests to get his card, be it SASE with 3 GS or anything else.

The bottom line is that it is a lot of work and expense to collect QSLs in 2016, and I don't blame stations who have to either quit answering QSLs altogether or demand that the station requesting their card cover all the expenses for sending that card.

I may have more to say about QSLs in future entries. -30-

Tuesday, March 15, 2016 8:37 PM - A very quick DX QSO this evening. J79XF entered my log after a single call on 10.126 at 0003Z. Well, technically he had me as K3WWJ at first but corrected it after I sent my call again.

Not much else going on today. It was a fairly mild day today with a high just reaching 60. Actually compared to average, that's warm for March 15 - The Ides of March. Looking back over the day, I can't even recall anything different or exciting to talk about.

There is one very good thing though. This evening kicks (tips?) off the 2016 NCAA Basketball Tournament - March Madness - with 2 of the First Four games. Florida Gulf Coast vs. Farleigh Dickinson going on right now. The last I checked FGCU was up by almost 30 points with about 3:30 remaining in the game. Then later it will be Vanderbilt vs. Wichita St. Wichita has really come down in two years from a #1 seed in 2014 to a First Four team this year. -30-

Monday, March 14, 2016 6:28 PM - Quite a busy day today. It started off with doing my laundry followed by a trip to the PO to mail some checks and also a NAQCC prize. Some grocery shopping after that. Of course walking Roscoe a couple times. However then a surprise in the mailbox.

I love it when I get a Buro mailing. It contained 34 cards confirming 42 QSOs. Of the 42, only 2 were in response to cards I sent and 3 more requested no return QSL so that left me with 37 QSOs to confirm which I just finished doing. Looks like I may have a half pound of cards accumulated now. If so, I think I'll get off a mailing to the ARRL outgoing buro tonight or tomorrow.

I made out quite well with new prefixes confirmed. There were 15 of them: Z37 OZ150 R7 UF5 LZ102 II4 HP0 8J2 9A203 UX1 AM590 HF90 DR7 9A201 ZZ80. Also Corsica on 17 meters was a new band-entity. -30-

Sunday, March 13, 2016 8:31 PM - Not a lot of things going on today except that it is NCAA Bracket Day. I've got my bracket spreadsheet all set up in Excel to follow the tournament now. I never make any predictions. I just like to watch how neatly the tournament unfolds day by day. I don't really even have any favorite teams, although once the tournament gets going, I do root for certain teams, be they long time powerhouse teams or Cinderalla teams. Whoever strikes my fancy at the time.

I also played around with my new Smart TV, learning how to store and use the various apps it has. I also watched part of the Lord of the Rings DVD. It's nice to have a 32" screen. I've never had more than a 21 inch screen in all the years we've had TV here, and my latest before this one was just 19 inches.

I forgot to mention a couple nights ago, I almost finally worked Asia on 30M. However after getting only a partial call from me, 5B4AMM just gave up much too quickly without even trying to get my full call. That really bugs me when stations give up too easily. That's why I always try my best to copy someone calling me, and that's not often easy with QRP signals and my high local noise levels.

Tonight I worked another op who is just the opposite and he will stick with someone. It was CE2MVF whom I've worked when he was pretty weak here. He did his best to get me in his log those times. Tonight was a bit different and he was pretty strong and I only had to repeat my call a couple times for him to get it. Looking at the notes in my log, I see that tomorrow (15th) will be an interesting number in my DX streak - 1,111 days. -30-

Saturday, March 12, 2016 6:42 PM - It's that time of year again when we go to Daylight SHIFTING Time. So don't forget to turn those clocks ahead sometime before 2AM local time unless you are in an area that doesn't SHIFT time around.

I think the best analogy to what folks erroneously call Daylight Savings Time comes from an old Indian anecdote. It's like trying to make a blanket longer by cutting a foot off of one end and sewing it on the other end. Daylight SHIFTING Time is just like that. We take an hour off the morning and hook it onto the evening. No savings, no extra daylight time, the daylight is just moved around.

Still whatever it is called correctly or erroneously, I like it since I am definitely more of an evening person than a morning person.

I've been having some email issues here for the past month or so. I've found some of my emails are not going through. I believe Windstream is blocking them, and I found out why, although I don't know what their reasoning is. I'm not going to delve into that right now. However if you emailed me in the past month or so expecting an answer, I probably sent it, but you didn't get it. So if you are among those still expecting an answer, please resend your email and now my answer should get through to you.

A beautiful day today. Partly cloudy and a high of 74. So I did some yard work. All 18 of my tulip plants have sprouted and are all around 3 to 7 inches high already. I cleaned out the dead leaves I put on the bed last fall to keep the ground a little warmer. I also cleaned out the leaves from my cellar stairway and cellar window wells. It felt great to be doing that kind of work again after the long winter.

I played around with my crystal set a little today. I got a little more volume with the earphones W3BNO sent me, but I still have some other tweaking to do to bring it up to what I had many years ago.

Almost time now to go get my streak QSO(s). I'm not sure if there are any DX contests this weekend to help with a quick DX QSO or not. I'll check after I sign here and upload the diary. -30-

Friday, March 11, 2016 6:09 PM - After waiting about a week or so for them to be restocked at Walmart, I got my 32" Vizio Smart TV today. I don't recall if I talked about it in the diary before or not, so I'll just recap here. About a month ago my TV died, and a few days later I got a Vizio 24" Smart TV at Walmart. Well it turns out I made a mistake. 24" sounded big, but when I got it home and in my entertainment center, it wasn't all that much bigger than my old 19" TV. I thought I'd have to live with it, but Mike (KC2EGL) visited a couple days later and I happened to mention the situation. Turns out he was looking for a bigger monitor for his exercise bike, and he offered to buy the 24" TV if I wanted to buy a bigger one. I went for that deal, but when I went to Walmart a few days later they didn't have any 32" TVs in stock. Then we pick up today again. I knew the 32" set would be a little too big for my entertainment center, so I had to set out to modify it. After thinking about it for a while, I figured all I really had to do would be to extend the shelf out a few inches (turned out to be 3 3/4 inches) since the flat screen TVs are so thin that it was only too wide for the front couple inches and the rest would easily fit in the recess. So here is what I came up with as shown here:

pix_diary_20160311_001 (57K)  pix_diary_20160311_002 (81K)

Following up on another story. I've mentioned my crystal radio set project and how W3BNO offered to help out by sending me some crystal earphones. Well I got the package just a few minutes ago. I don't know when it arrived. I had been checking but apparently it was right up against my doorstep and I missed seeing it till my neighbor brought me over some biscuits and handed it to me. So I'm going to open the package in a little bit. He also sent a lot of helpful info about crystal sets. Like the package, I haven't opened that yet either. I've been too busy with the TV among other things the past few days. I'll get to all of that maybe over the weekend after I finish the initial surge of playing with the new smart TV. -30-

Thursday, March 10, 2016 7:43 PM - A mostly rainy day today. About the only good thing to say about it is that it wasn't a s#$wy day. Well it was mild for early March also, and that was good. The high on my AcuRite remote unit shows a high of 62. I was watching a weather feature on the Internet today and it showed that what looked to be 12-15 cities in the Northeast set daily maximum temperature records yesterday. Pittsburgh just missed by a couple degrees of tying or breaking the 77 set in 1879. In my records since 1959 we missed by one degree here - 75 vs. 76 in 2000. Except for that one cold spell around Valentine's Day, it looks like Phil knew what he was talking about back on Groundhog's Day.

Not much else to talk about today except the usual streak info. Tonight it was VP9/G3VYI on 40 meters who kept the streak (DX) going at 1,107 days now. -30-

Wednesday, March 09, 2016 8:50 PM - Computer club meeting this evening and I just got home a little bit ago so this will be a short entry so I can get caught up on a few other things.

The first thing I did when I got home was go to the shack. It only took a couple minutes to find and work HI8/N3SY on 30 meters to keep the DX streak going. -30-

Tuesday, March 08, 2016 8:30 PM - Kind of a lazy day here just enjoying the wonderful weather (a high of 70). I went for a couple fairly long walks and got in some shopping along the way. Sure feels good to get outside without needing to put on a coat/jacket, hat, gloves, etc. This is a great time of year. We probably will have a couple bad days yet before things really get settled in. That will be just a minor annoyance though. If it s#$ws, we can be sure it will be gone in a couple days. Also the same with a cold snap. Roscoe and I even got to sit on the front porch swing for a while today. I'm sure he is glad not to be burdened with his jacket also.

I keep forgetting that my diary draws new readers all the time, and some of you new visitors may be wondering who in the world is Roscoe. Well, he's my neighbor's dog and a good 'buddy' of mine. My neighbor has some problems with his knees, so I am Roscoe's 'walker' until he can get back to walking him again. Here are two pictures of Roscoe. The L one is about 3-4 years ago after he arrived here from the state of Indiana via my neighbor's son who lives there. The R one is probably 1 or 2 years ago where Roscoe looks to be resting after playing with his favorite Bullwinkle toy lying on the floor. I don't have any recent pictures, but he still looks about the same as the chair picture. Roscoe is supposedly a cross-breed of a Pit Bull and a Poodle. Kind of strange, but from the neck down he has the strength of a Pit Bull, and if you look at him in a certain way from the side, you can see the Poodle shaped head. Supposedly that's a quite popular cross-breed out in Indiana. He has a very quiet friendly disposition and is very loving.
pix_diary_20160308_001 (45K) pix_diary_20160308_002 (49K)

DX? Yep, the streak goes on thanks to P40AUA on 20 meters. I also chased 5J0P on 40 for a while with no luck breaking the pileup. As I think I mentioned in a previous entry, I don't need San Andres Island anyway, so I didn't pursue it further. -30-

Monday, March 07, 2016 7:39 PM - A couple of somewhat unusual experiences on the bands this evening. While looking for my DX QSO, I found YW315MCY on 20 meters. Hey, this will be not only my streak QSO, but a new prefix to boot. But after several calls with the best being him sending K3W??, despite him being fairly strong, I gave up and went searching elsewhere. I found a very fluttery weak station whose call I couldn't quite make out beyond getting bits and pieces now and then on 7012 kHz. If you're a steady diary reader you remember my advice to never think any station is too weak to be worked. Find out for sure by calling him. Well, I did that and heard a couple other stations calling as well. To my amazement he came back on my first call with K3WWP 599. I sent my exchange, then spent the next 10 minutes trying to piece his call together. I could get the suffix of CPK, but the flutter seemed to coincide with his prefix every time he sent it. Finally I got the first letter for sure, an R. With the flutter, I thought it must be Antarctica, but they usually have a 1 (one) in their calls and there was definitely no 1. After quite a while I figured out it was R55CPK, then confirmed it by looking at the DX Summit spots (the only time I ever check any spots). I then looked it up on QRZ and saw it was a special event station commemorating 55 years since Yuri Gagarin's space flight. That station and several others will be active all during March and April.

I'll have some more info about the Gagarin event, but first let me finish the YW315MCY story. After figuring out the Gagarin call, I went back to 20 and YW315MCY. Still no luck, but I did notice that if I switched from my dipole to my random wire, he was stronger with less QSB. Hey, why not try calling him on the random wire. I punched the autotune button on the KX3 and within a second or two had a 1:1 SWR on the random wire. I gave a call and bingo, got him the first time with the random wire. Although I've done the switcheroo bit on 10 meters (going from the 10 slanting dipole to the 15 vertical dipole) with great succes, I think that's the first time I've tried switching on 20. I may have to do it more often.

Now back to R55CPK. I'm looking on QRZ and I see there is a lot of info there plus a link to the Gagarin web site which is only in Russian, but no problem. I just right clicked the page and translated it with the wonderful Microsoft Bing translator. I was thinking with the flutter, perhaps, just perhaps, R55CPK might be in Asiatic Russia which would complete my 40M WAC at last. It looks like no luck though. Both Zvyozdny Gorodok which is listed as a QTH for R55CPK and Smolenskaya Oblast which is the QTH listed for UA3LMR who seems to be an operator of R55CPK are both well within European Russia this side of Moscow. Oh well, at least R55 is a new prefix as well as my DX streak QSO of the day.

One more tidbit. UA3LMR is an avid QRP operator according to his QRZ bio. He enjoys 2X QRP QSOs so that could be a factor in how easily he copied me. Although I doubt he'd operate a special event station of such importance with QRP, who knows? Maybe that is why he was so weak and fluttery here.

OK, enough of that. I want to mention one other thing (maybe two other things) before closing. I got an email today from W3BNO who is going to send me a couple crystal earphones for my crystal radio set. He also had a couple other suggentions for improving the sensitivity of the set. When I get all that worked out, I'll report here in the diary.

A few days ago I listed a couple of 'laws' for junk box items. Mike N4VBV added a couple which I was going to add sometime, but he beat me to it with these two:

3. You will have "just seen the object you need yesterday (and forgot where)".

4. You "just" threw the object out (and of course the trash man picked it up 10 min ago)/sold it/gave it to someone.

I can really identify with the last one as not too long ago I threw out several of those little cheap plastic ear buds that come with cheap transistor radios. Then when I was working on the crystal radio set I read somewhere that those do have higher impedance than regular phones. So take my advice and NEVER throw anything out. -30-

Sunday, March 06, 2016 7:56 PM - I though I'd be spending a lot of time on the air today looking for that final R to finish the NAQCC European Chapter challenge, but I was wrong. Shortly after I got up, and just before taking Roscoe for his walk, I thought I'd check the bands. In just a couple minutes I found IK2RMZ and worked him to complete the challenge. Now with both challenges for March complete, what am I going to do for the next 25 days? HI Maybe I'll try to complete each one a second time. Conditions are really improving as we near the vernal equinox and it shouldn't be hard to do. Of course I always have my streaks to keep me going also.

It took a little while tonight to get my streak QSO. The bands were good all the way up through 15 meters and there were quite a few stations to choose from, but I just wasn't being heard for a while until I worked 8P9RY on 30 at 0018Z. I would have liked to work 5J0P as I haven't worked San Andres for quite some time now, but he was calling EU, so I didn't wait. Now had it been Malpelo, that would have been another story. I'd still be sitting there waiting unless I succeeded before now. HI

A little more work on the crystal set today. I identified another station I've been hearing. It's SWBC powerhouse in Nashville - WWCR. So that is a grand total of two stations logged now. Still haven't IDed the Spanish station yet. I wasn't hearing it this evening. -30-

Saturday, March 05, 2016 6:35 PM - Fun on the bands again today working to complete the March NAQCC European Chapter challenge. DL2DX S51WO OH6TN EA7ATE from 1645 to 1715Z gave me a bunch of letters. I don't have my worksheet at hand right now to say how many, but it got me down to needing 4 Es, 2 Gs, 3 Rs 2 Us. Then IZ3GOA EA1WH later in the day eliminated the 2 Gs and 2 of the 4 Es. That left 2 Es, 3 Rs, 2 Us. I took a short break and while 'on break' I thought it would be nice to work a RU Russian station. I did even better. 17 and 20 were dying off a bit, so I went to 30 and before long I found one of my Russian friends RU3EG whom I have worked several times, but never on 30. In fact I only ever had 2 QSOs with European Russia on 30. Still going back a bit, the QSOs with IZ3GOA and EA1WH came very easily even though they were very weak here. Actually it seemed like there was some one-way skip as they both wanted to rag chew a bit and they were copying me better than I was copying them. RU3EG wasn't all that strong on 30 either. I figured I'd try anyway, and although unlike the other 2 stations (on 20), whom I got with only 1 and 2 calls, it took a dozen or so calls before RU3EG got my call right and greeted me by name when he did. So besides being a new band QSO for the two of us, that finished off all the letters except for 1 R which I looked for the next 30 minutes or so without finding any. So hopefully I'll finish off the challenge later tonight or tomorrow pretty much for sure. Then I'll have finished both March challenges in under a week.

About ten minutes now till I go back to the shack to get my streak QSO(s).

I also worked a bit more on the crystal radio set today and got the tuning coil firmly affixed to a board. While listening to it, the thought raced through my head that I was using pretty much the very earliest technology for receiving radio signals. Other than using a 1N34 diode instead of a galena crystal detector, it was virtually the same. It's amazing that they heard anything at all in those days. Of course there was more property available for huge receiving antennas plus not all the QRN we have today as well. I wonder just exactly how it was discovered (or invented) that radio waves could be received in that way. -30-

Friday, March 04, 2016 8:30 PM - Not much going on today so I had a chance to get on the bands and get some letters for the NAQCC European Chapter challenge. I worked P40L on 10 meters just because he was calling CQ and not getting many answers. Took just a single call to get him in the log. Of course that was SA, not EU, but then I worked IK4VFD, F5TCI, and EA5AR all on 15 meters. Now I'm down to needing 20 some letters to finish the challenge. The bands were in good shape in the 1630-1715Z time period I was on. I'll have to hit that time period as much as I can as that seems to be a good time to work EU.

Last fall it seemed like every time I got on 30 meters in the evening there were a couple strong Slovenians there. Well it seems to be getting that way again. Tonight for my DX streak QSO, I worked S57V on 30.

After that, I played around with the crystal radio. I'm still hearing the same Spanish speaking station accompanied by a couple other stations. I haven't been able to ID any of them yet except as I mentioned before, our local Kittanning station during the daytime. Anyway tonight I hooked up a slider for tuning the coil which makes it easier than holding a clip lead on the coil as I had been doing. I'll continue to fix it up a little bit at a time. I wish I had a higher impedance earphone as the audio is very weak from the one I have now. I still haven't explored all the niches in my junk box yet so maybe I'll find one.

Speaking of junk boxes, here are a couple of Shannon's laws that apply to junk boxes (at least mine).
1. No matter how many bolts, nuts, screws, etc. you have, when you go to look for two identical items, you will not find a match for the one you want to use.
2. When you are looking for say a bolt that is exactly 1" long in a size 8-32, you will find many 7/8 inch 8-32 bolts, many 1 inch 6-32 bolts, many 1.25 inch 8-32 bolts, but not a single 1 inch 8-32.
It really gets frustrating at times. -30-

Thursday, March 03, 2016 7:35 PM - I finished the NAQCC March Challenge easily last evening. During the day I made 2 more paddle QSOs, then reeled off 10 with my bug during the afternoon and evening.

Today I worked on the NAQCC European Chapter challenge. Conditions were pretty good to Europe and I worked three Bulgarian special event stations - LZ71ZZ, LZ138LO, and LZ300MSP. They plus a couple other European stations got me almost to the halfway point of the challenge. Hopefully after lacking the time to make the past couple monthly European challenges, I can complete one this month and get back on track. At one point I only missed one of those challenges, then slipped a little the last half of last year as I just didn't have time to get on at the time of day when Europe was coming through good.

Tonight it was day # 1,100 in the DX streak when I worked KP4BME on 30 meters. It was good to also hear 20 and 17 still open for DX although I didn't work anyone there. The later sunsets here in the Northern Hemisphere seem to be keeping the higher bands open a little later in the evenings now. Another benefit of wonderful Spring. I said to Bruce this evening it was so delightful to see it still light well past 6:00 PM now, and in another week or so we go to the misnamed Daylight Savings Time and it will be light past 7:30 PM or so.

Misnamed? Yes we don't really save any daylight, just shift it around by an hour. I like the Indian story comparing the white man's Daylight Savings Time to trying to make a blanket longer by cutting a foot off one end and sewing it on the other end. That's so true and that's just what happens with DST, isn't it? I'll take it though, since I am much more of an evening person than a morning one.

A couple weeks ago, I wrote in the diary about Mike and I working unsuccessfully on building a crystal radio set. Well, I pulled it out today and changed the circuit around a bit from the one we found in an old Cub Scout book of mine. This time it worked just fine. I also found an old speaker/earphone that I saved from one of those talking greeting cards. I think it is a condenser type with a higher impedance and it worked very well with no audio transformer needed as with the low impedance 8 ohm phones. Although the transformer/8 ohm phones also worked. I heard our local Kittanning station this afternoon, and this evening what I think was KDKA and also a Spanish speaking station which could have been either an AM band station or a short wave station. I've just got it clip leaded together right now. I'm going to make it more permanent with provisions for changing out the coil, diode, phones, etc. to see what gives the best results. -30-

Wednesday, March 02, 2016 9:17 AM - I had fun last night working DX. I made 4 DX QSOs to more than cover the day for my DX streak. I mainly worked so many because of the NAQCC challenge this month which is to make 20 QSOs using two different styles of key among - Straight Key, Cootie, Bug, Paddle, Homebrew. 10 QSOs with each of the two different ones. I have 8 so far with the paddle. I'll finish that today, then probably go with the bug for the other 10.

I actually even got a new band-country among the mix. After chasing a C9 station unsuccessfully on 40 (which would have been an overall new country), I found another big wide pileup on 30. The DX station was strong and from the size of the pileup I figured something rare. I only caught the end of the call once (/K9KX) and then he never IDed again for it must have been a dozen QSOs, of which I was one. The pileup was up from around 800 Hz to perhaps 4 kHz or more. I used the panadapter and the split phones to play the chess match. I'd figure out who he was working via the PX3 by examining the remaining peak or two and quickly tune the split VFO (B) to that frequency via the red line on the PX3 screen. If I was quick enough to catch a 5NN in my right ear, I knew that was who he worked and I called there as soon as the DX ended with TU. He was seemingly jumping all around the wide pile. The first few times I called, I got beat out. Finally I found he was working someone up around 3 kHz and this time I seemed to be the lone caller there, and I got him. Now the wait was on to see just who I did work. After 3 or so more QSOs he finally did ID. A little disappointed it wasn't a new overall country, but I was pleased in winning the chess match to beat such a big pileup. Then as I said it was a new band country at least. Oh, here I am doing the same thing and not IDing the call. HI It was 8R1/K9KX - Guyana.

Well, off to start my day now by walking Roscoe, and on from there maybe to the shack for those challenge QSOs. We had a dusting of s#$w overnight, but it's already melting even though it's only 30 or so. March s#$ws in most cases are no problem, just a minor annoyance for a day or two at most. -30-

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Tuesday, March 01, 2016 12:10 PM - Happy Spring everyone. Yes, spring has finally arrived. To be honest though, winter wasn't all that bad this year. Although I don't honor s#$w in any way by keeping s#$wfall records along with my other weather data, I would guess that we may not even have made it to one foot total s#$wfall for the winter. Can't go by the Pittsburgh records as they got a couple pretty good s@#wfalls that passed us by. In fact we were in kind of a hole here in Western PA with more s@#w all around us than right here. And that was absolutely great! We only had one day with a temperature below zero and that was just -2. I'm just checking now to see if it wasn't our warmest winter since I started my weather records back in 1959. December was 13.1 degrees above normal, January 1.0 above, February 4.6 above. The average mean temperature for winter was 35.6 degrees. Let's see how that stacks up. That beats the previous record of 35.5 in 2011-2012 in a finish similar to this year's Daytona 500. Actually I just averaged the three months this year and should have added the total min/max temps and divided by 182 (91 days X 2 readings). Let's see what that shows. OK, it comes out the same rounded to the nearest tenth degree - 35.6. So this was our warmest winter in my series of some 55 winters. You know, if there is global warming and I'm skeptical about that, I'll take it for sure.

Lest you doubt spring is here, my tulips have sprouted already. In fact looks like they did so a few days ago from this picture.
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Just like Snoopy above, I'm overjoyed about the whole thing. However even the first month of spring can be nasty some years like 1960 when March was colder than either January or February, or the blizzard of '93 to mention a couple. The good thing though is that (except for 1960) bad weather in March doesn't last long. The two feet of ugly white stuff in '93 was gone within a few days. -30-

Monday, February 29, 2016 10:16 AM - OK, let me make good on the promises I made in yesterday's entry. First here are two pictures we took at the hamfest yesterday.

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L-R through both pictures: Tom WB3FAE, Me, Bob WC3O, Mike KC2EGL - Mike, Tom, Bob KC3DOF, Bob.

Now some stats on the first three years of my DX streak. Of course counting leap day, that's 3 x 365 + 1 or 1,096 consecutive days.

In the streak including the first QSO of each day plus all other DX QSOs made in the three years are the following:

Total DX QSOs - 5,603
Countries - 152

Continents - All plus Antarctica
QSOs by continent:
AF - 184
AN - 4
AS - 147
EU - 3,826
NA - 953
OC - 86
SA - 403

Different CQ zones - 32
QSOs by zone:
1 - 26
5 - 17 (Bermuda)
6 - 80
7 - 135
8 - 688
9 - 222
10 - 37
11 - 91
12 - 16
13 - 37
14 - 1,642
15 - 1,781
16 - 236
17 - 29
18 - 26
19 - 14
20 - 165
21 - 2
23 - 6
25 - 52
27 - 4
29 - 2
30 - 3
31 - 70
32 - 8
33 - 143
34 - 2
35 - 29
36 - 6
38 - 6
39 - 1
40 - 27

Now, being the last day of the month, I have to get going on my end of month chores. More comments on the streak tomorrow, the first day of Spring. Hooray!! -30-

Sunday, February 28, 2016 7:43 PM - A really great day today, mainly for two reasons - the South Hills hamfest and getting my DX this evening to complete three years of the DX streak.

Mike arrived just before 9AM, and after a few minutes we headed south. It only took us a couple miles to 'get lost' or actually make a wrong turn. I said at the time at least we got that out of the way early this trip. Wrong! The South Hills of Pittsburgh was not familiar to either of us, and it is laid out in a rather confusing way. The turns come up suddenly just a few seconds sometimes after the GPS indicates them. So we made some U turns and circles to get back on track a couple times, but we got there. We waited around for Tom WB3FAE outside, but it turns out he had already arrived and was inside. So the three of us roamed around looking at the items on the vendor tables. It was mainly a hamfest for vendors. We met up with the omnipresent Bob WC3O, and one of our newer NAQCC members Bob KC3DOF and had a good time chatting with them. We also ran into Art WA3BKD from the submarine Requin and one of the first things he asked me was when we'd be coming down to the sub again. He said they were just getting the Requin back on schedule and to wait a couple weeks to call to see when the radio room would be available for us. It looks like it will have to be some Sunday as that's the only day Mike and Tom would be available. Also N3CU who I mentioned had visited a week or so ago would like to join us for a subpedition. So when the four of us can settle on a date, we'll go for it.

Also KC3DOF was asking about our parkpeditions and perhaps he'll be able to join us this year on one of them. Another thing was settled today. The Breezeshooters Club was represented there and Mike signed up for a NAQCC table at their hamfest the first Sunday in June.

I also had a chance to meet for the first time our WPA Section Manager Tim K3LR. We didn't have much of a chance to talk as he was busy with the ARRL table.

Mike was lucky and won one of the prize drawings - a 'grab bag' of several nice little items.

We took a couple pictures of the NAQCC members there and I may post them in the diary tomorrow. Right now I'm a little tired after the busy day and will put off the pictures and finish my story instead.

The time went by pretty fast and we left not long after 12:30PM as about half the vendors had already gone and the rest were ready to leave. Mike and I made out pretty well on the return trip home with only one missed turn. We stopped at Applebee's in the Pittsburgh Mills to take care of a top priority - eating. Then it was over to Best Buy to browse all the latest computer, TV, etc. things they have there. We spent quite a while just looking around, then headed home here and up to the shack where Mike worked about a half dozen DX stations. I saved my DX till this evening figuring if I worked someone this afternoon that would be one less available for this evening. HI. After that and watching a Little Rascals film, Mike headed home around 6PM or so since tomorrow is a work day and a getting up early day.

MARCH 1, 2013 TO FEBRUARY 29, 2016

Working V26IS on 40 meters at 0018Z this evening means I've now worked at least one DX station (non-W/VE) on every day in that interval making three straight years of DX QSOs. Now tomorrow, March 1 I set off on the fourth year. Tomorrow in the diary I'll have a collection of stats on the three years. Now I'm closing to finish my laundry and do some other chores. -30-

Saturday, February 27, 2016 7:20 PM - This was one of those evenings with a bit of pressure to get my DX QSO since a good portion of tomorrow (or later today talking UTC) will be spent at the South Hills hamfest, then afterward at Applebee's. Also because I'm close to another goal in the DX streak - 3 years as of Monday. Actually if you don't count leap day, then I have my three years as of tonight's QSO with HI3TEJ on 40 meters.

Looking back on my DX "career", I had a heck of a time working DX back in the 60s and 70s, even running 75W input which was somewhere around 50W output, I would guess. Never did measure it, only the input to my 1625 final tube. Here are some totals by decades:
Decade      QSOs    DX QSOs   Percent DX    Countries (incl W/VE)
1963-69    18557       148        0.8               56
1970-73       56         1        1.8                3
1981-83      752        22        2.9               14
1993-99    26442      5019       19.0              169        
2000-09    25800      8831       34.2              186
2010-16    15373      8204       53.4              167
The low percentage of DX QSOs is probably more than anything due to my lack of belief that DX could be worked regularly and easily with anything less than a KW, beam, and great location. Thus I didn't really try working DX all that much until 1993-95 or so. Once I realized DX was possible with such a setup as mine, I really came to enjoy it very much although I never really thought of a DX streak to go along with my main streak until back in 2013. Well actually I did have some shorter streaks such as 154 days in 99-00, but those failed probably because I didn't really try hard enough to keep them going. As you see from the percentages, DX was still not at the top of my ham radio interests as it pretty much is nowadays.

At any rate, the main point of the streaks is not anything personal on my part, but more just to show everyone that DX is possible using a very minimal station setup, namely 5 watts or less of power, very minimal antennas, and a valley location. I would say that the streak definitely proves that.

I think sometime after February comes to an end, I'll analyze the three years a bit more and present some stats here. You all know how crazy I am about working with stats. -30-

Friday, February 26, 2016 7:13 PM - To borrow from KC and the Sunshine Band - That's the Way I Like It. I'm speaking of my DX streak QSO tonight. Simple, straight to the point, quick, and easy. After looking around a couple minutes and not getting HP1RN because everyone else wanted to work him also, I went to 40 and that was another story. There was IT9CJC calling CQ - not very strong, and not getting an answer to his CQs. I called once with no answer. The second call resulted in an easy contact with Sicily on 40 meters. Didn't even have to repeat my call at all. That leaves two days to go to complete the first three years or 1,096 days of my DX QSO streak. Saying that means I've decided to keep going with the streak and not quitting at three years. Like the big main streak, I'm not quitting till something beyond my control ends it.

It was a pretty nice day today although a bit on the cold side with a high of just 31. However it's now the time of year where it doesn't have to be all that warm to get rid of s#$w. The dusting we got is now virtually all gone. Looks great. Bruce and I went out for breakfast today at Myrt's, then did a bit of shopping.

Coming up next is a trip to the South Hills Hamfest on Sunday. That's just south of Pittsburgh. We're just checking it out, and not setting up or anything like that. This is our first time attending that one, so we have no idea what it is like. Hopefully we'll run into some local NAQCC members. Maybe even find a bargain on something we think we need. Mike KC2EGL and I will be going. We don't know for sure yet if Tom WB3FAE will join us or not. We hope so. It's supposed to be mostly sunny and in the mid 50s so that will be great. -30-

Thursday, February 25, 2016 8:08 PM - ADDENDUM: After I wrote the below and visited with my neighbor, I came back to the shack at 0329Z, turned on the rig, saw a peak on the PX3, tuned in, listened to him working a couple stations without any ID, then he signed PJ7AA UP. I set for split and got him with one call. It took all of less than a minute or so to add to my streak.

Another of those becoming too frequent 'no DX' evenings (so far). I heard KG4HF with his attendant huge pileup which I couldn't break and Rey CO6RD whom I can usually work easily, but not tonight. So looks like some daylight DXing in the morning or afternoon to keep the streak going. It will reach 3 full years in just 4 more days if I make it. Maybe that would be a good stopping point. I'll think about it (probably for a few seconds, then dump the idea and keep going).

It was a cold somewhat s#$wy day today. Just a dusting of the ugly white stuff though, so that was good. Looks like we made out pretty well with the weather this winter. Hope it continues for the final 4 days and then the first part of spring also. Sometime that first month of spring can contain some nasty weather as I've mentioned. I recall two years in particular - 1960 when March was colder than January and February and then the blizzard of 1993. At least it was a joy in 1993 to see just how fast 2 feet of s#$w can melt. It was gone well within a week. -30-

Wednesday, February 24, 2016 5:52 PM - Not much going on this evening other than getting my streak QSO(s) and watching some Little Rascals/Our Gang videos with my neighbor, so I thought I'd write the diary entry a bit early.

I did something today in ham radio I haven't done before. Worked two different stations from Guantanamo Bay - KG4HF and KG4EU. Both will be there through March 4 if you still need Gitmo. However on his QRZ page, KG4HF says he will be mostly on RTTY after today or so. I found his comments interesting about folks passing him by in the ARRL DX Contest, thinking he was not DX, but a stateside station. Remember 2X2 calls with a KG4 prefix are Gitmo. I heard him in the contest and did know he was in Gitmo, but I couldn't work him there. I did catch him today though it took many calls. He was very popular. That was on 17 meters. KG4EU only took two calls on 20 meters. I was a bit disappointed though. I thought maybe the 17 meter QSO was a new band country, but turns out I have Gitmo on all bands 40 through 10. The KG4EU also provided the letter E for the NAQCC February Challenge, leaving me now needing only one more E for completion.

The bands seemed in very good shape today with sigs heard on all bands 20 through 10 except for 12. Let's hope that continues. The SF was only 88 today which is encouraging if the bands are still good at that low a figure. The A index was only 7 which helped.

It was a rainy day today - one reason I was on the bands during the afternoon. There were gaps in the rain though and I enjoyed some walking and shopping in those gaps to enjoy the near 60 degree temperatures. That's six days in a row with a high of 50 or greater, almost unheard of for February. It may make it to seven if it holds above 50 at midnight, but then the temperature is going to drop during the day Thursday.

After the rain, the sun came out providing a very bright rainbow. I just missed getting a picture of the peak though as it faded a bit while I was getting my camera. Let's see how it did come out. QRX.

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Not too bad, but I wish I'd have gotten it at peak brightness.

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And while doing pictures, here's an update on the tomatoes (L) and peppers (R). The tomatoes are more or less just sitting there doing nothing, so the far right pot is a newly seeded one with more tomato seeds in new potting soil. I'll see if that helps. Oh, the peppers are basically in the same older potting soil as the tomatoes, but with a thin layer of new potting soil on top since they will add roots from their stems as they grow and eventually I'll add still more new soil to them, and I'm sure I will have to totally re-pot them before putting them out in a couple months or so. -30-

Tuesday, February 23, 2016 7:30 PM - Here it is Tuesday and I'm still re-living in my mind the fun I had in the ARRL DX Test this past weekend. I don't think there is anything better in ham radio than working a big DX contest like that. Fun copying all the high speed CW. Fun picking calls and info out of an almost infinitely crowded band (especially 40 meters the last hour or so of the contest). Fun admiring all the great ops who show up in these contests. They are truly remarkable folks who can sit there for hours on end (maybe all 48) and turn out QSOs at rates of 100-200 (or more) per hour. Fun admiring the way they can pick my very minimal QRP signal out of the noise and bedlam so very easily (well most of the time anyway). Fun when working some of my good DX friends and chatting for a few extra seconds. Fun looking for and working a new overall country or if not that, then a new band-country, band-zone, or prefix. Fun just tuning the bands and working folks without poring over Internet spots or other such aids. Fun being asked by someone to QSY to another band for a QSO there. Fun seeing how good a rate I can achieve with my minimal QRP setup. Fun when someone compliments me on my QRP signal. Fun working folks on 80 meters which is by far not my best DX band. Fun when I can work someone on all 5 contest bands (I don't count 160 as it just doesn't work at all well for DX here). Fun seeing how many overall countries I can work in the contest. Fun going through my contest log after the contest ends and analyzing my results in many different ways. Fun having a ham friend in the shack for a couple hours in the contest. Fun, fun, fun. Even though it does get a bit physically and mentally exhausting as it winds down, the fun overrides that completely. I just wish there were more contests like that in which to have all that fun. Really though there are only a few each year. I would say the ARRL DX, CQWW WPX, IARU HF Championships, CQWW DX, and the ARRL 10M are the ones that most closely fit the above list of fun things. Some of the country specific contests sometimes fit the bill when conditions are really great as well. Although not DX contests, the NA QSO Parties also provide much of the same fun, especially the continuous action when band conditions are really great. I've had rates over 50 per hour for the full 10 hours of those contests a couple times which with my setup is about the best I can possibly do.

Oh, BTW I added a little commentary and some stats to my ARRL DX Test story today. If you're interested, you might scan it again if you've already read it.

Gee, I wish there were another big DX contest this weekend now after writing all that. HI

Well there are other fun things in ham radio also like keeping my streaks going, especially the DX one. I hit day # 1,091 a little while ago when I worked YN7SU on 40M at 0006Z. Talking about great ops, there is one. I very seldom ever miss working him when I try even if he is only s5 or s6 (or less).

Those are my favorite things, but ham radio has something for everyone. A lot of things I have no interest in whatsoever (SSB, digital, QRO, etc.), but they do appeal to others, and that's fine. There is room for a lot of activities on all bands. -30-

Monday, February 22, 2016 3:49 PM - My diary entry today is this story of my ARRL DX Contest. -30-

Sunday, February 21, 2016 7:51 PM - I've got a lot to get caught up on this evening after a very busy weekend with the ARRL DX contest along with other things. So this will be short.

After not really being all that enthused about the contest, once I got started, I really got into it from the get go. I'm going to write a contest story about it, so I won't say much here. I wound up with 303 QSOs and around 170 mults with a score around 150K points. More accurate info will be in the story along with more stats.

A couple notes here. The first half hour was terrible. I couldn't work anyone, then things loosened up from then on. Not like back in the sunspot peak years, but still a lot of fun. I especially enjoyed getting on during the 1100 and 1200Z hours each morning. I was really looking for a KL7 on 80 and an Asian on 40. Didn't find them, but still enjoyed the time.

Then the final 90 minutes was great on 40 working the majority of the EU stations I was hearing as I went up and down the band.

OK, more when I write the story. -30-

Saturday, February 20, 2016 7:54 PM - A really great day today. I really enjoyed the visit from Ken N3CU. We have a lot of interests in common among ham radio activities and otherwise. I always get a kick out of seeing how visiting hams react to seeing my 'antenna victory garden' and my location down here in the valley. It's always pretty much the same being surprised with my results with such a setup. Often I don't get to share the results with visitors but today with the ARRL DX Contest in full swing, I worked many DX QSOs while we were discussing and looking at other things. I'm not sure how many QSOs I made while Ken was here as my log is still on my laptop which is up in the shack. I think I had 76 when I broke for brunch at 11AM, and I only had a few between brunch and Ken's arrival. When he left around 3:30 or 4:00PM, My total was 135. Now I think I'm finished for the rest of the evening with 143 QSOs. I'll probably shoot for 200 by contest end tomorrow.

Ken has had some remarkable QRPp QSOs. Take a look at the award winners page on the NAQCC web site to see what I mean. Especially the 1,000 MPW listing. He has 4 there over 1,000,000 MPW with his best being 1,548,214 MPW. Also many others over 100,000 MPW. He was telling me that those 1,000,000 MPW QSOs were very rough and took a long time to complete. He said the ops on the other end were very patient and stuck with him. Although his antennas are better than mine, they are not big beams on tall towers or anything like that. Simply a center-fed Zepp @ 50 ft. Impressive.

We hope to get Ken to do some parkpeditions this summer along with maybe some hamfests, and he especially is interested in operating from the Requin. He's not as close to here as are Mike and Tom, but we'll work something out, I'm sure.

News from another friend also. Eric KB3BFQ has been working a few DX stations in the contest today and I can feel his excitement in the emails he sent telling me about them.

It was April in February here today, and along with everything else, I had to make time for two nice walks enjoying the temperature almost touching 70. My remote units show a high of 69 and 66. I'll see what my 'official' thermometer registered when I go out at 9PM. We've had a few 70 degree days in February before, but this may be a record for the 20th. Let's see. It was 70 on Feb 18, 2011, 72 on Feb 21, 1997, and 6 more with the highest being 74 on Feb 26, 2000. As for today, the 20th, the record is 62 in 1983/l994 so it definitely was a record setting day for warmth today, whether it be 66, 69, or higher.

There was one other very good thing today.
pix_diary_20160220_001 (31K)

Although they don't show up too clearly in this hastily taken (through a window and fence screen) picture, the red arrows indicate two robins just outside my back yard. In addition to an earlier one today (maybe one of the same two), these are the first ones I've seen to have come in to town from the woods this year. Ah yes, can the wonderful season of spring be far away now. Also you'll notice no s@#w in the picture. My cup overfloweth with joy. -30-

Friday, February 19, 2016 6:41 PM - Well, I'm sitting here waiting for the DX contest to start. However I won't be able to put in much of an effort until Sunday. I'm getting a visit tomorrow from Ken N3CU to chat about QRP, etc. Like I've been doing every day for a couple months now, I'll be walking Roscoe 3 or 4 times. Then, the weather is supposed to be just great tomorrow and I'll have the yearning to get out and enjoy it. Also I got my TV today, and as a new toy, it will demand some of my time also. It's a 'smart' TV with its own Internet access. I haven't explored all its features yet, so that will also rob some time from the contest. I think maybe I'll just shoot for a simple 100, maybe 150 QSOs and let it go at that.

Not much else to talk about right now except to say it was a delight to see how much of our s#@w cover melted away today. I'd say its about 40/60 s#$w to bare ground now, and with temperatures in the 50s tomorrow that should improve dramatically. -30-

Thursday, February 18, 2016 8:02 PM - Once again a DX QSO at 0000Z. Tonight it was 8P5A on 14046. I thank my panadapter for that one. 20 looked fairly dead except for a couple peaks higher in the band. Usually unless it's a contest or some kind of special event, anything that high in the band is not DX. However I checked anyway and I'm glad I did since it was 8P5A and it took but a single call to get him.

One of the features of my web site that hasn't gotten much notice or activity in quite a while are my CW stories written by you, my visitors about your experiences with CW. I imagine that is so because a large proportion of hams have their own web sites now. Back when I started this site, I was one of only a few who had a personal web site. Now of course there are all the social media sites on which hams tell their stories. Personally I don't use ANY social media sites as I feel they are just too prone to abuse of various kinds. Also there are sites like QRZ on which hams can tell their stories also.

However I did get an update to one of the stories that was written back in 2008 by K8MP. If you go to my CW section and look at the CW Stories there, you can see what Joe had to add to his story.

Let's change subjects now. A lot of you seem interested in my gardening activities here. So here's an update on my pepper and tomato plants. After about 6-7 weeks since planting the seeds, the peppers are thriving, standing tall at about 6 inches or so. Living under the same conditions, namely over a furnace register for warmth and under a light set to match the amount of sunlight per day, the tomatoes are not doing nearly as well. I don't know why. A couple of them grew so far, then died. Some seeds never did sprout. The surviving ones are only about an inch or a little more high. I added some seeds to the pots a couple times so far, the latest being today. So we'll see what happens. I just don't understand why the tomatoes are doing so poorly, especially compared to the peppers this year and to the tomatoes from previous years.

Tomorrow Bruce is taking me up to Walmart to get a new TV. My old one died a few days ago. While I don't have any TV service be it cable, satellite, etc., I do like to watch things I've taped on VCs over the years plus some DVDs I've collected. I think I'll also get some potting soil while I'm there and maybe try some tomato seeds in the new soil. The soil now is a couple years old. Maybe that has something to do with the tomato performance.

Oh, it was another nice day today. Not all that warm, but good enough for another nice walk and some shopping. It was sunny, and the sun is high enough in the sky now that it has some good melting power. Once it breaks an opening through the white s#$w which just reflects the heat, that opening, be it grass, sidewalk, road, etc. starts to expand rapidly as long as the sun shines on it. The sidewalks in many cases even get to the point of drying out. Over the years I find that this happens regularly starting around February 20 as the sun is high enough then to concentrate its energy more than when it was lower in the sky and the energy was more spread out than concentrated. -30-

Wednesday, February 17, 2016 7:58 PM - Not too bad a day today. A couple icy spots where the s#$w melted and then froze, but all in all walking was good. I took advantage and paid some bills (yes, I still pay them what some folks call the old-fashioned way - I do nothing financial electronically) via the Post Office and directly to our Borough Building. I also stopped at the bank and the grocery store. Oh, and mailed out one of our NAQCC prizes to the winner. It felt good to get out and around again. The next few days look pretty nice also so I'll probably be out some more then.

It doesn't get any quicker unless you keep track of the seconds for getting my DX QSO this evening. I worked C6AKQ (N4BP at his contest station in the Bahamas) at 0000Z on 30 meters. The bands were pretty good this evening and my noise was low, even down to S6/7 on 80 meters. So low I was hearing DX on 80 - CT9/DL1CW and a station whose call I forget portable in Aruba. I tried working the CT9 but couldn't get through his pileup. That's encouraging for the ARRL DX Contest this weekend if things stay like that. I'm still not really fired up for the contest though. I don't know if I will be or not. We'll see.

Since the DX was taken care of so quickly, I thought I'd try some CQs for a rag chew and maybe to get the last few letters I need for the NAQCC February challenge. No letters, but a nice chat with Tony KA2PJO on 80. -30-

Tuesday, February 16, 2016 6:58 PM - We made out well with the weather last night. Only a trace of s#$w and maybe a trace of freezing rain. Otherwise it was all rain, around 1.25 inches. I'll take it that way every time for sure.

I wasn't sure if Mike would be able to make it with the weather, but as I said, it wasn't as dire as was forecasted so he rolled in here between 9:30 and 9:45. I have to interrupt the story right now to go get my streak QSO(s). After that, a la Paul Harvey, the rest of the story.

OK, I'm back after a couple DX QSOs and a rag chew. Soon after Mike arrived we headed off for a great breakfast at a local diner called Myrt's. Back home again for a bit of DXing. We didn't find any DX, but did find and work Tom WY3H down in GA. Neither of our QSOs with him were all that solid with QSB and QRN but it was nice to work him again. One project we decided on was trying to build a crystal radio set. Just as we got started on that, my phone rang. It was Tom, and we continued our QSO with him via landline for a while before getting back to our project. It took some time to wind the coil for the set, but it turned out fruitless as we never did get it working this time around. We'll try again sometime. Then it was back to DXing again. Mike worked PJ2/HB9BJL whom I had worked last night and also IT9SSI, both on 20 meters. I didn't need either station so I didn't work them or anyone else. After about an hour of DXing, it was time for some hidden object games on the computer. An hour or so of that, and Mike had to head on home as it was back to work for him tomorrow. All in all as usual we had a great time together. -30-

Monday, February 15, 2016 8:18 PM - I'm sitting here wondering what kind of weather we're going to get overnight. The various prognosticators have us getting just about any kind of precipitation from rain to freezing rain to s#@w to sleet, etc. About the only thing sure is that it won't be sunny overnight.

Eric and I tried to make a QSO a couple times today - around noon and around 7PM. No luck either time. We both have pretty high noise levels plus the distance between us is not that good for 40 meters. I think we might make it on 80 if we didn't have the noise there. We'll try again some time. At least I'm glad he got his station going again there near Pittsburgh. I hope he can make some QSOs. He admits he's gotten rusty with his CW after several years of not being active. He was copying some code yesterday when he was here so I think with a little practice he'll pick right up again. I referred him to the program Just Learn Morse Code (www.justlearnmorsecode.com) for some off air practice.

After our failed sked, I got in a long rag chew (with N8KMY) before I got to getting my DX QSO with PJ2/HB9BJL, probably another station getting ready for the ARRL DX Test. So the streak goes on for another day no matter what the weather decides to do tonight. Right now, I see it's very lite s@#w. That would be a good choice for overnight if I had the option to choose one of the bad types. -30-

Sunday, February 14, 2016 6:42 PM - A lot already done today, and more to do yet. So I'll write the diary entry now until it's time to go get my streak QSO(s). As I said Eric KB3BFQ would be coming over today to pick up the TS-570D I'm loaning him so he can get back on the air. He arrived a little after 10AM with all his accessory gear. Almost right away we went up to my shack and started putting his station together so all he would have to do would be to take it home and connect it to his antenna. It went pretty well with a couple hitches. We couldn't get my random wire to tune on 40 and 80 which as a Novice would be the bands he would mainly be using. We tried different combinations using just the 570 tuner, using just his external tuner, using a combination of both, but all we would get was the SWR in morse that the rig sends if the antenna can't be matched properly. Along the way Eric became familiar with the controls on the 570, but no matter what we did with the antenna, it just wouldn't load. I finally thought about trying my old homebrew tuner. Eric had to leave to take care of a couple chores, so I ate and checked on Roscoe before hooking up my tuner. When I did - bingo - it tuned like a charm right down to 1:1 SWR. So when Eric returned I told him it looks like we're in business. After I showed him a couple little things about the tuner, I wanted to make a QSO with the setup just to be sure with no doubt that all was working. We called one station who never answered us, then tried some CQs with no results. Finally we did work NM1I in a solid QSO. After a little more chatting and packing up things, Eric left. We're going to try a QSO, maybe tomorrow if his setup at home goes well.

Now tonight after getting my streak QSO(s), I've got to post a new poll on my website, finish up cross-checking our NAQCC sprint logs, watching some TV and having some ice cream with Bruce (and Roscoe of course - I'm sure he'll want some), and a few other things like my temperature readings, so I'm through with the entry.

We've got some freezing rain predicted the next couple days. I hope we don't lose power. If we do, you may not see a diary entry for a while. -30-

Saturday, February 13, 2016 8:01 PM - It didn't get as cold as predicted last night. I hope the same holds true tonight. It was 8 vs. a predicted 3-4 last night. This night it's predicted to be anywhere from 0 to 5 below depending on which forecast it is. Right now it's 9 degrees and has held there for the past couple hours.

Another portable DX station this evening - P4/DL5CW at 0026Z on 40. They are really getting fired up for the ARRL DX contest next weekend. I don't really have a lot of enthusiasm for it right now, but that may change by the time it draws nearer. It really depends on band conditions and my local noise. Good conditions and low noise will bring up my interest. The opposite and I'll only get on for a few QSOs.

Tomorrow morning Eric KB3BFQ whom diary readers are familiar with, will be dropping by to pick up the TS-570D I'm loaning him so he can get back on the air again. I'm looking forward to that. We sure had a lot of fun together when he lived next door although we did QRM each other at times. It's good we were both QRPers. HI -30-

Friday, February 12, 2016 7:47 PM - Tonight kicked off a somewhat busy weekend for me here. With the weather the way it is - s@#w and cold, it will be good to be busy to make the time pass quicker and get back to a little more decent weather by Tuesday or so. Anyway as we did a few weeks ago, Mike came down and we went out to another dinner. This time it was an all you can eat fish dinner at another local firehall. We both had a couple of well filled plates of food. I wound up filled and Mike said he may have overdone it. That's unusual for both of us. HI

Next up for the weekend is a visit from KB3BFQ on Sunday to help him get his station set up and get back on the air. I'll be loaning him my TS-570D which he will be picking up along with a better paddle than the one he has. We'll be checking everything out here and then he can transfer the setup to his place with the only difference being the antenna. He seems really anxious to get back on the air again, so I hope everything works out.

Then on Mond.... er Tuesday now as Mike had to postpone by one day, we'll be getting together for the full day doing who knows what. One thing for sure is breakfast at a new place. At least new for Mike. I was there once or twice before. Then back home for I'm sure some kind of ham radio activities, computer work or games, and the like.

The activity will continue a little longer in the week as I go shopping for a new TV. My old one died last week. Bruce will be taking me to WalMart for that. Although I don't have any actual TV service, I do watch a lot of VCs that I've taped over the years going back to around 1984 plus some DVDs. Then in case I do get cable or satellite sometime in the future, I'll be getting one that will be ready for that eventuality if it comes to pass.

Mike left early this evening just after 0000Z because of the s@#w, so when he left I went to the shack and it didn't take long to work FM/SP5ES on 30 meters for my DX QSO. Although I didn't stay long, the bands did sound pretty good although there was a lot of some kind of digital (RTTY) contest going on using up a lot of CW territory. -30-

Thursday, February 11, 2016 8:09 PM - It took a little while, but I got my DX again this evening. CO8LY was on 40 and I hadn't worked him in quite a while, and not often on 40 so I called and worked him. Other than that, I'm talking to Tom WY3H on the phone as I type. We haven't talked for a few weeks now, so we're getting caught up on things, and I'll cut this entry short because of that. -30-

Wednesday, February 10, 2016 7:51 PM - The DX QSO can't come any quicker than tonight. A few seconds past 0000Z, I worked KP2M on 40 meters. He's getting ready for the DX contest coming up this month. Then I heard and worked E77DX on 40 after a nice chat with NAQCC member WG8Y on 80. The bands were pretty good this evening compared to last night. My local noise was down quite a bit and sigs were up. Why wasn't it like that for the sprint last night? HI.

Other than that, some work around the house and doing the initial setup for cross checking of sprint logs occupied me most of the day.

We did get a bit of s#$w today, but only a trace so far. Our good luck (knock on wood) continues the trend we've had all winter so far, and each day brings us closer to spring. -30-

Tuesday, February 09, 2016 7:15 PM - The bands seemed pretty good this evening and my noise wasn't too bad. Still I'm not going all out in our NAQCC sprint coming up in a little over an hour. I'll either go for 5, 10, or maybe 20 QSOs depending on how conditions are then. When I reach whichever total, then I'll QRT.

There wasn't a lot of DX despite the seemingly good conditions. I did hear a SV and LZ on 40, but rather weak. I called the LZ with no response. Then jumping between 40 and 30, I found NP4G on 30 and worked him easily. Then I checked QRZ to be sure he really was in Puerto Rico. He was and he has a very interesting page on QRZ. So that's 1,077 days for the DX streak with 19 to go to make it a full 3 years. Actually discounting leap year day, I guess it would be 18 to make it 1,095 days or three full 365 day years. Whatever. The next 18 (19) days may not be all that easy. However there is the ARRL DX contest for two sure days and hopefully the stations operating portable in the contest will be active setting up before the contest and hanging around for a few days afterwards.

As it was with Jonas, most of the s#$w from this current activity has been to the south and east of here. We got nothing so far, but I think we will get perhaps a couple inches over the next couple days. But as I said last night, this is almost mid-February so the winter won't be that long or bad as past years have been. -30-

Monday, February 08, 2016 7:45 PM - It looks like we are going to have our winter this week with a few inches of s#$w followed by near zero temperatures later in the week. Oh well, with only 21 days till spring that's not so bad. Not like it would start in December and last for some three months.

Another quick DX QSO this evening to keep the streak rolling on. It was one of those work 'em, then find out who you worked. After our QSO, I had to wait through a couple more QSOs for an ID from the station. It was FS/K4ZGB on 40 meters. There were also some fairly strong European stations on 40 for the second evening in a row. Also my noise was only S5 this evening. I hope signals are strong and noise weak tomorrow evening for our monthly NAQCC sprint. I'd like to be able to log more than just a couple QSOs as I've done the past couple sprints now because of poor propagation being unable to bring signals above my very high local noise. We'll see. -30-

Sunday, February 07, 2016 7:41 PM - NOTE: The NAQCC video may now be at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UewxvhfBrRc

Easy DX this evening - S57Z and EA9EU on 40 at 0004 and 0019Z. Conditions seemed really good on 40. I didn't check any other bands except a quick glance at 30 that showed nothing.

Jock N1JI made a really cool video about the NAQCC. For the rest of this entry, I'm just going to refer you to that in hopes you will take a look to learn more about the NAQCC. The URL is CHANGED - see above. -30-

Saturday, February 06, 2016 7:45 PM - The bands are sure busy this evening with at least 3 contests, a couple DXpeditions, and nets. About the only place that was empty was the low end of 40 where I worked CO2IR and parts of 30 where I worked CO3ET. At least my DX streak is secure and the two Cubans gave me several letters towards the NAQCC February challenge.

It was kind of a do nothing day today. No precipitation, and partly cloudy, but chilly in the 30s. Nice to have days like that in February, especially remembering the s#$wy bitter cold February last year. The rest of the month looks pretty good also if the AccuWeather outlook turns out accurate.

I resurfaced my ham shack desk today. That is I replaced the old place mats that covered the many nicks and dents of the desk that also served as somewhat of a workbench over the years. The old place mats had their protective coating peeling off which was annoying. So I peeled them off, and pasted (glued) on two new ones.

Other than that and listening to the AM BC for new stations, I didn't really do much except play some computer games and walked Roscoe a couple times. Well, I guess I did a little more than I thought. HI. -30-

Friday, February 05, 2016 7:44 PM - How can you (GENERALLY) tell it is a DX station you are listening to even before he signs his call?

1. DX stations almost never have long (or even short) on-air tune up periods before they start calling CQ. So if you hear someone with a key down period, it's probably not a DX station.

2. DX stations almost never call a long string of CQs before identifying themselves. If you hear a string of 4 or more CQs, it's probably not a DX station.

3. The vast majority of DX stations (with a few noteable exceptions) have very good easy to copy fists. If you hear sloppy CW, it's probably not a DX station.

4. If you catch something ending in PSE K, it probably is a DX station. That phrase is generally used only by DX stations although as with all these 'rules', there are exceptions.

5. If you hear a series of calls and 599s without the station identifying himself, it's probably a DX station. Or it could be you're listening to a contest in which case it could be DX or not.

6. If you hear something ending in UP, UP 1, etc., chances are very good it is a DX station you're hearing. Probably the most sure of these items, in fact.

7. If you hear an exchange ending in CIAO, DSW, GCS and other such abbreviations, you're almost certainly listening to a DX QSO involving an Italian, Russian, Spanish speaking station respectively. It could be either end of the QSO using them though.

Using the above, I can generally tell if it is DX or not, and if it is not, I'll move on to someone else, and maybe check back if I don't hear anything else to be sure it is not DX.

Of course, unless we are in a sunspot maximum or you have a super great receiving setup, the signal strength can sometimes be a giveaway. If someone is 20 over S9 here on 80, 40, or 30 mostly, I'm virtually certain it's not DX. On the other hand, even with my poor receiving setup here, I have heard DX on the higher bands who were 20 or even higher over S9 when conditions were just right.

Of course in the above, I'm referring mainly to W/VE stations doing the listening and the rest of the world being the DX stations.

DXing is a real chess match, and the more little tricks you can put up your sleeve, the better the chance of finding and working DX.

I've now done so for the past 1,073 days after working PJ2/DL9NBJ on 30 meters several minutes ago. It was hard for me to copy him through my noise, but nonetheless the QSO was made and is in the books. Right after I worked him, he said QSY 40 and was gone, so I lucked out there. Out of curiosity I went to 40, but couldn't hear him there. -30-

Thursday, February 04, 2016 8:52 PM - Mission accomplished for the 1,072nd straight day. Working a DX station of course with QRP/CW/simple wire antennas in a poor location. You too, can do the same. Just give it a try. You don't need a KW/beam/hilltop location. I've proved that. Don't think you can't work DX with your situation, no matter how poor you think it is. YOU CAN.

OK, my Knute Rockne disguise off now. Tonight after working Larry KA2DDX near Buffalo, NY and hearing about the miracle up there - no s#$w on the ground, right, no s@#w on the ground in Buffalo in early February, I went searching for my DX QSO. Took a while to find and work FG/F5HRY, but I made it.

Oh, there's also no s#$w on the ground here, and the 65 degree reading this month is 81 degrees warmer than the coldest reading last February when we hit -16 twice. What a difference a year makes. I love it. Speaking of temperatures, time to get my readings now, so I'll close. -30-

Wednesday, February 03, 2016 1:42 PM - My DX came quickly last night in a nice catch - DP1POL in Atka Bay, Antarctica on 30 meters. It took only a couple calls to land him. That prompted me to think that I do work Antarctica pretty easily even though sometimes SA is difficult. So I probably could work VP8SGI except for a couple things. Whenever I hear them, which isn't often, they are very weak down in my noise and I probably couldn't even tell if they were coming back to me or not even assuming I would know exactly where to call in their mile-wide pileups.

So with the DX in hand, I thought I'd get on today and try for some letters for the NAQCC February challenge. I worked IK3VUT and K8QBS before shutting down to go out for a walk in our 59 degree weather. It just jumped up another degree after I got home, and is now 60. Great weather for February. Maybe Phil knows of what he speaks. Let's hope so anyway, and keep our winter s#$wfall under 10 inches total. -30-

Tuesday, February 02, 2016 11:43 AM - Despite the sunshine, Phil didn't see his shadow. I guess he was still asleep when they dragged him out of his hole. Anyway, for what it is worth, that's good news for us winter-haters. Spring weather will be here early this year. Well, at least there's about a 40% chance of that.

Morning continues to be the time to get DX lately, and I suspect it will be that way for another couple months or so. After that, with the longer periods of daylight in the northern hemisphere, the bands from 20 on up should stay open after the 0000Z hour. Although the openings won't be as good as the past couple years as solar activity declines.

So to keep the DX streak alive, it will be a matter of balancing times when it will be easiest to find and work DX. Of course that doesn't matter to those with great locations, big antennas, high power, etc. However for a minimal QRP station like mine, it is much more of a chess game to find and work DX, especially now with the aforementioned decline in solar activity and consequent decline in good propagation conditions.

Anyway as of today, the streak is still alive after working IK0YVV on 20 meters at 1532Z. That's another thing to note. 20 meters is becoming better in the morning for DX as the ionospheric absorption decreases with the declining solar activity. As we head toward the minimum and gradually lose 15, 12, and 10 meters, and 17 becomes iffy and intermittent, 20 will be the major player in keeping my streak alive. Oh, 30 and 40 will help out also. -30-

Monday, February 01, 2016 8:26 PM - Well, tomorrow several furry creatures become weather prognosticators and tell us how soon we can enjoy the coming of spring. Probably the most famous is one right here in Pennsylvania - Punxsutawney Phil. Famous not for accuracy but because he seems to have the best publicity agents. I read somewhere that his accuracy is only 39 percent. Actually compared to some human and computer predictions, that's really not all that bad if it is true. Even the best computers with some human help find it difficult to make accurate predictions beyond maybe a couple weeks at best. Just look at the long range outlooks (they don't even call them forecasts) made by such weather businesses as AccuWeather, Intellicast, and the granddaddy of them all, the National Weather Service. Pick a specific forecast for say a day two weeks in the future. Let's use February 15 as an example. Just watch how the outlook for that day changes almost daily as the day approaches and may be only really accurate when the target day is only 24-48 hours away. And here is Phil and his kin around the country making a forecast for the next six weeks with no opportunity to change it as the six weeks go by. If it is indeed 39 percent accurate, that's darn good, I'd say.

OK enough of that. I'm sure you know how Phil's forecasts are actually made so I won't go into that. Let's talk about the ham bands. Once again this evening, they are rather poor. There was some DX on 40, but very weak right at my noise level. I did try 8P0P, but he was working mostly European stations, so I only called a couple times and quit. I'm sure a lot of the European stations need 8P much more than I do, so I'll let them work him. Hopefully I can get my DX QSO in the morning or afternoon. I did work Tony N2ATB for the main streak, so that's secure for another day. -30-

Sunday, January 31, 2016 8:02 PM - I want to get to finalizing our NAQCC January sprint stats so this will be a brief entry.

Strange conditions this evening. I was hearing a lot of DX on the lower end of 40 meters including a Russian RN3BL, but none of it was very strong and all with a couple exceptions had fluttery signals. I called several different stations with no response at all from them. Finally I did manage to find and work Peter 8P9NX on 30 meters for the DX streak.

In addition to finalizing the sprint stats, this is also the day for my EOM/FOM work. Fortunately I do have most of it done already except for doing my January weather stats and making a bank run tomorrow morning.

OK, that's it. Now to the sprint stats. -30-

Saturday, January 30, 2016 10:39 AM - My DX came from the REF contest today when I worked F6KHM on 15 meters. I would have liked to work EW1TZ on 17 meters to get that final Z for the NAQCC challenge, but he kept answering other callers so I gave up on him. I'll probably try later in the day for that Z. At least the DX streak is secure.

I did a little more work on my AM BCB loop circuit yesterday, but had some problems getting it to work right and gave up on that. Maybe I'll try some more today. It's interesting how parts for projects keep getting smaller and smaller as we get older. That's not only a facetious statement but is also true in reality. Not only that but old fingers become less and less agile. It takes me several times the time and effort on projects now than in my younger days. Oh well, that's life (from the Frank Sinatra song title).

Time now for some breakfast, then who knows what I'll wind up getting into. I've been working on my music library with the Groove Music app in Windows 10. Maybe I'll add some more songs to that. Or watch some woodworking videos on the Internet. Maybe play some computer games. Looks like a nice mild weather day (40 right now), so maybe some shopping or a long walk also. It's nice to have many varied interests to occupy oneself. -30-

Friday, January 29, 2016 11:00 AM - The bands were very poor, or maybe just unoccupied this morning. I did hear PA1CC fairly strong on 17, but he wasn't hearing me. So I figured I might just try some CQs on 17 for the heck of it. Down in the noise I heard DD5MA, but I wasn't sure he was calling me or just happened to be on the same frequency. I went back to him with a QRZ? and heard his call again. I gave him a report, and he gave a report. I never did hear my call and am not sure we actually worked. I stuck him in the log, but that didn't satisfy me for my streak QSO. I like to be positive about those. So I searched some more and found Bert F6HKA whom I've worked several times. He's a top notch operator and knows me pretty well, so I figured here was my sure QSO. I called and got a K3?, repeated and he got my call. We chatted a couple minutes mostly about the poor conditions. So that was a proper QSO for day # 1,065 in the DX streak.

Now I looked around for someone with a Z in their call to finish the NAQCC challenge, but no luck there nor later when I tried again. I did hear a N4 with a Z at the end of his call but he was weak and was in a very long rag chew, so I didn't wait him out for fear I'd waste all the time and still not have him hear me. So I still need the Z, but have 2 1/2 days to get it, so there is still hope.

So a few minutes ago I gathered up a couple more parts from the junk box for the source follower circuit for my AM BCB loop. Maybe I'll try to put it together later, but now it's brunch time. -30-

Thursday, January 28, 2016 8:17 PM - Same old story tonight. Poor conditions, no DX. Last night was an exception of late. I did get my DX in the 0000Z hour. However I'll have to get on in the morning or afternoon to try to extend the DX streak another day. I did work K8LGY this evening for the regular streak QSO. That QSO also gave me the last two Ls for the NAQCC January challenge. Now all I need is to work a station with a Z in the call to complete it. I didn't think I was that close, but in glancing through my January log while chatting with K8LGY I noticed I had worked N2UU and YV5IUA which gave me 6 Us that I neglected to cross off. Old age, I guess.

I also fooled around with my AM BCB Loop today. I took the coupler from my old big 4 foot loop up in the attic and hooked it between my small loop and the KX3. That seemed to give me better coupling and a gain in signal strength. All it consists of is an FET (MPF102) source follower. Since I have a dozen MPF102s plus the couple other parts needed, I think I'll just build one that's dedicated to my small loop. It can fit in a very small mini-box which I can mount right on the loop support. It'll be nice to build something from scratch. Other than the power pole stuff Mike and I built recently, I haven't done much scratch building in a good long while. -30-

Wednesday, January 27, 2016 11:19 AM - I didn't get my DX last night, but I got a quick one this morning after just a couple minutes in the shack. I worked XE2MVY, then since that went so quick, I thought I'd try to get some letters to try to finish the NAQCC January challenge. I did get a couple letters, but more importantly I had a nice QSO with Peter VE2SO. He is using an indoor magnetic loop antenna and after we talked about how it performs vs. QRN (very well), he emailed me a lot of info about his (and other) loops. I just got it and haven't digested it yet, but that could give me some good leads to help solve my local noise problems here. -30-

Tuesday, January 26, 2016 12:44 PM - To quote (or paraphrase at least) an old-time song, "Oh what a beautiful morning, oh what a beautiful day....." It's 52 degrees on my remote outdoor thermometer right now. I just got back from a walk where I enjoyed watching the s#$w melting and the water running down along the gutters. Is there a more beautiful sight! The analogy came to mind as I was walking that it's like a serious dieter watching the ugly fat melt away. This is the Earth's version of that watching the ugly s#$w melting away. Take a look at this picture I took a little while ago and compare it to the one taken a couple days ago.
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Lovely, isn't it? Think I'll go out for another walk. I need to get a couple things at Family Dollar - might as well take advantage of the great weather and go get them. -30-

Monday, January 25, 2016 7:39 PM - Three things tonight. First, thanks to K8ND (aka PJ2/K8ND) for giving me my DX QSO on three of the past seven days on three different bands - 17, 30, and tonight 40. It took a good many calls to get Jeff tonight, but DX streak day # 1,062 is in the books.

Second what do the following mean KWA, EN, NAG? Dissect them in Morse Code and you'll find they are all too common sloppy ways of sending CQ, R, NAME. Don't you often wonder why in a QSO folks will tell you what the name of their horse is? All too often it is NAG IS BILL (BOB, JOHN, etc.). Of course none of us are perfect and some have physical handicaps, but many folks are just plain sloppy in their sending. I'm sure they wonder why they have trouble making QSOs. Maybe that is the answer. Many DX (and DXpedition) stations will tell you it is much easier working a weak signal with perfect code than a stronger station with sloppy code. It's a little late now (or maybe not), but a good resolution for 2016 would be to strive to always send Morse Code as near to perfect as possible. You'll note more and better QSOs in your log at the end of the year.

Third a progress picture on my tomatoes (left bin) and peppers. The tomatoes are smaller but have more developed true leaves. The peppers taller but with only seed leaves so far (well maybe some very tiny true leaves that are hard to see). Then a picture of the blizzard as it played out in Kittanning. We were blessed with only an inch or two of s#$w as shown in the picture taken yesterday. About half of that is gone today after a day in the mid 40s. More will depart overnight and tomorrow as we get some rain and another day in the 40s. Yes, it's been a great winter so far. If the AccuWeather outlook for February holds true, that will be a great s#$w free (almost) mild month also.

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Sunday, January 24, 2016 8:30 PM - A rather quiet Sunday. Since I got my DX last night, I didn't bother getting on the bands during the day today. I didn't do much else either until this evening.

At 0000Z I got on the bands and it took but 3 minutes to find and work PJ2/K8ND for my streak QSO(s).

So I shut down and got to the log cross-checking for last week's NAQCC sprint. It took about an hour and 15 minutes to finish that up. I still have to correct the scores that need changing, then I'll be all done. That should take about a half hour or perhaps a little longer, so I'll get to that now, and then maybe I can go over and watch the last part of the Carolina/Arizona game. -30-

Saturday, January 23, 2016 9:45 AM - I hope you all got through the blizzard OK. Just got an email from Mike and he didn't get any snow up north of here. We got only about an inch or so. Not bad at all. The NWS did a great job of predicting things for our area. Virtually all week we were right on the NW edge of the predicted snowfall. In fact just about all the time, the NW edge split Armstrong County, and that is pretty much how it turned out in the end.

Just took advantage of a contest (the G/EI test?) and worked SN5DX for my streak QSO. The second day in a row now my DX has been from Europe. Hope that's a sign of things to come.

OK, now I'm off to walk Roscoe and then maybe do some preliminary cross-checking of logs from our NAQCC sprint. We still have a few logs to go to make our quota of 100 which we've done for all but 4 monthly sprints since April of 2010. That's 65 of 69 through the December sprint. So I hope we make it this month. -30-

Friday, January 22, 2016 10:47 AM - QRP lesson #76 - never don't (double negative?) call a DX station because you think he's so weak, he'll never hear your QRP signal. After spending maybe a half hour looking for some DX station to work for the streak in the quiet periods when my furnace was off, and finding only DX stations that were chasing the DXpeditions or otherwise engaged, I finally succeeded in extending the streak. Oh, my furnace cycle with the outdoor temperature around 20 is about 10 minutes on and 5 minutes off with its associated QRNN mainly on 17 and 15 meters. Anyway to get back to my point, finally I found a pretty weak (S4 or S5 just at my noise level) F5IAE on 15 meters, and almost didn't call him, not heeding lesson #76. However I did call, and he answered on my first call and copied me solidly, probably better than I was copying him. We exchanged names and a comment on band conditions and I had my DX in the log for consecutive day # 1,058.

We can't judge how the other station is copying us by how we are copying him. I often call DX stations who are well over S9 and well above my noise level who don't even hear a single dit or dah from me. At other times like today, I can call a very weak station barely peeking out of my noise level and have a solid QSO. Some folks are blessed to live in an extremely noise free environment and can copy the weakest whisper from stations calling them. I know it is like that when we operate portable from Kittanning Community Park. There is just no noise at all there. The only QRN comes from distant lightning strikes skipping in, and they are very weak from storms maybe 1,000 miles or more away. Needless to add, with only that kind of noise to deal with, up there I can copy signals who don't even disturb the S-meter from its nap.

Bottom line - call those weak stations, you probably will get a majority of them in your DX log. -30-

Thursday, January 21, 2016 10:43 AM - The sprint was a struggle again last night. I managed only two QSOs although I could have had more. I planned to get on for just one QSO as I said in the previous entry. I did that on 80M, but then decided I'd just look at 40M. Lo and behold, it wasn't all that bad now. However I only worked one more station, then QRT since I didn't have GenLog set up and didn't feel like continuing to log on paper nor setting up GenLog. I can be quite lazy at times. Next month no matter how bad conditions are right before the sprint, I will set up for a normal effort.

Conditions weren't all that great around the country from the looks of the logs. Only those fortunate enough to have big high antennas in a quiet location had the big scores. They are the same ones every month. My problem here is not being heard by others, but me hearing others. If you can't hear 'em, you can't work 'em - plain, simple, and true. The last time I was able to hear because of great propagation and slightly less noise than usual, I easily racked up 43 QSOs here in town with my simple antennas.

Despite the poor sprint results, my DX streak just continued for another day as I worked HK1ANP on 17M to make it 1,057 consecutive days of DX now. The DX streak (and along with it, the regular streak) is now my top ham radio priority, so I'm happy that at least is working out so far. With conditions on a steady decline though, I don't know how long I'll be able to maintain it. -30-

Wednesday, January 20, 2016 7:59 PM - As propagation conditions decline, my local noise keeps getting worse and that is not conducive to making QSOs. If you can't hear 'em, you can't work 'em. About the only strong stations tonight are those in the DX pileups and those in the various nets, and they are all running high power, I'm sure. I spent 55 minutes tonight unable to even get a W/VE QSO, let alone any DX. That doesn't bode well for our NAQCC sprint this evening. I think I'll probably try to get one QSO, then quit unless things miraculously get better by then, which is very doubtful.

At least during the day today I was able to work PJ2/K8ND to keep the DX streak going. Actually that was very early this morning before I helped Bruce take Roscoe to the groomer. Hopefully conditions will permit some DX tomorrow morning also. It is getting more and more discouraging, but I'll still keep going as long as I can. -30-

Tuesday, January 19, 2016 8:26 PM - After a couple busy days with Mike, I didn't do much of anything today. A little housecleaning, some computer work, and the other everyday things. I did have a nice phone call with Tom WY3H for the good part of an hour. He's doing well down in GA. The bands were really poor this evening, except for those KW stations chasing the DXpeditions. I didn't even think I was going to get my regular streak QSO, but after 40 minutes I did find N9HAL calling CQ and worked him. Still no DX. I guess that will come in the early morning or in the afternoon. Mid and late morning will be taken up by helping take Roscoe to the groomers. -30-

Monday, January 18, 2016 8:48 PM - Mike returned at 10:00 this morning. After the usual kibitzing for a while, we started the upgrading of Mike's computers to Windows 10, then went to King's Restaurant for breakfast. Very good food, but poor slow service. Mike and I had pretty much the same thing - pancakes, sausage/bacon, scrambled eggs, hash browns.

Back home again to continue with the Windows 10 upgrades. While that was going on, we walked, and walked, and wal...... That was our daily walking (inside - too cold outside) to kill time while the upgrading was going on. When the upgrades finished Mike checked his computers and found all went well.

Then after talking about some football records comparing the CFL and NFL, it was up to my shack to do some KX3/PX3 comparisons. I wanted to find out where a spurious spike was coming from on the 15 meters display on my PX3. Since it showed up with both my KX3 and Mike's attached, that narrowed it down to my PX3 since the spike did not show up on Mike's PX3. So I'll have to look into that.

We then went to Radio Shack to get a couple accessories for our Lil' Squall setups. I also got some wire to rewind my AM BCB DX loop while we were there.

At home again, Mike ordered a couple parts for his PX3 from Elecraft. Then we rewound my loop followed by a trip to Vocelli's for a large pizza with pepperoni, mushrooms, and tomatoes. Filled up now (for the time being), it was off to my shack for my DX streak QSO. It took a little while to find and work J79M on 40 meters. Mike tried to work him also, but he vanished, so Mike worked CO2IR instead.

Then to close out our visit, Mike played one of my hidden object games on the computer. Now he's sitting in the chair across the room from me helping me write this entry. -30-

Sunday, January 17, 2016 7:22 PM - Mike dropped by for an impromptu visit today. He wanted to go to a benefit dinner at a local fire hall. So we went there and enjoyed ourselves. There wasn't a lot of food, but it was for a good cause. So of course later in the day we were ready for another meal and went to Wendy's for that.

In between we played for a couple hours with the Lil' Squall transceivers we built some time ago. We never did get beyond a brief check back then with a real Rube Goldberg setup at that time. Today we did it up a little better as you can see in this picture below. With Mike's MFJ tuner and SWR meter we got the SWR down all the way to 1:1 and were putting out about two watts using my gel cell battery for power. One strange thing we need to figure out, maybe tomorrow when Mike returns, is why we have a strong 120 Hz hum on the audio. It doesn't seem to be on our transmitted signal. The frequency of our crystal was quite crowded so we didn't get a chance to make any QSOs, maybe tomorrow.
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Well, it still does look a bit like a Rube Goldberg hookup, doesn't it? HI.

After we got home from Wendy's, it was just about time to head to the shack for my streak QSO. It wasn't long till we found a strong YV5IUA on 30 meters. I asked Mike what my odds of getting him were. He said about one in seven. That was a bit pessimistic though, as I got him on the first call. Then a couple minutes later Mike also worked him.

After that with a break in a couple heavy s@#w squalls, Mike headed home for the night, but will be back in the morning to continue on with our craziness. -30-

Saturday, January 16, 2016 8:11 PM - Among my reasons for a DX streak being easier these days vs. many years ago, I neglected to mention a couple more reasons. The use of a panadapter these days is much easier than the equivalent band scanners of bygone days, if they even existed way back when. Also, although I NEVER USE them, there are many more spotters active these days if you are wont to use them, which I'm not. I think I emphasized that enough. The only use I have for spotters is to maybe once a year check some station with very sloppy sending or who QRT without ID after working him. Then a spotter may help to figure out just who I did work.

The Hungarian Contest provided my DX QSOs for the 16th and 17th. This morning it was HG1S on 15 meters, and this evening it was EA5FR on 40 meters. Both easy QSOs to extend the streak another 2 days.

I'm looking forward to a day together with Mike KC2EGL on Monday. No big ham radio projects planned, but we'll find a lot to do nevertheless. I guarantee we won't be bored. We will have to find a new favorite eating place though as the local Ponderosa closed its doors last month. -30-

Friday, January 15, 2016 9:39 AM - When I got my DX streak QSO a few minutes ago from Mike F5IN, I got to thinking about the streak and why it is possible nowadays whereas it might not have been possible many years ago. I came up with several reasons.

In no particular order they are:

The ham population currently is much higher than it ever has been. That may not always be so with the advent of many alternate means of worldwide communication such as the Internet, the great proliferation of portable phones, and the like. I think it is still true now though.

The making of CW a "forbidden fruit" has increased the percentage of that large population to try, like, and use CW.

The ham population on average is much older than ever with a large percentage being retired and having the opportunity to get on the air more often at more different times of day. Especially considering all the different time zones worldwide, that means more DX is available virtually around the clock. Folks in school or still working don't have that opportunity. Back in the 60s when I was first licensed, a large percentage of hams were still of school age and/or working.

Among the increased activity are many stations who can be found and worked very regularly. The aforementioned F5IN is one who comes to mind. There are also CO8LY, V44KAI to mention a couple more. These hams have "big" stations that make it easy for them to copy weaker signals.

Speaking of big stations and equipment, the receiving equipment these days is much better than ever and it doesn't even take a lot of skill to copy weak signals, although skill does help.

I think to reinforce the previous statement, here is a stat about how many different stations I've worked in the current 1,051 days of my DX streak. Total DX QSOs: 5,249 or an average of 5 (4.99) QSOs per day. Different stations: 2,301 which shows clearly it's not a matter of working the same stations over and over again. That's a percentage of 2,301/5,249 = 43.8% being different stations. Stations worked for the first time ever during the streak: 1,307 for 1,307/5249 = 24.9%.

Contests these days draw more participants than ever. Of the 5,249 QSOs, 3,283 were from contests for a percentage of 62.5%.

Remember all info above deals only with DX QSOs from March 1, 2013 through January 15, 2016. All QSOs referred to were made with CW / QRP / simple wire antennas.

Every time I talk about DX and support it with stats, I always like to end with a point. That is anyone who cares to do so CAN work DX regularly even with QRP and simple antennas especially using the wonderful efficient Morse Code / CW. -30-

Thursday, January 14, 2016 5:18 PM - Another mystery of life. Back in July 2014 I bought one of those garden butterflies that are supposed to flutter around when the sun activates the little solar panel on it. Well, it never did work all that well. However lately with the sun about as low in the sky as it can get, I've looked out several times to see it merrily fluttering around. It seldom did that in spring, summer, or fall. Perhaps it's a temperature thing. The hot weather expands the bearings and binds it up? The cold weather shrinks them and frees it up to rotate?

Today was a busy and enjoyable day. Enjoyable because with the temperature in the low to mid 40s a good part of the day, a lot of our s#$w melted revealing the beautiful grass, bricks, roof, etc. Now if we could hold in the 40s or upper 30s, we could lose a lot more overnight and with rain tomorrow, even more. It would be nice to start with a clean slate for the rest of the miserable winter season.

Busy because I spent time getting set up for next week's NAQCC sprint a little earlier than usual since our membership database manager Dave VA3RJ sent out the updated list a couple days early this month.

Busy also because I just finished posting my new poll for Jan/Feb here on the web site. Take a look and cast your vote. The more votes, the more meaningful the results.

So now with most of the work done today, I can fool around until streak time in about 90 minutes. I hope I can get another quick DX QSO this evening. -30-

Wednesday, January 13, 2016 7:40 PM - After a day when a lot of things went wrong, I figured I didn't have a chance to get my DX QSO this evening. However I was wrong and I got a quick one at 0009Z from KP2/N3XF on 40 meters for DX streak day # 1,050. This morning I got another very quick one for day 1,049 from HK1ANP on 17 meters after just a couple minutes in the shack.

What went wrong? I'm not going to list everything here. The big one was last night. Over the 11 years of the NAQCC, I've gotten used to having our 160M sprint the last week of the month as kind of a prelude to the CQWW 160M contest similar to what the QRP ARCI does for the ARRL 160M contest in December. So I almost completely overlooked last night's 160M sprint until the logs started coming in. Then I went to the shack in the last 15 minutes. Didn't make any QSOs, but I did participate and that means I've never missed a NAQCC sprint. As to why it was scheduled so early this month, I don't know as I'm not involved in such matters since retiring as NAQCC VP in 2014. I'll have to ask our new president Paul about that. And not only did I miss the start of the sprint itself, I of course neglected to email the promo for the sprint yesterday.

I think that's all the wrong things I'll bore you with, and get to updating my propagation page and the streak table here on the web site. -30-

Tuesday, January 12, 2016 8:30 PM - No DX again tonight, so I'll have to find time in a busy day tomorrow to keep the streak going. It wasn't easy this morning. The bands sounded pretty dead except for a couple weak DX stations. Finally though I found a strong Ralph XE1RK on 20 meters. It took a few calls to get him, but once he got my call and recognized me from a previous QSO, he turned his 7 element beam in my direction and we had a nice chat. I envy him as it was 15C in Mexico City and 80F in Cozumel. Boy that sounded nice especially since it was just -1C here at the time of our QSO.

We got our first substantial s#$wfall of the season today. I guess about 3-4 inches all told although there was a lot of blowing with the strong winds most of the day. I don't really keep s#$wfall records here, but I would think that was one of the latest first s@#ws in many years. Usually it happens, if not in Oct-Dec, then right at the changing of the years. So hopefully a late start this year will help make it seem not quite as bad as usual. We'll see. -30-

Monday, January 11, 2016 8:54 PM - Well, here we go again. After 4 nights in a row getting a quick DX station in the 0000Z hour, tonight I couldn't get anything. I only heard two DX stations - XR4SURF who is in an area I generally have a little difficulty working, and 8P0P who had a big pileup through which I didn't feel like waiting. I hope I don't regret that as I probably could have gotten Peter had I waited. So I guess it is tomorrow morning or afternoon for the DX. I haven't listened during the day since the 7th, so I don't know how daytime conditions are now.

The big streak was easy when W4HWT answered my CQ on 80 and we had a short rag chew. -30-

Sunday, January 10, 2016 8:10 PM - A tale of two days today. This morning warm and rainy near 50 degrees. This afternoon cold and s$#wy 30 degrees and very windy as the cold front passed through.

My tomatoes and peppers are coming along good. Here are a couple pictures of the setup I'm using this year.
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Top is the rack on which the pots are mounted. As you see, it is sitting right over one of my furnace hot air registers, and behind the cardboard is a light on a timer right now giving them about 10 hours of light a day. The bottom picture is a close-up of the pots. The peppers are in the right container, the tomatoes in the left. Several have sprouted and are a little over an inch tall showing off their seed leaves.

DX wasn't quite as easy tonight as the last three nights, but I did manage to work Jose KP4JFR again on 30 meters at 0046Z. Before that I worked VE1IDS on 80 whose call gave me several letters for our January NAQCC challenge leaving 19 more to get to master the challenge. -30-

Saturday, January 09, 2016 7:31 PM - I notice from my poll results that quite a few of those voting are also into DXing the AM BC Band. Here are a couple of web sites I've found useful in identifying stations. First is the AM Station Search site at http://www.topazdesigns.com/ambc/. It concentrates strictly on USA and Canadian stations on 530-1700 kHz. Second is the MW List at http://www.mwlist.org/. It concentrates on the LW, MW, and Tropical Band stations worldwide. I have only recently discovered these sites. I think my brief description is correct.

Another quick DX station for the third evening in a row now. HP3/WJ2O on 30 meters despite him being right at my local S3-4 noise level. WJ2O was the tenth DX station I worked after returning to the air in 1993. He was then portable in Anguilla. Since then I've worked him in a few other countries as well. Here's a list of all the countries - VP2E, KP2, VP9, J6, VP5, KH6, FS, YN, HP. Wow, I didn't realize there were that many. HI. He may hold the record in that regard. Someday I'll write a query for my Access log and find out. -30-

Friday, January 08, 2016 7:36 PM - Is this the start of something or just a freak happening? My DX QSO this evening was S58N on 30 meters at 0004Z. Also I heard the German RTTY station on the bottom end of 30 for the first time in I don't know how long. Let's see if there is any clue from the Solar/Ionosphere numbers. I haven't looked at them yet tonight. Nothing unusual - SF 109 A Index 8. No clue there. Well, let's just hope it continues. That's the second evening in a row now for a quick DX QSO. Last night it was C6ANM on 30 at 0000Z. It has been nice not having the (self-inflicted) pressure of struggling to get a DX QSO like the past week or so now.

This was also the first cloudy day here after 3 or 4 sunny days in a row. Oh, what's wrong (right?) with this picture taken yesterday?
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You got it. It's January 7 and except for a tiny bit on one roof at left center of the picture, there is not any s#$w to be seen. Ain't it GREAT! Thank you El Nino or whatever, whoever. Keep it up. -30-

Thursday, January 07, 2016 11:50 AM - Ignore the last two paragraphs of this entry written earlier today (it's now 1:35PM). After checking a couple times each hour, I finally found a workable DX station and logged him. It was Mode XE2HOE in La Paz, Mexico on 17 meters. As soon as I called him and he answered, my furnace kicked on, so I had to run downstairs and turn down the thermostat, then run back upstairs. Fortunately he was a slow sender and I only missed my RST report, but got his QTH and Name OK. So now it's 100% of the last 1043 days instead of 99.9+% as I feared it might be.

Now that I've spent a lot of time getting the DX, it's on to other things I need to get done, before we go through this all again tomorrow. HI.

Today may be the day the DX streak grinds to a halt. About an hour of trying this morning yielded not even a ? from the two DX stations I did hear - XE1XR and EG5CWO. Unless a miracle happens in the next 7 hours, that's it. Still, working DX on 1042 of 1043 days is not bad and I continues to show that on most days (99.9+%) you CAN work DX with CW/QRP/simple wire antennas. Even if I do 'fall off the horse" today, I'll get back on tomorrow and try to continue riding or in this case working DX.

Hopefully I can revise this later in the day to report on who I worked for day # 1,043 in the streak. -30-

Wednesday, January 06, 2016 8:13 PM - SOS (same old story) with DX today. Easy in the morning - HK1ANP on 17 meters at 1502Z. Nothing in the evening. The only thing heard was WP4L chasing other DX so I couldn't even try to work him. Had a nice chat with WA7WKY on 80 this evening for the big streak QSO. I guess if the morning goes away now, so will the DX streak. I'll keep trying though.

I got a little better picture of my tomato sprouts today. They are still hard to see, especially mixed in with the white perlite in the potting soil. If you look carefully at the point of the arrows you can just make them out. The single one in the left pot is the easiest to see since it is the biggest and its two seed leaves are partly open. The ones in the other pot look like they may wind up being seedbound.
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Tuesday, January 05, 2016 7:51 PM - Easy DX in the morning, nothing in the evening again today. The last three days my DX has come at 1456, 1455, 1456Z. Today it was SM1ALH from Gotland Island Sweden. That was a new prefix also. Never worked a SM1 before, and still need SM8 and SM9 to complete the SMs.

I didn't hear any DX this evening, but tonight I did hear stations working DX whom I could not hear here. My regular streak QSO this evening came from Bob NR8M in OH.

I neglected to mention I started my tomato and pepper seeds about a week ago. I think it was December 30. Well today I have 4 little tomato sprouts and one little pepper sprout. They were in a hurry this year compared to last year when I had all kind of problems getting them to sprout. This year it is heat (right over a furnace register) and a lot of moisture. That seems to be the key. So if all goes well, I'll again have ripe tomatoes in May which didn't happen last year. If memory serves, I think it was July before I had ripe ones. So we'll see. I did take a picture today of the sprouts, but they are very hard to see in the picture. Maybe when they get a tad bigger, I can get a better picture and post it here. -30-

Monday, January 04, 2016 8:29 PM - I think I'm going to give up chasing DX for a while......... at least in the evenings. Conditions for DX in the 0000-0200Z period have been abominable lately. In looking at my streak table on the main web site page, you'll notice the last seven days I've had to resort to the 1400-1600Z period to work any DX. Looks like today (5th) will be the eighth straight also unless I get something later tonight. Today (4th) it was an easy 12M QSO with 6Y4K at 1455Z. At least no such problems with the big streak although even it has been a bit rough in the 0000-0200Z period. It took about 25 minutes tonight to find and work someone - Pip WB4FDT. We've worked several times in the past but not for quite a while now so it was good to hook up again.

It's the coldest it's been so far this winter right now at 14 degrees headed down to 4 overnight. At least there is only a very light dusting of the white stuff to contend with. It looks like a pretty much s#$w-free week too and that is great.

Today was (as we called it at WPIT) dedecorating day, and all my Christmas stuff is stowed away for another 11 months or so. It sure looks different here in the room. Over there is a corner table where for the last month my tree stood. -30-

Sunday, January 03, 2016 8:18 PM - I spent a good part of the day today updating some of my NAQCC awards. It's quite easy using Access and Excel, but still somewhat time consuming to do some manual tweaking after A & E do their jobs.

It's interesting to see how winter weather seems to always show up during the first couple days of January no matter how beautiful December was. The past couple days have been in the 30s and today we have had some very light s%$w. Thank goodness just a minor dusting on the colder areas - what there are of them after the warm December. I was going to take a picture early today of the beautiful bare grass, streets, sidewalks and post it here, but I procrastinated and now the lovely view is ruined by the ugly white stuff.

My early DX today was easy when I worked LY1G on 17 meters with a single call at 1456Z. Not so easy this evening though. I not only did not hear any DX, but I didn't definitely hear anyone working any DX. So I'll have to count on the morning or afternoon to keep the streak going. The big streak lives on anyway as I worked Dave N9KKY on 80 meters a little while ago.

Now I'm off to get my weekly laundry done so I'll have tomorrow free to see what I can get into besides getting my DX QSO. -30-

Saturday, January 02, 2016 5:47 PM - A busy day today continuing with the end of year / first of year chores. I did my bank visit the first thing this morning after walking Roscoe. Then some web site updating and closing the weather records for the year occupied a good portion of the rest of the day. I also threw in a shopping trip along the way.

My DX QSO came as quick as possible right after the bank visit. Not much on 20, 17, or 15, but there was XE1XR calling CQ on 12 whom I worked with a single call. My first 12 meters QSO in quite some time now.

Last night I learned why I'm getting a cardioid pattern with my small 80 meters loop. I have it connected through my antenna switch and even with the switch in a vacant position, I can hear RF on 80 meters, so that feedthrough is combining with the loop signal to create the cardioid pattern. Now that I know what's causing it, I can work to solve it when some more free time comes along.

BTW, December was 13.1 degrees warmer than normal this (last) year, and was about 5 or 6 degrees warmer than my previous December record since 1959. Let's be a bit more specific. Previous record was 38.8 in 1965. 2015 was 44.1 which broke the record by 5.3 degrees. Even with the warm December, the year wasn't a record setter because the cold February (10.4 below normal) balanced it out somewhat. Still it was 2.5 degrees above normal, third only to 2012's 4.7 and 2011's 3.6 degrees above normal. -30-

Friday, January 01, 2016 9:56 AM - I think the DX streak is becoming more interesting and I am still learning something about propagation along the way. Whenever you learn from something that makes that something worthwhile. Of course at the sunspot maximum about all you had to do is turn on the rig, tune around a bit (with the aid of the PX3 panadapter), and there was your DX. A call or two at the most and the DX was in the log. It's not that way any longer as the sunspots decrease, and it's going to get even worse over the next couple years or so as the cycle bottoms out. However with a little patience and a little time to snoop around the bands, there will still be some DX available to work. Although with my many interests here, time is at a premium, the PX3 saves me a lot of time in checking the bands. Without it, I may give up or have given up already.

Just as an example, let's look at this morning. I turned on the rig and headed to 20 meters. Other than a couple local birdies, only one station showed up there on the PX3, and after a quick listen, it turned out to be non-DX. So it was on to 17 meters. My furnace noise was on, and only one peak showed up above the noise. It was the omni-present KW7D. I wonder how many QSOs there are in his log. I'm sure at the very least 100-200K, probably a lot more. Anyway even when the furnace cycle ended, he was still the only peak, so it was on to 15 meters. There were more peaks there, although none above about S6 or so. As so often happens, as soon as I tune in on a peak, it's gone. That's when Mike and I tell each other we scared away another station. After a couple of those, I found Alex HC2AO. He wasn't very strong, but he's a great op and the path between us always seems to get my QRP signals to him, no matter the band. That's another thing I've known for a long time, but it's being reinforced all the time. It's not only the strong signals that are workable with QRP, but even the weaker ones can be worked a high percentage of the time. So even though someone is just barely peeking (or peaking) out of the noise, I'll try them a couple times anyway, and often a single call is all it takes. That's a good lesson to keep in mind. Back on track again - that's what happened with Alex. My single call got him. We exchanged reports and New Year's greetings and the streak is alive in another year at 1,037 days now.

I wrote this early because it's going to be a busy day with a lot of EOM (end of month), FOM, EOY, and FOY things that need doing. First I think it will be my weather records - closing them out for the month and year, then who knows what next. At least I don't have to spend time chasing DX till 0000Z this evening. -30-